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Miscellaneous Items from 2013:                        to enlarge a photo, click on it

A virus within a virus   Whats in a name  Did Neanderthals talk?   Dilbert   Counting magpies   Bachelor Buttons   Glowing in the dark  Modern Times   Where I can go in my Twizy   Saskatoon berries    Go Riders    Sniatyn-a home town  Yavoriv-another home town    Unselfishness evolved 

A virus within a virus
"So nat'ralists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite 'em.
And so proceeds Ad infinitum."
      -Jonathan Swift

Of course, fleas have parasites, but we would think that by the time you get to the size of a virus, it does not have a smaller unwanted guest. No so!
A French woman had an eye infection from wrongly cleaned contact lenses. An amoeba cause the problem. When the amoeba was studied, it was found to be infected by a giant virus. And when the giant virus was looked at, it was infected by a small virus. The small virus was infected by DNA loop parasites called transpovirons.
So here is the Russian doll: women, amoeba (Acanthamoeba polyphaga), giant virus (Lenille virus), virophage (Sputnik 2), transpovirons. This is not the only such nesting that has been found. It might not even be rare but most labs are not equipped to find them.


What is in a name
I have been amused by the North American attempt to have unique names: foreign names, ancient names, surnames as first names, ordinary words as names, completely made up names, misspelling of conventional names and even names including punctuation marks. This is not how things were when I was born. When someone asked a friend what my mother had named me, the answer was “I can't remember but it is definitely not a Barmby or a Wight name. I don't know where they got the name”. This was said with some disapproval. Obviously, some people at that time did not believe that parents had a free choice of any old name. My name was conventional and it was in the family even through the lady did not know that.
In genealogy, there are patterns of naming that can be relied on. They are different in different cultures but breaking them would have caused the village gossips to go on and on about what hidden secret caused the rift in the pattern. Each language in Christendom had its list of 'Christian names': biblical names, saint's names, martyr's names and a few others important to that culture's history that are honourary members of list. Baptisms used only those names. When we lived in Austria, a neighbour's daughter was in a dispute with the local priest because he would not use the name she had chosen in the baptism of her baby – not a proper Christian name to be used in a baptism. Yes, there were a lot of duplicate names in any family or village. This problem was solved by shortenings, nicknames and alternative informal names for each formal name or by added adjectives. And in France where birthdays are celebrated on someone's saint's day, many people use a name pair which cuts down the confusion (there only being so many saints).
Christianity has been losing its control of names but there were still the conventions and in some places the state took over with a legal registry of possible names. Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Japan, China, New Zealand are among the countries that have various name restrictions. There is a general disapproval of using surnames for personal names, of names used for the wrong gender, misspelling normal names and for Japan and China, names that cannot be properly written and scanned in their characters. Iceland's name list is the subject of a current dispute.
There must be a happy medium between a hilarious free for all and ridiculous laws. It is a truth that you cannot control what other people call you, and others cannot control what you will answer to. Give your kid the wrong name and they will spend the whole rest of the lives endlessly correcting its spelling or pronunciation, being called by another name not of their choice or being teased about it. Some kids will love this and others will find it a burden. Some will change their names to give them more uniqueness or less.


Did Neanderthals talk?
Well probably, yes, they did talk. Here are some of the reasons to think so:
  1. The shape of the human vocal tract is adapted to speech. The larynx is lowered, at substantial risk of accidental death in order to give vowel variations and more distinct sounds. Other primates do not have a lowered larynx. This change is seen in the hyoid bone and all the Neanderthal hyoids found are within the range of variation of modern humans. Neandethals had a vocal tract adapted the same as the human one for speech.
  2. There is a change in human ear ossicles (the tiny bones between the eardrum and the inner ear) and this change improves perception of sounds in the speech range. This is not found in other primates but is found in Neanderthals as early as 400,000 years ago. Neanderthals had ears adapted the same way as humans, for hearing speech.
  3. The canals carrying nerves to the thorax, used for breathing control, are wide in modern humans and Neanderthals but not other apes or an early Homo, Homo ergaster. Both humans and Neanderthals adapted to attain better breathing control .5 – 1.5 million years ago.
  4. Both humans and Neanderthals share a broadening of the frontal brain area, Broca's area, going back about 2 million years. Broca's area is important for producing and understanding speech. This is not strong support as the evidence in the skull is small.
  5. Handedness in humans appears to be much more pronounced then in other primates. Some core aspects of language (grammar, phonology, semantics) are strongly left-lateralized in humans and this is believed to be the reason for the pronounced handedness. There is evidence of preferred use of the right hand in Neanderthals with a similar ratio to humans as far as .5-1 million years ago.
  6. The FOXP2 gene is found in animals that have vocal skills (humans, song birds, bats, whales). The different animals have different versions of the gene. Neanderthal and humans share the same version. In humans, damage or loss of this gene has a severe effect on language. This version arose about 1 million years ago, before Neanderthals split from humans about 400,000 years ago.
  7. There was some interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals between about 80,000 and 50,000 years ago. Not a lot but some interbreeding, leaving a few Neanderthal genes in modern man. This was too recent to account for the similarities noted above. What it does mean is that the two 'species' were closely related enough to produce fertile offspring. This used to be a definition of being the same species. There is a good chance that their common ancestor is already on the path to language when they were geographically separated.
  8. Humans and Neanderthals interbreed and this would be less likely if they did not see similarities in each other. Speech would have been an important similarity but not absolutely necessary.
  9. Some have believed that language is only possible with a certain level of cognitive ability that it happened suddenly in the region of 50,000 years ago – 'the great leap'. In this way of looking at language, there is no long build up of proto-language slowly growing into language. And language would not be found before symbolic objects. This idea has been attacked from all sides for some time. There is no reason to think that language could not have been in the making for hundreds of thousands of years. There is proof of symbolic objects much older than 50,000 years for both humans and Neanderthal. And there are human populations with language that leave no permanent symbolic relics.
None of these arguments alone is strong enough to prove Neanderthal language but all together they indicate that it is very likely. I wonder what they sounded like?

