Sunday, March 24, 2019

Quote for the Day

"The Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Sir Billy Snedden, has broken his promise: the promise he made to me before the election. He promised not to tell any lies about me, if I didn't tell the truth about him."

Edward Gough Whitlam, 
Prime Minister of Australia, 
recorded on television as opening words 
to election campaign against Snedden.

Gough Whitlam

Billy Snedden

Bytes Bits


Big Feet: 

“Ego Erectus”, is a temporary 2-17 art installation in an abandoned Berlin bank by artist Mario Mankey. The sculpture is of two enormous feet bursting through the roof, seemingly the base of what is a colossal creature hidden in the floors above. Pieces of the ceiling are scattered across the floor. What is its meaning? No idea. 


Art acne: 

Art researchers at Northwestern University have finally identified the origin of granulations, discoloration, and small raised spots, often called surface protrusions, art acne or art pimples, in works by Georgia O’Keefe. Many of the works of O’Keefe, known for her flowers and landscapes, are housed in the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, and that museum contacted the Centre for Scientific Studies in the Arts when they observed many of the works developing art acne. The problem had been previously observed by other curators in works by other artists, from Vincent van Gogh to Piet Mondrian and Marc Chagall. Researchers have estimated that as many as 70 percent of all paintings in museum collections around the world are affected by this kind of damage. It turns out that the surface protrusions are metal soaps, resulting from a chemical reaction between the metal ions (commonly lead, used widely in oil paints) and fatty acids commonly used as binder in paints. Now they are seeking a fix for the problem. 

Small blister-like spots on a magnified image of part of an O’Keefe work, which can gow and cause paint to flake off. 

Smithsonian online magazine 

Last US public execution: 

Rainey Bethea (c. 1909 - August 14, 1936) was the last person publicly executed in the United States. Bethea, who confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old woman named Lischia Edwards, was convicted of her rape and publicly hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky. Mistakes in performing the hanging, and the surrounding media circus, contributed to the end of public executions in the United States. Kentucky was the last American state to do so. 

Pictures taken the morning of the hanging show a large crowd -- men and women, some holding children -- standing in downtown Owensboro, some on the rooftops of brick buildings. They watched as the execution team put a black hood over Bethea's head. Then they saw Bethea fall through the trap door. Doctors pronounced him dead about 10 minutes later. 

Under the law at the time, the maximum penalty for a rape conviction was hanging in the county where the offense occurred. Had Bethea been convicted of Edwards' murder -- prosecutors never pursued that charge -- the sentence would have been a private execution in the electric chair at the state penitentiary. 

The last man hanged in Australia: 

The last man executed in Australia was Ronald Ryan, by hanging in 1967. Ryan was one of two prisoners, with Peter Walker, who escaped from Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison. In the process a guard was shot and killed. They were recaptured outside Concord Hospital after Ryan had arranged a double date with an ex-girlfriend who tipped off the police. Ryan was sentenced to death for murder, despite considerable doubt that he had fired the fatal shot. 

Ronald Ryan, centre, flanked by detectives, on his way to Mascot Airport, Sydney, after recapture on January 6, 1967.

Although the State Government of Victoria had commuted every one of the previous 35 death penalty cases, back to 1951, Governor Henry Bolte refused to do so. Publicly he maintained that the death penalty was a necessary deterrent for crime against government officials and law enforcement officers. Privately, it was considered that Bolte was playing to the public for support for re-election. 

Sir Henry Bolte, portrait

Bolte (1908 – 1990) was Australia’s longest serving Victorian Premier, from 1955 to 1972. An astute politician with a shrewd sense of what would appeal to the public, he was a chain smoking, whisky swigging right wing politician who promoted an image of a rough, earthy, simple, man at odds with trade unions, teachers, liberals, strikers and protesters. 

