Issue #609 - 9th April 2021
|^ WORD OF THE WEEK
^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Friday 9th April - Byzantine emperor Zeno died, 491. An expedition led by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish the Roanoke Colony sailed from England, 1585. Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel born, 1806. The Suez Canal was reopened to shipping following the Suez Crisis, 1957. Writer Helene Hanff died, 1997. Actress Elle Fanning born, 1998. Saturday 10th April - Halley's Comet passed Earth at a distance of 3.2m miles (5.1m km), its closest approach, 837. King James V of Scotland born, 1512. William Brewster, leader of the Plymouth Colony, died, 1644. Mount Tambora in Indonesia began erupting; it would continue for three months and affect the Earth's climate for two years, 1815. Singer-songwriter Sophie Ellis-Bextor born, 1979. Writer Sue Townsend died, 2014. Sunday 11th April - King John I of Portugal born, 1357. English rebel leader Thomas Wyatt the Younger executed, 1554. The coronation of William III and Mary II as joint monarchs of Great Britain, 1689. Singer-songwriter Cerys Matthews born, 1969. Apollo 13 was launched, 1970. Actress Edna Doré died, 2014. World Parkinson's Day. International Louie Louie Day. Monday 12th April - Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade breached the walls of Constantinople, 1204. Humanist philosopher and writer Muretus born, 1526. Astronomer Charles Messier died, 1817. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel to outer space, 1961. Actress Claire Danes born, 1979. Figure skater and coach Cecilia Colledge died, 2008. International Day of Human Spaceflight. Tuesday 13th April - Krum, Khan of Bulgaria, died, 814. Handel's Messiah premiered in Dublin, 1742. Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, born, 1743. The CIA's MKUltra mind-control program was launched, 1953. Investigative journalist Amy Goodman born, 1957. Writer Muriel Spark died, 2006. Wednesday 14th April - Something unusual was seen in the skies over Nuremberg, 1561. Mathematician and astronomer Christiaan Huygens born, 1629. Philanthropist Lady Catherine Jones died, 1740. John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was published, 1939. Actress Gina McKee born, 1964. Singer Don Ho died, 2007. Thursday 15th April - Polymath Leonardo da Vinci born, 1452. Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language was published, 1755. Artist Rosalba Carriera died, 1757. Singer-songwriter, actress and former glamour model Samantha Fox born, 1966. Philosopher and Nobel Prize laureate Jean-Paul Sartre died, 1980. A human crush caused by stadium design flaws and grossly negligent failures of the police and ambulance services led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters during a soccer match at Hillsborough Stadium, 1989. World Art Day.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Leonardo da Vinci:Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?
^ 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 1978:
- My father was a writer. You would've liked him. He used to say that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.
- Women, then, are a huge threat to the Church.
- - Since God created man, and man created the Transformers, the Transformers are like a gift from God, Randal!
- No sir. They are not a gift from God. They are an unholy curse from the beast we call the Desolate One.
- Being dead does not mean one cannot be helpful.
- - You may not be allowed to vote, ma'am, but it is your government.
- Yes. I suppose that is some consolation.
- This is the generation who grew up, and forgot to lead their lives.
- I am the man with the power to create catastrophe.
-- The Medusa Touch
- Anybody hungry? Oh, the marvels of American science. Here we are millions of miles from earth, and we can still send out for pizza.
-- Capricorn One
- All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you; digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.
-- Watership Down
- We all have our little faults. Mine's in California.
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
- Australian geologist and former lifeguard Lance Karlson was staying with his family in Geographe Bay, on the southwest coast 120 miles (193km) south of Perth when, while heading to the water for a dip, he thought he saw a stingray tail hitting a seagull. Going to investigate he discovered it was not a stingray but the "angriest octopus on the beach", which lashed out at him as he tried to film it, then again later when he tried entering the water a little further along. ● Brendan Martin, 15, was taking a nap in the front seat of his Powhatan High School, Virginia, school bus when he was woken by a deer landing on him, having crashed through the windscreen. Neither were hurt, and the deer ran off after the driver stopped the bus and opened the door. ● Nadezhda Serezhkina was presenting a live weather report on the Mir 24 TV channel from a Moscow street when a dog jumped up at her, took her microphone and ran off, as the cameraman filmed her running after it before the feed was switched back to the studio. Later in the programme Serezhkina completed her forecast with the dog sitting beside her, and showed viewers her only-marginally-damaged microphone. ● The Brighton v. Manchester United Women's Super League soccer match last weekend was interrupted by a pitch invasion - by two geese. TV footage showed a number of the players trying to shepherd them off the pitch.
