Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…
Thursday, April 25, 2002 ↓
Well, whatever weidness was preventing me posting to Blogger Pro seems to have sorted itself out again. Maybe tomorrow (er, no — it already is tomorrow) I’ll get a moment or two to write something…
Sunday, April 21, 2002 ↓
THE FIRST ACTION HERO
While coming back from Sweden on Friday, I read in the European print edition of the The Guardian of the death of Thor Heyerdahl (later I found an obituary). I first heard of Heyerdahl and his exploits from Mrs. Thomas, my old primary school teacher. A red-haired, blue-eyed Irishwoman, she was a teacher (and I tried to avoid the pun, but couldn’t come up with a better phrase — she’d be disappointed in me) of the old school, who believed in giving kids a solid grounding in the three Rs, as well as history and geography. She’d spin in her grave if she saw what happens in primary schools these days — with such scant attention to the basics, allied to “modern” teaching methods, it’s small wonder we have adult literacy and numeracy problems.
For all that, Mrs. Thomas wasn’t averse to telling us tales of adventure and strange lands. A widow for long before we ever became her pupils, she and her husband had been missionaries in Africa, and she was fond of telling us of fascinating and influential people she had met there (like Louis Leakey and his wife Mary) and of characters she admired in the continent’s history like The Great Aggrey (see a biography of Kwegyir Aggrey, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), and “White Ma” Mary Slessor, and of course, David Livingstone. Away from the Dark Continent, it was from Mrs. Thomas that we learned of Hilary and Tensing, Scott of the Antarctic, and Thor Heyerdahl.
I don’t know if Heyerdahl was the first of these “action heroes” she told us about, but he was always the first in my mind — perhaps because his exploits held a greater fascination for me than the others, and perhaps also because he continued to do extraordinary things well into my adult life. I remember Mrs. Thomas reading parts of Kon-Tiki to us, and I still picture clearly in my mind photographs of the craft, with the face on the sail. It’s not important whether he was right or wrong in his theories of the migration of early peoples; it’s much more important that he had the imagination, the will and the drive to show that it could be done in the way that he postulated. In that regard, he was a good exponent of scientific method: propose a hypothesis, and demonstrate that it is possible. And if someone else has an alternative hypothesis, then it is up to them to show both that it works and how it is better. Heyerdahl’s expeditions surely advanced the argument faster than would have been the case if he had simply sat on his backside and theorised.
Blogger Pro appears to be banjaxed. I've been trying to post some stuff for hours, but Blogger won't seem to accept a post of any more than about 170 words. I wonder if the system is knackered, or if it's just my blog? Funny, I never had any problems with it when it was free.
Older material is stashed away under Replays.