Thursday, August 31, 2006

On Books

The problem with moving over the pond for approximately nine months of study is picking and choosing which books to bring. Obviously, I can't bring them all in my luggage, so I'm mailing some to myself now. But even with 4-6 week delivery, it costs about $45 to send 15 lbs worth of books. That's not really very many books, mind you.

Moreover, I'm stuck deciding what I'll really need while I'm over there but can do without for about a month while I'm continuing my reviewing here. Of course, I'll have access to one of the best libraries in the world (which is an infinitely cheering thought!), but I'm the kind of person who sits in her room at 2AM and is suddenly struck with odd questions to which she MUST have the answer ASAP. For instance, just the other night, I suddenly needed to know the history of my undergrad university's libraries (particularly the main one). The question plagued me! I searched all over their website to no avail. At long last, I gave in and checked wikipedia (I know, the horror! But I just wanted to satisfy my own curiosity). That only told me the person for whom the main library was named. Much unsatisfied with this, I finally submitted my burning question to the librarians. They were very helpful and responded much more quickly than I would have expected for such a silly question. But of course, they weren't going to respond to me at 2AM.

Um, where was I? Oh yes. Working at a bookstore, I've been fortunate enough to have been able to started my own small collection of reference books. Sadly, most of them will not be traveling with me. Parting is such sweet sorrow!

On the bright side, though, Google Book Search now has a bunch of public domain books as pdf files, and there's always Project Gutenberg. But it's not really the same as holding a book, is it?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Since everyone else is mentioning it . . .

Just a reminder that HBO's Rome is out on DVD now.

That really is the best price I've seen for it new, at least from all the likely places around here.

Also thinking about changing the graphic again (NOT because of the previous commenter, but because the moving is starting to distract me too). Any thoughts?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

How the ancient and modern, yet again, collide

It looks like David Meadows is back at rogueclassicism!! I'm sure we're all thrilled and relieved.

Anyway, this just amuses me: Bronze age canoe stops pipeline. I love it when ancient stuff forces itself upon us when and where we're least expecting it in our little bubbles of modernity.

Also, did anyone else see The Zeitgeist Checklist earlier this month (also here with little pictures ? In particular:


Mel-tdown. Drunken-driver Mel Gibson offers provocative theory that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." A brief furor erupts when it is revealed that police cleaned up the arresting officer's report, particularly the part where Gibson elaborated on Jewish aggression in the Punic Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear and the defeat of the Persians at Thermopylae, which Gibson claimed "involved a couple of guys named Goldfarb." Still, Gibson insists he is not an anti-Semite, blaming his tirade on his struggles with alcoholism and depression, and also on his hatred of Jews.

I'd comment, but what could I possibly say?

Lastly, I had a little fun with Photoshop Elements today and created a new sidebar picture for the blog. Hope it amuses all of you as much as it amuses me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Science and Technology! ::gasp!::

I guess you have to be living in a cave not to have heard about Pluto by now, but just in case, I really enjoyed this post, Pluto is Promoted (rather than emphasis on it being demoted), which I found via Archaeoastronomy.

There's also a VERY amusing video on the ABC News website.

Also, a completely unrelated PSA for Mac users (iBook G4 and PowerBook G4): Apple has a battery recall, lest your computer turns into this:

I think that's actually a Dell, because they used it in the article about the Dell Laptop fire also.

Actually, the charred iBook I saw on TV looked a lot cooler. Oh well. Can't have everything.

And if you haven't seen it yet, scroll down to the previous post to see my terrible sense of humour. :-D

Books! And bad humour!

Well, in case you wanted to make a few last minute purchases of books to read before the summer ends, Borders apparently has coupons out for the weekend.

For those of you in the U.S. - 10% off your entire purchase, plus Borders will donate 10% of your purchase to First Book, "a national nonprofit organization working with local groups to provide new books for children in need."

For those of you in the U.K. - £5 off when you spend £20 or more (yes, I'm dork enough to be on the UK Borders mailing list too. :-P)

And if you don't feel like leaving your home, there's always good ol' and its usual discount prices.

And a bit of honesty about the links if you choose to buy from any of them:

-U.S. Borders coupon gives money to kids as well as Borders
-U.K. Borders coupon gives money only to Borders link gives money to me and to Amazon

And on a personal note: I'm so excited! I just figured out (with some help from a friend) how to switch my MacBook from U.S. keyboard settings to U.K and Greek also! Yay! That's just hot.

And lastly, I was having a little (REALLY BAD) archaeological humour the other day and created this for your viewing pleasure:

Please don't shoot me or send me hate mail for my horrible sense of humour. heh.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On Penelope (not Cruz, Homer!)

