The Amazons, a legendary tribe of fierce women warriors may or may not have existed outside of myths and legends as their history is rather murky and open to speculation. However, they are figures of notoriety and fame thanks to their all-female society and lust for battle, unusual for the times. The Amazons were first mentioned in the Illiad (8th Century BC) and by a few credible Greek historians like Herodotus of Halicarnassus who lived in the 4th Century BC and Strabo, 1st Century AD. Apparently, there were 3 Amazon tribes living in the area of the Thermodon River -in present day northern Turkey- who waged many wars against their enemies the ancient Greeks and fought many battles with neighbouring tribes. Ancient myths say they were the daughters of Ares, the Greek god of war and Harmonia, a wood nymph. A number of their queens were famous, like Penthesilea who fought in the battle of Troy and her sister Hippolyta, she of the famous golden girdle, one of the 12 labours of Hercules. Their society was all female. Males were excluded unless they were slaves. In order to further the existence of their tribe, they procreated thanks to neighbouring male tribes in an annual mating ritual and birthed, kept and raised only female children. Other than that they had no good use for the males of the species. The female children born after their planned mating were kept and raised as warriors. The male offspring were killed, kept as slaves or given to their fathers.
It’s hard to speculate why that gender hatred was so strong and ancient texts are a bit ambivalent about the subject. But if you consider them early feminists, the reason may be obvious.
Non-binary, transgender, or transcis? This brings up the question whether Amazon women, if they are still around, would consider themselves as non-binary, transgender, or transcis. Ancient literature and chronicles refer to them as the ‘shes’ of the species, even though they exhibited decidedly male, dominant and downright cruel behaviour. Their anatomy was positively female, even though they were in the habit of removing their right breast when young to make it easier to throw spears or launch arrows when in battle. They obviously had not heard of the recent preference in our modern times to adopt gender-neutral pronouns and the non-binary referral to ‘they’ and ‘them’ instead of ‘she’. This recent trend started in the USA, where people put great stock in being PC when moving in society. For fear of offending the non-binaries out there, the gender-neutral terminology is making an up march and even the US Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue. The non-binaries, by the way, are people who do not identify with either a male or female gender. Oregon was the first state to adopt a 3rd gender ‘X’ -meaning unspecified- on official documents like ID cards and driver licences. Other states are following. The California State Senate voted to ban gender-specific pronouns altogether. Even the airlines are following suit. When you book a ticket with a US airline like Delta or United you now have up to 4 tick boxes to indicate your preference: M, F, U (undisclosed) or X (unspecified). It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world either takes notice, adopts the trend, or blithely ignores the newfangled convention. But I shudder to think this PC-obsessed gender thing will find its way into novels and non-fiction. How will we distinguish between characters and make sense of dialogues when they are all referred to as ‘they’?
Leaving the realm of the confused sexes and moving on to more concrete topics: have you spotted the frequent overflights of the international space station yet? Here in Bali, on a cloudless night, it’s easy to see this manned space station moving on its trajectory over the island. You just need to know when and where to look. The space station is an internationally manned laboratory with a crew of 6 astronauts conducting science and technology experiments and living and working aboard for 6 months at a time. NASA publishes a tracker map and has a helpful app to help you catch sight of that spatial wonder. It’s called Spotthestation (just Google it) and you can sign up for email notifications when the station will be moving over Bali or any other location on this planet for that matter. The email will specify the dates and times and directional sweep of the station at your specific location. It will be easy to view the station as it is the brightest object in the night sky. Even with Bali’s busy air space and commercial planes flying over head, the space station will be very distinct as it looks much bigger than a plane, even though it is more than 200 miles or 322 km away, is brighter, and flies much faster. The next sighting over Bali will be on March 13 at 7.53 pm, visible for 1 minute at 22°and moving SSW to S. Longer sightings will be on 14 March for 4 minutes at 7.03 pm going S to E and 6 minutes on 16 March at 6.56 pm going from SSW to NE.
Have you synched your calendar with the solar system? Talking about space and other astronomical interesting tidbits like meteor showers, eclipses, supermoons, solstices and equinoxes, did you know you can actually get your computer or smartphone calendar to show you automatically when these note-worthy events are happening? If you are forever missing spectacular meteor showers like the upcoming Eta Aquarids in the southern hemisphere or want to plan ahead for the next total eclipse or your druid dance at the next summer solstice, you will get plenty of notice thanks to an ingenious sync app courtesy of the New York Times which you can sign up for. The app can be used with both Android and IOS calendars. You can subscribe with your Google or Outlook account. It basically adds all sorts of noteworthy astronomical events and happenings to your calendar with a good, succinct description. You will know about scheduled rocket and spacecraft launches worldwide, when Mercury is next slated to transit across the sun, when earth is at aphelion (i.e. farthest from the sun) and other exciting stuff. The calendar will also list anniversaries of significant space events like the first landing on the moon.
Now you can wonder if the Amazons looked upon a bright Pleiades meteor shower as an important portent or a call to arms.
By Ines Wynn
Copyright © 2019 Bali Advertiser
You can read all past articles of
BA Feature Article at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz