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Showing posts from August, 2018

Pesticides Fuel Oligarchy

You get a clue of what pesticides are in the 1947 law “regulating” their use in the United States. The law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, says pesticides are chemicals designed to control (destroy, mitigate, repel) insects, fungi, rodents and weeds. Then the law opens loopholes and unleashes a barrage of technical terms and vague sentences as if the matter of pesticides is as normal as apple pie. You get the impression farming is impossible without them.
Should Pesticides Exist?
But are pesticides normal? In fact, should most of them exist at all?
It’s true some kind of pest control substances like sulfur have been in existence for millennia. Homer talks of disinfecting Odysseus’ palace with sulfur. And my father used sulfur to fight disease in his grapevines.
However, “pest control” in 2018 is not the pest control at the time of Homer. In fact, pest control did not exist then. The natural world was sacred to the Greeks. The notion some form of life was a pest wo…

Lessons of Greek History: Ancient Virtues of Courage, Patriotism and Freedom Matter Now More Than Ever Before

The Eastern Roman Empire included most of the territory of the empire of Alexander the Great. It lasted for more than a millennium. 
From Rome to Greece
In the sixth century, Greek became the official language of this Eurasian empire. Whatever Greek treasures survived the violence of the Christianization of Europe in the fourth century, one could find them in medieval Greece. However, the power, wealth and influence of this Greek state made it a bone of contention. The Turks, the Slavs, and Western Europeans wanted what it had.

In the seventh century, the Arabs took over Egypt and Syria. However the wars between Greeks and Arabs lasted for a long time. 

The Turks conquered most of Asia Minor in late eleventh century. In 1204, Western Christian Crusaders dismembered medieval Greece. In fact, Venetians appointed their own emperor in Constantinople, the capital of the empire.
In 1261, Greeks reconquered Constantinople and reconstituted a much smaller empire. But even this small Greece had  nu…

Why I Travel to Ancient Greece

I have been studying the ancient Greeks for most of my life. I took graduate classes in ancient and medieval Greek history and wrote my doctoral dissertation on a scholar who also went deep in his studies of ancient Greek culture, especially medicine. 
This man, Adamantios Koraes, 1748-1833, became the golden link between ancient and modern Greece. He edited Greek classical texts that became textbooks in Greek schools. He spread his knowledge and patriotism, becoming the father of the Greek Revolution.

Koraes grew up in a country ruled by Turks, so his passion for ancient Greece was a passion of life and death. He lived the Turkish humiliations and the corruption necessary for survival. He probably told himself he had to get away from the Turks or die. A Dutch pastor taught him Latin and encouraged him to go to “enlightened” Europe.
Koraes succeeded in leaving the oppressive environment of Smyrna, where he grew up, for Amsterdam and, eventually, Montpellier, France, where he earned…

The Frankenstein Monster in America

Future historians will have a say on the Donald Trump administration. Was it average or more hegemonic and plutocratic than its predecessors? Trump threatens adversaries with wars of “fire and fury.” He claims he is a billionaire. He hired billionaires for his cabinet.
The paradox of Trump
Future historians will probably question the foolishness of American democracy giving the president, all presidents, more power than any emperor ever had. This is as convincing an argument as one can make that the United States is an empire dressed in democratic clothes. 
Democracy and empire don’t seem to bother Trump. He is the uncrowned emperor dreaming of a real crown. He is obsessed with expanding his popular base, doing things that, at least, give the impression to those of the lower classes who voted for him he is with them. Dismantling environmental regulations is such a glue. He can falsely claim dirty air and water create jobs and the people listening to such falsehoods will likely believe…