Archive for the ‘Greek History’ Category

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy

December 27, 2016

In the Real World, Foundations Saved Civilization Before:

The combination of imperial collapse followed by re-birth from Foundations within happened several times already, for real.

Civilizations collapsing into Dark Ages from the actions of dozens of millions of people occurred more than once. And then very small groups arose, often within the collapsing empire, and imposed new ways of thinking which enabled civilization to restart. One such case was the Mongol takeover of China, and the subsequent collapse of the Yuan dynasty replaced, within a century, by the Ming dynasty (appropriately founded by a Buddhist monk).

Yet the most striking examples of collapses are in the West, and the most spectacular ones come with two foundations.

The first collapse was that of the seven superpowers which made the Bronze Age civilization. They were attacked by nations which made “a conspiracy in their islands” (said Pharaoh Ramses III in 1175 BCE). Besides the calamitous invasions by these “Peoples of the Sea”, a number of disasters striking simultaneously (calamitous climate change, including super drought, quake swarm, etc.) brought the entire trading system down, upon which some civilizations depended for survival, and then generalized destruction followed. The Foundation consisted in a number of Greek city states, mostly on the Ionian coast. The Second Foundation was Athens.

However soon enough, an unserious Greece was taken over by the fascist Macedonian empire, and its successor regimes, the Hellenistic kingdoms.

The Second Foundation was the Roman Republic itself. Rome had been created where the shock waves from Magna Grecia, Italian Greece, and the Etruscans collided. That positive interference brought herdsmen to civilization. The Etruscans were themselves one of these roaming “Peoples of the Sea”, and they had settled in Syria for a while, before grabbing the part of Italy with the richest iron deposits: Foundations everywhere.

Rome freed Greece, and then turned into an evil empire itself. Rome degenerated ever more into all sorts of fascisms… and progressively collapsed ever more, as one major system after another became dysfunctional.

Then emperor Constantine re-founded Rome by imposing the Catholic Church, which had grown semi-secretly for two centuries, as a favored institution within the empire.

At the same time, other Roman generals cum lawyers equipped the savage Germans constituting the Frankish Confederation with a Latin written law, the Lex Salica. The Franks were opposed to Christianism. In a further twist, Constantine and his successors used the Franks as shock troops of the empire (Once the Franks staged a full civil war to give back control of the empire to secularists).

Meanwhile the First Foundation, Catholicism, collapsed Rome, and then it gave control to the Second Foundation, that of the Franks, which had opposed them. In a complete turn-around, the Franks then adopted Catholicism, modifying it extensively to eliminate all its bad aspects (no more apocalypse around the corner, total tolerance for fellow religions, mandating secular education, etc.), while keeping the good ones (charity, altruism, Christian Republic mentality, etc.). Within 150 years, the Franks would outlaw slavery in Europe (there had been no slavery in Germany, so this is more the German than Christian influence: all bishops were very rich and they had dozens, or hundreds, of slaves).

Small foundations can, and will always, save civilizations. For two main reasons: 1) their small size enable them to think democratically, thus better. 2) the excellency their struggle for survival forces on small foundations, require them to think straight and true (otherwise they won’t survive).

It is likely that some of the real events I just related inspired Asimov: he was a very knowledgeable person (and the Foundational aspects of Rome and Athens were well-known, as was the social failure to oppose Macedonia in a timely manner, in spite of the strident warnings of the philosopher Demosthenes).

When I read the Foundation Trilogy, long ago, I found, even then, some of its aspects very dated. But in a way, that is the entire point.

Psychohistory was not invented yesterday, we have crucially depended upon it, for millennia.
Patrice Ayme’

Skulls in the Stars

I’ve recently been trying to become more acquainted with science fiction as a genre, as most of my life I’ve been focused primarily on horror fiction.  A natural and obvious place to place some emphasis is on classic works from the golden age of science fiction, and a natural and obvious place to start there is with the work of Isaac Asimov.  A few weeks ago, I read Asimov’s Foundation (1951), and blogged my thoughts about it.

Asimov has written seven books set in the Foundation setting; I figured that I would be content reading the first one, to get a feel for it, and then move on to other authors and other series…

… and, as of today, I’ve started reading the fifth of the Foundation novels.

As the first three books, Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952), and Second Foundation (1953), form the original trilogy, and I thought it…

View original post 1,138 more words

Trump A Demagogue? So What?

March 27, 2016

“We empowered a demagogue” laments the New York Times ostensibly bleeding heart liberal, the kind Mr. Kristof, in his false “Mea Culpa” editorial, “My Shared Shame: How The Media Made Trump”. By this, Mr. Kristof means that Mr. Trump is a bad person. However, Mr. Kristof’s choice of the word “demagogue” is revealing. (Actually it’s not really his choice: “demagogue” is not Mr. Kristof’s invention: he just repeats like a parrot the most prominent slogan of the worldwide campaign of insults against Trump).

Trump a demagogue? Is Mr. Sanders a “demagogue”, too? (As much of the financial and right-wing press has it: for The Economist and the Financial Times, Trump and Sanders are both “demagogues” and that’s their main flaw.)

To understand fully the word “demagogue” one has to understand a bit of Greek, and a bigger bit of Greek history.

The Hellenistic Kingdom Mood, And Aristotle, Had A Devastating Influence On Rome, Thus On Western Civilization, Thus Us, Ever Since

The Hellenistic Kingdom Mood, And Aristotle, Had A Devastating Influence On Rome, Thus On Western Civilization, Thus Us, Ever Since

What does demos mean? And what does agogos mean? Both words are Greek. Agogos means “leader”, Demos means “people”. In ancient Greek “demagogos” meant “leader of the People”. A demagogue was viewed as bad in the Hellenistic Kingdoms period, because kinship was good, and We The People was bad. We inherited 2,000 years of dictatorship from the Hellenistic Kingdoms’ mood.

The latter point is the key: thanks to Aristotle’s devastating influence, monarchies and tyrannies became the ideal political regimes (for the next 2,000 years). I explained the whole thing in “Aristotle Destroyed Democracy”. Aristotle was the senior, most respected figure, of an impressive number of mass criminals who were his personal friends, students and followers: Alexander the Great, Antipater, Craterus, etc.

The practical result was that the entire Greek world became subjected to monarchies and tyrannies. With the sole exception of Massilia (modern Marseilles) whose small empire stayed democratic and independent (in spite of being at war with no less than Carthage based in Barcelona!) Marseilles would fall only after Julius Caesar besieged it (in one of Julius’ particularly ridiculous exploits). But the fact only Massilia stayed democratic tells volumes (OK, when Greece, attempted to go back to democracy, plutocratizing Rome crushed it, culminating with the devastation of Corinth in 146 BCE).

So the deeper question is this: since when has “leader of the People” become a crime in the US? Was president FDR a “demagogue”? What is the president of the USA supposed to be? What is the problem? Is the president supposed NOT to be a “leader”? Or to NOT be a leader of the “People”?

Is the President of the US supposed to be a follower? Of whom? The plutocrats? Is the president of the USA supposed to take Air Force One every few weeks, to get money from the Silicon Valley plutocrats, and ask them for instructions?

The ascent of Trump is precisely tied to the opinion that the office of the President of the USA is not anymore that of the leader of the people. Instead the president has become the leader of the 1%, exclusively. Thus, the more one complains that Trump is a “demagogue”, the more one presents him as precisely what the country, and maybe even the world, needs: somebody who wants to lead We The People, not just the 1%.

[Mr. Kristof allowed a shortened version of this comment to be published… After sitting on it for 12 hours. Delayed publication is akin to censorship, as the comment was published in 777th position instead of being among the first. So Mr. Kristof is not as kind and open as he wants to depict himself.]

A hard day may be coming for global plutocrats ruling as they do thanks to their globalization tricks. And I am not exactly naive. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, shared the general opinion that much of globalization was just theft & destitution fostering an ominous future (the Hungarian immigrant to the USA who was one of the founders of Intel). He pointed out, an essay he wrote in 2010 that Silicon Valley was squandering its competitive edge in innovation by neglecting strong job growth in the United States.

Mr. Grove observed that: …”it was cheaper and thus more profitable for companies to hire workers and build factories in Asia than in the United States. But… lower Asian costs masked the high price of offshoring as measured by lost jobs and lost expertise. Silicon Valley misjudged the severity of those losses, he wrote, because of a “misplaced faith in the power of start-ups to create U.S. jobs.”

