Monday, February 29, 2016
- It was the ancient Egyptians who first figured out that the solar year and the man-made calendar year didn't always match up. That's because it actually takes the Earth a little longer than a year to travel around the Sun — 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact. Therefore, as the hours accumulated over the centuries, an extra day was occasionally added to the calendar, and over time the practice became more or less official.
- The Romans first designated February 29 as leap day, but a more precise formula (still in use today) was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four - 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, etc.
- Another stipulation ruled that no year divisible by 100 would have a leap year, except if it was divisible by 400. Thus, 1900 was not a leap year ... but 2000 was!
- The town of Anthony, Texas, organises a leap year festival. It proudly calls itself the leap year capital of the world and leap year “babies”, or leaplings, around the world come to its parade.
- In Greece, people believe it is bad luck to get married in a leap year. On the other hand, in Ireland, women can propose to a man.
- According to a tale dating back to fifth century Ireland, St Brigid complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose marriage, and so he decided that in a leap year, women could take the initiative. However, if some sources are to be believed, Brigid was still a girl when Patrick died, which would make her a very precocious child!
- A Scottish law enacted in 1288 – although unsubstantiated – by the unmarried and supposedly five-year-old Queen Margaret that allowed women the right to corner a man with a proposal. Men who refused would have to pay a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress or a pair of gloves.
- There’s a similar custom in the United States that was born from the famous comic strip L’il Abner by American cartoonist Al Capp. In his fictional town of Dogpatch, there was a character called Sadie Hawkins, who couldn’t attract a husband because she was ugly. Her father then set up a day each year when women could literally chase after the bachelors in town in a race. The unlucky sod who is caught would have to marry the women who nabs him. While the event was held in November in the comic strip, it now seems to be associated with Feb 29.
- Superstitious Chinese believe that more accidents and mishaps occur during the leap month in the lunar calendar. They also think that children born in that month are harder to bring up. Nor are they keen to start a business or get married then.
- US Presidential elections and Summer Olympic Games are both held every four years and occur in the Leap Year.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Good morning readers.
As you can tell from Bytes being back, I have returned from a trip to Canberra where I went to attend a funeral.
Canberra – Some fun facts and trivia . . .
Canberra is the capital city of Australia, has a population of 381,488 and is Australia's largest inland city. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
A resident of Canberra is known as a "Canberran".
A Canberran since 1949, my father in law, Noel. He drives, is an active company director in a large company, is undertaking various courses of study and is an avid reader. He also happens to be 89.
Canberra Coat of Arms
The various symbols of the coat of arms are the following:
· The crown symbolises Royal authority;
· The mace symbolises the Parliament of Australia;
· The sword symbolises the Sword of State;
· The castle has three towers, symbolising the three branches of government (executive, legislature and judiciary);
· The White Rose is the badge of the Duke of York who opened the old Parliament of Australia building in 1927, and who would later be crowned as King George VI.
· The crowned portcullis again symbolises the parliament, this being the traditional symbol of the Palace of Westminster (which houses the Parliament of the United Kingdom);
· Behind the portcullis is a Gum tree which symbolises Canberra's nickname "The Bush Capital";
· The supporters are ideally the Australian black swan, representing the Australian Aborigines, and the European white mute swan, representing the white settlers.
· The motto is "For the Queen, the Law and the People" which is the English translation of "Pro Rege, Lege et Grege", a common motto in European history.
The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities.
Section 125 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act provides:
The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and shall be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.
Such territory shall contain an area of not less than one hundred square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.
The Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it meet at the seat of Government.
It is an entirely planned city, similar to Washington DC in the United States.
Designers Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin won the international contest for the city's design. The Griffins' plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.
Portrait of Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, Castlecrag, Sydney, July 27, 1930
Burley Griffins’ design for Canberra has been linked by many different theorists to esoteric places such as Stonehenge, Ancient Glastonbury and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. The plan has also evoked speculation of links to symbolism such as the Kabbalah, Freemasonry and the Occult. Whether such interpretations are correct or not, people seem to see more in Burley Griffin's plan than simple architectural geometric design.
