Saturday 15 November 2008


“In every parting there is an image of death.” - George Eliot

For Song Saturday today, a beautiful Greek song from one of the most popular female singers in Greece currently, Peggy Zina. I have translated the lyrics for you.

If you were to come back

And suddenly all became dark in front of me,
And suddenly, I met up with loneliness.
My eyes became filled with pain,
Because you’re not with me any more.
I know what went wrong,
And I am not angry with you,
You know what went wrong too.

And if you are far from me now,
I can still love you,
To worry about you, to wait for
A sign from you to see.
If you were to come back,
You’d see how much I have missed you –
If you were to come back,
You’d see how I love you more than anybody else.

And hurriedly, you left and went away for ever
And hurriedly, you hide yourself in someone else’s embrace.
And I don’t care where you are,
As long as I know that you are happy and well.
And if they ask me how I feel about you,
I’ll have much to say…

And if you are far from me now,
I can still love you,
To worry about you, to wait for
A sign from you to see.
If you were to come back,
You’d see how much I have missed you –
If you were to come back,
You’d see how I love you more than anybody else…

If you were to come back,
You’d see how much I have missed you –
If you were to come back,
You’d see how I love you more than anybody else…

Να ‘Ρθεις

Και ξαφνικά όλα σκοτείνιασαν μπροστά μου
Και ξαφνικά συνάντησα τη μοναξιά
Κι είναι γεμάτα τα μάτια μου πόνο
Γιατί δε σ’ έχω πια.
Ξέρω τι φταίει, και δε σου θυμώνω,
Ξέρεις κι εσύ καλά.

Κι αν είσαι τώρα μακρυά μου,
Εγώ μπορώ να σ’ αγαπώ,
Ν’ ανησυχώ, να περιμένω
Ένα σημάδι σου να δω.
Να ‘ρθεις, να ‘ρθεις –
Πόσο μου έλειψες να δεις,
Να ‘ρθεις, να ‘ρθεις –
Που σ’ αγαπώ όσο κανείς…

Και βιαστικά φεύγεις και χάνεσαι για πάντα
Και βιαστικά πηγαίνεις σ’ άλλη αγκαλιά
Και δε με νοιάζει καθόλου που θα ‘σαι
Φτάνει να ‘σαι καλά.
Κι αν με ρωτήσουν για σένα πως νοιώθω
Θα ‘χω να πω πολλά.

Κι αν είσαι τώρα μακρυά μου,
Εγώ μπορώ να σ’ αγαπώ,
Ν’ ανησυχώ, να περιμένω
Ένα σημάδι σου να δω.
Να ‘ρθεις, να ‘ρθεις –
Πόσο μου έλειψες να δεις,
Να ‘ρθεις, να ‘ρθεις –
Που σ’ αγαπώ όσο κανείς…

Να ‘ρθεις, να ‘ρθεις –
Πόσο μου έλειψες να δεις,
Να ‘ρθεις, να ‘ρθεις –
Που σ’ αγαπώ όσο κανείς…

If you liked this song, here is another of this singer, called “With you”:

Friday 14 November 2008


“He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors.” - Chinese Proverb

November the 14th has been designated as World Diabetes Day (WDD) and has become the day for highlighting a global awareness campaign of people suffering from diabetes, and their families. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991 introduced the concept of a world day to raise awareness for diabetes in response to the sharp rise in diabetes incidence around the world. The United Nations marked the observation of the Day for the first time in 2007 with the passage of the United Nations World Diabetes Day Resolution in December 2006, which made the existing World Diabetes Day an official United Nations World Health Day.

World Diabetes Day is a campaign that features a new theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation each year to address issues facing the global diabetes community. While the themed campaigns last the whole year, the day itself is celebrated on November 14, to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea, which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.

In 2007 and 2008, the theme of World Diabetes Day is Diabetes in Children and Adolescents. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Type 1 diabetes is growing by 3% per year in children and adolescents, and at an alarming 5% per year among pre-school children. It is estimated that 70,000 children under 15 develop type 1 diabetes each year (almost 200 children a day). Currently, an estimated 440,000 children live with type 1 diabetes globally. Type 2 diabetes was once seen as a disease of adults but today, it is growing at alarming rates in children and adolescents.

The International Diabetes Federation's two-year focus on children through the World Diabetes Day campaign, aims to increase awareness among parents and caregivers, teachers, healthcare professionals, politicians and the public. World Diabetes Day is celebrated worldwide by the over 200 member associations of the International Diabetes Federation in more than 160 countries, all Member States of the United Nations, as well as by other associations and organizations, companies, healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes and their families.

The World Diabetes Day logo is the blue circle (being the global symbol for diabetes which was developed as part of the Unite for Diabetes awareness campaign). The logo was adopted in 2007 to mark the passage of
 the United Nations World Diabetes Day Resolution. The significance of
 the blue circle symbol is overwhelmingly positive. Across cultures, the circle symbolizes life and health. The colour blue reflects the sky that unites all nations and is the colour of the United Nations flag. The blue circle signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes pandemic.

