Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mount Everest from Kalapatthar.Image via Wikipedia
We knocked the bastard off!

 Ed Hillary's comments in 1953 after he and  Tenzing Norgay officially climbed and returned from Mount Everest...

Those were the comments of the late Sir Ed Hillary after he and Tibetan born  sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, climbed and returned from Mount Everest in 1953. That was the beginning of the legend surrounding the young  New Zealander. A climber and adventurer who also became so well known for his deeds within Nepal itself, his second home and a country he loved almost as much as his homeland. He became an icon and one of the greatest living New Zealanders until his death just a couple or so years ago. This mountainous country also claimed the lives of his first wife and eldest daughter in a small plane crash that almost cost Hillary his sanity. The great man recovered and returned to Nepal to continue his works there building schools and hospitals and assisting the Nepalese people. It was so sad that the Nepalese Government recently  refused to allow Sir Ed's last ashes to be scattered om Mount Everest.

In recent years there have been claims that Hillary and Norgay's place as the conquerors of Mount Everest were disputed. The question that has been repeatedly asked is "Did those intrepid British climbers Mallory and Irvine actually climb the mountain in 1924, before the definitive success of Hillary and Norgay 29 years later and died on their descent?  The climbing community is split on the issue. Did they reach the summit or did they fail to climb beyond what is known as the Second Step? George Mallory's body was found some years ago and has fuelled the speculation that he and  Andrew Irvine had beaten Hillary and Tenzing to the summit 29 years earlier. Their technology was as inferior to Hillary and Tenzing's, as the latter is to that of the 21st century.

Are these claims true or just a case of attempting to use theories to fit the facts? It is also very doubtful that a film in a camera that was found on the mountain will be developed and able to cast any light on the speculation that surrounds the conquest of Everest. The speculation may continue; but as the then young Ed Hillary said in 1953, "We knocked the bastard off!

Mallory & Irvine 1924 Theories and Maps:

Did Mallory & Irvine reach the summit? An interview with American historian and climber, Tom Holzel.

Did Mallory & Irvine make it to the summit of Everest?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

A 6th century mosaic of Jesus at Church San Ap...Image via Wikipedia
The Jesus Secret...

The translators of the first English Bibles were forced to guess what many of the Greek words meant. For the first English Bibles were translated at a time when scholars didn’t know the language they were translating ever even existed.

Prior to the twentieth century scholars had never come across any document that was written in the same type of Greek as the Bible. So they assumed the Bible was written in a special language; a language made specifically and only for the Bible itself. But at the turn of the twentieth century, so many original Greek manuscripts were pulled from the sands of Egypt that the mass of material was measured in the tons. And it wasn’t long before archaeologists realized these tons of materials were all written in the very same Greek as the Bible itself.

Overnight the world went from not even knowing the language ever even existed to having the complete vocabulary, grammar, and style fully revealed in one fell swoop. And while scholars applauded the discovery of the biblical language, they haven’t yet produced any Bibles which use the meanings revealed by the discovery. The Jesus Secret documents how many passages of the Bible read when they are translated in light of this historic discovery. And in doing so The Jesus Secret unveils a large number of original Christian teachings that had been lost to the sands of time for almost two thousand years.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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During the first few days of the spill, heavy ...Image via Wikipedia
Gulf oil spill - has to be one of the worst...

Gulf oil spill disaster  -  has to be one of the worst...

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to wreak havoc on the environment in the United States and the Caribbean. The April 20th blowout and explosion off the coast of Louisiana is expected to eclipse the Exxon Valdez spill as the worst oil disaster in US history.

Despite clean-up crews working 24/7 since the fatal explosion took place, it is expected that Gulf fishing and tourism industries will never recover, and habitats for hundreds of birds have been destroyed forever.

How much permanent damage has been done in the gulf? The financial cost could be beyond the clean-up of the oil spill and damage by BP  -  people of the area could be the real losers for many years!  Photos here:

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A reservoir glass filled with a naturally colo...Image via Wikipedia
Absinthe  -  "The Green Fairy"  -  named for its emerald colour and its ability to make your head swirl.

