The Friday Irregular
Volume 9, Number 7 (TFIr #214)  --  20th February 2004

Edited by and copyright ©2004 Simon Lamont

tfir@simonlamont.co.uk


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KUDOS

Thanks go to DaveR and Jenny T for contributions to this issue.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 20 February -  Coronation of Edward VI, 1547. Congress approved the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 1931. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7, 1962. Donald Duck (et al.) voice artist Clarence Nash died, 1985. FBI agent Robert Hanssen was arrested for spying for Russia over a period of 15 years, 2001. Happy birthday to: model Cindy Crawford (38), actor Anthony Stewart Head (50), UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown (53), actress Brenda Blethyn (58), actor Sidney Poitier (77). Today is: New Moon.
 
Saturday 21 February -  Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto, 1848. The Battle of Verdun began, 1916. Malcolm X assassinated, 1965. Nixon went to China, 1972. Actor John Thaw died, 2002. Happy birthday to: musician Charlotte Church (18), actress/singer Jennifer Love Hewitt (25), musician Mary Chapin Carpenter (46), actor Kelsey Grammer (49), King Harald V of Norway (67). Today is: UNESCO International Mother Language Day. Six Nations rugby union: France v Italy & England v Scotland.
 
Sunday 22 February -  Composer Frédéric Chopin born, 1810. Frank Woolworth opened his first store, Utica, NY, 1879. Artist Andy Warhol died, 1987. The Roslin Institute announced the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep, 1997. Animator Chuck Jones died, 2002. Happy birthday to: actress Drew Barrymore (29), 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin (42), actor Kyle MacLachlan (45), actress Julie Walters (54), actor John Mills (96). Today is: Independence Day in St Lucia. Islamic New Year. Six Nations rugby union: Ireland v Wales.
 
Monday 23 February -  Johannes Gutenberg printed his first Bible, 1455. Diarist Samuel Pepys born, 1633. Poet John Keats died, 1821. Start of the siege of the Alamo, 1836. Actor Stan Laurel died, 1965. Happy birthday to: actress Dakota Fanning (10), musicians Howard Jones (49) & Johnny Winter (60), actress Majel Barrett & actor Peter Fonda (both 65). Today is: National Day in Guyana. National Day in Brunei. Defenders of the Fatherland Day in Russia.
 
Tuesday 24 February -  Beatle George Harrison born, 1943. Juan Peron elected President of Argentina, 1946. America's National Public Radio founded, 1970. The engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was announced, 1981. Soccer player Bobby Moore died, 1993. Happy birthday to: actor Billy Zane (38), musician Michelle Shocked (42), Apple co-founder Steve Jobs & Formula One racing driver Alain Prost (both 49), Nike founder Phil Knight (66). Today is: Flag Day in Mexico. Independence Day in Estonia.
 
Wednesday 25 February -  Queen Elizabeth I excommunicated by Pope Pius V, 1570. George Washington held his first cabinet meeting as US President, 1793. Artist Pierre Renoir born, 1841. Oregon became the first state to tax gasoline, 1919. Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos fled the country, 1986. Happy birthday to: actor Sean Astin (33), actress Kristin Davis (39), director Neil Jordan & actor Tom Courtenay (both 54), talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael (69). Today is: Ash Wednesday. National Day in Kuwait.
 
Thursday 26 February -  Napoleon escaped from Elba, 1815. The German Luftwaffe (air force) was reformed, 1935. Tim Berners-Lee introduced the first web browser, 1991. A van bomb exploded outside the North Tower of the World Trade Center, New York City, 1993. Barings Bank collapsed after securities broker Nick Leeson lost $1.4 billion, 1995. Happy birthday to: US swimmer Jenny Thompson & soccer player Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer (both 31), musician Erykah Badu (33) & actress Chase Masterson (41), musician Michael Bolton (50).

THE WISDOM OF...

This week, Sam Levinson:
The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.

TOTALLY TRIVIAL...

There are seven sizes of Grand Piano, from the Baby Grand (5' 8") to the Concert Grand (minimum 8' 11").

