Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quote: Ronald Reagan

As the wooing of the independent MP's by the ALP and the Coalition to form a government continues, and as the independents work the scene to get as much out of the situation as they can, it is appropriate to recall the words of Ronald Reagan:

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."

-  Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vintage Ads: Cocaine #2

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantel-piece and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction.

"It is cocaine," he said, "a seven-per-cent solution. Would you care to try it?"

-  Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)

Yesterday I posted an advertisement for Cocaine Toothache Drops and mentioned that some weird and not so wonderful items were included in pharmaceuticals around the turn of the century.

Over the next few days I will present some more in that vein (ha ha).

Today, more about the use of cocaine in medicines, pharmaceuticals and drinks.

Last Words: Buddha

There are various translations and recordings of the last words of the Buddha:

"All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence."

"All things are perishable, through vigilance awaken."

"Conditioned things are perishable; with vigilance strive to succeed."

-  Siddartha Gautama Buddha (c. 563 BCE or 623 BCE),
 regarded as the Supreme Buddha,
"Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vintage Ads: Cocaine

(Click to enlarge)

The above advertisement dates from 1885 when many strange ingredients, at least to our thinking in 2010, were icluded in pharmaceuticals.

The advertsiement reads:
Instantaneous Cure!
Price 15 Cents.
For sale by all Druggists.
(Registered March 1885.)
Cocaine is the new anaesthetic now used so extensively thoughout Europe and this
country by Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists.
This preparation of Toothache Drops contains Cocaine, and its wonderful properties
are fully demonstrated by the many recommendations it is daily receiving.
Take no other except Cocaine Toothache Drops.
For sale by all Druggists.
Prepared by the Lloyd Manufacturing Co., 219 Hudson Ave., Albany, N.Y.

It is not that unusual to find cocaine used as a local anaesthetic in  medicines and pharmaceuticals when you consider that it was also used in a soft drink, Coca Cola, between its invention in 1886 until 1903.  Needless to say, attitudes to the white powder were different then.  When I was a kid you rubbed cloves on your gum when you had a toothache.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quote: J M Barrie

"I am not young enough to know everything."

- J M Barrie (1860-1937)

In Case You Missed It: Kylie Minogue

The Daily Telegraph reports that Kylie Minogue was censoted by Facebook for a pic posted by a fan.  The photo shows Kylie with microphone in hand holding a large teddy bear wearing a shirt reading "Smilie Kylie".  The pic was taken at London's G-A-Y Club.  Facebook's reason for deleting the pic:  "We do not allow photos that contain nudity."

Either the Facebook censors misattributed the microphone or they objected to the teddy bear not wearing bottoms, but then what of:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brown Sugar

An opening riff that is one of the best known in rock, a guaranteed foot tapper and rock classic from the Stones, ranked No 490 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Not bad for what is today a mainstream song, notwithstanding that its subject matter of interracial sex, oral sex, slave rape, sadomasochism, lost virginity and heroin use make it completely non PC.

And it has an Australian connection.

Hear and see it by clicking on:

Mick Jagger wrote Brown Sugar in 1969 when he was filming Ned Kelly in Australia. It was recorded in 1969 just before the infamous Altamont Speedway concert and was debuted at that concert. However it wasn’t released until the 1971 Sticky Fingers album due to a dispute with their former manager Allen Klein over royalties. Although Richards is also credited in the songwriting, the song is wholly Jagger’s.

Quote: Lao-Tzu

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

-  Lao-Tzu (c 600 BCE)

(I came across this quotation again recently.  Having heard it many times before, I was unaware that it came from Lao-Tzu, a philosopher from ancient China born 600 years before Christ.  It is said that when Lao-Tzu grew old, increasingly saddened by the evils he saw around him, he left for the desert on a water buffalo (above), intending not to return to China.  When he reached the Great Wall, the gatekeeper encouraged him to stay and record his beliefs for the benefit of those who would come after him.  His 81 recorded sayings form the Tao-te-ching, a text for the way of life, one of the most translated texts after the Bible.  Whilst I had always thought the above quotation to be advice on a practical level, it had not occurred to me that the teaching of a person to fish would also invest that recipeint with a sense of dignity and self worth.  That aspect was mentioned in the book I was reading, that Lao-Tzu believed that all people should live lives of serenity, goodness and respect and that teaching a person to fish instead of having the person accept the gift of fish as charity would assist in that journey.  Impressive guy).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Origin: Sweet Fanny Adams

(Click on photograph to enlarge).

