Hoopoe starling(nominated by FunkMonk) is a species of starling which lived on the island of Réunion. It had white and grey plumage, and a crest on its head. Before its extinction, they were kept as caged birds by some settlers on the islands; however, they were also hunted for food, and because they were seen as a crop pest, and between that, introduced species, disease, and deforestation, the bird was in decline by the early 19th century, and went extinct in the 1850s.
California Diamond Jubilee half dollar(nominated by Wehwalt) Issued to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Californian statehood in 1925, the California Diamond Jubilee half dollar was struck in San Francisco in August of that year. The obverse depicts a prospector panning for gold; he is peering intently into his pan, looking for specks of placer gold. The reverse has a grizzly bear, an adaptation of the emblem on the state flag. Although 300,000 coins were authorized to be minted, only 150,000 were actually struck, and of these approximately half were sold. The rest were melted down. Of the 86,594 coins sold or distributed to the public, 494 were given to children born in the State on 9 September, the 75th anniversary of California statehood. The design, by Jo Mora, was widely admired, although at least one critic was puzzled by the inclusion of what he thought was a Polar bear, as he had travelled up and down the state without seeing one.
Mackensen-class battlecruiser(nominated by Parsecboy) The Mackensen class of battlecruisers were "the last class of battlecruisers to be built by Germany in World War I". The cruisers were designed to have eight 14 inch guns, and more powerful engines, throwing out 67 megawatts of power to move their 35,000 tons at a top speed of 28 knots or 32 miles per hour. Of the intended seven only four were built, of which three were launched, but, despite these three being officially launched, none were actually completed. The nearest to completion, Graf Spee, had been launched on 15 September 1917 with a speech by Prince Henry of Prussia and a christening by the widow of Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee. She was sold for scrap in October 1921. The unfinished hull fetched 4.4 million Marks- about £6,000 or US$24,000 at the exchange rate of late October (just over two years of hyperinflation later 4.4 million marks was worth about half of a third farthing).
1987 Giro d'Italia(nominated by Disc Wheel) The 1987 Giro d'Italia was the 70th event in the series, one of cycling's Grand Tour races. It began on 21 May with a 4 km (2.5 mi) prologue in San Remo, and concluded on 13 June with a 32 km (19.9 mi) individual time trial in Saint-Vincent. A total of 180 riders from 20 teams entered the 22-stage, 3,915 km (2,433 mi)-long race, which was won by Irishman Stephen Roche of the Carrera Jeans–Vagabond team. Second and third places were taken by British rider Robert Millar and Dutchman Erik Breukink, respectively. It was the second time in the history of the Giro that the podium was occupied solely by non-Italian riders. Roche's victory in the 1987 Giro was his first step in completing the Triple Crown of Cycling – winning the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, and the World Championship road race in one calendar year – becoming the second rider ever to do so. Roche's teammate and defending champion Roberto Visentini took the first race leader's maglia rosa (English: pink jersey) after winning the opening prologue, only to lose it to Breukink the following stage. Roche took the overall lead after his team, Carrera Jeans-Vagabond, won the stage three team time trial. Visentini regained the lead for a two-day period after the stage 13 individual time trial. The fifteenth stage of the 1987 Giro has been recognized as an iconic event in the history of the race because Roche rode ahead of teammate Visentini, despite orders from the team management, and took the race lead. Roche successfully defended the overall lead from attacks by Visentini and other general classification contenders until the event's finish in Saint-Vincent. Stephen Roche became the first Irishman to win the Giro d'Italia.
Amphetamine(nominated by Seppi333 and Boghog)Amphetamine is "a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant" discovered in 1887 by Romanian chemist Lazar Edeleanu at the University of Berlin. "The first pharmaceutical amphetamine was Benzedrine", used as a bronchodilator for blocked noses. Early users, discovering the euphoric stimulant effect, cracked the inhaler open and swallowed the drug-impregnated material inside. Amphetamines soon became available in a more convenient tablet form, and were widely distributed during the Second World War to Allied and Axis combatants. "“About that time I discovered Benzedrine. Loved those little white suckers. We could get a sack full in those days" (USAF Captain Bryant L. Smick). Amphetamine alters the use of "monoamines as neuronal signals in the brain, primarily in catecholamine neurons in the reward and executive function pathways of the brain, collectively known as the mesocorticolimbic projection". "The concentrations of the main neurotransmitters involved in reward circuitry and executive functioning, dopamine and norepinephrine, increase dramatically in a dose-dependent manner by amphetamine due to its effects on monoamine transporters." A few more quotes from Captain Smick: "It sure didn't bother to get up at 3:00 AM anymore. Pop a couple of pills and you were wide awake ready to take on the whole world.""If it kept you awake, just take a few sleeping pills. Boy! Isn't medical science great or what!!" (As First Lieutenant, Bryant L. Smick and his crew flew the B-24 LiberatorLiberty Belle on 24 missions to targets in Romania and Austria from their base in southern Italy. His 25th mission, on another B-24, was so tough that the entire crew were awarded the Silver Star. On his 26th his plane was shot down; Smick parachuted into the sea and was captured.)
Maurice Richard(nominated by Resolute)Joseph Henri Maurice "Rocket" Richard, PC CC OQ was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. "Rocket" Richard was born in 1921 in Montreal. At the age of four he was given a pair of ice skates- from that point he was skating on frozen rivers, and "a small backyard ice surface his father created". Richard began playing organised hockey at 14. In 1940 he played for the Montreal Canadiens' affiliate in the Quebec Senior Hockey League but broke his ankle in the first game and missed the rest of the season. Attempting to enlist in the Canadian army in 1941 he was deemed unfit for combat due to his injury. For the 1941-1942 season "Richard returned to the QSHL Canadiens, with whom he played 31 games and recorded 17 points before he was again injured." The 1944-1945 season saw Richard setting several records, including scoring 50 goals in 50 games. Richard often faced the violence of opposing teams attempting to prevent him scoring. They found that "he could be goaded into taking himself out of the game by violently retaliating and fighting".
Pancreatic cancer(nominated by Wiki CRUK John, a.k.a. Johnbod) Pancreatic cancer arises when cells in the pancreas, a glandular organ behind the stomach, begin to multiply out of control and form a mass. These cancer cells have the ability to invade other parts of the body. There are a number of types of pancreatic cancer. The most common, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, accounts for about 85% of cases, and the term "pancreatic cancer" is sometimes used to refer only to that type. These adenocarcinomas start within the part of the pancreas which make digestive enzymes. Several other types of cancer, which collectively represent the majority of the non-adenocarcinomas, can also arise from these cells. One to two in every hundred cases of pancreatic cancer are neuroendocrine tumors, which arise from the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas. These are generally less aggressive than pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Signs and symptoms of the most common form of pancreatic cancer may include yellow skin, abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, light-colored stools, dark urine and loss of appetite. There are usually no symptoms in the disease's early stages, and symptoms that are specific enough to suspect pancreatic cancer typically do not develop until the disease has reached an advanced stage.
St Helen's Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch(nominated by Jimfbleak)Ashby-de-la-Zouch is a small town in North West Leicestershire where, on a Friday night, your beer will be served in a plastic "glass" just in case you get beligruntbellagerunt a bag on. Oh you did, did you? On Saturday morning you will be scraped off the pub floor, and taken to St Helen's Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch where your fingers will be put in ye finger pillory, and you'll be sitting there looking right mardy until it's dark over Bill's mum. Yes meduck. Nar then… St Helen's Church is the Anglicanparish church of Ashby, situated between the castle and the town. Although there was a church there in olden times, the core of the present building was created by William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings "at the same time that he converted his neighbouring manor house into a castle", starting in 1474. Unlike the rest of us, barons don't have problems with builders or planners, and Hastings was soon in possession of a fine church, a big castle, a sore throat and an aching sword arm. The Hastings family remained patrons of the church for four centuries; it was stripped of its medieval finery during the Reformation, and the Civil War saw its patrons hold the town for the Crown. Refurbished in 1670, by the 18th century the church had become dirty and the churchyard a haunt of pigs. As the congregation increased during the first quarter of the 19th century, the pews were replaced and galleries installed in 1829. Half a century later, in 1878-1880, the church was extensively rebuilt and two outer aisles added by the magnificently-named James Piers St Aubyn. St Helen's is now a Grade I listed building, one of exceptional interest, with a Baroque wooden reredos of outstanding quality, the Hastings Chapel with its family monuments, and some choice medieval stained glass, possibly from the castle. Also, there's a finger pillory… it's occupied at the moment by someone with a bad hangover.
James Cameron filmography(nominated by Cowlibob)James Cameron is a Canadian director, screenwriter, and producer who has had an extensive career in film and television. Cameron's début was the 1978 science fictionshortXenogenesis, which he directed, wrote and produced. In the early part of his career, he did various technical jobs such as special visual effects producer, set dresser assistant, matte artist, and photographer. His feature directorial début was the 1981 release Piranha II: The Spawning. The next film he directed was the science fiction action thriller The Terminator (1984). It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular cyborg assassin, and was Cameron's breakthrough feature. In 1986, he directed and wrote the science fiction action sequel Aliens starring Sigourney Weaver. He followed this by directing another science fiction film The Abyss (1989). In 1991, Cameron directed the sequel to The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (with Schwarzenegger reprising his role), and also executive produced the action crime film Point Break. Three years later he directed a third Schwarzenegger-starring action film True Lies (1994). In 1997, Cameron directed, wrote, and produced the epic romantic disaster film Titanic which grossed over $1.84 billion. A worldwide 3D re-release of the film in 2012 increased this total to over $2.18 billion at the worldwide box-office and it became the highest grossing film of all time. Other notable films include Rambo: First Blood Part II, Avatar, and Solaris (because it's by Stanisław Lem and he's awesome).
Men of the Docks(created by George Bellows, nominated by Crisco 1492)Men of the Docks is a 114.3-by-161.3-centimetre (45.0 by 63.5 in) oil painting on canvas. It depicts a group of men, wearing overcoats smeared in grime, standing at a dock in Brooklyn together with some draught horses. These men appear to be day labourers, at the docks to find work. They look to the left, as if receiving a message, while a large steam liner looms over them to their right. Behind them are a tugboat and the waters and ice floes of the harbour in winter. Further behind them are the skyscrapers of the lower Manhattan skyline. The winter weather about them is bleak and grey. In the early 20th century, day labourers in the New York docks worked depending on the availability of ships to unload, and thus when not working they often stood nearby, waiting for news that there was work. This subject of men at the New York docks was a common one for Bellows, as well as fellow Ashcan painters such as Everett Shinn. Men of the Docks is the largest of Bellows' treatments of the subject.
The Peasant Wedding(created by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, nominated by Armbrust)The Peasant Wedding is a 1567 painting by the FlemishRenaissance painter and printmakerPieter Bruegel the Elder. It is currently found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Bruegel often depicted peasants and aspects of their lives, and he has been called Peasant-Bruegel, but he was in fact a highly sophisticated intellectual. Many of his paintings involve a symbolic meaning or moral aspects too. The wedding feast is held in a barn in the summertime; two sheaves of grain with a rake remind us of harvesting. The scene is a crowded and busy one, two pipers play on a bagpipe, a boy in the foreground licking a plate, a wealthy man at the far right is involved in a discussion with a monk, while feeding a dog. The plates are carried on a door off its hinges, serving porridge or pudding. The bride is in front of the green textile wall-hanging, with a paper-crown hung above her head, wearing a crown on her head. She is sitting passive, not participating in the eating or drinking around. There has been much speculation of the identity of the groom in this painting. It may be that according to contemporary custom, the groom is not seated at the table. He could be the man in the red cap serving food or may be the man pouring out beer, or possibly the man eating with a spoon or the man in black, leaning back, with a mug in hand. Some authors have even speculated that the groom is not even included in the painting, like Van der Elst, who thought this painting is depicting a proverb: "There is an old Flemish proverb: 'It is a poor man who is not able to be at his own wedding.'" Some argued that it is a presentation of the mystical Wedding at Cana. And then there is the mysterious third foot - that nobody has explained... (It belongs to the man serving pies. Sadly, noone's that well endowed.)
Nicholson Organ, Chancel, West Great Organ, and Choir of Portsmouth Cathedral(created by David Iliff, nominated by National Names 2000)Portsmouth Cathedral is the seat of the AnglicanBishop of Portsmouth, and is located in the city of Portsmouth in Hampshire, England. It is another church that witnessed murders and has been significantly rebuilt during its history, and, in a further connection to our previous entry, its full name is the Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury. The earliest structure, built on land donated for the purpose by Jean de Gisors, was a church in cruciform shape, with a central tower which was also used as a lookout point and lighthouse. This medieval building, dedicated in 1188, was rebuilt and of the original building, only the chancel and the transepts remained intact. In 1449, when the Bishop of Chichester was murdered by local sailors, the town's inhabitants were excommunicated and the church was closed for a time. It eventually reopened, and in 1591, it had a somewhat notable worshipper pass its gates: Elizabeth I of England. Later, in the English Civil War the Royalist garrison used the church tower to observe the movement of enemy forces. That war resulted in the ruin of the medieval tower and nave. The church was rebuilt from 1683 to 1693, in the classical style; however the classical style was not meant to last: With the establishment of the Diocese of Portsmouth in 1927, the building was rebuilt by Sir Charles Archibald Nicholson to dignify its new cathedral status, changing it to a round-arched Neo-Byzantine style. We'll be seeing more of Portsmouth Cathedral in a couple weeks. However, I'm sure I shall manage to resist the temptation to just copy-paste this entry. [Editor's note: I lied. Copy-paste! Mwahahaha!]
Horsehead Nebula(created by NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team, nominated by Nergaal) The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 ) is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The nebula was first recorded in 1888 by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which bears some resemblance to a horse's head when viewed from Earth. The dark cloud of dust and gas is a region in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex where star formation is taking place. This stellar nursery, as it is known, can contain over 100 known organic and inorganic gases as well as dust consisting of large and complex organic molecules. The red or pinkish glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. Magnetic fields channel the gases leaving the nebula into streams, shown as streaks in the background glow. A glowing strip of hydrogen gas marks the edge of the massive cloud and the densities of stars are noticeably different on either side.
Shrovetide(created by Boris Kustodiev, nominated by Adam Cuerden)Boris Kustodiev was an unusual Russian painter, illustrator and stage designer, an intellectual and a cultivated person, who came from a family where the father was a professor of philosophy, history of literature and logic. He was the pupil of the renown Russian painter Ilya Repin, and was elected into the Russian Imperial Academy of Arts. He traveled extensively in Europe, in countries like Spain, Austria, Germany, France and Italy. His works are colorful, playful and joyful, against the fact that he was gravely ill for a large part of his adult life. He was an innovative Russian artist who is remembered for his wonderful paintings and illustrations with contemporary themes illustrating the Russian way of life.
The Temptation of St Anthony(created by Hieronymus Bosch, nominated by Hafspajen)The Temptation of St Anthony is an oil painting on wood panel by Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch, dating from around c. 1500-25, currently housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Among Hieronymus Bosch most famous works is The Garden of Earthly Delights. The work tells the story of the mental and spiritual torments endured by Saint Anthony the Great (c. 251 – 356 AD) also called Anthony Abbott or Anthony of the Desert - and indeed the temptations were numerous. The abbot was one of the earlies and also most prominent of the Desert Fathers in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. The temptation of St Anthony was a popular subject in Medieval and Renaissance art, often like many of Bosch's work, the painting contains much fantastic imagery. Anthony was a rich young man who took the words: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21) quite literally, so he gave away everything he had and went out into the desert to spent the rest of his life in loneliness and prayer. Or so he thought: his fame spread all over the area and soon he found himself in the company of many more followers, and thus he is blamed for the first rudimentary Christian monastry. Anthony the Abbot is portrayed by here Hieronymus Bosch in meditation, in a fantastic landscape filled with weird creatures and small demons that are luring around or are popping up around him, ready to disturb his peace, while he is sitting under the trunk of a dry tree. The abbot was renowned for his ability to refuse temptation and to fight back against evil spirits and other demonic creatures. Considering the violent fights he fought he looks like he is taking a slight break in the picture from wrestling with the most evil ones. Anthony of the Desert was said to have lived to be around hundred years. So kicking an evil spirit in the ass is maybe not such a bad idea after all...
Royal Kurgan(created by Anatoly Shcherbak, nominated by Alborzagros) The Royal Kurgan (Kerch) or Tsarskiy Kurgan (Russian: Царский курган, Ukrainian: Царський курган) from the 4th century BC, is one of the most impressive tumuli (kurgans) of the eastern Crimea. The burial barrow is located in the present-day Kerch, which developed out of the ancient Greek town Panticapaeum (Παντικάπαιον) founded by Miletus. About 200 burial mounds exist in Kerch and its immediate surroundings. The Royal Kurgan is located about 5 km northeast of the town centre, close to the “Defense of the Adzhimushkay quarry” memorial. The mound is almost 20 metres high and its base perimeter is about 250 meters. It holds a burial chamber with a square floor plan (4.39 m X 4.35 m), which gradually merges into the circular shape of a corbelled dome (“false vault”). The total height of the burial chamber is 8.84 meters. Also the generous dromos, a 2.80-meter-wide and 37-meter-long acute entrance passage, is built in the corbelled vault technique. Both parts of the building are made of yellowish limestone blocks and have a floor from a tamped mix of clay, lime and limestone. It is assumed that the Royal Kurgan, a masterpiece of ancient architecture, was the final resting place of a ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom.
Todi, Italy(created by Livioandronico2013, nominated by Crisco 1492)Todi is a town and comune (municipality) of the province of Perugia (region of Umbria) in central Italy. It is perched on a tall two-crested hill overlooking the east bank of the river Tiber, commanding distant views in every direction. The Italian press reported on Todi as the world's most livable city. According to the legend, said to have been recorded around 1330 BC by the mythological Quirinus Colonus, Todi was built by Hercules, who here killed Cacus, and gave the city the name of Eclis. "Palazzo dei Priori", The Prior's Palace is located in the southern side of the Piazza, facing the Cathedral. It was begun in 1293 and later enlarged as seat of the podestà, priors and the Papal governors. The trapezoidal tower was originally lower, and had Guelph merlons. The façade includes a big bronze eagle by Giovanni di Giliaccio (1347).