The Friday Irregular
Volume 8, Number 20 (TFIr #202)  --  24th October 2003

Edited by and copyright ©2003 Simon Lamont

tfir@simonlamont.co.uk


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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 24 October -  Treaty of Brétigny signed by Edward III & John II of France, 1360. Microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek born, 1632. First transcontinental US telegram sent from the Chief Justice of California in San Francisco to President Lincoln in Washington, 1861. Polish independent trade union Solidarność (Solidarity) granted official recognition, 1980. US Televangelist Jim Bakker sentenced to 45 years in jail for swindling his followers, 1989. Voiceover artist Don Messick died, 1997. Happy birthday to: model Caprice Bourret (29), actress Dervla Kirwan (32), TV presenter Sarah Greene (45), actors Kevin Kline (56) & F. Murray Abraham (64), Rolling Stone Bill Wyman (67). Today is: United Nations Day (UN Charter came into effect, 1945). First day of Scorpio.
 
Saturday 25 October -  King Stephen (r.1135-54) died, 1154. Poet Goeffrey Chaucer died, 1400. Historian Thomas Babington Macaulay born, 1800. The Light Brigade charged at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854. Artist Pablo Picasso born, 1881. US invaded Grenada, 1983. Happy birthday to: actor Adam Goldberg (33), TV handyman Andy Kane (38), TV presenter Nick Hancock (41), actress Nancy Cartwright (44), musician Jon Anderson (59), actress Helen Reddy (62). Today is: Republic Day in Kazakhstan. Retrocession Day in Taiwan. New Moon.
 
Sunday 26 October -  Alfred the Great died, 899. Artist William Hogarth died, 1764. The Earps, Doc Holliday and the Clantons had a shootout near the OK Corral, Tombstone, Arizona, 1881. International Atomic Energy Agency established, 1956. "Doonesbury" comic strip debuted in 28 newspapers, 1970. Helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky died, 1972. Happy birthday to: boxer Audley Harrison (32), actress Lisa Ryder (33), actor Cary Elwes (41), producer/actress Rita Wilson (45), TV presenter Pat Sajak (57), actor Bob Hoskins (61). Today is: National Day in Austria. End of Summer Time is Britain and the USA.
 
Monday 27 October -  Scholar Desiderius Erasmus born, 1466. Navigator James Cook born, 1728. Violinist Niccolo Paganini born, 1782. Isaac Singer, sewing machine inventor, born, 1811. Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1901-9) born, 1858. First section of the New York subway opened, 1904. Happy birthday to: musician Kelly Osbourne (19), journalist Matt Drudge (36), musician Simon Le Bon (45), soccer manager Glenn Hoddle (46), actor Robert Picardo (50), Python John Cleese (64). Today is: Labour Holiday in New Zealand. Veterans Day in the USA. Independence Day in Zambia. Independence Day in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. First day of Independence Day holiday in Turkmenistan. Navy Day in the USA. Bank Holiday in Eire.
 
Tuesday 28 October -  Columbus discovered Cuba, 1492. Harvard University founded, 1636. Civil engineer John Smeaton died, 1792. Chef Auguste Escoffier born, 1846. Statue of Liberty dedicated, 1886. St. Louis Gateway Arch completed, 1965. Happy birthday to: Bill Gates (48), broadcaster David Dimbleby (65), composer Carl Davis (67), musician Hank Marvin (72), actress Joan Plowright (74), singer Cleo Laine (76). Today is: National Day in the Czech Republic. Day of the No in Greece. Second day of Independence Day holiday in Turkmenistan.
 
Wednesday 29 October -  Sir Walter Raleigh executed, 1618. James Boswell, Samuel Johnson's biographer, born, 1740. International Committee of the Red Cross founded, 1863. Newspaper man Joseph Pulitzer died. 1911. Gustav V of Sweden (r.1907-50) died, 1950. Happy birthday to: actresses Winona Ryder (32) & Joely Fisher (36), model Yasmin Le Bon (39), actor Richard Dreyfuss (56), animator Ralph Bakshi (65), actor Robert Hardy (78). Today is: Republic Day in Turkey.
 
Thursday 30 October -  Henry VII founded the Yeomen of the Guard, 1485. John Adams, 2nd President of the US (1797-1801), born, 1735. Dramatist R.B. Sheridan born, 1751. Novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky born, 1821. Safe maker John Chubb died, 1872. Engineer Sir Barnes Wallis died, 1979. Happy birthday to: soccer player Diego Maradona (43), actors Kevin Pollak (46), Charles Martin Smith (50) & Henry Winkler (58), musician Grace Slick (64), director Michael Winner (68).

THE WISDOM OF...