In terms of diet and diabetes, there is a common misconception out there that eating too much sugar or too many sweet foods habitually will give you diabetes. This is not true. The connection between diet and diabetes is that certain types of diabetes that people are predisposed to genetically, will be manifested when the person becomes overweight. Overweight people who have a poor diet (including much processed food and simple carbohydrates like sugar) often present with diabetes (especially type 2). Of particular concern are overweight children who are increasingly being diagnosed with this type of diabetes. However, if your genes do not predispose you to diabetes and if you are of normal weight, even if you live on sugar alone you will not get the disease.

A good way to prevent many types of diabetes is to maintain your weight within normal range, eat sensibly, have a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Even people who are genetically predisposed to diabetes can stave off the disease if they modify their lifestyle sufficiently.

Thursday 13 November 2008


“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror…” - Orson Welles

I am in Brisbane again for work. The flight was rather bumpy as we encountered a great deal of turbulence, and we landed with quite a thump, which elicited quite a few gasps from my fellow travellers. This was to be expected with our Spring weather - cloudy skies, winds and changeable outlook over the next few days. The traffic into the City from the airport was horrendous, driving home the point that Brisbane infrastructure is not coping well with increasing population and increasing tourism. The day has been a bit of whirlwind, with much activity and lots of things getting done. Another busy day here tomorrow with a special workshop/seminar to attend.

My word for the day is “aerophobia”:

Aerophobia |e(ə)ˈro-ˈfōbēə|noun
Fear of flying; this is a fear of being on a plane while in flight. It is also sometimes referred to as aviatophobia, aviophobia or pteromechanophobia. Related to it is the term aeronausiphobia, the fear of vomiting secondary to flying.

Each year, fear of flying causes millions of people needless distress. One in eight people deliberately avoids commercial air travel, and for some the feelings are so intense it is a phobia. More than a healthy concern about airline safety, fear of flying is a significant problem that can cause panic attacks even when a person contemplates the possibility of being in an airplane. Symptoms often include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, feeling of dread. Though anti-nausea drugs are often prescribed for people suffering from this phobia, they do not always help and side effects can occur.

On the other hand, ornithophobia relates to an irrational fear of birds and herpetophobia is an irrational fear of reptiles… Now think of the situation of an aerophobic/herpetophobic on a plane watching the on-flight movie “Snakes on a Plane”!

Wednesday 12 November 2008


“Ah me! Love can not be cured by herbs.” – Ovid

I found an old letter amongst some papers I was clearing out in my office today and I was slightly taken aback because amongst the detritus of work correspondence, old meeting agendas and yellowed timetables there was a billet-doux. Sweet nothings scribbled on a piece of lavender paper, a pet name, an envelope sealed with a kiss… That old flutter of the heart has long disappeared, but its memory lives on and it was enough for that little slip of lavender paper to bring old emotions to the fore, like dance steps that one automatically remembers, once the old tune begins to play.

One of the wonderful joys of love as it awakens within our heart is the bittersweet insecurity it breeds deep within us. “She loves me, loves me not…”, “Shall I speak or remain silent?”, “Is this true love or a simple infatuation?”. The joy of love is only one side of the coin, the misery of love is the other side of the coin. When we love we toss the coin up and await breathlessly for it to fall, hoping against hope that we win the toss…

Love Kills

I stand before you and will only say:
My love can thrill
My love can kill;
You choose, and tell me what will play.

You love me back and you shall see
My love will grow.
My love will throw
Back towards you, love thrice three.

As long as you will find the proper way,
My love will flourish
My love will nourish.
Or else, all will be death, an end, decay.

But even if all is as it should be, Love,
My love corrupts,
My love disrupts,
It brings all which lies below, above.

Beware, don’t tempt me, love me true;
My love can lie
My love can die,
You are the one who will decide my cue.

I stand before you and you’ll agree:
My love can thrill
My love can kill;
You choose, and tell me what will be.

Tuesday 11 November 2008


“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.” - John F. Kennedy

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month represents a very important moment on what is commemorated as Remembrance Day in many countries around the world. Thousands of people attended a service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra today, and in Australia in nearly all cities and towns, ceremonies were held, 90 years after the end of World War I. The guns fell silent on the Western Front on November 11, 1918, but not before ten million soldiers lost their lives in the Great War, with 60,000 of them being Australians.

The sacrifice of fallen soldiers is on the minds of all Australians today, as we commemorate this anniversary. The tradition of Remembrance Day began soon after World War I, what is still known as the “Great War”. It really affected everybody, and it certainly affected every family in Australia at that time. Crowds at today's ceremony were invited to lay poppies on the tomb of the unknown soldier in Canberra, while everywhere artificial poppies were on sale to raise money for the veteran community. Poppies are significant for Remembrance Day because they were the first flowers to bloom on the Western Front at the end of the First World War after all the fighting had finished.