Opposition to the execution was universal, including from the Melbourne press, the churches, the universities and most of the legal profession, as well as members of his own political party. Four of the jury members went so far as to request intervention on the basis that when they found Ryan guilty, they were under the belief that the death penalty had been abolished in Victoria. An estimated 18,000 people participated in street protests and 15,000 signed a petition against the hanging. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) suspended radio broadcasts for two minutes as a protest. 

At 8.000am on Friday, 3 February 1967, Ronald Ryan was hanged. 

A journalist asked Bolte what he was doing at the moment that Ronald Ryan was hanged. “One of the three Ss, I suppose” he replied. When asked what he meant, he responded: “A shit, a shave or a shower.” 

At the Victorian State elections of 29 April 1967 Bolte’s Liberals were re-elected and gained six seats. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Quote for the Day

  • "There was a much lower death rate inside the hospital than outside the hospital and a much healthier death rate. Few people died unnecessarily. People knew a lot more about dying inside the hospital and made a much neater, more orderly job of it. They couldn't dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn't keep death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian's tent or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane."
  • - Joseph Heller, Catch-22, Ch. 17 

Joseph Heller (1923 – 1999)
was an American author of novels, short stories, plays and screenplays. His best-known work is the novel Catch-22, a satire on war and bureaucracy, whose title has become a synonym for an absurd or contradictory choice.

Bytes Bits


The Burghers of Calais:

Three readers sent me emails after I posted the Bytes item about Rodin’s sculpture The Burghers of Calais, all three readers having the same, or similar, idea . . .

First cab off the rank was Steve M, who said: 
I thought I would help you out with your Bytes today – you seem to have missed a few
Calais Burghers. The following link may assist: THE BEST 10 Burgers in Calais, France Come on Otto... get your act together mate... the standards are dropping somewhat;
 Thanks Steve.

Next came Graham E, who suggested that do I do a Bytes on the following:

Thanks Graham.

Final email was from David B, who wrote: 
Loved your article on the famous sculpture(s).  But it reignited a mischievous query:  is there a fast food joint in that French city called "Burgers of Calais" 
Thanks, David,

I haven’t been able to find a business in Calais by that name.


David, you may be interested in the following item from the Telegraph (UK) by Henry Samuel from 3 August 2016: 
Le burger’ now top selling dish in French restaurants, new study reveals:
 New figures suggest the decidedly un-French burger is served in 75 per cent of French eateries from the most humble fast food outlets to top-notch restaurants.
 For the guardians of French gastronomy, the prospect of being served something as unsophisticated as a slab of mincemeat with a bap and slice of cheese would long have been considered sacrilegious.
 Today, however, the tables have turned. In a culinary revolution, three quarters of French restaurants now sell hamburgers and 80 per cent of these say it has become their top-selling dish, according to a new study.
 “Le burger” – as the French dub the quintessentially American invention to the despair of linguistic purists of the Académie Française – has become a feature of even the most illustrious eateries.
 Indeed, such is its success that sales are set to overtake those of the classic “jambon beurre” (ham and butter baguette), the nation’s staple lunchtime sandwich.
 Last year, the French chomped their way through 1.19 billion burgers, an 11 per cent rise on the previous year, while “le jambon beurre” fell to 1.23 billion.
 “Burger mania (in France) is unstoppable,” declared Bernard Boutboul, head of Gira Conseil, the food consultancy behind the study. 

European Tree of the Year follow up:

Following from the look at the nominated trees, the first, second and third places in the European Tree of the Year competition were announced on 19 March 2019,  They are:

1.     The Almond Tree on the Snowy Hill in Pecs, Hungary – 45,132 votes

2.     The Abramtsevo Oak, Russian Federation - 39,538 votes

3.     Secular Holm Oak from Monte Barbeiro, Portugal - 32,630 votes


Victorian Tree of the Year:

Did you know that Victoria in Oz has a Tree of the Year competition?

It’s done through the National Trust, the link is:

The 2018 winner was the Lollipop tree (Monterey Pine) at the Parks Victoria Mount Beckworth Scenic Reserve. receiving 351 of the total 830 votes.

