Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yoghurt and naked females

Getting ready to go to work in the morning with Sunrise on in the background I was surprised, nay shocked, to see an image on the screen for a yoghurt advertisement.

Sometimes subtle suggestion is more powerful than a blatant image. Mae West, for instance, is still regarded as one of the sexiest women who ever lived, yet her philosophy was not to appear nude but to allow imagination to do the work.

The yoghurt image that I am referring to is for Jalna Yoghurt, the advertising slogan being “A little pot of purity”. This is the image:

(Click on this and the pic below to enlarge).
So what is so shocking?

Compare it with Manet’s well known work Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (“The Lunch on the Grass”):

Painted in 1862, the work created controversy when first exhibited in showing a female nude juxtaposed casually lunching in a park with fully clothed men. It is all the more confronting in that the nude female stares directly out of the painting at the viewer. The painting remains controversial to the present day.

It is ironic that the yoghurt is advertised with the words “A little pot of purity” when Manet’s painting was considered to be anything but pure when it was first exhibited.

"Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

A couple of days ago I was discussing some quotations with a friend when he raised one: “Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.” I had heard it before but I confess that I did not know who said it and that I had only sketchy knowledge of the circumstances in which it had been said. Hence some internet research which provided not only the relevant information but also some laughs.

The words were spoken in 1988 during a Vice-Presidential debate by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen to Republican vice-presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vintage Ads

(Click on pic to enlarge)

Quote: Clement Freud

"The depressing thing about an Englishman's traditional love of animals is the dishonesty thereof ... Get a barbed hook into the upper lip of a salmon, drag him endlessly around the water until he loses his strength, pull him to the bank, hit him on the head with a stone, and you may well become fisherman of the year. Shoot the salmon and you'll never be asked again."

-  Clement Freud (1924 - 2009), British politician and chef

Quote: Johann Goethe

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.”

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)

Aussie Slang: Furphy

A furphy, meaning a rumour or false story or report, originates from the water cart first developed by Joseph Furphy, above,  (1843-1912). Furphy, a blacksmith and engineer, set up his foundry business in 1864. It eventually became J Furphy & Sons and continues to the present day, still family owned and now fifth generation. Its present day logo is based on the water cart:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quotes: The 7 P's

Four steps to achievement:

Plan purposefully.

Prepare prayerfully.

Proceed positively.

Pursue persistently.

-  Wiliam Arthur Ward (1921 -1994)

I prefer an  alternative version, commonly known as The 7 P's:

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Vintage Pics: Parramatta Road / Sydney University

A carriage marked "Ashfield-Burwood" travels down Parramatta Road in the early 1870’s, with the University of Sydney in the background.

(Click on photograph to enlarge).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Two Minutes of History: The Great Debates, 1960:

In 1960 John F Kennedy, aged 42, ran for President of the US against the then Vice President Richard Nixon. Kennedy, a Democrat, was dogged by criticisms that he was too young and inexperienced. He had seen action as a PT boat skipper in WW2, following which he served as the Massachusetts representative to Congress between 1947 and 1953 and as a member of the US Senate between 1953 and 1960. Nixon was aged 47, had entered the US House of Representatives in 1946, the Senate in 1950 and had been Eisenhower’s Vice President between 1953 and 1960.

Nixon accepted Kennedy’s challenge to 4 televised debates, the first time such debates had ever been held and televised. Known as the “Great Debates”, the first focused on domestic issues and took place on 26 September 1960. It was the first time that the voters were able to see their candidates in competition.

Anecdotes: Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam

The following anecdote is taken from Gough Whitlam's speech in a debate in 2000 on the topic "That politicians have lost their sense of humour":
I soon learned that the Federal Parliament could also be vulgar. Rowley James, who had been crippled in a car accident, noisily entered the House during question time. Having settled in his seat, he noisily placed his walking stick on his desk. He then leaned to one side and broke wind. Speaker Cameron was so exasperated that he called him to order. James challenged him, "Mr Speaker, what did I do?" Cameron was speechless. Eddie Ward scarcely helped by raising a point of order.

Cameron: Yes, yes, what is the point of order?

