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Wikipedia:Today's featured article/March 2011

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March 1
Hideo Nomo as a player for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2005

The posting system is a baseball player transfer system that operates between Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and the United States' Major League Baseball (MLB). Despite the drafting of the United States – Japanese Player Contract Agreement in 1967 designed to regulate NPB players moving to MLB, problems arose in the late 1990s. Some NPB teams lost star players without compensation, an issue highlighted when NPB stars Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano left to play in MLB after using loopholes to void their existing contracts. A further problem was that NPB players had very little negotiating power if their teams decided to deal them to MLB. In 1998, the Agreement was rewritten to address both problems and was dubbed the "posting system". Under this system, when an NPB player is "posted", MLB holds a four-day-long silent auction during which MLB teams can submit sealed bids in an attempt to win the exclusive rights to negotiate with the player. If the MLB team with the winning bid and the NPB player agree on contract terms before the 30-day period has expired, the NPB team receives the bid amount as a transfer fee, and the player is free to play in MLB. (more...)

Recently featured: Frederick IIIMount Cayley volcanic fieldDustbin Baby

March 2
Banksia spinulosa in Georges River National Park near Sydney, Australia

The Hairpin Banksia (Banksia spinulosa) is a species of woody shrub, of the genus Banksia in the Proteaceae family, native to eastern Australia. Widely distributed, it is found as an understorey plant in open dry forest or heathland from Victoria to northern Queensland, generally on sandstone though sometimes also clay soils. It generally grows as a small shrub to 2 metres (7 ft) in height, though can be a straggly tree to 6 metres (20 ft). Its inflorescences (flower spikes) are gold or less commonly yellowish, with emergent styles that may be a wide range of colours – from black, purple, red, orange or yellow. The Hairpin Banksia is pollinated by and provides food for a wide array of vertebrate and invertebrate animals in the autumn and winter months. Its floral display and fine foliage have made it a popular garden plant with many horticultural selections available. Given recent trends toward smaller gardens, compact dwarf forms of Banksia spinulosa have become popular; the first available, Banksia 'Birthday Candles', has achieved a great deal of commercial success and wide recognition, and has been followed by several others. (more...)

Recently featured: Posting systemFrederick IIIMount Cayley volcanic field

March 3
The ruins of the Round Church in Preslav

The Round Church is a large partially preserved early medieval Eastern Orthodox church in Preslav, the former capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, today a town in northeastern Bulgaria. Unearthed and first examined in 1927–28, the church dates to the early 10th century, the time of Tsar Simeon I's rule. Considered to be one of the most impressive examples of medieval Bulgarian architecture, the church takes its name from the distinctive shape of one of its three sections, the cella (naos), which is a rotunda that serves as a place of liturgy. The church's design also includes a wide atrium and a rectangular entrance area, or narthex, marked by two circular turrets. The church has been likened to examples of religious architecture from the late Roman Empire, the Caucasus, and even the Carolingian Pre-Romanesque of Charlemagne because of its characteristic plan, which is significantly different from contemporaneous Bulgarian or Byzantine buildings. The church's alternative name, the Golden Church, stems from its possible and popular identification with a "new golden church" in Preslav. The Round Church's rich interior decoration, which makes ample use of mosaics, ceramics and marble details, distinguishes it from other churches in Preslav. (more...)

Recently featured: Banksia spinulosaPosting systemFrederick III

March 4
Location of Tau Ceti in the constellation Cetus.

Tau Ceti is a star in the constellation Cetus that is similar to the Sun in mass and spectral type. At a distance of just under 12 light years from the Solar System, it is a relatively close star. Tau Ceti is metal-deficient and so is thought to be less likely to host rocky planets. Observations have detected more than 10 times as much dust surrounding Tau Ceti as is present in the Solar System. The star appears stable, with little stellar variation. Astrometric or radial velocity measurements have not yet detected companions around Tau Ceti, but given current search refinement, this only excludes substellar companions such as large brown dwarfs. Because of its debris disk, any planet orbiting Tau Ceti would face far more impact events than the Earth. Despite this hurdle to habitability, its solar analog characteristics have led to widespread interest in the star. Given its stability and similarity to the Sun, Tau Ceti is consistently listed as a target for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, and it appears in some science fiction literature. Unlike other prominent stars, Tau Ceti does not have a widely recognized traditional name. It can be seen with the unaided eye as a faint third-magnitude star. (more...)

