Sunday, 14 February 2016

₪ The Golden Section of Aesthetics and a Plastic Bliss

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
If you are easily offended, you should drink some vinegar and bite your thumb better click away on the Bright Side of the Internet.

Codex Windsor
Leonardo Da Vinci
When my son asked for the very first time where do we come from; I told him about a mountainous land where man becomes harmoniously one with nature. An idyllic vision of unspoiled wilderness, a land so mystically pacifying and tranquil, that awakened the senses as a lost paradise. Arcadia has always run through my veins in every way, nevertheless; my heart ever had another say. For deep inside me, heart and soul, I've always felt an Athenian.

   Having been raised in Athens, I grew up in her very centre and savored her standing marks through history, sensing the same marbles that once Pericles and Socrates did. Acropolis, is far more than a monument. It symbolises democracy, logic, and perfection; in its literal and philosophical meaning. The Parthenon is not the oldest, nor the biggest man-made construction, but it is in my opinion the most emblematic in mankind. There's no other construction in human history, that has influenced us so much in so many scientific aspects as the Parthenon. Its greatness hides behind its architectural perfection; the Golden Section.

Friday, 5 February 2016

₪ The Chronicle of a Crisis

   You know you grow older when you find yourself challenged to feel satisfaction by watching a film. The latest years, most films are just action movies with computer animated visual effects, and a superhero that raises cities to the ground to serve some freedom and democracy. Direction is now done through a Macintosh, the actors are now athletes or supermodels, and most scenarios could easily get challenged by my 5 years old son's role playing fantasies and concepts. A week ago, an unusual work premiered worldwide; The Big Short a film that takes us back where the biggest economical recession of our time would start; 11 Wall Street, New York, and gives us a small idea for what triggered this financial crisis. Despite the fact that this crisis starts in the United States, many whispered a word along this economic apocalypse; Greece, and everyone has now associated the two, having more or less an opinion that was delivered to them by the media. The question though is; how well do we know what happened, or even know anything about Greece at all?

"Greek War of Independence"
Theodoros Vryzakis 1851
When someone thinks about Greece, would immediately think of her ancient history, being the birthplace of  Science, Philosophy, Arts, and other things, but most characteristically; Democracy.
If there would be some words that could almost be synonymous to the very sound of the word Greece, ancient would surely be amongst them.
   Many would argue of how old this nation actually is, but it is in fact an oxymoron that despite Greece's thousands of years of existence, and the foundation of democracy in Athens, Greece is a very young country as a single unified de jure state of ethnic Hellenes, and her modern history starts with the liberation from the mighty Ottoman Empire right after the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

₪ Russefeiring

Iris serving Ambrosia in a Feast
 The first day of May, has always have been a special one. Browsing the books, there are always fascinating events that we can spot and study, but there are indeed some of them that were rather notable. It would be a day like the May 1st 1328, when Scotland would be recognised as an independent Kingdom, only to wait until 1707 when both England and Scotland would get to form the Kingdom of Britain. It was a May's first of 1786, when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart premiered his notorious Figaro's Marriage at the majestic Vienna, and the very same calendar day for the year 2011 when Pope John Paul II was beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. Of course, it would be safe to say, that the most influential first of May in our daily life, was the one occurred in Illinois's Chicago in 1886, when thousands of people protested in a modern French Revolution for their working and human rights, something that would eventually lead to the Haymarket Massacre, and to the eight hour working basis that we enjoy today in the modern civilised world.

Friday, 27 April 2012

₪ Greeks or Hellenes? Part II

Pottery from Sparta - Laconia
600 BC
   These are the tribes of the Greeks, as they are certified by most of the historians. Now, the most commonly accepted etymology of the name Hellas, is:

'Ελ   ⎜ eng. El   ⎜  meaning Light +
Λάς ⎜ eng. Las  ⎜ meaning earth, soil, stone etc.
Hence, Ελλάς ⎜Hellas ⎜the land of light.

☞ Tip: From the stones that Deucalion was throwing in the cataclysmic myth, the people that raised were named Λαός ⎜ pron. Laós ⎜ meaning folk, people, public,
named after the term Λάς ⎜ eng. Las  ⎜for stones.

