Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Roman Poet Horace quotes

Horace died on 27 November 8 B.C. at age fifty-seven.
"ridentem dicere verum / quid vetat" - What's wrong with someone laughing as they tell the truth?
"est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines / quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum" - there is a middle ground in things; there are, finally, definite boundaries, on either side of which Right is unable to take a stand
In short: whether a peaceful old age waits for me or death circles with black wings, rich, poor, at Rome, or if thus chance bids, an exile, whatever the complexion of my life, I will write.
"you can't stand your own company for an hour, you are unable to make good use of your leisure and, a fugitive and a wanderer, you avoid your very self, seeking one minute to drink away, the next to sleep away your troubles"
Hopeful in adversity, cautious in success is the heart well prepared for the opposite lot; Jupiter brings back the shapeless winters; he also takes them away; and not, if things go badly now, will it always be so: sometimes Apollo wakes his silent muse with his cithara; he doesn't always stretch his bow.

Friday, March 20, 2015


The Egyptian god Amun was depicted with ram horns. The ram was revered in ancient Egypt in matters of fertility and war. Rams were considered a symbol of virility due to their rutting behavior. The horns of Amun may have also represented the East and West of the Earth, and one of the titles of Amun was "the two-horned." Alexander was depicted with the horns of Amun as a result of his conquest of ancient Egypt in 332 BC, where the priesthood received him as the son of the god Amun, who was identified by the ancient Greeks with Zeus, the King of the Gods.
The Temple of the Oracle (Temple of Amun) at the Siwa Oasis in Egypt

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Lost Eye

When I was a young child living in Kijabe Kenya we had a drought in the valley below which caused the African Buffalo to migrate up to our mountain where our little town was.
It was a good thing in the beginning because President Moi had recently released a lot of criminals from Prison and some of them had formed gangs that came to our area and broke into some houses terrorizing the community. When the African Buffalo came in to the neighborhood the criminals went away.
The African Buffalo are known to be strong and aggressive animals in Kenya. Even to some Masai Warriors it is more honorable to take down a Buffalo than a Lion.
As a child at night we made sure to get in our cars because of the Buffalo out at night. You could see their eyes at night light up. My Father would take me around in the car at night searching for Buffalo in Kijabe. As a child it was exciting for me and I loved seeing them up close.
One Buffalo you could always spot because he had only one eye. We called him “The Lost Eye.” He was an old Bull and the rumor was that his eye was knocked out by a spear from a Masai warrior. He was alone, wounded and aggressive. For me he was bigger than life. He captured my imagination.
I remember at night in Kijabe(which means place of the wind) the wind howling and the deep darkness of the night outside my window. As I lay in my bed I imagined the Lost Eye out there standing in the darkest corner of the darkest night unfazed.
Think about the elemental drama that has gone on in Nature that Humans have never seen. The drama, the courage, the heroes, and the tragedy that is experienced by wild animals that have never been seen by human eyes.
One day after school I heard that the Army had been called to take out The Lost Eye. It took heavy weapons. I ran down to the lower part of Kijabe where they had killed him. The locals were cutting him up to share his meat around. His massive and noble head was sitting on a tree stump.
I approached it slowly and stared at his head in awe. He died in a blaze of bullets. A worthy death for a warrior animal such as The Lost Eye. Life for this beast had been brutal and tough and here alone in the historic Rift Valley he fell. Against the world and nature he was brought down but not without a fight.
After that I grew up being enamored with the African Buffalo. It happened to be our school mascot in Kijabe as well. The African Buffalo fighting off the mighty Lions till the very end even when outnumbered.
A Stoic and tough animal that looked its enemies and death face to face every day.
Protecting the weak among you and fighting till the very end in a world without mercy.
Montaigne was right animals have something to teach humans about this world we live in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Obama ignores the Assad Factor in the Rise of ISIS