Recently featured: Round Church, PreslavBanksia spinulosaPosting system

March 5
Datuk Lat

Lat is a Malaysian cartoonist whose work earned him the honorific title of datuk. He was born on 5 March 1951 in a village in Perak, Malaysia, and started supplementing his family's income at the age of nine by submitting his comics to magazines and newspapers. Four years later, he published his first comic book. In 1970, Lat left school and became a crime reporter while continuing his cartooning sideline. His comic about the Bersunat—a circumcision ceremony all Malaysian boys of the Islamic faith have to undergo—made a great impression on his newspaper's editor-in-chief. As a result, Lat became an editorial cartoonist. As he gained popularity through his cartoons in Malaysia, he published his autobiography in the form of two graphic novels—The Kampung Boy and Town Boy. The Kampung Boy was a huge success and gained him international renown. It is published in various countries around the world in several languages. Lat's cartoons provide an unbiased and humorous insight on the lives and culture of Malaysians, who consider him one of their most trustworthy citizens. His admirers include American cartoonists Sergio Aragonés and Matt Groening. (more...)

Recently featured: Tau CetiRound Church, PreslavBanksia spinulosa

March 6
Guy Bradley in 1905

Guy Bradley (1870–1905) was an American game warden and deputy sheriff for Monroe County, Florida. Born in Chicago, his family relocated to Florida when he was young. As a boy, he often served as guide to visiting fishermen and plume hunters, although he later denounced poaching after legislation was passed to protect the dwindling number of birds. In 1902, Bradley was hired by the American Ornithologists' Union, at the request of the Florida Audubon Society, to become one of the country's first game wardens. Tasked with protecting the area's wading birds from hunters, he patrolled the area stretching from Florida's west coast, through the Everglades, to Key West, single-handedly enforcing the ban on bird hunting. Bradley was shot and killed in the line of duty, after confronting a man and his two sons who were hunting egrets in the Everglades. His much-publicized death at the age of 35 galvanized conservationists, and served as inspiration for future legislation to protect Florida's bird populations. Several national awards and places have been named in his honor. (more...)

Recently featured: LatTau CetiRound Church, Preslav

March 7
New York City high school students interviewing Leon Lederman at the 2008 World Science Festival

The 2008 World Science Festival was a science festival held in New York City. The festival (May 28 – June 1, 2008) consisted mainly of panel discussions and on-stage conversations, accompanied by multimedia presentations. A youth and family program presented topics such as sports from a scientific perspective and included an extensive street fair. A cultural program led by actor and writer Alan Alda focused on art inspired by science. The festival also included a World Science Summit, a meeting of high-level participants from the worlds of science, politics, administration, and business. The festival was the brainchild of Columbia University physicist Brian Greene and his wife, Emmy Award-winning television journalist Tracy Day. It was held in partnership with major New York City cultural and academic institutions such as Columbia University, New York University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (more...)

Recently featured: Guy BradleyLatTau Ceti

March 8
Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c. 1797)

Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman is the unfinished novelistic sequel by Mary Wollstonecraft (pictured) to her revolutionary political treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. The Wrongs of Woman was published posthumously in 1798 by her husband, William Godwin, and is often considered her most radical feminist work. Wollstonecraft's philosophical and gothic novel revolves around the story of a woman imprisoned in an insane asylum by her husband. It focuses on the societal rather than the individual "wrongs of woman" and criticizes what Wollstonecraft viewed as the patriarchal institution of marriage in eighteenth-century Britain and the legal system that protected it. The novel pioneered the celebration of female sexuality and cross-class identification between women. Such themes, coupled with the publication of Godwin's scandalous Memoirs of Wollstonecraft's life, made the novel unpopular at the time it was published. Twentieth-century feminist critics embraced the work, integrating it into the history of the novel and feminist discourse. (more...)

