Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Monday, 24 November 2008

As Dead as a Doornail: Origin and Meaning

The meaning is clear. Dead as in "dead as a Dodo", as in not alive or unusable.
Firstly the subtle difference between a nail and a doornail.
A nail is defined as “…a spike or piece of metal with a point and a broadened head so as to be easily driven in by a hammer”. No problem with this, as the nails one finds in any workshop can fit this description.
A doornail has a different description, and runs like this “…a large headed nail with which doors were formally studded” (Note…. past tense)
(Both definitions from Oxford dictionary).
Uses of iron nails goes back to ancient Roman times, and were made by hand. A labor intensive exercise that made them scarce and expensive.
During the 18th centuary mechanical nail manufacture took place and the occurrence of hand made nails decreased significantly.
During the middle ages nails were recycled whenever possible, which makes sense when one thinks of the effort that went into making them.
The problem was with doors the nails were knocked right through, and the part sticking out at the back was hammered back flush with the door. These were most probably bigger than normal nails as they were studded for decorative purposes. The reason for bending the nails back, (called clinching or clenching) I could not find, other than a reference that stated this made the door stronger. Doors were made of two pieces that were nailed together.
These nails could not be recycled and were useless for any further use. Therefore dead as a doornail in carpentry terms..
This expression was in print during the 1300’s and Shakespeare used similar words in Henry VI.
Reference was also found to a “doornail” as a flat piece of metal fixed to the door that one banged the doorknocker on, to get a nice sound so that people would know that there was someone at the door. The dead part was the dull sound the knocker made.
Other references state that the nail on the doorknocker had been hit so many times against the door it must be dead.
Dead as a Dodo has a similar meaning.
Image from Wikipedia

Friday, 21 November 2008

To Fight Fire With Fire : Origin and Meaning

I spent some time looking up the possible origin of this saying, and could not find a source that that made any sense. On the point of deleting my efforts as a job not well done I decided to post what was available.

Fight and fire do not need any further definition in this context.
When one fights fire with fire, the meaning is that you retaliate to a threat or danger by employing the same means as those used against you.

The classic example is that of fighting a physical fire with fire. Here I am on comfortable ground as I was a forester for a number of years. Not all fires can be fought with conventional equipment or preparations. Fire-belts, tankers and manpower are oftentimes just not sufficient to bring a fire under control. That is when one can do back-burning. You create another fire and use the wind and topography to ensure that the two fires meet, and once this has happened there will be no more fuel to burn and you have the situation under control. A decision to back-burn is not an easy decision.
So you are fighting fire with fire. It is debatable whether this is the origin of the saying and who and when this was term first used I could not find.
This term can be used in other contexts, where you retaliate to a threat using the same “instrument” used against you. An example often used is when you are losing business due to a very successful advertising campaign by your competition. By stepping up your sales by increasing your advertising efforts would be fighting fire with fire.
Having said that, if someone pours sand into your fuel tank, and you retaliate by doing the same to him, you are not fighting fire with fire. This is more of an “eye for an eye” situation.
Will keep on looking around to try and improve this post.
Image from Wikipedia

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Straight from the horse’s mouth: Meaning and origin

Not much debate as to the meaning of this phrase, and two possible origins.
Firstly, the meaning. If a person maintains that his information “is straight from the horse’s mouth,” he is implying that the information is credible, trustworthy and reliable. In other words the truth. In essence this means that the information was obtained first hand, direct from the source or origin.
I could find two possible origins.
The first origin is the more credible of the two. A horse’s age can be easily determined by looking at the teeth. Never tried it myself, but those that know are able to do this. So, if you were buying a horse and you needed to confirm the age, you would open the animal’s mouth, stick your head inside, and check the teeth. Hence, your information would be correct and, straight from the horse’s mouth. Not necessary to rely on a third party opinion.

The second one relates to horse racing, specifically betting on races. If one was looking for a sure bet, you would most probably run into “somebody in the know” who would be able to give you that golden tip. If questioned as to his source, the answer would most probably be “straight from the horse’s mouth”, and no further explanation would be necessary.
As a horse cannot speak, this confuses the situation somewhat. So, my interpretation is that the source is someone as close as possible to the horse, as in a stable employee or jockey, that has inside information not available to others.
Image from Wikipedia

How a good woman can bring balance to your life....

Image received via email
Source unknown

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Robertson South Africa : Mountain Image


Makes one forget about the damage caused by the floods
Taken with mobile phone about a month or two ago
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 17 November 2008

Hercules’ Eighth (8th) Labor: The Mares of Diomedes.

Hercules’ eighth labor, set by his cousin Eurystheus, was to capture and bring back to him, the four mares of Diomedes.
Diomedes, the king of the Bistones, was a troublesome warrior that enjoyed a fight. He was the son of Ares and Cyrene.
He owned four man-eating mares, named Podargus, Lampon, Xanthus, and Dinis. These were savage animals and some sources say that they were fastened with iron chains to brass feeding troughs, and fed human flesh by Diomedes himself.
Hercules set off to Bistonia with a number of his friends. On arrival they managed to subdue the grooms looking after the animals. Before they could leave with the mares Diomedes became aware of their intentions and gathering a number of soldiers set of to confront Hercules. Abderos was left to look after the animals while Hercules and his friends did battle with Diomedes. During the fight Hercules killed Diomedes, and his soldiers fled.
On returning to the mares Hercules discovered that the animals had killed Abderos. Some sources say he had been eaten and others that he had been dragged to death.
Hercules fed the body of Diomedes to the animals. After eating their previous owner the animals became calm and subdued, never to eat flesh again.
Hercules then established the town Abdera in honor of Abderos.
Hercules then took the mares to Eurystheus who was terrified at the sight of them. So much so he his in his underground jar to escape them and Hercules.
The animals were then set free to roam around Argos, and legend has it that Alexander the Great later owned one of their offspring..
Another version is that wolves later killed the animals
Image from Wikipedia

