Wikipedia:Today's featured article/May 2012

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May 1
Robert Smith while on tour in 1989

Disintegration is the eighth studio album by English alternative rock band The Cure, released on 1 May 1989 by Fiction Records. The record marks a return to the introspective and gloomy gothic rock style the band had established in the early 1980s. As he neared the age of thirty, vocalist and guitarist Robert Smith (pictured) felt an increased pressure to follow up on the group's pop successes with a more enduring work. This, coupled with a distaste for the group's new-found popularity, caused Smith to lapse back into the use of hallucinogenic drugs, the effects of which had a strong influence on the production of the album. The Cure recorded Disintegration at Hook End Manor Studios in Reading, Berkshire, with co-producer David M. Allen from late 1988 to early 1989. In spite of Fiction's fears that the album would be "commercial suicide", Disintegration became the band's commercial peak. It charted at number three in the United Kingdom and at number twelve in the United States, and produced several hit singles including "Lovesong", which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. Disintegration sold over three million copies worldwide. (more...)

Recently featured: Planets beyond NeptuneRainilaiarivonySMS König

May 2
Golding Bird

Golding Bird (1814–1854) was a British medical doctor and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He lectured at Guy's Hospital, and published a popular textbook on science for medical students. He developed an interest in chemistry as a child, and through self-study was advanced enough to deliver lectures to his fellow pupils at school. He later applied this knowledge to medicine and became a great authority on urinary deposits. He was the first to describe oxaluria, a condition which leads to a particular kind of kidney stone. Bird was innovative in the medical use of electricity, designing much of his own equipment. He was instrumental in rescuing medical electrotherapy from quackery and bringing it into the mainstream. He was quick to adopt new instruments of all kinds; he invented the single-cell Daniell cell and made important discoveries in electrometallurgy with it. In 1840 he designed a flexible tube stethoscope, and published the first description of such an instrument. (more...)

Recently featured: DisintegrationPlanets beyond NeptuneRainilaiarivony

May 3
Douglas SBDs of USS Yorktown's air group head back to the ship after a strike on Japanese ships in Tulagi harbor.

The invasion of Tulagi, on 3–4 May 1942, was part of Operation Mo, the Empire of Japan's strategy in the South Pacific and South West Pacific Area in 1942. The plan called for Imperial Japanese Navy troops to capture Tulagi and nearby islands in the Solomon Islands Protectorate. The occupation of Tulagi by the Japanese was intended to cover the flank of and provide reconnaissance support for Japanese forces that were advancing on Port Moresby in New Guinea, provide greater defensive depth for the major Japanese base at Rabaul, and serve as a base for Japanese forces to threaten and interdict the supply and communication routes between the United States and Australia and New Zealand. Without the means to resist the Japanese offensive capably in the Solomons, the British Resident Commissioner and the few Australian troops assigned to defend Tulagi evacuated just before the Japanese forces arrived on 3 May. Despite considerable losses inflicted by carrier-based American planes, the Japanese occupied the islands. (more...)

Recently featured: Golding BirdDisintegrationPlanets beyond Neptune

May 4
A pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos perching on a wire

The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is a large cockatoo native to Australia. It is more common in the drier parts of the continent. Five subspecies are recognised, differing most significantly in beak size. Although the more northerly subspecies are widespread, the two southern subspecies are under threat. Adult Red-tailed Black Cockatoos are around 60 centimetres (24 in) in length and sexually dimorphic. Males are completely black in colour, excepting their prominent red tail bands; the slightly smaller females are black with yellow barring on chest with yellow grading to red spots over their crest, cheeks and wings and have yellow-orange tail stripes. The species is usually found in eucalyptus woodlands, or along water courses. In the more northerly parts of the country, these cockatoos are commonly seen in large flocks. They are seed eaters and cavity nesters. As such, they depend on trees with fairly large diameters, generally Eucalyptus. Populations in southeastern Australia are threatened by reduction in forest cover and other habitat alterations. Of the black cockatoos, the red-tailed black is the most adaptable to aviculture, although black cockatoos are much rarer and much more expensive outside Australia. (more...)