Recently featured: World Science Festival, 2008Guy BradleyLat

March 9
Hurricane Daniel near peak intensity

The 2006 Pacific hurricane season was the most active since 2000, which also produced 19 tropical storms or hurricanes, of which six attained major hurricane status. The strongest storm of the season was Hurricane Ioke, which reached Category 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale in the central Pacific Ocean; Ioke passed near Johnston Atoll and later Wake Island, where it caused heavy damage but no deaths. The deadliest storm of the season was Hurricane John, which killed six people after striking the Baja California Peninsula, and the costliest storm was Hurricane Lane, which caused $203 million in damage in southwestern Mexico. Seasonal activity began on May 27 when Tropical Storm Aletta formed off the southwest coast of Mexico. No storms formed in June, though the season became active in July when five named storms developed, including Hurricane Daniel which was the second strongest storm of the season. During August, Hurricanes Ioke and John formed, as well as four other storms. September was a relatively quiet month with two storms, of which one was Hurricane Lane. Three storms developed in October and two formed in November; this marked the first time on record when more than one tropical storm developed in the basin during the month of November. (more...)

Recently featured: Maria: or, The Wrongs of WomanWorld Science Festival, 2008Guy Bradley

March 10
Thoroughbreds racing

The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Considered a "hot-blooded" horse, and known for its agility, speed and spirit, the Thoroughbred as it is known today was first developed in 17th and 18th century England, when native mares were crossbred with imported Arabian stallions. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the breed spread throughout the world; they were imported into North America starting in 1730 and into Australia, Europe, Japan and South America during the 19th century. Millions of Thoroughbreds exist worldwide today, with over 118,000 foals registered each year worldwide. Thoroughbreds are used mainly for racing, but are also bred for other riding disciplines, such as show jumping, combined training, dressage, polo, and fox hunting. They are also commonly cross-bred with other breeds to create new breeds or to improve existing ones, and have been influential in the creation of many important breeds, such as the Quarter Horse, the Standardbred, the Anglo-Arabian, and various warmblood breeds. Thoroughbred racehorses perform with maximum exertion, which has resulted in high rates of accidents and other health problems. (more...)

Recently featured: 2006 Pacific hurricane seasonMaria: or, The Wrongs of WomanWorld Science Festival, 2008

March 11

Joseph Szigeti (1892–1973) was a Hungarian virtuoso violinist. Born into a musical family, he spent his early childhood in a small town in Transylvania. He quickly proved himself to be a child prodigy on the violin, and moved to Budapest with his father to study with the renowned pedagogue Jenő Hubay. After completing his studies with Hubay in his early teens, Szigeti began his international concert career. His performances at that time were primarily limited to salon-style recitals and the more overtly virtuosic repertoire; however, after making the acquaintance of pianist Ferruccio Busoni, he began to develop a much more thoughtful and intellectual approach to music that eventually earned him the nickname "The Scholarly Virtuoso". From the 1920s until 1960, Szigeti performed regularly around the world and recorded extensively. He also distinguished himself as a strong advocate of new music, and was the dedicatee of many new works by contemporary composers. Among the more notable pieces written for him are Ernest Bloch's Violin Concerto, Bartók's Rhapsody No. 1, and Eugène Ysaÿe's Solo Sonata No. 1. After retiring from the concert stage in 1960, he worked at teaching and writing until his death in 1973, at the age of 80. (more...)

