Monday, February 28, 2011

Thoughts on Autumn

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~Stanley Horowitz

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.
- e. e. cummings

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

- Keats, Ode to Autumn

Autumn is my favourite season.

- Johnny Kelly

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

- George Eliot

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.

- Nathaniel Hawthorne

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.

- P D James

Sunday, February 27, 2011


How to make God laugh: Tell him your future plans.

Woody Allen (1935 - )

Reader Comment: Winston Churchill

Hello Otto,

I really enjoyed the Winston Churchill stuff today. I too am greatly affected and at times motivated by his many witticisms and charm. He was also, not a very pleasant man at times, especially to those that loved him (Lady Churchill, for instance). He was also an extremely selfish, single minded, arrogant and stubborn person – thank God that he was, or we would all be running around under a very different flag today!

If Charles has not seen it, I would thoroughly recommend a film about Churchill’s rise to power prior to the second world war. It is called The Gathering Storm and stars the wonderful Albert Finney and the equally marvellous Vanessa Redgrave. It is perhaps a sanitised version of Churchill that we see, but none the less it is a truly wonderful piece of character acting by Finney. The film won three Emmys but regrettably was not nominated for any Oscars.


Steve m

Reader Comment: Tank Man


Tank man is apposite at the present time. The young man who immolated himself in Tunisia has started an avalanche of change (and let's hope reform).

Robyn T

Hello Otto,

I am just catching up on a few Bytes -- The Tank Man was of great interest to us.

Diane and I were in China two years ago, for a Chinese friends wedding – we were the only Westerners there, and it was a very special experience, as you can imagine, more so because I had to give a speech!

After the wedding (in Shanghai) we spent quite a few weeks touring China, and of course we found ourselves in Tiananmen Square. We asked our Chinese friends about the Tank Man and they knew nothing of him or the event – same with every Chinese person we met – they are still quite oppresses over there, despite our thoughts that the doors are open – the doors are not open, they are held ajar by the Government.

Fly Paper and Milk Bars

As I work at my computer with Border Watch on the TV in the background, I noticed that one NZ customs officer commented on the fact that a person subject to a bag inspection was bringing fly papers into the country. It took me back many years, to the late 50’s and early 60’s when I was a nipper.


(Click on pics to enlarge, especially the place pics below).

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Winston...

Byter Charles mentioned to me during the week that has a fascination with Winston Churchill and that he has particularly enjoyed those Bytes which have featured him. I promised Charles that I would post something about Churchill this weekend and that it would be interesting.

Following are quotations by Churchill which show some lesser known aspects of the man, his personality and his character. 

"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time to still be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time and remember that time waits for no one.

So stop waiting; until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination."

-  Alfred D'Souza

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Graffiti on Philip St, Bedminster, Bristol, UK (opposite Windmill City Farm)

RMS Queen Mary

Sydney Harbour hosted a spectacular royal rendezvous early this morning when the luxury ocean liners Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth sailed into port under grey skies.
- News Report, Sydney Morning Herald 22.02.2011

Once upon a time there were two large shipping companies, the Cunard Line and the White Star Line.

(Old joke:
“I work for Cunard.”
“I work f’Cunard too.”)

In 1934 the two companies merged to form Cunard- White Star Limited.

One of the issues that had to be resolved was naming of future ships. Cunard had a tradition of naming its ships with names that ended in “ia”, such as Lusitania, Mauretania and Aquitania. The White Star Line, on the other hand, had a tradition of ending its ships’ names with "ic", as in Olympic, Britannic and the ill-fated Titanic. Because Cunard had acquired the White Star Line, many considered that the Cunard tradition would prevail. Others felt it would be appropriate to commence a new naming tradition.

White Star and Cunard continued to separately build ships.  White Star built a new ocean liner, Oceanic, and Cunard built two unnamed liners, Ships 534 and 552.