Dilbert

dilbert

Counting magpies
We have magpies in our yard. First one and now two. These are not like the magpies in Saskatchewan, all iridescent blue, green, purple and black. These are black and white birds but with just as long a tail. In the back of my mind was something about the number being an omen. So I googled. (what did we do before google?) There are many versions but here is one.

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.

And another

One for sorrow
Two for mirth
Three for a funeral
Four for a birth
Five for heaven
Six for hell
Seven's the Devil his own self

magpies And many, many more songs from different places. It is not just about the magpies but in some places it is about crows and other relatives. But it only makes sense about magpies because their number indicates the spring. If it is a cold spring only the male bird brings food but if it is a good spring both birds are visible. They are known for stealing shiny objects - a feature of the plots of many stories. This may account for the silver and gold.

Magpies are hated as much in Europe as in North America, probably because they are so smart. Some say they are the smartest birds. They are the only birds that have passed the mirror test for self-recognition. They have what/where/when memories for their stashes that are among the best. They are very social, curious and devious. They chatter a lot. They even seem to have a 'theory-of-mind' about other magpies. The photo is of a magpie funeral – they appear to grieve for dead friends and bring things to the corpse according to David Derbyshire.


Bachelor Buttons
I saw flowers on our lot that looked familiar – reminded me of the bachelor buttons that my mother planted in her garden for cut flowers in the house. When I looked them up, they were indeed bachelor buttons. But I learned something else. They have a few other names including cornflowers.
I have never looked closely at cornflowers growing wild in fields – never walked into the field to see them. They were just blue flowers. I certainly did not associate wild cornflowers with bachelor buttons growing in a neat garden row. But there is not doubt about it the wild flowers in my grass are cornflowers/ bachelor buttons/ bluebottles/ boutonniere flowers/ hurtsickles.
cornflowerSo how do they get their name. Cornflower has to do with them growing in grain fields. Like poppies, they thrive in cultivated ground. Bachelor button has to do with an old folk custom in parts of Europe – bachelor buttons were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was not returned or in some places that his love was fading or false. It may also be associated with celibacy in some cultures. A flower to wear in a button hole gives boutonniere flower. It was used as a medical herb for various conditions especially irritations of the eye which may account for hurtsickle. It is famous for the intense blue color of protocyanin (although it can come in a range from pink to purple and from pastel to saturated), so bluebottle is an appropriate name. I have found about 12 other names but decided enough was enough.
The flowers are modern symbols. They are the national flower of a few countries (and regions): France, Germany and before that of Prussia, Estonia, the Swedish province of Ostergotland. It is a political symbol too. In Scandinavia and the Baltic area it is a symbol for social liberalism but in Austria it stands for rightist ideas. It has been used to signify royalty and also romantic art. Its most important symbol today in Europe is for the remembrance of veterans around November 11. It is used like the poppy is in the UK and North America.
Now that I have come to know cornflowers in fields as the same as the garden bachelor button, I find that it may be that the cornflower is endangered in the fields by modern herbicides. Still there are still fields with cornflower and poppy in them where we live.


Glowing in the dark
glow worm Harry was sitting outside in the dark with the dog (as is his way of cooling down after the hot days we were having) and he saw a little green diode light shining in the dirt/grass. He went and got a light so that he could get whatever tool he had left on the ground. He shone the light on the green spot but there was nothing there, just pebbles, dirt and a little vegetation. He told me about it in the morning and to be honest I thought he had misinterpreted some reflection. He insisted that it was way too strong a light to be some reflection. The next night when he and the dog went out, he saw it again and so he insisted that I get out of bed and look at it. After digging around with a small stick, I discovered a little animal with a luminescent hind end. It was a glow worm. Although I had seen fireflies a number of times, neither of us had ever seen a glow worm. It was not there the next night but was there another two nights. It (I guess I should say she) was not in exactly the same place but very near to previous locations. It was a beetle, Lampyris Noctiluca, and the female who can't fly uses the light to attract flying males. She dies after laying her eggs. The hot weather has meant a little population explosions in glow worms. They are related to fire flies but they are a particular non-flying, non-blinking one with very green coloured glow that is not found in North America. It makes the light using one of the luciferins – some of these chemicals are used in labs to indicate specific reactions. I never used them myself. And, we did not see any fairies dancing and singing by the light of the glow worm.


