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Archive for August, 2007

Oracle of Delphi

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(video hosted on Google.)

Dating back to 1400 BC, the Oracle of Delphi was the most important shrine in all Greece, and in theory all Greeks respected its independence. Built around a sacred spring, Delphi was considered to be the omphalos – the center (literally navel) of the world.

People came from all over Greece and beyond to have their questions about the future answered by the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo. And her answers, usually cryptic, could determine the course of everything from when a farmer planted his seedlings, to when an empire declared war.

Arguments over the correct interpretation of an oracle were common, but the oracle was always happy to give another prophecy if more gold was provided. A good example is the famous incident before the Battle of Salamis when the Pythia first predicted doom and later predicted that a ‘wooden wall’ (interpreted by the Athenians to mean their ships) would save them.

The lack of a strict religious dogma associated with the worship of Greek gods also encouraged scholars to congregate at Delphi, and it became a focal point for intellectual enquiry, as well as an occasional meeting place where rivals could negotiate.

Delphi became a fantastic showcase of art treasures and all Greek states would send rich gifts to keep the Oracle on their side. It finally came to an end in the 4th century AD when a newly Christian Rome proscribed its prophesying.

(From: History Channel)

Man vs Wild – Iceland

(Video hosted on Youtube)

While hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Iceland every year to witness freezing glaciers, steaming geothermal areas and huge black sand deserts, more than a thousand visitors find themselves requiring rescue. Adventurer Bear Grylls demonstrates how to make a snow cave, find water in deep tunnels, and avoid frostbite in this Arctic environment. Because finding food is a problem in this climate, Bear is forced to eat a sheep’s eyeball and catch a ptarmigan (a wild bird). He also has to deal with blizzards and 50 mph winds as he attempts to reach safety.

(From: BBC)

Louis Theroux – Thai Brides

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(Video hosted on : Google)

Louis struck gold yet again in his brilliant series with Monday evening’s episode which featured the ‘Introduction Services’ available in Thailand to men from overseas seeking Thai women for marriage.

Louis Theroux manages to convey in his interviewing style what every viewer must be feeling. Yet, he does this in a wonderfully subtle way that allows many of his thick-skinned subjects continue to show themselves for the bigots they are.

This was perfectly demonstrated by his interview with the owner of an agency who criticised Western women for their ‘over-emancipation’, and suggested that Thai women are preferable because’ “They don’t have a headache, even when they have a headache.”

The programme continued to show this same ‘gentleman’ who introduced his soon-to-be-bride that he had met only hours earlier to Louis. This 21 year old girl was to be his fourth wife, and had come to the agency only to be ‘snapped up’ by the lecherous owner himself, who smarmed all over her, whilst boasting of his conquest. Mr Theroux remained incredulous.

Although presented in a fairly light-hearted format, this particular episode was very thought-provoking. Of course, to most of us the notion of these agencies is abhorrent to say the least. However, largely due to the style of presentation, it was quite revealing to listen to the viewpoints of the ‘clients’ and owners, who seemed to feel comfortable expressing their views. I feel Louis Theroux’ style, which does not at first appear overly challenging, allows a truer insight into a person’s behaviour and makes him/her less defensive and consequently more candid.

‘Weird Weekends’ is proving once again to be a brilliant series, and is highly recommended.

(From : BBC)

Aegean Odyssey

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(video hosted on VEOH.)

Handed down through millenniums, the mythic tales of Atlantis and Troy live on in our collective memories. According to Plato and Homer, these legendary cities met their destructive ends through swift, violent disasters – and were lost for centuries from the face of the earth. I: “Lost City of the Aegean” – Archaeologists have excavated a glittering ancient metropolis, frozen in time by volcanic ash of a cataclysmic eruption. Its pristine ruins are yielding captivating clues that point us even closer to the vanished city of the Aegean… II: “Lost Treasures of Troy” – A hundred years ago in the distant hills of Turkey, a lone archaeologist who was determined to authenticate the myth of the Trojan War, stumbled across a staggering treasure. From the moment of its discovery, the dazzling at collection has been the object of an elaborate, unending game of hide and seek, provoking entire nations to fight for its ownership.

Man vs Wild – Moab Desert Utah

(Video hosted on Google)

The Moab Desert in Utah is one of the top extreme sports destinations in the United States, with more than a million visitors each year. But sweltering temperatures and deadly predators can make it very dangerous. Bear is dropped into the desert to demonstrate how a lost hiker can make it back to civilization, with merely a bottle of water, a knife and a flint. On his journey, he travels down a maze of narrow canyons, stumbles upon rattlesnakes, and escapes quicksand, showing viewers how to survive in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

(from: BBC)

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