Saturday, October 30, 2004

Peak Oil

One of our customers noted that I had provided for the 9th Year (20th Century) program a kind of overview "Events and Trends" summary for each of the first three decades of the century, but then forgot to provide them beginning in the 1930s. So for the last couple of weeks I have been trying to provide summary "Events and Trends" items.

In the midst of that project, which I finally completed yesterday afternoon, I got thinking about the emotional tenor of different eras.

Of course, we are all familiar with the emotional tenor of the 1930s. No question: that was the Great Depression.

But what about the 70s? The 80s? (Not to mention other eras.)

I realized the 70s were, no question, a very bleak period. I'm not saying everyone was feeling depressed. But that was the era in which the U.S. suffered stagflation (stagnant economy, great inflation). It was the era in which the environmental movement was beginning to bite and Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb held sway. (According to Ehrlich, hundreds of thousands of people the world over were going to die of unavoidable starvation due to overpopulation.) That was also, by my recollection, the peak of the buzz, among Christians, about the Great Tribulation and the Rapture. Hal Lindsay's The Late Great Planet Earth sold 15 million copies over the course of the decade. . . . And there were plenty of other people who were predicting the End of the World as We Know It.

But then, during the 80s, the emotional tenor seemed to turn around. I forget Reagan's term for it. But there was a renewal of hope.

One of the more pleasant stories from that period is the result of the bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon. The latter wrote the books The Ultimate Resource and The Ultimate Resource 2--both of which argue that, instead of being destructive bombs, human beings, with their imagination, spirit and inventiveness, are, in fact, the ultimate resource.

In 1980,
Simon offered Ehrlich a bet centered on the market price of metals. Ehrlich would pick a quantity of any five metals he liked worth $1,000 in 1980. If the 1990 price of the metals, after adjusting for inflation, was more than $1,000 (i.e. the metals became more scarce), Ehrlich would win. If, however, the value of the metals after inflation was less than $1,000 (i.e. the metals became less scare), Simon would win. The loser would mail the winner a check for the change in price.

Ehrlich agreed to the bet, and chose copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten.

By 1990, all five metal were below their inflation-adjusted price level in 1980. Ehrlich lost the bet and sent Simon a check for $576.07. Prices of the metals chosen by Ehrlich fell so much that Simon would have won the bet even if the prices hadn't been adjusted for inflation.

Julian Simon was the person who inspired Bjorn Lomborg, a radical environmentalist, to do some research . . . become "converted" to a far less bleak perspective, and write his controversial The Skeptical Environmentalist.

So why am I writing this morning?

Because among many other items I uncovered during my most recent two- or three-week study, I ran across the concept of "Peak Oil": the world is running out of oil. And not slowly. But "no one"--certainly no political or social/cultural leader--is talking about it.

In essence,
Peak oil is the point in time when extraction of oil from the earth reaches its highest point and then begins to decline. We won't be able to say with certainty when we have reached peak oil until after the fact. Many experts say we have already reached the peak. Others say not yet, but within the next few years.

What does Peak Oil herald? It heralds the end of cheap energy.
What else does it herald?
As oil production begins to decline . . . , countries will take an every-man-for-himself attitude. Political tensions will run high. . . .

See also, and (on a spoof page, but well-written, and including good information)

Have we "finally" gotten to a point where Mr. Simon will be wrong or, as Glenn Morton says at "Laissez les mal temps roulez"?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Two Books

I read two books while on vacation. Both of them introduced me to subjects with which I am rather unfamiliar. One I borrowed from the library and finished while there: Body of Knowledge: The Semester of Gross Anatomy, the Gateway to Becoming a Doctor by Steve Giegerich (New York: Scribner, 2001). What an amazing story of how first-year medical students are transformed through the dissection of a human body! The author takes you along through the experience, from initial squeamishness and almost horror at the repulsive thought of cutting into this . . . this . . . body . . . , to the point of familiarity and equanimity.

Well, well written. I would recommend it highly.

The other book: True Tolerance: Liberalism and the Necessity of Judgment by J. Budziszewski. This is a horrendously tough book to get into. Even now (I have read some 160 of its 298 pages), I find myself too often feeling as if I’m barely able to grasp what the author is talking about. (I force myself to read such difficult books now and then to expand my horizons, force me to think new thoughts, and improve my ability to think. Like a hard physical workout, such hard mental workouts are usually highly rewarding.)