Modern times
The world changed sometime around 13000 to 12000 years ago. The climate changed, many of the animals got rarer or more numerous, other homo species disappeared and left humans alone, settled living started, and agriculture started. Before this 'revolution' we were nomadic stone aged hunters and gatherers and had been for millions of years. After this 'revolution' we had villages and agriculture, more over we were on the way to civilization. What is the story? What happened first?
Climate
The last ice age ended about 13000 years ago. Its final years were warm and wet over much of the world, although there was ice at high latitudes. Then about 12900 there was an abrupt change (Younger Dryas period) to dry and cooler climate. This change was probably due to an asteroid hitting somewhere in Quebec (scientists are looking for the crater). Large animals became more scarce and the flora changed to more small annual plants and less trees. Woolly mammoths for example disappeared. It was thought that settlement and agriculture was the product of the drier weather. But it seems not that simple.
Pre-agriculture
The paths used by apes can sometimes be traced by the plants that grow along them. Long ages of moving along the paths meant that seeds from the fruits that the apes ate were litter progressively along the paths. The more 'good' trees were along a path, the less likely the apes were to change their route. This was probably true of early man. In particular, there are traces of nomadic movement in the Amazon where a group would move around a cycle of locations. Each location became a kind of 'garden' where the wild plants were selectively promoted or discouraged at each visit. Forest gardens (without domestication of plants) was probably fairly common for the human hunter-gatherers. There are traces of that tradition around the world. The idea of plants being encouraged where they were convenient to harvest melds into deliberate seeding/caring for plots of plants and that leads into domestication by selecting particular seed. At a point where climate or other factors forced human to take up agriculture, they were prepared with many of the skills required.
Early settlement
It was thought that agriculture forced humans to settle in villages but it may have been the other way around. During the brief warm wet period as the ice age ended, it may have been possible to settle and still live by hunting and gathering. This could have allowed man to realize some of the advantages of 'urban' life. Permanent housing that was more protective and allowed the accumulation of useful objects. Trades and skills could be developed. Pottery is an example of something that would be unlikely to develop in a purely nomadic life style. You would not want to carry much pottery with you and would not want to build kilns over and over in different places. As people settled they became more dependent on resources being close at hand and so when the weather changed or the wild animals became scare, they turned to agriculture.
The first permanent settlement we know of is the Ohalo site in Israel from 20000 BC and it was pre-agricultural. They harvested wild grains. Grains and pulses could be stored and were. There are other early sites of settlement before agriculture such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. But around 12000 years ago we see a number of plants being domesticated. By 11500 years ago the list of domesticated plants include: figs, rye, emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas and flax. About the same time hunting was supplemented by the domestication of animals: cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. Over the next few thousand years domestication happened in other places around the world. More food could be produced than the producers required and so other professions could flourish in an urban environment. Villages start to have little industries.
The trade-off
Agriculture allowed settled living to continue and with it the development of civilizations. The population grew, societies became complex, cities grew and so on into recorded history. Ever since the first cities formed, they have been a magnet for people. Even today the cities are still growing at the expense of the country. We are too numerous to return to our original life style and few of us would want to.
But there were disadvantages to agriculture: the average daily number of work hours increased, nutrition deteriorated, infectious disease and body wear increased, and lifespan shortened. General equality gave way to stratification of the population and the status of women suffered. Children laboured. Famines, wars and plagues happened. Urban life also has disadvantages to offset its advantages.
After millions of years of small groups moving around hunting and gathering with stone and wood tools, we have in just 13000 years built an entirely new way of living, with ever faster change and ever larger populations.
The Anthropocene
We have come to the point where we have changed the planet and we may have a geological age of our own making. Here is the report from the Geographical Society of London, Working Groups Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy, Working Group on the 'Anthropocene': What is the 'Anthropocene'? - current definition and status
Changes to previous levels, trends and cycles (markers of the age):
Biodiverstiy - Most experts agree that human beings have accelerated the rate of species extinction, although the exact rate is controversial, perhaps 100 to 1000 times the normal background rate of extinction. If this continues than whole ecosystems may disappear.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide - During the cycles of the past million years, natural processes have varied CO2 by approximately 100 (from 180 ppm to 280 ppm). As of 2012, anthropogenic net emissions of CO2 have increased its atmospheric concentration by a comparable amount from 280 ppm to approximately 395 ppm. This increase is due to the burning of fossil fuels, cement production and deforestation. This CO2 increase is increasing the earth's average temperature through greenhouse effects.
Trace elements - There are distinct signatures left by modern industrial societies and nuclear testing.
Soil – Affects on soil formation include land levelling, trenching and embankment building for various purposes, organic matter enrichment from additions of manure or other waste, organic matter impoverishment due to continued cultivation, compaction from overgrazing or, indirectly, by drift of eroded materials or pollutants, repeated ploughing, the addition of fertilizers, contamination, sealing, or enrichment with artefacts.

In an ironic mood, we could rewrite Genesis so that when humans planted the first fig tree, we were doomed to end up in toil and trouble. After all, the fig is the only tree named as being in the Garden of Eden. It was one of the first plants to be cultivated at the very start of agriculture. Adam and Eve left the garden with fig leaf aprons.


