Ok, ok…

18 Feb

I will provide readers with an explanation for that previous post: “Christouli mou, are we still talking about this stuff?”  (translation: “Sweet Jesus…) because some readers complained that it wasn’t cool of me to insert a few intriguing remarks in a Greek text and then leave non-Greeks in the dark.

But first, let me finish reading the thrilling prequel to John V.A. Fine, Jr.’s The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, which came up in this previous post: Albanians in Greece and the “documentary that shocked Greece” from SKAI,”          


which is his The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the late Twelfth Century, because it deals with the period crucial to the ethnic/racial/genetic subject matter of that Greek text.


Philopomeon, at his beautiful blog, “Gemisto’s Paradox” — really fascinating; check it out — comments: “Indeed. This new eugenics is taking off big time online. Good thing it should at least make us Neo-Hellenes thing twice about racism and race-based nationalism. Our paternal-line Ydna is hopelessly diverse.”

But it won’t.  It’s already serving to reinforce the old myths.



We just need some Teddy-type trust breakers…

14 Feb

From The New Yorker:  John Cassidy’s “We Need Real Competition, Not a Cable Company Monopoly.”


Money quote is, of course, on France:

“As residents of the country that came up with Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the Internet, we like to think that we lead the world in communications and entertainment. And we’re certainly ahead in one way: we pay far more for broadband Internet access, cable television, and home phone lines than people in many other advanced countries, even though the services we get aren’t any better. All too often, they are worse.

“Take the “triple-play” packages—cable, phone, and high-speed Internet access—that tens of millions of Americans buy from companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In France, a country often portrayed as an economic and technological laggard, the monthly cost of these packages is roughly forty dollars a month—about a quarter of what we Americans pay. And, unlike in the United States, France’s triple-play packages include free telephone calls to anywhere in the world. Moreover, the French get faster Internet service: ten times faster for downloading information, and twenty times faster for uploading it.”


“If we must be nationalists and have a sovereign state we cannot also expect to have world peace…”

13 Feb


If we want to get everything at the lowers possible cost, we cannot expect to get the best possible quality, the balance between the two being mediocrity. If we make it an ideal to be morally superior, we cannot at the same time avoid self-righteousness. If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.

–  The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan W. Watts


Christouli mou, are we still talking about this stuff?

30 Jan

I won’t even translate it; it’s too embarrassing — dirty laundry.  All I have to say is that we should all brace ourselves for new genetics technologies to spawn a new racism — among certain quacks — akin to that which the racial “sciences” produced in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Πέρασαν 46.000- 59.000 χρόνια από τότε που ο σύγχρονος άνθρωπος εμφανίστηκε στον ελλαδικό χώρο, ωστόσο, χάρη στις αναλύσεις του DNA, έχουμε ακόμη πολλά να μάθουμε για την ταυτότητα των Ελλήνων. Εντυπωσιακά στοιχεία αποκαλύπτουν μέρα με τη μέρα οι γενετικές έρευνες στο Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης (ΑΠΘ) και σε άλλα ευρωπαϊκά ιδρύματα, συμπληρώνοντας το παζλ για την καταγωγή των Ελλήνων.

Τα πιο σύγχρονα επιστημονικά στοιχεία για τη γενετική σύσταση των σημερινών κατοίκων της Ελλάδας παραθέτει στο βιβλίο του «Η γενετική ιστορία της Ελλάδας – Το DNA των Ελλήνων» ο ομότιμος καθηγητής Γενετικής και Γενετικής του Ανθρώπου, Κωνσταντίνος Τριανταφυλλίδης, ο οποίος έχει αφιερώσει πολλά χρόνια στη συγκεκριμένη έρευνα. Από τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα στοιχεία που παρουσιάζει είναι ότι οι Έλληνες όχι μόνο δεν επηρεάστηκαν γενετικά από άλλους λαούς, αλλά αντίθετα μετέδωσαν το DNA τους και στην υπόλοιπη Ευρώπη! Μάλιστα, το ελληνικό γενετικό υλικό «μοιάζει» πολύ με αυτό των Ιταλών, λιγότερο με των Γάλλων και με ένα ποσοστό των Ισπανών, όχι όμως και με των Τούρκων, όπως θα περίμενε κανείς λόγω της τουρκικής κατοχής.

