Friday, 28 September 2007

Greek Mythology: Oedipus, the Tragic Hero

Oedipus, the most tragic hero in Greek mythology.
The first written references to Oedipus appear in the 7th-8th century B.C.
His father, Laius learned from an oracle ( prophecy) that he would die by his son’s hand. So when his son was born he bound and pierced his feet and left him to his fate on a mountain.
A shepherd found him and named him “Oedipus” which means “ swollen foot”.
The King of Corinth, having no heir, raised him as his own. Oedipus, after reaching manhood, learned from another oracle that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He believed that the King and Queen of Corinth were his mother and father, and to escape this terrible fate, he left home.
While on his travels he came across a chariot with an old man and an attendant. For some or other reason an argument ensued an Oedipus killed both men. The first part of the oracle was fulfilled, as the old man was his father, Laius.
Continuing his journey to Thebes he came upon the Sphinx. To pass her one had to answer a riddle. Those who failed to answer correctly were eaten. To rid themselves of this monster the Thebeans offered the vacant throne and the hand of Queen Jocasta of Thebes to the person who killed the Sphinx.
The Sphinx asked Oedipus the following riddle:
“ What animal walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three at night?”
Oedipus correctly answered:
“ Man, for in the morning, the infancy of his life, he creeps on all fours, at noon, in his prime, he walks on two feet: and when the darkness of old age comes over him, he uses a stick for better support as a third foot”.
The Sphinx threw herself over a cliff and perished.
He married Jocasta and became King. The country was then devastated by a plague. To rid the Kingdom of the plague the murderer of Laius had to be banished. Oedipus then found out that he had killed his father and married his mother.
His mother hanged herself, and Oedipus “put out his own eyes” and wandered away with his daughter, Antigone.
It would appear as though he later died in battle.
Sigmund Freud used the name The Oedipus complex to explain the origin of certain neuroses in childhood. It is defined as a male child's unconscious desire for the exclusive love of his mother. This desire includes jealousy towards the father and the unconscious wish for that parent's death. : Wikipedia
None of these emotions, as used by Freud, are evident from the old writings

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Two excellent sites

While wandering around this week I found two sites that I really enjoyed.
(This means that each post had my undivided attention, and when I was finished I wanted more,)

Enjoyed this. Random stuff, funny and serious, excellent stuff.

Debbie Dolphin
I have a thing about lighthouses. Go have a look!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Scary situation : Great White

This image begs for a caption. Give it a go.
The story behind this picture is that these two were having their picture taken when the photographer turned around and went hell for leather to the boat. They followed him, thought he was in trouble. When they saw the image they knew why.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Origin and meaning of "decimation"

Originally Decimation meant the execution of every 10th person in a Roman legion.
From Latin: Decem = 10 and Decimus = 10th
Ergo, the word is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth."
Decimation was used as a form of punishment. Mutiny and cowardice are the reasons most often cited.
What would happen is that a Cohort would be divided into 10 groups of 10. Lots were drawn and the unfortunate soldier so identified was put to death by his 9 comrades, either by stoning or clubbing, regardless of rank.
This form of punishment was not often used
Crassus used decimation as punishment when Sparticus cleverly managed to avoid his Legions,71BC
Nowadays decimation means large scale destruction of anything, as in only 10 percent remaining.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war...

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war to whip the citizenry
into a political fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double edged sword.
It emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums
of war have reached a fevered pitch and the blood boils with hate and
the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights
of the citizenry. Rather the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by
patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so.
How do I know? For this is what I have done.
And I am Caesar.

Julius Caesar (101-44 BC)

The Great White Shark, again

I am fascinated by the Great White Shark. One of the most misunderstood animals on the planet.
Conservation Status:

Currently listed as "Vulnerable"
Jawbone and teeth worth lots and lots of money.


Meaning and origin of Serendipity

Just the sound of this word pisses me off. I have an inherent dislike for this word I cannot explain. A couple of years ago this was one of the “in” words that was used “ad vomitum”. Truth be told I never really understood the true meaning or origin. Could see no Latin root or any other clue for that matter.
Today, I heard the word again, and decided to do some digging to come to terms with myself. It appears as though I am the only person in the world who does not understand where this word comes from.
The meaning is the easy part.
“Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely” : Wikipedia.
Not much confusion about that.
It would appear as though Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was known as Serendip a long time ago. There is an old Persian fairy tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip” who blundered around and good things happened to them for all the wrong reasons.
In 1754, an English author, Horace Walpole, created the word serendipity, based on this story.
There are 6,780,000 hits for Serendipity on the Internet. To test the magnitude of this number I did a search on “boobs”, which gave 33,200,000 hits. So, boobs are 5x more popular than serendipity. Ha..
Most references are to things scientific. Scientist looking for something and accidentally finds something else. “Silly Putty” a good example.
“Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter." Julius Comroe Jr
“You don’t look for serendipity, it finds you” : GrahamJ
As I am the last person in the world to understand this, there is, in essence, no purpose in publishing this post, but, maybe there is one more person somewhere.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Great White Shark

I have an arrangement with these guys. I don't play in his back yard, and he stays out of mine

Bribe or Facilitation?

