Writing Blog

May 28, 2016

The Antikythera Laptop

Filed under: Computers,Gadgets,History,Internet,Science,Software,Technology — Rafael Minuesa @ 1:43 PM
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Antikythera Laptop Greek salesgirl showing the latest model of the Antikythera Laptop to Sosipatra. (notice her smile anticipating the sale)

The Antikythera Laptop was an ancient computer powered by an analog mechanism that consisted of a box with dials on the outside and a very complex assembly of bronze gear wheels mounted in the inside.

Antikythera smart wristwatch A prototype for a Antikythera smart wristwatch that didn’t make it to the manufacturing line

The computer didn’t do much apart from accurately computing the time it takes for planetary bodies to complete their orbits, but that was quite an unprecedented feat at the time that could not be replicated until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in the fourteenth century. Besides Ancient Greeks favored Theater over Video any day of the week, so there was no need for a Graphic Card either, they were happy just watching the dials go round and round, which provided them with an infinite source of inspiration to come up with all kinds of theorems.

In latest models the Antikythera Laptop featured just 2 USB-G ports, a decision that was highly criticized by users who could not understand why they had to part with a substantial amount of extra Drachmas to buy an adapter, just to get their machines connected to other existing standard devices of the time.

The laptops were manufactured using very sturdy materials, which made them extremely hard and durable. They were also waterproof as long as the machinery was not underwater for more than a year or so. They came with a life-time warranty with accidental damage protection. They were definitely different times and different code of ethics back then.

Rusty Antikythera Mechanism This one had the warranty voided after more than 2,000 years under sea water.

October 2, 2008

“… o somos o no somos”

Filed under: English,History,Literature,Spanish — Rafael Minuesa @ 8:07 AM
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It was haunting me since I had recently reread it, to the point that has forced me to write a new post in this blog:

“… porque o somos o no somos”

Does it sound familiar? Probably not if you don’t speak Spanish or any other Latin-based language. The translation is

“to be or not to be”

And guess who, of all Spanish writers, could have written such an original sentence, that is universally attributed to Shakespeare?

Some time ago I wrote a post on the same subject, “Cervantes y Shakespeare eran la misma persona”, where I exposed some of the similarities between the two authors, that inexplicably seemed to have gone largely unnoticed.

Salvador de Madariaga, the Spanish historian and writer pointed out that:

“Hamlet and Don Quixote provide one of the most fascinating parallels in literature: possibly because the two poets who created them were contemporaries and unknown to each other spoke the same idiom.”

Carlos Fuentes explores also the possibility of both authors being the same man,

“Cervantes leaves open the pages of a book where the reader knows himself to be written and it is said that he dies on the same date, though not on the same day, as William Shakespeare. It is further stated that perhaps both were the same man.”

And Francis Carr abounds extensively on this theory, on his book “Who Wrote Don Quixote?

But all of them actually attribute Cervante’s works to the hand of Shakespeare or even Francis Bacon.
Any Spanish native speaker will tell you that Don Quixote could have never be written by anyone who was not born and grown up in Spain.
That’s why I am convinced that it was the other way around. It was Cervantes who wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays, because it is also evident that the mother tongue of whoever wrote Shakespeare’s plays was not English.

That’s the reason why he was making words up all the time, because his actual command of English language was not that good.
Some examples:
* Creation of new meanings for words:
Wherever in your sightless substances … (sightless meaning invisible.)
* Substitution of adjectives for nouns:
In the dark backward and abyss of time … (instead of In the dark and backward …)
* Grammatical mistakes:
Yes, you may have seen Cassio and she together … (instead of Cassio and her),
or Who does me this (instead of Who does this to me),
or And his more braver daughter could control thee (instead of And his braver or And his more brave)

All those mistakes are very common among Spanish native speakers trying to express themselves in English.

Shakespeare would also grab whatever word from Spanish that was handy and use it if
it suited him, similarly to what we do when we speak Spanglish.
There are at least 1,500 different words and phrases that don’t appear anywhere in the English language prior to Shakespeare, many of them literal translations or adaptations from Spanish or from ancient languages such as Latin, of which Cervantes had a pretty good knowledge.

Shakespeare usually made the verb or the subject the last word of the sentence, rather than following the normal word order of English:
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I (subject at end)
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall (verb at end)
English does not lend itself to these kind of constructions as much as Spanish or Latin.

Most English verbs are one syllable words: be, see, run, take… While correr (Spanish), vedere (Latin), essere (Italian), are easier to use for rhyming.
So Shakespeare would use or invent words taken right off these languages.

Shakespeare’s recorded life is full of empty “gaps”, that scholars usually refer to as the “Lost Years”.

The First Lost Years
Although no attendance records for the period survive, it is agreed that Shakespeare was educated at Stratford.
Neither there are documented facts about the life of William Shakespeare between supposedly leaving school in 1578 and marrying Anne Hathaway in 1582

What was Cervantes doing during that period?
By 1570, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a Castilian infantry regiment stationed in Naples, and continued his military life until 1575, when his ship was allegedly attacked by Algerian corsairs who took him and the surviving passengers to Algiers, where according to his own testimony, spent five years as a slave.
After his release, the following years saw him working for the Spanish Crown as a secret agent on foreign lands.
Sounds like the plot of a novel to me …

The Second Lost Years
Between 1582 and 1592 there are only four documented facts about William Shakespeare:
1- Entries for the Baptism of his children in 1583 and 1585.
2- In 1589 a court documents name William Shakespeare and his parents in a land dispute.
3- In 1592 he is referred to in a very famous pamphlet called the “Groatsworth of Wit”.

