Wikipedia:Today's featured article/May 2009

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May 1

Captain Kidd's play area at Idlewild and Soak Zone

Idlewild and Soak Zone is a family amusement park situated in the Laurel Highlands near Ligonier, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Pittsburgh, along US Route 30. Founded in 1878 as a campground along the Ligonier Valley Railroad by Thomas Mellon, Idlewild is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania. It has won several awards, including five from Amusement Today as the second-best children's park in the world. The park was established by the Mellon family in 1878, and remained family-owned for over 100 years. The park expanded greatly through the first half of the 20th century, adding rides including a Philadelphia Toboggan Company Rollo Coaster in 1938, one of the company's earliest. The park is home to the Ligonier Highland Games, a Scottish athletic and cultural festival that has annually drawn over 10,000 spectators. In 1983, the park was purchased by Kennywood Entertainment Company, which oversaw additional expansion, including an attraction designed and voiced by Fred Rogers based on his television show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. (more...)

Recently featured: Ælfheah of CanterburyAcid2Kit

May 2

John Frusciante in 2006

John Frusciante (born 1970) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the guitarist of the alternative rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he has recorded five studio albums. Frusciante also maintains an active solo career, having released ten albums under his own name, as well as two collaborations with Josh Klinghoffer and Joe Lally, under the name Ataxia. His solo recordings incorporate a variety of elements ranging from experimental rock and ambient music to new wave and electronica. Drawing influence from guitarists of various genres, Frusciante emphasizes melody and emotion in his guitar playing, and favors vintage guitars and analog recording techniques. Frusciante joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the age of eighteen, first appearing on the band's 1989 album Mother's Milk. The group's follow-up album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was a breakthrough success. However, he was overwhelmed by the band's newfound popularity and as a result quit in 1992. He became a recluse and entered a long period of heroin addiction, during which he released his first recordings: Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt (1994) and Smile from the Streets You Hold (1997). (more...)

Recently featured: Idlewild and Soak ZoneÆlfheah of CanterburyAcid2

May 3

The Grande Ludovisi sarcophagus depciting a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Germans

The structural history of the Roman military describes the major chronological transformations in the organization and constitution of ancient Rome's armed forces, "the most effective and long-lived military institution known to history". From its origins around 800 BC to its final dissolution in 476 AD with the demise of the Western Roman Empire, Rome's military underwent substantial structural change. Rome's military structure passed through four distinct phases. Initially, Rome's military consisted of an annual citizen levy performing military service as part of their duty to the state. As the extent of the territories falling under Roman suzerainty expanded, and the size of the city's forces increased, the soldiery of ancient Rome became increasingly professional and salaried. In the third phase of the city's military development, Rome's forces were tasked with manning and securing the borders of the provinces brought under Roman control, as well as Italy itself. Strategic-scale threats were generally less serious in this period, and strategic emphasis was placed on preserving gained territory. In the final phase of Rome's military, military service continued to be salaried and professional for Rome's regular troops. The uniformity of structure found in Rome's earlier military forces disappeared. (more...)

Recently featured: John FruscianteIdlewild and Soak ZoneÆlfheah of Canterbury

May 4

Ed Stelmach

Ed Stelmach (born 1951) is the current Premier of Alberta, Canada, having served in this capacity since December 14, 2006. He spent his entire pre-political adult life as a farmer, except for some time spent studying at the University of Alberta. His first foray into politics was a 1986 municipal election, when he was elected to the county council of Lamont County. A year into his term, he was appointed reeve. He continued in this position until his entry into provincial politics. In the 1993 provincial election, Stelmach was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vegreville-Viking. A Progressive Conservative, he served in the cabinets of Ralph Klein. When Klein resigned the party's leadership in 2006, Stelmach was among the first to run to replace him. After a third place finish on the first ballot of the leadership race, he won an upset second ballot victory over former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning. Stelmach's premiership has been heavily focused on management of the province's oil reserves, especially those of the Athabasca Oil Sands. Other policy initiatives have included commencing an overhaul of the province's health governance system, a re-introduction of all-party committees to the Legislature, and the conclusion of a major labour agreement with Alberta's teachers. (more...)