This tree is located in the Mount Beckworth Scenic Reserve. The "Lollipop" is one of five trees planted in 1918 by Mr Jack Scarfe, a forest overseer from Maryborough, and four schoolboys; Arch Andrews, William Young, Francis Kinersley and Colin Drife. One tree died and 3 others were cut down during World War II. This tree is a well known landmark in the district as it can be seen from almost any direction for up to 50kms. The tree was used for practice bomb-aiming sorties by the RAAF during World War II. The airmen were based at the Ballarat Aerodrome during this time. It is particularly vigorous and healthy specimen of a very widespread species, The name comes from the spherical shape of the crown; unusual for the species, and a result of low pruning of branches in the 1940s and wind pruning of the crown.

I love the 2016 winner:

 The 'Kalatha Giant' Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regans) is significant at a State level for its outstanding size and social significance.

The 'Kalatha Giant' is a very large Eucalyptus regnans approximately 400 years old. It is currently one of the largest living trees in Victoria. It bears a very old fire scar at its heavily buttressed base (possibly from fires in 1851) and is hollow all the way up its trunk to where the top is broken off. Nevertheless, it is in good health for its age. It is in an area of Toolangi State Forest that has a history of selective logging in the early twentieth century, and there has been more recent clear felling of coupes in the surrounding area. Two-thirds of the State Forest was burned in the 2009 Black Saturday Fires and the 'Kalatha Giant' is in a tiny area that survived unburnt. During the bushfire recovery after Black Saturday, the Toolangi & Castella District Community House (supported by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund) built a walking trail to tell the story of the Kalatha Giant and the forest in which it grows, with a boardwalk around the tree to protect the soil from increasing numbers of visitors. For many, it has become a symbol of bushfire resilience.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Quote for the Day

Funny Friday


Fortunately my replacement laptop arrived, and was made operational, in time for Funny Friday.  So have some laughs on the leadup to the weekend . . . and if you live in New South Wales, don't forget to vote this Saturday.


ME: What’s the Wifi password? 
BARTENDER: You need to buy a drink first. 
ME: I'll have a coke. 
BARTENDER: Is Pepsi ok? 
ME: much is that? 
ME: There you go, now what's the Wifi password? 
BARMAN: You need to buy a drink spaces and all lowercase. 


My mate’s wife is doing a sponsored parachute jump tomorrow and I am genuinely terrified that the chute won't open. Last time something that big hit the earth, the dinosaurs got wiped out. 


A guy gets a new dog and he can't wait to show him off to his neighbour. So when the neighbour comes over, the guy calls the dog into the house, bragging about how smart the critter is. The dog quickly comes running and stands looking up at his master, tail wagging furiously, mouth open in classic doggie-smile position, eyes bright with anticipation. 

The guy points to the newspaper on the couch and commands, "Fetch!" Immediately, the dog sits down, the tail wagging stops, the doggie-smile disappears; he hangs his head, looks balefully up at his master, and says in a whiney voice, "Oy! My tail hurts from wagging so much. And that dog food you're feeding me tastes absolutely terrible. And I can't remember the last time you took me out for a walk..." 

The neighbour looks puzzled. "Oh", explains the dog owner, "he thought I said 'Kvetch!'" 

(Kvetch: Yiddish, to whine or complain, often needlessly and incessantly.) 


Limerick of the week: 

There was a young fellow named Boise 
Who at times was exceedingly noisy; 
So his friends’ joy increased 
When he moved way back east 
To what people in Brooklyn call Joisy. 


From the vault: 

God decided he needed a vacation. 

One of his aides suggested Venus. "Forget it," God said, "I went there 10,000 years ago and got sunburned." 

Another aide suggested Jupiter. 

"No way," God replied. "I went there 5,000 years ago and froze my butt off." 

A third adviser suggested Earth. "That's the worst of all," God answered angrily. "I was there 2,000 years ago and they're still accusing me of getting some Jewish girl pregnant."



