Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Readers' Comments


Mea culpa.  I screwed up:

From Arthur:

Hi Otto

Just a comment I thought our Spring starts on the 1st September not the 1st August please check thanks

From Kerrie:

Hi Otto,

Just a small correction - Wattle Day was moved to 1st September a few years ago. Each state had a different day so the Commonwealth declared 1st September as Wattle Day (1st day of spring).

From me:

In 1992, 1 September was formally declared 'National Wattle Day' by the Minister for the Environment, Mrs Ros Kelly at a ceremony at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Robyn's Art

Yesterday I mentioned the artworks of Byter Robyn 
Robyn is not only a lawyer, she is also an artist and I absolutely love her work.  It has an honesty, whimsy, vibrancy and affection for the subjects that is refreshing.  Her style reminds me of the works of the late Lucian Freud, whose portrait of David Hockney was posted on Monday. 
Here are some of Robyn’s works:

Reader Comments

Some recent reader emails and responses:


From Byter Morris, in response to the pic last week showing the graffiti on the side of the house:

What about “I like Tabbouleh but hate Hommos!!!” somewhere in Newtown.


Morris is referring to a well known bit of 1980’s graffiti that was on the wall of the car park at the corner of Parramatta Road and Missenden Road in Camperdown, Sydney.  That car park now comprises residential units; before it became a carpark it was a derelict warehouse for a number of years.

In the 80’s, as the AIDS epidemic became known, there were proposals that all doctors and hospitals compulsorily report any persons with HIV.  This prompted a large graffiti:

Disease, not

Note that the initials letters spell AIDS when read downwards.

Someone then came along and painted an arrow on the wall pointing to the above graffiti, with the words, in capitals, “GOD HATES HOMOS”.

To this was added a further graffiti comment” “But does he like tabouleh?”

Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photograph of it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quote: David Hockney

Portrait of David Hockney, by Lucian Freud 

“Once you can manipulate pictures on a computer you can’t believe them any more.  There will be no more Cartier-Bressons.” 

-          David Hockney (1937 - )
on the death of photography, interview The Observor, 1999 

Hockney is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer, who was an important contributor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. He is considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century. 

It is Hockney’s belief that painting can do things photography can't, that although everyone used to assume photographs were "true", the digital age has made such a conception of photography obsolete in that people can now change images in any way they want.  Correspondingly, painting can express profound insights denied photography.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Law, Technology and Jail Cells


“The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.”

-          Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), US detective fiction writer

In October 2011 the English Court of Appeal dealt with appeals by two men involved in the London riots, which bring to mind issues raised by the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney, New South Wales. 

Tennis Grunts


Does anyone else get seriously pissed off at having to listen to women tennis players grunting when you watch the tennis? 

Today's Australian Open Women's Final will be between Sharapova and Azarenko, the two loudest grunters in the game.  Watching a game with either of them is annoying, what will it be like with both?

For those not familiar wiuth the grunting, click on the following links:



My reason in mentioning it is to quote Peter Ustinov, who was once asked what he thought of Monica Seles's grunting.

Seles registered 93.2 decibels on the "gruntometer", compared with 101.2 decibels of Sharapova, the loudest in tennis today.

Ustinov's comment:  "Monica Seles: I'd hate to be next door to her on her wedding night."

Maria Sharapova

Victoria Azarenko

Monica Seles

Peter Ustinov

Friday, January 27, 2012

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Early Years and Beyond, Part 1

Some time ago I received an email from  Byter Tobye after an earlier post which mentioned the incredible talents of  Leonardo Da Vinci: 

Otto, you're not going to leave us here, are you? How did Leonardo get educated? Did his wealthy father acknowledge and succour him? He was such a success, he must have had some help!
Please sir...can we have some more?
Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, the bio which follows is largely taken from Wikipedia. 

For those who anticipate it to be boring, or for those who do read it and find it boring, let me give the item a Hollywood style opening . . .

Born of an affair between a wealthy noble and a peasant girl, he rose to become the greatest genius who ever lived, yet a man who had to hide his love...


