Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Christine Keeler

Someone in our group tonight mentioned the iconic Christine Keeler photo of the 1960’s. I knew which photo he meant, the one of Christine Keeler in a chair, but my 21 year old son asked what photo was referred to and who Christine Keeler was.

Here is 30 seconds of history and photography, my lad..

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last Words: Kurt Cobain

"Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away.

Peace, love, empathy,

Kurt Cobain "

Kurtt Cobain (1967 - 1994), suicide note

How God Makes Decisions

(Click to enlarge)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quotes: Ernest Bramah

"Although there exist many thousand subjects for elegant conversation, there are persons who cannot meet a cripple without talking about feet."

-  Ernest Bramah  (1868 - 1942)

Edison's Last Breath

Left to right: Henry Ford, Bishop William F. Anderson, Harvey Firestone (stooping). Thomas A. Edison and President Warren G. Harding.
(Click on pics to enlarge)

Getting ready for work on Monday morning with Sunrise on in the background, I heard Grant Denyer talking about Thomas Edison’s last breath. Denyer was doing a tour of the Broadsmeadow Ford plant in honour of 50 years since the first Ford Falcon rolled off the assembly line.

What about Edison’s last breath?

We’ll get to that. Denyer showed the assembly line, including futuristic robots with extended arms carrying out spot welding, and mentioned that the assembly line had been developed by the Ford Motor Company.

What about the last breath?

Denyer also said that Thomas Edison was Henry Ford’s idol, so much so that when Edison was on his deathbed he asked Edison’s son Charles to catch Edison’s last breath in a test tube for him, which Charles did.

Surely not, I thought. Would a loving son try to catch his father’s last breath in a test tube on the point of death to satisfy a request from a fan?


I'm not a great one for illusions, possibly because a couple of times when I have been concentrating on them they have turned into screamers, those horrible ones where the picture suddenly turns into a horrific image, such as a close up of the girl in The Exorcist, with extremely loud frightening screams.  I hate those things.

Having said that, I came across this illusion again recently.  The first I saw it was many years ago where someone had an enlarged one on their front lawn as part of a Christmas lights display.  The instructions were to look, then look at the clouds.  It was eerie.

If you haven't seen this before, spend 30 seconds looking at the 4 dots in the centre.   Then quickly stare at a blank surface, such as a wall or a ceiling.  It takes a few seconds but you should see an image appear.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

As It Was: Railway Square 1913

(Click on pics to enlarge)

Next time you're driving into Sydney via Central, try to visualise it as it was nearly 100 years ago.  That's Railway Square above, formerly Central Square, as it was nearly 100 yeras ago.

Some points to note in respect of the above pic:

- The large number of trams.

- The presence of horses and carts but no cars (there is one car, parked next to the trees on the right).

-  The pedestrian friendly streets.  Pedestrians are walking everywhere on the streets unconcernhed by the trams, horses and carts.

-  The large building in the centre, occupied by the Marcus Clarke department store, still existing (see below).

-  The church alongside, Christ Church St Laurence, also still existing (see below).

-  The tower above the tram terminus building, a control tower for tram movements.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kodachrome, Simon & Garfunkel

Sometimes listening to music is like putting on an old coat or pair of shoes. Music from when we were younger can be comfortable and just feel right. Some music makes you recall a moment, a period; other music can make you recall events that were happening, and some music.. well, some music just was. So it is with Simon & Garfunkel’s melodies, harmonies and lyrics. They weren’t just part of the 60’s and early 70’s, they helped make the 60's and 70's what they were. Along with artists such as Dylan, the Stones and Santana, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are still doing today what they do best.

Kodachrome, released by Paul Simon in 1973, is one of my S & G favourites. Hearing it brings back memories of when they (and I) were a lot younger. We knew then that the lyrics of Sounds of Silence were heavy poetry, even if like Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, we didn’t know what the lyrics meant. Nonetheless, being in high school, we all understood the opening lines of Kodachrome: “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school/It's a wonder I can think at all ..”  Today, the familiarity of the opening notes and the opening lyrics immediately sets my foot tapping and the psyche grooving.