Cunard had kept the aproposed name of  ship 534 a closely guarded secret. In 1936 a delegation led by Sir Ashley Sparks, then Chairman of Cunard Line's American offices, approached King George V for permission to name the ship Queen Victoria. Sir Ashley told King George that the company wanted to name the ship after "the greatest of all English queens." Upon hearing this, the king replied, "Oh, my wife will be pleased."

The delegation had no option but to name ship 534 Queen Mary. Ship 552 became Queen Elizabeth.

Left to right:
Edward, Prince of Wales;
Arthur, Duke of Connaught;
Queen Mary;
King George V;
Princess Mary

Monday, February 21, 2011

One person...

Yesterday’s item about Tank Man raises an age old question: can one person make a difference?

Edward Everett Hale (1822 – 1909), American author, historian and clergyman, once wrote:

"I am only one,
but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something I can do."

Those words are an encouragement to a person making an attempt but realistically can anything be achieved by a single person?

Buddha said “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Another simple story also addresses the issue:

Early one evening a man was walking along a beach when he saw a boy picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. The man asked the boy why he was doing this. The boy explained the starfish would die if left to the morning. The man asked the boy, "What difference will your efforts make when there are thousands of starfish on the beach?" The boy stopped and looked at the starfish he was holding and said, "It will make a difference to this one."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Iconic Photographs: Tank Man

(Click mon photos to enlarge).

A photograph may be iconic for being a memorable moment frozen in time, or because it is a significant first or records a historic event, or simply because it has developed a popular awareness for some reason. There are a myriad reasons as to why a photograph comes to be regarded as iconic.

One photograph has developed such a status by recording a brief moment of courage by an unknown, ordinary individual, a moment of inspiration in history.

At time when protests against governments have spread from Egypt to other middle east countries, it is worth reflecting on such earlier events.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Coming soon to a pub near you?

Byter Vince sent me an email of a video of a new beer pouring system, one in which plastic cups fill from the bottom up. It is quite amazing to watch and probably represents the biggest advance in brewing since young Tasmanian Albert Einstein discovered the secret of putting bubbles into beer by splitting the beer atom using emk.

You can see the video at:

It was developed by Budweiser and is called Bottoms Up. The machine works by utilising a magnetic chip that looks like a poker chip at the bottom of the cup, covering a hole. When the cup is placed on the machine, the chip is pushed up and the cup is gilled from the bottom. When the cup is lifted from the machine, the chip again attaches to the cup base, sealing the hole. It is is argued that the increased cost of the cups will be offset by advertising on the chips.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shit Happens

 Warning: The following item contains unpleasant subject matter, scatological references and toilet humour.  Parental or teenage supervision is recommended.

Recently esteemed philosopher and occasional budgie smuggler model, Anthony John Abbott, made news for commenting on the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan that “shit happens”. In this context the word “shit” means unpleasant events and circumstances, the expression “shit happens” meaning that unpleasant events and situations are a feature of life and existence, that bad things happen for no particular reason. There have been many similar views expressed by other philosophers through the ages. Even the phrases “cest la vie” or Ned Kelly’s “Such is life” have similar meanings. Nonetheless none give the force and laconic brevity of the two word expression “Shit happens”.

Mr Abbott was originally criticised for being insensitive, but focus then shifted to the journalist for perhaps setting him up in questioning him on it, and for Mr Abbott’s stunned, head-rocking response to the questioning. It is interesting to note that some television stations showed the conversation on screen with asterisks as  “s**t happens”, others showed the words in full. So far as I am aware, no one objected to the particular word used.

The suggestion that the expression was coined by Forrest Gump is incorrect. Those who recall the 1994 movie of that name will also remember the scene where a bumper sticker salesman approaches Forrest for a new slogan during Forrest’s running phase. He points out that Forrest nearly stepped in dog faeces, to which Forrest replies “It happens.” The salesman asks “What, shit?” and Forrest answers “Sometimes”. This provides the inspiration for the creation of the “Shit Happens bumper sticker by the salesman.

