The Friday Irregular

Issue #440 - 1st September 2017

Edited by and copyright ©2017 Simon Lamont
tfir@simonlamont.co.uk

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Contents

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^ WORD OF THE WEEK
Selenolatry
  n. The worship of the Moon.


^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 1st September   -   Frederick the Simple, King of Sicily, born, 1341. Mongols captured the Chinese emperor, in the Tumu Crisis, 1449. Explorer Jacques Cartier died, 1557. Composer Johann Pachelbel born, 1653. Artist Jan Brueghel the Younger died, 1678. Emma Nutt was hired by the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company, becoming the first female telephone operator, 1878. Boxer Rocky Marciano born, 1923. Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea was published, 1952. Poet Siegfried Sassoon died, 1967. Random Acts of Kindness Day (International).
 
Saturday 2nd September   -   Cleopatra declared her son co-ruler of Egypt as Ptolemy XV Caesarion, 44 BCE. Máel Schnaill mac Domnaill, High King of Ireland, died, 1022. Architect Vincenzo Scamozzi born, 1548. The Great Fire of London broke out in a bakery on Pudding Lane, 1666. Engineer Thomas Telford died, 1834. Cricketer Lily Poulett-Harris born, 1873. Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard USS Missouri, 1945. Teacher and victim of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster Christa McAuliffe, born, 1948. Writer J.R.R. Tolkien died, 1973. National Blueberry Popsicle Day in the U.S.
 
Sunday 3rd September   -   San Marino, the world's oldest extant republic, was founded, 301. Anna of Bohemia died, 1313. Luthier Nicola Amati born, 1596. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, died, 1658. William Wordsworth wrote the sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802, 1802. Writer Sarah Orne Jewett born, 1849. The Viking 2 spacecraft landed at Utopia Planitia on Mars, 1976. Skier Sarah Burke born, 1982. Filmmaker Frank Capra died, 1991. Merchant Navy Day in the United Kingdom.
 
Monday 4th September   -   The Western Roman Empire ended with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, 476. Joan of England, Queen of Sicily died, 1199. King Alexander III of Scotland born, 1241. The War of the Castilian Succession ended with the Treaty of Alcáçovas, 1479. Actress Jennie Lee born, 1848. Composer Edvard Grieg died, 1907. Antwerp was liberated by the British 11th Armoured Division, in World War II, 1944. Singer-songwriter Lucie Silvas born, 1977. Comedian Joan Rivers died, 2014.
 
Tuesday 5th September   -   Philosopher Jacopo Zabarella born, 1533. Catherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII of England, died, 1548. The Great Fire of London ended, 1666. Composer Johann Christian Bach, youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, born, 1735. The first Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, 1774. Outlaw Jesse James born, 1847. American tribal leader Crazy Horse killed while allegedly resisting imprisonment, 1877. "Manson family" member Lynette Fromme attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford, 1975. World War II flying ace Douglas Bader died, 1982. International Day of Charity.
 
Wednesday 6th September   -   Christopher Columbus set sail on his first Atlantic crossing, from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, 1492. Artist Francisco de Holanda born, 1517. Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent died, 1566. The Puritan-dominated English Parliament banned all theatrical stage plays in London, 1642. Physicist John Dalton born, 1766. Piggly Wiggly, the first self-service grocery store, opened in Memphis, Tennessee, 1916. Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters born, 1943. Tenor Luciano Pavarotti died, 2007.
 
Thursday 7th September   -   Richard I defeated Saladin in the Battle of Arsuf during the Third Crusade, 1191. Queen Elizabeth I of England born, 1533. John Shakespeare, father of William, died, 1601. Pirate Henry Every captured the Grand Mughal ship Ganj-i-Sawai, 1695. Doctor & author John Polidori born, 1795. The Cunard Line ship RMS Lusitania set sail on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York City, 1907. Artist William Holman Hunt died, 1910. Actress Mira Furlan born, 1966. Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon died, 2003.


^ THE WISDOM OF...

