Friday 3rd December - Roman emperor Diocletian died, 311. King Berenger I of Italy was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor, 915. Mathematician John Wallis, who introduced the ∞ symbol for infinity, born, 1616. Scientist Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh, died, 1691. Georges Claude gave the first demonstration of modern neon lighting, 1910. Actress Daryl Hannah born, 1960. International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Saturday 4th December - Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, died, probably in battle, 530 BCE. Charlemagne acceded to the throne of the Frankish kingdom, 771. Nurse Edith Cavell born, 1865. The brigantine Mary Celeste was found abandoned in unexplained circumstances and drifting in the Atlantic, 1872. Actor Michael Bates born, 1920. Historian, political philosopher and Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt died, 1975. Sunday 5th December - Ealhswith, queen consort of Alfred the Great, died, 902. Composer Francesco Scarlatti born, 1666. Auctioneer James Christie held his first sale, in London, 1766. Poet Christina Rossetti born, 1830. Writer Anexander Dumas died, 1870. Flight 19, a group of TBF Avengers on a training flight, disappeared off Florida in the "Bermuda Triangle", 1945. International Volunteer Day. World Soil Day. Monday 6th December - King Henry VI of England born, 1421. Artist Jan van Scorel died, 1562. Members of the English Long Parliament thought to be loyal to King Charles I were purged ahead of his trial, 1648. The Nefertiti Bust was discovered in Amarna, Egypt, 1912. Soviet fighter pilot Yekaterina Budanova born, 1916. Actress Janet Munro died, 1972. Tuesday 7th December - Statesman and philosopher Cicero was killed, 43 BCE. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, born, 1545. The Great Storm of 1703 hit the south of England with wind gusts up to 120mph (193km/h), 1703. Writer Willa Cather born, 1873. Soprano Kirsten Flagstad died, 1962. The Blue Marble photograph of Earth was taken by the astronauts on Apollo 17 as they headed for the Moon, 1972. International Civil Aviation Day. Wednesday 8th December - Poet Horace born, 65 BCE. Louis the Stammerer was crowned king of the West Frankish Kingdom, 877. Marie Anne de Mailly, mistress of King Louis XV of France, died, 1744. The United States declared war on Japan and formally entered World War II the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941. Actress Kim Basinger born, 1953. Puppeteer and actor Carol Spinney died, 2019. Thursday 9th December - Byzantine general Belisarius entered Rome unopposed and the Gothic garrison fled the city, during the Gothic War, 536. Poet Richard Lovelace born, 1617. Artist Anthony van Dyck died, 1641. Douglas Engelbart gave "The Mother of All Demos", publicly demonstrating the computer mouse, hypertext and the bit-mapped graphical user interface, 1968. Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap born, 1977. Actress Eleanor Parker died, 2013. International Anti-Corruption Day.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Carroll Spinney:I'll have people meet me on the street with their 3-year-old and they'll say, "Do you know who this is? There's a man inside Big Bird and this is the man." This is bad news to a child.
^ 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 1955:
- So I became a lady boxer. I mean why not? Violence was all I knew anyway.
- ...what's the difference, fantasy, reality, dreams, memories. It's all the same, just noise.
- - Have you really read every one of these books?
- No, not all of them. Some of them are in Greek.
- You shouldn't have killed my mom and squished my Walkman.
- - You're not wearing any clothes. Let's go buy you some clothes.
- What do these women wear into battle?
- As my grandpappy, Ol' Reliable, used to say... I don't recollect if I ever mentioned Ol' Reliable before?
-- Lady and the Tramp
- Half an hour late. That's my boss - the only guy in the world who can travel by jet and still be late.
-- This Island Earth
- Say now, that wasn't true, what you said about teachers. Some of us do care, you know?
-- Blackboard Jungle
- When it gets hot like this, you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox!
-- The Seven Year Itch
- Open that door, you spawn of the devil's own strumpet!
-- The Night of the Hunter
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
- A goose in China is reportedly laying normal-looking eggs which contain black yolks, and nobody from the goose's owner to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences is quite sure why. Theories range from the goose eating mulberries to pollution. ● Scientists wanting to set up infrasound detectors around the world to detect natural and man-made explosions have overcome the problem of not being able to install them on two thirds of the surface - the oceans, particularly in the southern hemisphere, which are not only noisy but mostly devoid of land. To get around the problem the scientists have strapped detectors the size of TV remotes to the backs of wandering albatrosses, which spend much of their time in the air and do not dive into the water. This year the albatrosses covered 26,200 miles (42,165km) and recorded 115 hours of data. ● Lightcliffe Golf Club near Halifax was forced to close its course last Sunday after two pigs got onto the greens, attacked a member and pushed "golf trolleys and bags over". Police were eventually able to remove them after they wandered onto a nearby road and started disrupting traffic. ● Police, firemen and wildlife officers were called to a street in Lincoln City, Oregon, after reports of a sea lion wandering the road having swum up a nearby river. Staff at Kenny's IGA Village Market in nearby Taft donated packages of fish, refusing payment when they were told what it was for, and the officers tried to lure the sea lion, dubbed 'Tiffany', back into the water without success. Eventually they used sheets of plywood to slowly corral her back to the river, giving her occasional spray-downs with garden hoses for her health. ● A species of tropical stingless bees called "vulture bees" have evolved the ability to eat meat rather than nectar, thought to be due to increased competition for nectar. ● A science project aims to map the networks of fungi and plant roots below the ground. It is known that trees can share nutrients across the 'Wood-Wide Network' beneath them, but the true extent of the networks is unknown. The project will compile a global map of fungal 'hotspots' over the next 18 months.
- Scientists studying samples from the Itokawa asteroid returned to Earth by the Japanese Hayabusa probe in 2010 think they can explain how so much water came to be on Earth. Itokawa is an S-class asteroid, one from the inner belt rather than the outer C-class asteroids which are known to carry water. Hydrogen and helium ions in the solar wind penetrated the top tens of nanometres of the asteroid's surface and, over time, produced enough "space weathering" of the rock to release oxygen atoms and create water. The scientists believe that the solar winds interacted with grains of dust that fell on the Earth as it formed, bringing large quantities of water.
- The remains of a Roman villa complex and a mosaic described as "one of the most remarkable and significant [...] ever found in Britain" have been unearthed 2' (60cm) below the soil surface in a farmer's field in Rutland. The mosaic, which measures 36' x 23' (11m x7m) depicts scenes from Homer's Iliad. The farmer's son discovered the site after spotting "unusual pottery" while walking in the field last year and returning to dig a shallow trench, before calling in the University of Leicester's archaeologists. It has now been given Scheduled Monument status by the government. ● Marine biologists aboard the R/V Western Flyer exploring a seamount 186 miles (300km) off the coast of California using a remotely operated vehicle in 2019 were stunned to discover an ancient mammoth tusk 9,843' (3km) below sea level. At the time they were only able to retrieve a small fragment but returned last July and recovered the entire tusk. Early analysis suggests that it could be more than 100,000 years old. ● A collection of original Star Wars toys dating back to the early 1980s which spent the last forty years in a suitcase in an attic has sold at auction for "2,300 ($3,064).
- Pittsburgh attorney Daniel Muessig achieved a level of online fame in 2014 with a video touting for business in which he said "Trust me, I may have a law degree, but I think like a criminal." He does indeed; he recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute large quantities of marijuana in the city. His legal license has been suspended. ● German police are appealing for witnesses after burglars broke through a Lippstadt toy shop's wall to steal dozens of Lego sets. Theft of Lego, especially limited editions, has increased worldwide in recent years. ● Canadian Border Services Agency officers who discovered 8.8lb (4kg) of methamphetamine encased in a package containing a painting bound for Australia collaborated with US and Australian drugs officers to hamper the flow of drugs. They replaced the drugs with "a placebo" then, after it had entered Australia, federal police there executed a search warrant and found the 'drugs' buried in the garden of a 38-year-old man, who was arrested. ● Frank Methola, the Police Chief of Loving, New Mexico, has been charged with impersonating a police officer and battery after making a traffic stop, dressed in his uniform and driving a police car, in Carlsbad, NM, outside his jurisdiction.
- Albatrosses are known as one of the most monogamous birds, with only 1% of breeding pairs breaking up, usually because of a failure to produce a chick, but a study of albatrosses in the Falklands over the last 15 years found that 8% split up in years with warmer water temperatures, suggesting that climate change could be altering the birds behaviour, or more worryingly, their ability to breed successfully. ● In 1992 the village of Aceredo, near Lobois, Spain, was evacuated to make way for a reservoir. With the water level fallen to an historic low the village's buildings have reappeared. The stone structures have mostly survived, but the rooves have collapsed and mud fills the doors. Anything metal has rusted away. ● Meanwhile in the Sumas area of Washington State in the Pacific northwest of the US flooding has caused a lake to reappear for the first time in 100 years since it was pumped dry to create farmland.
- Canadians have a reputation for niceness, eh? Certainly according to the crew of a Canadian Armed Forces helicopter crew from Quebec which was forced to make an emergency landing on a bank of the Fraser River near Yale, British Columbia, by heavy fog. The four-man crew including a medic had been helping flood-impacted people and were flying back to Abbotsford when heavy fog rolled in as darkness fell and they made the decision to land on the only visible clear spot. Two local residents, Randall Gardner and Melina Barnes, who heard the helicopter landing came down to meet them and Captain Julien Brideau told them he was worried about flooding at the landing site as heavy rain had been forecast. Gardner told him there was a better spot near the road uphill but when they walked up to check it Brideau said that it was "a little tight still". Gardner then said he had a chainsaw, and asked which trees Brideau wanted cut down. The trees were felled and Gardner used his flashlight to guide the helicopter to the newly-made safer location. Someone from the local fire department then turned up and offered the crew the key to a cabin for the night, other locals helped carry equipment and stop traffic while the helicopter landed, and someone else made the crew grilled cheese sandwiches.
- When Gannon and Christine Karmire had their wedding reception in Youngsville, North Caroline, recently, it was certainly a memorable day, if for the wrong reason. Gannon had to be rushed to hospital with "severe" food poisoning. Not wanting to miss their first dance, Christine took to the dance floor with a mannequin on whose face she had attached an iPad, displaying a picture of Gannon. She also cut the cake with the mannequin. Video of the event quickly went viral. Gannon later made a full recovery. They had actually been married last July, but pandemic restrictions meant that the reception was delayed twice, and hospital regulations meant that he was unable to return to the reception, but did not want Christine to miss out on time with friends and family so asked that she stay.
- Last week saw Thanksgiving celebrated across America with families gathering to celebrate, eat, watch football and block drains [viz. previous TFIr]. In 2016 Wanda Dench sent her grandson a text message inviting him to Thanksgiving. He had changed his phone number without telling her and the invitation was instead received by 17-year-old Jamal Hinton. When they realised the mistake they sent each other messages and selfies, and Hinton asked if he could come over anyway. Dench replied "Of course you can. That's what grandmas do ... feed everyone." This year Hinton, his girlfriend and family spent Thanksgiving with Dench, whose husband died last year. It was the sixth year Hinton and Dench have kept up their newly-found tradition. Asked what would have happened if she had not invited him six years ago, Dench told azfamily.com "I've changed my view so much on the younger generation, and now that I've reflected back on all these years, I didn't change their life; they changed mine."
- After the lacklustre US military report into UFOs last June which failed to explain dozens of reported sightings but warned of possible national security risks the Pentagon has announced the creation of a task force overseen by top military and intelligence staff to investigate reports and "mitigate any associated threats". Of 144 reports made since 2004 the official report last year could only identify one with any certaintly, a deflating weather balloon. The US Air Force operated Project Blue Book from March 1952 to December 1969 for much the same purpose. Of 12,618 UFO reports by the time it closed, 701 were classified as unexplained. Project Blue Book inspired several popular TV series including Project U.F.O (broadcast as Project Blue Book in some countries), Galactica 1980 and Twin Peaks. It should be pointed out that UFOs are not necessarily alien; it is far more likely that they are classified or foreign technology (many of Blue Book's reports were of classified U-2 and A-12 flights), or natural in origin.
