mindstalk: (Enki)
There's a book out there, David Graeber's Debt: the First 5000 Years, which I've heard about but not read, talking about the origin of money. This is one summary/review, including:

Graeber notes that the mainstream view of money as emerging from barter spot trades goes back to Adam Smith (Graeber 2011: 24). The modern neoclassical economics profession is obsessed with barter because they regard money as a neutral veil and their “real” analysis of economies is essentially that of a barter system

I'm currently reading The Big Problem of Small Change, a book Amy was reading sometime after we met. It includes (page 93 hardcover, Medieval Ideas About Money; Qualifications) the following translation of a bit from the Roman Digest (of law), 18.1.1, written by the Roman jurist Paulus before AD 235 (when he died.)

All buying and selling has its origin in exchange or barter. For in times past money was not so, nor was one thing called 'merchandise' and the other 'price'; rather did every man barter what was useless to him for that which was useful, according to the exigencies of his current needs; for it often happens that what one man has in plenty another lacks. But since it did not always and easily happen that when you had something which I wanted, I, for my part, had something that you were willing to accept, a material was selected which, being given a stable value (aestimatio) by the state, avoided the problems of barter by providing an equality of quantity (aequalitas quantitatis). That material, struck with a public design (forma), offers use (usus) and ownership (dominium) not so much by its substance (ex substantia) as by its quantity (ex quantitate), so that no longer are the things exchanged both called wares but one of them is termed the price (pretium).

(Source in Google Books, I think. I doubt we have any idea whether he was making this up, expressing common knowledge of the time, or referring to sources now lost to us.) [2019 edit: an earlier expression was Aristotle, in Politics I-9.)

The author calls this obscure; seems pretty clear to me. Nothing says it's an accurate story, of course. But it is 1500 years earlier than Adam Smith, though still several centuries after the invention of coinage.

A few pages later is another translation, this of the words of Pope Innocent IV, who lived in the 1200s.

We believe, however, that the king, by his right, and by the fact that money receives authority and general acceptance from his effigy or mark, can make money of somewhat less, but not much less value than the metal or matter from which it is made. Therefore, in the first case, when he wants to diminish a money already made, we do not believe he can do so without the consent of the people, but with its consent we believe that he can, just as anyone is allowed to renounce his right. And because the business of the king is considered to be the business of all, for this reason the consent of the majority of the notables of the kingdom suffices.

Bolding mine.
The authors add:

The passage comes from viewing seigniorage as a tax. At the time, kings were expected to live from the revenues of their own lands, and taxes could only be levied with the consent of the people. The treatise on money by the Germany scholar Gabriel Biel repeats this doctrine and adds arguments that debasement is a relatively efficient and fair form of taxation, falling on all classes alike.

I'm guessing most of us don't at a gut level think of "no taxation without representation" or "consent of the people" in association with medieval kings, thus this blog post. At one level that's from not correlating the contents of our minds properly, as "The Call of Cthulhu" put it, at least for those of us who know what the basic function of Parliament or the Estates-General was, i.e. to be persuaded by the king into approving taxes. But I think it's one thing to know of a couple instances of that (or more, after I read about Spain's Cortes-General), and another to read a 1200s Pope say so, so casually.

Of course the bit about 'notables' means we're not talking super democratic here. But still.

Also, this article on the Estates-General said things I condensed as

elective component: elected by monks, by rich people in towns, in 1302.
1468 towns elect an ecclesiastic, noble, and burgess. 1484 invites all
estates to elect; universal and direct suffrage for all orders, but
countrymen couldn't get to town, so elected electors to represent them.
Early lots of control over taxes, ceded during Charles VII out of
"weariness" in Hundred Year's War. Refused to grant a regency in 1484.
1484 had deliberation in common; 1560 had orders deliberate separately.
Advisory on legislation; petition; could grant right to modify
fundamental laws of the regime.

And finally, just because it's too cool not to share at every opportunity, one version of the oath of allegiance of Aragon's nobility:

"We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to
accept you as our king and sovereign, provided you observe all our
liberties and laws, but if not, not."

