In other, not unrelated news, we learn in the Guardian recently that that in spite of about 5,000 years of theocratic god-emperors, the Hittites, the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabians, the Ottomans, the French, and the British (and a not-so-little thing called desertification), it turns out that all of Egypt's problems are because of the US! I think it was Bruce Sterling who once said that the one inexhaustable human capacity was the capacity for boredom. I think he was close: it's a capacity for blame.
And speaking of cultural synthesis: the other day I was taping (well, minidisc'ing -- GOD, those things have awful interfaces) some local Natives who are putting together a book plus tape/CD as a literacy guide for their language (I was doing the audio part for them, as I have a CD burner and whatnot). The two language experts were a Native lady in her 60s and her friend (cousin? brother-in-law?) of about the same age. Toward the end of the session, they had been putting hard work into the past hour or two of voice work, reading the wordlists and little sentences they'd scripted out in their language. And then when they reached the end, I stopped the minidisc and was doublechecking its quality, and the two readers sat back and took a breath and there was a long pause as we got our bearings, relaxed, and tried to think of what we were up to doing next. The since went a bit longer. And she turned to him and said: "WASAAAAAP!" and they both fell over laughing. My mind was blown.