The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Monday, February 19, 2018

Feminist turnabout

Now that I've been thinking of Hot Take culture, which often uses Left #woke-y cant as a form of tribal signalling ("woke" being one such term), I am coming to terms with some of the jargons' origins. I am not wholly unsympathetic. Okay, fine - I am not conceding "ManSplaining", nor that smarmy old (mostly-)Right meme "tyranny of the minority"; but I'll concede other terms.

"Toxic Masculinity" these days crops up whenever some man does something wrong. There do exist criminal acts to which we men are more prone than are women (or are the castrati, the Transitioned as we call them now). There also exist acts to which women are more prone. I have allowed Toxic Masculinity on condition you allow Toxic Femininity (or was that Feminity).

But then I might have been doing that lame-ass "tyranny of the minority" thing here. Ultimately I am uncertain that Toxicity can arise in a vacuum. There remains a real question on whether boys are broken. Pace @Mellecon, "broken" does not imply we are born wrong: it implies the opposite; that we are born whole, but that something after birth has broken us. I question that Masculinity be inherently a toxin, antisocial when brought to some supposed "extreme". Any more than Femininity.

Likewise, "Male Gaze". This is used in contexts to shame men for noticing women as women, if those women are uninterested in male attention. Except... those women near-inevitably are interested in male attention, just not in the attention of any rando (okay, fine - of my attention). So it comes off as nothing but a class weapon: used by women of a higher caste, against men of a lower.

This Male Gaze term, also, has a non-#woke meaning. It refers to film-technique: when the screenplay wants to eroticise a woman character, the camera will dwell on her curves, forcing the viewer's gaze as if the viewer was a heterosexual male. It might also work for a homosexual or bisexual woman but the director likely isn't catering to her. At least one (female) Hot Take has brought up that Female Gaze exists as well, and that since women watch Game of Thrones too can we please have more of that. And hey, the Ice And Fire book-series is all about viewpoint characters; so, why not.

Anyway, my Hot Take is that both terms, "toxic masculinity" and "male gaze", can be used in neutral contexts. As to whether these terms should be so used: I admit they get my back up, as a man, for the same reason we should object to "the Jewish media", because the terms assign to my whole group dysfunctions, and make me problematic, dehumanise me. But I do need to grit my teeth and to decide where and how the base sentiment applies. Maybe the trait exists and we just need a new term.

I'll allow "male gaze" in that this does apply to art, not to - say - Super Mario Bros but certainly to some other works, in gaming and outside gaming. I am not about to allow "toxic masculinity" though. Not without a concession on their end.

posted by Zimri on 17:00 | link | 0 comments

The Hot Take

When one does media, and on this blog I do media, one has to justify why one does media, if we are just sitting here in our pajamas. (Hence, PJMedia.) If we are not providing original content, nor providing a link and user-friendly summary to some obscure journal-article, then we have to deliver an argued-for opinion. It would have to be an original opinion, that nobody else had yet considered. In Twitter jargon (nothing cool happens on blogs anymore) this is being called The Hot Take.

And lately the Hot Take is being considered harmful. Because the easiest way to come up with an original idea is to deliver a stupid idea. There are after all a million ways to be wrong to every one way to be right.

The ZMan has delivered a Hot Take lately, that The Negroe Movie is alt-right. Since I don't go to ZMan's site I had to read this Take in American Renaissance.

ZMan's opinion is indeed stupid, as has been pointed out over on Vox Populi. The Negroe Movie is making a play for anything other than the alt-right perspective: the African Gondolin is being asked to support universalism, against the nationalist impulses of Morgoth.

I'd say that a stupid original Hot Take is better than plagiarising other ideas, as is ZMan's habit; but even here I don't think that ZMan was the first to dream this up. Anyway, supposing ZMan did think this one piece up by himself, the contrarian Hot Take is almost as lazy a technique as a flat ripoff. Please do not give to ZMan any more attention than you must.

posted by Zimri on 15:26 | link | 0 comments

The Taos of Uruk

In the fourth millennium BC, Uruk was an empire and likely a conqueror. Uruk also had colonies, deep into other nations' lands. So far this is in accordance with "world systems theory"; and these colonies have been used as an argument for Uruk as an empire.

This may not have been true for all its colonies. Gil Stein offers a critique of World Systems Theory, by way of Hacinebi. The modern Turkish name should tell you that the site is Anatolian. Anyway this Uruk city seems not to have affected the local Anatolian sites much. It probably couldn't rely upon the core Uruk region for protection.

