Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quote for the day

"We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralisation

- Gauis Petronius Arbiter (7 – 66 AD) 

Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. He is generally believed to be the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel believed to have been written during the Neronian era.

Secrets of the Castle

Kate and I have just finished watching Series 1 of the above marvellous BBC documentary. It aired in Great Britain in November and December 2014, I am unaware as to whether there is to be a Series 2. 

The castle referred to is Guedelon Castle in Burgundy, France, and it is being built as an archaeological project over 25 years using only techniques, tools and materials from the 13th century. The television series stars archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold, and historian Ruth Goodman. The programs show what kind of skills and crafts were needed to build a castle in the 1200’s – roughly the year 1246… around tea-time, as it says on the BBC website.  The same age that was burning witches at the stake was also doing amazing things in construction. 

The series points out that castles were introduced to Britain from France by the Norman Conquest, the French being the gun castle builders at the time, hence the French connection.

It left Kate and I wanting to see more.

It emphasises that anything that was needed or wanted had to be made, there was no convenient Bunnings nearby in the 13th century. Want a piece of rope? A box? Some bowls or plates? See the ropemaker, the carpenter, the potter. Want to lift heavy objects great heights? Make scaffolding that rises as the towers rise and make a wooden crane powered by people walking in large treadwheels. Masons, blacksmiths, artists, quarrymen, cooks . . . all interacting. I could go on but I suggest you watch it and be fascinated. 

Some pics:

Some pics of what Guedelon Castle will look like when finished, scheduled for 2023:

A model from the series, used at the time to demonstrate to the lord what he was getting and designed to allow modification - note that the towers etc are made of movable pieces.  13th century CAD precursor.

C'est magnifique!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quote for the day

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”

- Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the twenty-sixth President of the United States, and a leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Movement. He became the youngest President in United States history at the age of 42. He served in many roles including Governor of New York, historian, naturalist, explorer, author, and soldier.

Monday Miscellany: Odds, Ends and Personals

Hello Monday.

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An email from Leo in response to the Omer Washington post “I’ve learned”:

Wonderful words Otto.

I fail miserably on a lot of them.

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From Tobye in response to the repost “How to create bureaucracy”:

May be an oldie but it’s a goodie-and sadly all too true.

Thanks, and have a great weekend! 

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From Arthur in response to the same repost, “How to create bureaucracy”:

Hi Otto

I remember some time ago, and I am sure you would know about it as well, that in the States a psychologist did an experiment with students, having some of them become criminals and some to be the guards. It got so bad with the guards belting the ones that were supposed to be criminals that the professor had to stop them. The monkeys reminded me of that. Have a good weekend Yiaosu. 


The experiment Arthur is referring to is known as The Stanford Prison Experiment.

This is what Wikipedia says about it:
The Stanford prison experiment (SPE) was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted at Stanford University on August 14–20, 1971, by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. It was funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research and was of interest to both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps as an investigation into the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners. The experiment is a classic study on the psychology of imprisonment and is a topic covered in most introductory psychology textbooks. 
Twenty-four male students were selected, from an initial pool of seventy-five, to adopt randomly assigned roles of prisoner and guard, in a mock prison, situated in the basement of the Stanford Psychology Department building, for a period of between seven and fourteen days. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo's expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to continue. Two of the prisoners quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days, to an extent because of the objections of Christina Maslach. Certain portions of the experiment were filmed, and excerpts of footage are publicly available.

More about this in a future Bytes.

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A Monday item for those who may not have seen it on news sites last week.

11th grader Chanie Gorkin was set an assignment by her school, the Beth Rivkah High School in Crown Heights NY, to write about her worst day ever. She did so and then posted it on PoetryNation.com. From there it was posted by various people, eventually going viral after someone saw it pinned on a wall.

Here is the pic of the poem on the wall:

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Quote for the day

Oz Comic Strips and Cartoons, Pt 2

Part 1 of this series looked at some past Australian comic strips and cartoons, cartoonists and comic strip artists – Chesty Bond, Boofhead, Paul Rigby, Eric Joliffe, Ken Maynard and Bluey & Curley.

It inspired Byter Kerrie to write:

My uncle, John Ryan, wrote a book on the history of Australian comics (Panel by Panel). Sadly he died of heart disease shortly after the book was published in 1979. He was only 48. He knew a lot of the artists and they often gave him their original artworks. His collection is now in the National Library under the John Ryan collection.

Part 2 of this series was going to be a brief look at a number of others but my comments about the first - Ginger Meggs - just kept growing.  Part 2 is therefore solely about Ginge.

Funnily enough, in looking up information about the strip I also became aware of a current Sydney exhibition about him.  More of that later.

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Ginger Meggs, Australia's most popular and longest-running comic strip, was created in the early 1920s by Jimmy Bancks and follows the adventures of a red haired mischievous young lad who lives in an inner suburban working-class household. He is the head of a loyal gang, has a girlfriend Minnie Peters and an enemy Tiger Kelly.

Minnie Peters
Tiger Kelly

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Meggsy today appears in over 120 newspapers in 34 countries. 

