The Friday Irregular
Volume 8, Number 7 (TFIr #189)  --  25th July 2003

Edited by and copyright ©2003 Simon Lamont

tfir@simonlamont.co.uk


TFIr ONLINE

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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK

We don't generally recommend software in The Irregular, but we've been running Mozilla Firebird for the last week here at Lamont Towers and we're seriously impressed. It's a stripped-down and optimised web browser based on Mozilla and is both fast and reasonably small (it's just a browser, no mail/news/composer elements); it should take around 3 minutes to download on a broadband connection. You can directly import your bookmarks from Mozilla/Netscape (or other browsers by using a free converter utility first), and customise both toolbar layout/contents and Firebird's appearance, along with a number of other tweaks for the technically-minded. It's still (at time of writing) only on version 0.6, so you might want to keep your current browser as a backup but we've only had it crash once so far, and suspect that was the Editor's fault... We'd list all the great features but they're on the site below anyway. Firebird is available for Windows (the version we've been using), Linux (downloaded but not installed yet) & Mac OS X from
http://www.mozilla.org

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 25 July -  Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge born, 1834. Waterproofing pioneer Charles Macintosh died, 1843. Louis Bleriot made the first aircraft flight across the English Channel, 1909. US Senator Edward Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crime at Chappaquiddick, 1969. Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space, 1984. An Air France Concorde crashed outside Charles de Gaulle aiport, 2000. Happy birthday to: Louise Brown, world's first test-tube baby (25), actress Chloë Annett (32), actor Matt LeBlanc (36), actress Illeana Douglas (38), Roger Clinton (47), actress Estelle Getty (80). Today is: St James Day in Spain.
 
Saturday 26 July -  Benjamin Franklin became America's Postmaster General, 1775. Playwright George Bernard Shaw born, 1856. Psychologist Carl Jung born, 1875. Poet Robert Graves born, 1895. Director Stanley Kubrick born, 1928. King Farouk I of Egypt abdicated, 1952. Happy birthday to: actresses Madeleine West (24), Sandra Bullock (39) & Helen Mirren (58), Rolling Stone Mick Jagger (60), musician Darlene Love (65), entertainer Danny La Rue (76). Today is: Independence Day in Liberia. Independence Day in The Maldives. Start of the Black-Eyed Peas Jamboree in Athens, Texas.
 
Sunday 27 July -  Mathematician Jean Bernoulli born, 1667. Alexandre Dumas, fils, born, 1824. Laying of the 1,686-mile Atlantic telegraph cable completed, 1866. Writer Hilaire Belloc born, 1870. First Billboard music sales chart published, 1940. Actor James Mason died, 1984. Happy birthday to: actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (26), actresses Maria Grazia Cucinotta (34) & Gabrielle Glaister (43), ice skater Christopher Dean (45), film maker Yahoo Serious (50), actor Simon Jones (53).
 
Monday 28 July -  Composers Antonio Vivaldi, J.S. Bach & Giuseppe Sarti died, 1741, 1750 & 1802 respectively. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins born, 1844. Beatrix Potter born, 1866. Louis Lassing created the hamburger, 1900. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis born, 1929. First singing telegram delivered, 1933. Happy birthday to: actress Elizabeth Berkley (31), Big Brother 4 evictee Harjinder 'Gos' Gosal (32), actresses Rachel Blakely (35) & Lori Loughlin (39), Garfield creator Jim Davis (58), former weatherman Ian McCaskill (65). Today is: Independence Day in Peru.
 
Tuesday 29 July -  Spanish Armada defeated, 1588. Social reformer William Wilberforce died, 1833. Benito Mussolini born, 1883. Pope Paul VI issued the Humanae Vitae, confirming the Roman Catholic church's stand on birth control, 1968. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married, 1981. Actor David Niven died, 1983. Happy birthday to: actress Allison Mack (21), actors Stephen Dorff (30) & Wil Weaton (31), former athlete Sally Gunnell (37) musician Patti Scialfa (50), actor David Warner (62). Today is: Ólavsøka (Olav's Wake) in the Faeroes.
 
