Dead Pool 27th July 2014
Afternoon all, bit of a slow week I’m afraid, but who are we to let that get us down?! So, in a fit of utter malaise I’m going to down a bottle of vino and write a lot of what most of you will describe as piffle. Hey, what’s new I hear you say… Onwards and upwards!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sir Nick Scheele, 70, British automotive manufacturing executive, President and CEO of Jaguar Cars (1992–1999) and Ford Motor Company (2001–2005).
- Dora Bryan, 91, British film, television and stage actress (A Taste of Honey, Last of the Summer Wine).
- Joseph Wood, 55, American murderer, subject of botched execution, lethal injection.
- Karl Albrecht, 94, German billionaire grocery executive, co-founder of Aldi.
In Other News
In a terrible twist of fate, a pine tree planted in Los Angeles to commemorate the late-Beatles star George Harrison has died – after being consumed by beetles. Planted as a sapling in 2004 near the Griffith Observatory, the tree stood 10-feet high but died recently as a result of an insect infestation by bark beetles and ladybugs. The George Harrison Tree was chosen as an appropriate memorial for the Beatle, who died of lung cancer in L.A. in 2001 at the age of 58, because of his love of plants, gardening and nature. L.A. councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the area, said that the tree would be replanted. He said Harrison, who had a well-developed sense of humour, “likely would have been amused by the irony”. I reckon Paul McCartney should be worried too, he looks like a piece of treen nowadays.
Good old Michael Schumacher is able to communicate with his family by moving his eyelids, and could return home by the end of the month according to reports. In what can only be called a remarkable turnaround for the Formula 1 champion, doctors believe that he’ll be able to sit upright in an advanced wheelchair which he can control via his mouth within weeks! I bet he’s thrilled by the prospect. Someone do the guy a favour and smother him with a pillow, I know I’d prefer it, plus we’d score a few points!
Double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after failing to recover from a recent illness. The 31 year old was set to run both the 5k and 10k in Scotland but couldn’t be fucked it seems. I know how he feels, sometimes I find it too hard to get up from the couch to fetch another packet of hobnobs and a cup of tea, let alone run in a big circle for hours for no apparent reason. The Team England athlete said it was a “tough decision”, adding: “The sickness I had two weeks ago was a big setback.” Not once actually saying what the illness was, probably had a spicy kebab I expect.
The continuing saga of the missing Kasem is still ongoing. As reported in a newsflash in last week’s newsletter, our US super sleuth is now hot on the trail of Casey Kasem’s missing corpse. It seems that his remains were taken from a funeral home in Tacoma by his widow, so his distraught kids have no idea where the rotting clump of meaty flesh and bone is now residing. Asked why Casey’s widow, Jean Kasem, might be hiding his father’s corpse from his children, Mike Kasem said that she’s “demonstrated what we have known for 30 years: She’s bat-shit crazy.” It is thought that the blob that used to be one of America’s most famous DJ’s and the voice of many of our favourite cartoon characters is somewhere in Canada.
On This Day
- 1694 – A Royal charter is granted to the Bank of England.
- 1865 – Welsh settlers arrive at Chubut in Argentina.
- 1866 – The first permanent transatlantic telegraph cable is successfully completed, stretching from Valentia Island, Ireland, to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland.
- 1890 – Vincent van Gogh shoots himself and dies two days later.
- 1921 – Researchers at the University of Toronto led by biochemist Frederick Banting prove that the hormone insulin regulates blood sugar.
- 1929 – The Geneva Convention of 1929, dealing with treatment of prisoners-of-war, is signed by 53 nations.
- 1940 – The animated short A Wild Hare is released, introducing the character of Bugs Bunny.
- 1949 – Initial flight of the de Havilland Comet, the first jet-powered airliner.
- 1981 – On Coronation Street, Ken Barlow marries Deirdre Langton, which proves to be a national event scoring massive viewer numbers for the show.
- 1987 – RMS Titanic Inc. begins the first expedited salvage of wreckage of the RMS Titanic.
- 2002 – Ukraine airshow disaster: A Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashes during an air show at Lviv, Ukraine killing 85 and injuring more than 100 others, the largest air show disaster in history.
- 1981 – William Wyler, French-American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1902)
- 1984 – James Mason, English actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1909)
- 2003 – Bob Hope, English-American actor, singer, and producer (b. 1903)
- 2012 – Tony Martin, American actor and singer (b. 1913)
The Biggest Threats to Human Existence: Part 1 by KoA
While only two nuclear weapons have been used in war so far – at Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War – and nuclear stockpiles are down from their the peak they reached in the cold war, it is a mistake to think that nuclear war is impossible. In fact, it’s probably a massive option at the moment since the downing of Flight 17 over the Ukraine.
The Cuban missile crisis was very close to turning nuclear. If we assume one such event every 69 years and a one in three chance that it might go all the way to being nuclear war, the chance of such a catastrophe increases to about one in 200 per year.
Worse still, the Cuban missile crisis was only the most well-known case. The history of Soviet-US nuclear deterrence is full of close calls and dangerous mistakes. The actual probability has changed depending on international tensions, but it seems implausible that the chances would be much lower than one in 1,000 per year, which is the same probability of you missing your mouth whilst trying to drink wine and type something at the same time.
A full-scale nuclear war between major powers would kill hundreds of millions of people directly or through the near aftermath – an unimaginable disaster. But that is not enough to make it an existential risk.
Similarly the hazards of fallout are often exaggerated – potentially deadly locally, but globally a relatively limited problem. Cobalt bombs were proposed as a hypothetical doomsday weapon that would kill everybody with fallout, but are in practice hard and expensive to build and they are physically just barely possible, so why go to the extra trouble when an old dirty bomb will do?
The real threat is nuclear winter – that is, soot lofted into the stratosphere causing a multi-year cooling and drying of the world. Modern climate simulations show that it could prevent any agriculture across much of the world for years. If this scenario occurs billions would starve, leaving only scattered survivors that might be picked off by other threats such as disease. The main uncertainty is how the soot would behave: depending on the kind of soot the outcomes may be very different, and we currently have no good ways of estimating this.
So it seems that the Planet of the Apes scenario is still very possible!
Last Week’s Birthdays
Robin Williams (63), Willem Dafoe (59), Danny Glover (68), Summer Glau (33), Anna Paquin (32), Jennifer Lopez (45), Monica Lewinsky (41), Daniel Radcliff (25), Matt LeBlanc (48), Mick Jagger (71), Helen Mirren (69), Kevin Spacey (55), Sandra Bullock (50), Kate Beckinsale (41), Jason Statham (47), Lynda Carter (63), Danny Dyer (37), Woody Harrelson (53), Charisma Carpenter (44), Ronny Cox (76), Slash (49), Terrence Stamp (76), Rhys Ifans (47), Louise Fletcher (80), Stephan Mangan (42), Paloma Faith (33), Ross Kemp (50) and Diana Rigg (76).
2013 League Table
Next week peeps!