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Damn I don’t like the “this is Sparta» logo with which  people sometimes identify Greeks or even Greeks identify themselves . First I don’t endorse and like nationalism of any kind and for any nation including mine. And secondly but most importantly MODERN GREEKS ARE NOT THE ANCIENT SPARTANS!!!! Spartans existed before 2,500 years (they were one of dozens different city states so just a small percentage of the whole ancient population) and we are so much Spartans as much as Mexicans are Aztecs or as much as French are Galois or as much as Swedes are Vikings…..no identification here only a distant connection decayed slowly through thousands of years ago. A connection almost entirely mythological now.

I would say if Americans want myths they should look elsewhere and leave Spartans in the silence and respect of history and to serious scientific historical analysis.   The movie was a paradigm of glorification of military virtue and skill and a projection of the present into the past not the other way around. In fact it is more a typical adventure American Hollywood movie than a document for an ancient Greek historical reality.  The movie had some gross historical inaccuracies or even outright grotesque lies although overall it refers to a real historical incidence and had some things right according to historians.

For the childish bullshit included in the movie like the depictions of known historical normal biologically persons as deformed monsters from a freak show, the use of elpehants and rinos and some imaginative monsters by Persians, the depiction of Xerxes as a drug queen with at least an ambigious sexuality and other stuff,  any one can check these links of articles by serious professors of history which are not against the movie politically and they just point these inaccuracies:

http://www.archaeology.org/online/reviews/300.html

http://www.nowpublic.com/entertainment/cathy-schultz-dispelling-hollywood-fiction-historic-reality

But the worst thing was the sneaky propagandistic concept of the movie through a strong implied message of a dichotomy among the good west/ and bad east where the freedom loving nice Spartans (where most westerners could easily identify themselves with) collide with the tyrannical and despotic Persians. Now doesn’t anyone have the feeling   that this movie is a metaphor for the conflict among US and Middle East? Isn’t also the timing of the release of the movie strange since we are not only in a period of Middle East war conflicts after US invasions but further  during that time the US went through the process of a possible conflict with Iran. Remember that Iran is geographically and theoretically the modern historical development of ancient Persia.   I think deep down the movie 300 reveals a secret identification of Americans with the Spartans as they portrayed them, which in fact is what Americans feel their military alter ego should be at these days of war, since US feel also under “attack” from “barbarous” forces after 9/11 and needs to reply with vigorous military power.  I had the impression that the Spartans of the movie, in a deeper level, were the Americans  of today. We can replace Americans with any citizen of any West country that identifies and agree with a strong “manly”  response to real or imaginative terrorist threat.

As in most cases the important things are not so much the distortions but the implied messages that are based on a hidden agenda and the truths left out and not showed as they should. And as always a half truth is like a full lie. Also to be fair we must say that according to almost all historian the description of Persian civilization just as plain barbarous is quite unfair, just read any book or source about it. By the way, despite the high symbolical meaning of the sacrifice by the 300 Spartans,  the Persians were finally defeated in later decisive battles by an alliance of most Greeks,that  included Spartans of course.

However it is normal for most modern people to identify with ancient Greeks since they were the defenders against the attackers (although ancient Greeks have been also attackers during their history) but mainly because the ancient Greeks were the only that have developed in those times notions like democracy, science and philosophy things very valuable for the history of humanity during the next millenniums.

But the fact kept hidden through the movie, a huge historical perversion, is that Sparta it was the opposite of the values of freedom and democracy and didn’t endorsed those values as other Greek cities –states. Firstly Sparta had never given any important contribution in science, philosophy or art and of course it had no democracy as a political system.  In fact it was a political fierce opponent of democracy and tried through its history to vanish democracy in all other Greek cities. Those times almost half of the ancient Greek cities had democratic political systems, including Athens which was the opposing pole of the power of Sparta, and the rest had various types of oligarchy.  Further all those cities conflicted and fought each other continuously in various complicated continuously changing alliances.

But the Sparta was  a unique historical example in ancient Greece. It was not just oligarchic but had a political system of an absolute state dominance. All its citizens were born and trained since 5 years old and until old age for all their life  to be excellent soldiers and serve Sparta. They never occupied a profession or worked in any way except training for fighting and go to wars, so  they spent all their time and energy  just to be better soldiers and learn to collaborate in battle. The state controlled completely every aspect of their life including birth, family and sex life –in fact they were given to the authority of the state since birth. They were all equal economically and socially by law and by tradition, except of their 2 kings, since everything produced by slaves distributed equally by the state to each citizen family (isn’t this sound strangely as communism). No one was in fact “allowed” to distinct himself socially, intellectually or in any other way except only in marshal skills, something quite logical when no one was exercising any trade, science or art but did only training for war.

