Did Homer Actually Exist?


Not only is the Trojan Horse a colourful fiction, the existence of Homer himself has sometimes been doubted. It’s generally supposed that the great epics which go under Homer’s name, the Iliad and Odyssey, were composed orally, without the aid of writing, some time in the 8th Century BC, the fruit of a tradition of oral minstrelsy stretching back for centuries.

While the ancients had no doubt that Homer was a real bard who composed the monumental epics, nothing certain is known about him. All we do know is that, even if the poems were composed without writing and orally transmitted, at some stage they were written down in Greek, because that is how they have survived.

See other: Which Greek Legends Were Really True?

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Exaptation


An exaptation is just one example of a characteristic that evolved, but that is not considered an adaptation. Stephen Gould and Elizabeth Vrba proposed the vocabulary to let biologists talk about features that are and are not adaptations:

Adaptation
A feature produced by natural selection for its current function (such as echolocation in bats).

Exaptation
A feature that performs a function but that was not produced by natural selection for its current use. Perhaps the feature was produced by natural selection for a function other than the one it currently performs and was then co-opted for its current function.

For example, feathers might have originally arisen in the context of selection for insulation, and only later were they co-opted for flight. In this case, the general form of feathers is an adaptation for insulation and an exaptation for flight.

“Contrary to earlier prejudices, there is nothing inherently progressive about evolution.” – Richard Dawkins

Choose Your English (viii)


extant / extent
They sounds similar and both have an ‘ex’, but extant means “still here,” and extent refers to “the range of something.” People get them mixed up to a certain extent.

fortunate / fortuitous
Both words have a positive connotation, however fortunate means lucky, whereas fortuitous means something positive that happened by chance or accident.

gibe / jibe
To gibe is to sneer or heckle, but to jibe is to agree. Funnily enough, to make it a little harder, jibe is also an alternate spelling of gibe – but not the other way around.

grisly / gristly / grizzly
Grisly means relating to horror or disgust, gristly means related to gristle or cartilage, and a grizzly (or Ursus arctos horribilis) is a brown bear from the Ursidae family. Ironically, a grizzly can be quite grisly, but not gristly.

historic / historical
Something historic has a great importance to human history. Something historical is simply related to the past. Something historical is always historic, but certainly not necessarily the other way around.

See other: Choose Your English

Modernism vs. Postmodernism


The Self
Modernism: Existence of stable, coherent “self”, independent of culture and society.
Postmodernism: The “self” is a myth and largely a composite of one’s social experiences and cultural contexts. The “self” is an Ideology.

Reason
Modernism: Reason and science provide accurate, objective, reliable foundation of “knowledge”.
Postmodernism: Reason and science are Ideologies in the Marxist sense; myths created by man.

Feminism
Modernism: Women are oppressed by patriarchy and can use Reason to achieve both independence and regain their “authentic selves”.
Postmodernism: The categories male/female, masculine/feminine are themselves culturally constructed and/or Ideology. Gender roles are culturally relative in all cultures and contexts.

Objective Truth
Modernism: Reason transcends and exists independently of our existential, historical, cultural contexts; it is universal and “true”.
Postmodernism: There is no universal, objective means of judging any given concept as “true”; all judgements of truth exist within a cultural context (cultural relativism).

“Modernism had two great wishes. It wanted its audience to be led toward a recognition of the social reality of the sign (away from the comforts of narrative and illusionism, was the claim); but equally it dreamed of turning the sign back to a bedrock of World/Nature/Sensation/Subjectivity which the to and fro of capitalism had all but destroyed.” – T.J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism

Freedom
Modernism: Reason and human independence/freedom are inherently linked; just laws conform to the dictates of Reason.
Postmodernism: The application of pure Reason (predicated Cartesian Radical Skepticism) disproves the universal nature of a priori human freedom. Independence/Freedom are Western Ideologies used to colonize foreign cultures (i.e. Belgian Congo, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan).

Universal Truth
Modernism: Because it is universal, Reason can help us overcome all conflicts. Reason will lead to universal truths all cultures will embrace.
Postmodernism: Reason is no more universal than is any other culture’s definition of “truth”.

Science
Modernism: Science is the paradigm of all true knowledge.
Postmodernism: Science is Ideology.

