Wikipedia:Today's featured article/September 2007

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September 1

Lage Raho Munna Bhai is a 2006 Indian musical comedy directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. It is the first Hindi film to be shown in the United Nations and is the second film in the popular Munna Bhai series of Bollywood. Sanjay Dutt stars in this film as Munna Bhai, a Mumbai underworld don, who begins to see the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi. Through his interactions with the image of Gandhi, Munna Bhai begins to practice what he calls Gandhigiri (Satyagraha, non-violence, and truth) to help ordinary people solve their problems. His sidekick, Circuit, is portrayed by Arshad Warsi. Lage Raho Munna Bhai has had a strong cultural impact in India, popularising Gandhism under Munna Bhai's notion of Gandhigiri. It was praised by the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, who stated (using Gandhi's nickname, "Bapu" or father) that the movie "captures Bapu's message about the power of truth and humanism". The film was generally well received by critics and at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, declared a "blockbuster", and was the recipient of a number of awards. (more...)

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September 2

John Millington Synge

John Millington Synge was an Irish dramatist, poet, prose writer, and collector of folklore. He was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and was one of the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre. He is best known for the play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots in Dublin during its opening run at the Abbey. Although he came from a middle-class Protestant background, Synge's writings are mainly concerned with the world of the Roman Catholic peasants of rural Ireland and with what he saw as the essential paganism of their world view. Synge suffered from Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that was untreatable at the time. He died just weeks short of his 38th birthday and was at the time trying to complete his last play Deirdre of the Sorrows. (more...)

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September 3

A view of the cooker vat where the fire started

The Hamlet chicken processing plant fire was an industrial disaster that took place at the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina, USA, on September 3, 1991 after a failure in a faulty modification to a hydraulic line. Twenty-five people were killed and fifty-four injured in the fire as they were trapped behind locked fire doors. Due to a lack of inspectors, the plant had never received a safety inspection in eleven years of operation, and it is thought that a single inspection would have easily prevented the tragedy. A full federal investigation was launched, which resulted in the owner receiving a 20-year prison sentence, and the company received the highest fines ever handed out in the history of North Carolina. However, the investigation also highlighted failings in the authoritative enforcement of existing safety regulations, and resulted in a number of worker safety laws being passed. Accusations of racism were leveled at both the fire service and the city of Hamlet in the aftermath of the fire. The plant was never reopened. The fire remains the worst industrial disaster ever to strike North Carolina, and the third worst American industrial disaster, with only the 1947 Texas City disaster and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire being worse. (more...)

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September 4

The Flag of Australia

Australia's participation in the Winter Olympics began with the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Since then, Australia has participated in every Winter Olympics, with the exception of the 1948 Games in St. Moritz. Australia achieved its first medal, a bronze, in 1994 in the men's 5,000 metres short track relay event. Zali Steggall gained Australia's first individual medal in 1998 when she won bronze in the slalom event. In 2002, Steven Bradbury won gold in the 1,000 metres short track speed skating and Alisa Camplin won gold in the aerials event, making Australia the only southern hemisphere country to have ever accomplished gold at a Winter Olympics. Australia sent 40 competitors to compete in 10 sports at the 2006 Games in Turin, a record number of athletes and events for the nation. For the first time, there was a stated aim of winning a medal, and this goal was achieved when Dale Begg-Smith won the gold medal in men's moguls freestyle skiing. Camplin attained her second medal, a bronze in the aerials event. (more...)

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September 5

Closeup of the head of an Olm

The Olm is an amphibian living in subterranean waters of the Dinaric karst from the Soča river basin near Trieste in Italy through southern Slovenia and southwestern Croatia to Herzegovina. It is the only species in the genus Proteus, the only European species of the family Proteidae, and the only European cave-dwelling caudate. This animal is most notable for its adaptations to life in the complete darkness of its underground habitat. Its eyes have atrophied, leaving the Olm blind, while its other senses, particularly those of smell and hearing, have become sharper to compensate. It also has no skin pigmentation. In contrast to other amphibians, the Olm is wholly aquatic, not only breeding but living its entire life underwater. This is possible due to larval characteristics, such as external gills, which they retain as adults. (more...)