  Now, having established the connection of the Pelasgians as true   ancestors of the ¨Greeks¨, we can proceed -finally- answering the  question: 
How should we call the people with all those names; ¨Greeks¨ or ¨Hellenes¨?
The most accurate answer would be “Pelasgians” and their land “Pelasgia”. 
If we would necessarily have to choose among Greek and Hellen, then the term Hellen would have historical priority. What these people had in common as a nation besides kinship, language and customs; as Herodotus says? 
   A national emblem. The oldest common symbol that we can detect
among the Greek people as a national symbol, is was is known today as ¨The Vergina Star¨ and is mistakenly attributed only to the Macedonian tribe. The sixteen rayed star (or sun) has being found all over Greece, in Crete, Rhodes, Cyclades, Mykonos, Lemnos, Thrace, Argos, Sparta, Corinth, Athens, Epirus, Thessaly and of coarse Macedonia, in artifacts, potteries, shields, etc. that date back in 3,200 BC ; and it is believed to represent the twelve Olympian Gods and Hades, Heracles, Nike and Hestia,  ie the sixteen major Gods in the Greek world.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

₪ Greeks or Hellenes? Part I

Europe and Asia
   Twenty three years have passed since my very first lesson in the english language; and still, I clearly remember the first phrase that our professor wrote on the blackboard: 
Hello, my name is .................. ; and I come from Greece.” 
Hellas” I said with a lot of nerve, and full of spirit, only to cost me my first expulsion from the class, to the many that were about to follow in my educational career.

   Since then, the name of my country would trouble me for the next years, until 1995; when I would finally enter the first class of gymnasium and my first introduction to the ancient greek, and history lessons. This issue has troubled a lot of people outside Greece as well, and many wonder the obvious: If the Greeks call their country Hellas, then why we call it Greece; and its people Greeks? Well, the answer to this, is a very complicated skein of yarn with messed national, geographical, political, lingual and even mythological threads; and that is what am I about to unwind.
   The reason behind this fusion, is the discrimination between state and nation. Remarkably enough, despite the fact that the Greeks have thousands of years of history as a nation, they have a solid and commonly acknowledged state for a poor 182 years, of which only in the last 32 of them it is where we can see this country as a state, with boarders and democracy. Ironically enough perhaps, the land that gave birth to democracy thousands of years ago, counts only 32 years as a Republic. This, simply means that the Greeks, never before we had a country to its whole, so through the aeons the Greeks always used to see themselves (and still do most of them) as locals to their region.
   In the present day, the concepts of state, country and nation are indeed inextricably tied together, and it is extremely difficult for someone to understand the difference between them. This is a sociological and political result that the French Revolution brought to Europe and consequently, the rest of the world. Going quickly back in time, we will see many forms of government in the European continent, but where should pay attention, is Greece. The Greeks were the first in Europe to form most of the reigning systems that we know today. Monarchy, diarchy, oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship,

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

₪ Mr Portokalos and the Golden Apple.

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
If you are easily offended, you should drink some vinegar and bite your thumb click away on the Bright Side of the Internet.

"The Torture of Tantalus"
Gioacchino Assereto
September has always been my favorite time of the year. Autumn brings a fresh air of mental revivification after summertime and reboots our system for the new season. Among other things, I had one more reason to expect the fall, and that would be a new pair of shoes.
Aunt Stella wasn't so well off, but to me, she always seemed like a millionaire. She would send a huge parcel to her sisters back in Greece, with many goodies for all the family to share, including the Holy Grail of every 10 years old boy back in the nineties; the latest Jordans. They are the most typical Greek-American family that someone could describe: they have two kids, own a diner, live in Astoria in Queens, and my uncle's name is Gus. Sounds familiar?

"Give me a word, any word, and I'll show you that the root of that word is Greek! Kimono, kimono, kimono... Ha! Of course! Kimono is coming from the Greek word himona, it means winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see; Robe, Kimono."

 Mister Portokalos, was wrong, but he's so cute, that I feel we could forget his effort to

Monday, 5 September 2011

₪ Crisis Symptosis?

   Philosophy is a very complicated matter. In contrast with any other science, philosophy is perhaps the only one, that it´s almost impossible to disagree completely with any of its´ types and branches, no matter where someone's beliefs stand. That is the beauty and at the same time the curse of Philosophy. But what makes philosophy great, even superior  -I would dare say-  to all the other sciences? It´s her ability to be applied at any situation and any moment of humans´ rout to existence. It´s there at any occasion of our life, at any simple thing we do, even when we do nothing at all. Simply, Philosophy is diachronic. It doesn't changes, or alternates. It never ends or gets completed. And this exact ability of eternal existence and improvement, is what makes her the basis of humanity.
   If we search carefully, we will see that all theories and sayings of every philosopher, can be used in many happenings of our life, even after hundreds of years. Xenophon Zolotas was not a philosopher, neither a politician, but an economist. An economist that turned up to be a politician and a philosopher of no comparison to any of the modern Greeks. A man of true honour and virtue, in a time that the words patrician, traitor, corrupted and divided, were and still are synonyms of any Greek man in the Hellenic parliament. Significantly, he is one of the very few men globally, that has run a country without even being a politician, without belonging to any party.
   His virtue was such, that he became prime-minister by appointment of the Hellenic people and the members of the parliament, to save the country at the last moment. Zolotas -even though he was a mathematician and an economist- became famous for demonstrating the contribution of Hellenic, language to the English vocabulary by making English speeches, as he said, "using with the exception of articles and prepositions, only Greek words", to foreign audiences. Two of those speeches in English, perhaps the very best he had ever made, are considered to be historic, because they contained only terms of Greek origin. The subject of them both, was the ruthless and profiteering policy of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank that literally blood-drained Hellas with the interests and the terms that they applied on their loans.

