Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Google, Finn and Twain


When logging on to Google today, the above image appeared at the Google home page.  Google changes its logo periodically to reflect current events and anniversaries.  Placing the cursor over the image reveals the significance of the logo, in this case Mark Twain’s 176th birthday.

Some trivia:

Mark Twain;s boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, is now a Mark Twain museum.  Tom Sawyer's legendary boyhood fence borders the property:

First edition book cover, 1885
Unlike Twain’s previous work, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn does not have the “The” at the beginning of the title.  This has led to speculation that whilst Tom Sawyer’s adventures were complete, further books were to come about Huckleberry Finn.  Huck’s book ends with his stating that he intends to head West.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote: Swedish Proverb


Eat less, chew more;

Whine less, breathe more;

Talk less, say more;

Hate less, love more

and all good things are yours!

Swedish Proverb

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Daily Mail moments


Some days are slow news days, at other times the papers are full of items of interest and/or significance.  Yesterday was the latter, at least for me.  The following items are from The Daily Mail, online edition of 27 November 2011 at:
(Usually I try to save the longer items for the weekend but I want to post this for my dad-in-law Noel, a WW2/Hitler buff.  This one's for you, Noel).

If your knowledge of the civilian British defence movement in  WW2 is based on the Home Guard as depicted in the wonderful BBC TV series Dad’s Army (1968-1977), then you’re going to need a drastic revision of thought as a result of a film now released in England, Resistance.  Set in 1944, it posits the premise that D Day has failed and that England has been invaded.  The issue it raises is profound: What would you have done?

The film is based on a book of the same name by Owen Sheers, who was inspired to write it because of information he obtained about secret operational units formed in Britain during WW2.  These units were known as Auxiliary Units and were created in 1940, a time when things seemed grim for the British.  In the event of a German invasion of Britain, they were to melt away from their civilian jobs to activate OBs (operational bases) and sabotage enemy installations for as long as possible before detection.  In addition to their Commando daggers and machine guns, they had gelignite and nitro-glycerine ‘sticky’ bombs for slapping on the side of advancing tanks.
They were also issued with a gallon of rum, to assist in implementing orders not to be captured alive: they were to either blow themselves up or shoot each other rather than be captured.  Life expectancy was 12 days.

The bunkers and ammunition storage areas still exist today, underground and hidden, although expolsives and weapons have been removed.  They are declared national monuments but those who know where they are decline to publicise it to avoid vandalism.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Humour in Court: Part 3


A 2010 US case needed a determination as to whether something had occurred in international waters.  This in turn required a decision as to whether Saint Vincents Rock was a rock or an island. 

The judgment includes:

“. . . we can discern no reason why something could not be both a rock and an island at the same time. See Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, I am a Rock, on Sounds of Silence (Columbia 1966) (“A winter’s day, in a deep and dark December. . . .  I have my books and my poetry to protect me. I am shielded in my armor. Hiding in my room, safe within my womb, I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.”). Of course, neither Simon nor Garfunkel has been identified as a nautical expert.”

Citation: 336 F 3d 1269 (11th Cir, 2003)

Emma Chisit, Jawjuh and more . . .


“England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

-       George Bernard Shaw

“As many of you know, I first came to Australia as a child. But despite my visits, I have to admit I never did learn to talk ‘Strine.’ "

-   US President Barack Obama,
after dinner remarks Australian Parliament, 16 November 2011

In 1964 English author Monica Dickens (1915 – 1992), the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, was visiting Australia to promote her literary works.  The Sydney Morning Herald of 30 November 1964 reported that during a book signing session in Sydney, a woman presented her with one of her books and said “Emma Chisit”.  Dickens dutifully wrote “To Emma Chisit” on the inside cover, signed her name. and handed it back.  “No, no,” said the woman, “Emma chisit?”  Eventually it dawned that the woman had asked, in an Australian accent, “How much is it?” 