This week, Desiderius Erasmus:
When I get a little money I buy books, and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.

FILM QUIZ

A mixed bag of quotations this week. Answers next week or from the regular address.

Last issue's lines were:


WEIRD WORLD NEWS

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

DUMB CRIMS... This week's first dumb crim is a Norwegian woman who had NKr5000 (about UKP420, US$700) of hair extensions fitted in a salon, a lengthy procedure that usually involves a number of breaks, during one of which she asked if she could pop across the road to a newspaper kiosk. As she was also leaving her bag in the salon, they thought nothing of it, but after half an hour she still hadn't returned, so they called the police, who found that the handbag contained just a t-shirt. What qualifies her for dumb crimdom? Well, the extensions she had fitted were bright yellow and orange, so police were confident of spotting her. We've featured dumb crims who let themselves be captured on CCTV before, but this issue's dumb crims of the week went one better. When vandals broke into a Hampshire, England, primary school to vandalise classrooms - including pouring paint into computers and other electronic equipment, and drawing graffiti on the walls, they thought it would be cool to take a camera along to photograph themselves. Now it would be a mark of dumb crimdom to then take the film into a supermarket for processing, but these guys went one better - they left the camera at the scene of the crime, where it was found by the headmaster, and handed over to the police. Other dumb crims this week include: the Ukranian man caught with a loaded handgun and a cabbage which he was planning to use as a silencer; the Swiss woman who fraudulently called the police to report a burglary in her office building because she wanted them to get rid of a spider; the man who tried to commit suicide by going over the Niagara Falls, and instead became probably the first in history to survive the drop without a barrel, lifejacket or boat, and the Williamsberg, MA, man arrested for assault and battery after hurling a pumpkin at another man, and because it wouldn't be a dumb crims column without a bank robber, the Monroe, New Jersey, man who fled the bank with his haul aboard a large tricycle.

BROUGHT TO BOOK... With Turkish jails facing overcrowding problems, judges are trying to find alternatives to prison time, so when 28-year-old Alparslan Yigit was facing a 15-day sentence for drunkenness and disorderly behaviour, the judge found a novel alternative. He sentenced Yigit to spend an hour and a half every day for a month reading books in a public library. Although Yigit protested that this was humiliation comparable to "doing the dishes at home" he eventually accepted the terms and started serving his sentence, accompanied by a police officer to ensure that he wasn't just flicking through the pages.

UP, UP AND AWAY!... In the week that sees the final London-New York flight for Concorde, a 63-year-old British grandmother is setting off from New York on another notable flight. Jennifer Murray, who became the first woman to fly east-west around the world solo in a helicopter three years ago, and co-pilot Colin Bodill, 53, are attempting to fly the polar route around the world in their Bell 407, a 30,000 mile trip that will take around 5.5 months to complete, with the intention of stopping off at the South Pole on December 17 to commemorate the centenary of the Wright brothers' first flight. You can follow their progress at their website: http://www.polarfirst.com.

SPORTS ROUND-UP... 2003 International Rock Paper Scissors Championships taking place in Toronto on Saturday. Scotland rugby team told to keep their bagpipe band away from their world cup game against the USA in Brisbane. Portsmouth's Moneyfield Sports Sunday league soccer team hit winning streak after wearing women's underwear (bras included) under their kit. Explorer Ranulph Fiennes planning to run seven marathons in seven days, on seven continents, less than five months after undergoing double-bypass heart surgery. Spanish TV channel viewers vote David Beckham their fifth most popular Spaniard.

ANIMAL ROUND-UP... A couple of fishy tales to start with - firstly a British holidaymaker who went swimming off Crete and lost his false teeth was reunited with them two weeks later after fishermen pulled them up in their nets, and the discovery that the active ingredient of the tranquilliser Prozac has found its way into the resident fish in a Texas lake. Meanwhile a nest of meat ants on Australia's Gold Coast caused trouble for a man after he got out of his car to have a pee, stood on the ant nest, and then, trying to get away from the biting insects, fell 300 feet down a steep slope, eventually coming to a stop on a narrow ledge from where he was eventually rescued, suffering mild hypothermia, scratches, bruising and, one presumes, acute embarrassment... In England, paramedics could not get to a llama farmer who tripped over a rabbit hole because his four llamas had flocked around him for protection - an air ambulance helicopter was eventually called to scare them off. Back in Australia a man who contracted a rare form of meningitis was found to have contracted it after eating two raw garden slugs on a dare.

WEIRD WAR NEWS... The US Patent and Trademark Office has received 29 applications since the declared end of the Iraq War for items to be trademarked with the now-clichéd phrase "shock and awe." The subjects range from condoms, lingerie and babies' toys to coffee, video games and golf clubs.