I have always been very respectful when approaching and or crossing the “yellow line” at international airports. In some South American airports, signs remind you to “Respect the Yellow Line”. This is the line that demarcates international space from domestic space. (My interpretation). I soon learnt that people who work for Immigration and Customs leave their sense of humor at home. Rightly so, and most probably more nowadays. (My international travel days have passed).
I overheard two youngsters bragging about how they managed to “by-pass” a customs official at an international airport recently and this irritated me. Don’t play with fire.
Anyhow, a few years ago I was entering an African country, by road, and presented myself and papers at Immigration. I am a perfectionist at this. I make sure that I have what I need. Not always possible, but I really get everything. Oftentimes I get pissed off when people jam up the system by not having the correct or incomplete documentation. This in turn pisses the officials off and all and sundry have to suffer.
Right, I presented my papers to a jovial, friendly official who went through the motions. This was not the first time I had used this border post, and always a problem.
“ I am afraid your passport does not have the correct number of pages”
“ Cannot be,” says I
“ Go to the counter and check” is the friendly reply.
I move to the counter and check the pages, nothing missing, but I knew that. I also knew I was missing something. Another friendly chap, who happened to be holding up the counter next to me, wanted to know what my problem was, and I told him.
“Ahhh….” Says he, “put 50 bucks into your passport and give it to the Man”
“Ok.” My hesitant reply. This is a bribe, and serious shit if this is mistaken for a bribe that it is.
I present my documentation.
“Ahhhh… I see your passport has the correct number of pages”
Bang, bang, stamp, stamp and a shuffle and I am ready to go.
On the way out I greet the counter guy, and said all was OK, thanks for his help, but I was concerned about the “payment” of the 50 bucks.
“No ways” he smiled “ We know you by now, that was not a bribe, that was a facilitation fee.”
He explained that a facilitation fee was “payable” if there was no problem, no further hassles, like unpacking your car. A bribe on the other hand is different.
From then on a facilitation fee was on my check list.
Not the correct thing to do? It facilitated my life.

Don't give your dog milk

My ex father in law was a medical specialist. He had a German Shepard dog as a pet. A magnificent animal. When the dog was a bit “off” he would give the dog milk to drink. This made the dogs life even worse.
I told him “ no ways you give a dog milk to drink, it upsets their digestive system”
Then one was targeted with that “ who is the Doctor around here” look that makes one shut up. Puppies drink milk!!!!!
I had heard this bit of information from a lady that bred dogs for a living, and that was good enough for me.
Today, I heard the same story. Give the dog milk.
So I phoned the local vet, his answer was:
Some dogs lack an enzyme that is required to break down sugars in milk. This is a form of lactose intolerance that develops in some dogs after weaning.
Undigested sugars create all sorts of problems; the major symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting.
Not all dogs have this problem, but it is common.
So beware, if your dog has these symptoms, back off on the milk.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Men are useless?


1. Don't imagine you can change a man - unless he's in nappies.

2. What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door.

3. If they put a man on the moon - they should be able to put them all up there.

4. Never let your man's mind wander - it's too little to be out alone.

5. Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.

6. Men are all the same - they just have different faces, so that you can tell them apart.

7. Definition of a bachelor: a man who has missed the opportunity to make some woman miserable.

8. Women don't make fools of men - most of them are the do-it-yourself types.

9. Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.

10. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

11. If you want a committed man, look in a mental hospital.

12. The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in Biblical times, men wouldn't ask for directions.

13. If he asks what sort of books you're interested in, tell him cheque books.

14. Remember a sense of humor does not mean that you tell him jokes, it means that you laugh at his.

15. Sadly, all men are created equal.

Send this to 5 Bright Women to make their day!