- Scientists researching the effects of the 3,281'- (1km)-wide space rock that hit the north of what is now Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, triggering the global extinction event that killed off 75% of plant and animal species including all non-flying dinosaurs, have analysed more than 50,000 fossilised pollen samples and more than 6,000 fossilied leaves from Colombia to see how the impact changed tropical forests. They found that before the impact the forests were composed mostly of widely-spaced conifers and ferns but after it they became denser with more flowering plants, possibly because the dinosaurs were no longer there to trample through the forests maintaining the spaces between trees, and ash from impact enriched the soil, which allowed faster-growing plants to boom. ● Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku has said that with new telescopes like the Webb Telescope, due to analyse thousands of extra-Solar planets after it comes online in October, alien life will be found within the next century, but has warned that attempting to make contact with intelligent aliens "is a terrible idea" because "we all know what happened to [Aztec ruler] Montezuma when he met [Spanish conquistador] Cortés". ● The Ingenuity helicoper was successfully detached from NASA's Perseverence rover on Mars and survived its first night alone on the surface. Its first test flight is due within the next few days.
- In 1695 pirate Henry Every captured the Ganj-i-Sawai, a ship owned by the Indian emperor Aurangzeb carrying Muslim pilgrims home to India from Mecca along with (by today's value) tens of millions of dollars' worth of gold and silver. King William III of England and Ireland, under pressure from Aurangzeb and the East India Company, put such a large bounty on the pirate's head that the first global manhunt was launched. Every initially escaped to the Bahamas posing as a slaver, and in 1696 sailed to Ireland, dying in Ireland, Britain or on an unidentifed tropical island sometime between 1699 and 1714. His treasure was never found. The recent discovery of arabic silver coins in a pick-your-own fruit orchard in Rhode Island and at other areas of New England over the last few years suggests that Every, or some of his crew, had visited the American colonies after they fled to the Bahamas. ● Explorers in the DSV Limiting Factor submersible have made the first manned visit to the wreck of the USS Johnston, sunk by the Japanese navy in the 1944 Battle of Samar. The Johnston lies 4 miles (6.5km) below the waves and is the deepest-known wreck. It was first discovered and filmed using a remotely-operated-vehicle (ROV) in 2019, but parts of the wreck were too deep for the ROV to reach. The divers, including historian Parks Stephenson, found that in the low-oxygen water the ship was still well-preserved with its hull number clearly visible, the gun turrets still pointing in the direction they were believed to have been when the ship went down, and the torpedo racks were clearly empty as a result of all the torpedoes having been fired. No remains of the 186 crewmen who went down with the ship (141 survived) were seen, and wreaths were laid before and after the two manned dives. ● When residents in an Edinburgh tenement building decided to clear out an old store cupboard off the main stairwell on the ground floor they discovered that the unlit room - originally a Victorian washroom - had been used as an air raid shelter in World War II, with bunk beds, wartime signage and a reinforced roof, all hidden behind decades of accumulated junk.
- Freeclimber George King, 21, has been arrested in Spain after climbing a skyscraper hotel in Barcelona without permission or safety erquipment. King was jailed in England in 2019 for climbing The Shard in London. ● French police are warning parents and toy sellers that gangs are stealing Lego sets. Their first arrests were in June last year, with a group of Polish thieves who were caught robbing a PicWicToys store for sets to resell in Poland, after being caught on camera in two other toy stores. While Lego sets are not generally overly expensive demand for them has grown during the pandemic. [We are partial to Lego building here at The Irregular... -Ed] ● A man arrested in Wexford County, Michigan, on suspicion of dealing drugs gave a false name to police. They ran a check on the given name and found an outstanding arrest warrant for a person with that name, so they arrested him anyway, only uncovering his real identity after he was fingerprinted at the station.
