It’s Friday 13th!!!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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There is a lot of nonsense surrounding Friday 13th.

Many superstitious people consider it to be unlucky. So much so in fact that they spend most, if not all, of that day in their homes, afraid to venture out into the great world beyond in case something bad happens to them.

In fact it has been estimated that around a billion dollars are lost every Friday the 13th because people are scared to work and travel on this date.

The really unfortunate thing is that sometimes circumstances play right into their hands, which only serves to reinforce their superstitions.

You can find some of them below along with other facts about Friday 13th that I hope you enjoy reading.

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Friday-13th

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Every month has a 13th but no single year

has more than three Friday the 13th’s

and on average there are two.

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Months with a Friday the 13th

always begin on a Sunday.

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Folklore remedies for triskaidekaphobia

include climbing to the top of a mountain

or skyscraper and burning all the socks you own

that have holes in them.

Another is to stand on your head

and eat a piece of gristle.

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It is from the Norse goddess Frigg, or Freyja,

that we get Frigg’s Day, or Freyja’s Day

which became the English Friday.

Norse goddess Frigg

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On Friday 13 2006,

36 inches of snow fell on upstate New York.

The ensuing chaos claimed three lives

and caused $130 million worth of damage.

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On a Friday 13th in 1307.

thousands of soldier monks of the powerful

Knights Templar were massacred

by French king Louis IV.

Many people believe this is where

our fear of the date springs from.

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Friday 13 January, 1939

in Australia is known as Black Friday

because on that date bushfires

decimated 20,000 km² of land,

killing 71 people and

destroying several towns entirely.

Victoria Australia Black Friday fires 1939

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Retired bus conductor Bob Renphrey of North Wales

decided to spend every Friday 13 in bed

after a run of bad luck on the

fateful day during the early 1990s.

Among other misfortunes

he wrote off four cars,

got made redundant,

fell into a river,

crashed a motorcycle

and walked through a plate glass door.

When Bob died of cancer in 1998,

his widow Betty, who on previous Friday 13ths

had fallen downstairs,

been hit by falling guttering

and been hospitalized

after Bob hit her in the face

with a stick he was throwing to a dog,

decided to book his funeral for

Friday 13 March as a final tribute.

Alas, all Rhyl’s undertakers were too busy.

“Bob would have seen the funny side,”

said Mrs Renphrey.

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On Friday 13 July, 1951

in Kansas ‘The Great Flood’

left 2 million acres of land underwater,

causing $760 million and killing 24 people.

Kansas ‘The Great Flood’

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Friday 13 August, 1976

was particularly unlucky

for New York man Daz Baxter.

Having elected to stay in bed

to ward off bad luck,

the floor of his apartment block collapsed

and he fell six storeys to his death.

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Black Sabbath’s self-titled first album

was released in the UK on

Friday, February 13, 1970.

It wasn’t unlucky for them.

Black Sabbath’s self-titled first album

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Michelle and Gary Docherty had a

memorable wedding on Friday 13 August 2004.

First, a swarm of wasps attacked guests

at East Kilbride Registry Office, Lanarkshire,

as they waited for Michelle’s arrival.

Her aunt Mary Strachan

smashed an expensive digital camera

trying to swat one of the pests,

and when Michelle finally did turn up,

an insect flew up her dress,

triggering a panic attack.

After the ceremony,

two minibuses booked to transport guests

to the reception failed to turn up

and the couple lost their wedding video.

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On Friday November 13, 1970

a monster South Asian storm hit Bangladesh

killing 300,000 people in Chittagong

and creating floods that killed one million people

living on the Ganges Delta.

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Women drivers have a 64% increased chance

of death when driving on Friday the 13th.

Woman driver

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Friday 13 February, 1998

was simply business as usual for Manchester man,

John Sheridan, dubbed Britain’s unluckiest man

after once having his car stolen five times in one day,

making 16 trips to casualty in two years,

seeing eight TVs explode in six months

and losing out on a £4000 lottery win when he

put the ticket in the washing machine with his jeans.

John’s big day began when his Saab ran out of petrol.

He hitched a lift with a sympathetic policeman,

whose car broke down at the garage.

John returned to his car with a can of petrol,

got it started but lost a wheel as he turned a corner.

He returned home on a bus, which broke down.

Completing his journey on foot,

he realized he’d left his keys inside the car

and had to return in case in was stolen.

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Friday, October 13th, 1989,

the stock exchange suffered a serious crash,

the second most damaging in market history at the time

(this was in the pre-recession era). 

Brokers were in a state of shock,

as the Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 190.58 points.

In Britain a deadly virus crashed IBM computers,

terrifying people and deleting lots of data

that could not be recovered.

This was before backup systems were used.

stock exchange crash

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A full moon on Friday February 13 1987

drove troubled Robert Bullard, 21,

to attempt suicide by putting his head in a gas oven.