Summary of the 12 labors and links to other posts on this blog can be found here

Friday, 14 November 2008

What does the word Fart mean? Origin and meaning

“Farting, an endless source of humor for men of all ages”, are the words that come to mind when I think of this topic.
Either one accepts the word for what it is, or you avoid it as vulgar, repulsive and offensive. My experience is that very few people have grey areas when it comes to whether this word is acceptable or not. But then there is a vast chasm between on one preaches and what one does.
The fact of the matter is that the word Fart is one of the oldest words in the English language, and it is necessary to have insight to the origin and meaning. My much-used second hand, 60 year old, Oxford Dictionary, (the shorter version that has only 2 hefty volumes), gives the following definition.
“ to send forth as wind from the anus”
“ not in decent use”
‘From Teutonic Feortan/Fertan”
1632 AD.
Now, this unmentionable word was not always considered indecent or vulgar. It would appear that this word was is common use for a long time with no stigma attached. The negative connotation seems to have come about towards the late 1800’s when it was used in a personal context, as in “you old fart” etc. Then it was banned from polite conversation and the printed media, as is the case today.
I am not going to venture into the use of the word, which would be farting around with no logical conclusion.
Having said that, I did see a definition that stated there must be an “audible” sound. If one cannot hear it, is it a fart? Per this definition the answer is “No”, as there is no sound. So, vulgar people fart (with sound), polite people pass wind (no sound).
Lastly, I found a reference to a new term called a “brain fart”, which is a momentary lapse in concentration or occurrence of forgetfulness. Also a period of low achievement. It can also be used to define those instances when the filter between your brain and your mouth malfunctions and you say something uncalled for that has bad results. (Wikipedia).
I could not find an image of a fart to go with this post.
I will most probably regret doing this post.....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

What does the word POSH mean? :

Before getting to the origin, the meaning. Dictionary definitions are abundant. These reflect the most popular
Elegant, Smart, Splendid, Fashionable, Money and Rich .
According to my 60 year old Oxford Dictionary, the word is from obscure origin, English and first use is given as 1918. Relatively new word in the greater order of Things.
They most popular origin of this word is based on things nautical, specifically passages from England to India. The best sought after and consequently most expensive berths were those facing away from the sun. Both India and England being in the Northern hemisphere this would mean cabins on the port side (left) would be coolest on the trip to India, and on the starboard side (right) on the return trip. So, if you had enough money you could book your passage accordingly.
So for the shipping line to define this type of booking the letters P.O.S.H would be entered onto the ticket. Meaning Port Out Starboard Home. With time the abbreviation became the acronym Posh.
Problem is that there is absolutely no evidence that this was the case. Experts have done extensive digging around, and no written proof can be found. Shipping lines have no record of this procedure ever being implemented. As this took place in the past 100 years or so, there should be someone or a document of sorts that could verify, but there is nothing, zilch, nada.
Officially this is not the origin. One could argue that if this was not official then it could have been in the spoken word only. Subjective decision that one.
Another version is that the word had its origin from the Romany (Gypsy) coin, Pash that became English slang for money in the late 18 and early 1900’s.
Another possible origin was from the English magazine Punch. A satirical account of a man called Posh, that had all the attributes as per definitions, and dating from the late 1800’s.
The most popular version is therefore not necessarily the correct one, but the Jury is still considering this one.

Robertson, flood Images



Taken on the way to work this morning
Damage in town and farms not reflected on these, could not get into town
Yesterday has passed and this afternoon the sun is out
Town is a mess, still a bunch of roads closed, some for a long time
"Rooibrug" water running over bridge at 12hoo today
Up to 340mm measured up into the mountain
Hannes Bruwer > 200mm
Town 180mm
Montagu has the most damage, road between Ashton and Montagu closed
Roads around Bonnievale have serious damage
Clean upp has started

Posted by Picasa

Veni, vidi, vici, (I came, I saw, I conquered): Origin and meaning

“I came, I saw, I conquered”. The meaning is evident, but it is not so much as to what was said than the how, when and why that gives these words a deeper or second level meaning.
There is no doubt to the origin. Julius Caesar. (Not Shakespeare’s Caesar).
Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legions in 49 BC, in defiance of Roman law forbidding such an action. This resulted in civil war, and Pompey running off to the eastern provinces to continue his fight with Caesar on the battlefield. After a number of military campaigns Pompey, his biggest political and military adversary was defeated. Then, after defeating Pharnaces of Pontus, the tide had turned in his favor. He was now in control and on his way back to Rome. He sent a message to the patrician Senate containing only these three words “ Veni, vidi, vici”. This stressing the fact that he was now the power to be dealt with and was returning to Rome as the victor.
These three words are often cited as a perfect example of a laconic message. Brief, to the point, and an amount of rudeness or contempt that he had for the Senate. Meaning was greater than the sum of the words.
From the English translation of the works of Suetonius, the following passage (XXXVII)
“ In his Pontic triumph he displayed among the show pieces of the procession an inscription of but three words “ I came, I saw, I conquered”, not indicating the events of the war, as the others did, but with the speed with which it was finished”
( Post to be edited……..too much of a hurry today)
More Caesar quotes at another post

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

What does the word Laconic mean : Origin, meaning and examples

“Brevity of speech” are possibly the three words that globally define laconic. Dictionary definitions abound, and these are a few
- Brief and to the point
- Effectively cut short
- Short, terse
- Curt, almost to the point of rudeness.

A brief, concise and to the point answer to a question can be defined as laconic. A laconic speaker will also use no more words than necessary to carry his message across.
An example of a laconic answer quoted from many sources is the following.
King Phillip of Greece wanted to conquer Sparta.He sent a message to the Spartans saying :-
“ If I invade your country, I will destroy your great city”
The answer that was taken back to him was short and sweet,:-
This brings us back to things Greek and Roman. The Spartans were well known for their ability to suffer hardships and live simply. This simplicity was carried over to their method of speech, that was as frugal as their way of life. Said it as it was, no bells or whistles.
Now, Sparta was the capital city of Laconia, which gave rise to the word laconic.
Another example I like was the answer of a Spartan king on been questioned why the list of Spartan laws was so short. His reply was “ men of few words require few laws”
My favourite must be Julius Caesar and his “ Veni, vidi, vici”, (I came, I saw, I conquered). This was the message sent to the Roman Senate after a significant military victory. This battle was the turning point in his favor after crossing the Rubicon and the consequent civil war. His enemies both military and political had been beaten.

This statement has brevity, significance, a touch of rudeness as well as a bit of dry humor.

