Faraaz Damji | 2 Dec 06:47 2007

[Wikipedia] December 2: Georgetown University

  Georgetown University is a private Jesuit research university, located
  in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.  Father John Carroll
  founded the school in 1789, though its roots extend back to 1634.
  Georgetown's three urban campuses feature traditional collegiate
  architecture and layout, but prize their green spaces and
  environmental commitment.  The main campus is known for Healy Hall,
  designated a National Historic Landmark.  Academically, Georgetown is
  divided into four undergraduate schools and four graduate schools,
  with nationally recognized programs and faculty in international
  relations, law, medicine, and business.  The student body is noted for
  its pluralism and political activism, as well as its sizable
  international contingent.  Campus groups include the nation's oldest
  student dramatic society and the largest student corporation, The
  Corp.  Georgetown's most notable alumni, such as former U.S. President
  Bill Clinton, served in various levels of government in the United
  States and abroad.  The Georgetown athletics teams are nicknamed "the
  Hoyas," made famous by their men's basketball team, which leads the
  Big East Conference with seven tournament championships.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Napoleonic Wars: French forces led by Emperor Napoleon I decisively
  defeated a Russo-Austrian army commanded by Czar Alexander I in the
  Battle of Austerlitz.
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 1 Dec 06:58 2007

[Wikipedia] December 1: Hoysala architecture

  Hoysala architecture is the distinctive building style developed under
  the rule of the Hoysala Empire in the region known today as Karnataka,
  India, between the 11th and the 14th centuries.  Hoysala influence was
  at its peak in the 13th century, when it dominated the Southern Deccan
  Plateau region.  Large and small temples built during this era remain
  as examples of the Hoysala architectural style, including the
  Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and
  the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura.  Other examples of fine Hoysala
  craftmanship are the temples at Belavadi, Amrithapura, Hosaholalu and
  Nuggehalli.  Study of the Hoysala architectural style has revealed a
  negligible Indo-Aryan influence while the impact of Southern Indian
  style is more distinct.  The vigorous temple building activity of the
  Hoysala Empire was due to the social, cultural and political events of
  the period.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  John IV was declared King of Portugal, resulting in the Portuguese
  Restoration War with Spain.

  As dictated by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the
  House of Representatives selected John Quincy Adams as the winner of
  the U.S. presidential election after none of the candidates received a
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 3 Dec 06:23 2007

[Wikipedia] December 3: Branded to Kill

  Branded to Kill is a 1967 Japanese yakuza film directed by Seijun
  Suzuki and starring Joe Shishido, Koji Nanbara, Annu Mari and Mariko
  Ogawa.  It was a low budget, production line number for the Nikkatsu
  Company.  The story follows Goro Hanada in his life as a contract
  killer.  He falls in love with a woman named Misako, who recruits him
  for a seemingly impossible mission.  When the mission fails he becomes
  hunted by the phantom Number One Killer, whose methods threaten his
  sanity as much as his life.  After its release Suzuki was famously
  fired for making "movies that make no sense and no money".  Suzuki was
  blacklisted and did not make another feature for 10 years but became a
  counterculture hero.  The film drew a strong following which expanded
  overseas through the 1980s and 1990s and has established itself as a
  cult classic.  Film critics and enthusiasts now regard it as an
  absurdist masterpiece.  It has been cited as an influence by filmmakers
  such as Jim Jarmusch, John Woo, Chan-wook Park and Quentin Tarantino.
  Thirty-four years after Branded to Kill, Suzuki filmed Pistol Opera
  (2001) with Nikkatsu, a loose sequel to the former.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  At least 22 people were killed and 35 others were injured when
  rebelling miners at the Eureka Stockade clashed violently with the
  police and the military in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 4 Dec 08:35 2007

[Wikipedia] December 4: California Condor

  The California Condor is a species of North American bird in the New
  World vulture family Cathartidae.  Currently, this condor inhabits only
  the western coastal mountains of the United States, Baja California,
  and the Grand Canyon.  It is the only surviving member of the genus
  Gymnogyps, though fossil members are known.  It is a large, black
  vulture with patches of white on the underside of the wings and a
  largely bald head with skin color ranging from yellowish to a glowing
  red, depending on the bird’s mood.  It has the largest wingspan of any
  bird found in North America and is one of the heaviest.  The condor is
  a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion.  They are one of the
  world's longest-living birds, with lifespans of up to 50 years.  Condor
  numbers dramatically declined in the 1800s due to poaching, lead
  poisoning, and habitat destruction.  Eventually, a conservation plan
  was put in place by the United States government that led to the
  capture of all the remaining wild condors in 1987.  These 22 birds were
  bred at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo.
  Numbers rose through captive breeding and, beginning in 1991, condors
  have been reintroduced into the wild.  The project is the most
  expensive species conservation project ever undertaken in the United
  States.  The California Condor is one of the world's rarest bird
  species.  As of November 2007 there are 302 individuals living,
  including 155 in the wild.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 5 Dec 07:35 2007

[Wikipedia] December 5: Charles Edward Magoon

  Charles Edward Magoon was a prominent United States lawyer, judge,
  diplomat, and colonial administrator who is best remembered as a
  colonial Governor of both the Panama Canal Zone and Cuba.  He was also
  the subject of several small scandals during his career.  As a legal
  adviser working for the United States Department of War, he drafted
  recommendations and reports that were used by Congress and the
  executive branch in governing the United States' new territories
  following the Spanish-American War.  These reports were collected as a
  published book in 1902, then considered the seminal work on the
  subject.  During his time as a colonial governor, Magoon worked to put
  these recommendations into practice.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the
  island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

  Niccolò Sfondrati became Pope Gregory XIV, succeeding Pope Urban VII
  who died two months earlier.