Recently featured: Structural history of the Roman militaryJohn FruscianteIdlewild and Soak Zone

May 5

"Ribbon view" of the human exosome complex

The exosome complex is a multi-protein complex, capable of degrading various types of RNAs. Exosome complexes can be found in both eukaryotic cells and archaea, while in bacteria a simpler complex called the degradosome carries out similar functions. The core of the complex has a six-membered ring structure, to which other proteins are attached. In eukaryotic cells, it is present in the cytoplasm, nucleus and especially the nucleolus, although different proteins interact with the complex in these compartments, in order to regulate the RNA degradation activity of the complex to substrates specific for these cell compartments. Substrates of the exosome include messenger RNA, ribosomal RNA, and many species of small RNAs. The exosome has an exoribonucleolytic function, meaning it degrades RNA starting at one side (the so-called 3' end in this case), rather than cleaving the RNA at specific sites. Although no causative relation between the complex and any disease is known, several proteins in the complex are the target of autoantibodies in patients with specific autoimmune diseases (especially the PM/Scl overlap syndrome) and some antimetabolitic chemotherapies for cancer function by blocking the activity of the complex. (more...)

Recently featured: Ed StelmachStructural history of the Roman militaryJohn Frusciante

May 6

An artist's conception of Haumea

Haumea is a dwarf planet, one-third the mass of Pluto, in the Kuiper belt. It was discovered in 2004 by a team headed by Mike Brown of Caltech at the Palomar Observatory in the United States, and in 2005 by a team headed by J. L. Ortiz at the Sierra Nevada Observatory in Spain, though the latter claim has been contested. On September 17, 2008, it was accepted as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and named after Haumea, the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth. Haumea's extreme elongation makes it unique among known trans-Neptunian objects. Although its shape has not been directly observed, calculations from its light curve suggest it is an ellipsoid, with its greatest axis twice as long as its shortest. Nonetheless, its gravity is believed sufficient for it to have relaxed into hydrostatic equilibrium, thereby meeting the definition of a dwarf planet. This elongation, along with its unusually rapid rotation, high density, and high albedo (due to a surface of crystalline water ice), are thought to be the results of a giant collision, which left Haumea the largest member of a collisional family that includes several large TNOs and its two known moons. (more...)

Recently featured: Exosome complexEd StelmachStructural history of the Roman military

May 7

Ursula Franklin in 2006

Ursula Franklin (born 1921) is a Canadian metallurgist, research physicist, author and educator who has taught at the University of Toronto for more than 40 years. She is the author of The Real World of Technology, which is based on her 1989 Massey Lectures, and The Ursula Franklin Reader: Pacifism as a Map, a collection of her papers, interviews, and talks. Franklin is a practising Quaker and has been active in working on behalf of pacifist and feminist causes. Franklin has received numerous honours and awards, including the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for promoting the equality of girls and women in Canada and the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in advancing human rights. Franklin is best known for her writings on the political and social effects of technology. For her, technology is a comprehensive system that includes methods, procedures, organization, "and most of all, a mindset". She distinguishes between holistic technologies used by craft workers or artisans and prescriptive ones associated with a division of labour in large-scale production. Franklin argues that the dominance of prescriptive technologies in modern society discourages critical thinking and promotes "a culture of compliance". (more...)

Recently featured: HaumeaExosome complexEd Stelmach

May 8

A portion of the C-38 canal

The restoration of the Everglades is an ongoing effort to remedy damage inflicted on the environment of southern Florida during the 20th century. As of 2009, it is the most expensive and comprehensive environmental repair attempt in history. The degradation of the Everglades became an issue in the United States in the early 1970s after a proposal to construct a jetport in the Big Cypress Swamp. Studies indicated the jetport would have destroyed the ecosystem in South Florida and Everglades National Park. After decades of destructive practices, both state and federal agencies are looking for ways to balance the needs of the natural environment in South Florida with urban and agricultural centers that have recently and rapidly grown in the Everglades. When high levels of phosphorus and mercury were discovered in these waterways in 1986, water quality became a focus for water management agencies. A strategy called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was attached to restore portions of the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River, and Florida Bay to undo the damage of the past 50 years. It would take 30 years and cost $7.8 billion to complete. Though the plan was passed into law in 2000, it has been compromised by politics and funding problems. (more...)

