The Friday Irregular

Issue #381 - 3 June 2016

Edited by and copyright ©2016 Simon Lamont
tfir@simonlamont.co.uk

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^ WORD OF THE WEEK
effluvium
-   1. n. A gaseous emission, especially a foul-smelling one.
    2. n. A condition causing hair shedding.


^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 3 June   -   Hernando de Soto claimed Florida for Spain, 1539. Charles II, Archduke of Austria, born, 1540. The Dutch West India Company received a charter for New Netherland, 1621. Physician William Harvey died, 1657. Geologist James Hutton born, 1726. Composer Johann Strauss II died, 1899. Tennis player Rafael Nadal born, 1986. Actor David Carradine died, 2009. The Diamond Jubilee pageant for Queen Elizabeth II took place on the Thames, 2012. Mabo Day in Australia.
 
Saturday 4 June   -   King Charles VI of France granted a monopoly to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon for the traditional ripening of Roquefort cheese, 1411. King George III of the United Kingdom born, 1738. The Montgolfier brothers gave the first public demonstration of their hot air balloon, 1783. Librarian and adventurer Giacomo Casanova died, 1798. Author and illustrator Mabel Lucie Attwell born, 1879. Cricketer Fred Spofforth died, 1926. The Dunkirk evacuation ended, 1940. Actor Sean Pertwee born, 1964. Drummer Joey Covington died, 2013. Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 Memorial Day.
 
Sunday 5 June   -   Titus' legions breached the middle wall of Jerusalem in the Siege of Jerusalem, 70. Composer Orlando Gibbons died, 1625. Author Pu Songling born, 1640. Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin began its serialisation in the abolitionist newspaper National Era, 1851. Explorer John McDouall Stuart died, 1866. Economist John Maynard Keynes born, 1883. Musician Pete Wentz born, 1979. The first Bose-Einstein condensate was created, 1995. Author Ray Bradbury died, 2012. World Environment Day.
 
Monday 6 June   -   French forces abandoned Milan at the Battle of Novara, 1513. Artist Diego Velázquez born, 1599. Joseph Bonaparte was crowned King of Spain, 1808. Jurist Jeremy Bentham died, 1832. Author Thomas Mann born, 1875. Psychiatrist Carl Jung died, 1961. Actor Paul Giamatti born, 1967. Tetris was first released, in Russia, 1984. Runaway sheep Shrek died, 2011.
 
Tuesday 7 June   -   Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, died, 1329. Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas dividing the New World between them, 1494. Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, born, 1757. Etcher and engraver Luigi Schiavonetti died, 1810. The United Kingdom and the United States agreed to suppress the slave trade, 1862. Bandleader Glen Gray born, 1900. Writer Dorothy Parker died, 1967. Sprinter Richard Thompson born, 1985. Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, 1991.
 
Wednesday 8 June   -   The Scandinavian invasion of England began with Vikings raiding the abbey at Lindisfarne, 793. Edward, the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, died, 1376. Engineer John Smeaton born, 1724. Iceland's Laki volcano began an eight-month eruption, 1783. Political theorist Thomas Paine died, 1809. Artist John Everett Millais born, 1829. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, 1949. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, born, 1955. Cartoonist Jeff MacNelly died, 2000. World Oceans Day.
 
Thursday 9 June   -   Roman emperor Nero committed suicide, 68. Jacques Cartier became the first European to discover the Saint Lawrence River, 1534. Russian emperor Peter the Great born, 1672. Writer Charles Dickens died, 1870. Alexandra Palace in London burned down, just over two weeks after it had opened, 1873. Songwriter Cole Porter born, 1891. Nobel laureate chemist Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus died, 1959. A dam breach following heavy rain caused the Black Hills Flood, killing 238 people, 1972. Actress Natalie Portman born, 1981.

^ THE WISDOM OF...

This week, Thomas Mann:
Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.

