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The Oracle of Delphi high enough October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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Something in the ancient Greek temple of Delphi made its priestess high enough to believe she could predict the future. Scientists just can’t agree on what.

In the temple, the resident female oracle, called a Pythia, was a role filled by a succession of women over the years, usually priestesses of high birth who lived a solitary life in the temple.

A simple cocktail of carbon dioxide mixed with methane could have induced the psychic trances that the Pythia used to channel the gods and dish out their advice, according to the latest, Italian-led study.

“It is possible that the toxicity problems were due just to a deficit of oxygen in the Temple room, where air ventilation was weak and the gas release from the soil was strong,” said study leader Giuseppe Etiope of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome. Etiope’s research refutes the widely-reported 2001 findings of geologist Jelle Z. de Boer, who blamed ethylene escaping from an intersection of faults beneath the temple as the gaseous culprit.

The Oracle of Delphi was considered one of the most sacred sites in all of ancient Greece from about 1400 BC to 400 AD. It is located 112 miles from Athens. People from all walks of life made pilgrimages there to seek advice from the God Apollo, which was relayed to them by the half-baked Pythia. Her often cryptic ramblings were highly regarded and affected everything from the outcome of wars to when farmers planted their crops.

The Pythia entered her trance by inhaling sweet-smelling noxious fumes coming from deep fissures underneath the temple, according to the ancient historian Plutarch.

A lack of evidence led modern archaeologists to dismiss Plutarch’s observations until traces of ethylene were found in the temple’s stone walls by de Boer, a geologist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Ethylene stimulates the central nervous system, causing hallucinations, and emits a sweet odor.

Etiope’s new findings, published in a recent edition of the journal Geology, challenge the popular ethylene theory. “We excluded ethylene as a candidate because it is impossible to have in nature ethylene concentrations so high to induce odour and neurotoxic effects,” Etiope told LiveScience. “This environment is prone to methane formation…the only plausible explanation is that in the past there was a bigger methane emission (with a small amount of carbon dioxide),” he said. Methane was found in spring waters around the site by Etiope and his team.

If the Pythia were drugged by a combination of carbon dioxide and methane, that still does not explain the sweet smell Plutarch described, countered de Boer. “Oxygen deprivation would not cause a sweet smell, but a nasty odor of the Pythia’s stomach contents on the floor,” de Boer said.

Though it has yet to be confirmed by tests, Etiope believes that the sweet odor could have come from traces of benzene, another toxic hydrocarbon found in the area. It’s an unlikely hypothesis, said de Boer. “Benzene is a dangerous substance and after a number of sessions the Pythias would have become sick and possibly died,” de Boer said. “Frequent deaths of Pythias have not been reported by any of the classical writers. On the contrary, they seem to have lived a long and healthy life.”


UQ academic morphs into character for Greek tale October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Oceania.
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A UQ lecturer will examine modern psychology through ancient mythology in a performance showing at Metro Arts from November 8.

Metamorphoses comprises four selections from Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes. The play will run from November 8 – 28 at the Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts, Edward St, Brisbane city. Performed by the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble, Metamorphoses is a production involving a number of UQ graduates, including director Leah Mercer.

UQ lecturer in Linguistics and Drama and Artistic Director of the ensemble, Dr Rob Pensalfini, is both an actor and voice coach for the production.

“The performance is a stage adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, archetypal Greek tales. The production uses Ted Hughes’ treatment of Metamorphoses to fuse text-driven training with physical theatre approaches,” Dr Pensalfini said.  “In all of the stories, in some way or another, someone transforms, they turn into a different shape.

“I think the idea behind the transformation or the metamorphoses in the classical texts is that it shows us the power passion has to transform us in our lives. It shows that when passion achieves a level that is mythic, it’s huge, and it initiates a physical transformation in a person. “It’s a metaphorical expression of the things we experience in our own lives. It is an exploration of society today. It addresses what we may refer to as people’s shadows.”

Dr Pensalfini said fairytales had appealed to children through the centuries because they always had a deeper meaning. He said the stories in Metamorphoses explored similar deeper meanings about life. It is the appeal of myths over generations.

The UQ-based Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble was created in 2001 with an aim to engage the Queensland community in accessible theatre. The ensemble’s core belief is that performance is most potent when actors train together, exchanging skills, experience and a sense of community.

The group has built its reputation on transforming complex texts into exciting and easily accessible performances, and was heavily involved in the World Shakespeare Congress earlier this year.

For bookings to Metamorphoses, phone 3002 7100 or visit: www.metroarts.com.au.