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In July 2011 the Perth Mint released a commemorative 1oz Silver Australian $1 coin to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Ginger Meggs. The coin features an homage to James C. Bancks' 1945 Sunbeams Annual (Series 22) cover, which featured Ginger Meggs on the back of a kangaroo with his dog, Mike and his pet monkey, Tony. 

The coin was designed by current Ginger Meggs cartoonist, Jason Chatfield with the assistance of fellow Australian artists Peter Broelman and Rolf Harris.

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There have been a number of artists over the years who have drawn Ginger:
1921-1952: Jimmy Bancks (Banks died from a heart attack)
1953-1973: Ron Vivian
1973-1982: Lloyd Piper
1983-2007: James Kemsley
2007-       : Jason Chatfield

Jimmy Bancks and Ginger

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“[Ginger Meggs is] the most human character created by any cartoonist in the second and third decades of the century. Not because Ginger is loved by the 280,000 readers of the Sunday Sun is this assertion made, but because the sheer Australian characteristics of the lad have endeared him to readers of newspapers in every part of this country and of New Zealand.”

- Eric Baume, 1935, editor of the Sydney Sun

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1985 Australia Post stamp showing Ginger Meggs as drawn by Bancks

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Meggsy’s metamorphosis over the years:

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Current artist of the Ginger Meggs’ strip, Jason Chatfield, with Ginger

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Ginger Meggs as I recall him from my younger days.  The following strip was drawn by Jimmy Bancks.  Upon his death, between 1953 and 1973 his successor, Ron Vivian, continued drawing Ginger in the same style as Bancks. Btw, note the name of Ginger's new mate . . .

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An exhibition titled "Ginger Meggs - Australia's Favourite Boy", began at the Museum of Sydney on 25 July 2015 and will continue to 8 November 2015. 

From the Museum’s website at:
Since his first appearance in the Us Fellers comic strip in Sydney’s Sunday Sun newspaper in 1921, Ginger Meggs and his loyal gang, girlfriend Minnie Peters and enemy Tiger Kelly have kept us company for over 90 years. 
A new exhibition at Museum of Sydney, Ginger Meggs: Australia’s Favourite Boy, explores the story of this much-loved comic character, from his creation in 1921 by Sydney artist James ‘Jimmy’ Bancks to his latest incarnation by current artist Jason Chatfield and along the way, how the loveable larrikin became an Australian icon. 
The exhibition features original strips by Ginger’s ‘fathers’, Bancks and his successors Ron Vivian, Lloyd Piper, James Kemsley and Jason Chatfield, along with a wonderful collection of Ginger Meggs memorabilia.  
“Born in Sydney to local artist Jimmy Bancks, Ginger Meggs has been enormously popular with generations of Australians and is still published in over 120 newspapers across Australia and around the world,” said Sydney Living Museums curator Anna Cossu. 
“With his vivid red hair, larrikin boy charms and never-ending ability to get himself into and out of trouble, Ginger Meggs is a mischievous character whose everyday escapades echo the experiences of millions of Australian children.” 
While ‘Ginge,’ as he is affectionately known and his loyal gang never grow a day older, the world around them has changed dramatically, and the exhibition explores how the comic strip has adapted to new eras under the pen of each artist. 
“Ginger Meggs and his gang and their everyday trials and tribulations reflect the events and spirit of each of the decades in which he lived, brought to life by the artists of the time,” said Anna Cossu. 
Throughout his lifetime, readers have seen Ginger Meggs evolve from the 1930s world of billycarts, wireless radios and cricket games played in the street to the computer-drawn strips of today in which Ginger laments the loss of internet connection.  
Occasionally Ginger Meggs steps into the real world; he crossed the Harbour Bridge on its opening in 1932, the same year he met cricket hero Don Bradman. During World War II Ginger was drawn on sides of Australian airplanes and appeared in Army News, he was used in road safety campaigns in the 1950s and, controversially, entered the space age in the 1960s. 
The world of Ginger Meggs continued off the page too with an array of commercial products and merchandise, from his own spin off Little Golden Book stories to dolls and clothing, songs and tableware. In the 1970s Ginger emerged in the works of celebrated Australian pop artist Martin Sharp, and a feature film released in 1982, along with a change in fathers from Piper to Kemsley, saw a resurgence in the resilient character’s popularity.  
The exhibition will take visitors behind the scenes, exploring how Bancks and his successors created their comic strips, and also enable visitors to try their hand at drawing Ginger Meggs. Plus a display of original and reproduction Ginger Meggs comic strips by all of the artists will appeal to visitors of all ages. 
“Ginger Meggs: Australia’s Favourite Boy will be a nostalgic look back at one of our most popular and much-loved comic characters, a lovable larrikin who continues to endear red-heads to our hearts,” said Anna Cossu. 
EXHIBITION Ginger Meggs: Australia’s favourite boy
WHERE Museum of Sydney Cnr Bridge and Phillip Streets, Sydney
WHEN 25 July to 8 November 2015
COST Free with general museum admission Adult $10, Concession/child (under 15) $5, Family $20, Members free
WEBSITE sydneylivingmuseums.com.au
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One final item:

James Kemsley, who drew the Ginger Meggs comic strip from 1983 to 2007, died that year from Motor Neurone Disease. He was aged 59. Despite his battle with MND, he continued to draw the cartoon strip virtually to his death, letting his drawing speak for him when he could no longer articulate words. Under his guidance from 1984, Ginger Meggs became the single most successful comic strip in Australian history.

