“Ebon Moglen Gives a comprehensive explanation of how the NSA’s surveillance operations are a threat to a functioning democracy, and why there is a need for real change. There are interesting parallels to the Roman Empires: ‘The power of that Roman empire rested in its leaders’ control of communications. … The emperors invented the posts to move couriers and messages at the fastest possible speed. Using that infrastructure, with respect to everything that involved the administration of power, the emperor made himself the best-informed person in the history of the world. That power eradicated human freedom. “Remember,” said Cicero to Marcellus in exile, “wherever you are, you are equally within the power of the conqueror.’
Used in Xenophon’s Apology to refer to people who know someone more helpful than Socrates. Used by me to refer to people who didn’t know Socrates.
(Also everyone else, hopefully.)
A door pivot stone from Telloh (ancient Girsu), third millennium BC, Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
Cat and Mouse, Egyptian, dates to ca.1295-1075 B.C.E.
An ostracon is a smooth flake of stone (or, less often, pottery) that the Egyptians used instead of expensive papyrus for drawing or writing. This example of an “animal fable” vignette shows a plump, middle-aged mouse seated on an elaborate stool and holding a drinking bowl, a flower (or a fish skeleton?), and a piece of cloth. Before him stands his servant, a scrawny cat, who fans him while presenting a trussed fowl and a bolt of cloth.
A number of such scenes have survived showing animals acting as humans but with their natural roles reversed. They may have illustrated popular fables, or they may have been intended as satires on upper-class life in the Ramesside Period, when almost all were made.
“You should not think that these great secrets are fully and completely known to anyone among us. They are not. But sometimes truth flashes out to us so that we think that it is day, and then matter and habit in their various forms conceal it so that we find ourselves again in an obscure night, almost as we were at first. We are like someone in a very dark night over whom lightning flashes time and time again. Among us there is one for whom the lightning flashes time and time again, so that he is always, as it were, in unceasing light. Thus night appears to him as day. That is the degree of the great one among the prophets, to whom it was said: But as for thee, stand thou here by Me, and of whom it was said: that the skin of his face sent forth beams, and so on. Among them there is one to whom the lightning flashes only once in the whole of his night; that is the rank of those of whom it is said: they prophesied, but they did so no more. There are others between whose lightning flashes there are greater or shorter intervals. Thereafter comes he who does not attain a degree in which his darkness is illumined by any lightning flash. It is illumined, however, by a polished body or something of that kind, stones or something else that give light in the darkness of the night. And even this small light that shines over us is not always there, but flashes and is hidden again, as if it were the flaming sword which turned every way. It is in accord with these states that the degrees of the perfect vary. As for those who never even once see a light, but grope about in their night, of them it is said: They know not, neither do they understand; They go about in darkness. The truth, in spite of the strength of its manifestation, is entirely hidden from them, as is said of them: And now men see not the light which is bright in the skies. They are the vulgar among people. There is then no occasion to mention them.”
Archaeologists and forensic scientists who have examined 25 skeletons unearthed in the Clerkenwell area of London a year ago believe they have uncovered the truth about the nature of the Black Death that ravaged Britain and Europe in the mid-14th century.
Analysis of the bodies and of wills registered in London at the time has cast doubt on “facts” that every schoolchild has learned for decades: that the epidemic was caused by a highly contagious strain spread by the fleas on rats.
Now evidence taken from the human remains found in Charterhouse Square, to the north of the City of London, during excavations carried out as part of the construction of the Crossrail train line, have suggested a different cause: only an airborne infection could have spread so fast and killed so quickly.
The tombs of the early people and their ancestors indicate that the Berbers and their ancestors (the Masyle and Capsians) believed in life after death. The prehistoric men of northwest Africa buried bodies in little holes. When they realized that bodies buried in unsecured holes were dug up by wild animals, they began to bury them in deeper ones. Later, they buried the dead in caves, tumuli, tombs in rocks, mounds, and other types of tombs
In a cosmos without absolute values, we have to rely on the relative values affecting our daily sense of comfort, pleasure, & emotional satisfaction. What gives us relative painlessness & contentment we may arbitrarily call “good,” & vice versa. This local nomenclature is necessary to give us that benign illusion of placement, direction, & stable background on which the still more important illusions of “worthwhileness,” dramatic significance in events, & interest in life depend. Now what gives one person or race or age relative painlessness & contentment often disagrees sharply on the psychological side from what gives these same boons to another person or race or age. Therefore “good” is a relative & variable quality, depending on ancestry, chronology, geography, nationality, & individual temperament. Amidst this variability there is only one anchor of fixity which we can seize upon as the working pseudo-standard of “values” which we need in order to feel settled & contented — & that anchor is tradition, the potent emotional legacy bequeathed to us by the massed experience of our ancestors, individual or national, biological or cultural. Tradition means nothing cosmically, but it means everything locally & pragmatically because we have nothing else to shield us from a devastating sense of “lostness” in endless time & space.
– HP Lovecraft