Pass it to a few "good men" too!!
This mail I received from a lady friend who loves getting her dig in. I assume I am one of the "good ones"

South African English

I was reading a post about English as spoken in Singapore, and posted a comment, only to have the “cannot find” message. Connection was broken somewhere. That often happens when I want to post a comment, and it pisses me off. Anyhow, the essence of the matter is that English as spoken in Singapore is not “proper” English etc. Big debate as to the why.
I am not really sure how many “official” languages we have in South Africa, I think it is 11 (Eleven), and they are different, not dialects. Totally different languages.
English is however the language of communication. Business and Government use English as the common denominator.
Over the past number of years it has really irked me to hear English degenerating to a level where it no longer bears any likeness to the English we were taught at school, or as spoken by our parents. Especially on the ANC controlled State TV. Having said that it is not an easy task for the SABC to employ TV and radio announcers who have English as a first language. (The good ones are snapped up by International broadcasters)
My children speak American English. The reason for this is simple. During the sanction years Great Britain (Equity) had an embargo, sanction, whatever, on any TV program, film or play to South Africa. We could get CNN for example but not SKY or BBC. American programs were freely available and this is what helped “form” English pronunciation and grammar with the kids. Mixed with South African English, it has changed to an American/ South African dialect.
Kids talk about “flashlight”, I call it a “torch” etc. I still “zed” and not “zee”. Ad infinitum.
I can remember addressing an international conference, 500 delegates, at Seattle a few years ago. Prior to the big day we (speakers) had to do a small presentation to the translators for feedback. The Russian, Spanish, German and French guys had no problem with my way of speaking. Strangely enough it was an American guy who said I spoke “funny” and must speak more slowly. (Which I did to the best of my ability).
A Lufthansa Air Hostess told me I sounded like a German speaking English. (This after she insisted in addressing me in German after I had told her I could understand a little but not speak)
I digress, focus…..
Anyhow, I have come to terms with the English “as she is spoken” in South Africa. At schools the new way of teaching languages is that as long as you are understood, that’s fine. Grammar and spelling are not important. (Serious!!!). You can complete 12 years of schooling without grasping the basics.
South African English has become a dialect of English, that English-speaking people can understand. And, like Climate Change, that is a way of life.
I shudder to call it evolution.
“English is dead, long live English”

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Rugby: World Cup and Percy Montgomery

Rugby again. Boks beat the English last night 36-0. Got home well after midnight and I have a slight thumping at the back of my head. A great game. Schalk was a spectator but the Boks did well despite him not being available.
The "pool" was not won, again.
My Significant Other, "The Possessor Of All Knowledge That I Need To Know," has a crush on Percy Montgomery. She says he makes her knees turn to jelly. In her biased view Percy is always "Man of the Match". Even if he was not playing, he is "Man of the Match".( This image is of " The man who turns MSO's knees to jelly"). Anyhow, he played a brilliant game, and was not Man of the match, despite MSO's opinion.
Enough rugby for a while. Today is 20 20 cricket day, and we are playing Bangladesh, which will be a good game. Maybe some "hair of the dog" will help.
Sensory overload with international sport.

Friday, 14 September 2007

South African Rugby : World Cup, France

It is World Cup Rugby time. France.
Rugby is a sport that unites and divides South Africans. This is great stuff. We came short during the last World Cup cricket tournament, and we are all hoping for a better rugby performance. New Zealand, to my knowledge are the favourites. That’s good, more pressure on them. There is an on-going rivalry between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand that has been around for as long as Rugby has been played.
First game against Samoa is history. We won by a comfortable margin. But, any game against Samoa is a hard one, and the injuries testify to this.
One of our best players, and definitely my favourite, is Schalk Burger. Unfortunately, Schalk has a bit of a temper, and not unusual for him to land up in the “sin bin” for parts of the game. During the Samoa game he was penalized for a high tackle, and has been suspended for 2 games. This is not good. No use having your best players as spectators.
We have a “pool” at the local club, chip in, guess the score, the money is yours. It is a “closed” pool, and has not been won for a long time. Must be round about 7,000 bucks at the moment.( That's about 1,000 U$) I could use the money. Putting down 32 – 28 and 32 – 21 for the Boks.
Tonight we are playing England. Will be a great game. 21h00 kick off time. Off to the pub in a couple of hours to have a few beers and act like adult hooligans.
At least Schalk will be in one piece when we get to the quarter finals. Sending him to an anger management class would be like sending Bruce Willis to a flower arrangement class. Makes no sense

