Daily post : 22nd December, 2013

Quote of the day :

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
~ Dr. Seus

Picture of the day :

I can’t find any picture of the Blackbird SR-71 or the stealth bomber I vaguely remember seeing, so here’s a WWII fighter plane instead. Taken decades ago the PA474 was and perhaps still is the last remaining flight-worthy Avro Lancaster in existence.
(There’s a second Lancaster in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Musuem, but I’m not sure if it still flies as it was grounded in 2009 due to a rusty propeller. One of the entries on wikipedia says the RCAF Avro still flies, so I guess they sorted the corrosion, or replaced the blade.)


Youtube video of the day :

Chris Rea with ‘Driving home for Christmas’


On this day…

Born today :

  • TV presenter, Noel Edmonds
  • Actress, Patricia Hayes OBE
  • Fantasy author, Charles de Lint
  • SF and fantasy author, Chris Bunch
  • SF and fantasy author, Brian C Daley
  • Businessman and industrialist, Joseph Arthur Rank (b.1888)
    (Founder of the Rank Organisation in 1937)
  • Philosopher, Cesare Cremonini (b.1550)
  • Actor, Ralph Fiennes
  • Actress, Dina Meyer
  • Actress, Joanne Kelly
  • Singer, songwriter and actress, Vanessa Paradis
  • Twin singers, Robin and Maurice Gibb
  • Poet and playwright, Edwin Arlington Robinson
    A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Composer, Giacomo Puccini
  • Pilot and cosmonaut, Yuri Malenchenko
  • Romance author, Charlotte Lamb
    (Real name Sheila Ann Mary Coates Holland, she also wrote under her married name as Sheila Holland, her maiden name as Sheila Coates, and under the pseudonyms Sheila Lancaster, Victoria Wolf and Laura Hardy. Though a lot were churned out for Mills & Boon, she wrote historic as well as romances and had over 160 novels published.
    What impressed me was a comment on her wikipedia entry:
    "She typically wrote a minimum of two thousand words per day, working from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. While she once finished a full-length novel in four days, she herself pegged her average speed at two weeks to complete a full novel."

Also on this day in history

In 1714 Polish physicist and engineer Daniel Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer and, ten years later in 1724 announced the temperature scale that still bears his name. The other temperature scales are Celsius (centigrade) from 1743 by Anders Celsius and the more scientifically used Kelvin. There are other less well-known scales, like the Newton and Rankine.

For a little science lesson, Absolute zero is 0 K (−273.15 °C) (-459.67 °F) and has never been achieved in the lab, can never be achieved. In the deepest, darkest recess of outer space it may reach 2.7 Kelvin (-270.45°C) but it is believed (or so I recall) that if you ever reached that temperature matter would freeze (zero enthropy) and the universe would stop in a cascade effect, rather like a nuclear bomb in reverse. Or maybe it would be the reverse and it was the cause of the Big Bang. Not a physicist myself so I’m guessing wildly. That doesn’t stop scientists try to reason it though and getting to within a billionth of a degree of doing so. I can’t remember or find the actual quote but at the back of my mind is something I read, possibly by Oppenheiner and his team – "We were that busy trying to prove we could that we never thought to ask if we should"

1808. Beethoven conducted and performed at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna. In an epic display of talent, genius and stamina, this marathon was the public première of four of his works, including his most famous piece, the feisty Fifth Symphony which took him four years to compose. He also introduced his Sixth Symphony (the Pastoral Symphony) which he had worked on for 6 years and the Fourth Piano Concerto, written for a solo pianist backed by an orchestra and, finally, his Choral Fantasy. The last one, his Fantasia, was written in just one or two short weeks before the concert and was his last public performance as a pianist.

The Symphony No. 5 in C minor is perhaps the most popular piece of classical music ever written and certainly one of the most frequently played symphonies.


1877 : Swiss physicist Raoul-Pierre Pictet made liquid oxygen for the first time.

1895: German physicist Wilhelm Rongen made the first x-ray, of his wife’s hand.

1900: Daimler delivered the first "Mercedes" to its buyer, Austrian racer and car dealer, Emil Jellinek. After buyer other cars from the company he had commissioned the luxury race car and was so sure of its potential ordered 36 of them, paying 550,000 marks. In return Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft named the model ‘Mercedes’after the buyers daughter.

In 1938 a rather unusual fish was scooped up just off the coast of South Africa. It made news around the world as the particular species – coelacanth – was thought to have been extinct for the last 65 million years ago. Rather makes you wonder what else is waiting to be rediscovered. A number more of these 6 foot long, 175 lb Latimeria-Chalumnae have since been caught and studied.

In 1937 the Lincoln Tunnel opened to traffic in New York. The 1.5 mile tunnel under Hudson River took 3 years to dig and fortify and cost $85million to construct. (Put at nearly $1.5 billion in today’s money). Around 120,000 vehicles a day pass through it, includes some 1,700 buses driving back and forth. The rough average toll is $10; an equally rough calculation rounds that off at $400 million a year to cover security, wages and upkeep.

1964: The first test flight of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird stealth plane, from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. It reached a speed of 3,530 kph (2,193 mph), a new record for a jet.

I remember the first time one landed at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, in the early 80’s. They locked the base down and had armed military police circling the perimeter chasing you off if you had a camera or even got too close to the fence. A few years later it was on open display at their annual airshow. Actually, thinking back, it might have even been a stealth bomber, something like the (later) B-2 bomber. Whatever it was, the friends I had on the base where cagey and tight-lipped about it and it was on high alert status. I’ll have to go through my boxes of photos again some time, see what I have from there. Completely as an aside, my grandfather was a test pilot for the RCAF.

One for Scousers, from 1972. Little Jimmy Osmond reached number one in the UK singles chart with ‘Long Haired Lover From Liverpool.’ It was the biggest seller of the year and made a further record, still unbeaten, for having the youngest person to have a No.1 record. Quite why a 9-year-old Mormon from California was proclaiming himself a Liverpudlian romancer is anyone’s guess, but it sold well.

Trending at this moment:

This years UK Christmas number one single, Hillsborough tribute single, "He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother".

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