Where can I go with my Twizy?
As you may know, I do not have a driving licence. I have had many learners permits and have learned to drive, but I do not feel that my very poor motor reflexes are suitable for most driving and so I have never taken a test (in case I passed). For years in the UK I had a L plate on a scooter. This was perfect. It was slow and traffic went around me. I could not cause death or maiming with such a small, light, slow vehicle and I could not take a passenger, yet I had independent transport - perfect. Now I finally have a solution here. I have a speed restricted, single person, light little electric car for which I do not need a driving licence. It is called a Twizy - my 'red sporty snail'. Sporty because it has KERS just like an F1 racing car.
The battery is supposed to take me 100 km but they say to not count on more than about 60 km. I think this lower figure is for hilly country and fast speeds. But my Twizy is restricted to 45 km/hr because I am driving without licence. Therefore I assume that it can do over 60.
Here is where I can go.
West: Bourges is the city we use for city shopping and services. On the way is: Avord where we do ordinary shopping and see our doctor; Savigny where the Renault garage is. Baugy is also a place where we get some things. To Bourges is 29 km so there and back with some driving around in the city would be about 70 km.
Bourges
East: Nerondes is another place where we shop and see the vet; Saincaize is a train junction. A return trip to Saincaize would be 66 km.
saincaize
South: We have friends at Ourouer-les-Bourdelins and sometimes need to do business in Dun. A return trip to Dun would be 70 km.
dun
North: We occasionally have reason to go to Sancergues and La Charite. A return trip is 68 km.
la charite
So that range is the safe driving range for the Twizy on a charged battery – that is the Twizy universe. You would not want to go further at 45 km/hr anyway.

Saskatoon berries
saskatoonsPeople who come from Saskatchewan usually have a deep love of saskatoon berries. I had not tasted anything like them outside of the prairies. Blueberries are great, but a disappointing second. Then Harry bought some myrtle berry jam. The berries look at lot like small saskatoons and have a similar taste. They are like pale imitations of saskatoons: smaller, less strongly tasting, and with a similar deep purple colour (but that doesn't stain the tongue). So I looked up myrtle to see if it was a sister species to saskatoon. The answer is no.
Amelanchier alnifolia is the official name for the saskatoon but there are 20 or so other Amelanchier species. They are service trees.
I vaguely remember that years ago the EU rejected some sort of special category, label or something for importing saskatoons because they were just service berries and Europe had lots of service berries. I have never found service berries for sale anywhere so I take it they are not grown commercially. The trees are sold as ornamental garden shrubs. If they were as good as saskatoons I would think the berries would be for sale. (Of course, it may be that saskatoons are so special only to people who grew up with them.)
Myrtus communis is the myrtle and it only grows in the hot climate of the Med and North Africa. It is unrelated to service trees. But it is associated with the gods, has a liquor made from the berries, and is used in rituals of various kinds. So it is a big deal.
In looking up berries I found one of those weird translation merry-go-rounds. Moose and elk for example or turnip and swede or some of the edible fish are very confusing. Berries have a lot of names that mean different plants in different places.


Go Riders
I remember when I was young that my Uncle Walter listened to the Roughrider games on the radio. The house was a hush and the radio at a good volume. Every play was a little suspense as it unfolded. For those of you that have not seen Canadian Football, it is a much more entertaining game than the American one. Three downs rather than four, many more passes and with more skill in the throwing and receiving. Its an open, fast and spectacular sort of game.
There were golden years and bad periods for the Saskatchwan team, but even in the bad periods the Roughriders never lost their fan base. It was 'next year country' for many years. Still the team was usually innovative and had a little habit of making scores in the every last minutes of a game. Well, things change and things remain the same. The team is now financially healthy and winning lots of games – they still have their loyal fans.
So here is some odd things about the Roughriders. They have the smallest population base of any professional sports team in Canada and the second smallest in North American – the Green Bay Packers have a tinsy bit smaller base – both are just over a million people. And these two teams are publicly owned rather than having an 'owner'. The Roughrider shares pay no dividend (period), they cannot be resold (no profit there either), and there is a limit of 20 shares per person. These are voting shares and so the one perk is that a shareholder has a say in who/how manages the team. Enough people buy season tickets that almost all home games are sold out. They used to be poor but now the Roughriders are a very rich team due to their merchandizing. They make about $10 million a year on selling stuff. That is more than twice what the rest of the league combined makes in their sales. So an always full, medium sized stadium, many sponsorship deals, and a big marketing machine means the team can hire good talent.
One of the oddest aspects of the Roughrider fans is that they are all over the country. (Saskatchewan has a low population and that is partly because people leave and the rest of the country has many former Saskatchewanites.) Everywhere the Roughriders play there will be a substantial section of the stands that are all decked out in green and cheering for the Riders – people traveling in from Saskatchewan and join the local fans. This has a name – the collective of fans in and out of Saskatchewan is called the 'Rider nation'. Other team managements like having the Riders to their stadium because ticket sales go up compared to other visiting teams.
This has been a good year for the Roughriders. They started the season with a winning streak, then lost a few but made it to the play-offs in second place, they then won both play-off games which put them in the Grey Cup game. Having one of the play-off games at home made them some extra money. But they have the Grey Cup game too this year (nothing to do with being in it – location of GC games is decided years ahead). The Grey Cup game is also a money maker especially if the home team is playing in it. So for a week leading up to Nov 24, Grey Cup Week, Regina is all in green with events, parties, parades etc. There are people from all over the country at Cup games, not just the fans of the two teams. The whole town gets to make money out of Grey Cup Week, and also spend a lot of their advertisement budget on Cup related events.
Now there are Grey Cups and there are Grey Cups. The game is always in late November and so can be played in a warm roofed stadium with no wind or in an open stadium in one of the prairie cities in a howling bluzzard. It was very cold in the days leading up to the big game. Our Ciara was to play in one of the bands in the parade, but alas, it was too cold to be playing instruments that Sat, -26 C with windchill -38 C. (That is about -39 F for you Fahrenheit people). Some opposition players got frostbite during practice a couple of days before the game. In a passing game like the JadeCanadian game wind can be important and Saskatchewan is a windy place. The ground is frozen solid. Well, it warmed up a bit for the Sun. game. Here is the Environment Canada has updated their special weather statement with all its puns on CFL team names (I have underlined them). “The weather has held Regina in its icy grip for much of grey cup week. This morning the temperatures sit at minus 27 Celsius with a wind chill of minus 37. With cold conditions like this in rider nation, its been quick to freeze the paws of tiger cats and lions and turn watermelons into rocks. Though Sunday will be mild by comparison, it will not trick the alouette to burst out in spring song. The stampede of milder air for grey cup Sunday is still looking promising with clear skies and no sign of precipitation. There may however be a bit of a wind chill factor. Mosaic stadium is known to funnel the winds and with game time temperatures around minus 3 or 4 Celsius, wind chill values will be near minus 10. For those who argo’ing to the game Sunday, appropriate dress would be advised. Don that bomber jacket so as not to turn true blue, or pack that eskimo parka to keep toasty. The day time forecast high for Sunday is minus 2 Celsius. With sunset near kickoff, the temperature will likely fall slowly as the game progresses. By the 4th quarter, temperatures will be closer to minus 6 Celsius and the wind chill closer to minus 13.”
Here is a picture that I took from Facebook of my friend Jade celebrating. 47,000 green people cheered in the stands, the Riders won in a big way, the fans filled the Regina streets, the CFL god is in his heaven and all is right with the world.