Recently featured: Thoroughbred2006 Pacific hurricane seasonMaria: or, The Wrongs of Woman

March 12

The Government of the Han Dynasty in ancient China had its capital at Chang'an, and later Luoyang. The emperor headed the government, promulgating all written laws, serving as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and presiding as the chief executive official. He appointed all government officials who earned a salary of 600 bushels of grain or more with the help of advisors who reviewed each nominee. Near the beginning of the dynasty, semi-autonomous regional kings rivaled the emperor's authority. This autonomy was greatly diminished when the imperial court enacted reforms following the threats to central control like the Rebellion of the Seven States. The empress dowager could either be the emperor's actual or symbolic mother, and was in practice more powerful than the emperor, as she could override his decisions. The emperor's executive powers could also be practiced by any official upon whom he bestowed the Staff of Authority. These powers included the right to execute criminals without the imperial court's permission. The highest officials in the central bureaucracy, who provided advisory, censorial, executive, and judicial roles in governing the empire, consisted of cabinet members known as the Excellencies, heads of large specialized ministries known as the Nine Ministers, and various metropolitan officials of the capital region. Local government divisions, in descending order by size, were the province, commandery, county, and district. (more...)

Recently featured: Joseph SzigetiThoroughbred2006 Pacific hurricane season

March 13
L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) was an American pulp fiction author and religious leader who founded the Church of Scientology. After establishing a career as a writer of pulp fiction, becoming best known for his science fiction and fantasy stories, he developed a self-help system called Dianetics which was first published in 1950. He subsequently developed his ideas into a wide-ranging set of doctrines and rituals as part of a new religious movement that he called Scientology. His writings became the guiding texts for the Church of Scientology and a number of affiliated organizations that address such diverse topics as business administration, literacy and drug rehabilitation. The Church of Scientology depicts Hubbard in hagiographic terms, drawing on his legacy as its ultimate source of doctrine and legitimacy. His critics have characterized him as a liar, a charlatan and a madman, and many of his autobiographical statements have been proven to be fictitious. (more...)

Recently featured: Government of the Han DynastyJoseph SzigetiThoroughbred

March 14

The Fox and the Hound is a 1967 novel written by Daniel P. Mannix and illustrated by John Schoenherr. It follows the lives of Tod, a red fox raised by a human for the first year of his life, and Copper, a half-bloodhound dog owned by a local hunter, referred to as the Master. After Tod causes the death of the man's favorite hound, man and dog relentlessly hunt the fox, against the dual backdrops of a changing human world and Tod's normal life in hunting for food, seeking a mate, and defending his territory. As preparation for writing the novel, Mannix studied foxes, both tame and wild, a wide variety of hunting techniques, and the ways hounds appear to track foxes, seeking to ensure his characters acted realistically. The novel won the Dutton Animal Book Award in 1967, which resulted in its publication on September 11 that year by E.P. Dutton. It was a 1967 Reader's Digest Book Club selection and a winner of the Athenaeum Literary Award. It was well received by critics, who praised its detail and Mannix's writing style. Walt Disney Productions purchased the film rights for the novel when it won the Dutton award, though did not begin production on an adaptation until 1977. Heavily modified from the source material, Disney's The Fox and the Hound was released to theaters in July 1981 and became a box office success. (more...)

Recently featured: L. Ron HubbardGovernment of the Han DynastyJoseph Szigeti

March 15
Grand Coulee Dam

Grand Coulee Dam is a gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation. It was constructed between 1933 and 1942, originally with two powerplants. The Third Powerplant was completed in 1974 to increase its electric potential. It is the largest electric power-producing facility in the United States. The dam's power plants fueled the growing industries of the Northwest U.S. during World War II. Through a series of upgrades and the installation of pump-generators, the dam now supplies four power stations with an installed capacity of 6,809 MW. The reservoir is called Franklin Delano Roosevelt Lake, named after the United States President who presided over the authorization and completion of the dam. The dam has also prevented the migration of salmon and other fish upstream to spawn, interrupting their habitat and reproductive cycle. (more...)

