The Friday Irregular

Issue #344 - 10 August 2012

Edited by and copyright ©2012 Simon Lamont

The latest edition is always available at
The archives are at
(Unless otherwise indicated dollar values are in US dollars)

Contents |
  - a look out (e.g. "Keep Dixie for us") [Liverpool dialect, via rhyming slang for the Everton footballer Dixie Dean, who could get round any defender, so was "never seen"].


Friday 10 August   -   Leonidas I, King of Sparta, killed at the Battle of Therompylæ, 480 BCE. Ferdinand Magellan's fleet set out to circumnavigate the globe, 1519. Artist Anton Losenko born, 1737. The Storming of the Tuileries Palace in Paris, and the arrest of Louis XVI of France, in the French Revolution, 1792. Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States, born, 1874. Aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal died, 1896. Actress Rosanna Arquette born, 1959. The Magellan space probe reached Venus, 1990. Computer scientist Kristen Nygaard died, 2002.
Saturday 11 August   -   The start date of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, 3114 BCE. Hamnet Shakespeare, son of William Shakespeare, died, aged 11, 1596. Physician Richard Mead born, 1673. The first ascent of the Eiger, 1858. Author Enid Blyton born, 1897. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie died, 1919. Singer Sandi Thom born, 1981. Ronald Reagan made his "We begin bombing in five minutes" joke while preparing for his weekly radio broadcast, 1984. Actor Peter Cushing died, 1994.
Sunday 12 August   -   Cleopatra committed suicide, 30 BCE. The Battle of Ascalon, the last battle of the First Crusade, 1099. King George IV of the United Kingdom born, 1762. Poet and artist William Blake died, 1827. Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine, 1851. Film director Cecil B. DeMille born, 1881. Harry Brearley, inventor of stainless steel, died, 1948. Actress Dominique Swain born, 1980. IBM released its Personal Computer, 1981. International Youth Day. The Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak. The Glorious Twelfth in the UK.
Monday 13 August   -   Tenochtitlán (present day Mexico City) fell to Hernán Cortés, 1521. Artist Gerard David died, 1523. Politician Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, born, 1584. Music historian Sir George Grove born, 1820. Carl Gustav Witt discovered the first known near-Earth asteroid, 433 Eros, 1898. Nurse Florence Nightingale died, 1910. High-wire walker Philippe Petit born, 1949. The German Democratic Republic closed its border with West Berlin, 1961. Guitarist, inventor and songwriter Les Paul died, 2009. International Lefthanders Day.
Tuesday 14 August   -   King Duncan I of Scotland died, 1040. Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, born, 1642. The United Kingdom annexed Tristan da Cunha, 1816. Psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing born, 1840. France introduced the first motor vehicle registration in the world, 1893. Inventor William Stanley died, 1909. Actress Alice Ghostley born, 1926. Playwright J.B. Priestley died, 1984. Terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal was captured, 1994.
Wednesday 15 August   -   Macbeth, King of Scotland, died, 1057. During its second attempt to invade Japan the Mongolian fleet of Kublai Khan was destroyed by a "divine wind" (a typhoon) during the Battle of Kōan, 1281. Roadbuilder Blind Jack born, 1717. Mathematician and hydrographer Pierre Bouguer died, 1758. The Tivoli Gardens amusement park opened in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1843. Author E. Nesbit born, 1858. Artist René Magritte died, 1967. Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope detected the deep space Wow! signal, 1977. Actress Jennifer Lawrence born, 1990. Victory over Japan Day in the USA.
Thursday 16 August   -   Almost the whole of the city of Dubrovnik was destroyed in a fire, 1296. Cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli born, 1650. Poet Andrew Marvell died, 1678. The Peterloo Massacre, as cavalry charged a public meeting in Manchester, 1819. Publisher Hugo Gernsback born, 1884. Novelist Margaret Mitchell died, 1949. Ramón "Monchito" Merrero created the Piña colada, 1954. Swedish TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson born, 1967. Elvis Presley died, 1977.


This week, surrealist artist René Magritte [viz. Wednesday, above]:
An object never serves the same function as its image - or its name.


A mixed bag of quotations. Answers next issue or from the regular address. Last issue's quotations were:


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

DON'T GRIN & BEAR IT... The teddy bear invasion of the authoritarian state of Belarus reported on in the last issue has escalated into a full-blown diplomatic row between Sweden, where activists planned the event, and Belarus with tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomatic staff and urgent EU talks called for Friday to discuss possible further sanctions against the former Soviet republic - travel bans and asset freezes have been in place for over 200 Belarusians since 2006. It is expected that a miminal result of the talks will be the immediate recall of EU ambassadors for consultation. President Lukashenko, meanwhile, has dismissed his air defence and border control chiefs and told their replacements not to hesitate to use force to stop further intrusions. Two Belarusians were arrested by the state security service on suspicion of involvement despite the Swedish pilot of the plane that dropped the bears saying that only four people were involved, all Swedes; it is believed that one of the men arrested had uploaded a picture of the parachuting bears.

IT'S NOT JUST IN LONDON THAT G4S FAIL... The beleaguered private security firm who failed to provide enough staff to cover security at the Olympics - but want to keep the £284m ($443m) fee - have also failed to protect a facility in the USA used for storing enriched uranium. Three anti-nuclear activists, 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, 63-year-old Michael Wallis and 82-year-old nun Megan Rice got into the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and spent two hours wandering around inside, even getting as far as the outer doors of the uranium storage building, where approximately half a ton of Uranium 233 - enough for almost 250 dirty bombs - is stored. Security on-site is handled by WSI Oak Ridge, a subsidiary of G4S.

BLOCKED NOSE. Three years ago Isaak Lasson - now 6 - developed trouble breathing through his nose, having to sleep with his mouth wide open, and was prescribed antibiotics to no effect. Last week a new doctor realised that Isaak might have something blocking his sinuses and had a look. "I put some spaghetti up there, but that was a long time ago," Isaak told him. The doctor didn't find any spaghetti, but he did find a fungus-encased Lego wheel. "We think he bent it in half - it's pretty flexible - and that it opened up once it got into his sinuses," Isaak's father Craig, told reporters. Since the wheel was removed Isaak has been breathing - and sleeping - just fine.

THAT SINKING FEELING. Canadian shrimp fisherman Stan Bennett died last week after a long battle with cancer, and was buried last Saturday. The same day, while his family were preparing for the funeral, they learned that his boat was inexplicably sinking while tied up at the wharf in harbour, despite efforts by the Canadian coast guard to keep it afloat. Bennett's son, also called Stan, said that the circumstances were bizarre. "She's been out in storms, the spring of the year and the fall of the year. Hurricanes. For her to sink tied up at the wharf, in the middle of the summer, the word of the day is spooky. The day we put our father in the ground, his boat goes to the bottom of the harbour. What other word can you use?" Deliberate sinking to claim insurance has been discounted, as although the boat was insured, the family will lose out on the rest of the shrimping season, taking a hit of some CA$300,000 (£193,278 / US$302,280).

PAVAROTTI! Colin Miller, 66, has worked for more than 20 years as a look-alike for the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, but ran into a problem with his bank recently. When he applied for a Barclays photo card he sent in his card and uploaded his picture to their website as required, only for the card to be returned to him without the photograph and a letter stating that staff believed he did not own the copyright to the picture. The bank then told him that pictures of celebrities were not permitted on bank cards for the general public. Since then he has managed to persuade the bank that the picture was indeed of him, not Pavarotti, and they have resolved to issue the card - with his picture - as soon as possible. Miller told reporters that he was shocked to be "penalised for looking like someone."

IN BRIEF. NHS health and safety chiefs ban metal paper clips as being "dangerous" after member of staff cuts finger on one. Indian company producing greetings cards out of elephant faeces. Many of The Lord of the Rings films' locations now covered in volcanic ash after Mount Tongariro erupts. Family of bears break into Norwegian cabin and drink over 100 cans of beer [No porridge? -Ed]. Billionaire Clive Palmer supposedly in talks with Dolly the Sheep's cloning scientists over attempt to clone dinosaur for new resport in Coolum, Australia. Big cat sighted near Carlisle Asda supermarket. US drought leads to over half the nation's counties being declared natural disaster areas. Man arrested for setting fire to Kentucky gas station toilet claims he did it for "religious reasons". Utah police free moose tangled in children's swing chains. Live aquarium fish falls out of tree in Vancouver. Archaeologist claims to have identified earliest known matches - almost 8,000 years old. "Most convincing Nessie photograph ever" claimed by monster hunter. Swarm of bees force Hilary Clinton to board aircraft earlier than planned in Malawi. Swiss biologist develops collar to monitor sheep's heart rate and alert shepherd by SMS if they are panicked by wolves. Royal Mail paint postbox gold in honour of cycling gold medallist Laura Trott - in wrong town. Vampire bats help some Peruvians develop resistance to rabies. Seaweed falls from sky in Gloucestershire village. Vermont farmer facing minor drugs charge makes getaway on tractor, drives over and crushes seven police cars in process.