Update : 22 January 2009.
Heard this on the History Channel, can also be used as an example. Before the historic battle against Persia the Spartans were told that they were to face 250,000 soldiers, and they had so many archers that their arrows would block out the sun. The Spartan General commented "Good, then we will fight in the shade"

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Stymphalian Birds: Hercules’ Sixth Labor

Hercules’ sixth labour was to drive out the Stymphalian birds from the marshes surrounding lake Stymphalus in Arcadia. Whether he was sent by Eurystheus to kill or get rid of the birds is unclear. Some sources refer to “destroy” and others to “drive out”.
Nevertheless, where did the birds come from? By all accounts these were pets belonging to Ares, the god of war. These birds were mean creatures. Firstly they had very sharp feathers made of bronze that could be shot out like arrows. In addition they had very sharp bronze claws and excrement that was poisonous.
What made these birds bad? They destroyed virtually everything they came into contact with. Crops, buildings, trees, hand harvests were destroyed on a large scale and terrorized the local habitants. Legend has it that they were fond of human flesh as well.
How did they get to lake Stymphalus? Again, sources differ, some say there was an annual migration from places unstated, and others that they fled from wolves. The living conditions at the lake were so good that they thrived and multiplied into countless numbers.
Anyhow, when Hercules arrived at the swamp he was at a loss as to how to tackle them. There were countless numbers, high up in the trees out of reach, marsh underneath and as so dark they could not be seen. Killing them all was an impossible task.
Legend had it that he then had help from Athena, goddess of invention, in the form of Hephaestus, the smith god, who forged a pair of “krotala” from bronze. By banging the two together an awesome sound was made. (References are made to castanets, clappers, castanets, rattles, and drums)
Hercules ten took up position on a mountain side overlooking the swamps and commenced banging away at his krotala. The noise was such that the birds were forced to fly up and away, never to be seen again. Other sources say he killed them or some of them with poisoned arrows. Images on ancient pottery also depict slings and catapults.
In any event the birds left the swamp and he completed his task

List of the 12 labors and links to other posts on this blog can be found here

Monday, 10 November 2008

Obituary of Mr Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6 -year- old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Tylenol, sun lotion or a band-aid to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents , Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Received via email, source unknown

SPARTA History (Spartan)

Sparta was the most formidable rival of Athens in ancient Greece. Sparta was a city-state, a race of warriors, known for their strength, courage, bravery and specifically their perseverance and endurance.
The adjective “Spartan” today is used to describe the character of the Spartans and any person showing the same qualities. By the word Spartan one can relate to hardy, courageous, undaunted by pain or misfortune.
Sparta was not a big city. More like a large group of straggling villages. Sparta prided itself on its courageous men, in contrast with Athens that placed great value on art and learning.
Spartan government was based on the principle that the life of all individuals belonged completely to the state, from the moment of birth. New-born children were inspected by the elders of the community, and the weak and sick children were ordered to be left outside to die. By doing this Sparta made sure that only the physically fit survived.
Children were raised under a rule of iron. At the age of 7, Spartan boys were removed from the control of their parents, and organized into small groups over which the strongest and bravest were made captains. Their living conditions were austere to say the least. Simple and scanty clothing, meager rations, public dormitories and hard beds were the order of the day.
They were drilled daily, in gymnastics and military exercises, and were taught to endure pain and hardship without complaining. They had to obey orders without question. It would appear as though they were purposefully not given sufficient food to eat, and were encouraged to make up the rest by stealing and pilfering for themselves. Not so much to promote dishonesty, but to create an understanding of self-survival.
A story often read is that of a Spartan boy who had stolen a fox, which he hid under his coat. When confronted he allowed the fox to gnaw at his flesh rather than to disclose his theft by crying out.
All male Spartans between 20 and 60 served in the army. They were allowed to marry but could not stay with their wives. They had to sleep and eat in public barracks.
Hardships by today’s standards were many. Possession of gold and silver was forbidden, only war songs were permitted and education was minimal. Even when they spoke, few words were used. Short and to the point, which gave rise to the word “laconic” derived from Laconia, the name of the district of which Sparta was the capital.
--To be continued…….
Image from Wikipedia, rest - bits and pieces from just about anywhere

Friday, 07 November 2008

Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die: Meaning and origin

These words are from the poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, after the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.
One of the most famous battles in the history of the British army was the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. This took place during the Crimean War in which Britain, France and Turkey were fighting against the Russians.
Balaclava was a small harbour town occupied by the Allied army, 8 miles to the southwest of the harbour city of Sevastopol. Balaclava was defended by lines of earthworks, built on the hills around the harbour.
On October 25, the Russians tried to break these lines. After defeating the Turks on the heights, they seized their guns and moved down into the plain. Here they attacked the British forces and were driven back across a low ridge of hills crossing the plain by the Heavy Brigade of cavalry.
Then, owing to a mistake in the giving of an order, the Light Brigade initiated a suicidal charge a mile and a half along a valley to capture some Russian guns. Tennyson referred to this valley as the “Valley of death” in his poem. More than 600 cavalry were involved of which more than half were killed, wounded or captured.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs was not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Into the Valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

So, these words were written to do justice to the bravery of soldiers under orders, irrespective as to whether the orders were foolish or not.
Lots more interesting stuff on the details of the battle and analysis of the orders given, at Wikipedia.
Image from Wikipedia

Thursday, 06 November 2008

Tuesday, 04 November 2008

The Labors of Hercules: Ninth labor, the Belt (Girdle) of Hippolyte an Amazon Queen

Hippolyta was a warrior woman and one of the queens of the Amazons. Ares the god of war gave her a belt of armour. Some sources refer to a belt of leather and others to a golden girdle. Nevertheless, she wore this belt around her upper body and used it to secure her sword and spear.
I could not find much on what made the belt special, but it was important enough for Eurystheus to send Hercules off to find the belt and bring it back to him as a present for his daughter.
This was Hercules’ ninth labour.
Hercules did not undertake this task on his own, and a number of his Greek friends accompanied him, to help out if needed. The Amazon woman were well known for their bravery and fighting skills.
When Hercules arrived in the land of the Amazons their ship was peacefully welcomed by Hippolyta herself, who would have no problems in handing over the belt to Hercules as a gift of love.
This was not what Hera wanted. She then disguised herself as an Amazon woman and spread a rumour that Hercules and his men were there to kidnap queen Hippolyta. To protect their queen the Amazons donned their armour and went to her aid. When Hercules and his men saw the armed Amazons quickly approaching on horseback ready for war, he responded, and a fierce battle took place.
Other sources state that Hercules killed Hippolyta before a battle could take place, and took her belt and weapons from her body.
In any event, Hercules took the belt from her, and returned it to Eurystheus as a gift for his daughter Admete

List of the 12 labors and links to other Heracles posts on this blog here

EDIT on 5 November 2008
After doing the above post I felt that I had not really done justce to the occasion, but published anyway. My argument is to create an awareness and stimulate further reading and finding out.
I received this article from Arras and am posting it as well. Excellently written and really does justice to the occasion. Thank you Arras

Arras said...
The girdle was a symbol of office, like the ceremonial necklaces that mayors still wear today for their inaugurations and parades--a bit of regalia. The point of sending Herakles after it was, as with all the labours, to get him killed. Eurystheus was Hera's agent, and each labour was chosen not so much to test Herakles but to finish him off. The bait to lure him to his death was the promise of immortality if he could succeed at all of them--he may have been a demigod, but he was still fully mortal at the time.