Dr Stein brings up the Hausa traders in Yoruba parts of Africa. But I think I got a better analogy.

When I was reading The Comanche Empire, and trying to recommend it to David Yeagley (on whom be peace), I'd read in the book about the New Mexican city Taos. The government of New Spain tried ruling Taos from Mexico, and then - I think - by way of New Viscaya up the Rio Grande. Nothing much worked once the Comanche had the horse; Taos ended up a dependent of the Comancheria.

Empires try to rule by World Systems Theory, and on their monuments they boast that they do. In practice, some "colonies" end up like Taos. They belong to others.

posted by Zimri on 14:01 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ja'far al-Sadiq

Edmund Hayes writes about "Fiscal Sectarianism" in late Umayyad Shi'ism. (Okay, his actual chosen title is "Alms And The Man", but... lame.)

Abu Ja'far, that is al-Baqir, was a Muslim by faith and/but a Shi'ite by politics. He already may have started turning his party from Islam as a group concern - read Najam Haider for that - but he still held to the old Islamic ideal on almsgiving, that it was for Muslims, even Muslims loyal to a non-'Alid caliph.

But Abu Ja'far al-Baqir died in the middle 110s / 730s. His son, surprising enough named Ja'far, ended that tolerance. For Ja'far, you didn't even count as a Muslim unless you pledged baya to Ja'far. Which meant giving the zakat to Ja'far alone.

Naturally the Zaydis and Hasanis thought that all this was pure balls, not least because they figured they deserved baya better, but also because there were a lot of poor Muslims out there who were good in religion no matter their politics. Also, by that precedent, if a Shi'ite imam were to become caliph, whoever it was, if word got out his group had withheld zakat from another caliph in the past, this would inspire other Muslims to withhold zakat to him.

Or, at least ... so I assume.

Anyway, Ja'far got himself quite the little cult after the 110s / 730s. This seems in accord with Haider's findings about Shi'ite hadith-transmitters: that they crop up in the 100s / 720s. Possibly they were already binding themselves to Ja'far's party circa 110 / 730 and then convinced him to go full sectarian.

posted by Zimri on 19:39 | link | 0 comments

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sell your Hasbro stock now

h/t Vox Day (on NetFlix), MusicDSPGuy gots things to say. About Softbank/Learning Company. Apparently they bought lots of smaller companies, made their ledgers look nice, and then bailed out to a clueless idiot with money. Namely Mattel. Which nearly died.

I am reminded of how Wizards of the Coast bought out TSR, a near-dead company; and then sold out to Hasbro.

If I were Hasbro I'd make nice with the ruling class by supporting all the trendiest causes, in hope the politicians can be persuaded to look elsewhere. And I'd do my best to ruin anyone sniffing too close.

Come to think of it, NetFlix wokey-ed up Black Mirror pretty dang good soon after nabbing it from some broke-ass Brits. Like they did to Death Note - and, by the way, good luck tryna find a mirror for E;R's "How To Ruin Your Death Note Movie", 'cause they went after that one too.

posted by Zimri on 17:58 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Gamma World

I saw some Black Mirror recently, which show I haven't discussed here yet, but the last season has stuck with me. Well, okay - its first episode: "USS Callister".

"Callister", an Irish name to reflect the Scots-Irish captain Kirk (and doctor McCoy), tracks the Sword Art Online template, of a gaming-world as real as the real world. The author of the game, in his real-world workplace, has subordinated himself to some chad or other. This boss treats him like crap and allows his coworkers to act likewise. Those coworkers then spread poison to new-hires. The game's author blows off steam... creepily, within the bounds of a special build of this game he's maintaining in his home. I won't spoil the rest of the plot here; not because the show doesn't deserve it, more because it's off my topic.

I went looking for articles about the "USS Callister" episode online. Google sent me to a lot of anti-male and anti-white commentary, mainly from women and Jews. You know the buzzwords: white entitlement, mansplaining, fragility. These terms don't come up in the show directly. But.

I do give credit to The Guardian, of all places/people, for defending Trekkies (/ Trekkers) and countering with Galaxy Quest, that the loser can graduate to real-world acts of heroism, and not become a "Gamma". The author Jordan Hoffman could well be an Anglo-Jew mutt like me. And I think he groks what "USS Callister" was doing.

Its critics aside, Black Mirror sides definitively with our sort of nerd against their sort. Our nerds are #woke. Theirs probably thought #gamergate was a thing: ugh; creep-o!. And I note the episode's Strong Female Protagonist looks uncannily like Anita Sarkeesian, down to the smirk at the end.

Despite the signalling of virtue (which a later Season Four episode tries to turn into a right-wing cant-word) the first episode is, at least, well-written. And when it comes down to it, its fictional show "Space Fleet" is like Star Trek: a liberal show. The gamer taking on Kirk's role and doing Shatner inflexions cites the Space Fleet creed which is downright Kennedyesque. His problem is that he doesn't live up to that creed. He's become the villain from Forbidden Planet, that first great American sci-fi story.

So what we're dealing with here, is the Woke against the Broke. The 2010s against the 1960s. HAND. IT. OVER.

This gives space to reactionaries like Vox Day to blast the nerds as a class. Ehh, maybe.

Or maybe we nerds and 1960s-era liberals should quit imagining that the modern media Left has any interest in us. The Left despises us. That's why they wrote "USS Callister".

posted by Zimri on 14:26 | link | 0 comments

The FBI permits gun violence

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin got blindsided with a question about "gun violence" in the budget. Mnuchin is not - yet - accepting the soi-disant Civil Rights Icon's call for Federal gun control, but he seems headed that way. To assuage Mnuchin before he goes further down this path, I point out that this is in the budget, but that the #RESISTANCE!! is deliberately enabling evil.

An aside here: inasmuch as MAGA-hat wearing people are, now, a proven gun risk; this is something with which #MAGA supporters have to deal. The shooter was born a Cruz from Florida; so - I assume - a part Cuban, like the Senator from Texas. These are probably the most antiCommunist people on the planet right now. If we're to believe the ADL, Mr Cruz had got himself into some white-separatist circles. Someone could have brought up that "Cruz" is the hallmark of the marrano, of the secret Jew. But hey. We're all mutts here. And we mutts supporting #MAGA need to quit being stupid and, yes, evil. Kurt Schitter's snarling continues to be unhelpful here.

But we're here to talk about the Feds. State gun laws vary by state, and unless the guns cross state borders (and I'm not counting "commerce", since Florida didn't propose an arms-blockade) said guns are not a Federal issue. What is a Federal issue is when the would-be shooter posts his plans on such a countrywide Internet board as freakin' YouTube. The FBI, which I believe does have "Federal" in its name, was alerted in proper accordance with the American chain of command.

And once again, as at Garland, the FBI sat on the information.

posted by Zimri on 13:04 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What languages the fleas heard

Here's a scientific paper: Aida Andrades Valtueña et al., "The Stone Age Plague and Its Persistence in Eurasia". It is not public-access, but its DOI is 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.025. In case you have means to read papers based on DOI.

A few years ago when I was still contributing to Wikipedia, some papers came out about the plague genome in Eurasia. Two germs stood out: RISE509 in an "Afanasyevo" grave - usually associated with Tocharians; and RISE505 in an "Andronovo" grave which means Avest'estan. Over in Europe, Justinian's Plague and the Black Death together come from a different branch. One might suspect that the reservoir of these "Asian" bugs was out in Central Asia where both these graves were dug out.

Valtueña's crew finds instead that the bugs associated with RISE505's side of branch are in Europe. This means that the reservoir was more likely around the Crimea... like the reservoir for the Indo-European languages. RISE509 followed the Tocharians and then RISE505 followed the Scythians.

posted by Zimri on 12:54 | link | 0 comments

What Iranians want

Michael Ledeen has been predicting the fall of Iran's Islamic republic (in the Platonic sense) for at least eighteen years since I've been peeking over there. After the failure of the 2009 protests I quit peeking at this proven buffoon. Yesterday I noted Ledeen was still clownin'. In my ignorance I believed him that time. But this is the season when Christians confess sins, so . . .

At base what I'd done wrong was to believe the liberal Iranians in the big cities, the constituency which agrees with Ledeen. Ledeen knows as well as I know that the Islamic nature of Iran's republic has allowed the Muslim faction unlimited leverage over the political system. So the crook who portrays himself outwardly as a sâlih can amass a great fortune and can count on the clerics to cover for him.

But the Iranians don't know that. Muslims in Iran as elsewhere interpret their crooks as insincere Muslims and, for a remedy, they support ... more Islam. Oh, and also the Iranians desire control over the Near East; without which, Iranians have been defenseless and impoverished since Cyaxares the Mede first glanced as a map. Add this up and you get a popularity rating for General Qassem Soleimani at roughly the rating Americans gave to Norman Schwartzkopf in 1992.

