Friday, April 30, 2010

Quote: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

(There is a school of thought that  the quote comes from medieval Persian philosopher Rumi, who was admired by Nietzache).

Music: Puttin' On The Ritz

This item may be hazardous to your mental health.  Exposure to the song may cause you to keep humming it for a week and drive you nuts.

I’m a sucker for the old black and white musicals… 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of.. (insert a year), Anything Goes, Top Hat, Meet Me in St Louis, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, any Busby Berkeley musical…

The other day I picked up a DVD double in the cheapo barrel at Blockbuster, Bing Crosby in Birth of the Blues and in Blue Skies. The latter has Fred Astaire dancing to Puttin' on the Ritz, a wonderful sequence that can be viewed and listened to by clicking on the following link:
(How does he get that cane to rise like that?)


With the snap announcement by K Rudd & Co Canberra that ciggie prices will rise by 25% from midnight and that plain packaging will become mandatory from 1 July 2012, the radio shock jocks and their callers were in talkback frenzy. More than once the ironic term “anti-smoking Nazis” was used.

In the past I have sometimes posted cigarette ads as examples of vintage advertising. Here are some more American examples, using everything from sex, to health, to science, to babies to promote and sell gaspers…
(Click on the pics to enlarge).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hubble Space Telescope photographs: Are the colours real?

A question from a Byter: Would we see the same colours as are depicted in the Hubble photographs?

The short answer is no. The colour is added by NASA.

The longer answer is:
- The Hubble cameras record light from the universe with special electronic detectors. These detectors produce images of the cosmos not in colour, but in shades of black and white.
- Finished colour images are actually combinations of two or more black-and-white exposures to which colour has been added during image processing.
- Colour is added as a tool to enhance an object's detail, to visualise what ordinarily could never be seen by the human eye or to highlight interesting features of the celestial object being studied.\
- The colours added are a combination of red blue and green. Play around with the buttons at the following Hubble link to see how the combinations affect the final result:
- Click on this Hubble link and use the various buttons to see how the object looks when different photographic filters are used as is done when Hubble takes the photographs eg ultraviolet, green, red band infrared:
- See this link for another collection of Hubble pics (click on the pics to enlarge):

Quote: Quentin Crisp

"When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said. 'Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?' "

- Quentin Crisp (1908-1999)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Five Ways to Kill a Man - Edwin Brock

Yesterday I posted the “I’m mad as hell” speech from Network and said that the expressed sentiments of alienation and powerlessness were more topical today than when written in 1976. The same holds true of Edwin Brock’s poem Five Ways to Kill a Man. In 5 stanzas Brock outlines different ways of killing someone. Each is more advanced historically – Jesus’s crucifixion, the War of the Roses, WW1/gas; WW2/atomic bombs – and each is more deadly than the one before. Significantly each one also distances the killer more and more from the victim, until eventually in the final stanza there is no killer or victim, just existence in a world that requires the killing of humanity to survive, The key to survival in a world of increasing crime, social problems, pollution, destruction of environment, religious intolerance, suicide bombings and financial crises is to become desensitised to those things, to switch off. Like a sheet of corrugated iron turned over to reveal the nasties underneath, Brock decries that existence by revealing it. In its own way it is Howard Beale shouting "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore.”

Origin: Quid Pro Quo

Origin of:
Quid Pro Quo

Something given in return for an item of equivalent value.

Similar phrases:
Tit for tat.
Give and take.
One good turn deserves another.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours (Sometimes expressed as “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, Jack.”)


- In Latin the phrase means “something for something”.

- In colloquial English it often means a favour for a favour.

- The phrase is also used in legal contexts in the areas of trade or exchange of goods and services, often to denote when a contract is binding.

- It is often used to describe corrupt practice, where favours (notably political or sexual favours) are illicitly given in exchange for cash.

- It has been in use since the 1560’s in the senses above.

- Shakespeare used a similar expression in Henry VI (1591): "I cry you mercy, 'tis but Quid for Quo."