There was no voting by the people for governing or legislating institutions, no real decisions and choices made by citizens individually or collective for their own lifes and of course there was no freedom of speech, in fact this concepts had no real meaning since it was unimaginable to talk anything other than about accepted traditions and perceptions that stood since ancestors times. Everything in life was strictly predefined by traditions and the ancient hereditary law (not the voted law that can be changed) and complete and blind obedience in  traditions was preserved harshly by the penalty of death or permanent expulsion from society for delinquents and dissenters. Sparta was the first ancient political experiment of a state fascism in history of humanity and in fact their social organization was the exact opposite of individual freedom.

Is this a paradigm to identify with the freedom loving democratic US that fights for “human rights” against “barbarity”? Hmm I think there is something wrong here. All these reveal either a secret desire of a part of the American elite of how their society would really like to be  or as usual and more probably they are creating mythological convenient spectacles for the average viewer who as they believe, is  easily manipulated.

We can further talk of course about the inferior position of women and about slaves but these were sins of all ancient Greek cities and I think of a lot of the ancient world back then. But Strangely women in Sparta had some more authority than in other cities (not of course any political positions but just some more influence in society, mainly through influence to their men) but this was just because men were almost always absent from their homes, since even in times of peace they lived all together in training camps (isn’t this sound somehow  gay he he). So women I suppose could do their things more easily without the fear of men.  We can add as  spice, the habit of Spartans  to train new warriors by hunting down and killing their slaves, a cruelty probably also unique in ancient Greece (to be fair those times cruelty  was quite common everywhere in ancient world but this specific kind is maybe above everything else known for this era).

For sure these people had  a high code of honor, discipline and faith in their city (which had the concept of  nation then) beyond any modern concept of discipline and faith and had really amazing ground fighting war skills (they were never so good in war navy skills though) but all these were not such a wonder for people trained since small kids and for all their life to fight together as a common body and soul. However the depiction of their fighting skills in the movie was one of the few almost completely true and historical accurate parts of it, enhanced of course with the classical Hollywood special effects.  But managing being the best possible soldier at such high costs I don’t think it really deserves all these sacrifices in a society and I think most  today’s person would agree with this.

Of course I have nothing against Spartans which this was just their way of existing and probably knew or wanted no other way than this, and after all these people are long dead and belong in history. And I really enjoyed the movie when I saw it since it had amazing scenes but for me it was more of a fairytale in most parts. The movie was a good adventure with excellent effects like a marvel comic’s movie of the kind of “the 4 fantastic” or “X-men”.  In fact the movie was based in a comic book series existing quite along before the movie.

But more importantly I did not fail to see the hidden agenda of the Hollywood script writers and concept creators that produced it, the so many untrue and misleading things in it and the projection of a specific modern American (or global) mentality throughout the movie. The problem is that US cultural production uses and abuses  history for its own political interests to create a modern mythology to suit  the US interests, far away of any kind of objectivity in history. And of course the abuse of history usually helps to brings further steps away from truth and fairness in our times.

I should add that also the other ancient Greeks had of course military training since every citizen was by default a soldier all his life and went to war quite often (Socrates fought more than 3 wars in his lifetime and I think this was the harsh reality for most ancient Greeks) but they also had normal lives and professions and didn’t not spend  all their lifes in military training like the Spartans. The interesting point is that during the numerous conflicts and wars among ancient Greek cities Spartans were not at all undefeatable, more than enough times they were leveled or even defeated by other Greeks (to be precise Spartans had been defeated or leveled few times on the ground and quite often in sea battles) by people who were in their life farmers, blacksmiths, orators and artisans. Strange life huh?  I am just saying these just for the ones who would admire the Spartans for their military skills and abilities and their possible undefeatable character. Because no one is for ever undefeatable and every kind of power perishes finally as history has always proven.

