Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thoughts for the Day

Three word quotes . . .

Miscellany and Trivia


Caution: slightly risque items included.

Those dam goats: 

This is the Cingino dam in the Italian Alps. Nothing remarkable, I hear you say, nice dam, but there are other dams more impressive. The difference is that those other dams don’t have Alpine Ibex goats wandering across the face of the near-vertical dam. Those specks you see on the face of the dam in the photograph above are mountain goats. They walk on the near vertical walls to lick the stones for their salts and to eat the lichens growing in the joins. 

Some pics: 



In the earliest times Greek gods were worshiped by way of piles of stones by the sides of roads, especially at their crossings. The custom was that each passer-by would throw a stone onto the heap or anoint it with oil. Later these piles of stones gave way to 4 sided columns. The number 4 was sacred to the god Hermes, a phallic god associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders. He later also became the protector of merchants and travellers. These columns became known as herma, probably from the 4 sides. Later still, the columns became adorned with heads of gods at the top, not just of Hermes but also of other gods, and male genitalia on the column itself at the appropriate height. The statues were thought to ward off harm or evil and were placed at crossings, country borders and boundaries as protection, in front of temples, near to tombs, in the gymnasia, palaestrae, libraries, porticoes, and public places, at the corners of streets, on high roads as sign-posts, with distances inscribed upon them. 

Herma of Demosthenes from the Athenian Agora, work by Polyeuktos, c. 280 BC 

Herma with the head of Herakles (Hermherakles). Museum of Ancient Messene, Greece. 

See more pics at:


In “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” Darth Vader and the Death Star destroy Princess Leia’s adopted planet Alderaan. In early Star wars scripts, Alderaan was home to a Sith prison where Princess Leia was held. To cut the expense of filming in Alderaan, George Lucas cut those scenes and blew up the planet instead. 

One writer in the Washington Post has argued that in reality Alderaan was a legitimate military target as being a major and strategic rebel base, its destruction being the equivalent of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see: 

Nonetheless I have always had a problem with Darth Vader being regarded as a good guy at the end of Star wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi . . . 

. . . conveniently forgetting Obi Wan Kenobi’s words aboard the Millenium Falcon when Alderaan was destroyed: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." 

Susan’s party: 

Back in 2012, Susan Boyle’s recording company was anxious to capitalise on her fame as the surprise winner of 2009’s Britain’s Got Talent. A simple, middle aged unsophisticated Scottish lady who lived on her own and sang in her church choir, the 2012 album was called “Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage”. 

The promoters had a great idea: as a PR stunt, the album was released with a hashtag site #susanalbumparty, inviting people to Susan’s Album Party. However, that is not how most people read it, seeing it instead as an invitation to Su’s Anal Bum Party. 

Red faces all round.


Immortal Bridge, China: 

Mount Tai in the Shandon Province, China has had cultural and religious significance for thousands of years. It is one of the five sacred mountains of China and is associated with the dawn, birth and renaissance. Higher up on the mountain is The Immortal Bridge, composed of three huge rocks and several smaller ones. Below it is a valley and to the south is a seemingly bottomless abyss. No one knows quite when these enormous rocks fell in to their current place but it is quite likely they have been like this since the last ice age . . . 


Koroit Opal: 

The Koroit opal field is an opal mining area in Paroo Shire in South West Queensland, Australia.   The opal field is known for the very distinctive type of boulder opal that is found in its mines. In Queensland boulder opal is found within a 300 km wide belt of sedimentary rocks in the Winton Formation. Here opal is found as a kernel in small concretions. Koroit opals are famous for their deep, strong ironstone with stunning patterns and inclusions of colour. They are also generally larger-sized opals and are considered the best value for money opal available. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter 2018

A happy Easter to you all, whatever your faith and beliefs, may the following days be safe and joyous for you and those close to you.

- Otto

Thought for the Day

Funny Friday

Something different for today’s Funny Friday. A lengthy background account to start but it is a 4 day Easter holiday so hopefully you will have some reading time. 

Unless you have been marooned on a desert island for the last week without any contact with the outside world and your only companion has been a volleyball named Wilson, you will be aware of the cricket ball tampering controversy. 

For overseas readers who may not be aware, and for those who came in late: 
  • Australia is playing South Africa in cricket at Cape Town. 
  • Australia has not been doing well and there has been continual hostile barracking against Australia from the South African supporters, some of it personal and nasty. 
  • Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft was detected by the broadcasting cameras of ball tampering. It showed him roughing up the ball using a small piece of sandpaper which he then tried to conceal in his underpants. Challenged by the umpires, he denied the allegation and produced his sunglasses pouch to show what he said he had in his pants. 

