Thursday, December 31, 2015

No Bytes

I'll be away from my computer for a few days so there won't be any Bytes over that period.

Funny Friday is therefore a day early.

I wish you all a safe and peaceful coming year; thanks to those who have contributed items, to those who have given feedback and to those who are the silent readers.

Happy trails, amigos.

Quote for the Day

God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference. 

- Author Unknown

The prayer above reminds me of an Irish prayer that I have posted previously and which also seems apt for a new year:

Funny Thursday


After watching all the hundreds of tons of fireworks on the telly on New Year’s Eve, in my excitement I forgot to turn off the standby button on the TV.

Hope I haven't increased my carbon footprint too much.

The wife is going out tonight.

"See you next year!" she merrily shouted as she left the door.

I opened the window as she was strolling down the street and shouted, "Tell me that in approximately three and a half hours and I'll be really happy!"

For all my Scottish mates, the 1988 calendars are the ones you can now pull out and use again.

Americans are so stupid! 

Did you know they aren't celebrating New Year until 8 'o' clock tomorrow morning!

Bet the fireworks look shit.

One of my resolutions is to take more risks.

I then had a Quality Street without looking at the flavour

My New Year’s Evolution is to learn how to spell


Corn Corner:

I've spent the last two days spinning in circles. New Year’s Revolutions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Quote for the Day

Art Spot: Ben Heine

Ben Heine (born 1983) is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist who is best known for his projects “Pencil vs Camera” (the subject of a future Bytes) and “Digital Circlism”. The latter is the name that Heine has given to a technique that combines Pop Art and Pointilism, with circles of varying sizes and colours being used to create portraits. The works are created through the use of graphic software.

Here are some of the Digital Circlism works of Ben Heine:



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quote for the Day

The Holocene Extinction

Since life evolved and developed, there have been five mass extinctions, the last being about 65 million years ago when a meteorite hit Earth and caused crap to be thrown into the sky that lasted fo years, killing all the dinosaurs. Such mass extinctions have each caused a loss of about 75% of all species.

Earth is now undergoing a sixth mass extinction, one that is known as the Holocene Extinction, this one being due to human impact on the environment. The latter is an aspect of the Anthropocene, or Age of Man. Tthe extinction is also known as the “Anthropocene defaunation.”

Some comments:

· The Holocene Epoch is the current geological epoch that began about 13,700 years ago. It is what gives the extinction event its name,

· Although 875 extinctions occurring between 1500 and 2009 have been documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the vast majority are undocumented and could be in the many thousands per year when in sects, bugs, plants etc are taken into account.

· The Holocene extinction includes the disappearance of large mammals known as megafauna, starting between 9,000 and 13,000 years ago, the end of the last Ice Age.

· The Holocene extinction continues into the 21st century, with overfishing, ocean acidification and the amphibian crisis (the increasing decline of amphibian populations) being a few broad examples.

· Anthony Barnosky, a palaeobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has predicted that if the current rates of extinction continue and the animals already threatened or endangered are wiped out this century, in around 300 years time, 75% of all mammal species will have disappeared from this planet. 

· Barnosky attributes the above to a combination of habitat encroachment and fragmentation, hunting, climate change, pollution, and the spread of disease and introduced species. Whereas extinction is a natural phenomenon that has been balanced by new species evolving, the current, human-caused extinction is happening so fast that evolution cannot keep pace. Barnosky estimates that the current rate is 1,000 times the natural rate, putting it easily on a par with the so-called “big 5” mass extinction events.

· The Age of Man, will be marked by a rapid decline in biodiversity as animals and plants disappear from the planet forever. It won't just be the individual creatures that vanish, but also their descendants on the evolutionary tree. The Anthropocene will also be notable for its homogeneity – what Barnosky describes as the "McDonaldization of nature".

· Not everyone accepts the Holocene extinction. As with climate change, there are those who deny its existence or downgrade the seriousness.

Some extinctions:

The dodo, a flightless bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late seventeenth century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced mammals that ate their eggs.

The quagga, a subspecies of zebra from South Africa, became extinct in 1870.

The Mexican grizzly bear became extinct in 1964.

The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, became extinct in 1936.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Quote for the Day

More Limericks (and not a single rude one)


There was a young man who said "Damn! 
It is borne upon me that I am 
An engine that moves 
In predestinate grooves, 
I'm not even a bus, I'm a tram."

