Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap Years


Why a leap year? 

It takes the earth about 365.25 days to go around the sun.  To be more precise, it takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. This means that every 4 years the calendar will be one day out.  To stop that happening a year is added each fourth year to counteract the difference between the calendar year and the astronomic year. This method of fixing the problem was first imposed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC.

So a day is added every February 29, easy peasy. 

Well, that’s not all.  The extra day every four years doesn’t exactly equal the 6 hours x 4, there is also the matter of the missing 11 minutes x 4 when rounding up.  After 128 years, that 11 minute difference will equal a full day that the calendar is out, 3 days each 400 years, but this time in the other direction.  The adjustment of one extra day each 4 years counteracts the additional 6 hours but the rounded off 11 minutes needs to come off.  Enter Pope Gregory in 1582 with his Gregorian Calendar. Dispensing with the Julian Calendar, he decided that every 100 years there would not be a leap year.  Therefore 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, to allow for the missing 11 minutes added by rounding up.

Okay, I can understand that, but then why was 2000 a leap year?

There are also the 14 seconds that are added each year for which allowance must be made.  As noted above, every 100 years there is no leap year.  However, to adjust for the seconds, every 400 years is a leap year.  Therefore 2000 was a leap year, as was 1600.

And so that’s it.  A bit complicated but I think I understand it.  Thanks for explaining it, I’ll be off now.

Err, well, there is one other thing.  To fine tune it even more, every 4000 years the century years will not be leap years.  Therefore 4,000, 8,000 etc will not be leap years.

If all that’s too much, use this guide:

To sum up:
·         Every year divisible by 4 is a leap year
·         EXCEPT the last year of each century, such as 1900, which is NOT a leap year . . .
·         EXCEPT when the number of the century is a multiple of 4, such as 2000, which IS a leap year
·         EXCEPT the year 4000 and its later multiples (8000, 12000, etc) which are NOT leap years.

Prime Ministerial challenges


27 February 2012:  
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard defeated former PM Kevin Rudd in a leadership challenge, thereby retaining the position of Prime Minister.  The vote was 71 – 31 in favour of PM Gillard, who commented afterwards that “the leadership question, is now determined”.  She also stated that the  Australian Labor Party now needed to “move forward”. 

In the past 50 years, there have been six previous challenges against a sitting Prime Minister: 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Oscars


Some Oscars Trivia

I have previously posted general Oscars trivia at:
Click on that link to access that post, there are some quite interesting bits.
The following trivia items relate to the current ceremony, the 84th presentation
Meryl Streep, nominated for Best Actress for The Iron Lady, has 16 previous nominations (the most ever) and 2 Oscars.
There are 20 acting nominees.  Nine have never been nominated before and only 2 have previous Oscars: Meryl Streep (Best Supporting Actress, Kramer v Kramer; Best Actress, Sophie’s Choice) and George Clooney (Best Supporting Actor, Syriana).
The other 11 nominees have a collective total of 40 nominations.
Although Michelle Williams is nominated for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, Monroe herself was never nominated for an Oscar.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Colonel Sanders

Does anyone else find it incongruous that a Colonel from the southern USA, sounding like Foghorn Leghorn, is the sponsor of Australian cricket?  It’s a bit like Vegemite sponsoring American baseball.  .

For those younfer readers not aware, the Colonel was a real person – Colonel Harland Sanders (1890-1980) (below)  – not just a made up corporate logo or icon.  I recall seeing him interviewed on the Don Lane Show on his visit to Sydney in 1976.

Nazi/German Propaganda Board Games


“You can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members.”

-          Mahatma Gandhi 

Since Gandhi’s utterance, the above comment has also been applied by various interest groups to women, animals, disabled, the elderly and the homeless.  

Let me add another:  “You can judge a society by its board games.”  

It makes sense that one of the West’s most popular games is Monopoly, very symbolic.

Whilst browing some other topics I came across a reference to a WW2 German board game called “Juden Raus!” (“Jews Out!), which led me to look into the topic a bit deeper. 

Hitler very early on grasped the PR value of image, propaganda and publicity.  The Nazi Party and the Third Reich relied heavily on indoctrination, of adults, of children, of populations and of individuals.  The Third Reich had a Department of Propaganda with Joseph Goebbels as the Minister of Propaganda.  Like Hitler, he was attuned to the value, potential and methodology of propaganda.  

The Hitler Youth was an unsubtle means of indoctrinating young minds.  Another was by the use of board games, which had the added benefit that they were played by adults and/or with adults.

Here are some of the board games.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Funny Friday

Some religious humour this time . . .

(Caution: risqué elements included)

The Pope was finishing his sermon and ended it with the Latin phrase, "Tuti homini" - Blessed be mankind.  

A women's rights group approached the Pope the next day. They noticed that he had blessed all of mankind, but not womankind. 

The next day, after his sermon, the Pope concluded by saying, "Tuti homini, et tuti femini" - Blessed be mankind and womankind. 

The next day, a gay-rights group approached the Pope. They said they had noticed that he had blessed mankind and womankind and asked if he could also bless those who are gay.   The Pope said, "OK." 

The next day, the Pope concluded his sermon with, "Tuti homini, et tuti femini, et tuti fruiti."

Last Words: John Wayne Gacy


“Kiss my ass.” 

-  John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994), an American serial killer and rapist who sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, was mentioned in the Bytes item on clowns.  Gacy became known as the “Killer Clown” due to his attendance at fund raising and children’s entertainment events dressed as Pogo the Clown, a character he devised.
Gacy was found guilty of 33 murders in 1977, the jury also finding in favour of the death penalty.  He remained on death row for 14 years, studying law and filing numerous motions and appeals, all unsuccessful.

Gacy was found guilty of 33 murders in 1977, the jury also finding in favour of the death penalty.  He remained on death row for 14 years, studying law and filing numerous motions and appeals, all unsuccessful.

On 9 May 1994 Gacy was executed by lethal injection. 

After the execution had begun, the lethal chemicals unexpectedly solidified, clogging the tube injecting those chemicals into Gacy’s arm.  The curtains were hastily drawn to screen Gacy and the attendants from the observers whilst the tube was replaced.  The execution took 18 minutes.  The malfunction was subsequently blamed on the ineptness of prison officials with Illinois thereafter adopting a different means of administering the injection   Prosecutor William Kinkle commented that "He still got a much easier death than any of his victims. In my opinion he got an easier death than he deserved, but the important thing is that he paid for his crimes with his life."

Published reports have categorised Gacy as a psychopath who did not express any remorse for his crimes.  His last words to his lawyer prior to his execution were that killing him would not compensate for the loss of others, and that this was the state murdering him.  It is reported that his final spoken words were simply, "Kiss my ass".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Band Name Origins: G

The first book in the Bible - their first album's title was "From Genesis to Revelation"
Gerry and the Pacemakers
Formed in 1959 by Gerry Marsden, the group was originally called Gerry Marsden and the Mars Bars.  They were forced to change this when the Mars Company, producers of the chocolate Mars Bar, complained.
Good Charlotte
They took their name from a children's book, which the identical twin brothers Joel (lead vocals and guitar) and Benji Madden (lead guitar and backing vocals) used to read when little, called "Good Charlotte: The Girls of Good Day Orphanage" by Carol Beach York.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bio: Mel Blanc


Yesterday I posted a link to a comedy routine featuring Jack Benny and Mel Blanc.

Blanc (1908-1989), known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices”, is today best remembered as the voice of such diverse characters as
·         Bugs Bunny
·         Daffy Duck
·         Porky Pig
·         Tweety Bird
·         Sylvester the Cat
·         Yosemite Sam
·         Foghorn Leghorn
·         Marvin the Martian
·         Pepe Le Pew
·         Speedy Gonzales
·         The Tasmanian Devil
·         Barney Rubble
·         Mr Spacely (The Jetsons)

Hear some of the voices at:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Reader Comment: Stephen King and Clowns


Byter Graham, aka Mr Trivia, sent me an email with a link to an interview with Stephen King on his feelings about clowns:


Q:  Did you find clowns scary as a kid?

A: As a kid going to the circus there would be like twelve full grown people who would all pile out of a little tiny car, their faces were dead white, their mouths were red as though they were full of blood, they’re all screaming, their eyes are huge, what’s not to like?

Reader Comment: The First Valentine Message


Byter Tobye advised that the first ever Valentine’s Day missive (apart from that of Valentine himself) had a happy ending.  Readers will recall that I posted that Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent a poem to his wife on Valentine’s Day in 1415. He was captured at the Battle of Agincourt and was imprisoned in the Tower of London to await execution.  Tobye points out that after a quarter of a century imprisoned at the Tower and other castles, he was released on payment of a ransom. 

Some other notes:

·        During his 24 years imprisonment he became an accomplished poet with over 500 of his poems surviving.

·        After he was captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 by Sir Richard Waller, they became good friends.  His capture allowed Waller to refurbish his manor house.  Waller later added the fleur-de-lis to the Waller coat of arms.