I began the book not for a mental workout. Indeed, I didn’t expect to have to work nearly as hard as I have. Everything else I have read by Budziszewski [I believe it is pronounced boo-CHEFF-skee] has been written at an extremely practical and popular level.

But he is a scholarly philosopher and political scientist (associate professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin). And by all indications after I began reading the book, it appears that this one is meant for a scholarly audience.

I have known Budziszewski from his writings in World magazine and, most especially, as "Professor Theo" in a monthly column, "Office Hours," published in Boundless magazine. He’s always been thought-provoking, just never thick, the way he is here.

Having said all that, however, I would like to plead with you to stick with me as I attempt to summarize what I believe Budziszewski is trying to say. The topic of his book is of extreme importance—and ever more so—in modern American society.

What is he talking about? The title reveals his theme: tolerance, true tolerance.

Many in our society say that if or when someone claims to make an ethical judgment, such a person, by making such a judgment, is being intolerant. And such intolerance is intolerable. Put another way: intolerance ought not to be tolerated: “there ought to be laws against intolerance.”

And, indeed, we are finding more and more such laws.

So what does Budziszewski have to say about tolerance?

First, that the leaders in the modern movement of “toleration” or “tolerance” are, in essence, demanding ethical neutrality and/or “indifference about what is lovable or praiseworthy.” And, second, that ultimately it is impossible to avoid making choices—decisions—based upon what one deems lovable or praiseworthy. Put another way, the modern demand for tolerance (in the sense of ethical neutrality) is, by its own definition, intolerant because it is neither ethically neutral nor indifferent. It says that at least one thing (tolerance) must be valued.

Moreover, not only is ultimate and true ethical neutrality impossible, it is pernicious, destructive, wrong. It is a bad goal to pursue.

But if tolerance, in the sense of ethical neutralism, is not the answer, then what is? Is Budziszewski arguing in behalf of intolerance?


He argues for what he carefully and lovingly defines as true tolerance. Ethical neutrality is false tolerance, an “imposter.” We do not tolerate what we are indifferent about. True toleration can only occur when we really care about something, when we truly value a particular viewpoint. Only then can it be said—under certain circumstances—that we are tolerating a perspective that we find offensive.

So, according to Budziszewski, how should a modern person—someone who desires charitable and tolerant attitudes toward those with whom s/he disagrees—deal with opposing viewpoints? He uses a practical illustration to describe the ways and means—and, most importantly, the reasons—of tolerant individuals within a tolerant society:

The ancient republics believed in firming the resolve of the good by disgracing the wicked. In other words, they dishonored persons as well as practices. [Truly tolerant people] draw the line at persons. Why? Because virtue is less important than we thought? No: because in some small way perhaps we understand it better, and at the same tmr are less inclined to credit ourselves with other kinds of understanding that we do not have. In particular: we can know what is disgraceful, but not who.

Suppose I have committed a crime. I have behaved disgracefully; I deserve punishment. But would you punish the disgrace of my conduct by disgracing my person? To know that I deserve some sort of punishment, you need only see my outward self; to know that I deserve disgrace, you would need to see my inward self, which is hidden from you and probably even hidden from me.

When you disgrace my person, you assume the pretense that you can see hidden things. . . . If I accept [your portions], I may come to believe that I am irredeemable. If I do not, I may come to be filled with resentment of an intensity that other forms of punishment could never incite.

In the meantime, what about you? Seeing how you have disgraced me may make me even more despicable in your sight than I was before. This may confirm you in your portions, and convince you that you are a higher being. Should these things take place to you and to me, no service had been done the cause of virtue; we had both been made worse.

I suggest (without pretending that believers have always been a good advertisement for it) that the distinction between dishonor to practices and dishonor to persons originates in the Christian maxim, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” But one need not belong to the Christian faith in order to acknowledge the maxim’s force, and it has been absorbed into the liberal tradition as a counsel of tolerance.

There is no need to be naïve about this. Certainly, if a practice is held to public dishonor, the persons who engage in it will find themselves at a disadvantage in polite society. If we object to this, we had better abolish the government; all civil and criminal law has the same effect. But it is different from passing judgment on souls. . . .

