Issue #606 - 19th March 2021
|^ WORD OF THE WEEK
^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Friday 19th March - Elizabeth Seymour, Baroness Cromwell, died, 1568. The English House of Commons passed an act to abolish the House of Lords, 1649. Explorer and missionary David Livingstone born, 1813. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened, 1932. Actress Glenn Close born, 1947. Writer Arthur C. Clarke died, 2008. Saturday 20th March - Poet Ovid born, 43 BCE. King Henry IV of England died, 1413. Sir Walter Raleigh was freed from the Tower of London after 13 years, 1616. Artist Amelie Sara Colquhoun born, 1894. Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity was published, 1915. Singer Kenny Rogers died, 2020. World Sparrow Day. The vernal (Northern Hemisphere) or autumnal (Southern Hemisphere) equinox. Sunday 21st March - Poet and conspirator Anne Howard, Countess of Arundel, born, 1557. Algonquin princess Pocahontas died, 1617. Most of New Orleans was destroyed in a fire, 1788. Composer Modest Mussorgsky born, 1839. Short-form social media site Twitter was founded, 2006. Writer Colin Dexter died, 2017. World Puppetry Day. World Poetry Day. World Down Syndrome Day. International Day of Forests. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Monday 22nd March - Danish invaders defeated Æthelred of Wessex at the Battle of Marton, 871. Astronomer and methematician Ulugh Beg born, 1394. Composer Jean-Baptiste Lully died, 1687. The United Kingdom, France and Russia established the borders of Greece with the signing of the London Protocol, 1829. Ballerina Deborah Bull born, 1963. Cricketer Peta Taylor died, 1989. World Water Day. Tuesday 23rd March - French politician Nicolas Fouquet died, 1680. Botanist and explorer John Bartram born, 1699. James Stewart, the Old Pretender, landed at the Firth of Forth as part of a planned French invasion of Britain, 1708. Bette Nesmith Graham, inventor of correction fluid, born, 1924. David Frost recorded the first of his Nixon Interviews, 1977. Actress and humanitarian Elizabeth Taylor died, 2011. World Meteorological Day. Wednesday 24th March - Queen Elizabeth I of England died, 1603. Clock-maker John Harrison, inventor of the marine chronometer, born, 1693. Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated six concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt, 1721. Elvis Presley was drafted into the US Army, 1958. Actress Alyson Hannigan born, 1974. Comic book artist and co-creator of Astérix the Gaul Albert Uderzo died, 2020. World Tuberculosis Day. Thursday 25th March - Robert the Bruce became King of Scots, 1306. Linguist, cosmographer and cartographer Guillaume Postel born, 1510. French noblewoman Isabelle de Limeuil died, 1609. Copies of Allan Ginsberg's poem "Howl" were seized by US Customs on obscenity grounds, 1957. American civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo died, 1965. Racing driver Danica Patrick born, 1982. Tolkien Reading Day. International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Lady Day Quarter Day in Britain and Ireland.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Murray Walker, on his famous 'Murrayism' commentating gaffes:In my defence... it depends how you define the word 'mistake'. What people call Murrayisms are malapropisms or getting the words in the wrong order. You're standing there in front of a TV set and getting live pictures. The words are pouring out of you. You have to say what comes into your head, and sometimes the wrong words come, in the wrong order or I'd make prophecies which immediately turned out to be wrong.
^ FILM QUIZ
A selection of quotations from films released in the same year. Answers next issue or from the regular address.
Last issue's quotations were from films released in 1965:
- Lady, I never walk into a place I don't know how to walk out of.
- Okay, girls, that was absolutely perfect without really being any good at all.
- You still don't understand, John. You were never a boy. Not in this place.
- After tonight, the three of us are not to be seen together ever again.
- I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss of her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One.
- I can't seem to stop singing wherever I am. And what's worse, I can't seem to stop saying things - anything and everything I think and feel.
-- The Sound of Music
- They're trying to drive him off his ranch! They put manure in his well, they made him talk to lawyers...
-- Cat Ballou
- - Old Ben was a friend of mine Sam, and she killed him.
