Monday, June 26, 2017

Quote for the Day

Phillip Adams (1939 - ) is an Australian humanist, social commentator, broadcaster, public intellectual and farmer. He hosts an ABC Radio National program, Late Night Live, four nights a week, and writes a weekly column for The Australian.

Readers Write and Monday Miscellany



An email from Jay M in respect of the Sgt Pepper cover posts:
Hi Otto, 
Have you seen the Ted talk referring to the 'Sgt Pepper's' album cover by Jann Haworth? 
Mistakes, Omissions, and Iconoclasts: From Sgt Pepper to Work in Progress | Jann Haworth |

An email from Shirley G, in response to the post “Looking At . . . Places", which included the Sagano Bamboo Forest on the outskirts of Kyoto city (link at:
Good morning Otto 
On Sunday your Bytes showed several photographs of the bamboo walk in Kyoto Japan. A couple of years ago I was in Kyoto and had the joy of walking through the bamboo forest. At one point along the pathway there was a musician playing the pan flute – what magic it added to the occasion. Just wonderful. 
Once again Otto thanks for your daily bytes. 
With regards 

From Tobye P in the U S of A, in response to the post Looking Back: People, which featured photographs of famous people from years gone by (link at:
OMIGOSH-these are fabulous! 
Thanks so much-I love this kind of stuff-Churchill is thin! Hitchcock is-unrecognizable! Ghandi dances! And Queen E in the same brooch decades later-theirs is such a sweet story. Wonderful shots from the past-I am grateful that you shared these. Thank you Otto.

Sincerely, Tobye 

Thanks to all those who take the time to write, it lets me know that people are out there reading Bytes.


Tokyo's birds: 

Remember the Hitchcock movie The Birds, where all these thousands of birds gather and attack people? Birds everywhere (how did he do it???). Well, that is actually happening in Tokyo. For decades now birds of various species including crows, cormorants and owls have been winging it into the city and nesting, damaging, attacking and, of course, pooing. The increasing numbers of cormorants has also been damaging to the fishing industry and to flora and fauna. The cause of the increased numbers has been attributed to urban development encroaching on forests and breeding areas, plus the attraction of fresh garbage for food in a city of nearly 14 million people.

Interestingly the Oz musical group Birds of Tokyo (remember their hit Lanterns?) took their name from an article one member had read about the absence of birds in Tokyo's high-density central business district due to pollution and overcrowding. According to band member Ian Kenny "We thought that was interesting, no birds in Tokyo — we thought, we'll be the birds of Tokyo.”

Japanese photographer Yoshinori Mizutani has highlighted the issue of bird numbers with a photographic series he has called HANON, a reference to a French piano instruction book. You will understand why when you see some of his photographs below:


The Hardy Tree:

London’s St. Pancras Old Church, considered to be one of England’s oldest places of Christian worship, Hs an adjoining cemetery. That cemetery is the location of the Hardy Tree, an ash tree surrounded by hundreds gravestones, layered practically on top of one another.

Back in the mid 1860’s Britain’s expanding rail network needed part of the church’s land for a new rail line. In the way was the church’s graveyard, requiring the bodies to be exhumed and relocated. The unpleasant task was delegated to a lowly placed labourer who was destined find future fame as the author of Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, one Thomas Hardy.

Thomas Hardy

Hardy completed the task but was left with a final puzzle: what to do with the hundreds of gravestones that were remained. Hardy elected to place them in a circular pattern around an ash tree in the churchyard in a spot that would not be disturbed by the railway. The Ash tree has matured, the gravestones have weathered but all remain The tree has grown over some of the gravestones, a somewhat apt metaphor for death and return to the earth.

Some other notes on St Pancras Old Church:
  • The architect John Soane designed a tomb for his wife and himself in the churchyard, that tomb being the inspiration for the design by Giles Gilbert Scott of the British iconic red telephone boxes.
John Soane's tomb

  • The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the future Mary Shelley, planned their 1814 elopement over meetings at the grave of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, originally buried in the cemetery.
  • Charles Dickens mentions it by name in his 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, making it the location of body snatching to provide corpses for dissection at medical schools.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Quote for the Day

- From Gulliver's Travels

So how much more applicable is this? . . .

Sgt Pepper Cover People continued: 5. Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer); 6. W.C. Fields (comedian)



Karlheinz Stockhausen

  • Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 – 2007) was a German composer, widely acknowledged to be among the most important German composers of the 20th century and was one of the earliest to use electronic music in a classical context.

  • Frank Zappa, The Who, Pink Floyd. Jefferson Airplane and Bjork have acknowledged him as an influence.
  • The Beatles were also influenced in their musical experimentation at the time of Sgt Pepper (1967) by his use of electronic music, most notably displayed in "A Day in the Life" (1967) and "Revolution 9" (1968).
  • They could have used a better pic of him on Sgt Pepper, if you ask me. The hand with the shadow makes him look like The Joker . . . 

  • Stockhausen’s music was not without its critics, most notably within the ranks of his own peers of classical composers. When Sir Thomas Beecham was asked "Have you heard any Stockhausen?", he is alleged to have replied, "No, but I believe I have trodden in some" 


W C Fields

  • William Claude Dukenfield (1880[1] – 1946), better known as W. C. Fields, was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer. Fields' comic persona was a lover of alcohol who disliked dogs and children. It was often said that his real life personality and character were no different.
  • Some W C Fieldisms . . .
"I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I am indebted to her for." 
(From the film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break)

"Once, on a trek through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew...and were forced to live on food and water for several days!" 
(From the film My Little Chickadee)

“Women are like elephants, to me: I like to look at 'em, but I wouldn't want to own one.”