I have to say, while I hate to buy into "democratic Europe, Asian despotism", I haven't heard of anything similar in Asia, particularly in China, Japan, and India. At least on a robust scale; early India had some republics, and Buddha was probably born in one than as a prince, but my reading of medieval India did not include kings having to wrangle taxes out of their subjects. Then again, India's history is kind of lacking in detail. China and Japan seem more pointed examples.
mindstalk: (Default)
Started here https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/495960.html

10. Indian Warfare in the West. Discusses policies of assimilation and allotment, with even "friends" of the Indians advocating assimilation backed up by threat of violence. Total warfare that embraced massacre of non-combatants, unlike Sherman's march in the Confederacy. Some Indian perspectives of "not defeated, just agreeing to not fight."

11. America's Indigenous Reading Revolution. Memoirs of an Omaha boy's schooling (La Flesche, The Middle Five). Indian mission schools as laboratories for pedagogical experiments.

12. "Working" from the Margins. Documenting Indian participation in the New Deal. Ranges from re-intepretation of the "Migrant Mother" photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, a Cherokee woman not identified as such by the photographer, to periodicals about Indian labor in New Deal programs.

I'm running out of summarization steam.

13. Indians and the civil rights movement.

14. Indians moving to cities.

15. Indian religion.

16. Power generation on Indian reservations. Lots of coal mines and power plants located on their land; they get the mining damage and pollution, white cities get the power.

17. American history as settler colonialism. "Settler colonialism" is a framework developed by Canadian and Australian scholars, but also applicable to the USA and Israel. Nez Perce allotment.

18. Federalism. Erasure of Indian sovereignty in talking about federal and state sovereignties, and of course actual erasued by Andrew Jackson and others.

19. Indians and indigenous people elsewhere, global similarities and alliances.
mindstalk: (Default)
Why you can't teach United States History Without American Indians. Anthology of essays, aimed at college level history, about various historical topics from a more Indian perspective.

1. Borders and Borderlands. Even hunter-gatherers have a strong sense of the lands they have a right to forage in, and mobile groups like the Apache or Comanche marked their borders with cairns or forced-growth trees. There was no empty territory when the Europeans arrived, except maybe where disease had killed off all the claimants. But US history tends to describe a frontier expanding into empty or vague land, and maps reinforce this -- pre-colonial populations are perhaps marked with names -- sometimes of subsistence strategies or language families -- floating vaguely over a map, with no well-defined border or capitals marked, while maps of the post-colonial era show European colonies in bold colors, pushing into a washed out Indian or empty territory. Maps *from* the period made by Europeans, especially the French and Spanish, are much more explicit and respectful of Indian states and borders.

2. Encounter and Trade in the Early Atlantic World. We don't know much about 1500s North Atlantic America, but there was a lot of European contact and trade, first driven by the cod fishery, with fishermen buying medicine and fresh food. Then the fur trade, with furs bought with cloth and metal goods, and cloth made specifically for Indian tastes, probably driven by Indian women. 60-70% of fur trader expenditures went to buying cloth, dwarfing alcohol (5%) and firearms.

3. Rethinking the American Paradox, Bacon's Rebellion. I don't remember ever hearing about Bacon's Rebellion, but apparently historians have considered it really important, with the usual story focusing on a rebellion by lower class whites against the elites. The essay places it in the context of a long-burning war between Indian nations, and talks about the trade in Indian slaves (which I first really heard about from Charles Mann). The supply of white indentures contracted around 1660, and Virginia planters got more access to African slaves around 1700; enslaved Indians bridged the gap, though many were also exported to the West Indies. Between 1670 and 1700, 40% of slaves on the upper James river were Indians.

4. Recentering Indian Women in the American Revolution. Role of Indian women in owning land and making political decisions. George "Town Destroyer" Washington's 1779 orders to wage total war on the Iroquois, destroying houses and crops and taking women and children as hostages. An odd incident when General Sullivan ran across an old woman in an abandoned village and left her there, against orders.

5. The Empty Continent. Another map about how Indians are erased from maps.

6. The Doctrine of Discovery, Manifest Destiny, and American Indians. An essay about rather infuriating and indefensible European concepts that 'discovering' land gave them right over the land and inhabitants, with discussion of the discovery rituals Europeans would engage in to mark the territory. The later "Manifest Destiny" of US thought is largely claiming to sweep away existing European rights from discovery, as well as any surviving Indian title.

