Reading in the Age of Digital Speed

On average, we spend four hours on screens and only half an hour on books and magazines.

When children learn to write, they do not make spaces between words but line up the letters in close succession, one after the other. It looks strange but is natural. Because when we speak, we don’t pause between words, but the syllables connect smoothly. Children transcribe as it sounds.

Reading such a text is difficult, not only for those of us who need more habits. In antiquity, public reading was handled by trained lecturers, and silent reading hardly existed. Nor did the ancient scribes make spaces but wrote with scriptura continua: continuous writing, without indicating where the words begin or end. It was necessary to murmur to “let the ear bring clarity to what appeared to the eye as a continuous series of signs”, as Alberto Manguel put it.

The monks murmured their lectio divina. The spiritual reading of the monasteries was slow and sensual: you saw the syllables, tasted them in your mouth and heard them with your ears. They rolled the words on their palates like a sip of wine before swallowing.

The spaces were introduced in the eighth century and had two functions. They let readers decode the text silently, using only their eyes, which increased reading speed. At the same time, it became easier to immerse yourself in the text because you didn’t have to go back and forth on the line to understand where the words started. The spaces thus facilitated both rapid speed reading and thoughtful, deep reading.

The academics loved the gaps. They helped them immerse themselves in increasingly complex texts and allowed them to scan texts. While the monks read one book at a time, slowly and carefully, they could work on several in parallel. The spaces allowed for selective reading, allowing them to jump around among the pages searching for the passage that would complete the thesis.

After Gutenberg introduced his printing press in 1455, a flood of books swept across Europe. In the 14th century, 2.7 million books were produced, but in the 16th century, the figure was 220 million. Those who wanted to keep up had to hurry. Scholar Francis Bacon explains that only a few books “should be read in their entirety, carefully and with attention.” The rest should be skimmed.

Reading quickly becomes the melody of Enlightenment. Dr Samuel Johnson, the era’s most famous reader, cultivated his image as a super reader who decoded books by flipping through them. “We must read what people are talking about now,” he said, expressing the ethos of the Enlightenment: reading to keep up. Jean-Jacques Rousseau sighed that his contemporaries “read a lot, but only new books; or to be precise, he flips through them, not to read them but to be able to say he has read them”.

Because computers are not designed for deep reading, but their strength lies in speed, they allow us to access many texts quickly. On a typical day, we spend four hours in front of screens and only half an hour reading printed texts such as books and magazines. But today, as Gutenberg gives way to a society of screens, it is becoming all-powerful.

“How do people read online,” asks tech guru Jakob Nielsen, who answers: “They don’t.” Or, more elaborately: “Studies of how users read online show that they don’t read: Instead, they scan the text.” In his survey, 16% read online texts word for word, and the rest skimmed. The abundance of information makes attention the scarce commodity of our time.

Today, many people state that they struggle to concentrate on reading. This leads to a decline in reading comprehension. In addition, deep reading helps us connect emotionally to texts to understand others better. It also decreases when we skim. We thus lose both cognitively and emotionally.

The European education project has rested on a combination of speed and deep reading: what reading researcher Maryanne Wolf calls a “bi-literal brain” that can read in two ways. A thousand years ago, universities taught us to read quickly, but deep reading is under threat today. Therefore, universities need to review their pedagogy. Study guides emphasize speed reading, but this is not enough. We also need to teach students to read slowly and in-depth.

Literary scholar George Steiner sensed early on that the screen meant “the end of bookishness”, as he said, and argued that efforts were needed to save reading. He singled out Jewish yeshiva and Christian monasteries as ideal places where people were trained to read thoughtfully.

The formation is based on integrating several works, best done with a pen and a notepad next to a printed book. But in-depth reading is needed at universities and for political life. We live in a time where problems are becoming more complex, while experts’ comments must be contained in a tweet or a short quote. But the issues that war and climate change present us with have no simple answers. Therefore any simplification takes us further from a solution – especially when they crowd out in-depth reasoning.

Slow reading challenges us on an even deeper level. Every practice faces metaphysics, and medieval monks lingered over the exact text because they regarded existence as a magical place. Whoever stopped was rewarded by the world unfolding before his eyes. Today, this life-affirming Platonism has given way to soulless materialism, which does not allow us to travel through things towards eternity. Instead of going deep into reality, we try to accumulate as much of it as possible. The mountains of gadgets stretch towards the sky, while a new confusion of languages makes it increasingly difficult for us who build them to understand each other.

Nowadays, the spaces act merely as highways that allow us to increase our reading speed and scan information at a furious pace. We need to recover the second meaning of the spaces and let them become pauses for reflection. Because books can be magical places that open doors to other worlds – but that requires us to stop. Learning is not just an academic exercise but is necessary to break the manic dance that today’s society impoverishes our souls and the planet.

