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[Daily article] February 13: McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II in Australian service

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated 24 McDonnell Douglas F-4E
Phantom II fighter-bombers between 1970 and 1973. The aircraft were
leased from the United States Air Force (USAF) as an interim measure
owing to delays in the delivery of the RAAF's General Dynamics F-111C
bombers. The F-4C Phantom was evaluated by the RAAF in 1963 as a
possible replacement for the English Electric Canberra, but was judged
unsuitable. The F-111 was selected instead, but when technical faults
delayed the project, the RAAF decided that the F-4E would be the best
alternative. The Australian and US governments negotiated an agreement
in 1970 for the RAAF to lease 24 F-4Es from the USAF. The Phantoms
entered service in September that year, and proved highly effective.
They prepared aircrew to operate the sophisticated F-111, and the
training program improved the RAAF's professional standards. One of the
F-4Es was destroyed in an accident in June 1971, and another was
repaired by the RAAF after it was damaged in a crash landing. The 23
surviving aircraft were returned to the USAF in two batches during
October 1972 and June 1973.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-4_Phantom_II_in_Australian_service>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1739:

During his invasion of the Mughal Empire, the forces of Nader,
Shah of Persia, defeated the Mughal army at Karnal within three hours,
despite being outnumbered six-to-one.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Karnal>

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] February 12: Alpine chough

The Alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) is a bird in the crow family,
one of two species in the genus Pyrrhocorax. Its two subspecies breed in
high mountains from Spain east through southern Europe and North Africa
to Central Asia, India and China. It has nested at 6,500 m (21,300 ft),
higher than any other bird species, and its eggs have adaptations that
improve oxygen intake and reduce water loss at these altitudes. This
bird has glossy black plumage, a yellow bill, and red legs. Widely
spread flight feathers allow acrobatic manoeuvres. A large bird with
distinctive whistling calls, it pairs for life and displays fidelity to
its breeding site, usually a cave or crevice in a cliff face. Building a
lined stick nest, it lays three to five brown-speckled pale beige eggs.
It feeds on fruit in winter and mainly invertebrate prey in grazed
grassland in summer. Although some localised populations have declined
due to predation, parasitism and changes in agricultural practices, this
widespread and abundant species is not threatened globally. Climate
change may present a long-term threat by shifting the bird's alpine
habitat even higher.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpine_chough>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1818:

On the first anniversary of its victory in the Battle of
Chacabuco, Chile formally declared its independence from Spain.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilean_Declaration_of_Independence>

1855:
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[Daily article] February 11: Josiah Willard Gibbs

Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839–1903) was an American scientist who made
important theoretical contributions to physics, chemistry, and
mathematics. His work on the applications of thermodynamics was
instrumental in transforming physical chemistry into a rigorous
deductive science. Together with James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig
Boltzmann, he created statistical mechanics (a term that he coined),
explaining the laws of thermodynamics as consequences of the statistical
properties of large ensembles of particles. Gibbs also worked on the
application of Maxwell's equations to problems in physical optics. He
invented modern vector calculus, independently of Oliver Heaviside's
similar work. In 1863, Yale awarded Gibbs the first American doctorate
in engineering. He was a professor of mathematical physics at Yale from
1871 until his death. Working in relative isolation, he became the
earliest theoretical scientist in the United States to earn an
international reputation, and in 1901 he was awarded the Copley Medal of
the Royal Society of London. He was praised by Albert Einstein as "the
greatest mind in American history".

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josiah_Willard_Gibbs>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

660 BC:

According to tradition, Emperor Jimmu founded Japan and
established his capital in Yamato.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Jimmu>

1858:
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[Daily article] February 10: Telopea truncata

Telopea truncata, commonly known as the Tasmanian waratah, is a plant in
the family Proteaceae. It is endemic to Tasmania where it is found on
moist acidic soils at altitudes of 600 to 1200 m (2000–4000 ft). A
component of alpine eucalypt forest, rainforest, and scrub
communities,T. truncata grows as a multistemmed shrub to a height of 3
metres (10 ft), or occasionally as a small tree, with red flower heads,
known as inflorescences, that appear over the Tasmanian summer (November
to February) and bear 10 to 35 individual flowers. Yellow-flowered forms
are occasionally seen, but do not form a population distinct from the
rest of the species. Collected by French botanist Jacques Labillardière
in 1792–93, T. truncata was first described in 1805. Genetically the
most distinctive of the five waratah species, Tasmanian waratah can be
cultivated in temperate climates, requiring soils with ample moisture
and good drainage and in partly shaded or sunny positions. Several
commercially available cultivars have been developed that are hybrids of
T. truncata with the New South Wales waratah (T. speciosissima) and
Gippsland waratah (T. oreades).