Recently featured: Invasion of TulagiGolding BirdDisintegration

May 5
Ram Narayan at the 2010 Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in Pune, Maharashtra

Ram Narayan (born 1927) is an Indian musician who popularized the bowed instrument sarangi as a solo concert instrument in Hindustani classical music and became the first internationally successful sarangi player. Narayan was born in Udaipur and learned to play the sarangi at an early age. He studied under sarangi players and singers and, as a teenager, worked as a music teacher and traveling musician. All India Radio, Lahore, hired Narayan as an accompanist for vocalists in 1944. He moved to Delhi following the partition of India in 1947, but wishing to go beyond accompaniment and frustrated with his supporting role, Narayan moved to Mumbai in 1949 to work in Indian cinema. After an unsuccessful attempt in 1954, Narayan became a concert solo artist in 1956, and later gave up accompaniment. He recorded solo albums and began to tour America and Europe in the 1960s. Narayan taught Indian and foreign students and performed, frequently outside of India, into the 2000s. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2005. (more...)

Recently featured: Red-tailed Black CockatooInvasion of TulagiGolding Bird

May 6
Brodeur readies himself for action during a game in 2007.

Martin Brodeur (born 1972) is a Canadian ice hockey goaltender who has played his entire 19-year National Hockey League (NHL) career with the New Jersey Devils. He has won three Stanley Cup championships and has been in the playoffs every year but two. Brodeur has won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games, as well as several other medals with Team Canada in other international competitions. Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader in regular season wins, losses, shutouts, and games played, and holds numerous other league and franchise records. Brodeur won at least 35 games in every season between 1996–97 and 2007–08, and is the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons. He is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, a five-time Jennings Trophy winner, a ten-time NHL All-Star, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and one of only two NHL goaltenders to have scored goals in both the regular season and the playoffs. Brodeur uses a hybrid style of goaltending by standing up more than butterfly style goalies. Brodeur's prowess in puck handling directly led the NHL to change its rules regarding when goalies were allowed to handle the puck outside of the goal crease. (more...)

Recently featured: Ram NarayanRed-tailed Black CockatooInvasion of Tulagi

May 7

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. is an American Western/science fiction television series created by Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse. It ran for 27 episodes on the Fox network starting in the 1993–94 season. Set in the American West of 1893, the series follows its title character, a Harvard-educated lawyer-turned-bounty hunter hired by a group of wealthy industrialists to track and capture outlaw John Bly and his gang. Bruce Campbell plays Brisco, who is joined by a colorful group of supporting characters, including Julius Carry as fellow bounty hunter Lord Bowler and Christian Clemenson as stick-in-the-mud lawyer Socrates Poole. While ostensibly a Western, the series routinely includes elements of the science fiction and steampunk genres. The series earned high ratings at the beginning of its season, but later episodes failed to attract a substantial number of viewers. Fox canceled the show at the end of its first and only season. In 2006, Warner Home Video released a DVD set containing all 27 episodes, which was anticipated by fans and critics. The series has been remembered fondly by critics, who praise its humor and unique blend of genres. (more...)

Recently featured: Martin BrodeurRam NarayanRed-tailed Black Cockatoo

May 8
Portrait of Richard II in Westminster Abbey, London

Richard II (1367–1400) was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III. Richard was tall, good-looking and intelligent. Although probably not insane, as earlier historians believed, he may have suffered from one or several personality disorders that may have become more apparent toward the end of his reign. Less of a warrior than either his father or grandfather, he sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years' War that Edward III had started. He was a firm believer in the royal prerogative, which led him to restrain the power of his nobility and rely on a private retinue for military protection instead. He also cultivated a courtly atmosphere where the king was an elevated figure, and art and culture were at the centre, in contrast to the fraternal, martial court of his grandfather. Richard's posthumous reputation has to a large extent been shaped by Shakespeare, whose play Richard II portrays Richard's misrule and Bolingbroke's deposition as responsible for the 15th-century Wars of the Roses. Most authorities agree that the way in which he carried his policies out was unacceptable to the political establishment, and this led to his downfall. (more...)