The Unixplorian Certificate of Micronational Creativity 2022

Each year, the Unixplorian Certificate of Micronational Creativity is awarded to individuals or micronations for their creative endeavours. The certificate is a way to encourage and inspire micronational leaders to be more creative.

This year’s recipient is Prince David Bielski of New Masovia.

“It is an honour for us to present the Unixplorian Certificate of Micronational Creativity. It is a small way for us to show appreciation for your creative work in the micronational sphere. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed.”

King Leif I

Please visit our friends at the Principality of New Masovia here.

Please visit our official website for more information about Unixplorian honours and awards.

The French Academy, Putin, and Fascism

“The immortals” is what members of the French Academy, founded by Cardinal de Richelieu, are called. The French Academy is cultivating a new friendship today – with Vladimir Putin.

The Academy’s permanent secretary Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, born in Georgia and author of numerous books on Russian history, has repeatedly received Putin in the Academy’s substantial domed building. Putin, she says, represents the long friendly familial relationship between France and remarkable Russia. The Permanent Secretary assured on 23 February 2022 that all talk of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine was a myth.

D’Encausse receives support from other academy members, for example, Andrej Makine. Makine talks about his friendly conversations with Putin: “He has such a mildly modest voice.” Makine says the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is a “result of NATO’s criminal strategy.” The quotes and information are taken from the magazine L’Obs (February 9-15).

Another academy member says that Russian literature during the Stalin era was far superior to today’s French novels and adds that Crimea has always been and will always remain Russian.

Putin was even awarded a distinguished French order, presented by President Jacques Chirac.

Corrupt right-wing prime minister and presidential candidate François Fillon were paid by Putin and rewarded with a board seat in Russia’s oil company. The political right’s admiration for Putin’s Russia is rooted in the French Academy.

The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has recently taken a seat in the French Academy, on chair number 18. A great writer but, like many in the Academy, condescending to democracy. He campaigned for the fascist presidential candidate Bolsonaro and in Chile for the Nazi-influenced José Antonio Kast. Vargas Llosa joins “immortal” Academy members such as Philippe Pétain, the Nazi collaborator and ruler of the Vichy regime.

Education and intelligence do not always equal having an ethical compass.

Unappreciated male behaviour

Many new words have described typically masculine behaviours in recent years. The examples vary from mansplaining – men who unannouncedly explain things to women they did not ask for – to manspreading – men who burst and take up an awful lot of space without regard to their fellow human beings.

Image courtesy: Anna Dovgalyuk.

Of course, it can be a bit embarrassing to be aware that you are guilty
of this, as those around you do not appreciate it. But that’s why it’s
needed: no one wants to appear like a male chauvinist – and expose women to
frustrating situations.

The Unixplorian Times asked some women what typical male behaviours they
frown upon. According to our survey, these acts are unwelcome:

  1. They guess women can not do “things that men do.” Example: take care of the grill and
    everything related to technology.

  2. Men always expect that they are the ones who will drive the car. If the woman still goes, they must comment on everything.

  3. When men start to explain sports as a 6-year-old, without knowing how much she knows about the subject. “You know, there are two football teams in Manchester….”

  4. When men react strongly when a woman says she likes sports. Men need to verify that it is, in fact, so. “Okay, which team took the Swedish Championship gold in 1963?”

  5. Men tend to think they like sports only to watch good-looking athletes.

  6. If a woman says she’s not interested in sports, men think she can not know anything about sports.

  7. A man seems surprised when a woman proves successful.

  8. Men can even get offended if the woman is more successful than them, especially if she’s making more money.

  9. Men assume that women are interested in them if they greet them in a friendly manner.

  10. Men fish for praise as soon as they have done something they think is a woman’s task, such as cleaning, shopping, and washing dishes.

  11. Feel free to answer women’s questions in detail but are not interested in asking questions back.

  12. When men say something but lose interest as soon as the woman has to answer.

  13. When a man interrupts a woman when she says something to a company.


Sports Bizarre: Wife-Carrying

Regarding bizarre sports, our neighboring macronation Finland hosts the strangest events.

The strangest of all is perhaps the World Cup in Wife-Carrying. The competition is held in Sonkajäri in July each year, and the challenging obstacle course has become something of a world sensation, with pairs from Denmark, Hong Kong, and Australia on the start list. It’s a strange way to spend a honeymoon, but who can judge?

How it works

Wife-carrying is a contest in which male competitors race while each carries a female partner. The objective is for the male to carry the female through a particular obstacle track fastest. The sport was first introduced in Sonkajärvi, Finland.

