Friday 8th December - Poet Horace born, 65 BCE. Louis the Stammerer was crowned king of the West Frankish Kingdom, 877. Mariner Charles Lightoller, second officer on the RMS Titanic and the highest-ranking officer to survive the sinking, died, 1952. Actress Kim Basinger born, 1953. Golda Meir, educator and 4th Prime Minister of Israel, died, 1978. The Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft slingshotted past Earth for the first time, 1990, and the second time, 1992. Saturday 9th December - The Gothic garrison in Rome fled as Byzantine general Belisarius entered the city unopposed, during the Gothic War, 536. Poet and philosopher John Milton born, 1608. Artist Anthony van Dyck died, 1608. The first traffic lights were installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London, 1868. Computer scientist Grace Hopper born, 1906. Anthropologist Mary Leakey died, 1996. International Anti-Corruption Day (UN). Sunday 10th December - The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published, 1768. Mathematician and computer scientist Ada Lovelace born, 1815. Alfred Nobel, inventor of Dynamite and founder of the Nobel prize, died, 1896. King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom signed the Instrument of Abdication, 1936. Actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh born, 1960. Artist Greta Kempton died, 1991. Human Rights Day (UN). Monday 11th December - King Louis XVI of France was put on trial for treason during the French Revolution, 1792. Composer Hector Berlioz born, 1803. Oliver Winchester, founder of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, died, 1880. The Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre more than two years earlier, was recovered in Florence, Italy, 1913. Actress Maila Nurmi born, 1922. Model Bettie Page died, 2008. International Mountain Day (UN). Tuesday 12th December - Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the US Constitution, 1787. Astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt died, 1921. Actress Jennifer Connelly born, 1970. Three commuter trains crashed at Clapham Junction, killing thirty-five and injuring hundreds of passengers, 1988. Runner Nixon Chepseba born, 1990. Author John le Carré died, 2020. Wednesday 13th December - Artist Donatello died, 1466. Dartmouth College was founded with a royal charter from King George III, 1769. Mary Todd Lincoln, 16th First Lady of the United States, born, 1818. HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles and HMS Exeter engaged the Admiral Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate, 1939. Actor and comedian Jamie Foxx born, 1967. Civil and human rights activist Ella Barker died, 1986. Thursday 14th December - An earthquake caused severe damage to Constantinople, cracking the dome of Hagia Sophia, 557. Astronomer Tycho Brahe born, 1546. George Washington, general and 1st President of the United States, died, 1799. The 1918 general election in the UK, the first in which women had the legal right to vote, was held, 1918. Actress and singer Jane Birkin born, 1946. Author Emily Cheney Neville died, 1997.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Golda Meir:Don't be humble... you're not that great.
^ FILM QUIZ
A selection of quotations from films containing the word 'snow' in the title, either as a whole word or part of a word. Answers next issue or from the regular address.
Last issue's 'winter' quotations were from:
- My friend, you suffer from the misplaced optimism of the doomed.
- We should have gone to the beach like I told you.
- - Angel, ha! She's a female! And all females is poison! They're full of wicked wiles!
- What are wicked wiles?
- I don't know, but I'm agin' 'em.
- The only thing that makes me truly happy is mathematics. Snow, ice, and numbers.
- That's the thing with girls. They grew up and break your heart.
- God damn you. You must think I'm a stupid idiot. There's weeds growing chin high in that place. It must have been a year since that place blew.
-- Winter's Bone 
- Hey, fellas. Either one of you know where the Smithsonian is? I'm here to pick up a fossil.
-- Captain America: The Winter Soldier 
- I'm sorry, sir. We don't allow ladies in trousers in the dining area.
-- Winter Kills 
- - Poor John. Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!
- Let's strike a flint and see.
-- The Lion in Winter 
- 'Tis a far, far better thing I do now than I did that night with the sailor and the artichoke.
-- In the Bleak Midwinter 
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
- Firefighters in Minnesota, called to reports of a deer stuck on a frozen lake, crawled over the ice on all fours to rescue it, avoiding cracking the frozen surface under them. ● Firefighters in Smolensk, Russia, who found an injured owl being attacked by crows outside their station took it in, kept it warm and fed it before taking it to a vet. Once recovered the owl will be taken to a specialist rehabilitation and reintroduction centre before being released back into the wild. ● The US biotechnology and genetic engineering company Colossal Biosciences has announced plans to reintroduce dodos, extinct since 1681, to Mauritius. The full genome of the dodo has been sequenced, as has that of the Nicobar pigeon, its closest living relative. Scientists have modified primordial germ cells (PCGs), which act as precursors to sperm and eggs, to create a chicken fathered by a duck and hope to modify the PCGs of a Nicobar, embedding the cells into the embryos of a chicken and a rooster, which, if they breed successfully once mature, will hopefully produce a chick similar to a dodo. ● New Jersey police have released bodycam footage of a deer that got into an elementary school building through an open window over the Thanksgiving holiday. Once it was aware of the officers the deer ran down a hallway into a classroom where it scattered items before eventually being lured out. It then made its way back to the window and escaped back into the wild. ● Two reindeer which jumped over a fence at a Christmas grotto event on the Elvenden [sic.] Estate in Suffolk were reported on the A11 road, which police had to close off for a few hours. The deer were safely recaptured the next day.
