Thursday, 11 August, 2022

Serena Williams hangs up her racquet; China’s robotaxis; the battle over Frankenstein’s monster; and a quick run across Ireland



Serena Williams – the GOAT: 

Frankenstein’s Monster: 


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Sports fans all over the world were scrambling yesterday to buy tickets to the US Open, after Serena Williams—one of the best tennis players the world has ever known—announced that it would be her last competition before she retired. 

Serena won her first Grand Slam in 1999, when she was just 17. (Grand Slam is a phrase that refers to the US, Australian, and French opens, as well as Wimbledon.) Twenty-three years after that first win, Serena has 23 Grand Slam singles titles under her belt, 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, 4 Olympic gold medals… oh, and she has also totally changed the way the game is played.

Serena’s signature tennis style is powerful – you’d never want to be hit by a ball that she served – but she is also fast on the court, and mentally tough. You watch some of her finest moments in tennis—I’ve put a link in your episode notes—and all you can think is, how did she DO that? My personal favourite is when she stretches out so far to reach a ball, and hit a winning shot, that she lands in the splits. Incredible. 

Now that she’s 40 years old, Serena said that she wanted to focus on being a mum – she has a two year old daughter, and wants another baby. She’ll also spend more time on her businesses. But first, the US Open, which starts on August 29. She says she’s not confident she can win, but she’s going for it – if she gets just one more Grand Slam title, she’ll have equalled the women’s record. If there’s anyone tough enough to do it at 40, it’s Serena. 



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops .. and today we’ve landed in China, where, starting on Monday, you’ll be able to take a taxi and never have to speak to the driver—because there won’t be one. The Artificial Intelligence company Baidu won permission this week to have two fleets of its robotaxis hit the road in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Chongqing. The driverless cars, which are all-electric, have passed all their safety inspections and are now allowed to accept paying passengers. I imagine they’ll turn a few heads at the start! 



You’ve heard of Frankenstein, right? Long before he appeared in the Hotel Transylvania movies, Frankenstein was a book, written by a teenager named Mary Shelley … then a series of horror movies, all about a scientist named Dr Frankenstein who created a monster. And if you’re thinking… hold on a sec, Amanda’s got that wrong! The monster’s name is Frankenstein! Well, lots of people make that mistake. But the monster, who wants so badly to be accepted by other people, never gets a name. I’m sure you can put on your interpreting literature hats to figure out why that might be. But, I digress. 

After the first movies were made, in the 1930s, a wooden prop made to look like the monster, and wearing clothes worn by the actor in the films,  was donated by the movie studio to a museum in Los Angeles—I’ll put a picture in your episode notes. The museum in turn loaned it to another museum, where it was reported as destroyed in 1967. So imagine the LA museum’s surprise when it showed up recently at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. The V&A, as it’s known, says it bought the mannequin at an auction, and has every right to keep it. The LA museum wants it back. The battle over Frankenstein’s monster begins. 




And so we go to the island of Ireland, where an elite ultramarathoner has run the width of that country in less than one day. Englishman Robert Pope, who wrote a book about running more than 24,000km across America, decided to take on the Irish challenge and raise money for the World Wide Fund for Nature  at the same time. He kicked off his journey, believe it or not, at a pub in Galway, where he drank a pint of Ireland’s famous Guinness beer before lacing up his shoes and heading into the night. 

He said his success was due to the support of four close friends, as well as complete strangers who heard about his run on social media. One man drove 45 minutes to meet Rob on the route, and bring him some bananas—which are well known to be excellent fuel for athletes. And with about 15 kilometres to go, Rob was joined by another runner, who offered to guide him through the streets of Dublin, warn traffic that Rob was coming, and keep his spirits up as he finished the race in 23 hours and 39 minutes. He’s believed to be the first person to ever run across Ireland in less than 24 hours … Rob Pope, Squiz Kids salutes you – along with your beer, bananas, and friends.



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. Which Grand Slam event is the first that Serena Williams won, and the last that she’s playing?
  2. What’s the name of the monster that Frankenstein created?
  3. What is a robotaxi missing? 




It’s August 11 .. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, was born on this day way back in 1950. He was the engineer who built the first Apple computers, and, although he stepped away from his official Apple duties in 1985, Woz, as he is known, is still considered an employee of the world’s richest company. I bet he doesn’t have to pay for his own phone… 

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … 

Jack from Albany Hills, Abi from McKinnon, Maelee from Rochdale, Amber from Epping, Ronan from Pullenvale, Gideon from Yokine, Mackenzie from St Peters at Springfield, and Benji from Bondi Junction.

Belated shout outs go to Tiger from Paddington and Benjamin from Surrey Hills.

Classroom shoutouts go to… class 6S and Mrs Drewer at Christian College in Bellarine, class 6N and Mrs Newell at Girraween Public School, class 5JG at Albany Hills State School, Mrs Livio at Sturt Public School in Wagga Wagga and lastly to class 3/4M at Marayong Public School in Blacktown who have voted Bryce as their favourite news reporter!

The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. The US Open
  2. Trick question – he doesn’t have a name
  3. A driver