Several types of carrying may be practiced: a classic piggyback, a fireman’s carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian-style (wife upside-down on his back with her legs over the neck and shoulders).


Eukonkanto originated in Finland. Tales have been passed down by a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen (aka Ronkainen the Robber). This man was thought to be a robber in the late 1800s who lived in a forest. He supposedly ran around with his gang of thieves, causing harm to villagers. From what has been found, there are three ideas as to why/how this sport was invented. Firstly, Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and abducting women from villages in the area he lived in, then carrying these women on their backs as they ran away (hence the “wife” or woman carrying).

The second suggestion is that young men would go to neighboring villages and abduct women to marry forcibly, often women already married. These wives were also carried on the backs of the young men; this was referred to as “the practice of wife stealing.” Lastly is the idea that Rosvo-Ronkainen trained to be “faster and stronger” by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, from which this sport evolved. Though the sport is often considered a joke, competitors take it very seriously, just like any other sport.

Wife-carrying contests have taken place in Australia, the United States, Hong Kong, India, Germany, the UK, and other parts of the world besides Finland and nearby Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia, and the sport has a category in the Guinness Book of Records.


The original course was a rough, rocky terrain with fences and brooks, but it has been altered to suit modern conditions. There is now sand instead of whole rocks, fences, and some area filled with water (a pool). These are the following rules set by the International Wife-Carrying Competition Rules Committee:

  • The length of the official track is 253.5 meters.
  • The track has two dry obstacles and a water obstacle about one meter deep.
  • The wife to be carried may be your own or the neighbor’s, or you may have found her further afield; she must be over 17 years of age.
  • The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilograms. If she weighs less than 49 kg, she will be burdened with a rucksack containing additional weight to bring the total load up to 49 kg.
  • All participants must enjoy themselves.
  • The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the carrier.
  • The contestants run the race two pairs at a time, so each heat is a contest.
  • Each contestant takes care of his/her safety and if deemed necessary, insurance.
  • The contestants must pay attention to the instructions given by the competition organizers.
  • There is only one category in the World Championships, and the winner is the couple who completes the course in the shortest time.
  • Also, the most entertaining couple, the best costume, and the strongest carrier will be awarded a special prize.

Other esoteric sports competitions in Finland include mosquito hunting, mobile phone throwing, swamp football, and the world championship for air guitar.

Roald Dahl’s children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive

The Publishing House Puffin (an imprint of Penguin) is at it again. A language of the past that seems less inclusive or (God forbid!) exclusive is now censored to suit the sensitive children in contemporary society.

Roald Dahl’s estate and mentioned book publisher have allowed an organization called Inclusive Minds – “a collective for people who are passionate about issues of inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature” – to distort the author’s language and soul.

If it were only about them exchanging words like “fat” and “ugly,” it would hardly have been something to write a column about. Warning lights had been lit, but no chilling feelings of censorship would arise.

Among other things, Augustus Gloop in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will no longer be called “fat” but “enormous.” Mrs. Twits from “The Twits” is no longer “ugly and beastly” but just “beastly.”

The changes apply to new releases of English editions and only those of the author’s books aimed at children.

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company says, “when publishing a new edition of a book that was written a long time ago, it is not uncommon to review the language and update other details, such as the book’s cover and page layout.” Still, he also writes that the changes are “small and carefully considered.”

Some paragraphs have also been added. In a section of “The Witches,” which describes the witches as being bald under their wigs, there is the new sentence, “There are many reasons why women wear wigs, and there is nothing wrong with them.”

Even gender-neutral expressions are used in some places. For example, the Oompa Loompas in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” are no longer described as “small men” but as “small people.”

Scandinavians are the first Europeans, according to study

Before the Viking Age, the Northerners had 13,000 years of history in Scandinavia. The early history of the Nordic region is now being rewritten when new facts from modern research are added.

Scientific technologies such as modern DNA technology, carbon-14 dating, chemical isotope analyses of metals, and modern computer-aided linguistic research combined with recent archaeological finds give a completely new picture of Nordic history than previously taught.

The history of the Nordic countries is much older and more advanced than previously thought. An image emerges that the entire Nordic region, up to the north, was inhabited more than 10,000 years ago. Maps of the extent of the ice sheet over the millennia may be redrawn. It is now known through DNA research that the characteristics of the northerners with various variants with fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes arose 11,000 years ago.

Read more about the study here.

DNA technology shows that the indigenous peoples of Europe had blue eyes and fair hair.