Don't you hate it when you're about to go to bed and are then struck with the powerful urge to write about something? Well, I do.

Anyway, I was just about to crawl into bed when I looked at my Waterhouse calendar and saw this picture of "Penelope and the Suitors" for August. Now, Waterhouse is possibly my favourite painter ever, so you really should all see the picture:

So yes, Penelope. Penelope always interested me because she is simultaneously a case that can be used with feminism and against it. Thus she is alternately hated and--actually, I think I've seen more feminists dislike her. I mean, from a strictly black and white standpoint, she does sit at home like a good little Greek woman defending her man while he's off sleeping with goddesses and witches and such. One of the few women held up as a good model for women in Greek mythology, she is now despised by a lot of people who think she was stupid to wait around for the likes of player Odysseus.

But I think there's still a flip side to this. I, at any rate, do tend to admire Odysseus at times (and despite his sleazy asshole-ishness) for his wily use of his brain to get out of situations, and Penelope shows these same qualities (which is actually what makes them such a good couple). And in some ways, Penelope is even more adept at this than Odysseus. She somehow keeps a houseful of greedy and hormonal suitors in line for twenty years. And despite the misguided loyalty, I do have to admire her for having the capacity to be so loyal. Then again, with the pack of suitors she had, why on Zeus' zany earth would she want one of them? Either way, I have to give the girl credit for having a little self respect. So, Odysseus was a wanderer--doesn't really mean Penelope had to stoop to his level. I wouldn't have blamed her if she had, but I do have to admire her strength. It's not the kind of strength Medea had (everything comes back to Medea with me :-D), but it's just as good, in my opinion. And while Odysseus himself may not mesh well with feminism, I'm not sure that Penelope and her actions shouldn't. She was clearly a woman capable of taking care of herself. And in her situation, it really just might have been her own self-respect that kept her away from those suitors, not simply that she was being a good, obedient little Greek wife. She did, after all, show a little more defiance than one would expect to be desirable in a typical meek housewife.

And I do believe that's part of the problem I had with Atwood's Penelopiad. I really don't think it's necessary for Penelope to be so much on the defensive for her actions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Scotland and weather and archaeology, oh my!

Ok, so I've been awake all night from general annoying summer insomnia, which led to reading Plato, but this is just bloody COOL and must be shared pronto!

Heatwave reveals Scotland's past
(clicky for spiffy pictures!)

Burnfoot, near Quothquan in South Lanarkshire

In pictures: See some of the sites revealed by the hot weather
A heatwave has revealed fleeting traces of early settlements to historians taking a bird's eye view of Scotland.

The conditions this summer have proved ideal for aerial archaeologists who document the buried sites, which appear in ripening crops or scorched grass.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland said it was one of the best in its 30 years.

Discoveries have included various prehistoric settlements and much more detail at two major Roman forts.

Dave Cowley, the aerial survey manager at the RCAHMS, said the findings, across the Scottish lowlands, were significant and helped build a picture of where people had lived.

"We've been finding archaeological sites that haven't been productive in the past and that's because of the extreme conditions," he said.

Crops that lie directly above buried features ripen at a different rate from the rest of the field when it is dry, producing "crop marks".

Similar markings also form in grass as it parches in the sun.

Mr Cowley said: "Bits of the Borders, some of the Cheviot foothills, parts of Fife and the Moray Plain have produced previously unknown sites.

"Town Yetholm through to Morebattle have been producing material, which is parched out in grass.

"We have seen various types of prehistoric settlements usually as circular or rectangular enclosures and burial sites."

According to Mr Cowley, the aerial archaeologists have also been able to see patterns across the whole expanse of the Roman forts at Newstead in the Borders and Carpow in Fife.

This has helped to build on the knowledge gained from small, detailed excavations.

"The sites that have been absolutely spectacular visually are two of our Roman forts," he said.

"Newstead Roman Fort has shown better this year than it's shown since the 1940s.

"The line of the fort wall, the ditches and even details like the towers on either side of one of the gateways can be seen.

"You can also see the arrangement of all the internal roads inside the fort, the possible positions of bread ovens and other internal features.

"And at Carpow you're seeing raised pits and internal features."

The RCAHMS aerial survey has undertaken about 1,000 flights, using a four-seater Cessna aircraft from its base in Edinburgh, and it has produced more than 100,000 images of the country since 1976.

The pictures have significantly improved the historical information about areas where thousands of years of agriculture have levelled and hidden the remains of earlier settlements.

