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Alarich II

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About Alarich II

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  1. Congratulations on a new title, but moreso on the raise! So does "Director" mean a place on the Board of Directors or does it indicate that you report to one of the Executive Directors or does not have anything to do with that?
  2. Absolutely, there is another problem too, when you find mass burial sites: it's not very likely that so many humans die of natural causes at the same time and place that you'll have to dump them all in a big pit to get rid of the bodies (except perhaps during the plague). So when you find one of these places, you're very likely to find a lot of gruesome evidence. That being said, Talheim is not the only site where the nature of the remains indicate violent death, it's more like besides the occasional Cain killing Abel, these sites indicate a more systematic and thorough approach to eliminating the competition. And the fact that over 7.000 years later we found something like that at all is telling. I tend to believe that it is unlikely that we would have found places like Schletz or Talheim with many human remains, if these kind of violent encounters were something very rare and extraordinary. But of course this could very well be one of those biased conclusions: Find one genocide and it is therefore all over the place, find none and it never happened.
  3. It was legal here until the end of the 90ies, so my parents boxers still had a docked tail, but ears already uncropped. The origin of the tail docking afaik is that the Boxer was bred as a service dog, that could be used in the Police. So the docking was done, because tail wagging (which they are prone to do) in close quarters can break the tail when it smashes agains a wall or a tree. Now that I got used to the look, I prefer them with the tail, it kind of gives them a more "complete" look.
  4. Yes, although the capacity to organise themselves beyond small clans is not a biological function, but a learned, cultural function. And the idea is that religion in this sense is part of the cultural evolution that allowed for bigger groups of humans to organize themselves. Which may have actually lessened violent encounters between many small groups. Well, I wouldn't call it a trope; it's a theory, but of course it's not the only one with merit and the further we go back, the less evidence we find for almost any theory. But when the timeline reaches the brink of the Neolithic revolution there are pretty substantial finds like the Talheim and Schletz that indicate that not just occasional violent clashes but outright genocide between small groups did happen.
  5. Three male boxers! That's going to be one lively household!
  6. Very sweet, our boxer bitch Jojo is almost exactly the same colour, just less white (completely dark face). I really like it. We had two Boxers (both bitches) when I was a kid, and I loved it. But but occasionally they would get into massive fights, so I'm kind of torn on the issue. Besides, we can barely fit the travelbox and two children into our car, so a second dog would require a new one.
  7. I agree, the further we go back, the fewer data points we have and the conlusions we can draw from those are more specualtive in nature. This makes it so fascinating and - as you say - prone to misinterpretations through the lens of our contemporary cultural understanding. Three things come to mind, that almost simutaneously happen about 10.000 to 9.000 years ago in the fertile crescent: humans develop agriculture and permanent settlements, in those settlements (city states) a hierarchical social order emerges and organized religion (including a priest class) emerges with ritual buildings that require significant collective effort. And I believe that those three developments are interdependent. Prof. Harari argues in his book A Brief History of Humankind (which is a great and easy read), that there is some archeological evidence that organized religion actually shortly predates permant settlements and agriculture and that maybe the need of manpower and permanent construction of big religious sites led to those permanent settlements and the development of agriculture in the first place. This is of course highly speculative, but he basically argues that through the cultural evolution, of which religion is a part, homo sapiens trapped itself into subsistence farming, which for the species itself is a hugely successful model but for the individual is pretty miserable because its biological evolution didn't intend for it to be a farmer or city dweller (if this is true, then in fact religion probably is the root of most, if not all, evil). Well, my argument would be that religion is just the philosophy that explains and justifies the social order (i.e. the state), i.e. I wouldn't necessarily define religion as a belief about the supernatural but rather a belief about the way humans and their world is ordered, a belief about what the "natural" order actually is if you will. As such, any state can only exist if those humans that make up this particular social order, believe in it and accept its underlying premises as true. If enough people no longer believe that the King is ruler because God wills it, he may get his head chopped off.
  8. The argument that without religion, there would have been less bloodshed not provable either. We simply have no control group for our past. But there is archeological evidence that Hunter/Gatherer groups were very brutal, in fact much more than our societies today. So we might as well entertain the idea - if only to amuse ourselves - that bigger, global religions actually lessened violence and evolved as an instrument for humans to organize stable societies beyond the size that our biological evolution (which we can observe in our closely related primates) would allow. But of course, with all the blood spilled, it is maybe unthinkable that it could have been worse. I don't think so, but that of course ist just another theory.