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... A 29-year-old Swiss security guard has been jailed for 27 months for twice holding up the same hotel and taking 26,000 Swiss Francs, using a toy gun. His defence, that it was obviously a toy, and had '007' printed on it in big gold numbers fell on deaf ears. An Austrian thief who stole artworks from churches over a six month period went to confession to admit his crimes, then anonymously returned everything in a number of boxes the next day. Police are trying to sort out what belongs to which church. When a 36-year-old female motorist approached what she took to be a driver needing assistance, she was shocked when he exposed himself at her, and then offered her money to do the same for him. Lisa Johnson reached for her mobile phone, but instead of calling police she pretended to have missed a call, but took two photographs with the built-in camera. Those, together with the license plate number which she made a note of led police straight to Theodore Robert Neuman, who immediately resigned from his job as director of the community schools programme at Duluth High School, Georgia after they arrested him. This week's Dumb Crim of the Week is an unnamed 34-year-old Spaniard who phoned into a TV crime show to make a hoax report on a featured murder case. Police on the show became suspicious when they tried to call him back for more information but found that he had changed mobile phones, and eventually tracked him down in person, when they found that he was a felon wanted for six robberies, having previously been arrested 44 times. Other dumb crims this week include the Cambridgeshire woman who tried to register her cows and dogs as voters - for the second time; the Dayton, Ohio man who, with a friend, used a rope to drag away a cash machine, but left a trail of broken parts for police to follow;

ONE LEG AT A TIME, FOLKS... Figures released by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have revealed that in 2002 5,310 people in Britain need medical treatment after injuring themselves while pulling on trousers, up 1615 since 1998, although men will be pleased to know that 'zip-related mishaps' fell by 100 to 700 over the same timeframe.

SAFE PARKING... Focus magazine has drawn up a list of the most secure places on earth, including Air Force One, the US Presidential aircraft, Fort Knox, with its 25-ton door and thick granite walls protecting America's gold reserves, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baghdad bunker, and... Bold Lane multi-storey car park in Derby, England. With a network of CCTV cameras, panic buttons, well-designed lighting and bar-coded tickets, plus sensors in each parking bay to detect trouble, there has not been a single incident of vandalism or attempted break-in at the car park in the six years it has been open.

SPORTS ROUND-UP... Frenchman stands to win more than UKP2.66 million if Scotland win the Six Nations rugby championship. Four second division soccer teams in India are facing investigations into match fixing after two of them won by staggering margins in an effort to gain promotion. Curtorim Gym beat Sangolda Lightning with a scoreline of 61-1, while Wilfrid Leisure could only manage a 55-1 defeat of Dona Paula. 84 competitors turned up in temperatures around -2C for Austria's inaugural nude skiing competition - although authorities made them wear underwear or swimwear.

ANIMAL ROUND-UP... Fishermen in Missouri being hit by carp that jump out of the water. Cat discovered stowed away in British tank after it returned from Iraq. Bull escapes from German abattoir, gets onto autobahn and causes a two-hour, seven-mile traffic jam before being recaptured. New Zealand environmental lobby group has a cat registered as an inspector of sea containers to demonstrate the poor security in place for granting of the certificates. Dog goes missing in Darlington, England, turns up in York after hitching a lift on a train. Moscow Zoo to give its gorillas TVs to "make them think more" [It doesn't work with humans, why would it work with gorillas? - Ed].

WEIRD WAR NEWS... It's practically invisible to radar all the time, and the naked eye at night, but the black paint covering the F-117A stealth fighter is not much use in daylight, so the US Air Force is experimenting with different paint jobs on one of the 20-year-old craft at the 53rd Wing based at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida. It's a little more expensive than repainting your bathroom though - it costs "a couple thousand dollars" to repaint one of the fighters, according to vice commander Colonel Jim Carter. At the moment they're evaluating "regular gray aircraft paint" under different lighting conditions.

STORIES WHICH ALSO CAUGHT OUR EYE THIS WEEK: 25-mile raspberry syrup slick left on German road after truck springs a leak on the way to the jam factory; PETA wants the town of Slaughterville, Oklahoma to change its name to 'Veggieville'; research suggests that people who are hostile or aggressive may be genetically predisposed to smoke; world kissing record broken in Manila last Friday as 5,122 couples kissed for at least ten seconds; historical documents suggest that Henry VIII might have been partial to playing football; Mattel announce end of Ken/Barbie romance. Britney Spears' brief marriage may not have done her credibility any good, but Las Vegas has overtaken Paris as the destination of choice for couples in love. Norwegian fed up with always having to drive his girlfriend around deliberately sped past traffic police to lose his license.


ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

Film: Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman sign for Batman: Intimidation. The Jungle Book voted best-loved animated feature. James Cameron planning Pompeii disaster flick. Return of the King box office takings pass Harry Potter to become second-highest ever, but still only halfway to Titanic's record. 50 First Dates tops US box office, Cheaper By the Dozen tops UK box office. Kill Bill Vol 2 unlikely to open at Cannes, but Tarantino to chair judging panel. The Passion of the Christ to get wider US release.

