Topless towers burnt down

Sophia_schliemann_treasure

Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium? asked Christopher Marlowe in Dr Faustus.

Ilium, the city of Troy, canvas of heroes.  On the fields of Troy Homer introduced us to Ajax, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Priam, Hector, Paris and a cast of thousands.  Achilles the almost invincible and his lover Patroclus.  Cassandra who saw the future but was cursed never to be believed.  The wily Odysseus, AKA Ulysses and his 20 year journey home.  The seeds planted in Troy have germinated and multiplied to inspire a wealth of literature from ancient to modern times.

The Julii Caesares, who gave us Caesar and Augustus, claimed descent from the hero Aeneas who fled from burning Troy with his bride, a daughter of Priam.  Virgil made a career of that tale in the court of the First Emperor of Rome.

It was ostensibly on this day, April 24th in the year 1184 BC that Troy was sacked and burned by the Greeks.  For many that was as far as the myth went.  Then Heinrich Schliemann, a German Businessman, decided that there was no smoke without fire.  So he read Homer as a travel guide instead of as a legend.  He followed the clues and lo and behold he found the ancient city.  Burned, exactly as described.

He bedecked his wife in the jewelry he found there and put her on display for high society to see.  Then he followed more clues and found the tomb of Agamemnon at Mycenae.  A new form of archaeology was born and led to many discoveries all over the world.  Today the science has evolved to the point where Satellite images from earth orbit are being used to search for ancient sites.

 

No Second Troy; by William Butler Yeats

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
with misery, or that she would of late
have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
or hurled the little streets upon the great,
had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
that nobleness made simple as a fire,
with beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
that is not natural in an age like this,
being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

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UFO battle over Nuremburg

Greg Semkow

Attack Ships on Fire: by Greg Semkow

April 14th, 1561 an event occurred over Nuremberg.  From the description it bears all the hallmarks of a massive space battle between two opposing fleets.  The original document resides in the Central Library of Zurich, Switzerland.

It described as follows, in italics, with my comments inserted:

In the morning of April 14, 1561, at daybreak, between 4 and 5 a.m., a dreadful apparition occurred on the sun, and then this was seen in Nuremberg in the city, before the gates and in the country – by many men and women. At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips, becoming thicker to the rear and in the front malleable like the rods of reed-grass, which were intermingled, among them two big rods, one on the right, the other to the left, and within the small and big rods there were three, also four and more globes.

At this stage we could interpret this as a “Sun Dogs” phenomenon.  The effect of low clouds at dawn could have refracted the light of the sun to create further reflections, the crosses, strips etc described.  A classic sundog is unusual, two false suns refracted either side of the sun, and looks like this:

sun-dog-phenomenon

But now the description of events takes on a more sinister feel:

These all started to fight among themselves, so that the globes, which were first in the sun, flew out to the ones standing on both sides, thereafter, the globes standing outside the sun, in the small and large rods, flew into the sun. Besides the globes flew back and forth among themselves and fought vehemently with each other for over an hour.

OK, people have been staring directly at the rising sun, not a great idea.  So perhaps this “fighting” is just the effect of retinal damage from staring too long at the sun?  Or are the Globes actually flying saucers or death stars?  Are the rods really great cylindrical space ships?

And when the conflict in and again out of the sun was most intense, they became fatigued to such an extent that they all, as said above, fell from the sun down upon the earth ‘as if they all burned’ and they then wasted away on the earth with immense smoke.

This part sounds much more as though some event took place that cannot be explained by Sundogs.  Is it possible that a meteor shower hit the atmosphere at the same time as a sundog phenomenon?  Possible, but unlikely.  Is it possible that two alien space fleets were engaged in a battle above the earth?  Are the “Globes” fleet carriers and the “rods” some type of fighter craft?  Let’s continue with the original text:

After all this there was something like a black spear, very long and thick, sighted; the shaft pointed to the east, the point pointed west.

Could this black spear be the victorious fleet carrier?  It reminds me of craft from Star Wars:

ImpStarDestroyer-SWI125

Whatever such signs mean, God alone knows. Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness. After all, the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that He may avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may temporarily here and perpetually there, live as his children. For it, may God grant us his help, Amen. By Hanns Glaser, letter-painter of Nurnberg.

Maybe this was a highly unusual celestial event.  Perhaps two events occurred at the same time, a Sundog phenomenon, and also an asteroid striking the atmosphere and burning up in thousands of meteor trails.

