Monday, February 27, 2023

Smelly cities

Watching a video of Imperial Rome reminded me of an experience I had visiting Singapore in 1971. Staying overnight in a modern hotel on the outskirts of the downtown, I ventured into the heart of the old city where narrow cobblestone streets had an open sewer running down the middle.

In fact, if you approached the downtown from downwind, you could smell it a mile away. Eventually you get used to it but the initial impact is quite powerful.

And so it was in Imperial Rome, a city with some 1 million people, many of whom lived in poverty and squalor. A hive of activity and breeding ground for all manner of infectious diseases.

On the other side of the ledger, I lived in the City of Baghdad in 1961 where dry heat day temperatures in the summer ranged between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. It did not have open sewers (the water would likely have evaporated) but the smell was so different, and not unpleasant, that I experienced it in my dreams long after having returned to Norway.

Saturday, February 25, 2023


Since time immemorial it has been the practice of a minority to sow the seeds of suspicion and fear of “other” in populations they wish to control and dominate.

They identify with “us” vs “them” that are demonized and dehumanized for the purposes of subjugation. That happened to the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island when hordes of settlers arrived from Europe and ideology was used to justify their forced removal from their lands.

On a different scale, when both sides are more equally matched in terms of power to wage war, power groups on both sides of the issues will try to mobilize their populations using the same techniques. Media control is essential for this strategy to succeed.

That’s exactly what has happened in Ukraine which has now become a punching ball between the Western Empire and the Russian Empire.