Friday, 2 September 2011

₪ The Irish quality of failing better.

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
If you are easily offended, you should drink some vinegar and bite your thumb better click away on the Bright Side of the Internet.

Ireland 1780
Having always been attracted to locations of historical and cultural interest; destinations like Memphis, Persepolis, or Machu Picchu, are ever in my thoughts about spirituality. Parthenon would be included too if it wasn't for the fact that I have almost grown up inside-and-around it as an Athenian. I am a Greek, therefore; I seek. 
I want to step on the same places that these people once did, walk through their paths, see and touch in my mind, the world they once lived in before our holy wars destroyed everything in the name of vanity. The place that has ever attracted me the most is Ireland. In my view, the Celts are culturally entwined into a superlative ethnos, like a greater Dál Riata; a cultural bridge between their island and other civilisations, that despite being so different, they are so much the same, by influencing their neighbours through their culture. 

The Irish in spite of being conquered, they conquer their oppressors with the way they forged the worldwide literature in the last two centuries.
I've always felt inextricably tied to them since childhood, and for some inexplicable reason perceived these lands as if they were my own. Even back in the 80's, with encyclopaedias and regular books being the only sources of information, my first choice amongst other cultures, were them Gaels. Perhaps I am positively biassed in their favour because of a hypothesis that suggests that Mycenean tribes and clans immigrated to the Pretanic Isles during the sociopolitical changes in Bronze Age Greece. Examining other people's opinions on the matter, I can clearly see that there is perhaps some nationalistic inclination to support the theorem, but I can not reject keeping an eye open for some interesting coincidences and facts.

"Ossian Receiving the Ghosts of Fallen French Heroes"
Anne-Louis Girodet
Myths are there for a reason, and where is smoke, there might be some fire as well in some cases. I am not alleging all myths to be true, of course not; but if we rejected the possibility of a more realistic explanation behind them, we would have missed a lot.
Heinrich Schliemann was constantly mocked and ridiculed by the academic community for believing what Homer wrote in his Iliad and Odyssey. These writings were to the academics just mythology and would have never been accepted by historians, archaeologists and other acknowledged scientists of his time. The good thing for us is that Schliemann never gave a fuck; he raised a big fat middle finger to everyone, left for Greece and Turkey, opened his translation of Homer and start digging. Today, we can actually visit the archaeological sites of the two cities that were part of the first world war in histo

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

₪ Humour

      I was always politically active, since I can remember myself touching for first time Plato and his endless ideas about the ideal state. Looking back in the middle 90´s, Greece was still under the communistic ¨enlightenment¨, a leftover of the latest civil war, the first chapter of the Cold one.
The results are of-coarse known, but the victor in the hearts and minds of most Greeks, were Marx´s and Lenin´s children. All that in theory of-coarse, because in reality, Greeks are crying of their communistic ideals by electing governments that make Saddam Hussein´s reign look even more socialistic than Mother Teresa herself. No matter how much I was involved in politics though, it wasn't until I got to met Sir Winston Churchill that I really loved it, and reason to that was no other, than the sparkling mixture of politics and old good British humour.
    Sir Winston is perhaps the zenith and epitome of British humour as we know it, with explosive and poisonous quotations, sarcastic and cynical lines that could make every human with intelligence, laugh. He has said countless quotes, but the most memorable to me, were his notorious moments with Lady Astor. I still can remember a biographical film about him where he was having breakfast with his wife, while he was trying to set in a descriptive manner that their economic situation was bad, and measures had to be taken in order to prevail unpleasant circumstances.
The dialogue that followed changed forever my way of seeing politics.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

₪ Kråke

  One of the things I like the most in Norway is recycling. The Norwegians are recycling almost everything ´ when they can, and the very best part of it, is that they do it selflessly and without laying any eye on economical rewards. Luckily enough, we have great recycling facilities on our housing complex, and we always try to do our best helping the situation. Some days ago, I noticed some scratches on one of the rubbish bags, and curiously enough, I asked my wife if she knew of any cats existence on the area. The answer was unexpected:  ¨Kråker!¨ Kråker is norwegian for crows and the very best part of it, was that I understood what my wife was talking about.  You see, ¨kråke¨ sounds very much to the greek word for it ¨koraki¨ and I immediately started searching for the words´ etymological root.
  Indeed, the norse word ¨kråke¨ meets its´ origin  to the hellenic word ¨koraki¨ (Κοράκι), but lets see first how the word ended up to this form. The ancient greek term for crow, is kòrax (Κόραξ) and it is the first part of the word Kor- (Indo-European) that actually is the main skeleton to all after-versions of the term, with clearly proven the fact, that it´s a word of audial imitating creation, due to the sound that a crow does.
   The term Kórax was widely used in the hellenic area, but there were some places, where the word that was used for the same animal, was Kórvos (Κόρβος), including the polis (city-state) of Kýmē (pron. Kími). As we all know, the Latin alphabet was based on the Ionian-Aeolean dialect that was used in Euboea (pron. Évia). Important here is to notice that the equivalent of all hellenic words that finish on -ΟΣ (-os), is  -US in latin (de facto), due to the usage of genitive case (genitivus casus) of the hellenic words by the Latinos.  e.g     el. Σπάρτακος (Spártakos)    ->    ltn. Spartacus