The presumption in this case was that sending him into the Amazon capital to steal their regalia would be an impossible task. So far from home, surrounded by thousands of angry Amazons, he'd surely be slaughtered.

Hera's miscalculation in this case was that she expected Herakles to stupidly barge in and try to steal the girdle, which would have certainly been his undoing. Instead he and his companions were diplomatic and respectful of the Amazons and their customs, and were treated like guests--famed heroes from Athens (Theseus, the slayer of the Minotaur and future King of Athens was with him)--and this set a very different kind of tone.

Herakles and Hippolyte had great respect for one another, from one champion to another, and they hit it off. He explained to her the nature of his labour and what it required, and she willingly gave him the girdle as a token of her respect.

Hera, furious at this clever circumvention of her murderous plot, appeared among the Amazons as one of their number and incited them by claiming that Herakles and his men were about to kidnap the Queen. The Amazons rose up and attacked Herakles and his companions, accidentally killing Hippolyte when she got in the middle.

Badly outnumbered, the men fled to their ship, but they did not leave empty-handed. Herakles had the girdle he came for, and Theseus brought with him Hippolyte's sister Antiope, who had technically become Queen when Hippolyte died. Some versions of the story paint this as a love story, with Antiope having fallen for Theseus and agreeing to return to Athens with him, while others are clear about it as a trophy kidnapping. In any case, it was the event that would spark the Attic War, when the Amazons massed to attack Athens itself to rescue their Queen

National Geographic images of Camels in the Desert

An image received via email. At first glance it appears as though the dark shapes are the camels. Not so....the dark shapes are shadows, if you look carefully you can see the sun reflecting off the "real" camels. Amazing image. It must be extremely difficult to be a National Geographic photographer. The standard of images is amazing , and they still manage to get better and better.
This was considered one of the best images in 2005, taken by George Steinmetz. Took 3 years to get to me...

Monday, 03 November 2008

To Turn the Tables: Origin and meaning

What does it mean if you “(to) turn the tables on someone?”
A search on “turn the tables” resulted in more than six million hits. Without looking up formal definitions I read a bunch of articles related to turning the tables. All posts refer to changing or turning a situation around in such a manner that your current undesirable position is changed to a more desirable or advantageous position. Three broad areas of application can be found: -

Firstly, to turn a current situation around to the disadvantage someone else. To cause harm, revenge, payback, reprisal and vindictiveness are words that come to mind when reading this type of post. This appears to be the most popular application.

Secondly, where you can reverse a current situation, to gain an advantage by improving your own situation. A positive action. Sales are bad so you appoint better salesmen and increase advertising, resulting in better profitability. The tables were turned in that a negative situation was turned around into a positive situation.

Thirdly, where one looks at situation with a different perspective. In other words one would turn the tables around and view the situation as a competitor, client or another 3rd party to gain a better insight. Not often used, but one I like.

Origin of tables from Latin meaning board, with specific reference to board games. Board games have been around since 3000BC, and the “table” refers to those games like backgammon that have 4 tables on the board. To turn the tables would mean to turn the game around so that your side would be changed for that of your opponent.

Image from Wikipedia.

Friday, 31 October 2008

To be caught red-handed: Origin and meaning

To be caught red-handed means that you have been caught in the act of doing something illegal. No excuses or alibi’s can be used, as your transgression is obvious, visible and undeniable. Usually related to stealing, with the stolen goods in your possesion. Caught on CCTV robbing a store with your face clearly visible would be a good example.
To be caught in this way has a legal term “in flagrante delicto”, which loosely translated means “in the progressing misdeed”. Therefore you are caught while you are doing something you should not be doing.
The most common origin for the term red-handed is Scottish, (circa 1400ad), specifically related to poaching. In order to punish a poacher the legal system had to have undeniable proof the accused was guilty. After killing and skinning an animal, the poacher would have blood on his hands, and this would be the necessary proof required. Poacher was caught red hand, i.e. with blood on his hands.
This expression has evolved to re-handed.
Can one be caught red-handed if you are doing something legal?
If you are supposed to do something, for example, clean the garage, and you disappear to have a couple of beers somewhere in solitude. If the lady in your life comes looking for you and “catches” you loafing, have you been caught red-handed? The way I look at it, this is not possible, as all the definitions I can find refer to illegal activities.
Loafing is not an illegal activity; it could be considered a national pastime in some places I know of.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Hercules (Heracles), Fifth Labor : Cleaning the Augean Stables.

Labor number 5 was to clean the Augean stables. This was a particularly disgusting task given to Hercules by his cousin, King Eurystheus, to make good his sins. Hercules had succeeded in all his previous tasks and was beginning to earn the respect and loyalty of the ordinary people. This task was most probably set to humiliate or degrade him.
King Augeias was a very wealthy landowner, and had a massive stable with a very large number of stalls. He had a herd of cattle of about 3,000 head that he received as a divine gift. These cattle were immune to diseases, so cleaning out the stables for hygienic purposes was not on the list of things to do on any given day. Legend has it that the stables had not been cleaned for 30 years. A messy set up by all accounts.
Hercules duly arrived to do what had to be done, and negotiated a deal with Augeias that he would clean the stables within a day, for a 10th payment. He accepted, obviously thinking this could not be done.
So, Hercules went off and diverted the rivers Alpheius and Poneus through an opening he made in the stable wall. The water rushed through and all the accumulated waste drained out of a hole in the wall he had made on the other side. At the end of the day, the task was completed and the stables were cleaned.
At this point Augeias refused to pay, on account that this task had to be done without payment, as part of his debt to Eurystheus.
Other sources say that he refused to pay and Hercules summoned his son Phyleus to bear witness to his promise. He confirmed the deal was made and Phyleus was banished from the kingdom, and settled in Dulchium. Another version tells of a court case when his son testified against Augeias. In any event, Phyleus was banished and Hercules was a very angry man. He promised to return and exact vengeance at a later stage, which he did, and gave the Kingdom to his banished son.
The original labors were increased by one more, total 12, as this one, according to Eurystheus, did not count, as it had to be undertaken at no cost.
Image : Wikipedia