What was Cervantes doing during that period?
In Toledo, on December 12, 1584, he married the much younger Catalina de Salazar.
During the next 20 years he led a nomadic and unaccountable for existence, working on occasions as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada.

There’s no doubt that the plays of William Shakespeare required a significant knowledge of Astronomy, Law, Seamanship and Military matters, not to mention of Italy where many of his plays are based. Because of this irrefutable fact scholars have debated that experience of these matters must have been obtained during the Lost Years.
Cervantes was an expert in all of those subjects and in addition he knew Spanish, Italian, French, Latin, Greek, Arab, etc. Not to mention law, philosophy, classical literature, ancient and modern history, mathematics, astronomy, art, music, medicine, etiquette and manners of the nobility and English, French and Italian court life.

Now, I go one step further and ask myself and the world:
If the “official” Shakespeare couldn’t possibly be the author of those plays, what writer of that period was capable of achieving the literary genius found in Shakespeare’s plays, had a significant knowledge of Astronomy and the Law, Seamanship and Military matters, Etiquette and Manners of the nobility and had lived in Italy long enough to be familiar with its culture?
No one, but Cervantes.
When I made this affirmation in humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare, some of the regular posters there even doubted that Cervantes had any knowledge of English customs and traditions, leave alone English court life, but how do you account for then that Cervantes could have written something like “THE SPANISH-ENGLISH LADY” without having been to England, more specifically at the Royal Court?

Judge for yourself just by reading these two excerpts from the “Novelas Exemplares”, first published in 1613, three years before the death of Cervantes:

“The preparations for the wedding were all made, the relations and
friends of the family were invited, and nothing remained but to make
known the intended match to the Queen, no marriage between persons of
noble blood being lawful without her knowledge and consent; but making
no doubt of obtaining the royal licence, they put off applying for it
to the last. Things being in this state, their joy was disturbed one
evening by the appearance of one of the Queen’s servants with an order
to Clotald from her Majesty, requiring his appearance before her next
morning with his Spanish prisoner. He replied that he would cheerfully
obey her Majesty’s command. The messenger retired, and left the family
in great perturbation; “Alas,” said dame Catherine, “what if the Queen
knows that I have brought up this girl as a Catholic, and thence
infers that we are all of us Christians in this house! For, if her
Majesty asks her what she has learned during the eight years she has
been with us, what answer can she give with all her discretion, poor
timid girl, that will not condemn us?”

“Richard having at length quitted Isabella, went and told his parents
that on no account would he marry the Scotch lady until he had first
been to Rome for the satisfaction of his conscience; and he
represented the matter in such a light to them and to the relations of
Clesterna (that was the name of the Scotch lady), that as they were
all Catholics, they easily assented, and Clesterna was content to
remain in her father-in-law’s house until the return of Richard, who
proposed to be away a year. This being settled, Clotald told his son
of his intention to send Isabella and her parents to Spain, if the
queen gave them leave; perhaps her native air would confirm and
expedite her incipient recovery. Richard, to avoid betraying his
secret intentions, desired his father, with seeming indifference, to
do as he thought best; only he begged him not to take away from
Isabella any of the presents which the queen had given her. Clotald
promised this, and the same day he went and asked the queen’s leave
both to marry his son to Clesterna, and to send Isabella and her
parents to Spain. The queen granted both requests, and without having
recourse to lawyers or judges, she forthwith passed sentence on the
lady keeper, condemning her to lose her office, and to pay down ten
thousand crowns for Isabella. As for Count Ernest, she banished him
from England for six years.”

Not too bad as an insight by a person barely competent in English into the customs and traditions of England at that time, I must say …

It needs to be taken into account that Cervantes was not in any way interested in letting the English public know about his authorship for obvious reasons.
Spain and England had been recently at war and the Spanish Armada had made a failed attempt at invading England.
If Shakespeare’s plays had bore the name of an Spanish author, they would immediately have aroused hostility among critics and the general public. If in addition, that Spanish author happened to be a soldier, who had served as a spy on foreign lands for the Spanish Crown and as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada, the chances of keeping his head attached to his body would have been close to nil.
But on the other hand, Cervantes could have never dream of publishing many of Shakespeare’s plays under Spain’s ultra religious regime at that moment, without being diligently roasted.

There are plenty more facts that add weight to the hypothesis that Shakespeare was in fact a disguised Cervantes, such as “The Distrest Lovers”, which is clearly based on the “Cardenio” episode in Don Quixote.