^ TOTALLY TRIVIAL

What is time? A simple enough question that is impossible to answer definitively without referencing time itself. There are two principle viewpoints. Firstly that time is a fundamental part of the universe (the 'fourth dimension'), independent of the physical world, but through which events occur in a sequence. This is the Newtonian view, named after Sir Isaac Newton. The other viewpoint is that of Leibniz and Kant, that time is not something through which other things move, but an abstract intellectual structure used to sequence events. The International System of Units (SI) holds time as one of the seven fundamental physical qualities by which quantities are defined - such as a light year, the distance light travels in a year. The oldest known devices for measuring time are Paleolithic artifacts suggesting that lunar calendars were in use 6,000 years ago. Sundials date back at least as far as ancient Egypt, where the water clock may also have been invented. The ancient Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian and Chinese civilisations kept astronomical records, which required accurate timekeeping. With the growth of maritime exploration came a need for precise timekeeping aboard ships to help determine their longitude. Pierre Le Roy, Ferdinand Berthoud, Thomas Mudge and, most famously, John Harrison made significant advances in the field. An accurate ship's clock still needed to be set before the ship set sail, so many major docks had time balls - a large painted or metal ball on a pole above a building that would fall at a precise time; typically being raised halfway at five minutes to 1pm (12pm in the USA), then fully raised 2-3 minutes before the hour and dropped on the hour. The oldest still in use (although no longer used for ships' timekeeping) is at Greenwich Observatory in London, although the most famous (though never used for maritime clock-setting) is probably the lit ball above Time Square in New York City, which falls at the start of a new year. Time travel has been a popular staple of speculative fiction since early Hindu and Buddhist mythology, but popularised in the west by H.G. Wells The Sleeper Awakes and The Time Machine. Some interpretations of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity allow for the existence of closed loops in spacetime that would allow an observer to return to their own past, while time dilation from moving close to the speed of light or experiencing massive gravitational fields would allow for moving forwards in time at a different rate to another observer in a different location. Time, though, whether just a conceptual structure or a part of the physical universe, is usually thought of as only moving forwards - the 'arrow of time'. As a wise man said, "time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

^ FILM QUIZ

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

^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS

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

DEEP TIME. In the early 1960s noted physicist Richard Feynman claimed that the Earth's core experiences a time dilation due to the gravity difference between the surface and the centre, and would be a couple of days younger than the surface. Two scientists from Denmark have revisited his hypothesis and calculated that the core is, in fact, two and a half years younger than the planet's crust. Even if the planet's structure was the same all the way down (which it is not) the core would be one and a half years younger. The same calculations can be applied to other celestial bodies, and the larger they are, the greater the difference. The centre of the Sun, for example, is almost 40,000 years younger than its surface.

SHOCK! SOMETHING VALUABLE FOUND ON eBAY! A volunteer at the National Museum of Computing was looking at online auction site eBay when he saw what appeared to be a World War II Lorenz cypher machine teleprinter being sold for £9.50 ($13.99), described as a telegram machine. The Lorenz machine was far more complicated and less portable than the more-famous Enigma machine, being used for high-level German strategic communications rather than the more everyday ones Enigma encoded. When a museum representative went to see the seller, they found the teleprinter in its original case, sitting on the floor of a shed covered in rubbish. The museum is now asking people to look for the motor, or someone willing to build a new one for them.

NO RAM-PAGE... Reports surfaced last week claiming that the remains of an abandoned cannabis farm had been fly-tipped beside a sheep farm near the Welsh village of Craig Cefn Parc in the Swansea Valley, and sheep that had feasted on the cannabis had run wild and terrorised the village. Fortunately the story was not entirely true; cannabis had been dumped near the farm and a local councillor had commented to a reporter that animals were already running wild in nearby villages, and things could get worse if they ate the marijuana. Swansea council had ensured that the drugs were properly disposed of, and police asked for any information on whoever dumped them. In 2014 a flock of sheep in Surrey did eat cannabis after £4,000 ($5,891)-worth of it was dumped in their field, but it seems they just chilled out.

CHOKED! In 1974 Dr Henry Heimlich introduced a technique to save someone from choking to death from bits of food that have become stuck in their throat. The Heimlich manoeuvre is believed to have saved more that 100,000 people in the United States alone, and knowledge of it is a mandatory requirement in some states' food outlets. Dr Heimlich, now aged 96, lives in the Dupree House retirement home in Cincinatti. During dinner one night last week a female resident began choking and staff rushed to help, but Dr Heimlich beat them to it, performed the manoeuvre on her and disloged a piece of hamburger. It is only the second time he has carried out the procedure that bears his name in an emergency situation - the first was sometime around the start of the century. While his son Phil praised his father to reporters saying that "Just the fact that a 96-year-old man could perform that, is impressive," Dr Heimlich himself was more modest, saying that it made him appreciate how wonderful it had been "to be able to save all those lives."

STEP ON IT! Back in April the people of Wandsworth in London - and the local police - were somewhat perplexed by a man wearing a silver shell suit driving, or possibly pedalling, a giant foot around town. Wandsworth Police even tweeted a picture of him to ask if anyone knew about it (https://twitter.com/MPSWandsworth/status/723882518907379712/photo/1), which prompted one paper to conclude that a traffic warden had stopped him, although a later picture sent to the Police Twitter feed showed that the 'warden' was someone dressed as a captain (https://twitter.com/snapstamatt/status/724518510496473088/photo/1). Eventually the foot was revealed to be a publicity stunt for last month's Wansworth Arts Fringe festival.