- The last issue of The Irregular was written on April Fool's Day. While - as far as we know - none of the stories in it were made up, there were a number of notable spoofs elesewhere. Internet users in Britain's countryside who often have to put up with slow - sometimes dial-up - speeds might have been delighted to hear about rural broadband provider Voneus' plans to attach small wireless routers to cows' collars to provide up to 50mps speeds. The routers were called 'moodems'... Love-him-or-hate-him TV presenter Piers Morgan, who quit ITV's Good Morning Britain after clashing with a colleague on-air over privacy-loving widely-broadcast-interview-giving Meghan Markle tweeted that after a number of her claims had been debunked, most notably that she and Prince Harry married three days before their wedding service, ITV had reinstated him... the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club tweeted a picture of the iconic Centre Court at Wimbledon with its grass "hand-painted" purple after a sponsorship deal with Robinsons' new blackcurrant squash... Ant and Dec, British TV presenters for over 30 years announced that they were rebranding as 'Dec and Ant' because "It's only fair on the little guy"... Subway announced a strap-on 'helping hand' that attaches to the wrist and holds the other end of your baguette so you can have a free hand... McDonald's announced a box big enough for just three chips [French Fries in USian] for customers who "only want a few"... Restaurant chain Frankie & Benny's announced a 'Meatball Bath Bomb' to let customers bathe in the aroma of, er, Meatballs al Forno (pork, garlic and tomato)... Grimsby Live reported on Noodles, a rescue chicken who had pecked numbers on his owners' lottery form, netting them a £150,000 ($206,852) EuroMillions prize. ● The problem with April Fools' Day is that some stories reported are taken to be jokes but are true. This year they included All Nippon Airways, Japan's flag-carrier airline, selling tickets for meals aboard a plane sitting on a runway... a Scottish hair salon donating cut-off hair to make booms to absorb coastal oil spills... a virus that makes black bears in Nevada and California more friendly to people... a rescue pony being used to deliver books to members of a book group... a man who parked his car outside a New Mexico supermarket leaving a window down and returned to find a swarm of 15,000 bees had taken up residence... legendary actor Dick Van Dyke handing out money to jobseekers in Malibu, and a comic book being published about America's First Lady, Jill Biden.
- Some shocked Google Maps users were left stunned after finding what appeared to be two people lying face-up in open graves at a remote spot outside Portland, Oregon, with piles of soil beside the 'graves', but no sign of either spades or anybody else. It turned out that the two, Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger, are performance artists and were performing "Untitled (Graves)" as part of an arts festival put on by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art. In the piece, they each dig a grave tailored to their own height then lie in them and dig sideways "so they can hold hands eternally, metaphorically speaking".
- After staff at a South Korean gallery noticed that a large piece of graffiti artwork valued at about £360,000 ($500,000) had been vandalised they checked their CCTV footage and saw a couple in their 20s pick up brushes and paint displayed with the art - they were used by artist JonOne to create it live in front of an audience and are considered part of the piece - to add their own touches to it. Police found the couple, who explained that they thought it was an interactive participatory piece because of the paint and brushes. No charges were brought, the gallery has added extra "DO NOT TOUCH" signs and are consulting with JonOne on whether the painting should be left as it is or restored.
- Immigrants wanting to settle permanently in the Canadian province of Quebec are required to pass a French language test. Yohan Flaman, 39, a truck driver who arrived in Quebec in 2018 was confident of passing. He was, after all, French, from Limoges, and had spoken the language all his life, picking up a little English in school and while working on long-haul jobs in America, and had already passed one test, entirely in French, to get a Québécoise professsional driving license. He failed the test on an oral comprehension section. "We're all human. We have different levels of concentration," he told reporters, adding that "If I failed it, when I'm French, I can understand how someone who is Mexican, who doesn't speak French, could fail."
- China is battling near-worldwide condemnation for its treatment of up to a million Muslim-majority Uyghurs in the Xinjiang autonomous region of northwest China, reportedly incarcerating them in concentration camps, subjecting them to conversion therapy and sterilisation, and using them for forced labour making cotton. On March 28th China's state television broadcaster CGTN published an article refuting the claims against the Chinese government, signed by French journalist Laurène Beaumond, described by CGTN as having a double degree in art history and archaeology from the Sorbonne in Paris and a Masters degree in journalism which enabled him to work in several newsrooms in Paris before relocating to Beijing, and who has relatives in Xinjiang. French newspaper Le Monde could find no entry for Beaumond on the database of the French commission which issues official press passes to almost all journalists working in France, either currently or in the past, and for someone who had allegedly worked for several media outlets in Paris before relocating to China, nobody in the city's newsrooms had heard of Monsieur Beaumond. The journalist, who parroted almost word for word the Chinese government's statements on allegations about their treatment of the Uyghurs, was entirely fictitious. 'Beaumond' had previously reported on China's response to COVID-19.