- It is believed that the English slang term “quid” for the monetary unit of pound comes from the above phrase.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I'm mad as hell" speech", Network

One of the best comments on modern day alienation and powelessness is Howard Beale's speech in the movie Network.  See it at:

Its message seems more apt, and more immediate, than 1976 when the film was released.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 20th birthday, having been launched on 24 April 1990.

The following is from the Hubble website at:
NASA's best-recognised, longest-lived, and most prolific space observatory zooms past a threshold of 20 years of operation this month. On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle and crew of STS-31 were launched to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into a low Earth orbit. What followed was one of the most remarkable sagas of the space age. Hubble's unprecedented capabilities made it one of the most powerful science instruments ever conceived by humans, and certainly the one most embraced by the public. Hubble discoveries revolutionised nearly all areas of current astronomical research, from planetary science to cosmology. And, its pictures were unmistakably out of this world. This brand new Hubble photo is of a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble's classic "Pillars of Creation" photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away is by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air.

WW1 Recruiting Posters and Norman Lindsay

Whilst looking up material for the item of a few days ago about the first Anzac Day, I became sidetracked into looking at World War 1 recruitment posters. Being diverted is a common feature of using the internet.  Before you know it, an hour has elapsed in looking at more and more divergent items.

Wartime recruiting posters tend to be of two types: those that seek to instil guilt feelings at not being “over there” and those that inspire rage against a monstrous and barbaric enemy, sometimes both together.  Subtlety is not a prevailing characteristic. The posters were plain, blunt and with a short, clear message: Enlist Now! The posters were intended to not only send a message to those who were capable of enlisting but also to the population at large, thereby putting indirect pressure on those who had not enlisted.

The posters of  WW1 tended to vilify the enemy more than those of WW2.  Not infrequently Europe (or America) was depicted as a semiclad maiden violated at the hands of a brutish enemy.  American posters appear to be the most blunt, an example above.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

General Birdwood

In yesterday's post on the first Anzac Day, mention was made of General Birdwood.  It brought to mind an earlier post about him that is worth repeating:
When he wasn't saluted by an Australian soldier, Lieutenant General William Riddel Birdwood (above), British commander of the Gallipoli forces, asked the Digger if he knew who he was.

"Not a bloody clue," he said.

"I'm General Birdwood".

The Digger responded: "Then why don't you wear feathers in your arse like any other bird would?"

Quote: Karen Lamb

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

- Karen Lamb (1937-2009)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The first Anzac Day, 1916

 Anzac Day’s observance on 25 April commemorates the landing of the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Originally planned as a strike to knock Turkey out of the war, the Turkish forces commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later Attaturk), proved stronger and more resourceful than anticipated, with the result that the offensive quickly became a stalemate. The campaign dragged on for eight months until the Allied forces were evacuated at the end of 1915. Both sides had suffered heavy casualties, with over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers killed.

From the outset the landings at Gallipoli grabbed the attention and imagination of the public in Australia and New Zealand. When the first news of the landing reached New Zealand on 30 April, 1915, a half-day holiday was declared and impromptu services were held. The day became known as Anzac Day well before 25 April was officially designated Anzac Day in 1916. Proposals to officially designate that date as Anzac Day originated in Queensland and were quickly taken up by the other States. The Returned Services Association of New South Wale raised funds for an ANZAC Day Memorial, and the Queensland Department of Public Instruction published a text for students entitled ‘ANZAC Day’.

Dasher Wheatley, VC

Driving to and from Canberra you will notice signs along the Hume and Federal Highways declaring it to be the Remembrance Driveway, an honouring of those who have served in the Australian Defence Forces.  It was commenced in 1954 by the planting of trees in Macquarie Place, Sydney by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.   Originally conceived as the establishment of groves of native trees (including that beautiful stand of gums at Bass Hill) as symbols of hope for the future, in the 1990’s it was expanded to include Victoria Cross Rest Areas and Memorial Parks.

One such rest area name, Kevin Wheatley VC, remains familiar to me from when I first read of his being awarded the Victoria Cross.  I was  a lad at the time and I remember being  both moved and awed by the manner of his passing.  That feeling persists to this day - “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  (John 15:13).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The end of DNA evidence?