Silly Signs : Flying Lessons

Received via email, source unknown

What does a Bakers Dozen mean?, Origin and meaning

The meaning is the easy part, a set or group of thirteen.
Firstly, a dozen means a group or set of twelve. The word dozen appears to be from French, derived from the Latin for Duo (two) and Decem (ten).
The origin part of the 13.
Bread has been the basic food source for millions of people for a very long time. To cheat someone in providing bread was a very serious offence. Historically seen as stealing from the poor. Severe penalties were imposed on bakers who cheated ordinary people by supplying less than was promised. Punishment for offenders was harsh, even brutal. During ancient times a baker could have his ear or hands chopped off for this offence. The bottom line, don’t steal from the poor.
During English medieval times, bakers were regulated by a guild, “The Worshipful Company of Bakers.” The law that bakers had to deal with was the ‘Assize of Bread and Ale”. This law made provision for serious punishment for bread that was sold underweight. Not the number of loaves, but the weight. Floggings etc were the order of the day if less was provided than paid for. Still no reference to a 13 loaves, but this is still to come.
To make sure that they were not subject to floggings, bakers would add a little extra as a form of insurance against underweight. This was to ensure that the correct weight was provided, not the number of loaves. This extra portion was known as the “in bread” or “long measure” to avoid a “short measure”
The phrase “Bakers Dozen” appeared in writing a couple of hundred years later and meant 13 loaves instead of 12, in definition of the practice.
Bakers Dozen also known as a Long Dozen, or a Devils Dozen (unlucky thirteen).
If you want to be a wise ass in a conversation you can refer to a Bakers Dozen as 14, and cannot be proved wrong. There are references to 14 loaves as well. The extra bit provided was never defined, and it would appear as though some bakers even provided a bit on top of the extra.
Most probably those with a very low pain threshold.
But, there is also the story that maintains that the 13th loaf was the profit of the trader. He bought 12 and the 13th was his profit margin. Not many references to this though.
A further reference for the 13th loaf is to make up for shortfalls. Loaves stolen, quality control etc etc.
Image from Wikipedia

Monday, 27 October 2008

Egg of Columbus or Columbus’s Egg : Origin and meaning

I enjoyed this one. Again, I seem to be the last person in the world to find out about Columbus’s egg.
Anybody who has an enquiring mind and likes to try things out for himself will be able to relate to this concept.
But, before I get distracted and ramble off to other things, a definition of the meaning.
In an eggshell it means that no matter how much effort, brilliance, intelligence, hard work, perseverance or whatever one puts into creating or finding out something original, it appears to be easy, simple or mundane when you look at it afterwards, especially by other people who had no input or insight to that what was achieved.
Having spent many years in a research and development environment, I know what it is like to spend days or weeks, whatever, in getting to an answer. When you give feedback to the powers that be, the answer is simplified by oneself and does not always reflect the time, effort, frustrations that you put into the whole setup. Then you seem to always get someone who will tell you that the answer was evident. This usually after the fact, they are never around when the thinking part has to be done.
Origin. Obviously Christopher Columbus. The story goes like this. After finishing his journeys to the Americas and putting this continent on the map for the Europe, he was having a meal with his Spanish buddies back home. The comment was made by one of his friends or enemies that his achievements were not all that exceptional. Spain had a lot of talented sailors and generals, and given time anybody could have achieved what he had.
At this point he either asked for or took an egg and asked the guests to balance the egg on one of the points. All tried and none succeeded. The egg fell over, could not balance by itself. Then Columbus took the egg, tapped it until the shell cracked a bit, and flattened it. Now the egg could be placed on the table without falling over.
The moral of the story is once you know, or are shown, how to do something, it is easy. The difficult part is getting there.
Although it is evident that Columbus used this as an example, it is debatable whether he figured the egg example out by himself. The same example was quoted with Italian references to building a church some 15 years before Columbus’s extended lunch.
Image from, and more detail at Wikipedia

Friday, 24 October 2008

Origin and Meaning of Untying the Gordian Knot

What is a Gordian Knot?.
“The Gordian knot is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem, solved by a bold stroke” (Wikipedia).
The origin dates back to the times long before Alexander the Great, (333 BC.) Pythia, (Macedonia), consisted of a bunch of small, poor kingdoms continuously fighting with each other. They were not unified and had no King. A sorry state of affairs. An oracle had decreed that when the time arrived for them to choose a king, the person to be chosen was he who arrived at the temple in an ox-cart (wagon).
One day while the priests were discussing the appointment of a King, a certain Gordius arrived in his ox-cart. Confirmation that he was the right person for the job came in the form of an eagle that landed on his cart at the same time. An oracle also decreed this sign. Now the oracles had been fulfilled, and he was promptly appointed King. By all accounts Gordius was not of royal blood, he was a peasant. Anyhow, he was made King, and one of the first things he did was to place his ox-cart at the temple of Zeus, in dedication.
Using cornel bark he tied the yoke of the wagon to a pole, securing it with an extremely complicated knot that was impossible to untie.
Many tried, but nobody could untie the knot, too difficult. The Alexander the Great arrived in Gordium and he tried his hand at untying the knot, but he too was unsuccessful. What he did was he took his sword and severed the rope with a single stroke. Problem solved.
There are numerous Internet articles on the knot and cord, analyzing possible physical characteristics. One interesting point is that the knot had no ends; the two ends spliced or weaved together. For the technically minded there are lots of articles.
The meaning of Alexander’s action? By cutting, and not untying the rope, Alexander had a “quick and dirty” solution to a difficult problem. An example of thinking “outside the box?”. Definitions often include words such as a sudden, harsh, single fast, and even brutal decision.
A further oracle decreed that the person who untied the knot would become the King of Persia. Alexander might not have solved the problem, but he did find a solution to the problem, and did become the King of Persia.
Image and definition from Wikipedia, rest of the stuff from more sources than I can recall.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hercules’ First Labor, the killing of the Nemean Lion