Not only was his methodology flawed,

suicide by natural gassing is virtually impossible

since Britain moved from lethal coke gas

to less dangerous natural gas,

but a flicked light switch caused an explosion

which injured his mother and a policeman

and caused £35,000 of damage.

Robert was unharmed.

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On Friday the 13th, 2012,

the cruise ship Costa Concordia partially sank

killing more than 30 people.

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Friday 13 October 1972 was the date

a plane carrying Uruguayan rugby team

Montevideo Old Christians crashed

on its way from Montevideo to Santiago, Chile.

When rescuers finally found the fourteen 

survivors two months later,

it emerged that they had survived

by eating human flesh from some of the

thirty-one crew and passengers

who had perished in the crash.

In 1992, the story was filmed as

Alive, starring Ethan Hawke.

movie Alive

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On the same day, Friday October 13, 1972,

an Aeroflot Il-62 airplane carrying 176 people

took off from Paris on a commuter flight

bound for Leningrad and Moscow.

The plane landed at Leningrad

and then took off for Sheremetyevo airport,

located just outside Moscow.

The weather was bad with rain and poor visibility.

The pilots were told to descend on approach to

the airport, but for unknown reasons,

they attempted and failed to land twice.

On the third attempt to land,

the plane crashed into a large pond

about 4 miles short of the airport.

There were no survivors.

No cause of the accident was ever established.

At the time, the crash resulted in one of the worst

loss of life incidents for a single plane crash, in history.

It remains the 44th worse loss of life in

an airplane crash in aviation history.

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On Friday the 13th August, 2010

at 13 minutes after the 13th hour (1 PM),

a 13 year old boy was struck by lightning

as he was watching an air show

at Lowestoft, England.

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The Hollywood sign above Los Angeles, California,

was first unveiled by the owner

of the Los Angeles Times newspaper,

Harry Chandler,

on Friday the 13th of July, 1923.

Hollywoodland sign

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According to at least one interpretation

of the Mayan calendar the world will end

on 13.13.13.13.13.13.13.0.0.0.0

or in the Gregorian calendar,

Friday, October 13, 4772.

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But before then,

on Friday the 13th in 2029,

Asteroid 99942 Apophis

is forecast to pass earth at a

closer distance than any of our satellites.

Crikey!

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More Facts – And That’s A Fact!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to another selection of random facts and the chance to prepare yourself for questions that you may never be asked.

Enjoy.

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did you know4

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While in Alcatraz, Al Capone was inmate 85.

Alcatraz

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The airport scene at the end of classic movie “Casablanca”

was produced using a cardboard model of a plane

and little people actors in the background!!

casablanca5

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Donkeys kill more people than plane crashes.

donkey-kick

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The White House has 32 bathrooms,

and 6 levels to accommodate all the people

who live in, work in, and visit the White House.

There are also 412 doors, 147 windows,

28 fireplaces, 7 staircases, and 3 elevators.

white house

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Hummingbirds are the only animals that can fly backwards.

hummingbird

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In the great fire of London in 1666 half of London was burnt down

but only 6 people were injured.

Great Fire Of London

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Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

woman eye

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Each year there is one ton of cement poured

for each man woman and child in the world.

pouring concrete

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The most common name in Italy is Mario Rossi.

Mario Rossi

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Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!

fingernails

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Rugby, North Dakota is the geographical center of North America.

Rugby, North Dakota

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Butte County, South Dakota is the geographical center of the U.S.

Geographic-Center-of-the-US-Speafish-SD

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No matter where you stand in Michigan,

you are never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.

michigan map

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The number “four” is considered unlucky in Japan

because it is pronounced the same as “death”.

4

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Sylvia Miles had the shortest performance

ever nominated for an Oscar with “Midnight Cowboy.”

Her entire role lasted only six minutes.

Sylvia-Miles

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You’re more likely to get stung by a bee

on a windy day than in any other weather.

CARTOON_Bee-full

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The world’s deepest hole is the Sakhali I oil well in Russia

(part owned by Exxon Mobil) which is 12.345 Km. deep (7.67 miles).

Previously to this the Al Shaheen oil well (12.29km or 7.64 miles)

dug in Qatar was the deepest oil well.

kola2

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Spain leads the world in cork production

wine-cork

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A jail in Brazil allows its inmates to pedal exercise bikes

to power lights in a nearby town in exchange for reduced sentences.

bike charger

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The Boston University Bridge

(on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts)

is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train

driving under a car driving under an airplane.

Boston University Bridge

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Significant Number Factoid Friday – Today Number Forty-Two 42

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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They’ve been ‘beautiful’,  they’ve been ‘big’  and they’ve been ‘unusual’.  Today we have another  ‘significant’ number, forty-two, so-called because of its use and the beliefs surrounding it.

Enjoy.

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42 Forty-Two

42

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In Religion

  • In Japanese culture, the number 42 is considered unlucky because the numerals when pronounced separately — “shi ni” (four two) — sound like the phrase, “unto death”;
  • There are 42 principles of Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian personification of physical and moral law, order, and truth. In the judgement scene described in the Egyptian and the Book of the Coming/Going Forth by Day, there are 42 gods and goddesses of Egypt, personifying the principles of Ma’at. These 42 correspond to the 42 Nomes (Governmental Units) of Egypt. If the departed successfully answers all 42, s/he becomes an Osiris;
  • 42 is the number with which God creates the Universe in Kabbalistic tradition; 
  • In Judaism, the number (in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled 375 AD to 499 AD) of the “Forty-Two Lettered Name” ascribed to God. Rab (or Rabhs), a 3rd century source in the Talmud stated “The Forty-Two Lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober, and not insistent on his rights”. 
  • 42 is a sacred Tibetan number and there is also a 42 armed Hindu God;
  • The first book to be printed with movable type, the Gutenberg Bible, is also known as the “42-line Bible”, as the book contained 42 lines per page;
  • The Forty-Two Articles (1552), largely the work of Thomas Cranmer, were intended to summarise Anglican doctrine, as it now existed under the reign of Edward VI..

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In The Bible

  • Forty Two, 3½ and 1260 – this is the amount that is given to the wicked or for people to bear fruit. Judgment occurs at the end. It is based on the law that God only expects results after the third year of planting (Leviticus 19: 23-25);
  • This time period appears in many prophecies as 1260 days, 42 months or 3½ years. It is the period that God allows the beast to operate. Notice that this is equal to 6 x 7 months. It is man’s portion of the jubilee cycle; 
  • Two female bears kill forty two children after they ridiculed the prophet of God. 2 Kings 2: 24; 
  • 42 Cities are given to the Levites in addition to six cities of refuge (Numbers 35: 6); 
  • 42 men of Beth-azmaveth were counted in the census of men of Israel upon return from exile (Ezra 2:24); 
  • Israel camped 42 times in the wilderness during the 40 year exodus. 
  • The goat’s hair and linen curtains covering the sanctuary have a length of 42 and 40 cubits. 
  • Jesus was forty two generations from Abraham. (Matthew 1).

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In Mathematics

  • 42 is the product of the first three terms of Sylvester’s sequence; like the first five such numbers it is also a primary pseudoperfect number;
  • 42 is a partition number – the number of different ways 10 can be represented as the sum of natural numbers;
  • 42 is a Størmer number;
  • 42 is a perfect score on the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO) and International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
Simple Magic Cube adding to 42
Simple Magic Cube adding to 42

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In Science

  • 42 is the atomic number of molybdenum;
  • 42 is the value of the angle rounded to whole degrees for which a rainbow appears (the critical angle);
  • In 1966, mathematician Paul Cooper theorized that the fastest, most efficient way to travel across continents would be to bore a straight hollow tube directly through the Earth, connecting a set of antipodes, evacuate it (remove the air), and then just fall through. The first half of the journey consists of free-fall acceleration, while the second half consists of an exactly equal deceleration. The time for such a journey works out to be 42 minutes. Remarkably, even if the tube does not pass through the exact center of the Earth, the time for a journey powered entirely by gravity (also known as Gravity train) always works out to be 42 minutes, as long as the tube remains friction-free, as while gravity’s force would be lessened, so would the distance traveled at an equal rate. (The same idea was proposed, without calculation by Lewis Carroll in 1893 in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.)
Gravity Train Concept
Gravity Train Concept

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In Technology

  • The glyph, or character, corresponding to the number 42 in the ASCII character set, is *, the asterisk, commonly known as the wildcard character;
  • In the TIFF image file format, the second 16-bit word of every file is 42, which is used together with the first word to indicate byte order;
  • In the reiser4 file system, 42 is the inode number of the root directory;
  • In the military IRIG 106 Chapter 10 data recording standard, the hex value 0x464F52545974776F (ASCII “FORTYtwo”) is used as a magic number to identify directory blocks;
  • The GNU C Library, a set of standard routines available for use in computer programming, contains a function—memfrob()—which performs an XOR combination of a given variable and the binary pattern 00101010 (42) as an XOR cipher;
  • 42 is the result given by the web search engines Google and Wolfram Alpha when the query “the answer to life the universe and everything” is entered as a search.

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In Space

  • Messier object M42, a magnitude 5.0 diffuse nebula in the constellation Orion, also known as the Orion Nebula;
  • The New General Catalogue object NGC 42, is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pegasus;
  • In January 2004, asteroid 2001 DA42 was given the permanent name 25924 Douglasadams, for the author Douglas Adams who popularized the number 42 and died in 2001; 
  • Kepler-42, is a red dwarf in the constellation Cygnus around which orbits the three smallest exoplanets found to date.
Messier-42 also known as the Orion Nebula
Messier-42 also known as the Orion Nebula

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In Politics

  • The 42nd President of the Unites States of America was Democratic Party William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton, from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001. Vice President was Al Gore. Remembered more for ‘blow-jobs’ in the White House, Clinton’s Presidency also oversaw the disastrous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, that repealed the parts of the Glass–Steagall Act which had not already been repealed. This 1999 Act took down barriers to competition between traditional banks, investment banks, and insurance companies, in some cases allowing firms to participate in all three markets thus making distinctions between these categories less clear. It has been held largely responsible for the current financial crisis. 
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

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In Sport

  • 42 is the jersey number of Jackie Robinson, which is the only number retired by all Major League Baseball teams. Although the number was retired in 1997, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, the last professional baseball player to wear number 42, is currently still using it;
  • 42 is the jersey number of basketball Hall of Famer and one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History James Worthy, small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, who retired his jersey number in 1995;
  • 42 is the jersey number of football Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott, safety for the San Francisco 49ers, who retired his jersey number in 2003;
  • 42 is the jersey number of Chicago Bears legend Sid Luckman, which was retired by the Bears; 
  • 42 is the jersey number of Pat Tillman, which was retired on November 13, 2004 by Arizona State University; 
  • 42 is the number of laws of cricket;
  • 42 is the number of kilometers in a marathon;
  • 42 is the number of a NASCAR car owned by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. It is currently being driven by former F1 star and Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya;

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

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In Militaria

  • XB-42
  • The most notable aircraft with the 42 designation was the XB-42 ‘Mixmaster’. This aircraft was developed initially as a private venture and an unsolicited proposal was presented to the United States Army Air Forces in May 1943 which resulted in an Air Force contract for two prototypes and one static test airframe, the USAAF seeing an intriguing possibility of finding a bomber capable of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress’ range without its size or cost.
  • The aircraft was unusual in design in that it had a pair of Allison V-1710-125 liquid-cooled V-12 engines mounted behind the crew’s cabin, each driving one of the twin propellers which protruded from the rear of the aircraft’s fuselage. The pilot and co-pilot sat under twin bubble canopies, and the bombardier sat in the extreme front behind a plexiglass nose.
  • The first XB-42 was delivered to the Army Air Force and flew at Palm Springs, California on 6 May 1944. Performance was excellent, being basically as described in the original proposal; as fast or faster than the de Havilland Mosquito but with defensive armament and twice the bombload. The twin bubble canopies proved a bad idea as communications were adversely affected and a single bubble canopy was substituted after the first flight, a problem that could have been rectified, but the end of World War II changed priorities and the advent of the jet engine gave an alternative way toward achieving high speed.
XB-42 'Mixmaster' and model
XB-42 ‘Mixmaster’ and model

 

  • AG-42
  • The AG-42 rifle (official designation Halvautomatiskt Gevaer 42) was developed by Swedish engineer Erik Eklund while working at company C. J. Ljungman AB. Officially adopted by Swedish army in 1942, this rifle served in Sweden until mid-1960s, when it was replaced in service with 7.62mm AK-4 rifle (license-build HK G3 rifle).
AG-42B Rifle
AG-42B Rifle

 

  • MKb.42
  • In 1939 HWaA (Hitler’s army Weapons command) issued a contract for the development of a “Maschinen karabiner”, or machine carbine (MKb for short), chambered for the new 7.92×33 Kurz cartridge, to the company C.G. Haenel Waffen und Fahrradfabrik.
  • The famous designer Hugo Schmeisser led the Haenel development team, which produced the first working prototypes of new weapon by 1942. The new weapon was intended as a replacement for submachine guns, bolt action rifles and, partly, light machine guns for front troops. The MKb.42(H) could be fitted with standardbayonet, and has a wooden butt. 
mkb 42h-1 rifle
mkb 42h-1 ri

 

  • MG 42
  • A cheaper to produce but much more reliable replacement for the MG 34, the MG 42 was officially adopted as the MG 42, and production commenced in 1941.
  • In general terms, the MG 42 was a great success. It fulfilled the roles of a light machine gun on a bipod, a medium machine gun (on a newly developed Lafette 42 tripod), and an anti-aircraft machine gun, mounted in single and twin installations, ground and vehicle-mounted. 
  • After the WW2 the MG 42, unlike other wartime designs, lived on, as in 1958, the FRG (WestGermany) re-instituted its official armed force, known as the Bundeswehr. 
  • The simplicity, low manufacturing cost and high effectiveness of the MG 3 attracted several other countries, which either bought the guns from Rheinmetall (such as Denmark), or obtained manufacturing licenses and build (or at least have built in the past) the same guns domestically (such as Italy, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Yugoslavia). In total, at least twenty armies have used or still are using the MG 3 and its versions.
mg42 machine gun
mg42 machine gun

 

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In Books, Movies & TV

  • The 42nd Parallel is the first of a trilogy of books, (the others being 1919, and The Big Money), written by John Dos Passos and acclaimed by many to be the great American novel;
  • English author Douglas Noel Adams popularized the number 42 in his best known work called the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The number 42 and the phrase, “Life, the universe, and everything” have attained cult status on the Internet. If you type the answer to life, the universe and everything into Google (without quotes or capitalising the small words), the Google Calculator will give you 42; also, if you go to Wolfram’s Computational Knowledge Engine and type “answer to life, the universe, and everything”, it provides you with the result 42. Microsoft’s Bing search engine will also give you 42. Alphasmart 3000’s calculator, when given any equation that results in 42, will display, “The answer to life, the universe, and everything”. In the online community “Second Life,” there is a section on a sim called “42nd Life”;
  • In the Stargate Atlantis Season 4 episode “Quarantine”, 42 are the last two digits in Rodney McKay’s password. After John Sheppard explains to Teyla the meaning of the previous twelve digits, she asks him what 42 is. Then, John says, “It’s the ultimate answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything,” at which point Teyla looks confused;
  • In the TV show Lost, 42 is the last of the mysterious numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42;
  • In Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Alex browses through records in a record store and we see a record of the, at this time fictional, band Level 42;
  • “42” is an episode of Doctor Who, set in real time lasting approximately 42 minutes;
  • “The Kumars at No. 42” is the name of a 2003 BBC television series; 
  • A made for TV movie 42: Forty Two Up – an installment in a series of documentaries wherein the director revisits the same group of British-born individuals every 7 years;
  • On the game show Jeopardy!, “Watson” the IBM supercomputer, has 42 “threads” in its avatar;
  • On the Unusuals TV-show there’s an episode called “42”. Detective Leo Banks recently turned 42. On account of his father, uncle, and grandfather dropping dead at 42, Leo is convinced he’ll share their fate. There were 42s all over the episode.
42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos

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Other Stuff

  • In New York City, 42nd Street is a main and very popular two-way thoroughfare. Landmarks on it include the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, the main branch of the New York Public Library, and Times Square; 
  • Tower 42, originally called the NatWest Tower because it was built for the National Westminster Bank, is the tallest skyscraper in the city of London and the fifth tallest in London as a whole;
  • +42 is the historic Country calling code for the former country of Czechoslovakia; 
  • 42 is the number of US gallons in a barrel of oil;
  • 42 is the number of spots (or pips, circular patches or pits) on a pair of standard six-sided dice;
  • 42 is a free tabloid devoted to technology news in Huntsville, Alabama. It is published by the Huntsville Times and is named for “The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”;
  • Fictional comic book superhero Miles Morales is bitten by a genetically altered spider with a red 42 marked on its abdomen. Morales later assumes the role of Spider-Man as a result of the bite and following the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Marvel universe from Marvel Comics. Morales also wins a coveted spot in a prestigious charter school after his number (42) is chosen during a lottery.
Miles Morales Spiderman
Miles Morales Spiderman

 

Significant Number Factoid Friday – Thirteen, Unlucky For Some

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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They’ve been ‘beautiful’,  they’ve been ‘big’  and they’ve been ‘unusual’

Today we have ‘significant’ number thirteen, unlucky for some.

Enjoy.

 

13 Thirteen

The number 13 seems to give a lot of people trouble. Indeed the fear of the number 13 is so pervasive that it even has a phobia named after it  –  triskaidekaphobia. 

 

In the Bible.

  • At the Last Supper in Christian theology, there were 13 dinner guests, so that number is unlucky because Christ was betrayed.
  • Thirteen famines are recorded in the Scriptures.
  • The destruction of Jericho is stamped with the number thirteen, because the city was compassed once each day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day, making 13 times in all (6+7).
  • All the names of Satan are divisible by thirteen.
  • In Mark 7 Jesus mentions thirteen things that defile a person (evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness).

 