   So, indeed the latin version of Κόρβος (Kórvos) was Corvus, but still, even with the expansion of the Roman Republic to the West, and later of the Roman Empire to the North, the word was not used as such yet, but the root of what we know today as ¨Raven¨.
Raven comes from the Old English (Mercian) Hræfn, and Hræfn with its´ own turn derives from the Northumbrian (western Saxon) Hrefn, a word of protogermanic origin as Khrabanas. It was not until the upcoming of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) era, (De Facto language was the hellenic one) when the ancient greek Korax was used as Koraki and through the North Frisian Gräkriak (Grä Kriak - Grey Crow), we have today the Norwegian Kråken.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

₪ Unreasonable?

   Since my child came to life, I considered it a necessity for him to get to learn basic ancient hellenic. Not because of my greek origin, but because I really believe that knowing ancient hellenic is a cultural and educational must ´ especially when you have someone to be taught from.
                  So, I start taking out my old books (educational and non), collect papers, searched in the internet and generally started getting ready, as in a four years time ´ I am planning on starting him on basic ancient Koine (common) Hellenic. Somewhere lost between nouns and prepositions, a short tutorial about the multi-tonic system came up with some pretty good examples in english, and my new theme on Hellenic Words was more than obvious. There´s exactly where I am gonna stand today.
Basically, this time I am not going to analyze a single word, as I usually do, but the whole logic of how the hellenic language not only influences the expressions and quotations on the english one, but her whole grammar structure.
  Firstly, before getting into the level of difficulty of the hellenic language, we have to inquire the difficulty of the english one. English is perhaps the most difficult western european language in comparison to the other ones, simply because its´ unreasonability. That´s right, unreasonability
The reason for that is simply because almost 60% of the english written speech is being pronounced completely differently than what´s on the paper.
   The most natural upcoming question is why the english language has such absence of syntax grammar rules? Well, the answer to that is simply that there isn´t any absence of it at all.
The english language is a relatively newly constructed result of a Indo-European skeleton where greek, latin, norse, germanic, celtic and gallic languages among others have mixed into what we know today as english. Where the british people did well, was at the part that they didn't changed any of the catchy grammar rules of the basic languages that their´s, is made from, while they failed in a grand scale to... explain those reasons. The first part of this journey discovering hellenic aroma into the english lingua, is the letters on it. In english we see many letters and/or diphthongs that result to the same sound or no clear rule when to use which.
Example purely greek words in the english lang.  on diphthongs: 

Ch, ch - H, h       e.g  Chamaeleon  (chameleon) &  Helicopter 
Ph, ph - F, f         e.g  Philipp  &  Frantic 
Th, th - T, t         e.g   Theory & Teresa
Rh, rh - R, r        e.g   Rhythm & Roof

Saturday, 14 May 2011

₪ Homer Über Álles

   This summer is a very promising one.
   Some of the world´s biggest bands and rock stars are about to play in Athens, and all tickets are already been sold out. Fashion icons, rock stars, sex symbols, TV personas, idols, etc. etc,
today´s stars seem to be all the above at one, and everybody waits for the big show. 
T-Bone stakes, vegetables, robots, lions, fireworks, astronaut costumes, fires, strobe lights, and smokes are among many other things that are about to be offered to the crowed and the big event will start. About two hours after, the ¨event of the year¨ will come up to an end, and along with that our torture. 
Suddenly I hear a paradisiac harp playing calmly in my head and I imagine happy and relaxed poets playing the instrument of heavens under a tree. Yes, there was a time music was like this. 
But how did we came up to this point? 
The answer is simply one name: Homer. 
The myth has it that this old-willy blind man sat and with the help of Muses, wrote an outstanding number of poems. We are not sure where he was born, or when. 
We are still not sure where he lived or died. We are not sure if what he is attributed to be his are indeed his, and if they are, how many are they. Actually, we are not sure if he even existed. The only thing I am sure is that Homer was humanity´s first worldwide superstar. Homer passed poetry to an another dimension, in a level still any other man haven´t get to reach to date. 
Satyr, drama, sex, fights, indrigas, fights, war, divine entities, narcotics, bravery and treason are just a small taste what this man´s works include, without mentioning the perfection of his written speech on a poetic level. 
Yes, Homer was indeed, humanity´s first superstar. 
Probably as the germans would say it simply, ¨Homer Über Alles¨
  Why? Because of the heritage he left to billions of humans. Not the mental one, for that part I thing there isn´t much to say, as his epic poems speak by themselves, but because of the words he left in tenths of languages and hundreds of dialects. But first things first. Homer was an Ionian, resulting in the most reasonable thing: he was writing in the ionian dialect. The dialect though he was writing at, on the 8th century B.C was much different than the one that was spoken during the 5th century B.C, meaning the Hellenistic Era. The shiniest era of humanity until the 20th and 21st century A.D.
  Athens was by all means the cradle of light of the ancient world. Arts, philosophy, sciences, trade and many other factors, all contributed to the expansion of the language, but none had such impact as the conquering of the world by Alexander the Great. What is the common denominator? The Ionian dialect. Philipp II had enforced the speaking and writing of the Ionian dialect on the Doric palace of Pella, something that resulted into all the globe to speak and write in Ionian. With the introduction of the Hellenism to the word in the Ionian way, Homer´s Iliad and Odyssey became literally and by all means the Alpha and the Omega every intellectual was taught and when you are dealing with the most complete - if not perfect - written treasure, man has seen to date, then very rarely you change the words inside it. Actually they took them as they were. Even though that most of these words have had been alternated by Homer himself in favor of the poem´s lyricy and harmony, no-one dared to change them back to their grammatical correct form. And these words, terms and expressions that are still in the english language, we are about to meet today in a short list of direct words.

₪ It´s just Greek to you?

   There are many beautiful and interesting destinations around the world. There are though some places that are indeed special, with another aura. Depending to what is each human´s special characteristic and idiomorhy, some cities are the place to be. Just imagine what Mecca is for a muslim, what it means for an architect to be in Berlin, or Zurich´s importance for a stock-broker. Try understand why Paris is every chef´s paradise, or why Brussels are for a politician the epitome of his career.
   Following this orthodoxy, I tried to find for whom Athens stands for. 
Is it a city for historians? 
Is it a city for archaeologists, or maybe the Alpha and the Omega on every democrat´s political route? 
I am sure that if we would squeeze the subject we could find many things, but for me it was quite simple: Athens is the city that in 3-4 hours driving I have access to the majority of the most important places in Greece. 
  Olympia, Epidaurus, Mantinia and of coarse Sparta lay on the Peloponnesian peninsula, while Thermopylae and Delphi await in Magnisia and Phocis respectively. From there, just a couple of hours

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

₪ Don´t Panic!

  Today was a really stressful day. Early awakening with the baby, driving the family to the other city so my wife could get to give driving license exams, coming back and had to make the printer to work so I would be able to send the papers for the rental car on time, print our tickets, pack our things, clean the house and fly late at night to Greece for our vacation. A lot of stress.
¨Don´t panic!¨ said my wife and tried to relax me a bit.
Panic is an interesting word. It has happened to us all, something that with a perfect universal synchronization happens always on the exact time. The bad one. But where does the word ¨Panic¨ comes from? The word panic comes from the hellenic Πανικός (panikos - pron. panêêkós) and it´s passive form is Πανικοβάλλομαι (pron. Panikovállome - mean. Getting into panic)
 For once more the beauty and magic of words are on the spotlight as this special word owes it´s birth to the ancient Greek god Pan, the ugly, short, goat shaped god of the shepherds and nature. A Faun and a Satyr, Pan was seducing the essential Nymphs in the rivers and mountain-fields of the beautiful bucolic land of Arcadia, playing his flute, eating Nature´s goods and drinking Dionysus´s wine, he was molesting and sodomizing anything that a goat shaped god could possibly sodomize.
  The reason that led the Greeks name the situation with the god´s name was his loud and wild cries towards the ship when he wanted to have some fun. Much latter the word took notorious dimensions after the Battle of Marathon on 490 B.C where the according to the myth, the ugly god would stand on a hill and scream to the Persian soldiers, forcing them to flee and run in madness to all directions. Because of the importance of this battle to the European world, the event took

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

₪ Minus

  The topic was already on the table,
and the conversation about our finances concluded to one word my wife said: ¨mindre¨. 

¨Mindre must be norwegian for less , minor¨ 
 I thought´ and immediately a flashback hit my mind:

   ¨ No matter what you will do, you have to do it perfect. To excel. 
But most important of all, is to do everything as humanly possible you can, never to become a Minus Human ¨
 said he and passed me my sack. 
I looked up, there was a huge sign:
 ¨Ελεύθερον το έμψυχον¨  (eléftheron to émpsihon - Free is the (brave) soul
and suddenly the words of Pericles demolished at once any Marxistic leftovers from my youth rebellions. An explosion of patriotism occurred in my soul and I crossed proudly the gate. Perhaps the peak of a father - son relationship is that exact moment, the moment the boy becomes a man and goes to serve his country, perhaps the highest honor a man can have in his life. Perhaps.