Ward: Mr Speaker, I move that the honourable member's interjection be recorded in Hansard. 
Rowland (Rowley) James

Quotes: John Milton

“Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”

-  John Milton (1608 - 1674), Paradise Lost (1671)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Of Kilos, Aesop and Trees

Discussing weight loss with dietician Simone, she made the observation that slow and steady weight loss in small measures is preferable to quick weight loss in larger amounts. This may come as a shock to fans of Biggest Loser or for those on a crash diet for a forthcoming event, but it is based on the principle that slow, sustained weight loss will be more likely to last than a crash diet.

In that discussion the moral of the Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare was mentioned – “slow and steady wins the race” – but I confess that I have had problems with that story from when I first heard it as a child. Everyone knows that the tortoise won the race because the tortoise kept travelling when the overconfident hare slept. But:

- Why did the tortoise challenge hare to the foot race? He did not know that the hare would sleep. Did he seriously expect to win?

- Why did the hare accept the challenge? The hare must have known that he would defeat the tortoise easily so what would have been the glory in that?

- Finally, what is the value of a life instruction that relies on a one in a million chance for success?

I mentioned an alternative analogy to Simone, which she also thought more appropriate for the weight loss scenario: the quickest growing trees have the shortest lifespans eg wattles, conversely slow growing trees live for much longer periods.

Afterwards I started wondering about the ages of the world’s oldest living trees. Did the gum trees on the shores of Botany Bay witness the arrival of the First Fleet?  Are there trees as old as the Ents (above) in Lord of the Rings?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Words Women Use

Thanks to Byter Anthony for this one...


This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up................ Never use "fine" to describe how a woman looks - this will cause you to have one of those arguments.


This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's an even trade.


This means "something," and you should be on your toes. "Nothing" is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. "Nothing" usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and end with "Fine"

Jack Lang, Part 3

Jack Lang

Part 3 of 3


The NSW Governor, Sir Philip Game, dismissed Jack Lang’s government on 13 May 1932.

Had Game acted correctly in so doing?

On 23 April Game had written to London that:
“I feel it far better that the Commonwealth and State Governments should decide the quarrel without my intervention.”
His action on 13 May was quite different from that expressed view.

The dismissal of a popularly elected government by the King or the King’s representative was something that could not have happened in Britain where the Crown’s power in respect of Parliament had been severely curtailed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Computer Repair

I am indebted to Byter Leo for the following contribution:

Caller: "Hi, our printer is not working."

Customer Service: "What is wrong with it?"

Caller: "Mouse is jammed."

Customer Service: "Mouse? Printers don't have a mouse!"

Caller: "Really? I will send you a picture."

Click on pic to enlarge.

For those feeling sorry for the mouse, there are some websites that show additional pictures, pointing out that the mouse in the printer problem was genuine and that the mouse was subsequently released.

Iconic Photographs: Raising a Flag Over the Reichstag

“History is written by the victors.”

- Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)

Manipulation of images has probably been with us from days when people drew on cave walls with burnt sticks. Image manipulation now even has its own word – photoshopped – after the Photoshop computer software used for that purpose.

The photo below is regarded as one of the 20th century’s iconic images.

Click on photographs to enlarge

Taken by Yevgeny Khaldei on 2 May 19545 during the Battle of Berlin, it shows Soviet troops raising the Soviet Union flag atop the German Reichstag building.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Saint Peter is watching the gates of Heaven, but he really has to go the bathroom. He asks Jesus to watch the gates for a few minutes, and Jesus agrees.

As Jesus is standing there, he sees an old man leading a donkey up from Earth to Heaven. He notices the old man has carpenter’s tools with him. When the old man gets to the gates, Jesus asks him to describe his life and explain why he feels he should be admitted into heaven.

The man explains, “In English, my name would be Joseph, but I didn’t live in America or England. I lived a modest life, making things out of wood. I’m not remembered very well by most people, but almost everyone has heard of my son. I call him my son, but I was more of a Dad to him, he didn’t really come into this world in the usual way.

I sent my son out to be among the people of the World. He was ridiculed by many, and was even known to associate himself with some pretty unsavoury characters, although he himself tried to be honest and perfect. My single biggest reason for trying to get into Heaven is to be reunited with my son.”

Jesus is awe-struck by the man’s story. He looks into the old man’s eyes and asks, “Father?”

The old man’s face brightens; he looks at Jesus, and asks “ Pinocchio?"

Art: Dalton Getty

A short time ago I posted some examples of telephone book carving.