STORIES WHICH ALSO CAUGHT OUR EYE THIS WEEK: German charged with murder after his car gets a flat and police try to help him, discovering victim's body in the trunk. Great Wall of China not visible from space, confirms the first Chinese astronaut. Vancouver woman is so incensed about downstairs neighbour's loud music that she jumps up and down - and broke both her legs. Image of the Virgin Mary reportedly appears on New Jersey tree stump. Australian researchers confirm theory that giant methane bubbles could sink ships. Michigan judge dismissed Eminem slander case, with a ruling written as a rap.


ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

Film: Sandra Bullock inks for Miss Congeniality 2. Jim Carrey to headline Six Million Dollar Man spoof. Elijah Wood to play soccer hooligan. Robert De Niro diagnosed with prostate cancer. Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake tops US box office. Finding Nemo retains top of UK box office. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston to co-produce Daniel Pearl movie. LA Film Critics Association cancels its annual awards in protest at MPAA DVD 'screener' ban. Carnforth railway station, featured in Brief Encounter, reopened after refurbishment. 35th-anniversary 2-disc Planet of the Apes DVD release planned. Robert Duvall, Will Ferrell signed for soccer comedy. Disney drops Ben Affleck wedding comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past before shooting begins.

TV: RSPCA say "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here" partly responsible for increase in pet cruelty. Courteney Cox Arquette pregnant. Stephen Fry and John Bird to play spin doctors in BBC comedy Absolute Power, a spin-off from Radio 4. After 40 years, Top of the Pops is to go live. BBC finally scrap This is Your Life. Jennifer Lopez to co-produce, occasionally appear on, daytime talk show hosted by her sister Lynda. Survey: British viewers found Iraq War coverage excessive. Sci-Fi channel joining lawsuit against NASA, DoD, US Army and Air Force for documents relating to 1965 Keckbsurg, PA, UFO incident.

Music & Radio: Jimmy Cliff given Jamaica's Order of Merit. Dixie Chicks to release double-CD live album next month. Elton John signs three-year $50 million deal for 75 shows in Las Vegas. Delta Goodrem takes ten nominations, seven awards at Australian Record Industry Awards. Destiny's Child hit by $211 plagiarism lawsuit over song "Survivor." Kylie Minogue to play free concert. Talking Heads to release box set retrospective. BBC Director of Radio Jenny Abramsky predicts digital radio will lead to slump in corporation's audience. American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken tops Billboard album chart. Everly Brothers to join Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) played benefit concert at Royal Albert Hall. Madame Tussaud's unveiled pole-dancing Britney Spears model. David Gest sues Liza Minnelli for spousal abuse as she files for divorce.

Books: Sales of DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little rise from 1,124th to 18th place in UK charts within a week of winning the Booker Prize. Lord of the Rings favourite to top BBC's The Big Read chart.

Obits: actor Fred Berry (52), actor Donald MacKechnie (65), actress Janice Rule (72), poet Daniel Hughes (74), novelist Vivien Alcock (79), actor David Lodge (82), actor Jack Elam (84), jazz pianist Marie Marcus (89), actress Ruth Hall (92), singer Anne Ziegler (93).

TECH BRIEFS

Pew Internet and American Life Project survey finds that faith in email is being eroded by spam. Windows version of Apple iTunes online music store sells a million songs in first three days. BT confirms UK 1Mbps home broadband to launch mid-November. PS2 sales down everywhere except Europe. 85% of Chinese computers infected with viruses this year. German Jabberwock wins this years Loebner Prize for coming closest to passing the Turing Test. Expect a sharp rise in online advertising next year as search engine placement ads take off. Virginia Tech's 1,100 Apple Mac cluster achieving 8.1 teraflops in early tests, which would make it the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world, at a fraction of the cost of the others, designers claim final speed could be as high as 16.8 teraflops. Memorex raising cost of CD-R/W media by up to 15% in January. Symantec survey of UK computer users finds that Northerners are more likely to shout at their machines while Southerners tend to hit them; 20% of men, 33% of women surveyed said computers were not worth the hassle. Australian Mooter search engine claims AI algorithms, plans to compete against Google.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

This week's site is dedicated to legendary Scottish poet William McGonagall, revered as one of the world's most accomplished writers of bad verse...
http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/

THE AMAZING NOT-QUITE-RANDOM LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Madame Jennifer, our in-house psychic predicts the following numbers will be lucky:
13, 17, 22, 30, 33 & 34.
You can consult Madame Jennifer online at the Daily Irregular:
http://www.gizmo1.demon.co.uk/li/

AND FINALLY...

A Feline Dictionary


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