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Salvatore Ferragamo Athens Store July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Shopping.
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Italy-based fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo has opened its first boutique on the Greek market in capital city Athens.

The two-storey outlet sells men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, plus a range of fragrances.

The company already sells goods at six multi-brand stores in Athens and one in Thessaloniki through local retailer Lemonis.

Ferragamo, which is best known for its footwear and leather goods ranges, posted a turnover of €548.2 million in 2004.

Most Greek teens happy but suicide danger lingers July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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The majority of Greek teenagers are happy with their day-to-day lives and communicate well with their parents, however, more than one in 10 said that they have made an attempt at taking their own lives, according to a study made public recently.

The survey, conducted by the University Research Institute of Mental Health (EPIPSI), questioned 11- to 18-year-olds, and found that nine in 10 were satisfied with their lives. In contrast to this figure, 15.3 percent said that they have made a suicide attempt.

More than half of the 15-year-olds polled replied that they have felt unwell in the last few months, possibly due to psychosomatic reasons.

Greek teenagers also watch less television than their peers in other countries but spend more time on the phone with their friends, the study showed.

Greece links teen drinking to TV examples July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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Health officials in Greece suggest teenagers are drinking at heightened levels because of television shows saturated with scenes of imbibing.

The National School of Public Health reviewed 50 hours and 50 minutes of 11 locally produced television programs, and found scenes involving alcohol took up two hours and 31 minutes.

“Consequently, we will need to ask the support of mass media and those in charge of television and movies to minimize the scenes of consumption in television serials,” the researchers’ report said.

In a 2003 similar survey of 8,500 students between the ages of 14-17, the school found one in three Greek students drink regularly, while slightly more than 12 percent have been intoxicated at least three times.

Cyprus bra stunt puts focus on breast cancer July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Health & Fitness.
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The world’s longest chain of bras — stretching 111 kilometers — was completed on Cyprus last May to raise awareness of breast cancer and to encourage women to have regular checkups.

Cypriot, British and Dutch women worked together in the seaside town of Paphos to create the chain, formed by 114,782 bras. The previous record was held by Singapore, with 79,001 bras, reaching a length of 60 kilometers.

“There is a taboo on Cyprus concerning talking about breast cancer and we would rather women went for regular checkups than go to prayers,” said one of the organizers, Louise van Rooij.

Around 300 new cases of breast cancer are detected every year on Cyprus, which has a population of less than a million. More than 30,000 Cypriot pounds (52,220 euros) was raised during the drive to fight breast cancer.

Typhoid brought down Ancient Greeks July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Health & Fitness.
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Modern DNA analysis of ancient dental pulp suggests that typhoid fever caused the plague that helped to end the Golden Age in Athens, scientists say.

The DNA collected from teeth from an ancient Greek burial site is similar to a modern organism that causes typhoid fever, an infection spread by contaminated food or water.

“Studying the historical aspects of infectious disease can be a powerful tool for several disciplines to learn from,” says Dr Manolis Papagrigorakis of University of Athens, a co-author of the study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“We believe this report to be of outstanding importance for many scientific fields, since it sheds light on one of the most debated enigmas in medical history.”

Up to one-third of Athenians are thought to have died from the plague that spread to Greece from Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya in 430-426 BC.

Several diseases including smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax and measles have been suggested as the cause of the plague, one of whose most prominent victims was the Athenian Golden Age leader Pericles.

The plague is thought to have changed the balance of power between Athens and Sparta, ending Athenian dominance.

The scientists describe how they extracted DNA from a mass burial pit in a cemetery dating back to the time the plague struck Greece.

Papagrigorakis and his team say the DNA sequences resembled Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the organism that causes typhoid fever.

Books > Ancient Greece July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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ANCIENT GREECE
 
THE TOMB OF AGAMEMNON, by Cathy Gere. Harvard University Press, 202 pp., $19.95.