The information can also prove crucial to planners when considering sites for new developments such as housing or major pipe routes.

World's Oldest Computer (again!)

I'm pretty sure this is the same one that was in the news earlier, but that link expired. So I'm going to copy the text of this one.

Revealed: world's oldest computer

Helena Smith
Sunday August 20, 2006
The Observer

It looks like a heap of rubbish, feels like flaky pastry and has been linked to aliens. For decades, scientists have puzzled over the complex collection of cogs, wheels and dials seen as the most sophisticated object from antiquity, writes Helena Smith. But 102 years after the discovery of the calcium-encrusted bronze mechanism on the ocean floor, hidden inscriptions show that it is the world's oldest computer, used to map the motions of the sun, moon and planets.

'We're very close to unlocking the secrets,' says Xenophon Moussas,an astrophysicist with a Anglo-Greek team researching the device. 'It's like a puzzle concerning astronomical and mathematical knowledge.'

Known as the Antikythera mechanism and made before the birth of Christ, the instrument was found by sponge divers amid the wreckage of a cargo ship that sunk off the tiny island of Antikythera in 80BC. To date, no other appears to have survived.

'Bronze objects like these would have been recycled, but being in deep water it was out of reach of the scrap-man and we had the luck to discover it,' said Michael Wright, a former curator at London's Science Museum. He said the apparatus was the best proof yet of how technologically advanced the ancients were. 'The skill with which it was made shows a level of instrument-making not surpassed until the Renaissance. It really is the first hard evidence of their interest in mechanical gadgets, ability to make them and the preparedness of somebody to pay for them.'

For years scholars had surmised that the object was an astronomical showpiece, navigational instrument or rich man's toy. The Roman Cicero described the device as being for 'after-dinner entertainment'.

But many experts say it could change how the history of science is written. 'In many ways, it was the first analogue computer,' said Professor Theodosios Tassios of the National Technical University of Athens. 'It will change the way we look at the ancients' technological achievements.'

Monday, August 21, 2006

More on corpses

Meant to post this one earlier, but it must have slipped my mind. Anyway, got this from Classics-L again: Volunteers dig up 5th century corpse.

Wouldn't you love to be one of those people digging up dead people??

Saturday, August 19, 2006

On Homer

So, I've had a request of sorts to talk about Homer. Now, it's been a long time since I've read the Odyssey, and the last time I read the Iliad, I was half-listening to it on CD. So you'll have to bear with me here.

Firstly, I have to insert a complaint. Achilles. Most people I know who have actually read the Iliad do not like this particular fellow. He's obnoxious and vindictive and, frankly, he's a whiner. (I despise whiners. This is why I can't stand Frankenstein. And I do mean Mary Shelley's book.) However, lately, I've found a string of teenage or twenty-something girls who are all OMG!ACHILLES!LURRRRVE!!!1one!!11!!! (excuse my lapse into teenybopper language, but it is my attempt to fully convey the exact reaction of these people). This troubles me, because all of them are under this impression solely because of Brad Pitt. Seriously, I remember a class last year where we were all about to mutually dislike Achilles so our professor could make a dig at him, but this ONE girl was all, "But I lurrrrve Achilles!!!one!11!!!" And then our professor declined to make the joke. This vexed me somewhat, because he had no compunctions earlier about dissing Lady Macbeth. (Now, to be fair, this was actually one of my favourite professors, so I'm not really attempting to lay any blame on him.) But, you know, there's always at least one, and they're everywhere and ruin it for the rest of us. Now, if this girl had actually read the Iliad and discussed reasons for liking him (such as his role as a Greek hero), rather than simply lurving Brad Pitt, I would not be so vexed. In fact, I would have welcomed the discussion. Sadly, it matters much more these days who plays the character on the Big Screen than the character himself. Sad, isn't it?

Then again, Sean Bean in that movie really was a good casting choice for sleazy, suave, snarky, wiley Odysseus. I'd love to see him in a movie version of the Odyssey, preferably done by somebody who's actually read it and bothered to do a little research. I'm not sure who should play Penelope, though. Preferably somebody who can show her strength and cunning as a woman, despite the fact that she's ultimately playing into the patriarchy and waiting for somebody as sleazy as Odysseus (not that I don't admire him for his cunning, but he's not my favourite guy in the ancient world either.)