As for why the Brave Women taking off their hijabs aren't more popular: it's because they're feminists. Feminism further alienates the other half of the country directly, and indirectly offends all the women with a stake in that half. When the Iranians support the state's response, the state's treatment of these women is a plus to them, not a minus. By the way, the Iranians are right: feminism is evil, certainly more evil than Shi'ite Islam.

For an aside, suppose that the people of the cities abandon Islam and that the rest of Iran lets them do it. Don't expect the replacement-ideology to be an improvement.

Overall it's a common pattern, that illiberal foreign governments don't change just because nice Americans and/or liberals want them to. If we look at Cuba, we see there too a political elite which simply passes government from one Communist to a "better" one. If we look at China in 1989, Tiananmen Square did nothing but unite the illiberal parts of the country.

Ledeen is either delusional or a liar. Either way he gets paid to say what he says. Either way I anticipate reading more Faster-Plz essays from that direction for the next decade or longer.

posted by Zimri on 11:23 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Popular music tastes

Over at Sailer's place I read some musings on how what we hear as youngin's is what we want to hear now. Sailer had some points that, just because you heard something at 14, doesn't mean you liked it at the time; but as you get older, you go back to it as you build the music-collection.

This mostly rings true for me. I listened to a lot of gay shit at 14: Pet Shop Boys, Tears For Fears, the Bangles, U2. When I was 18-19 I picked up... music that I'd heard at 14, but not then cared about: later Smiths, Lowlife from New Order, the Cure from their mid-to-late 1980s comeback, that era of Depeche Mode, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Which all was still pretty gay, now I think about it. DON'T JUDGE ME.

Still later I discovered that whole Bowie / Joy Division postpunk-to-new-wave thingie from the 1980 era and haven't come back. Although I retain a soft spot for the late 1980s.

I guess now I'm deciding if I like the new MGMT album or no.

posted by Zimri on 13:03 | link | 0 comments


Last November I was looking at the Tamazight gene E-M183, the king of E-M81 descendants. To a lesser extent, I noted E-M78 as a distant cousin, but still the closest cousin, to E-M81 ~10000 BC. Today it's E-M78's turn; alongside E-M2 E-M78's uncle, and A3-M13. We'll also be discussing the Chad Gene, R-V88. Via Razib as usual, here's Eugenia D’Atanasio &co., "The peopling of the last Green Sahara".

Up to the early Bronze Age the Sahara was a steppe, like Eurasia. It had some lakes and lots of rivers; our Lake Chad was an inland sea. These conditions lasted from the mid 8000s BC to the early 2000s BC. This is when R-V88 entered Chad; E-M81, it seems, had already staked out North Africa. After this, crossing the Sahara required camels... which Africa didn't have, yet. So instead of Saharans moving back and forth; the old Saharans A3-M13, R-V88, and all the lineages from E-M2 to E-M78 retreated to the new desert's fringes. As for E-M81, it was off to the hills.

North Africa instead repurposed itself as a Mediterranean zone and got new influxes from the Near East, like J-M267. Much later - as in, historical-period later - E-M183 got the ship too and also the camel, and mounted its great conquest; such that when the Greeks ventured that far, to them "Berber" and "Imazighen" had become interchangeable.

R-V88 has led some Chadic scholars to think of a mix of Indo-European and old Saharan. They're looking at 6000ish BC for its arrival and at the 3700s BC for its expansion. This is early (for me) to square with an Indo-European language as we know it, but perhaps we may imagine something like it. Meanwhile A3-M13 begat the Nilo-Saharan peoples like the Nubians. Both(!) appear in Sardinia; the eastern Med is where north(east) and south met, long before the Indo-European conquests.

Oh, and the E-M183 Imazighen may be the mating of J-M267 women with E-M81 men: Semitic and (later) Saharan. Or from the pre-Semitic exile population and Saharan.

Yet again, the "Afro Asiatic" peoples do not look like Indo-European (excepting Anatolian?) nor Semitic. Indo-European and Semitic swamped the substrate populations almost everywhere their chariots roamed. What I keep seeing in the "Afro-Asiatic" regions is two near-equalsized populations mixing, and the surviving languages being recorded only millennia after the fact.

posted by Zimri on 11:37 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Yo, Blogger; wassup

Last Tuesday or so I noticed that intermittently my site won't show up when I click on it. Then I refresh a few times and it comes up. Just noticed this at Vox Populi too.

posted by Zimri on 13:56 | link | 0 comments

The finite god

I figured out by summer 2010 that a finite god charged with protecting the universe from Lovecraft came nearest to my theology. (When I first heard about Warhammer 40,000 maybe five years back I figured - oh, right, that's the one.)

From a mathematical standpoint, God is finite - like, obviously. And Gödel proved He isn't omniscient either. Fortunately for Believers... the Universe is finite too. So God is just big enough to know everything about this place, up to now; and He can plot out a few major directions whither we might end up. But I've discussed this already.

Today I've got to ask - as a religious essentialist - what does a finite god mean philosophically? How does it affect human religion?

I can tell you about any unconstrained religion: it ends in holiness-spiraling. In Islam it ended in ISIS and in tragedy; in Christianity it more frequently ends in farce. You think humans are sinners under the gaze of a wrathful god? Well I'll give you inherited Original Sin - no, I'll give you total depravity! You think Mary was a saint? Well I'll tell you she was the only one not subject to Original Sin! You think the Papacy has become invalid? Well I'll do away with apostolic succession! You value chastity? Well let's call for deacon celibacy and ... ah, you get it.

All these doctrines come from the Church and/or its immediate schismatics laying out a boundary X, and then dissenters pretending to X+1. This illustrates the difficulty for any believer in one unlimited god to rebut a heretic over - well my belief is more difficult, therefore my faith is stronger, therefore I am superior.

Muslims amongst themselves share the god of Islam, who is wicked. Their imams do have one advantage over the mushrik: they tell their flock - this is the god we have, so deal with it, or deal with Him.

Dyothelete Christians, whom Catholics currently lead, need the courage to do the same. They need to say, on any doctrinal point, that this is what God allows, for the happiness of humankind; to assert further than this, is arrogant posturing.

posted by Zimri on 08:40 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The FBI is rogue

The pro-Trump side of our nation has alleged that FBI and DOJ laundered some fibs into a probable-cause warrant upon a candidate for the Presidency. Ace of Spades (who came late to the Trump side; as did I, really) has been all over this beat for over a year. The evidence has gotten so strong that even The Onion has noticed. Now, a holdout loyalist for our Federal agents has admitted fault.

To turn a meme, "the goyim know"; Shut. It. Down. Shut it all down. The "#resistance" is not a pose or a laughing matter. It is a slow-motion coup against the lawful government of these United States.

posted by Zimri on 10:57 | link | 0 comments

The Aeolic Islands

Thought: the Ausones spoke a Tyrrhenian dialect. Etruscan; or at least para-Etruscan like Raetic.

The Hittites of the fourteenth century BC labeled their western coasts and the lands beyond - then dominated by Linear B literate Mycenaeans - "Ahhiya". From that, were developed the later Hittite place name "Ahhiyawa" and also, so claims Ilya Yakubovich, "Aiuliya" (Aeolic) and - this one Luwian - "Iavuniya" (Ionic).

Given that, once those islands across the Sicilian strait went Greek, they would have been brought into the Ahhiya. The Tyrrhenian peoples, as did the Hittites, were in the habit of appending -l to their nouns to make an adjective. To an early Etruscan, these would have been the "Ahial" islands.

Early Greeks, showing up, would then say - ah yeah, I know this word, they're Aeolian.

posted by Zimri on 10:17 | link | 0 comments

Friday, February 09, 2018

Hereditary guilt

The House of David has taken a stance against blood-libel, the notion that the sons inherit the crimes of their ancestors. It seems related to "original sin", the heritability of the crime of Adam and Eve.

There was already some Original Sin assumption (as it were) in Judaism. Jewish scriptures describe and implicitly approve genocide-genocide of certain communities - Amaleq being one. Such writings lead to ugly scenes like this in Israel today. Christianity by offering grace, I should hope, does not inherit that some races cannot ever achieve grace. Like Vox Day suggested about blacks. Like Martin Luther King suggested about whites.

I was recently inspired to look that up, since the "Orthodox" - better described as Byzantines - cry out against the Catholics, sometimes claiming Christians shouldn't believe in Original Sin at all. Specifically Byzantines object that the Catholics teach that we all inherit the guilt.

Byzantines stress that this differs from saying whether or not we inherit the consequences. Consequences ripple down with every choice. If we do wrong - "sin" - the guilt is on us, but the punishment of Nature-and-Nature's-God affects our offspring. This, all Christians agree, is G-d's justice. The accursed later generations will have to overcome their legacy, but - say the Byzantines - they will not have to atone.

In Christianity, Jesus atones for all sins and crimes: past, present, and future. A Byzantine would say that all men have guilt enough on their own heads, over decisions they make through their lives, without bearing the cumulative burden of all their fathers back to Adam. Jesus atones on Adam's behalf for Adam alone. Christianity has no need of an inherited-guilt doctrine to imbue Jesus with cosmic significance. Such would give to Jesus more holiness than He needs to have. (I also note that every generation of non-Christians will become more and more laden with ancestral sin.)

For Catholics I note that their theologians have had to institute kludges like, for instance, invoking miracle as to except Mary at her conception. I have to conclude that the Catholics do have an inherited-guilt doctrine. As for uniquely-immaculate Mary I've already discussed that.

I do not think that inherited-guilt can be compatible with the Christian doctrine of the inherent sanctity of human life. If Adam's crime is heritable, so are others; if a crime is punishable by death (and Jesus admits some crimes are: besides what is listed in Torah, Jesus includes banditry, and corrupting the youth) then inherited guilt means the children get hanged too.

I dunno. Someone will have to explain this to me.

posted by Zimri on 10:09 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, February 08, 2018


I bought A World of Ice and Fire a few years back. This coffee-table book describes George Martin's lands of faraway places, which we might never see in the novels let alone movies. Out there, the book refers (with disclaimer) to vintage American pulp fiction from a century back: to Leng, for instance. Among the other lands be Ib and Sothyros, to the north and south of Essos the Eurasia stand-in.

George Martin's world lacks a full Africa (and lacks a North America, too). To supply Africanlike peoples, of whom Martin does not supply many, Martin offers the Summer Islands. Martin has Sothyros stand in for the ultra-exotic, marsupial-dominant South America / Australia / South Africa.

The Ibbenese and the Sothyrosi are both para-human. They are brutish peoples who can communicate with us humans, and can sustain a local culture, and can even mate with us. But Ibbenese-human hybrids are mules and the Sothyrosi can't breed with us at all. Those of the Summer Islands, by contrast, can breed with us and do so mutually and enthusiastically. Well - as mutually as any couples do breed, in a Martin book...

For the Ibbenese and Sothyrosi I was reminded, straightaway, of our human-Neander(thal) and human-Denisovan hybrids. There weren't many! The Neander-mixes seem more prevalent, although we do get Denisovan-mixes out in Melanesia and "Sahul". But we're still talking a very-low percentile in our genomes, such that such events weren't even discussed seriously until, what, 2010.

Over the past few years meanwhile I've read some politically-incorrect comments pointing out that, also, the Tasmanians weren't able to crossbreed with Europeans (or with Africans). Modern "aboriginal Tasmanians" could be Australian-human hybrids, settling Tasmania secondarily, and currently LARPing that we-wuz-kangz. (I know, Greg Cochran doesn't like the idea... but.) The least politically correct have mused that the Tasmanians might have been a wholly different species all along. Denisova is a thought and so are the Flores hobbits. Genetic drift is another thought.

Now, I don't go that far. One might counter with the effect of fertility-impinging disease. "Social" diseases were a known problem out in colonial Hobart and in 1879 some legislation was passed there to prevent more, er, flareups. One might also bring up the effects of mumps and rubella - the Tasmanians, when they still existed, told the first (rather, second) European visitors that plagues had blasted out the population not long beforehand. These pestilences hurt the Tasmanians even from breeding with each other.

These are all interesting questions. I am not here to answer them. What I will note, here, is that the same questions were being asked a hundred years ago, too.

The thorough (or near-thorough) death of Tasmania was illuminated en pleine histoire, during the days of Ernest Renan. Outsiders weren't able to do much about the extinction but they were able to read about it. So this culture, lost over the nineteenth century, became grist for the nostalgists of the early twentieth. George Martin is an elderly gentleman, A Product Of His Time, which despite his social-justice pretensions is not our time. He has preserved these century-old tropes, for our Current Year. For that, we should be grateful.

posted by Zimri on 14:08 | link | 0 comments

Mycenaean Syracuse

Salvatore Piccolo has posted an article about pre-/proto-historic Sicily.