Claude Choules, a107-year-old veteran of both World Wars has used Remembrance Day to call for Australian troops to be brought home. He enlisted in the British Royal Navy when he was 14-years-old and was present at the scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow at the end of World War I. He moved to Western Australia in 1926, and served with the Royal Australian Navy during World War II. Mr Choules says he would like to see an end to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: "I don't want to see any more wars. Seeing war is not exciting, like it used to be.” As they say, old age brings wisdom…

Here is a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, a World War I soldier and poet:

Suicide in the Trenches (1918)

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

Monday 10 November 2008


“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” - Arthur Miller

What is the price of a life? If you are walking down a dark, deserted alley in a part of town that is noted for its illegal activities, your life may not be worth much at all – just the loose change in your pocket. Similarly, if you are a soldier on a battlefield, or the hostage of a terrorist, your life is worth as much as the toss of a coin – heads you win, tails you lose, as chance would have it. If, however, you are living peacefully in a developed country, if you are a law-abiding citizen, your life begins to gain value. The higher up the social scale you climb, the greater the price on your life. You only have to look at the bodyguards surrounding the rich and famous, protecting one individual’s life with their own to understand what I mean.

But think of a person you love. How much is the life of your son, your daughter, your spouse worth? What value do you put on that life? To what lengths would you go to preserve that life, to what lengths would go to defend it, to what lengths to avenge its wrongful discontinuation? Maybe it all boils down to whether you are giver or a taker by nature… The film we watched last weekend is superficially a thriller, a comedy, a heist caper. But more deeply it examines the questions I’ve just asked. It is the Michael Radford’s 2007 “Flawless”. It stars Demi Moore and Michael Caine, both of whom do a sterling job of their roles.

The story is set in swinging 1960s London, which nevertheless is very conservative and where the business world is very much a man’s domain. Demi Moore is Laura Quinn, an intelligent and beautiful executive at the London Diamond Corporation. She finds herself frustrated by a glass ceiling after years of faithful employment, and all sorts of sacrifices including her choice of career over relationship and family. Man after man is promoted ahead of her despite her greater experience and ability. Michael Caine is Hobbs, the night-time cleaner at London Diamond who is all but invisible to the executives that work there. Hobbs has over the long time of his employment amassed a great deal of knowledge about the company. His astute eye catches Laura’s frustration and he convinces her to help him steal a thermos flask full of diamonds, which will be enough to set both of them up more than comfortably for the rest of their lives.

The film has a good atmosphere, one that almost convinces you that it was actually made in the 1960s. The soundtrack was very mush an element in this, with “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck quartet being just perfect foil for the slick imagery. Ms Moore has an astonishing wardrobe that sets off her rather lissome figure and Michael Caine shows in his maturity a worthy restraint in what is a very underplayed but significant role. The production is excellent and the film hangs together very well. It can be watched superficially as a typical heist movie, however, the message is much strong with several well developed sub-themes: Equality of the sexes, greed, power, the value of life, money and the value we place on it, corruption, generosity, social stratification, belief in a worthy cause, are all elements of this film and one can view it as deeply or as shallowly as one wishes. We enjoyed it quite a lot and despite its “message” or “moral”, deeply it can be enjoyed as a bit of an escapist flick, as well.

Enjoy your week!

Sunday 9 November 2008


“Fate laughs at probabilities.” - E.G. Bulwer-Lytton

A painting by the 19th century French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme. It is an example of the popular “orientalist” movement popular at the time, where things exotically Eastern were depicted with enthusiasm. This school was particularly popular in France amongst the circles of the Academy painters (the one abhorred by the impressionists), which produced highly polished works the subject matter of which often allowed depictions of nudes, and which were therefore quite saleable.

This painting is an interesting as it depicts Napoleon during his Egyptian campaign, gazing at the Sphinx of Giza. It is titled “Oedipus” and is a reference to the Greek myth. Oedipus was the one who was separated from his royal parents as a baby after an oracle foretold of tragedy and death which would be caused by him. Instead of being killed, Oedipus was taken into the forest, abandoned there an found and raised by shepherds. When he grew up he went back ot Thebes, on the road meeting the Sphinx, which asked him her famous riddle, which had been the undoing of many before him:

“What is that goes with four legs in the morning, Two legs at noon and Three legs in the evening?”

Oedipus successfully solved the riddle and destroyed the Sphinx. Unfortunately he went to unknowingly kill his father and marry his mother, fulfilling the prophecy.

Gérôme makes a poignant statement about Napoleon in this painting, hinting at the conquest of Egypt, Napoleon’s rise to power and his subsequent downfall and ignominious end, just like a new Oedipus.