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Friday, July 24, 2015

EASTER EGG

I don't believe there ever was a person named Jesus. There was, however, a man named Yeshua. A thousand years after Yeshua died, the first hand-written English translations of the New Testament used the letter “J” to represent the Hebrew sound for “Yod” . Then, in the 400 years after Gutenberg printed his first bible, the entire English language went through “The Great Vowel Shift”, and the vowel “Y” lost its Hebrew roots and sound wise became the consonant “J”. A few more linguistic adjustments and “Yod-shu-ru” became “Gee-zuhs” Back in the first century one in every ten males in Yehudah (Judea) was named Yeshua. And there wasn't anybody named Jesus. But for convenience we'll keep calling him that.
There is only one reliable reference to Jesus outside of the New Testament. At the end of the first century a Roman book appeared, “Antiquities of the Jews”, written by Joseph ben Matityahu, known in the Roman world as Titus Flavius Josephus (above). He was the son of a priest at the Jerusalem temple and his mother claimed to have the royal blood of King David in her veins. In other words he was a snotty entitled rich kid.
In 67 A.D, during the Jewish rebellion, Josephus became the prisoner of the Roman General Vespasian. Hearing that Vespasian was looking for prophets willing to predict his future success, Josephus had an epiphany, and predicted Vespasian would be named Emperor. When that actually happened, Josephus was rewarded with his freedom, moved to Rome and became an historian and a soothsayer. In short, his successful second career was built entirely on telling powerful rich people what they wanted to hear. So everything he writes has to be read with a jaundiced eye, including what he wrote about Jesus.
In his book “Antiquities”, Josephus says that in the spring of 62, Ananus was named the new high priest of the Temple. Josephus describes him as “rash”, but then Josephus knew it was better to blame the Jewish priests for destruction of their temple, rather than the Romans, who had actually knocked it down. But what he says Ananus did, was logical. Seeking to quickly establish his authority and silence those calling for a suicidal Jewish uprising, Ananus ordered the arrest of James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ...” Josephus says James was tried, found guilty of heresy and stoned to death.
Most historians suspect that Jame's execution was quickly followed by the elimination of all of Jesus' apostles still in Jerusalem, which is why the only apostle we definitively hear from after the year 62 was Peter. Earlier he had been sent north to deal with the troublesome new convert, Paul. And this also explains why Paul was able to have such an influence over early Christianity . He was wealthy and connected, while Peter was poor, and connected to nobody but Jesus. The mass execution of first generation Christian leaders also explains why Ananus was high priest for less than four months. All of this supports the accuracy of Josephus' brief mention of Jesus.
There seems no reason to think Jesus was not crucified. Lots of people were crucified by the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Carthaginians, even Judea had been nailing people onto wood long before the Romans took up the practice. When the Persian king Darius I captured Babylon in 519 B.C., he claimed to have crucified 3,000 people. But the Romans got it really organized. After the slave army of Spartacus was defeated in 71 B.C., Crassus crucified 6,000 captives along the 120 miles of the Appian Way between Rome and Capua. So the Romans crucifying Jesus would have been as common-place as Texas executing a random African-American. What made the execution of Jesus special, according to Christians, was that three days later Jesus rose from the dead. Of course that was not unheard of either.
The most Christ-like of all the born again gods was Mithra (above). He was the son of the virgin Anahita, born in a cave on 25 December. He became a traveling celibate Zoroastrian priest, and carried his ministry of peace and forgiveness out of India into the Persian empire. Sacred texts say that having angered Persian authorities in 600 B.C., and after a last meal with his 12 followers, Mithra was crucified on a cross. After he was taken down,  Mithra's dead body lay in his tomb for three days, until the spring equinox, when “...the light burst forth from all parts, the priest cried, Rejoice, O sacred initiated, your God is risen. His death, his pains, and sufferings, have worked your salvation." So the idea of resurrection was not new, either. It was a neat literary invention - turning a god into a living man, rather than the usual device of turning a man into a living god.
