Thursday, March 31, 2016

Quote for the Day: G K Chesterton

"It's not the world that's got so much worse but the news coverage that's got so much better. "

- G.K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, better known as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer, lay theologian, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, literary and art critic, biographer, and Christian apologist.



An item from yesterday:

TECHNICALLY, the kid was right but it probably wasn’t the response her teacher was looking for. The primary school girl was asked to unscramble three “sight words” (for those who don’t have children, that means words that don’t sound the way they are spelled) that have been jumbled, with hilarious results. Instead of writing “We have this” the child wrote . . .


A second item from, also yesterday:

THE parents of a primary school in the United Kingdom didn’t see this Easter message coming. A text sent to parents to remind them about an Easter church service over the weekend made one embarrassing mistake which changed the entire context of the message. A photograph was posted on Twitter of the message . . . 


An email from Byter David B, who hails from Derbyshire, commenting on yesterday’s quote for the day:

Your quote from John MacDonald about integrity reminded me of an old Yorkshire saying: "There's nowt wrong with right folk" (nowt is a dialect word for nothing). It puzzled me as a child but it actually neatly sums up what John MacD was saying "If see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will."

Thanks, David.

David’s item about Yorkshire-speak reminds me of a story I heard many years ago.

The Australian Rugby League team was in England for a Test series and, as is usual, played preliminary matches against local teams in the Northern counties.

An Australian supporter, wanting to go to the toilet, put his hat on his seat to reserve it. When he got back there was a big Yorkshire man sitting on his hat and eating fish and chips.

“Hey,” said the Aussie, “that’s my seat, I had my hat there.”

Replied the Yorkshire man “Booms keep seats oop ‘ere, not ‘ats.”

I also received an email from the man who keeps me correct by checking each item I post and then notifying me if I have said anything incorrect – Byter Martin S.

Martin’s words to me this time were sparse but accurate:

Rose Kennedy - 1925. I think not 

July 22, 1890 – January 22, 1995

This was in reference to Rose Kennedy’s Quote for the Day, where I had written:

It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.

- Rose Kennedy (1890 - 1925)

Martin is correct, mea culpa.

Rose Kennedy died on 22 January 1995 at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port from complications from pneumonia at the age of 104, having outlived her husband by a quarter of a century. She was survived by five children, 26 grandchildren, and 42 great-grandchildren.

Joseph Kennedy and Rose Kennedy, wedding.

A question came up in the weekly Trivia comp last night: In what decade of the 20th century were barcodes developed?

The answer was the 1940’s, in 1949 to be precise, which I found hard to visualise in that I wasn’t aware that scanners existed then. When I asked about the Triviamaster, Graham, suggested that I look it up and that no doubt it would appear in Bytes.

Following are the facts:
  • Barcodes were developed by Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland as a result of the president of a local food chain requesting research to develop a system to automatically read product information during checkout.
  • Woodland’s first idea was to use patterns of ink that would glow under ultraviolet light, and the two men built a device to test the concept. It worked, but they encountered problems ranging from ink instability to printing costs. Nonetheless, Woodland was convinced he had a workable idea. 
  • Woodland remained working on it and came up with the linear bar code, using elements from two established technologies: movie soundtracks and Morse code – Morse Code by turning the dots and dashes downwards into lines and the movie sound system to read the lines.
  • As a result of further research he replaced the wide and narrow lines with concentric circles, so that they could be scanned from any direction. This became known as the bull's-eye code.
  • Silver and Woodland filed for a patent in 1949.
  • In 1952 they built an actual bar code reader, as large as a desk.
  • Silver died in 1962 before he saw the success of the system he had helped develop.
  • In 1974, the first product with a bar code was scanned at a check-out counter. It was a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

Norman Joseph Woodland (left) and Bernard Silver

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Quote for the Day: John D MacDonald

"Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will."

-  John D. MacDonald (1916 – 1986)

John Dann MacDonald was an American writer of novels and short stories, known for his thrillers. Kingsley Amis said of MacDonald that he "is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only MacDonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human-heart chap, so guess who wears the top-grade laurels."

Human or Monster?

At a time when it seems impossible not to hear of a new terrorist act or atrocity when watching the nightly evening news, the following seems particularly apt. It came to my attention a few days ago and it is the commentary which accompanies the photo which is of interest. Consider too that the points made relate not only to mass atrocities, they apply equally to individual acts - the child molester, the wife basher and the like can't be picked out in a crowd or walking down the street, they look just like everyone else . . .

(Caution: the item contains some risque language)

rookieofthe day:
Do you understand how scary this picture is

god forbid a real person do real person things he wasnt just a robot who killed people jesus fucking Christ

uh yeah its not like he killed and tortured six million jews or anything

Hold on just a tick. Listen, I’m Jewish, so I’m perfectly capable of understanding that what he did was just…..well, there are no words for it. But let’s not round it up to simply Jews that got killed. It was six million people that died in those camps, not just Jews. Did you know that homosexuals were sent there, too? Yeah, I’m sure you did. They had to wear special little symbols on their clothes. Do you know what it was? It was a pink triangle.