Recently featured: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Martin BrodeurRam Narayan

May 9
Traditional Greek phalanx with spears and large shields

The Cleomenean War was fought by Sparta and its ally, Elis, against the Achaean League and Macedon. The war ended in a Macedonian and Achaean victory. In 235 BC, Cleomenes III ascended the throne of Sparta and began a program of reform aimed at restoring traditional Spartan discipline while weakening the influence of the ephors. When, in 229 BC, the ephors sent Cleomenes to seize a town on the border with Megalopolis, the Achaeans declared war. Cleomenes responded by ravaging Achaea. At Mount Lycaeum he defeated an army under Aratus of Sicyon, and then routed a second army near Megalopolis. Meanwhile, in domestic politics, he ordered the assassination of the ephors. In quick succession, Cleomenes cleared the cities of Arcadia of their Achaean garrisons, before crushing another Achaean force at Dyme. Facing Spartan domination of the League, Aratus was forced to turn to Antigonus III Doson of Macedon and request that he assist the Achaeans' efforts to defeat the Spartans. Cleomenes eventually invaded Achaea, seizing control of both Corinth and Argos. When Antigonus arrived in the Peloponnese, however, Cleomenes was forced to retreat to Laconia. He fought the Achaeans and the Macedonians at Sellasia, but the Spartans were routed. Cleomenes then fled to the court of his ally, Ptolemy III of Egypt, where he ultimately committed suicide. (more...)

Recently featured: Richard II of EnglandThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Martin Brodeur

May 10
A map of the Qayen earthquake

The Qayen earthquake was a major earthquake that struck Northern Iran's Khorasan Province on May 10, 1997. The largest in the area since 1990, it measured 7.3 on the moment magnitude scale and was centered approximately 270 kilometers (170 mi) south of Mashhad on the village of Ardekul. The third earthquake that year to cause severe damage, it devastated the Birjand–Qayen region, killing 1,567 and injuring over 2,300. The earthquake—which left 50,000 homeless and damaged or destroyed over 15,000 homes—was described as the deadliest of 1997 by the United States Geological Survey. Some 155 aftershocks caused further destruction and drove away survivors. The earthquake was later discovered to have been caused by a rupture along a fault that runs underneath the Iran–Afghanistan border. Damage was eventually estimated at $100 million, and many countries responded to the emergency with donations of blankets, tents, clothing, and food. Rescue teams were also dispatched to assist local volunteers in finding survivors trapped under the debris. The destruction around the earthquake's epicenter was, in places, almost total; this has been attributed to poor construction practices, and imparted momentum to a growing movement for changes in building codes. With 1 in 3,000 deaths in Iran attributable to earthquakes, one expert has suggested that a country-wide rebuilding program would be needed to address the ongoing public safety concerns. (more...)

Recently featured: Cleomenean WarRichard II of EnglandThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

May 11
Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona's top goalscorer in official competitions

FC Barcelona is a professional football club, based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Catalan footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has become a symbol of Catalan culture and Catalanism, hence the motto "Més que un club" (More than a club). The official Barça anthem is the "Cant del Barça" written by Jaume Picas and Josep Maria Espinàs. Unlike many other football clubs, the supporters own and operate Barcelona. It is the world's second richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of €398 million. The club holds a long-standing rivalry with Real Madrid, and matches between the two teams are referred to as "El Clásico". They are the current European football champions, and have won 21 La Liga, 25 Copa del Rey, 10 Supercopa de España, 3 Copa Eva Duarte and 2 Copa de la Liga trophies, and are the record holder for the latter four competitions. In international club football Barcelona have won four UEFA Champions League, a record four UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, four UEFA Super Cup, a record three Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and a record two FIFA Club World Cup trophies. (more...)

Recently featured: 1997 Qayen earthquakeCleomenean WarRichard II of England

May 12
Katherine Hepburn in a publicity shot, circa 1941

Katharine Hepburn (1907–2003) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality, Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned more than 60 years. She won a record four Academy Awards, and in 1999 was named by the American Film Institute as Hollywood's top female legend. Hepburn began acting in college, and spent four years in the theatre before entering films in 1932. She became an instant star, but after a series of unsuccessful films was named "box office poison". The Philadelphia Story revived her career, and she subsequently formed a popular alliance with Spencer Tracy that lasted 25 years. In middle age Hepburn found a niche playing spinsters, such as in The African Queen, and became a Shakespearean stage actress. She continued to work into old age, making her final screen appearance in 1994 at the age of 87. Hepburn is remembered as an important cultural figure, as she came to epitomize the "modern woman" in 20th-century America and helped change perceptions of women. (more...)