There was a young lady called Wyatt 
Whose voice grew incredibly quiet, 
Until one day 
It just faded away . . .


This very remarkable man 
Commends a most practical plan: 
You can do what you want 
If you don't think you can't,
So don't think you can't, think you can.

(Emile Coue [1857-1926] was a French psychotherapist who claimed that if one imagined one was getting better, one would get better. His method was referred to as conscious autosuggestion.)

"If you're aristocratic," said Nietzsche, 
"It's thumbs up, you're OK. Pleased to mietzsche. 
If you're working-class bores, 
It's thumbs down and up yours! 
If you don't know your place, then I'll tietzsche."

There once was an African Mau-Mau 
Who got into a terrible row-row; 
The cause of the friction 
Was his practising diction, 
Saying: "How-how now-now brown-brown cow-cow."

Said a boy to his teacher one day: 
"Wright has not written 'rite' right, I say. " 
And the teacher replied, 
As the error she eyed: 
"Right! Wright, write 'write' right, right away!"

(Beauchamp is pronounced both as “bewshum” and, as in the following limerick, “beach ‘em”)

A pretty young teacher named Beauchamp 
Said: "These awful boys, how shall I teauchamp? 
For they will not behave 
Although I look grave, 
And, with tears in my eyes, I beseauchamp."

(Wemyss is pronounced “Weems”)

There was a young lady named Wemyss 
Who, it seems, was much troubled with dremyss; 
She would wake in the night 
And, in terrible fright, 
Shake the bemyss of the house with her scremyss.

Miss Wemyss also features in another limerick:

The Honorable Winifred Wemyss 
Saw styli and snakes in her dremyss; 
And these she enjeud, 
Until she heard Freud 
Utter: "Nothing is quite what it semyss!"

(Styli is the plural form of stylus, a writing implement such as a pen, and a shaping tool. Freud believed that the snake was a phallic symbol and that dreaming of snakes [and I suppose pen shaped objects] represented subconscious sexual desire).

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quote for the Day

Vintage Australia, Part 3

Continuing the images of Australia past.

(There are a lot more items yet to go in this series. I find these glimpses of the past and the related information quite interesting, I hope you do as well.)

Aussie Origins of Freddo Frog:

Chocolate manufacturing has changed but very little over the past 50 years – while machinery has definitely advanced, production still involves a high level of human interaction and quality control, albeit now with hairnets. Iconic childhood chocolate, Freddo, was first launched back in 1930 by Australian confectioners, MacRobertson’s Steam Confectionery Works. The Fitzroy-based company had originally planned on releasing a chocolate in the shape of a mouse, but this was changed after a young employee by the name of Harry Melbourne suggested that a frog might be less scary for women and children. MacRobertson died shortly after this in 1945 and it was in 1967 that the company, along with Freddo Frogs, were sold to British confectionary giant Cadbury.

Hollywood marriage torn apart by gruelling Aussie tour:

Hollywood legends Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier married in 1940 after a years-long secret affair. In 1948, they embarked on a six-month tour of Australia to raise funds for London's Old Vic Theatre; this photo was taken in June during their short holiday on the Gold Coast. Outwardly, the tour was a success: the pair sold out shows as Leigh charmed the press and praised Australian fashions. But in private, it was a disaster. The relentless schedule was especially gruelling for Leigh, who had bipolar disorder and was frequently ill, and she and Olivier often fought — sometimes violently. At the tour's end Olivier told the press he and his wife were "a couple of walking corpses", and according to one biography, the actor later said he "lost Vivien" in Australia. The couple divorced in 1960. 

The fraught history of the chocolate crackle:

The first (known) recipe for chocolate crackles — a favourite snack for generations of Aussie kids — appeared in an advertisement in the Australian Women's Weekly in December 1937, under the entirely accurate headline "Gee, they're good!" The ad was placed to plug the vegetable fat Copha, one of the key ingredients of the crackles. The other key ingredient is crispy rice cereal, and in 1953, Rice Bubbles maker Kellogg's nabbed the trademark "chocolate crackles" (which it still holds). In 2003, Kellogg's reportedly stepped over the line when it attempted to (gasp!) trademark the crackles recipe itself. Fortunately, the story was more "media beat-up" than "corporate power grab" — it's all but impossible to patent or trademark a recipe. 