Walter Burley Griffin's Plan of Canberra as finally revised and accepted 1913
Construction commenced in 1913.
Old Parliament House during construction in 1923
The city's design was influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title of the "bush capital".
The growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, which exacerbated a series of planning disputes and the ineffectiveness of a procession of bodies that were created in turn to oversee the development of the city.
The national capital emerged as a thriving city after World War II, as Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies championed its development and the National Capital Development Commission was formed with executive powers.
Prime Minister Menzies with President John F Kennedy, 1963
Blundells Cottage is a six-roomed stone cottage located on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin. Built around 1860, it is one of the few remaining buildings built by the first settlers of Canberra. Today it is a museum open to the public. The cottage is significant, being one of the few stone buildings of its type to have survived intact in the Australian Capital Territory and reflecting a way of life on a nineteenth-century agricultural estate.
There are different views as to how Canberra received its name:
· That the land upon which the city was to be built was mostly in the parish of Canberra, that having been originally Canury after the district of Canbury in Kiongston on Thames in England, from 1845 spelt Canberry and by 1862 Canberra.
· That it came from the name of the property "Camberry Station" on which the centre of Canberra was later built, and this came from Joshua John Moore, the owner, original residence in Cambridge UK.
· That it was named after the profusion of Cranberries growing in the area.
· That the word Canberra is derived from the renditions into written English of the name of the location Ngambri, which was north of the Molonglo river along Sullivans Creek.
On 12 March 1913 a naming ceremony was held on the slopes of Capitol Hill.
Lady Denman, the wife of the Governor-General, Sir Thomas Denman, announced the name of the future capital city with the words, "I name the capital of Australia, Canberra."
The name of the capital chosen by the Cabinet was kept secret, even from the Governor-General, until the moment of its announcement. At noon, Mrs O'Malley presented to Lady Denman a gold case containing a card on which the chosen name was written.
As well as the choice of name there had been much discussion in the Cabinet as to how the new name should be pronounced. It was decided that whatever pronunciation Lady Denman gave when she read out the name would be the one officially adopted.
She proclaimed the name with the accent on the "CAN" (that is, as Can-brah, not Can-bear-rah) thus setting its future pronunciation.
Sir Thomas Denman, in a speech made that same day, said "Here a city may arise where those responsible for the government of this country in the future may seek and find inspiration in its noble buildings, its broad avenues, its shaded parks and sheltered gardens - a city bearing perhaps some resemblance to the city beautiful of our dreams".
Lord Denman also laid a commemorative foundation stone
Lady Denman was to become known as 'chairman' of both the National Federation of Women's Institutes and the National Birth Control Association in Britain. She was also active in the cause of women’s suffrage.
The Sydney ferry Lady Denman, in service until 1979, was named after her. T is now the primary attraction at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum at Huskisson, New South Wales, where it was built
The date of the naming ceremony is now celebrated in the national capital as "Canberra Day", a public holiday celebrated on the second Monday in March each year.
Lady Denman scans the slip of paper on which is written the name of Australia's capital, at a ceremony on 12 March 1913. The name had been kept a close secret until the ceremony. She then announced the name, Canberra. L-R: King O'Malley. Minister for Home Affairs; Prime Minister Andrew Fisher; and Lady Denman's husband, Governor-General Lord Denman.
King O'Malley (1854-1953) drives the first survey peg at Canberra, 20 February 1913. O’Malley is especially remembered for his role in the selection of Canberra as the national capital, the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank and for taking the “u” out of the Australian Labor Party.
(O’Malley was American born where “labour” is spelt without the “u”. He managed to convince the party to “modernise” by spelling it “labor”, a change that also made it easier to distinguish references to the party from the labour movement in general.)
O'Malley at the naming of Canberra ceremony
Thursday, February 25, 2016
I'll be away from my computer for a few days so there won't be any Bytes for that period.
Don't do anything silly, however . . .
I'll be back in a few days.