The Northerners are the indigenous people of the Nordic countries and are the ones who have inhabited the Nordic countries since time immemorial. Probably already 35,000 years ago, during the time known as the Jämtland Interstadial, when the north was ice-free to the north of Jämtland. This was thousands of years before the ice age peaked 22,000 years ago.

Modern DNA research shows that the Nordic peoples are the indigenous peoples of the Nordic countries and Europe’s oldest and first indigenous people. The Northerners were the first to populate Europe. The original northerners belong to the male haplogroup I *, the only haplogroup to emerge in Europe. Unfortunately, haplogroup I * and its migrations are not as mapped as the Indo-European haplogroups R1a * and R1b *. Hopefully, the knowledge gaps for the Old Norse haplogroup will be filled in the next few years.

The images show the dominant haplogroups for different areas in Europe. The blue areas show the haplogroups I, I1 *, and I2 *, the first northerners. The red region offers haplogroup R1b * in Western Europe and the orange haplogroup R1a * in Eastern Europe. These haplogroups immigrated to Europe about 4800 years ago. The yellow areas show haplogroup N *, to which the original Finns and Sami arrived in the north about 3000 years ago.

Scandinavians are the first Europeans, according to DNA from a 37,000-year-old skeleton.

An international team of researchers has examined the genome of the k14 skeleton, a 37,000-year-old male body found in Kostenki, Russia. The man’s Y-DNA was haplogroup C-M130 and had 1% more Neanderthal DNA than modern humans have. From a genetic point of view, the man is a European, says Professor Eske Willerslev, head of the Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, who was involved in the new study.

The study shows that Scandinavians – i.e., Norwegians and Swedes – are more closely related to the Kostenki man than living people. This means that Scandinavians are the first Europeans. The discovery and dating also show that northerners inhabited northern Europe during the warm period, 15,000 years before the ice age peaked.

The history of the Nordic countries is much older and more advanced than previously thought. New scientific technologies such as modern DNA technology, carbon-14 dating, chemical isotope analyses of metals, and modern computer-aided linguistic research combined with recent archaeological finds give a completely new picture of Nordic history than previously taught.

An image emerges that the entire Nordic region, up to the north, was inhabited more than 10,000 years ago. Maps of the extent of the ice sheet over the millennia may be redrawn. It is now known through DNA research that the characteristics of the northerners with various variants with fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes arose 11,000 years ago.

Blond hair and blue eyes originated in the north 11000 years ago.

The Northerners have always been tall, blue-eyed, and fair-haired. Nordic appearance with light or blonde hair and blue eyes arises, among other things, from a mutation in the MC1R gene, probably in central Sweden. According to researchers at three Japanese universities, the world-leading DNA researcher Hans Eiberg at the University of Copenhagen identified the transformation in the HERC2 / OCA2 genes for blue eyes and fair skin in 2008.

The researchers state that traits such as fair skin, blue eyes, and light hair arose through gene mutations in Nordic countries more than 11,000 years ago. The dating of the transformation has been isolated to about 11,000 years ago.

The images below show the distribution and proportion of the population with blonde hair and blue eyes in Europe instead of brown and dark hair. Central Sweden and eastern Finland are where the most significant proportion of the population has blonde hair and blue eyes.

The distribution maps show that the highest frequency of light hair and blue eyes is found in central Norrland. So the neighborhoods have been inhabited since time immemorial. Nämforsen in Ångermanälven has about 2600 rock carvings dating back 6000 years ago.

The causes of the mutations for fair skin and blue eyes.

Fair skin with a small amount of pigment melanin has a sun factor of 3, and just over 20 minutes of sunshine on a high summer day gives 250 micrograms of Vitamin D, compared to a pill that offers about ten micrograms. The Nordic region’s light, harsh and cold climate contributed to these genetic changes, which meant light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.

Those who do not have fair skin in the Nordic climate will have vitamin D deficiency to the lack of sunshine. Dark skin sun protection corresponds to sun factor 13 and requires about ten times as much light as the climate in the north can produce to get the same amount of vitamin D as light skin. The incidence of skin cancer is about ten times as high in fair-skinned people compared to dark-skinned people, so northerners are not made for solid sunlight in sunny countries.

Large-scale mapping of Ancient DNA.

In 2015, Harvard University conducted an extensive study of 69 finds with ancient DNA, and the University of Copenhagen surveyed 101 finds of ancient DNA. Among other things, they examined the DNA of seven people from a 7,700-year-old site in Motala. The men belonged to the male haplogroup I2 *. They had both variants for the light complexion, SLC24A5, and SLC45A2. But they also had a third gene, HERC2 / OCA2, which causes blue eyes and contributes to pale skin and blonde hair.