- Since 1955 the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has run the Norad Tracks Santa program from December 1st to the 25th. Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) are, apparently, somewhat more pragmatic. Ministry of Defence spokesman C. Cringle [sic...] has issued a statement that the RAF are now on high alert in order to track an unregistered cargo flight originating in the Arctic region, after an incident a year ago in which a Typhoon fighter plane escorted a Lapland-registered aircraft over major cities in the UK early in the morning of December 25th, its pilot said to be under the influence of alcohol and behaving in a very "festive" manner, which was of concern given how much cargo the aircraft was carrying... Furthermore the aircraft was understood to have intelligence-gathering capabilities which were able to sort British citizens into a list based on their behaviour over the previous year. [Of more concern, given climate change, is what naughty children will be given. We presume coal is no longer an option. Second-hand copies of The Art of the Deal, maybe? -Ed]
IN BRIEF: Blackpool councillor Simon Blackburn is being criticised for claiming he can still represent residents despite having moved to Devon, almost 300 miles away as the crow flies.● Research by Scrap Car Comparison has found that BMW and Audi owners are more likely to be psychopaths than drivers of other cars. Least likely were Hyundai, Volkswagen and Citroën drivers. Drivers of hybrid, petrol or diesel cars were less likely to be psychopaths than drivers of electic cars. ● When longtime Nebraska football fan Milton Andrew Munson died his obituary asked that people "in lieu of flowers, please place an irresponsibly large wager on Nebraska beating Iowa". Two radio DJs raised nearly $5,000 (£3,750) for the bet, and Munson's son Todd tweeted that "If the ghost of my old man can't will the Huskers to victory on Friday, then they truly are a lost cause." Iowa won the game 28-21 last Friday. ● New Zealand Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter went into labour early on Sunday. She called the hospital, got on her bicycle and cycled there at 2am, with her contractions 2-3 minutes apart, giving birth an hour after arriving. ● Storm Arwen brought chaos to much of northern Britain last Friday, and left more than sixty people, including an Oasis tribute band, stuck in a remote pub 1,732' (528m) above sea level in the Yorkshire Dales because 3' (90cm) snowfall had blocked roads and brought down power lines. The seven staff members who were also stuck there organised quizzes, karaoke and film screenings as well as food and - in the evenings, in case the roads suddenly became clear during the day, opened the bar. On Saturday the guests presented them with a whip-round of £300 ($400) to show their appreciation. The roads were eventually cleared after three nights and visitors were able to leave, many planning to keep in touch with each other, staff and the inn.
CORONAVIRUS ROUND-UP: German police shut down an unauthorised vaccination centre at Lübeck airport on Saturday. A doctor was administering vaccine shots that he had invented, and which were unauthorised. More than fifty people had received the jabs, with over two hundred still in the queue. Doctor Winfried Stöcker had been interviewed about his vaccine in Der Spiegel in March and is the owner of the airport. Under the German Medicines Act the unlicensed vaccination campaign was illegal. Germany has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe. ● Marcus Lamb, co-founder and CEO of the conservative-Christian Dayster Television Network on which he vehemently opposed COVID-19 vaccination and broadcast anti-vaccine conspiracy programming has died a week after contracting COVID-19. ● The Toronto police force have put 117 officers and 88 civilian employees on unpaid leave for either not being fully immunised or not yet disclosing their vaccination status.
UPDATES: The Cumre Vieja volcano on La Palma continues to erupt, with six new vents opening up and spewing lava at a rate of 20' (6m) per minute towards unspoiled land. ● The story of the Florida mansion being sold by a German shepherd dog was a ruse by the son of an Italian pharmaceutical company owner to promote a real estate sale. Maurizio Mian told an Italian newspaper in 1995 that the story of the countess and her dog was "an invention to publicise the philosophy" of his foundation. No evidence for the countess having existed could be found by the Associated Press, and the dogs are little more than subjects of a long-running joke.
Hamster Mr Goxx (made headlines outperforming human investors in cryptocurrency [viz. TFIr #634], age not given), actor David Gulpilil (Walkabout, Crocodile Dundee, Rabbit-Proof Fence, 68), soccer player Ray Kennedy (Arsenal, Liverpool, England, 70), motor racing executive Frank Williams (founder and team principal of the Williams Racing Formula 1 team until 2020, 79), actor and stuntman Tommy Lane (Live and Let Die, Shaft , Simon & Simon, 83), composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods, West Side Story [lyrics], A Little Night Music, 91), actress Arlene Dahl (Journey to the Center of the Earth , My Wild Irish Rose, The Outsiders, 96).
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:16, 22, 31, 40, 51, 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 children's teacher was off sick and a relief teacher was reviewing their maths skills. "OK, class," she said, "if I had eight coconuts and I gave you three, how many would I have left?"
The children looked puzzled, then one hand shot up. "Yes, Little Jennifer?"
"I don't know, Miss!"
"You should. I'm sure your teacher went through basic maths with you."
Little Jennifer smiled as only she could. "Oh, she did, Miss, but she taught us about apples and oranges, not coconuts!"
^ ...end of line