September 25, 2008
Do you want fries with that?
The Colossus of Rhodes in ancient times was a statue of the sun god Helios.
A classical theme in many myths and folktales is the "whatever you do, don't do this" scenario. You can pretty much bet that people are going to wind up doing what they're not supposed to.
Think Adam and Even in paradise eating the forbidden fruit or Pandora opening the forbidden jar (it wasn't a box in the original myth) or Bluebeard telling his wife not to unlock the door to a forbidden room.
In the Odyssey, the hero has been warned by Circe not to harm or allow his men to harm the cattle of the sun god Helios, aka Hyperion:
Leave the beasts unharmed, your mind set on home,
and you all may still reach Ithaca--bent with hardship,
true--but harm them in any way, and I can see it now:
your ship destroyed, your men destroyed as well!
And even if you escape, you'll come home late,
all shipmates lost, and come a broken man.
You guessed it. It ain't going to be pretty.
After Odysseus and his men suffer through the dangers of Scylla and Charybdis, they come to the island of Thrinacia, home of the sun god's herd. In one of many classic failures of leadership, Odysseus yields to his exhausted men in stopping at the island instead of pulling rank and ordering them to sail on to safety. All he does is extract a promise from them to leave the cattle alone.
The plan was just to stay there for one night, but the winds shifted for a whole month. Meanwhile food supplies were used up. While Odysseus wigs out and nods off, his hungry men make the fatal decision.
Helios is outraged, as is Zeus himself. Terrible signs appear: the meat itself begins to moo and the hides of the slain cattle crawl on the ground. For six days, they all feast on the forbidden food.
And, as promised, when they finally do begin to sail, the ship is destroyed in a storm and Odysseus alone survives to wash up on the island of the goddess Calypso, where he will stay seven years.
This episode concludes Odysseus' own retelling of his story to the Phaeacians, where he arrived after finally escaping from Calypso's island. The final part of the story is about to begin as the Phaeacians are about to finally take him home to Ithaca.
Talk about a long strange trip...
SPEAKING OF LONG STRANGE TRIPS, I'm ready for this administration's joy ride to be over. Here's what we could have done with the cost of the proposed Wall Street bailout:
51.6 million people with health care for four years OR
181.2 million homes with renewable electricity for four years OR
2.9 million elementary school teachers for four years OR
27 million four-year scholarships for university students
All this is from the National Priorities Project. Click here to see what the costs would be to your state or district.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT: Call Congress toll free at 1-800-473-6711 and urge a real solution that includes greater oversight, regulation and accountability of the finance industry, help for people being hurt by the crisis and investments in economic recovery. The number is provided by the American Friends Service Committee.
THE ROLE OF DEREGULATION in the credit crisis is discussed here.
NEEDED: A NEW NEW DEAL. Here's a Gazette op-ed by amigo Gary Zuckett on fixing the economy.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: MUY ALTO