Does this alcoholic beverage deserve its reputation? Personally I have never tried it; in my younger days I was not into liqueurs, preferring to drink brown and golden brown ales and lagers in my journeys and  youthful  socialising. But, however, there were plenty around who did, and enjoyed it, it has been widely claimed. And Absinthe does have its very old reputation; does it indeed warrant this? Does it deserve its reputation to make your head swirl after drinking its emerald green contents? Has any alcoholic beverage attracted as much conjecture as Absinthe?

New Zealand is, according to a recent claim, one of the few countries in the world where Absinthe is sold across the counter without any regulation or other restraint. Bartenders here are using it in cocktails and it is also available to take home from most liquor stores as well.

This is apparently remarkable because some brands contain quantities of thujone, a derivative of the leaves and flowers of the wormwood plant from the Mediterranean with a reputation  as a 'psychotic convulsant'  (described in a number of books and stories over the years) dating back to an earlier time when science and medicines were a great deal different than their modern varieties.

Well do the old reputations stack up today! Will it make you blind and mad, as I have read? There is no evidence to support any assertation or claim that modern Absinthe  resembles the rudimentary drink from the past. Recent studies have found small ineffectual doses of thujone may accumulate in the body  and produce, over time, minor toxicity.  While this might explain Absinthe's alleged reputation for producing  a heady buzz, any light- headedness  is more likely to be a reaction to over-indulgence of a highly alcoholic beverage that contains a myriad of unfamiliar herbs and flavourings. What a let down! So it was just a case of going on an Absinthe bender? The modern variety perhaps, but like many of the old alcoholic drinks with reputations emanating from  the dark and distant past -  the Scotch and Irish whiskies for instance -  the old Absinthe may well have lived up to its history.

While the modern form of Absinthe has been variously attributed to apothecaries in Switzerland and France,   tonics in the manner of Absinthe have existed for thousands of years. Pythagoras and Hippocrates   reportedly recommended wormword elixirs for a variety of ailments and were  included in medicine chests of doctors in many places for centuries. Even that ubiquitous  Vicks VapoRub that many of us have in our own medicine cupboards today, is claimed to contain small quantities of thujone.   

Thujone can be reportedly found in other modern alcoholic drinks today, such as Vermouth, Chartreuse and Benedictine. In fact Vermouth, made from using flower heads from Wormword, takes its name from the German' wermuth'  . Wormwood is also popular  as flavouring for branvin, an alcoholic drink made from potatoes in Sweden. 

This is not the end of the wormwood or Absinthe story, just a pause here. I hope you enjoyed the information in my story; I enjoyed researching and  writing it. Absinthe, the emerald 'green fairy'  may swirl a few more Kiwi  heads yet.       
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Official Portrait of President Ronald ReaganImage via Wikipedia

Socialism? No, blame the Republicans, says correspondent to  Augusta Chronicle...

I just finished reading Andy Windham's letter "Socialism slowly trapping our country" (May 11), and Mr. Windham is pointing the finger, concerning the $12.4 trillion debt, in the wrong direction.

We had socialistic programs -- such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Tennessee Valley Authority -- many years before 1980, when we owed $1 trillion. In 1980, Ronald Reagan promised to balance the budget in three years. The first thing when he came into office was to cut taxes on the rich (trickle-down economics), and eight years later when he left office the debt was $4 trillion. In came George H.W. Bush ("Read my lips; no new taxes"), and when he left four years later, we owed $5 trillion.

Bill Clinton came in, and when he left eight years later we still owed $5 trillion, with a treasury full of money with a plan to pay off the debt in eight years.

In came the cowboy George W. Bush, who wanted to be -- had to be -- a wartime president. Only thing wrong: the war he started was on borrowed money, mainly from the Far East. The national debt soared from $5 trillion to $12 trillion, and he left an economy that drove the debt even higher during his administration.

I hate to tell Mr. Windham, but it looks like socialism is not the root of the problem on our national debt, but the Republicans in office. The country could not have stood eight more years of Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House if history is an indicator.

By the way, I noticed that Mr. Windham didn't mention Social Security and Medicare as a socialistic problem in his letter

Acknowledgements:  Jim McGaughey, Augusta Chronicle

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