Money is Diseased Barter

I used the title to this post in a tweet and was asked to explain myself. So here goes.

From the start I will say that I am not an economist and I am not a political scientist. I am, however am amateur social historian. So don’t expect to many sources. Just opinions gained from a study of mankind.

In the beginning, as all second-rate tales start, there were hunters and gatherers. The only way they could survive was to act as a group. Everything was shared. the only sin was doing something which would harm the group. Traditionally men hunted, often unsuccessfully for meat while women gathered, luckily with much more success, fruits, roots, garin and any little critters which could give a mouthful of protein to a hungry tribe.

Then women discovered that settling down and cultivating plant foods gave a much better return. So the first villages were developed. The first known was around 12,000 years ago at M’lefaat in Iraq

The range of skills needed to live in a village grew as did the available food.. There had to be house builders, and potters. Yet all produce was still shared. As the nomadic hunter gatherers of the region began to see how well these strange “villagers” lived, they decided to drop in and take a share. They became the first conquerors and took over the running of the settlement. And took a share of the produce in return for their role as “Protectors”. The first criminals and the first taxation. and the first cells of the money cancer grew on the barter system

Over the millenia, villages grew into cities and the idea of communal

Many ancient Egyptian writings were accounts of "gifts" to the Pharaoh

Many ancient Egyptian writings were accounts of “gifts” to the Pharaoh

sharing disappeared into a golden age of myth. Instead there were kings who took a share of the produce to redistribute it to the non-producing protectors. Somewhere along the line shamans became important and used their persuasive powers to convince the common people that they had to support their King who was a representative of the God who provided the water and the good crops the city depended on.

What has happened now is that a producer; grain, fruit, animal or manufacture, had to present a proportion of their production to the Rulers, both temporal and spiritual. It meant that differeing values were put on different items. One gazelle might be worth ten baskets of wheat. A basket may be two baskets of wheat. A basket of chick peas may be two baskets of wheat.

money3The beginning of the end, the end we are seeing now, was when traders began to move goods between cities. They would take a small part of the proceeds as payment. A form of currency had to be invented to allow the new system to work. Kings loved the idea. they no longer needed large buildings to house their tax gatherings. Traders loved it because they could skim off a little more than they needed to live and so build themselves a bigger house or keep a second wife.

Some smart nomads discovered they could make a very good living by ambushing trading parties and taking their currency. Bandits were an important step in the growth of the money cancer. The created a need for secure movement of money from one city to another. Since there were money movements each way and they more or less balanced out, a smart group of people started to keep accounts instead of moving physical money. They became the first bankers. By  now barter was forgotten and everything had a money value. The bankers were able to skim small percentages off each transaction and so created quite large holdings of ready money. So much they were able to lend to Kings who wanted to make expensive war.money2

Bankers became the defacto rulers and in the past couple of centuries have set about gathering more and more of the available money. They now own the  Governments and Churches. The cancer keeps on growing. Those bankers are almost a hereditary group of hidden families who are the true rulers of the Earth. Their reason for existence has become the gathering in of more and more of the wealth created by the “little people”. They now fund both sides of wars, take a high proportion of money meant for disaster relief and tell Governments how much they can spend.

The removal of the “Gold Standard” in the 1930’s took away the last connection money had with reality and the end became inescapable. Even the Bankers have forgotten that money is but a repressentaion of the value of a real thing.

With computerisation, it has become ever easier for the bankers to accumulate more. And there is no longer anything real about money. It is just electrons in a mainframe.  This leaves ever less for the vast mass of humanity. Some of those “little people” have been deluded into thinking that running a gold mine or an iron ore mine means that they are important and rich. They do money1not see that their few billions are small change to the bankers trillions.

The money cancer has almost completely taken over human society and the sickness can only result in the death of that society. Only a world-wide revolution and a massive thinning of humanities numbers will allow a healthy society to return.

It will be brutal and many will be lost but it is now inevitable.

Money is diseased barter and must be cut out if we, as a species, are to return to a healthy way of interacting. When we again become hunters and gatherers.