- It was his own fault. He was ninety-two. I warned him not to marry her!
-- Carry on Cowboy
- The personal life is dead in Russia. History has killed it.
-- Doctor Zhivago
- - Do you always wear your glasses?
- Yes. Except in bed.
-- The Ipcress File
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
- An Arctic walrus described as "the size of a bull" has been sighted on rocks off County Kerry, Ireland. It was thought to have been an adolescent. ● West Cumbria Rivers Trust staff have been patrolling a section of the A590 south of Keswick at night to help toads safely migrate across the road to breeding ponds; they scoop them into buckets and carry them across. ● After three years' work exactly recreating its environment scientists at Manchester University have successfully bred the first Harlequin Toad born outside its native Panama cloudforest. ● The Difficult Bird Research Group at the Australian National University is warning that with just 300 regent honeyeaters left, those in the wild are so widely distributed across an area roughly ten times that of the UK that they are forgetting their songs; they usually learn them by mimicking others. The group are trying to teach the songs to captive specimens.
- Scientists at Caltech researching what happened to the water that covered much of the surface of Mars four billion years ago have used computer modelling to determine that at least 30% of it was absorbed into minerals that now lie below the planet's crust in a layer up to 3,280' (1 km) thick. Evidence of hydrated rocks has been found in the Jezero Crater where NASA's Perseverance rover recently landed. ● NASA has released audio of Perseverance shooting rocks with its laser; the sound can help identify the rock types. NASA also released footage from Perseverance's camera which accidentally filmed a dust devil - a low-powered whirlwind - crossing the surface behind the rover. ● Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have found four strains of bacteria about the station, three of which were previously unknown to science. Scientists are planning to test the three, closely related to Methylobacterium indicum, aboard the ISS to see if they can help plants grow in zero gravity.
- A father-and-son team of historians has found the long-lost entrance to the World War I Winterberg tunnel on a wooded ridge near Reims. The French and German governments must now decide what to do about the discovery as the as-yet-unopened tunnel contains the remains of almost 300 german soldiers killed after a French artillery bombardment on May 4, 1917, closed both ends leaving the soldiers to die over the next six days; there were just three survivors. With the ridge captured then recaptured in the midst of the First World War, the tunnel's location became forgotten. ● France is to return a Gustav Klimt painting to the heirs of the Jewish family who were forced to sell it in the Second World War. The state bought it for the Musée d'Orsay in 1980 without knowing its history. ● The first fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in sixty years have been found in a cave dubbed the Cave of Horror because of its inaccessibility, in Nahal Hever. The fragments are from Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the Book of the 12 Minor Prophets. ● In the US the Army Corps of Engineers, dredging the Savannah River in Georgia have pulled up three cannon, an anchor and a section of timber all thought to date from the American Revolution. Historians from Britain's Royal Navy have suggested that the cannon might be from HMS Rose, which was scuttled in the river to block French ships from reaching colonists to help their attempt to retake the city. ● A shipwreck that has been uncovered by recent rough seas on the Suffolk coast is thought to be the remains of an C18th collier, a then-common cargo vessel (HMS Endeavour, which carried Captain Cook to Australia was a converted collier), of which there are no surviving examples. Archaeologists are unable to visit it at the moment because of lockdown restrictions so have been working from photographs. ● Builders renovating the Esplanade Hotel in Scarborough have found two wartime love letters under the floor of a first floor room, along with handwritten poems, ticket stubs, chocolate wrappers and cigarette packets. The local historical society believes the finds date from 1941-1944, when the hotel was requisitioned by the military and have appealed for any information. The only clues to the identity of the writer are that her name began with an 'M' (mice had eaten the rest of the name) and a return address in Motherwell, Lanarkshire.