Recently featured: The Fox and the HoundL. Ron HubbardGovernment of the Han Dynasty

March 16

Final Fantasy XII is a console role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2. Released in 2006, it is the twelfth title in the Final Fantasy series. The game takes place in the fictional location of Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are waging an endless war. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, is caught between the warring nations. When Dalmasca becomes annexed by Archadia, its princess, Ashe, creates a resistance movement. During the struggle, she meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of commanding an airship. They are quickly joined by a band of allies; together, they rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire. In reviews, Final Fantasy XII received universally high scores, and earned numerous awards in various categories from noted video game publications. Selling more than two million copies in Japan, it became the fourth best-selling PlayStation 2 game of 2006 worldwide. By March 2007, 5.2 million copies had been sold worldwide. A sequel, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, was released for the Nintendo DS in 2007. (more...)

Recently featured: Grand Coulee DamThe Fox and the HoundL. Ron Hubbard

March 17
Illustration of the carrack Henry Grace a Dieu

The Anthony Roll is a record of ships of the English Tudor navy of the 1540s, named after its creator, Anthony Anthony. It originally consisted of three rolls of vellum, depicting 58 naval vessels along with information on their size, crew, armament, and basic equipment. The rolls were presented to King Henry VIII in 1546, and were kept in the royal library. In 1680 Charles II gave two of the rolls to Samuel Pepys, who had them cut up and made into a single volume, which is now in the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. The third roll remained in the royal collection until it was given by William IV to his daughter, Mary Fox, who sold it to the British Museum in 1858; it is now owned by the British Library. The Anthony Roll is the only known fully illustrated inventory of ships of the English navy in the Tudor period. While the inventories listed in its text have proven to be highly accurate, most of the ship illustrations are rudimentary and made according to a set formula. The only known contemporary depictions of prominent Tudor era vessels like the Henry Grace à Dieu and the Mary Rose are contained in the Anthony Roll. Since the Mary Rose sank by accident in 1545 and was successfully salvaged in 1982, comparison between the information in the Roll and the physical evidence of the Mary Rose has provided new insights into the study of the naval history of the period. (more...)

Recently featured: Final Fantasy XIIGrand Coulee DamThe Fox and the Hound

March 18
Hugo Chávez in 2003

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a 2003 documentary centered on the April 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt, which saw President Hugo Chávez temporarily removed from office. Focusing on the role of Venezuela's private media, the film examines several key incidents: the protest march and violence that provided the impetus for Chávez's ousting, the opposition's formation of an interim government, and Chávez's dramatic return. Given direct access to the president, Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Briain intended to make a fly-on-the-wall biography; they spent seven months filming in Venezuela, following Chávez and interviewing citizens. As the coup unfolded, Bartley and Ó Briain captured footage of protesters and the erupting violence on the streets of the capital, Caracas. Later, they filmed many of the political upheavals in the presidential palace. The film was positively received by mainstream critics and won several awards. Reviewers cited the filmmakers' unprecedented proximity to key events and praised the film for its "riveting narrative". Criticism focused on its lack of context and pro-Chávez bias, a perception which has led to disputes over its neutrality and accuracy; particular attention is paid to its framing of the violence of 11–13 April, the filmmakers' editing of the timeline, and the alleged omission of incidents and personnel. The film is variously cited as an accurate portrayal or a misrepresentation of the events of April 2002. (more...)

Recently featured: Anthony RollFinal Fantasy XIIGrand Coulee Dam

March 19
Players celebrate after winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup

Seattle Sounders FC is a Major League Soccer (MLS) team based in Seattle, Washington, that plays its home matches at Qwest Field. It was established in November 2007 as an MLS expansion team. The league's 15th team, Sounders FC played the first match of its inaugural season on March 19, 2009. During their first two seasons every home game was sold out, they set a new MLS record for average match attendance, and they sold the most season tickets in the league. Seattle finished both seasons with a winning record and qualified for the MLS playoffs. In 2009 Sounders FC became the second expansion team in MLS history to win the U.S. Open Cup, and in 2010 became the first ever MLS team to repeat as Open Cup champions. Fans selected the Sounders name for the club through an online poll in 2008, making the Seattle Sounders FC the third Seattle soccer team to bear the moniker. (more...)