The Very First F-Bomb

How good is this?

An image is spotted on FaceBook and a little research finds so much more.

So, where did it all begin and where does that image come from?

The sources quoted are worth reading in full!

The first recorded use

The first instance of use of the word “fuck,” came from a satirical poem, written in Latin, in the year 1500. The line is referring to a group of friars, and runs like this: “Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.” If it suddenly starts looking like Kryptonian instead of Latin after the word quia, it’s because it had to be written in code. Each letter of the word was swapped out for the letter following it in the alphabet. Remember that the alphabet was in a different order back then, and that Latin conjugates verbs differently, but gxddbov translates as “fuccant.” The overall line states, “They are not in Heaven, since they fuck the wives of Ely.” That is one racy poem!

Those early scibes were a clever lot. We learn to read and write but how many of our modern educated people could code like this, knowing that others would know how to decode. We stoop to “fxck” using the “x” because “v” and “w” are too close to the substituted letter.

The image below is of a page transcribed by a monk in 1528.

The transcription was of  “De Officiis” (On Duties or On Obligations), an essay written by Marcus Tullius Cicero during October and November 44 BC. This was Cicero’s last year alive, and he was 62 years of age. The work is divided into three books, in which Cicero expounds his conception of the best way to live, behave, and observe moral obligations. It was considered so important during the 1400’s and 1500’s that it was the second book to be printed on Gutenberg’s Press, after the Bible.




It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.

John Burton was Abbott of Burton Abbey from 1305 too his death in 1316. There were several other “John”s as Abbot.

John de Stafford from 1260 to 1281
John of Ibestock from 1347 to 1366
John de Sudbury from 1400 to 1424

In 1528 the Abbott was William Beyne. He held office 1501-1531. He was followed by John Beaton who was Abbott from 1532-1533, just before the Reformation.

The Abbey appears to have had a lot of moral and financial problems over the centuries and certainly from the mid 1200’s onwards there were rumours of immorality amongst its leaders and the monks.

If the Scribe was referring to John de Burton, then he was doing so from legend and passed down tales within the Monastery. If he was referring to John Beaton, formerly prior of Burton, then perhaps he was anticipating a future promotion. Or perhaps there is a slight error in the timing of the above image.


I make no comment on the possibility that this scribe was clairvoyant; seeing the future of a Great South Land and the depths to which it could tumble.


War Is Not My Language

I posted these thoughts just over two years ago.

At a time much of the Western World was rejoicing at the death of a single, hated man.


I am drawn to repost them because I see a once great nation making the same mistake for the umpteeth time.

And its Citizens wonder why so many hate them.

Just because one man or nation kills other men in a particularly gruesome way, nothing is gained by revenge killing.


Consider the words of some of the wisest men to have lived on our planet.


“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper
darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” Martin Luther King

“Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.”
Martin Luther King

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” Abraham Lincoln

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good
intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack
understanding.” Albert Camus

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein

“After victory, you have more enemies.” Cicero

“Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.” Lao Tzu

“The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” William Shakespeare

Finally, to put me into context, from the bizarre blog of the very sensible Raincoaster:-

War is not my language

الحـرب ليســـت لغتـي

מלחמה היא לא השפה שלי

Moved By A Morning Of Memories

The gathering had begun well before I arrived at 4:15am.

The first thousand were quietly walking towards the half-lit finger of granite which is our State War Memorial. The memorial where all who left this State and died for Australia are recorded. Just one of hundreds of memorials and lists of names scattered around Western Australia.

The Flame of Remembrance was bright in the darkness.


I counted five big screens around the area so more could see what was about to happen on the steps of the Memorial.


Quiet and still. The growing crowd created only a small, low break in the pre-dawn silence. Hushed greetings between friends, generations and races.

A voice began speaking, talking of the building of the Burma Railway. That horrific event during World War Two. Leaving the past, he told us of what was to come. The Ode, the wreath-layings, the Last Post, the minute of silence and the Rouse. He requested silence of the silent, standing crowd during the formalities.