- Police in Germany have solved a nine-year-old burglary case thanks to a half-eaten sausage. A burglar who broke into a house in Schwelm in March 2012 took a bite out of a sausage. It was a "hard" variety of wurst - German sausage - and police were able to take a DNA sample which was put on a pan-European database. There were no matches at the time, but French police recently took a DNA sample from a man involved in a violent crime and it matched. ● Greater Manchester Police pursuing two people wanted for car theft, dangerous driving and burglary, who had abandoned their car, found them hiding in beer barrels behind a brewery in Stockport, prompting the force to tweet that it was "probably... the best arrest in the world". ● Spanish police have seized a homemade 29'6" (9m) submarine in Málaga. Found in an industrial warehouse the submarine was big enough to carry up to two tonnes of drugs. ● Two weeks after a judge rejected a plea deal that would have given Marilyn Hartman, 69, probation for attempting to stow away on an aircraft she was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Internatinal Airport attempting to stow away on another plane. She was caught because she was wearing a court-ordered tracking device. ● A Pennsylvania woman is accused of using deepfake (AI-generated images) technology in an attempt to smear her daughter's cheerleading rivals and have them kicked off the squad, and sending abusive messages to the team, their parents and the owners of the gym where they train, using faked phone numbers.
- Last week Christie's auction house in New York sold a digital artwork for $60.25m (£43.34m), a new record for digital art that pushes the medium into the same price range as traditional masterpieces. The anonymous buyer gets a non-fungible token (NFT) attached to the artwork, which is a digital certificate of ownership that runs on the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The payment for Beeple's Everydays: the First 5,000 Days - a mosaic of every digital image that artist Mike Winkleman, aka 'Beeple', has made since 2013, was made in the Etherium cryptocurrency, although Christie's demanded that their fees be paid in traditional dollars.
- TikTok user Andy Nabil recently posted the results of a DNA test to the site as part of a trend for people to post secrets uncovered using the tests. He had believed that he was an only child, and his father had told him that he was mostly French and English. He had bought DNA tests for himself and his parents for Christmas. The test came back showing that he was mainly Irish and a different man was listed as his father. He researched further online and found that he is the second-oldest of 31 siblings.
- During the current lockdown Chris Truett, 31, a furloughed joiner in Southport, kept busy by clearing sand from a cycle path having read about a woman who broke her collar bone after hitting a pile of sand on the seafront track and coming off her bike. Truett reckons to have shifted 25 tonnes of sand using a wheelbarrow and shovel, walking 36 miles (58km) in the process and being thanked by many people who assumed he was a council worker. He was less than happy therefore, to find that council workers clearing sand blown from the beach onto the adjacent footpath had dumped it in several piles on the cycle track.
- Pauline Tremble, from Irvine in Scotland, posted a video online of her cracking up at her husband's pride after laying artificial turf he had bought on eBay, without realising that the "rough as sandpaper" 'grass' was actually a cheap green carpet. She told a reporter that "I don't have the heart to tell him to lift it, he was so pleased with himself until he saw my face". Andy, her husband, has joked (at least we assume he was joking) that he plans to turn the 'lawn' into a golf putting green, having ordered three holes and some 6' (2m) flags...
- The lastest category in the list of things peole have been asked to name is a fleet of 30 snow gritters bought by Traffic Wales. Last year a similar competition resulted in 'Snowain Glyndŵr', 'Oh Salt's Occurring' and 'Dai Icer' taking to icy roads. Entries received so far this year include 'Pretty Gritty City', 'Pont Y Ploughie' and 'Fan Halen'. Traffic Wales have not said if anyone has suggested 'Ploughie ap Ploughface' yet... The winners will be announced in October.
- In 1901 the remains of a hand-powered mechanism was found on a Roman-era shipwreck off Antikythera, Greece. The Antikythera Mechanism, of which only a third survives, has at least thirty bronze gears encased in crusting from being under the sea for so long, and has long been thought to have been used to predict eclipses and star positions, effectively being the earliest-known analogue computer. Scientific Reports has published a paper detailing a new attempt to understand it. Scientists from University College London used 3-dimensional x-rays of the mechanism and computer modelling to recreate its gearing system and front panel. They now plan to construct a physical reproduction of the mechanism using modern materials.
