Saturday, February 3, 2018

Readers Write


A large collection of reader comments this week . . .

Thanks to those who responded.


Readers Write #1: Photo Correction

Byter Charles X sent me an email pointing out that one of the historic Sydney pics did not match the description below it, namely:

Stanmore Road towards Enmore, 1875

Charles wrote:
Otto, I think Bytes readers have been trumped with a bit of fake news.

The caption to the Stanmore Road photograph states that the photograph was taken in 1875. To the best of my primary school recollection, Carl Benz did not invent the motor car until at least the 1880s. Although I am not sure, I guess that the motorcycle would have come after the motor car, so maybe you are about 25 – 30 years too early. Trucks would have come some years after the motor car, I suspect.

Good photos, in any event.

Charles is correct, gremlins somehow got into the works.

The same photo with a different caption appeared later in the post, that caption being:

Parramatta Road. Lidcombe, Western of Sydney, photo taken looking West in 1927

The photo which should have accompanied the earlier caption, that is, of Stanmore Road, Enmore in 1875, is:

Charles, ever vigilant, detected the second pic and caption, sending me another email:

The fake news gets worse.

The photo of Parramatta Road at Lidcombe in 1927 is the same photo as the Stanmore Road scene in 1875.

Did you get the photos from the Minister for Transport?
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa dear readers.

Here are some more Stanmore Road pics to atone:

Constructing Stanmore Road, date unknown. 

Corner Stanmore and Enmore Roads, 1908


Readers Write #2: Public Urinating

This is actually not a “write” because it was a telephone call yesterday, from father in law Noel, a sprightly and active 91:

Noel’s call:
“Otto, I’m halfway through an audio book about life in Elizabethan England. 

No doubt to assist my understanding, he added “That’s the first Elizabeth.”

In those days it was etiquette to doff your hat if you met someone urinating in public.

I just wanted you to know that for when you come to Canberra next.”
Thanks, Noel. I shall bear that in mind when I am in Canberra, whether as urinator or urinatee.

Noel is absolutely correct, by the way. The following appears in an interview by Der Spiegel with British historian Ian Mortimer about everyday life in medieval England. It is an interesting read that can be viewed by clicking on:

SPIEGEL: Conventions governing the other end of the digestive process, however, were not quite so strict ...

Mortimer: That's true. A man passing an acquaintance urinating by the side of the road would simply doff his hat in friendly greeting. Where else were they supposed to go? The flushable water closet wasn't invented by Sir John Harington until 1596 -- and for another 200 years after that, it was regarded as a useless curiosity. In a town, only the wealthy could afford to have a private cesspit emptied regularly.

Readers Write #3: Into the Closet

Byter Maria B told me that the following cartoon was inaccurate at her house:

Maria's email:
Hello Otto

I must disagree with the wardrobe!! My husband and I share a walk in wardrobe. He, and only he, has 4 rails of clothing about 2.8 metres each rail, chock-a-block with clothes. Me….I have two rails around 1.2 metre and they are 1not full…… So totally disagree…..
Love the jokes!! 
Love, Maria
Thanks, Maria.


Readers Write #4: Brett's Monthly

As usual each month, Brett B sent his list of special days and celebrations for the coming month. Click on the days to see what they are about.

Thanks Brett.

  • American Heart Month
  • An Affair to Remember Month
  • Black History Month
  • Canned Food Month
  • Creative Romance Month
  • Great American Pie Month
  • National Cherry Month
  • National Children’s Dental Health Month
  • National Grapefruit Month
  • National Weddings Month
Weekly Celebrations:
3rd Week International Flirting Week
February 2018 Daily Holidays, Special and Wacky Days:
Bubble Gum Day - first Friday of the month
Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day - first Saturday of month
The Day the Music Died - Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash in 1959.
Superbowl Sunday - Superbowl 52, date varies
Send a Card to a Friend Day - obviously created by a card company
Boy Scout Day - celebrates the birthday of scouting
Kite Flying Day - in the middle of winter!?!
12 Clean out Your Computer Day - second Monday of Month
14 Ash Wednesday - date varies
15 Candlemas - on the Julian Calendar
16 Chinese New Years - date varies
19 President's Day - third Monday of month
24 Open That Bottle Night - last Saturday of month
26 National Pistachio Day - it's a nutty day!
27 No Brainer Day - this day is for me!
28 Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday - date varies
28 National Tooth Fairy Day - and/or August 22
    Leap Day - not this year, not until 2020, once every four years


Readers Write #5: Racist?

Byter Nick K sent me an email earlier in the week that suggested the content of a posted pic was racist. The pic and Nick’s email, and my response, were posted and I invited readers’ views.