Hm, well, I considered talking about the role of goddesses in the Iliad, but I'm not sure there's anything I can say that isn't immediately obvious to anyone who's actually read it. I mean, I could blah blah blah about how they have much more power--even in relation to male gods--than traditionally assigned to mortal women, blah blah, and they actually have power in spheres traditionally associated with men, blah blah, but they are still under Zeus' rule, even if they are potentially able to overthrow him, blah blah. Like i said, stuff anyone can figure out if they've actually read it. I should probably take a reread myself and see if I can think of something more interesting to say.

Anyway, I hope this is of some interest to somebody somewhere. Perhaps I'll try to come up with a Homeric reading list next.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Book Meme!!

I was apparently tagged for this meme by Chris Weimer some time ago! But better late than never, eh? You should also all be warned that I interpret "one" losely when it comes to such memes. :-P Y'know, because I'm a stupid English major who can't count. ;-)

1. One book that changed your life:

Oh my. Ok, it's a toss up between Jane Eyre, Medea, and Antigone. Jane Eyre in less tangible ways; Medea is pretty obvious to anyone who knows me, and Antigone . . . Well, I read it first when I was about 10, and look at me now. :-P

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Hah! Only one?! Well, Jane Eyre, again, gets read regularly, as does The Lord of the Rings.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

Hmm, I've always said The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, but how about my MacBook with working internet access and some kind of power source? Then I can have access to and Perseus and every other e-text!

4. One book that made you laugh:

Oh, many books make me laugh! But I'm going to go with Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I think I was laughing every five seconds!

5. One book that made you cry:

I'm going to have to mention Jane Eyre here again but also add Book 4 of the Aeneid.

6. One book that you wish had been written.

The Autobiography of Sappho by Sappho herself, not some later fictional account!

7. One book that you wish had never been written.

The Phantom of Manhattan. Don't ask. Yes, I wasted a couple hours of my life on it. There's also a book that Bronteana once found called Disciplining Jane, methinks, and the Amazon description alone made me certain it never should have been written.

(Not sure why I'm linking this one. And I refuse to link the other one.)

8. One book you’re currently reading:

Oh, I just posted about these in Glauk recs, but Euripides' Alcestis is one.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:


10. Now tag five people: Bronteana, Aine Bina, Debra Hamel, Homo Edax, Jeffrey Cohen, and since I can't count--if she reads this at all--Mary Beard

Recommendations and Perseus & PhiloLogic

Well, I've spent part of the afternoon messing around with Amazon recommendations. I don't really want it cluttering the blog, except when I'm talking about a certain book, and I have lots of books I'd like to recommend. So I've branched out and set up recommendations in a separate but clearly related blog. You'll see links to different sections/posts on the side. These will be updated as I have the time and inclination. Obviously, there's still a lot missing. I'll probably also add a movie section later too, as well as updates on what I'm reading each week or so.

Also, from the Classics-L list, it looks like Perseus texts have been added until PhiloLogic for easier searching (of course, I read this after I finished updating the links on the blog. oh well). At any rate, it looks like it might be more useful, since I, at any rate, am not entirely fond of the Perseus searches. It's still my favourite website, but nothing's perfect, of course!

Various and Sundry

Well, I've put up AdSense and Amazon links. I really like the idea of Amazon actually paying me for advertising for them, since I do that already. And I really do believe in using Firefox (particularly over IE), hence the link.

Anyway, you should all go read Jeff Cohen's latest post at In the Middle on Capital One commercials. It's just too funny.

Also, thanks to the Classics-L list, a a wonderful link to some Latin texts read out loud.

Finally, thanks to a friend, a few Smithsonian Resident Associate Program links (for those in the D.C. area):

Did the Trojan War Really Happen? with Dr. Barry Strauss
Homer at the Embassy with Stanley Lombardo
The Origins of the Bible and the History of Its Interpretation with Albert Paretsky

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A few good links . . .

So, apparently, sometimes I miss really cool things like, which Wm Annis has put together and kindly mentioned on both his blog and the Classics-L list. I need to start updating my links consistantly.

Also, via Debra Hamel, I was reading Jessa Crispin Goes Bookstore Speed-Dating. As a bookstore employee, I have to say that there really are a lot of creepy guys hanging around. To be fair, though, there are some crazy (and not always in the good way) women too. On the other hand, I have the greatest group of coworkers I could hope for, and there are a few customers who make it worthwhile too.

Lastly, I've decided to experiment with ads, probably starting tomorrow (or, I guess by now, later today) to see if I can make them more-or-less tasteful. If I am satisfied and all of you don't start shunning my blog, then they'll remain. If AdSense is not all it's cracked up to be, then they'll be gone. And again, thank you all for your input. I know this is my own corner of the web, but I'd like to keep it inviting to my dear readers as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


So, dear readers, my bio has been updated, and methinks the Greek has been fixed.