Robust Mithraism was adopted by enlisted and NCO's of the Roman army, who spread it across Europe and North Africa.  Mithra was even worshiped at midnight services on Vatican Hill and at military outposts along the Rhine border and Hadrian's Wall. The omniscient Mithra was the Good Shepherd, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah, the god who became a man so he could die to atone for your sins. Standard Catholic theology is that Mithria was a false god sent by Satan to confuse Christians. That seems to me a convoluted logic, on Satan's part, and it assumes that God's motives can be quantified and comprehended by humans. And requiring such proof seems to prove a lack of faith. But that's just my opinion.
Doubters often suggest that Jesus survived crucifixion by trickery or drugs, and that is certainly possible. But considering the standard crucifixion protocols, it is unlikely. Crucifixion was not just a form of execution. It was also a form of theatre. First, in public, the convicted was stripped, tied to a post and scourged, jaggedly opening his back down to the muscle and bone. It was a bloody mess. This would have left Jesus, in the words of one medical expert, in the initial stages of shock, and in “at least serious and possibly critical” condition. The intent was not to kill him, but to so weaken him so as to make the next day's execution certain and smooth.
After recovering overnight the condemned would have been striped naked again, had a 100 lb cross beam tired across his shoulders, which he then carried to his execution site. There he would have been thrown to the ground onto his back – reopening his wounds - and either had nails driven through his wrists or more likely had his hands tied to the cross beam. The cross beam, with the prisoner attached, was then lifted up and set atop a post, creating either the Roman cross or more likely a “T”. It need only been tall enough to get the victim's feet off the ground.
The Roman guards would remain on watch until the man died. If the weather was unpleasant or dinner awaited them, the guards might break the victim's legs or even stab him in the side, to hurry the process along. Other wise death would eventually occur because of cardiac failure, shock, acidosis, asphyxia, arrhythmia, dehydration, sepsis, suffocation , or even being torn apart by vultures or wolves. You do not survive crucifixion because friends slip you a mickey after you're on the cross. In fact a sedative would more likely suppress breathing and hurry death along.
During the siege of Jerusalem , our old friend Josephus saw three of his frat brothers hanging off their own crosses. He begged the Romans for their lives, and the officer in charge “immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to ensure to their recovery, Two of them died under the physician's care, while the third recovered.” So even with the best and prompt medical care available, the survival rate, once you were up on the wood, was only 33%. And the best was certainly not available to Jesus.
So, to put it all together, there very well might have been a man we call Jesus, and he might very well have been a significant religious leader, who might very well have died on a cross. And people were willing to believe such a man, if he existed, had died for their sins. There is no proof that any of that happened, and no proof it did not. It depends on what you believe.
And every Easter, that all depends upon.you.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TOILET HUMOUR - ONE

I advise you, if you are anxious to be read of, to look for some boozy poet of the dark archway who writes verses with rough charcoal or crumbling chalk which folk read while they shit”.
Marcus Valerius Martialis” Rome, 70 C. E.
The average healthy human produces an ounce of poo for every 12 pounds of body weight, dropping a log anywhere between 3 times a day to once every three days. Our foul, stinking meadow muffins are so putrid a blind leopard with a head cold could track a human through a stink weed swamp. The only reason we were not hunted to extinction is that we used to live in the trees, where our “stinkies” magically disappeared when dropped.
What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before?’ Answer: A key.
Sumarian joke, 2, 500 B.C.
This “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” hygiene worked until 3 million years ago when we started to spend time on the ground. It must have been a short transition, as proved by our still smelly merde. But as long as our populations remained mobile we could usually outrun the lions and tigers and bears, and defecate away from where we hunted and gathered. When the ice ages restricted our outings, our Cro-Magnon siblings filled so many sheltering caves with aromatic and putrescent paleo-feces, we drove our Neanderthal roommates to prefer the cold outdoors to our proximity.
Strepsiades ; “Do you see this little door and little house?...This is a thinking-shop of wise spirits....
These men teach, if one give them money, to conquer in speaking, right or wrong.....They are minute philosophers, noble and excellent.”
Act I, Scene I. The Clouds by Aristophanes 424 B.C.