Here are the pic, Nick’s comments and my response:

Nick's email:
Dear Otto,

It’s Monday morning after a long weekend. So naturally, rather than doing work, I am catching up on my bytes.

Thank you for this excellent service you provide. Interesting, thoughtful, thought-provoking and amusing. Always worth reading.

I am not sure whether or not you recognised it - perhaps if you did, you included it as a commentary on a segment of Australia (rather than a reflection of your own personal views) - but the last item on this Australia Day post is racist, Islamaphobic. The references to eating bacon, drinking alcohol and treating women as equals is unmistakably anti-Islam. It is the same sentiment, expressed more acceptably that appears on the louts’ t-shirts in the cartoon you posted “Makes you proud to be Australian” (namely, LOVE IT OR F**K OFF and F**K OFF WE’RE FULL). Cleverly, the meme invokes treating women as equals - for who could argue with that. Personally, I wonder whether the people who hold these views truly are the type to treat women equally. Perhaps. Perhaps not. In any event, the subtext of that meme is that Muslims do not belong in Australia. That is hurtful, divisive and, in my view, very wrong.

All the best,


My comment at the time:
Nick’s email raises some interesting points. 
Firstly, not everything I post necessarily accords with my own views and philosophies. Take, for example, the Thought for the Day and the Quote of the Day – some reflect my own feelings, others may be posted to raise a smile, provoke thought or simply to look at something in a different way.

That said, I was aware when I posted the above item that there was an Islamic aspect to it. I did not, and still do not, consider it racist or Islamaphobic because it is not directed at all followers of Islam but at those who deny others the right to eat bacon, drink alcohol and treat women equally. In other words, it is directed at those who are themselves intolerant and racist.

Does being critical of Donald Trump or of Kim Jong-un make me anti-American or anti-Korean?

What do others think?
All the comments received did not agree with Nick. This included telephone comments. Below are the emails received:

Tim B (US):
Morning Otto, 
I believe, and I think you will agree from reading my previous emails to you, that you and I are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. But on this issue I agree with you 100 percent. The most intolerant folks here in the U.S. are on the left side of the spectrum. You only have to read the signs people are displaying at an anti-Trump or women’s march, and the signs at a pro-life or tea party rally to really understand who are the least tolerant. Dissent and disagreement are not in themselves bad, as long as each side can have honest debate and find middle ground. It’s good for democracy. 
I like bacon and if you don’t like it, fine, but don’t try to ban the eating of bacon. I don’t believe in the tenants of Islam, but if you do, fine, I won’t try and ban Muslims from practicing their faith. 
Enjoy the posts Otto, keep up the good work. 

Charlie Z (Canadian, living in Oz):
Otto - what you do with Bytes is thought provoking. Interesting and fun.  
Do not change. Continue to expand my world and enlarge my mind! 

Steve M (Oz):
Hello Otto,

Today’s Bytes. Wow! A bit heavy there, Nic. It’s only a light hearted Bytes segment (no offense meant, Otto) It is fascinating how we all see things differently. There are so many things that are judged as offensive or racist in this fragile thinking day and age, and too many people get uppity and precious about things that we all used to laugh at, once upon a time. When I first came to Australia I suffered dreadful racism, still do occasionally, which fascinates me. I don’t need a spoonful of cement either, I just laugh at the purveyors of hate and bigotry, and because we live in a democracy where freedom of speech prevails (thank goodness) I would never deny anyone their right to prove just how ignorant they are!

Keep the humour going Otto. Smiling is the best medicine, and laughing at ourselves sometimes cures a lot of ills.

Maria B (Oz):
Hello Otto 
I’m not going to reply to Nick, but I think that he is wrong. 
Love Maria

Liz P (Oz):
Hi Otto,

I agree with your posting - knowingly - the potentially anti Muslim etc take and also say that if you are critical of Donald Trump or of Kim Jong-un it does NOT make you anti-American or anti-Korean!!
Nic may have forgotten that free speech is still allowed here in the still great land of OZ



Nando (Oz):
Hello Otto

I am 100% with you. I believe that society has gone a bit too far towards political correctness. I read your bytes pretty much every day. Some I take in and agree with and some not. That’s my choice.

I enjoy reading your bytes immensely. Continue the great work that you do.

Kind regards


Vince C (Oz):
Otto, knowing you as well as we do, without doubt I know you're not Islamophobic or racist in any manner. You are intelligent AND one of nature's gentlemen. An honour to call you friend. Vince

Thanks to all those who responded. And Vince, I'm still not having a shower with you.


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