Truth is, the only writings proven to be from the hand of the poor man from an illiterate household in the remote agricultural town of Stratford-upon-Avon are six shaky, inconsistent signatures on legal documents, including three found on his will.
And they reveal that Mr. Shakspere (his real name) experienced difficulty even signing his own name.
Judge for yourself again and compare those signatures to those of Cervantes, and guess which one of the two could have possibly written some of the best plays and novels ever.

signatures-of-cervantes signatures-of-shakspeare

The greatest, most famous play about Scotland is Macbeth.
The greatest plays about Italy are Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice and Othello, the Moor of Venice.
The greatest play about ancient Rome is Julius Caesar.
The greatest play about ancient Egypt is Antony and Cleopatra.
The greatest play about Denmark is Hamlet.
These seven plays were written by the same man but one the most important European nation at that time is conspicuous by its absence in this catalogue of masterpieces. There is no world-famous play about Spain, which is on the same level of genius as the plays just mentioned; but there is one great novel about Spain which is just as famous throughout the world, Don Quixote.

On April 23, 1616, both Cervantes and Shakespeare died. The two dates are the same, in the records, but because England was using the Julian Calendar, the actual date differed by ten days, enough for a dying Cervantes (whose grave, oddly no one bothered to mark) to travel to England and die as Shakespeare.

As a final thought, don’t forget that Shakespeare, sorry Cervantes, was also an actor, which by definition is someone who fools people into believing he is
another character.
And no one could deny that the man was very good at making up all kinds of fictional stories, such as reinventing his own past life, perhaps?

“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd”.
– Miguel de Cervantes

“Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light.”
— William Shakespeare

More Info:
Cervantes, England and Don Quixote
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

September 17, 2006

Spanish Vs English

Filed under: English,History,Languages,Spanish — Rafael Minuesa @ 8:27 AM
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In a test carried out to find out which language would be easier for a computer to learn, Spanish came out to be the easiest, by far. These results shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Spanish is a well structured and fully matured language, with roots deeply attached into Latin, arguably the best structured language ever.

The Spanish language has been developed over many centuries, the work of many scholars and educational institutions and has been enriched with contributions from a wide selection of cultures from all over the world.

Although as far as foreign contributions goes, English is richer, althoigh its lack of logical structure makes it a language where exceptions are the rule and rules are exceptions.
Trebor Jung once said that:

“English is essentially bad Frisian, old French, Latin, and Greek, with a grammar that pretends to be like Latin but is really like Chinese or very dumbed-down Germanic (depending on how you look at it).”

I pretty much agree with that statement.

English as spoken by a native British person sounds kind of harsh to foreigners and even without understanding what they’re saying, some aura of preposterousness can still be detected, specially in the way they end the sentences.
American English sounds friendlier, at least to me, and although is not music to the ears either, is more melodic and easier to understand.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the English language. I like its directness, its flexibility and its pragmatic attitude when dealing with new concepts. And as the international language of choice for about every citizen from every country on Earth, it has none or very few and far behind competitors.
What I like most is its ability to create new words to deal with new situations, in a simple but effective way. In that sense of simplicity, English is far richer, because it’s able to convey a whole concept into a single word on its own right.
It is impossible, for example to translate any of the meanings of the word “Spam” into just one Spanish word.

In Spanish every word must be approved first from some kind of out-of-touch-with-reality linguistic authority before it can be officially used. And it can take years before that happens, if ever.
In my uneducated opinion, that attitude is just not practical in today’s world and slows down the development of languages
However it doesn’t get as ridiculous as in France, for example, where the Wise Men pretended that people used the expression “international network of computers” in French instead of the already implanted “Internet”.

As an European who was fascinated with the American Way before actually going to the United States, I had always held this idea of American people as being a smart bunch of entrepreneurs who had the magic formula to make lots of money through innovation and multicultural contributions.
But once you get there, you start to understand that maybe that was some characteristic of past generations, but far from today’s reality.

One of the things that struck me the most was the marginalization of the Spanish language in the States. While the rest of the world is increasingly learning Spanish, the United States of America have chosen to ignore a world language already implanted in their country and spoken by over 20% of its population.
Countries like Switzerland have their kids learn 2-3 languages at very early ages. This policy has created a large pool of people capable to travel and make business with the rest of the world.
Any other nation would pay a fortune for having such a large share of its population speaking a second language, which incidentally happens to be the one language understood by all people South of its border.
Spanish has 325,529,636 first language speakers. That makes it the second most popular language spoken worldwide, after Mandarin Chinese with 882,475,389 speakers and ahead of English with 311,992,760.

So, why all this animadversion towards anything that smells of Spanish?
Why are all those ignorant law-makers trying to erase a language and a culture that is so intrinsically rooted into the foundations of their own country?
It’s a mystery that can not be be explained without taking into account the power of the media serving private interests.

Map of U.S. Territorial Growth 1790 showing Spanish Territories
Spanish is considered to be a second-class language in the States and that’s due to some recent historical misconceptions.
It is often forgotten that Spain was the country that backed up the American Revolution, providing military and financial support. It did so, clearly not so much because of its love for Freedom, but rather because of its historical vendetta with Britain.

But still, the facts are the facts, and what it is today the first power on Earth, owes its birth largely to Spain. So much so, that without Spain’s help, it just could have not happened, and the world today would play in a different scenario, maybe better, maybe worse, but surely different.

Spain provided financial avail and paid for many expenses generated during the first years of the new-born United States of America. This is proven by the fact that the governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez, in recognition of his work and help to the American cause, was taken by George Washington to his right in the parade of July 4th and the American Congress cited Gálvez for his aid during the Revolution.