Recently featured: Ursula FranklinHaumeaExosome complex

May 9

The charge of the Highlanders at the Battle of Bushy Run. Oil on canvas by by CW Jeffreys (1869 - 1951)

Pontiac's Rebellion was a war launched in 1763 by North American First Nations who were dissatisfied with British policies in the Great Lakes region after the British victory in the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War (1754–1763). Warriors from numerous tribes joined the uprising in an effort to drive British soldiers and settlers out of the region. The war is named after the Odawa leader Pontiac, the most prominent of many native leaders in the conflict. The war began in May 1763 when American Natives, alarmed by policies imposed by British General Jeffrey Amherst, attacked a number of British forts and settlements. The First Nations were unable to drive away the British, but the uprising prompted the British government to modify the policies that had provoked the conflict. Warfare on the North American frontier was brutal, and the killing of prisoners, the targeting of civilians, and other atrocities were widespread. The ruthlessness of the conflict was a reflection of a growing racial divide between British colonists and American Indians. The British government sought to prevent further racial violence by issuing the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which created a boundary between colonists and Indians. (more...)

Recently featured: Restoration of the EvergladesUrsula FranklinHaumea

May 10

The Million Dollar Homepage is a website conceived in 2005 by 21-year-old student Alex Tew from Wiltshire, England, to raise money for his university education. The home page consists of a million pixels arranged in a 1000 × 1000 pixel grid; the image-based links on it were sold for $1 per pixel in 10 × 10 blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to which the images were linked, and a slogan to be displayed when hovering a cursor over the link. The aim of the site was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating a million dollars of income for the creator. The Wall Street Journal has commented that the site inspired other websites that sell pixels. Launched on 26 August 2005, the website became an Internet phenomenon. The Alexa ranking of web traffic peaked at around 127; as of 9 May 2009, it is 40,044. On 1 January 2006, the final 1,000 pixels were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on 11 January with a winning bid of $38,100 that brought the final tally to $1,037,100 in gross income. During the January 2006 auction, the website was subject to a distributed denial-of-service attack and ransom demand, which left it inaccessible to visitors for a week while its security system was upgraded. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Wiltshire Constabulary investigated the attack and extortion attempt. (more...)

Recently featured: Pontiac's RebellionRestoration of the EvergladesUrsula Franklin

May 11

Eli Lilly in 1885

Eli Lilly (1838–1898) was a soldier, pharmaceutical chemist, industrialist, and founder of the Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical corporation. Lilly enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War, he recruited a company of men to serve with him, and was later promoted to colonel and given command of a force of cavalry. After the war, he attempted to run a plantation in Mississippi but failed and returned to his pharmacy profession after the death of his wife. He opened his own business in 1876 with plans to manufacture drugs and market them wholesale to pharmacies. His company was successful and he soon became wealthy after making numerous advances in medicinal drug manufacturing. Two of the early advances he pioneered were creating gelatin capsules to hold medicine and fruit flavoring for liquid medicines. Eli Lilly & Co. was the first pharmaceutical company of its kind; it staffed a dedicated research department and put in place numerous quality assurance measures. Lilly was an advocate of federal regulation of the pharmaceutical industry and many of his suggested reforms were enacted into law in 1906, resulting in the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. He was also among the pioneers of the concept of prescriptions. (more...)