James Kemsley with his son, who looks surprisingly like Ginger Meggs.

Kemsley himself chose Jason Chatfield to be his successor as the Ginger Meggs artist. Chatfield’s first strip, published after Kemsley’s death, paid homage to his predecessor:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How to Create Bureaucracy . . .

Unfortunately time has gotten away from me and I don't have a new item to post. Mea culpa. Please enjoy this repost from some years ago.

How To Create Bureaucracy, Policy, And Procedures 

1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the Banana. 

2. As soon as the ape touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result-all the apes are sprayed with cold water. 

3. Turn off the cold water. If, later, another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them. 

4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted. 

5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. 

6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape. 

7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. 

Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? 

"BECAUSE that's the way it's always been done around here." 

If the above item seems a bit extreme, note the following comments by someone responding online to the above:

Heard a story about a woman who always cut the end off the leg of lamb before putting it in to roast, it was because her mother did.  When the mother was asked, it was for the same reason.  When the grandmother was asked, her answer was "because my pan is too small". The younger generations had the right size pans but continued to trim!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Quote for the day

Funny Friday

Caution: risque language in some of the items below.

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I asked Kate what the theme for Funny Friday should be today and she responded "Kids". So here we go.

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I said to my two-year-old son, "Now, what noise does a cat make?"


"Good, but do you know what noise a dog makes?"

"Woof woof!"

"That's right! Now tell me what noise a cow makes?"

"David, if you even think about going out to that fucking pub with your friends then you can forget about ever being let back in this house!"

That's my boy.

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My 10 year old son said, "Dad, I know something really funny! One skin, two skin, three skin ...foreskin! haha!"

I said, "Well done son, I'm proud of you. I know a better one though. One play, two play, three play ...you were adopted."

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A young boy and a young girl are comparing 'down there'. They boy tells the girl that he is better than her because he has one and she doesn’t. She is upset at that and runs home crying.

A little while later she comes back skipping and jolly. She says to the boy “I told my mummy what you said. She said not to worry.” Pointing to her own nether regions, she continues “Mummy said that with one of these, when I am older, I can get as many of those as I want.”

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A little boy walks in to the lounge one Sunday morning while his dad is reading the paper.

"Where does poo come from?" he asks.

The father feeling a little perturbed that his 5 year old son is already asking difficult questions thinks for a moment and says:

"Well you know we just ate breakfast?"

"Yes," answers the boy.

"Well the food goes into our tummies and our bodies take out all the good stuff, and then whatever is left over comes out of our bums when we go to the loo, and that is poo."

The little boy looks perplexed, and stares at him in stunned silence for a few seconds and asks: "And Tigger?"

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A teacher asks her class to use the word "contagious". Roland, the teacher's pet, gets up and says, "Last year I got the measles and my mum said it was contagious."

"Well done, Roland," says the teacher.

"Can anyone else try?"

Katie, a sweet little girl with pigtails, says, "My grandma says there's a bug going round, and it's contagious." 

"Well done, Katie," says the teacher. "Anyone else?"

Little Irish Sean jumps up and says in a broad Dublin accent, "Our next door neighbour is painting his house with a two inch brush, and my dad says it will take the contagious."

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The teacher is standing in front of the class and she calls out to Jimmy to stand up and tell everyone what his father does for a living. 
Jimmy stands up and says 'My father is a lawyer'. 
'That's very good' says the teacher. 'What about you Jenny?'. 
Jenny stands up and says 'My father is a doctor'. 
'That's very good' says the teacher 'What about you Johnny?' 
Johnny stands up and says 'My father doesn't do anything for a living, he’s dead'. 
'Oh dear', says the teacher. 'What did he do before he died?' 
To which Johnny replies 'He went Uuuuuurrrrrggghhhhhh'.

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On a related topical theme of kids and Bronwyn Bishop . . .

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A couple of bonus Bronwyn Bishopisms (for overseas readers, Bronwyn Bishop is Speaker of the House of Representatives.  She has been taking flak for using a $5,000 chartered helicopter to travel a short distance that could easily have been done by her Commonwealth car and driver.

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Corn Corner:

(The following may be too good for Corn Corner, I apologise if it is).

Two young boys walked into a pharmacy one day, picked out a box of Tampax and proceeded to the checkout counter. 

The man at the counter asked the older boy, "Son, how old are you?" 

"Eight," the boy replied. 

The man continued, "Do you know how these are used?" 

The boy replied, "Not exactly, but they aren't for me. They are for my brother he's four. We saw on TV that if you use these you would be able to swim and ride a bike. He can't do either one."