Furthermore, more than half of the US. territory belonged to Spain, and except Puerto Rico, that was taken by military force together with Cuba and the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, the rest was amiably transferred or interchanged for some amounts of money (a million dollars for the whole of Florida’s peninsula is what I call a bargain).
By the way the symbol for the dollar ($) originates from the Plus Ultra drawing depicting two columns and a waving ribbon representing Spain’s overseas colonies.

Up to the Spanish-American War, relations between the two countries had been most friendly, but after the campaign against Spanish interests orchestrated by Hearst, the press tycoon who was a personal friend of Roosevelt, the idea of Spanish as enemies took hold.
Hearst’s New York City paper, the New York Morning Journal, became known for sensationalist writing and for its agitation in favor of the Spanish-American War, and the term yellow journalism (a pejorative reference to scandal-mongering, sensationalism, jingoism and similar practices) was derived from the Journal’s color comic strip, “The Yellow Kid.”

That twisted perception has dragged over the years up to today, and it’s about time that the United States comes to realize what its real roots are and starts to take advantage of its Hispanic resources.

Bilingualism makes people smarter and more tolerant to other cultures, and frankly, those are two traits that the largest part of today’s American society is in need of. It’s a win-win situation that only the most ignorant and stupid would fail to realize in its full potential and take proper advantage of it.

Besides, Spanish is the language of the future. Ask any computer about it if you don’t believe me.

Original Post and Discussion at:
Google Groups

August 28, 2006

Neanderthal vs. Cro-Magnon

This article was first posted by my alter-ego laparanoia.
You can view the original version at:
* http://lasparanoias.blogspot.com/2006/08/neanderthal-vs-cro-magnon.html

Once upon a time there was a human race on Planet Earth, ruled by women and driven by sex. A human society with a fully structured social behavior that worshiped Goddess Moon and Goddess Nature, where everything was shared within communal groups led by the most outstanding female individuals, who actually cared and provided for their youngest, elderly or ill.

And they must have been quite a valorous bunch, because they were willing to sacrifice themselves for the well-being of the group, as shown by the numerous bone fractures found on fossil remains, the result of intense fighting with awesome predators that trespassed their territory.

That society was the kind of social utopia that under today’s conventional set of values, would likely be labeled as the wildest and most radical dream of a deranged feminist or communist. However, it all actually happened more than 100,000 years ago, and it went on that way uninterruptedly for a period lasting over 50,000 years.

Although Neanderthal fossil evidence can be traced back as far back as hundreds of thousands years ago, it wasn’t “only” until about 130,000 years ago, when they did fully evolve into what can be defined as human. At that time they began to spread across the European continent and by 80,000 years ago were occupying the whole area comprising Turkey and places of Western Asia all the way West to the Iberian Peninsula.

Then, about 45,000 years ago, another race of hominids came into the European scene. Out of Africa, the anthropoids currently believed to be our true human ancestors, had started to take positions at the Western Asian part of the Neanderthal range.

They were taller, less hairy and stayed away from promiscuousness, living usually within a family nucleus and occupying a portion of land that was not open for sharing with anyone else. During the next 10,000 to 15,000 years, they kept expanding on northward and westward throughout all of Europe.
By the time the Cro-Magnons had accomplished the outspread in Europe, the Neanderthal people had completely vanished, leaving no fossil trace as to why or how.
They just seem to have disappeared in a very short period of time, never to be seen again in History.
But did they really vanished just like that?

From what we know out of anthropological data, both races coexisted in many areas during long periods of time. Strangely enough, no fossil evidence has been found of any kind of racial wars between the two distinct races.

Scientists nowadays, argue on whether interbreeding ever took place between the two races.
I am no scientist, but to put things into perspective, we need to take into account that all throughout History there’s been copious evidence involving descendants of the most superior and civilized Cro-Magnon race, inflicting forced sex upon chickens, goats, horses, snakes and just about anything that moves, from several animal species, including fish or insects, plus more than a few episodes involving members of the Vegetable Kingdom.
It won’t be too far off to think then, that there could have been some kind of interbreeding during the more than 10,000 years both races shared habitats. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that members from both races engaged in monumental orgies.

Neanderthals, being as they were, took the concept of community to the limit and surely must have lured at least some of the more reserved Cro-Magnons into their “open-minded” life-style.
Neanderthal society was communal, matriarchal and completely promiscuous, led by women and driven by sex (just as it happens in modern Spanish society and others from parts of Southern Europe, no matter what you’ve been told to believe).
On the other hand, Cro-Magnon communities followed the opposite set of rules. They were based upon the not very realistic idea of one partner for life, on a defined small piece of territory adjacent to other similar pairs. But since they had such a strong craving for conquering and looting, surely those activities must’ve lead to some raping as well, which opened another way for gene-crossing.
Or maybe, they got along just fine, made good friends and invited each other over on weekends to BBQ some mammoth hamburgers, how the heck should i know.
In any case, 10,000 years being close neighbors is a lot of time to seriously claim they didn’t have sex with each other.