7. Indiana and the California Gold Rush. Gold was found by white and Indian laborers on Sutter's colony; Sutter made a claim to the governor backed by some local Indian chiefs; Indians workers left for gold mines themselves, leaving Sutter's colony starved of labor. White miners hunted Indians for sport. An 1850 law legalized the enslavement of California Indians.

8. Why you can't teach the history of US slavery Without American Indians. Discussion of slavery by and of Indians. The Carolinas exporting Indian slaves to fund buying African slaves (reflecting a desire to have non-local slaves who wouldn't be able to run away as easily.)

9. American Indians and the Civil War. The Dakota War in 1862 Minnesota. Lincoln signing the Homestead Act in 1862, in gross violation of US treaties with Indian nations. Corruption stealing the annuities promised to reservation Indians. Confederate soldiers treated as POWs, Dakota fighters treated as criminals guilty of capital crimes, with Lincoln authorizing the largest mass execution in US history. Kit Carson's ethnic cleansing of the Navajo. The Sand Creek Massacre.

Continued here: https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/496129.html

Basil Davidson

2018-Jan-07, Sunday 00:24
mindstalk: (Default)
I used to own a book by him, on Africa, the title of which I now forget. Story of Africa, maybe. My friend S has an earlier book by him, Lost Cities of Africa, which I started reading; I am torn between fear of wasting time on an old -- 1959 -- books, and enjoying the rhythm of his prose style. I should say that he's well respected as s historian of Africa, sympathetic to its peoples while not going overboard in ahistorical 'redemption'.

In reading up on him, I found this obituary. He had a rather interesting life, such as being a special forces operative helping partisans in eastern Europe, and being a radical journalist, often blacklisted for being too friend to Communism, though not one himself. Later he threw himself into African history, with strong anti-colonial opinions.
mindstalk: (atheist)
A friend shared this https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/christmas-jesus-christ-birthday-25-december-brits-ignorant-nativity-christianity-bethlehem-a8094496.html for reasons of his own; I find it notable as a case of a newspaper trying desperately to find pearls to clutch. The tone is of shocking British ignorance about Christmas, but it only makes sense if you assume that every single Briton should know about it. "Almost one in ten didn't know!" "Only 8 in 10 knew!" If you instead consider that nearly 8% of Britons claim non-Christian religions[1], and 25% no religion at all, and the possibility that some people will troll pollsters with dumb answers, then 80-90% of Britons knowing the basics about Christmas and Jesus's life is pretty damn good. The only things that fell below that level were Maundy Thursday, which I've barely heard of myself, and Jesus probably knowing Greek, which I'd grant is non-obvious to the average person knowing little about the ancient world.

I wonder if pollsters have done calibration questions, like "can you name the Queen?"

]1\ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_UK
mindstalk: (Default)
"Jumping spiders can see the moon." Awesome eyes, apparently. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/jumping-spiders-can-see-the-moon/529329/

Cabbage white sex life https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/butterfly-cabbage-white-vagina-dentata/530889/

Papa John's peppers https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/papa-johns-pizza-peppers-pepperoncini-pepper

What happened to the Greenland Vikings (2015). Leans toward the settlements existing for the walrus ivory hunt, and being abandoned after the rise of elephant ivory, the Black Death, and oh yeah, a century of cooling climate. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-greenland-vikings-vanished-180962119/

Hearing voices and how culture can affect dealing with non-standard neurology. (Psychic, weird, or schizophrenic?) https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/06/psychics-hearing-voices/531582/

10 year old article on "positive psychology" http://harvardmagazine.com/2007/01/the-science-of-happiness.html

11 year old article on behavioral economics http://harvardmagazine.com/2006/03/the-marketplace-of-perce.html

Decline of front bench seats in cars https://jalopnik.com/why-front-bench-seats-went-away-1776706852

1660s air pollution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumifugium

Jared Diamond on hunter-gatherer childrearing. http://www.newsweek.com/best-practices-raising-kids-look-hunter-gatherers-63611

Suffragette martial arts http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/suffrajitsu

Nice table of Gospel events https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_harmony#A_parallel_harmony_presentation

Mussels that live on asphalt volcanoes https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/the-mussels-that-eat-oil/530775/

How New Zealand got PR elections http://www.sightline.org/2017/06/19/this-is-how-new-zealand-fixed-its-voting-system/
mindstalk: (lizsword)
9k word essay on writing women into fantasy "without quotas"; mostly it's a catalogue of the diverse role of women through history.


Some random notes I took:

1300s Lollards insisted on equality of men and women

Napoleon’s civil code restricted married women’s property rights, for

In tenth century Saxony there is “plenty of evidence that women
accumulated, transmitted and alienated predial estate"hi

In medieval Valldigna, Spain, Aixa Glavieta “went to court six times
until she forced the Negral family return to her the terrace with two
mulberry trees”

Zhou Daguan on Cambodia: "The local people who know how to trade are all
women. So when a Chinese goes to this country, the first thing he must
do is take in a woman, partly with a view to profiting from her trading

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles has king's sisters witnessing founding of a

A woman of high birth in any stratified society will have companions and
servants commensurate with her position. ..She will also usually retain
important ties to her birth family, and will be expected to look after
their interests.

In many cases the one person a lord, prince, king, or emperor could
absolutely trust was his mother: only she, besides himself, had full
investment in his success.

[Alexander] appointed [Ada] to the governership of Caria as a whole.
This woman was the wife of Hidrieus—and also his sister, a relationship
in accordance with Carian custom; Hidrieus on his death-bed had
bequeathed her his power, government by women having been a familiar
thing in Asia from the time of Semiramis onward.
mindstalk: Tohsaka Rin (Rin)
I'm no TV historian, but after a bit of research, I find:

I Love Lucy (1951), white woman/Cuban man. This hardly even registers as interracial to me, but the executives then were worried.

The Jeffersons (1975), white man/black woman.

Dynasty (1983), mixed-race woman, daughter of another character and his black mistress; would have mixed romance of her own.

Robotech (1985), white man/black woman.


If you're thinking "you suddenly realized Robotech was odd in that for 1985, and wondered if it was in fact the first mixed couple on US TV", you're right, that's exactly what I did. Someone on rpg.net had pointed out that a certain cosmopolitanism is part of the Macross formula, at least for the original series and Macross Plus. (Mixed race couple, diverse cultural origins, apparently diverse clothing styles in Plus.) And the answer seems to be "no, wasn't first, but was pretty early, and possibly first for children's cartoons. Though who can tell, it's not like the lists I found mentioned Robotech."

This is one thing I'm not sure Macross Frontier propagated, though I guess to Japanese sensibilities Alto/Sheryl might also be mixed-race (Japanese boy, white girl.) (There are also human/Zentraedi pairings and offspring, but "alien who looks just like us" isn't as radical as "actual different-race human".) Robotech did: the second series has the black Bowie Grant running off with the pale skinned Musica. (Macross Frontier does have a diverse cast, including an openly gay male; I just don't recall if it had a white/black couple anywhere.) And of course all Robotech series were based on existing anime, so Japan was a few years ahead of us -- granted, without US racial hangups, but with a lot of racism of their own. Though I suppose they might not care whether whites and blacks hook up, that's just non-Japanese people doing their thing. Japanese/non-Japanese couples in anime might be more interesting to track, there.


2016-Oct-01, Saturday 22:46
mindstalk: (Default)
Perspective of an ex-neo-Confederate.

Weekly church attendance by state.

Barcelona's plans for superblocks.  And Barcelona transit: crazy trains but hyperrational bus grid, with lines labeled as H2 or V5 ,for Horizontal or Vertical.

Paris turns the bus stop into major transit infrastructure.

Save a biker, use the Dutch reach in opening car doors.

Not sure if this is correct or just plausible, but words on why Europe, or cold climates in general, doesn't have many venomous animals.

The mythology of "Irish slavery".

mindstalk: (Earth)
James Nicoll recently seemed to recommend Tekumel. I've known of this for a long time, but never gotten into it. Someone linked to tekumel.com and I started reading its history... then stopped, it wasn't that exciting to me. But it's got the common huuuuuge numbers. The world was settled 60,000 years after our present, time passed, disasters happened, now the 'currently' oldest written records are 25,000 years old. I read something about how some century was full of specified events, then the next 500 years were full of petty infighting.