In the meantime, enjoy some laughs with an early Funny
Sunday is Oscar night so here is some film humour. Thanks to Graham for his contributions thereto.
The producer of a low budget film is trying to convince the newly hired director of the quality of the work by telling him the big names they've gotten for the cast.
"First of all," he tells him, "We've got Gibson in the lead."
The director is surprised, "You got Mel Gibson?"
"Well, no," the Producer responds, "we got Marvin Gibson, he's a distant cousin who lives in Queens, but he's very up and coming. And besides, we've also got Redford."
"You got Robert Redford?" the director asks.
"No, we got Jeremy Redford, but he's very talented and has lots of acting experience from years of dinner theater. But," he says enthusiastically, " we've got Streisand and in a singing role."
"Barbara Streisand?" he asks.
"No, Elizabeth Streisand." The Producer responds. "But she's got a great voice. AND we've got Sandler."
"You got Adam Sandler?" the director asks.
"Yeah," the producer replies glumly, "We got Adam Sandler."
37 Inevitable Things about Hollywood Movies.
1 The guy wearing the bulletproof vest is always shot and killed.
2 If someone falls in water, they are automatically alive, regardless of the height they fell from.
3 Moreover, if they are incapable of swimming, all they have to do is flap their arms and scream hysterically and they somehow manage to stop sinking.
4 Super high-tech security codes are always broken by a kid. Usually by accident.
5 Heroes have clothing made of a magical material that never gets torn or dirty.
7 Central characters can have loud conversations in public places and for some reason, no one overhears them.
8 The word “empty” is unheard of. Guns never need reloading, mobile phones never need recharging and lightbulbs last forever.
9 Hitching a ride with a total stranger is always accomplished in under a minute.
10 The main man is always taller than the leading lady, of similar build, nationality and personal interests. Hell, they probably even sneeze the same.
11 TV families look nothing like each other.
12 No one thinks to check for fingerprints, except when the perpetrator is wearing gloves.
13 Everyone leaves his or her car unlocked in case a fugitive on the run needs a getaway vehicle.
14 Bombs are defused with only a few seconds left. Random guessing usually does this.
15 Prison clothing seems strangely fashionable.
16 No one thinks of taking out the security camera in bank robberies.
17 Bad guys are continuously smoking but never suffer from heart disease or lung cancer.
18 Every seven-year-old kid seems to be wearing Nikes.
19 Old ladies have the annoying habit of crossing the road when a car chase is in progress.
20 People can get thrown through glass windows and not feel a thing.
21 A hat, overcoat and sunglasses are Hollywood’s definition of a “disguise.”
22 Security guards are always asleep.
23 Maximum-security prisons are infiltrated at least once.
24 Snipers will always miss their target the first time.
25 Public toilets are large, well-lit and are so clean you could perform surgery in them.
26 Hackers always wear glasses and type like hellbent maniacs.
27 If there is a house fire, the dog always manages to escape.
28 Mothers are under the age of thirty-five.
29 Eighty percent of the time, the bad guy has an English accent or is part of a splinter faction from Saudia Arabia.
30 No one seems to age (e.g. Forrest Gump, who lived through almost every major event in the history of America).
31 Drugs dealers are always sober and self-controlled, despite their trade.
32 Heroes will always kick down doors, even if they are unlocked.
33 Everyone has an unlimited wardrobe and will wear a different item of clothing everyday, no matter how poor they might be.
34 Policemen always shoot first and say “freeze” afterwards.
35 Heroes are incapable of bleeding or feeling pain, especially in hand to hand combat.
36 Stairs are always a faster option as opposed to an elevator.
37 Heroes will radio for backup, but never wait for it.
The teacher was telling the kids about the birds and the bees and she explained that when a man and a woman meet and fall in love, nine months later the stork usually brings them a little baby from its nest.
Little Gemma at the back of the class looked puzzled. After a little thought she put her hand up and asks the teacher:
“Are you sure about the stork, Miss? I think you are getting your birds mixed up ‘cos my big sister just got a little baby and she said it was from a shag in Scarborough……..”
And one final one in the same vein but not a film item . . .