  9. Here comes an alternative suggestion: Religion, especially the monotheistic ones, created a set of common cultural practices, that greatly facilitated human cooperation across nations, languages and other barriers to human cooperation; thus we might argue that the invention of monotheistic religions - just like the invention of money - prevented more wars than it actually created. That's of course a hypothesis that cannot be tested because obviously the wars that never happened leave no historical trace. But its an interesting thought experiment, if we define religion as an instrument to create a common set of beliefs about the nature of the social order. It's linchpin used to be god, but the French revolution effectively pulled that one out and since then we have replaced god with human as the linchpin of the new religions. The paradox is that the intolerance of monotheistic religions actually contributes to their stabilizing influence, because defining what's true and what isn't is basically how they stabilize the social order. And truth doesn't allow alternatives. So after the French revolution puts the genie, that Constantine had released, back in the bottle, the theistic religions start to crumble and the doubt in them translates into a fundamental doubt in the old social order and new religions rise that put down the belief about the human nature as the foundation of a new social order. This culminates in the 20th century with the rise of "human centered" religions (The Worker in Communism, The Arian in Nazism, The Citizen in Liberalism) that are struggling to replace the crumbling social order of theism. And that's where the worst wars occurred, because the intolerance of these religions is just like the intolerance of the old ones: there can only be one truth as the foundation of the social order. Either all citizens are equal or there are subhumans and superhumans, both cannot go together. Either the nation is above all oder class is above all - both cannot be true and so on... This is basically a breakdown of the old religion and a fight for a new social order. Once it was settled, relative peace was possible. For the future of the RCC as a theistic religion, this will mean dwindling numbers in all those countries that have successfully adopted alternative, human-centered religions as the foundations of their social order. The cultural practices that have not been adopted by the new social order will slowly die out or become amusing quirks of small minorities.
  10. Same here! My grandparents had a boxer, when my dad was young, so when my parents got dogs, we had two Boxers and now my wife and I have a Boxer, too. She's one year old and they are just great family dogs, she loves to play, loves kids but doesn't mind spending a day in the office with me either. I just love them.
  11. We have an old saying that for a farmer, the weather is never right. Same goes for gardeners, I find. We had plenty of rain, after three exceptionally dry years and finally, finally everything is growing as it should without incessant watering. However, the humidity has also greatly favored the growth of funghi and so the peaches I planted last year and two of my apple trees have a fungus that curls up the leaves (curly top it is called, I believe). Which sucks because now it's too late for preventive treatment and I'll have to wait until next year and hope they survive. On the plus side, our cherries are coming along very well, the pear trees that I planted 3 years ago are bearing very promising signs of fruitification which wasn't the case in the dry years and the quinces and apricots I planted last year are growing very well. The mint that I thought I had razed from one of our raised beds has made a strong comeback with the clear intention to conquer and rule the entire bed. Regular mint tea just barely keeps it in check.
  12. Sachsen-Anhalt has voted. A surprisingly strong result for CDU, especially since they made inroads in the non-voter camp, a traditional reserve for AfD-voters who handed their party one of the first setbacks in Eastern Germany. The result for Die Linke is a total desaster for them, they are the biggest loser, both in total seats and in relation to their last result. In fact the entire leftist camp (Greens, SPD, Die Linke) are just barely past 25% - all three together. The Greens have not been able to translate their good national polling into actual voting results, AfD have lost and barely made it past 20%, and at least as important, they lost 14 out of their 15 direct mandates to the CDU. Still, they have more votes than any left party, which sucks, but considering that they wanted to top the CDU, it is a real setback, which is probably the best we could hope for anyway. SPD is not getting their feet on the ground, I don't really see how they can stay in a government coalition. FDP is going to be happy to be back in Parliament, but it remains to be seen what they will do with their seats. Coalition with Greens and CDU? Opposition stuck between AfD and Die Linke?
  13. I like how they arranged their little "cardens" such that in the event of an accident, the airbag will launch a rocket propelled barrage of rocks and cacti at your face. Have the punishment fit the crime!
  14. No, naval defense strategy means that naval access, trade and supply routes are part of your defence strategy and Eilat is part of that. Having a port that allows you direct acccess (bypassing the Suez Canal) to major exporting markets (China) and import of oil is a strategic advantage that they won't give away. You have to remember that Egypt did block Suez for Israeli shipping, so it's not a theoretical scenario; also you have to remember that the Mediterranean ports of Haifa and Jaffa are much closer not only to Gaza and the Westbank but also to Syria and Lebanon, putting them potentially within striking range of not only Hamas but also Hezbollah rockets. Israel doesn't have the same strategic depth as their neighbours (with the exception of Lebanon, important parts of which are basically a Syrian client state), so in the event of blockades, embargoes or outright war, it is vital to have backups for supply ports. It is a total non-starter to ask Israel to give up territory that they consider critical to their strategic defense; they won't give up the Golan Heights for the same reason either.
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