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Day at the beach

My understanding is that this is a beach in Korea. Oftentimes I get upset when I find more than a dozen people on the beach.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

what does "The Midas Touch" mean

The Midas touch. Where does this saying come from?
Midas was a King of ancient Phrygia. He did a great favor for Bacchus, and he asked Midas what would he like as a reward. Midas wanted that everything he touched turned to gold. And so it happened. Everything, but everything he touched turned to gold> To his anguish and sorrow, even the food he touched turned to gold before he could eat it, and he begged Bacchus to take back the gift he had bestowed upon him.
It is this legend that gave rise to the Midas touch, which means that a person who has this touch is very successful with material affairs, with no great effort on his part. One example that comes to mind is a slogan “ everything we touch turns to sold”, by a local Estate Agent.
Anyhow, it would appear as though by washing his hands in the river Pactolus, the power passed into the river and the sands turned to gold.
Another story about Midas was that he was appointed to judge a musical contest between Pan and Apollo. Midas gave the prize to Pan, and in the process upset Apollo, who in revenge gave Midas a pair if ass’s ears. Midas hid these ears under his cap. However, on a good day his barber discovered his secret, but was threatened by horrible things that would happen to him if he spoke about it. The barber had to tell somebody, so he dug a hole in the ground and shouted into the hole “ King Midas has ass’s ears!” and closed the hole. A reed grew from this hole and when the wind blew, the reed divulged the secret of the King’s misfortune. Midas found out and intended to kill he barber, but Apollo gave back his ears before this happened.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Crazy Kids : Piggy stuff

In a mad rush today, something visual, last of crazy kids.

Sunday, 09 September 2007

Crazy Kids: Potty Training

All that needs to be done is to change focus to the sports page...

Must a Blog have a focus?

I read somewhere that a "blog" must have focus to be successful. It must have a niche. Similar to marketing a product. My argument was, stuff that, my niche is anything that comes to my mind. Rambling stuff. In essence what has happened is that my the posts have gravitated towards five major areas, popular mythology, Nautical stuff, origins of sayings , no brain visual stuff and a tad of ramblings. I have the opinion that if it takes longer to read a post than you can hold your breath, 90% of the readers won't read it, unless it is very, very good, or you are talking about something very specific. There are a bunch of things I read about, but will not write about the same stuff. Personal relationships I enjoy if it it done without crying in the soup, Christina for example, and American politics, Carol. I get a better understanding of international politics from blogs than any CNN SKY BBC or EuroNews can do. Anyhow, I am digressing as usual.
I also saw a post somewhere that classified blogs as Commercial, People who write about themselves and people who write about things. Some write for themselves and don't care if it is read by anybody (a kind of therapy) and those who want to be read.
The heading of this post has the word "focus" in it, and I have lost focus already.
Anyhow, while scratching around on Amatomu this morning I had a look at the stats, which I don't really give much attention to, and the most popular pages read over the last week are depicted graphically. This points to a definate niche. Irrespective of what I post, the "reads" have created a niche. Call it a Readers Niche for the want of a better description.

Friday, 07 September 2007

Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky?

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. There are zillions of examples of bad things that have happened on this date and day. Why? Where did it come from?
Firstly one has to divorce the number 13 from Friday. The unlucky number Thirteen has a history of its own. Buildings often don’t have a floor 13 or a room 13, which has nothing to do with a Friday. This is an unlucky number in its own right.
That leaves us with Friday the 13th.
From what I can find out there are two possible origins.
- The oldest one that can be found is the reference to the Last Supper. Jesus was crucified on a Friday and there were 13 people at the Last Supper.
- On Friday 13 October 1307, the Knights Templar were sentenced to death by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church with the support of the French King. Their leader was tortured and crucified. The Knights Templar split up and became “pirates” and attacked anything that was Roman or French in retaliation.
Image from Wikipedia

Crazy Kids: Fat Ass

Somehow this could lead to two kids with fat lips....

Helen of Troy, Why did her face launch a thousand ships?

Who was Helen of Troy and why did her face launch a thousand ships?
The whole story began as a result of a fight between three Greek goddesses. Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They were guests at a wedding, and, an uninvited Goddess, Eris, gate crashed the party. (She was the Goddess of Discord). She threw an apple of gold amongst the guests that had been inscribed with the words “ A gift for the fairest of all”.
As we know all these Goddesses were very, very beautiful and there was no consensus as to who should get the apple. They appointed Paris, the son of the King of Troy to decide. Each of the goddesses promised him wonderful things to influence his decision. In the end it was Aphrodite who walked away with the apple, after promising Paris the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.
This woman was Helen. The problem was that she was a Greek, married to King Menelaus of Sparta. Anyhow, with Aphrodite backing him up, he went to Greece to visit Helen, and she fell in love with him, as promised by Aphrodite. The happy couple disappeared to Troy. This pissed king Meneaus off. He called upon all the Greek Kings to help him avenge this terrible deed, and a thousand ships sailed to Troy to bring her back. The Trojans were ready for them, and it took 10 years to conquer the city, even with Brad Pitts help.
King Meneaus ordered that he alone would chop Helens head off, but went he found her, her beauty overcame him, and he took her home. (Most probably told him she was sorry and it would never happen again.).
This is the “oldest” version as written by the Greek Philosophers. There are a number of more “modern” versions.
Some say Helen had nothing to do with the decision, and that the war was there for wars sake and she was an excuse. It is also said that the whole fiasco was as a result of male egos.
What is strange is that there are virtually no “images” of Helen to be found.
This image I found at Wikipedia.