For the benefit of overseas readers, 17 year old Will Connolly broke an egg on the head of independent Fraser Anning after Anning said Muslim immigration contributed to the 50 deaths in the Christchurch massacres.  Connolly has been dubbed Egg Boy and is a local hero.


Corn Corner:

I went to the corner shop - bought 4 corners. 

Knock Knock 
Who’s there? 
Control freak. Now you say Control Freak Who?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thought for the Day


Dead Computers and Parrots

Good morning, readers, unless you are overseas, in which case it may be good afternoon, I suppose.

I have been without a computer since Sunday night when my HP laptop, less than 3 months old, refused to charge or hold a charge and ended up as dead as the Monty Python parrot. It has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker. It is a laptop no more. It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

Fortunately HP replaced it but that left me with getting our computer geek chappie to transfer all the data and restoring settings.


The above reference to Monty Python inspires me to revisit a 2013 post about the dead parrot sketch and Margaret Thatcher . . .

Dead Parrot and Deceased Prime Minister

For those not familiar with Monty Python, this was a British surreal comedy troupe consisting of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gillam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Their TV show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, aired between 1969 and 1974, 45 episodes, four series.

The Dead Parrot Sketch, from the first season, is one of their best known and most famous sketches. In it John Cleese plays Mr Praline, a dissatisfied customer who has purchased a Norwegian Blue parrot from a shopkeeper, played by Michael Palin. The owner of the store refuses to acknowledge that the parrot is dead and offers a variety of explanations and alternatives, causing Mr Praline to become more and more exasperated.

(The sketch was inspired by a used car salesman who wouldn't acknowledge gross defects in a car sold by him).

See the sketch at:

The sketchL

The cast:

John Cleese

Michael Palin

The sketch:
A customer enters a pet shop.

Mr. Praline: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

Mr. Praline: 'Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean "miss"?

Mr. Praline: (pause)I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We're closin' for lunch.

Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Praline: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...

(owner hits the cage)

Owner: There, he moved!

Mr. Praline: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything...

Mr. Praline: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!

(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Praline: Now that's what I call a dead parrot.

Owner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.

Mr. Praline: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

Owner: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.

Mr. Praline: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?

Owner: The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable bird, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.


Owner: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this bird wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!

Owner: No no! 'E's pining!

Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Fast forward 21 years to 1990. Margaret Thatcher is Prime Minister (her last year of office as PM) and she is addressing the Conservative Party Conference.

One of her targets was the new logo of the Liberal Democratic Party, adopted in 1989. The logo of a yellow bird in full flight is called the Bird of Liberty:

 See Margaret Thatcher’s comments by clicking on the following link, well worth the look:

For those not inclined to view, the text is as follows:

“..Now, that brings me to the Liberal Party. 
I gather that during the last few days there have been some ill-natured jokes about their new symbol, a bird of some kind, adopted by the Liberal Democrats at Blackpool. 
Politics is a serious business, and one should not lower the tone unduly. So I will say only this of the Liberal Democrat symbol and of the party it symbolises. 
This is an ex-parrot. 
It is not merely stunned. It has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker. It is a parrot no more. It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is a late parrot. 
And now for something completely different…”

 By the Way Moment:

Margaret Thatcher had to be persuaded by her advisor to use the reference to the dead parrot, that the lines were funny and that they would be recognised by the audience.

She famously pondered it for a long time backstage and was shown the parrot sketch, repeatedly, until she could mimic John Cleese perfectly.

Still undecided, she asked her advisor: “This Monty Python. Is he one of us?”

In true deadpan British style, the advisor simply replied: “Yes, Prime Minister.”


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quote for the Day

So heart-wrenching to see what has just happened in Christchurch. May God bless the souls who came to the mosque to worship Him in peace. What madness is now spreading? May God's Garden be their next stop.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

St Patrick's Day

It’s that day again when even people who have no connection with Ireland start talking in Irish accents, keep repeating “To be sure! To be sure!” and get blotto on Irish whiskey and Guinness.