Australian fruiterers pose with mountains of produce:

Australians have long been accustomed to floor-to-ceiling fruit and vegetable displays. But before the supermarket started its domination in the 1960s and '70s, Australians mostly bought their produce from specialised stores like the one in this picture. The store's unidentified owners, photographed in the 1930s, sold their goods somewhere in Victoria. Ripe bananas cost 9d per dozen, passionfruit 6d per dozen, and delicious-variety apples 4d for 16 — "d" being the symbol for penny, a holdover from the Roman Empire coin the denarius. 

Girl dressed as nurse feeds medicine to kitten patient:

Dress-ups have a long and illustrious history: in this photo taken around 1900, a young girl has donned a nurse costume to give medicine to her furry and adorable patient. The State Library of Victoria does not list many details about the photo, other than that the girl is a member of the Fraser family and the photographer was someone called C.J. Fraser. Charles John Fraser was the name of a very well-known social and political figure around Gundagai in the early 20th century, and he had two daughters named Isabel and Poppy — so one of them could be the girl in this photo. 

Seven-metre floodwaters swamp Brisbane in 1938 disaster:

In February 1893, Brisbane and its surrounds were hit by the worst flood since European settlement. After eight days of solid rain, the Brisbane River rose seven metres above its usual level and caused more than 2 million pounds worth of damage to the city. This photo was taken at the intersection of Market and Mary Streets. A similar but less destructive flood had struck three years before, so fortunately, many locals were prepared for the 1893 disaster. Unfortunately, many who escaped the earlier flood unscathed were complacent, "and watched in disbelief as the waters rose and engulfed their possessions". Almost three weeks later, the flood waters finally subsided.

Aussie daredevil plunges down waterfall in inflatable suit:

Australia's daredevil aviator Vincent Patrick Taylor lived a remarkable life. He crossed Sydney Harbour in a balloon, rode over Melbourne in an airship and was renowned for "hair-raising acrobatics" — such as a parachute descent from a balloon high over London. Perhaps his most memorable achievement was an inflatable rubber suit which he tested in the United States by crossing San Francisco Bay's Golden Gate. Taylor later wore the suit while riding down the 5.5m-high Eagle Falls in Washington.. "I will say I never have been frightened in my life but I'm willing to admit, for argument's sake, that I often have been anxious for my safety," he remarked of the stunt. Sadly, his chosen career was not lucrative enough to sustain him: he collapsed at a Florida police station in 1930, jobless, starving and ill, and died days later aged 56.

First to the South magnetic pole:

The financing for Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition to Antarctica hinged on reaching the South magnetic pole. The Northern Sledging Party – Alistair Mackay, Tannatt Edgeworth David and Douglas Mawson (left to right) – did exactly that on January 16, 1909. Their journey was half-complete. Battling frostbite and depleting food stores, they dragged their heavy sledges back for 2028km. Mawson assumed the leadership when David could no longer lead. In The Sydney Morning Herald, Mawson was later described as the "soul" of the expedition, "of infinite resource, splendid physique, astonishing indifference to frost". That said, it almost didn’t end well for him. On the way back, he fell into a crevasse and required rescuing.

Runaway tram plunges into Sydney Harbour:

On the morning of July 20, 1952, the wheels of a Mosman tram locked. Despite the best efforts of the driver, the tram skidded more than a kilometre and a half downhill – at an estimated speed of over 70km/h – until it crashed through the blocks at the end of the rails, tore up almost 10 metres of road, and shot off the embankment, hurtling 18 metres through the air, onto rocks, and then into the harbour. The driver and conductor both suffered head injuries when they abandoned the tram during its descent. The two passengers left on board were also injured. 

Gold Coast girl competes in 1935 sand castle competition:

When the Jubilee Bridge opened in 1925, it was the first road connecting the town of Elston with the north. As cars became more reliable through the 1930s, Brisbane locals travelled down the coast for their holidays in increasing numbers. The coastal strip between Southport and the New South Wales border thrived, and come 1933, Jim Cavill successfully lobbied that Elston be renamed Surfers Paradise, after his popular hotel. The beaches of the Gold Coast attracted swimmers, surfers, sunbathers, and even sand decorators, who competed in a beachside contest around 1935.