Language
Modernism: Language is transparent; a one to one relationship between signifier (word) and signified (thing or concept).
Postmodernism: Language is fluid and arbitrary and/or rooted in Power/Knowledge relations. Meaning is fluid and arbitrary. Meaning is “messy”.

Connotations
Modernism: The application of Reason leads to a progressive movement toward civilization, democracy, freedom, scientific advancement. The Enlightenment is prescriptive: a means of building a better society.
Postmodernism: There is no objective means upon which to predicate morality and right/just governance. Postmodern theory is descriptive of the human condition; it describes an impasse in philosophy and social relations.

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” – Harold Pinter

In Sum
Modernism: Truth exists independent of human consciousness and can be known through the application of Reason. All Enlightenment conclusions lead from this assumption.
Postmodernism: Truth may exist independent of human consciousness but there is no objective means of nailing it down. All Postmodern conclusions lead from this assumption.

Mr Clever


‘He met somebody who was also out for a walk.
Do you know who it was?

That’s right.
Mr Happy!
“Hello,” cried Mr Clever. “I’m The Cleverest Person In The World!”
“Oh good,” said Mr Happy. “Then you must be clever enough to make up a really good joke to tell me.”
He laughed.
“Jokes make me happy,” he explained.

Mr Clever’s face fell.
“I don’t know any jokes,” he admitted.
“Well, that’s not very clever of you, is it?” said Mr Happy, and went off.
Mr Clever went on.
And do you know who he met next?

That’s right.
Mr Greedy!
“Hello,” cried Mr Clever. “I’m The Cleverest Person In The World!”
“Oh good,” said Mr Greedy. “Then you can tell me the recipe of the world’s most delicious dish.”
He licked his lips.
“I like food,” he explained.

Mr Clever’s face fell.
“I can’t cook,” he admitted. “And I don’t know ant recipes!”
“Well, that’s not very clever of you, is it?” said Mr Greedy, and went off.
In search of food.
Mr Clever went on.
And do you know who he met next?

Yes
Mr Forgetful!
“Hello,” cried Mr Clever. “I’m The Cleverest Person In The World!”
“Oh good,” said Mr Forgetful. “Then you can tell me what my name is.”
He smiled apologetically.
“I’ve forgotten,” he explained.

Mr Clever’s face fell for the third time that morning.
“But I don’t know your name,” he admitted. “We’ve only just met!”
“Well, that’s not very clever of you, is it?” said Mr Forgetful, and he too went off.
Forgetting to say goodbye!

And so it went on. All day.
Mr Clever couldn’t tell Mr Sneeze the cure for a cold.
And he couldn’t tell Mr Small how he could grow bigger.
And he couldn’t tell Mr Jelly what the secret of being brave was.
And he couldn’t tell Mr Topsy-Turvy how to talk the round way right.
I mean the right way round.
A not very clever day!
Not at all.
Not a bit.’

– Hargreaves. R. (1978) Mr Clever – My Mr Men Library [nr. 37] London, Great Britain: World International Limited p. 18-32

25/ix mmxiv


Peter the Cruel of Aragon and Peter the Cruel of Castile were at war with each other for ten years 1356-66.

Mushrooms have more in common with animals than with plants.

Ball’s Pyramid, Australia, is the tallest volcanic stack in the world.

The Japanese believe plums and miso soup can cure hangovers.

The Latin tag nolens volens ‘unwilling, willing’ – that is, ‘whether unwillingly or willingly’ – is sometimes rendered volens nolens, aut nolens aut volens or nolentis volentis. It is similar to willy-nilly, though that word is derived from Old English will-he nil-he (i.e. [whether] he will or [whether] he will not).

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

The Essence of …


Do you think all people are essentially equal?
Do you think people should have a lot of individual freedoms?
Do you think happiness is more important than material wealth?

Do you think everyone deserves equal educational opportunities?
Do you think everyone deserves equal access to the same healthcare?
Do you think everyone deserves to have equal chances to be happy?

Would you be worried about excessive poverty in society?
Would you be worried about an increasing wealth gap?
Would you be worried about rising unemployment?

Do you adhere to the fact that politics is should be ‘by and for the people’?
Do you adhere to the fact only proven facts should have a place in politics?
Do you adhere to the fact that arguments from tradition are a fallacy?

Do you think society should be about people and not institutions?
Do you think society should be about people and not power?
Do you think society should be about people and not money?