Archive for July, 2020

Another Quora Answer

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

I couldn’t resist answering this:

If you’re from a country that was colonized in the past, how do your people feel about the countries who once were rulers? How do the Vietnamese feel about French, Brazil about Portugal, etc.? 

In the land where I was born, sadly none of the original inhabitants appear to have survived colonization by the Britons. But when those Britons were colonized by the Romans, although some of them may have resented both the exploitation of their resources and the loss of their Druidic culture, others saw the banning of human sacrifice and cannibalism as having a bit of an upside – and some of them also came to appreciate all the roads and baths. Indeed, after the Romans left, they sought to maintain aspects of Roman culture (including eventually its new “Christian” religion) but unfortunately they were invaded again – many times.

Some came as colonists, others as pillagers, and others as outside rulers. For many years the land was ruled by Saxon kings, who were themselves from time to time subject to imperial control and/or taxation by the Danes. Eventually many of the people came to appreciate the relative peace and order of Saxon hegemony, but sadly (for some) this was not to last.

In 1066 the land was invaded again, this time by Normans via France, and the Saxon ruling class was largely terminated (often with extreme predjudice). The people now had to deal with rulers who spoke a foreign tongue – calling oxen “boeuf” and sheep “mouton”, but eventually they came to enjoy a bit of mutton pie even if they were not important enough to become Beefeaters. By all accounts, rule by the Normans was pretty harsh for many years, but eventually most people got over it and some even started to identify with the new aristocracy, which became diluted by interbreeding with locals (and also had its headship outsourced to Dutch and German families). Others however did not – and that is part of the problem with this question.

So how do “the” British people feel now about their Italian, Saxon, Scandinavian, French, Dutch and currently German rulers? Well, as I suspect is also true of all the other examples mentioned in the question, there are many answers. Some care, others don’t. A few even still mourn the loss of Druidic culture, and a lot more still resent the class-based system that descended from the cruel Norman aristocracy, but most just live in the present as they find it, and work for change to improve the future rather than to recapture the past. And most of the people who I choose to associate with think of themselves just as people rather than as part of a people.

Missing the Obvious?

Friday, July 24th, 2020

A recent Aeon Essay asks If language began in the hands, why did it ever leave? but do anthropologists really fixate on deciding which kind of communication came first while ignoring the obviously most likely alternative?

Surely the utility of vocalization for attracting attention and gesture for directing it have always been linked in the evolving communication strategies of every organism with the capacity for making sounds.

And when it comes to humans the pressure to advance both together has always been strong. Whining and begging are more effective together than either alone, and yelling “tiger” and pointing will save more lives than either a purely vocal or purely gestural approach. So it is not surprising that evolution has provided a deep link between the two modes. But it is as important to keep eyes ahead while running in a pack to chase down prey as it is to avoid texting while driving. So I am not surprised that strategic instructions such as “you go left while I go right” came to be delivered vocally rather than by hand signal. (And the article’s reference to silence during hunting is bizarre. Although an individual might have needed silence to surprise a frog or grouse, that type of hunting is usually solitary, and our group hunting style of chasing to exhaustion might well have been enhanced by making a lot of noise.)

Biden Boldly Bids For “Most Stupid” Title

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Seriously! Is this really a contest about which party can nominate the most fucking stupid idiot for the leadership of the most powerful military machine on the planet? Biden Claims Trump Is The First Racist President | HuffPost Canada .  Who the fuck could say something so fucking stupid after (presumably) having been exposed to some minimal level of education about the history of the USA? Fuck! (Did I say that already? Well in case you missed it Fuck! Fuck!! Fuck!!!)

“I Thought It Was a Hoax”

Monday, July 13th, 2020

No comment needed

Source: Man, 30, Dies After Attending a ‘Covid Party,’ Texas Hospital Says – The New York Times

Not Getting the Message

Friday, July 10th, 2020

Source: Navigating Race-Based Data: Intersections of Health through COVID-19 – SFU Public Square – Simon Fraser University

Haven’t these people got the message that race doesn’t exist? That it’s not a scientific topic and that there is no conceivable biological difference between populations that have been substantially separated for millennia and somehow happen to have easily identified distinct superficial features (which are really just culturally defined and definitely NOT of biological origin)?

What if? 

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Source: If nuclear power had taken off – What if nuclear power had taken off in the 1970s? | The World If | The Economist

Black Achilles

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

The reissue of this Aeon Essay prompted a couple of thoughts.

First the Greeks, like the Egyptians, were surrounded by peoples of both darker and lighter complexion. To the North they had the startlingly white Northern barbarians and to the South there were Ethiopians and other dark skinned people. Since there is no point in fetishising a characteristic that you don’t yourself extremize, there was no reason for the Greeks to value whiteness. So it’s not surprising that they didn’t. But to say that this shows they were blind to race is preposterous. The very article which is attempting to make that claim is full of references by the Greeks to visible and other characteristics of other (often “lower”) cultures (including the whiteness of the Slavs, from whose treatment by the Romans the relationship between their name and that of the “peculiar institution” is, of course, derived).