On 24 August, 1867 eight year old Fanny Adams was murdered by Frederick Baker, a 24 year old solicitor’s clerk, in the rural village of Alton in England. Having been seen in the vicinity of the crime at the relevant time, having admitted that he gave Fanny’s companions, her friend Minnie Warner and Fanny's 7 year old sister Lizzie Adams,  money to go away and buy lollies, and having admitted that he then spent time with Fanny, his defence had little chance of success. This was all the more so in that when arrested he had bloodstains on his clothes, he had two bloodstained knives on him, and that he had told an acquaintance he was going to leave town and might obtain employment as a butcher. Having obviously learnt little from working in a solicitor’s office, he had also written in his diary “24th August, Saturday — killed a young girl. It was fine and hot.” Both the defence of innocence and alternatively insanity were rejected by the jury, which convicted him in 15 minutes. He was executed on Christmas Eve outside Winchester Gaol with 5,000 attending.

Baker had killed Fanny Adams by a blow to the head with a rock. He had then savagely mutilated the body and scattered the parts, to such an extent that it took days to find the various bits and pieces. There was not a person in England who did not know of Fanny Adams at the time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quote: Sir Richard Steele

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."

-  Sir Richard Steele  (1672 - 1729)

ANZAC Biscuits

One of the problems with doing this site is that when you see something of interest in some way, you want to look up origins or find out more. So there I was, ordering a coffee in the café opposite the court at Newtown when I noticed the Anzac biscuits in the jar. My mind started wandering: How was the name connected to the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps? How would the diggers who suffered the deprivations of Gallipoli have reacted to a trendy Newtown café selling Anzac biscuits with short blacks and lattes?

The following is from a great website, Digger History, at:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Pencil Sculptures of Dalton Getty

I previously posted some photographs of the works of Dalton Getty, aka Dalton Ghetti, who carves pencil leads.  Some of his works take 2 years to complete.  Here are some more, courtesy of yesterday's Daily Telegraph online.  Click on the pics to enlarge...

Creepy Ads: American Airlines

This message is just so wrong...

(Click on ad to enlarge).


Byter Leo sent me a video which is a reality feel-good clip.  It looks to be a few years old but it counts as new if you haven't seen it before.  See it at:

If the whales had begun tipping the boat, would you have tossed them the penguin?

And while we're on penguins,. see:

Monday, August 23, 2010

In case you missed it: Mohamed Fayed and memorials, SMH 23 August 2010

A story in the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mohamd Fayed, the former owner of Harrods. the exclusive department store in Knightsbridge, London, is of the opinion that royal warrants were a curse on the store.  A royal warrant is the right to advertise that the holder provides to the Royal family.

Mr Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed,  steps down as the honorary chairman of Harrods in November after selling the company to the Qatari royal family for £1.5 billion ($2.6 billion).

Quote: Richard Nixon

“Voters quickly forget what a man says.”

-  Richard M Nixon (1913 - 1994)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Wilhelm Scream

The Scream:

In 1951 Gary Cooper made a movie called Distant Drums. The movie is set in the 1840’s during the Indian wars and concerns an army captain who leads an attack upon the Seminole Indians holding a fort and subsequently retreats into the Everglades.

The movie is seldom remembered today except for one thing: the legacy of the Wilhelm Scream.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quote: Kevin Welch

"There'll be two dates on your tombstone. And all your friends will read 'em. But all that's gonna matter is that little dash between 'em."

- Kevin Welch (1955 - )
(Note the little dash and one date).

Stephen Bradbury

It always comes as something of a surprise when my body signals that I am no longer a young bull. Mentally I still feel fit and alert but physically dem ole bones let me know that I am now in the old bull category.

The lesson of the old bull and young bull is that of age and wisdom versus youthful strength and exuberance. Hence the story (clean version) that an old bull and a young bull were standing at the top of a hill overlooking a large meadow full of cows. The young bull says excitedly, "Let's run down there and service us a cow!" "No, son", says the old bull, "let's walk down there and service all of them."

Many know the story of Steven Bradbury (1973 - ), the skater who won Australia’ first Winter Olympics gold medal in 2002 when all four skaters he was competing against fell over 50m from the finish line.

He was subsequently dubbed the king of the losers and the phrase “doing a Bradbury” entered the Australian vernacular to mean an accidental win or unexpected or unusual success.

It can be viewed at:

It is, however, unfair that Steven Bradbury should bear this stigma when his victory was a carefully crafted strategy by an old bull against younger bulls.

Quote: Orson Welles

"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love--they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

-  Orson Welles in The Third Man

See the speech at: 

To hear the wonderful Third Man Theme (played on a zither) and watch the opening scenes of the movie visit:

Hear the Beatles' version at:

Humour: Lord Henry

Lord Henry lived alone in his manor with his faithful manservant, James.

His lordship had a regular daily routine which included James assisting his lordship with his bath. Once his lordship was in his bath, it was James’ duty to fetch Lord Henry a brandy.