Archaeologist Cathy Gere’s wonderful little history/guidebook, “The Tomb of Agamemnon,” is about a lot of things. It’s about how each new era bends the past to its own needs. It’s about what’s gained – and lost – when scientists displace passionate amateurs. It’s about the human desire to impose narrative, false if need be, on the mute relics of history.

What Gere’s book isn’t about, strictly speaking, is the tomb of Agamemnon, because that doesn’t exist. Sure, there’s a tomb with that name – a 3,000-year-old cache of gold and bones at the Greek site of Mycenae, dug up by a 19th century “evangelical Homeric literalist.” But as Gere explains in her first chapter, it’s just not the tomb of the king who led the Greeks against Troy. The Trojan War happened at least 400 years after that grave was dug – and besides, who knows how much of Homer’s epic is even true?

Still, lots of historical icons are fictional – George Washington’s wooden teeth come to mind – and Gere spends a hundred or so lively, thought-provoking pages describing the “highly productive career” of this one. In the past century this little patch of willfully misinterpreted ground in the Peloponnese has served as, just for starters, evidence that the “Iliad” was fact, that European colonialism was justified, and that the Third Reich was an inevitability. Though hard to believe in an era when the film “Troy” bombed partly because nobody knew what Troy even was, politicians once routinely pointed to the Trojan War as the archetypal face-off between West and East. Agamemnon and his Greeks had won, ergo the West was superior, and all those difficult people from the East – many of them Jews and Muslims, now that you mention it – were destined for extinction.

Unlikely as it seems, this book is a real page-turner. And if you like it, you’re in luck. Gere’s book is the latest in an ongoing series on great monuments – Westminster Abbey, the Parthenon – published by Harvard University Press. Don’t leave home without them.

THE ORACLE: The Lost Secrets and Hidden Message of Ancient Delphi, by William J. Broad. The Penguin Press, 320 pp., $25.95

When a Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter tells you the legendary oracle of Delphi might have been psychic, it’s enough to make you sit up and take notice. And that’s what William J. Broad claims, more or less, in his new book about the seer whose visions helped shape Greek history for a thousand years. There are those, Broad announces early on, who think “the Oracle’s more spectacular predictions support the findings of psychic research.” Astounding if true – but thinking isn’t proving, so don’t get too excited. Broad delivers a few murky pronouncements about science and spirituality and extra-sensory perception but doesn’t come close to making his case.

Still, Broad’s a pro, so “The Oracle” is worth a read. It’s about two academics, a geologist and an archaeologist, who join forces to figure out how the Oracle – who wasn’t one person, but a long-lasting guild of women – maintained her long hold on the Greek imagination. The two study ancient texts and scramble all over Mount Parnassus, concluding that the Oracle’s chamber was situated over criss-crossing geological fault lines. From those cracks in the Earth came sweet- smelling, ethylene-containing, mind-altering fumes that, the researchers surmise, could cause a sort of delirium. Voila! The Oracle, unmasked.

Then, curiously, one of the researchers has second thoughts. The geologist confesses to loathing the way people now trivialize the Oracle by comparing her to a glue-sniffing teenager. He and his colleagues had unraveled a great mystery and replaced it with … what? Chemicals and human frailty? I guess it is a bit of a let-down, but a let-down on the order of finding out how a magician makes a tiger disappear. It’s hardly grounds for Broad to suggest that there’s some other undiscovered force out there, or to repeat the inane claim that science has left us in a world without wonder. It’s an odd end to what had been a celebration of human curiosity, ingenuity and the search for answers. Of science, in other words.

Books > The Greek Way of War July 26, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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A military historian looks back at an epic ancient conflict.
 
A WAR LIKE NO OTHER
How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War
By Victor Davis Hanson
Random House. 397 pp. $29.95

Inevitably, we see the Peloponnesian War through the eyes and truisms of one man. The narrative he left behind is replete with oracular insights that have supplied fodder for centuries of academic lectures: “The evils inflicted by the gods ought to be borne with patient resignation and the evils inflicted by enemies with manly fortitude.” “No state can possibly preserve itself free unless it be a match for neighboring powers.” “For so remarkably perverse is the nature of man that he despises whoever courts him and admires whoever will not bend before him.” Proverbial nuggets like these, at once both prescient and commonsensical, threaten to upstage all the carnage of that war.