The ads on the page seem to be incompatible with Google services, so, beware of that (I am drafting this in Notepad). Also Piccolo introduced the term "Sicanian" out of nowhere such that I don't know what (t.!f.!) he's talking about. I don't think English is his language: I see solecisms like which remind a Mycenaean-type urban planning, where I detect a mental mistranslation from "bring to mind".

I am here interested in Thapsos and Pantalica; the time of the Mycenaean Palace era, Late Helladic III, the Sea Peoples. If I am reading Piccolo right (I might not be, because... you know) then Pantalica North, a plateau near Syracuse, was a Mycenaean valley-of-the-dead. The Syracuse area got Greek'ed early, in the Bronze Age.

The first Mycenaeans out west were the "Milazzese" on the Aeolian Islands. (This name for the islands is classical and, if has aught to do with the later Aeolic Greek dialect, it has nothing to do with whatever the Milazzese spoke. The Linear B Arcadian of Pylos is more likely.) They settled there in the 1400s. At this time Sicily was still native; its culture that of villages.

The "Shekelesh" whom the Ramesides enrolled amongst the Sea Peoples is sometimes considered a term for Sicily. This is troublesome for some scholars, who see that "conspiracy amongst the coastlands" to be flung an island too far. Well... maybe the Shekelesh were the Mycenaean colonies out there. The Greeks didn't always think Sicily was too far in the classical era and they probably didn't during Late Helladic III, either.

The Milazzese Aeolian-Mycenaeans took Syracuse in the 1200s BC. Also at this time the Aeolian Islands fell to the Ausoni, from Italy. In Syracuse they were never secure in their position; they built citadels, which the native Sicilians did not and which the Milazzese never saw the point. Perhaps up in the great peninsula the Italic peoples, then still quite Gaulish, were moving southward and rolling peoples before their feet.

Eventually in the 1000s BC it would appear that the classical "Sicels" made their move, and felled the Mycenaean outpost. Until later Greeks showed up later.

But perhaps some of the remnants remembered they were Shekelesh Greeks and welcomed their brethren.

UPDATE 2/10 - okay, maybe "Aeolian" was related to the islands' language.

posted by Zimri on 11:58 | link | 0 comments

The legacy of early Islamic feminism

Earlier I was discussing how Islamicate becomes Islamic in the minds of Muslims and of non-Muslims both. Here I want to discuss a feedback-loop which makes everything worse. This one comes from the best of intentions.

Islamic populations from the old Umayyad world are, today, highly clannish. A clannish population, even a well-behaved one like several Asian populations, or fellow Europeans like the Greeks and Sicilians, can cause problems when they move, for instance to America. We see over and again the story of an immigrant clan having moved to a neighbourhood, bought a bunch of houses, and then started acting according to their own interests. They never shopped in "white" stores (let alone black ones). If a community member committed a crime (rare, at first) nobody spoke out. They pooled resources for lawyers and systematically cheated the locals, and the local government. And if someone objected it was off to the media to feed the narrative of The Racism In (White) America's Heart. So: ingroup preference, in an immigrant community, becomes a problem for the outgroup. This means the outgroup - the native population - must, in discriminating between which immigrants to admit, beware most of such from a clannish population.

The Qur'an teaches that Muslims are the best of nations and a people apart from - in decreasing order of apartheid - polytheists, Jews, and (some) Christians. But this doesn't matter so much; any scripture is going to say that this scripture is the best scripture and all y'all otha scriptures be just imitatin'. Also once a wide swathe of territory converts to Islam, the Muslims get back that larger breeding-pool.

A few months ago I noted that inbreeding occurs where the female descendants have capital. It occurs to me now that this isn't inevitable. In short, Islam and Arab culture at Islam's founding were too feminist.

No, really. A pro-woman reform in the Qur'an has had the effect of inspiring cousin marriage and a clannishness in the Umayyad world beyond even that of the Byzantine world. This is the Hajnal Line on fuckin' meth.

I actually noticed this pattern several years ago, that under the Umayyads we hear of powerful women in the court jockeying to get their sons into power and influence. The Umayyads were however very good at banding together to face common threats, like the Zubayrids or Yazid Ibn al-Muhallab. (Until the Umawis bled out their strength in one fitna too many.) Under the 'Abbâsids, I don't read so much about the powerful princesses. Where the Umayyads were marrying each others' cousins; the 'Abbâsids were breeding slave-girls. And, yeah, the Umayyads offered up some Carlos-II-tier inbred duds like Yazid II. The 'Abbâsids took longer to fail.

