Monday, April 27, 2015

Quote for the day

"The man who is denied the opportunity of taking decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he is allowed to take."

- C Northcote Parkinson (1909 - 1993)

Everything I know of life I learned from . . .

. . . Beatles' lyrics (Part 1)

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Quote for the day

A good speech should be like a woman's skirt: 
long enough to cover the subject and 
short enough to create interest.

- Winston Churchill

Myths and Facts

According to an article in the Daily Mail there are numerous misconceptions in our daily lives that are incorrectly accepted as facts. A compilation of such misconceptions accepted as facts was compiled by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! In London, one of their spokespersons declaring that 'If you're told something enough times, you're sure to start believing it.

The list, which appears below as published, with commentaries, can be found at:


1. Coffee is made from beans

While it is widely believed that coffee comes from 'coffee beans', experts say it is actually made from a seed which is called a bean.

2. Chameleons change colour to match their surroundings

Believe it or not, chameleons actually change colour as a response to mood, temperature, communication and light instead of the object they are touching.

3. Mount Everest is the 'tallest' mountain in the world

While Mount Everest is officially deemed the tallest mountain in the world, experts claim that technically it may not be. The summit of Everest is officially higher above sea level than the summit of any other mountain, but Mauna Kea is the tallest when measured from base to summit. However, the record books deem it the tallest because it has the highest peak on Earth. 

4. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space

The Apollo astronauts confirmed that you can't see the Great Wall of China from the Moon. In fact, all you can see from the Moon is the white and blue marble of Earth.

5. One human year is equivalent to seven dog years

While true in some cases, it does not apply to everyone because it very much depends on the size and breed of the dog.

6. You lose your body heat fastest through your head

While this is widely believed to be true, some experts say it is a myth and claim humans would be just as cold if they went without a hat as if they went without trousers.

7. The Earth revolves around the Sun

Technically, the Earth, sun and all of the other the planets are orbiting around the centre of mass of the solar system, not specifically the sun. 

8. Different parts of your tongue detects different tastes

This was scientifically disproven by research which found that all taste sensations come from all regions of the tongue, although different parts are more sensitive to certain tastes which may be where the popular saying comes from.

9. Peanuts are a type of nut

Unbelievably, peanuts, along with beans and peas, actually belong to the single plant family, Leguminosae.

10. Giving children sugar makes them hyper

While some experts do stand by this common belief, other professors claim that the majority of scientific research has concluded that sugar does not cause hyperactivity in youngsters.

11. Humans have five senses

This is correct, although in actual fact there are at least nine senses and most researchers think there are more like 21. The five main senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste - are the ones referred to in this popular saying.

12. Fortune cookies are a Chinese tradition

Fortune cookies were originally the invention of Japanese-Americans before being widely adopted by Chinese culture.

13. Sushi means 'raw fish'

Sushi actually translates as sour-tasting.

14. Vikings wore horned helmets

While this may well be true, experts say there is actually no evidence to suggest that Vikings ever wore horned helmets.

15. The forbidden fruit mentioned in the Book of Genesis is an apple

The bible never mentions the forbidden fruit was an apple.

16. Vitamin C is an effective treatment for a cold

Flu-sufferers are often encouraged to increase their dosage of Vitamin C, but most experts have stated that there is little or no evidence that the vitamin can help treatment of a cold. Instead of effectively treating a cold, it is thought to help build up the immune system to ward of potential flu viruses.

17. Penguins mate for life

Penguins are mostly monogamous, but there are some species such as the Emperor Penguin which are serially monogamous. They mate with one couple for the whole season but will probably mate with another penguin the following year as the urgent need for breeding will make them avoid waiting for the same couple.

18. Caffeine dehydrates you

While caffeinated drinks may have a mild diuretic effect - meaning that they may cause the need to urinate - some experts believe they don't appear to increase the risk of dehydration.

19. When in London, you are merely six feet away from a rat

This could well be true but hasn't been proven and is just a rough estimate as rodents are not evenly spread apart.

20. There is a dark side of the moon

As the Moon is constantly rotating on its own axis, there is no area of the planetoid which is in permanent darkness.

21. A toilet's flush will change direction depending upon which hemisphere it is in

The real cause of 'backwards'-flushing toilets is just that the water jets point in the opposite direction.

22. Mars is red

The red colour we see in images of Mars is just the result of iron rusting.

23. Sunflowers track the sun across the sky

A common misconception is that sunflower heads track the sun across the sky when in full bloom. The uniform alignment of the flowers does result from heliotropism in an earlier development stage, the bud stage, before the appearance of flower heads so technically they follow the sun before they have bloomed, not after.

24. People use just 10 per cent of their brain

Neurologists describe the myth as false and state we use virtually every part of the brain, and that (most of) the brain is active almost all the time.