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September 6

Michael Schleisser and the great white shark purported to be the "Jersey man-eater"

The Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 were a series of shark attacks along the coast of New Jersey in which four people were killed and one injured. The attacks occurred between July 1 and July 12, 1916, during a deadly summer heat wave and polio epidemic in the northeastern United States that drove thousands of people to the seaside resorts of the Jersey Shore. Shark attacks on the Atlantic Coast of the United States outside the semitropical states of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were rare, but scholars believe that the increased presence of sharks and humans in the water led to the attacks in 1916. Local and national reaction to the attacks involved a wave of panic that led to shark hunts aimed at eradicating "man-eating" sharks and protecting the economies of New Jersey's seaside communities. The Jersey Shore attacks immediately entered into American popular culture, where sharks became caricatures in editorial cartoons representing danger. The attacks inspired Peter Benchley's novel Jaws which was later made into an influential film in 1975 by Steven Spielberg. (more...)

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September 7

A double decker Kowloon Motor Bus from Route 68X

"The Bus Uncle" is a Cantonese video clip of an argument between two men aboard a bus in Hong Kong on April 27, 2006. While the older man, nicknamed the Bus Uncle, scolded the person behind him, a nearby passenger used his camera phone to record the entire incident to provide evidence for the police in the event of a fight. However, the resulting six-minute video was uploaded to the HK Golden Forum, YouTube, and Google Video. The clip became YouTube's most viewed video in May 2006, attracting viewers with its rhetorical outbursts and copious use of profanity by the older man, receiving 1.7 million hits in the first 3 weeks of that month. The video became a cultural sensation in Hong Kong, inspiring vigorous debate and discussion on lifestyle, etiquette, civic awareness and media ethics within the city, eventually attracting the attention of the media around the world. (more...)

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September 8

A view from a windfarm towards Clyde's best known landmark, Ailsa Craig

The production of renewable energy in Scotland is an issue that has come to the fore in technical, economic and political terms during the opening years of the 21st century. The natural resource base for renewables is extraordinary by European, and even global standards. In addition to an existing installed capacity of 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of hydro-electric schemes, Scotland has an estimated potential of 36.5 GW of wind and 7.5 GW of tidal power, 25% of the estimated total capacity for the European Union and up to 14 GW of wave power potential, 10% of EU capacity. The renewable electricity generating capacity may be 60 GW or more, considerably greater than the existing capacity from all fuel sources of 10.3 GW. Much of this potential remains untapped, but continuing improvements in engineering are enabling more of the renewable resource to be utilised. Fears regarding 'peak oil' and climate change have driven the subject high up the political agenda and are also encouraging the use of various biofuels. Although the finances of many projects remain either speculative or dependent on subsidies, it is probable that there has been a significant, and in all likelihood long-term, change in the underpinning economics. (more...)

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September 9

OutKast at the Area:One music festival in 2001

"Hey Ya!" is a hip hop song written and produced by André 3000 for his 2003 album The Love Below, part of OutKast's double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. The song takes influence from funk and rock music, drawing comparisons to the work of The Beatles. A music video was produced featuring André 3000 as eight different versions of himself, playing on comparisons to The Beatles by mimicking their 1964 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The song received a very positive reaction from music critics, and it won a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 46th Grammy Awards. Along with "The Way You Move", recorded by OutKast's other member Big Boi, "Hey Ya!" was released by LaFace Records in September 2003 as one of the album's two lead singles. It became a commercial success, reaching the top five of most of the charts it entered, and topped the ARIA Singles Chart, Billboard Hot 100, and United World Chart, among others. The song popularized the phrase "shake it like a Polaroid picture" in popular culture, and the Polaroid Corporation used the song to revitalize the public's perception of its products. (more...)

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September 10

Fun Home is a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, author of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. It chronicles the author's childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, focusing on her complex relationship with her father. The book addresses themes of sexual orientation, gender roles, suicide and the role of literature in understanding oneself and one's family. Writing and illustrating Fun Home took seven years, in part because of Bechdel's laborious artistic process, which includes photographing herself in poses for each human figure. Fun Home has been both a popular and critical success, and spent two weeks on the New York Times' bestseller list. In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Sean Wilsey called it "a pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions." Several publications named Fun Home as one of the best books of 2006; it was also nominated for several awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and three Eisner Awards (one of which it won). A French translation of Fun Home was serialized in the newspaper Libération; the book was an official selection of the Angoulême International Comics Festival and has been the subject of an academic conference in France. Fun Home also generated controversy: a public library in Missouri removed Fun Home from its shelves for five months after local residents objected to its contents. (more...)

