Monday, February 4, 2013

Romans used local tigers

The Romans didn't need to leave their empire to get tigers, as I once thought. The tigers they were familiar with will have been the Caspian tiger, a now extinct sub-species, which used to live from southeast Russia, all the way down to Iraq and the Black Sea.

I was astonished by an ancient tiger mosaic in Rome, wrongly supposing that to obtain tigers for slaughter in the Colosseum, the Romans would have had to go all the way to India.   But recently Chad Benjamin informed me that this animal actually roamed within the Roman borders

A captive Caspian Tiger (or Persian Tiger) in Berlin Zoo, 1899. Once found in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, and the Central Asiatic area of Russia, see red area on map, the extreme western stretch of which was at one time within the Roman Empire. This sub species of tiger, the smallest in size, became extinct in the late 1960's. (Wikipedia)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rich without noticing the consequences

George Monbiot : “Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable”
The rich elites of the USA “have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.” 

The words of Mike Lofgren, published on He worked for 16 years on the Republican staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees. 

George Monbiot quoted Lofgren in an article in Monday’s Guardian, mainly about his own experience of private education in England. 

Applying Lofgren's words to the elite in Britain, Monbiot added: “Secession from the concerns and norms of the rest of society characterises any well-established elite. Our own ruling caste, schooled separately, brought up to believe in justifying fairytales, lives in a world of its own, from which it can project power without understanding or even noticing the consequences. A removal from the life of the rest of the nation is no barrier to the desire to dominate it. In fact it appears to be associated with a powerful sense of entitlement.

"So if you have wondered how the current government can blithely engage in the wholesale transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, how its front bench can rock with laughter as it truncates the livelihoods of the poorest people of this country, why it commits troops to ever more pointless post-colonial wars, here, I think, is part of the answer. Many of those who govern us do not in their hearts belong here. They belong to a different culture, a different world, which knows as little of its own acts as it knows of those who suffer them.”