The oft-repeated anecdote that Fields refused to drink water "because fish fuck in it" is unsubstantiated.
  • Between 1936 and 1939, ill-health and on-set temperamental episodes meant that he made no films in that period. Radio work led to his becoming part of the Edgar Bergen radio show. Bergen performed as a ventriloquist with his dummy Charlie McCarthy, with Fields taking part with weekly insult-comedy routines.  Fields would make fun of Charlie about his being made of wood, Charlie made fun of Fields’ drinking:
Fields: "Tell me, Charles, is it true your father was a gate-leg table?"
McCarthy: "If it is, your father was under it!"

McCarthy: "Is it true, Mr. Fields, that when you stood on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, 43 cars waited for your nose to change to green?"

Bergen: "Why, Bill, I thought you didn't like children."
Fields: "Oh, not at all, Edgar, I love children. I can remember when, with my own little unsteady legs, I toddled from room to room..."
McCarthy: "When was that, last night?

  • Fields was hostile to religion, so much so that his Will left small amounts for family members and friends with the $800,000 remainder of his estate being left to establish “The W. C. Fields College for White Orphan Boys and Girls Where No Religion of Any Kind is Ever to be Taught.”
  • The ‘whites only’ clause was completely out of character for a man who treated blacks as equals and stood up for racial equality long before it was popular. Even after his change to his Will as above he paid off a $4000 mortgage on the house of his black cook. He also once ordered from his premises a man who used the word “nigger” within earshot of his staff.
  • There is evidence that Fields’ Will had originally provided that the orphans gift was to be for white and coloured orphans but that Fields changed it either when he heard that the Pullman Porters Union had formally voted to exclude whites, and/or when he was the subject of insolence (or perceived insolence) from a black servant he employed.
  • The Will was successfully challenged by his ex-wife, family and mistress with all of them sharing in the estate. As regards the orphan provision, Judge McKay threw it out, stating “Mr. Fields, in his lifetime, could have discriminated against other races but he cannot in death call upon the state to undertake the administration of his affairs and supervise a corporation which overrides the constitutionality of equality of rights common to all races.”
  • When close to death he was visited by a friend who found him sitting in the garden with a matini, reading the Bible. Quizzed by the friend, who knew of Field’s anti-religion beliefs, Fields answered that he was “looking for loopholes.”
  • The ultimate irony about Fields is that he died on a day that he had always declared that he despised. He died on Christmas Day in 1946.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quote for the Day

More photos of the past


Original captions, extra by moi. . . 

Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began on January 5, 1933 and cost $35 million to build. However, it was completed ahead of the projected schedule and under budget by $1.3 million. Pretty impressive for such a huge undertaking.


Some additional construction pics:

Spinning the main cables

This isn’t a temperpedic mattress. The prone position pilot bed was designed to counteract pilot fatigue, helping them to combat gravitational forces experienced during flight.

The Schienenzeppelin, a railcar designed to look like a Zeppelin, seen from the rear, was designed by Franz Kruckenberg in 1929. The German engineer developed a myriad of high speed trains in the 20’s and 30’s. The Schienenzeppelin reached a world record speed of 143 mph.


Some additional pics . . .

I wonder about the safety of people on platforms near that giant propeller at the back.

The first slide in Britain, invented by Charles Wicksteed, photo taken 1922. It certainly looks more fun than most modern-day slides, probably because it was a lot less safe. Between the rickety ladders leading children to the top, and the unsmoothed, blister-riddled wooden slide itself, this would have been quite an experience.


Some additional pics . . .

In the early days, there were separate slides for girls and for boys, though some boys seem to have sneaked on to these ones. The separation eventually stopped and the slides could be used by everyone.

Charles Wicksteed (in the centre of this picture) first made the slide for his amusement park, Wicksteed Park in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the first park of its kind in the UK. He then went on to sell them around the world. Wicksteed also invented other playground equipment.

Seven Spielberg with a miniature Indiana Jones set.  Spielberg is likely the most passionate, and intelligent, movie director of all-time. He knows how to perform every job on set, and could probably do them better than most employees.

The original model of Mount Rushmore, 1941. Money ran out before it could be completed. The massive sculpture which dominates the landscape of the Black Hills region took many years to develop. The project began in 1927 and was completed in 1941.


Few people are aware of what the back side of the Mt Rushmore figures look like

Shortly after Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln’s faces were completed and dedicated in 1937, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the face of Susan B Anthony, American social reformer and women’s rights activist, to the mix, but times were tough, and an appropriations bill limited funding for adding another head. Teddy Roosevelt’s head would be added and dedicated as planned in 1939, but Susan B. Anthony never made it to the mountain.

A 250 kilo / 550 pounds diving suit from the 1900’s. 


I was half expecting the above suit to start yelling “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”


At 5,000 pounds, this manta ray nearly destroyed a boat after getting caught in the anchor line. It had to be killed with a high-powered rifle by the Coast Guard.



The all-terrain Model T, 1918, was a brief entry into the Ford line of vehicles. Rather than using a modern day 4-wheel drive system, it relied on large military wheels and snow cables.


More all-terrain Model T’s . . .