In contrast, there are some people who make incredibly real, giant sculptures, such as Ron Mueck:

(Click on photographs to enlarge).

There are people who carve fantastically tiny sculptures, sometimes so small that they have to be viewed through a microscope, as with the works of Willard Wigan which fit on the head of a pin or in the eye of a needle:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great Replies: Truman Capote

Author Truman Capote was drinking one evening with friends in a crowded Key West bar when he was recognised by a woman who had a few too many drinks.  She walked over to his table and drunkenly asked him to autograph a paper napkin. The woman's husband became angry at his wife's display of interest in another man.  He also staggered over to Capote's table and assumed an intimidating position directly in front of Capote.  He then unzipped his trousers and, in Capote's own words, "hauled out his equipment." As he did this, he bellowed in a drunken slur, "Since you're autographing things, why don't you autograph this?"  It was a tense moment, and a hush fell over the room.  In the silence, everyone heard Capote in his soft, high-pitched voice say "I don't know if I can autograph it, but perhaps I can initial it."


Two Australian icons: the Hills Hoist and the Dunny

In a post a few days ago I mentioned the terms dunny, dunny man, dunny cart and dunny lane.

Older Byters may recall their childhoods where toilets were located outside and consisted of a pan under a wooden seat. Often a choko vine grew over the roof. Those memories may include going to the toilet at night, barefoot on the wet grass, stepping on snails and having to leave the door open to catch a bit of moonlight for light. And that’s not mentioning the spiders, insects, maggots and smells. Not all childhood memories are fond ones.

Still, it was preferable to the first time I experienced a traditional toilet in Asia, but that’s a different story.

The term “dunny” has been first recorded in 1933 in Australia. It derives from the 18th century English word “dunnakin”, meaning a toilet. In Ireland it was spelt “dunnigan”. That word in turn derived from dialect words for excrement such as “danna”, or its colour “dun”, with the word “kin” meaning house.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quotes: Lyndon Baines Johnson

"I would rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."

-Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908 - 1973),
 President of the Unite States, about J Edgar Hoover,
head of the FBI.  
Hoover  had dossiers, secret files, illegal wiretaps and covert surveillance reports on a wide range of public figures, including politicians.  Asked why he did not sack Hoover, Johnson responded as above.

Art: Alex Queral

So what do you do with your phone books when the new ones arrive? Do you even keep a phone book anymore or do you simply dial 1223 or access the internet to get a number?

Alex Queral is a 51 year old artist who respects the rejected telephone books. Based in Philadelphia, he developed the idea of using telephone books in his artworks 14 years ago when he was looking for wood to sculpt and came upon a pile of discarded phone books. Queral carves the phone books into 3 dimensional sculptures, then paints them with transparent acrylic paint, to make them durable and give them a glossy finish.

He carves and finishes about 2 works a month.
“I carve the faces out of phone books because I like the three-dimensional quality that results and because of the unexpected results that occur working in this medium. The three-dimensional quality enhances the feeling of the pieces as an object as opposed to a picture.

In carving and painting a head from a phone directory, I'm celebrating the individual lost in the anonymous list of thousands of names that describe the size of the community. In addition, I like the idea of creating something that is normally discarded every year into an object of longevity.

It can be quite tense work sometimes because it takes a long time to finish and when you cut something away you can't get it back again.

Nearing the end of the carving and then suddenly having it ruined by a careless cut can be pretty crushing. You have to start all over again."
Click on pics to enlarge...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last Words: Voltaire

"Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies."

- Voltaire (1694-1778)
on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

Vintage Photographs

Sydney backyard, c 1900  (Click on photograph to enlarge).

Some points to note:

- Barefoot was commonplace for kids, even when at the shops or in public streets. Many vintage photos show kids barefoot in those circumstances.

- In the days before sewers, toilets were outside with large cans (“pans”) which were emptied weekly. The waste was known as “night soil” and the removalists thereof as “night soil carriers”. However, the more common terminology was “dunny” for the toilet, “dunny man” for the removalists and “dunny cart” for the truck. The toilets had the rear wall on the rear boundary with a small door at the back allowing removal of the full pan and insertion of an empty one, hence the numerous lanes at the rear of properties in the older suburbs. These lanes, known officially as “night soil lanes” and more commonly as “dunny lanes”, no longer serve a purpose, so that local Councils are allowing owners to purchase their piece of the adjoining lane.