25. Your fingernails continue to grow after you die

The dehydration of the body after death can cause retraction of the skin around hair and nails, giving the illusion that they have grown. However, all tissues require energy to sustain their functions, and no such thing is possible once the mechanism that promotes normal growth shuts down at death.

26. Bats are blind

Despite the tiny eyes and nocturnal lifestyle, none of the roughly 1,100 bat species are blind.

27. Dropping a penny from the Empire State building would kill someone

A penny only weighs about a gram and it tumbles as it falls. Because of the tumbling and the light weight, there's so much air resistance that the penny never really gathers that much speed before it hits its terminal velocity. A gram of weight travelling at a relatively slow speed might hurt a little if it hit you on the head, but it's not going to kill you.

28. Handling a baby bird will make its mother reject it

Most birds have a very poor sense of smell, so in most cases are unable to even notice human scent on baby bird.

29. You need to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing person to the police

There is no rule that states you have to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing person. The person will be recorded as missing and their details made available to other UK police forces within 48 hours. 

30. Your blood is blue before its oxygenated

While many believe that de-oxygenated blood is blue, it is actually a myth because human blood is always red - although the level of redness does differ depending on how oxygenated it 

31. A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds

This is not true as goldfish do actually have very good memories for fish. They can be trained to respond various ways to certain colours of light, different kinds of music and other sensory cues.

32. You need to wait an hour after eating before you can swim safely

As with any exercise after eating, swimming right after a big meal might be uncomfortable, but it won't cause you to drown. However, it is good advice to stay out of the pool right after a big meal as the digestive process does divert the circulation of the blood towards the gut and to a certain extent, away from the muscles, meaning swimming could feel harder. 

33. Bulls are enraged by the colour red

It is a proven fact that bulls only see blues and yellow. They only react to the red cape because of the movements that flutter around.

34. Seasons are caused by the Earth being closer to the Sun

As Earth orbits the sun, its tilted axis always points in the same direction. So, throughout the year, different parts of Earth get the sun's direct rays.

35. Eating lots of chocolate will give you spots

There is no concrete evidence that suggests eating more chocolate can cause spots. 

36. Shaving your leg hair will make it grow back quicker

Many believe shaving body hair makes it grow back quicker but shaving hair doesn't change its thickness, colour or rate of growth. Shaving facial or body hair simply gives the hair a blunt tip which might feel coarse or 'stubbly' for a period of time as it grows out.

37. Frankenstein was the name of the monster in Mary Shelley's book 'Frankenstein'

Frankenstein was the name of the monster's creator.

38. Microwave radiation can cause cancer

Most experts say that microwave ovens don't give off enough energy to damage the genetic material (DNA) in cells so they can't cause cancer.

39. Men think about sex every seven seconds

While some men might think about sex this often, there is no real evidence to support this statement.

40. Ostriches bury their head in the sand when they are scared

Ostriches swallow sand and pebbles to help grind up food in their stomachs. This means they have to bend down and briefly stick their heads in the earth to collect the pebbles. It is not because they are scared.

41. Waking sleepwalkers harms them

Waking a sleepwalker won't cause them any physical harm but but could leave them startled or disoriented which is why many people believe it is best not to disturb them.

42. Albert Einstein failed maths at school

He failed one entry exam to a school but in fact, he actually excelled at mathematics throughout his schooling and even considered becoming a mathematician for a time.

43. Salty water boils quicker

The salt water requires more exposure to the heat in order to boil than water alone, so the boiling point is elevated and the time it takes to get the water to boil increases.

44. Carrots help you see in the dark

Carrots contain vitamin A, or retinol, and this is required for your body to synthesise rhodopsin, which is the pigment in your eyes that operates in low-light conditions. If you have a vitamin A deficiency, you will develop nyctalopia or night blindness. Eating carrots would correct this and improve your night vision, but only to the point of an ordinary healthy person - it won't ever let you see in complete darkness.

45. Houseflies only live for around 24 hours

The adult housefly can live up to one month in the wild.

46. Eating cheese before bed will give you nightmares

Cheese is believed to give you more emotionally charged dreams but not necessarily nightmares.

47. The capital of Australia is Sydney

The capital of Australia is, in fact, Canberra.

48. Tomatoes are a vegetable

Tomatoes are a fruit

49. Going out in the cold with wet hair will make you ill.

There is no evidence to support this, it is regarded as an old wives' tale.

50. Alcohol keeps you warm

Alcohol may make your skin feel warm, but this apparent heatwave is deceptive. A nip or two actually causes your blood vessels to dilate, moving warm blood closer to the surface of your skin, making you feel warmer temporarily. At the same time, however, those same veins pumping blood closer to the skin's surface causing you to lose core body heat.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Quote for the day

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

- Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
From his poem "For the Fallen"

Anzac Day

Some images of war, on this Anzac Day 100 years after the Gallipoli landing.

