Issue #390 - 5 August 2016
|^ WORD OF THE WEEK
^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Friday 5 August - William Wallace was captured near Glasgow, 1305. John Hathorne, one of the judges at the Salem witch trials, born, 1641. Engineer Thomas Newcomen died, 1729. The Battle of Dogger Bank took place, during the fourth Anglo-Dutch war, 1781. Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man", born, 1862. Philosopher Friedrich Engels died, 1895. Nelson Mandela was jailed in South Africa, 1962. Radio broadcaster Rory Morrison born, 1964. Actor Alec Guinness died, 2000. National Underwear Day in the USA. Saturday 6 August - Anne Hathaway, wife of William Shakespeare, died, 1623. Portugal and the Dutch Republic signed the Treaty of the Hague, 1661. Mathematician Johann Bernoulli born, 1667. Anomalous phenomena researcher and author Charles Fort born, 1874. The United Kingdom annexed Lagos in Nigeria, 1861. Jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke died, 1931. Mountaineer Chris Bonington born, 1934. The atomic bomb Little Boy was dropped over Hiroshima killing 70,000 instantly and tens of thousands since, 1945. Filmmaker John Hughes died, 2009. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan. Sunday 7 August - The coronation of King Otto I of Germany, 936. Serial killer Elizabeth Báthory, "Countess Dracula", born, 1560. Astronomer Martin van den Hove died, 1639. George Washington instituted the Badge of Military Merit (since renamed the Purple Heart) to honour soldiers wounded in combat, 1782. Joseph Marie Jacquard, weaver and inventor of the eponymous loom, died, 1834. Spy Margaretha Zelle ("Mata Hari") born, 1876. Actor Oliver Hardy died, 1957. Philippe Petit performed a high wire walk between the World Trade Center towers in New York City, 1,368' (417m) above the ground, 1974. Actress Charlize Theron born, 1975. Monday 8 August - Cartographer Oronce Finé died, 1555. The cornerstone for Tycho Brahe's Uraniborg observatory on Hven was laid, 1576. Portrait painter Godfrey Kneller born, 1646. Jacques Balmat and Dr Michel-Gabriel Paccard made the first successful ascent of Mont Blanc, 1786. Angus MacAskill, the tallest non-pathological giant in recorded history, died, 1863. Nobel Laurete physicist Paul Dirac born, 1902. The Great Train Robbery was carried out near Mentmore, England, 1963. Writer Shirley Jackson died, 1965. Tennis player Roger Federer born, 1981. Tuesday 9 August - Roman emperor Trajan died, 117. Construction of the campanile of the Cathedral of Pisa (the Leaning Tower of Pisa) began, 1173. Artist Hieronymous Bosch died, 1516. Poet John Dryden born, 1631. Publication of Thoreau's Walden, 1854. Suffragette Evelina Haverfield born, 1867. Mathematician and founder of the Fields Medal John Fields died, 1932. The Fat Man atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, instantly killing 35,000, 1945. Actress Melanie Griffith born, 1957. Musician Jerry Garcia died, 1995. International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Wednesday 10 August - Viking raiders defeated the English at the Battle of Maldon, 991. Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany died, 1241. James II of Aragon born, 1267. The foundation stone of the Royal Greenwich Observatory was laid, 1675. Artist Anton Losenko born, 1737. Aviator Otto Lilienthal, the "Glider King", died, 1896. The US Army first used Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, 1961. Actress Claudia Christian born, 1965. Computer scientist Kristen Nygaard died, 2002. Thursday 11 August - The start of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, 3114 BCE. Hamnet Shakespeare, son of William Shakespeare, died, 1596. Physician Richard Mead born, 1673. The British colony of Penang in Malaysia was established, 1786. Writer Enid Blyton born, 1897. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie died, 1919. Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs, 1929. Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak born, 1950. Actor and comedian Robin Williams died, 2014.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Joe Ryan:There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when there's a repair job to be done around the house.