Childhood, 1452–1466

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 (Old Style), "at the third hour of the night" in the Tuscan hill town of Vinci, in the lower valley of the Arno River in the territory of the Medici-ruled Republic of Florence.  He was the out-of-wedlock son of the wealthy Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a Florentine legal notary, and Caterina, a peasant.  Leonardo had no surname in the modern sense, “da Vinci” simply meaning “of Vinci”: his full birth name was "Lionardo di ser Piero da Vinci", meaning "Leonardo, (son) of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci". The inclusion of the title "ser" indicated that Leonardo's father was a gentleman.
Little is known about Leonardo's early life. He spent his first five years in the hamlet of Anchiano in the home of his mother, then from 1457 he lived in the household of his father, grandparents and uncle, Francesco, in the small town of Vinci. His father had married a sixteen-year-old girl named Albiera, who loved Leonardo but died young. When Leonardo was sixteen his father married again, to twenty-year-old Francesca Lanfredini. It was not until his third and fourth marriages that Ser Piero produced legitimate heirs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reader Comments


The Lone Ranger post is another example of not being able to predict what people find of interest.  I had a number of emails about the Lone Ranger, such as Arthur’s: “You are making me feel old.”  Others mentioned recalling the show. 

I also received an email from Byter Charles: 
Dave Parker is a friend of mine from California, and he was the voice of the announcer " From out of the past ...etc, etc.." He is a wonderful guy and still does an annual show at our club in San Francisco, The Family, and the show is called Radio Days.   I don't think that his correction is worth putting into an additional Byte notice, but i wanted you to know that your Bytes are getting international attention!
Thanks Charles.
As a further homage to the Lone Ranger, Dave Parker et al and those thrilling days of yesteryear, today’s Funny Friday comprises Lone Ranger humour.

Funny Friday


The classic Lone Ranger joke is that which was posted by an anonymous reader in response to the original post.  That person wrote: 

There is an old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto which (in abbreviated form) goes something like ...

LR and T are chased by a band of renegade Indians. Eventually they are surrounded and the LR says to T "looks like we have had it now old friend", and T responds "what you mean WE whiteman".

The original final line to the joke that I recall was “What do you mean ‘we’, paleface?” 

I have also come across another version, probably updated to reflect current languag and attitudes, which uses as the final line “What’s this ‘we’ shit, white man?”  A variation uses the word “whitey” instead of “white man”. 

Australia Day

On this Australia Day 2012 it is of interest to have a look at Australia’s unofficial flag, the Boxing Kangaroo flag . . .

Kangaroos defend against an attacker by holding an attacker with their smaller front legs whilst using the larger, stronger hind legs to slash, disembowel and kick.  This gives an appearance of boxing with the forelegs.

By the late 19th century outback travelling shows often featured kangaroos wearinmg boxing gloves fighting against men.  Boxing kangaroos were also featured in various films, further cementing the concept in the public mind of kangaroos boxing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quote: Helen Hayes


"If you rest, you rust." 

-       Helen Hayes (c age 60) 

Helen Hayes Brown (1900 – 1993) was an American actress whose career spanned almost 70 years and who, in later years , was nicknamed the  "First Lady of the American Theatre". She is one of twelve people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar (1931, The Sin of Madelon Claudet,  the story of a wrongly imprisoned woman who turns to theft and prostitution in order to support her son) and a Tony Award. She has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour, awarded in 1986.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reader Comment:

From Byter Brett:

There are those who believe that the names two used to address each other are affectionate insults:  Kemo sabe as a mispronunciation of the Spanish Quien No Sabe, "He who does not know", or in modern parlance, "Clueless".  Which would go along with Spanish Tonto = Crazy.  So here are two guys, wandering the old American West, calling each other Crazy and Clueless, when neither is either.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toes and Ass


Be careful whose toes you step on today, they might be attached to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.

-          Author unknown

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill today because they pissed me off. And also, help me to be careful of the toes I step on today as they may be connected to the ass that I may have to kiss tomorrow. Help me to always give 100% at work - 12% on Monday, 23% on Tuesday, 40% on Wednesday, 20% on Thursday, 5% on Friday. And help me to remember - When I'm having a really bad day, and it seems that people are trying to piss me off, that it takes 42 muscles to frown and only 4 to extend my middle finger and tell them to bite me! Amen.
-          A Prayer for the Stressed, Author Unknown

More Humour in Court


Michael Kirby (1939 - ) has been a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, the New South Wales Court of Appeal and, between 1996 and 2009, a judge of the High Court of Australia.  His judicial stance was often at odds with the majority of the High Court, he has often adopted an activist judicial role and has been a spokesperson for gay equality. 

The following extracts are from two of Justice Kirby's High Court cases:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Lone Ranger


A couple of days ago I posted some old pics and used the expression “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.”  

