Sign in

Linguist, endangered languages advocate, runaway company executive, urban explorer and world traveller.

From 23,000 BC to the 21st Century

Nude carvings and paintings have always been a feature of European art. Right from the moment Stone Age hunters learned how to carve rock and ivory or how to shape clay and fire it to produce little statues with surprising detail, the female nude — whether meant to inspire, titillate or just represent how women dressed in that period — has been a constant archetype.

A modern-day observer might be startled as to how much the ideal proportions of women’s bodies have evolved over time and space. And no other body part has been artistically reinterpreted into as many shapes…


Are some languages really more “primitive” than others?

A Brazilian man I knew who was born near his country’s vast Amazon region once told me, “You know, the índios, they’re really primitive…most of the tribes don’t even have words for numbers. That’s why they can’t do mathematics and they don’t understand money.” I found his remarks fascinating.

Most Brazilians, and this ironically includes those with mestiço ancestry (mixed European and Native American) often have rather disparaging things to say about their country’s indigenous peoples.

“They’re primitive, they’re barely out of the Stone Age, they run around all day naked, they hunt with wooden blowpipes, they eat monkeys and…


From Stone Age shamans to naughty Mediaeval marginalia

One of the first things to catch the eyes of a student of Mediaeval manuscripts is the amount of scribbles and doodles — some of them absolutely bizarre — on the margins of books or other documents. Hence the Latin word marginalia (marginalium in the singular), used to describe these fantastically elaborate doodles peaking out from the margins. Where else can one find, nestled among highly formal Latin writing, images as strange as a naked woman riding on a green penis monster flying through the text?


A nude webcam model explains how he makes close to $1,000 a week from his bedroom

The most surprising thing about G (referred to by initial only, as per his request) that crossed your mind when you first met him was how normal he looked. Blond, blue-eyed with a slim build and pleasant smile, he looked like a university student. When I first met him in the early summer of 2016 he was working in a popular gay bar in Central London. That bar was frequented by locals and tourists alike and looked pretty much like any other proper London pub. …


Chapter 2: Types of swearing from around the world

Swearing varies dramatically from language to language: for example, the Mandarin Chinese word dàn, meaning “egg” appears in a slew of curses and insults related to adultery and bastard children; the Portuguese porra, referring to a medieval club-like weapon has now become the all-purpose Brazilian vulgar oath meaning everything from “semen” to “bullshit” to “fuck!”; Canadian French employs religious swearing (“chalice”, “sacrament”, “tabernacle”) that would sound downright bizarre to English speakers.

“Profanity” comes from the Latin profanus, “outside the temple” and was specifically about insulting sacred and holy objects. …


My takeaway from this experience and how my outlook on life, health and family relationships has changed

A few days ago, my 37-year-old brother had a stroke. It happened in the middle of the night, and he had woken up in the morning feeling weak. Neither he nor his wife had realized the full extent of the damage until late morning. As he went about his day, he noticed that he had trouble lifting up his left arm and worse, started feeling a growing stiffness in his left leg.

By lunchtime things took a turn for the worse — the left side of his face had started drooping and his speech became slurred. He had no feeling…


Chapter 1: The spread of our favourite English four-letter words

Let’s be honest, everyone swears. In the English-speaking countries alone, a set of roughly ten words consistently accounts for over eighty percent of public swearing. And now, thanks to our increasingly connected world with its shrinking borders and ease of communication, swear words are being shared across languages like never before.

Bordeaux is one of my favourite cities, and whenever I’m in town I make it a point to stay at my regular AirBnB, a nineteenth-century Bordelaise house on the right bank of the River Garonne far from the hustle and bustle of historic downtown. One lovely afternoon, as I…


The fascinum, a talisman in the shape of an erect penis, was the most common form of protective magic symbol in ancient Roman art. They were bizarre-looking — imagine erections carved or drawn with wings, horse legs and tails, with women riding of top, attached to gladiators and growing out of the bodies of naked gods. The Romans made them into amulets, rings, oil lamps, wind chimes, frescoes and bas-reliefs. They were everywhere in the Roman empire and were even found on Hadrian’s Wall. They provided protection from the evil eye, a malevolent energy caused by envy.

You can find out more via this link:

While modern Mediterranean peoples still believe in the evil eye, penis talismans are sadly no longer in vogue!


Art and Archeology

Was One of the Most Powerful Magic Talismans of the Roman Empire

The fascinating history of the fascinum and why the Romans had an obsession with penises

Schoolboys visiting the ruins of Leptis Magna (in modern Libya) often end up pointing inanely and breaking into fits of raucous laughter while gawking at one monument — a shockingly obscene fascinum carved on a bas-relief. This particular beastie is shaped like a large erect penis standing on a pair of horse legs. …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store