IN BRIEF: Google's new Nest Hub smart device will track users' body activity in bed, ostensibly to generate sleep-tracking reports... ● A girl in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, had to be rescued after climbing into a claw machine in an arcade game centre to get a doll and being unable to get out again. ● A Russian soldier was left hanging some 6,500' (2,000m) up after jumping out of a helicopter during a training exercise only for his parachute to snag on the aircraft. He was safely returned to the ground. ● The University of Manchester has been widely mocked for "wokery gone mad" after advising staff to avoid using the words 'mother' and 'father' and to instead use 'guardian' or 'partner'. ● A West Sacramento, California, woman, fed up with neighbours complaining about her children riding skateboards in front of her house, put up a sign reading "This neighborhood is full of Karens!" [A 'Karen' being the derogatory name for "any person, especially female, exhibiting an exaggerated sense of entitlement" according to Wiktionary]. ● American researchers are developing an aircraft fuel from recycled food waste that could significantly cut emissions of methane and carbon costs from current fossil fuels. ● Scientists, also in the US, have created fabrics from recycled polythene that are both more environmentally-friendly and can be further recycled. ● If you have ever looked at a US school bus (1980s example, on Wikimedia [CCA2.0 license]) and wondered why they have those black stripes down the sides, school bus driver 'Clawboss' revealed the reason on his YouTube channel recently. The stripes are to aid firefighters and rescuers who may need to cut into the bus in the event of an accident - they mark (moving up) the level of the floor of the bus, the bottom of the seats and the top of the seats.
CORONAVIRUS ROUND-UP: The Preston gym owner who was fined three times for refusing to close his gym in breach of COVID-19 restrictions has been arrested and charged with breaching a closure order, and ten people fined £200 ($278.05) each after police raided it again. An application to close the gym for three months was granted to Preston City Council in February. ● The Kate and Luc Cafe Restaurant in Manchester has been stripped of its licence after police who had previously visited five times during the lockdown and found it operating pre-lockdown services with a few people inside each time, found at least 60 people eating inside it on a sixth visit, when it should have been offering only take-away services.
UPDATES: Weeks after an Oklahoma state bill to offer a $25,000 (£18,000) bounty for a captured Bigfoot was proposed the bounty now stands at more than $2m (£1.44m) with tourism officials set to launch a campaign including licence plates, a commemorative tracking licence and tracking permits for stores along State Highway 259A to sell. There is one condition for anyone claiming the bounty - Bigfoot must be captured unharmed, and its capture involve no harm to anyone else or the breaking of any laws.
Videogame developer Gordon Hall (Rockstar Leeds, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown, Red Dead Redemption, 51), racing driver Sabine Schmidtz (Top Gear, "Queen of the Nüburgring", two-time Nüburgring 24hr Race winner, 51), actor and dancer Cliff Simon (The Moulin Rouge, NCIS Los Angeles, Stargate SG-1, 58), boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler (undisputed middleweight world champion [1980-1987], US Boxing Hall of Fame, 66), mass murderer Ronald DeFeo, Jr (the 1974 murder of his family later inspired The Amityville Horror book, film and spin-offs, 69), King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu nation (72), film director Norman J. Warren (Satan's Slave, Inseminoid, First Man Into Space, 78), actor Yaphet Kotto (Live and Let Die, Alien, The Running Man, 81), architect Bill Harkin (British Leyland, designed the original Pyramid Stage for the second Glastonbury Festival, 83), actor Henry Darrow (The High Chaparral, Zorro, Star Trek: The Next Generation, 87), engineer Lou Ottens (invented the audio cassette tape, helped develop the CD, 94), businessman Jean Frydman (member of the French Resistance in WW2, Europe 1, Oslo Peace Accords negotiations, 95), motor racing commentator Murray Walker (Formula 1, BBC, ITV Sport, 97).
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:2, 8, 17, 36, 37, 55[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 teacher was trying to instill in her class a sense that physical differences and disabilities were perfectly normal and should not be mocked. "For example," she said, "my sister is deaf, so she wears a hearing aid and my father needs to use a walking stick to get around. My eyesight is bad, so I need to wear glasses, and my ears stick out much more than my sister's."
They class thought for a moment and then Little Jennifer piped up. "Your nose is big too, Miss!"
^ ...end of line