Silicon Valley makes its money from start-ups. However, that phase of a business is different from the scale-up phase, when technology goes from prototypes to mass production. Both phases are important. Only scale-up is an engine for mass job growth — and scale-up is vanishing in the United States (especially with jobs connected to Silicon Valley). “Without scaling,” Mr. Grove wrote, “we don’t just lose jobs — we lose our hold on new technologies” and “ultimately damage our capacity to innovate…

The underlying problem isn’t simply lower Asian costs. It’s our own misplaced faith in the power of startups to create U.S. jobs. Americans love the idea of the guys in the garage inventing something that changes the world. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called “Start-Ups, Not Bailouts.” His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.

Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment.”

However, American-based manufacturing is not on the agenda of Silicon Valley or the political agenda of the United States. Venture capitalists actually told me it was obsolete (before stepping in their private jets). That omission, according to Mr. Grove, is a result of anotherunquestioned truism”: “that the free market is the best of all economic systems — the freer the better.” To Mr. Grove, or Mr. Trump, or yours truly, that belief is flawed.

Andy Grove: “Scaling used to work well in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs came up with an invention. Investors gave them money to build their business. If the founders and their investors were lucky, the company grew and had an initial public offering, which brought in money that financed further growth.” 

The triumph of free-market principles over planned economies in the 20th century, Mr. Grove said, did not make those principles infallible or immutable. There was room for improvement, he argued, for what he called “job-centric” economics and politics. In a job-centric system, job creation would be the nation’s No. 1 objective, with the government setting priorities and arraying the forces necessary to achieve the goal, and with businesses operating not only in their immediate profit interest but also in the interests of “employees, and employees yet to be hired.”

As even the New York Times now admits, the situation has degenerated since 2010. Although the employment rate halved, in a slave state, everybody is employed. But neither the economy, nor the society, let alone progress and civilization are doing better.

“Insecure, low-paying, part-time and dead-end jobs are prevalent. On the campaign trail, large groups of Americans are motivated and manipulated on the basis of real and perceived social and economic inequities.

Conditions have worsened in other ways. In 2010, one of the arguments against Mr. Grove’s critique was that exporting jobs did not matter as long as much of the corporate profits stayed in the United States. But just as American companies have bolstered their profits by exporting jobs, many now do so by shifting profits overseas through tax-avoidance maneuvers.

The result is a high-profit, low-prosperity nation. “All of us in business,” Mr. Grove wrote, “have a responsibility to maintain the industrial base on which we depend and the society whose adaptability — and stability — we may have taken for granted.” Silicon Valley and much of corporate America have yet to live up to that principle.”

So the argument counter-Grove was that plutocracy was OK, as long as it was all American (an argument Trump long disagreed with, BTW). But, clearly, it’s not the case anymore. Instead the US government has become the back-up to global plutocratic corporations (watch Obama flying to Argentina to encourage the new US pawn there, just elected… after making economic war against left leaning Argentinian governments ever since Argentina refused to take orders: the first beneficiary are New York vulture funds).

Sanders, the other “demagogue” just defeated Clinton (the establishment insider plutocrat) in three states out of the US mainstream: Washington State, Hawai’i and Alaska (with 3/4 of the votes). Interestingly, and differently from all the other past or present primary contenders, Clinton is implicated in several inquiries from the FBI, Department of Justice, etc. At least she is not terrorized like Maria Carey, who cancelled her concerts in Belgium (other singers did not).

Mr. Grove: “… the imperative for change is real and the choice is simple. If we want to remain a leading economy, we change on our own, or change will continue to be forced upon us.” Trump and Sanders say nothing else.

Yesterday, a dove penetrated inside my house, flew around, collided a bit with something, and then exited the window with precision, before perching on a eucalyptus branch, looking at me dazzlingly. I have seen it many times before, but generally it stays outside. Last night, I dreamed of seeing a pigeon fly at an angle into a wall. I asked it why it did that, so deliberately. It replied: “Did you see the state of the biosphere?” I suggested a more constructive actions. And it’s how it is going to happen: at some point, all the biosphere we depend upon will revolt (and after Zika, we have now Lassa fever, which is very close to Ebola).

Our corruption is not just an economic and social problem, a political problem, and a civilizational problem, as it was under Aristotle.  It is a problem for the entire planet.