Here are some trivia items about the day and the saint. with some vintage cards and funnies thrown in . . . 

1. We Should Really Wear Blue 

Saint Patrick himself would have to deal with pinching on his feast day. His color was “Saint Patrick’s blue,” a light shade. The color green only became associated with the big day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century. 

2. Saint Patrick Was British 

Although he made his mark by introducing Christianity to Ireland in the year 432, Patrick wasn’t Irish himself. He was born to Roman parents in Scotland or Wales in the late fourth century. 

3. The Irish Take Saint Patrick’s Day Seriously 

As you might expect, Saint Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in his old stomping grounds. It’s a national holiday in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

4. So Do New Yorkers 

New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the world’s largest parades. Since 1762, 250,000 marchers have traipsed up Fifth Avenue on foot – the parade still doesn’t allow floats, cars, or other modern trappings. 

5. Chicago Feels Lucky, Too 

New York may have more manpower, but Chicago has a spectacle all its own. The city has been celebrating Saint Patrick by dumping green dye into the Chicago River since 1962. It takes 40 tons of dye to get the river to a suitably festive shade! 

6. It Used to Be a Dry Holiday 

For most of the 20th century, Saint Patrick’s Day was considered a strictly religious holiday in Ireland, which meant that the nation’s pubs were closed for business on March 17. (The one exception went to beer vendors at the big national dog show, which was always held on Saint Patrick’s Day.) In 1970, the day was converted to a national holiday, and the stout resumed flowing. 

7. It’s the Thought That Counts 

Not every city goes all-out in its celebratory efforts. From 1999 to 2007, the Irish village of Dripsey proudly touted that it hosted the Shortest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the World. The route ran for 26 yards between two pubs. Today, Hot Springs, Arkansas claims the title for brevity – its brief parade runs for 98 feet. 

8. There’s a Reason for The Shamrocks 

How did the shamrock become associated with Saint Patrick? According to Irish legend, the saint used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland. 

9. Cold Weather Helped Saint Patrick’s Legend 

In Irish lore, Saint Patrick gets credit for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Modern scientists suggest that the job might not have been too hard – according to the fossil record, Ireland has never been home to any snakes. Through the Ice Age, Ireland was too cold to host any reptiles, and the surrounding seas have staved off serpentine invaders ever since. Modern scholars think the “snakes” Saint Patrick drove away were likely metaphorical. 

10. There’s No Corn in that Beef 

Corned beef and cabbage, a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day staple, doesn’t have anything to do with the grain corn. Instead, it’s a nod to the large grains of salt that were historically used to cure meats, which were also known as “corns.” 

11. The World Runs Up Quite a Bar Tab 

All of the Saint Patrick’s Day revelry around the globe is great news for brewers. A 2012 estimate pegged the total amount spent on beer for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations at $245 million. And that’s before tips to pubs’ bartenders. 

12. It Could have Been Saint Maewyn’s Day 

According to Irish legend, Saint Patrick wasn’t originally called Patrick. His birth name was Maewyn Succat, but he changed his name to Patricius after becoming a priest. 

13. There Are No Female Leprechauns 

Don’t be fooled by any holiday decorations showing lady leprechauns. In traditional Irish folk tales, there are no female leprechauns, only nattily attired little guys. 

14. But the Leprechaun Economy Is Thriving 

Another little-known fact from Irish lore: Leprechauns earned that gold they’re guarding. According to legend, leprechauns spend their days making and mending shoes. It’s hard work, so you can’t blame them for being territorial about their pots of gold. 

15. The Lingo Makes Sense 

You can’t attend a Saint Patrick’s Day event without hearing a cry of “Erin go Bragh.” What’s the phrase mean? It’s a corruption of the Irish Éirinn go Brách, which means roughly “Ireland Forever.”