with luck, balls are better than brains

Christopher Columbus (c. 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in what is today northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements in the island of Hispaniola, initiated the process of Spanish colonization, which foreshadowed the general European colonization of the “New World“.

In the context of emerging western imperialism and economic competition between European kingdoms seeking wealth through the establishment of trade routes and colonies, Columbus’ far-fetched proposal to reach the East Indies by sailing westward received the support of the Spanish crown, which saw in it a promise, however remote, of gaining the upper hand over rival powers in the contest for the lucrative spice trade with Asia. During his first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching Japan as he had intended, Columbus landed in the Bahamas archipelago, at a locale he named San Salvador. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire.

Never admitting that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, rather than the East Indies he had set out for, Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios (Spanish for “Indians“).[7][8][9] Columbus’ strained relationship with the Spanish crown and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and dismissal as governor of the settlements in Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits which Columbus and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown.

Washington Irving‘s 1828 biography of Columbus popularized the idea that Columbus had difficulty obtaining support for his plan because many Catholic theologians insisted that the Earth was flat. In fact, most educated Westerners had understood that the Earth was spherical at least since the time of Aristotle, who lived in the 4th century BC and whose works were widely studied and revered in Medieval Europe. The sphericity of the Earth is also accounted for in the work of Ptolemy, on which ancient astronomy was largely based. Christian writers whose works clearly reflect the conviction that the Earth is spherical include Saint Bede the Venerable in his Reckoning of Time, written around AD 723. In Columbus’ time, the techniques of celestial navigation, which use the position of the Sun and the Stars in the sky, together with the understanding that the Earth is a sphere, were widely used by mariners.

Where Columbus did differ from the view accepted by scholars in his day was in his estimate of the westward distance from Europe to Asia. Columbus’ ideas in this regard were based on three factors: his low estimate of the size of the Earth, his high estimate of the size of the Eurasian landmass, and his belief that Japan and other inhabited islands lay far to the east of the coast of China. In all three of these issues Columbus was both wrong and at odds with the scholarly consensus of his day.

As far back as the 3rd century BC, Eratosthenes had correctly computed the circumference of the Earth by using simple geometry and studying the shadows cast by objects at two different locations: Alexandria and Syene (modern-day Aswan). Eratosthenes’s results were confirmed by a comparison of stellar observations at Alexandria and Rhodes, carried out by Posidonius in the 1st century BC. These measurements were widely known among scholars, but confusion about the old-fashioned units of distance in which they were expressed had led, in Columbus’s day, to some debate about the exact size of the Earth.

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Settler-colonial societies eliminate the indigenous population. Thomas Jefferson said, well, we have no choice but to exterminate the indigenous population, the Native Americans; the reason is they’re attacking us. Why are they attacking us? Because we’re taking everything away from them. But since we’re taking their land and resources away and they defend themselves, we have to exterminate them.

The settler-colonial societies are a striking illustration of, first of all, the massive destructive power of European imperialism. If some extraterrestrial observer were watching this, they’d think the species was insane. And, in fact, it is. But the insanity goes back to the basic institutional structure. That’s the way it works. It’s built into the institutions. It’s one of the reasons it’s going to be very hard to change.

The U.S. was founded on two racist principles: the system of slavery, the source of much of its wealth (and England’s too), and the need to rid the national territory of Native Americans, whom the Declaration of Independence explicitly describes as “the merciless Indian savages,” and whom the framers saw as barring the expansion of the “superior” race. Immigrants were supposed to be basically “Anglo-Saxon,” in accord with racist myths of the founding fathers that persisted through the 19th century.

There are sharp concentration of wealth and power, increasingly in largely predatory financial institutions, stagnation or decline for the majority, deterioration of benefits, astonishing collapse of infrastructure. The result, in the U.S. and in Europe, is an upsurge of anger, resentment and, all too often, a search for scapegoats — typically those even more disadvantaged, who are portrayed as being coddled by liberal elites. It’s a dangerous mix: fertile territory for demagogues.

The threats are far more extreme than the incipient fascist-style tendencies, which are severe enough. Humans are facing a decision of extraordinary significance, which must be made very soon: Will organized human society survive in anything like its present form, or will it be devastated by global catastrophe? The two most ominous threats are nuclear war and environmental catastrophe, both increasing. On the latter, major energy corporations are apparently planning on a future with 5º Celsius above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and with that in mind, are racing to accelerate what climate scientists recognize to be indescribable catastrophe by maximizing the profitable production of fossil fuels, joined by the biggest banks and other major capitalist institutions.

Meanwhile the Republican administration is anticipating a slightly less overwhelming catastrophe — a rise of 4º[C] by end of the century, also far above what scientists recognize to be a colossal danger. And it concludes from this detailed environmental assessment that we should not limit automotive emissions, because — what’s the difference? We’re going over the cliff anyway.

In mid-April 1945, the war in Europe was essentially over. There was no military reason to attack the Germans stationed near Royan, France, much less to burn the French men, women, and children in the town to death. The British had already destroyed the town in January, similarly bombing it because of its vicinity to German troops, in what was widely called a tragic mistake. Zinn blames everyone involved — which must include himself — for “the most powerful motive of all: the habit of obedience, the universal teaching of all cultures, not to get out of line, not even to think about that which one has not been assigned to think about, the negative motive of not having either a reason or a will to intercede.

As an active WWII bombardier returning from the end of the war in Europe and preparing for combat in Japan, Howard Zinn read the headline “Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan” and was glad—the war would be over. “Like other Americans,” writes Zinn, “I had no idea what was going on at the higher levels, and had no idea what that ‘atomic bomb’ had done to men, women, children in Hiroshima, any more than I ever really understood what the bombs I dropped on European cities were doing to human flesh and blood.” During the war, Zinn had taken part in the aerial bombing of Royan, France. In 1966, he went to Hiroshima, where he was invited to a “house of rest” where survivors of the bombing gathered. In The Bomb (City Lights Open Media), the backstory of the making and use of the bomb, Zinn offers his deep personal reflections and political analysis of these events, and the profound influence they had in transforming him from an order-taking combat soldier to one of our greatest anti-authoritarian, anti-war historians.


(Taken from the oatmeal via Anacephalaeosis) :

A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn

An experts’ history of Howard Zinn, FEB. 1, 2010

Howard Zinn, Historian, Dies at 87, by MICHAEL POWELLJAN. 27, 2010

A Veteran Against War

  Posted on July 14, 2015 by Howard Zinn Website

Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen.

Noam Chomsky: To Make the US a Democracy, the Constitution Itself Must Change, by C. J. Polychroniou, Truthout, July 24, 2019

HOWARD ZINN’S THE BOMB, By David Swanson|July 26, 2010

Noam chomsky on settler colonialism

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La profesionalización del instructor de Aikido

Una de las cosas que me llaman la atención al ver el registro videográfico de Ueshiba es el virtuosísimo del Aikido moderno, comparado con el original.

La famosa practica filmada por NHK consiste en técnica básica ejecutada con una contundencia terrible, pero sencilla y sin adorno alguno. En cambio, en la actualidad, los instructores de jerarquía muestran un refinamiento y elaboración técnica que no es aparente en los videos antiguos. Esta situación es una consecuencia natural de la profesionalización del instructor de Aikido, con todo lo que implica.

La profesionalización del instructor de Aikido era un tema controversial con los alumnos del Maestro, de los cuales por cierto ya no queda nadie, todos han muerto. Shirata, por ejemplo, aseveraba claramente que el instructor de Aikido debe ganarse su pan afuera de la enseñanza del camino. Que el enseñar es simplemente parte del proceso de aprender y comercializar el arte es comprometer su esencia. Por otro lado, los que fueron mandados al extranjero a evangelizar, en términos prácticos no tenían otra opción a vivir de su enseñanza.

Cuando estuve en Japón, mi instructor era un empleado del ferrocarril, y así todos los instructores locales; taxistas, ingeniero en sistemas, mecánico, ferretero. No conocí ningún instructor profesional con la excepción de los funcionarios de la Asociación, que en cierta forma confirmaban la regla, ya que su trabajo profesional era más bien administrativo y logístico, como es natural.

En México, el ambiente es totalmente distinto. El amateurismo en la práctica del Aikido, en forma o esencia, no es aparente, y la gente habla y se preocupa del concepto de linaje técnico. Recuerdo cuando regrese y empecé el club del ITESM. Un de los que llegaron me pregunto quien era el instructor, a lo que le conteste que no había y que la idea era aprender juntos. Se fue inmediatamente. Otro me pregunto retadoramente que quien era mi instructor. Lo cual me pareció muy extraño. ¿Pretendía el tipo conocer a todos los instructores del mundo? Le conteste que el Sr. Gohara, lo cual le sorprendió muchísimo al inquisidor. Me dijo con verdadera sorpresa que no sabía quien era. Entendí entonces que su expectativa era la mención de algún instructor profesional establecido.

El maestro Gohara vino a México y practico con nosotros por unos meses. Después de que se fue vinieron los Moreno y nos dieron un seminario. La técnica del maestro Gohara era sencilla y la de los Moreno barroca y espectacular. El maestro Gohara aplicaba su técnica de manera suave y gradual, adaptándose a la capacidad de uke de recibir la técnica. El Maestro Moreno invariablemente ejecutaba su técnica de manera rigurosa y con mucha fuerza, a veces rayando en la brusquedad. Uno de los alumnos percibió la situación de esta manera: El interés del maestro Gohara era que nosotros aprendiéramos, el de los Moreno verse bien.

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What happened to the mexica gods after the Conquest?

what happened to the nahuatl gods?

taken from Mexicolore

Alan Sandstrom
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology
Indiana University-Purdue University
Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA)

This is a wonderful question that is not easy to answer briefly. Most people think of the Aztecs as the people who created the magnificent civilization in Mexico that was brought down by the Spaniards and their Native American allies in the early 1500s. Most assume that the Aztecs as a people ceased to exist following the conquest. But this is not the case. There are between 1.5 and 2 million people today who continue to speak Nahuatl, the Aztec language, and many are directly descended from the Aztecs themselves. The conquest destroyed cities but left most rural communities intact and many small villages continue to be inhabited by Aztecs to the present day.