I have just finished watching Law & Order: SVU, one of my favourite cop shows. In tonight’s episode Detective Olivia Benson was framed for a bikie’s murder by her blood DNA having been placed on the murder weapon, a knife. Ultimately  it was revealed that her saliva DNA, obtained from a diner item, was used to fake blood DNA. The forensic expert advised that a technique for doing so had been developed in Israel. The final scene of the episode had the bad guy saying that any biology undergraduate could falsify DNA, the implication being that it thereby put in question all blood DNA convictions and rendered ineffective the use of DNA in future criminal trials.

At that point my wife asked “Is that true?” I said I didn’t know and googled “fabricated DNA”. To my astonishment there were quite a  number of articles on the topic, all to the above effect, some even containing lines spoken in the Law & Order episode.

Following is one article, from the New York Times science section, 17 August 2009, by Andrew Pollack.  It can be viewed at:

Quote: Bill Shankly

With the controversy over Melbourne Storm, it is appropriate to re-publish the following post.

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.”

Bill Shankly (1913-1981), former international soccer player and manager of Liverpool Football Club

Quote: Henry Miller

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

- Henry Miller (1891-1980)

Humour: Statue

A woman was in bed with her lover when she heard her husband opening the front door. "Hurry!" she said, "stand in the corner." She quickly rubbed baby oil all over him and then she dusted him with talcum powder. "Don't move until I tell you to," she whispered. "Just pretend you're a statue."

"What's this, honey?" the husband inquired as he entered the room.

"Oh, it's just a statue," she replied nonchalantly. "The Smiths bought one for their bedroom. I liked it so much, I got one for us too." No more was said about the statue, not even later that night when they went to sleep.

Around two in the morning the husband got out of bed, went to the kitchen and returned a while later with a sandwich and a glass of milk.

"Here," he said to the 'statue', "eat something. I stood like an idiot at the Smiths' for three days and nobody offered me as much as a glass of water."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vintage Ads

(Click on image to enlarge)

The ad is from 1955.  The  text reads:

Why we have the youngest customers in the business

This young man is 11 months old – and he isn’t our youngest customer by any means.

For 7-Up is so pure, so wholesome, you can even give it to babies and feel good about it. Look at the back of a 7-Up bottle. Notice that all our ingredients are listed. (That isn’t required of soft drinks , you know – but we’re proud to do it and we think that you’re pleased that we do).

By the way, Mom, when it comes to toddlers – if they like to be coaxed to drink their milk, try this: Add 7-Up to the milk in equal parts. Pouring the 7-Up gently into the milk. It’s a wholesome combination – and it works! Make 7-Up your family drink.

You like it …it likes you!

Quote: J P Morgan

“I don’t want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do; I hire them to tell me how to do what I want to do.”

- John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quote: Saadi

"To give pleasure to a single heart by a single kind act is better than a thousand head-bowings in prayer."

- Abu Muslih bin Abdallah Shirazi (1184-1283), aka as Saadi and Sa'di, major medieval Persian poet.

Photographs: Nixon Departs

Yesterday I used a photo of Richard Nixon  to illustrate my item on the Vulcan greeting.  The photo showed Nixon in one of his famous poses of hands held high with fingers outstretched in V signs.  The photo is of interest for the reasons set out below.

Richard Milhouse Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th President of the US between 1969 and 1974. Notwithstanding his achievements in domestic and international affairs, as well as economic management and civil rights advances, his Presidency will forever be equated with the Watergate scandal and his resignation from the Presidency to avoid impeachment. He remains the only President to have resigned from office.

Laws of the Universe: Imbesi's Law and Freeman's Extension

Imbesi's Law of the Conservation of Filth:

In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.

Freeman's Extension:

… but you can get everything dirty without getting anything clean.

"Live long and prosper."

“Live long and prosper.”

- Vulcan greeting as used by Mr Spock in Star Trek, delivered with the fingers formed into a V shape.

Vulcan or Jewish?

Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, has been a devout Jew his entire life. In an adlib while filming, he made the above hand sign and spoke the words “Live long and prosper”, which is in fact a benediction which rabbis give over their congregations. The rabbi's hand gesture accompanying the blessing  is representative of the Hebrew letter Shin, which begins the word Shadai, one of God's sacred names.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Movies: 100 Film Number Quotes

Think of a movie where someone speaks the number 100.  Now think of a movie where the number 99 is spoken. Then keep going all the way down to the number 1.