Recently featured: FC Barcelona1997 Qayen earthquakeCleomenean War

May 13
Lead developer Arnt Jensen and artist Morten Bramsen from Playdead

Limbo is a puzzle-platform video game and the premiere title of independent Danish game developer Playdead. The game was released in July 2010 as a platform-exclusive title on Xbox Live Arcade, and was later ported to the PlayStation Network and Microsoft Windows via Steam. Limbo is a 2D sidescroller, incorporating the physics system Box2D to govern environmental objects and the player character. The player guides an unnamed boy through dangerous environments and traps as the boy searches for his sister. The developer built the game's puzzles expecting the player to fail before finding the correct solution. Playdead called the style of play "trial and death", and used visually gruesome imagery for the boy's deaths to steer the player from unworkable solutions. The game is presented primarily in monochromatic black-and-white tones, using lighting, film grain effects and minimal ambient sounds to create an eerie atmosphere often associated with the horror genre. Limbo received positive reviews, but its minimal story polarised critics. A common point of criticism from reviewers was that the high cost of the game relative to its short length might deter players from purchasing the title. The title was the third-highest selling game on the Xbox Live Arcade service in 2010, generating around $7.5 million in revenue. The title won several awards from industry groups after its release, and was named one of the top games of 2010 by several publications. (more...)

Recently featured: Katharine HepburnFC Barcelona1997 Qayen earthquake

May 14

Fanny Imlay (1794–1816) was the illegitimate daughter of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the American commercial speculator Gilbert Imlay. Although Mary Wollstonecraft and Gilbert Imlay lived together happily for brief periods before and after the birth of Fanny, Imlay left Wollstonecraft in France in the midst of the French Revolution. In an attempt to revive their relationship, she travelled to Scandinavia on business for him, taking the one-year-old Fanny with her, but the affair never rekindled. After falling in love with and marrying the philosopher William Godwin, Wollstonecraft died in childbirth in 1797, leaving the three-year-old Fanny in the hands of Godwin, along with the newborn Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Four years later, Godwin remarried and his new wife, Mary Jane Clairmont, brought children of her own into the marriage, most significantly from Fanny Imlay's and Mary Godwin's perspective, Claire Clairmont. Both girls resented the new Mrs Godwin and the attention she paid to her own daughter. The Godwin household became an increasingly uncomfortable place to live as tensions rose and debts mounted. Imlay became increasingly isolated from her family and committed suicide in 1816 at the age of 22. (more...)

Recently featured: LimboKatharine HepburnFC Barcelona

May 15
Wilco performing in support of Sky Blue Sky at Festival Internacional de Benicàssim

Sky Blue Sky is the sixth studio album by Chicago rock band Wilco (pictured), released on May 15, 2007, by Nonesuch Records. Originally announced on January 17, 2007, at a show in Nashville, Tennessee, it was the band's first studio album with guitarist Nels Cline and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone. Before its release, the band streamed the entire album on its official website and offered a free download of "What Light". Sky Blue Sky was Wilco's highest-debuting album on the Billboard 200 at number four. The self-produced album received mostly favorable reviews by critics. Publications such as PopMatters and Rolling Stone praised its maturity, while PlayLouder and Pitchfork Media criticized its "dad-rock" sound. While some critics praised the direct lyrical approach, others criticized it when compared to previous Wilco albums. The band licensed six songs from the Sky Blue Sky sessions to a Volkswagen advertisement campaign, a move that generated criticism from fans and the media. (more...)