Fifty Shades of Grey now the best-selling book of all time in the UK. Lily Allen changes stage name to Lily Rose Cooper to reflect her marriage. Next X Factor series will start August 18. Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton announces pregnancy. James Cameron, Chinese firms collaborating on 3D tech. Billy Piper to make National Theatre debut in Lucy Prebble's The Effect this autumn. 70th anniversary of the Battle for Monte Cassino to be marked with film drama. Lollapalooza festival briefly halted by thunderstorm. Performers at Olympics Opening Ceremony see music sales boost. Conor Maynard tops UK album chart; Wiley tops UK singles chart. The Dark Knight Rises tops US box office ahead of Total Recall remake and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. DJ Chris Moyles confirms final Radio 1 breakfast show will be on September 14. BBC Radio 2 to air season of tributes to Sir Elton John including two hour show hosted by him. Richard E. Grant to guest in Doctor Who Christmas special; 50th anniversary of Who to be marked with drama about its creation. Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby delayed until 2013. Joss Whedon confirmed to direct Avengers sequel for 2015 release and help develop Marvel TV series. Jon Favreau to direct film version of Jersey Boys. Freedom of Information request reveals that moving BBC departments away from London has caused annual expenditure on hotels for staff and guests to increase by over £1m ($1.56m). Ted tops UK/Ireland box office ahead of The Dark Knight Rises and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Bob Hoskins announces retirement after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Halle Berry, Steve Carell, David Beckham, Kristen Bell among announced guests for next season of Sesame Street. Arrested Development back in production with original cast after 2006 cancellation. Olympic organisers' attempts to keep closing ceremony details under wraps apparently scuppered by George Michael tweet and Muse NME interview. Gael Garcia Bernal receives Locarno Film Festival's Excellence Award. now selling 14% more Kindle ebooks than hardbacks and paperbacks combined. Ukraine-based BitTorrent site Demonoid shut down by authorities, Anonymous vowing DDOS attacks in reprisal. Ouya game console kickstarter fundraiser smashes target. Children being invited to write ending for unfinished M.R. James ghost story, to be judged by The Woman in Black author Susan Hill. Dame Agatha Christie memorial to be erected in London's West End theatre district. Oxford's Ashmolean Museum raises funds to keep Manet's Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus in UK. Blue plaque to be installed at former home of late Bee Gee singer Robin Gibb. Randy Travis charged with DUI after being found "drunk and naked" following car crash. Remaining Monkees reveal that reunion tour will not include replacement for Davy Jones.


Pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa (33), music journalist James McLaren (34), rock guitarist Jason Noble (40), gay rights activist Sister Boom Boom (57), playwright Mark O'Donnell (58), rap reggae pioneer Ranking Trevor (60), composer Marvin Hamlisch (68), art critic Robert Hughes (74), record producer Carl Davis (77), "cold fusion" chemist Martin Fleischmann (85), singer Chavela Vargas (93), author Brian Crozier (94), astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell (98), film director Kurt Maetzig (101).


With the successful landing on Mars earlier this week, here's the official mission site for the Mars Science Laboratory, aboard the Curiosity rover.


Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:
3, 8, 16, 23, 34, 40


  For homework Little Jennifer's teacher had asked her class to write about their family histories, with the stories being read out at the upcoming parents' evening. As Great Aunt Agatha was visiting Little Jennifer decided to ask her. "Great Aunt Agatha," she asked after dinner, while her parents were in the kitchen, "where did I come from?"

  Great Aunt Agatha looked worried at such a question. "Well, Little Jennifer," she stammered, "the stork brought you."

  "And Mummy?"

  "The stork brought her to your Granny Iris and Grandaddy George."

  And Granny Iris?"

  "Well, I expect the stork brought her to her parents too." Little Jennifer nodded thoughtfully and thanked her somewhat relieved great aunt.

  The next week Little Jennifer and her parents were at her school's parents' evening. They had heard about the family trees of Little Mary and Little Simon, and then her teacher picked up Little Jennifer's assignment. "Now for Little Jennifer's," she said, trying to supress a laugh, and read out "For at least the last three generations there have been no natural births in my family."

^ ...end of line