[As John Stuart Mill points out, i]t is one thing to avoid someone’s society; it is another to “parade the avoidance.” It may be our duty to warn others against him; it cannot even be our right to do so out of malice. The idea is that disapproving what he does must not be connected with a withdrawal of love for his person.

I am speaking of things I do not fully understand. But someone who understood them better, I think, might speak to us as follows. In fear you must tread the razor between connivance at my immorality, and the greater monstrosity of moral pride. If you avoid me because of what I do, do it because you are not good enough to be with a man as bad as me: not because you are too good. . . .

These then are the three alternatives: connive, give in to pride, or tread the razor. There is more for trembling here than liberalism has yet perceived, but this much our norms admit: true tolerance is treading the razor. (pp. 27-28)
Budziszewski, as I have suggested, keeps his discussion at an extremely high level. But he comes back to earth upon occasion. He does so in at least one spot when he explains the meaning of this term “treading the razor” and avoiding the sins either of connivance with evil or of giving in to pride:

[A] man who objects to skimpy clothing might, in principle, recognize that the motives of a woman who is wearing it are entirely pure. His objection may arise from concern, not for her moral good, but for his. To call the man lecherous is not only uncharitable[; it] misses the point. He knows that he is. That is why he objects to her display: he does not want to be inflamed, and wishes that someone would take thought for his effort.

The point is charmingly made by a conversation between two characters in one of the thousand classics we no longer read, Bunyan’s allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, published in 1678:

Now Mr. Feeble-mind [original meaning: faint-heart], when they were going out of the door, made as if he intended to linger. The which, when Mr. Great-heart espied, he said, “Come, Mr. Feeble-mind, pray, do you go along with us. I will be your conductor, and you shall fare as the rest.”

Feeble-mind. “Alas, I want [need] a suitable companion. You are all lusty and strong, but I, as you see, am weak. I choose, therefore, rather to come behind, lest, by reason of my many infirmities, I should be both a burthen to myself and to you. I am, as I said, a man of weak and feeble mind, and shall be offended and made weak at that which others can bear. I shall like no laughing, I shall like no gay attire, I shall like no unprofitable questions. Nay, I am so wek a man as to be offended with that which others have a [moral] liberty to do . . .”

Great-heart. “But, brother,” said Mr. Great-heart, . . . [y]ou must needs go along with us. We will wait for you, we will lend you our help, we will deny ourselves some things . . . for your sake. . . . We will be made all things to you rather than you shall be left behind.”
True tolerance, we see, cuts both ways: Feeble-mind endeavors to tolerate those who enjoy conduct which he knows to be innocent but which his feelings cannot bear, and Great-heart endeavors to tolerate Feeble-mind’s weakness, denying himself many innocent things so that Feeble-mind will not be left behind. In this mutuality, we are witnessing the co-dependence of the great virtue of tolerance and the great virtue of courtesy. (p. 83)
Budziszewski closes his book with a series of 39 “Counsels of Tolerance.” The following few particularly caught my eye:
2. Although diversity is not a good in itself, the good is diverse.

5. Part of true tolerance is remembering at all times that one is an object of tolerance to others. One should sometimes even deny oneself things that are innocent in themselves if others cannot bear them.

7. While avoiding connivance at the wrongs or faults of others, one must avoid the even greater monstrosity of moral pride. If you avoid me because of what I do, do it because you are not good enough to be with a man as bad as me; not because you are too good.

18. Contempt travels easily under the mask of tolerance. To accept the unacceptable is to tell a child that nothing about him matters.

22. Teachers should present not only the ideals of their own tradition, but also the ideals of the significant alternatives to it—including the traditions against which their own is in part a reaction.

26. If any person proposes a policy, he shows his tolerance for others by honoring their demand to know on what understanding of the good his proposal rests.

29. Expressive tolerance must be observed not only by individuals, but also by the state. Thus, discursive reasoning and the communication of information that republican citizens might need in order to carry out their constitutional responsibilities should be granted absolute protection.

33. Government should be prohibited from coercive enforcement of belief in an officially approved ultimate concern.

34. Government should be prohibited from coercive enforcement of outward acts of affirmation of such belief.

35. Government should be prohibited from coercive enforcement of outward acts for the support of an organization officially designated for promulgating these beliefs.

