Thursday, 31 July 2008

Zimbabwe Dollar: 10 Billion now = 1

Had to do a double take on this one before the penny dropped. Received via email under the title “Stupid is as Stupid does”, if I can recall correctly.
I made a conscious decision when I started posting that I would avoid a number of issues, politics is one of them.
Looking at this however I cannot but think of Zimbabwe.
Nowhere to start from and nowhere to go to.
Sky News had a report early this morning that the Zimbabwean currency was to be changed. A 10 billion, yes 10 billion dollar note, is to be replaced by a 1-dollar note.
Rampant inflation is not new to global economy, the textbook case being that of Germany after the First World War. By just changing the look of the money and cutting off a chain of zeros on the end will change nothing except for making admin easier.
Rampant inflation is the symptom of deeper issues, and one cannot cure a disease by treating the symptoms.
No reference as to what was going to be done to address these symptoms was made in the news report. Maybe and hopefully Zim has a plan. If my memory serves me well, these plans are usually drastic measures for drastic times, and need international First World support, which is a far cry from reality given Zimbabwe’s non-acceptance in the Western World.
Hopefully something can and will be done to put an end to this nonsense.
If not, the new dollar will be back to 10 billion in a matter of months.

Arnoldus, The Bushveld Ant With an Attitude

Arnoldus was a bushveld ant. A rough, tough and rugged individual, who was a leader of ants. He lived in an anthill in the African Savannah, under a thorn tree close to a river.
One day an elephant, on his way down to the river to meet the other animals for Happy hour, and without premeditated intent, stood on our Hero’s anthill causing significant damage.
This pissed Arnoldus off to no end. Countless ant-hours had been spent in building the complex anthill to the strictest of specifications. As we know, Arnoldus did not like being stood upon, so to say.
He lost it, and in his anger marched off in pursuit of the offender. The other ants all surfaced and took up good vantage points to watch Arnoldus give the elephant a piece of his mind.
Determinedly Arnoldus strided after the elephant, his mood growing darker with every step, egged on my countless thousands of ant supporters shouting, “Go Arnoldus, Go”
Eventually he managed to catch up to the elephant and jumped up onto a back foot.
“Go Arnoldus, Go” shouted his supporters from the sidelines. “ Way to go Arnoldus”.
Running up the hindquarters of the mammoth beast was no problem. Fuelled by his ever increasing anger and support from below he reached the back of the beast and set off for the head part.
“Go Arnoldus, Go!!!”, “You can do it!!!”, were the shouts from below.
The last bit was easy, but as he reached the neck his anger had subsided somewhat and he took a breather, not sure what to do now.
Looking down at his supporters he heard the cry
“ Strangle him Arnoldus, strangle him!!!”
The moral of the story is don’t bite off more than you can chew, and justice and revenge are better served cold.
Image from Wikipedia

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Good Woman Wanted

This is another take on an old "joke", more sad than funny. But it reminded me of the Fairy Tale we never tell our children. Something like this;
Once upon a time, long long ago in a far off land lived a Princess who had been blessed with but average qualities. She could not find a suitable Prince to marry, and her parents, obviously the King and Queen, were anxious that Mr Right could be found to provide grandchildren, and a new King.
One day, while sitting next to the Palace dam, she came upon a frog, blessed with the power of speech. Her first reaction was to catch the amphibian, pop it into a bag and sell it to the court jester. A talking frog could mean an extra couple of bucks. (In those days Princesses were notoriously underpaid.) the Frog managed to avoid this by proclaiming that in reality he was a very handsome and rich Prince, his current situation as a frog was due to an evil spell cast upon him by a wicked witch. ( Details for this drastic transformation were not forthcoming, maybe the witch was his Mother-in Law who caught him cheating on her daughter, who knows).
Anyhow,He quickly told our heroine that if she gave him a good kiss he would, once again become the handsome, charming, sexy and wealthy Prince he was.
In return he would marry the Princess and they would move into his pad. She could show her gratefulness by keep house for him, cooking and washing his clothes, Doing all the shopping, educating their children and other domestic duties too many to recall.
Anyhow, that evening, after consuming a good bottle of Grand Crux, and having dined extremely well on a dish of lightly fried frogs legs in creamy garlic sauce she, said
" You F%#%^ing wish"
And she lived her life happily ever after

Monday, 28 July 2008

Nando's : Extra Hot Peri-Peri

This is seriously hot.
On the radio the other morning reference was made to a restaurant somewhere in India that professes to make the hottest curry known to man. One has to sign an indemnity form before one can order.
Reportedly a thousand times hotter that the hottest chili.
Count me out....
(Image received via e-mail.)