Recently featured: Fanny ImlayLimboKatharine Hepburn

May 16
An adult Rose-breasted Cockatoo in Wamboin, Australia

A cockatoo is any of the 21 species belonging to the bird family Cacatuidae. Along with the Psittacoidea (true parrots) and the Strigopoidea (large New Zealand parrots), they make up the parrot order Psittaciformes. Cockatoos are instantly recognisable by their showy crests and curved bills. Their plumage is generally less colourful than that of other parrots, being mainly white, grey, or black, and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks, or tail. On average they are larger than other parrots. Cockatoos prefer to eat seeds, tubers, corms, fruit, flowers and insects. They often feed in large flocks, particularly when ground-feeding. Cockatoos are monogamous and nest in tree hollows. Some cockatoo species have been adversely affected by habitat loss, particularly from a shortage of suitable nesting hollows after large mature trees are cleared; conversely, some species have adapted well to human changes and are considered agricultural pests. Cockatoos are popular birds in aviculture, but their needs are difficult to cater for. The Cockatiel is the cockatoo species that is easiest to care for and is by far the most frequently kept in captivity. (more...)

Recently featured: Sky Blue SkyFanny ImlayLimbo

May 17

The Well of Loneliness is a 1928 lesbian novel by the British author Radclyffe Hall. It follows the life of Stephen Gordon, an Englishwoman from an upper-class family whose "sexual inversion" (homosexuality) is apparent from an early age. She finds love with Mary Llewellyn, whom she meets while serving as an ambulance driver in World War I, but their happiness together is marred by social isolation and rejection, which Hall depicts as having a debilitating effect on inverts. The novel portrays inversion as a natural, God-given state and makes an explicit plea: "Give us also the right to our existence". The novel became the target of a campaign by James Douglas, editor of the Sunday Express newspaper, who wrote "I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel." Although its only sexual reference consists of the words "and that night, they were not divided", a British court judged it obscene because it defended "unnatural practices between women". In the United States the book survived legal challenges in New York state and in Customs Court. (more...)

Recently featured: CockatooSky Blue SkyFanny Imlay

May 18
The site of Blakeney Chapel

Blakeney Chapel is a ruined building on the Norfolk coast of England. Despite its name, it is in the parish of Cley next the Sea, not the adjoining village of Blakeney, and was probably not a chapel. The building stood on a raised mound or "eye" on the seaward end of the coastal marshes, less than 200 m (220 yd) from the sea and just to the north of the current channel of the River Glaven where it turns to run parallel to the shoreline. It consisted of two rectangular rooms of unequal size, and appears to be intact in a 1586 map, but is shown as ruins in later charts. Only the foundations and part of a wall still remain. A small hearth, probably used for smelting iron, is the only evidence of a specific activity on the site. Much of the structural material was long ago carried off for reuse in buildings in Cley and Blakeney. The surviving ruins are protected as a scheduled monument and Grade II listed building because of their historical importance, but there is no active management. The ever-present threat from the encroaching sea will accelerate following a realignment of the Glaven's course through the marshes and lead inevitably to the loss of the ruins. (more...)

Recently featured: The Well of LonelinessCockatooSky Blue Sky

May 19
Seminole family in Indian camp, 1916

The indigenous people of the Everglades region arrived in the Florida peninsula approximately 15,000 years ago, probably following large game. The Paleo-Indians found an arid landscape that supported plants and animals adapted to desert conditions. Climate changes 6,500 years ago brought a wetter landscape, and the Paleo-Indians slowly adapted to the new conditions. Archaeologists call the cultures that resulted from the adaptations Archaic peoples, from whom two major tribes emerged in the area: the Calusa and the Tequesta. The earliest written descriptions of these people come from Spanish explorers who sought to convert and conquer them. After more than 200 years of relations with the Spanish, both indigenous societies lost cohesiveness. Official records indicate that survivors of war and disease were transported to Havana in the late 18th century. Isolated groups may have been assimilated into the Seminole nation, which formed in northern Florida when a band of Creeks consolidated surviving members of pre-Columbian societies in Florida into their own to become a distinct tribe. Seminoles were forced into the Everglades by the U.S. military during the Seminole Wars from 1835 to 1842. The U.S. military pursued the Seminoles into the region, which resulted in some of the first recorded explorations of much of the area. Seminoles continue to live in the Everglades region, and support themselves with casino gaming on six reservations located throughout the state. (more...)