 Since then the phrase ¨Minus Human¨ and my mind developed a lifetime relationship ` and as the best companion a human could have, it has escorted me always everywhere I´ve been reminding to myself the dos and don´ts a man needs to be kept in mental order. The importance of such a special word in my life led me to analyze it and search deep into it. And by that allow me to take the initiative and share it with you.
  The word mindre has done a long trip from Hellas to the Scandinavian countries, but as always, I will develop the analysis backwards, so we will able to understand better it´s journey. The word was introduced to the tribes that later were about to become the Saxons from the tribes that dominated the area south of today´s Denmark. The Lombardic tribe was enjoying the control of the area by that time, and the situation among the ¨barbarians¨ was bloodier than ever before. All against each other and altogether against the arrogant Romans, were exchanging beside blades, cultures as well. And that is how the Lombardic had taken it´s share from the Frankish one.  Until the first half of the fourth century, the Franks, a western germanic tribe were interacting quite... friendly for these times towards the Gaulish people and the Romans. Result to that was the word Minder where the scandinavian Mindre owes it´s root at. 
  Going ever more back in time and currently around 50 B.C , the Gaulish tribes were the key to the word´s trip, because of their geographical disposal on map. The Gauls by that time controlled north Italy up to the Adriatic coast and they were interacting directly with the Romans and the Greeks. In most of the Gaulish tribes, which by that time did not have a common language, the word Minir was used as a de facto word needed for their merchants´s transactions with the Romans, from whose the word actually originates from, before they loan it to the Franks as Minder.
  The original word in Latium was Minus, and comes from the Aeólic Hellenic Minús (el. Μινύς ,

₪ The Demystification of the Norwegian Stereotypes, and the Pleasure of Cursing.

Many would say that there are always similarities between neighbouring countries -and this is true, at least most of it- but when it comes to Norway and its people, then we can really tell that it is a genuinely unique country in every aspect. One of the things that I find most interesting is that Norwegians are amazingly similar to each other when it comes to character, culture, and etiquette; like if they were genetically programmed during pregnancy. Starting a conversation with a Norwegian is definitely going to trigger three questions from their behalf. 
First, they shall ask you with a friendly curiosity and with a tone that indicates actual interest: "How long have you been in Norway?". 
Then, their whole body language and facial expression changes into a combination of scepticism and a small hint of self-deprecation, they'll pierce your soul with the most solid eye contact you have ever experienced, and shoot: "Why did you came to Norway?". 
Finally, with a conclusive stance, they'll ask: "Well, how (good) do you do here?".  
Be extremely careful with the above dialogue, for it shall happen to you for sure, and yes; it's a trap. This is the point that you will make a friend or an enemy forever. 

It's been almost a decade since I first moved to Norway, and that would be about a fourth of my life thus far; yet, I really struggle to understand how to interact with them adequately, and fully fit in their society. And I am not the only one; very few outlanders have actually made it there. 

For most northwestern Europeans the challenge is a big one, and as a Greek, the struggle is even greater; our cultures are so different, that a person with difficulties in adapting to a new environment has literally zero chances in a successful cultural amalgamation. The first time that I noticed that cultural gap, was many years ago when some lads invited me to a garden party. Hellenic hospitality had taught me never to go somewhere with empty hands, and in the same spirit I did the calculus; a case of cold beers and three frozen Cuervos should do fine for fifteen people, and when I arrived everyone was looking at me like if I was an alien. Awkwardness was in the air and eventually someone asked me straight out if I was an alcoholic. Soon I understood that when invited in Norway, you bring the food and drinks that you will be having during the party.

Social interaction in Norway is so weird for a foreigner that for the first months you'll be asking yourself what did you do wrong. In Greece for example, when some companies of friends or acquaintances go out to have some drinks, they will eventually merge with neighbouring companies from other tables. They will all meet, talk, drink and dance with each other. In Norway, on the other hand; if a couple of friends go out for a coffee and happens one of them to fall upon a good friend of his in another company, they shall just say the basics and sit separately.
For Norwegians, it is perfectly normal to go out, sit in a big company and after the typical introductions, to completely ignore everyone they just met and keep chatting with the one person they knew when they came. In addition to that, they seem to have a kind of unspoken rule about alcohol and anything that happened during its effect. In a matter of fact; nothing happened. That's right. If Ole Petter took off his pants and underwear during the Christmass party and jumped into the pool while screaming "fuck you all", is not to be mentioned next Monday. Likewise, did a night-game amongst friends ended up with enough material for the best porn production of the year? It never happened. The weekend in Norway is a parallel dimension of your other self; from Monday to Friday, Norwegians follow a socially strict persona. Work, family, and other aspects of Norwegian life are exemplary on how to be a dedicated parent or employee, and when the weekend comes, the same person is his eighteen years old self that was drinking mazut in Ibiza.
Seriously; drinking twenty beers and ten shots of Jägermeister at Saturday night is totally fine, but a glass of wine with your food during workweek makes you an alcoholic.

The weirdest social feature of all is casual greetings. If for any reason a Norwegian runs into a friend or colleague, they will do anything withing their power to pretend they never saw each other. Never, ever, ever, make eye contact with a fellow in the supermarket, and for the love of God; don't even think to address them. A question like "how are you" in Norway is not a I just saw you, so I am being polite by smiling to you and this is how I say hi. Such a question will be taken seriously and you'll put both of you in the very awkward situation of having to listen to Ole Petter explaining that he is going through a divorce, that his father has cancer, and that just he lost his job.

Moving to the well-known stereotype about their politeness and rudeness, Norwegians are treated unfairly on the matter. Yes, they very seldomly say "excuse me", "I am sorry", "please" and "thank you", and they don't hold on doors indeed, neither do they apply moral politeness like giving their turn in the line or their seat to an elder person. They shan't remove their hats when in a restaurant, nor they shall stand up to greet someone properly either, and from this point of view, all this is very impolite indeed. Personally, I've seen worse. My hometown in Greece could undoubtedly be used as a grand theme park for Neandertals; it's a miracle that Arcadians can actually stand in two and pronounce sounds from their mouth's cavity.

The reason Norwegians are misunderstood and considered rude is, in my opinion, a combination of a higher sense of sensibility and awkwardness. Only some hours ago, a thirty-something years old woman walked straight to my bar, while holding an empty glass. When she arrived, she held the glass pretty close to my face, and said: "(I) must have water", took the new glass and left. Of course, I got very bothered; surely she could have said something better than that, but here is that sense of sensibility that I mentioned before, that takes place.
The common Norwegian doesn't think "how should I act within a society and politely ask for water", but their logic is very simple and reasonable: "I am here, in a restaurant, therefore; you (the bartender) should assume the obvious, I am here to eat or drink or both. The fact that I leave my table to come to your bar means I want something, and I hold an empty water glass, ergo; I want more water". Here the awkwardness comes into the game as well; Norwegians are awkward on their individual routines and interactions; one shall have a working persona within which he behaves in a standard way, most characteristically the one at his work. Then there is another persona within his family circle, and another in social micro-interactions like shopping in the food store etc. But if someone stops a Norwegian while he walks and asks him something, it becomes apparent they get unsettled and stressed, and this is very clear on the way they'll speak; the way he'll talk as a personality, is nothing to any of the personalities that this person applies with his circles, and this awkwardness is the catalyst factor for not saying a word more than the necessary on their interactions, thus getting framed as rude.

Norwegians are far from rude. Not being what the mainstream world defines as polite, does not mean that they are impolite. They are a people with tremendous respect to any other's religious beliefs, political ideas, and opinions; they pay great attention not to do or say anything that offends or insults another person and always mind not to intrude the personal space of others. They have an amazing sense of tact and truly care what happens to humans around the globe. If anything happens to someone and that person needs help, they will rally altogether, and take action to help. They are peaceful and know no harm. They always keep calm, handle situations with composure, they don't shout, they are not violent, they don't break the law in any way, and how they treat the environment should be taught to all schools all around the world.

They don't necessarily need material luxuries to have a good time; a Norwegian is more than happy to go to his cabin, take his skies and go all the way up to the mountain and sit there to have a cocoa from his thermos is his backpack while he enjoys the view in silence. They are happy when they come home from work, and lit five trillion candles just to have a cozy atmosphere where they just sit and read a book or even knit. And in all this, everyone is welcome; they shall share their home, food and drink with you.
Norwegians are genuinely happy as human beings just by becoming one with their nature, and a person with this level and sense of freedom, kindness, and minimal materialism can not be impolite, rather the opposite and an illustrious example of how life should be taken, and how to treat fellow humans within a society.

Monday, 25 April 2011

₪ What Malaka means?

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
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"Cupid the Honey Thief"
Albrecht Dürer
One of the things that always attracted me the most in past cultures and civilizations is their Cosmogony; the mythological story of how the cosmos began, and how people first came to inhabit it. The cosmology of each great civilization is very indicative of how these people saw the world around them; how their societies were structured, their cults and customs, and what moved their thoughts and actions. I've always been attracted to mythology and it was imperative for me to put things down, start creating family trees and hierarchise deities; in order to see who was the "first", by whom it all began.

₪ Deus Vult: The murder of Zeus and Abraham's Dark Ages.

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
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Diogenes' search for a Human
Jules Bastien-Lepage
One of my favourite comic artists; the ingenious and cunning Arkas, once quoted that "It is a great bless to be born a Greek, and it is a great bless to die as one. The in-between though might be a bit of a problem".
Indeed, the above is painfully real; we Greeks cope with a vast plethora of issues, yet; we come with some perks too. What I've personally savoured the most is our instinctive drive to challenge and question everything that is served to us. Perhaps an inherited characteristic since the first Sophists and Empiricists, we have this natural inclination to seek for a deeper and more sensible explanation for the answers that are so readily given. This trait is what we have inherited today as the science of logic and reason.

