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(Born Wednesday 14 May 2014 at 5:23 AM, 3.3 kg 53 cm)

 

Marvellous.  Emily, my eldest daughter, has given birth to my first natural Grandchild (I have three step-grandchildren).  She and Guido have named him Leander.  Mother and child are well.

According to Wikipedia, the original most famous Leander is the central character the the Greek Myth of Hero and Leander.

In the myth, Leander (Ancient Greek: Λέανδρος, Léandros), a young man from Abydos on the Asian side of the Dardanelles fell in love with Hero a priestess of Aphrodite (Roman equivalent: Venus the goddess of love) who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont

His soft words, and his argument that Aphrodite would scorn the worship of a virgin, persuaded the beautiful Hero to take Leander as her lover. Every night he would swim across the Hellespont to be with her. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way. These trysts lasted through the warm summer.

On Hellespont, guilty of true love's blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin'd by Neptune's might:
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair.

from Christopher Marlowe's poem Hero and Leander

 

But one stormy winter night, the waves tossed Leander in the sea and the breezes blew out Hero's light.  Leander lost his way and was drowned. When Hero saw his dead body, she threw herself over the edge of the tower to her death to be with him.

 


The Last Watch of Hero by Frederic Leighton,
depicting Hero anxiously waiting for Leander during the storm.

 

According to Wikipedia, people named Leander include:

A number of warships and warship classes of the Royal Navy have been given this famous name:

  • HMS Leander, various Royal Navy ships

    • Leander class, three ship classes

     

  • HMNZS Leander, a Royal New Zealand Navy light cruiser of World War II, originally HMS Leander of the British Royal Navy

  • SS Leander, a number of ships with this name

  • Leander (clipper), a clipper built in 1867

 

I like the Myth of Hero and Leander.

When we were in Turkey in 2005 we crossed the Hellespont twice in a rented car. It didn't float on water but there was a convenient ferry. We were there principally to visit the battle site at Gallipoli but the whole region is interesting.  The Hellespont (Dardanelles) has been famous in history, myth and religion since the invention of writing; and maybe earlier.  The ancient city of Troy was nearby.

 

 

 

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Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Bonfire (Cracker) Night

 

 

We children were almost overcome with excitement.  There had been months of preparation.  Tree lopping and hedge trimmings had been saved; old newspapers and magazines stacked into fruit boxes; a couple of old tyres had been kept; and the long dangerously spiky lower fronds from the palm trees were neatly stacked; all in preparation. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Discovery of the Higgs boson

 

 

Perhaps the most important physics discovery of my lifetime has finally been announced.  I say 'finally' as its existence has been predicted by the 'Standard Model' for a long time and I have already mentioned this possibility/probability in an earlier article on this website (link).

Its confirmation is important to everyone, not just to physicists working in the field of quantum mechanics.  Like the confirmation of the predictions of Einstein's Theory of Relativity we are now confronted with a new model of reality that has moved beyond an esoteric theory to the understanding that this is how the Universe actually is; at least as far as the Standard Model goes.

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