For a good (but long) political analysis of the film: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/3918/

And for anyone care to learn about ancient Sparta which was a unique historical phenomenon there is an excellent lecture from a Yale professor in youtube



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A simple fact that few mention in discussions about the moral meaning of taxes is that higher taxation for wealthier people is neither a steal from the more successful nor charity for the weaker. Taxes, when progressive, inside a capitalistic economy redistribute more fairly the income that was distributed unjustly during the production process through wages, profits and interest. In fact it corrects somehow an injustice  and don’t create one as ultraconservatives are saying. This is because financial capital and real capital owners are claiming from themselves more of theproduced output at the expense of workers through procedures far from fair, rational and simply economical that supposedly based on competition and efficiency.

Capital owners or their managers are achieving this through debt and monetization of the economy and high real interest rates that give a vast unfair advantage on the ones that already hold big amounts of money and capital. Also through social blackmail (by unemployment), through power techniques and intimidation (named as management) and through political lobbying that creates favorable laws and regulations for the companies. Corporations in general are forming and controlling the economy in their favor. All these put an enormous downward pressure on wages where the labor, with the exception of a small part of wage earners in the top of the wage pyramid, has too little power to affect wages, contrary to the classical theory of demand and supply.

The marginal product and wage theories are irrelevant with the real economy and are only mathematical abstract concepts. The final fixing of wages and profit rates in the corporate world are mostly the results of power balances and social techniques that includes intimidation, blackmail and cheating (fancy theory names that as asymmetry of information)

A favorable argument from conservatives is that  according to statistics in the US, after the Bush tax cuts the rich are paying more than ever  before in absolute numbers. But this is simply because their incomes and wealth in the absolute numbers have grown much more than the decrease of top tax rates by Bush administration (their share in total income is higher than ever before). It is just a sideeffect of our era where rich people getting richer than ever while at the same time the laws become more favorable for them lowering their tax rates. This gives the illusion that ultra wealthy pays more but in reality on the contrary it just means that ultra wealthy are getting crazy wealthy!

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There are some points worth mentioning in this speech Obama made after the pass of financial reform bill.

1. Almost all Republicans voted against!! Are all those people religious crack heads, rednecks and sell outs  to big corporations in order to deny even some minor and mostly insignificant  changes? I really would like to meet them and see wtf they are.

2. Of course Obama and Democrats are not the heroes of the working Americans. The bill is a work agreed by the financial banking elite that do understand that their excessive and chaotic power  is  a danger even for themselves and  it can bring  the whole system down  something that will finally destroy  also them. Further the  law is heavily amended and adjusted and away from its initial conception and intention to try to really control the banking industry even partially. The bill is a massive document of 2,300 pages and has many loopholes. No real separation of banking and investing activities (like it was happened in the Glass-Steagall Act).  People can check this legislation that passed during 30’s after the huge financial crisis that triggered a long depression in US and was gradually abolished completely during 90’s, as a power conflict among government and banking industry with the final winner the banks.  The bill  just limits some activities in derivatives not abolish them at all (they even give to banks 7 years!! to adjust in these few limitations), it demands from bankls to increase slightly their safety capital requirements but give them  again 5 years!! to adjust to this change.  It does not link the pay of their traders and top executives to long-term performance that every one shouted about. I think bankers themselves would be stricter to their own kind. The articles that discuss critically the reform bill are plently  in the internet and reveal the real nature of this reform bill.

3. There will be regulators that would oversee the big banks but regulators are just people that can be bought out, intimidated or being unable to do their job. If someone could check the corporate law of US I think it accounts for thousands of thick volumes. There are armies of well paid lawyers by Wall Street that would exploit any loophole or legislative window. And I believe all legislations are written to have loopholes and maybe the loopholes are more important and lucrative than the laws themselves. Maybe many times a law is written to create a loophole and not the other way around, who knows. I wonder if  anyone have thought about that and it sounds funny now I think of it  but maybe it is a bitter truth of modern life. Overall the real political and institutional power of big banks left intact so nothing really change in essence in the overall structure  of US economy. Big banks will still be too big to fail and to powerful to be under any real control.