Recently featured: Blakeney ChapelThe Well of LonelinessCockatoo

May 20
C. D. Howe

C. D. Howe (1886–1960) was a Canadian Cabinet minister of the Liberal Party. He is credited with transforming the Canadian economy from agriculture-based to industrial. Born in Massachusetts, Howe moved to Nova Scotia as a young adult to take up a professorship at Dalhousie University. After working for the Canadian government as an engineer, he began his own firm, and became a wealthy man. In 1935, he was recruited as a Liberal candidate for the Canadian House of Commons by then Opposition leader Mackenzie King. The Liberals won the election in a landslide, and Howe won his seat. Mackenzie King appointed him to the Cabinet. There, he took major parts in many new enterprises, including the founding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Trans-Canada Air Lines. When World War II began in 1939, Howe played a crucial role in Canada's war effort, and recruited many corporate executives to serve in wartime enterprises. Howe's impatience with the necessity for parliamentary debate of his proposals won him few friends, and he was often accused of dictatorial conduct by the Opposition. In the 1957 election, Howe's actions and policies were made an issue by Opposition leader John Diefenbaker. He lost his seat in the election, and Diefenbaker became Prime Minister, ending almost 22 years of Liberal rule. (more...)

Recently featured: Indigenous people of the Everglades regionBlakeney ChapelThe Well of Loneliness

May 21
Mary Anning

Mary Anning (1799–1847) was a British fossil collector, dealer and palaeontologist who became known around the world for important finds she made in the Jurassic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis where she lived. Her work contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the earth. Her discoveries included the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified, found when she was just twelve years old; the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany; and important fish fossils. Her observations were critical to the discovery that coprolites were fossilised faeces. Her gender and social class prevented her from fully participating in the scientific community of 19th-century Britain and she struggled financially for much of her life. As a woman she was not eligible to join the Geological Society of London, and she did not always receive full credit for her scientific contributions. After her death her unusual life story attracted increasing interest. In 2010 the Royal Society included Anning in a list of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science. (more...)

Recently featured: C. D. HoweIndigenous people of the Everglades regionBlakeney Chapel

May 22
Painting of Ahalya by Raja Ravi Varma

Ahalya is the wife of the sage Gautama Maharishi in Hindu mythology. Many Hindu scriptures say that she was seduced by Indra, cursed by her husband for infidelity, and liberated from the curse by Rama (an avatar of the god Vishnu). Created by the god Brahma as the most beautiful woman, Ahalya was married to the much older Gautama. In the earliest full narrative, when Indra comes disguised as her husband, Ahalya sees through his disguise but nevertheless accepts his advances. Ahalya and her lover (or rapist) Indra are cursed by Gautama. Although early texts describe how Ahalya must atone by undergoing severe penance while remaining invisible to the world and how she is purified by offering Rama hospitality, in the popular retelling developed over time, Ahalya is cursed to become a stone and regains her human form after she is brushed by Rama's foot. Medieval story-tellers often focus on Ahalya's deliverance by Rama, which is seen as proof of the saving grace of God. Her story has been retold numerous times in the scriptures and lives on in modern-age poetry and short stories, as well as in dance and drama. Ahalya is extolled as the first of the panchakanya ("five virgins"), archetypes of female chastity whose names are believed to dispel sin when recited. While some praise her loyalty to her husband and her undaunted acceptance of the curse and gender norms, others condemn her adultery. (more...)

Recently featured: Mary AnningC. D. HoweIndigenous people of the Everglades region

May 23
A photograph of Teresa Cristina, circa 1876

Teresa Cristina (1822–1889) was the Empress consort of Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, who reigned from 1831 to 1889. Born a Princess of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, she was the daughter of King Don Francesco I of the Italian branch of the House of Bourbon and his wife Maria Isabel. The Princess was married by proxy to Pedro II in 1843. Despite a cold beginning, the couple's relationship improved as time passed, due primarily to Teresa Cristina's patience, kindness, generosity and simplicity. These traits also helped her win the hearts of the Brazilian people, and her distance from political controversies shielded her from criticism. Of her four children, two boys died in infancy and a daughter of typhoid fever at the early age of 24. She, along with the remaining members of the Imperial Family, was sent into exile after a coup d'état staged by a clique of army officers in 1889. Being cast from her beloved adopted land had a devastating effect on Teresa Cristina's spirit and health. Grieving and ill, she died of respiratory failure little more than a month after the monarchy's collapse. She was greatly loved by her subjects, both during her lifetime and afterwards. Teresa Cristina is well regarded by historians not only for her character and irreproachable behavior, but also for her sponsorship of Brazilian culture. (more...)