IN BRIEF: Texas man pays $212 (£144) speeding fine in small change; actually overpays by $7.81 (£5.30) but says he's happy to let them keep the change. World's biggest bouncy castle appears at Common People festival in Southampton; will also be at Isle of Wight Bestival and Dorset Camp Bestival festivals. Students at Spanish University College of Barberan and Collan enrolled on compulsory exorcism course. Horse filmed scratching her posterior on car mirror. Mystery of human foot found in Bath park earlier this year solved; it was an anatomical teaching model. Four-year-old boy accidentally destroys 100,000 yuan (£10,382, $15,290) Lego figure of Zootopia film fox character Nick at Chinese Lego expo. Scientists analyse unrusted dagger found with Tutankhamun's mummy, find that it was made from iron that fell in a meteorite. Russians now able to buy tombstones designed as iPhones, complete with selfie pictures. Clean-shaven man irate after shadow on passport photo makes him look like Hitler - with toothbrush moustache. Clubbers apparently snorting cocoa powder. Repairman called to broken Brazilian PS4 console finds dead snake inside. Nursing home in Norfolk remodels dining room as 1950s diner with Wurlitzer jukebox, Route 66 decorations and cardboard standee of Elvis to help dementia-suffering patients recall memories. Domino's Pizza in Blackpool trialling deliveries to buses. Manchester named as the biscuit capital of Britain.

^ ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

Britain's Got Talent winning magician Richard Jones accused of copying three of his tricks from other magicians; another finalist accused of copying youTube act; final gets lowest viewing figures in show's history. Revamped Top Gear launches, surpasses viewing targets. Justin Bieber sued for plagiarism. Emilia Clarke reveals that while filming in Spain she was booked into a hotel where a Game of Thrones-themed wedding was being held. Stephen Daldry's production of An Inspector Calls returning to London's West End for 25th anniversary. BBC Proms in the Park to include Sir James Galway, All Saints, Juan Diego Florez, Tim Minchin and Rick Astley. Broadway musical version of American Psycho closing. Pamela Butchart's My Head Teacher Is a Vampire Rat wins Children's Book Award. Leona Lewis replacing Nicole Scherzinger in Broadway Cats revival. Dictionary of 8,000 real and invented words used by Roald Dahl published to mark centenary. X-Men: Apocalyse continues to hold off Alice Through the Looking Glass at US, UK box offices. Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)'s Career of Evil shortlisted for Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Disney Mary Poppins sequel to debut in cinemas on Christmas Day 2018. Hungarian weatherman fired for pretending to break wind live on air. First cast photos for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child released. Kate Beckinsale gives blessing to Porridge special, based on Fletcher's son [her father, Richard Beckinsale, co-starred in the original series]. Kraftwerk loses copyright claim over two-second sample taken from 1977 song Metal on Metal and used in hip-hop track. Photo show in London celebrating Marilyn Monroe's 90th anniversary. Marvel planning X-Men spin-off TV series Legion starring Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, Aubrey Plaza. Michael Eavis hoping for 2019 festival at Longleat in Glastonbury "fallow year". Ming cup found gathering dust in Staffordshire University cupboard sells for £3m ($4.4m). Queen Elizabeth II to appear on Vanity Fair cover. Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood becomes father to twins, aged 68. Bristol Old Vic theatre marks 250th anniversary.

^OBITUARIES

Silverback gorilla Harambe (17), animator Makiko Futaki (Studio Ghibli, 58), actor Alan Devereux (The Archers, 75), actress Angela Paton (Groundhog Day, 86), TV screenwriter Carla Lane (The Liver Birds, Bread, 87), dance teacher Peggy Spencer (Come Dancing, 95).

^ WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

Continuing this week's time theme, the astronomical clock in Prague is the oldest still-working astronomical clock in the world, and one of the oldest clocks. It is also one of the most beautiful. This is Wikipedia's page about it.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_astronomical_clock

^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:
14, 26, 36, 46, 51, 52
[UK National Lottery, number range 1-59]
You can get your very own prediction at http://www.simonlamont.co.uk/tfir/dumbledore.htm.

^ AND FINALLY...

    Little Jennifer's parents was tidying their garden and decided that one particularly large bush needed to be cut down, so her father took Little Jennifer with him to the hardware store to buy an axe. "Remember when we visited your uncle John on his farm, and he showed you how he cut down that tree with his axe? Well this is a similar job but the tree was much harder to chop down. I just need a garden axe for that bush."
    At the store they found a suitable axe, and Little Jennifer was allowed to carry it to the checkout as it was small and had a hard plastic protector over the blade. Little Jennifer handed it to the cashier carefully and her father paid for it.
    When they got home again, they found that the vicar had called round and Little Jennifer's mother had made him a cup of tea. "Hello, Little Jennifer," he said, "and where have you been?"
    With a broad smile on her face, she answered "The store. Oh, and Mummy? Daddy says his chopper is much smaller that Uncle John's but it will do the job just fine!"


^ ...end of line