Related Links > http://www.qldshakespeare.org

Mythology takes the spotlight October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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College play brings ancient Greek characters to life

Greek mythology will come to the stage when Northern Essex Community College’s Top Notch Players present the off-Broadway musical comedy “Olympus on my Mind”.

Performances are November 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. and November 12 at 3 p.m. in the Top Notch Theater on the third floor of the Spurk Building.

The play is directed by NECC professor Jim Murphy, with musical direction by professor Alisa Bucchiere and set and lighting design by professor Susan Sanders.

The play, which is based on several versions of the Amphitryon myth, follows Jupiter  who is bored, yet feeling amorous. He spies a beautiful mortal, Alcmene, the wife of General Amphitryon who has been away fighting the Spartans. Jupiter, with some help from his son Mercury, disguises himself as Amphitryon and has romantic involvement with Alcmene. The following day, Amphitryon returns, singing of what a wonderful welcome he is expecting from his wife. When she does see him, the confusion begins.

The cast includes: Eric Barnes Salvi, Emily Kate Salvi and Dan Potter, all of Haverhill; Rachel McBride of Amesbury; Stephanie McKenney of Lawrence; Jamie Danahy of Newburyport; Joey O’Donnell of Derry; Mark Zick of Groveland and Danny Nickerson of Methuen.

Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for students and senior citizens and will be available at the door or online at www.mvarts.info.

ERT preserves historic archives October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Technology.
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Greece’s public broadcaster ERT (Hellenic Radio and Television) is installing an Omneon Spectrum media server system alongside a new Dalet media asset management (MAM) system for ingest, playout, and online storage.

The new Omneon server system, supplied by Pierides TechnoSystems Ltd., will allow ERT S.A. to digitize and manage all of its historically significant video content, currently stored in a variety of formats including legacy analog formats.

“In building a system for our valued historical archives, we selected the Omneon Spectrum system because of its open platform and distributed architecture, which make the system easy to integrate with other systems and easy to grow as our storage needs increase,” said Andreas Loukakis and Yiannis Vougiouklakis, technical and IT administrators, respectively, for the ERT Historical Archive project. “The Spectrum system integrated well with our preferred MAM solution and gives us the scalability we’ll need as we add to our video archives.”

Today, ERT owns a substantial film archive from the first decade of public television, which includes more than 40,000 hours of material on 35mm film and 210,000 hours on 16mm film, along with Greek and international news bulletins, as well as documentaries from that era. The new archive system will incorporate material preserved on 1- and 2-inch open-reel tape, U-matic videocassettes, 16mm and 35mm film, and also newer formats like Betacam SP and DVCPRO.

An Omneon Spectrum media server system has been installed at ERT along with a new DaletPlus MAM system to support archiving of video content. As soon as material is recorded onto the Omneon Spectrum media server, ERT staff can use the DaletPlus interface to view proxies of the content and log and track clips without modifying the original media. Because media stored on the Omneon Spectrum media server system is shared and available directly to the DaletPlus system, ERT is able to achieve greater flexibility, efficiency, and creativity in storing and repurposing its video archives.

Tight integration of the two systems also simplifies playout of video with high reliability and robust functionality.

Related Links > http://www.ert.gr and http://www.omneon.com

‘We Want Apple Greece’ petition October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web.
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The folks behind the WeWantAppleGreece campaign and web site, say their online petition now has 607 signatures.

“The signatures are from Greek Mac users and friends all over the world,” Dimitris Karakatsanis, “We want Apple Greece” team coordinator, said. “It is amazing that all of them agree that there is indeed an unacceptable situation in our country regards Apple products, service and support.”

“We Want Apple Greece” has been launched by Greek Mac users to increase the availability of Apple products and service in the country. The amount of Apple products sold in the Greek market grows daily, but there’s the impression that the service and the support provided by several independent small companies in Greece doesn’t follow the standards of the rest of the Apple companies worldwide follow, according to the site organizers.

“The WeWantAppleGreece.com has been created by Greek Macintosh users as an ultimate attempt to stimulate the interest of those who are responsible for the comic situation in our country,” Karakatsanis says. “At the site, we try to describe this situation in an easy-going though sarcastic manner, hoping that things might change, and Apple will take the decisive step to create in our country the much desired Apple Greece or, even better, Apple Hellas! A company that will comply with the rules and standards that each Apple company worldwide complies with.”

He says that those behind the site don’t consider themselves special nor are they asking for special treatment. “What unites us is the fact that we are all users of the Apple products and we wish to enjoy the same support service that Apple provides the rest of the European people,” Karakatsanis says. “We are Greeks, citizens of the EU, and, no matter if we reside in Greece or outside of the Greek borders, we demand to be treated equally regarding the purchase and the after sales service of our favorite computers, peripherals and gadgets.”