Contemporary Aztec (Nahua) villages vary enormously in the degree to which they continue to practice the ancient religion and follow the old gods. Some have lost their Aztec beliefs and practice forms of Catholicism or Protestantism that are very similar to religions practiced in Europe or North America. Others follow traditions that are firmly rooted in the ancient Aztec past and hold beliefs in the same gods worshiped by their ancestors. Most contemporary Aztec communities fall somewhere between these two extremes of religious belief and practice.

It is important to remember that the Spaniards and literate Aztecs who chronicled the ancient civilization wrote about people in the cities. They neglected to document village life and religious traditions in smaller communities. The result is that we know little about the people who lived at the edges of the Aztec empire and even less about their gods and rituals. However, Aztec villagers must have shared many features of their culture with people in the cities, and so we can assume that the gods worshiped in the rural areas must have been similar to those worshiped in urban centers.

It is also important to remember that the Spanish conquerors did everything they could to destroy the Aztec religion, which they believed was created by the devil. The Aztecs under Spanish rule were not allowed to practice their old religion and were expected, under penalty of law, to adopt the dominant Spanish Catholic religion.

So what happened to the Aztec gods after the conquest? Some apparently have disappeared completely or their identities blended with other deities so that today they are unrecognizable as separate deities. One of the major gods of the Aztecs at the time of the conquest was Huitzilopochtli (“Hummingbird-Left”), the god of war and sacrifice who, along with many other deities associated with warfare, is no longer worshiped by people today.

Many of the remaining gods continue to be venerated but they may in fact be blends of different Aztec deities, or ancient gods combined with sacred figures from Spanish Catholicism. The Aztec creator high god was Ometeotl (“Two-God”), whose wife was called Omecihuatl (“Two-Lady”). Contemporary Aztecs in northern Veracruz have a god they call Ometotiotsij who also has a wife (or female aspect). Ometotiotsij may be translated as “Two-Our Honored God,” but the name can also be interpreted as “Lord and Lady of the Duality.” The name and beliefs surrounding this sacred being reveal that it is a direct descendant of the ancient deity. Today, this god is sometimes simply called Totiotsij (“Our Honored God”) or in Spanish Dios (“God”).

The sun was also an important god for the Aztecs who they called Tonatiuh (“Sun”), and it continues to be worshiped by the contemporary Aztecs under the name variation Tonatij (“Sun”) [see photograph 9]. When speaking Spanish, the people call the sun Jesús (Jesus), providing an example of how ancient ideas are combined with Spanish sacred figures in the contemporary religion. The sun was sacred to the ancient Aztecs, and over the years they simply combined this idea with the new sacred figure of Jesus brought by the Europeans. Writers sometimes call this blended god the Sun-Christ.

The ancient Aztecs believed that rain was controlled by Tlaloc (personal name) who was assisted by small, dwarf-like figures called Tlaloque that were associated with thunder and lightning. Water itself was the domain of a goddess called Chalchiuhtlicue (“Jade-Her Skirt”). These different gods exist in many forms today and continue to be worshiped in Native American communities throughout Mexico. Today, Aztecs in northern Veracruz refer to Chalchiutlicue as Apanchanej (“Water Dweller”). They conceive of her as a woman with long hair and a fish tail in place of her legs and she resembles a mermaid. For the contemporary Aztecs, Sahua (“San Juan” or “Saint John the Baptist”) has replaced Tlaloc. He is believed to have a ferocious temper and lives at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

People say that when angered he sends violent storms that can destroy the maize crop. Apparently it is Saint John the Baptist’s association with water in Christian belief that has led the contemporary Aztecs to see him as equivalent to the ancient Tlaloc. He sends his dwarf-like assistants called Pilhuehuentsitsij (“Little Old Ones”), the equivalent of the Tlaloque, to carry water to caves at the peaks of a sacred mountains. From there, Apanchanej sprinkles the water on the fields in the form of rain. They have rubber sleeves and as they move through the sky, they strike their walking sticks causing thunder and lightning.

Many contemporary Aztecs continue to worship and make offerings to the ancient earth gods that they address as “Grandfather” and “Grandmother” [see photographs 14-15]. Earth gods under many different names and forms were important deities for the ancient Aztecs. This fact is not surprising because the Aztecs were farming people and so the fertility of the earth is one of their key concerns. One earth-related god among the ancients was Tonantzin (“Our Sacred Mother”), and she continues to be one of the most powerful deities among present-day Aztecs.

Ten years after the Aztec defeat in the year 1531, she appeared to a poor Aztec man named Juan Diego and promised to watch over his people. She has come down to us as the Virgin of Guadalupe and many consider her to be the patron saint of all Mexico. Aztecs today know her as Tonantsij and they celebrate her feast day on the 12th of December. Once again, we can see that an ancient Aztec deity, combined with European religious ideas, continues to be worshiped by fervent followers in a new form.

Another significant god for the ancients was Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl (“Wind-Quetzal Feathered Serpent”). Both ancient and contemporary Aztecs love to use words with more than one meaning and the name Quetzalcoatl is a good example of this practice. The popular name of this god is Feathered Serpent, but it can also be translated as “Precious Twin.” This deity was related to a number of elements including maize, the good wind that brings rain, the creation of human beings, and the development of civilization. It seems likely that the god was created by Aztec priests in the cities out of many smaller gods that existed in the villages during the pre-Hispanic period. In contemporary Aztec villages, this deity still exists in its original, but fragmentary, form. Wind spirits are found widely throughout Mexico, often divided into good and bad varieties. Good winds bring the life-giving rain, while dangerous bad winds cause disease among people. These latter are called malos aires (“bad airs”) in Spanish, and each of the many types of wind spirits is called ejecatl in the modern Nahuatl spelling.

Many people living in Aztec villages today venerate spirits of the seeds and, not surprisingly considering its importance in the diet, maize seeds are usually considered to be the most important. Among the contemporary Aztecs in the Huasteca region of Mexico, the maize spirit is called Seven-Flower and he has a twin sister called Five-Flower. There are many myths told about this pair and they are associated with bringing maize to human beings and to fighting off malevolent forces that threaten civilization. They are truly precious twins. The maize spirit is a modern form of Quetzalcoatl that lives in the minds and religious beliefs of the Aztecs today.

A key god among the ancient Aztecs was the all-powerful, ever-changing, and mysterious Tezcatlipoca (“Mirror-Smoking”). The god existed in many forms and, much like Quetzalcoatl, probably represents a combination of several lesser deities that were venerated in the villages. The deity is associated with darkness, night, and the nahualli, a sorcerer who transforms into an animal to attack his victims. Tezcatlipoca does not exist in his ancient form among today’s Aztecs but there is evidence that, at least in some villages, he has been combined with another pre-Hispanic figure named Tlacatecolotl (“Owl-Man”).

Among contemporary Aztecs, Tlacatecolotl and his wife Tlacatecolotl Sihuatl (“Owl-Man Woman”) are frightening creatures who sometimes lead the souls of the dead in Mictlan (“Place of the Dead”) [see photographs 20-21]. They are dangerous to human health and well-being and the pair must be placated in curing rituals. The supreme leader of Mictlan in ancient times was Mictlantecuhtli (“Lord of the Place of the Dead”) who finds his contemporary counterpart in the figure of Miquilistli (“Death”) represented in cut paper as a human skeleton.

Among contemporary Aztecs, there are many terrifying spirits who threaten human beings and who trace directly back to their ancient ancestors. The transformed sorcerer, or nahualli mentioned above, flies about at night and sucks the blood from unsuspecting victims while they sleep. A kind of hag, called a tsitsimitl, is a fearsome female monster who may devour human beings. The tetlachihuijquetl is a sorcerer who performs rituals to send disease and death to unsuspecting victims. Tlahuelilo (“Wrath”), portrayed today in cut-paper images as a fearsome figure with the tail of an animal, stalks all those who fail to keep their tempers in check.

Dangerous ejecatl wind spirits mentioned above in connection with Quetzalcoatl, are believed by contemporary Aztecs to be the wandering spirts of people who died premature or particularly unpleasant deaths. They are much feared by people today and curing specialists spend a majority of their professional time removing them from people’s bodies and surroundings. The idea of malevolent, disease-causing winds is undoubtedly pre-Hispanic in origin.

In sum, what can we conclude about the fate of the Aztec gods? We can say that, under pressure from Spanish missionaries and political authorities, some of them have disappeared along with the ancient cities and temples where they were venerated. We can also say that a significant number of them live on and continue to be worshiped by people today. There are many more gods that anthropologists have documented among people today that are not mentioned here, including gods of the moon, stars, comets, crops, mountains, caves, clouds, fire, house, hearth, year, earth’s surface, and hummingbirds. Beliefs in these spirit entities can be traced to the ancient Aztecs.

In some cases they have remained remarkably intact while in others they have been combined with other pre-Hispanic deities or with sacred Christian figures brought to Mexico by the Spaniards. The process of blending two or more traditions to form a new one is called syncretism. Syncretism is not unique to the Aztecs but is characteristic of all religions in the world.

