“How the West (Mediterranean) was Conquered”

“How the West (Mediterranean) was Conquered”
It could have been a film but it is a paper on Evolutionary Biology. I gave it this name to attract your attention because “The coming of the Greeks to Provence and Corsica: Y-chromosome models of archaic Greek colonization of the western Mediterranean” would be a bit of a mouthful. Most people know that Marseilles was founded by Greeks but the full impact of that expedition was less well known.

Why am I reading such stuff? Because I have been brought up to believe that people should travel at great risk “to trade goods and share knowledge” (κατ’ εμποριαν και θεωριαν ), then spot good prospects and finally settle and prosper. I think that early colonists are ‘a class apart’ from uninvited immigrants (legal or not) who raid settled communities to steal its wealth, traffic humans and teach violence, whether these are Spanish Conquistadores, British colonialists or modern illegal immigrants from ‘failed states’ tolerated as refugees.

AA? Eh?

AA? Eh?

Consider this list of questions

1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
No, I have never decided to stop drinking.
2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking – stop telling you what to do?
No, I don’t mind them.
3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
No, I prefer the one that will get me drunk if I have enough of it.
4. Have you had a drink in the morning during the past year?
5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
Sometimes I don’t have the right sort of wine for my meal.
7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
No, my non-drinking has.
8. Do you ever try to get ‘extra’ drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
I always get enough, all right.
9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to?
I don’t talk to myself to tell me anything. Drunk people do that.
10. Have you missed days off work because of drinking?
I miss drinking days at work, like in the good old days.
11. Do you have ‘blackouts’?
No. The local substation has been replaced.
12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
No. You must drink, at least some water or you die in 5 days.

‘Frivolous’ theories?!!

I am fed up with historians and musicologists who are *not* etymologists rejecting as “frivolous” popular theories about the origins of words for dances which to ‘common folk’ like me are rather obvious and certainly *a lot* more likely than the outrageous alternatives that those ‘specialists’ propose.
One of these words is “carole” for an early medieval circular dance. I think that it is likely to have come from the Italian word “carro” because it looks like a rotating cart-wheel whose spokes are the ams, sticks, swords of the dancers. Why would this origin ‘frivolous’ whereas the Greek “χοραυλης” (the piper), which would have given “corale” and not “carole” is considered better? Well, as it happens, the Greeks use the word “carouli” for a small wheel, e.g. a pulley.
Is every theory that appeals to people at large “frivolous”?

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, etc.

The language that I have adopted for 50 years as “my language” is no more.  It has been attacked, criticised, judged, condemned to death and executed without my involvement.  I am no longer allowed to think in it.  I have to parse what I am about to say, edit, think again, calculate my chances and finally say it, whatever “it” may be.

Sometimes, by the time I get a green light for “it”, it is no longer relevant; so, I don’t say “it” and my conversation (with myself, most frequently) is abnormally aborted. Lost the content.  “Page not found 404”.

I now have to undergo a substantial brainwash and learn a new language for a number of purposes: Political Correctness; Autistic Concealment, Fashion Synchronisation, Cynicism Filtering; “other”.

What triggered all that?  I was approaching the tills in my local HomeBase, instinctively whispering “eeny, meeny, miny, moe…” to choose a till, when a chill came down my spine at “catch a n***** by the toe”. The girl on the left looked up in a smile full of Jamaican sunshine and said “I’m free now”.  I said “You are ‘it’, then”.

It was a close shave. I don’t like having to feel guilty for barely whispering a rhyme.



Fun with old photographs

I’ve spent several days scanning and enhancing old scrapbooks of one of my morris dancing sides (HuMP). In the process, I learned a lot about the side, the older members and their aversion to technology.I also learned a lot about photo software, its design approaches and the total disregard of the capability of most of the users to understand the technology and how to exploit it. Well worth the effort (~ two man-months). Finally, I decided that none of my computers was good enough for the job; so I bought a much more powerful laptop to use for such projects.
After the morris sides, I have the family archive of old photos to salvage and re-assemble, linking it to the family wiki and external stores of videos. I won’t be bored for some time…

Getting to know myself

A bit late, isn’t it?  Nearing the end of my life and only now discovering how bad I am at some things?  It looks like working continuously for so many years had masked my weaknesses.