- A Chinese woman attending her son's wedding was stunned when she saw the bride had an unusual birthmark on her hand, similar to one on her daughter's, who had been abducted as a baby. She asked the bride's parents if they had adopted their daughter, which stunned them as they had kept it a secret, but they told her that they had found a baby abandoned on a roadside and brought her up as their own. Hearing about her origins for the first time, and meeting her biological mother, the bride burst into tears of happiness, describing the moment as "happier than the wedding day itself". As for the wedding, the woman explained that there would be no legal problem, as - having given up hope of finding her lost daughter - she had adopted a son, so the bride and groom were not biologically related, and the ceremony went ahead.
IN BRIEF: An Iranian baby has been been born with three penises. Roughly 1 in 5-6 million boys are born with two; this is the first documented case of triphallia. Only one penis was anatomically complete with a urethra, so the other two were surgically removed with no adverse effects. ● A pair of former childhood pen pals, one from Belfast, Northern Ireland, the other from Klamath Falls, Oregon, who lost touch with each other in 1950, have been reunited after Jim Johnston, now 82, told his family in Belfast about his one-time American friend and they urged him to try to get back in contact. ● Greenpeace have revealed that the more than 1,500 disused landfill sites across Wales are "ticking time bombs" after analysing data from Natural Resources Wales, with many of the sites improperly lined and containing hazardous material including asbestos, PCBs, pesticide and even mustard gas.
CORONAVIRUS ROUND-UP: An attempt to stop skateboarders gathering at a public skate park in Venice Beach, California, by burying it under 37 tons of sand backfired after dirt bikers started gathering there instead. ● The Metropolitan Police shut down a Good Friday service at a Polish Catholic church in Balham for breaching national lockdown restrictions including mask-wearing and social distancing. ● Lancashire Police broke up a gathering of about 70 people at Rivington Castle on Friday; some were drinking and suspected of using cannabis and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). A number of small fires on the srrounding moorland caused by barbecues also had to be put out. ● South Korea's hopes for using the Tokyo
20202021 Olympics to restart talks with North Korea have been dashed as North Korea has officially pulled out to protect its athletes from COVID-19. ● Kelly Sills, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was thrown out of Disneyland reportedly for refusing a COVID-19 temperature test as part of the park's standard screening process. After being told to leave he shouted that "I spent $15,000 [£10,877] to come here." As he was being escorted out of the park someone was overheard on an Orange County Sheriff's Department officer's bodycam footage commenting that "All he had to do was get temperature checked. That's it."
UPDATES: One of the latest people to be arrested over the Capitol riot in January is Michael Lee Hardin, who was a serving police officer in Salt Lake City PD until he retired after about 20 years in 2017; in 2012 he was named "Officer of the Year". ● The shipping traffic jam at the Suez Canal caused the Ever Given's stranding across the waterway was cleared a few days after the ship was successfully refloated. ● There are concerns for the welfare of the walrus - dubbed 'Wally' - visiting the Welsh coast after reports of jet skiers, paddle boarders and surfers getting "too close" to him; conservation groups monitoring the stray mammal have asked people to "enjoy him from a distance".
April (Harpursville, NY, Animal Adventure Park giraffe who gave birth to a calf called Tariji on a livestreamed video feed in 2017, 20), actor Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chernobyl, 54), puppeteer Phil Eason (Labyrinth, Muppet Treasure Island, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [film], 60), politician Dame Cheryl Gillan (MP for Chesham and Amersham [1992-death], Secretary of State for Wales [2010-2012], Acting Chairman of the 1922 Committee [24th May - 3rd September 2019], 68), comic book writer Joye Hummel (the first woman to write Wonder Woman stories, 97).
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:11, 21, 37, 40, 57, 58[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 class had been told to draw a picture showing weather for their homework. As she collected them up the teacher commented on them. "Little Mary, that's a beautiful sunny day", "Little Clive, that's a very big lightning bolt", "Little Simon, I like your picture of the rain". The she got to Little Jennifer. "Little Jennifer," she said, "this paper is blank. Why didn't you do your homework?"
Little Jennifer looked at her and smiled as only she could, "I did, Miss, that's a snowstorm!"
^ ...end of line