Related Links > http://wewantapplegreece.com


Stooping lower to reach higher October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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Struggling music industry protects images of acts by lowering sales required for gold and platinum status

With local music sales falling to unprecedented levels, the industry is seeking new ways to sell. The Internet and mobile telephony are its main tools.

This is not the first time the Greek music industry has fallen on hard times. But never before have sales figures dropped to such shameful levels. The annual rate of domestic CD releases is continuing at its customary pace of between 1,100 and 1,200 annually. New technologies are providing new sales channels for the music industry, the Internet and mobile telephony being the dominant domains. As these new sales outlets continue to expand, the local music industry is also keeping busy manufacturing ways to optimize the images of artists. The basic tool at work here is the manipulation of sales figures certifying gold and platinum status for albums.

Until last year, albums were certified as gold by the industry when sales figures struck 20,000 units. Just days ago, this required sales level, unattainable for most, and which had been revised downward late in 2001, was lowered again to 15,000.

Critics of this downward shift argue that the achievement of earning a gold record is being lost. But, then again, the gold and platinum award system has always been about promotion, or a reminder by the record companies of what is on offer.

In 1997, acquiring gold status required a sales figure of 25,000 copies. Further back, in 1991, the figure used to be 30,000 and, until October, 1990, going gold meant striking sales figures of 50,000 units. The system has followed a similar downward trend for singles releases too. At present, a single is certified as gold if it sells 7,500 copies, down from 10,000 until recently.

This ongoing manipulation of sales figures to ultimately maximize promotion is not the only development being witnessed in the local music industry over the past year. A considerable number of 10-inch vinyl releases have also emerged. Their arrival, a nostalgic-minded move mostly for the rereleases of Greek golden oldies, has reignited some interest in the vinyl format, but only to a marginal degree.

The past year has also seen the emergence of an increased number of independent record companies. A certain number of these were established so that their owners could freely hand out CDs without any form of corporate hindrance.

“It’s simple to set up a home studio and record a CD that sounds professional for about 2 euros per unit. Then, by forming your own company, you just hand out the CD and promote yourself,” said Petros Dragoumanos, a mathematician turned music industry statistician and analyst who, for years, has put out incredibly comprehensive industry guides. Dragoumanos’s latest edition, on the DVD format, includes detailed discographies, domestic releases from 1950 to the present year, and commentary on industry change. Titled “Greek Discography: 1950-2006” the guide documents 27,703 Greek LPs, CDs and singles, and includes information on 10,832 acts, 16,539 songs, details on collaborations, as well as trivia about long-forgotten hits, even numbers that remained obscure.

The current situation of cheap handout CDs for self-promotional purposes echoes the tactics employed by emerging artists a couple of decades ago, who used the audio cassette. The difference between then and now, though, is that in the cassette era, aspiring acts offered their work, usually in demo form, to record companies with the hope of striking a deal. These days, the homemade CDs are reaching radio stations. If major stations don’t go for the musical bait, the country’s numerous provincial stations seem to think otherwise.

Youngsters have turned to the Internet for self-promotion by including their work on websites that offer free music. The artists don’t receive any royalties here. Whatever the means, the objective is success.

The music industry is reacting to all these do-it-yourself marketing maneuvers in a variety of ways. For instance, they are releasing CDs sold with accompanying publications, such as biographies and guides. New sub-labels commemorating important artists and movements are surfacing. Also, another common music industry response is to release CDs accompanied by a DVD featuring related content, such as artist interviews, rehearsals and concert footage, all for the price of one CD. Low-priced compilation CDs, selling at about 7 euros, is another of the reactions by the music industry to the market’s depleted sales figures.

For further information on Petros Dragoumanos’s “Greek Discography: 1950-2006” e-mail madakos@hol.gr or call 6932 850519.

Greece included in Aer Lingus route expansion October 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in News Flights.
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Irish airline Aer Lingus is to expand its European route network with new flights to Madrid, Prague, Milan and Athens next year.

From March, the carrier will fly from Cork to Manchester. During the course of summer 2007, new routes will begin from Cork to Madrid and Prague, Dublin to Newcastle and Milan-Malpensa, and Dublin to Athens. The Athens route will be the airline’s first foray into the Greek market.

As well as these new services, the frequency of many flights will be increased. Dublin to Budapest, Geneva, Lisbon, Prague, Venice and Zurich services will operate daily and links to Barcelona, Madrid, Faro and other destinations will also be augmented.

“The increases announced today respond to customer demand for our services and we look forward to continuing the expansion of our short-haul network from Ireland,” said Aer Lingus’ chief executive, Dermot Mannion.

Related Links > http://www.flyaerlingus.com