Thus was born “Strine”, a term coined in 1964 for the broad Australian accent, the word being the phonetic designation of “Australian”.  After the Dickens incident, the SMH had regular columns, contributions and letters on Strine examples.  It also inspired Oz writer Alistair Ardoch Morrison to write a number of books under the pseudonym Afferbeck Lauder (“alphabetical order”) , the first being “Let Stalk Strine”, in which he comically set out spoken broad Australian English using phonetic description.  Some examples:

The vessel through which courses the life-blood of Strine public opinion.
“Aorta build another arber bridge.”
 “Aorta have more buses.  An aorta makem smaller so they don't take up half the road.  An aorta put more seats innem so you doan tefter stann all the time.  An aorta have more room innem - you carn ardly move innem air so crairded.  Aorta do something about it.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Funny Friday

Did anyone else notice the weird ear on the  old time drawing of President Lincoln that accompanied yesterday's post?

It looks like Shrek's ear but without the tube. . .

Speaking of Presidents also enables me to segue into this week's Friday Funnies, this week some more Jewish humour  . .

I know that jokes often stereotype ethnic and religious groups and that some of that humour can be nasty. But I do love Jewish jokes.

The first Jewish President is elected.

He calls his Mother: "Mama, I've won the elections, you've got to come to the swearing-in ceremony."

"I don't know, what would I wear?"

"Don't worry, I'll send you a dressmaker"

"But I only eat kosher food"

"Mama, I am going to be the president, I can get you kosher food"

"But how will I get there?"

"I'll send a limo, just come Mama"

"Ok Ok, if it makes you happy.

The great day comes and Mama is seated between the Supreme Court Justices and the Future Cabinet members, she nudges the gentleman on her right. "You see that boy, the one with his hand on the Bible. His brother's a doctor!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Iconic Photographs: Kent State University


“Obviously everybody is saying, they need to kind of clarify, they need policy issues — ‘this is what we want’ as opposed to…. The other thing it needs, and I don’t want this to come out the wrong way. If we think — not needs but will happen — if you think back to the late ’60s, what is the most stirring image of all of the rebellion that happened. What do we remember? Kent State. Now, I’m not saying somebody has to get killed. What will happen, there will be a climax moment of class warfare somehow played out on screen that I think will — the same way ’9-9-9′, if you will, kind of simplifies a message — that articulates this clash. So, both the real clarification in terms of policy and unfortunately some imagery says to America, and I think those are the two things…”

-       MSNBC analyst Donny Deutsch,
giving an opinion on morning television that what the Occupy Wall Street protest needs is a Kent State moment, 14 October 2011
The Kent State moment:

·         By May, 1970 opposition to the war in Vietnam was escalating.  In 1969 the My Lai massacre of 504 women and children by US troops had been exposed.  Nixon had been elected President in 1968 on a promise to end the war; instead, on 30 April 1970 he announced to a national television audience that US troops had invaded Cambodia.  The invasion of Cambodia had been concealed from Congress, The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defence.  Instead of stopping the war, Nixon was covertly widening it.  Protests sprang up on many campuses across the US.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote: Barack Obama, Eulogy for Edward Kennedy


Yesterday I posted a part of a eulogy by Edward Kennedy for his late brother Robert.  Today I post a  part of a eulogy delivered on 29 August 2009 by Barack Obama for Edward Kennedy.

There are often comments made in a eulogy which have an application beyond the eulogy moment and beyond the circumstances relating to the deceased.  So it was with the Robert Kennedy eulogy and so it is with the comments below.

It is part of what the philosopher Mufasa in The Lion King referred to as The Circle of Life, or Death if you prefer:  one day you’re the eulogiser, the next you’re the eulogee.
From the President Obama eulogy:

We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know God's plan for us.

What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.

This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy's shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became. We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy - not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reader comments

From Byter Charles:

Re Dolly --- many years ago I was on a tour in Nashville, at the site of the Grand Old Opry, where many of the Country and Western singers performed. As we toured the dressing room area we were shown where the stars had their mailboxes, and it was pointed out that Dolly Parton had two ......

From Byter Steve:

I enjoyed the Bytes today, especially the Dolly Parton section. Diane and I saw her concert in Sydney on Tuesday night. She’s still got it – in fact she’s still got both of them!

Your assessment of her character is spot on – she’s a great woman, and her self perpetuated image is disarming (she’s make a great Lawyer!).