[γιά φαντάσου...why did I expect those to be the findings of his research...]

Εντυπωσιακό είναι ότι το DNA των σύγχρονων Ελλήνων δείχνει καταγωγή από τη Νεολιθική εποχή και άμεση συνέχεια με αυτό των αρχαίων Ελλήνων, χωρίς να έχει υποστεί ιδιαίτερες προσμείξεις και, επιπλέον, το ενδεχόμενο οι αρχαίοι Έλληνες να είχαν φτάσει στην… Αμερική αιώνες προτού ο Κολόμβος φιλήσει το χώμα των «Δυτικών Ινδιών» εξετάζεται σήμερα ως πολύ πιθανό από τους επιστήμονες.

«Συγκρίνοντας το DNA των κατοίκων της Ελλάδας και ειδικότερα της Πελοποννήσου, με το DNA των κατοίκων της νότιας Ιταλίας, διαπιστώνεται ότι σε μεγάλο ποσοστό είναι ίδιο. Η γενετική συμβολή των Ελλήνων στη γενετική σύσταση των σημερινών κατοίκων της Σικελίας και της Νότιας Ιταλίας ανέρχεται στο 37,3% και 10%, αντίστοιχα. Είναι γνωστό ότι οι περιοχές της Μεγάλης Ελλάδας, στη νότια Ιταλία, αποτελούνται κυρίως από ελληνικούς πληθυσμούς, αλλά το πιο εντυπωσιακό είναι ότι το γενετικό αποτύπωμα εξακολουθεί να αποκαλύπτεται σήμερα, μετά από 2.500 χρόνια!», παρατηρεί ο κ. Τριανταφυλλίδης.

Στο βιβλίο του, εκτός από την παράθεση δεδομένων, ο καταξιωμένος επιστήμονας συγκρίνει τα χαρακτηριστικά των Ελλήνων με αντίστοιχα στοιχεία λαών της Βαλκανικής, της Ευρώπης, της Μέσης Ανατολής και της Αφρικής. «Η DNA υπογραφή των Ελλήνων αντικατοπτρίζει, ακόμη και σήμερα, την εξάπλωση των αρχαίων Ελλήνων και αποδεικνύει τη συνέχεια των Ελλήνων στο χώρο και στο χρόνο», επισημαίνει στον «Αγγελιοφόρο της Κυριακής» ο κ. Τριανταφυλλίδης.

Οι εκπλήξεις της γενετικής

Οι νέες έρευνες, που βασίζονται στη μελέτη του DNA και όχι στις αναλύσεις αίματος όπως παλιότερα, οδηγούν σε πιο έγκυρα συμπεράσματα και αναμένεται να δώσουν νέες πληροφορίες για το γενετικό υλικό των Ελλήνων, εκτιμά ο κ. Τριανταφυλλίδης. «Το γεγονός ότι απέχουμε γενετικά από τους Σλάβους  [yes, what a relief our DNA isn't tainted by that of some of the tallest, best-looking people on the planet..."μελαμψές φυλές, κοντοποδαρες, χονδροκωλιδες"] το είχαμε διαπιστώσει και παλιότερα, μελετώντας τις ομάδες αίματος. Πλέον έχουμε στοιχεία από 300.000 γονίδια και γενετικούς δείκτες για να αποδείξουμε ότι δεν ισχύουν, για παράδειγμα, ισχυρισμοί όπως ότι οι Έλληνες έχουν αφρικανική καταγωγή, όπως είχαν υποστηρίξει εσφαλμένα, τελικά, οι Σκοπιανοί», υπογραμμίζει ο καθηγητής.

Προσθέτει ότι με ενδιαφέρον αναμένονται και τα αποτελέσματα μελλοντικών μελετών. «Οι Σουηδοί επιστήμονες μελέτησαν οστά σε τάφους στη νότια Σουηδία και διαπίστωσαν ότι κάτοικοι των Μυκηνών είχαν φτάσει εκεί χιλιάδες χρόνια πριν, μεταφέροντας όχι μόνο πολιτιστικά αγαθά, αλλά και πλοία, καθώς και το γενετικό υλικό τους. Αυτό ξεφεύγει από όλα όσα ξέραμε ως τώρα», αναφέρει ο κ. Τριανταφυλλίδης.