Recently featured: The Million Dollar HomepagePontiac's RebellionRestoration of the Everglades

May 12

The Victoria Cross for New Zealand is a military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the New Zealand Armed Forces. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and civilians under military command, and is presented to the recipient by the Governor-General of New Zealand during an investiture held at Government House, Wellington. As the highest award for gallantry in New Zealand it takes precedence over other postnominals and medals. The original Victoria Cross was introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross for New Zealand was established in 1999 and was awarded for the first (and so far only) time on 2 July 2007, to Corporal Bill (Willie) Apiata for actions in 2004. Originally all Commonwealth personnel were issued with the same award, but in the last 50 years, Commonwealth countries have introduced separate award systems; three of these retain "Victoria Cross" as part of the name of the highest award for gallantry. New Zealand created a new award system that replaced several Commonwealth Honours with separate awards. (more...)

Recently featured: Eli LillyThe Million Dollar HomepagePontiac's Rebellion

May 13

Triptych, May–June 1973 is a triptych completed in 1973 by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon. The oil-on-canvas work was painted in memory of Bacon's lover George Dyer, who committed suicide on the eve of the artist's retrospective at Paris's Grand Palais in October 1971. The triptych is a portrait of the moments before Dyer's death. Bacon was preoccupied by Dyer's suicide in his last twenty years, during which time he painted a number of similarly themed works. He admitted to friends that he never fully recovered from the event, and described painting the triptych as an exorcism of his feelings of loss and guilt. The work is stylistically more static and monumental than Bacon's earlier triptychs. It has been described as one of his "supreme achievements", and is generally viewed as his most intense and tragic canvas. Of the three "Black Triptychs" that Bacon created to confront Dyer's death, Triptych, May–June 1973 is generally regarded as the most accomplished. In 2006, The Daily Telegraph's art critic Sarah Crompton wrote that "emotion seeps into each panel of this giant canvas…the sheer power and control of Bacon's brushwork take the breath away". In 1989, the work sold at Sotheby's for US$6,270,000, the highest price then paid for a Bacon work. (more...)

Recently featured: Victoria Cross for New ZealandEli LillyThe Million Dollar Homepage

May 14

A street newspaper vendor, selling Street Sheet, in San Francisco

Street newspapers are newspapers or magazines that are sold by homeless or poor individuals and are produced mainly to support these populations. Most such newspapers primarily provide coverage about homelessness and poverty-related issues, and seek to strengthen social networks within homeless communities. Street papers aim to give these individuals both employment opportunities and a voice in their community. In addition to being sold by homeless individuals, many papers are partially produced and written by them. Several publications by charity, religious, and labor organizations tried to draw attention to the homeless in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but street newspapers only became common after the founding of New York City's Street News in 1989. Similar papers are now published in over 30 countries, with most located in the United States and Western Europe. They are supported by governments, charities, and coalitions such as the International Network of Street Papers and the North American Street Newspaper Association. Although street newspapers have multiplied, many still face challenges, including funding shortages, unreliable staff and difficulty in generating interest and maintaining an audience. (more...)

Recently featured: Triptych, May–June 1973Victoria Cross for New ZealandEli Lilly

May 15

The Ramblin' Wreck in 2006

The Ramblin' Wreck is a 1930 Ford Model A Sports coupe that serves as the official mascot of the student body at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Wreck is present at all major sporting events and student body functions. Its most noticeable role is leading the football team onto Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, a duty which the Wreck has performed since 1961. The Ramblin' Wreck is mechanically and financially maintained on campus by students in the Ramblin' Reck Club. The first mechanical Wreck was a 1914 Ford Model T owned by Dean Floyd Field. Until the current Wreck was donated to the school in 1961, most of the early Ramblin' Wrecks were owned by students, faculty or alumni. The modern Wreck has donned a number of different paint jobs and has had several restorations and modifications made to it. These changes were done by various individuals and organizations over the years, including Bobby Dodd and a Georgia Tech alum at the Ford plant in Hapeville, Georgia. The upkeep of the Wreck has been the sole responsibility of the Ramblin' Reck Club and the Wreck driver since 1987. The Ramblin' Wreck has been the target of a number of pranks perpetrated by rival schools; the University of Tennessee once provided the Wreck with an unsolicited new paint job, and the University of Georgia has kidnapped the Wreck on at least two occasions. (more...)