- The wash tubs hanging on the fence.

- The timber poles at the front of the pic, which may be props to raise the clothes line.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quotes: Lewis Carroll

'Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.

'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

- Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Soul Cake

Gordon Matthew Sumner, aka Sting, will turn 60 on 02.10.2011. Those of you humming Message in a Bottle or Roxanne can now feel suitably old. Sting released a new album last Christmas and it is worth getting. Called If On A Winter’s Night, it is not so much a Christmas album as a winter album, a collection of traditional but lesser known carols, traditional English songs, lullabies and his own compositions. 

One track on the album, Soul Cake, is a traditional and catchy song that dates from the Middle Ages.

Sting’s performance of it can be viewed at:

Quotes: Matthew Hayden

"You never want an Australian with his back against the wall. You put any 12 blokes together and you'll get a job done. Whether it's getting a bogged four-wheel-drive off the beach or standing in front of a cricket wicket and making sure we're in a dominant position. It's the same dog, different leg action, so to speak."

- Matthew Hayden (1971 - )

Jack Lang, Part 2

Jack Lang

Part 2

In his speech at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Lang called for unity and reconciliation. He achieved neither. Events in the short period after the opening of the Bridge would see such hopes and words ignored and trampled upon.

There have been a number of rebellions in Australia:

- the miners’ rebellion at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, in 1854;

- the Rum Rebellion in New South Wales in 1808, the only successful armed takeover of government in Australian history;

- the convict rebellion in 1804 that led to the Battle of Vinegar Hill.

Lang was about to bring another to that list and, in so doing, brought the Commonwealth of Australia and New South Wales to the brink of civil war.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Moments in History: Lt F P Bethune

Special Orders to No.1 Section 13/3/18

(1) This position will be held, and the section will remain here until relieved.

(2) The enemy cannot be allowed to interfere with this programme.

(3) If the section cannot remain here alive, it will remain here dead, but in any case it will remain here.

(4) Should any man, through shell shock or other cause, attempt to surrender, he will remain here dead.

(5) Should all guns be blown out, the section will use Mills grenades and other novelties.

(6) Finally, the position as stated, will be held.

F.P. Bethune Lt

O/C No.1 Section

-  Orders issued by Lieutenant F.P. Bethune (1877 – 1942) to his group of seven men in No.1 section, 3rd Machine Gun Company, when sent to defend an exposed position at  Passchendaele in France in March 1918.

Bethune was a clergyman from Tasmania who had enlisted in the AIF in Hobart on the 1 July 1915. Interestingly, Bethune chose to enlist as a soldier rather than as a padre, seeing action numerous times, being wounded and also gassed twice.

After Bethune had issued  the above orders, the unit repulsed repeated attacks over an 18 day period. They were also subjected to constant artillery barrages of high explosive, shrapnel and gas shells. All survived. The orders were later circulated throughout the allied armies in France and embodied in British Army Orders until 1940. Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Dunkirk, they were reproduced as posters under the caption 'The spirit which won the last war' and displayed throughout England.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


“Deeply off the record - I think the timetable & struggle to get candidates reflects internal poll - pre & post the ranga".

- Barry O’Farrell, NSW Opposition leader, accidentally sends a tweet public instead of private, in response to a question as to why the Liberal Party has yet to select its candidates for the federal seats of Greenway and Parramatta despite the imminent announcement of an election. The “ranga” (redhead) referred to is Prime Minister Julia Gillard. 15 July 2010

Good Morning

In the last couple of weeks I have had a number of people mention to me that I must be up early to send out the Bytes for the day at sparrow's fart.* The emails generally go out between 6.00am and 7.00am.

I must disillusion you.

This blog has been created from a Google template where you can select various motifs, heading styles, layouts and so

The blog sends out the emails, not me.  Once the day's email has gone out, I can post the next day's items at any time of the day and they will be emailed out the next morning on each occasion.  I am not pressing the send key at 6.00am each day.

By the way, have you ever noticed that watches and clocks in advertisements usually have their hands in the 10 past 10 position.  This is so that the hands frame the manufacturer's name.  In the past they were commonly shown in the 20 past 8 position but it was felt that this made a symbolic frown, thereby imparting a negative message.  It is considered that the 10 past 10 position  is symbolic of a smile.