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telopea_truncata>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1567:

After an explosion destroyed the house in Kirk o' Field,
Edinburgh, where he was staying, the strangled body of Henry Stuart,
Lord Darnley, the King consort of Scotland, was found in a nearby
orchard.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Stuart,_Lord_Darnley>
(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] February 9: Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm

Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm is an 1832 painting by
English artist William Etty. It was inspired by a metaphor in Thomas
Gray's poem The Bard in which the apparently bright start to the misrule
of Richard II of England was compared to a gilded ship whose occupants
are unaware of an approaching storm. Etty chose to illustrate Gray's
lines literally, showing a golden boat filled with and surrounded by
nude and near-nude figures. The Bard was about a curse on the House of
Plantagenet placed by a Welsh bard following Edward I's attempts to
eradicate Welsh culture, and critics felt that Etty had misunderstood
its point. Some reviewers praised the piece, and in particular Etty's
technical abilities, but audiences of the time found it hard to
understand, and the use of nudity led some critics to consider the
painting tasteless and offensive. It was bought in 1832 by Robert
Vernon. In 1847 Vernon donated his collection to the National Gallery,
which in turn transferred it to the Tate Gallery in 1949. Youth and
Pleasure remains one of Etty's best-known works, and formed part of
major exhibitions in 2001–02 and 2011–12.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_on_the_Prow,_and_Pleasure_at_the_Helm>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1825:

After no presidential candidate received a majority of
electoral votes, the U.S. House of Representatives elected John Quincy
Adams president.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Quincy_Adams>

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] February 8: Interactions (The Spectacular Spider-Man)

"Interactions" (premiered March 8, 2008) is the second episode of the
animated television series The Spectacular Spider-Man, which is based on
the comic book character Spider-Man, created by Stan Lee and Steve
Ditko. In the episode, Spider-Man confronts the supervillain Electro,
who has been contaminated by genetically modified electric eels that
were being investigated as a potential source of clean energy.
"Interactions" was directed by Troy Adomitis and written by Kevin Hopps,
who researched all the available comic books that featured Electro.
Electro is drawn to match his comic book appearance, though designer
Victor Cook emphasized the color green and removed the character's
customary star-shaped mask. Voice actor Crispin Freeman sought to
reflect the character's declining sanity in his vocal style.
"Interactions" aired on the Kids WB! block of The CW network. Its 1.4/4
Nielsen rating was higher than that of the pilot, "Survival of the
Fittest". The episode received mixed reviews; IGN commended the episode
for "some notable moments" but found it inferior to the pilot episode.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactions_(The_Spectacular_Spider-Man)>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1601:

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex led a failed rebellion
against Queen Elizabeth I.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Earl_of_Essex_Rebellion>

1837:

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] February 7: 1928 Okeechobee hurricane

The 1928 Okeechobee hurricane was the second deadliest tropical cyclone
ever in the United States, after the 1900 Galveston hurricane. The only
major hurricane of its season, it struck Guadeloupe as a Category 4
storm on September 12, causing 1,200 deaths. The islands of
Martinique, Montserrat, and Nevis also reported damage and fatalities.
After sustained winds peaked at 160 mph (260 km/h) the next day, the
storm became the only Category 5 hurricane ever to hit Puerto Rico;
24,728 homes were destroyed and 192,444 were damaged, leaving 312
people dead and over 500,000 homeless. Early on September 17, the storm
made landfall in Florida near Lake Okeechobee with winds of 145 mph
(233 km/h). The storm surge forced water out of the southern edge of
the lake, spreading floodwaters as high as 20 feet (6.1 m) over
hundreds of square miles. Houses were swept away in the cities of Belle
Glade, Canal Point, Chosen, Pahokee, and South Bay, and at least
2,500 people drowned. The tropical storm also hit Georgia and the
Carolinas. Overall, the system caused $100 million in damage and at
least 4,079 deaths.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_Okeechobee_hurricane>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

457:

Leo I was crowned Byzantine emperor, and went on to rule for
nearly 20 years.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_I_the_Thracian>

1497:
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[Daily article] February 6: HMS Tiger (C20)