We empowered a demagogue“, laments Mr. Kristof. His true calling, and that of the Main Stream Media, was to empower plutocrats, and their obsequious servants. How sad they are.

Patrice Ayme’

Emotional Thinking Is Superior Thinking

March 11, 2015

By claiming that emotional thinking is superior, I do not mean that “logical” thinking ought to be rejected. I am just saying what I am saying, and no more. Not, just the opposite, “logical” thinking ought to be embraced. However, there are many “logical” types of thought possible.

Emotional and logical thinking can be physiologically distinguished in the brain (the latter is mostly about axons; the former about the rest).

Any “logical” thinking is literally, a chain made of points. (And there are no points in nature, said a Quantum Angel who passed by; let’s ignore her, for now!)

Elliptic Geometry In Action: Greeks, 240 BCE, Understood The Difference Between Latitude & Geodesic (Great Circle)

Elliptic Geometry In Action: Greeks, 240 BCE, Understood The Difference Between Latitude & Geodesic (Great Circle)

Some say that hard logic, and mathematics is how to implement “correct thinking”. Those who say this, do not know modern logic, as practiced in logic departments of the most prestigious universities.

In truth, overall, logicians spent their careers proposing putative, potential foundations for logic. Ergo, there is no overall agreement, from the specialists of the field themselves, about what constitute acceptable foundations for “logic”.

It is the same situation in mathematics.

Actually dozens of prestigious mathematicians (mostly French) launched themselves, in the 1950s into a project to make mathematics rigorous. They called their effort “Bourbaki”.

Meanwhile some even more prestigious mathematicians, or at least the best of them all, Grothendieck, splendidly ignored their efforts, and, instead, founded mathematics on Category Theory.

Many mathematicians were aghast, because they had no idea whatsoever what Category Theory could be about. They derided it as “Abstract Nonsense”.

Instead it was rather “Abstract Sense”.

But let’s take a better known example: Euclid.

There are two types of fallacies in Euclid.

The simplest one is the logical fallacy of deducing, from emotion, what the axioms did not imply. Euclid felt that two circles which looked like they should intersect, did intersect. Emotionally seductive, but not a consequence of his axioms.

Euclid’s worst fallacy was to exclude most of geometry, namely what’s not in a plane. It’s all the more striking as “Non-Euclidean” geometry had been considered just prior. So Euclid closed minds, and that’s as incorrect as incorrect can be.

To come back to logic as studied by logicians: the logicS considered therein, are much general than those used in mathematics. Yet, as no conclusion was reached, this implies that mathematics itself is illogical. That, of course, is a conclusion mathematicians detest. And the proof of their pudding is found in physics, computer science, engineering.

So what to do, to determine correct arguments? Well, direct towards any argument an abrasive, offensive malevolence, trying to poke holes, just as a mountain lion canines try to pass between vertebras to dislocate a spine.

That’s one approach. The other, more constructive, but less safe, is to hope for the best, and launched logical chains in the multiverses of unchained axiomatics.

Given the proper axioms, (most of) an argument can generally be saved. The best arguments often deserve better axiomatics (so it was with Leibnitz’s infinitesimals).

So, de facto, people have longed been using not just “inverse probability”, but “inverse logic”. In “inverse logic”, axioms are derived from what one FEELS ought to be a correct argument.

Emotions driving axiomatics is more metalogical, than axiomatics driving emotions.

***

To the preceding philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci replied (in part) that:

“Patrice, 

“…Hence, to think critically, one needs enough facts. Namely all relevant facts.”

Enough facts is not the same as all the relevant facts, as incorrectly implied by the use of “namely.” 

“It is arrogant to think that other people are prone to “logical fallacies”.”

It is an observation, and facts are not arrogant. 

“A Quantum Wave evaluates the entirety of possible outcomes, then computes how probable they are.”

Are you presenting quantum waves as agents? They don’t evaluate and compute, they just behave according to the laws of physics.

“just as with the Quantum, this means to think teleologically, no holds barred”

The quantum doesn’t think, as far as I know. 

“Emotional Thinking Is Superior Thinking” 

I have no idea what you mean by that. Superior in what sense? And where’s the bright line between reason and emotion?

“Any “logical” thinking is literally, a chain made of points”

No, definitely not “literally.” 

It may not follow from the axioms, but I am having a hard time being emotionally seductive by intersecting circles. 