Το βιβλίο θα παρουσιαστεί το Σάββατο 25 Ιανουαρίου, στις 11.30, στην Εταιρεία Μακεδονικών Σπουδών* (Εθνικής Αμύνης 4), στη Θεσσαλονίκη.

Πηγή: Agelioforos.gr

*”Εταιρεία Μακεδονικών Σπουδών”;;;;  rezili…

From the Guardian: Syria’s heritage in ruins

29 Jan

Syria’s heritage in ruins: before-and-after pictures

The war in Syria has claimed more than 130,000 lives and, as these images reveal, it is also laying waste to its historic buildings and Unesco-listed sites:
Martin Chulov
Umayyad mosqueUmayyad mosque, Aleppo – pictured in 2012, before fighting destroyed it in 2013. Photograph: Alamy

They were sleepy tree-lined boulevards where people lived and worked, time-worn markets where they came to trade and exquisitely detailed mosques where, throughout the ages, they prayed.

All now stand in ruins, ravaged by a war that is not only killing generations of Syrians but also eradicating all around them, including sites that have stood since the dawn of civilisation. Across Syria, where a seemingly unstoppable war is about to enter a third year, a heritage built over 5,000 years or more is being steadily buried under rubble.

The Old Souk in Aleppo  The Old Souk, Aleppo. Above in 2007 and below in 2013. Photographs: Corbis, Stanley Greene/Noor/Eyevine

The destruction of towns and villages is regularly revealed by raw, and often revolting, videos uploaded to the web, which many people stopped watching long ago. Only seldomly do the shaky images reveal the damage being done beyond the battle – to ancient churches, stone Crusader fortresses and ruins that have stood firm during several millennia of insurrection and purge but are being withered away by this unforgiving war.Syria’s war has claimed more than 130,000 lives. At least two million of its citizens have fled into neighbouring states and more than two million others have been displaced within its borders. Industry and economy has long ground to a halt. Hope too has been on a relentless slide. Syria has six Unesco sites, representing at least 2,000 years of history. All have been damaged.Al-Kindi hospital in Aleppoal-Kindi hospital, Aleppo. Above in 2012 and below in 2013. Photographs: Getty
These before and after pictures show the old world order of Syria reflected for decades in history books; where people bought wares in marketplaces or mingled in mosque courtyards. They also reveal the shocking scale of devastation in all corners of the country and the damage done to Syria’s soul and identity.In Aleppo, one of the oldest covered marketplaces in the world is now in ruins; its maze of stone streets has been one of the most intense battlefields in the country for the past 18 months, bombed from above by air force jets and chipped away at ground level by close quarter battles that show no sentiment towards heritage. Those who dare raise their heads above the ruins, towards the ancient citadel that stands at the centre of the city, can also see damage to several of its walls.A street in Homs, Syria in 2011 and 2014        A street in Homs, in 2011 (above) and 2014 (below)Several hundred miles south, just west of Syria’s third city, Homs, one of the most important medieval castles in the world, Krak des Chevaliers, has taken an even heavier toll. Directly struck by shells fired from jets and artillery, the hilltop fortress now stands in partial ruin.Krak_des_Chevaliers_01Krak des Chevaliers (click)
Homs itself has fared even worse. A residential street, where cars not long ago parked under gum trees, has been destroyed. Life has ceased to function all around this part of the city, as it has in much of the heartland of the country. In one shot, a destroyed tank stands in the centre of a street. The old minaret next to it has also been blown up. This photograph is thought to have been taken in the countryside near Hama, to the north of Homs. But it could just as easily encapsulate the damage done in parts of the capital, Damascus, or in towns and villages from Idlib in the north to Deraa in the south, where the first stirrings of insurrection in March 2011 sparked the war.Omari Mosque in DeraaOmari mosque in Deraa. Above in 2011 and below in 2013. Photographs: Reuters
In May 2012, Emma Cunliffe, a Durham University PhD student, and member of the Global Heritage Network, prepared a report on the damage done to Syria’s heritage sites, detailing the tapestry of civilisations that helped build contemporary Syria.“Numerous bronze-age civilisations left their successive marks, including the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the Hittites,” she said. “They, in turn, were replaced by the Greeks, the Sasanians, the Persians, the Romans and the Arabs, many of whom chose Syrian cities as their capitals. The European Crusaders came and left some of the most impressive castles known and the Ottoman Empire also made its mark. All these cultures co-existed and conflicted, forming something new and special and found nowhere else in the world.”Souk Bab Antakya in AleppoSouq Bab Antakya, Aleppo. Above in 2009 and below after an attack in 2012. Photographs: Alamy, Reuters
Speaking this week, she said the threat to Syria’s heritage was now greater than ever. “Archaeological sites in Syria are often on the front lines of conflict and are experiencing heavy damage. Economic hardship and decreased security mean even sites away from the fighting are looted. This is denying not only Syrians but the world a rich heritage which can provide a source of income and inspiration in the future.”With little or no access to the country, satellite imagery is being used to track the destruction. The Global Heritage Fund’s director of Global Projects, Dan Thompson said: “All of the country’s world heritage sites have sustained damage, including the Unesco site cities, and a great many of the other monuments in the country have been damaged, destroyed or have been subject to severe looting..Umayyad Mosque in AleppoUmayyad mosque, Aleppo, pictured in 2012 (above) and 2013 (below). Photographs: Alamy, Corbis
“Shelling, shooting, heavy machinery installed in sites, and major looting are the leading causes of damage and destruction to the sites, although I would not discount that vandalism is also playing a part. As far as we know, no concrete action is being taken to combat the damage in the present moment.”