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A 1918 pyramid of recovered German helmets outside of Grand Central Station after victory in WW 1. The street, known as Victory Way, had a pyramid at each end with 2 captured German cannon on each side of the pyramids. The statue on top of the pyramids is the Greek goddess of victory. Each pyramid has 12,000 helmets.

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“After the Battle”, a photograph by German soldier Walter Kleinfeldt, who fought at the Somme at age 16. Kleinfeldt had joined the war at age 15 and never showed the battlefield photographs he took. They were discovered by his son almost 100 years later.

Walter Kleinfeldt, pictured carrying ammunition in a Somme trench

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Tank captured at the battle of Villers-Bretonneux in 1918, pictured here with British soldiers.

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A terrier shows off its catch after a 15 minute rat hunt in French trenches during WWI. September 1916

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Australian soldiers of the 4th Field Ambulance in front of their sandbagged dugout, named ‘Rosebud Villa’, in Hotchkiss Gully, Anzac, September 1915, after the August offensive.

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Evacuation of wounded from Gallipoli. A flat-bottomed barge transports walking wounded and sick soldiers and men on stretchers from Anzac to the hospital ship Gascon. In July, 200 men were being evacuated daily from Anzac suffering from dysentery, diarrhoea and enteric fever. By late August as the offensive operations ended, General Hamilton estimated MEF losses at 40,000 casualties, including sick, reducing his fighting strength in the combined Suvla and Anzac sectors to 50,000 men.

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Australian light horseman using a periscope rifle, Gallipoli 1915.

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The 11th Battalion AIF on the Great Pyramid of Giza, prior to the landing at Gallipoli. The 11th Battalion did much of their war training in Egypt and would be amongst the first to land at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915. In the five days following the landing, the battalion suffered 378 casualties, over one third of its strength.

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The issue of colourising photographs has been the subject of past Bytes posts. The following photographs, colourised images of WW1, including scenes from Gallipoli, possess more immediacy than the original black and whites. . .

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Diggers walk on a track at Chateau Wood on the Western Front in 1917.

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6 inch 30 cwt howitzer at Gallipoli

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An Australian carrying his wounded mate to a medical aid post for treatment near Suvla on the Aegean coast of Gallipoli peninsula

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Two Australian Soldiers relaxing under an 'Elephant Iron' shelter at Westhoek Ridge, Flanders, Belgium.
c. Late September 1917.

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An unknown Army Service Corp Driver wearing a drivers winter coat and a holding puppy. This photograph is from the 'Lost Digger' collection taken in France c.1917.

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Alec Campbell at the age of 16 poses in Australia before he headed off for Gallipoli to fight in the war, in this 1915 photo. Campbell (1899 – 2002) was the final surviving Australian participant of the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War. His death broke the last living link of Australians with the Gallipoli story.

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British Mk.II (Male) tank NÂș.C-47 ‘Lusitania’ which assisted stalled troops at Railway Triangle east of Arras, enabling that objective to be taken. The Lusitania broke down with a magneto failure, and had to be left on the battlefield, where she was destroyed by British gunfire the following day.
The ‘male’ tank was armed with three 8 mm Hotchkiss Machine Guns and two long barrelled 6 pounder (57mm) naval guns. The intention of the ‘male’ was to attack other gun emplacements and strong points.

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An informal portrait of Australian Sergeant John Woods Whittle VC DCM at a frozen water point in France during 1916.” (possibly January)

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Quote for the day

A repost, in anticipation of Anzac Day:

When he wasn't saluted by an Australian soldier, Lieutenant General William Riddel Birdwood (below), British commander of the Gallipoli forces, asked the Digger if he knew who he was.

"Not a bloody clue," he said.

"I'm General Birdwood".

The Digger responded "Then why don't you wear your feathers in your arse like any other bird would?"

Funny Friday

Caution: risque humour and language in the following items.

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A witch doctor, and related, theme this Funny Friday.  It includes an item previously posted but as with some others in recent months, too good not to include.  Enjoy Froday and the funnies . . .

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After being married for a few years, a man finds that he is no longer able to perform. He goes to his doctor who suggests a few things for him to try, but nothing works. Finally, the doctor tells him it's all in his mind and refers him to a psychiatrist.

After a few visits to the psychiatrist, the shrink confesses, "I'm at a total loss as to how you can possibly be cured." 

In desperation, he goes to a witch doctor.

The witch doctor tells him, "Certainly, I can cure this," and throws some powder on a flame. Suddenly there is a flash of billowing blue smoke. "This is very powerful healing," says the witch doctor, "but I must warn you, you will only be able to use it once a year. All you must do is say '1-2-3' and it shall rise for as long as you wish."