It was six million PEOPLE. 

But you let that roll over in your mind for a while and you are going to forever see this man as a monster, but that’s not what he was. He was someone who thought he was truly doing something right for his nation, no matter how shitty he was doing it. Believe me when I say that I don’t like him. I really don’t. My grandfather’s brothers died in those camps, and my grandfather escaped to Spain, then to Mexico. He was lucky.

This is not a monster holding hands with a little girl.

This is Adolf Hitler, a man, holding hands with a little girl. 

Yeah. It’s fucking scary. It really is. Do you know why?

It’s because you’re seeing that he wasn’t, in fact, a monster. You’re seeing in this picture that he was a man. He was a man, and that’s really the saddest part of it all.

As a History major who specialises in the history of early modern Europe, I’ve studied a lot of dictators in detail, not just Hitler. The number one mistake anyone could ever make in history is making the assumption that only inhuman monsters are capable of doing terrible things. 

Stop dehumanising Hitler just so you can reassure yourself that “normal” humans aren’t capable of doing bad things. Hitler liked children and dogs, he was a vegetarian and he cried like a little boy when his mother died. I’m not saying he was a good, innocent person, but when you stop attributing human characteristics to historical figures like Hitler, it’s how you overlook people just like him in real life, and it’s how people like him end up back in power.

That’s the real truth: Human Beings are scarier than any ‘monsters’ out there because we’re all born blank slates and BECOME our legacy.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quote for the Day: Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould

A slightly different format today in the Quote for the Day to enable me to tell the following story about the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), an Anglican priest who, although also a scholar, student of antiquity and biographer of saints, is today best remembered as the writer of the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”.

Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould

Grace Taylor

When Baring-Gould was 34, he met and married Grace Taylor, a sixteen year old uneducated mill girl, after a courtship during which he sent her away to be educated before tying the knot. They went on to live very happily together and produce fifteen children.

At a children’s party one evening a child bumped into his leg and, upon picking her up, he asked “And whose little girl are you?”, at which the child burst into tears and said “I’m yours Daddy!”

Street Art

Welcome back to work, most readers.

Having posted some wordy items over the last few days, here are some pics that require only viewing (and perhaps some thought). . .


Monday, March 28, 2016

Quote for the Day

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

- Og Mandino (1923 – 1996)

Augustine "Og" Mandino was an American author. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages. He was the president of Success Unlimited magazine until 1976 and is an inductee of the National Speakers Association's Hall of Fame.

As a subscriber to the Smithsonian SmartNews bulletin, I receive regular email updates on matters of interest, including history, research, science and the like. It occurs to me that readers of Bytes might enjoy a summary version of those items with the opportunity to follow up on any of them by clicking on the links provided. As I receive updates from time to time I will post a summary, here is the first.


Did Shakespeare lose his head?

William Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, just short of 400 years ago. His remains are interred under the floor at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Church having consistently refused access to the grave. Recently it allowed researchers to study the graves of Shakespeare and his family, including his wife Anne Hathaway, by way of scans. It contains to refuse permission for the grave to be opened.

The scans do not reveal metal within Shakespeare’s grave, suggesting that he was buried in a shroud. The scans, which can’t identify bone, also reveal that the head of his grave is disturbed, appearing as though the grave was excavated and then repaired with loose material. This is consistent with a story which appeared in Argosy magazine in 1879 that a doctor named Frank Chambers commissioned grave robbers to break into the church, lift the burial slab, and steal Shakespeare’s skull in 1794. Until now the story had been dismissed as rumour.

Interesting fact:

Shakespeare’s headstone bears the words:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.


Winners of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C:

Held every three years, the competition was begun by a gift from a former volunteer and benefactor Virginia Outwin Boochever, who died in 2005. It has grown in popularity each time, with 2,500 entries submitted this year in a variety of media.

Miss Everything (Unsurpassed Deliverance) by Amy Sherald
“…a clear-eyed African-American young woman with a large red flower on her hat, whose white gloves hold a comically oversized coffee cup, seemingly rising above social constructs with pure confidence.”

Caja De Memoria Viva II: Constancia Clemente de Colon by Adrian “Viajero” Roman.
“It shows the four sides of the woman’s care-worn face on a box, while inside, photographs, utensils and other items reflecting her native Puerto Rico are hung, and her voice can be heard in a recording as well.”

Michael #147973, by Rick Ashley
“ . . . photograph of his brother-in-law, who has Down syndrome and a Superman costume” 


How malaria gave us mauve:

18 year old English chemistry student William Perkin was assigned a task by his boss, August Hoffman, in 1856: investigate whether synthetic quinine could be extracted from waste products from coal tar. The need for quinine was pressing. The British Empire was expanding into tropical areas with a resultant increase in malaria. The natural source of quinine was the cinchona tree, an expensive process. Coal fuelled the Industrial Revolution, so that the coal tar was plentiful. Could a synthetic quinine be produced from it?