So now my question for you, gentle readers, is would you be offended if I activated AdSense on this blog? I can apparently customize these to make sure they're not too offensive. However, I am a poor college student and am starting to look at any way possible for a bit of revenue. I am not certain, however, if this counts as selling out! So, please let me know!

On bats and I, Claudius

I thought this article was rather cute: Rare bats take to new villa roost. Got it from the Classics-L list.

Also, Mary Beard has some interesting thoughts on I, Claudius and how we should consider the miniseries as a separate entity from Robert Graves' books.

I'm rather regretting now that we didn't try to organize a viewing of I, Claudius in my Classics dept again this year. We did last year, but we didn't get a very good turn-out. I was trying to think of other movies, but I was trying to think of something Greek. Unfortunately, a lot of the Greek movies just aren't as good (as movies) as the Roman stuff. I guess we could have reached more students in the intro level classes if we'd shown Troy, but that would have hurt my soul too much. And nobody else I was talking to seemed very keen on selling out to that either (thank goodness!).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reginald Foster

Well, apparently I was in South Bend in the wrong month! I just saw this on the Latinteach list! I'm so bummed!

Pelevin's The Helmet of Horror

I've been trying to think of what to say about Victor Pelevin's The Helmet of Horror. The first thing to remember is that it's been translated from the original Russian, and I think it's possibly lost something in translation. It takes places through a series of chats in a closed chat room, but I think only once does he use an actual internet abbreviation. It's not actually an annoying chat-room story, and there's a good reason for the medium. However, I still feel like it was missing a lot. Interesting philosophical questions were brought up but mixed up in confusing images that probably lost a lot in translation.

In other news, you should all check out Homo Edax's latest post on the gods as applied to modernity.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Books, etc.

There were a couple things I'd intended to post, but I've been busy the last couple days. Hopefully, I'll remember what they are soon!

The Helmet of Horror review is still forthcoming. I'd rather review it when I actually have a moment to think. However, Jasper Fforde's new book, The Fourth Bear is out, and so far, Prometheus and Pandora (not sure yet if she is intended to be "the" Pandora) planning a wedding with the gods. It's probably better to start with The Big Over Easy if you want to get into the Jack Spratt series, though.

Anyway, I just wanted to make a PSA for those of you in the D.C. area (that includes Maryland and, I believe, Virginia), Borders is doing a Book Drive for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. This is for kids up through high school, so you can come in and pick a book and donate it at the registers. Borders is also donating 5% of what you pay on top of that. There is a recommended list, but they will take any age appropriate book. It's a wonderful opportunity to buy some Classics stuff for kids to read. If you don't have a lot of money to spend, you can easily find some good Classics for $3-$4 if you look around the store in-section.

Lastly, I leave you with a knock-knock joke from the ever-loverly Aine Bina.

-Knock, knock
-Who's there?
-Medea children are not as important as busting Jason's balls.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sheeeeeeee's BACK!

The summer after graduation is a strange time for someone who's been an undergrad for five years. I found I've defined myself by my majors (I particularly love telling people I'm just a "stupid English major." Whenever you say something even remotely smart and/or science-y, they're all shocked and impressed! It sort of beats telling them you're a Classics major and being faced with their blank stares or their questions about Shakespeare.) for so long that when I stop to think about how I should define myself now, I'm at a loss. I suppose in a couple months, I can just say I'm a Classics grad student.

But for now, what am I? Well, as Dr. Franklin says on Babylon 5, I'm alive. But I'm also still a student--I suppose I always will be--and I now hold three BAs: Classics, English, and history. I'll be off to England for grad school in Classics this fall. But aside from English literature and ancient stuff, I'm also interested in musicals, the American Revolutionary era, science fiction, MBTI, and a myriad of other tangentially related things.

Heh, I guess that doesn't really help if I were faced with a Vorlon or their Inquisitor and asked, "Who are you?" Then again, I'm not sure most of us could answer that question satisfactorily within the confines of language.

Of course, this does remind me that I should probably change my bio on this blog.

Anyway, that was my long-winded of saying that I'm back. Expect a review of The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin soon.

And if anyone's in Chicago at the moment or soon, I do suggest a visit to the Field Museum of Natural History. I missed the King Tut exhibit (I guess you have to call ahead), but they have a wonderful ancient Egypt exhibit that doesn't cost any extra also. And if you're in the D.C. area, Homo Edax tells us rather enthusiastically that the National Gallery of Art has a lovely exhibit of Bellini, Titian, and Giorgione.