Recently featured: Street newspaperTriptych, May–June 1973Victoria Cross for New Zealand

May 16

Nintendo DS Lite

New Super Mario Bros. is a side-scrolling platform video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. The game was released in North America and Japan in May 2006, and in Australia and Europe in June 2006. It is the first original side-scrolling platform game starring Mario since Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins in 1992, and it is the first game to be a part of the main Mario series of video games since Super Mario Sunshine in 2002. The game's story is similar to those of other side-scrolling Mario games. New Super Mario Bros. follows the titular Mario as he fights his way through Bowser's henchmen to rescue Princess Peach. Mario has access to several power-ups that help him complete his quest, including the Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower, and the Starman, each giving him unique abilities. While traveling to eight worlds with ten levels in each, Mario must defeat Bowser Jr. and Bowser before finally saving Princess Peach. Reviews were generally favorable towards the game, which received an aggregated score of 89% from Metacritic. Praise focused on improvements made to the Mario franchise, while criticism targeted the game's simplicity. New Super Mario Bros. received several honors, including Game of the Month awards from Game Informer and Electronic Gaming Monthly, and Editors' Choice Awards from IGN and GameSpot. In Japan, the game broke the record for the best-selling debut for a Nintendo DS game. Overall, the game has sold 17.63 million copies worldwide. (more...)

Recently featured: Ramblin' WreckStreet newspaperTriptych, May–June 1973

May 17

Portland Harbour

The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, 6 kilometres (4 mi) long by 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) wide, in the English Channel. Portland is 8 kilometres (5 mi) south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. Chesil Beach connects it to the mainland, and the A354 road bridge connects it to Weymouth, which together form the borough of Weymouth and Portland. The population of Portland is almost 13,000. Portland is a central part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast, important for its geology and landforms. Its name is used for one of the British Sea Areas, and has been exported as the name of North American and Australian towns. Portland limestone is still quarried here, and is used in British architecture, including St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. The large, deep artificial harbour on Portland's northern shore was a Royal Navy base during World War I and World War II; the Navy and NATO trained in its waters until the 1990s. The harbour is a small civilian port and popular recreation area; the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy will host the sailing events for the 2012 Olympic Games. (more...)

Recently featured: New Super Mario Bros.Ramblin' WreckStreet newspaper

May 18

An artist's impression of Styracosaurus

Styracosaurus was a genus of herbivorous ceratopsian dinosaur from the Cretaceous Period (Campanian stage), about 76.5 to 75.0 million years ago. It had four to six long horns extending from its neck frill, a smaller horn on each of its cheeks, and a single horn protruding from its nose, which may have reached dimensions of around 60 centimeters (2 ft) long and 15 centimeters (6 in) wide. The function or functions of the horns and frills have been the subject of debate for many years. Styracosaurus was a large dinosaur, reaching lengths of 5.5 meters (18 ft) and weighing nearly 3 tons. It stood about 1.8 meters (6 ft) tall. Styracosaurus possessed four short legs and a bulky body. Its tail was rather short. It also had a beak and flat cheek teeth, indicating that its diet was herbivorous. Like other ceratopsians, this dinosaur may have been a herd animal, traveling in large groups, as suggested by bonebeds. Named by Lawrence Lambe in 1913, Styracosaurus is a member of the Centrosaurinae. Two species, S. albertensis and S. ovatus are currently assigned to Styracosaurus. Other species assigned to the genus have since been reassigned elsewhere. (more...)

Recently featured: Isle of PortlandNew Super Mario Bros.Ramblin' Wreck

May 19

Malcolm X

Malcolm X (1925–1965) was an African American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. His detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. After living in a series of foster homes, Malcolm X became involved in the criminal underworld in Boston and New York. In 1945, he was sentenced to eight to ten years in prison. While in prison, he became a member of the Nation of Islam. After his parole in 1952, he became one of the Nation's leaders and chief spokesmen. For nearly a dozen years, he was the public face of the Nation of Islam. Tension between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, head of the Nation of Islam, led to Malcom X's departure from the organization in March 1964. After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X became a Sunni Muslim and made a pilgrimage to Mecca. He traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East. He founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization, and the secular, black nationalist Organization of Afro-American Unity. Less than a year after he left the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated while giving a speech in New York. (more...)

