Squiz Today / 19 July 2019

Squiz Today – Friday, 19 July


"Like many of these things this all started with an email."

Said Sir Paul McCartney of his collaboration with writer Lee Hall (think Billy Elliot) to turn cinema classic It’s a Wonderful Life into a stage musical. There's some trepidation about the recreation of the iconic movie, so fingers crossed it leaves theatre-goers thinking "I feel fine" and not "let it be"...


And with those iconic words in 1962, US President John F Kennedy committed the nation to achieve one of, if not the greatest achievement of the 20th century. Bold in its vision, expensive in its execution, and numerous in the scientific and technological advances that were made in its pursuit, Apollo 11’s mission to put a man on the moon - which happened 50 years ago tomorrow - changed the world.


• Kicked into gear by Cold War nemesis Russia sending the first man into space when Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth in 1961, Kennedy decided America could not let Russia claim the theatre of space unopposed - particularly given it was a potential future battlefield. And so putting a man on the moon and getting him home safely by the end of the 60s became the goal.

• The call to action resulted in the biggest mobilisation of civilian resources in US history with 400,000 people working on the Apollo Space Program that saw NASA command around 5% of the country’s federal budget.

• With the deadline looming and many troubles along the way, including the deaths of three astronauts in a fire during ground tests, the task at times seemed impossible. But on 16 July 1969, Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida with Commander Neil Armstrong, Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin and Michael Collins on board. (Want pictures? We’ve got pictures…)

• Taking four days to get there, Collins remained with the Command Module Columbia in the moon’s orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin set out for the moon’s surface in their ugly Lunar Module named Eagle. And 2.5 hours later (after many things didn’t go to plan), they became the first humans to ever land on the moon - with about 18 seconds of fuel remaining.

• Armstrong and Aldrin spent more than 21 hours on the moon, collecting samples and conducting tests before rejoining Collins to start the journey home. They splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Australia and America's West Coast eight days after their journey began.

Gasp… There are so many fascinating tidbits, but here are three foods for thought:

• The sheer scale of the technological achievements during that decade is remarkable. For example, computers took up whole rooms at that time, and they had to make them small enough to put into a spacecraft. And so the microelectronics industry was born. Your laptop and smartphone started there.

• The average age of the flight directors in Mission Control was 26yo. And the lessons on how a huge organisation moved in one direction to achieve its great big goal still reads like a manual in leadership.

• And Australia also had an important role to play. Using NASA's Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station near Canberra and the CSIRO's 64-metre radio telescope (aka 'the Dish') in Parkes, NSW to track the mission, it was the latter that fought strong winds to beam Armstrong’s iconic words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” to 600 million people around the world. (Although Armstrong says that’s not exactly what he said…)

Don't stop 'til you get enough? This podcast and this doco are the business.



Tensions in the Gulf escalated overnight as Iran confirmed it had seized an oil tanker it claims was carrying a million barrels of "smuggled fuel". Iran state media was reporting last night that the country's Revolutionary Guards had ambushed the Panamanian-tagged MT Riah on Sunday with 12 crew members on board. It's been a case of mixed messaging from Iran. Earlier in the week it reported it had "assisted" a tanker in distress. Overnight the story changed, and the element of smuggled fuel was introduced. The US has responded by demanding the tanker's release, saying it "strongly condemns" Iran's actions. It's a significant heightening of tension in the strategically-important Strait of Hormuz and the latest display of brinkmanship between Iran and the West.


At least 33 people are dead and more than 40 people injured after an arson attack on an animation studio in Kyoto yesterday morning. Reports say a man broke into the Kyoto Animation Co and sprayed petrol before igniting it. It was unclear whether the man had any connection to the studio. He was detained by police and taken to hospital with injuries.  Noting that the final death toll is yet to be determined Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, described the incident as "too appalling for words".


Prosecutors in the US have dropped the charges against Kevin Spacey after his accuser refused to testify about a missing mobile phone that the actor’s lawyers said contained text messages that would clear their client. The Oscar-winning actor - whose career imploded because of the allegation - was one of the first Hollywood figures to be brought down by the #MeToo movement. Spacey was accused of groping a man in a bar in 2016 - charges he steadfastly denied. The actor’s accuser denied altering or deleting text messages about the alleged assault but failed to produce the phone in question. Reports say police have quizzed Spacey about other alleged assaults in the US and UK.


Restaurateur and TV host George Calombaris has been fined by the Fair Work Ombudsman and forced to cough up almost $8 million in unpaid wages to more than 500 former and current employees. The Masterchef host is a founding shareholder of the company MAdE Establishment whose high-profile restaurants in Melbourne include Hellenic Republic, Press and Gazi. The hospitality group had self-disclosed the underpayment. In a statement yesterday, the celebrity chef said: "We apologise to all our affected team members, past and present - as it is our people that make our restaurants great."


In a hi-tech nutshell:

INSTAGRAM NO LIKEY - The hugely popular social media platform announced that Australian account holders would no longer be able to see the number of 'likes' a post receives in a trial attempt to make the service less of a popularity contest and more of sharing platform. That sound you can hear is social media influencers crying into their perfectly executed soy-almond-mocha-frappe and smashed avo breakfast… #notblessed #damnyouzuckerberg

GOOGLE BANS VIAGOGO - Google yesterday banned ticket reselling platform Viagogo from appearing at the top of its search results. The Swiss-based company has been the subject of years of complaints from concert-goers and artists, alleging inflated prices and misleading claims.

NETFLIX RESULTS DISAPPOINT - The mega streamers’ shares dropped 12% yesterday after the company reported subscriber growth had been far more sluggish than predicted. Netflix added just 2.7 million new paid subscribers during the last quarter - 46% less than the 5 million it had projected. Hopes now rest on new seasons of popular shows Stranger Things and Orange Is The New Black to lift its fortunes.


Aussie netball team the Diamonds will go undefeated into this weekend's finals of the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, after a thrilling win over arch-rivals New Zealand last night. The Aussies won 50-49 in a nail-biting match. England plays South Africa this morning, and we'll meet the winner in a semi-final tomorrow. Go you good things! Meanwhile, still in the UK, our Aussie women's cricket team are on track to retain the Ashes thanks in no small part to a commanding performance with the bat overnight by Elyse Perry.


If you have Netflix and you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, Aziz Ansari’s one-hour special Right Now is worth a look. The award-winning Master of None writer/actor (and alumni of Parks and Recreation, of course…) was accused of some dodgy behaviour last year, and the comedian covers that in his way, as well as a bunch of other challenging subjects.

Because too much moon landing fever is never enough, we saw this new doco, Apollo 11, last night - and it’s a ripper. It’s purely archival footage - no interviews or narration - just the event and the words of the people on the inside as it happened over the eight days of the mission. Five stars, Margaret.

Best things to happen this week? Cleaning the microwave using these tips. Well not quite, but we're feeling smug every time we use it. Now if only the cleaning fairy would magically appear to do the fridge…


National Pyjama Day (to raise awareness and funds for children in foster care)

Anniversary of the death of Matthew Flinders, the cat-loving leader of the first circumnavigation of Australia, at 40yo (1814)

8.00pm (AEST) - World Cup Netball Semi-Final - AUSTRALIA v TBC

50th anniversary of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first men to walk on the moon

Colombian National Day

International Chess Day

Aussie basketball star Ben Simmons’ birthday (1996)

12.00am (AEST) - World Cup Netball Semi-Final - AUSTRALIA v TBC

Start of Farm Safety Week

Belgian National Day

2.00am (AEST) - World Cup Netball Final 

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.