SHANE SMITH, VICE NEWS: "One of the biggest questions that I had was how did they become so popular so fast? How did they get so many foreign fighters from America, from the U.K., from Scandinavia, from all over the world, go there, outstrip al Qaeda, almost overnight. So, a, how did they become so popular out of nowhere? And then, b, how do we stop them?"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "ISIL is direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq which grew out of our invasion which is an example of unintended consequences which is why we should generally aim before we shoot."
What about Assad? Maliki? Takfiri ideology being financed and spread in communities? These are important factors in the rise of ISIS as well and to ignore them is intellectually weak.
Taking aim at Bush and shooting down the whole complex story is not being honest with the evolution of ISIS.
President Obama's desire to be completely absent from the narrative for the growth and rise of ISIS has led him to turn away from complexity and nuance and embrace a simplistic narrative. He turned to the very simplicity he and his administration often accuse his critics of. He shot down a holistic and nuanced view out of political expediency.
To be sure the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration was an important factor and variable in the development of ISIS. However it was not the only factor or variable. Assad's response to the Arab uprising in his own country was vicious and brutal. The sectarian corruption of Maliki in Iraq was also a factor.
Assad even used chemical weapons on his own people with no effective response from President Obama or the international community. Assad bled Syria red and President Obama and the international community did nothing of consequence. Assad's violent response to his people and the World's lack of response was an important variable in the rise of ISIS.
There are unintended consequences to invading Iraq but there also unintended consequences to Assad's blood bath in Syria.
Tyrants and Terrorists have a symbiotic relationship. There are many examples of this in history. The most recent being Assad and ISIS. Assad in the beginning enabled ISIS because it would strengthen his position on the need for security as well as discredit the opposition. Terrorists groups use the Tyrant as an example of the corrupt and unjust regime or ruler who must be confronted with religious zeal and extremism. The death and destruction from Assad was also an important factor in the rise of ISIS and ignoring this is to ignore the full weight of Assad's crimes against humanity.
There are many factors that go back even farther than the US invasion of Iraq. The ideology of Islamism, Salafism, and Takfirism, which is often ignored as a factor has been growing and has been supported by countries like Saudi Arabia for many years and that is a factor as well that should not be ignored. There are geopolitical and proxy wars many years back that helped set the stage as well.
See previous post here.
Geopolitics, invasion, ideology, Assad's violence, Maliki's corruption are all part of the complex causation of the rise of ISIS and to turn to a simplistic narrative by President Obama is disappointing and partisan.
Vox has a good article explaining the many factors in the rise of ISIS. See here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Irony is the weapon of the minority and less powerful in society

"Irony is the glory of the slave."
"Woe unto the defeated, whom history treads into the dust." ~Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon
Those in Power like to make sacred that which supports their power. To be beyond criticism.
Religion whether polytheistic religion or monotheistic has often been used as a tool to power and to protect from criticism once in power. The Divine right of Kings for example.
The expression and freedom of humor, irony, satire, and criticism is important in confronting power whether that power is religious or state power.
Can one Faith be critical of another Faith? What about the Prejudice and bigotry against polytheists and disbelievers? It is ok to insult polytheists, humanists, atheists, and animists? Is it a one way street where the dominant faiths get to have protection from insult and criticism but minority beliefs do not?
As judgmental as religion can be and the bigotry it can produce it is rather ironic that the major religions are asking not to be judged or criticized.
It is precisely because religion is axiomatically given privilege in much of society that groups like ISIS have been able to rise so quickly and why it is tempting for them to attach themselves to religious language and its status.
That is the tragic irony that the Obama administration never has understood or confronted. Religion like all ideologies must be able to be criticized and welcome challenges and not given a special place of privilege. Otherwise you give groups who seek power the temptation to attach themselves to religion because of its privileged place.
The more privilege they give religion the more the zealots will want that privilege and power.
When you think of the crushing of other faiths in history... It is like a company getting to the top of the mountain and creating a monopoly destroying the path to the top for others. At the top it decides to destroy the path up the mountain so no other faith or idea can climb where it is. Changing the rules once your idea or faith is at the top of the mountain is the way power tries to crush dissent and competition.