Faraaz Damji | 1 Jan 23:50 2007

January 1: Influenza

   Influenza is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by an
   RNA virus of the family Orthomyxoviridae.  Typically, influenza is
   transmitted from infected mammals through the air by coughs or
   sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus, and from infected
   birds through their droppings.  Infections occur through contact with
   these bodily fluids or with contaminated surfaces.  Flu viruses can
   remain infectious for over 30 days at 0°C (32°F), about one week at
   human body temperature, and indefinitely at very cold temperatures.
   Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, killing millions
   of people in pandemic years and hundreds of thousands in non-pandemic
   years.  Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century—each
   following a major genetic change in the virus—and killed tens of
   millions of people.  Often, these pandemics result from the spread of a
   flu virus between animal species.  Since it first killed humans in Asia
   in the 1990s a deadly avian strain of H5N1 has posed the greatest
   influenza pandemic threat.  Vaccinations against influenza are most
   common in high-risk humans in industrialised countries and farmed
   poultry.  The most common human vaccine is the trivalent flu vaccine
   that contains purified and inactivated material from three viral

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   The Kingdom of Ireland merged with the Kingdom of Great Britain,
   adding St. Patrick's saltire to the Union Flag.
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Faraaz Damji | 3 Jan 04:42 2007

January 3: Yarralumla, Australian Capital Territory

   Yarralumla is a large suburb within Canberra, the capital city of
   Australia.  Located approximately 3.5 kilometres south-west of the city
   centre, Yarralumla extends along the southern bank of Lake Burley
   Griffin.  Europeans first settled the area in 1828, and it was named
   Yarralumla in 1834 from the Ngunnwal Indigenous Australian name for
   the area.  Yarralumla is most noted for being the site of Government
   House, the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia,
   built in 1891.  The suburb was officially gazetted in 1928 and today is
   home to approximately 3000 people and many diplomatic missions.  In
   recent years, it has become one of Canberra's most desirable and
   expensive suburbs because of its leafy streets, attractive lakeside
   setting and central location.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther from the Roman Catholic Church
   after Luther refused to retract 41 of his 95 theses.

   Benning Wentworth began to issue the New Hampshire Grants on land
   which was also claimed by New York, and is now Vermont.

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Faraaz Damji | 4 Jan 17:05 2007

January 4: John Brooke-Little

   John Brooke-Little was an influential and popular writer on heraldic
   subjects and a long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in
   London, England.  In 1947, while still a student, Brooke-Little founded
   the "Society of Heraldic Antiquaries", now known as The Heraldry
   Society and recognized as one of the leading learned societies in its
   field.  He served as the society's chairman for 50 years and then as
   its President from 1997 until his death in 2006.  In addition to
   founding this group, Brooke-Little was involved in other heraldic
   groups and societies and worked for many years as an officer of arms.
   Having started his career as Bluemantle Pursuivant, Brooke-Little
   worked his way up to the second-highest heraldic office in
   England–Clarenceux King of Arms.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Most of the Palace of Whitehall in London, the main residence of the
   English monarchs, was destroyed by fire.

   The Fabian Society, a socialist intellectual movement, was founded in

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Faraaz Damji | 5 Jan 13:38 2007

January 5: The Adventures of Tintin

   The Adventures of Tintin is a comic book series created by Belgian
   artist Hergé.  The series first appeared in 1929 in a children's
   supplement to the French-language Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième
   Siècle.  Set in a painstakingly researched world closely mirroring
   reality, The Adventures of Tintin presents colourful characters in
   distinctive, well-realised settings.  The hero of the series is the
   eponymous Tintin, a young reporter and traveller aided in his
   adventures by his faithful dog Snowy.  The success of the series saw
   serialised strips collected into albums, spun into a successful
   magazine, and adapted for both film and theatre.  The series is one of
   the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with
   translations published in over 50 languages and more than 200 million
   copies of the books sold to date.  The comic strip series has long been
   admired for its clean, expressive drawings, done in Hergé's signature
   ligne claire style.  The Adventures of Tintin straddles a variety of
   genres, from mysteries to political thrillers to science fiction.
   Stories always feature slapstick humour, offset in later albums by
   sophisticated satire and political and cultural commentary.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Charles the Bold died at the Battle of Nancy, leading to the
   annexation of Burgundy by France.