Sniatyn, a home town
sniatynI usually limit my historic-come-genealogical digging to my own family or places where I have been resident or at least visited. But I'm breaking this habit because Harry is about as uninterested in history and in genealogy as a naturally inquisitive person, like he is, could possibly be. The other day he was discussing on the phone with his sister how big/important was the 'village/town' of Sniatyn. This was Harry's father's hometown. Neither of them really knew. When he got off the phone he did not go to 'Google' the place and had no intention to. So I did because I was curious. Currently Sniatyn has a little over 10,500 people. It is in Galicia in the west of the Ukraine on the left bank of the river Prut and is the administrative center of the Sniatynsky Raion region of Ivano-Frankivsk. It is not a village but a large town/small city. Some say it is the prettiest and most comfortable in the western Ukraine. Before the last war it was an area of rich multicultural history – a mixture of Ottoman, Austrian, Polish and Ukrainian cultures. In the first half of the 20th century the population was 2/5 Ukrainian, 1/3+ Jewish, 1/5 Polish with sizable groups of Germans, Armenians and Czechs and several minorities. The ploto is from around the turn of the century (click to enlarge). 
galiciaA short history of Galicia: The Huns – then the Goths – then the Bulgars – then the Khazars (around 800 AD they became Jewish) - then the Kievan Rus. In the 1000s Kievan Rus was the largest state in Europe and called Ruthenia but non-Rus. It covered the White Rus, the Black Rus, the Red Rus (Ukranians and western Slavs) plus a number of non-Slavic people. Kiev began to weaken and break up in the 1100s. One of the stronger pieces was the Rus principality of Halych and Volynia (western Ukraine). It was in this period that Sniatyn appears. The town was founded about 1156 and named after Kostiantyn Syroslavych, the local voivode (duke, warlord, govenor) under the Halychyna (Ukrainian) ruler Prince Yaroslav Osmomysl. During this time there was migration into the area from the south of Germans and Armenians. Then the Mongols arrived! By 1240 all principalities of present-day Ukraine acknowledged dependence upon the Mongols. The Mongols sacked Kiev, and many people fled to other countries. For a time the Ukrainian Princes (now Kings) expanded their holdings but always under the control of the Mongols. Eventually Poland and Lithuania defeated the Horde and Galicia came under Polish rule in 1387. During the early period of Polish rule many Poles, Lithuanians, Germans, and Jews settled in Galicia. After the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569 there was a huge revitalisation in colonizing Galicia and a number of new cities were founded. Renaissance ideas spread. Great numbers of Polish peasants arrived. The Ukranian nobility became polonized and converted to Roman Catholicism. The Ruthenian-speaking peasants remained Eastern Orthodox. There was tension. Peasants who fled attempts to make them serfs became known as Cossacks. They made up military units that fought for the Poles, Russians and others. But in 1648 the Ukrainian Cossacks started a war of independence and formed the Cossack Hetmanate (viewed as the precursor of the Ukraine). It fought the Ottoman Turks and Tatars in the south, Poland and Lithuania in the north, and Russia to the East. By 1667 the Ukraine was divided between Russia and Poland. Galicia was in the Polish part. In the 1790s there was a partition of Poland and the extreme west of Ukraine became Austrian. (Between 1214 and 1221, 7 years, Hungary held Galicia and the words 'rex Galiciae et Lodomeriae' were added to the Hungarian Crown and never removed; that crown passed to the Hapsburgs in Austria; in the partition Empress Maria Theresa of Austria & Queen of Hungary used this wording to claim Galicia – ironic.) About this time there was a movement started, Ukrainophilism, to revive the Ukrainian language and cultural traditions and re-establish a united nation-state. Galicia, under the Austrian Empire, was under an Austrian or Polish elite. Ruthenians were almost exclusively kept in the peasantry. This caused a certain Russian sympathy and led to the round up of all those supporting Russia at the beginning of WW1 and their massacre. The population was called Ruthenian and Ukrainian but also Rusyn (very confusing).
Events in Sniatyn: That is the background and during these times Sniatyn was almost permanently a border town. At it's creation in 1156 it was on sniatynthe border between Pokuttia and Bukovyna. Pokuttia was conquered by Poland in 1387 so Sniatyn stood on Polish southern border. Sniatyn obtained the Magdeburg Right in 1448 and the status of a frontier city. (Magdeburg Right was the law that applied to a hundred or so medieval cities through north and eastern Europe and grew out of the rule of cities in the Hanseatic League – think cities' Royal Charters in England and the autonomy they gave.) The city grew during this period as an important customs-and-trade center. Being on the border, it was repeatedly destroyed: Moldovans, Turks, Tatars, Cossacks raided it. Sniatyn has no really old buildings. During the first Polish period, it was the springboard for the raids of the Polish gentry on Moldavia. In Sniatyn the Poles met Alexander, master of the neighboring Moldavia more than once. Here he would pledge allegence to Jagello as a vassal. While staying in Sniatyn the King had talks with the envoys of the Greek Emperor Paleologis and the Patriarch of Constantinople who were pleading for bread help to Constantinople which had been struck by famine. It was from Sniatyn via the Black Sea Port of Khadzhibey (now Odessa) that the grain was sent to Constantinople. Stephen the Great, ruler of Moldavia, having been beaten by the Turks in 1476 asked the