  In London, James Christie opened what is today the world's leading
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 6 Dec 04:11 2007

[Wikipedia] December 6: The Raven

  "The Raven" is a narrative poem by American writer and poet Edgar
  Allan Poe first published in January 1845.  Noted for its musicality,
  stylized language and supernatural atmosphere, it tells of a talking
  raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing his slow
  descent into madness.  The lover, often identified as a student, is
  lamenting the loss of his love Lenore.  The raven, sitting on a bust of
  Pallas, seems to further instigate his distress with its repeated
  word, "Nevermore." Throughout, Poe makes allusions to folklore and
  various classical works.  Poe claimed to have written the poem very
  logically and methodically.  His intention was to create a poem that
  would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explains in a
  follow-up essay "The Philosophy of Composition." The poem was inspired
  in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the
  Riots of 'Eighty by Charles Dickens.  The first publication of "The
  Raven" on January 29, 1845 in the New York Evening Mirror made Poe
  widely popular in his day.  The poem was soon heavily reprinted,
  parodied, and illustrated.  Though some critics disagree about the
  value of the poem, it remains one of the most famous poems ever

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (title page
  pictured) was published.
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 7 Dec 07:03 2007

[Wikipedia] December 7: Uranus

  Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and the third largest and
  fourth most massive planet in the solar system.  Uranus was the first
  planet discovered in modern times.  Though it is visible to the naked
  eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognised as a
  planet by ancient observers due to its dimness.  Sir William Herschel
  announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known
  boundaries of the solar system.  Uranus' atmosphere, while still
  composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, contains a higher
  proportion of "ices" such as water, ammonia and methane, along with
  the usual traces of hydrocarbons.  It is the coldest planetary
  atmosphere in the Solar System, with a minimum temperature of 49 K,
  and has a complex layered cloud structure, in which water is thought
  to make up the lowest clouds, while methane makes up the uppermost
  layer of clouds.  Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring
  system, a magnetosphere, and numerous moons.  The Uranian system has a
  unique configuration among the planets because its axis of rotation is
  tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its revolution about the
  Sun; its north and south poles lie where most other planets have their
  equators.  In 1986, images from Voyager 2 showed Uranus as a virtually
  featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms
  associated with the other giants.  The wind speeds on Uranus can reach
  250 m/s.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 8 Dec 05:58 2007

[Wikipedia] December 8: Krill

  Krill are shrimp-like marine invertebrate animals.  These small
  crustaceans are important organisms of the zooplankton, particularly
  as food for baleen whales, mantas, whale sharks, crabeater seals and
  other seals, and a few seabird species that feed almost exclusively on
  them.  Krill occur in all oceans of the world.  They are considered
  keystone species near the bottom of the food chain because they feed
  on phytoplankton and to a lesser extent zooplankton, converting these
  into a form suitable for many larger animals for whom krill makes up
  the largest part of their diet.  In the Southern Ocean, one species,
  the Antarctic Krill, Euphausia superba, makes up a biomass of over 500
  million tons, roughly twice that of humans.  Of this, over half is
  eaten by whales, seals, penguins, squid and fish each year, and
  replaced by growth and reproduction.  Most krill species display large
  daily vertical migrations, thus feeding predators near the surface at
  night and in deeper waters during the day.  Commercial fishing of krill
  is done in the Southern Ocean and in the waters around Japan.  The
  total global harvest amounts to 150–200,000 tonnes annually, most of
  this from the Scotia Sea.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX
  proclaimed the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which
  holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 9 Dec 05:25 2007

[Wikipedia] December 9: Belarusian Republican Youth Union

  The Belarusian Republican Youth Union is an organized youth group in
  the Eastern European country of Belarus.  The goals of the BRSM are to
  promote patriotism and to instill individual moral values into the
  youth of Belarus, using activities such as camping, sporting events
  and visiting memorials.  The organization, which was created by a
  merger of other youth groups in 2002, is the successor of the Leninist
  Communist Youth League of the Belorussian SSR.  While they are only one
  of a few youth groups inside Belarus, it is the largest and receives
  much backing from the Belarusian government.  The BRSM has been accused
  of using methods of coercion and empty promises to recruit members and
  that the organization is being used as a propaganda tool by the
  Lukashenko Government.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Anglo-Persian War: Bushehr, a city on the southwestern coast of the
  Persian Gulf in present-day Iran, surrendered to occupying British

  Legislation on the separation of church and state in France was
  adopted, triggering civil disobedience by French Catholics.

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 10 Dec 05:00 2007

[Wikipedia] December 10: Brown Dog affair

  The Brown Dog affair was a political controversy about vivisection
  that raged in Edwardian England from 1903 until 1910, becoming a cause
  célèbre that reportedly divided the country.  It involved the
  infiltration of London University medical lectures by Swedish women
  activists, pitched battles between medical students and the police,
  round-the-clock police protection for the statue of a dog, a libel
  trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, and the establishment of a Royal
  Commission to investigate the use of animals in experiments.  The
  affair was triggered by allegations, vigorously denied, that Dr.
  William Bayliss of University College, London had performed an illegal
  dissection on a brown terrier dog — anaesthetized according to
  Bayliss, conscious according to the Swedish activists.  A statue
  erected by antivivisectionists in memory of the dog led to violent
  protests by London's medical students, who saw the memorial as an
  assault on the entire medical profession.  The unrest culminated in
  rioting in Trafalgar Square on December 10, 1907, when 1,000 students
  marched down the Strand, clashing with 400 police officers, in what
  became known as the Brown Dog riots.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  The Papal States, France, Aragon and the Holy Roman Empire formed
  the League of Cambrai, an alliance against the Republic of Venice.

(Continue reading)