Royalty and Queens

Anthony Armstrong Jones (1930 - ), photographer and the first Earl of Snowdon, was the husband of Queen Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002) between the years 1960 and 1978. He is widely believed to be bisexual.

When asked once at a party in New York about the Queen's health, Princess Margaret is said to have replied: "Which one? My sister, my mother or my husband?"

This brings to mind an anecdote about the Queen Mother, who was renowned for having a large proportion of gay men as members of staff. One evening on coming to the kitchen she reportedly found two of her courtiers in an embrace. She is supposed to have said “When you two old queens are finished, would one of you get this old queen a drink?”

And one final anecdote about queens and royalty…

Australian cinematographer Dean Semler, who won an Oscar for "Dances With Wolves," was one of the Hollywood fraternity invited to meet the Queen on her visit to the United States.

Semler's account was reported in the International Express and quoted by Chuck Conconi of the Washington Post:
"I said I was director of photography, to which she replied, 'Oh, how terribly interesting. Actually, I have a brother-in-law who is a photographer.'

"I replied, 'Oh, how terribly coincidental. I have a brother-in-law who's a queen.' She moved on without saying another word." 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Past Images

(Click on the image to enlarge).

College Street, Sydney c 1900

Some points to note:
The Australian Museum on the left and Hyde Park on the right.
Horses/horses and carts only, no cars.
Pedestrians can cross roads and intersections as they wish.
The water fountain on the right, which is now a set of steps. 
Period dress.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quote: John F Kennedy

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."

-  John F Kennedy (1917-1963)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quote: Charles R Swindoll

“The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

-  Charles R Swindoll (1934 - )

Sunday, February 13, 2011


“I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon."

~Author Unknown

Cupid wasn’t always portrayed as a short chubby toddler.

In Roman mythology Cupid is a god, the god of desire, affection and erotic love, the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. Greek mythology has an equivalent god, Eros, the god both of sexual love and beauty and the embodiment of the constant creative urge of nature. Eros is the son of Aphrodite and Ares.

Cupid was usually portrayed as a young male with wings, nude or diapered and armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows. The depictions of Cupid as a young man usually show him with a female, Psyche. In both Roman and Greek mythology, Cupid’s mother Venus became jealous of the mortal princess Psyche, who was so loved by her subjects that they forgot to worship Venus. She orders Cupid to make her fall in love with an evil monster. Cupid turns himself invisible and sneaks into her room where he prepares to scratch her arm with an arrow. She awakes before he is able to do so and, despite his being invisible, she looks straight into his eyes. He is started and accidentally scratches himself, causing him to fall deeply in love with Psyche. He reports this to Venus, who becomes enraged and curses Psyche that she will never marry. Cupid, in love and hurting, resolves never to shoot any further arrows, thereby causing Venus’s temple to fall. Months pass and no one, human or animal, marries, falls in love or mates. The earth begins to grow old. Eventually Venus is persuaded to allow Psyche to be Cupid’s and he begins shooting arrows again, restoring the earth and relationships. Psych is still subject to the curse not to marry. Cupid visits her at night but will not allow her to see him or be aware of him. Eventually, after many dramas and events, the leader of the gods, Jupiter, gives Psyche immortality and she is able to be with Cupid. They have a daughter, Voluptas or Hedone (meaning pleasure).


Before leaving the topic of my spell in RPA, I must mention our office bookkeeper extraordinaire, Roz, who has a heart of gold but the personality and subtlety of a herd of stampeding rhinoceroses. For some reason, Roz thought that she would brighten my enforced stay by giving me a book analysing anti-lawyer jokes and why people dislike lawyers so much. Unfortunately she forgot to bring it to the hospital and gave it to me upon my return to the office. It’s a strange reasoning that someone in hospital will be made to feel better by reading a book that attacks that person’s profession, all the more so for having been a member of that profession for 35 years.