Recently featured: The Revolution Will Not Be TelevisedAnthony RollFinal Fantasy XII

March 20
Image of William of Tyre writing his history, from a 13th century Old French translation

William of Tyre (c. 1130–1186) was a medieval prelate and chronicler. He grew up in Jerusalem at the height of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which had been established in 1099 after the First Crusade, and he spent twenty years studying the liberal arts and canon law in the universities of Europe. Following William's return to Jerusalem in 1165, King Amalric I made him an ambassador to the Byzantine Empire. William became tutor to the king's son, the future King Baldwin IV, whom William discovered to be a leper. After Amalric's death, William became chancellor and archbishop of Tyre, two of the highest offices in the kingdom, and in 1179 William led the eastern delegation to the Third Council of the Lateran. As he was involved in the dynastic struggle that developed during Baldwin IV's reign, his importance waned when a rival faction gained control of royal affairs. He was passed over for the prestigious Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and died in obscurity, probably in 1186. William wrote an account of the Lateran Council and a history of the Islamic states from the time of Muhammad. Neither work survives. He is famous today as the author of a history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the only source for the history of twelfth-century Jerusalem written by a native. (more...)

Recently featured: Seattle Sounders FCThe Revolution Will Not Be TelevisedAnthony Roll

March 21

John Michael Wright (1617–1694) was a portrait painter in the Baroque style. Described variously as English and Scottish, Wright trained in Edinburgh under the Scots painter George Jamesone, and acquired a considerable reputation as an artist and scholar during a long sojourn in Rome. There he was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, and was associated with some of the leading artists of his generation. He was engaged by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, to acquire artworks in Oliver Cromwell's England in 1655. He took up permanent residence in England from 1656, and served as court painter before and after the English Restoration. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he was a favourite of the restored Stuart court, a client of both Charles II and James II, and was a witness to many of the political manoeuvrings of the era. In the final years of the Stuart monarchy he returned to Rome as part of an embassy to Pope Innocent XI. Wright is currently rated as one of the leading indigenous British painters of his generation and largely for the distinctive realism in his portraiture. Perhaps due to the unusually cosmopolitan nature of his experience, he was favoured by patrons at the highest level of society in an age in which foreign artists were usually preferred. Wright's paintings of royalty and aristocracy are included amongst the collections of many leading galleries today. (more...)

Recently featured: William of TyreSeattle Sounders FCThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised

March 22
A Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina graculina) photographed at Blue Mountain, New South Wales

The Pied Currawong is a medium-sized black passerine bird native to eastern Australia and Lord Howe Island. One of three currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian Magpie of the family Artamidae. Six subspecies are recognised. It is a robust crow-like bird averaging around 48 cm (19 in) in length, black or sooty grey-black in plumage with white undertail and wing patches, yellow irises, and a heavy bill. The male and female are similar in appearance. Known for its melodious calls, the species' name currawong is of indigenous origin. Within its range, the Pied Currawong is generally sedentary, although populations at higher altitudes relocate to lower areas during the cooler months. It is omnivorous, with a diet that includes a wide variety of berries and seeds, invertebrates, bird eggs and juvenile birds. It is a predator which has adapted well to urbanization and can be found in parks and gardens as well as rural woodland. The habitat includes all kinds of forested areas, although mature forests are preferred for breeding. Roosting, nesting and the bulk of foraging take place in trees, in contrast with the ground foraging behaviour of its relative the Australian Magpie. (more...)

Recently featured: John Michael WrightWilliam of TyreSeattle Sounders FC

March 23
A James McAleer baseball card

Jimmy McAleer (1864–1931) was an American center fielder, manager, and stockholder in Major League Baseball who helped establish the American League. He spent most of his 13-season playing career with the Cleveland Spiders, and went on to manage the Cleveland Blues, St. Louis Browns, and Washington Senators. Shortly before his retirement, he became a major shareholder in the Boston Red Sox. His career ended abruptly. During his brief tenure as co-owner of the Red Sox, McAleer quarreled with longtime friend and colleague Ban Johnson, president of the American League. McAleer's rift with Johnson, along with his sudden retirement, damaged his professional reputation, and he received little recognition for his contributions to baseball. Today, he is most often remembered for initiating the customary request that the President of the United States throw out the first ball of the season. (more...)