Recently featured: StyracosaurusIsle of PortlandNew Super Mario Bros.

May 20

Panzer III in the southern Soviet Union, December 1942

Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. The Red Army took advantage of the fact that German forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched, using weaker Romanian and Italian armies to guard their flanks. At 07:20 (Moscow time) on 19 November 1942 Soviet forces on the northern flank of the Axis forces at Stalingrad began their offensive; forces in the south began on 20 November. Although Romanian units were able to repel the first attacks, by the end of 20 November the Third and Fourth Romanian armies were in headlong retreat, as the Red Army bypassed several German infantry divisions. By late 22 November Soviet forces linked up at the town of Kalach, encircling some 290,000 men east of the Don River. Instead of attempting a breakout operation, German dictator Adolf Hitler instead decided to keep Axis forces in Stalingrad and resupply them by air. In the meantime, Soviet and German commanders began to plan their next movements. (more...)

Recently featured: Malcolm XStyracosaurusIsle of Portland

May 21

The LSWR N15 class was a British 2-cylinder 4-6-0 express passenger steam locomotive designed by Robert W. Urie. The class has a complex build history spanning several years of construction from 1919 to 1926. The first examples were constructed for the London and South Western Railway, where they hauled heavy express trains to the south coast ports and further west to Exeter. Following the Grouping of railway companies in 1923, the LSWR became part of the Southern Railway and its publicity department gave the locomotives names associated with Arthurian legend. The Chief Mechanical Engineer of the newly-formed company, Richard Maunsell, increased the King Arthur class strength to 74 locomotives. Maunsell incorporated several improvements, notably to the steam circuit. The new locomotives were built in batches at Eastleigh and Glasgow. Maunsell's successor, Oliver Bulleid, further improved performance by altering exhaust arrangements. The locomotives continued operating with British Railways (BR) until the end of 1962. One example, 30777 Sir Lamiel, is preserved as part of the National Collection and can be seen on mainline railtours. (more...)

Recently featured: Operation UranusMalcolm XStyracosaurus

May 22

Portrait of Lawrence Sullivan Ross

Lawrence Sullivan Ross (1838–1898) was the 19th Governor of Texas, a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War, and a president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. As a teenager, Ross attended Baylor University and Florence Wesleyan University. After graduation Ross became a Texas Ranger, and in 1860 led troops in the Battle of Pease River, where he rescued Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been captured by the Comanches as a child. When Texas joined the Confederacy, Ross joined the Confederate States Army. He participated in 135 battles and skirmishes and became one of the youngest Confederate generals. Following the Civil War, Ross briefly served as sheriff of McLennan County before resigning to participate in the 1875 Texas Constitutional Convention. With the exception of a two-year term as a state senator, Ross spent the next decade focused on his farm and ranch concerns. In 1887, he became the 19th governor of Texas. During his two terms, he oversaw the dedication of the new Texas State Capitol, resolved the Jaybird-Woodpecker War, and became the only Texas governor to call a special session to deal with a treasury surplus. Days after leaving office, Ross became president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. After his death, the Texas legislature created Sul Ross State University in his honor. (more...)

Recently featured: LSWR N15 classOperation UranusMalcolm X

May 23

Owen Hart

Over the Edge was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation, which took place on May 23, 1999, at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. The show's seven matches showcased prominent WWF wrestlers, who acted out the franchise's stories in and out of the ring; however, the wrestling industry mostly remembered the show for the accidental death of wrestler Owen Hart. In the main event, The Undertaker defeated Steve Austin in a singles match (with Shane McMahon as the guest referee) to win the WWF Championship. Owen Hart was scheduled to face The Godfather for the WWF Intercontinental Championship during the event. Hart was to make a superhero-like ring entrance, which would have seen him descend from the arena rafters into the ring. He was, however, released prematurely when the harness line malfunctioned, and fell more than 70 feet (21 m) into the ring and died. Criticism later arose over the WWF's decision to continue the show after Hart's accident. In court, the Hart family sued the organization, contending that poor planning of the dangerous stunt caused Owen's death. The WWF settled the case. (more...)

