Fanax: the Mycenaean term for "king"; pronounced "wanax". The funny initial letter, "F", is called digamma and shows up in Archaic Greek epigraphy (papyrus and tablet writings). The sound, if not the letter form, and its linguistic equivalent initially show up in the heiroglyphic writings (Linear B) of Bronze Age Greece both at Pylos, in the far west of Greece (Peloponnese), and at Knossos in north central Crete, the funny "F". Specifically, digamma shows up in the Greek of Homer's Iliad with the word "F"anax, but there it's a "rough breathing" in the form "(h)anax", where the term is linked to an important individual at Pylos. In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, the F continues in this aspirant, or "h" sound, form at the beginning of many Greek words.

Entries for month: August 2011


August 20, 2011 ·

Fascinating stuff here, IMHO.  Libertarianism is often written off as 'academic' and/or too abstract to really have any applicability in the real world.  I think this is largely a position borne out of ignorance, but clearly unless a position is tenable, who cares.

"How much government is needed and what kind cannot be determined in the abstract, but depends on the character of the people of a specific time and place."

There's a lot of really good incision in the post, laying out the fundamentals of political thought that led to the American experiment, among other things.  I am particularly struck, though, but how so many early writers (Burke, Kirk, Nisbet, etc.) got hung up on "self-interest" and its evils without seeing the distinction between humans and wolves:  humans are capable of learning that our own self-interest must include the interests of others.  Seems like that's what sets civilization apart from the animal kingdom in large measure, though even animals exhibit numberless examples of mutual self-interest as well (the birds that pick fleas off rhinos and those that pick tidbits from crocodiles' teeth come to mind).

Seems like the 1955 quote from Meyer captures a good deal of the distinction, when he said that "all value resides in the individual; all social institutions derive their value and, in fact, their very being from individuals and are justified only to the extent that they serve the needs of individuals."

The whole post continues on, with excellent examination of the dichotomies inherent in early thoughts of personal liberty.

Tags: politics

things never change

August 15, 2011 ·

"I invite the reader's attention to the much more serious consideration of the kind of lives our ancestors lived, of who were the men, and of what were the means both in politics and war by which Rome's power was first acquired and subsequently expanded; I would then have him trace the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, then the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find for yourself and for your country both examples and warnings: fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid."
-- Livy, History of Rome (ab urbe contita libri), roughly 26 BC (emphasis mine)

Seems to be the lament of every generation, of course, and it’s nothing new, but that line is gold: “the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them.”

Tags: politics

NASA Back At It

August 10, 2011 ·

Except this time their research supports what the sceptics have said all along:  that CO2 is not really a major contributor to the greenhouse effect AND that the Earth turns out to be awfully proficient at self-regulating, including temperature.  What a surprise.

Tags: politics

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