Finally, obtain a clip of each such spoken number and put them together back to back.

Someone with a lot of time on their hands has done it.

See the clip by clicking on the following link:

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them.


"The bigger the hat, the smaller the property."

- Australian proverb

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Whatever happened to...

My wife Kate and I have been hitting the gardening with a vengeance, catching up on the weeds and some pruning that got away from us. Rain + heat = lots of weeds. Whilst taking a break with a coffee, we watched a rosella and a honeysucker (as Elliot calls them) sucking nectar out of the red flowering gum, followed by a blue and black butterfly skimming over the blossoms. This prompted Kate to remark that you don’t see many butterflies these days, which initiated a discussion as to how things were different from when we were children.

It caused both of us to ask what’s happened to…

The Art of Art Frahm, Pinups and the 1950's

To us in the year 2010 it must seem strange that sex was not discussed in the 1950’s and that pornography was not available at the press of a keystroke. Furthermore, the concepts of equality of women, sexual discrimination and sexual harassment were as absent from daily life as the concept of political correctness.

Playboy was the leader in a field of  magazines referred to as “men’s magazines”. Women had their women’s mags, such as The Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day, featuring recipes and knitting patterns, and men had their magazines, featuring… women. The women were often depicted in erotic artworks in sexy poses and clothing, if they wore clothing at all. One of the more renowned artists is Alberto Vargas, whose work can be seen at an interesting website called The Pin-up Files at:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vintage Ads

Internet: "Up yours, Mark Easton"

Andy Warhol once said that a time would arrive where each of us would be famous for 15 minutes. In a way that has happened with the Internet. People who are quite ordinary, who are living quiet lives, unknown and having no reason to become famous, can suddenly find themselves globally famous  via emails and YouTube because of something they have done or an image in which they are featured. There is the fat Asian kid whose face was superimposed on every image photoshoppers could think of, and the other kid using a stick as a light sabre (both kids ended up in therapy).

The spread of ideas and cultural phenomena is known as memetics, the cultural items themselves being referred to as memes. Then there are "internet memes".  Wikipedia says:
The term "Internet meme" refers to a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, social networking sites and instant messaging. The term derives from the original concept of memes, although it has come to refer to a much more narrowly-defined category of cultural information.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Funniest Movie Scene #2: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Last week I gave you what I consider to be the Funniest Movie Scene #3, namely the rhino scene in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.

I now present you with Funniest Movie Scene #2: the wheelchair scene in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.


Warning: spoilers ahead. 

Quote: Samuel Johnson

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Quote: Buddha

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
- Buddha (563BCE-483BCE)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Art: Min Jae Lee

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

A day or two ago I came across some portraits by a young Korean artist by the name of Min Jae Lee. I was immediately captivated by his work and his unique, strong style.

His work can be seen at:
and at the following Google search page, where you can also click on the images to enlarge (click on the link, then click on an image, then double click on the image again to isolate it):

The post yesterday by "my fabulously talented and beautiful daughter" was in fact by her, she having hacked my blog. Nonetheless do pay a visit to her blog, especially if you're into chick things, gossip and fashion...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quote: Martin Luther King

“If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”

- Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

Defunct Occupations: Whipping Boy

From Wikipedia:

A whipping boy, in the 1600s and 1700s, was a young boy who was assigned to a young prince and was punished when the prince misbehaved or fell behind in his schooling. Whipping boys were established in the English court during the mornachies of the 15th century and 16th century. They were created because the idea of the Divine Right of Kings, which stated that kings were appointed by God, and implied that no one but the king was worthy of punishing the king’s son. Since the king was rarely around to punish his son when necessary, tutors to the young prince found it extremely difficult to enforce rules or learning.

Whipping boys were generally of high birth, and were educated with the prince since birth. Due to the fact that the prince and whipping boy grew up together since birth, they usually formed an emotional bond, especially since the prince usually did not have playmates as other children would have had. The strong bond that developed between a prince and his whipping boy dramatically increased the effectiveness of using a whipping boy as a form of punishment for a prince. The idea of the whipping boys was that seeing a friend being whipped or beaten for something that he had done wrong would be likely to ensure that the prince would not make the same mistake again.