Perhaps two interstellar fleets annihilated each other in Earth orbit and we were dumb witnesses to greater galactic events.  If so, will these great interstellar fleets return some day?

Perhaps an alien race was attempting an invasion of Earth.  Were we saved from invasion by the benign actions of an advanced race who want to preserve Earth from invasion.  Perhaps they are observing us all the time, waiting for the right time to introduce themselves?

Perhaps it is time to re-read my post on Ancient Egyptian Powertools.  Just click on the JACKHAMMER to follow the link.

Perils of online translators

I am linking to this brilliant article which highlights in detail how translation does not work if you don’t know both languages.

Gorm chónaí ábhar

In short the translator plugged the American phrase “Blue Lives Matter” into an English/Irish dictionary and came up with the phrase above which translates as something like “Substance they live blue”.

It is incredible that in translating just 3 words the translation got all 3 wrong.

The beautiful irony of it is this.  Had the translation actually worked, if the policeman had rendered “Blue Lives Matter” into English he would still have tripped over his own cleverness.  Fear gorm in Irish, literally blue man, is a term we use to describe black people.  The words for black man (fear dubh) refer to the devil.  So he would have been going around wearing a #BlackLivesMatter shirt.

As bad translations go though, you just can’t beat this one where a guy got a tattoo on his back of the first sentence every Irish child learns in our native language.  Any Irish language speaker, even those you have no more than a dozen words, can translate this.  It says “May I have permission to go to the toilet”.

Leithras

 

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac

Jack.jpg

Born this day 1922 Kerouac is famous for the way he smashed literary conventions.  To write “On the Road” he glued sheets of paper top to tail in a long continuous strip so he did not have to stop typing to change paper.  Then, fueled on a cocktail of mind altering substances he unloaded the book in a marathon writing session.  It took the James Joyce concept of stream of consciousness to an entirely new place.

The work catapulted Kerouac to fame as a leading light of the Beat movement alongside Ginsberg and Burroughs. It was Kerouac who coined the term “Beat Generation” and the “Beat” derived from “beat up” meaning old, used, poor, as in “a beat up old tramp”.  At the same time he was highly spiritual and declared that he was a Catholic not a Beatnik.

Though Kerouac died young he went on to influence a few people.

 

How to meditate; by Jack Kerouac

-lights out-
fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
i hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance-Healing
all my sicknesses-erasing all-not
even the shred of a ‘I-hope-you’ or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it off, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes-and
with joy you realize for the first time
‘thinking’s just like not thinking-
So I don’t have to think
any
more’

Beatles

Longfellow

Longfellow

This post is about a poets birthday, an Irish rebel, and a diving bird.

Today is the birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, most famous of the New England “Fireside Poets”, born on this day in 1807.  Longfellow is best known for his (very) long lyrical/romantic verse tales such as the Song of Hiawatha and Evangeline.  They are poems that had a role in the days before the invention of TV.  They occupied a long winters night with a well told tale set to verse.

The song of Hiawatha tells the story of a fictional Ojibwe warrior named Hiawatha and his tragic love for the Dakota squaw Minnehaha.  Now here is where things get weird.  Here is a photo of the Irish rebel Eamonn DeValera taken in 1919.  He is wearing the headdress of the Ojibwe-Chippewa tribe, who made him an honorary member, in Spooner Wisconsin.

Devalera

During the rebellion the Irish leaders were referred to by nicknames.  This avoided their real names being overheard by spies.  Micheal Collins was nicknamed “The Big Fellow” and DeValera, who was tall and lanky, was nicknamed “The Long Fellow”.  Longfellow writes Hiawatha about Ojibwe warrior.  Irish rebel nicknamed Long Fellow is made an honorary Ojibwe warrior.  That is just bizarre.

DeValera survived the executions of the 1916 rebellion because he held entitlement to American citizenship from his birth in New York.  He toured the USA in 1919/1920 to raise funds for the rebellion and to secure recognition for the cause of the Irish Free State.  Post-Treaty he broke from Collins and led the IRA rebels in a doomed civil war which split the country for three generations.  He went on to found Ireland’s largest political party, served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and as President.  The classic terrorist – rebel – freedom fighter – elderly statesman cursus honorum.