Then, about 10,000 years ago, humans settled down in settlements and started farming. Human populations mushroomed, as did our fecal matter. This led to the first great invention to deal with scheisse – sewage. Whoever was running the palace at Knossos on Crete 3,000 years ago, could pass a BM without ever having to see or smell it, as the constantly running water in the palace pipes instantly removed the royal turd from proximity to the royal nose. This may be the origin of the Robert's Supreme Court legal precedent that rich people's poop don't stink. But, of course, the palace pipes had to end somewhere, and the property values just downstream must have plummeted, along with the the owner's odor and ardor.
Eat lettuce and soft apples eat: For you, Phoebus, have the harsh face of a defecating man."
Marcus Valerius Martialis 70 C.E..
It was King Tarquin in 600 B.C.E. who first mixed socialism and sewage, when he built Rome's 16 foot wide Cloaca Maximum, aka the central sewer, aka “the big poop hole”, atop the cities' 100 foricae, public latrines, where King and commoner alike could discharge a brownie without having to give it a second thought. 
This sanitation reduced the city's death rate to a mere 30,000 a year, allowing the population to top one million during the first millennium. But that didn't last. After the Romans threw out the Etruscan Kings, they privatized new additions to the sewer system, producing some very rich crap merchants – from the Latin “crappa” meaning chaff, or rejected material. But squeezing every ounce of profit from the poop populi left the sewers leaky and often in disrepair and disconnected. Thus Rome suffered a series of plagues that killed over half the population every few decades. Where upon the patricians took their money and fled to the suburbs, like Ravenna and Constantinople.
Apollinaris, doctor to the emperor Titus, had a good crap here.”
Graffitti on a wall in Herculaneum, Italy 79 C.E.
The fall of Rome brought on the dark ages, which meant even royalty were reduced to making night deposits in a chamber pot, a sort of portable latrine. Of course the wealthy had servants to dump their “cacha” (Latin profanity for poop) , usually in the nearest street, which became a sewer, from the old French “seuwiere”, meaning a drain cut in the ground. This was also the origin of the “High Street”, as the most valuable address, because, as any populist will tell you, shite runs downhill.
With your giant nose and cock, I bet you can with ease When you get excited, check the end for cheese.”
Marcus Valerius Martialis 70 C.E.
By the 16th century, the 200,000 subjects living in the fetid putrid sewer of London, then the largest city in Europe, were dropping dead daily from anthrax, measles, whooping cough, strep throat, syphilis, child bed fever, malaria, polio, tetanus, and cholera, to name but a few of the infectious endemic illnesses. In addition there was an epidemic of influenza from 1557 to 1559 that killed 5% of the city. The first half of the century saw five waves of the “Dreaded Sweats” or “English Sweats” that killed tens of thousands within 24 hours of affliction. The Black Death or Bubonic Plague swept through London in 1563 (17,000 dead), 1578 (3,700 dead), 1582 (3,000 dead) and 1592 (11,000 dead). And the cause was obvious, even without a viable germ theory.
This Nicholas just then let fly a fart, As loud as it had been a thunder-clap, And well-nigh blinded Absalom, poor chap; But he was ready with his iron hot, And Nicholas right in the arse he got.  Off went the skin a hand's-breadth broad, about, The coulter burned his bottom so, throughout, That for the pain he thought that he should die, And like one mad he started in to cry, "Help! Water! Water! For God's dear heart!”
The Millers Tale – The Cantabury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer 1478
By 1600, the largest tributary of the Thames, the Fleet River (old Anglo-Saxon “fleot”, a tidal inlet), once called “The river of wells”, had been an open sewer for two centuries. Ben Johnson, Shakespere's contemporary, penned a tribute “On the Famous Voyage”, praising two lads who dared to boat down the 100 yard wide “ merd-urinous” stream. In the stone lined channel “Hung stench, diseases, and old filth, their mother...pills and eke in potions, Suppositories, cataplasms and lotions...the grave fart, late let in parliament.” At last a dead cat floats to the surface and curses the travelers. “How dare Your dainty nostrils (in so hot a season, When every clerk eats artichokes and peason, Laxative lettuce, and such windy meat) Tempt such a passage? When each privy's seat, Is filled with buttock, and the walls do sweat Urine and plasters?” But the waters of the Thames barely noticed the Fleet's filth, so contaminated were its own. The only thing more dangerous than being a child raised in sewage soaked Elizabethan London, was being Elizabeth in the the same place.