So sit back for a moment, click on:
and listen to Simon & Garfunkel at the Reunion Concert in Central Park sing about simpler days, before 9/11, before economic global downturns, before global warming and pollution… Mind you, they were also the days of the Vietnam War, racial bigotry, oppression, gay intolerance, women’s inequality, US covert destabilisation of governments… However, as Simon and Garfunkel say, those days don’t match imagination, everything looks worse (or better – see below) in black and white…

Quote: Kim Stanley Robinson

"The distinguishing mark of true adventures, is that it is often no fun at all while they are actually happening."

-  Kim Stanley Robinson (1952 - ), American science fiction writer

Haywood Jablome strikes again...

Anyone who watches The Simpsons will be aware of Bart’s regular calls to Moe at Moe’s Bar where he asks for someone whose name ends up having a double meaning. Example:

Bart: Is Oliver there?
Moe: Who?
Bart: Oliver Clothesoff.
Moe: Hold on, I'll check. (calls) Oliver Clothesoff! Call for Oliver Clothesoff!

Readers may also remember the classic scene in the movie Porky’s where the young guys ask the waitress to have someone named “Mike Hunt” paged.  See it at:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quote: Winston Churchill

"Why should I accept from my sovereign the Order of the Garter, when his people have already given me the Order of the Boot?"

-  Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

After having led Britain through 6 years of war, the first two years as First Lord of the Admiralty and the following four years as Prime Minister, it was surprising that Winston Chuchill and the Conservatives were not returned to government in the 1945 post war general election.  This was the first general elction to be held since 1935, elections having been suspended during the war years.  The Labour Party, led by Clement Atlee, won by a landslide.  It is generally thought that the population were eager for post-war reform and that they felt that the man who had led Britain in war was not the man to lead the nation in peace.

Perhaps somewhat in sympathy and as a token gesture, King George VI offered Winston Churchill the Order of the Garter. a prestigious honour.  Churchill declined, speaking the words quoted above.

Simplified World Maps

Click on pic to enlarge.  Thanks to Leo for emailing this one.

And  another simplified world map.  Click on this one as well to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quote: Julia Gillard

"We've got a long track record of working together and working together well."

-  Julia Gillard on Kevin Rudd, Interview Lateline, 5 December 2006

Vintage Ads

(Click on pic to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quotes: Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson quotes:

Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.

Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers.

Marge, don't discourage the boy! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quote: Marcus Aurelius

"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

- Marcus Aurelius (121 - 180)

New Zealand Nude Blacks

You have to hand it to the Kiwis.

Whereas the New Zealand Rugby Union team is known as the All Blacks from their all black playing kit, the NZ Soccer team plays in all white kit and is known as…  the All Whites. Ironically, the All Whites are playing in South Africa.  That in itself would be something but what is amazing is a 1-1 draw with Italy.

Now the Kiwis have taken a step further in respect of Rugby Union: the Nude Blacks. As a curtain raiser to the Rugby Union test in Dunedin between the All Blacks and the Welsh Dragons, another test match took place afew hours earlier  in another location in Dunedin, a place located at the bottom of NZ’s South Island.  That test match was a nude test between the NZ Nude Blacks and the Welsh Leeks. That’s right, totally nude.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quotes: Mark Twain

"I would like to live in Manchester, England. The transition between Manchester and death would be unnoticeable."

- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Origins: The word Soccer

In medieval days when the aristocracy and upper classes in England took part in indoor games and rode horses for sport, the poor old peasants had to make do with ball games and the like. However even that joy was taken from them when, in 1424, the king forbade men partaking in “fut ball” on pain of a 4 penny fine. This is the first recorded use of the term “foot ball” but the word referred not to a foot kicking a ball but to any games played on foot. In some cases the word "football" was used to refer to games where a ball was used but kicking was banned, as in one description in 1825 of a game called Football:
The game was this: he who at any time got the ball into his hands, run [sic] with it till overtaken by one of the opposite part; and then, if he could shake himself loose from those on the opposite side who seized him, he run on; if not, he threw the ball from him, unless it was wrested from him by the other party, but no person was allowed to kick it.
In 1863 the Football Association was formed in England. This Association of 11 clubs standardised the rules, one such rule being that the carrying of the ball was not permitted. This established the biggest practical difference between Association Football and Rugby Football.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quote: Tom Stoppard

"When we have found all the meaning and lost all the mystery, we will be alone on an empty shore."

- Tom Stoppard (1937 - )

A Day In The Life

(Click on pic to enlarge).