39. A sincere petition by the state for the blessing of whatever God may be thought to exist is not a violation of true tolerance. However, the state may not “use” religion as a Noble Lie for its own ends. (pp. 269-276)
What do you think?

I encourage you to get Budziszewski’s book. It is, as I said, difficult to read. But if you can handle philosophical arguments, you will be well rewarded the effort.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Amazing History--From Afghanistan

This was a final "Day at Sea." With nothing else to do, Sarita borrowed a book from the ship's library and read a kind of personal-history, Afghani-perspective book. She asked me to type up the following passage from the book. It sure blew me away!

The book itself, from what she has shown me, is well worth reading. It’s called West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story by Tamim Ansary (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002).

Here’s the quote:

In San Francisco not long ago, I saw a high school world history textbook that covered the Ghaznavid Empire with a single picture and a short caption, but in central Asia, it was a mighty big deal for a hundred years. It stretched from India to the Caspian Sea, covering an area perhaps half the size of the United States. Its kings, or sultans, loomed large as patrons of the arts. Sultan Mahmud had nine hundred poets living at his court, plus innumerable historians, philosophers, and the like. The Book of Kings, the major epic of Persian literature, was originally written for him.

The Ghaznavids and their successors, the Seljuk Turks, presided over three hundred years of art and thought every bit as vital as the Italian Renaissance. The Renaissance, however, segued into “the European expansion,” which became the main stem of world history. The first Islamic civilization of the Turks, Arabs, and Persians was cut short and buried by the Mongol holocaust.

At this remove, Genghis Khan registers as romantic to many. “Great conqueror. Great strategist,” the textbooks say, forgetting to add, “Mindless destroyer. Brutal butcher.” Genghis Khan destroyed so utterly, on such a scale, that no one today can know what Islamic civilization was about or where it was going then. Imagine if a massive force of slobbering boors had invaded Europe during the Renaissance and erased from memory Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Dante, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Erasmus, Venice, Genoa, Florence, and Rome. That’s pretty much what the Mongols did to Islamic civilization. In Afghanistan alone, the Mongols dumped the once-celebrated library of the now-forgotten city of Balkh into the Amu, a river so broad, you can’t see from one bank to the other, and yet the library of ancient Balkh dammed its waters for three days (and then washed away).

The Ghaznavids established a regional capital in that hellish desert, where they built enormous irrigation works that used the Helmand River to create, according to legend, “the breadbasket of Asia.” But Genghis Khan didn’t like bread. He thought people should herd sheep and eat meat. So he tore up the irrigation systems, killed every living thing in the local cities, right down to the dogs and cats, and then sowed salt in the soil. The region never recovered. (pp. 55-57; NOTE: This reminds me of something a woman we met at one of the evening shows said. She was born in Iran and lived through Khomeini’s “revolution.” Now, 22 years later, she says the country/civilization—not quite “can never” go back to what it was, but it will take a huge, very costly, and very prolonged effort to ever bring it back. All the women who once were free have moved on and out. And now all the new generation knows is the oppressive environment in which they grew up.)

Sarita showed me the "Post-Epilogue" email that Mr. Ansary wrote on September 12, 2001 immediately following—you guessed it—9/11. Ansary was responding to the proposals some were making at the time that “we” (the United States) “bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age.” . . . As an Afghani-American, he wanted to reply to that suggestion. So he wrote an email. And then he wrote his book.

I look forward to reading the book.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Messina, Sicily, Italy--September 1st

Photos to come . . .

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Dubrovnik, Croatia--August 31st

Photos to come . . .

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Katakolon-Olympia, Greece--August 29th

Photos to come . . .

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Mykonos, Greece--August 28th

Mykonos is reputed to have 365 churches, "one for every day of the year." Perhaps it does.

This shot is of the most famous church in Chora, the church of Paraportiani, originally built at (alongside/next to; i.e., "para") the "porta" (doorway) of the castle. The castle is gone, but the church remains.

The church actually consists of five chapels: four on the ground floor and one above. We were given to believe this was a very important site, so we thought we’d visit it first in the day before the crowds arrived. Too bad the building was locked up tight as a drum. And when we went back later, it was still locked up. We never saw a thing beyond its pretty whitewashed outer walls. Very disappointing.