In vain, the Workman showed his Wit, With Rings and Hinges counterfeit, To make it seem in this Disguise, A Cabinet to vulgar Eyes...So Strephon lifting up the Lid, To view what in the Chest was hid...So Things, which must not be expressed When plumped into the reeking Chest; Send up an excremental Smell, To taint the Parts from whence they fell. The Petty coats and Gown perfume, Which waft a Stink round every Room.”
Jonathan Swift “The Lady's Dressing Room” 1732
After years of living under the constant threat of a charge of treason, Elizabeth Tudor put on the crown in 1558 as a 25 year old paranoid anorexic, subject to panic attacks. Living just above the level of common sewage, the nobility survived eating slightly spoiled food, prepared by unwashed hands, unevenly cooked in polluted water. This lead to repeated bouts of stomach cramps, mild fevers, headaches, watery diarrhea and vomiting, which lead to dehydration. This gastroenteritis would rarely prove fatal to an otherwise healthy adult like Elizabeth, but it killed one in four of all infants and a quarter of all surviving children by the age of 10. However salvation from this rising tide of poo was offered in 1595 when a member of Elizabeth's court invented “The John”. Except he called it the “Ajax”, for a very punny reason.
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

DADDY DEAREST

I don't much like what genetics has to say about being a male. My growing disappointment sharpened when I read a 2003 paper in the “American Journal of Human Genetics”, which uncovered an “unusual linkage” on the MSY (the Male-Specific region of the Y chromosome) of some 400 million current male residents of Asia. They share a distinct thousand year old chemical inheritance from an ambitious, foul tempered, cut throat, sex crazed Mongol named Temujin, AKA Genghis Kahn. Among the Great Ruler's favorite past times was killing his enemies and then “to hold their wives and daughters in his arms.” Through serial rape, Temujin scattered more sperm around than Secretariat. Genghis Kahn's successful evolutionary strategy was to treat women as if they were horses.
About 5,000 years ago, when traders first appeared in ancient Mesopotamia selling equines, the Sumerians had to borrow words from the Hittites to describe the beasts - calling them “akk asca”, literally “mountain asses ”. And as anybody who keeps horses can tell you, horses ain't cheap. They eat a lot and require a lot of land to run around on. By about 2,100 B.C.E., rich and royal Sumerian speakers were breeding horses to pull their war chariots. Horses were worth their weight in bronze for men like 20- something Shulgi, who became King of Ur in 2069 B.C..
The first bronze weapons were developed by the Elam people, Shulgi's southern neighbors, who lived on the Iranian plateau. Elam was lucky because their copper ore was naturally contaminated with arsenic, and it was the contamination which turned soft copper into harder bronze. But bronze also ain't cheap. Melting copper requires almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees C), which means burning a lot of wood. And trying to make the best bronze required technicians, and experimentation. When the Sumerians replaced the arsenic with tin, they produced a harder weapon, with which Shulgi could boast he “broke the weapons of the highlands over my knees, and in the south placed a yoke on the neck of Elam.”
Like a bronze age Vladimir Putin, the narcissist Shugli (above) described himself as “a horse of the highway that swishes its tail”. “Let me boast of what I have done!” And he did. He claimed to be able to run a hundred miles, out fight, out quote, out cook and even out math everybody. “None of the nobles could write on clay as I could.” After he was dead his critics accused him of being “untruthful”. His claim to have defeated the Elam is instructive. Early in his reign, in 2065 B.C., he married his daughter to the governor of the Elam border town of Awan. Then when the locals overthrew his son-in-law in 2061 B.C., Shulgi crossed the border and sacked the town. But he did not linger, as Elam sent their own army to escort Shulgi home - thanks for the help, but really, Shulgi, don't do it again. And he did not, concentrating over the next forty years on expanding and defending his northern border.
Curiously, our Temujin-want-a-be left no record of his sexual conquests. It was almost the only thing he didn't boast about. Maybe he was gay, or just sexually repressed, but Shulgi would not be a candidate for one of the three “fathers” of 64% of all living males in Europe. According to a 2015 study in the journal “Nature Communications”, a similar MSY mutation indicates the first Euro Daddy Dearest was probably pater to the Vikings. About the same time a second Papa progenitor was spreading his sperm around the southern Atlantic coast of Europe, just before the last but not least forefather breeder appeared in north-central Europe. And all these of events correspond to the local arrival of bronze, and the use of war horses.