·       Charles’ captivity was not strict and he lived in the manner to which he was accustomed, along with other nobles.  However, because he was directly in line to the French throne, he was not permitted to be ransomed.

·      He also appears to have been a bit of a swordsman in more ways than one.  He was married three times: 

o   In 1406 he married Isabella, daughter of Charles VI of France.  Isabella died in chaildbirth.

o   In 1410 he married Bonne of Aemagnac  but she died before he returned from captivity.

o   On his return to France in 1440 he married Anne of Cleves amd had three children.

Quotes: Jack Benny


“I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.

-      Jack Benny 

Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky) (1894 –1974) was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and also a notable violinist. He is recognised as one of the leading American entertainers of the 20th century, often playing the role of a miserly cynic and complainer who always maintained his age to be 39.  He was also noted for playing the violin badly, although in real life he was an accomplished musician.  He was known for his comic timing and his ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!" His radio and television programs, tremendously popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, were a foundational influence on the situation comedy genre. 

 See Jack Benny in a classic routine with Mel Blanc at:

Some other Jack Benny quotes:

It's not so much knowing when to speak, when to pause.

Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.

Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces. 

(about his fiddle) It's a real Strad, you know. If it isn't I'm out one hundred and ten dollars. The reason I got it so cheap is that it's one of the few Strads made in Japan.

(about George Burns) We have a lot in common. The other night we went to see an X-rated movie, and we both fell asleep.

Friday, February 17, 2012

No Bytes this Sunday??


But no need to be sad.

I will be away from my computer and not able to post a Bytes this Sunday but will be back posting as usual on Monday. 

Cheers, amigos.


Some Thoughts on Clowns . . .

I was watching a movie recently that included a clown character.  I confess, the movie was The Greatest Show on Earth.  James Stewart played the clwon, the doctor on the run who never takes off his clown makeup:

It reminded me of a comment supposedly made by horror writer Stephen King, (although I have not been able to source any such quote) that the thing he found scariest was a clown.  King’s book “It” features its own evil clown, Pennywise, the form adopted by an inter-dimensional force to lure and kill children. 

It appears therefore that I am not the only one who finds clowns mega creepy.

The fear of clowns is a recognised phobia, even having its own name, coulrophobia, the prefix “coulro” coming from a Greek word meaning “stilt-walker”.

Imagine being given the task of decorating the new children’s wards of a hospital.  Imagine also that if those wards are decorated with clown images, how the littlies will feel at night, separated from their parents and having clowns looking at them in the dark. 

Real Stephen King stuff, right? 

In 2008 when that redecorating scenario was the subject of a study with children by the University of Sheffield, there were some surprising results, or not surprising if you have coulrophobia. 

According to a news report:

Funny Friday


A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing

A diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc

About two years ago I posted these two symplified world maps (click on the images to enlarge):

Since posting those maps, I have come across other symplified world and country depictions:

 The US according to Rednecks

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Some glurge



Word used to describe the syrupy sweet e-mails that are mass-mailed to unwilling participants. Usually involve, puppies, kitties, children with disabilities, puppies and kitties with disabilities, and Jesus. Generally end with, "Pass this along 2 as many ppl as u can!!!

-          Urban Dictionary

Not a bad bit of glurge as far as its message goes, as long as you can handle the concept of a talking pot with feelings . . .

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. 

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. 

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said. 

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. 

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.” 


Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. Take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. There is a lot of good out there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quote: Andy Rooney


“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”

-          Andy Rooney

Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney (1919 – 2011) was an American radio and television writer. Rooney was most known for his weekly broadcast "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney," a part of the CBS  program 60 Minutes, from 1978 to 2011. His final regular appearance on 60 Minutes aired October 2, 2011, dying one month later, on November 4, 2011, at age 92.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

To my wife, Kate: 

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” 

A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 One legend of St. Valentine contends that he was a priest in third century Rome. Emperor Claudius 11 outlawed marriage because single men made better warriors. Valentine, however, continued to perform marriages in secret. When the Emperor discovered what Valentine was doing he ordered that Valentine be put to death. Whilst awaiting execution, so the story goes, he fell in love with the jailor's blind daughter. His love and belief in God cured her blindness and, when he was taken to be killed on 14 February, he sent her a love letter signed "from your Valentine".

Others claim that the Christian church decided to celebrate the feast of Valentine in an effort to 'christianise' the celebrants of the Lupercalia, a pagan festival that celebrated purification and fertility.  It was held in mid-February.