It was precisely that “open-minded” way of life together with their nomadness (again my own personal guess) what ultimately produced the demise of the Neanderthal population.
Some kind of sexually transmitted disease must have spread rapidly throughout the different communities, no-one having the type of medical training necessary to identify that unknown disease and its means of transmission.

And where that disease could have originated from?
As I said, examples of Cro-Magnons having sex with other species are plentiful, and in any case in my own uneducated opinion, the fact that the disease might have arrived at the same time that the Cro-Magnon people did, does not speak very well of the latest sex habits.

This exposition of facts may be considered as blasphemy by most anthropologists, but how else could you explain the complete vanishing without trace of a human race that had survived and successfully adapted throughout all kinds of climatic upheavals and fought off all kinds of terrifying predators for nothing less than 250,000 years.? Prove me wrong, please.

But why didn’t the disease affect the Cro-Magnon people to the same extent, then?
Well, it surely must have affected them, but no to the same extent.
Being the original carriers they surely must’ve been able to identify and isolate the illness away from their communities. And thanks to their “one partner for life” way of life, most couples could have stayed away from unhealthy relationships.
After many generations had passed, people would have unconsciously started to gather empiric statistical data on people getting sick and their sexual habits, arriving to the conclusion that the “right” thing to do was to stay home with his/her partner and don’t fool around. Does it sound familiar?

But the most intriguing thing is that precisely at the same time when all this pandemic and physiologic fluids exchange was undoubtedly taking place between the two races, there comes along a major technological and spiritual revolution, the first that mankind was to witness, one that was to be known as “The Human Revolution“.
Previous to that encounter, neither Neanderthals nor Cro-Magnons could have met the standards required to qualify as “modern” humans.
Excuse again my lack of anthropologist training, but all this just cannot be coincidental.

But why were the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon so different from each other?
That’s an easy one to figure out:
Neanderthal evolved originally in bush or jungle conditions, hence his shorter average height (5′ 4”), whereas Cro-Magnon evolved on open plains, hence his tallness. (average 5′ 10”) and that he was appropriately long-sighted, and right-handed.

Other distinctive physical features of the Neanderthal people included prominent eyebrows and brow ridges, a larger cerebellum, nearsightedness and a higher incidence of left-handedness.
And though they presented similar or even bigger cranial capacity as today’s humans, on the average they seemed to posses a lower average IQ, as measured by Cro-Magnonian standards, that is.
Recent findings at Neanderthal excavation sites have brought out what is indisputably a flute, carved out of a bone. Music is undoubtedly one of the most elevated characteristics of human intelligence equal or higher than language, which must have obviously existed, then.
And if there was music, then there was dance. Throw in a few “magic” herbs and there you have all the ingredients needed to hold big social gatherings, i.e., big parties, that surely ended up in uninhibited orgies where women were in full control of the protocol.

Another of the distinct features that differentiated both races was the length of their big and second toe.
All Neanderthal fossil feet and footprints have been found to have the big toe shorter than the second toe. And all Cro-Magnon fossil feet and footprints found have been found to have the big toe longer than the second toe.
All, without exceptions.
Now, go to a public swimming pool and risk being taken for some kind of pervert. But after carefully watching, you’ll see my point. It’s a paleoanthropologist’s nightmare. A collection of toes of all kinds of lengths and types that don’t really correspond to the anthropological bodily appearance of the holders. Even within members of the same family, you can observe different toes’ lengths and disposition.

This is not a banal issue. Paleoanthropologists argue that modern genes “derive exclusively” from the African ancestors of modern humans, and not from Neanderthals, based on genetic studies practiced on a few Neanderthal fossils.
But other anthropologists, contend that modern humans actually carry at least some genes of Neanderthals mixed in with their own.

It would be simplistic and easier to the mind to think that our Cro-Magnons ancestors were just better fitted for survival, and therefore we were the “chosen one” race, that overtook the ape-like Neanderthals.
Anyone who has visited Europe (specially the Mediterranean) has inevitably come across human specimens high on Neanderthal genes. North and South America have their share also, and the African and Asian continents hold sparse communities of almost pure Neanderthals and hybrids.
Carleton Coon dived into that unfortunate comparison in what he called the “Alpha and Omega” of living humans in his book The Origin of Races. Coon, also memorably remarked that a cleaned-up and soberly dressed Neanderthal would hardly merit a second glance on the New York subway.

When animal and plant breeders cross different species of plants and animals the resulting hybrid offspring has qualities and characteristics possessed by neither parent. This outcome is known as ‘hybrid vigor’.
But such vigor does not come along without some nasty side-effects, because it is also a well-known biological fact that when divergent species of animals are crossed, the offspring frequently show unstable behavior derived from the conflicting sets of instincts inherited from both parents.
And in the case of humans, that interbreeding between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon must have produced two completely different sets of behavioral patterns, each one having found its own place in different sides of the brain. That would explain many aspects of the so-called “split-brain” theory.
And in that aspect, humans are also unique. No other animal can specialize each of their brain sides to perform different tasks, not at least to the degree we do, no matter how much training is provided.

So we all have a Neanderthal living in us, usually controlling the right side of our brains, but nonetheless, tradition and fashion dictates the Cro-Magnon type as the model to be followed, whether it’d be in fashion, movies or politics. Everyone thrives to have a tall, athletic figure. And almost everyone needs to follow a set of rules to live their lives coherently within modern societies. Or so we’ve been made to believe.

