~ This Day in Ancient History
ante diem iv idus decembres
- the tribunes of the plebs would enter their office on this day during the Roman Republic (numerous Roman emperors would also get their tribunicia potestas on this day)
- 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Julia of Merida
::Friday, December 10, 2004 5:37:42 AM::
~ Iliadika @ CCC
A brief item over at Classics in Contemporary Culture points to a discussion among assorted political blogs (no, that's not a redundancy any more) about the Iliad/Odyssey and their connection to modern times.
::Friday, December 10, 2004 5:24:14 AM::
~ On the Advantages of Firefox
Many of the blogs I monitor have been raving about the full release Firefox -- and rightly so: it's possibly the best browser I've ever used. While my fellow bloggers have mentioned the tabbed browsing (better than Opera's) and rss reading capabilities, they seem to have missed mentioning items which would actually be realllllllllly useful to them ... i.e., the numerous "extensions" available which can be added on or not as one deems them useful. While there are a pile of extensions for bloggers using specific programs, in a more generic sense there are a handful currently available which a blogger really has to have. Most important is one called Copy Plain Text, which lets you highlight text from a webpage and copy it as plain text to the clipboard (as opposed to copying all the formatting as well, which necessitates pasting to something like Notepad or Note Tab, then copying and pasting again to get it into the format that fits your blog). More general websurfer/researcher types will find another extension called Copy Url + of great use as well ... it copies the title of a webpage along with the webpage's url to the clipboard (I still have to test whether it works in conjunction with ClipMate, a clipboard utility which is not Firefox specific). Perhaps not as useful for bloggers, but for guys like me who put together newsletters like Explorator and get piles of urls sent to them, there is an extension called TinyUrl Creator which puts a TinyUrl button on your toolbar (and obviously saves a pile of cutting, pasting, and clicking). There's also something called Open Long Url, which reassembles those long, and usually split-across-two-lines urls folks send you.
To get full appreciation of the 'open source' experience, though, you can't stop with Firefox. The same folks have just released the Thunderbird email program, which I've also been playing with in beta versions for the past few months, and which has also just been put out as a full release. It's very Outlook-like, but much more powerful and without the bugginess and vulnerability. Even better, though, it's got an rss feed reader built into it and so one can get one's rss feeds as 'emails', which is rather more convenient than even Firefox's rss capabilities (in my mind, at least). It also has a newsreader, so you can monitor humanities.classics on Usenet, again in the same program you get your email with. There is a growing suite of Extensions available for Thunderbird as well ... one necessary one is something called Launchy, which allows you to open urls in email (opening an url in Thunderbird isn't 'automatic', which, I find, is actually a good thing ... it prevents you from accidentally clicking on something you didn't intend to; with Launchy it becomes a two click process). Also of use is something called Quote Colors, which enables you to designate different colours for different levels of quoted conversation -- very useful if you monitor discussion groups and the like.
If you're still using IE and/or Outlook, you're doing yourself a disservice.
::Friday, December 10, 2004 5:20:43 AM::
~ On the Death of Alexander
An AFP piece via the Hindustan Times suggests there's yet another theory about Alexander's cause of death:
A Greek doctor has come up with a new theory to explain the mysterious death of the ancient world conqueror Alexander the Great, long a subject of scientific debate.
The president of the Greek union of experts on pancreatic illnesses believes the likely cause of death was acute pancreatis, he told a press conference here.
The doctor, Georges Nikos, based his hypothesis on accounts by the ancient classic writers Plutarch and Athineos, who described the death of the king of Macedonia in Babylon in 323 BC at the age of only 32.
According to them, Alexander felt a strong pain in the back, then was struck down by high fever, after drinking a huge goblet of wine at the end of a feast. All these symptoms are consistent with acute pancreatis, that is the inflammation of the pancreas, Nikos said.
While noting that alcoholism is one of the possible causes of the illness, he emphasised that it could also be triggered by other factors. British historians a few years ago aroused the wrath of Greeks by attributing the death of their hero to cirrhosis of the liver, caused by his penchant for alcohol.
The cause of the fever which struck down Alexander continues to fuel debate. Other theories have been put forward in support of typhoid or an infection with the West Nile virus, also based on the texts of antiquity.
Er ... this is hardly a new theory ... it's been kicking around for at least five years. [The cause of death of Alexander the Great is actually one of the things I've been playing with to put the much-publicized (in the blogosphere, at least) Google Scholar through its paces since what it seems to primarily pick up are citations from scientific journals. It's very useful for compiling bibliographies of this sort of thing; I'll put one up when Christmas is over.]
::Friday, December 10, 2004 4:51:56 AM::
~ Alexander Flick Commentary
Last week were were musing that one of the reasons critics were slamming the Alexander flick was that it wasn't has 'political' as they thought it would be. Now we get a lengthy (p)reviewish thing from the Guardian, which concludes thusly:
But the deepest reason for the outrage it has excited is that film is just too explicit about expansionist war. Alexander was, after all, in the end defeated by the rains of India, the heat of Middle Eastern deserts, by his sullen and mutinous troops. This is a film about imperial over-stretch. At its end Stone, for all his enthused worship, shows us a ruler who is half-psychotic - deranged by dreams of destiny that out-strip his capacity. In the age of Rumsfeld and Bush that is a brave and accurate call. [the whole thing]
Wow ... by the myriad reviews I read, not many reviewers even made it to 'the end' ...
::Friday, December 10, 2004 4:44:06 AM::
~ Atlantis-Near-Cyprus Update
An update on what Robert Sarmast is up to from the Cyprus Mail:
A SECOND expedition to continue the search for Atlantis in waters off Cyprus is not likely to happen before summer 2005, American researcher Robert Sarmast has said.
Sarmast said he would be leaving Cyprus on Monday for the launch of the Greek version of his book Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus. He will then be returning to the US, and is unlikely to return to the island before the Spring, he told an audience at a lecture in Limassol this week.
Last month, Sarmast claimed to have “definitely” found Atlantis after sonar scans appeared to have located a rise on the seabed around a mile down in an area halfway between Cyprus and Syria.
He had promised to present his findings on Tuesday, but the visuals were not ready, he said.
Sarmast now needs to raise at least $250,000 to launch a second expedition that will employ submarine technology capable of determining what, if anything, is underneath the sediment, of what he called a “table-top mountain”.
To raise money, he hopes to co-operate on a documentary with one of the six big documentary makers that he says have contacted him.
The American researcher has been challenged by several scientists, who say all he has found are old mud volcanoes.
Michel Morrisseau, a French geologist living on the island, has challenged him to prove his claim, saying the Mediterranean has been under water for the past five million years, which does not tally with Plato’s accounts which places the sinking of Atlantis at around 12,000 years ago.
Morrisseau, who attended the Limassol lecture, again challenged Sarmast.
“This is complete nonsense to any geologist,” said Morrisseau. “We are shocked with the presentation of this data.”
Sarmast responded that if any scientist came forward with a sample taken from the area he believes to be the Acropolis Hill of Atlantis city and proved their theories, he would “go away”.
“They have never taken samples from the area I’m pointing to,” he said. “It’s not a volcano and it’s not a landslide.”
He said that what he had found during his expedition was a “table top mountain”, and two walls three kilometres long, that he believes to be man-made, and matching Plato’s description.
However, Sarmast admitted said he was unlikely to find the remains of any buildings. “It’s a nice dream but it’s not going to happen,” he said. “But in a matter of a few years we are going to put this matter to rest.”
::Friday, December 10, 2004 4:36:29 AM::
~ AWOTV: On TV Today
8.00 p.m. |DISCC| Cleopatra's Lost City Alexandria, one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, was named after one of history's greatest warriors, Alexander the Great; archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur tells the story of this beautiful ancient city and its most famous inhabitant.
9.00 p.m. |DISCC| Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome The latest archaeological research, 3D models and sophisticated graphics re-create the grandeur and majesty of ancient Rome's wonders, including the Colosseum, Pantheon, Aqua Appia and Via Appia, baths of Caracalla, Hadrian's Wall, and more.
10.00 p.m. |DTC| The Real Cleopatra The life of one of the most powerful women ever is told in the places she lived it, from her romance with Julius Caesar to her suicide after losing her war against the Romans, shaping the course of history for centuries
::Friday, December 10, 2004 4:31:44 AM::