The latter study co-author, Dr. Chiara Batini, from the University of Leicester, explained the social-genetic implications. “We think that a social structure in which resources and power are more easily accessible to only some men may allow for a few paternal lineages to become very frequent in a short amount of time.” In other words, converging technologies created a few rich bronze age sires who controlled the sperm receptacles, i.e. women. Or, to the put this “jus primae noctis” in capitalistic terms, corporate management used unlimited secret political donations to create and protect tax loop holes for their bonuses, while preventing a raise in the Federal minimum wage for the under classes. Do you detect that my Irish is up?
In truth the rise of Genghis Kahn had nothing to do with his sexual productivity, that was just a by product of his personal indecency. But you can't argue with success. And the name “Temumin” means “iron worker”, which was the next great technological advance after the invention of bronze. It was iron weapons that were the strength of “Harold Tangled Hair”, who, not long after the founding of the Mongol Empire, swore not to cut his own ginger locks until he had conquered all of Norway - which “Harold Fair Hair” then did, followed by the large scale forced impregnation of many of the females living in in Norway.

Those Nordic tribes not wanting to carry Harold's genes around, scattered across the North Sea, looking for a safe haven, freedom, and easy loot and rape victims of their own. Their Celtic victims called them Vikings, or “Sea Rovers”, and they reached as far west as Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, and as far south as Normandy, Scotland and northern Ireland, where Niall Noigialallach (above) - in English “Neal of the Nine Hostages” - carved out his Kingdom of Tara.
For centuries scholars insisted King Neal was mythological. Then, in 2006, geneticists at Trinity College in Dublin found yet another MSY marker in 21% of males from north west Ireland - the core of Neal's “mythical” kingdom - and in 8% of Scottish males, just across the 20 mile wide North Channel of the Irish Sea, where Neal liked to do a little raping, er, raiding. Some 3 million Irish and Scottish men with two dozen family names are members of the “Ui Neil”, descendents of the clearly non-mythical “most fecund man in Irish history”, Neal of the Nine Hostages.
An Irish bishop would later describe pre-Viking Ireland as “Rich in goods, in silver, jewels, cloth and gold”, which may explain in part the island's attractiveness to the randy pagan, who could claim 12 “legitimate” children. And then there are what Irish schoolchildren are taught were the offspring of Neal's “romantic conquests”. Odd how rape becomes less vile when described by the rapists. Consider the treaty Neal reached with the Airgialla tribe, ( literally the "hostage-givers"). Rather than fight a bloody protracted conquest of the Airgialla's Sperrin Mountains, known for their dreary weather, Neal agreed to respect the borders in exchange for one hostage from each of their nine clans. And it seems likely to me that many of those hostages were women.
During one of his Scottish raids, legend says Neal captured a 16 year old Celtic boy of Roman heritage, and after transporting him back to Ireland, sold the young man into slavery. It was the kind of business the Vikings were famous for, although Neal was participating in Celtic and Viking tradition. For six years the captive labored as a stable boy, until finally escaping and stowing away on a ship back to Scotland. The young man returned to Ireland 10 years later as missionary, later Bishop Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. Or so says the Catholic legend, which is at least as believable as the pagan ones. Legend also says that Neal, first High King or Ireland, died on one of his Scottish raids, murdered by his own son. Such was the barbarous tradition among the pagans (see Macbeth) , and the following Christian English Kings, (see Henry II and Richard I, Edward II, Richard III, etc, etc.)
But nowhere in any of these legends and history, does anyone get an opinion from the women. For that we are reduced to the next best thing – investigating the lives of living women. Sometime during their life time, 20% of all women will be raped, 1,300,000 American women during 2010 according to the Centers for Disease Control. According to the F.B.I., 90% of all American murderers are male. And of all those murder/rapists, how many carry the MSY markers from a Daddy Dearest? Genetics is not only who we were and are, it is who we want to be. And I don't want to be that. Do you?
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