After visiting the Church of Paraportiani, we headed southwest toward another famous attraction: the city’s windmills. We are on the patio of one of a string of tabernas (taverns) that line the harbor on the southwest side of the main portion of the city.

Looking back north toward the harbor from in front of the windmills. At the very far left corner of the spit of land you see sticking out into the harbor, you can see the Church of Paraportiani.

Another major attraction in Chora: the windmills on the south edge of town. As with so much of what we saw, we were thrilled we arrived before the crush of tourists. The windmills are now used as private residences, we were informed . . . and as quaint reminders of the island's past.

If you look closely, you can see that, to get the full length on the windmill spars, they shave the ends of two pieces of wood so they form wedge shapes, then they lash them together.

So now what? . . . We decided to walk the maze-like streets of Chora.

Imagine what this will look like in a few hours when all the tourists arrive! . . . Many hours later, when we returned from the beach, you may be sure we were glad we had seen the town before the hordes descended.

A residential street.

The colors are so vivid!

What?! An almost wide-open square in the middle of town!

A quiet nook.

This is definitely a rougher part of town! The whitewash isn't quite so thick between all the paving stones!

If you look closely, in the far background, a relatively younger woman is washing her doorstep. I thought the older woman in the mid-range was doing the same. But just as I snapped this photo, you will see, a hand appeared through the doorway. A moment or two after I took the picture, I realized she was helping her husband out of the house.

A riot of colorful bougainvilleas.

Ahh! Sweet singing birds hung out in the open air beside the window of a residence. Pretty to hear and pretty to look at.

This was no private walkway. Just another "street" in the midst of larger streets! And stairways up to residences. . . .

Under this archway was probably the roughest part of town we saw. The walls were un-whitewashed. But what I thought was funny were these converging stairways and balconies for separate residences.

What a gorgeous town, early in the morning!

We had been told, while aboard ship, that Petros the Pelican was the mascot for Chora. We should look for him as we walked through town. . . . Well, when I saw this guy, I figured I'd found Petros. He certainly stood proud and tall!

After I took a few shots, I got the impression that this fellow may have been an imposter. Notice his deformed right wing. . . . I saw a pelican later in the day who was more likely the real Petros.

One of the places Sarita and I most wanted to visit was the Municipal Library where, we were given to understand, there are a number of old coins and documents. We could find nothing that looked like a library at the spot where our map said it should be. But about half a block away, there was this bookshop/library. When the place finally opened, we discovered the real library hadn't been open for a couple of years. "No funds." . . . I guess when you consider our experience in the archeological museum (see below), you can understand why. Most tourists, it seems, just aren't that interested in history or historical artifacts. They’d rather visit the tabernas, the discos, the many shops, . . . or the beaches.

And here is a series of photos of churches.

This was probably the largest church we saw in Chora. The front door was closed and locked, but the door itself and one of the windows on the side had openings through which I was able to take a few pictures.

A small chapel. Clearly, some people had been there that morning to light the candles.

Madonna and child icon in a somewhat unusual style.

A silver icon with painted face. We had never seen these until we went to Santorini. . . . I wish it were possible to interpret the image. Of which saint is this supposed to remind us so that we may follow his example? I’m sure someone knows. But does the icon serve its intended purpose? Or has it become a symbol not of a living faith and real people whose lives we should emulate, but of a religion that is irrelevant to modern life? I sure wish it could be the former, though my sense is that, for far too many people, it is the latter. . . .

The church in the Chora plaza on the harbor.

View to the left upon entry.

View to the right.

Three chairs on the left. Not particularly suitable for sitting in, however. . . .

Two chairs on the right, obviously to sit in. . . . If one were willing, clearly, this could be a great little space for meditation. . . . --Is anyone willing?

And one last gorgeous church building. Notice the man and woman in front.

The woman is doing her spiritual service by providing fresh flowers while her husband sits and waits. . . . Once more, I was struck by the thought: here's an "old-fashioned," "out-of-date" church. Somehow, I think, it gets much less attention, interest, or "business" than its neighbor just around the corner (immediately to the left of this photo) . . .

. . . the Skandinavian Bar & Disco next door.

The Chora market, in the plaza, on the north side of town, just in front of the harbor. Only locals seemed to participate. It was before the rush of tourists came in.