Elsewhere,

  • The ancient Hebrews thought 13 was unlucky because the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter M, which is the first letter in the word “mavet,” meaning death.
  • In Norse mythology, 12 benevolent gods were gathering in a hall and the evil god Loki attacked the group. Loki was the 13th guest, and the god Balder was killed in the melee.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt was quite fearful of the number 13, and he took great pains to avoid hosting a meal for a group of that size. It is said that if he had a cancellation and it looked as if there might be 13 people to lunch, he would invite his secretary to join them so there wouldn’t be 13.
  • Industrialist Henry Ford wouldn’t do business on Friday, the 13th.
  • Multimillionaire Paul Getty once stated “I wouldn’t care to be one of thirteen at a table.”
  • Some speculate that a fear of the number 13 is the reason we recognize only 12 constellations in the Zodiac, omitting a thirteenth… Ophiuchus ( the Serpent Holder) that, by its location, could be included.
  • Years ago, London bakers were subject to harsh penalties if they were caught selling bread in what was called short weight. The bakers would add an extra loaf to each dozen to be sure the sale met the minimum weight requirement. They avoided the word thirteen and the process of adding an extra loaf became known as the “baker’s dozen.”
  • Some airlines do not have a 13th row.
  • Most tall buildings do not have a 13th floor.
  • Many hotel guests refuse to stay in Room 13, so rooms are frequently numbered 12, 12A, and 14.
  • The 13th card of the Tarot is the card of Death.
  • The composer, Arnold Schoenberg, was a noted triskaidekaphobe. He died as he had predicted at the age of 76 (7+6=13), on a Friday 13th at 13 minutes to midnight.
  • In April 1970, NASA launched Apollo 13 at 1313 hours Central Time from pad 39. The flight was commanded by James A. Lovell with John L. “Jack” Swigert as Command Module pilot and Fred W. Haise as Lunar Module pilot. (Swigert was a late replacement for the original CM pilot Ken Mattingly, who was grounded by the flight surgeon after exposure to German measles.) They were scheduled for rest periods beginning 13 minutes past the hour and on April 13 at 21:07:53 CST (55:54:53 Ground Elapsed Time) an oxygen tank exploded and the mission had to be aborted. The rest is history – and a movie, Apollo 13, based on ‘Lost Moon’, Jim Lovell’s and Jeffrey Kluger’s book about the event.
Apollo 13 insignia
Insignia of the ill-fated Apollo XIII Mission

 

Friday the 13th Myths:

  • If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.
  • A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.
  • If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.

 

In the United States

  • the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution officially outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
  • thirteen colonies rebelled against British Rule and King George III in what led to the American Revolutionary War and the eventual birth of the United States of America. The colonies were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
  • there are thirteen stripes on the USA flag to commemorate these original colonies.
USA flag - Stars and Stripes
USA flag – Stars and Stripes

 

 

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Drained Of Life – Almost

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

 

The last couple of blog post have concerned people featured in the Darwin Awards, “Never Hitch Your Wagon” about someone who wasn’t eligible because he survived his and his wife’s stupidity, and “Little Dumb And Large Dumber”  because their dumbness did make them successful Darwin Award winners.

I had a friend who almost featured in the Darwin Awards too. The only reason he didn’t was because they didn’t exist in those days and probably none of us would have had the presence of mind to nominate him anyway.

I won’t tell you his real name, have to expose the innocent and protect the guilty and all that, but his nickname was “Goners” pronounced “Gone-ers”. It was a nickname he gained after the incident I am now going to tell you about, and for most of his friends he’s still stuck with it to this day.

It happened when we were all young guys, in our teens and spending a leisurely summer messing around and generally enjoying life the way you can before you get older and wiser and burden yourself with responsibilities and debt and so forth. Then the Dads were paying the mortgage and bringing home the bacon (sometimes literally) and we were carefree and happy.

This day we decided to go for a walk along a nearby river. None of us were keen fishermen but we liked the river and walks along the riverbanks and the little stony beaches that the river’s meanders had left here and there. That particular summer was hot and a bit of bathing in the cool clear unpolluted water was also on the agenda.

It wasn’t a big river, no Amazon that’s for sure. Just about 50 feet across, or thereabouts, and maybe four or five feet deep towards the middle. There were a few deeper holes that serious fishermen tended to use, but we were always content messing around in the shallower water. It was fun and safe. In fact thinking and writing about it, I wish I was back there right now.

But I’m not, so on with the story.

Part of the river bank was relatively flat with only a slightly sloping bank down to the water. Other parts were a straight drop. And yet others consisted of a fairly steep slope down to the water’s edge.

Local farmers had dug drains at intervals to let rainwater run off their fields into the river, and between where the man-made drains ended and the river began, the water flow had over the years dug its own ‘V’ and then ‘U’ type trenches by eroding the top soil.

These had to be negotiated when one was walking along the riverbank, but it wasn’t a problem. That was how things were and everybody just accepted it and got on with it. I’m sure nowadays there would be a bureaucratic do-gooding group wanting all sorts of rules and regulations both to disrupt the farmer’s lives and to spoil the nature walk for the rest of us. In those days some interfering busybody was more likely to end up in the river and they knew it so they stayed away.

Of course, when I said the drains weren’t a problem, what I meant was they weren’t a problem for most of the people most of the time. But there’s always one idiot who will find a way to mess up even a nice summer’s day stroll along the riverbank.

Enter “Goners” into the story.

Although the day I am recounting was idyllic weather wise, during the previous night there had been a thunderstorm and some furious rain for a little while. The result of that was that the following morning there was considerable run-off of rainwater from the fields, via the farmer’s drains into the river. This made the areas close to the drains a little wet and slippery, not to mention mucky.

We had been walking for a few miles, successfully crossing all the open drains we had encountered. And then it happened!

“Goners” tripped or lost is concentration or something, but his balance went and he headed over the side of the riverbank.

At first this caused unbridled hilarity amongst the rest of us. We were laughing and pointing and cheering. If we had had pens and paper with us, no doubt we would have held up makeshift score cards critiquing the ‘dive’. But we hadn’t so we just laughed and laughed, not only at the dive but at the frantic wriggling and gurgling of “Goners” in the trench.

Then somebody twigged on what was happening and said, “OMG I think he’s drowning!”

“How can you drown in three inches of water?”, came a chorus of incredulous replies.

But he was.

“Goners” was in BIG trouble.

He WAS actually drowning in probably less then three inches of water.

“Goners” had fallen into the drain nature had made with the water erosion. Obviously he didn’t intend to, and, unprepared, he fell head first, with his arms by his sides, as opposed to being in a normal diving position with his arms outstretched in front of him and slightly raised.

As he had slid down the riverbank towards the water he had embedded himself farther and farther into the drain, trapping his arms by his side.

And when he reached the water, which was indeed barely three inches deep at the edge, his face including his nose and mouth were submerged under the level of the water.

The frantic wriggling wasn’t just to try to free his arms, but to try to get his mouth and nose out of the water to grab some much needed air. And he clearly wasn’t having much success.

Once we realized that he was in real trouble, of course it was all hands on deck so to speak and everyone rushed to his assistance. Two of us each grabbed one of his feet and pulled him back up the bank a little so that his head came out of the water. Much to his relief, and ours, “Goners” made a few huge grabs for air and the crisis seemed to be over.

Now I don’t know to this day whether what happened next was a deliberate act, something sub-conscious, or just another minor accident, but with his movement and gasping for air his feet, which like the rest of him were slippery with the muck from the drain, managed to slip out of our hands and he slid back into the water again. Gurgle, gurgle, wriggle, splutter, gurgle….

We knew he was in no danger this time and yes, we did laugh again. It was funny for everyone but “Goners”. Some of us – not me you understand, no definitely not me, of course not, don’t be silly, how could you think such a thing – could have played that game all day, pulling him out of the river and then letting him slide back in. Thinking about it now, we probably invented a new water-boarding technique, to us at the time it was just fun.

But we must have thought better of it after a couple of ‘dunks’ because the we pulled “Goners” out of the drain completely and back up on to dry land.

When he got his wits about him once again he said, “Thanks guys. I was nearly a goner.”

And that was his nickname for ever more, “Goners”.

It shows you just how easily and innocently things can happen that under different circumstances would have had a lot more tragic results.

Postscript:

Strangely enough, many years later, in the very same river as it happens, a guy called Willy (the same as featured in my blog post “Willy And Woof”) did the very same thing while walking back home from a bar, very, very drunk. That time however there was no one around to help.

Now he could have been a Darwin Award winner!

 

 

Little Dumb And Large Dumber

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


Are there some people who are too dumb to live?

It’s an interesting, if not much asked, question.

Certainly people do get killed in unusual ways. Of course that is not always their fault. Sometimes they are the victims of circumstances beyond their control. No one can plan for the drunken idiot who slams his car into another. Nor should we live our lives in fear of such things. Take as much care as necessary without impacting on your own life and enjoyment is the best we can do. And usually that is more than enough to get us by.

Back to the initial question.

I think there is a lot of evidence to show that there are indeed some people who are just too dumb to live. There’s a thing called the Darwin Awards that every year highlights some of the people who have, as they put it, strengthened the gene pool by doing away with themselves under the stupidest of circumstances. Some of them are very amusing indeed and I hope to feature other examples in this blog from time to time.

This one is about two people meeting their end in a peculiar, and for the rest of us, funny way.

It happened in the little town (called a city) of George, in Grant County, Washington. As well as being a play on the President’s name, George, Washington, with a population of little over 500, is famous for the similarly sounding Gorge Amphitheatre. This is a 20,000+ seat concert venue located above the Columbia River, that offers lawn-terrace seating and “concert friendly weather”.

Actually it is considered to be one of the premier and most scenic concert locations in the US, and some say even the world. It has been the host to artists such as The Who, David Bowie, Coldplay, and Pearl Jam, the latter even releasing a box set album featuring their entire performances from 2005 and 2006.

However the group that caused the trouble for the two intrepid zeros who are the subject of today’s blog post was Metallica. When they were playing at The Gorge, Robert Uhlenake (24) and his friend, Ormond D. Young (27) decided they wanted to go along.

However, unable to get any tickets for the sold out gig the two instead decided to stay in a nearby parking lot and drink. By the time the show had started they had made their way through eighteen beers.

That was when they did something that stupid people, especially drunk stupid people, should never do.