Thursday, 06 September 2007

Another Crazy Kids : Water Bomb

The split second between a nice dad and bad dad

Two Excellent Posts

-While wandering around I found two excellent posts to read.
The first is all about installing and upgrading a husband by Buffy. This appeals to my sense of humour and I really enjoyed this post.

- On a more serious note there is a post at Synaptoman by Anne Paton, the widow of Alan Paton, author of the much acclaimed " Cry the Beloved Country" that sold more than 15 million copies. If you want an insight into the current South Africa, this is a must read.

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Crazy Kids #3: The TripleP

The Triple Pee

Greek Mythology: Medusa, the Ugly One

Medusa was the ugly one. Hair of Serpents and a face so ugly that the mere sight of her would turn a man into stone. (I had a Mother-in-Law who could do that without looking ugly).
Anyhow, she was one of three sisters, and was a mortal. All accounts are that she was born a very beautiful woman, but was transformed into an ugly person. There are two versions as to how this transformation came about.
The first one states that she lived Far up “North” where the sun did not shine. Wanting to go to places more tropical, she had to ask the Goddess Athena for permission. Athena, for reasons unknown, declined to give her permission, which pissed Medusa off, seriously. So, she used the “I am prettier than you insult” and told Athena she would not let her go as she was more attractive than Athena herself. Athena, understandably did not take to this insult, and, having more powers, turned her into the ugly woman.
Another version is that Medusa was caught having a bit of hanky panky with Poseidon in the temple. Athena did not like this and turned her into an ugly woman.
Now to her demise. Athena, despite turning her into something ugly, wanted her dead. This was a bit difficult, as anybody who gazed upon her was turned into stone. So with the help of a bunch of other Deities, they commissioned Perseus to do the dirty deed. They provided him with a sword to cut her head off and a cap that made him invisible. So, now he could approach her without her knowing it, and could chop her head off. To get past the turning into stone barrier he was given a polished shield. By looking at her image in the shield he avoid looking at her directly
From her severed torso Pegasus and Chrysaor sprang forth.
Image from Wikipedia

Monday, 03 September 2007

Climate Change : Quo Vadis?

Too little, too late, another irritating post on Climate Change
The whole weekend I was bombarded by “Global Warming” and “Climate Change” on TV. Virtually every station had something to say. From Sky, CNN, BBC, EuroNews, SABC, Discovery, ad infinitum. And with good reason. What amazes me is that it is all about creating awareness. Bit late for that. We should have passed that milestone a long time ago. Gigs in the park, leaving the SUV at home on Sundays and walking 500 metres to the local deli for the newspaper and a packet of fags is worth diddly squat. It’s too late for lip service.
I am tired of being told that I am a Doomsday Prophet. I am negative, alarmist, will not happen in my lifetime, etc. It is happening now the evidence is there. Just have a look around, those who refuse to see will remain blind.
Governments are not going to do anything meaningful, nada, nothing, zilch and zero. The bottom line is that to bring “things” back into balance, the global economic growth, (as in use of natural resources and production rates), will have to slow down significantly, maybe even drastically. No Government is going to do that. If one Government backs off another will take advantage of resources that become available, to their advantage. No individual or groups of individuals will change this. It is in Mans nature to develop and grow.
Climate Change is a symptom, increased population and production with the effect they have on the environment are the causes.
Malthus was one of the Classical Economists who theorized that there is a balance between resources and population. When population outstrips resources, terrible things happen, that restore the balance. Ever since Malthus published his theory it has been ridiculed and negated. But I find it strange that even today academics find it necessary to prove him wrong. The Big Picture remains the same.
The cynic in me says that nothing pre-emptive will be done on a global scale. We will let mother nature take her course and manage the disasters as they happen. As another cynic said, “we are all part of evolution, and those of us left, will adapt with the changes”.
That sums it up, and I have made peace with that.
Climate is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks". W.S. Broecker

Sunday, 02 September 2007