Younger readers will not recognise it.  Older readers will remember it as part of the opening of each episodes of the Lone Ranger, in its day as well known as the opening of MASH.

Here are some trivia items for those who have never heard of the Lone Ranger and for those at the other end of the scale, like me, who remember watching it on the TV as kids, albeit as reruns. 

Hi Yo Silver, away. . .

(Bear in mind that life was simpler then.  No one seemed to question that a a guy would travel the American Wild West wearing a jumpsuit and a mask, riding a big white horse like Gandalf, with an Indian as a partner and firing silver bullets.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Funny Friday - The Bricks and the Barrel


For the last two days I have had to post a risqué content caution.  Today makes it three days.  I am not on a risqué kick, it just happened like that. 

For Funny Friday I was going to post some unsafe work practices pics which had been sent to me in an email. 

That brought to mind the story referred to most commonly as The Barrel and the Bricks.  It can be found in may versions – English, American, Irish – but in my opinion the best remains Italian, the way in which it was sent to me many many years ago by Byter Phil.  It was sent to me so long ago that it was sent by fax, there were no computers in offices, and I still have the fax today, faded and  dog eared.  Hey Phil, see if you remember the story, below. 

It’s quite non PC.  It’s dated.  It’s funny.

I will post the work pics next week, for today enjoy the story of the brick laden barrel . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Four Letter Words, Euphemisms and Poetry

Caution, the following item contains strong language.

In the opening words of the Matt Taylor song, I remember when I was young . . .

How Gordon Chater was suspended from Sydney television for saying “bum” in the Mavis Bramston Show. How Graham Kennedy was banned from doing further live television because he imitated a crow call in 1975: “Faaaark! Faaaaark!”  It was the first time the word had been uttered on Australian TV.

Today the attitude to swear words is much more relaxed, as a quick look at some of the foreign dramas and English text on SBS will show. The focus is now less on swear words and more on intolerance. The f word and the c word are now of less concern than, for instance, the n word.

Which raises another interesting aspect.

Someone once told me that swear words in western society are based on sex, whereas in Scandanavian countries they are based on religion. I have read that this is correct, so the question arises: Does the fact that western swearing refers to bodily parts and bodily functions have an implied assumption or a basis that sex is considered profane or dirty? There may be a thesis there.

I don’t want to raise the ire of Byter Steve, who said to me in an email this week “I sometimes find the Bytes a little too long, so I save them up if I am busy, and there are days when I just don’t get to them at all. I think I said once before, I like quickies during the week, and long slow ones at the weekend. . .“ 

(The spirit of Mrs Slocombe lives in Steve).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mrs Slocombe, Cats and Pussies

Caution: risque subject matter follows...

I was driving to work t’other day when an ad came on the radio for Are You Being Served, the classic Brit sitcom that aired between 1972 and 1985.  For those unfamiliar with it, the show was set in a department store and featured a diverse range of characters, some that would not be considered PC today.  The characters included Mrs Slocombe, the head of the ladies department; Mr Humphries, a mincing effeminate, camp chap and Captain Peacock, the manager who never actually saw service.  A chief characteristic of the show was its sexual innuendo and double entendres, which would also be non-PC today.  Mrs Slocombe was renowned for changing her hair colour and her devotion to her cat, which she always referred to as her “pussy”.  That is what caught my attention to the car radio ad:  Mrs Slocombe calling out “Has anyone seen my pussy?”  See another example at:

Which started me thinking:  Why is the female genitalia referred to by that word?  What is there in common with a feline?

Old Photographs


Time for some more old Sydney pics. . . 

Does anyone else have a fascination for old photographs, to look back at moments frozen in time and realise hwo much things have changed, to wonder what they will look like in the future?  Or to see old photos of people and wonder who they were, what became of them, whether they had happy lives or sad... I know Byter Carla does because she has mentioned to me that the vintage pics are some of her favourite items.

It’s even more fascinating when the photographs are of scenes that we know well. 

Because the photographs are all local, an apology to overseas subscribers who will not know the locales depicted.  They are quite well known areas in Sydney for the locals.  I will do an overseas selection in the near future.

Click on the photographs to enlarge.  Although not all will increase in size, some of the ones below will enlarge to a significant extent and are worth looking at in greater detail.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

King Street, Sydney, c 1890
Although the caption endorsed on the left of the pic refers to the District Court in King Street, Sydney, the building on the left with the arches is actually the old Supreme Court building. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012