“Euclid’s worst fallacy was to exclude most of geometry, namely what’s not in a plane.”

That’s an historically bizarre claim to make. Like saying that Newton’s worst fallacy was to exclude considerations of general relativity. C’mon. 

“as no conclusion was reached, this implies that mathematics itself is illogical” 

Uhm, no. 

“to hope for the best, and launch logical chains in the multiverses of unchained axiomatics” 

Very poetic, I have no idea what that means, though.”

***

Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at CUNY in New York, and has doctorates both in biology and philosophy. However, truth does not care about having one, or two thousands doctorates. It would take too long to address all of Massimo’s errors (basically all of his retorts above). Let me just consider two points where he clings to Common Wisdom like a barnacle to a rock. The question of Non-Euclidean geometry, and of the Quantum. He published most of the answer below on his site:

Dear Massimo:

Impertinence and amusement help thought. Thank you for providing both. Unmotivated thought is not worth having.

The Greeks discovered Non-Euclidean geometry. It’s hidden in plain sight. It is a wonder that, to this day, so many intellectuals repeat Gauss’ self-serving absurdities on the subject (Gauss disingenuously claimed that he had discovered it all before Janos Bolyai, but did not publish it because he feared the “cries of the Beotians”… aka the peasants; Gauss does not tell you that a professor of jurisprudence had sketched to him how Non-Euclidean geometry worked… in 1818! We have the correspondence.).

The truth is simpler: Gauss did not think of the possibility of Non-Euclidean geometry (although he strongly suspected Euclidean geometry was not logical). Such a fame greedster could not apparently resist the allure of claiming the greatest prize…

It is pretty abysmal that most mathematicians are not thinking enough, and honest enough, to be publicly aware of Gauss’ shenanigans (Gauss is one of the few Muhammads of mathematics). But that fits the fact that they want mathematics to be an ethereal church, the immense priests of which they are. To admit Gauss got some of his ideas from a vulgar lawyers, is, assuredly, too painful.

That would be too admit the “Prince of Mathematics” was corrupt, thus, all mathematicians too (and, indeed, most of them are! Always that power thing; to recognize ideas have come out of the hierarchy in mathematics is injurious to the hierarchy… And by extension to Massimo.)

So why do I claim the Greeks invented Non-Euclidean geometry? Because they did; it’s a fact. It is like having the tallest mountain in the world in one’s garden, and not having noticed it: priests, and princes, are good at this, thus, most mathematicians.

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy wrote in his Geography (circa 150 CE):

“It has been demonstrated by mathematics that the surface of the land and water is in its entirety a sphere…and that any plane which passes through the centre makes at its surface, that is, at the surface of the Earth and of the sky, great circles.”

Not just this, but, nearly 400 years earlier, Eratosthenes had determined the size of Earth (missing by just 15%).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

How? The Greeks used spherical geometry.

Great circles are the “straight lines” of spherical geometry. This is a consequence of the properties of a sphere, in which the shortest distances on the surface are great circle routes. Such curves are said to be “intrinsically” straight.

Better: Eusebius of Caesarea proposed 149 million kilometers for the distance of the Sun! (Exactly the modern value.)

Gauss, should he be around, would whine that the Greeks did not know what they were doing. But the Greeks were no fools. They knew what they were doing.

Socrates killed enemies in battle. Contemporary mathematicians were not afraid of the Beotians, contrarily to Gauss.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was keen to demonstrate that logic could be many things. Aristotle was concerned upon the dependency of logic on the axioms one used. Thus Aristotle’s Non-Euclidean work is contained in his works on Ethics.

A thoroughly modern approach.

The philosopher Imre Toth observed the blatant presence of Non-Euclidean geometry in the “Corpus Aristotelicum” in 1967.

Aristotle exposed the existence of geometries different from plane geometry. The approach is found in no less than SIX different parts of Aristotle’s works. Aristotle outright says that, in a general geometry, the sum of the angles of a triangle can be equal to, or more than, or less than, two right angles.

One cannot be any clearer about the existence on Non-Euclidean geometry.

Actually Aristotle introduced an axiom, Aristotle’s Axiom, a theorem in Euclidean and Hyperbolic geometry (it is false in Elliptic geometry, thus false on a sphere).

Related to Aristotle’s Axiom is Archimedes’ Axiom (which belongs to modern Model Theory).

