Snapshots 112 Copernicium

Here are 10 developments of interest to fans.

(1) The telegraph figures prominently in American history. It made the Pony Express obsolete. And what Lincoln movie is complete without a scene of tallies from the 1860 election coming over the wires, or of the President slumped in a lamplit War Department office listening to the rapidly clacking Morse code?

But did you know that telegraph service in the United States ended seven years ago? And the very last telegraph message in history will be sent on July 14 in India, the date it plans to abandon the technology.

“We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant,” said Shamim Akhtar, general manager of BSNL’s telegraph services. The agency did not say what the contents of the final message would be.

The telegram industry was not always so bleak; at its peak in 1985, 60 million telegrams were exchanged across 45,000 offices. Today, only 75 offices exist, employing 998 people, down from 12,500 telegram employees in better years.

(2) It’s remarkably easy to recut Disney’s original trailer to make Mary Poppins look like a horror movie — see Scary Mary [YouTube].

(3) Animal Planet’s mockumentary “Mermaids: The New Evidence” was watched by 3.6 million people. Twitter traffic following the broadcast suggests some viewers were convinced that mermaids really exist – despite a disclaimer in closing credits. Or they decided it would be funny to claim they were. With the internet it’s hard to tell.

(4) And internet anonymity isn’t what it once was. Now the government knows if you’re a dog.

(5) Roger Corman has started a pay YouTube channel, Corman’s Drive-in, to cash in on his vast catalog of movies — Ron Howard in Grand Theft Auto, The Battle Beyond the Stars, Tommy Lee Jones, Sandra Bullock, Joe Dante’s Pirhana, Death Race 2000 with David Carradine, Little Shop of Horrors 2000, etc.

(6) The screen rights to C.J. Cherryh’s fantasy quartet “The Morgaine Stories” has been optioned by producer Aard Magnani with Peter Arneson adapting.

Set in a distant medieval world, the series tells the epic story of an outcast warrior forced to serve a mysterious time-traveling heroine. Legend says she is evil, but he eventually learns her mission is to save the universe.

Arneson has already penned the screenplay for the first novel, “The Gates of Morgaine: Ivrel,” which Magnani has also optioned. He will produce through his Water Bear-Aaron Magnani Prods., alongside Duck Kolenik.

(7) The original model of the Enterprise used to shoot effects scenes is in the National Air and Space Museum. At first it was suspended from the ceiling, which kept it out of reach of tourists but also limited the view to the starship’s underside.

A 2009 blog article traces the history of Enterprise display.

After considerable discussion, museum staff decided not to hang the starship any more. Instead, a special case was built for it, and it now rests upon two stanchions specially built to hold it. The case protects the ship from dust, grime and fingerprints, while at the same time, presents the model at eye-level, so that the serious (and the merely curious) viewer can study it closely, and from all sides.

There are also X-ray photos that reveal the model’s electronics.

(8) Iain Banks’ bucket list included a book of his collected poetry.

The Scottish author revealed in his final interview before his death from cancer last week that he had hoped to secure a publisher for an anthology of 50 poems as part of a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do before he died.

Banks, who had 29 books published in his lifetime, last had a standalone poem printed 30 years ago, in the first edition of New Writing Scotland, an annual anthology of poetry created by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. It was his first published work.

The poem – entitled 041 in reference to the old Glasgow telephone code and detailing a phone call with his faraway “lady” – nestles in the anthology alongside poems written by other now-well known Scots authors such as Robert Crawford.

The only poetry Banks has published since 1983 begins and ends his novel Use Of Weapons.

(9) A Tacoma park may be named for Dune author Frank Herbert.

A new park taking shape on a former slag heap on the Tacoma waterfront could be named for science fiction author Frank Herbert… Herbert was a Tacoma native who explored Puget Sound.

His son and biographer, Brian Herbert, says the environment theme in “Dune” emerged from living in Tacoma in the 1950s when the city was polluted by the Asarco smelter.

Workers are now covering smelter slag with clean dirt at what Metro Parks Tacoma informally calls Peninsula Park.

(10) No matter what you thought, Queen Elizabeth is related to Richard III. ‘Tis as clear as is the summer’s sun.

 [Thanks for these stories go out to Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol, Francis Hamit, Andrew Porter, David Klaus and John King Tarpinian.]

6 thoughts on “Snapshots 112 Copernicium

  1. I remember seeing the Enterprise at the NSM in Washington way back around 1977, I think. It wasn’t way up at the ceiling, but it was well above the viewers head. And one side was close to a wall, to hide the gaping huge hole where a mechanical arm held the model for photography — it was also for the electrical connections that lit the model up.

    I wonder where all the models for the Enterprise D are?

  2. The current monarch would have to be related to Richard I through a Stuart connection, since Elizabeth I died childless. But the crowned heads of Europe were interbred as badly as French Poodles, so there must be a hundred dukes, earls, princes and pretenders with as much genetic right to the throne as the current occupant. But, legitimacy isn’t about genetics, is it? It’s about the legal fiction of descent through the male line, and primogeniture. Without the legal bias we’d nearly all have an arguable claim to the throne of England through some unrecorded and uncelebrated link to William I.

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