I have now read the book, The Joke’s on Lawyers, by Stan Ross and it makes some pertinent observations about the reasons for lawyer jokes, notwithstanding that it was written in 1996. At the time of writing, Ross was a practising barrister and lecturer in law at the University of NSW. He is also the author of several books on lawyers’ ethics and says that a typical comment is that the books must be awfully short.

I do not propose to go into his analyses of why people hate lawyers and make jokes about them, but I will share with you some of the anecdotes and stories he uses in the context of those discussions.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ask Otto: Who Wrote the Bible?

From Byter Maureen:

An earlier Bytes reminded us of a subject causing us some conjecture of late. Who wrote the Bible? Ok, a lot of old blokes. But then who decided what was to go into the tome? There was a Bible before King James decided on what he wanted. What is or was the difference? Mathew Mark and Luke put their names down for royalties, but who wrote Genesis? Who decided on the Psalms?

Next question, assuming the answer is some Pope or head of church, who authorised him?

The reason this has been a subject in the Sadler household is because of some opposite quotes from the Bible that you hear from time to time. Kevin says: why should I believe this one over that one? Just because one man says so? Who is that man? What authority does he give over the other?

Or is this just too big a question and that is why clergy say we have to believe what it says “with faith”. Sorry not a good enough reasoning.

“If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

- Revelation 22:18-19

A medieval Hebrew Bible scroll

Why not give me something hard next time, or something that has a bit of meat on the bone. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

On Pessimists and Optimists

There once were twin brothers, one of whom was always pessimistic and one who was always optimistic, the proverbial eternal optimist.

This presented an opportunity for scientists to carry out tests and studies, to which the parents agreed.

Accordingly the pessimistic lad was placed in a room full of toys, computer games and other diversions that were the current rage, then left for an hour.

The optimistic boy was placed in a room full of manure for an hour.

After the hour was up, the scientists opened the door of the pessimistic boy’s room and found the toys broken and the computer screen smashed. The boy was mumbling “My brother probably has lots better things than I have. He’s probably having a lot more fun.”

When they opened the optimistic boy’s door they found him still wading through the manure, digging deep with his hands and saying “With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Iconic Photographs: J P Morgan

Having had a lifelong interest in photographs and photography, I am fascinated by photographs that have come to be regarded as iconic for one reason or another.

One such photograph is that taken of American financier, banker and art collector John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) by Edward Steichen.

Before looking at that photograph, which appears later in this post, it is necessary to know something of the life of J P Morgan.

(Click on photographs to enlarge).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm back (again)..

Those who have been observant may have noticed the absence of any new Bytes items since Thursday of last week. Those of a deductive mind may also have inferred a possible hospital visit. They would have been right.

After a flying visit home two weeks ago when discharged from RPA for septicaemia, a matter reported on previously, I was admitted again with what is known medically as multiple pulmonary emboli, or in plain English, blood clots in the lungs.

I was in RPA for 2 weeks with this complaint in 2008.

Now that I have had it a second time I have been told that I will be on blood thinners – Warfarin – for good.

Warfarin, by the way, is an anticoagulant that was originally marketed as a pesticide against rats and mice. Although other poisons have been developed, it still remains popular for this purpose and works by causing massive internal bleeding. A few years after its introduction, warfarin was found to be effective and relatively safe for preventing thrombosis and embolism, the abnormal formation and migration of blood clots. It has remained popular as a medication for that purpose since the 1950’s and is the most commonly prescribed anticoagulant.

I was in a room with 3 other chaps at RPA. One was a young fellow, about 23, with cystic fibrosis. Another chap was older and I think he had the same. The third was an elderly gent with fluid on the lungs. A visit to a hospital is a great eye opener in making one appreciate one’s health and blessings.  You go in focused on your own ailment and leave grateful that that is all that is wrong.