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Faraaz Damji | 8 Jan 13:20 2007

January 8: Operation Auca

   Operation Auca was an attempt by five Evangelical Christian
   missionaries from the United States to make contact with the Huaorani
   people of the rainforest of Ecuador.  The Huaorani, also known as the
   Aucas, were an isolated tribe known for their violence, both against
   their own people and outsiders who entered their territory.  With the
   intention of being the first Protestants to evangelize the Huaorani,
   the missionaries began making regular flights over Huaorani
   settlements in September 1955, dropping gifts.  After several months
   of exchanging gifts, on January 2, 1956, the missionaries established
   a camp at "Palm Beach", a sandbar along the Curaray River, a few miles
   from Huaorani settlements.  Their efforts culminated on January 8,
   1956, when all five—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming,
   and Roger Youderian—were attacked and speared by a group of Huaorani
   warriors.  The news of their deaths was broadcast around the world,
   and Life magazine covered the event with a photo essay.  The deaths of
   the men galvanized the missionary effort in the United States,
   sparking an outpouring of funding for evangelization efforts around
   the world.  Their work is still frequently remembered in evangelical
   publications, and in 2006, was the subject of the film production End
   of the Spear.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Lotario de Conti became Pope Innocent III. His first act was the
   restoration of the papal power in Rome.
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Faraaz Damji | 9 Jan 05:59 2007

January 9: Invasion

   An invasion is a military action consisting of armed forces of one
   geopolitical entity entering territory controlled by another such
   entity, generally with the objective of conquering territory or
   altering the established government.  An invasion can be the cause of a
   war, it can be used as a part of a larger strategy to end a war, or it
   can constitute an entire war in and of itself.  The term usually
   connotes a strategic endeavor of substantial magnitude; because the
   goals of an invasion are usually large-scale and long-term, large
   forces are needed to hold territory and protect the interests of the
   invading entity.  Smaller and lighter tactical infiltrations are not
   generally considered invasions, being more often classified as
   skirmishes, sorties, targeted killings, assassinations or
   reconnaissance in force.  By definition, an invasion is an attack from
   outside forces.  As such, rebellions, civil wars, coups d'etat, and
   internal acts of democide or other acts of oppression are generally
   not considered invasions.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Philip Astley staged the first modern circus in London.

   The French Academy of Sciences announced the Daguerreotype
   photographic process, named after its inventor, Louis Daguerre.
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Faraaz Damji | 10 Jan 04:27 2007

January 10: Fauna of Puerto Rico

   The fauna of Puerto Rico is similar to other island archipelago
   faunas, exhibiting high levels of endemism and low, skewed taxonomic
   diversity.  Bats are the only extant native terrestrial mammals in
   Puerto Rico.  Other terrestrial mammals are introduced species such as
   cats, goats, sheep, the Indian Mongoose, and escaped monkeys.  Marine
   mammals include dolphins, manatees and whales.  Of the 349 bird
   species, about 120 breed in the archipelago and 47.5% are accidental
   or rare.  The most recognizable and famous animal of Puerto Rico is
   probably the coquí, a small endemic frog and one of the 85 species
   that comprise Puerto Rico's herpetofauna.  No native freshwater fish
   occur in Puerto Rico, but some species, introduced by humans, have
   established populations in reservoirs and rivers.  The low
   richness-high diversity pattern is also apparent among invertebrates,
   which constitute most of the archipelago's fauna.  The arrival of
   indigenous people about 4,000 years ago and, to a larger extent, of
   Europeans more than 500 years ago had a significant impact on Puerto
   Rico's fauna.  Hunting, habitat destruction, and the introduction of
   non-native species led to extinctions and extirpations.  Conservation
   efforts, the most notable for the Puerto Rican Parrot, began in the
   second half of the 20th century.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   In the Battle of Vaslui, Stephen the Great and his Moldavian forces
   successfully repelled an Ottoman attack led by Hadân Suleiman Pasha,
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Faraaz Damji | 11 Jan 05:04 2007