News item, 19 June 2010:

John Lennon's 'A Day in the Life' fetches $1.2 million

John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to 'A Day in the Life', have sold for $1.2 million (£810,000) at auction, double their pre-sale high estimate. Lennon's handwritten lyrics to the song, the final number on the Beatles album "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", had been expected to fetch between $500,000 to $700,000 (£338,000 to £473,000) at the Sotheby's New York auction. The most amount ever paid for Beatles lyrics at auction was $1.25 million in 2005 for 'All You Need Is Love'. 'A Day In the Life' however has set a record in sterling due to the fluctuating exchange rate ('All You Need Is Love sold for £690,000).

The single sheet of paper features a rough draft of the lyrics, including crossings out. On the reverse side is a neater version with fewer corrections. It appears that the line "I love to turn you on" – which prompted a BBC ban because the words were deemed to be a reference to taking drugs – was added later. The lyrics, which once belonged to the Beatles' road manager Mal Evans, provide a glimpse into the band's methods, with Lennon noting where Sir Paul McCartney would insert his more upbeat verse. Lennon's words appear to be inspired by newspaper headlines and articles.

Rolling Stone magazine listed "A Day in the Life" at No. 26 in its compilation of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. "Sgt. Pepper" won four Grammy awards in 1968. Sotheby's has described it as "the revolutionary song that marked the Beatles' transformation from pop icons to artists".

Telegraph UK

Hear the song at -


Jeff Beck:

Bee Gees:

Neil Young:

An explanation

Mea Culpa

If subscrbers should happen to receive yesterday's Bytes today, along with today's items, it is because I did not meet the deadline for email sending yesterday.  Let me explain.  When you set up a blog via the Google template, it is the blog setup which controls the sending of that day's items to subscribers via email.  I thought I had enough time to post yesterday to meet the deadline for the blog to send itself to subscribers but it appears I didn't.  If you were looking forward to a read with your morning coffee and didn't find it, sorry, I am alive and well and there bwas no sisnister reason as to why you didn't receivbe your daily Bytes.


Those who have seen the Morgan Freeman flick "Invictus" will recall the poem by that name that isnpired Nelson Mandela during his 27 year imprisonment. 

"Invictus" is Latin for unconqured, unconqureable, undefeated.

The 1875 poem by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was written while Henley was in hospital being treated for bone tuberculosis, a condition he had suffered from since age 12.  He wrote the poem from his hospital bed after his leg had been amputated below the knee.  According to Henley, we cannot prevent life's difficult times, sadnesses and challenges, "the Horrors of the shade", but we can determine how to meet them.  We all have it within ourselves to face those challenges with strength, endurance and dignity.

History: Sydney Stadium

 (Click on photographs to enlarge).

One of the advantages of getting older is the memories one has of events and places that these days are only moments in history. One such memory is that of the Sydney Stadium. Before the ANZ Stadium (or whatever it is called these days) there was the Sydney Entertainment Centre, and before that there was the Sydney Stadium, also known as The Tin Shed and The Old Tin Shed. I recall as a lad my father regularly taking the family to the Friday night wrestling at the Stadium, watching the likes of Killer Kowalski, Mark Lewin, Domini DeNucci, Skull Murphy, Tex McKenzie and Spiros Arion do battle.
"Never in the history of showbiz, in any major city anywhere in the whole wide world has there ever been anything like it for a big night venue -- whether it be a world championship boxing stoush, dwarf wrestling, roller derbies, religious revivals, pop and jazz concerts ... you name it. The Stadium ... was just something else. It was uniquely Oz. Uniquely Sydney. Nowhere else was there or could there have been a joint like the Old Tin Shed."

- John Byrell

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last Words: Carl Panzram

"Hurry up, you Hoosier bastard, I could kill ten men while you're fooling around."

- Carl Panzram (1891-1930), American serial killer.

Panzram confessed to 21 murders but was convicted of only 4. He was sentenced to death by hanging for battering to death another inmate, the head of the prison laundry, whilst an inmate at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas. He refused to appeal and threatened to kill human rights groups that attempted to appeal on his behalf. Asked by his executioner whether he had any last words, he responded as above.

History: Petersham Plane Crash

The news item of a few days ago of a light plane crashing at Canley Vale near a public school brought to mind the story of anothert plane crash, one in the inner west into  a local school.