One day his lordship was feeling drowsy in his bath and began drifting off to sleep, just as James was about to leave to get Lord Henry his daily brandy. As James was turning the handle on the door, his lordship broke wind. James paused, looked at his lordship and left.

Some time later James came back, carrying a silver tray with the glass of brandy, a jar of Bovril, a cheap fob watch and a hot water bottle.

“What’s all this?” asked his lordship.

“The things you asked for, m’lord,” said James.

“You must be daft, my good man,” said his lordship, “I asked for nothing of the sort.”

“I’m sorry, your lordship,” replied James, “I could have sworn that as I was leaving I heard you ask for a four bob fob watch, hot water bottle and bottle of Bovril.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quote: Jim Carrey

“Maybe there is no actual place called hell. Maybe hell is just having to listen to our grandparents breathe through their noses when they’re eating sandwiches.”

- Jim Carrey (1962 - )

Origin: To call a spade a spade

I had been looking up something for the current  Bytes posting when I came across the history of the phrase "to call a spade a spade."   I was obliged to leave that item, and my computer, to keep an appointment with Byters Philip and Enid.  Funnily enough, just after meeting, Philip used the phrase in conversation.

The expression means to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or embarrassing nature.

Our modern use of the phrase gives a direct link back to Erasmus (1466-1536) and before that to the ancient Greeks.

The Greeks used the expression "to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough" (sometimes the word "basin" is used instead of the word "trough).  The expression is first recorded  in Aristophanes play "The Clouds" (423 BC) and it has also been used by writers such as Plutarch.  Some commentators believe that the fig and the trough were also sexual symbols.

When Erasmus translated the works of Plutarch, he confused Plutarch's "trough" (skaphe) with the Greek word for "digging tool" (skapheion). As a result the phrase became "to call a spade a spade."

The phrase "to call a spade a bloody shovel" is first recorded in 1919.  Later the expression became "to call a spade a fucking shovel", the implication being that the person so described is without manners or class, that he (or she) has progresed beyong forthrightness to boorishness.

The derogatory expression of "spade" for black person is first recorded in 1928 and comes not from a digging implement but from the suit in a deck of cards, as in "he is as black as the Ace of Spades".

Because of that derogatory association, even though the original phrase had nothing to do with race, many persons now avoid use of the word.  Because of unfavourable racial connotations, some writers and commentators have recommended discontinuance of the words niggardly, "a chink in his armor" and "a nip in the air", even though there was no association with race in the original use of those words.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quote: Francois de La Rochefoucauld

"The glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it."
-  Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680)

Last Words: Marie Antoinette

“Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.”

- Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793)

Words to her executioner when she accidentally stepped on his foot as she approached the guillotine, convicted of treason and about to be beheaded.

Vintage Ads: Vitamins

(Click on pic to enlarge).

Quote: Benjamin Disraeli

In 1835, the Irish Roman Catholic leader Daniel O'Connell attacked Benjamin Disraeli during a by election, referring to Disraeli as the “'worst possible type of Jew” and stated that:
"He has just the qualities of that impertinent thief on the cross, and I verily believe, if Mr. Disraeli's family herald were to be examined and his genealogy traced, that same personage would be discovered to be the heir at law of the exalted individual to whom I allude."
Disraeli, in a letter to the Times, replied:
"Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon."
(Commonly it is stated that Disraeli made the above response in the House of Commons but that is incorrect. It should also be noted that Disraeli was a practising Christian, despite his Jewish background, and that Jews were not allowed to enter Parliament until 1858.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Humour: Solitaire

Life rafts in Australian Air Force planes now come equipped with a deck of cards.  If a pilot is forced to eject over the ocean and the GPS doesn't work for any reason, the pilot is to open the cards and begin playing solitaire.  That way, after a couple of minutes, someone will come over and say "Put the red four on the black five."

Vintage Pics: Dulwich Hill

Dulwich Hill, c 1900 - Marrickville Road, viewed from New canterbury Road.
(Click on photograph to enlarge).

Dulwich Hill was named after the London suburb of Dulwich. Earlier names were Wardell's Bush and Wardell's Hill, after the extensive estate of Dr Robert Wardell. Parts of what is now Dulwich Hill were referred to until about 1911 as Fern Hill.

The last extensive subdivision of land in the Marrickville LGA occurred in 1928 at Dulwich Hill. This was the Abergeldie Estate, property of Sir Hugh Dixson, tobacco tycoon and philanthropist. The subdivision comprised 153 allotments with the auctioneer selling all of the allotments on the one day with the sale finishing by candlelight.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Delayed Bytes

For those who may have been wondering where the Saturday morning Bytes had gone, my internet service was down and hence transmission wasn't possible in time.  Those missing Bytes are below, plus the Sunday Bytes.

Jackie Evancho

W C Fields reputedly once said that an entertainer should never work with anaimals or children, the suggestion being that one would always be upstaged by them.