The fishermen all gathered around this stand to do their business. It was about 9:30 or 10 am.

This old man came down to the market with his donkey carrying his goods for sale.

Old meets new.

We had intended to spend a good portion of the day on the beach, so we headed toward the bus station. We had no idea when the bus would leave for our chosen beach. When we finally found the station, we realized we had missed the bus that was headed where we wanted to go. The next one wouldn’t be leaving for two or three hours. So we spent about an hour and a half in the Mykonos Archaeology Museum. I think only two other people came to visit this amazing museum during the entire time we were there. . . .

This photo is of what the attendant called a "purification doorstep." When you placed your feet in the appropriate holes, you were then purified for entry into the temple.

The museum features a whole series of grave stelae from the island of Rheneia dating from the late 2nd and early 1st centuries BC. I thought the artwork was quite exquisite.

Two warriors in a boat.

A fisherman.

For Dionysi? What kind of creature is that? Did someone's pet die? If so, what was it?

An ossuary. About two and a half to three feet tall.

This was hard to interpret. Why does it seem that the priest is blessing an ossuary? The attendant at the museum, with whom we struck up a very nice and insightful conversation, could not explain this stela.

A husband and wife in a boat. He seems to be leaving. . . . We were told that you can tell who died by observing the movement. The person who is leaving is the one who has died. The person who grieves is the one being left behind. . . . If she is correct, here it is the husband who has died; the wife is left to grieve.

Husband dies, leaving his wife.

The father must have died, leaving his wife and two children.

So who is moving away? The son, obviously. So the son has died; the mother grieves.

I'm not sure what to make of this one. . . . Who died? The child or the adult? Who is moving away from whom?

Infant with rooster. . . .

Not exactly a scene you'd expect on a funeral stela: the woman is accompanied by her duck!

It looks as if three adult daughters have died, leaving their mother behind. . . .

Mother dies; adult daughter left behind (?)

"Farewell, sweet daughter!" says the father. . . .

Two adult daughters (or mother and daughter) die, leaving father. . . . Or was our friend wrong in the way she interpreted the stelae? According to a description of the stela I have titled “Father dies, leaving mother and two children” (see photo two below this one), the official webpage for the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos says, “The dead woman is represented seated [NOTE: she doesn’t look seated to me!], extending her hand in a farewell gesture to her husband who stands in front of her. A young slave holds the jewellery box of her dead lady.”

A young boy? . . . I wish I could read the Greek inscription. What "blows me away" is how well-preserved these stelae are after all these years! You find modern headstones on graves that are harder to read than this one after "only" a couple of hundred years!

Father dies, leaving mother and two children.

This guy obviously owned a boat. Had he been a fisherman? . . . I just found, at the same official website noted above, the following explanation of this particular stela: “Grave stele of Glykon who was lost in the sea. The deceased young man is represented seated on the rocks, sad and thoughtful, gazing towards the prow of his ship. On the upper part of the stele a ribbon is bound. Beneath the representation there is the inscription ‘Glykon, son of Protogenis, virtuous, fare thee well.’ Dated to the 2nd/1st century B.C.”

Imagine animals putting in this kind of labor in behalf of their dead? . . . There's something uniquely human about this kind of artistic effort and the mourning involved. . . .

One of many amphoras we saw. (An amphora is a two-handled jar with a narrow neck used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to carry wine or oil.) But this one had been used as an ossuary. The museum had cut a hole in the side so we could see the bones that had been placed inside.

This had to be one of the most amazing clay artifacts we saw during our entire trip. It stands about 4 feet high (its rim was above my head, and I'm 6'1"). It was found on Mykonos. It depicts the fall of Troy. Archaeologists figure it was manufactured in the "2nd quarter 7th cent. BC."

Detail at the top: the Trojan Horse! See the soldiers inside the windows? See the wheels on the horse's legs?

Details from the "Trojan Horse" amphora. I'm not sure what this one is supposed to depict. You've got a kid holding a sword (and dying). The soldier is holding a sword. What's the mother doing? What's the object--that looks a bit like a sword--that seems to be lodged between the soldier's right armpit and his body? . . . Sorry. I don't have any answers.

Obviously, war was brutal. Child being impaled on a soldier's sword while the child's mother looks on.