Not unique to Tekumel. Game of Thrones has 12,000 years of alleged history. Eberron has hundreds of thousands of years, maybe millions. Dragaera has 250,000 years.

On the one hand I would like to believe in the longevity of intelligent beings, so at some point you 'need' deep timelines, but I feel they also fit science fiction and far speculation better, rather than fantasy stasis. And either way, authors will have trouble filling the time plausibly.

Tolkien's comparatively modest, with 6500 years since the Noldor returned to Middle Earth, and 1400 years for the Shire. Exalted has 5000 years since the Primordial War, and only about 750 since almost everyone died and half the world dissolved into chaos.

Then there's Glorantha, which in the RuneQuest III box set, is introduced at the end of its Third Age, 1500 years after the invention of Time itself. There's overlapping and contradictory myth stuff 'before' that, but actual history is 1500 years. (I'm assuming they started with writing, from the myth/hero age.) No wonder they're still using bronze! I don't know that much about the history, but the second age was dominated by two magically powerful empires, that lasted for some centuries. And not millennia.

In the real world, the oldest written symbols are from about 3500 BC, but the oldest coherent texts from 2600. Those are about earlier times, somewhat, so let's say history starts around 3000 BC. What does 1500 years get us?

In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians have come and gone (though Sumerian remains a literary language, alongside daily Akkadian), and Hammurabi of Babylon was a few centuries ago. Iron and the Bronze Age collapse are a few centuries in the future.

In Egypt, both the Old and Middle Kingdoms have passed. The pyramids are ancient history to Egyptians.

I don't know anyone else for that period. Advancing to the 'historical' eras of other places: 1500 BC to 1 BC in Greece gets you the high Bronze Age and Myceneans, Bronze Age Collapse, dark age, whatever happened that became the Trojan War stories, Homer, weird art most people don't know about, the Classical period, the Hellenistic Age, and conquest by Rome.

Rome itself only starts around 750 BC, 1500 years takes us to 750 AD. So kingdom, Republic, Empire, fall in the west and displacement to the east, the rise of Christianity, the advance of Islamic Arab armies. Dark Ages and Charlemagne in the West, well past Justinian in the east.

In China, 1600-100 BC covers the Shang, Zhou, Warring States, Confucius and other philosophers, Qin, and Han. Okay, so most of us probably don't much about those periods beyond museum pieces, still the names suggest change. 100 BC to 1400 AD covers the Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming, and the invention of much of what we consider "Chinese": civil service exams, porcelain, paper, gunpowder, the compass, printing...

The history of England is about 1500 years if you count from when Roman support left and the Anglo-Saxons showed up. From 1066, not quite 1000 years.

Japan barely even *has* 1500 years of written history; we can go back to some Chinese mentions in the 200s, or spotty Kofun era records before 500.

Trinidad surprise

2016-Sep-10, Saturday 13:00
mindstalk: (lizqueen)
I've been reading a book of Caribbean history. So, in the 1800s slavery started getting abolished, and it was hard to still find workers on sugar plantations. Paying ex-slaves enough to work made the sugar more expensive than slave-produced sugar, and they were frankly not very enthusiastic about doing sugar work at any wage, preferring to be independent peasants, and who can blame them? There were various adaptations, for example Haiti tried inventing state socialism way early, conscripting the population into sugar work -- replacing private slavery with state slavery, woo.

Down in Trinidad, they somehow found it economical to import indentured laborers across the world from India. After 10 years the workers got a subsidized trip back to India, but many stayed; as a result Trinidad is now plurality (Asian) Indian, (38% or so), and also 18% Hindu. (Also 5% Muslim, and noticeable minorities of Bahai and Sikh.) I vaguely knew something like this had happened but not that there was a significantly Hindu-minority country south of the US. I feel kind of like when I discovered, in senior year of high school, that Belize existed and spoke English.