Recently featured: Lawrence Sullivan RossLSWR N15 classOperation Uranus

May 24

Edward VIII

The Edward VIII abdication crisis occurred in the British Empire in 1936, when the desire of King-Emperor Edward VIII to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite, caused a constitutional crisis. The marriage was opposed by the King's governments in the United Kingdom and the Dominions. Religious, legal, political, and moral objections were raised. Mrs Simpson was perceived to be an unsuitable consort because of her two failed marriages, and it was widely assumed by the Establishment that she was driven by love of money or position rather than love for the King. Despite the opposition, Edward declared that he loved Mrs Simpson and intended to marry her whether the governments approved or not. The widespread unwillingness to accept Mrs Simpson as the King's consort, and the King's refusal to give her up, led to Edward's abdication on 11 December 1936. He was succeeded by his brother Albert as George VI. Edward was given the title His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor following his abdication, and he married Mrs Simpson the following year. They remained married until his death 35 years later. (more...)

Recently featured: Over the Edge (1999)Lawrence Sullivan RossLSWR N15 class

May 25

Coat of arms of the United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. Established in 1802, USMA is the oldest of the United States' five service academies. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. Candidates for admission must both apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually from a congressman. Students are officers-in-training and are referred to as cadets. Tuition for cadets is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation. Approximately 1,000 cadets graduate each spring and are commissioned as second lieutenants. The academic program grants a bachelor of science degree with a curriculum that grades cadets' performance upon a broad academic program, military leadership performance, and mandatory participation in competitive athletics. Cadets are required to adhere to the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do". Its alumni are collectively referred to as "The Long Gray Line" and its ranks include two Presidents of the United States, numerous famous generals, and seventy-four Medal of Honor recipients. (more...)

Recently featured: Edward VIII abdication crisisOver the Edge (1999)Lawrence Sullivan Ross

May 26

U2 performing at Madison Square Garden in November 2005

U2 are a rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The band consists of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. The band formed in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. By the mid-1980s, the band had become a top international act, noted for their anthemic sound, Bono's impassioned vocals, and The Edge's textural guitar playing. Their success as a live act was greater than their success at selling records until their 1987 album The Joshua Tree elevated the band's stature "from heroes to superstars," according to Rolling Stone. U2 responded to the dance and alternative rock revolutions and their own sense of musical stagnation by reinventing themselves with their 1991 album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour. Similar experimentation continued for the rest of the 1990s. Since 2000, U2 have pursued a more conventional rock sound that retains the influence of their previous musical explorations. U2 have sold more than 145 million albums worldwide and have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band. In 2005, the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone magazine listed U2 at #22 in its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Throughout their career, as a band and as individuals, they have campaigned for human rights and social justice causes. (more...)

Recently featured: United States Military AcademyEdward VIII abdication crisisOver the Edge (1999)

May 27

Hunt in action in 2004

Karmichael Hunt (born 1986) is an Australian professional rugby league footballer for the Brisbane Broncos of the National Rugby League competition. Hunt primarily plays in the fullback position, but has also played on the wing and the five-eighth and halfback positions. Hunt has played in the NRL for Brisbane since 2004, and was part of the Broncos' competition-winning team in 2006. He has represented the Queensland Maroons in the State of Origin series and the Australian Kangaroos at international level. Hunt made his NRL debut in 2004 and played every game that season, winning the Dally M Rookie of the Year award. In a controversial move, Hunt chose to play for Australia instead of his native New Zealand, citing a lifelong dream of playing for Queensland in State of Origin. After a downturn in 2005, Hunt's 2006 performances resulted in his selection for Queensland and Australia. (more...)