For further reading:-

• Caso, Alfonso. 1958. The Aztecs: People of the Sun. Lowell Dunham, trans. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
• Gómez Martínez, Arturo. 2002. Tlaneltokilli: La espiritualidad de los nahuas chicontepecanos. México, D.F.: Conaculta, Programa de Desarrollo Cultural de la Huasteca.
• Nicholson, Henry B. 1971. “Religion in Pre-Hispanic Central Mexico.” In Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 10. Robert Wauchope, gen. ed. Archaeology of Northern Mesoamerica, part 1. Gordon F. Ekholm and Ignacio Bernal, eds., pp. 395-446. Austin: University of Texas Press.
• Sandstrom, Alan R. [in press, due to be published in 2010]. “Water and the Sacred in Mesoamerica.” In History of Water and Civilization, vol. 7, Fekri A. Hassan, editor-in-chief. Water and Humanity: Historical Overview, Yoshinori Yasuda and Vernon Scarborough, volume eds. Under contract with UNESCO and Cambridge University Press [68-page manuscript available].
• Sandstrom, Alan R. 1991. Corn is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a Contemporary Aztec Indian Village. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
• Sandstrom, Alan R., and Pamela E. Sandstrom. 1986. Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Dr. Eleanor Wake
Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies,
Department of Spanish,
Birkbeck College,
University of London.

This is a challenging question, especially as it assumes that the gods survived the conquest. Many of them did, but in different ways, some of which are also very difficult to define. There is, therefore, no straightforward answer but you might like to think about the ideas included in the response.

At the time of the Spanish arrival, religion and the gods dominated every aspect of native life, in urban and rural areas alike. Despite their political, economic, and religious power, the Aztecs (or the Mexica, as they called themselves) were no different and understood that they had to worship the gods with the same fervour as everybody else.

Apart from recognising the role of the gods in the creation of the Fifth Sun, or the world age in which the Mexica and their contemporaries lived, all knowledge and cultural advancements, such as astronomy and the workings of the calendar, the cultivation of food crops (especially maize), literature, music, the crafts, medicinal cures, etc., were also believed to be gifts from the gods to humans. In addition to the great religious festivals in honour of the gods to thank them for their gifts and to ask for continuing favours, everything people did, from lighting the fire in the morning, working in the fields, going to war, or even writing books, was therefore also understood to have been made possible and still watched over by one or more of the gods. As a result, the pantheon of the gods was large and very complex.

The Christian evangelisers [missionaries] believed the native religion to be nothing but superstitious mumbo-jumbo, focused mainly on hideous and bloodthirsty images, or idols, in stone or other materials, which the natives worshipped as gods (Pic 1). The missionaries therefore thought the religion could be eradicated very easily by destroying the gods and everything that appeared to be related to them. They smashed the idols, demolished the temples, burnt the sacred books (in fact, because they couldn’t read them they burnt all the books), and killed off or banished the old priests (Pic 2). These they replaced with Christian equivalents: statues and images of the Holy Family and the saints, bibles and prayer books, and their own clergy. They also ordered crosses and/or churches to be erected on the sites of the demolished temples, on the tops of pyramid platforms that proved too difficult to pull down, or over other sacred spots on the landscape where they knew the gods had been worshipped (Pic 3). The broken idols were often used as rubble to lay foundations or build walls (Pic 4). This was done so that the Indians could see how their false gods were now obliged to physically support the true Christian god. Whether the Indians understood this type of symbolism is open to question, for it depends on how they perceived the carved and painted gods in the first place.

It soon became clear to the missionaries that the images of the gods were only representations. The real gods were elsewhere and the native peoples were still worshipping them in secret. This usually involved carrying out rituals on mountain tops and in caves, in the fields where they cultivated their crops, or in private houses. In these places, often very large groups of “idolaters”, as the missionaries called them, would eat and drink, sing and dance, sacrifice chickens, and draw their own blood, invoking the gods by name and honouring them just as they had done in the pre-Christian era. While human sacrifice disappeared almost completely, occasionally statues of the gods that had escaped the destruction were brought along to the gatherings, or surviving ritual books consulted. But even the discovery and subsequent destruction of these items did not deter the Indians. They continued to worship their gods without them.

The evangelisers were baffled. The gods were obviously still very much alive, but the means of identifying them was a mystery. They also realised that the native religion was rather more complex than they had originally thought. Writing in the middle of the sixteenth century, Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas summed up the situation as follows: “concerning the native peoples’ religion and its characteristics we [the evangelisers] have not understood even one of its thousand or ten thousand parts.” As a result, some amongst them, such as Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, the compiler of the Florentine Codex, initiated a series of investigations into the prehispanic world in order to properly understand the old religion and the gods and get rid of them once and for all. These produced some early results, principally the connections they were able to make between the native calendar and the gods, who not only presided over its divisions, but also the timing of the rituals. So they prohibited the use of the tonalpohualli, or 260-day ritual count, and insisted that the 365-day year count (xiuhpohualli) should follow the European system. Broken down into 18 “months” of 20 days, it was also a cue for the celebration of the old religious festivals that followed the solar year. But the rituals did not cease for the Indians found other ways to maintain the counts of the days. As scholars are now beginning to confirm, one of these was to correlate them with the Catholic calendar of saints’ days. This system is still used today in some places.

By the end of the century further progress had been made but it was still not enough to rectify the problem. As another religious chronicler wrote in 1629, according to the Indians the gods lived in all parts of the land, on mountains, in valleys, ravines, lakes and springs. However, the task of finding them or understanding why they were still being worshipped was “like trying to catch smoke or wind in one’s fist”. Even worse, by this time the idolaters were also penetrating Christian space with their rituals. Sometimes (usually at night) they used the churchyard or the inside of the church itself. This did not mean that they rejected Christianity, however, for they would offer half of the ritual foodstuffs, feathers, flowers and other paraphernalia to Christian images. The other half, it was noted, was given to the old gods – wherever they were.

Many of the gods did therefore immediately survive the conquest, and the seventeenth-century chronicler’s observations might give us a clue as to what the Indians believed them to be. To understand this and why they were still being worshipped we should first take a brief look at what the native religion system was all about.

We refer to the religion that the native peoples of Mexico followed as a “system” because it was made up of many differing and changing beliefs and forms of worship which all settled peoples nevertheless practiced collectively. Creations myths were not all the same, for example, or the levels of importance of individual gods. Ritual activities and artefacts also varied considerably. For everybody however, the main purpose behind the system was to ensure the perpetuity of the world that human beings lived in (a gift from the gods that could be taken away at any time), and the survival of humankind itself across generations. For this reason, the production of food as the most basic element needed for survival became one of the most important focus points of religious thought and activities.

In a historical context, the religious system was very ancient, for it was born out of the gradual move over thousands of years from a nomadic [wandering] to a sedentary [settled] lifestyle that was dependent on agriculture. Over that time, the system changed in accordance with the evolution of the different ethnic groups and societies that gradually adopted agriculture as a way of life, including the Mexica after they arrived and established themselves in the Valley of Mexico. Despite the changes the Mexica made to certain beliefs and the pantheon of the gods they inherited or added to (or even captured!), they still adhered to the same basic system. To see which gods were of primary importance to them, we only have to read the speech made by the Mexica priests to the first Christian missionaries who arrived in 1524: “the gods give us our sustenance, our food, everything we drink and eat, that which is our flesh, maize, beans, amaranth, chía [an edible seed that can be used to make oil for cooking or a tea]. It is they whom we ask for water, for rain, with which the things of the earth are produced. The gods… possess all things; they are the lords of all.”

The Mexica and their contemporaries worshipped what we might call “types” of gods although it is never possible to categorise these in a clear-cut way. Because the gods did “possess all things” and were “the lords of all”, they interacted together across native society. As a result, some overlap, with each other but also as different manifestations of themselves within another role type.

There were, for example, certain gods who were recognised as creators, such as Ometeotl (“Two-god”) who lived in the highest level of the sky. As the name suggests, he/she was a double god who represented the male and female aspects of the world. Quetzalcoatl (“Feathered Serpent”) was also a creator god and especially venerated as a giver of knowledge and a great “civiliser” in the sense that he had taught humans how to live in an organised way within their new agricultural communities (Pic 9). His main shrine was at Cholula where he was also recognised locally as the patron of merchants, but nationally as the god who endorsed the legitimacy of rulership.

Another important creator god was Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) who, depending on his mood, was an adversary or collaborator of Quetzalcoatl (Pic 10). Tezacatlipoca probably had more avatars, or manifestations, than any other god. As Ipalnemoani (“Life-giver”), Tloque nahuaque (“He who is near to things/is everywhere”), or Titlacahua (“We are his servants”) he was an all-powerful entity, described as “invisible and untouchable like the night and the wind”. Nevertheless, he could see everything and everybody through his special mirror and thus control the world. The Mexica believed that he was the god who chose their kings among those eligible to rule.

Probably one of the largest and most important groups of gods, however, represented the forces of nature or especially sacred features of the natural world. Therefore they certainly did live in, or were the mountains and valleys, lakes and springs. In fact, together they made up the cosmos, and the landscape of the terrestrial plain. All nevertheless interacted with one another in order to keep the cycles of time, and of life and death, in constant motion.

Because of their direct associations with water, earth, and sun, this group of gods were of primary importance in the cultivation of maize. As a result, they were the gods who were most worshipped in secret after the conquest.

Although the Spaniards introduced wheat and other European foodstuffs into the colony, these served principally to satisfy their own alimentary preferences. For the greater part of the native population maize remained the staple and because it was unknown in Europe its mode of cultivation did not change. Neither, of course, did the climate and the type of terrain needed to cultivate it.

The species of maize traditionally grown in Mexico is dependent on a series of important stages of cultivation that have to be timed perfectly in order to take advantage of Mexico’s usually predictable climate of dry and rainy seasons. An ideal cycle would see the seeds sown at the end of the dry season when the early, light rains offer enough moisture to germinate them without the soil becoming waterlogged. Once the young plants are established, the rainy season proper provides them with enough daily water and periods of sunshine in between to grow into mature plants, at which point the young maize cobs are born and begin to swell.

As the rainy season starts to draw to a close, the fully grown cobs are able to ripen in the considerably warmer sunshine of the incoming dry season, until they are ready to be harvested. Although other considerations are made to protect the maize fields (from rodents and birds, for example), a successful harvest depends mainly on the regularity of weather conditions, from the beginning of the cycle to its end. If the rainy season is late, the young plants might dry up and die. If the rainy season continues into the period of ripening, the cobs will rot. Sudden frosts are another constant hazard.

Translated into the religious belief system of Mexico’s traditional communities at the time of the conquest and after, this means that a successful harvest depended on the benevolence of the gods. Together they were the earth, the rain, and the sunshine. A successful crop also depended on the calendar (another gift of the gods) so that each stage of the cycle could be coordinated properly, in terms of work in the fields and rituals to the gods to ask and thank them for favourable outcomes.

Among the many gods directly concerned with the maize cycle, we find, for example, Cihuacoatl (“woman-serpent”), an earth goddess who, among other things, presided over the dry, barren months before the rainy season opened (Pic 12). She was an old goddess, with a skull-like face that symbolised death in the sense that her body could no longer give birth to new life in the form of food. However, with the coming of the spring rains she was replaced by a younger earth goddess who would oversee the renewed fertility of the earth so that the young maize seeds could start to grow.

Tlaloc, the supreme rain deity, was especially venerated because nothing can live or grow without water. In addition to his strange face, he was usually depicted in the codices carrying a staff in the form of a winding serpent (see Pic 1). This represented lightning, a natural element closely associated with rain and which Tlaloc also took command of. The god employed a large group of messengers, called tlaloque (“tlalocs”) who guarded the rainwater as it soaked into the mountains, releasing it into rivers, pools, or springs when it was requested, for domestic or irrigation purposes. But the tlaloque also flew over the fields watering the plants at the right stages of growth, with rain of the right type and in the right quantities (Pic 13). Tlaloc’s consort [wife] was Chalchiuhtlicue (“Jade Skirts”), the goddess of terrestrial waters such as rivers, pools and lakes. It was she who “gave birth” to the water accumulated inside mountains and was therefore also a mountain.

However, if the rain and water deities were not prayed to properly — or not prayed to at all — by their human subjects, they could become angry and call out the destructive forces of rain: a violent storm, for example, or no rain at all. In the Fejérváry screenfold (one of the very few “ritual manuals” to have survived the conquest) we see Tlaloc gently supporting a humanised maize plant growing from a turquoise soil with black grains (Pic 14). This means that the earth is moist but firm and the maize plant will prosper. In front of both figures is a recipient containing burning incense. Tlaloc is obviously pleased with the offering. However, in another panel from the same codex we see Chalchiuhtlicue roughly pushing over another humanised maize plant in a field that she has flooded (Pic 15). From the goddess’s head extends a third hand which she uses to extinguish the incense offering!

The reason there were so many rain gods is because each of them represented a different type of watery precipitation or watery deposit. The same is true of the earth and sun gods. How many kinds of rain, water deposits, soil types, and sunshine can you think of, and if you were a maize farmer which of them would you prefer to visit your fields?

Tlaloc’s name, which roughly translates as “extended over earth”, indicates that he was also associated with the earth deities. Descriptions of the representation of Tlaloc at Tenochtitlan state that it was filled with all the seeds of the land because he was the god of the sown fields. This reminds us of the mythical mountain of sustenance that was broken open by the gods after the creation, which also contained all the seeds of all the foods humans needed to survive. It was subsequently guarded by the tlaloque who distributed them as and when needed. In fact, from a description of a special shrine to Tlaloc located on top of a mountain named after him, we understand that he and his messengers were also understood to be mountains. In short, all the tlalocs together were rain gods and agrarian gods, possibly the general overseers of the cultivation process from germination of the seeds to harvest. They were also a part of an unchanging landscape, taking the form of sacred mountains that are still worshipped today and specially thanked at harvest time.

The creator gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca also intervened in the cultivation of crops and in the examples that follow we can see how they were understood to interact with the other gods. One of Quetzalcoatl’s very important manifestations [roles] was as Ehecatl, god of the Wind. He is always recognisable in this role for he wears a, usually red, elongated mask rather like a beak over his mouth and nose. Sometimes a small curved fang appears at the corner of the mouth; in other depictions, the “beak” is seen to be full of sharp teeth. We are not sure what the mask represents but it is Ehecatl’s personal trademark. Another of his characteristics, which he shares with Quetzalcoatl the civiliser, is a conical hat made of jaguar skin. Ehecatl represented the wind that precedes the rain, and therefore worked with Tlaloc.

In another of his many manifestations, Tezcatlipoca took the form of a mountain god by name of Tepeyollotl (“Mountain Heart”) (Pic 18). He was likened to the jaguar, a creature of the dark (like the inside of mountains) whose roar was the thunder as it echoed around the mountains and valleys. As such, he was also related to Tlaloc who, in addition to his serpent lightning staff, also often wears a jaguar-head helmet (see Pic 1). As a herald of the rain, most specifically a thunderstorm, Tepeyollotl was also related to Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl, as reflected in the Wind deity’s jaguar skin hat.

Due to its importance as the basic foodstuff of the native peoples, the maize plant was a god in its own right, but was divided up into a series of different deities that embodied the main parts of the plant and its stages of growth. Important examples might be Xilonen, the young maize goddess who was present in the plant as the tiny cobs (in Nahuatl, xilotl) started to sprout (Pic 19). As the cobs swelled and started to ripen, the older maize goddess Chicomecoatl (“Seven Serpent”) took over (Pic 20). Her name echoes the positive and negative sides of her nature. A maize plant carrying seven cobs was considered to be the sign of an abundant harvest. However, she could also allow the ripened cobs to be “bitten” by her serpents, that is, attacked by frost. In some images of goddess she is seen holding a pointed object with jagged sides that may well represent frost. Finally, when harvest time arrived, Cinteotl (“Maize Cob God”) would appear. As his name indicates he was the maize cob itself, the source of human survival.

The above descriptions of the gods [see main article] and the ways in which they participated in the life of the Mexica and their contemporaries serve to emphasise just how important the gods were and how traumatic it must have been to be told to abandon them. But it was not just a case of abandoning the old gods and accepting the Christian god in their place. The gods, their actions, and their personal attributes represented the accumulated knowledge of the Indian world. In the case of food cultivation, their acknowledged presence, their interaction one with the other, and the carefully coordinated rituals that timed each stage of the maize cycle were actually part of the “science” or “technology” of growing maize. For this reason alone, these particular gods and their rituals continued to play a vital role after the conquest.

It is difficult to know what happened to the gods in later times. It seems very possible that “parts of them” were absorbed into the Catholic faith, either through the attempts of the missionaries to facilitate the conversion by offering Christian parallels, or the efforts of the Indians to keep them as their own gods under different names. Eventually, in the syncretic [mixed] religion still practiced by many traditional communities today, they became one and the same entity. For example, the invisible and untouchable Tezcatlipoca in his role as “Life-Giver” and “He Who Is Everywhere” came to be fused with the Christian god, as can be seen in the Indians’ devotional song-poems composed after the conquest where Icelteotl (“Only Spirit”, that is the Christian god) and Tloque nahuaque are often called on together in the same sentence.

What may be an early painting of Tezcatlipoca-God can be found on the ceiling of a sixteenth-century church in central Mexico, in the form of a beautifully plumed, speaking eagle with a circular object hanging from its neck (Pic 2). It is so high up (in “heaven”?) and so well camouflaged among others paintings (invisible and untouchable?) that it is very difficult to see unless you know where to look. A few scholars have noticed the similarities between this painting and an image of Tezcatlipoca in the Borbonicus screenfold.

The gods of the natural forces are still present, of course, for those forces will always exist. In some communities their names (or similar names) have been retained. Elsewhere, and while it is clear that they are still being called on and thanked, they are not so easy to identify. Some of them did come to be recognised in Christian concepts. For example, in the sixteenth century the tlaloque were already being identified with angels, a belief that still holds today. As noted earlier, the dates of special rituals in honour of these gods, together with the important stages of the maize cycle, were also woven into the Catholic calendar and this system is still in use today. However, this does not necessarily mean that the same gods are being worshipped. Some of their roles and powers may originally have been transferred to other Christian figures. All the saints also have their own histories, features and symbols, some of them drawn directly from the natural world, and these were widely introduced to and spread among the Indians in the sixteenth century and beyond. This would have provided an open door for making matches or associations. However, over the centuries a particular native god and a saint may have become the same entity that is now impossible to distinguish as being either one or the other.

None of this means that Mexico’s indigenous groups still consciously cling to their old religious beliefs or are trying to hide them behind a Christian curtain. Most traditional communities who participate in this form of mixed worship today believe very firmly that they are following good Catholic practices. They would probably be very angry if somebody suggested they might still be worshipping their old gods.

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Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent?

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:

Thomas Jefferson.

it is easy to protest

when the bombs fall miles from the fridge

yet, we are still afraid

a trip to Disney World on the line

so what hundred children massacred a day

better to have less terrorists, right?

Humans are social animals, and it’s our natural instinct to be emphatic with others. It’s natural for us to bond by kinship. Unfortunately the same tribal instinct hampers our ability to recognize the essential and vital global brotherhood of man. We cling to nationality, religion, and many artificial walls we build around us that compromise our chances for long term survival (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/merry-xmas/ ). However, the feeling of group identity can be manipulated. To always have a favorite football team have been promoted as an essential part of our deep identity. But one has to be careful; it might not be healthful to display the wrong loyalty in the wrong bar.

Tolerance is about living in peace with others with different identities to our own. Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/ ) is at face value about letting those different from us be themselves, but in practice is about pretending that we are different from ourselves. To be with people that are doing or saying things we find offensive, and pretending everything is fine. Tolerance stems from a sated world. In times of plenty, we can afford to be kind to those who are different. When we are comfortable and satisfied, we feel less threatened. Standard of living are peaking in our 21st Century —coincident with a peak in surplus energy (i.e., fossil fuels)—and we no longer can consider our social progress as an irreversible ratchet. Hard times revive old tribal instincts: different is not welcome. There is growing tension among religious and ethnic groups around the World.