- In a move thought to be a test for a future mission to return samples to Earth the propulsion module that took India's Chandrayaan lander to the Moon has been moved back into Earth orbit. ● Researchers at the University of Chicago have identified a "perfect solar system", 100 light years away, that has six planets which formed without the violent collisions that created our Solar System, and which has hardly changed since it formed, possibly up to 12 billion years ago.
- A couple in Milford Haven who had kept what they thought was a "dummy bomb" in their garden as an ornament for more than 10 years were stunned when a police officer knocked on their door to tell them he had caught sight of it and notified the Ministry of Defence. The next day a bomb disposal team arrived and identified it as a 64lb (29kg) "naval projectile", probably dating to the the late 19th Century when a previous owner of the house had found it and put it in the garden. Furthermore it was live, although only it had a small quantity of charge. It was detonated under five tonnes of sand at a disused quarry. More shocking for the owners was that they used to bang trowels on it to remove earth after gardening... ● A fisherman off Denmark found something unexpected in their net recently - a 287lb (130kg) World War II bomb. Danish Navy sappers attached a 22lb (10kg) explosive charge to it and lowered it 50' (15m) below the surface of the water before withdrawing and detonating it.
- A Florida woman, wanted in three counties for parole violation, who had evaded capture for a month was finally found by deputies searching her home. She was hiding inside a couch. ● Los Angeles police chasing a stolen truck thought they had it cornered in a dead end alley but the driver reversed past them and continued driving, in reverse, at over 30mph (48km/h) before abandoning the truck and fleeing on foot. He eventually gave himself up. ● A TikTokker who attempted to go viral with clips of how to dodge train fares, including by hiding in toilets and only buying single-stop tickets, to travel across the Midlands, has been fined £800 ($1000) and given a criminal record after a joint investigation by British Transport Police and East Midlands Railway. ● YouTuber Trevor Jacob, 30, who filed a crash report for his aeroplane after bailing out of it with a parachute in 2021 has been jailed for six months after posting a video of the incident online, titled "I Crashed My Airplane", which made it clear that the crash was deliberate and he leapt from the plane holding a selfie stick to record himself and the crashing plane. He admitted as part of a plea deal that the stunt was part of a product sponsorship deal and that he had retrieved the wreckage (including onboard cameras) from the crash site and destroyed it, contrary to the National Transportation Safety Board's instructions. The plane had crashed into the Los Padres National Forest in California. ● A gang of would-be carjackers who attacked a man as he got out of his Porsche SUV in Bethesda, Maryland, demanding his car keys, found that they could not steal the car and had to flee in another vehicle. It was not some hi-tech security device that thwarted them; it was the gear stick. The car had a manual transmission and they could not cope with the stick shift... Apparantly just 18% of Americans can drive stick shift cars.
- New research suggests that the computing power behind every transaction of the virtual currency Bitcoin requires the equivalent of a swimming pool of water to cool the millions of computers around the world which process the currency. A standard credit card transaction takes one six-millionth as much, according to Alex de Vries of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. ● The COP28 climate conference in Dubai has shaped up as the most controversial yet, not because of the subject, but the organisers. Presiding over the talks is Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Adnoc, the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) state oil company, who stated ahead of the conference that there is "no science" to support the phasing out of fossil fuel use to limit global warming (although he later claimed his comment had been taken out of context). The UAE has announced plans to increase oil production, at least in the short term. It is not just Al Jaber's presence though, more than 2,400 attendees have direct links to fossil fuel industries, more than the total number of people attending who are from the ten most vulnerable countries. For comparison, COP26 in Glasgow two years ago had just 500 people from fossil fuel industries attending, and around 600 were at COP27 in Egypt last year. John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy, was speaking as part of a panel when it appears he made his own contribution to warming gas emissions. Just as he said "There shouldn't be any more coal-fired power plants permitted anywhere in the world. I find myself getting more and more militant because I do not understand how adults who are in a position of responsibility can be avoiding responsibility for taking away those things that are killing people on a daily basis" he apparently farted rather loudly...
