Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Quote for the Day

Sir Joseph:
I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament.
I always voted at my party's call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.

He never thought of thinking for himself at all.

Sir Joseph:
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

Gilbert & Sullivan, Lyrics (part) of When I Was a Lad, from HMS Pinafore

Some Lewis Carroll and Mouse Tales

Emblematic poetry, also known as shape poetry and pattern poetry, was a popular Victorian literary device whereby poems were set out in shapes. One of the best known is Lewis Carroll’s The Mouse’s Tale, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice met the mouse when she was floating in a pool of her own tears, having been shrunken in size. 

Although the mouse does not talk to her at first, eventually he agrees to tell her his story . . . 

`You promised to tell me your history, you know,' said Alice, `and why it is you hate--C and D,' she added in a whisper, half afraid that it would be offended again.  
`Mine is a long and a sad tale!' said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.  
`It IS a long tail, certainly,' said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse's tail' `but why do you call it sad?' And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:--

For those who may 
have difficulty 
reading the 
version of the same
words and sentences . . .

“Fury said to a mouse, that he met in the house, ‘Let us both go to law: I will prosecute you. -
Come, I’ll take no denial: We must have the trial; For really this morning I’ve nothing to do.’
Said the mouse to the cur, ‘Such a trial, dear sir, With no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath.’
‘I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ said cunning old Fury: ‘I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.’

The mouse storms off after he realises that Alice has been distracted and not listening. Alice feels down and says to the other animals gathered, mostly birds, that she wishes that Dinah was with her. They ask who Dinah is. 

Alice replied eagerly, for she was always ready to talk about her pet: `Dinah's our cat. And she's such a capital one for catching mice you can't think! And oh, I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she'll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!' 

Those animals then left as well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Quote for the Day

CONVICTED CRIMINAL: As God is my judge - I am innocent.

LORD BIRKETT: He isn't; I am, and you're not!

Lord Birkett (1883-1962)
British barrister, judge, politician and preacher who served as the alternate British judge during the Nuremburg Trials.

Near and Far, Part 2

Continuing a look at items as traditionally feaured in photographs and as viewed from further away:
Mont St Michel, France:

The Hollywood Sign:

Sagrada Familia:


Rock of Gibraltar:

Little Mermaid:

The Alamo:

White House:

The Great Wall of China where it reaches the ocean:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Quote for the Day

“I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman—although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man. An openhanded slap is justified—if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it. I think a man has to be slightly advanced, ahead of the woman.”

- Sean Connery, 1965, Playboy Interview

The question and answer from which the above is taken are:

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about roughing up a woman, as Bond sometimes has to do?

CONNERY: I don't think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman--although I don't recommend doing it in the same way that you'd hit a man. An openhanded slap is justified--if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I'd do it. I think a man has to be slightly advanced, ahead of the woman. I really do--by virtue of the way a man is built, if nothing else. But I wouldn't call myself sadistic. I think one of the appeals that Bond has for women, however, is that he is decisive, cruel even. By their nature women aren't decisive--"Shall I wear this? Shall I wear that?"--and along comes a man who is absolutely sure of everything and he's a godsend. And, of course, Bond is never in love with a girl and that helps. He always does what he wants, and women like that. It explains why so many women are crazy about men who don't give a rap for them.

The full article can be read at:

Monday Miscellany: Odds, Ends and Personals

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Last Friday I posted a joke that relied on 24 hour military time for the punch line. In the joke someone asked a sergeant major when was the last time that he had had sex and he replied 1995. The woman makes love to him and says that he hadn’t forgotten much from 1995, to which he replied that he hoped not in that it was 2130 then.

I updated that from an oldie that had 1955 as the date, but that would have made the soldier a geriatric, hence the revised time/year.

Only I screwed up, as Byter Kieran G pointed out in an email to me:

Hi Otto,

Appreciated as always. But one joke, the Sgt Major who hadn’t had sex, which was funny didn’t quite make sense. The time could never have been “1995” as there are of course only 60 minutes. Maybe it should be read as 2001…


2001 has its own problem in that most people would say it as “Two Thousand and One”, if only from the title of the Space Odyssey move. I therefore suggest “2010” in that that date would more commonly be stated as “Twenty Ten”, thereby coinciding with the way that that military time would be expressed. The drawback is that the interval, 5 years, is not as long.

Here is the revised joke:

A crusty old Marine Sergeant Major found himself at a gala event hosted by a local liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the Sergeant Major for conversation.

"Excuse me, Sergeant Major, but you seem to be a very serious man. Is something bothering you?"

"Negative, ma'am. Just serious by nature."

The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, "It looks like you have seen a lot of action."

"Yes, ma'am, a lot of action."

The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, "You know, you should lighten up a little. Relax and enjoy yourself."

The Sergeant Major just stared at her in his serious manner. Finally the young lady said, "You know, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when is the last time you had sex?"

"2010, ma'am."

"Well, there you are. You really need to chill out and quit taking everything so seriously! I mean, no sex since 2010! She took his hand and led him to a private room where she proceeded to "relax" him several times.

