The Increasingly Warped Power of TV and Other MSM

“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Still true today, methinks. And, ohh, what shock and awe when modern weapons “do what they can.”

Made possible in a so-called democracy by a  hydra of means that keep the War Machine in power by manufacturing consent and suppressing dissent.

Here, largely as a note to self, is a very old concept diagram I built from a small book or article whose source I cannot remember. It is from the “days of yore,” designed to examine tools, and dirty tricks, used in actual verbal or written discussion:

A chart used to identify rhetorical strategies

A chart used to identify rhetorical strategies

What truth is up against today is much more sinister. Continue reading

My Uncle Eric

My uncle Eric was my closest uncle and a wonderful mentor.

He gave me my first watch at 7, my first ukelele at 9 and introduced me to photography when he gave me my first camera at 13 or 14, showing me how to use it – the intricacies of combining shutter speed, f stop and film sensitivity to create a properly exposed photo. He did his own darkroom work and had an incredible ear for finding the right, very sophisticated chord on a guitar.

Eric and my mother’s younger sister, Rita, were wonderful to my sister Anne and me. Eric could pull an original bedtime story out of his head and we loved his stories. He was devoted to Rita and welcomed Stella, his mother-in-law, into their home, where she lived for many, many years.

His sense of humour was really original, as one of the macabre photos below and in this short, YouTube tribute I put together from old photos demonstrates.

Here are a few more photos:

Istanbul – The Archaeological Museum

Alexander Sarcophagus Detail - Alexander routs the Persians

Alexander Sarcophagus Detail – Alexander routs the Persians

On Day Two in Istanbul (October 15th, 2011) Anita and I went to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum in the morning and took a 10 € Bosphosphorus Cruise in the afternoon. The IAM is very large and contains many hugely important and ancient items.

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The photo above is a detail of the Alexander Sarcophagus, believed to be carved by six Ionian sculptors, working in the Attic idiom, for Mazaeus, governor of Babylon. It is considered the IAM’s outstanding work and was found in 1887 in the necropolis near Sidon, Lebanon. Originally vividly painted, traces remain. Interesting that a scene like this would be on a sarcophagus built to house the corpse of a Persian like Mazaeus…
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 Most remarkable were the really ancient exhibits: This ceramic lion from Babylon’s finest gate, the Ishtar Gate, made a lasting impression:

Lion from Babylon's Ishtar Gate

Lion from Babylon’s Ishtar Gate – ca. 575 BC

I was totally unaware that anything remains of Babylon. Further research amazed me. This Wiki article on the Gate  shows a magnificent reconstruction of the whole gate from original glazed ceramic bricks collected during 20th C. excavations in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The same article (sorry, I know Tuesday is November 11) refers to the irreparable recent damage callously done by military commanders who know mostly about how to build really fine heliports and military bases. Given the shit that has been happening to Iraqis – and their treasures – for about three decades now, perhaps we should be grateful for the European looting of Babylon a century ago.

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The Pergamon reconstructed both the Gate itself and the processional way. The following photo of an exquisite detail from the Processional Way was found in Flickr’s Creative Commons. It was taken by KBE. Clicking on the photo will give you the licence under which I have used it:

Detail from the Processional Way

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 Older still are the following tablets in terracotta and stone ranging from 2046 BC to 1269 BC. Sumerian text, a copy of the Hammuradic Code and the Kadesh treaty – the oldest surviving written treaty – between 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Rameses II and the Hittites. There is also a large room that describes in great detail what has been learned about the time-buried layers of the city of Troy.

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Finally, the museum contains many unique works of Ottoman, Greek and Roman art including the bronze head of one of the three serpents supporting the serpentine, sacrificial tripod from Delphi – impressive enough to be moved from dry Delphi to rainy Istanbul by Constantine in 324 AD. As this Wiki article shows, the heads fell off in due course, leaving just the entwined tails in a rather sorry state.

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After the IAM we had lunch. The Bosphorus Cruise will soon be described in a future post.

Istanbul – Day One

Entrance to the Sacred Trusts - Topkapı Palace

Entrance to the Sacred Trusts in the Topkapı Palace showing the tughra of Sultan Mehmet II, Conqueror of Constantinople

 Hippodrome and Blue Mosque:
We began our tour of Istanbul on October 14th, 2011. Collected from the Elite World Hotel by our guide, Omür, our tour bus first took us to Istanbul’s ancient Hippodrome, once the site of chariot races and games. Several landmarks, such as the Blue Mosque, are nearby. A major feature of the Hippodrome is the obelisk of Thutmose III of 15th Century BC Egypt, taken by the Romans from Karnak in 357 AD to Alexandria, then moved in 390 to Istanbul and tragically modified by Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I. Reduced, that is, to an inglorious one third its original height and plonked onto a base glorifying Theodosius:
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 Hagia Sofia:
Our next stop was the Hagia Sophia, once the largest cathedral in the Byzantine Empire, then converted to a mosque after Constaninople was captured by the Ottomans and later made into a museum by Mustafa Kamel Atatürk, who changed Turkey into a modern republic in 1923.
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Then we visited the Istanbul Handicrafts Centre where the special types of Turkish carpet were explained and demonstrated. Anita and I bought a small, 3′ by 5′ wool carpet. Walking over it in (clean) bare feet feels like gentle, foot-massage heaven. We found a bite to eat and then took a quick tour of the Grand bazaar before busing to the Topkapı Palace.
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Topkapı Palace:
This palace was used by the sultans before they decided it was nicer to live on the water by the Bosphorus. It has many buildings and hugely valuable items that a powerful empire captures or is given in tribute by solicitous allies. The size of the emeralds and rubies blew my mind. Many were uncut. In the building that held the treasures was the famous Topkapı Dagger. Photos were not allowed here but I took one with my camcorder casually held closed in my hand. Not worth it, as you can see below, but OK as a memento. Photos were forbidden in the sacred trusts (relics) building and I respected those rules. The sacred trusts include hair from the beard of Muhammad (peace be upon him), his mantle and, rather less credibly, relics from major biblical patriarchs like Abraham’s pot, Joseph’s turban, and even the staff of Moses. Pretty classy, civilized and modern items as relics go, however.  Not the lurid sort to which I was exposed during my Catholic upbringing. Please also examine the photo of the Sacred Trust doorway. The blue Iznik tiles on this exquisite facade are especially beautiful, as is the tughra, or imperial signature of Sultan Mehmet II, revered as the conqueror of Constantinople in the spring of 1453. Impressive stuff.
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The last thing we did was to go to an included dinner as a group. It was good to get to know some of the great people with whom we were touring a little. We would be with them here and on a ship in the Aegean for another eight days.
That’s days three and one of our trip finally done. Day two – the archaeological museum and our Bosphorus cruise – is next.  Thanks for checking in.

Süleymaniye Mosque – Istanbul

Suleymaniye Mosque - Dome

Süleymaniye Mosque – Dome

October 16, 2011 was our last day in Istanbul.  On the evening of October 13 at the tour Welcome Meeting our Istanbul guide had casually announced that we were not going to the iconic Süleymaniye Mosque even though it was on our itinerary. No reason was offered when I asked “Why?”
Determined (I, at least) to see it, Anita and I set off early on the 16th to take bus or subway across the Golden Horn from Taksim Square near our hotel. Our ship, the Louis Cristal, was scheduled to depart that afternoon and sail overnight through the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles Strait for the Greek island of Mykonos. We were to be picked up by bus at our hotel at 2 PM and taken to the Port.
This was the day of the 33rd Asia to Europe marathon – the only marathon spanning two continents. We expected limited services due to this important event, but not a total absence of any public transport or automobiles going near the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn. Confusion for about 40 minutes.  Mixed opinions from locals – perhaps because the route has had three different versions during the contest’s history. Anita decided to go back to the hotel. I decided to walk – in the rain – the third rainy day.
Asia-Europe Marathoners Head for the Galata Bridge

Asia-Europe Marathoners Head for the Galata Bridge

 I had chosen several things to see at or near the Mosque. The walk was about 4 km – an easy 50 minutes one way.  Four hours to get there, tour and return seemed plenty of time…

Continue reading

A Gentle Beginning

Don't Go Yet...

Don’t Go Yet…

Moments like this tempt me to believe that leaves exist just to catch snowflakes.

It’s easy to be grateful for our seasons when we get to enjoy the magic that a gentle snowfall brings to the back yard garden.

‘Nuff said about that. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.