Hercules’ first labor was to kill the Nemean Lion and present the skin to his cousin King Eurystheus. Where did this lion come from? Most quoted sources say that this beast was the offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna. Hera, Zeus’ wife, had the lion sent to the valley of Nemea. This monster terrorized the local population and made their lives miserable. Killing livestock and causing havoc in general.
The lion was enormous and the skin was so strong that spears or arrows could not penetrate it.
When he was 18 years old Hercules was sent to kill the lion and return the skin to King Eurystheus. This was the first of the original 10 labors that were later increased to 12.
So, off went Hercules to Nemea to find the lion. When he arrived at the town of Cleonae he made friends with a poor farm boy, one Molorchus. The arrangement was made that should Hercules succeed in his task they would both make a sacrifice to Zeus on his return. Should he not be successful then Molorchus would sacrifice himself to Hercules, the Hero. (Hercules had to return within 30 days)
There are different versions as to how the confrontation between Hercules and the lion took place. There is consensus in that he was unaware that the lion could not be killed by club or arrow, and had to find out the hard way.
The most popular version of the confrontation is that the lion lived in a cave with two entrances. Hercules sealed one entrance off and then confronted the lion in the cave, strangling it to death with is enormous strength. Little detail is given.
The other version, and the one I like, originated from the translations of Theocritus (300 BC). According to this source Hercules found and confronted the lion on open land. Two arrows bounced off the animal’s thick skin and fell to the ground. While he was setting up for his third attempt, and most probably wondering what was going on here, the lion attacked him. He managed to give the lion a good whacking over the head. The blow was so hard that it split his olive club, and dazed the animal for a moment. Hercules took the advantage and grabbed the lion from behind and lifted him up. He stood on the lion’s hind paws and used his knees to secure the middle part. From behind he put his arms around the neck and strangled him to death.
The next step was to skin the lion. This was impossible as no knife or stone could cut the skin. So what he did was to use the claws of the animal as a knife. Having skinned the animal he returned to Molorchus on the 30th day. Together they made a sacrifice to Zeus.
Then off he went to present the skin to his cousin. When Eurystheus saw him return he became very afraid. He was so scared by Hercules strength that he had a bronze jar made that was buried in the ground. And he used this as a hiding place from Hercules. Hercules kept the skin, and it became on of his trademarks. The skin as a cloak and the head as a helmet.
From then on Hercules was not allowed to enter the city gates and communicated with is cousin via an envoy.
The legend is that after the lion was slain,” Hera placed the lion amongst the stars as the constellation Leo”
Good place to start looking up on the Internet is Wikipedia. Use Hercules and Heracles for search purposes. Lots of interesting stuff to read, and form your own impressions.
Image from Wikipedia

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Who or what is a Cynic?

What does it mean if you are a cynic?
I have often been called a cynic, and paid no attention to it. I have been called a lot of things in my life and a 'cynic' was definitely not considered bad enough to run off and find a psychiatrist specializing in the rehabilitation of cynics. If that is what I am, so be it.
Then today happened. The cynic label was thrown in my face, but with obvious malice. The whole thing started off by responding to a question as to my interpretation of the progress of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in sub Saharan Africa.
Anyway, the word cynic was used as bad word, something like that saying often seen that goes “ You say I am a bitch as if it is a bad thing” or words to that effect.
For clarification I went around looking for the book definition of a cynic and from a number sources, the following :-

A person who believes that all people are motivated by selfishness
A person whose outlook is scornfully negative
A Faultfinder (someone who is critical of the motives of others)

There are many, many more. One thing they all have in common is that they are all negative. So, a cynic by definition, is not a nice person, and by default that includes yours truly.
Anyhow, knowing that I am a nice guy when I want to be, I went off looking for a deeper meaning.
The first site I visited was Rons Modern Philosophies of a Cynic. These gems of wisdom I found there

-Work is accomplished by those employees who are still trying to reach their own levels of incompetence
-Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which a person can die.
-Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
-If at first you don't succeed, destroy all the evidence that proves you tried
(Lots more at Rons site)
I can happily relate to all of these statements. So, if these “philosophies” are those of a cynic, then I am a very strong candidate for the Cynic club tie.
(To be continued........Posted instead of saving to draft...)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Funny stuff

Colin came home from the pub late one Friday evening stinking drunk, as he often did, and crept into bed beside his wife who was already asleep.
He gave her a peck on the cheek and fell asleep.
When he awoke he found a strange man standing at the end of his bed wearing a long flowing white robe.
"Who the hell are you?" Demanded Colin, "and what are you doing in my bedroom?"
The mysterious Man answered, "This isn't your bedroom and I ' m St Peter".
Colin was stunned "You mean I'm dead!!! That can't be, I have so much to live for, I haven't said goodbye to my family.... you've go t to send me back straight away".
St Peter replied "Yes, you can be reincarnated but there is a catch.We can only send you back as a dog or a hen.
"Colin was devastated, but knowing there was a farm not far from his house, he asked to be sent back as a hen.
A flash of light later he was covered in feathers and clucking around pecking the ground.
"This isn't so bad" he thought until he felt this strange feeling welling up inside him.The farmyard rooster strolled over and said, "So you're the new hen, how are you enjoying your first day here?"
"It's not so bad" replies Colin, "but I have this strange feeling inside like I ' m about to explode".
"You're ovulating" explained the rooster, "don't tell me you've never laid an egg before".
"Never" replies Colin
"Well just relax and let it happen"
And so he did and after a few uncomfortable seconds later, an egg pops out from under his tail. An immense feeling of relief swept over him and his emotions got the better of him as he experienced motherhood for the first time.
When he laid his second egg, the feeling of happiness was overwhelming and he knew that being reincarnated as a hen was the best thing that ever happened to him...ever!!!
The joy kept coming and as he was just about to lay his third egg he felt an enormous smack on the back of his head and heard his wife shouting
"Colin, wake up you drunken lout, you are crapping in the bed!!!"
Source unknown, received via email

Friday, 17 October 2008

Fuchsia Fanatic


I have become a fuchsia fanatic.
I don't have a clue as to the name of this specific plant, nursery sold it as a Fuchsia, end of story
Have had excellent results with propagation
Cost in nursery range between R100,00 to R400,00, excluding container.
Don't like direct sun, and soil must be moist
Image, mobile phone
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A little Learning is a Dangerous Thing: Origin and Meaning

