Monday, January 22, 2018

Thought for the Day

Origins of some political terms and expressions:



It is not correct that the word “politics” comes from the word “poly”, meaning many, and “ticks”, meaning small, bloodsucking things. That is only a joke. The origin of “politics” is the Greek word “polis,” meaning “city.” This produced the Greek “polites,” meaning “citizen”. This in turn produced “politikos,” meaning “regarding citizens or matters of state.” In Latin, the Greek “politikos” became “polticus,” which eventually gave us “politics,” “political,” and, with the suffix “ian” indicating action or agency, “politician” for a person whose jobs involves affairs of government or civil administration. Hence “politics” is the system of governing a society, and a “politician” is someone who works in that apparatus.



The word gerrymander means to manipulate boundaries for political advantage. It dates from 1812 when the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, signed a bill that redrew districts to favour his party. One of the districts resembled a salamander, giving rise to the term Gerry-mander and from there gerrymander.


The word “caucus” originated in the US shortly before the Revolution where it meant a private meeting of the leaders of a political party to pick candidates for office or conduct other internal party business. Over the years it has broadened to mean any sort of closed political meeting to decide policy and has spread to use by numerous other countries. There is no definitive explanation for the origin of the term.

Old joke:
Q: What's the difference between a caucus and a cactus?
A:  A cactus has all the pricks on the outside.

"Pork barrelling":

Pork barreling is spending government money on a local project in order to win the votes of the people who live in that area. 

From an item by Hugh Rawson in the American Heritage magazine:
The metaphor [ie pork barrel spending] stems from the practice in the pre-refrigeration era of preserving pork in large wooden barrels of brine. The political usage may have been inspired by the distribution of rations of salt pork to slaves on plantations. "Oftentimes the eagerness of the slaves would result in a rush upon the pork barrel, " wrote a 'journalist' named C.C. Maxey in 1919, "in which each would strive to grab as much as possible for himself. Member of Congress in the stampede to get their local appropriation items into the omnibus river and harbor bills behaved so much like negro slaves rushing the pork barrel, that these bills were facetiously styled 'pork-barrel' bills."

Rawson closes with the wonderful quote from a Senate chaplain in the early 20th century. Asked whether he prayed for the senators, the man of the cloth responded, "No, I look at the senators and pray for the country."

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Thought for the Day

While I live, I'll grow . . .

Yesterday I was briefly discussing the Anthony Hordern “While I Live, I’ll Grow” tree with some friends and I promised I would do a Bytes on it today. It occurs to me that, today, few people would know of it so it is worth recalling and recording . . . 
  • In 1823 free immigrant from England, Anthony Hordern, founding member of the Hordern family in Australia, established a drapery shop in Sydney. A large menswear store and one of the largest mail order businesses in Australia were additional ventures. The business, eventually known as Anthony Hordern & Sons, remained in family hands for a century, although not without legal tussles and court cases.

  • A six-storey building, called The Palace Emporium, was opened in 1905. Located on the corner of George, Pitt and Goulburn Streets in the CBD (now occupied by World Square), it was once the largest department store in the world, covering 21 hectares in floor space.
Some pics:

  • Downturns in trading saw Anthony Hordern & Sons taken over by Waltons in 1970.
  • The Palace Emporium was used by the NSW Institute of Technology (now UTS) for some years but it was demolished in 1986 for the World Square development, which remained a hole in the ground for nearly twenty years (due to shutdown after union problems) before finally being completed in 2004. Saving the building was determined not to be feasible due to the state and condition. The owner, Singapore based Ipoh Garden Development, did however refurbish the Queen Victoria Building back to heritage standard.
  • Anthony Hordern & Sons used a tree as a logo with the motto "While I live I'll grow". It appeared above all the store's window fittings and on all its stationery.

  • Apparently there used to be a large Port Jackson fig tree on a ridge at Razorback (hi Steve and Diane) near Camden, that resembled the Hordern logo tree. AH arranged with the land owners at Razorback to erect a large, long sign alongside bearing the motto "While I live I'll grow". 
  • I have read that vandals poisoned the Razorback tree and that thereafter the Palace Emporium hit the hard times that eventually finished it off.
  • The Razorback tree must have survived because there is a report that a 2014 gale destroyed the 109-year-old Port Jackson fig, splitting it in two and blowing it over.
  • For the AH 100th anniversary, 50,000 oak seedlings were imported from England and given away. Sydney is still dotted with many of these trees.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Quote for the Day

From "A Tale of Two Cities"

More pics of bygone Sydney

Sorry if this is of little interest to those outside Sydney. For those of us inside Sydney, the locations shown are quite familiar to us today so that the changes seen are both cause for thought and fascinating.

Excavation to build Wynyard Railway Station in Sydney in 1928

Wool ships at Circular Quay in Sydney in 1900.

St James Corner, Sydney in 1935

Sydney, year unknown

Aerial photo of Sydney with Hyde Park in the centre, St Marys Cathedral in the forefront. Year unknown...possibly 1929

Petrol bowsers, Bent Street Sydney c.1928.

Gowings building George St, Sydney built in 1929, it was then the tallest building in Sydney

Bridge Street Sydney 1866,

King's Cross Theatre in 1930s

Corner of Market and Pitt Streets, Sydney in 1890s

Blues Point looking towards Balmain and Goat Island, year unknown.

Broadway and City Road, Broadway, Sydney in 1954.

King St, Sydney from corner of George St, looking eastwards in 1880

King St, Sydney looking west towards Pitt and George Streets in 1900.

Children in Sydney slums, mainly Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo, Redfern, 1949

Redfern slums

A tram traveling from Sydney City to Rose Bay in 1900.

Milk Bar Central Railway Station, Sydney 1946.
Compare this with its earlier incarnation as a soda fountain/kiosk, c1923:

Another image from 1946, Central Station milk bar, Sydney

The original Woolworths store, located in the basement of the original Imperial Arcade,Sydney (year unknown).
Btw, Woolworths in Australia has no connection with Woolworths in the US.  Woolworths Limited, the Oz one, was founded in September 1924, originally under the name "Wallworths Bazaar Ltd.", a play on the internationally renowned F. W. Woolworth name. After discovering the name had not been registered in Australia, and Woolworths had no plans for overseas expansion, the company became "Woolworths Limited" on 22 September 1924.

George St North, Sydney (year unknown).