The Ode was shown on the screen and many recited it in their hearts yet only one voice spoke.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

The Wreath-laying began. We had been warned that it would take time and it did.
The silence continued. In a football stadium sized crowd which had swelled to over 40,000 the silence was intense, tangible. Not even the babies complained. Close on a hundred wreaths were laid.

The Last Post was finally sounded and the still silent crowd straightened their backs just a little. Old men and women with walking sticks and in wheel-chairs, younger men and women along with their children all stood that little taller.

There were tears. Quiet, restrained but real as people remembered those they had lost or those they had never known.

The Rouse, Australia’s version of Reveille, was bugled and as the last note hung in the air, a lone magpie warbled. For even the birds had been silent during the service. A RAAF aircraft flew overhead.

A final speech was given, speaking of the silence. The silence we all know before we attempt something dangerous or difficult. The silence before the dawn.

And the sky continued to brighten.

As we slowly moved away still-quiet conversations were interrupted by a flight of six bi-planes which flew over.


With so many people all trying to leave I knew the traffic would be gridlocked for some time. So I went looking for the tree-plaque which honours my Great Uncle Ted. I found it and discovered that the tree which accompanies the plaque had been replaced. This is the third tree on this spot which has grown in his memory.



Every year all the plaques are decorated by a flower and a flag. The fallen are remembered.

I eventually drove out of Kings Park about an hour and a half after the Service had ended. It was only then that I realised that it had been a totally secular gathering. No prayers, hymns or sermons.

Just remembering what we have all lost.

Brisbane Floods

With two major floods in three years, Brisbanites were making comparisons with legendary floods from the past.

I found these two images from the 1893 flood in the Illustrated Sydney News, Saturday 18 February 1893.

Not being a Queenslander, I cannot make any judgements about the severity but it sure looks like a big one!

(There are two more images on page 14. The story is spread across both pages)



Finding An Old Friend

Back in the Olden Days

A fleet of ferries on the Swan were operated by Jack Olsen and Claes Sutton who operated as “Swan River Ferries Ltd”. Their vessels’ names all began with “V”. The Valfreda, Valkyrie I and II, Valhalla and the Valdhana ran along the southern shore of the Swan, between jetties at Point Belches (now the Southern end of the Narrows Bridge), Mends Street and Coode Street. This was before there was a bus service along the stretch of land between the Swan and Canning Rivers. The Government ferries ran from Barrack St across the river to Mends St.


After the war finished the long awaited bus service began and the Valhalla was sold to the Government.



It was during that time that I remember travelling across the river to the Zoo in the Valhalla. Pre-war my father had been a 14 year old crew member on the old “Duchess” which was the other ferry I remember travelling on back then. Back then? Late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

When the Narrows Bridge was opened in 1959 the bus service to South Perth was opened up and the ferry service declined. Amongst other changes, the Valhalla went out of service and disappeared.

So much for history. 

Today I boarded my own vessel, the Orange Pearl,miserable and headed into strange and unknown waters.

Instead of travelling downstream, I headed upstream. Up past the Maylands Boat Yard. And I saw it.

I had to double check, blink several times to ensure it wasn’t a mirage But it was real.

Old and almost derelict but being restored.

The Valhalla!


I wonder when I shall see it back on the river.

Persistent Mythologies; Part 1

I have a number of interests, many of which I have shared on this blog. Yet I have one secret passion which has lasted for many years


The real dragon. The one which was able to travel from Wales to Japan, slaying knights, stealing maidens and sowing fear and evil from the Basque country to the Isles of Japan. Except that the Dragons of the Far East suddenly appeared to be quite benign. Something had happened during their journey. Just where had their travels begun?
After a decade away from tracing their paths I am again drawn back to the search. The initial questions were asked four decades ago. During my research I found a need to ask further questions. Dragons are still a passion yet the other questions seem to take up more of my time because they need to be answered before I can make definite statements about the Origins of the Dragons.


How Old Can A Myth Be?

By its very nature a myth has its origins in the times before writing. In the oral traditions of pre-literate peoples.

One such story is from what is now the Port Philip Bay area of Victoria.

As told on the blog “Wilddogroad” comes a tale of the last major sea rise some 10,000 years ago and handed down in an unbroken oral tradition.

Bunjil is an Aboriginal god of creation

“Many years ago this land that we now call Melbourne extended right out to the ocean. Port Phillip Bay was then a large flat plain where Boonerwrung hunted kangaroos and cultivated their yam daisy.

But one day there came a time of chaos and crises. The Boonerwrung and the other Kulin nations were in conflict. They argued and fought. They neglected their children. They neglected their land. The native yam was neglected. The animals were killed but not always eaten. The fish were caught during their spawning season. As this chaos grew the sea became angry and began to rise until it covered their plain and threatened to flood the whole of their country.

The people went to Bunjil, their creator and spiritual leader. They asked Bunjil to stop the sea from rising. Bunjil told his people that they would have to change their ways if they wanted to save their land. The people thought about what they had been doing and made a promise to follow Bunjil. Bunjil walked out to the sea, raised his spear and directed the sea to stop rising. Bunjil then made the Boonerwrung promise that they would respect the laws.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, on its website, tells of the climate of Australia in the time of human habitation.

During the time-span of Aboriginal settlement in Australia, there have been great changes in the climate of the continent.

The main weather event of this era consisted of an ice age which arrived about 20,000 years ago and lasted for some 5,000 years, during which time the average temperatures fell by some 10 degrees, rainfall decreased, and cold, dry winds blew across the land.

What was previously a place of plenty, with ample water supplies and bountiful game, became a stark and inhospitable countryside which threatened the very survival of the Aboriginal people. It has been suggested that up to 80% of the entire population may have perished during this extended period of cold and dry weather.

The Bureau’s website goes on to say;

The Bibbulum people of the southwest Western Australia talk of a far off time when it was not as warm and congenial as it is today. Stories of this time begin with “In the nyitting times…” which translated means “In the icy cold times of long, long ago….”.

The implications are interesting. Aboriginal society was completely non-literate until European settlement yet they were able to keep folk memories of the Ice Age and its ending alive for around 10,000 to 15,000 years. Australia’s indigenous people keep much of their mythology hidden within “Secret Men’s Business” and “Secret Women’s Business”.  Information which is reserved for initiated elders. With the loss of Indigenous culture, most, if not all, of these myths will disappear.

Elsewhere in the world, there have been similar situations where the myths and stories of cultures have been destroyed along with the culture. Where there was no form of literature then the loss is irretrievable.

There is one obvious culture which was able to leave its myths and legends behind in a written form. Mesopotamia. The early Middle-Eastern cultures. Ranging through the Euphrates/Tigris valleys a series of villages transformed into towns and cities with rulers, agriculture, secondary industry and record keeping. The record keeping gradually developed into a written language and for the first time the oral history of the people living in those towns and cities were written down.

Some of those stories have been saved, either through the original stone tablet or a translation into another written language. Some of those stories have been returned to the oral tradition and rewritten. The tales they tell seem to be confusing, sometimes contradictory and down-right impossible. Yet beneath the stories of Gods and world-changing or creating events I believe there is a core of reality.

Not only a core of reality but a core of history stretching back into the unknown reaches of pre-history. History is only possible with written permanency. Anything which happened before writing is, by definition, pre-history. Just how far back can this oral, mythological form of history extend? In the instance of the Australian Aboriginal we can see a time line back to the end of the last ice age. A time of at least 15,000 years.

In the case of the early Middle Eastern civilizations, where writing was invented around 3,000bce, if we take 15,000 years as a reasonable time for an event to be handed down in an oral tradition, then we can add 5,000 years to the Australian example.