“Syria Is Not A Country” — Andrew Sullivan lets fly another one of his kotsanes and then rushes to cover his tuches

27 Jan


He got enough flak for the post (read through all the ctd.’s too — very interesting) and I feel kind of bad giving him more after so many months, but it’s been in the back of my mind since the fall and the argument is so irritating that I had to put in my own two cents.

It seems that every Sullivan-type pundit rushed out in 2001, or more probably 2003 when they were making their Iraq predictions, and bought some book about the Paris Peace Conference: “Paris 1919″ “The Peace to End All Peace” — it’s an entire genre in itself.  And there they found out about some magic secret, like in a Dan Brown novel, called the Sykes Picot line, that supposedly explains everything about the Middle East’s dysfunction, and like a little kid who realizes he’s said something that the adults have found smart or funny, they go around repeating it ad nauseum: “Sykes-Picot Line”…”Sykes Picot Line” … “this guy Sykes and this guy Picot”…”The Sykes Picot Line…”  Listen to Sullivan’s own pedantic tone:

“Syria as we now know it was created by one Brit, Mark Sykes, and one Frenchman, Francois Georges-Picot in 1920. Originally, it included a chunk of Iraq (another non-country), but when oil was discovered there (in Mosul), the Brits wanted and got it. With that detail alone, you can see how valid the idea is of a Syrian “nation” is.”

The whole point is that most of the nations of the present Middle East are artificial, colonial creations — arbitrary lines drawn on a map –and that explains everything.  First, these lines are not arbitrary.  Whatever you might want to say about Sykes or Picot, or Churchill or Lloyd George or Clemenceau — that they were gross imperialists (which is not even redundant really but simply a tautology: “The King is a gross monarchist…”) or anything else, they weren’t ignorant or anistoretoi.*  The units they put together corresponded, as so many of Sullivan’s readers point out to him, with regions with long, historically recognized identities.  Where you look at a map of the Middle East and do see straight artificially drawn lines, they were drawn through places where nobody lives.  Otherwise, within every one of those lines, there has always existed a shifting, changing, re- or de-centralizing identity, but one with clear continuities nonetheless.

(*Anistoretoi – ανιστόρητοι – is a Greek word that I like very much, because it literally means “un-historied” — historically ignorant, obviously, but there’s something about “un-historied” that just seems to me like a sharper condemnation of inexcusable lack of knowledge — no? — so you’ll see it on this blog here and there.)