^ TOTALLY TRIVIAL
To mark the anniversary this week of Charles Fort's birth, some facts about him and his work. Born in New York, as a child Fort was not a good student, although he acquired considerable knowledge about the world from books, and was considered intelligent. At 18 he travelled, taking in the western United States, England and Scotland, but the journey was curtailled in South Africa when he fell in. He was nursed back home in New York by a childhood friend, Anna Filing, who he married in 1896, and they moved to London for two years where Fort had access to the British Library and British Museum for his research and achieved some success writing short stories and journalism. An inheritance in 1916 permitted him to become a full-time writer. Fort wrote ten novels although only one was published, but he had also begun his life's work, investigating and collecting information about subjects that the scientific press ignored. In 1919 his The Book of the Damned was published, the 'Damned' of the title being the phenomena dismissed by mainstream science (such as unexplained disappearances, falls of frogs and fish, paranormal activity & al.). The Forts moved back to New York in 1926, where he would continue his research at the New York Public Library, amassing a massive collection of handwritten notes and transcriptions (some 60,000 survive) mainly on small cards contained in player-piano music roll boxes. He became ill while writing his fourth book on the subject, Wild Talents, and died shortly after seeing an advance copy. After the success of The Book of the Damned Fort had begun to gain a cult following, and while he corresponded with readers who researched the subjects of his books, he did nothing to encourage or discourage them. Fort believed in the inter-connectedness of things, a concept later used by Douglas Adams in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. The Fortean Society was founded the year before his death to research strange phenomena, and was active until 1959, after which most of their archive was acquired by the International Fortean Organisation (INFO), founded in 1961 and is still active today. Unconnected to INFO (except in the common interest of disseminating news about anomalous phenomena) was a British fanzine called The News, founded and self-published by Bob Rickard in 1973. Three years later issue 16 of The News was published under the name Fortean Times. Today Fortean Times is a professional publication with a circulation (in December 2015) of around 14,300 copies per month, and organises an annual convention called the UnConvention to discuss what are now referred to as Fortean topics.
^ FILM QUIZ
A mixed bag of quotations. Answers next issue or from the regular address.
Last issue's quotations were:
- At my signal, unleash hell.
- You broke my heart once. This time you missed.
- - Are you an author?
- Too bad. You'd look good on a book jacket.
- - How many times is your name in today?
- Forty-two. Guess the odds aren't exactly in my favor.
- Do you normally take coffee with your sugar?
- This isn't flying, this is falling with style!
-- Toy Story [`995]
- This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our maker and glory to his bounty by learning about... BEER.
-- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves 
- Time gives legitimacy to it's existence. Time is the only true unit of measure.
-- Lucy 
- - Black belt, third degree.
- Platinum belt, with an unlimited line of credit.
-- Muppets From Space 
- - What's bonking?
- Well, it's kinda like table tennis, only with slightly smaller balls.
-- Four Weddings and a Funeral 
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
UP A BIT... Australia is being moved almost 2 metres (6') northwards. The country sits on a tectonic plate which is moving about 7cm (2.8") north every year, and local coordinates used for GPS, mapmaking and other measurements no longer match the global latitude measurements. Without the fix self-driving cars and tractors would have difficulties navigating accurately. Since the last fix in 1994 Australia has moved about 1.5m (4' 11"), and the new fix will overcompensate so that positioning systems will match global coordinates in 2020, when a new system which allows for the movement will come into use.
THE GAMING REVOLUTION. A Turkish TV news presenter thought she had a scoop - a series of codes being used by coup plotters. Sadly she did not realise, despite starting reading from the list with its title - "GTA IV Cheats", that the codes were really just cheat codes for the Grand Theft Auto IV game in which you can bring up a character's cellphone and enter, for example, '486-555-0100' for 'weapons (advanced)'. We do not know if she got as far as '468-555-0100', which lets you choose the weather.
FELINE FOLLOW-UP. Last week we brought you the story of the lynx that was loose on Dartmoor in Devon. Despite Dartmoor Zoo owner Benjamin Mee telling reporters that lynx trackers had told him it could take up to six months to recapture Flaviu, the Carpathian lynx, the cat walked into a humane trap baited with veal just a quarter of a mile from the zoo, three weeks after escaping.
STILL POKÉMON GOING... 33-year-old telephone repair engineer Sam Clark claims to be the first person to capture all 142 Pokémon Go characters available in Britain, plus a Tauros, only available in the US, but which he hatched from an egg, after he spent "pretty much every waking hour" playing. Brooklyn resident Nick Johnson, meanwhile, completed the set of available characters in the US. Three teenage players in London where robbed of their phones at gunpoint. One player dyed their dog yellow and black to look like Pikachu, one of the game's characters. Pokémon firework show in Japan. Skydiver tries to film himself catching a Pokémon in mid-fall only for his phone to lose its signal.
GERONIMO! Professional skydiver Luke Aikins assisted Felix Baumgartner in his record altitude jump, has done stunt work on films including Iron Man 2 and Godzilla and teaches advanced skydiving to elite military forces, but has now entered the record books in his own right after falling 25,000' (7.6km) without a parachute, landing in a 100' (30.5m) square net raised three storeys above the ground and with pneumatic shock absorbers built into its supports to slow him down gently. The Screen Actors Guild initially demanded that he wear a parachute for safety in case he was going to clearly miss the net, but lifted the requirement before he jumped. He had to wear an oxygen mask when he jumped, but one of his three support jumpers (all of whom used parachutes) removed it once they had fallen to a breathable altitude.