Afterwards, panting for breath, she leaned against his bare chest and said, "Wow, you sure didn't forget much since 2010!"

The Sergeant Major, glancing at his watch, said in his serious voice, "I should hope not ma'am, it's only 2130 now."

* * * * * * * * * *
Byter Richard P sent me an email in response to the series of pics entitled “Why Women Live Longer”. Those pics showed men in various Darwin Award situations.

Richard said:

Still my all time favourite:

The above pic was distributed by email some years back with the following qestions:

Challenge yourself here: 
A Backhoe weighing 8 tons is on top of a flatbed trailer and heading east on Interstate 70 near Hays, Kansas. The extended shovel arm is made of hardened refined steel and the approaching overpass is made of commercial-grade concrete, reinforced with 1 1/2 inch steel rebar spaced at 6 inch intervals in a crisscross pattern layered at 1 foot vertical spacing. 
Solve: When the shovel arm hits the overpass, how fast do you have to be going to slice the bridge in half? (Assume no effect for headwind and no breaking by the driver...) 
Extra Credit: Solve for the time and distance required for the entire rig to come to a complete stop after hitting the overpass at the speed calculated above. 
Answer below... 
Answer - 
Who cares, the trucking company just bought themselves a bridge.

The authority on urban myths,, classes this as “true” and has the following commentary:

The photographs displayed above capture the aftermath of an accident that occurred on the evening of 13 February 2006 on Interstate 70 near Hays, Kansas. The driver of a semi-tractor trailer that was hauling a track hoe excavator on a flatbed misestimated the clearance at an overpass, and the boom of the hoe collided with the overpass and knocked a 45-foot gap through the deck of the bridge. The accident forced an 11-day closure of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70. (The bridge itself remained closed even after the highway reopened.) 
The driver of the rig was uninjured, although he was later cited for not having clearance to drive on the interstate. The Kansas Department of Transportation said the construction company for which the driver worked would be liable for the cost of repairs to the overpass, which were estimated at $134,000 as of late March 2006.

Some more pics:

Btw, I liked how one person responded to the above question:  “The answer is 1.21 Jigawatts at 88 MPH.”

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quote for the Day

Mark Twain was once involved in a discussion about storytellers who annoyingly interrupt themselves to ask the listebers whether they have heard the story they are telling before. Twain told of a conversation he had had with actor Henry Irving.

Irving asked Twain whether he had heard a certain story. "No," replied Twain, prompting Irving to begin telling the story. Halfway through Irving again stopped and asked Twain whether he had heeard the story before. No" replied Twain more emphatically. Near the climax of the story Irving stopped and once again made the same request.

Twain responded:

"I can lie once, I can lie twice for courtesy's sake, but I draw the line there. I can't lie the third time at any price. I not only heard the story, I wrote it."

Mark Twain

Henry Irving

Live Long and Prosper

News report:

Leonard Nimoy, actor who played Ms Spock on Star Trek, dies aged 83

Leonard Nimoy, who enchanted generations of audiences with his depiction of Star Trek’s human-alien philosopher and first officer Mr Spock, has died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83. The actor died on Friday morning of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Bel-Air, his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, told the New York Times. He had been hospitalised at UCLA medical centre with breathing difficulties days earlier. Nimoy’s last tweet, sent on Monday, suggested he knew the end was near: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”

In memory of Leonard Nimoy, the following is a reprint from a Bytes post of 20 April, 2010:

“Live long and prosper.”

- Vulcan greeting as used by Mr Spock in Star Trek, delivered with the fingers formed into a V shape.

Vulcan or Jewish?

Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, has been a devout Jew his entire life. In an adlib while filming, he made the above hand sign and spoke the words “Live long and prosper”, which is in fact a benediction which rabbis give over their congregations. The rabbi's hand gesture accompanying the blessing is representative of the Hebrew letter Shin, which begins the word Shadai, one of God's sacred names.


In the Jewish blessing, the sign is made with both hands with the arms outstretched, and the palms facing downwards:

Nimoy modified it into an upright one handed salute.

Nimoy used it for the episode “Amok Time” which opened the second season. In that episode he feels the call to go back to his home planet to mate with his betrothed bride. The script called for Vulcans to greet each other by touching each other’s shoulders but Nimoy felt this was inappropriate in that Vulcans are touch-telepaths (remember the Vulcan mind meld?). Nimoy drew upon his own Jewish background to suggest the salute.

He did not explain its derivation at the time. The series creator, Gene Roddenberry, probably thought it was a variation on the two finger peace sign popular with hippies at the time the series was being made, the sixties. Many thought this of the salute at the time.

Final note:

In the Vulcan greeting when the words “Live long and prosper” are spoken, the response is “Peace and long life”. This is similar to a traditional greeting in Hebrew: "Shalom aleichem" (peace be upon you) and the answer, "Aleichem shalom" (upon you be peace.) Muslims have a similar greeting in Arabic.

So long Spock . . .