Some early Dolly parton pics:

Age 13


Quote: Edward Moore Kennedy

John, Robert and Edward ("Ted") Kennedy

Robert F Kennedy (`1925-1968), the younger brother of assassinated President John F Kennedy (1917-1963), was the front runner in the 1968 Presidential election when he too was assassinated. 

Following is part of the eulogy delivered by Edward M Kennedy (1932-2009) at the funeral of his brother Robert:

We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters -- Joe and Kathleen and Jack -- he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side. 

Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely. 

That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us. 

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. 

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. 

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not." 

See part of the eulogy at:

Friday, November 18, 2011

No Bytes This Weekend . . .

I will be away this weekend so no Bytes, but don't despair, I have posted a couple of items below, including some more court humour.  I'll be back in a few days.

Hello, Dolly


There is an American who I admire visiting Australia at the moment.  This person is a staright speaking, hard worker who tells it like it is.  And it’s not Pres Obama.  It’s Dolly Parton on tour here in Oz.

She is an intelligent, astute and caring individual who is not afraid to laugh at her own image. 

I also respect the fact that she never appears to be malicious or unkind to others.


Dolly Parton (1946 - ) is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist.  She is best known for writing and performing country music and is often referred to as the "The Queen of Country Music."  Parton, who plays the autoharp, banjo, drums, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, flute, pennywhistle and piano, began composing songs at the age of 4.  Her mother wrote them down as Parton sang them around the house.  Since the mid-1980s Parton has supported many charitable efforts, particularly in the area of literacy, primarily through her Dollywood Foundation (Dollywood is the name of her highly successful theme park).  She has also raised money for various other causes and charities and has donated significant sums.

Some Dolly Parton quotes:

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain! "

"Find out who you are and do it on purpose."

"If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one."

Humour in Court: Part 2


On the subject of cross examination, there is a marvellous item dating from 2002 when a man by the name of Arnold Chrysler was supposedly on trial in the English High Court for the theft of a total of 40,000 coathangers.  Although many sites quote it as being a transcript of a genuine court case, it is actually the work of the late Miles Kingston, a satirist with The Independent. See:

It is included here because I keep imagining John Cleese in his younger days having played Arnold Chrysler  in a Monty Python version of this case:

Counsel: What is your name?

Chrysler: Chrysler. Arnold Chrysler.

Counsel: Is that your own name?

Chrysler: Whose name do you think it is?

Counsel: I am just asking if it is your name.

Chrysler: And I have just told you it is. Why do you doubt it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Juries, Roods and Lady Trawst

The Jury, an 1861 painting by John Morgan

Jury trials originated with King John and the Magna Carta in 1215, right?  The nobles wanted to be tried by juries of other nobles, rather than by the King, thus giving rise to the modern day jury of a trial by one’s peers.

Actually, the ancient Greeks, ancient Romans and even the Vikings all had provision for determination of legal proceedings by juries of sorts.

Given the focus on England as the home of trial by one’s peers, or “equals” to use Magna Carta terminology, it is of interest to consider the earliest recorded jury trial in England, one predating the  Magna Carta by hundreds of years.

There is a small village in Wales called Hawarden. 

Nearby is the village of Chester, which is noted for its racing season and extensive race course.  The centre of this area is marked by a raised mound, decorated with a small cross, known as a "rood".  This has given the site of the race course the name "Roodee", a corruption of "Rood Eye", meaning "The Island of the Cross".

The Hawarden Visitors' Hand-Book (1890) by William Henry Gladsone (1840-1891) gives the story of the jury trial and the explanation of the above Chester cross.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quote: Barack Obama


Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. 
Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'.
We are going to press on. We have work to do.

US President Barak Obama

Address at the annual awards dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus, 25 September 2011, responding to increasing complaints from black leaders that he had given away too much in talks with Republicans and that he had not done enough to fight black unemployment, which is nearly double the national average at 16.7 percent.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Awkward Family Photos

(Click on the images to enlarge).

What sort of parents stick a toddler into a hokey cowboy campfire dressup and then take his pic?  What sort of people make family members engage in weird costumes and poses that are corny, questionable and, in some cases, just wrong?  Your guess is as good as mine but, if you want to see photographic evidence of Albert Einstein’s comment that “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former”, then visit:

The name says it all – Awkward Family Photos – and it began as a simple posting of some geeky family pics by a couple of guys.  Other people began contributing as well until the site was so popular that the original guys put out a book with selected AFPs.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some newspaper items and ads

Not checked for truth or accuracy . . .