The life of a whipping boy was usually one of sorrow and pain, but, sometimes, they were rewarded by the princes they served. King Charles 1 of England made his whipping boy, William Murray, the first Earl of Dysart in 1643 after he had been living in the palatial Ham House since 1626 under the request of King Charles I.

My Daughter has a blog now too

My fabulously talented and beautiful daughter has made her own blog which I think is much better than mine. Head over and have a look

Dont forget to subscribe so you can get a daily update of her informative posts.

Please note that she wrote this not me

Banknotes: $1/Queen Elizabeth II

It seems a bit slack that their faces are handled each day, that they are even rolled up and used to snort cocaine, but we don’t know their names or histories. I refer to the faces on the Australian banknotes.  I previously advised that there would be regular posts about the people on our decimal currency banknotes, both past and present.

Here is the first...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

People: Cliff Young (1922 - 2003)

A marathon is 42.2 kilometres in length. Runs longer than that are known as ultramarathons. In 1983 Westfield decided to sponsor a run between the two biggest Westfields, those in Sydney and Melbourne, a distance of 875 kilometres. This made it one of the world’s longest and toughest ultramarathons. People who had run between the two cities in the past had done so in 7 days at best.

The run attracted a large number of entrants, 150 of the world’s best runners. On the morning of the race as they registered at a table, an old man wearing overalls and galoshes over his work boots (because he thought it might rain) slowly walked to the table. Most people paid him little mind in that they thought he was a spectator. The man was named Cliff Young and he was aged 61, a potato farmer from Colac outside Melbourne. He had never run a race before, had never had a coach or a trainer and said that he would like to give the race a try because it fit into his farming schedule.

Abbott and Costello: Who's on first?

When the trial of Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu was about to start, someone wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald letters section pointing out that there were 3 co-accused to face trial as well but that Hu was on first.

This reminded me of an item from the email days of Bytes, which I reprint below:


Some years ago I tried to convince my kids that movies borrowed from the local video store did not need to be new releases to be good. If my memory serves me correct, as the narrator says on The Iron Chef, my kids were not convinced, at least not at that time. I believe that with added years they have come to accept that new releases can be crap and that oldies can be goodies.

Because Lou Costello (the short fat one of the two) was born on 6 March 1906 and died on 3 March 1959, ie 104 and 51 years ago almost to this date, today’s Bytes Movies is a dedication to Abbott and Costello’s most memorable routine, the classic Who’s On First sketch.

The youngsters of today will not have heard of it, much less seen it, unless they are aware that Dustin Hoffman as the autistic savant in Rain Man keeps muttering it.

It is a masterpiece of timing and I defy anyone to watch it today, sixty years later, and still not laugh.

Try it yourself…

Quote: Julian Clary

Julian Clary on Sunrise on Friday, 09.04.2010, commenting on turning 50:

"...but it does come as a surprise nevertheless when you suddenly find it, I thought I was about 35 and it's just crept up on me, like a Catholic priest in a public lavatory."

See the interview by clicking on the following link:

Lin Yu Chun

Back in the days when Whitney Houston was able to sing a song without stopping mid sentence for a drink of water, she had a mega hit with I Will Always Love You.  So did Dolly Parton, who wrote the song, but that's a horse of a different colour, no pun intended.  Whitney sang the song to her bodyguard, played by Kevin Costner, in the flick The Bodyguard (and I don't care what people say, I liked that movie.  Btw, do you think that he ended up with her or that they split permanently?) 

Fast forward to the present.  Taiwan has a show similar to Britain's Got Talent, America's Got Talent, Australia's Got Talent... etc.  The British show is the one that featured Susan Boyle, or SuBo as she is known these days, blowing everyone away with her I Dreamed a Dream.

Recently Lin Yu Chun did the same on the Taiwanese show, Super Star Avenue, by singing Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.  I will say no more about the performance, except that he is 24 years old.

Watch it by clicking on the following link: