Saturday, 19 May 2007

Island of no account

We're planning to go on a short holiday to the Greek island of Kephalonia. I looked it up in both Herodotos and Thucydides to see if anything interesting had happened there in the 5th century BC. It hadn't.

Sleeping Rough (not)

I've shelled out megabucks for accommodation at OCON07. I'm British, I don't need good accommodation. I'd be quite happy to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, like Harry Potter, or on a trolley in a corridor, like NHS hospital patients waiting for their operations to be shelved. I even considered camping; yet I've ended up paying through the nose for king beds and jacuzzis. I guess I'll have to get a Saturday job.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Ancient Ethiopians drank Perrier

Herodotus heard of the Ethiopians "that most of them lived to be a hundred and twenty, and some even more, and that they ate boiled meat and drank milk." [The Histories, III.23].

Could it be that eating animal products does not doom us carnivores to an early demise, much though we deserve it? No; the real explanation was "...a spring, the water from which smelt like violets and caused a man's skin, when he washed in it, to glisten as if he had washed in oil. They said the water of this spring lacked density to such a degree that nothing would float in it, neither wood nor any lighter substance - everything sank to the bottom."

Sounds like benzene to me.