the blood returns…

it was a dark and stormy night … there was a knock at the door … no, more of a scraping sound. the scraping of nails … or … fangs on the wood. it could only be one thing … the vrykolakas! come to dole out righteous retribution to its incestuous descendants…. eeek! [pg. 545]:

“The ‘return’ of the blood to the kindred, the ominous reversing of this right-handed spiral movement of the blood, has close parallels in the fatal return of the vampire to its own kin, although I only once heard such a connection between these two ideas being consciously made by villagers. Its occasion was, however, significant; for it arose in a discussion by two women of a marriage between second cousins which had taken place in the village some years before. The women were agreeing that for a marriage to be propitious the participants had to go to ‘strange blood’ (xeno aima) — a statment which is frequently heard and which is the mirror image of the doctrine … that, in cases of the union of similar blood, ‘the blood returns’, bringing catastrophe. In this context the comment then uttered takes on a startling significance, for, said as an aside and half under the breath, it took the form of a well-known proverb: ‘The vampire hunts its own kindred’ (vrykolakas to soi kynigaei). The image of the vampire returning from the grave to hunt its own kin sprang intuitively to mind in the context of blood which in second cousin marriage returns to destroy its originators.”

greeks don’t marry their first-cousins because the practice is not permitted by the greek orthodox church. they also, though, don’t marry their second-cousins by custom (except occasionally, like in the story above, for instance). i wondered before how the traditions of different people — like the ethiopian amhara (and ethiopian jews) — work to stop whatever incestuous practices a people consider to be wrong without the overt power of an authority like a church or civil laws against incestuous marriage. scary, supersitious beliefs like the one above might certainly work in many places. bad luck, bad karma, vampires — frightening stuff!

ok. now i have to go turn on all the lights in the house. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. happy halloween!)

the criminality of goats

the latest from nigeria:

“Police arrest goat accused of armed robbery”

“Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

“Vigilantes seized the black and white goat, saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into an animal to escape after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

“‘The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them.

“‘However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat,’ Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed said.

“‘We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody….'”

(if you read the rest of the article, you’ll see that the police are not 100% convinced about the criminal-turns-into-goat tail tale. thankfully!)

this story reminded me of the animal trials which happened in medieval europe. yes, you read that right — animals on trial:

“Animals and insects faced the possibility of criminal charges for several centuries across many parts of Europe. The earliest extant record of an animal trial is the execution of a pig in 1266 at Fontenay-aux-Roses. Such trials remained part of several legal systems until the 18th century.

“Defendant animals appeared before both church and secular courts, and the offences alleged against them ranged from murder to criminal damage. Human witnesses were often heard and in Ecclesiastical courts they were routinely provided with lawyers (this was not the case in secular courts, but for most of the period concerned, neither were human defendants). If convicted, it was usual for an animal to be executed, or exiled….

“Animals put on trial were almost invariably either domesticated ones (most often pigs, but also bulls, horses, and cows) or pests such as rats and weevils. Creatures that were suspected of being familiar spirits or complicit in acts of bestiality were also subjected to judicial punishment, such as burning at the stake, though few if any ever faced trial.”

thank god for the flynn effect!

(note: comments do not require an email. speaking of goats — see!)

linkfest – 06/12/11

Human ancestors in Eurasia earlier than thought“Stone fragments found in Georgia suggest Homo erectus might have evolved outside Africa.”

Early Americans helped colonise Easter Island

Going ape: Ultraviolence and our primate cousins

Fair Chase“On the plains of New Mexico, a band of elite marathoners tests a controversial theory of evolution: that humans can outrun the fastest animals on earth.”

Stop On Red! The Effects of Color May Lie Deep in Evolution…

Scared of nuclear power, dummy? – from the audacious.

Women warriors show resilience similar to men – “Study examines mental health of recent veterans of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” — this may apply to the women in the armed forces now, but i wouldn’t be so sure it would apply your average woman.

Superstitions Have Evolutionary Basis

Brain scans appear to show changes associated with violent behavior“A brain imaging study suggests that men with a history of violent behavior may have greater gray matter volume in certain brain areas, whereas men with a history of substance use disorders may have reduced gray matter volume in other brain areas….”

Agnostics and Big 5 personality traits – from the inductivist.

Brain imaging study of preschoolers with ADHD detects brain differences linked to symptoms“Smaller brain volumes associated with severity of ADHD symptoms”

When Is a Child’s Brain Ready for Maths? – @al fin.

bonus: Johann Hari: It’s not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial << read this.