These axioms, of course, come courtesy of Thucydides, the Athenian historian who (one would have thought) wrote the last word on the struggle. The Peloponnesian War — that chain of bloody campaigns between the Athenians and the Spartans that gripped mainland Greece and beyond between 431 and 404 B.C. and seemed to risk destroying for all time so much that we think of as uniquely Greek, such as philosophical dialogues, wine parties and democracy — bequeathed myriad benefits to students of history, not the least of which are those time-honored tips on both strategy and prudence. But time has sanitized the war for us. Only with effort do we see that this war arose not from the mist of Homeric legend but from the smoke of real battlefields where real men — and not a few women and children — were butchered with methods ever more malevolent and efficient. Massacre moved in those days from an art form to a science. If history ever gave us a war to end all wars, this should have been the one.

A War Like No Other can be read as an elaborate excursus on the work of Thucydides, performed by Victor Davis Hanson, a former professor of classics who has made himself one of our premier military historians. Hanson might fairly be accused of overproduction — still in his prime, he has authored or co-authored 15 other books — but this study demonstrates the care of an avid, meticulous scholar whose learning can be worn lightly because it’s so assured. He has also become a formidable journalist in recent years, which has prompted him to produce prose that is starkly appealing, direct and accessible to the common, curious reader.

Hanson chronicles the “thousands of ordinary Greeks who were slaughtered for nearly three decades for the designs of fickle men, shifting alliances, and contradictory causes,” and he explores the methods used to conduct the war over time, which makes the book not only a rapid read but also a handy reference for browsing. Hanson is at his best when wielding details (the widths of various pieces of armor, for instance). He economically traces the roots of enmity between Athens and Sparta reaching back at least 50 years before hostilities commenced in the days of Pericles, the legendary Athenian leader. We discover how land forces complemented or competed with trireme ships, how hoplites (heavily armored infantrymen) were used and ill-used, how craftily built walls led to the siege war that helped to draw out the conflict for almost 30 years. He is especially sound on the role of raw terror in war — the festering fear of noncombatants as well as the heart-stopping fright experienced by those on the battlefront. He examines the Great Plague of 430 and shows how its debilitating effects cropped up in the literature of subsequent times. In other words, he gives us the context that Thucydides could not.

By the time we get to the shank end of the war, with the Athenian debacle on Sicily between 415 and 413 — painful reading, whether in Thucydides or Hanson — we have trudged a long way in the footsteps of cruel, unforgiving armies and their leaders, men like Alcibiades, Nicias, Gylippus, Cleon and Lysander. In the end, Hanson’s is not a rosy view of the glory that was Greece; instead, he has produced a searing look at “the creative talent for killing” that marked the Greeks at their bravest and most heartless. After wading through the swamp of such devastation, one yearns for a sip of wine and a spot of Plato to redeem these people.

Hanson performs the difficult feat of not talking down to readers while still presuming no prior knowledge of the war. Although an understanding of Greek history of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. will certainly quicken one’s pace, Hanson provides helpful appendices for the uninitiated or the rusty, identifying key terms, places and characters. His copious notes, written to inform and not to impress, will also fill in many gaps.

Hanson steadfastly aligns himself with generations of historians who believe that, while no two events are exactly alike, the past nevertheless has lessons to teach. Parallels with later wars come trippingly off his pen, though never without support. Outside of his book-lined study, Hanson does believe in what he sees as righteous causes, including the current war in Iraq. But there’s nothing of the brass band about him. Where fighting and killing are at issue, no one is more unsparingly, unromantically frank. Once all the history and historiography have been set aside, we’re left with the sobering words — and one more axiom — of the great philosopher Heraclitus: “War is the father of us all”.