January 11: Half-Life 2

   Half-Life 2 is a science fiction first-person shooter computer game
   and the sequel to Half-Life.  It was developed by the Valve Software
   Corporation and was released on November 16 2004 following a
   protracted five-year development cycle during which the game's source
   code was leaked to the Internet.  The game garnered near unanimous
   positive reviews and received critical acclaim, winning over 35 Game
   of the Year awards for 2005.  Originally available only for
   Windows-based personal computers, the game has since been ported onto
   the Xbox console, and is due to be released additionally for the Xbox
   360 and PlayStation 3 in 2007.  Taking place in and around the
   fictional City 17 sometime in the near future, Half-Life 2 follows the
   scientist Gordon Freeman.  Dr.  Freeman is thrust into a dystopian
   environment in which the aftermath of the Black Mesa Incident has come
   to bear fully upon human society.  The game uses the Source game
   engine, which includes a heavily modified version of the Havok physics
   engine.  Overall, the Half-Life franchise, including Counter-Strike and
   Day of Defeat, has seen over 15 million sales.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   William Herschel discovered the Uranian moons Titania and Oberon.

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Faraaz Damji | 12 Jan 06:26 2007

Subject: January 12: Richard III (1955 film)

   Richard III is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's
   historical play Richard III.  The film also contains elements of
   Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 3.  It was directed by Laurence Olivier,
   who also played Richard.  The cast includes many noted Shakespearean
   actors of the time, including a quartet of acting knights.  The film
   depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his
   brother, King Edward, played by Cedric Hardwicke.  In the process, many
   are killed and betrayed, with Richard's evil leading to his own
   downfall.  The prologue of the film states that history without its
   legends would be "a dry matter indeed", thus the film admits that it
   is not portraying the actual events of the time, but rather the
   legend.  Many critics now consider Olivier's Richard III his best
   screen version of Shakespeare.  As well, the British Film Institute has
   called Olivier's rendition of the play "definitive" and that it has
   done more to popularize Shakespeare than any other single piece of

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   In order to avoid anti-Mormon persecution, Joseph Smith, Jr.
   and his followers fled Ohio for Missouri.

   James Bedford became the first person to be cryonically frozen with
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Faraaz Damji | 14 Jan 03:58 2007

January 13: Alcibiades

   Alcibiades was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general.
   The last famous member of an aristocratic family that fell from
   prominence after the Peloponnesian War, he played a major role in the
   second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military
   commander, and politician.  During the course of the Peloponnesian War,
   Alcibiades changed his allegiance on several occasions.  In his native
   Athens in the early 410s BC, he advocated for an aggressive foreign
   policy, and was a prominent proponent of the Sicilian Expedition, but
   fled to Sparta after his political enemies brought charges of
   sacrilege against him.  In the years that he served Sparta, Alcibiades
   played a crucial role in Athens' undoing; the capture of Decelea and
   the revolts of several critical Athenian subjects occurred either at
   his suggestion or under his supervision.  Once restored to his native
   city, however, he played a crucial role in a string of Athenian
   victories that eventually brought Sparta to seek a peace with Athens.
   He favored unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by
   treachery or negotiation rather than by siege.  Alcibiades' military
   and political talents frequently proved valuable to whichever state
   currently held his allegiance, but his capacity for making powerful
   enemies ensured that he never remained in one place for long, and, by
   the end of the war that he had helped rekindle in the early 410s, his
   days of political relevance were a bygone memory.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

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