Polish King for help. In Sniatyn he gathered his troops together and on receiving relief from the Polish King set out on his campaign against the Turks. Such crafts as cooperage, sewing, shoemaking and furriery were flourishing in Sniatyn. The fairs were held anually and the artisans, as well as yeomen tillers used to sell their products there. Things were like this at the time of peace. In the year 1456 some of the inhabitants of Sniatyn participated in the peasants' revolt against the landlords in Northern Moldavia which was led by Lev. It was here that one of the first insurrections of the serfs against the landlords in Ukraine burst out in the year 1490. The rebels were instigated by Ivan Mukha. In the year 1524 over 500 Turkish janizaries crossed the Dniester and went on the rampage in Pokuttya. They looted both Sniatyn and other settlements. In 1532 the town was burnt to the ground by the troops of the then Moldovan ruler. In the years 1590-1648 the Tatars perpetrated twenty-nine raids on Snyatyn. During that period the town was set on fire five times. In the course of Bohdan Khmel'nytskyi's campaign against the Polish gentry in 1648 the area around Sniatyn witnessed the activities of the rebels' detachments. In 1656 the rebels overpowered the local garrison and captured the Sniatyn fortress. They razed the newly built castle to the ground. The 1848 Revolution in Europe brought about the abolishment of serfdom. A new historical period in the development of economy and the spiritual revival of Sniatyn starts. People erected crosses and mounds to commemorate the end of serfdom. Every year on that day they worked only till the afternoon. Issues like education and language were often raised at rallies. A gathering held in Sniatyn on 27 February 1892 brought together over 2,000 participants. The speakers voiced their opinion to the effect that the destitute people should primarily be granted political rights as a basic remedy for the improvement of the situation. As everybody was paying taxes equally, it was only fair that any person upon reaching the age of twenty be granted equal election rights. The participants of the meeting demanded an improvement of the educational system, lower prices for salt, abolishment of the duty to repair roads, introduction of the Ukrainian language into the work of the village authorities. In July 1875 Mykhaylo Kropyvnytskyi came to Snyatyn with the cast of the West Ukrainian theater "Rus'ka Besida" to stay there for three months. The people of Sniatyn could see the father of the Ukrainian theater in the plays by Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, Taras Shevchenko and other Ukrainian authors. In 1881 a Ukrainian Reading Hall was set up in Snyatun. In 1903 Mykola Lyssenko, founder of the Ukrainian musical culture, arrived. After WW1 it reverted to being part of Poland and was the rail crossing point between Poland and Romania. In 1939 Sniatyn was the temporary seat of American embassy in Poland, as the diplomatic personnel abandoned Warsaw after the first Nazi bombings. Nearly the entire Jewish population (3500) of Sniatyn was murdered (shot in the forest, starved in the ghetto and sent to concentration camps) during the Holocaust. 17 Jews were left in the city because they were qualified artisans needed by the occupiers. Russia gained the area after WW2 and the Ukraine became independent in 1991.
An aside: It has to do with jokes about Harry's father being Hutsul: an area in the vicinity of Sniatyn was called Hutsulschyna, Land of the Hutsul. “The Hutsuls are a micro-ethnic Ukrainian group that has preserved a distinct self-identity for hundreds of years. They moved into the Carpathian highlands between the 14th and 18th centuries. Because of their isolation in the mountains they carried on their way of life, based on cattle, sheep and craftsmanship. They fell under the rule of many governments but they managed to avoid change – even the Soviets let them be. In many times they achieved a noticeably higher standard of living than other people in the region. Their contact with the Galician population was in and around Sniatyn. They have a bagpipe (duda) which Harry insists is proof of being hillbillies. There are two Hutsul museums in Kolomyia. Traditional Hutsul sounds and moves were effectively used by the Ukrainian winner of the 2004 Eurovision song contest.
ukraineCurrent interest: So we have a frontier town with a rich history, a rich culture and strong economy. In fact in is so rich in multicultural history that it was the center of a “Memoria” program on a frontier city. “The project was realized by the Centre for Urban History within the framework of the program “Memoria”, which was initiated by the foundation “Memory, responsibility and future” and the Stefan Batory Foundation. The goal of the program is to inspire young people to look for traces of shared culture and history in the border territory. The geographical focus of the program is Central and Eastern Europe, where for centuries people from different cultures, religions and languages co-existed. The Second World War and the Holocaust, deportations and changing borders after 1945 almost completely destroyed the diversity of these territories. That is why, within the framework of the “Memoria” program, events are organized with the participation of young volunteers from Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Russia, Belorus and Ukraine, which are aimed at the preservation of historical monuments, acquaintance with different aspects of border area history and culture and formation of contacts with the inhabitants of these populated points, where the camps take place.” Harry thought it would be a good multicultural place for a spy to come from but, alas, Alfred Redl didn't come from Sniatyn; he came from Lviv which is the area Harry's mother came from – irony.

Yavoriv – another home town
yavoriv It is all Olga's fault. First she asked how big Sniatyn was and then she told Harry not to tell me that their mother came from Yavoriv. That was like a dare. There is a panarama of the center and a map with a red dot for Yavoriv (click to enlarge).
yavoriv map I am not going to go through Galician history again – it is pretty much the same for Sniatyn and Yavoriv. And both were border towns. Whereas Sniatyn is on the southern border of Galicia, Yavoriv is on the north-western border.
Yavoriv history
Yavoriv is a city of about 13,000, the regional center of Yavorivskyi Raion in Lviv Province of the Ukraine on the Shklo river. It was first mentioned in documents in 1376 when it belonged to a Polish duke. It is recorded in 1408 when a bootmaker's workshop was established. It received Magdeburg rights in 1569 (probably because it was a border town). In 1632 a Basilian monastery was founded there. In 1670 the Nativity of Our Lady church and bell tower were built and it is now the oldest wooden building in the area. John III Sobieski, famous for the defeat of the Turks at Vienna 1683, liked to live in Yavoriv. Not far from it is the watering-place of Shklo with sulphur springs. When it was Polish it was called Jaworow and was an important trading center on the main route from Jaroslaw to Lviv. It became Austrian in 1772 and was granted the status of free royal city, for which the townsfolk had to pay over 15 years. For over 40 years Ukrainian ethnographer, linguist and publicist Yosyp Lozynsky (1807-1889) lived in this town; he pioneered using the folk Ukrainian language in literature and wrote the textbook, The Grammar of Ruthenian Language, published in Przemysl in 1846. Yavoriv  remained Austrian until WW1. Just before the war the population in this part of Galicia was 55% Poles, 42% Ruthenians, 3% German (this stat appears to not include the Jews). In the aftermath of the war, the area around Yavoriv was involved in the Polish-Ukrainian War. It was part of the Polish Republic until the 1939 invasion of Poland. Yavoriv was infamous during World War II for its ghetto. Around 5,000 Jews were killed either in the local ghetto or in concentration camps. There were some who escaped and established a partisan resistance unit, but they were found and also killed. Thousands of Jews and Soviet POW shot by the Nazis in 1941-1944 are buried under the Pischana Hora near Yavoriv in Lviv Oblast. According to locals, in 1944 Germans escorted about a thousand Jews from Yavoriv, Nemyriv and Zhovkva as well as Soviet POWs. They made the captives dig the graves with their bare hands, burying many of them alive. Locals could hear moans and the earth was shifting for the whole night.
Today there seems to be a large army establishment in the area around Yavoriv.
Harry's mother was born here and lived here until she became an orphan. Her father was a Ukrainian business man and her mother was his second wife.
Aside - The village Yavoriv
There is also a Yavoriv Village, population 919, founded in 1659 and quite a separate place. It is on the Rubnytsa river with waterfall and rapids in the mountains. The name of the village came from the name of the maple trees that abundantly grew in the village (I have not found this connection anywhere else and have not found that yavoriv has a meaning). It now attracts tourists for its forests and the rare plants found there. The inhabitants were cattle breeders. They were famous for flat carving in the Hutsulshchyna style. This place has probably nothing to do with Harry's mother.
German settlements around Yavoriv
munchenthal Harry's father used to tease his mother about her Germanness. She had a German mother and after she was orphaned, she was raised by her German grandmother in a small German settlement called Munchenthal (today called Muzhylovyci in Ukrainian). The Polish name was Muzylowice. Under Austrian rule there was a policy of promoting the modernization of Galicia and this included the settlement of German-language immigrants, the founding of the University of Lemberg (Lviv), the introduction of basic education, and guaranteed religious tolerance. The German settlements were meant to encourage good agricultural practices in the whole peasantry. (Map show German settlements and towns where German tradesmen could live. Munchenthal is red. Yavoriv is spelt Jaworow.)  Harry's mother told me that the settlement was quite regimented – they had to have the right type and number of apple trees, a very good bull was brought to the village yearly to service the cows (and any mares if he could catch them according to Stephania) so the cattle breed was improved. The Austrian government wanted these to be 'model' villages. In 1774, Empress Maria Theresa issued the first settlement patent which gave immigrants permission to settle in the cities and towns. In 1781, Emperor Joseph II. issued the second patent; it allowed foreign settlers also to settle in the country and provided for religious tolerance of Protestants. As a consequence, thousands of families, mostly from the Palatinate, Swabia (Baden-Wurttemberg), and Bohemia, immigrated to Galicia and settled in newly founded German-speaking communities in the country or were craftsmen in the cities. No extensive areas for a new agricultural colonization existed here and so the government had only crown lands taken over from the Polish kings, Jesuit lands (the order was dissolved in 1772) and monastery lands confiscated by Joseph II in 1782. Galicia became one of the densest populated places in Europe. Many of the settlements failed and people starved. There was chaos. (It was said to be as bad as the Irish potato famine) The settlers that failed went on to Bukovina in large numbers where the Austrians did have empty land for them, or were scattered around Europe.
But other settlements thrived. It seems that Munchenthal was a fortunate village. It is first recorded when the village of Muzyłowice was bestowed upon the brothers Herbert and Frydrysz Fullenstein in 1386. Muzyłowice remained in the hands of this family until the late 16th century. In 1604, it was bequeathed to a Jesuit collegiate in Lviv. Muzyłowice became an important economic, administrative, and religious centre of the Jesuit Society. The Jesuit chapel in Muzyłowice existed from at least 1649. The Jesuit collegiate in Lviv was officially closed by the Austrian Crown in 1773, and with it the Jesuit estate of Muzyłowice. The land become Austrian crown land. The first group of German colonists to Muzyłowice included families from Mähren (Moravia) who settled along a road called “Mährisch Seite.” This name is still used by the Ukrainians in the village today, over 60 years after the last German family left. Austrian Emperor Josef II officially established a colony of German Roman Catholic settlers in 1783-1784 on the land of the former Jesuit estate. The new colony was officially called Muzyłowice Kolonia, but was always known as Munchenthal to the colonists. Including the original 10 families, it now totalled 40 families who were given land of about 20 acres per family. In the first few years, a school and a Roman Catholic Church were erected with a German teacher and pastor. The neighbouring German settlements were also Catholic. They helped and supported one another apparently; they socialized and intermarried. In principle Austrian authorities aimed to create settlements of colonists of the same religious denomination. About 90 out of 163 German villages in the area were of exclusively Protestant faith, about 50 Roman Catholic, only the rest were of mixed religious denomination. Before WW 2, there were three German newspapers in Galicia, 95 schools in which German was the language of instruction and 27 Polish schools in which it was taught as a foreign language. In 1939, there were about 70,000 Germans in Galicia. After the war there were very few. With very short notice, most of the German colonists left Munchenthal in January 1940 when the area came under Russian control and were repatriated to central Poland. Those remaining left during the next few years. Later, many went on to Germany and some to the US and Canada where they had relatives who had come previously. In 1944, a small band of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) operated in the area.
Harry's mother lived in Munchenthal for a few years and then was moved back to Yavoriv by her sister and fostered by an inn/restaurant keeper (Malnowska) in the town. She was then back in the Ukranian culture until she left for Canada.