4. Obama is just a great orator. He is not a savior or a protector of people, he couldn’t be even if he wanted. No one can really protect the people except themselves through their activities and free thinking. Still Obama is not just a puppet and a staged actor of the powerful at least this is what I would like to believe. I sense that this guy has some genuine concern for the average person and this is just my instinct or maybe my wishful thinking.  But  the point is that he don’t have the real institutional power to overcome the real political power of the money elites.  He is someone that is chosen to be the public image of massive power centers that operate and sometimes collide behind the scenes. He and his speeches are just a symbolic representation of this real power struggles and processes that are taking place in Wall Street and corporate top executives’ offices and top public officers’ bureaus. So the amount of comprises he has to take is really enormous leaving no space for any real radical changes and probably he knew that from the beginning. So he is not the great agent of real change and neither a hypocritical puppet, he is mainly an actor, an agent that plays the compromising role of the pubic image and communicator to the general population of  those colossal power structures that decide about and shape the American  life and policies. But overall I believe he  is really a good guy and not just someone playing a role, at least after judging by his past before presidency.  He also probably has  enough genuine compassion for the average person considering the fact that he was, before becoming the president,  an educated middle class American and not a member of the enormously wealthy elite like Bush.  He is a good guy although he can not really deliver any real radical change (and of course he knows that). Maybe I am a little romantic here or naive but it feels good to think that there are some good guys left especially in the top stratums of the society.

This article below is also a very interesting and realistic critique of the US financial reform bill

Finance-bill-A-mountain-of-paper-a-molehill-of-reform

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Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin

Fascinating article,  it makes you understand that recent European ancestors were black or at least dark brown, that whitness was a successful genetic transmutation   that helped people to adjust and survive in gold climates with much less sun exposure and that race is mostly a social and psychological construct than a biological one.

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology’s most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity’s greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person’s offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world’s races.

Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of «the race gene.» Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is — and is not.

In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome — the complete instructions for making a human being.

«It’s a major finding in a very sensitive area,» said Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in anthropological genetics at Oxford University, who was not involved in the work. «Almost all the differences used to differentiate populations from around the world really are skin deep.»

The work raises a raft of new questions — not least of which is why white skin caught on so thoroughly in northern climes once it arose. Some scientists suggest that lighter skin offered a strong survival advantage for people who migrated out of Africa by boosting their levels of bone-strengthening vitamin D; others have posited that its novelty and showiness simply made it more attractive to those seeking mates.

The work also reveals for the first time that Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. That means that light skin arose independently at least twice in human evolution, in each case affecting populations with the facial and other traits that today are commonly regarded as the hallmarks of Caucasian and Asian races.

Several sociologists and others said they feared that such revelations might wrongly overshadow the prevailing finding of genetics over the past 10 years: that the number of DNA differences between races is tiny compared with the range of genetic diversity found within any single racial group.

Even study leader Keith Cheng said he was at first uncomfortable talking about the new work, fearing that the finding of such a clear genetic difference between people of African and European ancestries might reawaken discredited assertions of other purported inborn differences between races — the most long-standing and inflammatory of those being intelligence.

«I think human beings are extremely insecure and look to visual cues of sameness to feel better, and people will do bad things to people who look different,» Cheng said.

The discovery, described in today’s issue of the journal Science, was an unexpected outgrowth of studies Cheng and his colleagues were conducting on inch-long zebra fish, which are popular research tools for geneticists and developmental biologists. Having identified a gene that, when mutated, interferes with its ability to make its characteristic black stripes, the team scanned human DNA databases to see if a similar gene resides in people.

To their surprise, they found virtually identical pigment-building genes in humans, chickens, dogs, cows and many others species, an indication of its biological value.

They got a bigger surprise when they looked in a new database comparing the genomes of four of the world’s major racial groups. That showed that whites with northern and western European ancestry have a mutated version of the gene.

Skin color is a reflection of the amount and distribution of the pigment melanin, which in humans protects against damaging ultraviolet rays but in other species is also used for camouflage or other purposes. The mutation that deprives zebra fish of their stripes blocks the creation of a protein whose job is to move charged atoms across cell membranes, an obscure process that is crucial to the accumulation of melanin inside cells.

Humans of European descent, Cheng’s team found, bear a slightly different mutation that hobbles the same protein with similar effect. The defect does not affect melanin deposition in other parts of the body, including the hair and eyes, whose tints are under the control of other genes.

A few genes have previously been associated with human pigment disorders — most notably those that, when mutated, lead to albinism, an extreme form of pigment loss. But the newly found glitch is the first found to play a role in the formation of «normal» white skin. The Penn State team calculates that the gene, known as slc24a5, is responsible for about one-third of the pigment loss that made black skin white. A few other as-yet-unidentified mutated genes apparently account for the rest.