Recently featured: AhalyaMary AnningC. D. Howe

May 24

Miss Meyers (1949 – March 1963) was a chestnut-colored American Quarter Horse racehorse and broodmare. Her sire was American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame member Leo, and her dam was Star's Lou. Miss Meyers raced from 1952 until 1955 and started 59 times. She was also the 1953 World Champion Quarter Running Horse. In her career she won $28,725 (equivalent to about $249,000 as of 2012) on the racetrack as well as 17 races. As a broodmare, she produced the first AQHA Supreme Champion, Kid Meyers, with AQHA Hall of Fame member Three Bars, a Thoroughbred. Miss Meyers was the mother of three other foals and was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 2009. (more...)

Recently featured: Teresa Cristina of the Two SiciliesAhalyaMary Anning

May 25
Hurricane John

Hurricane John was the eleventh named storm, seventh hurricane, and fifth major hurricane of the 2006 Pacific hurricane season. Hurricane John developed on August 28 from a tropical wave to the south of Mexico. Favorable conditions allowed the storm to intensify quickly, and it attained peak winds of 135 mph (215 km/h) on August 30. Eyewall replacement cycles and land interaction with western Mexico weakened the hurricane, and John made landfall on southeastern Baja California Sur with winds of 110 mph (180 km/h) on September 1. It slowly weakened as it moved northwestward through the Baja California peninsula, and dissipated on September 4. The hurricane threatened large portions of the western coastline of Mexico, resulting in the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. In coastal portions of western Mexico, strong winds downed trees, while heavy rain resulted in mudslides. Hurricane John caused moderate damage on the Baja California peninsula, including the destruction of more than 200 houses and thousands of flimsy shacks. The hurricane killed five people in Mexico, and damage totaled $663 million (2006 MXN, $60.8 million 2006 USD). (more...)

Recently featured: Miss MeyersTeresa Cristina of the Two SiciliesAhalya

May 26
Obverse of the Draped Bust dollar

The Draped Bust dollar is a United States dollar coin minted from 1795 to 1803, and again throughout the 19th century. The designer is unknown, though the distinction is usually credited to artist Gilbert Stuart. The model is also unknown, though Ann Willing Bingham has been suggested. In October 1795, newly appointed Mint Director Elias Boudinot ordered that the legal fineness of .892 (89.2%) silver be used for the dollar rather than the unauthorized fineness of .900 (90%) silver that had been used since the denomination was first minted in 1794. Due largely to a decrease in the amount of silver deposited at the Philadelphia Mint, coinage of silver dollars declined throughout the end of the 18th century. In 1804, coinage of silver dollars was halted, and officially ended in 1806 by order of Secretary of State James Madison. In 1834, silver dollar production was temporarily restarted to supply a diplomatic mission to Asia with a special set of proof coins. Officials mistakenly believed that dollars had last been minted with the date 1804, prompting them to use that date rather than the date in which the coins were actually struck. A limited number of 1804 dollars were struck by the Mint in later years, and they remain rare and valuable. (more...)