These words came to mind after watching Big Brother Africa, Episode 3, for a few unwanted moments. One of the contestants, inmates or whatever they are called, made sweeping statements in an endeavor to create the impression that he is intellectually superior to his less fortunate companions. None of his fellow prisoners, some of which appear to be very smart, rose to the occasion to put him back in his cage, but that is another story.
The source most often quoted as the origin of these words, is part of poem written by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) in his “Essay on Criticism”

“A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!”
(Lines 215 to 224)

The meaning of the first line is fine, it could be dangerous to tackle something if you do not have the necessary knowledge. The first surrealistic image that comes to mind is Karin bearing down on a faulty toaster with a screwdriver in her hand, scary stuff.
The second line refers to the Pierian Spring. What is the significance of this spring? This spring originates from Greek mythology. Situated in Macedonia it was the sacred place of the Muses. Now, it was believed that if a person drank from this spring it would serve as a source of inspiration and great knowledge.
So, to drink deep from the spring implies to full onself completely (with knowledge), rather than just a taste, which is too little
“The shallow draughts intoxicate the brain” meaning that one can get drunk on a little bit and think you know everything, which is dangerous.
“And drinking largely sobers us again” probably alluding to an increase in knowledge implies how little we know, a sobering thought.
So, to understand the meaning of the first line one has to read further to see it in context.
There are a number of expressions in common use today that are used out of context, in that they form part of a larger source.
The second line is used in a number of writings, but the oldest reference I could find was that of Titus Petronius in the Satyricon, which reads as follows:-
"This is the right armour of genius-
Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.
Only then pour out your heart."
Same meaning different context.
Hope this post will stimulate someone to go to other sources to confirm,test and question.
Image from Wikipedia

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Silly Fashions

Could not think of a caption to do justice to the occasion, maybe it will hit me later. Most probably something to the point.....
Source unknown

Hercules (Heracles) and the Hydra: Mythology, Second labor

This was the second task that Hercules had to undertake to atone for his sins. The Hydra was a terrible nine-headed water serpent that lived in the swamps of Lerna and guarded the gates of the underworld.
The Hydra had nine heads. Eight of the heads were mortal, and the ninth head, surrounded, by the other eight, was immortal. However should one of the mortal heads be removed, two would grow in its place. The Hydra also had an obnoxious and poisonous breath.
The Hydra would devour cattle and other livestock in the surrounding areas, and in general, terrorize the locals. To solve this problem Hercules was sent off to kill the monster.
Hercules took his nephew along with him, Iolous, who was an expert charioteer and Olympian.
Before Hercules could kill the Hydra, he had to kill a giant crab, sent by Hera to make things more difficult. He killed the crab with his club. The crab was rewarded with a place in the constellation, Cancer, by Hera for services rendered.
To flush the Hydra from hiding, he shot a number of flaming arrows into its lair.
Hercules soon found out that it was impossible to kill the beast with a club, his preferred weapon, and took a sword, (some sources say sickle), covered his mouth with a cloth, and chopped the heads off one at a time. His nephew then cauterized the neck wound with a flaming torch, so that no further heads could grow.
After a long struggle the eight mortal heads were removed, leaving the immortal head. This was chopped off and buried under a large and heavy stone. (If the head was immortal, why would this help? Just to keep it out of the way? Somewhere I read that this head came back later to cause problems..will find out in due course)
Hercules then dipped the points if his arrows in the poisonous blood of the hydra, (some sources say gall), for future use.
The interesting part about this story is that it was seen as incomplete, as he had help from his nephew, and did not undertake the task on his own.
Some sources maintain that the original tasks set were increased, to make up for the slip-up.
Image from Wikipedia.:
(Hercules from Roman Mythology and Heracles from Greek. If you do a net search use both, different range of hits)
First Labor, the Nemean lion

Monday, 13 October 2008

Crazy Images

I wish it would be possible to eavesdrop on this conversation. How do you carry this situation over to the Operations Manager.
"Zat you Mike?"
"Yes...who is this?, I am busy, speak up.."
"It's Pete?"
"Pete who?...hurry up man...."
"The new guy"
"Yes, yes, what do you want?"
"I am afraid we have a bit of a problem....."

Mythology: What were the 12 labors of Hercules?

One of the best known characters in Greek mythology was the tragic myth of Hercules, son of the Greek god Zeus and a man of enormous strength.
In a fit of madness he killed his own children. To atone for his crime he was forced to serve King Eurystheus, who set him the tasks that are known as the twelve labours of Hercules.
In summary , these twelve tasks were as follows:
1) First task was to kill the Nemean lion, a monstrous beast that terrified the country of Nema.
2) His second task was to kill the Hydra, a terrible nine-headed water serpent
3) Thirdly he had to capture, alive, the Arcadian stag
4) His fourth task was the capture of the Erymanthian boar
5) Then he had to clean the Augean stables. Labor Five.King Augeus had a herd of 3,000 oxen and the stables had not been cleaned for 30 years.
6) His sixth labour was the slaying of the Stymphian birds, which fed on human flesh
7) Hercules had to capture the Cretan bull sent by Neptune to the king of Crete for sacrifice.
8) Task number eight was the capture of the mares of Diomedes.
9) The ninth labor was to obtain the the girdle (belt) of Hippolyte, the queen of the Amazons.
10) Then he had to capture the oxen of Geryon, a monster of with three bodies
11) His eleventh exploit was to obtain the golden apples of the Hesperides
12) His final task was the bringing up of Ceberus from the underworld.

Image from Wikipedia

Friday, 10 October 2008

Thursday, 09 October 2008

When and How was Julius Caesar assassinated?

Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 15th day of March, known as the Ides of March, 44 BC. Much has been written about his death and most of it dramatized for effect. The only available written documentation of his death that I could lay my hands on is that of Suetonius, the respected Roman scholar and historian, and the author of the Lives of the Caesars.
Following, quoted verbatim, from the English translation of his work on “De Vita Caesarum, Divius Iulius”, paragraph LXXXII.