What events could we reasonably expect to find in the written myths of Mesopotamia? Possibly the entire human history of the Eurasian landmass. From before the beginning of the Holocene at the end of the last Ice Age some 13,000 years ago. Perhaps it may be possible to find traces of life during the last Ice Age in Europe and Asia. The cave paintings of Lascaux date to between 15 and 17,000 years before the present while Chauvet is dated at 32,000 years old.

Could a study of myth and legend take us back to the people who painted those caves? Could those tales take us back even further, to the humans who lived at the end of the middle palaeolithic? Is this all simply a pipe dream?

I have researched some myths and will write more as I assemble it into an approachable form. Somewhere in that mass of information are my dragons.

Life Tales; The Tasty Lamb

A long time ago, back in the dark ages of the late ’40’s, my brother and I lived on  series of farms as our father moved around.

On one farm, possibly in Dalwallinu, or maybe Cunderdin (Wheatbelt towns for those outside Western Australia) we used to clean our teeth each night leaning over the edge of the verandah.

Mum had a habit of adopting little lambs if they were orphaned.

One year she adopted a cute little lamb and watched it grow despite our boyish enthusiasm for using it as motive power when we were tired of pedalling out little pedal car. We never did manage to get Lambsie to “fetch” like a real pet would.

We also did not notice it was developing two bumps on its head.

One day, after some months of playing with Mum’s pet, we were cleaning our teeth and leaning over the edge of the verandah, a couple of feet in the air, which is quite a distance if you are only a couple of feet tall!

We were concentrating on what we were doing and didn’t notice Lambsie coming up behind us.

Suddenly my brother was butted in the backside and over he went, face first into the dirt!

I started laughing so hard at his discomfort that I didn’t notice Lambsie come up behind me!

With both of us bawling our eyes out, Mum came out to see what had happened.

She laughed at us and called Dad out to see. Dad comforted us by promising that we would not be bothered by the young ram, Lambsie, again!

That Sunday, Lambsie was the best tasting Roast Lamb we had ever had!

The Free Market; Maggots and Tapeworms

Yesterday, on Twitter, I was accused of being opposed to “Free Market”.

It led me to think seriously about humanity’s march from the Hunter Gatherer society to the modern Nation State. How has society changed and are there any lessons hidden in history?

In the dim distant past, our ancestors cooperated with each other. Had they not, then sabre toothed tigers would have sent us extinct before our ladies had a chance to learn about agriculture.

Then, without a need to hunt for food, we blokes muscled in on the agricultural scene and found a way to regulate it, to help it grow and to control it. Women could now be locked up inside the cave, for their own safety of course. This great new way of life also led to other human tribes invading and killing us which wasn’t the best thing for the cropping cycle.

Kings and Emperors and petty Princelings began to rule over us. Gods were invented and had to be fed, just as the other Rulers were. Of course there was a warrior caste whose job was not to farm but to protect the farms. They had to be fed as well. “Tax” was invented so the leaders, the soldiers and those who talked to God were able to do their thing without having to actually produce anything. The farmers were a bit of a problem but they bred freely so were always replaceable.

There was a lot of confusion about just how society should be ordered so a very wise King named Hammurabi wrote everything down in the world’s first set of Laws. Now everyone was happy so the status quo lasted for thousands of years.

OK. We are up to the Middle Ages

Still no sign of a “Free Market”

Then the peasants in France got upset and cut off the heads of everyone who had bullied them in the past. Suddenly there was the French Revolution and the American War of Independence. In an orgy of Democracy, and in a two hundred year blink of humanity’s eyelid, Rulers and their class lost their heads and were swept away.

In that tidal wave of Democracy, everyone was free. Well, almost everyone. Slaves were not really human so they could not be free and women were definitely inferior to humans so they didn’t get a say in anything. But everyone else was free!

Democracy is in a museum.
Is it extinct?

No! Of course the Orientals couldn’t be free. They weren’t proper humans either. If they were they would have invented Democracy.

So everything became free. And everyone had a vote. And of course the Market had to be free as well. Please don’t ask me why, it just had to be. Everyone still had to pay taxes. To themselves, of course since it was all democratic. Even your business had to pay taxes. That was something sacrosanct. It had been so since time immemorial when Pharaohs had to finance wars against Hittites.