As it has been said, being tall and big is a very convenient body shape if you happen to live on open plains, but anywhere else it turns you into an oversized clumsy animal. In today’s world, the larger you are the more bound you are to meet all kinds of missadaptation problems. Just ask any basketball player about it. And that’s not going to get any better in the foreseeable future.

But this is 2006 B.C., and being so new, humans as a whole are still so fascinated by the Cro-Magnonian life-style.
And the way we humans lead ourselves by nowadays is that whenever there’s an interest, a market is rapidly developed to provide for it.
And once there is a market, it doesn’t matter anymore whether the ideology behind it is outdated or wrong, because the beast is alive on its own and is constantly growing and asking to be fed.
That’s the way Cro-Magnonian Capitalist Market works.
And that’s why there’s a conspiracy to promote even further the Cro-Magnon cause.
And I know they’re after me for writing this post. They even hijacked my computer to certify the reports they were getting from their mentalists about a quasi-Neanderthal man discovering The First Truth. But I managed to sneak it in. And if they try to endanger my life now, they’ll appear as prime suspects. So, I’m safe for the time being.

I consider myself to be quite Neanderthalish. I’ve got many of the physical traits, politically speaking I’d choose Left over Right any day of the week plus I have a secret fetish for women in dominant roles, so I must be one of them.
Besides, I understand no other intelligent way of human association than helping each other.
And I am a nomad, whether I like it or not.
And guess what. Neanderthals are more prone to paranoia and other ailments of the soul than Cro-Magnons are.

I also do posses more than my share of Cro-Magnon traits, such as an insane passion for technology or innate programming skills.
And there’s nothing I dislike more than some human parasite trying to live off my work in order to improve his/her living standards. I also believe in private property to an extent, and my wife is not up for grabs, sorry.

Furthermore my IQ of 145 is superior to that of most Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons alike. I got these measurements made in Australia, the country largely inhabited by the descendants of a misplaced community of European Cro-Magnon outcasts.
I arrived there in 1985, and my knowledge of the official English language was in need of vastly improvement, to put it kindly.
In spite of that, it didn’t prevent me from coming up first by several legs at a test held to recruit possible candidates for a series of government subsidized computer programs. To me the test appeared to be more about common sense than anything else, really, and I went all through it non-stop, ticking away the obvious answers.
The results showed an IQ so high that prompted General Manager to come all the way from Melbourne headquarters to Sydney just to interview me. At least that’s what I was told.
When I was first introduced to him, he looked sort of disappointed. He was clearly the Cro-Magnon type and was probably expecting to meet someone akin.
The conversation that followed has to be a classic of my experiences when dealing with all sorts of Cro-Magnon trained managers:
He looked me up and down and quickly went to the point informing me that it was to my best interest to spend approximately the next 3 to 5 years of my life subsidized studying FORTRAN and COBOL.
I thanked him, but pointed out that the real reason for applying was because I wanted to take one of the other courses available, and become a technician (that’s where the meat is).
He implied he knew better than my own self about what were my best options.
I replied that if he was talking to me in the first place was because he thought I was smart. And if I was smart enough, then I should be able to decide about my own future.
That was the end of it, he didn’t even let me apply for the technicians’ course.
From information gathered later from former students of those primitive programming languages, I had made the right choice. One of them assured me it was far more complex than learning Chinese, but far less useful and gratifying. And he was fluent in both languages.

My more developed Neanderthal cerebellum also provides for some kind of unconventional intelligence, that gifts me with the ability, for example, to clearly identify patterns that would pass completely unnoticed by people high on Cro-Magnon genes.
How come, for example, that a whole nation so Cro-Magnonish as Germany, could have let themselves be tricked into an absurd ideology about a superior Arial race and further on into a world war, by someone like Hitler, himself a Neanderthal man posing as Cro-Magnon, who happened to be exactly the opposite image of an Aryan race specimen?.
Let me tell you, that little phony man would have not deceived shit off me, not even for half a second.

And I know that you’re thinking of Franco now, the latest Spanish dictator, but that was a completely different thing. That was Cro-Magnonian Might (into which Nazi Germany actively contributed) crushing down by means of a destructive superior force, a popular Neanderthal-inspired freedom social movement.

It’s the Neanderthal in me who is writing this post. Because, you see, my Neanderthal side can only express itself meaningfully in English. When it tries to do so in Spanish it makes little or no sense at all.
However, the Cro-Magnon in me loves using Spanish, probably because of its better order and structure (although he’s fluent and meaningful in both languages).
I’ve got empiric proof that shows that the Neanderthal in me has taken refuge at the right side of my brain, which is the wrong side for an English-speaking Neanderthal (or English-speaking Cromagnon for that matter) to dwell in. But that was the only place it could fit, since there was no room left at the left side of my brain, entirely taken by my Spanish education and its overwhelming cultural legacy.

I grew up in a country where as recent as half a century ago, left-handed pupils had their “good” hand tied up at their backs in order to force them to write using their “right” hand.
If there’s a country where Left and Right collide in every sense, that’s Spain. Just take a quick look at its dwindling History.