Recently featured: U2United States Military AcademyEdward VIII abdication crisis

May 28

Hunt in action in 2004

La Peau de chagrin is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine. Although the novel uses fantastic elements, its main focus is a realistic portrayal of the excesses of bourgeois materialism. The book's central theme is the conflict between desire and longevity. The magic skin represents the owner's life force, which is depleted through every expression of will, especially when it is employed for the acquisition of power. Ignoring a caution from the shopkeeper who offers the skin to him, the protagonist greedily surrounds himself with wealth, only to find himself miserable and decrepit at the story's end. La Peau de chagrin firmly established Balzac as a writer of significance in France and abroad. His social circle widened significantly, and he was sought eagerly by publishers for future projects. It inspired Giselher Klebe's opera Die tödlichen Wünsche and may have influenced Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. (more...)

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May 29

Paulinus of York

Paulinus of York was a Roman missionary and the first Bishop of York. A member of the Gregorian mission sent by Pope Gregory I to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in 601, Paulinus arrived in England by 604 with the second missionary group. Little is known of Paulinus' activities in the following two decades. After some years spent in Kent, Paulinus was consecrated a bishop, probably in 627. He accompanied Æthelburg of Kent, sister of King Eadbald of Kent, on her journey to Northumbria to marry King Edwin of Northumbria, and eventually succeeded in converting Edwin to Christianity. Paulinus also converted many of Edwin's subjects and built a few churches. One of the women Paulinus baptised was a future saint, Hilda of Whitby. Following Edwin's death in 633 Paulinus and Æthelburg fled Northumbria, leaving behind a member of Paulinus' clergy, James the Deacon. Paulinus returned to Kent, where he became Bishop of Rochester. After his death in 644, Paulinus was venerated as a saint. (more...)

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May 30

Replica of the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM)

The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine was the world's first stored-program computer. It was built at the Victoria University of Manchester by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill, and ran its first program on 21 June 1948. The machine was not intended to be a practical computer but was instead designed as a testbed for the Williams tube, an early form of computer memory. It was considered "small and primitive" compared to its contemporaries, although it did contain all of the elements essential to a modern electronic computer. As soon as the SSEM had demonstrated the feasibility of its design a project was initiated at the university to develop it into a more usable computer, the Manchester Mark 1. The Mark 1 in turn quickly became the prototype for the Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercially available general-purpose computer. The SSEM had a 32-bit word length and a memory of 32 words. It was designed to be the simplest possible stored-program computer; the only arithmetic operation it could perform was subtraction. The first of the three programs written for the machine found the highest factor of 218 (262,144), a calculation it was known would take a long time to run—and so prove the computer's reliability. The program consisted of 17 instructions and ran for 52 minutes before reaching the correct answer of 131,072, after the SSEM had performed 3.5 million operations. (more...)

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May 31

SMS Von der Tann

SMS Von der Tann was the first battlecruiser built for the German Kaiserliche Marine, as well as Germany's first major turbine-powered warship. At the time of her construction, Von der Tann was the fastest dreadnought-type warship afloat, capable of reaching speeds of more than 27 knots. Built by Blohm and Voss in Hamburg, Von der Tann was one of the workhorses of the High Seas Fleet I Scouting Group. Von der Tann was designed in response to the British Invincible-class battlecruiser. While the German design had slightly lighter guns—28 cm (11 in), as opposed to the 30.5 cm (12 in) mounted on the British ships—Von der Tann was faster and significantly better-armoured. She set the precedent that German battlecruisers carried much heavier armour than their British equivalents, albeit at the cost of smaller guns. The ship participated in a number of fleet actions during the First World War, including the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, where she destroyed the British battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable within the first few minutes of the engagement. Von der Tann was hit several times by large-calibre shells during the battle, but the damage was quickly repaired and the ship returned to the fleet in two months. Following the end of the war in 1918, Von der Tann, along with most of the High Seas Fleet, was interned at Scapa Flow pending a decision by the Allies as to the fate of the fleet. The ship met her end when the fleet was scuttled in 1919 to prevent them falling into British hands. The wreck of Von der Tann was raised in 1930, and scrapped at Rosyth from 1931 to 1934. (more...)

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