TV: Jennifer Aniston focussing on films, family post-Friends, but would be happy to guest in Matt LeBlanc's Joey-centred spin-off. Five's Back to Reality (think Big Brother with past 'stars' of various reality TV shows) haemorrhaging viewers. BBC considering working 2012 London Olympics bid into Eastenders. The Two Ronnies to reteam for BBC. 24's Kiefer Sutherland injured in L.A. bar brawl. Big Brother holding first open auditions. Disney buying the Muppets, rejects Comcast takeover bid. Sex and the City movie rumoured. The WB cancel Buffy spin-off Angel after five years. Hutton fallout continues as Conservatives reject panel to oversee BBC chairman appointment.

Music & Radio: The family of the late Johnny Cash successfully block attempt to use his song Ring of Fire on a haemorrhoid cream commercial; Peter Andre given Naomi Award for outstandingly bad contributions to music, Cheeky Girls pick up worst international group and worst international album. Motorhead to play gig at Royal Opera House. Paul McCartney to headline at Glastonbury. Norah Jones second album tops US charts. Jeff Beck to tour UK. The Darkness take two Brit awards, including Best British Band, working on second album; other Brits winners include Daniel Bedingfield, Dido, Busted. The La's rumoured to be reforming. Guns 'n' Roses to release greatest hits album ahead of next studio album. Ozzy Osbourne worried that quad bike accident might have ended his live performing days. P Diddy in court over 1999 assault charge. Canadian music companies now chasing file-sharers. Pink kicks off European tour in Dublin. Over 100,000 pre-orders for Apple's iPod mini mp3 player.

Books: Jacqueline Wilson now the most-borrowed author in British public libraries with 16 out of the top 20 most borrowed children's books - the other four were Harry Potter, but because she has fewer titles to her name J.K. Rowling could only manage to be the 42nd most-borrowed author. For the past 17 years that the Public Lending Right - who oversee payments to authors for borrowed books - have kept records, Catherine Cookson has been the most-borrowed author every year until now. After a 30-year ban, Boris Pasternak's work is finally to be published in Russia. Lynn Truss' Eats, Shoots and Leaves grammar book has now sold over 480,000 copies.

Obits: voice artist Tony Pope (56), poet/novelist Martin Booth (59), radio/TV broadcaster Sigmund Sakowicz (80), filmmaker Jules Schwerin (85), actor/director Hasse Ekman (88).

TECH BRIEFS

MS launching Rights Management Server, due to outline hardware requirements for next generation of Windows in May, finally removes swastika from Bookshelf Symbol 7 font. Unbelievably the Amstrad e-m@ailer finally moves into profit. IBM delivers Europe's biggest supercomputer - with 1,312 processors and 41 pSeries servers it can hold 60 terabytes of data and reach 8.9 trillion operations per second (teraflops) it needs a Boeing 747 to carry it [We bet it does a mean game of minesweeper - Ed]. Intel to speed up Linux software delivery. This week's Windows virus is another Bagle variant. Yahoo starts introducing own search technology, replacing use of Google. Goggle now indexes over six billion items, including a billion images. AOL, Earthlink gearing up anti-spammer lawsuits. British telecom wins broadband contract for National Health Service. Spam/scams spreading to mobile phones. RIAA sues another 531 file-sharers. Portions of Windows source code leaked. US firm fined US$142,000 for spamming to promote adult site. Website set up to help find drinking buddies. Sims fan writes add-in that lets players' characters play classic Sim City within the game. Nintendo giving away multi-player Pac-Man in GameCube bundles (one player is Pac with a view of the whole maze, the other three play the ghosts, with limited visibility).

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

This week, a site for the scientifically curious - did you ever wonder what it would be like to pop a water balloon in space?
http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/balloon/blob.htm

THE AMAZING NOT-QUITE-RANDOM LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Madame Jennifer, our in-house psychic predicts the following numbers will be lucky:
9, 13, 24, 44, 48 & 49.
You can consult Madame Jennifer online at the Daily Irregular:
http://www.gizmo1.demon.co.uk/li/

AND FINALLY...

A small plane was flying over the jungle when the engine stalled and gave out. The pilot managed to eject and drifted gently down to land, but unfortunately he landed in a large cooking pot which was gently simmering over a low fire.

All the local tribesmen sitting round the fire gasped and just stared in surprise, until the chief summoned to the witch doctor (who was also the cook) and asked, "What's this flier doing in my soup?"



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