I get the impression this soldier is about to draw his sword to lop off the head of the kid behind him. The child's mother pleads for her son's life. . . .

The torso of Hercules . . . with his lion skin, and the club with which he killed the lion.

We still had well over an hour before the bus was scheduled to leave for Elia beach, so we headed back into town to find Opontos, a little hole-in-the-wall shop that, according to our guidebook, offers great gyros for only €2. We walked right past it a couple of times, but eventually found it and enjoyed a tasty repast for €2 apiece.

Well, it was time to catch the bus. We arrived at least 20 minutes early, but we got two of the last three (out of 55) seats. We were way in the back. And our seats (last row) were raised about a foot above all the others.

Now a word about this photo. We had read travel book descriptions of the various beaches. They said that Mykonos used to be a major hangout for homosexuals. Perhaps. I wouldn't know. But there was definitely something strange about this bus!

After everyone got on, there were, to the best of my ability to count, 57 men and 11 women: not "normal" ratios! . . . And unlike the rest of the passengers, three of the women were Africans who were clearly on their way to the beach for business purposes. (After we got there we discovered that they sell clothing and trinkets.) . . . A very strange crowd, indeed!

Elia. It had to be the prettiest beach we saw on the entire cruise. Real sand! And gorgeous, clear water.

I shot this on the way back to Chora after our visit to Elia. This inlet, we were told, has some of the best windsurfing in the world. On our way down to Elia, we saw a couple of windsurfers cutting back and forth across the inlet at extremely high speeds. A very pretty sight.


Narrow roads!

A house with its own church building attached. . . . But the main thing to notice: the arrid, desolate landscape! Quite a bit less rocky than the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland, but very much the same feel.

There's a small church on the horizon between these two hills. . . . As I saw such sights, I found my view strengthened that most Greek churches are more similar to shrines than to places people gather to worship.

More houses with almost "private" church buildings.

And the congregation for this church will come from where?

Another set of "typical homes" shots. After a while, Sarita and I began wondering what people do for a living. As she asked, "Is it possible for a place to get too much sunshine?" We began to think, maybe, yes!

Notice the windmill at the crest of the hill?

Heading back into the city after the beach. And, yes, that's our ship in the distance.

Okay. A few typical "transportation scenes" from inside Chora.

We happened to come down this particular short stretch of roadway several times today. The buildings at the right in this picture front a much wider plaza and the roadway on Chora harbor. And yet this little street always had one or two taxis pushing their way through. I finally figured out why: it was the narrowest street in the city that a regular-sized car could pass through. Many of the cars had their side-view mirrors clipped back, but then they could slide through this alley/roadway with a couple of inches to spare on either side. . . . A fun little "contest of nerves" for tourists and their taxi drivers!

Lest you wonder: that is not a typical-sized American mini-van. It is much narrower, much smaller.

And then there were these. . . . This is a bit further in town.


The FedEx man! . . . We saw him speed around town probably six or seven times that day.

This guy was fast!

And two last "fun" photos. I saw this sign and realized I should have taken more such photos. I love seeing how the ancient (especially Romance) languages have impacted our own.

"Couldn't believe it." Sarita had no idea she was so famous! (In a shop window in Mykonos.)

Mykonos harbor in the late afternoon.

The moon was rising so brightly over the island. We couldn't see it yet, but we had an idea it was going to be full and gorgeous. These photos don't do justice to the beauty we saw and the wonder we felt as we watched it rise. . . .




Our ship leaves port.

What a sweet/sad goodbye!

Last one for today: This is Preston Fernandes, our waiter on the cruise. He's from Goa, India. I asked him why his name would be Fernandes (not to mention Preston) when he is from India. "That doesn't sound very Indian!" "No," he said. "It is Portuguese." It turns out a lot of Indians in Goa are Catholic Christians, influenced by the Portuguese who took over Goa in 1510. (Francis Xavier is buried in Goa.) . . . Something else we've known ever since we first went on a cruise: the wait staff and stateroom attendants don't talk about it unless you ask, but their actual salaries are only a few dollars a week. I've heard they make anywhere from $50 a month to $40 a week . . . PLUS TIPS. Tips are essential. And so we always try to tip well. (And lest you wonder: no, you don't find North Americans working in either of those two roles. All the wait staff and room attendants are from developing countries.)