Tolerance is hard to define and an intractable term.  Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent? Should we tolerate people who are engaging in hate speech, talking against freedom of speech, religion, or association?  Who decides who’s who, who’s what? Should openly intolerant people or groups allowed to take positions of political power?

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. The Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_bite ). The Media is more than willing to provide us with boogeymen. The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and the others are evil Muslims, political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth, or hungry hordes of barbarians, –  is compelling and comforting (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/cultural-marxism/ ). For alt-righters, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers, and see the World as a struggle between good and evil (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/a-conversation-about-gun-control/ ). Thus, alt-righters feel compeled to have the firepower to do what needs to be done to protect their rights and properties.

Robert Paxton says that fascism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism )  is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

While the political ideology of the alt-right is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/fascism/ ). The alt-right movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victimhood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/the-oregon-militia/ ).

Gun owners tend to be among the alt-right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among them. Despite descibing themselves as law-biding-citizens, one of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   Although it sounds like a fundamental contradiciton to self-describe as law-abiding while caliming sedition as a fundamental right, the call to sedition is not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting their natural rights with their weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional. They see themselves as law-abiding-insurrects, that do not use violence, and have confidence in the ballot box, but have a duty to ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. It sounds like fools playing with fire. A fire that will get us all burned.

“In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”

Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.

The ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix. However, words used by politicians have always a degree of double-speak; there is a disconnection between what we think we mean and our actual thinking. So a discourse of tolerance might hide a practice of intolerance. A discourse about fundamental freedoms might refer to represive practices.

Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe.  One of the most remarkable aspects of Breivik manifesto is the extent he quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement (http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/08/americas-breivik-complex-how-state-terror-electrifies-the-islamophobic-right ). Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters.

While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM chief David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror.

Public Policy Polling asked Republicans if they would want to bomb the fictional town of Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin movie (http://www.loonwatch.com/2015/12/30-percent-of-republicans-want-to-bomb-aladdins-hometown-agrabah/ ).

These are the results:

Support bombing Agrabah  …………………………30%

Oppose bombing Agrabah  …………………………13%

Not sure ……………………………………………………57%

In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups (http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx ), Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.

Gallup analysts (http://www.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx ) tested correlations between the level at which populations say these attacks are “sometimes justified” and a number of independent indicators, and they found human development and societal stability measures are most strongly related.

Residents of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states are slightly less likely than residents of non-member states to view military attacks on civilians as sometimes justified, and about as likely as those of non-member states to say the same about individual attacks.

A 2007 Pew Research Center study of several nations throughout the Muslim world showed that opposition to suicide bombing in the Muslim world is increasing, with a majority of Muslims surveyed in 10 out of the 16 of the countries responding that suicide bombings and other violence against civilians is “never” justified, though an average of 38% believe it is justified at least rarely. Opposition to Hamas was the majority opinion in only 4 out of the 16 countries surveyed, as was opposition to Hezbollah.[5] The Pew Research Study did not include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria in the survey, although densely populated Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were included.

Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

Muslim man was attacked by Piro Kolvani who decided he had to drive from Florida to New York to beat on a Muslim (Kolvani was inspired by the NY Post front covers). Kolvani viciously attacked Sarker Haque, who stated, “I never saw a situation like that. Not even after 9/11.”

Yet, the conflict is not about religion nor race, but power (in the sociopathic sense) and resources. Human activity is not driven by justice but by power. In a way, justice is the right of the strong. One thing is rationalizations used to justify actions, and another, real social and psychological motives behind. These ulterior motives are not necessary explicit or even conscious.

All three judeo-christian religions  – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – share the same core barbaric Bronze Age believes sated in the Hebrew Bible, and all pick and choose what’s convenient to their respective social order. Whether one is consider a Christian or a Muslim is more an accident of geography or ethnicity, than a reflection of actual belief.   That is, religion is mainly a marker of cultural identity.

Israel, for all the talk about being a Jewish state is in practice rather secular. Although the idea of a vibrant queer community in Israel, reputed birthplace of the biblical condemnation of same-sex relations, may seem far-fetched, Israel today is one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of equality for sexual minorities. Politically, legally, and culturally, the community has moved from life at the margins of Israeli society to visibility and growing acceptance (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/homosexuality-in-israel/ ).

The scourge of Islamic fundamentalism is a monster created by the same people crying wolf (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/the-islamic-state/ ).

The modern Islamic fundamentalist movements have their origins in the late 19th century. The Wahhabi movement, an Arabian fundamentalist movement that began in the 18th century, gained traction and spread during the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Cold War following World War II, some NATO governments, particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom, launched covert and overt campaigns to encourage and strengthen fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and southern Asia. These groups were seen as a hedge against potential expansion by the Soviet Union, and as a means to prevent the growth of nationalistic movements that were not necessarily favorable toward the interests of the Western nations. By the 1970s the Islamists had become important allies in supporting governments, such as Egypt, which were friendly to U.S. interests. In many cases the military wings of these groups were supplied with money and arms by the U.S. (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/religion-and-terrorism/ ).

We must overcome our fears and reach out for peace. To live or die together is the choice.

The Communications Act of 193447 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.

Background. The Communications Act of 1934 combined and organized federal regulation of telephone, telegraph, and radio communications. The Act created the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to oversee and regulate these industries. The Act is updated periodically to add provisions governing new communications technologies, such as broadcast, cable and satellite television.

Man arrested for Facebook posts about Syrian refugees in Scotland
Offensive comments related to refugees on Isle of Bute and police say arrest shows social media abuse will not be tolerated

Rothesay, Isle of Bute
Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, where 12 Syrian families arrived in early December. Photograph: Alamy

Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters

Blaney’s office cites ‘comprehensive’ hate laws for new zero tolerance plans

By Neil Macdonald, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 11, 2015 10:58 PM ET

Tweets About Israel Land New Jersey Student in Principal’s Office

In this day and age of information overload modern society is in a state of data deluge, and our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age (https://www.thersa.org/events/2015/01/thinking-straight-in-the-age-of-information-overload/ ).

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

President Obama is aware of the Oregon situation, but the White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/10/us/gun-sales-terrorism-obama-restrictions.html ).

The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Many Serbian communities believed that the western media portrayed a negative image of the Serbian people during the NATO bombing in Kosovo and Serbia (http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/tolerance ).

In American and Israeli society, Professional Terrorism is acceptable, whereas Amateur Terrorism is absolutely the world’s greatest evil (http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/08/gallup-poll-jews-and-christians-way-more-likely-than-muslims-to-justify-killing-civilians/ ).  Amateur Terrorism provides the justification for Professional Terrorism (this even though it is usually almost always the case that Professional Terrorism started the cycle of violence).  Those who have the capability to carry out Professional Terrorism have absolutely no need to resort to Amateur Terrorism since the former is so much more effective in killing civilians than the latter.

 “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade .

In the article “Why are there no condemnations from Muslim sources against terrorists?” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance summarizes:

A common complaint among non-Muslims is that Muslim religious authorities do not condemn terrorist attacks. The complaints often surface in letters to the editors of newspapers, on phone-in radio shows, in Internet mailing lists, forums, etc. A leader of an evangelical Christian para-church group, broadcasting over Sirius Family Net radio, stated that he had done a thorough search on the Internet for a Muslim statement condemning terrorism, without finding a single item.
Actually, there are lots of fatwas and other statements issued which condemn attacks on innocent civilians. Unfortunately, they are largely ignored by newspapers, television news, radio news and other media outlets. Possibly because Islamic terrorists keep killing innocent civilians.

Contrary to common image, many Muslims have spoken out against 9/11,

Regardless of the machinations behind the current crisis in the Middle East, its effects will unsettle the whole World, including the US and Europe (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-roots-of-the-migration-crisis-1441995372 ). The Syrian refugee disaster presents a dilemma to the West. A massive influx of refugees into any country compromises its social and economic stability but the crisis cannot be ignored in humanitarian and practical grounds. Furthermore, the rise of religious fundamentalism (of all flavors: Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) is a treat to the long term viability of modern society.

Many Israelis are not Semitic (http://www.livescience.com/40247-ashkenazi-jews-have-european-genes.html ). While Ashkenazi Jews have a long tradition in Judaism, they cannot claim a bloodline from David, which is a mythological figure anyway (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html ).



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Why some think guns are a gift from God

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:

Thomas Jefferson.

Some years ago, I was going to graduate school in Baylor. At that time, there was a terrible wave of violence down in Mexico. Daily, you could find YouTube videos of houses splashed as if someone was watering with blood or plies of human parts and people laughing on the background.

One of my classmates was a nice friendly Mormon. I told my friend that part of the problem is that guns were traded for drugs between the US and Mexico, and that tighter control of guns sales would be advisable. I was taking aback by the fiery response of my mild-manner friend. He said with a passion that gun ownership is a divine right and that the second amendment was inspired by God because the US is chosen land, a place of a covenant between God and the true believers. I forgot which, but soon after there were some mass shootings, and each was taken as evidence by my friend that owning guns is not only a good idea, but the solution to gun violence. The 2012 Republican Party platform demanded “reaffirm that our rights come from God,” reflecting a sincere and genuine sense of bright-line natural law.

There was also a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well-being of children, and condemation of abortion , regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence were used as argument for the need of more weapons. 

My friend would send memes like the following:

  • The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
  • Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
  • (Calculation) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.

Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services

Now think about this:


  • The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that’s 80 million..)
  • The number of accidental gun death per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
  • (Calculation) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.

Statistics courtesy of FBI

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, ‘Guns don’t kill people, doctors do.’


Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.

We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!
Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.

A discussion ensued where my friend made the following arguments in favor of the right to bear arms:

  • Guns are only tools. They cannot do anything of themselves and are not inherently evil. Yes, guns can be used for evil acts, such as homicide and things of that nature, but they can be used for good as well. Just as doctors can do good with their knowledge, they too can do evil and to kill (i.e., abortion and assisted suicide) which are legal. Where is the outrage about these things? True, many doctors do wonderful things, but many do not, and we as a society recognize the need for those who do good things. We also need to recognize that guns are good for law abiding citizens to have.
  • Do you have any children? I would feel awful if I had to take anthers life, but if it came down to someone hurting/raping/killing my wife or children then I could not live with myself knowing that I could have prevented/stopped it.
  • Guns inhibit crime. Why criminals are criminals; because it is easier to rob and take than it is to work and earn. If a criminal wants to take the path of least resistance and he/she knows that one house has a firearm and knows how to use it and another house does not, which one would you think the criminal is going to choose to enter and do whatever he/she wants to the residence of that house? Clearly the one where he/she is not worried about loosing his/her own life. Of the 85 million or so guns within the US, the vast majority of those will never be used to actually fire at another human and take their life, but the fact that they exist and can be used when needed has an effect on those who would rob and plunder. Now if the whole population were to be disarmed what do you suppose would happen to the violent crime rate? Do you think it would go down? If criminals still exist and they can more easily take advantage of others why would a logical human being think that violent crime would go away? Criminals, by definition, have no regard for laws! Including gun laws! So the only people that would have guns would be those who would use them for evil purposes and those of us who would like to prevent those purposes from happening to our families would be left disarmed and helpless. Why do you think that violent crime is so high is the places with the strictest gun laws such as Chicago, NY, etc.? So, even though the 2nd Amendment gives all law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms, simple logic shows that the best way to decrease violent crime is to allow law abiding citizens to own firearms.
  • I have agreed doctors and guns are not quite the same issues, but I also explained that the point was to get people to think too.
  •  It seems that you say two different things about guns and your opinion changes based on whether or not it is your family.
  • Murder is immoral. No doubt about it. Now as for the notion that defending one’s family by force, it is still quite Christian to defend one’s family. There are many, many examples to be given, but that would take a very long time so I would refer to three sources: 1) the Bible, 2) the Book of Mormon, and 3) teachings of the modern Prophets. In addition, I was not changing the subject by bringing the fact that doctors kill and murder. The real change in subject came with all the comments about murder and violent crime. The infographic specifically states ACCIDENTAL in both cases, not intentional.
  • If citizens can have guns for sport, what is to prevent a CRIMINAL from misusing the gun for violent purposes? If someone breaks into your home with a deadly weapon (perhaps not a gun) and rapes your children/wife and you have a gun because you are sport shooter, should it be illegal for you to use that gun in defense of your family? Why or why not?
  •  Crazies will always find a way to hurt people with or without guns. The world is declining rapidly! Note that these two tragic events ( 28 Dead, Including 20 Children, After Shooting Rampage At Sandy Hook School In Newtown and Knife-wielding man injures 22 children in China) occur when/where people are defenseless.
  • Criminals do not care about the law. A criminal will still get a gun even though owning a gun is illegal. The only people it will affect are those who actually follow the law.
  • Fighting sin and selfishness with the Gospel of Jesus Christ would fix the poverty and violent crime rates everywhere.
  • I am anxious about the social environment around me because society’s moral compass is way off. We, as a society, have forgotten our Maker and the true path to peace and happiness. Society is caught up in how much stuff someone else has and is very selfish. This is the complete and opposite path to peace and harmony in the world.
  • The commandments of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the only things that can/will redeem the world.
  • On the note of disarming everyone, it is strictly against the 2nd Amendment. The whole reason we had a Revolutionary war and the 2nd Amendment is because our Founding Fathers experience oppression from the government. They had the foresight to realize that any government (even the one they were setting-up in America) could oppress its citizens and that the citizens have the right to rise-up. From the Declaration of Independence: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpation  pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” How can we even have the option to “throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for [our] future security” if we as law abiding citizens do not have the right to bear arms? It is a founding premise upon which this nation was built.
  • What about knives?  If we take guns away from people, then why not knives? And if we take knives away, why not screw drivers and box cutters because they can be used to stab people as well?
  • The 2nd Amendment is not outdated, as some would believe.
  • Our Founding Father’s were inspired by God, who knows all, to include the right to bear arms in the Constitution because liberty and freedom are fundamental principles that are essential to happiness. Now once we have this liberty and freedom, we have the choice on how to act; we can choose to keep the commandments and be happy, or we can choose to break them and not be happy. If the Government controls everything we do, and we do not have the ability to gain back our individual liberty and freedom, then we can no longer exercise our personal choice and accountability.
  • Society cares more about selfish pleasures than it does about God and lifeThe problem of mass violence in the U.S. is more a reflection of contempt for the sanctity of human life than of a love for gun ownership. In a society that reveres human life, gun ownership isn’t a chronic problem. People who genuinely believe in the sanctity of human life won’t take another life – by gun or any other means – unless it is absolutely necessary. Not so in a society that views human life as subjective and revocable. In a society that condones, funds, and promotes abortion and excuses euthanasia, human life is cheap. When a woman has a right to kill an unwanted child growing inside her simply because it suits her to do so, life is robbed of its value.
  • Better bloodshed than slavery!
  • 74% of NRA members support background checks, that might be a simple first step…. Or maybe not allowing those on the terrorist watch list to buy guns.
  • Guns don’t kill people. Idiotic people use guns to kill people. Guns like drugs will always be around even with strict gun control laws. The black market will make more money.
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The Grokking Eagle Podcast 03 – The Rabbit hole


 Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly,

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Going “down the rabbit hole” has become a common metaphor in popular culture, symbolizing everything from exploring a new world, taking drugs, or delving into the unknown. (Think The Matrix, where “following the white rabbit” and later choosing the “red pill” starts Neo off on a journey of philosophical realization with no return.) In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the rabbit hole is the place where it all begins. It’s Alice’s unthinking decision to follow the White Rabbit that leads to all her adventures. The pop culture version of this symbol perhaps doesn’t consider the “unthinking” nature of this choice quite enough. After all, Alice’s decision is foolhardy; if this weren’t a magical fantasyland, she’d probably be killed by the fall, she has no idea where she’s going, what she’s facing, or how to get home. Going down the rabbit hole is a one-way trip – the entry, but not the exit, to the fantasy world.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Ludwig Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The tale plays with logic and it is considered one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course, structure, characters, and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature. Written by a mathematician who had a lively interest in logic, semantics and philosophy, the story of Alice’s fall down the rabbit-hole is packed with intriguing problems.

In 1862, Dodgson – along with one of his colleagues – took three girls, Lorina, Edith and Alice, out on a picnic and rowing trip along the Thames. To keep the young girls entertained, Carroll started telling them a story which would eventually become Alice in Wonderland. Remembering that day, Dodgson wrote in his diary: “In a desperate attempt to strike out some new line of fairy-lore, I had sent my heroine straight down a rabbit-hole, to begin with, without the least idea what was to happen afterwards”. After spending a few years refining and editing the story, he published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, before writing the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. 

Alice and the rest of Wonderland continue to inspire or influence many other works of art to this day, sometimes indirectly via the 1951 Disney movie. In The Annotated AliceMartin Gardner provides background information for the characters. Martin Gardner and other scholars have shown the book to be filled with many parodies of Victorian popular culture.

While the book has remained in print and continually inspires new adaptations, the cultural material from which it draws has become a classic, something everybody references, but none reads. Today’s interpretations  reflect current fascination with postmodernism and psychology, rather than delving into an historically informed interpretation,” We don’t necessarily realize we’re missing anything in understanding the original product, because we’re usually never dealing with the original product.”

In the current use of “rabbit hole,” we are no longer necessarily bound for a wonderland. We’re just in a long attentional free fall during Internet browsing, with no clear destination and all manner of strange things flashing past.

What does rabbit hole mean? Used especially in the phrase going down the rabbit hole or falling down the rabbit hole, a rabbit hole is a metaphor for something that transports someone into a intriguingly surreal state or situation. On the internet, a rabbit hole frequently refers to an extremely engrossing and time-consuming topic.


DONNELLY, K. (2017, June 4). The haunting true story behind Alice in Wonderland. Retrieved from MamaMia: https://www.mamamia.com.au/alice-in-wonderland/

Gardner, M. (2000). The Annotated Alice: the definitive edition. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company.  https://amzn.to/2LTgQ3T

Schulz, K. (2015, June 4). The Rabbit-hole rabbit hole. Retrieved from The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-rabbit-hole-rabbit-hole

Wikipedia. (2019, July 28). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice%27s_Adventures_in_Wonderland



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The Grokking Eagle podcast -02 Tribialism

The Grokking Eagle podcast -02 Tribialism

The following question is trending in Quora with hundred plus answers;

When you watch a stadium filled with white people chanting “Send her back!” about a US Congresswoman and our President silently endorses it, what comes up for you?

Despite being many answers, I have not looked at all of them, only a handful, it seems that there are a few themes that most entries just regurgitate. An obvious and common theme is the reference to Nazi Germany. I found the Nazi link hyperbolic, in fact, most people, qualify themselves as exaggerated and point out that, of course, US America 2019 is not Nazi Germany 1935. In this reference fascism is just used as synonym of “evil” and not real tought is given to the meaning of fascism, and thus, the reference is just meant as an insult.

Fascism is a complex ideology, maybe not really a thing, just a catch name for militaristic dictatorships. Most definitions agree that fascism is authoritarian and promotes nationalism at all costs, but its basic characteristics are a matter of debate. 

Robert Paxton, a professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University in New York, defined fascism as “a form of political practice distinctive to the 20th century that arouses popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda.” Put it like that, there are some points common to fascism and the US political system, namely the arousal of popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques, and the expansionist nationalist agenda.

Going back to Nazi Germany, The Holocaust didn’t just happen in 1941. The concentration camps had been operating since 1933. The first people sent to the camps were socialists, communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and other people considered “socially deviant.” The camps weren’t awful places in 1933. Guards who abused prisoners were disciplined and sometimes prosecuted.

There were dozens, probably hundreds of concentration camps in operation by 1937. Many prisoners died there from abuse or simply from being worked to death, but they still weren’t places people were specifically sent to die; it was just that no one cared whether they died or not. By 1939, mass killings of Jews had started. 

Pro Publica recently published a long story about someone who works for the Border Patrol and spent time working at one of the camps.  The Border Patrol agent, a veteran with 13 years on the job, had been assigned to the agency’s detention center in McAllen, Texas, for close to a month when a team of court-appointed lawyers and doctors showed up one day at the end of June.

Taking in the squalor, the stench of unwashed bodies, and the poor health and vacant eyes of the hundreds of children held there, the group members appeared stunned. Then, their outrage rolled through the facility like a thunderstorm. One lawyer emerged from a conference room clutching her cellphone to her ear, her voice trembling with urgency and frustration. “There’s a crisis down here,” the agent recalled her shouting. At that moment, the agent, a father of a 2-year-old, realized that something in him had shifted during his weeks in the McAllen center. “I don’t know why she’s shouting,” he remembered thinking. “No one on the other end of the line cares. If they did, this wouldn’t be happening.”

The CBP agent in the story is in his late 30s, a husband and father who served overseas in the military before joining CBP.

 “What happened to me in Texas is that I realized I had walled off my emotions so I could do my job without getting hurt,” he said. “I’d see kids crying because they want to see their dads, and I couldn’t console them because I had 500 to 600 other kids to watch over and make sure they’re not getting in trouble. All I could do was make sure they’re physically OK. I couldn’t let them see their fathers because that was against the rules.

“I might not like the rules,” he added. “I might think that what we’re doing wasn’t the correct way to hold children. But what was I going to do? Walk away? What difference would that make to anyone’s life but mine?”

When asked whether he simply stopped caring, he said: “Exactly, to a point that’s kind of dangerous. But once you do, you feel better.”

Another point made on the Quora question was that people are irrational, machines with buttons to be pressed by the savvy. The public is not swayed by any standards of truth, or even of political debate. All they want is to be entertained.

Humans are instinctively tribal and violent. However instinctive, the tribalism of targeted groups can be manipulated. For example, in my hometown, people have been divided into two groups according to soccer team allegiance.

So how is it that something so important to our flourishing as a species — being part of a group, or tribe — is simultaneously one of the primary forces tearing the social fabric apart?

At the core of tribalism is not truth, or objective reality, but beliefs. And the one thing you cannot do is reason anyone out of their beliefs. Beliefs are not arrived at with reason, and so cannot be dismantled by logic and data.

The human mind has not developed or evolved to get to the truth but to stay safe. We use reason in order to get along with other people, to be part of a tribe, which in turn is crucial, not just to our sociable natures, but to survival itself.

With survival at stake it is easy to see why the context of the tribe, and the safety it represents, matters more than logic. Because tribes represent safety in the most fundamental sense (survival), agreeing with the tribe is a safe default position for group members, even when it doesn’t make sense to do so.

A psychology theory, Realistic conflict theory (RCT) explains how intergroup hostility can arise as a result of conflicting goals and competition over limited resources, and it also offers an explanation for the feelings of prejudice and discrimination toward the outgroup that accompany the intergroup hostility.

Feelings of resentment can especially arise when groups see the competition over resources as having a “winner take all” fate; the length and severity of the ensuing conflict is based upon the perceived value and shortage of the resources felt to be under threat.

According to RCT, positive relations can only be restored if superordinate goals, i.e., goals that require the cooperation of two or more groups to be achieved.

Consider global warming, which could be a superordinate goal, but the issue has been hijacked by the entertainment industry and the public doesn’t actually care to know anything about global warming: they want to be entertained by the tribal debate over global warming. Global warming has become a maker of group identity. This is by design, because the establishment prefer people to live in isolated bubbles.

In 1954, Researcher Muzafer Sherif of the University of Oklahoma carried out a fanous 3 week study at a 200-acre summer camp in Robbers Cave State ParkOklahoma. Early in 1953, the Rockefeller Foundation gave Sherif $38,000 – $350,000 (£245,000) in today’s money – to carry out what he hoped would be a career-defining piece of research. This time there would be no rats: the subjects were 11-year-olds, and neither they nor their parents had any idea what they were signing up for. He believed he could make two groups sworn enemies via a series of well-timed ‘frustration exercises.’ Sherif’s cover story was that he was running a summer camp in Middle Grove. His plan was to bring a group of boys together, allow them to make friends, then separate them into two factions to compete for a prize. At this point, he believed, they would forget their friendships and start demonizing one another. Sherif planned to set a forest fire in the vicinity of the camp. Facing a shared threat, they would be forced to work as one team again.

In Middle Grove things didn’t go according to plan. Despite his pretense of leaving the 11-year-olds to their own devices, Sherif and his research staff, posing as camp counsellors and caretakers, interfered to engineer the result they wanted. He believed he could make the two groups, called the Pythons and the Panthers, sworn enemies via a series of well-timed “frustration exercises”. To Sherif’s dismay, however, the children just couldn’t be persuaded to hate each other. The boys had worked out that they were being manipulated. “Maybe you just wanted to see what our reactions would be,” one of them said.

The robustness of the boy’s “civilized” values came as a blow to Sherif, making him angry enough to want to punch one of his young academic helpers. It turned out that the strong bonds forged at the beginning of the camp weren’t easily broken. Thankfully, he never did start the forest fire – he aborted the experiment when he realized it wasn’t going to support his hypothesis.

But the Rockefeller Foundation had given Sherif $38,000. In his mind, perhaps, if he came back empty-handed, he would face not just their anger but the ruin of his reputation. So, within a year, he had recruited boys for a second camp, this time in Robbers Cave state park in Oklahoma. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of Middle Grove. There was no mixing at the beginning – neither of the two groups, the Rattlers and the Eagles, were aware of the other’s existence until the second day.

At Robbers Cave, things went more to plan. After a tug-of-war in which they were defeated, the Eagles burned the Rattler’s flag. Then all hell broke loose, with raids on cabins, vandalism and food fights. Each moment of confrontation, however, was subtly manipulated by the research team. Having got them fighting, the next stage was the all-important reconciliation – and the vindication of Sherif’s theory.

The researchers next introduced activities with superordinate goals, the attainment of which was beyond the resources and efforts of one group alone — i.e. requiring the two groups to work together toward a solution. According to Sharif, the joint sharing of goals and achievement lessened intergroup tensions and the story had a happy ending. Intragroup friendships blossomed.

The Sherifs made several conclusions based on the three-stage Robbers Cave Experiment. From the study, he determined that because the groups were created to be approximately equal, individual differences are not necessary or responsible for intergroup conflict to occur. As seen in the study when the boys were competing in camp games for valued prizes, Sherif noted that hostile and aggressive attitudes toward an outgroup arise when groups compete for resources that only one group can attain. Sherif also establishes that contact with an outgroup is insufficient, by itself, to reduce negative attitudes. Finally, he concludes that friction between groups can be reduced along with positive intergroup relations maintained, only in the presence of superordinate goals that promote united, cooperative action.

Lutfy Diab repeated the experiment with 18 boys from Beirut. The ‘Blue Ghost’ and ‘Red Genies’ groups each contained 5 Christians and 4 Muslims. Fighting soon broke out, not Christian vs Muslim but Blue vs Red. 

 RCT offers an explanation for negative attitudes toward racial integration and efforts to promote diversity. 

RCT can also provide an explanation for why competition over limited resources in communities can present potentially harmful consequences in establishing successful organizational diversity. RCT provides an explanation of this pattern because in communities of mixed races, members of minority groups are competing for economic security, power, and prestige with the majority group.

RCT can help explain discrimination against different ethnic and racial groups. An example of this is shown in cross-cultural studies that determined that violence between different groups escalates in relationship to shortages in resources. When a group have a notion that resources are limited and only available for possession by one group, this leads to attempts to remove the source of competition. Groups can attempt to remove their competition by increasing their groups capabilities (e.g. skill training), decreasing the abilities of the outgroups competition (e.g. expressing negative attitudes or applying punitive tariffs), or by decreasing proximity to the outgroup (e.g. denying immigrant access).

So, tribalism is a neutral tool that can be used for evil or good, and that can get out of control of the social Frankensteins.

The object of the send her back chant is Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who moved from Somalia as a child. Also targets of similar attacks are Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, all native born US citizens.

The crowd’s “send her back” shouts resounded for 13 seconds as Trump made no attempt to interrupt them. The next day he claimed he did not approve of the chant and tried to stop it, but on Friday, he made clear he was not disavowing the chant and again laced into Omar, the target of the chant: “You can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m president,” Trump said. “These women have said horrible things about our country and the people of our country.”

Our capacity for critical thinking is easily derailed by what we notice, and how we feel, at any given moment. We humans are so susceptible to reasoning errors, it takes little more than the power of suggestion to sway us like a reed in the wind. The suggestion doesn’t even have to be relevant — just must be made.

Some of the answers of the Quora question try to justify the mob chanting by equating Islam to terrorist ideology, and labeling Rep. Omar as anti-American and obnoxious for saying, for example: “By principle, I’m anti-war because I survived a war. I’m also anti-intervention. I don’t think it ever makes sense for any country to intervene in a war zone with the fallacy of saving lives when we know they are going to cause more deaths. I also don’t believe in forced regime change. Change needs to come from within.” Or accusing Omar of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israel and endorsing the boycott of the Israel State (BDS). Ilhan Omar said in January 2019: “I don’t know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans,” when asked about an old tweet of hers that said Israel had “hypnotized the world.” You might disagree with Omar about Israel and what to do, or not, about the conflict between the Israel State and the Palestinians, but equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism is just a straw man fallacy.


Adair, R. K. (2002). The Physics of Baseball (3 ed.). Harper Perennial. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/2Yt7SfJ

Ariely, D. (2010). Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Revised and Expanded ed.). Harper Perennial; . Retrieved from https://amzn.to/330ZhEj

Damasio, A. (2005). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (Reprint edition ed.). Penguin Books;. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/314Vu7j

Damasio, A. (2018). El error de Descartes: La emoción, la razón y el cerebro humano (Spanish Edition) (Kindle Edition ed.). Ediciones Destino . Retrieved from https://amzn.to/3124Osv

Fleitz, F. (n.d.). Fred Fleitz: Don’t ignore Reps. Omar and Tlaib and their hateful anti-Semitic, anti-Israel rhetoric. Retrieved July 30, 2019, from Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/fred-fleitz-ilhan-omar-rashida-tlaib-bds-israel-anti-semitic-anti-israel

Golding, W. (2013). Lord of the Flies (Reissue edition (December 16, 2003) ed.). Penguin Books. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/2LL2BOR

Haltiwanger, J. (2019, July 19). Trump says supporters who chanted ‘send her back’ are ‘incredible patriots’ just a day after disavowing the chants. Retrieved from Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-praises-supporters-who-chanted-send-her-back-as-patriots-2019-7

Jones, M. (2019, July 21). When you watch a stadium filled with white people chanting “Send her back!” about a US Congresswoman and our President silently endorses it, what comes up for you? Retrieved from Quora: https://www.quora.com/When-you-watch-a-stadium-filled-with-white-people-chanting-Send-her-back-about-a-US-Congresswoman-and-our-President-silently-endorses-it-what-comes-up-for-you

Miller, S. (2017, June 1). In the Robbers Caves: why ‘tribing up’ trumps truth. Retrieved from Medium: https://medium.com/@sandras/in-the-robbers-caves-why-tribalism-trumps-truth-e43adcc8574f

Perry, G. (2019). The Lost Boys: inside Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave experiment. Scribe US.

Sapolsky, R. (2004). Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. Holt Paperbacks. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/2Mqjkqb

Sapolsky, R. (2018). Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (Reprint ed.). Penguin Books. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/2LUnbMP

Schwartz , I. (2019, May 10). Pence: Rep. Ilhan Omar Made “Anti-Semitic Comments” Against “Our Most Cherished Ally” Israel. Retrieved from Real Clear Politics: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/05/10/pence_rep_ilhan_omar_made_anti-semitic_comments_against_our_most_cherished_ally_israel.html

Shariatmadari, D. (2018, April 16). A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/apr/16/a-real-life-lord-of-the-flies-the-troubling-legacy-of-the-robbers-cave-experiment

Sobel, A. (2019, July 26). Opinion: Defend Ilhan Omar. But Don’t Look Away From The Things She’s Said. Retrieved from BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/asobel/defend-ilhan-omar-but-dont-look-away

Szalay, J. (2017, January 24). What is Fascism? Retrieved from Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/57622-fascism.html

Watts, J. (2019, July 24). Extensive historical data shows recent extreme warming is unprecedented in past 2,000 years. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/24/scientific-consensus-on-humans-causing-global-warming-passes-99

Wikipedia. (2019, June 16). Realistic conflict theory. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realistic_conflict_theory

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Dark Green VI: The Club of Rome and “World Problematique” (1)


By M.K. Styllinski

 “The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.”

Edmund Burke

According to the Club of Rome’s (CoR) own website the global think-tank was founded in April 1968 by: “… a small international group of professionals from the fields of diplomacy, industry, academia and civil society met at a quiet villa in Rome.” This villa was none other than the Rockefeller brother’s estate in Bellagio, with brainstorming sessions at the neighbouring Accademia dei Lincei.

The CoR describes itself as “a group of world citizens, sharing a common concern for the future of humanity” who aim:

“… to identify the most crucial problems which will determine the future of humanity through integrated and forward-looking analysis; to evaluate alternative scenarios for the future and to assess risks, choices and opportunities; to develop and propose practical solutions to the challenges identified; to communicate the new insights…

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The Grokking Eagle Podcast -01 Introduction

The Grokking Eagle Podcast Introduction

This is the opening episode of the Grokking Eagle Podcast. I have a blog in WordPress.com called the grokking eagle that has been online since 2007. Today I am starting a podcast version as an experiment and a learning effort on social media dynamics. How do you connect with people using digital media?

To Grok means to understand intuitively or by empathy, to establish rapport with and to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment. So, the main trust of the podcast will be a search for the deep meaning on everyday life. There is a feeling among the people that the truth is hidden from the masses and that what we get is a manufactured reality. Some of us try to resist, but then we caught ourselves regurgitating the memes of the day. This will be an exercise in critical thinking, a difficult endeavor, limited by our preconceptions, beware.

Among the topics I have included is, for example, an article on the physics of punching that makes some empirical observations about karate punching in a training dojo. Another article was about The Theory of Basic Human values, developed by Shalom H. Schwartz. The Theory of Basic Human Values tries to measure Universal Values that are recognized throughout all major cultures.

Surprisingly for me the most persistently popular article is one about Microsoft Visual Studio and local databases despite being by now beyond obsolete. Maybe the point is that there are no popular articles on the blog.

Alan Watts, the Buddhist teacher is, nonetheless, a popular topic in the blog.

Other topics are Mexican religion and history. Climate change is a subject that I consider of mayor importance.

Anyhow, I hope you find something useful or entertaining in the podcast

Welcome and see you in the next episode of the Grokking Eagle.

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Statement on the Elimination of People-to-People Travel to Cuba on June 5, 2019

Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective

Statement on the Elimination of People-to-People Travel to Cuba on June 5, 2019

We are saddened and angered by the Trump administration’s latest move against Cuba. On June 4, 2019 it was announced that as of June 5, 2019 the people-to-people travel license would be eliminated, further restricting the freedom of US citizens to travel to Cuba and ending the license many solidarity groups have operated under to sustain meaningful exchanges in Cuba.

First and foremost, we want to say that we fully stand in solidarity with the Cuban people, that we firmly disagree with the elimination of the people-to-people license, and will do all that is in our power to ensure that our delegations to Cuba are protected. Our work continues. We understand these policies to be imperialistic tactics to undermine the sovereignty of Cuba and the Cuban people. And we know that our work continues to chip away at the already reduced support for the 60-year blockade against Cuba.

As a collective, we will be working with our trusted partners—the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center—as well as with other Cuba solidarity organizations and legal counsel, to develop a way forward for our Cuba work. It’s important to note that Witness for Peace brought groups to Cuba prior to the existence of the people-to-people license under other licenses that still do exist, so we’re cautiously optimistic, and want to be clear that this is not an end to our Cuba program.

Over the last year we have had the privilege of hosting delegations exploring solidarity through themes like Maroon Roots and 21st Century Revolution; Urban Agriculture and Ecology; Healing and Social Justice; Arts, Culture and Black Identity; and Education and Culture. Each delegation works to build our knowledge through educational exchanges and personal experience to change the narrative, uplift what we have to learn from Cuba, and ultimately change the damaging and unjust policies against Cuba.

In collaboration and with the generosity of our partners at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center, delegations are relational experiences where we get the opportunity to learn and build relationships with the Cuban people. Our work continues to foster accountability to one another and an understanding of solidarity on the personal, community, and global level.


We encourage all who have been to Cuba to share their experiences through their social media, with their communities, organizations and friends and family. Reach out to our Cuba team and your regional organizer for support on following through with actions proposed during your delegations with us, or submit a blog post of your experience. Join us in continuing to change the false narratives and build and expand solidarity with the Cuban people.

Additionally, we urge folks to reach out to your representatives, declare your disapproval of the travel restrictions and ask them to support legislation that promotes the normalization of relations with Cuba.
In this very tense time of tightened sanctions against Cuba, and increasingly loud and inflammatory rhetoric from the Trump administration, our work takes on a high and urgent level of importance. If you would like to support our Cuba program, which also in large part sustains our political work in both Colombia and Honduras, join one of our delegations, or see below and make a donation today.


Dear Supporter,

For the past five months we have been radically rebuilding as a horizontally-governed, worker-driven WFP Solidarity Collective. As you may know, last December, the Witness for Peace national organization laid off all staff. But that’s not the end of the story.

Driven by dedication to our work and mission, grassroots Witness for Peace regional organizations, former national staff and International Teams united together to push forward against the odds. In January, we launched the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective, grounded in horizontal and participatory governance, to continue to build justice in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We are still on the ground carrying out the vital mission of Witness for Peace, and we’re building up to be stronger than ever.

Now we urgently need your help to keep it going.

Since the founding of our Solidarity Collective in January of this year, we have completed:

You can be a part of this critical work!

And we need you now more than ever. This week the Trump Administration dealt a violent blow to our Cuba Delegations program and the Cuban solidarity movement, by eliminating the people-to-people travel license. Based on preliminary research of the new restrictions, we know that Cuba travel will become more complex, but we are determined to find paths to sustain our important Cuba delegations program.

Show up for solidarity with Cuba, and join a delegation today!

Many of you have participated in delegations and Speaker Tours and know that our International Team (IT) members are the core of our organization. We need your help to maintain their critical presence accompanying our partners in Honduras, Colombia and Cuba.

$30 maintains an International Team (IT) in communication with the Collective and our partner organizations for a month

$75 keeps the lights on at one of our international offices for 1 month

$150 covers transportation (which often involves flight + bus + canoe)  for a 5-day accompaniment in Honduras or Colombia

$160 buys a one-year visa renewal for IT

$300 supports a 3-day accompaniment by 2 IT members

$750 pays 1 month of rent at one of our country programs

$2000 continues the work in one of our country programs for 1 month

Or consider becoming a sustaining monthly donor.

Thank you for being part of this movement as we take this bold step forward as the WFP Solidarity Collective, rooted in Witness for Peace’s powerful legacy and driven by the movements, collaborations and creative emergent strategies of today.


WFP Solidarity Collective

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