Finally, some informed opinions on Yazidism, the peculiar minority religion of Kurdistan.
An interesting clip on the bizarre cult of "Santa Muerte" (Holy Death) in Mexico. Popularized academic material. It seems the Aztec Empire is still going strong...
Utmärkelsen "Veckans Strasser" går denna vecka till...mig själv.
Efter att ha gjort diverse "valkompasser" har det nämligen visat sig att mina åsikter står närmast SAP och SD. Det parti jag står längst ifrån är Centerpartiet.
Vilket väl inte var så oväntat.
So I recently watched "300", the pseudo-historical fantasy film from 2006 about the Battle of Thermopylae (in 480 BC) . The film isn´t bad, but it does suffer from a horrid "Lord of the Rings" complex - as in Peter Jackson´s films. Many of the Persian troops look like Orchs, the traitor Ephialtes is obviously Gollum, Theron has similarities with Worm-Tongue, and the Ephors are probably based on Saruman. Two of the Spartan soldiers banter in a way similar to Legolas and Gimli. David Wenham, who starred Faramir in "LOTR" evolves into a more Aragorn-like character in this production. There are also some similarities with "Gladiator".
But what struck me about all, was how much pop culture has changed since 2006. "300" is very "right wing", and could probably not have been made today. It would be condemned as "fascist". The Spartans (who are portrayed almost as they were in real life - or at least in Athenian sources) are the heroes clearly representing "the West". The "Persians", by contrast, are surprisingly often Black (Persia didn´t control any part of sub-Saharan Africa), Arab bedouins, or simply demonic. The film is also "straight", with Ephialtes being seduced by part-lesbian orgies, and "boy-lover" being an insult of choice against the effeminate Athenians. Leonidas, by contrast, is the quintessential heterosexual lover. I sometimes wonder if Hollywood (hardly a conservative bastion) wasn´t simply trolling, making films like "300"?
One intriguing aspect is that the Spartans are - if you look closely enough - portrayed as secular, rational and lovers of logic, while the "Persians" stand for "mysticism" and are led by a bizarre god-king. Leonidas defies both his own "gods" (the Ephors and the Oracle) and the Persian "god" Xerxes. Is this Hollywood´s secret cue that the film is *really* about atheism being good, and Christianity (not just Islam) being bad? Who knows?
Worth pondering, perhaps.
Here are some tongue-in-cheek answers to Norman Geisler´s "Questions for Hindus". OK, I´m bored this evening...
1. Can you explain why some Hindus believe there is one reality beyond good and evil, and yet they live as though they believe evil is real?
Advaita: Because they are still stuck in the realm of illusion (maya).
Hare Krishna: Ultimate reality isn´t beyond good and evil, but good. So these Hindus are essentially right. The supreme personality of godhead, Krishna, is a really good guy. In fact, Krishna and Christ are the same person. That´s obvious, since they had the same name.
Tantrism: Because they are a bunch of pussies. A real Tantrika would embrace evil and ride it like a tiger!
2. If reincarnation is a result of deeds in a previous life, then how did the first reincarnation begin?
Advaita: Well, how did Adam fall if he was created perfect and had everything? Why did Lucifer fall? Can you explain this? Reincarnation is the result of karma from beginningless time. And that´s that.
Hare Krishna: It began when some human jivas used their free will and turned away from Krishna. They then fell into the material world, which is emanated by Krishna for that very purpose. Sounds familiar?
Tantrism: Exoterically, it began when Shiva decided to play hide and seek with himself. But of course that´s just an old wives tale. Not even the Crone Goddess believes that one. The real truth is that the hyper-cosmic energy of creation and destruction is eternal. If you can ride the wave (or that tiger), reincarnation is a *good* thing! Ye shall be like gods, hiss...
3. If those suffering in this life are being punished for deeds in a previous life, then why show any compassion to help the downtrodden and needy? Are we not just tinkering with their karma and delaying their punishment to a further life?
Advaita: Yes, exactly. It´s a bit like Calvin´s predestination, you know.
Hare Krishna: Yes, exactly. But you can nevertheless destroy negative karma by intense bhakti for the supreme personality of godhead, so the best you can do for the homeless is to make them join in when you sing and dance in the streets of New York...
Tantrism: Yes, exactly. However, if you live among the homeless, eat garbage, and then kill them and eat *them* as blood sacrifice, you will overcome your own negative karma and reach transcendental states scarcely imaginable by mere Southern Baptists!
4. If evil is not real, then how did the illusion begin? Why is it so universal? And why does it seem so real?
Advaita: Maya is inscrutable. Now, please solve the theodicy problem.
Hare Krishna: Evil is real, and the world isn´t an illusion. Maya is the material energy of the supreme personality of godhead. See previous answer!
Tantrism: Oh, evil is real, alrightie. Who told you it wasn´t? Wanna touch my skull-staff? Mu-hah-hah-hah...
5. If we must undergo a changing process of enlightenment to discover we are one with the Absolute, then how can we be the Absolute since it is unchanging and never underwent such a process?
Advaita: What part of "Maya is inscrutable" don´t you understand?
Hare Krishna: We are *not* one with the Absolute. You sound like an idiotic impersonalist.
Tantrism: Who´s "we", sucker? The true Tantrika is both one with the Absolute and ever-changing, precisely because he is enlightened, but unless you imbibe the method of the Siddhas (and quantities of soma enough to kill an Asian elephant), you will never understand this, White boy!
Wolfgang Hansson (han som tidigare påstod att Mariupols fall var "Putins enda seger") har ändrat sig om kriget i Ukraina...
Man kan väl säga att Hansson har fallit.
A quote from "Arctic ice and the ecological rise of the dinosaurs" by Paul Olsen et al.
>>>Even as it has become clear that many dinosaurs were insulated with protofeathers, the idea that non-avian dinosaurs were predominately denizens of warm climates in an ice-free high P hothouse Mesozoic world has persisted.
>>>It is now apparent here based on empirical evidence (rather than just models) that freezing temperatures occurred seasonally at high latitudes during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic despite exceptionally high P. Being primitively insulated, dinosaurs were able to take advantage of the rich plant resources in the high latitudes.
>>>Through their adaptation to cold temperatures, dinosaurs were able to survive the CAMP volcanic winters and thereby expand to dominate terrestrial communities for the next 135 Ma, and, as birds, remain two to three times more speciose than mammals to this day.