This cousin-preference comes from Allâh's inheritance law, in which sura 4 bequeaths (some) proportion of property to females. (Whether it bequeaths enough, be a side issue.) The Umayyads embraced sura 4 very early; its conclusion is excerpted on the Dome of the Rock, the House of Marwân's first great monument. As Umayyads' Arab armies conquered, they came with sura 4. As others wished to join the Arab elite, the Arabs told them, you must accept sura 4. It wasn't easy to join the elite in the first place because the Arabs were so clannish - they had to become Arabs, effectively adopted, under the wala' system. It turns out that female inheritance if coupled (heh) with female autonomy bleeds out resources from the family, as the females take their stuff and go to someone else's home.

The Muslims who survived best in this environment were those Muslims who forced their own women to stay in the family. I do believe this explains the Avars, as well. Between autonomy and the survival of the clan, survival needs come first, and the weakest relatives last. Sucks for you, short-sighted feminists . . .

So when someone (h/t hbdchick) cites about the postIslamic family system being antidemocratic, and not so much Islam itself... she is right, and the Avars wrong. It should be remembered (h/t hbdchick again) that the family system flows from sura 4, which was an Islamic invention imposed first among the Arabs and then upon their mawali. This came from early Arab and Islamic feminism. The clannishness and in-group brutality found in Islamic(ate) groups today is a reaction against a sacred text. I would argue that the reaction was inevitable.

posted by Zimri on 09:54 | link | 0 comments


Earlier this week I was looking into the orbital dynamics of an extrasolar system which was more like Jupiter's than like ours. I had to do some math and ended up balancing some aspects, like relative orbital frequency and distance, against others, like absolute orbital period and mass. Islam and the Muslims also have balancing aspects. It used to be that every Jew or otherwise dissident from north Mediterranean Christianity understood this and was thankful for this.

Razib Khan has a a very dim view of religious essentialism. I respect that - I disagree, but I respect that. Part of my blog's commentary over the past year or so, since my "Saint Nestorius" post, has been to make the case for religious essentialism. But the case does have to be made.

For my part I have a dim view of terms like "essentialism" used as a pejorative, and on their flip side the term "nuance" held up as righteous antonym. I have done since John Kerry made "nuance" a centerpiece of his wishy-washy pander of a campaign - that New England toff did it to insinuate that Bush's voters were ignorant, Not Exactly The Harvard Sort If You Get My Drift. But I make allowance for Razib Khan to use it, because over the years (decades!) he has earned his right to use almost any term he wants to use, because he doesn't tend to essentialism himself, and he panders to no one.

So: on to Islam and to Muslims. These differ. Islam often teaches one way of life and then the cultural Muslims paying it lip-service will go on to do anyway what they'd done since the age of the Seleucids. Hence why Shahab Ahmed had to go and think up terms like "Islamicate" to describe, for a start, mediaeval Iranian poetry. Given that, when a population / host / horde / what have you of Muslims show up en masse at the border of a non-Muslim country, and some of the non-Muslims object, many liberals might well ask, well, what's the problem. It must be essentialism and lack of nuance amongst the natives.

Well... no. Those long and thick queues of "refugees" walking the German highways bring problems for Germany beyond this or that interpretation of "Islam". Some Islamicate practices, not intentionally Islamic, are problematic as well.

Take the Avars who moved to Georgia in the Middle Ages. The Avars north of the Caucasus were, once upon a time, Christians. They had even inherited their alphabet from the Christian Georgians, but used it mainly in grave-inscriptions (not unlike how the old Gauls had used the Latin alphabet). When an Avar clan decided to move elsewhere, they could read the mile-stones to Georgia, so off they went. (The Georgians, today, are the Europeans of the Caucasus.) Upon the Avars' arrival the Georgian king said - oh hi! I remember you guys; if you pay your taxes and don't aid our enemies, You Do You. However these particular Avars had converted to Islam some while before. And they practiced clitorodectomy. In Current Year, this practice is odious to liberals. When challenged, the horrible old hags amongst the Avar community retorted, "we are Muslims".

When people see this motte-and-bailey argument, they instinctively want to strike the motte, and they hear - from the Muslims! - that the motte is Islam. Do you like essentialists? because this is how you make more essentialists . . .

posted by Zimri on 09:22 | link | 0 comments

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