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September 11

The 2007-2008 Aggie Band performs a countermarch

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band is the official marching band of Texas A&M University. Composed of over 400 men and women from the school's Corps of Cadets, it is the largest military marching band in the world. The complex straight-line maneuvers, performed exclusively to traditional marches, are so complicated and precise that computer marching simulations say some of them cannot be performed. Since its inception in 1894, its members eat together, sleep in the same dormitories, and practice up to forty hours per week on top of a full academic schedule. The Aggie Band performs at all home football games, some away games, and university and Corps functions throughout the year. Other events in which the band participated include inauguration parades for many United States Presidents and Texas Governors, major annual parades across the country, and the dedication ceremony for the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. (more...)

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September 12

Most modern English speakers think of "thou" as a relic of Shakespeare's day

The word thou was a second person singular pronoun in English. It is now largely archaic, having been replaced in almost all contexts by "you". Thou is the nominative form; the oblique/objective form is thee (functioning as both accusative and dative), and the possessive is thy or thine. Originally, thou was simply the singular counterpart to the plural pronoun ye, derived from an ancient Indo-European root. In imitation of continental practice, thou was later used to express intimacy, familiarity, or even disrespect while another pronoun, you, the oblique/objective form of ye, was used for formal circumstances (see T-V distinction). After thou fell out of fashion, it was primarily retained in fixed ritual settings, so that for some speakers, it came to connote solemnity or even formality. Thou persists, sometimes in altered form, in regional dialects of England and Scotland. The disappearance of the singular-plural distinction has been compensated for through the use of neologisms in various dialects. Colloquial American English, for example, contains plural constructions that vary regionally, including y'all, youse, and you guys. (more...)

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September 13

Amanita phalloides

Amanita phalloides is a poisonous basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Widely distributed across Europe, A. phalloides associates with various deciduous and coniferous trees. Adaptations have expanded its range outside of Europe after it was accidentally introduced alongside oak, chestnut, and pine. The large fruiting bodies (i.e. the mushrooms) appear in summer and autumn; the caps are generally greenish in colour, with a white stipe and gills. Unfortunately, these toxic mushrooms resemble several edible species commonly consumed by humans, increasing the risk of accidental poisoning. A. phalloides is one of the most poisonous of all known toadstools. It has been involved in the majority of human deaths from mushroom poisoning, including the Roman Emperor Claudius and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. It has been the subject of much research and many of its biologically active agents have been isolated. The principal toxic constituent is α-amanitin, which damages the liver and kidneys, often fatally. No antidote is known. (more...)

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September 14

An elaborate example of a D&D game in progress

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by the Gygax-owned company Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. The game is currently published by Wizards of the Coast. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the Chainmail game serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is widely regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games, and, by extension, the entire role-playing game industry. Players of D&D create characters that embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master (DM) serves as the game's referee and storyteller, while also maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur. During each game session, the players listen to descriptions of their character's surroundings, as well as additional information and potential choices from the DM, then describe their actions in response. The characters form a party that interacts with the setting's inhabitants (and each other), solves dilemmas, engages in battles and gathers treasure and knowledge. In the process the characters earn experience points to become increasingly powerful over a series of sessions. D&D departs from traditional wargaming by assigning each player a specific character to play, as opposed to a military formation. (more...)

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September 15

Georg Cantor was a German mathematician. He is best known as the creator of set theory, which has become a foundational theory in mathematics. Cantor established the importance of one-to-one correspondence between sets, defined infinite and well-ordered sets, and proved that the real numbers are "more numerous" than the natural numbers. In fact, Cantor's theorem implies the existence of an "infinity of infinities". He defined the cardinal and ordinal numbers, and their arithmetic. Cantor's work is of great philosophical interest, a fact of which he was well aware. Cantor's theory of transfinite numbers was originally regarded as so counter-intuitive—even shocking—that it encountered resistance from mathematical contemporaries such as Leopold Kronecker and Henri Poincaré and later from Hermann Weyl and L.E.J. Brouwer, while Ludwig Wittgenstein raised philosophical objections. Christian theologians (particularly Neo-Thomists) saw Cantor's work as a challenge to the uniqueness of the absolute infinity in the nature of God, on one occasion equating the theory of transfinite numbers with pantheism. Cantor's recurring bouts of depression from 1884 to the end of his life were once blamed on the hostile attitude of many of his contemporaries, but these bouts can now be seen as probable manifestations of a bipolar disorder. (more...)

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September 16

France playing Wales during the Six Nations Championship

The France national rugby union team is a national sporting side that represents France in rugby union. They compete annually against England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in the Six Nations Championship. They have won the championship outright on fourteen occasions, shared in another eight titles and completed eight grand slams. They are currently the fifth ranked team in the world, behind New Zealand ("The All Blacks"), Australia, South Africa and Argentina. Six former French players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. Rugby was introduced to France in 1872 by the British, and on New Year's Day, 1906, the national side played its first Test match against New Zealand in Paris. They won their first Grand Slam in 1968, and won numerous titles in the following years. Since the inaugural World Cup in 1987, France have qualified for the knock-out stage of every tournament and have reached the final twice. They were runners-up to the All Blacks in 1987 and to Australia in 1999. France are the host nation for the current 2007 Rugby World Cup. France traditionally play in white-trimmed blue shirts with blue shorts and red socks, and are commonly referred to as les tricolores or les bleus. (more...)

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September 17

The Soviet invasion of Poland of 1939 was a military operation that started on September 17, 1939, during the early stages of World War II, sixteen days after the Nazi German attack on Poland. It ended in a decisive victory for the Soviet Union's Red Army. On August 23, the Soviets signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany, and on 1 September, the Germans invaded Poland from the west. The Red Army invaded Poland from the east on 17 September after several calls by Germany to do so. The Soviet government announced that it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, claiming that the Polish state had collapsed in the face of the German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens. The Red Army quickly achieved its targets, meeting only light Polish resistance. 6,000 to 7,000 Polish soldiers died in the fighting, and 230,000 or more were taken as prisoners of war. The Soviet government annexed the territory newly under its control and in November declared that the 13.5 million Polish citizens who lived there were now Soviet citizens. The Soviets quelled opposition by executing and arresting thousands. During the existence of the People's Republic of Poland, the invasion was considered a delicate subject, almost taboo, and was often omitted from official history in order to preserve the illusion of "eternal friendship" between members of the Eastern Bloc. (more...)

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September 18

Wood Badge beads on top of the 1st Gilwell Scout Group neckerchief

Wood Badge is a Scouting leadership program and the related award for adult leaders in the programs of Scout associations around the world. Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis "Skipper" Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powell and others at Gilwell Park (United Kingdom) in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations. On completion of the course, participants are awarded the Wood Badge beads to recognize significant achievement in leadership and direct service to young people. The pair of small wooden beads, one on each end of a leather thong (string), is worn around the neck as part of the Scout uniform. The beads are presented together with a taupe neckerchief bearing a tartan patch of the Maclaren clan, honoring William De Bois Maclaren, who donated the funding to purchase Gilwell Park in 1919. (more...)

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September 19

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman was the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953); as vice president, he succeeded to the office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. As president, Truman faced challenge after challenge in domestic affairs: a tumultuous reconversion of the economy marked by severe shortages, numerous strikes, and the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act over his veto. After confounding all predictions to win re-election in 1948, he was able to pass almost none of his Fair Deal program. Truman's presidency was eventful in foreign affairs, with the end of World War II, the founding of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the Truman Doctrine to contain Communism, the beginning of the Cold War, the creation of NATO, and the Korean War. Truman, whose demeanor was very different from that of the patrician Roosevelt, was a folksy, unassuming president. He popularized such phrases as "The buck stops here" and "If you can't stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen." He overcame the low expectations of many political observers who compared him (unfavorably) to his highly regarded predecessor. At one point in his second term, Truman's public opinion ratings were the lowest on record, but popular and scholarly assessments of his presidency became more positive after his retirement from politics and the publication of his memoirs. He died in 1972. Many U.S. scholars today rank him among the top ten presidents. Truman's legendary upset victory in 1948 is routinely invoked by underdog presidential candidates. (more...)

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September 20

The Flag of Chad

Chad is a landlocked country in central Africa. It borders Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west. Due to its distance from the sea and its largely desert climate, the country is sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa". Chad is divided into three major geographical regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanian savanna zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the largest wetland in Chad and the second largest in Africa. Chad's highest peak is the Emi Koussi in the Sahara, and the largest city by far is N'Djamena, the capital. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. French and Arabic are the official languages. Islam is the most practised religion. While many political parties are active, power lies firmly in the hands of President Idriss Déby and his political party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement. Chad remains plagued by political violence and recurrent attempted coups d'état. Chad is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Africa; most Chadians live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003 crude oil has become the country's primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry. (more...)

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September 21

A picture of Hurricane Wilma's eye taken October 19, 2005

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather found at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is usually circular and typically 30–65 km (20–40 mi) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, where the most severe weather of a cyclone occurs. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye, and can be as much as 15% lower than the atmospheric pressure outside the storm. The eye is possibly the most recognizable feature of tropical cyclones. Surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms, the eye is a roughly-circular area at the cyclone's center of circulation. In strong tropical cyclones, the eye is characterised by light winds and clear skies, surrounded on all sides by a towering, symmetric eyewall. In weaker tropical cyclones, the eye is less well-defined, and can be covered by the central dense overcast, which is an area of high, thick clouds which show up brightly on satellite pictures. Weaker or disorganized storms may also feature an eyewall which does not completely encircle the eye, or have an eye which features heavy rain. (more...)

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September 22

A bald eagle

The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America, most recognizable as the national bird and symbol of the United States. This sea eagle has two known subspecies and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Its range includes most of Canada, all of the continental United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting. The Bald Eagle is a large bird, with a body length of 71–96 cm (28–38 in), a wingspan of 168–244 cm (66–88 inches), and a weight of 3–6.3 kg (6.6–14 pounds); females are about 25 percent larger than males. The adult Bald Eagle has a brown body with a white head and tail, and bright yellow irises, taloned feet, and a hooked beak; juveniles are completely brown except for the yellow feet. Males and females are identical in plumage coloration. Its diet consists mainly of fish, but it is an opportunistic feeder. It hunts fish by swooping down and snatching the fish out of the water with its talons. It is sexually mature at four or five years of age. The species was on the brink of extirpation in the continental United States (while flourishing in much of Alaska and Canada) late in the 20th century, but now has a stable population and has been officially removed from the U.S. federal government's endangered species list. The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from "Endangered" to "Threatened" on July 12, 1995 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and delisted on June 28, 2007. (more...)

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September 23

Ramón Betances

Ramón Emeterio Betances was a Puerto Rican nationalist. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution and, as such, is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Betances was also the most renowned medical doctor and surgeon of his time in Puerto Rico, and one of its first social hygienists. He had established a successful surgery and ophthalmology practice. Betances was also a diplomat, public health administrator, poet and novelist. He served as representative and contact for Cuba and the Dominican Republic in Paris. A firm believer in Freemasonry, his political and social activism was deeply influenced by the group's philosophical beliefs. His personal and professional relationships (as well as the organizational structure behind the Grito de Lares, an event that, in theory, clashes with traditional Freemason beliefs) were based upon his relationships with Freemasons, their hierarchical structure, rites and signs. (more...)

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September 24

The Red Hot Chili Peppers live

Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the fifth studio album by American alternative rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on September 24, 1991. Produced by Rick Rubin, it was the band's first record released on Warner Bros. Records. Unlike the Chili Peppers' previous album, Mother's Milk, Blood Sugar was notably different in the heaviness of the guitar, as it contained little use of heavy metal riffs. The album's subject material incorporated various sexual innuendos and referenced drugs and death as well as themes of lust and exuberance. The album has sold over seven million copies in the United States alone and became the Chili Peppers' introduction into popularity and critical acclaim. Blood Sugar Sex Magik produced many hits for the band, including "Give It Away", "Under the Bridge", "Suck My Kiss", and "Breaking the Girl". The album also marked the departure of guitarist John Frusciante mid-tour in 1992, until his return in 1998. Steve Huey of All Music Guide felt that Blood Sugar was "...probably the best album the Chili Peppers will ever make." (more...)

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September 25

Gladiators shown on the late Roman Gladiator Mosaic

The inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre were held in 80 AD, on the orders of the Roman Emperor Titus, to celebrate the completion of the Colosseum, then known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Vespasian began construction of the amphitheatre around 70 AD, and it was completed by Titus soon after Vespasian's death in 79 AD. After Titus' reign began with months of disasters, including the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a fire in Rome, and an outbreak of plague, he inaugurated the building with lavish games which lasted for more than a hundred days, perhaps partially in an attempt to appease the Roman public and the gods. Little documentary evidence of the nature of the games remains. They appear to have followed the standard format of the Roman games: animal entertainments in the morning session, followed by the executions of criminals around midday, with the afternoon session reserved for gladiatorial combats and recreations of famous battles. Only three contemporary or near-contemporary accounts of the games survive. The works of Suetonius and Cassius Dio focus on major events, while Martial provides some fragments of information on individual entertainments and the only detailed record of a gladiatorial combat in the arena to survive to the present day: the fight between Verus and Priscus. (more...)

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September 26

Hannah de Rothschild

Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery was the daughter of Baron Mayer de Rothschild and his wife Juliana, née Cohen. On the death of her father in 1874 she became the richest woman in Britain. Her husband, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, was, during the final quarter of the nineteenth century, one of the most celebrated figures in Britain, an influential millionaire and politician, whose charm, wit, charisma and public popularity gave him such standing that he "almost eclipsed royalty". Her marriage into the aristocracy, while controversial at the time, gave her the social cachet in an anti-Semitic society that her vast fortune could not. She subsequently became a political hostess and philanthropist. Her charitable work was principally in the sphere of public health and causes associated with the welfare of working class Jewish women living in the poorer districts of London. Having firmly assisted and supported her husband on his path to political greatness, she suddenly died in 1890, aged 39, leaving him to achieve, bewildered and without her support, the political destiny which she had plotted alone. His premiership of the United Kingdom was shambolic, and lasted barely a year. (more...)

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September 27

Michael Rosenbaum plays Lex Luthor

The pilot episode of the television series Smallville premiered on The WB on October 16, 2001. It was written by series creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and directed by David Nutter. The episode introduces the characters of Clark Kent, an orphaned alien with superhuman abilities, and his friends and family who live in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas. It follows Clark as he first learns of his alien origins, and attempts to stop a vengeful student from killing Smallville High School students. Using visual elements and dialogue, the episode introduces many themes that were designed to run either the course of the season or the entire series, such as the triangular relationships of the main characters. Filming for the pilot officially began four days after the last actor was cast for the series. When the series premiere aired, it broke several of The WB's viewership records. It was generally well received by critics, and was nominated for several awards, winning two. (more...)

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September 28

Painting of the murder of St. Henry by Lalli

Saint Henry was a legendary Swedish clergyman. Conquering Finland together with King Eric the Saint of Sweden and dying as a martyr, Henry became central in the local Roman Catholic Church. Even today, together with his alleged murderer Lalli, he remains one of the best recognized persons from the history of Finland. The authenticity of the accounts of Henry's life, ministry, and death is widely disputed. On the basis of the traditional accounts of Henry's death, he was locally recognized as a saint, prior to the founding of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. He continues to be remembered as a local observance in the Catholic Church of Finland. He is also commemorated in several Protestant liturgical calendars. (more...)

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September 29

Saffron crocuses flowering in a garden in Osaka Prefecture

The trade and use of saffron reaches back more than 3,000 years and includes marketing for medicinal, culinary, and colourative applications. Saffron, a spice derived from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, has remained among history's most costly comestibles. With its bitter taste, hay-like fragrance, and slight metallic notes, saffron has been used as a seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine. Saffron is native to Southwest Asia, but was first cultivated in Greece. In both antiquity and modern times, most saffron was and is used in the preparation of food and drink: cultures spread across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas value the red threads for use in such items as baked goods, curries, and liquor. Medicinally, saffron was used in ancient times to treat a wide range of ailments, including stomach upsets, bubonic plague, and smallpox; clinical trials have shown saffron's potential as an anticancer and anti-aging agent. Saffron has been used to colour textiles and other items, many of which carry a religious or hierarchical significance. (more...)

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September 30

Ernest R. Emerson

Ernest Emerson is a custom knifemaker, martial artist, and edged-weapons authority who founded Emerson Knives, Inc in 1996. Once known for making "art knives", he later became better known as one of the knifemakers who started the Tactical Knife trend in the early 1990s with his award winning cutlery. Emerson's knives have been displayed as museum pieces, carried by Navy SEALs, used by NASA in outer space, and have been featured in books and films, making them valuable and popular with collectors. Emerson's knifemaking career was born from his experience as an engineer and machinist in the aerospace industry coupled with his lifelong study of martial arts. Drawing on his experience as a craftsman and engineer, Emerson has also begun making custom handmade electric guitars. Emerson's own personally developed fighting technique, Emerson Combat Systems, has been taught to police officers, elite military units, and civilians worldwide; making Emerson a highly sought after combatives instructor, author, and noted authority on edged-weapons in combat. (more...)

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