September 10, 2008


A bad day in the harbor of the Laestrygonians. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

The Goat Rope Odyssey jag continues. If you like Greek mythology, please click on earlier posts. You will also find links and comments about current events.

After a series of disasters on their way home from the Trojan War (an ill-fated raid, drugged out Lotus Eaters, a nasty cyclops and a botched chance to make it home), Odysseus and his men finally wind up at what looks like a safe haven in the land of the Laestrygonians.

Between the botched pirate raid and the encounter with the Cyclops, Odysseus has already lost nearly 80 of his more than 600 men. Bad luck is partly to blame, but the actions of Odysseus himself are more of a factor.

It's about to get worse.

While most of the ships take shelter in the quiet harbor, Odysseus keeps his own ship outside and sends in a recon party. They wind up rousing a hornet's next of hungry giants:

Down from the cliffs they flung great rocks a man could hardly hoist
and a ghastly shattering din rose up from all the ships--
men in their death-cries, hulls smashed to splinters--
They speared the crews like fish
and whisked them home to make their grisly meal.

While his entire fleet is being destroyed, Odysseus cuts the cables and escapes:

I pulled the sword from beside my hip and hacked away
at the ropes that moored my blue-browed ship of war
and shouted rapid orders at my shipmates:
'Put your backs in the oars--now row or die!'
In terror of death they ripped the swells--all as one--
and what a joy as we darted out toward open sea,
clear of those beetling ship alone.
But the rest went down en masse. Our squadron sank.

Holy Douglas MacArthur leaving his men in the Philippines at the start of World War II, Batman!

(Personal note: according to family traditon, a distant cousin was in the Bataan Death March; he weighed well under 100 pounds when it was over.)

One really can't help raising questions about Odysseus' style of leadership. If he for some reason sensed the danger of the harbor, why did he let the men under his command go there? Now fewer than 50 remain. It amazing how quickly Odysseus rushes through this story of hundreds of exhausted men dying a miserable death.

Let's think about this. A multitude of ordinary soldiers dying as a result of the bad decisions of the people in charge, who are all too eager to change the subject. Golly, it's a good thing that doesn't happen anymore, huh?

ON A SIMILAR NOTE, the VA reported yesterday that veteran suicides hit an all time high in 2006:

In 2006, the last year for which records are available, figures show there were about 46 suicides per 100,000 male veterans ages 18-29 who use VA services. That compares with a trend of about 20 suicides per 100,000 men of that age who are not veterans, VA records show....

VA records show that 141 veterans who left the military after Sept. 11, 2001, committed suicide between 2002 and 2005. Then in 2006 alone, an additional 113 of the Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans killed themselves.

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME? Several states are running out of money for unemployment benefits, even as jobless numbers climb.

MEGACHURCHES have been growing for years, but that may be starting to change.

SPACE CRITTERS! The tiny tardigrade, an eight legged invertebrate sometimes called a water bear, survived space travel without a suit. Check out the picture at the link. They're kinda cute.


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