On 2 May 1945, during an air test flight, a RAF (UK) Mosquito (similar to the photograph above) disintegrated over Leichhardt and Petersham, killing the two crew members. Falling debris injured two civilians, damaged 18 properties and set fire to 5 houses.

The cause of the disintegration remains unknown although it was suspected that a violent pull out from a power dive, with its associated high 'g' forces may have led to the structural failure of the aircraft. The two crew members tried to eject from the aircraft but they were not high enough for their parachutes to open.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vintage Ads

(Click on pic to enlarge)

If this is the kitchen, what sort of nightmare is the rest of the house?

Quotes: Winston Churchill

There are a number of quotations by Winston Churchill which, for some reason unknown to me, all concern his fly being open. Did the man walk around permanently unbuttoned in those PZ (pre-zipper) days inviting comment?

On being told by an MP that his fly was open:
"It is of no account, after all, dead birds do not fall from their nests."

When told by a man in the street that his fly was half open he said
"or perhaps it it is half closed"
then continued walking down the street.

Once, when Churchill was sleeping on a train, a woman came in and noticed his fly was open. She said "Mr, your penis is sticking out!".
Churchill awoke, and answered:
"Madam, don't flatter yourself. It is merely hanging out."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quote: Calvin Coolidge

US President Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933) was known for his terse speech and reticence.

A woman bet her friend that she could get Coolidge to speak to her, which was something he was reluctant to do. She went up to him and said: "Hello, Mr. President, I bet my friend that I could get you to say three words to me."

"You lose," Coolidge replied dryly, and walked away.

 ~Author Unknown

Glimpses of the Past: Glebe Point Road, Glebe

Glebe Point Road, Corner St Johns Road, c 1908
(Click on photograph to enlarge)

The view in the above pic is towards Parramatta Road. The road surface is dirt, stabilised by crushed stone, and it appears to have been recently watered, probably to subdue the dust.

Most of the buildings in the photograph remain, although without the collonaded awnings. Note the sign outside the office of W.T. Tate & Dive, estate agents and "valuators", these days known as valuers.

In medieval Europe, a glebe was an area of land, either belonging to a parish church or being part of the manor and set aside for the use of the church, whose revenues contributed towards the parish expenses.

The inner city suburb of Glebe derives its name from the fact that the land on which it was developed was a glebe, originally owned by the Anglican Church. 'The Glebe' was a land grant of 400 acres given by Governor Arthur Phillip to Reverend Richard Johnson, Chaplain of the First Fleet,  in 1790.

There was an active tramway on Glebe Point Road between 1892 and 1958 until the trams were replaced by buses. Roadworks near the Bridge Road cross in late 2009 uncovered a section of the original tram tracks. The City of Sydney Council has left these exposed to serve as a historical reminder.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Coincidences: Morgan Robertson

- In 1898 American author Morgan Robertson (1861 – 1915) published a novel Futility. In that story a large British passenger liner called the Titan, deemed unsinkable, collides with an iceberg in the North Atlantic in April and sinks. With insufficient lifeboats, nearly everyone on board perishes. In April 1912 the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg. There was a substantial loss of life as a result of insufficient lifeboats.

- In 1905 a book by Robertson, The Submarine Destroyer, described a submarine that used a device called a “periscope”. Robertson claimed he had invented a prototype periscope years earlier but had been refused a patent, although other claimants maintained that tney likewise had invented the device 3 years before the publication of the novel.

- In 1914 in a volume that also contained a new version of Futility, he included a short story Beyond the Spectrum in which the United States goes to war with Japan. Instead of declaring war, Japan launches sneak attacks on US ships en route to the Philippines and Hawaii. A Japanese invasion fleet that seeks to make a surprise attack on San Francisco is stopped by a secret weaspon, an ultraviolet searchlight that creates symptoms similar to those from an atomic bomb.

The Titanic under construction - click on photo to enlarge.

Pics: Mama Duck and the Grate

I read somewhere that these pics were taken in a town where there are a large number of ducks that travel to nearby ponds, so that ducklings falling through the grates and having to be rescued by local rangers is a regular ocurrence.

However, before you knew that, was your reaction to laugh at the pics or to feel sorry for the mother duck?  I confess that I laughed when I saw the last pic, at the what the ?? moment, as did my sons.  My wife, possibly from being a mother, immediately felt sorry for Mama Duck.  Your reaction?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Green: The Hand of Clod

Whilst on a FIFA World Cup theme and having previously posted the story of the Maradona Hand of God goal in 1986, it is interesting to note that Britain's newspapers have turned upon the English keeper Robert Green for the 1-1 draw against the US.