Recently featured: Hurricane JohnMiss MeyersTeresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies

May 27
Known objects in the Kuiper belt

The Kuiper belt is a region of the Solar System beyond the planets extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, although it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive. It consists mainly of small bodies, or remnants from the Solar System's formation. While the asteroid belt is composed primarily of rock, ices, and metal, the Kuiper objects are composed largely of frozen volatiles, such as methane, ammonia and water. The classical (low-eccentricity) belt is home to at least three dwarf planets: Pluto, Haumea, and Makemake. Some of the Solar System's moons, such as Neptune's Triton and Saturn's Phoebe, are also believed to have originated in the region. Since the belt was discovered in 1992, the number of known Kuiper belt objects has increased to over a thousand, and more than 70,000 KBOs over 100 km (62 mi) in diameter are believed to exist. Pluto is the largest known member of the Kuiper belt, if the scattered disc is excluded. In Pluto's honour, the four currently accepted dwarf planets beyond Neptune's orbit are called "plutoids".

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May 28

"The Last Temptation of Krust" is the 15th episode of The Simpsons' ninth season, and first aired on February 22, 1998. Bart convinces Krusty the Clown to appear at a comedy festival organized by Jay Leno, but Krusty's old material does not go over well with the audience, and he receives bad reviews. After Krusty goes on a drinking binge, Bart and Jay Leno bathe him at the Simpsons' house, and Krusty decides to announce his retirement. At Krusty's retirement press conference, the audience finds his tirade against modern comedy hysterical, and he returns to comedy with a new style where he complains about commercialism. He later agrees to a deal with marketing executives in return for a new "Canyonero" – a spoof on sport utility vehicles, and markets products during his next comedy appearance. The episode ends with an extended Canyonero sequence, with a background song sung by Hank Williams, Jr. The writing staff initially had trouble getting Krusty's offensive bad jokes through network censors, but convinced them this was simply a way to emphasize his old and dated comedic material. The episode was highlighted by USA Today in a review of the season's episodes, and received positive reviews in The Washington Times, the Evening Herald, and in books on The Simpsons. (more...)

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May 29
A member of the F-FDTL Naval Component training with a United States Marine Corps M-14 sniper rifle

The Timor Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL) is the military body responsible for the defence of East Timor. The F-FDTL was established in February 2001 and currently comprises two small infantry battalions, a small Naval Component and several supporting units. The F-FDTL's primary role is to protect East Timor from external threats. It also has an internal security role, which overlaps with that of the Policia Nacional de Timor Leste. This has led to tensions between the services, which have been exacerbated by poor morale and indiscipline within the F-FDTL. The F-FDTL's problems came to a head in 2006 when almost half the force was dismissed following protests over discrimination and poor conditions. The dismissal contributed to a general collapse of both the F-FDTL and PNTL in May, and forced the government to request foreign peacekeepers to restore security. The F-FDTL is currently being rebuilt with foreign assistance and has drawn up a long-term force development plan. (more...)

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May 30
Louis Slotin

Louis Slotin (1910–1946) was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project, the secret U.S. program during World War II that developed the atomic bomb. As part of the Manhattan Project, Slotin performed experiments with uranium and plutonium cores to determine their critical mass values. During World War II, Slotin continued his research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. On 21 May 1946, Slotin accidentally began a fission reaction, which released a burst of hard radiation. He was rushed to a hospital, and died of radiation sickness nine days later on 30 May, the second victim of a criticality accident in history. Slotin was hailed as a hero by the United States government for reacting quickly enough to prevent the deaths of his colleagues due to the accident he caused. The accident and its aftermath have been dramatized in fictional accounts. (more...)

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May 31
Chadderton town hall

Chadderton is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England, historically a part of Lancashire. It lies along the course of the River Irk and the Rochdale Canal, on undulating land in the foothills of the Pennines. During the Middle Ages, Chadderton was chiefly distinguished by its two mansions, Foxdenton Hall and Chadderton Hall, and by the prestigious families who occupied them. Its early history is marked by its status as a manorial township, with its own line of lords and overlords. Farming was the main industry of the area, with locals supplementing their incomes by hand-loom woollen weaving in the domestic system. Chadderton's urbanisation and expansion largely coincided with developments in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian era. A late 19th-century factory-building boom transformed Chadderton from a rural township into a major mill town and the second most populous urban district in the United Kingdom. Although Chadderton's industries declined during the mid-20th century, the town continued to grow as a result of suburbanisation and urban renewal. The legacy of the town's industrial past remains visible in its landscape of red-brick cotton mills, now used as warehouses or distribution centres. (more...)

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