I can distinctly recollect the moment that changed everything about the way I saw the Human as a being and his creation; and therefore, our role in a universe that was created by superior powers. Most children back in the late eighties used to watch television, do sports, or simply play outside. For me, though; all the fun was in swimming in an ocean of books. History volumes, dictionaries and encyclopaedias were my best treat, and Greek mythology was the most exciting of them all. It was when I first read about the Olympian Gods when I asked myself for the first time; what happened to those Gods, where did they go and why did they disappear. Most important of all; I questioned how is it possible to change the way that the world was created, and by whom; therefore having suddenly another God, who is so astoundingly different from the previous ones.
To my youthful eyes, each civilisation had their own deities, and that was perfectly reasonable. Nevertheless; an event in which a culture abruptly changed radically the way of how they saw the world; was utterly nonsensical and contradictive as to who we really are thenceforth. If we change what we believe in, then we are not the same as who we were when we did so.

Heraclitus weeping over the World 
Johannes Paulus Moreelse
This hard slap on my six years old face crashed into pieces the adamant values that I was brought up with; Hellenism and Christianity. It was the first time that I consciously saw myself as an Agnostic and decidedly doubted of what is it to be a Greek. A religious struggle would begin between my sense of logic and the horrible guilt that society judgementally burdened me, and this was a terrible, terrible offence that they had me endure. They intimidated me, then threatened me with eternal damnation, and eventually ostracised me as a leper pariah in a public school that was not ready to have little shits questioning the Lord in public.

Many today define Greece as the cradle of Orthodox Christianity and its people as spiritually and religiously devout. The historical truth though is completely antithetical; the cultural and theological identity of Hellenism's relation to Christianity is exactly what the concept of democracy was to Mao Zedong; nonexistent.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

₪ Iskander's Yunanistan

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Constantinus XI Palaeologus by Theophilus Cephaleus Chatzemichael
"Constantinus XI Palaeologus"
Theophilus Cephaleus Chatzemichael
One of the things I always liked about my relationship with Salih is that we've ever been brutally honest with each other about the way we see things. We never hesitate to talk about culture, history, and politics, and unlike any other friendship between a Turk and a Greek; we have never been reluctant to play with the hot potato of our in-between history and politics. If my good friend stops by my work or vice-versa, we'll often greet one another in our mother tongues since we both speak a wee bit of each other's language. This confuses people from time to time, but what gives them a real

₪ A Horn, some juicy Cherries and a Croissant

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Minoan Rhyton
Since antiquity, mankind always worshipped gold in a religious, sociopolitical and artistic way. The reason for this is that gold has truly amazing characteristics. It is the most malleable of all metals, a single gram could be beaten into a whole square meter of a golden sheet. It is the best natural conductor of electricity and heat found on earth, a most rare metal; all the gold in the world would barely fill three swimming pools, it glows a shining glittering colour that mesmerises all eyes, and most important of all; it doesn't corrode; it's forever. These abilities connected all ancient societies with men's greatest weaknesses; vanity and mortality. Thus, gold became a symbol of power, gravitas, divinity and immortality, that would penetrate all human societies through rulership, religion, and arts. Gold was the measure of everything and all, and it was around 7th century BCE, that the Greeks of Asia Minor would stroke the first golden coins in history. 

Golden Myrtle Wreath
  There was though a problem; how would they measure it? They would need a common unit of mass that could apply to all transactions, domestic and international and the solution to that challenge was a tasty one; carobs. The carob tree (also known as Saint John's bread/Johannisbrotbaum) could be found in most of the Mediterranean world, and specifically, in the Greek region could be found a unique type that its seeds had a particular pear shape and exclusive characteristic; they were all of the same size and weight, making those sweet little snacks, an indisputable unit of measuring gold, silver, and other precious metals and stones, establishing the carats as the first de facto unit.

Friday, 22 April 2011

₪ Odysseus' Lisbon and the Lotus Eaters

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
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"Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus"
J. M. W. Turner
One of the most amazing things that I was always impressed by; is the phenomenal capabilities of the human brain. I always believed that what we understand as intelligence, is a result of our initial potential and how much we train our mind, how far we press its limits to receive more information and process it.
The question is what do we remember or not, and why?

   It was on a Christmas party from work, where some colleagues of mine initiated a conversation game of telling what do we remember for all our lives. A friend answered that he could write down the lyrics of John Lennon's "Imagine", and another colleague could draw his country's borders out of memory. When asked, I hesitated to answer as I was afraid I wouldn't be taken seriously, or even worse; become the subject of mockery, but eventually said it; The Odyssey. Everybody smiled and laughed until they realised I was serious.
I did remember almost all twelve thousand lines in one of the biggest epics