In case you  missed it during the week, take a moment to watch, and listen to, Jackie Evancho, a 10 year old singing Puccini's O Mio Babbino on America's Got Talent.

Jackie is not a newbie.  She has performed publicly on many occasions and released a debut album, Prelude to a Dream, in November 2009.

Nontheless, remember that she is only 10 years old.

Click on the following link:

Rivers, Oceans and Plastics...

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Byter Leo sent me an email that showed a polluted river in West Java, Indonesia that was so putrid that it defied belief. Most of the emails and videos that are sent these days are photoshopped or hoaxes, so that my attitude is usually a healthy scepticism until it is proven to be valid. In this case the video was real.

The river is known as the Citarum River and it has been described by various commentators as the most polluted river in the world.

Where once the river was gently flowing with a natural beauty, where villagers fished with nets, used the river water for their homes and to irrigate their rice paddies, today it is choked with the domestic waste of 9 million people and the industrial waste of hundreds of factories.

Quote: Dorothy Parker

"You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think."

-  Dorothy Parker (1893 - 1967).
Challenged by by the American columnist and wit Franklin P Adams to use the word "horticulture" in a sentence, Parker spoke the above words, a play on the old saying "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink".

Quote: David Berkowitz

“I didn’t want to hurt them, I only wanted to kill them.”

- David Berkowitz, aka serial killer Son of Sam (1953 - )

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quote: S Ullman

“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

- Samuel Ullman (1840 -1924)

Origin: Grog

In the days of sail, conquest and exploration, it was necessary to carry fresh water on board ship for officers and crew. The only problem was that the water did not remain fresh. Stored in casks, it developed algae and became slimy. Accordingly stagnant water was mixed with beer and wine to make it sweeter and more palatable. As voyages became longer, greater amounts of water needed to be stored.

Following Britain’s conquest of Jamaica in 1655, a daily ration of rum replaced beer and brandy rations but some sailors saved their rations and drank them all at once, leading to illness and lack of discipline. In 1740 Admiral Edward Vernon (above) ordered that water be added to the rum to dilute it. Subsequently Vernon also ordered that lemon or lime juice be added. Although it was not then known that citrus fruits assisted in preventing scurvy, it was known that Vernon’s sailors were healthier than others.

Admiral Vernon was in the habit of wearing a grogram coat, being a coarse fabric of silk mixed with wool or with mohair and often stiffened with gum. From this he became known to the sailors as “Old Grog”.

Vernon’s insistence on watered brandy, with citrus, was not popular. The expression was that compared to the previous drink, it was "as thin as Old Grog's cloak.”

From 1756 sailors in the Royal Navy were issued a half pint of rum mixed with one quart of water, split into two servings, one before noon and one after the end of the working day. The rum ration, part of the regulations, lasted until discontinued in 1970.

And by the way, the famous quotation:

"Don't talk to me about naval tradition, it's all rum, sodomy and the lash."

was not spoken by Winston Churchill, although it is commonly attributed to him. The words were spoken by Churchill's assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne, who later said that although Churchill had not uttered these words, he admitted that he wished he had

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Washington Post

From Byter Nadia:

Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational New Words Contest

Here is the Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

"Bugger off, it's mine"

Love this story from The Daily Mail...…

A young lad accidentally dropped his Nintendo gaming machine into the gorilla enclosure where a gorilla named Bawang picked it up. Bawang started examining and fiddling with it, turning it over, looking through it and even pressing buttons. Soon a young gorilla named Hansai, Bawang’s adopted son, made a grab for the machine but Bawang was having none of it. Eventually the keeper managed to swap the Nintendo for an apple (fruit, not computer). Fortunately photographer Chris Spicuzza was able to shoot a couple of pics before the camera battery died (click on the pics to enlarge)...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Vintage Pics: QVB

(Click on pic to enlarge).

QVB, then known as Victoria Markets, Sydney, c 1900.

HMS Pinafore

Lately the more I see of politicians and political advertising, the more I am reminded of The First Lord's Song from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore...

Hear it at:


Monday, August 9, 2010

Quote: Thomas Jefferson

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

- Thomas Jefferson 1787,  (1743 - 182)

The Fourth Estate

With all the fuss as to whether Mark Latham is or is not a journalist, I started wondering why journos are referred to (amongst other things) as “the Fourth Estate”.

Following is an explanation and some comments:

- Although the term “Fourth Estate” was at various early times used to refer to lawyers, to the Queen of England acting on her own account separate from the King, and to “the mob”, today the term is used to refer to the Press.

- Prior to the development of the concept of the Fourth Estate, there were three traditional estates, or groups/classes, in society: the clergy (the First Estate), the nobility (the Second Estate) and the commoners (the Third Estate).