"What happens when it's over?" he asks the witch doctor.

"Then, your partner must say '1-2-3-4' and it will go down. Do be warned though, it will not work again for another year."

That night the man is ready to surprise his wife with his good news. As he's laying next to her in bed, he says "1-2-3" and immediately gets an erection.

Turning over towards him, his wife asks, "What did you say '1-2-3 for?"

And THAT my friends, is why we should NEVER end a sentence with a preposition.

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A witch doctor from a tribe in deepest, darkest Africa is sent by his chief to visit Britain in order to sample a different culture.

On his return the chief asks him how it was and what new things he did.

The witch doctor tells him about this building he went into one night. He says, "There were loads of guys with big bellies drinking something called beer and throwing minature spears at a circular board with a small circle in the middle and numbers all round the outside. The men asked me if I wanted a shot and I told them yes."

"And how did you get on?" asked the chief.

"Brilliant," replied the witch doctor. "Every time I threw a spear, I got it to land dead centre of the board and everybody in the place started cheering me and slapping me on the back."

"Really", says the chief, "and what was this game called?"

"Jammy black bastard," says the witch doctor.

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I was shocked when my adopted daughter told me she was going to marry a witch doctor. 

"Why do you want to do that?" I asked. 

"Pwobabwy for financial secuwity," she replied.

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A man found himself lost and wandering in a forest. After a few hours trying to find his way, he came upon a small house. He knocked on the door and was greeted by an old Chinese man with a long, grey beard. 

"I'm lost," said the man, "can you put me up for the night?" 

"Certainly," the Chinese old man said, "but on one condition. If you so much as lay a finger on my daughter, I will inflict upon you the three worst Chinese tortures known to man". 

"Ok," said the man, thinking that the daughter must be pretty old as well, and entered the house. Before dinner, the daughter came down the stairs. She was young, beautiful, and had a nice shape. She was obviously attracted to the man since she couldn't keep her eyes off him during the meal. Remembering the old man's warning, he ignored her and went up to bed alone. 

During the night, he could no longer bear it and sneaked into her room for a night of passion. He was careful to keep everything quiet so the old man wouldn't hear. Near dawn, he crept back to his room exhausted, but happy. 

He woke to feel a pressure on his chest. Opening his eyes, he saw a large rock on his chest with a note on it that read "Chinese Torture 1: Large rock on chest". 

"Well that's pretty crappy," he thought, "If that's the best the old man can do then I don't have much to worry about". He picked the rock up, walked over to the window and threw the rock out. 

As he did, so he noticed another note on it that read "Chinese Torture 2: Rock tied to left testicle". In panic, he glanced down and saw the rope that was already getting close to the end. Figuring that a few broken bones were better than castration, he jumped out of the window after the rock. 

As he plummeted downward, he saw a large sign on the ground that read "Chinese Torture 3: Right testicle tied to bedpost". 

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One day there was an Indian chief who was constipated. he sent one of his warriors to the witch doctor to get some medicine. The warrior says "Big Chief, no shit". The doctor gave him a pill and told him that the chief should be fine tomorrow.

The warrior went back to the chief and gave him the pill. the next morning the warrior was sent back to the witch doctor and says "big chief, no shit". The doctor gives him five pills and tells him to give them to the chief.

The next day the warrior appears at the witch doctor's house yet again saying "big chief, no shit". The witch doctor gets annoyed and so gives the warrior the whole bottle of pills to give to the chief.

The next day the warrior goes back to the witch doctor:

"Big shit, no chief". 

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In the greatest days of the British Empire, a new commanding officer was sent to a jungle outpost to relieve the retiring colonel. 

After welcoming his replacement and showing the courtesies (gin and tonic, cucumber sandwiches) that protocol decrees, the retiring colonel said "You must meet Captain Smithers, my right-hand man. God, he's really the strength of this office. His talent is simply boundless."

Smithers was summoned and introduced to the new CO, who was surprised to meet a toothless, hairless, scabbed and pockmarked specimen of humanity, a particularly unattractive man less than three foot tall.

"Smithers, old man, tell your new CO about yourself."

"Well, sir, I graduated with honours from Sandhurst, joined the regiment and won the Military Cross and Bar after three expeditions behind enemy lines. I've represented Great Britain in equestrian events and won a Silver Medal in the middleweight division of the Olympics.

I have researched the history of ...."

Here the colonel interrupted, "Yes, yes, never mind that Smithers, the CO can find all that in your file.

Tell him about the day you told the witch doctor to get fucked."

Corn Corner:

An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk hide and gave it to the chief, instructing him to bite off, chew and swallow one inch of the leather every day. 

After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. 

The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quote for the Day

'Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn't have it and thought of other things if you did.'

- James Baldwin (1924-1987)

American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.