Thankfully, no one says this about Egypt, because it so obviously has a longer continuous history of unified consciousness than even China.  But what Sullivan, so damn pompous — or just so gay and so Magdalen — dismisses as the “non-country” of Iraq, the flatlands of the Tigris and the Euphrates basin, even when semi-splintered into northern, central, and southern parts, as Iraq seems to be doing now, was always seen as a unit: certainly geographically but even culturally.  The two regions the Greeks called Libya and Cyrene may correspond to a west-east division that is still apparent in modern Libya (Tripoli and Benghazi), but their union is not necessarily artificial or inherently problematic.  The headland to the west of Libya we call Tunisia was the first region called Africa by the Romans, where their ancient enemy Carthage had once stood.  And the region where the northwestern section of the Fertile Crescent bends over and meets the Mediterranean has been called Syria since the Greeks and was probably seen as a recognized cultural entity far before them.  The mountainous Mediterranean littoral of this Syria — what’s now Palestine and Lebanon and maybe a new Alawite state waiting to be born — was always a space slightly apart and more heterogeneous, but Syria nonetheless.  (The arid plateau across the Jordan, inhabited by the Moabites and Edomites and Nabataeans and all those other peoples the Israelites are always defeating in the Old Testament because God loves them more, was also a region of a recognized coherence of sorts not just made up by the Brits when they decided to call it Trans-Jordan.)  Syria was the birthplace of Christianity as an organized religion.  Syria was the Romans-Byzantines’ richest and most sophisticated eastern province.  Syria was the prize catch for the Crusaders; the real studs among them who could, got themselves a piece of booty there, not the “Holy Land.”  When Zainab bears her lament to the people of Shaam (Syria or the Levant) in Agha Shahid Ali’s beautiful poem she cries out: “Hear me Syria…” addressing the people of the seat of Umayyad power in Damascus — the one in Syria — that had massacred her sacred family.  Sykes and Picot didn’t make this stuff up.

What Sullivan wants to say, and what’s truly problematic about his assertion, is that Syria is not a country because it’s not ethnically or confessionally homogeneous, and dismissing it as a state for those reasons is a far more eurocentric, and anistoreto, an idea than he may know.  Because if those are our standards for nation-hood, there are very few countries in the world.  By those standards, if Syria is not a country, then England and France aren’t countries either.  Because a polity called the Kingdom of England, or the Kingdom of France — both of which one could argue were “artificially” created by the powers that be of the time — had existed for far longer than Englishmen and Frenchmen have.  And the process by which a unified national consciousness was created to match these pre-existing political units — England or France — was a long and complex one and one that followed the particular course it did only in Western Europe and trying to force it onto the peoples of states in other parts of the world is impossible and extremely dangerous.  Forget what Sullivan thinks is the Machiavelian divide-and-rule politics of the colonizers that pitted ethnic groups in Syria and Iraq against each other; these colonizers were probably never as devilishly smart as we like to imagine them.  What Sullivan finds inconceivable is that one can be a Latakian Alawite or a Sunni from Homs or an Aleppo Christian or a northeastern Kurd and still function as a citizen of a legitimate country called Syria; that these groups have always had boundaries that fluctuated or were permeable; and, that though relations between them historically were better at some moments than others, they were brought together in this place called Syria by organic historic processes and not corraled together there by outsiders.  And by believing that it’s inconceivable they can all function as citizens of this place, he’s actually participating in the creation of a discourse that pits these groups against each other in a manner far more fatal than the supposed manipulations of the British or French.  He’s creating a poetics of sectarianism, pure and simple.  One only has to look at how reinforcing ethnic differences, often with the naive supposition that satisfying each group’s demands will lead to peace, only exacerbated the tragedy — the tragedies — of Yugoslavia in the 90s to see where thinking like Sullivan’s leads.

To his credit, Sullivan gives the Ottomans credit for maintaining a semblance of peace and stability in the region for several centuries.  But the Ottomans had molded, over the centuries, a complex and flexible system of negotiated corporatism and autonomy that recognized the different groups of their empire and yet that held them together in one unit successfully until modern nationalism started making that impossible.  What Sullivan is doing with blowhard statements like the above is just continuing that process: making it impossible for the peoples of the region that have to live together to do so peacefully and productively.

Finally, as a somewhat tangential but important aside, I’d really be interested in finding out why Sullivan doesn’t think that India is “not a country.”

And, folks, what is going on in Syria?  I’ve been in France for a month and my French isn’t good enough to follow the news and the American stuff on-line seems to have less and less coverage.  Has some sort of stalemate been reached?  Is some kind of compromise being forged?  Are people just tired?  Anyone want to enlighten me?


“Per Tolosa totjorn mai…”

26 Jan

…means: “Pour Toulouse, toujours plus,” “For Toulouse, always more,” in Occitan.  For those who’ve asked in reference to the earlier post.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers

%d bloggers like this: