Monday, August 20, 2018

Fails, Flops and Foul Ups


Wrong anthem:

In 2012 Maria Dmitrienko from Kazakhstan won the gold medal at the 10th Arab Shooting Championship in Kuwait.  As she stood proudly on the podium with the other medal winners waiting to hear the national anthem, “My Kazakhstan”, she was surprised to hear instead the spoof anthem from Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”.  She didn’t let on, just remained dignified and smiled at the end.

The lyrics that were played:

Kazakhstan, greatest country in the world
All other countries are run by little girls
Kazakhstan, number one exporter of potassium
All other countries have inferior potassium

Kazakhstan, home of Tinshein swimming pool
It's length thirty meter, width six meter
Filtration system a marvel to behold
It remove 80% of human solid waste

Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, you very nice place
From plains of Tarashek to northern fence of Jewtown
Kazakhstan friend of all except Uzbekistan
They very nosey people, with bone in their brain

Kazakhstan, industry best in world
We invented toffee and trouser belt
Kazakhstan's prostitutes, cleanest in the region
Except of course for Turkmenistan's

Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, you very nice place
From plains of Tarashek to northern fence of Jewtown
Come grasp mighty penis of our leader
From junction with the testes to tip of its face!


Lawnchair Larry:

Query whether this should be regarded as a failure or a success.  

Larry Walters had often dreamed of flying but was unable to become a pilot in the United States Air Force because of his poor eyesight. That didn’t stop him, the Force was strong in this one.  In 1982 he strapped 45 helium filled weather balloons to a deck chair, intending to float over the Mojave Desert at a height of 60-90 metres (200-300 feet) and then use a pellet gun to burst balloons to gracefully float to the ground.  When his friends cut the cord, Walters's lawn chair rose rapidly to a height of about 4,900 metres (16,000 feet) where he was spotted by two commercial airliners.  At first, he did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and cause himself to fall out.  As he slowly drifted over Long Beach, after 45 minutes in the sky, he shot several balloons, and then accidentally dropped his pellet gun.  He descended slowly until the balloons' dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a 20-minute electricity blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood. Walters was able to climb to the ground and was fined $4,000, reduced on appeal to $1,500, for violating airspace. Asked why he had done it, he stated “A man can’t just sit around.”  Walters's flight had imitators, spawned the extreme sport of cluster ballooning and inspired the film Danny Deckchair. He was also awarded the title of "At-Risk Survivor" in the 1993 Darwin Awards. Walters, who became known as Lawnchair Larry, was briefly in demand as a mativational speaker but ended up splitting from his girlfriend of 15 years, getting sporadic work as a security guard and committing suicide at the age of 44.


Wrong Call:

Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), a peer of the realm who also went by the moniker Lord Dacre, was a best selling author, a British historian of early modern Britain and Nazi Germany and Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. Unfortunately that is not how he is remembered. In 1983 the German magazine Stern paid £2.3m for a 60 volume set of Adolf Hitler’s diaries, covering the period 1932-1945. Although covering the whole period of the Third Reich, the diaries shed little light on anything to do with it, consisting instead of non-eventful musings and observations eg an entry during the 1936 Olympics: “Eva wants to come to the Games in Berlin, have had tickets delivered to her and her girlfriends.  Hope my flatulence doesn’t return during the Games.” Despite Hitler never taking notes and therefore being unlikely to have kept a diary, the cover being decorated with the brass initials FH in that the Gothic A had been mistaken for an F, Sunday Times owner Rupert Murdoch bought the rights to serialise them.  Trevor-Roper, a director of the Times newspapers, had examined the diaries and declared them genuine, so much so that he declared “I’m staking my reputation on it.”  In fact they had been written by a small-time dealer in Nazi me memorabilia, Konrad Kujau. The night before the Sunday Times was to start serialising them, Trevor-Roper changed his mind and said they were a fake after all.  Having paid a fortune for the rights and with the newspapers already printed Rupert Murdoch said to his editor “Fuck Dacre. Publish.”  They did.  When Trevor-Roper died in 2003, The Times reported his death with the headline “HITLER DIARIES HOAX VICTIM . . . DIES AT 89.”

The top line shows the initials used, the bottom line shows the correct initials.

The beginning and the end:

William Henry Harrison was elected President of the United States in 1840, his inauguration being on March 4, 1841. Harrison’s speech was the longest of any President at an inauguration, 8,445 words that took over 2 hours to deliver and left the crowd freezing in cold and wet conditions.  Harrison wore neither an overcoat nor hat and rode on horseback to the ceremony rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him.  A month later he died of what his doctor diagnosed as pneumonia, 9 days after becoming ill, in what was popularly attributed to the effects of exposure at the inauguration. A medical analysis made in 2014, based on Dr. Miller's notes and records of the White House water supply being downstream of public sewage, concluded that he likely died of septic shock due to enteric fever.  His is the shortest tenure in United States presidential history and he is the first president to die in office.

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