Yes, they hit upon an idea.

And that idea was to scale the seven foot wooden security fence around the perimeter of the site and sneak in. The rest of the plan involved moving their truck up to the edge of the fence, get on top of it and simply jump over the fence.

So far, so good.

Then they decided that Young would go over first and assist Uhlenake later.

Again, so far, so good.

But what they had not figured into their plan was that, while the fence was seven feet high on the parking lot side, there was a twenty-three foot drop on the other side.

Young, who weighed around 255 lbs and was quite inebriated, jumped up and over the fence and promptly fell about half the twenty-three foot distance before a large tree branch broke his fall AND his left forearm.

Not content with that he also managed to get his shorts caught on the branch.

There’s a kind of a rule in life, I don’t know whose it is (it’s not Murphy’s, maybe I’ll claim it for fasab if no one else has it), that when things start to go wrong they have a tendency to keep on going from bad to worse. So it was for young Mr Young.

He was now in a lot of pain and his broken arm made it impossible for him to extricate himself and his shorts from the tree in the normal manner. But hanging there and looking at the bushes down below, he thought the thing to do was to cut his shorts off and fall to the ground. The soft bushes would cushion the impact of his fall.

This he did and when he cut the last bit of fabric from himself, he suddenly plummeted to earth.

As he did so he also lost his grip of the knife.

The “soft” bushes that Young had cleverly spotted from fifteen foot up in the air hanging from the branch were actually holly bushes and landing in them caused a massive number of cuts, and jags.

All that would have been bad enough for a mere mortal but Young wasn’t done yet.

He also had the misfortune of landing squarely on a holly bush branch; effectively impaling himself.

Then the knife, which he had accidentally released fifteen foot above where he landed, now joined him stabbing him in his left thigh.

Apparently, he was in a lot of pain.

Enter his friend Robert to the rescue.

Robert Uhlenake had apparently observed the last bit of this fiasco and, despite his inebriated state, had the awareness to realized that his fiend Young was in trouble.

Then he also did that thing that stupid drunk people should never do.

He hit upon the idea too, this time of lowering a rope to his friend and pulling him up and over the fence.

The problem with this plan was that Uhlenake was outweighed by his friend by a good 100 lbs. But undaunted by this he was still determined on a rescue bid and figured he could use their truck to pull his friend Young back up.

Unfortunately, because of his state, Uhlenake put the truck in reverse, rather than drive, broke through the fence, landed on Young (killing him), and subsequently died of internal injuries himself.

The two were found dead at the Gorge Amphitheater after the show. Uhlenake was in the pickup that was on top of Young at the bottom of a 20 ft drop. Young was found with severe lacerations, numerous fractures, contusions, and a branch in his anal cavity. He also had been stabbed and his pants were in a tree above him, some 15 ft off the ground.

For a while it was a mystery but the story as outlined above was eventually pieced together.

The final words on the story should perhaps go to Commissioner Appleton who summed it all up saying,

“So that’s how a dead 255 lb man with no pants on, with a truck on top of him and a stick up his ass came to be”.

 

 

Is Your Glass Half Full, Or Half Empty?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

“Some people see the glass half full.

Others see it half empty.

I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

George Carlin

 

Just a short post today, but it covers a big philosophical question.

How do you look at things in life?

Is your glass always half full or half empty?

The Australian airline Quantas has never had a major accident. Does this mean that you have confidence that it is the safest airline in the world? Or does it make you think that maybe the odds are that it’s due for an accident?

If you’re playing the tables in Vegas or Atlantic City or somewhere, does the fact that you’ve lost the last ten hands make you think that your luck is out for the night and you leave. Or do you think the laws of probability mean your luck must be due to change shortly and you hang in there?

There’s no right or wrong answers here. It just depends on what type of person you are.

People who are naturally in the glass half empty category tend to be the ones who play it safe. Work for someone else, are content with a lesser but safer position, don’t over extend themselves financially, etc. For that type of person such decisions make for a much happier and contented life.

Other people, me for example, are more in the glass half full category. More prone to taking risks, trying new things (like blogging even!), and starting their own businesses. That can bring great rewards, but it can cause more than a little turmoil financially and otherwise in your life too, particularly in the economic times we are currently living through. The safe option it is not!

It takes both types to make the world go round and both are equally important.

There’s no point in starting your own business if there’s no one willing to be employed; and there’s no point in looking for a job if there’s no one willing to take the risk and start a business (they all had to start somewhere, even the giant multi nationals).

So what’s the best? It depends on you.

What’s right? Again, it depends on you.

Just don’t waste your time with the stupid pursuit of wondering if the grass is greener somewhere else if you don’t have the courage to go and find out.

Whatever way suits you at least be content with your decision.

That my friends is the simplest secret to enjoying your life.

(According to me anyhow!)

Here’s a video.

Enjoy!