Homer vs. Tolkien

After reading the (almost interminable) introductions and prefaces and forewords I got to start Homer’s The Odyssey as translated by Mr. E.V. Rieu and introduced by Mr. Peter Jones.

One thing that struck me most was how similar in style it felt to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Especially the bits with the “rosy-fingered Dawn” (even though I was forewarned, if I never hear that phrase again it’ll be too soon) and “godlike people” served by “faithful servants”. Now I’m not accusing Homer of ‘lifting’ from Tolkien; apparently Homer may have been blind and not that good at reading anyway. But the similarities are there, and perhaps this repetition of adverbs is the crux of what good story-telling is all about. More of this later.

I am currently a bit puzzled about the relationship between “Zeus’ daughter” Helen (back from Troy, the little slut) and “auburn-haired” Menelaus though; it’s all sweet words saying how she was such a bitch and walked around the wooden horse trying to get the soldiers killed, etc.

City Murmur

An interesting concept I found at the Visual Complexity website: A heat map of a city that highlights streets according to the frequency of mention the street gets in the media. It’s called City Murmur, which I believe is a very apt name. At the moment they have only done Madrid, and I’m not even sure if there are plans to take this any further. But it is another beautiful merge if geography with information. You can select the type (newspaper, blog, etc.) and theme (education, immigration, etc.) of media articles that have mentioned the streets.

Take a look at the very attractive website at http://madrid.citymurmur.org

Exploring Earthrise

I was searching online for a poster of the famous ‘Earthrise’ photo taken by the Apollo 8 mission, Christmas Eve 1968, when I came across these lines by T.S. Eliot in a related Guardian article.

‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.’

They’re taken from ‘Little Gidding’, the last of the ‘Four Quartets’. I believe these lines perfectly sum up the human spirit and our space endeavours.


I will light the match this morning, so I won’t be alone
Watch as she lies silent, for soon light will be gone
I will stand arms outstretched, pretend I’m free to roam
Oh, I will make my way, through, one more day in Hell…
How much difference does it make?
How much difference does it make?

I will hold the candle till it burns up my arm
I’ll keep taking punches until their will grows tired
Oh, I will stare the sun down until my eyes go blind
Hey, I won’t change direction, and I won’t change my mind
How much difference does it make?
How much difference does it make…how much difference…

I’ll swallow poison, until I grow immune
I will scream my lungs out till it fills this room
How much difference?
How much difference does it make?

-from Pearl Jam’s second album ‘Vs.’, October 1993.

Sounds familiar?

Garbage In Garbage Out

Employee:- “Our Risk Management Software says your idea is too risky”
Boss:- “Try reducing one of the inputs”
Employee:- “Which one?”
Boss:- “Honesty”

Thanks to Dilbert once again!

Ladybower hike

Went to the Ladybower reservoir in the Upper Derwent Valley, Peak District on Sunday to do the walk along the High Peak ridge, see the Lost Villages, up to Back Tor and then down to Bamford House, through Derwent along the reservoir and back to the car. Co-hikers were Ioan, Jessy, Saadia and Rob.

The reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley are most famous for the fact that they were used by RAF’s 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, to practice their famous Dambuster raid against the Ruhr dams in Germany in 1943. The movie “The Dambusters” was also filmed here.

The hike was exhilarating, snow was predicted but we managed to avoid bad weather on the ascent. All was going swimmingly and jokingly until we reached the exposed moors on the ridges, when we had the fortune to see grouse flapping about and wonderful rock formations. We also saw vicious sleet coming horizontally, sometimes even upwards! My ‘Lifesystems ™’ 100 dB Mountain Whistle, bought at the princely sum of £3.50 and indestructible (Salesperson: “It can even be stepped upon!”), stopped working, leaving us with no method of summoning that rescue helicopter should we have needed it.

And then we sat in a little hollow to consume a modest lunch, when suddenly things turned nasty. The temperature dropped without warning and we lost good men to hypothermia.

We finally made our way down with a huge group of hikers, who had come all the way from Liverpool by coach just to be miserable somewhere other than where they usually are, I suppose.

Hot chocolate and brandy was at the wonderful Ladybower Inn, with great atmosphere and food, and homemade ice-cream. We made it in just in time before a blizzard hit and obliterated everything for 15 minutes.

And for the next adventure, I recommend the BBC’s excellent Railway Walks on disused and abandoned railway tracks that criss-cross the UK, which the even more excellent “hiker’s totty” Julia Bradbury showcased on telly yesterday.