Saturday, December 13


Here's one of the men who as the leaders of Athens drove it to defeat in the Peloponnesian war. 

This kind of leader is quite common son. Populist leaders are very very dangerous. They appeal to the base instincts. And thus seem popular in polls and there are short term gains but the country suffers in the long term. One extreme example is Chavez of Venezuela. Another is ex president Ahmadinejad of Iran. Same with bibi Netanyahu of Israel. And our own David milliband with his stupid idea of price controls on energy bills. 

Be wary of people who are like this son. Look at them with the deepest suspicion. Even though David milliband's proposals will help me right now by reducing the electricity bill for 2 years, you and Diya then run the high risk of having no electricity or load shedding. Short term gain for long term pain. Not fun. 



Cleon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cleon (English pronunciation: /ˈklən/; Greek: Κλέων, Ancient Greek: [kléɔːn], Kleon) (died 422 BCE) was an Athenian statesman and a strategos during thePeloponnesian War. He was the first prominent representative of the commercial class in Athenian politics, although he was an aristocrat himself. Contemporaries Thucydides and Aristophanes represented him as a warmonger and a demagogue.


Public service

Opposition to Pericles

Cleon first came to notice as an opponent of Pericles in the late 430s through his opposition to Pericles' strategy of refusing battle against the Peloponnesian League invaders in 431 BC. As a result, he found himself acting in concert with the Athenian aristocratic parties, who also had no liking for Pericles. During 430 BC, after the unsuccessful expedition by Pericles to the Peloponnesus, and when the city was devastated by the plague, Cleon headed the opposition to Pericles' rule. At this time, Pericles was accused by Cleon of maladministration of public money, with the result that Pericles was found guilty and removed from office (see Grote's History of Greece, abridged ed., 1907, p. 406, note 1). However, Pericles' setback was temporary and he was soon reinstated.

Rise in popularity

The death of Pericles from the plague in 429 BC left the field clear for new leadership in Athens. Hitherto Cleon had only been a vigorous opposition speaker, a trenchant critic and accuser of state officials, but he now came forward as the professed champion and leader of the democracy and, as a result, dominated Athenian politics. Although rough and unpolished, he was charismatic, being gifted with natural eloquence and a powerful voice, and he knew how to work upon the emotions of the Athenian populace. He strengthened his support amongst the poorer citizens of Athens by increasing the pay of the jurymen, which provided many of the poorer Athenians with a means of livelihood.

The fondness of the Athenians for litigation increased his power; and the practice of "sycophancy" (raking up material for false charges), enabled him to remove those who were likely to endanger his ascendancy. In 426 BC, Cleon brought an unsuccessful prosecution against Laches based on his generalshipin the unsuccessful first Sicilian expedition. This is one of the very few times that an Athenian general escaped civil punishment for a defeat. Having no further use for his former aristocratic associates, he broke off all connection with them, and thus felt at liberty to attack the secret combinations for political purposes, the oligarchical clubs to which they mostly belonged. Whether he also introduced a property-tax for military purposes, and even held a high position in connection with the treasury, is uncertain.

War against Sparta, subsequent death

Friday, December 12

Copper Sheathing helped save lives in an ass backward way

fascinating paper here.

British slave traders were early and rapid adopters of the new technique of sheathing ships' hulls with copper. From the 1780s this innovation increased sailing speeds of British slave ships by about a sixth, prolonged the ships' lives by at least a half, and reduced the death rates of slaves on the middle passage by about half. It was, above all, the fall in death rates, and possibly the improved condition of surviving slaves, that made the investment so compelling. Copper sheathing may have paid for itself in a single voyage, even though it was usually good for several. By the 1790s few slave ships, even if making only a single voyage, were uncoppered. These results confirm that copper sheathing was one of the major improvements in shipping productivity before the use of iron and steam in the mid-nineteenth century.

I am not sure if this would be really that appreciated by the slaves, what would you prefer? an agonising death on the slave ships or a life of slavery?

one thing which I have read about slave ships is how the British squadrons came to know about the slave ships. Besides intelligence and beating about the mouths of African rivers to capture the slavers, they used the power of smell. Slave ships were extremely odorous. truly disgusting, specially on the trans Atlantic voyages or up to Europe. first, the slaves would be chained down spoon fashion for the voyage. they would be crammed in tightly as a sardine in a can, with multiple decks. layer after layer after layer. they wouldn't be fed that frequently either. They will piss, shit, vomit, sweat, drip blood, die, all in the same area. if they were lucky,they were brought up to be given a drenching in the cold sea water, but no captain would risk a mutiny or rebellion so death rates of up to 50% were accepted.


so anything that reduced the voyage time, would help increase the survival rates…

here are some of the photographs from our visit to Portsmouth…you can see the photograph showing the shelf in which you as a slave will be curled up in chains for 2 weeks, the gaps in the wood will let all the bloody fluids and sewage from top drop on you.