Although precise dating is impossible, several scientists speculated on the basis of its spread and variation that the mutation arose between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. That would be consistent with research showing that a wave of ancestral humans migrated northward and eastward out of Africa about 50,000 years ago.

Unlike most mutations, this one quickly overwhelmed its ancestral version, at least in Europe, suggesting it had a real benefit. Many scientists suspect that benefit has to do with vitamin D, made in the body with the help of sunlight and critical to proper bone development.

Sun intensity is great enough in equatorial regions that the vitamin can still be made in dark-skinned people despite the ultraviolet shielding effects of melanin. In the north, where sunlight is less intense and cold weather demands that more clothing be worn, melanin’s ultraviolet shielding became a liability, the thinking goes.

Today that solar requirement is largely irrelevant because many foods are supplemented with vitamin D.

Some scientists said they suspect that white skin’s rapid rise to genetic dominance may also be the product of «sexual selection,» a phenomenon of evolutionary biology in which almost any new and showy trait in a healthy individual can become highly prized by those seeking mates, perhaps because it provides evidence of genetic innovativeness.

Cheng and co-worker Victor A. Canfield said their discovery could have practical spinoffs. A gene so crucial to the buildup of melanin in the skin might be a good target for new drugs against melanoma, for example, a cancer of melanin cells in which slc24a5 works overtime.

But they and others agreed that, for better or worse, the finding’s most immediate impact may be an escalating debate about the meaning of race.

Recent revelations that all people are more than 99.9 percent genetically identical has proved that race has almost no biological validity. Yet geneticists’ claims that race is a phony construct have not rung true to many nonscientists — and understandably so, said Vivian Ota Wang of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda.

«You may tell people that race isn’t real and doesn’t matter, but they can’t catch a cab,» Ota Wang said. «So unless we take that into account it makes us sound crazy.»

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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We all saw what happened to the humanitarian aid flotilla and the attack by navy commandos of Israel against unarmed people. And I insist against unarmed people because some trying to convince us that the people in the boats were armed, but sticks don’t count as weapons in real war operations. By no way wooden sticks and slings is a match against guns.  Isn’t this a use of an excessively unequal force against the “attackers” as Israel defined those people?

And again if Israel soldiers had to shot to protect their lives the beginning of the operations wasn’t  a mistake and an illegitimate action?  What the fuck gave the permission to Israeli soldiers to invade (invade not control or  block the passage) a foreign vessel in international waters. I think this is like an invasion in the land of a foreign country according to international naval law!!!

And all these are just happening with the backing of US and for anyone not noticing it at the expense of the West, which supposedly Israel is a loyal ally. As I see the imperative of Israel now is to massively care only for its own interests no matter the costs, political, in human lives or in international fairness and balance. Sure why to care for international law, human rights, international peace and the interests even of your supposedly allies. I think  this policy is not just aggresive but  fascist.

Diplomacy and negotiations ? This is just for sissies. Israel is now a strong state smashing precautionary without mercy  anyone considering as a potential threat. The outrageous thing is that this is happening because those people take as granted the support of the west. Maybe the west should start prove them wrong for once?

There is a massive outrage everywhere but of course there is always the pro-Israel lobby in the US affecting American foreign policy with a strong unfair bias in favor of Israel, and this is one of the major reasons, along with oil business interests and Muslim religious fanaticism, of the whole shit we have to stand in the middle East that keeps posing a threat to global peace for so many decades now.

Funny thing: Europe is for first time in its history a passive viewer or even a victim of all this major conflict (you know terrorist attacks in soft targets as a side effect of all this mess)

A strange thing also worth noticing  is that, excluding the vast political and economic interests in the middle East, the only real ideological supporter in US of the recent  totalitarianist  Israeli policies is the Christian far right for their own peculiar theological reasons.

I mean it seems that there are less and less sane people clearly supporting these kind of policies by Israel even in US, something that maybe rings a bell for a potential shift in the political scene in middle east, if everything else remaining equal. And I am saying this because there is the possibility that a more fair and balanced approach of the west in the region maybe, I say maybe will  decrease the anger and hostility of the arabs towards the west which in turn will decrease the suspiciousness and hostility of the west (and of Israel) bringing a virtuous positive circle instead of the constant vicious circle that dominates everything since decades.

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