Green fumbled a relatively harmless shot at goal and allowed the US to score.  Although England equalised later, what would would have been an English win became only a draw.

See it at:
(Although by the name you read this, it may have been blocked by FIFA).

Newspapers in England have made demands that stop just short of Green's head being served on a platter, with the Sunday Mirror having as its main headline on the front page a reference to the goal, which the newspaper dubbed The Hand of Clod.

Quote: Queen Elizabeth 11

On this occasion of Her Majesty's birthday (which is actually on 21 April), and with the World Cup causing bleary eyes, it is appropriate to post a quote from Queen Elizabeth 11 (1926 - ) on the topic of football:

"Football's a difficult business and aren't they prima donnas. But it's a wonderful game."

-  Queen Elizabeth II, while knighting Premier League Chairman David Richards, November 2006

World Cup Trivia

1. The first FIFAWorld Cup trophy was awarded to Uruguay at the inaugural 1930 tournament. It was a cup with the female figure of winged victory. In 1970 the trophy was permanently awarded to Brazil after that team’s then-record third victory in the FIFA World Cup. But it was later stolen, and never seen again.

2. In 1966 the trophy was stolen from an exhibition before the FIFA World Cup in England. Luckily, A small dog called Pickles found it buried under a bush and it was restored.

3. The current FIFA World Cup dates from 1974. The design by Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga, was selected from 53 design submissions from sculptors from 7 countries. It features two human figures holding up the globe of the world. It is made of 18-carat gold, is 36.8cm high and weighs 6.175kg. The base has space for 17 winner inscriptions, enough space to last until the 2038 FIFA World Cup. The solid-gold trophy remains in the permanent possession of FIFA, with the winning association receiving a gold-plated replica that it keeps until the next tournament.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quote: Tony Blair

"I sometimes think it is a good rule of thumb to ask of a country: are people trying to get into it or out of it?  It's not a bad guide to what sort of country it is."

-  Tony Blair (1953 - )

Maradona: Hand of God

(Click on photographs to enlarge).

News Report:
Sydney Morning Herald
12 June 2010
The perpetrator of the 'Hand of God' says referees have a duty to clean up football, writes Jeremy Wilson A drug cheat and the perpetrator of the most infamous handball in football history is, on the face of it, hardly the ideal ambassador for a campaign to promote fair play. Normal boundaries, however, have never really applied to Diego Maradona and so, without even a hint of irony, he used his final press conference before his first match as a World Cup manager to deliver a sermon on honest football. "Let there really be fair play, let the referees understand what the words 'fair play' mean," he said. "If you don't want to play clean football then go up into the stands."

So what would you have done?

Diego Maradona, a former Argentine Soccer star and the current manager of the Argentine team, played for his country 91 times, scored 34 goals and competed in 4 World Cups. In 1986, when captaining Argentina in the World Cup in Mexico, Argentina defeated England 2 -1 in a quarter final and  went on to win the Cup by defeating West Germany.

Both goals against England were scored by Maradona, the first becoming known as “The Hand of God” and the second as “The Goal of the Century”.

Quote: Anonymous

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass.   It's about learning to dance in the rain."

-  Anonymous

Touching the Queen

The post yesterday about Dennis Lillee's meeting the Queen reminded me of an earlier email Bytes on touching the Queen. Here it is

When US President Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle, visited the UK recently the First Lady raised eyebrows by an apparent breach of protocol by putting her arm around the Queen. Touching the Queen is strictly verboten.

There was not any great controversy, possibly because the President had only just been elected; possibly because the First Lady is elegant, charming and attractive; and possibly because the Her Maj equally hugged the First Lady. Possibly too attitudes have become more relaxed. Perhaps it was all of the above.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quote: Karl Wilhem von Humboldt

"I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves."