Recently featured: Pied CurrawongJohn Michael WrightWilliam of Tyre

March 24
Joseph Barbera

Joseph Barbera (1911–2006) was an influential American animator, director, producer, storyboard artist, and cartoon artist. Born in New York City, after working odd jobs and as a banker, Barbera joined Van Beuren Studios in 1932 and subsequently Terrytoons in 1936. He met his lifelong collaborator William Hanna while working for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1937 and soon began producing animated shorts such as the Tom and Jerry series. In 1957, after MGM dissolved their animation department, they co-founded Hanna–Barbera, which became the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing programs such as The Flintstones, The Huckleberry Hound Show, Top Cat, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Quick Draw McGraw Show, The Smurfs, Wacky Races and Yogi Bear. Hanna and Barbera won seven Academy Awards and eight Emmy Awards. Their shows, which have translations in more than 20 languages, had a global audience in the 1960s of over 300 million people. (more...)

Recently featured: Jimmy McAleerPied CurrawongJohn Michael Wright

March 25
Members of Radiohead

Radiohead are an English alternative rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitars, piano), Jonny Greenwood (guitars, keyboards, other instruments), Ed O'Brien (guitars, backing vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass, synthesizers) and Phil Selway (drums, percussion). Radiohead released their first single, "Creep", in 1992. The song was initially unsuccessful, but it became a worldwide hit several months after the release of their debut album, Pablo Honey (1993). Radiohead's third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to greater international fame. Featuring an expansive sound and themes of modern alienation, OK Computer is often acclaimed as a landmark record of the 1990s. Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001) marked an evolution in Radiohead's musical style, as the group incorporated experimental electronic music, Krautrock and jazz influences. Radiohead's work has appeared in a large number of listener polls and critics' lists. While the band's earlier albums were influential on British rock and pop music, musicians in a wide variety of genres have been influenced by their later work. (more...)

Recently featured: Joseph BarberaJimmy McAleerPied Currawong

March 26
An Acrocanthosaurus skull in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Acrocanthosaurus is a genus of theropod dinosaur that existed in what is now North America during the Aptian and early Albian stages of the Early Cretaceous. Like most dinosaur genera, Acrocanthosaurus contains only a single species, A. atokensis. Its fossil remains are found mainly in the U.S. states of Oklahoma and Texas, although teeth attributed to Acrocanthosaurus have been found as far east as Maryland. Acrocanthosaurus was a bipedal predator, best known for the high neural spines on many of its vertebrae, which most likely supported a ridge of muscle over the animal's neck, back and hips. Approaching 12 meters (40 ft) in length, and weighing up to 6.17 metric tons (6.8 short tons), it was the largest theropod in its ecosystem and likely an apex predator, possibly preying on large sauropods and ornithopods. (more...)

Recently featured: RadioheadJoseph BarberaJimmy McAleer

March 27
Title page of the 1735 Works

Drapier's Letters is the collective name for a series of seven pamphlets written between 1724 and 1725 by Jonathan Swift to arouse public opinion in Ireland against the imposition of a privately minted copper coinage which Swift believed to be of inferior quality. William Wood was granted letters patent to mint the coin, and Swift saw the licensing of the patent as corrupt. In response, Swift represented Ireland as constitutionally and financially independent in the Drapier's Letters. Since the subject was politically sensitive, Swift wrote under the pseudonym M. B. Drapier to hide from retaliation. Although the letters were condemned by the Irish government, with prompting from the British government, they were still able to inspire popular sentiment against Wood and his patent. The popular sentiment turned into a nationwide boycott, which forced the patent to be withdrawn; Swift was later honoured for this service to the people of Ireland. The first complete collection of the Drapier's Letters appeared in the 1735 George Faulkner edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift along with an allegorical frontispiece offering praise and thanks from the Irish people. Today, the Drapier's Letters are an important part of Swift's political writings, along with Gulliver's Travels (1726), A Tale of a Tub (1704), and A Modest Proposal (1729). (more...)