This week, Christa McAuliffe, in a TIME magazine interview, 10 February 1986:
What are we doing here? We're reaching for the stars.


^ FILM QUIZ

A selection of quotations from films with a common actor or actress. Answers next issue or from the regular address. Last issue's quotations were from films starring Tim Curry:


^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS

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

SPACE! As this issue goes out a 2.7 mile (4.34km) wide asteroid is bearing down on Earth. No need to panic though, Florence (named after Florence Nightingale) is set to pass no nearer than 4.4 million miles (7.08m km) on Friday; even so, it will still be the closest recorded passage of an asteroid of that size since NASA began tracking them in 1998, and will be close enough for ground-based telescopes in Puerto Rico and California to see details of its surface. Elsewhere in the Solar System the Cassini probe around Saturn is about to enter its last two weeks before plunging into the planet's atmosphere. It has made several passes between the planet and its rings, and returned evidence that they may be much younger that previously believed, possibly just 100 million years old (for comparison, life on Earth began around 541 million years ago). Such young rings would not, as currently thought, have formed at the same time as Saturn, but would most likely be remnants of moons or asteroid caught in the planet's gravity and broken apart.

WRITING! A neural network has been created by software engineer Zack Thoutt to write a Game of Thrones novel, titled The Winds of War. The plot is somewhat muddled, and the writing often makes no sense, but for fans of Ned Stark, he is back from the dead. Writer George R.R. Martin need not worry too much, but if he delays the next long-awaited volume much further Thoutt might just have to tweak the software... Fiction-writing software is nothing new; the Editor even wrote some simple programs to do it in the 1990s, and the earliest-known software was though to date from Sheldon Klein's "automatic novel writer" demonstrated in 1971, but a recent discovery of documentation written by Joseph E Grimes in the 1960s has pushed the date back a decade. Grimes had developed a short story (or at least plot) generator for the IBM Model 650, the first mass-produced computer, which was intially programmed with punch-cards with low-capacity rotating drum memory. Grimes started working on the software in 1961 or 1962, and later reworked it, but abandoned the project because the stories were "all boring".

DRUGS! Last Sunday people sitting on an East Sussex beach were overcome by a chemical 'haze' which seemingly drifted in from the sea; between 130 and 150 people had to be treated for vomiting, sore throats and stinging eyes. Neither the exact nature nor the source of the haze have been determined, with theories ranging from emmissions from a French factory (ruled out by meteorologists), an illegal discharge from a ship in the English Channel, a toxic algal bloom, a local factory or water treatment plant (ruled out by Southern Water) to chemicals leaking from World War II munitions. Over in Germany, police last week seized 5,000 ecstasy tablets worth approximately €37,000 (£34,000 $43,778) from a father and son after stopping their car. The pills were bright orange and moulded to look like US President Donald Trump's face. Back in the UK a 68-year-old grandmother has become the country's oldest convicted drug smuggler after being caught trying to take 3.28g of Spice into Holme House Prison, Stockton, for her incarcerated grandson.

TRANSPORT! The oldest Boeing 747 jetliner still in use has been retired. The plane was the 25th 747 to be built and originally entered service in 1970 with Pan Am. Since 1971 it has been used as a testbed for new engines. Up in the Arctic, the LNG (liquid natural gas) tanker the Christophe de Margerie has become the first to successfully travel the northern route from Norway to South Korea without being accompanied by an ice breaker. The ship has a lightweight reinforced steel hull. Below the waves, entrepreneur and billionaire Paul Allen has confirmed the discovery of the wreck of the USS Indianapolis 5,500m (3.4 miles) down in the Philippine Sea, by a team aboard his research ship, the R/V Petrel. The heavy cruiser, with a compliment of 1,197 sailors and marines (of whom only 316 survived) had delivered the "Little Boy" atomic bomb that would be dropped over Hiroshima to a US base on Tinian Island, before being torpedoed and sinking in 12 minutes on the return voyage. Back on land, Ford and Domino's are to trial self-driving cars for pizza deliveries in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In Nottingham, England, part of a fascia wall in a multi-storey car park collapsed, leaving vehicles dangling over the edge. Two rare three-wheeler micro-cars, a 1964 P50 and 1965 Trident, made on the Isle of Man, have been auctioned in America for $140,250 (£110,000) and $121,100 (£94,000) respectively. The P50, measuring just 1.4m (6' 4") in length, is the world's smallest car to go into production, and featured on British motoring show Top Gear in 2007. Also on (or in) the road, Suffolk Council have announced plans to rename cat's eyes - the reflective studs placed in roads to aid nighttime drivers - as "road studs", because the original name apparently confuses foreign tourists who think they were taken from real cats...