Spain could be defined as Neanderthal territory governed by strict and outdated Cro-Magnonian traditional ways.

For whatever the reasons, the Neanderthals’ last redoubt thus seems to have been in Iberia, South and West of the Ebro. It is relevant here that while in certain other regions, Neanderthals of the 36-33 kyr period appear to have acquired some of the Cro-Magnons’ behavioral attributes by acculturation, there is no evidence for this happening beyond the “Ebro line“, where abrupt cultural replacement appears to have been the rule.
The last of the Neanderthal that survived and interbred with the Cro-Magnon did pass on their genes and produced hybrids that are today’s Iberians. And British …
Up to recent times, people of Celtic ancestry were thought to have descended from tribes of central Europe. Nothing further from the truth. Professor Sykes, who is soon to publish the first DNA map of the British Isles, said: “About 6,000 years ago Iberians developed ocean-going boats that enabled them to push up the Channel.
Before they arrived, there were some human inhabitants of Britain but only a few thousand in number. These people were later subsumed into a larger Celtic tribe…
The majority of people in the British Isles are actually descended from the Spanish.”

If you look at History, you’ll see how hybrids from both countries, Spain and Britain, have defeated all other “pure” races and conquered about every corner of the world. And still had time to fiercely fight each other. Hybrid vigor.

There are still traditions in Spain that remind us of those ancient communal ways. The most representative is the custom to offer one’s food to the rest of the people around you, sharing it with everybody if accepted. That’s quite Neanderthal-like, I would say, and not a custom to be practiced almost anywhere else.

I left my country behind when I was 21, and headed for English-speaking Cro-Magnonian lands. I was utterly fascinated by their pragmatism, the directness and practicality of their language, together with their “non-bullshit” approach to things that really matter in a selfish life. So, for quite a few years, and in order to develop an acceptable set of language abilities, I immersed into every aspect of truly Cro-Magnonian societies, by living, working and breathing their culture for over 7 years, not ever going back to my homeland, neither writing back to friends and family that much, mostly because it did put me off my track and off my head.
I was so determined that I even shun away any contact with most of the Spanish speaking travelers I’d occasionally met, and the truth is that I didn’t miss it all that much.
At one point I even considered to overwrite the whole of my left side with the newly acquired English mentality. Today I’m so glad that I didn’t.

All these traits are clearly Cro-Magnonish, but as I said, I had more than enough of that kind of mentality, with probably more than 75% of my brain occupied by egocentric ideas.
So I had to make the triple effort of learning a new language, accommodate it in a side that clearly was not its natural habitat to be in, and on top of that, make use of it to express my Neandertalish views.
I mostly use Spanish to express my Cro-Magnonian views, and that’s plenty, thank you.
Luckily, more pragmatic English language allows for that kind of acrobatics that Spanish does not.
That’s why I never succeed in properly translating what I write. None of what I’m writing would make much sense in Spanish. Vice versa sometimes, but not always.

If I am considered to be an odd character in the States, it’s even worse in Spain, where I’ve been asked a worrying number of times whether I come from outer space (and I’m not kidding now).
To help you get the picture, Spain is the kind of place where Stephen Hawking would probably have gotten beaten up for being such a smart-alec.
To be honest, the country has changed a lot during the past 30 years or so, but the remains of hundred years of Spanish Inquisition plus 40 recent years of imposed ignorance and fear are still deeply rooted in its culture and it certainly shows. I calculate that it will take at least 2-3 generations to get rid of those bad Cro-Magnon habits, if that ever happens.
The current system education of choice (a.k.a. The Box), is not helping either. Spaniards are very fond of indulging in watching TV programs primarily designed to sell worthless products and promote ignorance. A run-down version of professional Cro-Magnonian media.

My Cro-Magnonian side is now telling me not to veer off and conclude at once.
No one can refute the fact that the Cro-Magnon mind-set has been the prime accountable for most of the technical gadgetry some of us enjoy today. And no one will deny (or almost no one) taking proper advantage of that technology to improve the quality of their lives.
And the truth is that it’s been real “fun” for a several-thousand-of-years while, with all those bloody wars, which in turn spurred phenomenal advances in weaponry, communications or medicine.
But now the time for change is overdue. This egocentric Cro-Magnon mentality has pushed the natural resources of our planet beyond their limits and is driving us fast-forward towards our own self destruction.
Even if we’re just meaning to be selfish, we still are in great need of a major mentality shift.
We need to get back to our Neanderthal roots and start caring for each other again, at least until we have properly digested all the technical advances falling and looming upon us.
And we must do this as fast as possible, because maybe it’s already too late.

More Info:

Human evolution
The Way We Are
Cities of Dreams – Stan Gooch
The Dream Culture of the Neanderthals
Cro-Magnon Man and the Bible
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

November 14, 2005

The Curse of the Amiga

This article was first posted by my alter-ego laparanoia at the magiKomputer‘s Blog.
You can view the original version at:
* http://magikomputer.blogspot.com/2005/11/curse-of-amiga.html

Amiga Survivor DrawingIs the Amiga Dead, Yet?
Not Yet.

Is it cursed?
No doubt.

