Saturday, November 25, 2017

Anecdote for the Day

After a concert, Arthur Rubenstein was approached by a woman who was dragging a nine-year-old boy. “Please, Mr Rubenstein,” she said, “I want you to hear my son play the piano.” “Madam,” the pianist said, “I’m very busy. I don’t have time to hear every child play the piano.”

But the mother persisted until Rubenstein finally agreed to an audition the next day. The little boy, his legs barely touching the pedals, played a Chopin waltz. When it was over, Rubenstein said, “That is undoubtedly the worst playing I’ve ever heard.”

The mother nodded and said to her son, “You see? So now will you give up your piano lessons and try out for Little League?”

The Griffin Warrior

Archaeologists and historians were excited when, in 2015, a Bronze Age warrior’s tomb was discovered in an olive grove in Pylos, Greece. But that was nothing compared to what followed.

Some comments:
  • The tomb had a well preserved, 3,500 year old skeleton of its owner, a man dubbed the Griffin Warrior because of the ivory plaque, carved with a griffin, placed between his legs. The griffin was a mythical animal believed to protect goddesses and kings.
  • His face has been reconstructed:
  • Buried with the Griffin Warrior were over 3,000 items to make his journey to the afterlife easier, weapons to the left of him and jewellery to the right. The items included:
       cups, pitchers, and basins made of metal: bronze, silver, and gold;
       a metre long sword with its hilt coated with gold;
       a gold-hilted dagger;
       hundreds of carnelian, amethyst, amber, and gold beads;
       a gold chain and a pendent;
       dozens of seal-stones carved with intricate designs;
       four gold rings
       6 ivory combs;
       a bronze mirror with ivory handle.

Mirror with ivory handle

Ivory comb

A bronze sword with a gold-coated hilt

The Griffin Warrior wearing gold jewellery

The Griffin Warrior wearing gold jewellery
  • What really blew the archaeologists and restorers away was something that initially hadn’t even attracted a second look: a limestone encrusted bead, only 3.6cm across, that was inside hardened grime. It was put to one side as the archaeologists concentrated on more dramatic objects found in the grave.
The object, as discovered,
  • When they finally got around to cleaning the item, which was an agate seal, they found it to be on par with the greatest artworks of the ancient world. It has been described as the single best example of engraved art ever discovered from prehistoric Greece.
  • Now known as the Pylos Combat Agate, it depicts a near naked, long-haired warrior plunging his sword into the neck of his heavily shielded, spear-wielding foe. The body of a second opponent lays crumpled at his feet. It is believed that the hero shown in the carving was identified with the Griffin Warrior.
A drawing of what is depicted in the carving. Some of the details are invisible to the naked eye.
  • The craftsmanship is far beyond what archaeologists believed Bronze Age Myceneans and Minoans were capable of. In fact, the level of detail is so high it needed modern photomicroscope technology to reveal it all. The researchers say they believe it must have been carved by an artist using a magnifying glass.
  • The gem was designed to be worn on the wrist, like a watch, the researchers say. In fact, the hero on the gem is wearing one just like it.
  • Some photographs of the gem:
Due to the seal's small size and veining on the stone, many of the miniature details are only clearly visible via photomicroscopy.

The seal artist's attention to detail and use of stylized faces make the Pylos Combat Agate one of the finest works of prehistoric Greek art ever discovered.

Many of the seal’s details, such as the intricate weaponry ornamentation, become clear only when viewed via photomicroscopy.
  • According to the excavators, not all items extracted from the tomb have been cleaned. They have suggested that there will be more surprises to come.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thought for the Day

Funny Friday

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I am replacing my laptop.  Everything that is on it is to be transferred by our computer geek Andrew to the new laptop, so I will not be able to post a Bytes after midnight, as I usually do.  I am therefore posting it earlier, which will mean that some people will get it sooner than they normally do.

Because of not having my laptop available, I am also repeating a past Funny Friday.  Still, it's as good as a new one if you don't remember it from before.  

And for the readers in the US, happy Thanksgiving Day.

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A witch doctor, and related, theme this Funny Friday.  It includes an item previously posted but as with some others in recent months, too good not to include.  Enjoy Friday and the funnies . . .

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After being married for a few years, a man finds that he is no longer able to perform. He goes to his doctor who suggests a few things for him to try, but nothing works. Finally, the doctor tells him it's all in his mind and refers him to a psychiatrist.

After a few visits to the psychiatrist, the shrink confesses, "I'm at a total loss as to how you can possibly be cured." 

In desperation, he goes to a witch doctor.

The witch doctor tells him, "Certainly, I can cure this," and throws some powder on a flame. Suddenly there is a flash of billowing blue smoke. "This is very powerful healing," says the witch doctor, "but I must warn you, you will only be able to use it once a year. All you must do is say '1-2-3' and it shall rise for as long as you wish."

"What happens when it's over?" he asks the witch doctor.

"Then, your partner must say '1-2-3-4' and it will go down. Do be warned though, it will not work again for another year."

That night the man is ready to surprise his wife with his good news. As he's laying next to her in bed, he says "1-2-3" and immediately gets an erection.

Turning over towards him, his wife asks, "What did you say '1-2-3 for?"

And THAT my friends, is why we should NEVER end a sentence with a preposition.

* * * * * * * * * *
A witch doctor from a tribe in deepest, darkest Africa is sent by his chief to visit Britain in order to sample a different culture.

On his return the chief asks him how it was and what new things he did.

