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Footnotes:


[1] All photos are mine except where indicated.

[2] Its lack suggests they block any program lending support to a view that that the Earth may be but one of many trillion-trillion bodies in the universe; that modern humans have been around for less than 0.0005% of the life of this universe; that we are probably just one of an infinity of possible organisations of common cells in the evolutionary continuum of life on earth and like all such organisms, from bacteria to rose bushes, may have no special immortality; that our religions are ephemeral and are demonstrably authored by men, largely for political reasons; or that we and our works are thus likely be of no special interest to any of the pantheon of hypothetical, often highly imaginative, deities, to whom people have prayed for the past ten millenia. Why do they so often have animal heads; or human heads and animal bodies?

[3]Cleopatra was famously Machiavellian. She learned Egyptian, as well as her native Greek, and represented herself to the people as the reincarnation of the Egyptian goddess Isis. She originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married in accordance with Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne and later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name. After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Her unions with her brothers produced no children. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC. She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh, but he was soon killed on Octavian's orders.

[4] Iconoclasm was proscribed at the Second Council of Nicaea 787, when the making of religious representational art was officially endorsed by the church; thus bowing to established Roman artistic sensibilities and laying the ground for some of the greatest art ever made. But iconoclasm re-arose on a grand scale with the Protestant Reformation; after biblical scholars reinstated the historical Second Commandment, prohibiting the making of idols (or any religious images of people or animals). This is a Comandment followed by both Judaeism and Islam as well as some early Christians.

[5] Great Khufu Pyramid (Cheops in Greek) 2580-2560 BCE. George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) - from Don Juan
Or as Shelly, Byron’s friend, put it reflecting similarly on Ramesses II (Ozymandias in Greek); his imagined arrogance; the ephemeral nature of existence, position and fame; and the futile attempts of the powerful at self-preservation:

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley - 1818

[6]A Christian mob led by a man called Peter: ‘waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.’ - Socrates Scholasticus Ecclesiastical History, Book VI: Chap 15. A Pre-Raphaelite painting by CW Mitchell (prior to flaying) romanticises this.

 

 

 

 

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Travel

Thailand

 

 

In October 2012 flew to India and Nepal with Thai International and so had stopovers in Bangkok in both directions. On our way we had a few days to have a look around.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The McKie Family

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.  Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow. 

The setting is Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England and my path winds through a time when the gardens there flowered with exotic blooms and their seeds and nectar changed the entire world.  This was the blossoming of the late industrial and early scientific revolution and it flowered most brilliantly in Newcastle.

I've been to trace a couple of lines of ancestry back six generations to around the turn of the 19th century. Six generations ago, around the turn of the century, lived sixty-four individuals who each contributed a little less 1.6% of their genome to me, half of them on my mother's side and half on my father's.  Yet I can't name half a dozen of them.  But I do know one was called McKie.  So this is about his descendents; and the path they took; and some things a few of them contributed to Newcastle's fortunes; and who they met on the way.

In six generations, unless there is duplication due to copulating cousins, we all have 126 ancestors.  Over half of mine remain obscure to me but I know the majority had one thing in common, they lived in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.  Thus they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund. So it's also a tale of one city.

My mother's family is the subject of a separate article on this website. 

 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Frederick Sanger - a life well spent

 

 

I have reached a point in my life when the death of a valued colleague seems to be a monthly occurrence.  I remember my parents saying the same thing. 

We go thought phases.  First it is the arrival of adulthood when all one's friends are reaching 21 or 18, as the case may be.  Then they are all getting married.  Then the babies arrive.  Then it is our children's turn and we see them entering the same cycle.  And now the Grim Reaper appears regularly. 

As I have repeatedly affirmed elsewhere on this website, each of us has a profound impact on the future.  Often without our awareness or deliberate choice, we are by commission or omission, continuously taking actions that change our life's path and therefore the lives of others.  Thus our every decision has an impact on the very existence of those yet to be born. 

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