(I confess that I still prefer my watch to have hands, not numbers, my  books to be  print on paper and my diary to be in book form, not electronic).

* Sparrow's Fart, according to the Urban Dictionary, is defined as "The earliest time of the morning. About the time when all the sparrows get up and let out a little fart signifying their awakening."

Great Replies: John Wilkes

John Montagu (1718 – 1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, after whom the Sandwich Islands were named, had a political career that included First Lord of the Admiralty. He is best known for having the sandwich also named after him, from a 24 hour stint at the gambling tables when he told a servant to simply put roast beef between bread for a meal.

John Wilkes (1727 -1797) pictured above, was an English radical, journalist and politician.

Both were members of the Hellfire Club, a club of notable men of the day that met for debauchery. As a result of a prank played at the Hellfire Club by Wilkes, in one account described as introducing a dressed baboon wearing a cape, Montagu is said to have been embarrassed, giving rise to hostility towards Wilkes and a long time rivalry. Who knows, perhaps Montagu made a pass at the baboon thinking it was a person.

In one heated argument in Parliament, Montague said scornfully and derisively to Wilkes "Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don't know whether you'll die upon the gallows, or of the pox.”

Wilkes replied: "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress."

More Aussie slang

Following on from the post about disappearing Aussie slang, Byter Nadia asked for an item on the origin of the expression “better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick”, meaning better than nothing.

My researches have not established anything definitive about its origin.

The earliest recorded use of an equivalent expression is from 1786, “better than a thump on the back with a stone”.

There are variations to the above “burnt stick” expression, which is generally accepted to be Australian in origin:

- better than a smack in the eye

- better than a kick in the ass with a frozen foot (Canadian)

- better than a kick up the arse (or in the pants) (British)

- better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish (British)

- better than sleeping with a dead policeman (British)

Nadia’s other request, the origin of the expression “telling porkies”, meaning telling lies, is a lot easier. Its origin is Cockney rhyming slang, “pork pies” meaning “lies”, reduced later to “porkies”.

That expression was used a lot in headlines when, in June 2010, Primo, Australia’s largest producer of smallgoods was hit with a fine of $237,575 plus $200,000 in costs for mislabelling Danish and Canadian bacon products as Australian. The Daily Telegraph declared that Primo had told porkies about bacon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lawyers, Priests and Nazis

Some lawyer items today and not a single lawyer joke.

Okay, just one...
A truck driver would amuse himself by running over lawyers. Whenever he saw a lawyer walking down the side of the road, identified by the pin striped suit and brief case, he would swerve to hit him, enjoy the loud, satisfying "THUMP", and then swerve back onto the road.

One day, as the truck driver was driving along he saw a priest hitchhiking. He thought he would do a good turn and pulled the truck over.

He asked the priest, "Where are you going, Father?"

"I'm going to the church 5 miles down the road," replied the priest.

"No problem, Father! I'll give you a lift. Climb in the truck." The happy priest climbed into the passenger seat and the truck driver continued down the road.

Suddenly the truck driver saw a lawyer walking down the road and instinctively he swerved to hit him. But then he remembered there was a priest in the truck with him, so at the last minute he swerved back away, narrowly missing the lawyer. However even though he was certain he missed the lawyer, he still heard a loud "THUD". Not understanding where the noise came from he glanced in his mirrors and when he didn't see anything, he turned to the priest and said, "I'm sorry Father. I almost hit that lawyer."

"That's okay, my son",  replied the priest. "I got him with the door!"

Origin: Red Tape

Red tape, meaning excessive and often unnecessary paperwork, rules, regulations and formalities which hinder or prevent effective actions and decisions, is a term that has been with us since the 17th century. It originates from the practice of binding legal and official documents in red cloth tape.

The first recorded reference of the term is in the 1696-1715 Maryland Laws:
"The Map upon the Backside thereof sealed with his Excellency's Seal at Arms on a Red Cross with Red Tape."
Apparently the 80 or so petitions for divorce that Henry VIII sent to the Pope in respect of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon are still stored neatly in the Vatican, each still bound in its original red tape.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Last Words: General John Sedgwick

“What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist…”

- General John Sedgwick (1813-1864)
Union Army general, shot by a Confederate sharpshooter during the American Civil War