IN BRIEF: 100m glass-bottomed walkway around Chinese cliff face opens. Jack White marks seventh anniversary of record label by sending record player up 94,413' (28,000m) attached to a balloon to play recording of Carl Sagan at edge of space. UK newspaper The Daily Star in uproar over announcement that new Navy ship will have 5" (12.7cm) guns, claiming that £183m ($240m) had been spent on guns the size of toothbrushes; hilarity ensues on Twitter. YouTube prankster fixes padlock in her boyfriend's stretched ear plug, demands flowers and chocolates before releasing it. Southwark Council in London spend £15,000 ($19,700) on logo redesign; new logo is almost identical to old one but slightly smaller. Escaped emu goes for 8 mile (12.9km) walk along Suffolk, England, roads before being recaptured. Kindergarten sends parents checklist of things children should know before they start attendance, including counting to at least 10, identifying colours, holding a pencil and being able to "Identify 30+ letters"... Owl sits in middle of Bracknell, England, road, refuses to move until summoned policeman "took him under his wing and showed him to the side of the road to carry on his journey."
^ ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS
Meryl Streep joining Mary Poppins sequel as Mary's cousin Topsy. J.B. Priestley psychological horror story Benighted adapted for stage, opening in London in December. Launch show of Celebrity Big Brother loses 500,000 viewers on previous series' debut. Drake fails to set UK singles chart record after Justin Bieber knock him off #1 spot; new calls to drop streaming plays from charts. J.K. Rowling praises "amazing" fans for not spoiling plot of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; script book sets pre-order record in both UK and US, is fastest-selling book in the UK so far this decade, selling over 680,000 copies in first three days (beating Fifty Shades of Grey's 664,478). HBO confirms Game of Thrones will end after season 8; season 7 to be 3 episodes shorter than normal; HBO open to spin-off, but nothing planned at present. Jason Bourne knocks Star Trek off top spot at US box office; comedy Bad Moms at #3. Parents of Anton Yelchin suing Fiat Chrysler over his death. Suicide Squad mostly panned by critics [It can't be worse than Batman v Superman, surely? -Ed.]. Brian Eno, Adele, Radiohead, Christine and the Queens, Kamasi Washington, Babymetal, Wolf Alice among AIM music awards nominees; Roisin Murphy to receive award for outstanding contribution to music. Bette Midler praises casting of Idina Menzel as character she originally played, for TV remake of Beaches. George R.R. Martin announces 20th anniversary illustrated edition of Game of Thrones; still writing sixth book. BBC to close iPlayer license exemption loophole from 1 September, but does not say how. Actress Honeysuckle Weeks found safe and well after going missing last week. Judge dismisses 29 claimants to Prince's estate who say they are either his offspring or, in one case, wife (Georgia woman now claims the CIA are keeping the marriage secret); six people to be DNA-tested. David Bowie's Blackstar in 2016 Mercury Prize shortlist. BBC Radio 1 audience down 1 million, 6 Music, Radio 4 audiences up. Gogglebox to pay tribute to late narrator Caroline Aherne. Warner Bros announce sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them three months before first film opens; J.K. Rowling to script.
Voice actor Ken Barrie (Postman Pat, 83), computer scientist Seymour Papert (co-inventor of Logo, 88), British TV announcer Sylvia Peters (the coronation, 90), actress Gloria DeHaven (Modern Times, 91), actress Vivean Gray (Neighbours, 92), librarian Eric Moon (Library Journal, 93), Australian Aboriginal elder Tommy George (c.94).
^ WEBSITE OF THE WEEK
The Internet is a big data repository. Really big. I mean, if you thought a library full of encyclopaedias was a lot of data, that's peanuts compared to the Internet. Google indexes rather a lot of it, and this week's site aggregates Google suggestions to see what the Internet "thinks" (OK, what webmasters and Google users think) about anything you like. You can search for a person (yourself or someone else), thing, place or time.- http://www.googlism.com/
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:21, 23, 34, 45, 49, 53[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 had taken her camping, and allowed her to sleep in her own tent next to theirs. After they got back they all went to a church picnic, where the priest greeted them warmly. "I hear you've been camping, Little Jennifer," he said, "Did you have fun?"
"Yes," Little Jennifer replied, "but I didn't sleep very well because of all the noise coming from Mummy and Daddy's tent..."
Her parents choked on their drinks. "She means my husband's snoring," her mother said hastily, "Don't you, Little Jennifer?"
Little Jennifer smiled sweetly. "Yes, Mummy, what else would I mean?"
^ ...end of line