IN BRIEF: Danish police are advising people not to use toasters to warm up electric vehicle batteries after a man in Stenlille placed a toaster under his car for that purpose. The resulting fire destroyed the car and damaged a nearby house. ● The Leaning Tower of Pisa may be more famous but Italy's other leaning tower, the 12th Century Garisenda Tower, some 154' (47m) tall, standing in the centre of Bologna, which tilts at an angle of 4o, is in serious danger of collapse after sensors detected that it was shifting. A 16' (5m) high barrier has been erected around it to hopefully contain most of the debris, should it fail. ● The driver of one of two diggers being used to replace groynes at Bournemouth beach is being praised after his colleague's digger became stuck in the sand, trapped by rising waters. The man used his digger's bucket to rescue the other driver. ● Online user-written encyclopaedia Wikipaedia has released its list of the most searched-for subjects this years. The list is topped by ChatGPT, the virtual chatbot, followed by Deaths in 2023, the 2023 Cricket World Cup, the Indian Premier League and the film Oppenheimer (Barbie, released at the same time, ranked seven places lower). ● Scientists have developed a way to make laser beams up to nine times more powerful without losing any of their integrity. ● The Oxford University Dictionary has revealed its word of the year - 'rizz', a slang term used mostly online by Gen Z'ers, defined as style, charm or attractiveness, and the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner. ● An Australian schoolgirl is being praised after her school bus's handbrake failed while the driver and a teacher were standing nearby and the bus started rolling towards a petrol station. Fourteen-year-old Isabelle Miller grabbed the wheel and steered the bus - carrying around 20 students - to safety. ● British Army doctor Alastair Bush has won the award of best international mullet at the World Mullet Championships in Australia. He started growing his hair into a mullet during lockdown. ● Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" has been knocked off the top of the Billboard 100 by a song released 65 years ago. Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" has become the oldest song to ever top the chart (taking the title from Carey's song, released 25 years before it first topped the chart in 2019), and Lee, now 78, has become the oldest person to top the chart. ● Santa Claus is facing eviction, not from the North Pole but from Santa's Grotto in Frome, Somerset, which marked its sixth year of operation by moving to a new purpose-built site comprising two wooden buildings in Critchell Manor Estate. Planning permission was rejected by the county council for sustainability reasons because visitors would need private cars as there is no public transport near the site, but the local parish council backed it, so building went ahead anyway and a new application has been made.
UPDATES: Ufologist Jaime Maussan, who presented the Peruvian congress with the fossilised bodies of what he claimed were small three-toed aliens discovered in an algae mine, is now claiming that they have been genetically tested and 30% of their DNA is not from any known species. True to form though, he had not actually presented any documented evidence to back up the claim.
Singer-songwriter Shane McGowan (The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York", "A Pair of Brown Eyes", 65), actor Dean Sullivan (Brookside, Doctors, The Royal, 68), politician Alistair Darling, Baron Darling of Roulanish (MP for Edinburgh Central then Edinburgh South West post devolution [1987-2015], Chief Secretary to the Treasury [1997-1998], Chancellor of the Exchequer [2007-2010], 70), astronaut Mary Cleave (the first woman to fly a Space Shuttle mission after the Challenger disaster, the first woman to serve as associate administrator in the Science Mission Directorate, while serving as Mission Control's CapCom (capsule communication) she became part of the first female-to-female ground-to-space communication with Sally Ride [first US female astronaut] during STS-7, 76), politician and campaigner Glenys Kinnock, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (MEP for Wales [1994-2009], Minister of State for Europe , wife of Neil Kinnock [1967-death], 79), singer Denny Laine (Denny Laine and the Diplomats, co-founder of the Moody Blues and Wings, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2018 inductee, 79), musician Les Maguire (last-surviving original member of Gerry and the Pacemakers, Hog Owl, Ian and the Zodiacs, 81), actress Brigit Forsyth (Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Still Open All Hours, The Practice, 83), former US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor (the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, served from 1981 until 2006, 93), photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt (subjects included the Nixon/Krushchev 1959 meeting and the cast of The Misfits, Glassmakers, 95), politician Henry Kissinger (US National Security Adviser [1969-75], Secretary of State [1973-77], Chair of the 9/11 Commission , 100).
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:5, 17, 28, 41, 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...
The class were having a spelling quiz. "Alright, children," the teacher said, "who can spell 'mousetrap'?"
Little Mary raised her hand. "M-o-u-s-t-..."
"No, sorry, Little Mary. Little Edward?"
"No, sorry, Little Edward. Anyone else?"
Little Jennifer put her hand up. "OK, Little Jennifer?"
Little Jennifer smiled as only she could. "C-a-t, Miss!"
^ ...end of line