Perkins tried various processes, his last with a by product called aniline. All were unsuccessful and the aniline left only a sludge in the test tube. That sludge turned the test tube red and Perkin’s clothing purple, a discolouration that wouldn’t wash out. Perkin had not synthesised quinine but he had created the world’s first synthetic dye. Until then natural dyes had been made from animals and plants. Perkin’s discovery led to the development of dyes of other colours, revolutionising the worlds of fashion and fabrics world wide.

Interesting fact:

Quinine was not synthesised until 1944.



If you drive the right speed, this musical highway will play you a song

A one-quarter mile section of Route 66 in New Mexico has ripple strips configured to play “America the Beautiful” when a vehicle drives over them, but it only works if vehicles are driven at exactly 45mph. The purpose is twofold: to encourage drivers to stay within the speed limit and to bring a little excitement to an otherwise monotonous highway.

It works by having the ripple strips spaced at varying intervals so as to create different pitched sounds. 
“All of the sounds and music notes that we hear in day-to-day life are just vibrations through the air. For instance, anything that vibrates 330 times in one second will produce an E note—a guitar string, a tuning fork or even a tire. To produce an E note with a car, we had to space the rumble strips such that if driven at 45 mph for one second, the car would hit 330 strips. A bit of math tells us this is 2.4 inches between each rumble strip. After that, it’s a case of breaking down the music into exact chunks of time and applying the same technique to each space depending on what note is needed and for how long.” 
- Matt Kennicott, director of communications for New Mexico Department of Transportation
“The width of the tires, what they’re made out of and the ambient noises coming from under the car’s carriage can change the way the song sounds. The song sounds different in every single vehicle.” 
- Frank Sanchez, operations manager for San Bar Construction Corp.

Interesting fact:

There is also a rhythmic road in Denmark, where it is called the “Asphaltophone”, and in Japan (“Melody Road”)


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Quote for the Day

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

- Peter Drucker (1909 -2005)

Peter Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation. He has been described as "the founder of modern management".

Bonus quote:

Origins: Pizza/Pizza Hut


Origin of pizza as a word:
The word pizza is Italian for pie, but there is no agreement amongst etymologists as to how the word originated and travelled to Italy. Some theories are that the word came from:
  • the Latin pix meaning “pitch”;
  • the Latin pinsere meaning pound, stamp;
  • the medieval Greek word pitta, meaning cake, pie; or
  • from the German bizzo meaning “bite.”

The word pizza was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy.

Origin of pizza as a food:

Foods similar to pizza have been made since the neolithic age, which covers the period 10,200 – 2,000 BC. Many cultures have flavoured flat breads by adding toppings such as herbs, onions and garlic.

The concept of the modern pizza – a pie or flat bread covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella – is said to have originated in 1889 when baker Raffaele Esposito (whose restaurant in Naples was called the Pizzeria di Pietro) made a patriotic pie topped with mozzarella (white), basil (green), and tomatoes (red), ingredients the colours of the Italian flag. The purpose of the creation was to honour the visiting Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Supposedly the Queen enjoyed the pie, so that it became known as a Margherita.

Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century and was very popular among large Italian populations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Saint Louis. In the late 19th century, pizza was introduced by peddlers who walked up and down the streets with a metal washtub of pizzas on their heads, selling their pizzas at two cents a slice. It was not long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian American communities. Pizza did not truly not catch on stateside until World War II. Stationed in Italy, many American and European soldiers tasted pizza, and brought an appetite for this dish home with them.

In 1990 the world's largest pizza was made in South Africa at the Norwood supermarket, the pizza weighed 12.9 tons.

  • Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise , known for pizza and side dishes. It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc, the world's largest restaurant company. 
  • In 2015, the company had more than 6,000 Pizza Hut restaurants in the United States, and 5,139 store locations in 94 other countries and territories worldwide. Pizza Hut has a total of 11,139 branches worldwide.
  • Pizza Hut was founded in June 1958 by two Wichita State University students, Dan and and Frank Carney, as a single location in Wichita, Kansas. 

Dan and Frank Carney

Borrowing $600 from their mother, they opened a pizza restaurant catering students, at the request of a local real estate agent, who had an unrented building and convinced them that pizza would be a promising business. Although they knew little about both pizza and business-making, they learned quickly and the business started to grow. 

The original Pizza Hut building, opened on June 15, 1958 at the corner of Kellogg and Bluff by brothers Frank and Dan Carney, both students at Wichita State University. This photo is from 2004, after the building had been moved to the campus.

  • The first franchise opened in Topeka, Kansas in 1959. 
  • The Pizza Hut in Aggieville, Kansas was the first Pizza Hut to have delivery, a concept unheard of before. 
  • By 1977, Pizza Hut reached 4,000 outlets. 
  • In 1977, brothers decided to sell the business to PepsiCo for over USD 300 million and ventured into other businesses. Frank remained the president and board member of Pizza Hut until 1980.