Click on images to enlarge.

Humour in Court: Part 1


Byter Charles sent me an email of an order by Judge Martin Sheehan of the First Division Kenton Circuit Court in Kentucky  and asked me if it was an accurate account. 

It is legit, the order having been made on July 19, 2011 in the case of Kissel v. Schwartz & Maines & Ruby Co. which was scheduled earlier that week for trial.

The Order states in part:

The herein matter having been scheduled for a trial by jury commencing July 13, 2011, and numerous pre-trial motions having yet to be decided and remaining under submission;

And the parties having informed the Court that the herein matter has been settled amicably (the Court uses the word amicably loosely) and that there is no need for a Court ruling on the remaining motions and also that there is no need for a trial;

And such news of an amicable settlement having made this Court happier than a tick on a fat dog because it is otherwise busier than a one legged cat in a sand box and, quite frankly, would have rather jumped naked off of a twelve foot step ladder into a five gallon bucket of porcupines than have presided over a two week trial of the herein dispute, a trial which, no doubt, would have made the jury more confused than a hungry baby in a topless bar and made the parties and their attorneys madder than mosquitoes in a mannequin factory. . .

The case concerned a legal malpractice suit by one Barbara Kissel against the firm of Schwartz Manes Ruby & Slovin.  Having received news of the case having been settled, he responded with his comments above.  At the end of the Orders cancelling the trial he added one further order: 

The Clerk shall engage the services of a structural engineer to ascertain if the return of this file to the Clerk’s office will exceed the maximum structural load of the floors of said office.

Judge Sheehan later expressed surprise that his comments had been so widely reported.  “It’s a sad comment on the legal profession.  A judge puts a little humour in the judicial opinion, and it goes viral.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ask Otto: Baldness

A question from Byter Nando:

Why do men go bald from the top of their heads but the hair around the head usually is there till the end?

As a chrome dome, a cue ball, a bowling ball, a skinhead or simply follically challenged, myself, I can relate to the above question.  Those interested in having a look at your writer’s pate can visit a past post and see a portrait which made it to the finals of the Moran portraiture prize:

Back when I was a lad, going bald was commonly a source of regret, humility, even embarrassment.  It was a time when crew cuts had given way to long hair, primarily inspired by pop stars (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones et al) and youth movements (Hippies, Mods, Surfies); when  hair was associated with youth, with being cool.

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there, hair, shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy
Hair, flow it, show it
Long as God can grow, my hair

- Lyrics to "Hair", from the musical Hair

Today it is no longer as big a deal, even people with full heads of hair shave their heads. No one seems to care as much. Kate Middleton doesn’t seem to mind too much that hubby is thinning on top.  Bruce Willis is still dying hard. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Funny Friday, Lauda, FUNNY FRIDAY


The Formula 1 racing calendar is nearing its end and Sebastien Vettel, 24, has secured the 2011 World Drivers’ Championship, even before the last races have been held.  That makes it back to back championships for 2010 and 2011 for Vettel,  the youngest double world champion in Formula One history.

Vettel is pictured above with former F1 World Champion Niki Lauda (R) before the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit on March 27, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.

Some Lauda history:

Andreas Nikolaous “Niki” Lauda was born in 1949 in Austria and became a race driver against the wishes of his wealthy family.  In 1975, driving for Ferrari, he won the World Championship.  Lauda was well in the points score lead in 1976 when he crashed on the second lap in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, an event he had sought to have boycotted by the other drivers because of inadequate safety arrangements.  His car hit the embankment and rolled back onto the track, then was hit by another car.  Lauda was trapped in his burning vehicle and suffered severe burns to his head.  He also inhaled toxic gases that cauterised his lungs and damaged his blood and  had  various broken bones. Although the burns caused extensive scarring, he elected not to have cosmetic surgery, having only enough reconstructive work done to cause his eyelids to close properly.  His courage and his scarring have become his most well known attributes.  Lauda has lost most of his right ear and has extensive head scarring, resulting in his trademark wearing of a cap.