Recently featured: AcrocanthosaurusRadioheadJoseph Barbera

March 28
Skeletal formula of rhodocene

Rhodocene is a chemical compound with the formula Rh(C5H5)2. Each molecule contains an atom of rhodium bound between two planar systems of five carbon atoms known as cyclopentadienyl rings in a sandwich arrangement. It is an organometallic compound as it has covalent rhodium–carbon bonds. Biomedical researchers have examined the applications of rhodium compounds and their derivatives in medicine and reported one potential application for a rhodocene derivative as a radiopharmaceutical to treat small cancers. Rhodocene derivatives are also used to synthesise linked metallocenes so that metal–metal interactions can be studied; potential applications of these derivatives include molecular electronics and research into the mechanisms of catalysis. The value of rhodocenes tends to be in the insights they provide into the bonding and dynamics of novel chemical systems, rather than their direct use in applications. (more...)

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March 29
Battle of Towton, a depiction by Richard Caton Woodville

The Battle of Towton was the "largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil". The engagement took place near the village of the same name in Yorkshire on 29 March 1461, a Palm Sunday. It was part of the series of civil wars—the Wars of the Roses—fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York. More than 50,000 soldiers were mustered for this battle. The reigning king of England, Henry VI, headed the Lancastrians, while the Yorkists were led by Edward IV, who had declared himself king and was using this battle to affirm his claim. Their armies met on a plateau near Towton amidst a snowstorm. The Lancastrians, superior in numbers, were lured out of their defensive positions by the Yorkist archers, who took advantage of the strong wind to outrange their counterparts and inflict casualties without suffering any in return. The ensuing melee raged for hours, and the Yorkists finally gained victory after the arrival of their reinforcements. Many Lancastrians were killed in their panicked flight from the battlefield, and the heralds reported a count of 28,000 dead. Henry fled to Scotland, leaving Edward free to start the Yorkist dynasty. (more...)

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March 30
Gerry Anderson

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons is a 1960s British science-fiction television series created by Gerry Anderson (pictured) and produced by Century 21 Productions for Associated Television. In keeping with Anderson's earlier productions such as Thunderbirds, it mixes marionette puppet characters and scale-model special effects in a filming technique dubbed "Supermarionation". The plot of the 32-episode series, set in 2068, centres on an interplanetary war between Earth and a race of Martians known as the Mysterons. Captain Scarlet, top agent of Spectrum, an international security organisation, acquires "retro-metabolism" (a Mysteron healing power that enables him to recover from normally fatal injuries), making him Earth's "indestructible" ultimate weapon against the threat from Mars. Reception to the series has acknowledged a "dark" tone and a large amount of depicted violence, although the programme has a target audience of children. A computer-animated reboot series, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, commenced broadcast in 2005. (more...)

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March 31
Air Marshall Richard Williams

Sir Richard Williams (1890–1980) is regarded as the "father" of the Royal Australian Air Force. He was the first military pilot trained in Australia, and commanded fighter units in World War I. A proponent of independent air power, Williams played a leading role in the establishment of the RAAF and became its first and longest-serving Chief of the Air Staff (CAS). Born into a working class family, he was an Army Lieutenant when he learned to fly in 1914. As a pilot with the Australian Flying Corps in World War I, Williams commanded No. 1 Squadron and later 40th Wing RAF, earning the Distinguished Service Order. Afterwards he campaigned for an Australian Air Force separate from the Army and Navy, and this came into being on 31 March 1921. The fledgling RAAF faced challenges to its existence for the next decade, and Williams was credited with maintaining its independence. However an adverse report on flying safety saw him dismissed as CAS prior to World War II. Despite promotion to Air Marshal in 1940, he never again commanded the RAAF. After the war he was forcibly retired and took up the position of Director-General of Civil Aviation. He was knighted shortly before his retirement in 1955. (more...)

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