“ As he took his seat, the conspirators gathered around him as if to pay their respects, and straightway Tillius Cimber, who had assumed the lead, came nearer as though to ask something: and when Caesar with a gesture put him off to another time, Cimber caught his toga by both shoulders: then as Caesar cried: “Why, this is violence!” one of the Cascas stabbed him from one side just below the throat. Caesar caught Casca’s arm and ran it through with his stylus, but as he tried to leap to his feet, he was stopped by another wound. When he saw he was beset on every side by drawn daggers, he muffled his head in his robe, and at the same time drew down its lap to his feet with his left hand, in order to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered. And in this wise he was stabbed with three and twenty wounds, uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke, although some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, “You too, my child”. All the conspirators made off, and he lay there lifeless for some time, until finally three common slaves put him on a litter and carried him home, with one arm hanging down. And of so many wounds none turned out to be mortal, in the opinion of the Physician Antistius, except the one in the breast. The conspirators had intended after slaying him to drag his body to the Tiber, confiscate his property, and revoke his decrees: but they forboe through fear of Marcus Antonius the consul, and Lepidus, the master of horse”

Suetonius based his writings on interviews with people present at the assassination and writings available at the time.
If there are other sources more credible than his, please let me know

Wednesday, 08 October 2008

Silly Signs: Trash

No idea as to the source of this image

Achilles' Heel, Origin and meaning

To have an Achilles’ heel implies that one has a vulnerable point. If this vulnerable point is attacked it will bring about the ruin of a person, country, object or idea, irrespective of any inherent strength.
In Greek mythology, this referred to a physical weakness. Modern usage is more symbolic for the downfall of virtually anything due to an inherent weakness.
In the mythological sense, Superman had an Achilles’ heel as in kryptonite. In the modern sense a marketing plan could have an Achilles’ heel if for example one was reliant on poor salesmen.
Origin is from Greek mythology. As a baby, Achilles was dipped in the river Styx by his mother to make him immortal. During the dunking process his mother had to hold him by the heel, and this part of his body, was covered by her hand, and no contact was made with the water. This became his vulnerable spot. He was invulnerable except for his heel.
Achilles excelled during the Trojan War, specifically during the final stages. After he had killed Hector, Achilles was killed by Paris, with an arrow to his heel. Some sources say the arrow was poisoned.
Achilles therefore, considered immortal, was killed via his heel, his only weak point.

Tuesday, 07 October 2008

The origin and meaning of “(Caught) on the horns of a dilemma”

The origin and meaning of “(Caught) on the horns of a dilemma” turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. The meaning was the easier part, and the origin more difficult.
Meaning : Refers to a situation where one is confronted with making a decision based on two options, the results or consequence of either decision having equally unpleasant results. So, no matter what decision you have to take, the outcome is unfavourable.
From the 1933 print of the Oxford Shorter Dictionary, Dilemma has Greek origins. Di meaning two and lemma an assumption or a premiss. According to the same source dilemma was a form of argument,(Rhetoric), in which an adversary was given the choice of usually 2, "but possibly more" alternatives equally unfavourable. The alternatives are the horns of the dilemma, either of which can cause pain.
The origin of the horns I could not determine. Most refer to the horns of a bull, and even to the devils horns. Somewhere I saw a source that quoted a Greek translation meaning a four legged animal with a tail, but lost the site.
An example of the phrase in modern terms by Oxford " the dilemma of a swimmer among drowning men, who all catch at him" (Page 510).

Friday, 03 October 2008

Silly Signs: Cops Hiding

Received via email
Source unknown

Et Tu, Brute (And you too, Brutus) : Origin and Meaning

What does Et tu Brute mean? These words are said to have been Julius Caesars last words after being assassinated on the Ides of March by a group of Senators, including Marcus Brutus, someone he had considered a close friend.
A number of translations exist:-
“And you, Brutus?”
“You too, Brutus?”
“Even you Brutus?”
“And you, (too) Brutus?”
Today, this quotation is mostly used to refer to an act of ultimate betrayal, usually from a trusted person.
The source of this quote appears to be from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: -
“Caesar: Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
Casca: Speak, hands, for me! (They stab Caesar.)
Caesar: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar! (Dies.)
Cinna: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!”
Purists are still debating the correct translation, but the question is whether the translation efforts are directed towards translating the Shakespeare version, or Caesars last words.
Further sources of Caesars demise are the writings of Suetonius, a Roman biographer and historian. (69 AD- 122 AD). In his biography of Julius Caesar reference is made to a Greek phrase "καὶ σὺ τέκνον”. This has been translated by scholars to “You too, my child?”.
Why Greek at this serious point in time? It would appear as though the words uttered by Caesar were also the first few words of a Greek saying "You too my son, will have a taste of power," which implied that he (Brutus) would be heading for the same fate.
Suetonius : “ ….was stabbed with three and twenty wounds, uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke, though some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, You too, my child?”.
So, according to Suetonius there was written documentation as to Caesars last words. Plutonius, another respected philosopher and historian, maintained that Caesar died witout saying a word.
More Caesar quotes at a later post.
Image : Wikipedia
Source : Suetonius " The Lives of the Caesars- The Deified Julius"
Shakespeare : Julius Caesar
>Updated 23 June 2009<

Thursday, 02 October 2008

Kahlil Gibran - On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Mythology: The Phoenix, the bird that rose from the ashes

The Phoenix was the mythological bird that rose from the ashes of its own destruction. I was reading up on Salamander Bay (RSA), and this led to the salamander then fire and ultimately to the Phoenix.
The Phoenix has Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Oriental, Persian and Christian origins, with different interpretations. The Egyptian Phoenix, Bennu, appears to be the oldest reference.
From Greek Mythology the name Phoenix was derived from the colors red, crimson, purple and gold, denoting fire
Only one Phoenix lived at any given time, and lived from 500 to 1,500 years, depending on the source. Some sources say that this bird was never seen eating. The Phoenix had a beautiful song, and in the morning as it bathed the sun god would stop a while to listen to it singing.
When the Phoenix knew death was approaching he would build a nest of cinnamon sticks and set it alight, to be consumed by the flames. From these ashes a young Phoenix arises. (Some sources say an egg, others a young bird).
The bird rising from the ashes signifies regeneration and immortality.
A good starting point, is Wikipedia, sufficient links to keep you busy for a couple of days if you need to dig deeper

Salamander Bay

"I think you should go through the dunes and the grain fields to Salamander Bay one day in the spring, when the wildflowers are blazing in the sailor's cemetery. There are ghosts of ships and seamen in that old harbour, but the ghosts of Salamander harm no one when they strike eight bells at midnight"

Passage from the book "Eight Bells at Salamander" by Lawrence G Green, 1947.

South African Salamander Bay, Langebaan, nothing to do with the amphibian with the same name. Bay was named after the Dutch ship from Delft that stopped over there about 350 years ago, with crew suffering from scurvy

Monday, 29 September 2008