Just as it had become a human tradition to attempt to reduce the amount of tax they owed to God, the King or to themselves. Even at the risk of losing their head or their liberty.

One problem with all this Democracy and Free Thinking was that the rate of invention went up and there were suddenly lots of new stuff around. Some of it was quite big new stuff and needed lots of cooperation to create. Sort of a throwback to the cooperation of the distant past when it was needed to create a dead mammoth. Lots of bloodthirsty savages temporarily working together.

So big ships, big telephone systems, big railways all got built by these cooperating savages. And everything got faster. And spread further. So the biggest of the bloodthirsty savages from all over the world finally got to cooperate with each other. But that is only a difference in scale. Not something new.

Perhaps there was something I missed. Something very early on I hadn’t seen.

Uh Oh.

I just spotted an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Hammurabi’s Laws needed someone to explain them. Throughout this Body of Law, some maggots began spreading. And they became known as “Lawyers”!

Through ages of interpreting, re-interpreting and, when all else failed, by rewriting the Law, Lawyers became the only ones who could understand it.

For much of civilised time, we ordinary mortals just shook our heads and got on with life. Male mortals, of course because women, slaves and Orientals could not hope to understand important stuff like that.

Lawyers noticed that Democracy had made everyone “free” and so some of them set their mind to determine the ramifications. If people were free, and we have a free market, then obviously the inhabitants of “The Market” had to be free as well. And so Lawyers determined that the Companies within the Free Market were as free as people. In fact that determination led to the conclusion that Companies are People as well.

Now, finally, we have found something new.

The Gods had been sort of people, incorporeal but existent, for millennia, yet they only lasted for a while before being replaced. Now we have Companies which are an incorporeal construct yet being treated as though they have a mind and a soul of their own. They must be people for they grow and grow and now cover the world.

Now is not the time to go into the 127 real born of woman, human people who control those Companies.

Instead we should look at the consequences of these Companies being People. These Companies are the Free Market. The Free Market, according to King Billy, I should be supporting. Supporting totally because I am free as well.

  • Just as people in a Democracy have a vote, the Free Market Members have a vo -

NO THEY DON’T! But they can lobby and bribe and corrupt.

  • Just as people in any Governmental system pay taxes, the Free Market Members pay taxe

NO THEY DON’T! Well, yes they do, within the limits that they allow the Government to tax them.

  • Just as people in in any jusrisdiction who break the law go to jail, the Free Market Members go to ja

NO THEY DON’T! They do not go to Jail, except for an occasional “human person” scapegoat. They become too big to fail. They are certainly never executed for all the deaths they cause.

If Lawyers are the maggots in our body politic, then these Free Market Members have become the parasitic tapeworms within that body!

And so, King Billy, my response to you is, “No! I do not support the Free Market.”

My question to you is, “Do you support the right of tapeworms to suck the life out of you?”

Unwelcoming Australia

I tried to have a day away from Australian politics today and I succeeded.

For most of the day.

And then – – – -

I was looking through some old newspapers on Trove tonight when I spotted this article on the front page of the Perth Daily News of June 25th, 1947.

Australia is not a friendly place for foreigners! Even if they are heroes and have helped Australians.

The article makes the point that Kay Velu wanted to return to Singapore. No doubt after it had been made very clear to him that he would not be staying in Australia.

The Honourable Herr Morrison would have been proud to be in charge back then!




As a blogger interested in history, I find it illuminating to look back over old newspapers and find just what was thought important at the times we consider worth remembering.

From the Sydney Morning Herald, 11/11/1915, remembering the news was always late to the antipodes and that Remembrance Day had not yet been invented.

Hmmm. War was still a glorious enterprise. Rewards for the Officers and profound statements from the politicians.

So, had we learned anything by 1941, with Remembrance Day a part of the calendar?