One actually finds non trivial, beautiful NON-Euclidean theorems in Aristotle (one of my preferred frienemies).

Non-Euclidean geometry was most natural: look at a sphere, look at a saddle, look at a pillow. In Ethika ad Eudemum, Aristotle rolls out the spectacular example of a quadrangle with the maximum eight right angles sum for its interior angles.

Do Quantum Wave think? Good question, I have been asking it to myself for all too many decades.

Agent: from Latin “agentem”, what sets in motion. Quantum waves are the laws of physics: given a space, they evaluate, compute. This is the whole idea of the Quantum Computer. So far, they have been uncooperative. Insulting them, won’t help.

Patrice Ayme’

When Dog Turned Into God

December 18, 2014

We have a striking historical case of someone, whom history ought to treat as a dog, and who was famously told he was a dog (but in a way too sophisticated for him to understand), who later came to consider himself as a god.

Alexander, son of Philippe, visited Diogenes. He stood in front of Diogenes’ barrel, and told him he would do for him whatever he wanted. Great leaders like to pose as helpful, and open minded.

Diogenes told him to stop making a shadow.

These were the times when a shadow was been thrown over all of civilization.

In the USA, Church And State Are Not Separated. Anymore.

In the USA, Church And State Are Not Separated. Anymore.

A correct trajectory is one according to the Principle of Least Action. Correct thinking may be the one achieving the most, while supposing the least.

Cynics know the theists have a dog in the fight, and his name, or that of his Representative, Messenger, Archangel, Son, Demiurge, or whatever, is Sacrosanct. Sacrosanct is a concept coming from Republican Rome: Tribunes were sacrosanct: attacking them physically meant death.

Cynics know theists insist upon a particular name, because they want to make their champions more respected and powerful than anybody else. Alexander went back east where Orientalism thrived. Alexander saw his blood flow. He wondered: “Is that the blood of a God?” His fellow Macedonians, and a few Greeks, companion in arms, laughed.

In the Orient, Godism was strong (sorry, let’s be polite with those who come from the fanum, the temple: Theism). Because, in a Hydraulic Dictatorship, you need a great dictator, and thus a great god created in His image, thus demonstrating that the dictatorship on the ground is ordained by the dictatorship in heavens.

The original cynicism was a reaction to the rising plutocracy: it’s no accident that the fundamental plutocrat, this follower of the demonic instinct, who had annihilated the entire City-State of Thebes, Alexander the Great, was viewed by the fundamental cynic, Diogenes, as a blot on an otherwise cloudless sky.

Reminding Alexander that humans were just dogs, was a way to remind Alexander that he himself was just a dog. (And a dog who kills tens of thousands in a city which has surrounded, is indeed rabid; Alexander the “Great” also crucified thousands in Tyr, and annihilated that City-Civilization too.)

Alexander’s reply: I am a God, not a Dog.

If humans are dogs are not their deities in their image too? Are not, thus, the gods, dogs? It’s hilarious to see debates about cynicism in the USA being transformed into the usual my-god-is-bigger-than-your-dog quarrel. As one commenter said, “continental” philosophy is pretty ignored. Too anti-God, of course, to survive deep down in the American aquarium.

To kill the Dog who wants to rule us (Alexander and his countless imitators, some contemporary), we have to kill the God they pretend to be, or in the image of (or live according to, thus giving them divine power, while bringing to life the ahistorical Jesus)

Nietzsche famously said: “Man is a rope, stretched between beast and Übermensch.” I prefer the truth: “Man is a hope, stretched between beast and Übermensch.”

But there is no hope, when all the hope there is to follow the Dog, especially when he strive to make himself believe he is a so-called “God” (As Alexander did, until Antipater told his valet, Antipater’s youngest son to do away with him… At least so it is pleasant to believe).

There is the paradox of the (make-)believer. Somebody who goes through life, assuming more than s/he needs, to gain theoretical advantage.

In the blessed USA, churches don’t pay tax, and thus legions believing the American world is the will of God (or, as Diogenes implicitly said, Dog) are ready to serve a government of plutocrats, by plutocrats, for plutocrats.

Don’t tell me what your society is: tell me what your gods are, and I will tell you what your elites do claim they believe in, and what they can get away with.

Patrice Ayme’