Wednesday, December 10

the migration of Citron

While studying the destruction of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians, I came across an interesting mention of India. Citron was imported from India to Ancient Persia / Babylon and from there it came to Jerusalem. And then I bumped into those in Sicily. Here’s the wiki entry. Some interesting factoids…

The citron could also be native to India where it borders on Burma, in valleys at the foot of theHimalayas, and in the Indian Western Ghats.[23][24] It is thought that by the time of Theophrastus, the citron was mostly cultivated in the Persian Gulf on its way to the Mediterranean basin, where it was cultivated during the later centuries in different areas as described by Erich Isaac.[25]Many mention the role of Alexander the Great and his armies as they attacked Persia and what is today Pakistan, as being responsible for the spread of the citron westward, reaching the European countries such as Macedonia and Italy.[26] The citron is mentioned in the Torah as being required for ritual use during the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). According to this tradition, the Jews brought it back to Israel from their exile in Egypt, where the Egyptologist and archaeologist Victor Loret claimed to have identified it depicted on the walls of the botanical garden at the Karnak Temple, which dates back to the time of Thutmosis III, approximately 3,000 years ago.[27]

how fascinating, eh? I love this fruit, delicious….and a commentary by Theophrastus..

In the east and south there are special plants... i.e. in Media and Persia there are many types of fruit, between them there is a fruit called Median or Persian Apple. The tree has a leaf similar to and almost identical with that of the andrachn (Arbutus andrachne L.), but has thorns like those of the apios (the wild pear, Pyrus amygdaliformis Vill.) or the firethorn, Cotoneaster pyracantha Spach.), except that they are white, smooth, sharp and strong.

Spines of the Firethorn.

The fruit is not eaten, but is very fragrant, as is also the leaf of the tree; and the fruit is put among clothes, it keeps them from being moth-eaten. It is also useful when one has drunk deadly poison, for when it is administered in wine; it upsets thestomach and brings up the poison. It is also useful to improve the breath, for if one boils the inner part of the fruit in a dish or squeezes it into the mouth in some other medium, it makes the breath more pleasant.

The seed is removed from the fruit and sown in the spring in carefully tilled beds, and it is watered every fourth or fifth day. As soon the plant is strong it is transplanted, also in the spring, to a soft, well watered site, where the soil is not very fine, for it prefers such places.

And it bears its fruit at all seasons, for when some have gathered, the flower of the others is on the tree and is ripening others. Of the flowers I have said[30] those that have a sort of distaff [meaning the pistil] projecting from the middle are fertile, while those that do not have this are sterile. It is also sown, like date palms, in pots punctured with holes.

This tree, as has been remarked, grows in Media and Persia.

So for friends in Europe and USA, when you are squeezing a lemon on yourself or on your dishes, remember the antecedents of this lovely little fruit.

Tuesday, December 9

Being raped costs over $100k for the victim

this is bloody disgusting.

In 2006, approximately 49% of violent crimes were not reported to police. Being the victim of sexual assault is expensive; each incident imposes an external cost of over $100k on the victim. However, recent estimates of the total social cost are an order of magnitude larger suggesting that from a social welfare standpoint rape is likely to be underreported if the victim's demand for reporting is price elastic. In spite of the centrality of victim reporting in the functioning of the criminal justice system, to date there is very little systematic evidence on what governments can do to encourage victims to report crimes. We estimate the sensitivity of victims to the cost of reporting in an Alaskan city between 1993 and 2006, during which time a chief of police publicly supported a policy of charging victims of sexual assault for medical procedures required to collect evidence against their attackers. Using a triple differences approach that compares trends in reported sexual assaults to other index crimes over time and across Alaskan cities, we estimate that this shift in cost of approximately $1,200 from the city government to victims reduced the number of reported rapes by between 50 and 80%. This large response highlights the importance of public policies which reduce the private cost of reporting crime.

during the days when you hear about so many bloody sexual assaults happening, we have to reduce the costs of the crime for the victim!