September 29, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Odysseus and Telemachus open a can on the suitors. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

Along with links and comments about current events, the theme at Goat Rope lately has been the Odyssey of Homer and what it has to say to us today. We're almost done. So far we've followed his wanderings from Troy to his home at Ithaca. It has involved 10 years of fighting and 10 more of various adventures and (largely self-inflicted) disasters.

Now, like many veterans returning from war, he finds himself at home but doesn't recognize the place. Disguised as a beggar, he will be abused by arrogant suitors even within his own house.

You probably remember how the story ends. In the home stretch, Odysseus will wreak terrible vengeance on the suitors who have been devouring his substance, abusing the hospitality (xenia) of his house, harassing his faithful wife Penelope, and plotting the murder of his son Telemachus. In the end the people of Ithaca are so upset by the carnage that another battle almost ensues until the gods intervene and make peace.

But first he must alternately deceive and then reveal himself to those he knew, including the swineherd Eumaeus, Telemachus, his nurse Euraycleia, Penelope herself, and his father Laertes.

He is clearly in a dangerous position. Aside from the 108 suitors, many in Ithaca are angry over the fact that not a single one of his fellow countrymen survived the journey, largely due to the mistakes of their commander. But so ingrained is his tendency to resort to lies and stratagems (Greek: metis) that he often lies even when he has no reason to do so.

Not only that, but we've seen all the way along that he is secretive to a fault, that he conceals vital information from his men, and that he has absolutely no social trust. What is his major malfunction?

Maybe a scar holds the key. More on that tomorrow.

BAILOUT. Here's the latest on the compromise version of the Wall Street bailout, which is likely to be voted on in the House today. Short version: it's a little better than that originally proposed but leaves out a lot. Holy free market, Batman!

INJUSTICE KILLS. This article reviews research on inequality and health.

THE POLITICS OF RACE is the topic of this op-ed by yours truly.

MOTHER GOOSE! 50 million years ago, giant geese-like birds with a 5 meter wingspan and bony teeth flew over England. I want one!


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