  • Captain Steve Smith later admitted that the tampering was planned by an unnamed "leadership group" during the lunch break. The deliberate cheating was widely condemned by past and present players, commentators and even by the Oz Prime Minister. Smith, Vice Captain David Warner and Bancroft have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute, suspended, and sent home. Smith and Warner were banned from the Australian cricket team for twelve months while Bancroft received a nine months ban. 
  • Ball tampering is not a new phenomenon, it has been going on for many years, including in 2016 when the South African skipper Faf du Plessis tampered with the condition of the ball by applying saliva onto the ball from a mint or a lolly. 
  • A summary of ball tampering incidents can be read at: 
  • The purpose of ball tampering, which is either by shining up one side of the ball or roughing up the other side, is to alter the aerodynamics of the ball to assist in swing bowling, the deviation sideways as the ball moves through the air towards or away from the batsman. The repeated shining and roughing by fielders will cause a pronounced aerodynamic effect. 

  • Under the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and may have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. These are usually taken to include rubbing the ball on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object, or tampering with the seam of the ball. 
So what does all this have to do with Funny Friday? 

The internet has responded to this in some funny ways, as posted below. 

I accept suggestions that Smith, based on what has happened in past ball tampering incidents. did not think that the Bancroft ball tampering scandal would be as big a deal as it became.  I also accept that it is a sad result for the players concerned, even if “You does the crime, you does the time” applies. Their careers and good names are in tatters. 

All of the above is against the background of a game that has always been regarded as a sport of the elite, of honesty and integrity. One only has to think of the phrase “That’s not cricket, old boy” as denoting dishonesty or questionable tactics. 

We were taught Sir Henry Newbolt’s poem Vitai Lampada (the title is taken from a quotation by Lucretius and means "the torch of life"): 

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night— 
Ten to make and the match to win— 
A bumping pitch and a blinding light, 
An hour to play and the last man in. 
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat, 
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame, 
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote 
'Play up! play up! and play the game! ' 

The sand of the desert is sodden red,— 
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; — 
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead, 
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. 
The river of death has brimmed his banks, 
And England's far, and Honour a name, 
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks: 
'Play up! play up! and play the game! ' 

This is the word that year by year, 
While in her place the school is set, 
Every one of her sons must hear, 
And none that hears it dare forget. 
This they all with a joyful mind 
Bear through life like a torch in flame, 
And falling fling to the host behind— 
'Play up! play up! and play the game! 

Here are some of the responses to playing up but not playing the game . . .  

Quinton de Kock is the South African wicketkeeper and batsman who was involved in the stairwell altercation with David Warner.

Australian bowler Natahan Lyon laughs when a young South African fan asks him to autograph a s heet of sandpaper.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thought for the Day

Neke Carson and Andy Warhol, 1972

If this was the opening of a Twilight Zone episode, Rod Serling would be saying something like. 

Meet Andy Warhol. 

One of the originators of the art movement known as pop art, he is also known for his lifestyle and for the phrase that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Warhol is about to have his portrait painted by another artist. Neke Carson: 

But this is no ordinary portrait and Carson is no ordinary artist, because this painting is to be carried out in . . . the Twilight Zone. 

Carson, in the 1970s, had developed a new artistic technique which, he said, separated hand and eye coordination. He did this by painting with the brush held in his behind, the technique being called “rectal realism” by him. 
I was working on a new form of portraiture, Rectal Realism.  
This was the era of body art, and it was sort of a parody of that. I watched a lot of kung fu movies, and in one, the guy gets so angry, he thrusts his hand into a wall and pulls out the sword. I wanted to do something like that with a pen or pencil, and finally my wife at the time said, "Why don't you just stick it up your ass and be done with it?" And I thought, you have a point there. My first idea was an El Marko, but it was way too big and had a big stopper at the end. So I tried it out with a paintbrush and Pentels. I'd dip one end into rubber latex so you could kind of grip them in a way.  
I had to do it upside down and backwards, lifting my crotch. My idea was, your hand is way too sophisticated to make art. This had much less baggage, to get this eye-ass coordination going. You had to rewire your brain, go from your eyes to your butt instead of your arms. I don't know if it helped that I was dyslexic.
Here is a rectal realist painting by Carson of Fred Flintsone: 

Carson's story of how the Warhol portrait came about: 

The creative process: 

The finished work:

According to Carson, Warhol said "Oh, it looks great."