Hugh Beadle (1905–1980) served as Rhodesia's Chief Justice from 1961
to 1977. Opening a law practice in 1931, he became a member of the
Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly for Godfrey Huggins's ruling
United Party in 1939. He was Huggins's Parliamentary Private Secretary
(1940–46), then a Cabinet minister until 1950, when he resigned to
become a High Court judge. In 1961 he was knighted and appointed Chief
Justice; three years later he joined the British Privy Council. As
independence talks between Britain and Rhodesia stalled, Beadle sought a
compromise. After Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence
(UDI) in 1965 he brought together Harold Wilson and Ian Smith, the prime
ministers, for talks aboard HMS Tiger. Wilson afterwards castigated
Beadle for not persuading Smith to settle. Beadle's recognition of
Smith's post-UDI administration as legal in 1968 drew accusations from
the British Prime Minister and others that he had furtively supported
UDI all along, but his true motives remain the subject of speculation.
He stayed in office after Rhodesia declared itself a republic in 1970,
and remained a Privy Counsellor for the rest of his life..

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Tiger_(C20)>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1778:

France and the United States signed the Treaty of Alliance and
the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, establishing military and commercial
ties respectively between the two nations.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Amity_and_Commerce_(United_States%E2%80%93France)>

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] February 5: HMS Courageous (50)

HMS Courageous was the lead ship of the Courageous-class cruisers built
for the Royal Navy during the First World War. Lightly armoured and
armed with only a few heavy guns, the ship was designed to support the
Baltic Project, a plan championed by First Sea Lord John Fisher to
invade the German coast north of Berlin. Courageous was completed in
late 1916 and spent the war patrolling the North Sea. The ship
participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in November 1917
and was present when the German High Seas Fleet surrendered a year
later. Courageous was decommissioned after the war, but rebuilt as an
aircraft carrier during the mid-1920s. The ship could carry 48 aircraft
compared to the 36 carried by the comparable Furious on approximately
the same tonnage. After recommissioning and a new career operating off
Great Britain and Ireland, the ship briefly became a training carrier
until resuming patrols, a few months before the start of the Second
World War in September 1939. Courageous was torpedoed and sunk in the
opening weeks of the war, with the loss of more than 500 crew members.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Courageous_(50)>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

62:

Pompeii was severely damaged by a strong earthquake, which may
have been a precursor to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed
the town 17 years later.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/62_Pompeii_earthquake>

1869:
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[Daily article] February 4: Abe Waddington

Abe Waddington (1893–1959) was a professional cricketer for Yorkshire
who played in two Test matches for England, both against Australia in
1920–21. Between 1919 and 1927 he played 266 first-class cricket
matches, taking a total of 852 wickets with his left arm fast-medium
bowling. Capable of making the ball swing, Waddington was admired for
the aesthetic quality of his bowling action. He first played for
Yorkshire after the First World War, when the team had been weakened by
injuries and retirements. He was effective for Yorkshire, but often
inconsistent. A hostile bowler, he sometimes verbally abused opposing
batsmen and questioned umpires' decisions, unusual behaviour in those
days, and was found guilty of dissent and inciting the crowd in a game
against Middlesex. A succession of injuries reduced his effectiveness
and he retired from first-class cricket in 1927. He continued to play
league cricket and worked for the family business, a fat-refining firm,
but maintained his connection with Yorkshire cricket. After retiring
from cricket he enjoyed some success as an amateur golfer.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_Waddington>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

960:

Emperor Taizu began his reign in China, initiating the Song
dynasty period that eventually lasted for more than three centuries.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_dynasty>

1859:

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] February 3: R U Professional

"R U Professional" is a satirical electropop song by the American indie
rock band the Mae Shi (pictured), inspired by a July 2008 outburst by
actor Christian Bale on the set of Terminator Salvation. Bale was
filming with actress Bryce Dallas Howard when he berated the director of
photography, Shane Hurlbut, for walking into his line of sight. After an
audio recording of the incident appeared on the website TMZ, the Mae Shi
recorded their song, releasing it on YouTube and via download on
MediaFire the next day, February 3, 2009. The song samples Bale's voice,
repeating the word "professional" in the chorus. The lyrics reference
several films the actor starred in, including Newsies, Swing Kids,
American Psycho, and The Dark Knight. "R U Professional" attracted a
generally positive reception by reviewers, and was praised as an
effective parody. MTV compared its style to that of new wave groups like
Devo, and the Los Angeles Times described it as a lively pop music
tribute to the actor. El País noted that the song contributed to the
viral spread of Bale's outburst online.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_U_Professional>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1637:

The contract prices of rare tulip bulbs in the Dutch Republic,
which had been steadily climbing for three months, abruptly dropped,
marking the decline of tulip mania.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania>

1807:
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