Again from the Sydney Morning Herald, 11/11/1941

Armistice Day, as Remembrance Day was originally known,  is well down the list of events although that event was highly significant.

In other news, while we still acknowledge the bravery and sacrifice of those who go to war, it is becoming more acceptable to question the need for war. Why should the young be sacrificed for the ambitions of the old?

Are we all Isaac, without the provision of a lamb?

Where Did My Morning Coffee Come From?

I wonder if the fanatical anti-Islamist Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, the nasty Dutch madman, Geert Wilders or the Muslim-hating Christopher Hitchens ever think about the origins of their morning cup of coffee?

There is an apocryphal tale which tells of an Arab named Khalid who was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. This tale was first written in the 17th century so it is more likely that the Ethiopian ancestors of today’s Oromo people were the first to discover and recognize the energizing effect of the coffee bean plant.

The spread of coffee was started simultaneously with the spread of Islam. The first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where the Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions.

Mocha or Mokha  is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen and was the major coffee trading port. It has given its name to a favoured style of coffee.

By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice. Venetian merchants introduced coffee-drinking to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage.

Coffee became more widely accepted after controversy over whether it was acceptable for Catholics to consume was settled in its favour by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, despite appeals to ban the drink. Indeed in 1674 an English “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” declared:

…the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE [...] has [...] Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age.

The first coffee shop, outside of the Ottoman Empire was opened in Venice in 1645.

Largely through the efforts of the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century according to a 1583 account. A Turk named Pasqua Rosee, the servant of Daniel Edwards, a trader in Turkish goods, opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London.

The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee. The American “Java” seems to go back to the original Arabic.

So, Cory Bernardi, your morning coffee is a Muslim invention.

Shuttle Thoughts

Back in 2003 when the Columbia Space Shuttle was destroyed on re-entry with the tragic loss of seven lives, I wrote of the loss and the achievement.

With the ending of the Shuttle program, an unnamed and unackowledged victim of President Bush’s two wars, I am reprinting the thoughts I had at that time.

The human species has always been an explorer.

Without exploration and innovation, we would still be sitting around fires in front of caves. Every exploration into the unknown has had its casualties. Those brave people who first ventured across deserts, across lakes and oceans all faced, and often found, death. The first hot-air balloonists, the first aeronauts all took risks. Not for the advancement of mankind, but because of their own curiosity.

Our newest frontier is space. Possibly the hardest frontier of all. Those who brave it are chosen for their skills and training. Yet in all cases, it is the attitude of those who are chosen which gets them into space. It is the same attitude which drew people across continents and across oceans. It is wanting to know what is beyond the hill, beyond the river, beyond the sea, beyond gravity. Space will claim its casualties as have all the other great explorations we have undertaken.

In fifty or a hundred years, our children or grandchildren will be able to follow in their footsteps as our grandparents were able to follow the trails blazed by the wagon trains across the American continent and our more distant ancestors followed the silk route joining east and west. We do not remember the names of all those who died creating those trails and history may forget the names of these explorers. What wont be forgotten is the trail they have blazed.

These seven people have added another step on the stairway to space, to our future. Their true memorial will be the next step, and the one after that. It is up to all of us who remain and have a sense of exploration to learn from this tragedy and then to take that next step.

Living the Jane Austin Dream

IT is a truth universally acknowledged,Jane Austin, Kate Middleton that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

So wrote Jane Austin ((1775-1817) in Sense and Sensibility.

Now  her eleventh-cousin-six-times-removed’s is living the dream. Kate Middleton has found a young man with a middling-sized fortune and she has become his wife. has found they are linked through Henry Percy, the second Earl of Northumberland, who was born in 1392. Percy was the second great-grandson of King Edward III, making King Edward a distant great-grandfather of Kate’s.

So Kate has simply married back into the family.

The famed genealogical site has made the announcement exactly 200 years after the English novelist published her first literary masterpiece, pippa middleton, pippa middleton's assSense and Sensibility.

<<< We now need to find a fortune-holding young man interested in buying marrying this interesting artifact.


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