Even me, as I was writing this post, had Firefox crashed for the first time ever and lost about an hour’s work. Previously I had tried to post from Elicit and Zoundry with similar results. In more than 3 years blogging I had NEVER experienced anything even remotely similar. When I restarted, my right button search function had vanished, and all those circumstances put together have made this post the one that has taken more effort to create by far. But, you see, I am an obstinate bastard, specially when it comes to something I’ve spent so many years working and playing with (or was rather the other way around) and that is so close to my heart as the Amiga.

I have been a fanatic user of the Amiga from 1991 until the turn of the millennium, and I still think it was the best machine mankind has ever created. What has happened to this computer is a real techno-tragedy and I am sure it has altered the course of History, and not for the Good.

I haven’t tried the latest hardware and software, but here is an excellent review of Jeremy Reimer, who bought an AmigaOne Micro with OS4 on November 2004:

The Micro-AmigaOne and Amiga OS4 Developer Prerelease
Jay Miner started the Amiga Inc. computer company in 1982 before Commodore bought them out.
The Amiga computer was first commercialized released in 1985 by Commodore, that eventually went bankrupt in April 1994.
Commodore was bought at liquidation by Escom AG, who had no real interest in the Amiga. Escom itself went bankrupt a few years later, and the Amiga was briefly bought out by set-top manufacturer VISCorp, before they too filed for liquidation.
Its new owner was Gateway Computers, who were only interested in Commodore’s old patent portfolio. When it became increasingly clear that Gateway was never going to do anything with the Amiga, a consortium of investors calling themselves Amino Development bought out the rights to the Amiga hardware and OS in 1999.
The new AmigaOne motherboards were first released in 2002, but there was no OS to go with them, so they shipped with Debian PPC Linux. After an agonizing 18-month wait, the first Developer Prerelease CD of OS4 was shipped to AmigaOne owners worldwide.

AmigaOne OS4
OS4 boots remarkably quickly. From a cold boot, including waiting for power up, BIOS messages, straight to a usable desktop took slightly over 30 seconds. A “warm boot,” which bypasses the BIOS start-up and merely reloads the operating system, takes slightly over 10 seconds.

One feature of the original custom Amiga graphics chips was that you could “pull” down screens with the mouse to see screens that were behind them. This feature, called “draggable screens,” was never duplicated by any graphics card manufacturer since, so sadly it is not available on the AmigaOne.

A cold boot, including power up, BIOS messages, takes less than what it takes you to get accommodated in your chair. Compare that to any Windows/Mac OS start-up. They usually give me enough time to go and make coffee (Mac OSX is not that sluggish, to be honest).
I am sorry to hear that there is no “draggable screens“.
Another cool feature was the ability of clicking on several menu items at once (holding right-side button and clicking with the left), and get the commands batch-processed at once.

Many people, upon reading the hardware specs of the Micro Amiga One, will feel that the performance (800MHz PowerPC 750FX, SDR RAM) is far below modern gear. This is true to a certain extent, but it does not give the whole picture. AmigaOS was originally written for a 7.14 MHz 68000, and the last Classic version released by Commodore, 3.1, was optimized for a 12 MHz 68020 platform. According to Hyperion, over 90% of the OS code has been converted from 68k to PPC, and the only code yet to be translated (serial port code, AREXX macro routines), does not typically impact on performance.
Because the OS is so small (About 60MB on disk for a complete install), it fits very nicely in 256MB of RAM, with room for several applications, most of which have a similarly small memory footprint. This means that you can run the OS and multitask between several applications without ever swapping to the disk.

I have created and run multimedia presentations for TV stations on as little as an Amiga 500, 1Mb RAM, 720 Kb floppy, no Hard Drive. Gosh, I miss Scala so much…

In speeches around the world, Alan Redhouse of Eyetech always opens by saying that everyone always asks them: “Why are you doing this?” And the answer he gives, with a smile, is “We don’t know!” There is an infectious enthusiasm among Amiga users…

Infectious enthusiasm defines the feeling of Amiga users at that time.
As of today, if you visit Amiga’s Headquarters (http://www.amiga.com/) you’ll be presented with the latest technology in … Jackpots!!!?
It has broken my heart.

Better visit this one: http://www.amiga.org/

Is there a future for the Amiga?
Some people seem to think so:


Jeremy Reimer has a website full of undiscovered gems at:
where among other things he promotes StudlyOS, as the Only Operating System You Will Ever Need.
I wish I had the time to try it out.
I liked the Amigan comment on it, though:

“StudlyOS sucks!!!1111 Y00 think itz c00l but your rong!!!!!11111 I Cant run it on my Am1ga so what yoos is it????/ My Am1ga beats yor peecee anyday!!!!!! !!!11111111 Peecee even with StudlyOS cant beet Amiga because Amiga rules!!!! Amiga iz better because it is Amiga!!!1111 Nothing else is Amiga!!!11111” – B1FF

The Amiga Boing Ball is a mythical object in the computer industry. It was created as an example of the machines ability. The demo showed a red and white ball bouncing around the screen and interacting with the environment- it bounced off the walls, spun, while multitasking in the background.

That demo displaying smooth animation in full colorwhen other computers were only just managing color display, helped sell over a million Amigas at a time when a computer was a synonym of science fiction.

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