-  Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 - 1835)

Great Moments: Dennis Lillee Meets the Queen

In 1977 on the occasion of the Centenary Test when the Queen was introduced to both the English and Australian teams, Dennis Lillee (1949 - ) broke protocol by asking the Queen for her autograph. The Australian fast bowler even had a pen and paper handy for her, but Her Majesty declined the request — sending an autographed photo a few weeks later.
See it at:
(at the 1.40 mark)

Four years later, in 1981, Lillee was again introduced to the Queen, this time at Buckingham Palace. to receive his MBE.  Lillee offered his hand for a handshake and spoke the words:

“G’day, how ya go’in?”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quote: W C Fields

"Start every day off with a smile and get it over with."

- W C Fields (1880 - 1946)

Iconic Images: The First Photograph

A short time ago I posted some amazing and beautiful photographs taken by the Hubble Telescope on its voyage through space and sent back to us here on Earth. Yesterday I reprinted an article about a space probe that is about to land in outback Australia after a 4 billion kilometre journey to an asteroid where it landed, investigated and returned, with repairs also being carried out from home. TV sets are now being sold that are 3D.

What makes all this so much more amazing is that the above image, The Window at Le Gras dating from 1825, only 185 years ago, is the earliest known surviving photograph. It was created by Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833), a French inventor and pioneer in the field of photography, as a result of his experiments to find a way of preserving images in that his hand was not steady enough to copy the inverted images from his camera obscura.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quote: Joan Rivers

"A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp."

-  Joan Rivers (1933 - )


An athlete walks into the Olympic Stadium carrying a very long stick. The  doorman says “Ae you a pole vaulter?"  The athlete says "No, I am a German.  How did you know my name?"

Origin: Pushing the Envelope


Pushing the envelope.


To attempt to extend the current limits of performance; to go beyond commonloy accepted boundaries.


The envelope referred to is not the receptacle for sending letters but an  area enclosed or enveloped.

In this way it has a lot in common with the phrase “beyond the pale”. This phrase refers not to a light colour, as in Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, but to a stake or pointed piece of wood. It is virtually obsolete now except in the phrase “beyond the pale” and in the associated words paling (as in paling fence) and impale (as in Dracula movies). Pale came to mean an area enclosed by a paling fence, a safe area, so that “beyond the pale” came to mean leaving the safety of home. Inside the pale you were safe, outside the pale you were at risk, giving rise to the current meaning of unacceptable, outside agreed standards of decency.

Space.. The Final Frontier...

Does anyone else find this mindblowing?  From today's SMH at:

Space invader on target for Australia after 4 billion kilometre trip
Deborah Smith, Science Editor

ITS arrival will be a triumph of ingenuity and perseverance over adversity. Crippled, out of fuel, and three years late, the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid and return to Earth is about to touch down in the Australian outback.

The unmanned Japanese probe, Hayabusa, or Falcon, is set to release its cargo capsule over the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia on Sunday night, at the end of a 4billion-kilometre journey. Even if the capsule does not contain any soil from the asteroid as hoped, its landing about 11.30pm will be a great achievement and tribute to the tenaciousness of the Japanese space agency, said Glen Nagle, the spokesman for the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla.

The seven-year mission to Itokawa, a small asteroid just 540 metres long, has had to overcome fuel leakages, malfunctioning engines, and repeated loss of communication with Earth. ''What has been achieved in getting this spacecraft back is nothing short of remarkable,'' Mr Nagle said.

The CSIRO-managed NASA tracking station has been following Hayabusa since its launch in May 2003. When it gets close to Woomera the 500-kilogram spacecraft will be moving so fast it will have to be tracked from California. A Japanese and NASA team in a chase aeroplane with thermal imaging equipment will help pinpoint its landing position during its final descent, so the capsule can be recovered and returned to Japan, where its contents will be analysed by researchers including Professor Trevor Ireland of the Australian National University.

A year into its journey, Hayabusa swung by the Earth, using its gravity to accelerate towards the asteroid, a lump of debris left over from the birth of the planets 4.5 billion years ago. It arrived at the asteroid, about 300 million kilometres from Earth, in November 2005 and took photographs and remote sensing measurements which revealed it was a pile of loosely packed rubble. A small robot, named Minerva, was to have hopped across the surface of the asteroid, but its release was flawed and it drifted off into space. Although Hayabusa touched down on the asteroid twice, a system to fire a metal ball to kick up soil for collection did not operate properly and it is unclear whether any material was obtained. The spacecraft's chemical fuel leaked out, and three of its four electronic ion propulsion engines broke down. But the Japanese team was able to combine the parts on the crippled craft that still worked to bring it home.