I mentioned Harry's family in some other places and here are links: Sniatyn – a home town, Koloyyma, Stephania's visit, Harry's little trick, Melancholy Slavs


Unselfishness evolved
For many years there has been an idea that cooperation is not really going to work – never has and never will – against selfishness. The idea comes from several sources: natural selection, selfish gene (Dawkins), and the Prisoner's Dilemma of game theory (Nash). And it was a paradox because clearly, before our eyes, evolution has produced cooperative organism from slightly cooperative to completely so. It cannot be impossible or even improbable if it is found in nature from microbes to humans. There are genes that further cooperation. And crooks do not 'rat' that often in real life. You can think you prove that cooperation can't work but you must be wrong if you can see that it works well.
The Prisoner's Dilemma is a game for two players where they are being separately interrogated. If they both admit to their joint crime (defect) they will both spend 3 months in jail. If they both deny the crime (cooperate) they will both spend 1 month in jail. But if one defects and the other cooperates then the informer goes free and the non-informer gets 6 months. It is clear, as Nash showed, that in this simple game, a player is better off the defect. To defect gets (0+3)/2 or one and a half months on average. To cooperate gets (1+6)/2 or three and a half months on average. What this game lacks is communication between the players before the game, repeats of the game, a population of players greater than 2, players remembering other players behavior, players who refusing to play with certain other players, revenge play etc.
The selfish gene theory argued that genes evolve to survive. But in order to survive, a gene must be in an organism that survives and reproduces. But individuals in cooperative groups are better at surviving (and they are), then it is an advantage for a gene to be inhabiting the individuals in a cooperative group. Therefore it is an advantage for individual genes to further or to not disrupt cooperative group living. Selfish genes does not mean selfish individuals.
We can see how much of an advantage cooperative groups have over lone individuals or even large numbers of lone individuals who find it impossible to cooperate amongst themselves. Cooperation survives. In humans it seems to be made of three components: empathy/trust and enjoying company; communication that makes cooperation easier and selfishness harder to hide; and a nasty streak of revenge, punishment and isolation of people who take too much advantage of trusting people. The three go together and make for very powerful groups that can build civilizations and fend off (in the long term) non-cooperators taking advantage of them.