Finally we come to the diver.  Divers are a breed of bird in the British Isles that are usually called Loons in North America.  The smallest diver, the red throated, develops the signature red throat feathers during the breeding season “when ocean by the sun is kissed”.  So it is clear that the interlocutor of this Longfellow poem is a Red Throated Diver.  The poem is shorter than the great lyric beasts that Longfellow is famous for, but sits well here on “Mindship” as it touches on themes of ships lost at sea.

RedThroatDiver

The Sea Diver: by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My way is on the bright blue sea,
my sleep upon its rocking tide;
and many an eye has followed me
where billows clasp the worn seaside.

My plumage bears the crimson blush,
when ocean by the sun is kissed!
When fades the evening’s purple flush,
my dark wing cleaves the silver mist.

Full many a fathom down beneath
The bright arch of the splendid deep
My ear has heard the sea-shell breathe
O’er living myriads in their sleep.

They rested by the coral throne,
And by the pearly diadem;
Where the pale sea-grape had o’ergrown
The glorious dwellings made for them.

At night upon my storm-drench’d wing,
I poised above a helmless bark,
And soon I saw the shattered thing
Had passed away and left no mark.

And when the wind and storm were done,
a ship, that had rode out the gale,
Sunk down, without a signal-gun,
And none was left to tell the tale.

I saw the pomp of day depart–
The cloud resign its golden crown,
When to the ocean’s beating heart
The sailor’s wasted corse went down.

Peace be to those whose graves are made
Beneath the bright and silver sea!
Peace – that their relics there were laid
With no vain pride and pageantry.

 

 

 

 

Cordons Pierreux

Just back from Lanzarote where farmers make use of Cordons Pierreux to improve the land.  It is interesting to note that there are three types of soil in Lanzarote, a yellow clay, a black cinder and a red gravel.  The red gravel is used for planting well established palms and succulents.  It seems to act as a barrier to weed growth.

The black volcanic ash cinder appears to be the favoured medium for farmers.

Lanzarote suffers from two key challenges, water and wind.  There is little of the first and an abundance of the second.  The dried out soil is easily blown away by the strong sea breezes that keep the islands cool.

Cordons Pierreux are stone ribbons that look like mini dry stone walls.  Farmers use them to mark out field areas, or in some cases to protect individual plants.  Some of them are very fancy, built tall and give good shelter to ornamental plants as in this photo.  These are designed to protect delicate seedlings from harsh sea winds.

Wall

For the most part the Cordons look like these field versions:

Field

To illustrate how they work I took the following close up:

Cordon

This cordon bounds a field end, and you can see the vegetation is far thicker on the left than it is on the right.  The prevailing wind blows from left to right.  Small grains of soil are blown up against the cordon and fill the cracks in the stones.  There they form a barrier to the soil moving.  This barrier also slows the loss of moisture from this field.  You can see (in real life) how the soil in the field is more moist that that outside the cordon.

Seeds blow into the cordon and germinate.  Their roots and shoots help bind the whole thing further.  They provide wells of biodiversity, home to native plants and a habitat for insects.

Cordons Pierreux don’t appear to be very sophisticated but in an environment such as this one they are a cheap, easy and incredibly effective solution to problems of farming.

 

 

 

Make your moments

Tube

Photo by Matt Crabtree (16th Century Tube Passengers)

I spent years commuting to the big city on the train.  It is a journey of 1 hour 20 mins on a good day, 1 hour 30 mins mostly.  So that’s 3 hours daily on a train.

Say that to many people and they think you are crazy.  They think this is 3 hours a day wasted.  How little they know.

Much of my time on the train was spent working.  In fact it was the time getting to and from the train that had the potential to be “wasted”.  But you only waste time if you choose to do nothing with it.

That’s why I connect so well with the image above.  This lady on the Tube is not wasting time, she is eating it up, stealing precious moments for herself.  On a commute I had time to hear the music I want to hear, read books, write poetry.  Downloading podcasts gives me access to lectures on Byzantine emperors, audio books of many of the classics, some of them made hilarious by dreadful pronunciations by the narrator.

This photograph was taken by Matt Crabtree who said

One morning in 2016, on a tube journey into central London, I looked up to see a lady dressed in a velvet hood, seated in a classical, timeless pose. Immediately, a 16th-century Flemish painting came to mind. I looked around and suddenly found I couldn’t see anything else but people held in their own Renaissance-like, personal moments’.

I get that too, how travelling on public transport is like starring in your own reality TV show.  A stream of people pass each day through your life.  You have the regular characters and some who only appear in a single episode.  Each has their own part in the story and it is a wonderful story.  The story of life.