I am struggling to communicate with other people.  I knew that I was on the autistic spectrum.  However, working happily as I was with other people on the spectrum, people whom I had chosen or who had chosen me, I had not realised that ‘other’ people systematically misunderstood me and vice versa.  I have significant difficulty following instructions that are not written ‘in my style’ and I make stupid mistakes in guessing what their intention was; often ignoring them.  My idea of ‘obvious’ is not the same as other people’s.  That was not the case at work; it is news to me; bad news.

I am still valuing time as when I was always trying to hit impossible deadlines.  This brings me into conflict with people who promise to do things ‘in their own time’ and they waste mine.  I show my anxiety and people get offended.  I am not making any friends… .


Is my laptop “only a tool”?

Is she, really?  Is my Toshiba machine something that serves my basic IT needs, that need never ask itself of her own future, that I can neglect until she falls ill and can just replace with a new one without any …feelings towards her?  Or is she my last lover, as my virility declines over time, one that wants new tricks every time we get together, that wants to know what will happen to her and demands some sort of end-of-life plan? 

Some time ago, when I was still working and busy with other corporate laptops, I had ‘frozen’ her and just used it as a tool.  I played with other laptops – alas, not with other women.  But today I felt her resentment and jealousy as I just upgraded a lower class laptop only a foot away on the same desk.  I was hit by feelings of guilt and decided to mend my ways and go back to my lover with solemn promises.

At once, I bought her a new outfit; Ubuntu 12.10.  She tried it on and found some problems.  I consulted some other people and found that some buttons needed moving.  So I got onto the command line and changed resolvconf for the DNS to work properly.  She smiled and gave me a hug.  We had an hour’s long session trying all sorts of new tricks. We both satisfied our immediate needs.

After a strong cappucino, she started talking about yet another new outfit; Ubuntu 13.04, a step further to the very latest fashion.  I paused to think but her desire was so strong and my reservations so weak that I had to give in.  I pressed the ‘upgrade’ button and off we went. 

Where is all this going.  All right, we won’t stop for good but there will be a day when she will have to stop bugging me for more and I won’t be able to find new things for her.  New partners will take her place until I drop.  She will have to go to a care home: my computer museum.  Now and again, I will turn her on and have some fun, maybe together with other machines, older than her and more lively at their best.  They are all connected and can exchange information, even share everything I let them do with me and my current top lover, using SMB, NFS, FTP and other tools like each other’s sticks.  Oh, I love them.  They are my extended family and I keep them alive. 

One of them, an older Toshiba sister, is on her last leg.  She overheats too easily and one of these days she may die with her Windows-like eyes open or maybe behind a Blue Screen.  I will take her to join the Advent, the Tiny and the Compac in the burial ground at Braywick, leaving behind a legacy CDROMs. Some of the old lovers even have diskettes, you know; written in a language that only they could read. 

Ah, the diskettes!  Downloading software nowadays is a silent affair.  It doesn’t make purring noises like a woman when she takes the disk inside her, takes all it can give her and comes back for another.  Obviously they were never satisfied with floppy disks -who would?- and the advent of rigid ones was a major improvement.  The compact ones would also last …forever and were ever so big!

Enough of this.  The lady’s new outfit has arrived and it’s time for her to try it on in front of a mirror.  Fingers crossed 😉

“Old Christmas is past, Twelfth tide is the last”…

…”And we bid you adieu, great joy to the new”.

Decorations down.  Lights off.  Plastic trees folded and all stowed away in the attic.  Cakes eaten.  Drinks …drunk.  Mummers plays and wassails in orchards and pubs concluded next Sunday.

That was my wettest Xmas ever, without even a flake of snow.  Old King Wenceslas looked out… ‘when the flood lay round about deep and chilled and even’. I couldn’t go out cycling.

All SAD sufferers – this is s ‘sad’ joke of an acronym if ever there was one- are supposedly ready for the arrival of the Spring.  Bollocks.  Psychiatrists have been themselves affected by folklore and think that by fiddling some data here and there they can fit recurrent major depression into a seasonal pattern; particularly peaking in the winter.  They coined the acronym SAD and retrofitted a name to it: ‘seasonal affective disorder’.  Nice try.  They conveniently forgotten that celebrations, such as the seasonal Xmas ones, affect depressives much worse than floods and darkness.  Some people suffer 2-3 times a year, irregularly,  but also always during celebrations like Xmas and any holidays -summer or otherwise- longer than a week.  I would have named this kind of condition FAD (fun aversion disorder). Ebeneezer Scrooge was an obvious sufferer but I also know of others… Maybe they are ‘on the autistic spectrum’ and have a very different perception of what is ‘fun’.  Some of them enjoy periods of absolute silence now and again.