Wednesday 30 July -  William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, died, 1718. Emily Brönte born, 1818. Car maker Henry Ford born, 1863. Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany 1871-90, died, 1898. Sculptor Henry Moore born, 1898. Actor Raymond Massey died, 1983. Happy birthday to: actress Lisa Kudrow (40), musician Kate Bush & former athlete Daley Thompson (both 45), actress Frances de la Tour (59), inventor Sir Clive Sinclair (63), director Peter Bogdanovich (64).
 
Thursday 31 July -  Saint Ignatious Loyola, Jesuit founder, died, 1556. First American patent granted (for a potash process), 1790. Andrew Johnson, 17th US President (1865-69), died, 1875. Composer Franz Liszt died, 1886. Broadcaster Chet Huntley retired from NBC and the "Huntley-Brinkley Report", 1970. The British government sued The Daily Telegraph newspaper after it published details from Peter Wright's "Spycatcher" book, 1987. Happy birthday to: actors Ben Chaplin (33) & Dean Cain (37), writer J.K. Rowling (38), musician Jim Corr (39), actor Wesley Snipes (41), broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby (59).

THE WISDOM OF...

This week, Victor Hugo:
There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.

FILM QUIZ

A selection of American cities this week. Answers next week or from the regular address.

Last issue's Friendly lines were:


WEIRD WORLD NEWS

Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...

DUMB CRIMS... After last week's item about a woman freed on probation who then attacked a juror outside the courthouse, this week Peter Eugene Williams, charged with selling cocaine within 1,000' of a school and facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted, asked the judge for a short break so he could consider whether to give evidence, and fled the Fort Meyers, Florida, building. When the trial resumed without him the jury found him innocent. Williams was not expected to be charged with contempt of court. If there's one category of dumb crim we like more than any other here at Lamont Towers, it's the dumb bank robber, like 32-year-old Frederick McDowell who put a bag on the counter of a Fort Worth, Texas, bank, and handed the teller a note demanding money and claiming that the bag contained a bomb. He then left with the bag and another, in which several thousand dollars had been placed, but forgot to take his note with him. Police found that it had been written on the back of a copy of his CV, which he had tried to disguise by taping black paper over it. Finally for this week, the sad tale of Mark Mitchell, who boarded a bus on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, told the driver that he had a knife and demanded to be driven into the city centre, which was convenient as that was where the bus was going anyway, but the driver made an extra stop, pulling into central Sydney's police station car park where Mitchell was arrested.

THEY'LL JUST LEAVE IT ALL TILL FRIDAY... Javier Checa, the mayor of Torredonjimeno, a small town in Spain's southern province of Jaen, has announced a scheme, starting in October, to try to encourage men to stay home and do the chores. Every Thursday night will be designated "ladies' night" and any man found on the streets will be fined 5 euros (about UKP3.50, or US$5.70). Needless to say, the plan is not popular with the male townsfolk, many of whom told state TV reporters that they would still go out if they wanted and see the mayor in court.

SUBTLE, EH? You'd think that it you were a group of migrants trying to get into the USA, the last thing you'd want to do is draw attention to yourself, but that's just what twelve Cubans did, who were spotted by a US Customs plane as they crossed the Florida Straits in a converted 1951 Chevy pickup truck, kept afloat by half a dozen empty 55-gallon drums. The truck - bright green with a yellow canvas cover on the back, had a makeshift prow welded to the front and a propellor had been fixed to the drive shaft. "We haven't come across any vehicles like that before," Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Doss told reporters. Under US law, if they had made another 40 miles (about 5 hours at their craft's top speed) and reached the US mainland the Cubans would have been allowed to stay in America, but as they were picked up at sea, they were returned to Cuba, truck and all.

SOUNDS LIKE THEY'RE MADE FOR EACH OTHER... Romanian Victor Dragomirescu and his wife Lucica are reportedly planning to divorce after they both ran off to the same seaside resort while telling each other they were somewhere else - Victor at his parents' house, and Lucica laid up sick in bed. The ruses came to light when they were talking to each other on their mobiles - Lucica saying how her husband wouldn't recognise her, and Victor telling her how much work he was having to do for his parents - when they literally bumped into each other on the beach.

ANIMAL ROUND-UP... Wildlife Trust of India to put reflective patches on working elephants' rears (the patches will be tied to the howdah, or seat, on top of the elephant) to prevent road accidents. A polar bear in a Mendoza, Argentina, zoo, has prompted a 50% rise in visitor numbers after its fur turned a rich purple, allegedly because of a dermatitis medicine. It's fur should return to the usual white in a few weeks. RoboShark 2, the world's only robotic shark, is to become an attraction at the National Maritime Museum in Plymouth, England, for the next three years, where it will swim in the shark tank with sand tiger sharks. We're sorry to report though, that it was built by Andrew Sneath, not robotics expert Noel Sharkey...

WEIRD WAR NEWS... CBS/Viacom trying to woo Jessica Lynch interview with promise of book deal and TV movie (Didn't the Pentagon already do the latter?). David Kelly the latest in an increasingly long line of microbiologists to die in unusual circumstances.

STORIES WHICH ALSO CAUGHT OUR EYE THIS WEEK: The Bracknell, England, house used as exterior of No.4 Privet Drive in the Harry Potter films just fails to meet reserve auction price of UKP400,000. Woman who emigrated to Marbella still commutes 3,354 miles every week to her old job on a checkout at ASDA/WalMart in Blackburn, England. German autobahn crash caused by flying underpants )thrown onto driver's face by naked van passenger). US Center for Science in the Public Interest declares ice cream "not a health food". Californian crashes his car into the Department of Motor Vehicles while preparing to take driving test. British workers make 15,000 calls to sex and chat lines every hour.


ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

Film: Lopez/Affleck's Gigli "a total disaster" - being compared to Ishtar & Glitter. Wedding planned for October 5 on Kauai. Cheech & Chong reunion movie planned. Schedule keeps Nicole Kidman out of Dogville sequels. Disney clears way for back catalogue to be available for US internet download.

TV: NBC planning Friends spin-off centred on Joey. James Brolin (husband of Democrat-supporter Barbara Streisand) to play Ronald Reagan in mini-series. UK Big Brother finally ending tonight; Cameron 1/9 favourite to win at time of writing. Michael Barrymore to headline Edinburgh TV festival debate on disgraced TV presenters. Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith planning sitcom. Chris Morris completes pilot for Brass Eye follow-up. Channel 4 criticised for staging fake Kylie Minogue abduction.

Music & Radio: Michael Jackson criticises proposed US legislation to jail peer-to-peer network music uploaders. Coldplay & Radiohead lead Mercury Music Prize nominations. Boston College & MIT challenging RIAA subpoenas to name music "pirates" on technicalities. Justin Timberlake, Johnny Cash, Coldplay, Radiohead & Missy Elliott nominnated for MTV video awards. Paul "Music labels are scum" Weller signs with V2.

Books: Mumbai, India court throws out Barbara Taylor Bradford's charge that a local TV channel plagiarised her books for their soap opera - appeal hearing due. Ian Fleming & Jack Kerouac manuscripts heading for auction.

Obits: musician & novelist Glen Tomasetti (74), mystery writer Nicolas Freeling (76), Walter "Matt" Jefferies, designer of Star Trek's original NCC-1701 Enterprise (82), Book designer & illustrator Wolfgang Lederer (91), actress Belle Chrystall (93), writer Norman Lewis (95).

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

Not only do some people have too much free time, they also have too many marshmallow bunnies... This week: Bunny Survival Tests II: The Bunnies Strike Back.
http://www.marks.networktel.net/

THE AMAZING NOT-QUITE-RANDOM LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Madame Jennifer, our in-house psychic predicts the following numbers will be lucky:
16, 20, 22, 24, 38 & 39.
You can consult Madame Jennifer online at the Daily Irregular:
http://www.gizmo1.demon.co.uk/li/

AND FINALLY...

Hillary and Bill Clinton were driving through her home state of Illinois when their car started running low on gas. They stopped at a gas station and as they pulled away, Hillary said: "I used to date that guy pumping gas."

Bill replied: "Just think, if you'd married him, you'd have spent your life in a gas station."

"No, if I'd married him", Hillary retorted, "He'd have been President."

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