Odin, God of Wind ( Norse, Germanic Mythology)

According to Norse, Scandinavian and Germanic mythology, Odin created man and put him on earth teaching him to hunt, fish and till the soil. He also taught man to fight. He was fond of a good fight himself and oftentimes joined in battle. He created Valhalla where the gloriously slain could spend their time feasting and fighting.
Odin was also known as Wotan or Woden and was considered as the highest and holiest. All other Gods were supposed to be descended from him. His wife and queen was Frigga, and their throne was in Asgard, a city in the clouds.
Odin had great power. He obtained this great power from Memir, an old giant who guarded the sacred “ fountain of all wit and wisdom” in whose depths the future was shown.
The giant was reluctant to allow Odin to drink from the fountain, and only after Odin had plucked out an eye and thrown it into the water as a pledge, was he allowed to drink. His remaining eye symbolized the sun, and the eye in the fountain the moon.
Odin had many titles, known as the God of wind, Father of the Gods, Lord of Men, Shifty Eyed and many more.
Now for the fun parts. Odin had an eight-footed steer, Sleipnir, and with this animal he took an active part in battle. He also had a magic bow that could shoot 10 arrows at a time. A distinct advantage. Anyhow he inspired his weaponless warriors with “berserker rage”. This enabled them to perform great feats of valour in their “bare sarks” (shirts). I understand this is the origin of the saying to “to go berserk”
Another power Odin had, was that needed no food. Occasionally he would sip on sacred mead. He had two hounds, Geri and Freki, and he would feed them with meat set before him. He also had to ravens, called Munin (memory) and Hugin (thought). Each morning he sent these ravens out to collect news.
He was also known as the Wind God, and, mounted on Sleipnir and accompanied by his wolf-hounds he would charge through the sky heading the “Wild Hunt” of the souls of the dead.
It appears as though Wednesday is named after Odin, (Wodan), or Woden’s Day, Wednesday.
This posting does not do real justice to the occasion. Much more is available from many sites.
My main source was “The Book of Knowledge”, and the image from Wikipedia.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Raining Cats and Dogs, Origin and meaning

What does Raining Cats and Dogs mean, and when or where did this saying originate.
As with most the phrases and sayings, there is consensus as to the meaning, but the origin is oftentimes debatable.
Raining Cats and Dogs implies very heavy unexpected rain.
I found a number of possible origins for this saying. Articles available are often confusing, with the similar references to Greek or Latin and Dutch or Norse origins for the same meaning.
So, let us take a look at variations of the most popular version.
The meaning most often quoted refers to medieval times when animals and other creepy crawlies spent time in the thatched roof of the home or barn. With heavy rain the animals would either be washed out, or jump from, the roof to escape the rain. This created the impression that it was raining Cats and Dogs. One can imagine a cat sleeping on a rafter, but a dog? Not so sure about that. Maybe if one had insight to the construction of these houses one could have a better insight.
Another interpretation is that prior to storm water and sewage systems, all waste and rainwater was disposed of in surface channels. After heavy rain, animals such as dogs and cats would be drowned and carried away by the storm waters. Alternatively, dead cats and dogs were thrown into gutters and would wash away during a storm.
This could create the impression that it was raining cats and dogs.
Another version is derived from Norse mythology. A number of articles refer to Odin as the God of Storms, surrounded by dogs, representing wind. This with the belief that cats symbolized heavy rain led to the cat and dog theory. I went digging around Norse mythology and could find no reference to Odin and storms. Thor, to my limited knowledge was the God of Storms.
Then there is the Latin version, derived from cata doxas , which I am led to believe means unexpected or unusual. So raining cata doxas means raining harder than usual. This morphed to be cats and dogs. Again I could not confirm this on any of the Latin sites.
Jonathan Swift referred to “raining cats and dogs” in 1738. This appears to be the oldest written reference.
Image from Wikipedia

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Short History of Carthage

My knowledge of Carthage was based on school Latin translations of the Punic wars. I did not shine at Latin due to lack of interest and motivation. This was a subject chosen by my family and the educational system, for my long-term benefit. “Have to have Latin if you are going to study Law or Medicine like the rest of the family” was the nonnegotiable motivation. I did enough to pass Latin, with the minimum requirements, and studied neither Law nor Medicine.
Anyhow, a few days ago over a couple of beers, the conversation drifted to things Carthage and to my horror I could not contribute anything significant to the topic. What I did know was that my friends were equally or more ignorant, but were more verbal about their ignorance.
According to tradition, Queen Dido, a Phoenician, from the city of Tyre (in modern Syria) had to leave her country in a bit of a hurry due to a family misunderstanding. She founded the city of Byrsa (Later known as Carthage), in Tunisia. It would appear as though the name Byrsa was connected to the Greek word byrsa, meaning hide, as in animal hide. Apparently the locals agreed to give her as much land as could be enclosed by an ox hide. She cut the hide into tiny strips and surrounded an area large enough to found the city. (Either this was an exceptionally large ox or the strips were very, very small.)
This happened in 850 BC. At this time the Roman Empire was but an embryo. Geographically Carthage was well situated for trade and unrivalled commercial opportunities. The city boomed and became a large and prosperous with harbours, docks, manufacturing industries and trade. The Phoenicians were a seafaring nation and colonies were established all over North Africa, the Mediterranean islands, and Spain. Their ships controlled the inland sea.
As Carthage flourished, so did Rome. After Rome had mastered Italy, conflict with Carthage was inevitable. The Romans had one drawback. At this point they were good on land but not so good at sea. I found a quote that supports this ……. “No Roman might even wash his hands in the Mediterranean without the permission of Carthage”.
So….Rome and Carthage started on a series of “conflicts” that lasted for a 100 years. The Punic Wars, and there were three of them. This first one lasted about 20 years (260-240 BC), in Sicily. This resulted in the Carthaginians withdrawing from Sicily and the payment of an indemnity to Rome. Round 1 to the Romans.
The second Punic war was also known as the “War with Hannibal”. He invaded Italy from Spain, crossing the Alps with a train of elephants. He managed to defeat the Romans at Cannae, but did not receive any support from the “locals”. While this was happening Scipio was attacking Carthage, and Hannibal was recalled to Africa. As a result of this war Carthage lost Spain and had to surrender her navy. (Round 2 to the Romans).
The Romans wanted Carthage destroyed. The Roman Senator, Cato, ended all his speeches, no matter what the subject with the words “Carthage must be destroyed” (Delenda est Carthago)
The Third Punic War was caused by the jealousy of Rome at signs of a revival of the maritime and commercial strength of Carthage. After a major battle Carthage was conquered by the Romans and razed to the ground, and Cato’s dream was fulfilled
A Roman Colony was later established on the same site. The Germans (Vandals) took the city in 439ad and it became a Pirate stronghold. The Arabs captured the city in 698ad, and again it was destroyed.
A recent documentary on the History Channel covered the excavation of old buildings etc from Carthaginian times.
That’s it…..pity I cannot have that conversation again…..

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Monday, 21 July 2008

Silly Signs

Have you seen the cat?

Water on Mars

This email is too good to let it pass by.
There is water on Mars

It has been a long time since I last posted anything. Despite that, the number of visitors doubled in my absence, (I am still trying to get my mind around that one.) The bad part was that I had forgotten passwords, email adresses ( some of which some had expired ) etc. The Blogger email popped into memory while in the shower, and I contemplated shouting "Eureka....Eureka" and running around starkers through the complex, but my better judgement and Karin's threat of grevious bodily harm put an end to that.
MyBlogLog is still a puzzle I have to work around. Will give attention to that after the blog has received attention, and I have built up enough courage.