TREASURE! A rare 6th century gold pendant has been discovered by a metal detectorist in a field in Norfolk. The pendant was probably made in France, bears an image of Byzantine emperor Justinian, and was probably part of a burial, suggesting that there could be more treasures in the field. Off the coast of Kent, meanwhile, divers have been recovering items from the wreck of the Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship that sank soon after sailing for Jakarta. Among the objects recovered is a large seaman's chest, which is to be x-rayed to determine its contents, as opening it could destroy whatever it contains. In Egypt three more tombs have been discovered 125 miles (200km) north of Cairo. The tombs span the period between 525-404 BCE, and hint at the existance of a larger cemetary at the site. In New York an extremely rare 2.11-carat Fancy Red diamond recently went on display.

IN BRIEF: ASDA apologises after marking opening of first Isle of Wight store with commemorative shopping bags - bearing the name 'Isle of White'. London's Big Ben falls silent for up to four years (barring New Year's Day and Remembrance Day chimes) to allow for renovations. LEGOland Windsor theme park also silencing its 61,200-brick model of the Elizabeth Tower for maintenance, but should be producing daily chimes again a lot sooner. Blue dogs sighted in India; colour believed to be caused by untreated industrial waste - heavy rains washed it off. Lord Lucan turns up in West Sussex parish council newsletter after photo mistakenly used for new councillor. NASA reveals plan to stop long-overdue eruption of Yellowstone supervolcano. Plans announced for world's largest data centre to be built in Ballangen, Norway, inside the Arctic Circle where airchill and easy access to hydroelectric power will keep energy costs and greenhouse emissions down. Rubik's Brand Limited suing two US companies over "imitation twist puzzle cubes". Scientists studying dodo bones piece together how the birds lived, including going through moulting every year, which explains differing reports of their plumage. Migrating birds found to use smell to aid navigation over sea. World's largest festival of redheaded people (founded by a blond artist who put out call for 15 redhead models only for over 150 to turn up) convening in Breda, Netherlands this weekend. Descendents of "lost" Scottish colony discovered in northern Italy town. Professional clowns fearing for careers with release of new film of Stephen King's It so soon after killer clown craze.


^ ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

Deeds for the Liverpool grave site and stone bearing the name 'Eleanor Rigby' to be auctioned on September 11, as is Paul McCartney's original score for the song. Great British Bake Off makes Channel 4 debut to highest ratings for the channel since 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony but 4 million lower than for last series on BBC; reviews mostly positive. Ben Whishaw joining Hugh Grant for Jeremy Thorpe-based drama A Very British Scandal. Ed Skrein quits Hellboy reboot after learning of whitewashing of Asian character he was due to play. Belle and Sebastian accidentally leave drummer in US supermarket car park (and in his pyjamas) after mistakenly thinking he had got back on the tour bus after a late night shop stop. Channel 5 controller says he would be "happier" without Big Brother after contract expires next year; Celebrity Big Brother ended with someone winning amid now-usual fixing claims. James Marsters returing to Torchwood for audio drama The Death of Captain Jack. Notting Hill Carnival falls silent in remembrance of Grenfell Tower victims. Bros make comeback at O2 show. Star Wars may get prequels based around Yoda, Jabba the Hut and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Hopes raised that "lost" Jerry Lewis film The Day the Clown Cried might get release beyond US Library of Congress who hold it. Atari suing Nestle over Kit Kat advert based on 1970s computer game Breakout. Martin Scorsese to make "gritty and grounded" 80s-based Joker film for DC, not expected to cast Jared Leto. David Tennant joins Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Guy Pearce for Mary, Queen of Scots historical film. Morrisey announces first new album in 3 years. Prince exhibition to open in London in October. Cruise boat passengers got to hear Bonnie Tyler singing Total Eclipse of the Heart during the recent solar eclipse. Joe Mazzello (Jurassic Park) joins Queen biopic as John Deacon; film will recreate Live Aid appearance. Taylor Swift criticised for letting fans boost chance of getting concert tickets by posting about her on social media or buying merchandise; breaks first day song streaming record. U2 tease new release. The KLF return after promised 23 years, to sell books. BBC commissions Mammoth Productions (Poldark, Victoria) to make 8-part 70s true story crime drama The Serpent. Meols, Wirral, phone box featured in OMD track "Red Frame White Light" saved from British Telecom scrap plan. Suede shoes worn by Ringo Starr on stage in 1963 auction for £6,900 ($8,914). Sky stops showing Fox News in the UK citing low viewing figures despite official figues being significantly higher than claimed; more likely attempt to positively affect 21st Century Fox's planned takeover bid. Spotify signs licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Stranger Things' creators confirm third series; suggest it could end after fourth. J.K. Rowling Robert Galbraith planning up to ten more Cormoran Strike books. Hard drive holding Terry Pratchett's unfinished material crushed by steam roller, concrete crusher, as he wanted. The League of Gentlemen returning for three specials to mark 20th anniversary. ITV newsreader Alistair Stewart confronted by toddler crawling on his desk during interview with mother. Venice Film Festival opens with premiere of Downsizing. Game of Thrones penultimate season ends; final season not due until 2019 but fans awaiting that and George R.R. Martin's next GoT novel can read story (mostly badly) written by neural network software (see above). MTV returning to roots with new Unplugged and TRL.

MTV VMAs: Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar - Humble; Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran; Best Collaboration: Zayn and Taylor Swift - I Don't Wanna Live Forever; Best New Artist: Khalid; Best Hip Hop: Kendrick Lamar - Humble; Best Dance: Zedd and Alessia Cara - Stay; Best Pop: Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mayne - Down; Best Direction: Dave Myers and The Little Homies (for Kendrick Lamar - Humble); Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar - Humble; Best Art Direction: Kendrick Lamar - Humble; Best Choreography: Kanye West - Fade; Song of the Summer: Lil Uzi Vert - XO Tour L1if3; Best Visual Effects: Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley - Chained to the Rhythm; Best Editing: Wyclef Jean - Young Thug; Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award: Pink.


^ OBITUARIES

Journalist Liz MacKean (Newsnight Jimmy Saville investigation, Dispatches, 52), singer Melissa Bell (Soul II Soul, 53), actor Jay Thomas (Mork & Mindy, Cheers, 69), former Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony deBrum (Paris Climate Agreement, 72), filmmaker Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, 74), comedian & civil rights activist Dick Gregory (84), playwright Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray musicals' books, 88), entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth (The Generation Game, Strictly Come Dancing, 89), actress Viola Harris (The Other Guys, Deconstructing Harry, 91), comedian Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor, The King of Comedy, collaborations with Dean Martin, 91), sci-fi writer Brian Aldiss (Supertoys Last All Summer, Helliconia Trilogy, 92), physician Dame Margaret Turner-Warwick (first female president of the Royal College of Physicians, 92) engineer, teacher & victim's advocate Tsutomu Yamaguchi (survivor of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing, 93).


^ WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

This week sees the anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. This is Historic UK's article on it.
- http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Great-Fire-of-London/


^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:
12, 20, 44, 45, 48, 50
[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 ran in from school, dropping her coat and school bag on the floor by the door. Her mother, bending down to pick them up sighed, "Oh, Little Jennifer, why am I always having to pick up after you?"
    Little Jennifer paused for a moment, then smiled. "It's because we can't afford staff, Mummy!"


^ ...end of line