The witch doctor tells him about this building he went into one night. He says, "There were loads of guys with big bellies drinking something called beer and throwing minature spears at a circular board with a small circle in the middle and numbers all round the outside. The men asked me if I wanted a shot and I told them yes."

"And how did you get on?" asked the chief.

"Brilliant," replied the witch doctor. "Every time I threw a spear, I got it to land dead centre of the board and everybody in the place started cheering me and slapping me on the back."

"Really", says the chief, "and what was this game called?"

"Jammy black bastard," says the witch doctor.

* * * * * * * * * *
I was shocked when my adopted daughter told me she was going to marry a witch doctor. 

"Why do you want to do that?" I asked. 

"Pwobabwy for financial secuwity," she replied.

* * * * * * * * * *
A man found himself lost and wandering in a forest. After a few hours trying to find his way, he came upon a small house. He knocked on the door and was greeted by an old Chinese man with a long, grey beard. 

"I'm lost," said the man, "can you put me up for the night?" 

"Certainly," the Chinese old man said, "but on one condition. If you so much as lay a finger on my daughter, I will inflict upon you the three worst Chinese tortures known to man". 

"Ok," said the man, thinking that the daughter must be pretty old as well, and entered the house. Before dinner, the daughter came down the stairs. She was young, beautiful, and had a nice shape. She was obviously attracted to the man since she couldn't keep her eyes off him during the meal. Remembering the old man's warning, he ignored her and went up to bed alone. 

During the night, he could no longer bear it and sneaked into her room for a night of passion. He was careful to keep everything quiet so the old man wouldn't hear. Near dawn, he crept back to his room exhausted, but happy. 

He woke to feel a pressure on his chest. Opening his eyes, he saw a large rock on his chest with a note on it that read "Chinese Torture 1: Large rock on chest". 

"Well that's pretty crappy," he thought, "If that's the best the old man can do then I don't have much to worry about". He picked the rock up, walked over to the window and threw the rock out. 

As he did, so he noticed another note on it that read "Chinese Torture 2: Rock tied to left testicle". In panic, he glanced down and saw the rope that was already getting close to the end. Figuring that a few broken bones were better than castration, he jumped out of the window after the rock. 

As he plummeted downward, he saw a large sign on the ground that read "Chinese Torture 3: Right testicle tied to bedpost". 

* * * * * * * * * *
One day there was an Indian chief who was constipated. he sent one of his warriors to the witch doctor to get some medicine. The warrior says "Big Chief, no shit". The doctor gave him a pill and told him that the chief should be fine tomorrow.

The warrior went back to the chief and gave him the pill. the next morning the warrior was sent back to the witch doctor and says "big chief, no shit". The doctor gives him five pills and tells him to give them to the chief.

The next day the warrior appears at the witch doctor's house yet again saying "big chief, no shit". The witch doctor gets annoyed and so gives the warrior the whole bottle of pills to give to the chief.

The next day the warrior goes back to the witch doctor:

"Big shit, no chief". 

* * * * * * * * * *
In the greatest days of the British Empire, a new commanding officer was sent to a jungle outpost to relieve the retiring colonel. 

After welcoming his replacement and showing the courtesies (gin and tonic, cucumber sandwiches) that protocol decrees, the retiring colonel said "You must meet Captain Smithers, my right-hand man. God, he's really the strength of this office. His talent is simply boundless."

Smithers was summoned and introduced to the new CO, who was surprised to meet a toothless, hairless, scabbed and pockmarked specimen of humanity, a particularly unattractive man less than three foot tall.

"Smithers, old man, tell your new CO about yourself."

"Well, sir, I graduated with honours from Sandhurst, joined the regiment and won the Military Cross and Bar after three expeditions behind enemy lines. I've represented Great Britain in equestrian events and won a Silver Medal in the middleweight division of the Olympics.

I have researched the history of ...."

Here the colonel interrupted, "Yes, yes, never mind that Smithers, the CO can find all that in your file.

Tell him about the day you told the witch doctor to get fucked."

Corn Corner:

An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk hide and gave it to the chief, instructing him to bite off, chew and swallow one inch of the leather every day. 

After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. 

The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."

Thought for the Day

(Ponder what it is about you that would cause "Syndrome" to be added after your name.)

Bygone Sydney, from the air . . .

Circular Quay, Sydney, 1920s, 1962, 2013 

Sydney and Hyde Park, 1928 

Queens Square, Sydney, 1930 

Milsons Point, Sydney, 1928 and 2015 

Taylor Square, Sydney, 1959 

Queens Square, Sydney, 1950 

Pyrmont Incinerator, Sydney, 1976 

Circular Quay, Sydney with Opera House under construction, 1960 

Bennelong Point, Sydney, 1952 and 2015. 

The Spit at Middle Harbour in the 1920s before the Spit Bridge was built. 

Men in a dole queue during the Great Depression at No. 7 Wharf, Circular Quay, Sydney, 11 June 1931 

Luna Park, Sydney. 1935 

Btw, the changing faces of the entry to Luna Park 

Central Station, Sydney, 1939 

Sydney Town Hall as it appeared in the early 1900s facing north with St. Andrew's Cathedral to the left 

David Jones, George St. Sydney, cnr. Barrack St. Tram to Dulwich Hill, c. 1900-1910 

Moore Park, corner Anzac Parade and South Dowling Street, Sydney 1881 

Circular Quay, Sydney, 1881 

Toll Gate at Victoria Barracks in 1871.It was the toll gate for Old South Head Rd, now Oxford St Paddington. 

Rushcutter's Bay, Sydney, 1874