When the northerners had fair skin and blue eyes, the population in the rest of Europe had dark skin and brown eyes. Later Indo-European immigration from the Yamnaya culture in the east, which started 4,800 years ago, had light skin, but all had brown eyes.

Today, more than 300 million people have these genetic predispositions with fair skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair.

Screamers: Review

Screamers, starring Barbara Bach.

Screamers (also known for its original title, The Island of the Fishmen) is a handsomely mounted piece by Sergio Martino from 1979.

He pulled in an impressive cast, including Barbara Bach, Richard Johnson, and Joseph Cotton, for an Island of Dr. Moreau-type action-adventure.

The lack of exploitation elements (no sex and very little blood) inspired Roger Corman to buy the original Italian film. He then chopped thirty minutes out and added a specially-shot prologue with more splatter, and a slasher movie vibe as a group of sailors led by Cameron Mitchell and Mel Ferrer are picked off by a much more homicidal branch of the fish-men team.

The gore effects by Chris Walas are very ’80s, and both sections of the film are well-done, even if there’s not much connection in terms of the story or theme.

Poster of the original Italian film, The Island of Fishmen.

With exploding volcanoes, armies of fish-men, and a diving bell trip to Atlantis, this is much more of a Saturday matinee adventure than an adult horror, and the vigor of Martino’s story-telling is something to behold.

Woking the Dead

The managing curators of the British Museum have been accused of being ‘woke’ and virtue signaling to the public after banning the word ‘mummy.’ The museum claims they “don’t want to offend dead Egyptians.”

You might think it would be impossible to hurt the feelings and trigger the social sensitivities of a 3,000-year-old corpse. Still, British Museum staff have found a way. Don’t use the word “mummy,” they say, because “it’s offensive to ancient Egyptians” and dehumanizes dead people.

Decision makers at The British Museum claim they have banned the term ‘mummy’ out of respect for 3,000-year-old dead Egyptians. To replace ‘mummy,’ the museum deems the term ‘mummified people’ to be more politically correct.

The Evolution Of Woke to Wokeness

When I read stories like this, I generally cringe. Like all writers, I cannot mention the term ‘woke’ without triggering and offending many. This is because the word is usually used in a derogatory way, and according to a recent report in Forbes, the term ‘woke’ is deemed “an offensive cultural appropriation.”

The reason sensitivities are associated with this word is that the phrase “stay woke” originated within America’s Black community more than a decade ago, where it meant “stay vigilant,” “don’t be fooled,” and “don’t sleep.”

There seem to be several people with too much time on their hands at the British Museum, and I’m not talking about the mummies.

Cancel culture does not belong in a museum but should be relegated to the dustbin of history.

In recent years, the museums of our macronational neighbors have been increasingly criticized for giving way to politicized exhibitions that convey knowledge. A few years ago, there was a considerable debate after the culture writer Ola Wong launched a frontal attack on how norm criticism and post-colonialism have become overarching ideologies that should characterize the business.

A criticism that received support from writers on both the left and right of the political scale. In Wong’s complaint, it was explicitly the World Culture Museums that were in the spotlight. And it looks like a question to which there is reason to return.

Last week, the paper Dagens ETC reported on how the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm has taken down the permanent exhibition about the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin (1865-1952). In later reporting in other media, it has been presented as if this cancellation of the Hedin exhibition was due to the famous historian Tommy Lundmark’s criticism that Etnografiska downplayed and relativized Hedin’s well-known and controversial German friendliness during the Second World War.

But suppose you read what Etnografiska’s representative Anna Lundström expresses in Dagens ETC. In that case, it appears that the real reason for the exhibition’s removal is due to a “comprehensive decolonization work” and that the display is therefore considered “untimely.”

It is the same thinking that has led to cultural warfare campaigns across the (Western) world where museums dress in sackcloth and ashes and return their artifacts to the countries of origin, even though they may often be historically acquired objects in a completely legal way.

So it is once again post-colonialism that is out and about. An exhibition of objects collected by a once world-renowned profile is thus to be relegated to history due to modern decolonization theories. But to reject in this way the historical, cultural heritage that has been given to us, based on current and inherently controversial standards, is both anachronistic and unfair.

But there is, above all, missing a golden opportunity for imparting knowledge and reflection. Instead of cleaning up the past, it should be displayed even when it seems to be tainted with doubts in hindsight. Thus, acting would invite the visitors to independently ponder and evaluate history through the meeting between now and then.

Yes, why not even do as the aforementioned Ola Wong suggested: Display more Hedin objects instead to draw attention to Tibet and Xinjiang, where Mainland China is carrying out cultural genocide? It would be heartwarming support for suppressed people, if anything.

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