(I would swear that it simply never came up in my MacNeil-Lehrer watching childhood, unlike every other Central American country. And my parents' old globe probably had "Brit. Hond.")
mindstalk: (Earth)
I expect most of my readers know that Columbus didn't "prove the Earth was round", but an interesting question is how widespread knowledge of the globular Earth was, e.g. among the uneducated. Hard to answer for sure. But this reddit thread gives some interesting quotes about elite knowledge, including citing the Venerable Bede quoting Augustine, and someone writing in 1170s about longitude and time differences (from the observed local time of eclipses.) And:

"the key piece of evidence with regard to unlearned people is a book of sermons published in vernacular German and translated into multiple languages which mentions a spherical Earth multiple times as a metaphor; that is, something ordinary people listening to a sermon would understand and relate to."

Bad news for any Ars Magica campaigns that assume people believing in a flat Earth...

This post discusses the Treaty of Tordesillas; no, a line dividing up the Americas didn't mean they thought the world was flat.

Finally, this blames the 19th century for creating the myth that medieval people thought the world was flat. Not the only historical bullshit that came out of the 19th century...

Turkey context:

2016-Jul-15, Friday 18:20
mindstalk: (atheist)
Turkey's military is sworn to uphold secular democracy. This might be the sixth coup since 1960.

Turkey joined NATO in 1955: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO#Members so being a NATO member with a coup isn't new. For that matter, Portugal joined in 1949, and was run by the dictator Salazar until 1968. Greece was run by a junta of colonels from 1967 to 1974.

Erdogan has been undermining democracy, going after opposition MPs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/08/erdogans-draconian-new-law-demolish-turkeys-eu-ambitions and prosecuting more than 1800 people since 2014 for "insulting" him.

And this weirdness, from what I'm told is the third largest newspaper in Turkey and legit: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-one-should-do-politics-in-turkey-except-erdogan-says-chief-adviser-yigit-bulut.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100501&NewsCatID=338

'With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the helm in Turkey, there’s no need for anyone else in the country to engage in politics, presidential adviser Yiğit Bulut has said.

“There is already a leader in this country and he is engaging in politics. There is no need for anyone else to engage in politics. He is engaging in politics both at home and abroad. Our duty is to support the leader in this country,” Bulut, Erdoğan’s chief economy adviser, said during a program on state television TRT Haber on June 14.'

'Bulut, a former news anchor and editor-in-chief of the private broadcaster 24 TV, was appointed as then-Prime Minister Erdoğan’s chief adviser in July 2013 during which time he unraveled a vast and nefarious international conspiracy to assassinate Erdoğan “using telekinesis.” After Erdoğan’s election as president in August 2014, he was appointed as his chief adviser on economics.'

_First Contact_

2016-Jul-10, Sunday 14:41
mindstalk: (Earth)
1987 book I just finished, by Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson. It's about the contact between white Australians and highland New Guinea in the 1930s, mostly done by Australian gold prospector Michael Leahy, with Leahy's 1930s photographs (and some 1980s ones, by the book's authors.) It's main sources are Leahy's diaries and 1980s interviews of both surviving Australians and highlanders. So we get views from both sides, though most of the surviving highlanders were teens or kids at the time, naturally.

First half or so of the book is a step-by-step following of the initial expeditions, but it later pans out to further developments and reactions, closing with independence for Papua New Guinea in 1975.


* The highlanders seem to have been extremely isolated from the coast. They can't have been entirely so, because shells filtered up as highly valuable prestige/trade/moka items, but OTOH they hadn't heard of the white men who'd been on the coast for 50 years, and on first viewing thought the whites were relatives returned from the dead. The highlanders themselves say that.

* Pretty isolated from each other, it seems, or more accurately a person's radius of experience was pretty short, hemmed in by hostiles tribes.

* Volatile mix of racism, paternalism, and humanity among the whites. Michael could readily go for a lethal show of force to "kill before we're killed" while objecting to the bloodfeud killing of the natives or gratuitous killing by his own coastal native 'gunbois'. One brother went half native, taking two native wives and never leaving; a friend from the Administration went full native, being accepted by the highlanders he lived among; Michael turned into an Angry Old White Man, disappointed at not getting wealthy and ranting to his grave against the independence movement.

* Both major Out Of Context problems and rapid adaptation by the highlanders. Took them a while to figure out if the whites were human and not spirit, but quickly taking advantage of the wealth they offered and assessing the physical danger they posed.

* Highlanders somewhat balking at independence, as they had less negative experience of colonialism than the coastal New Guineans, and feared being dominated by the coastals. A Liberian UN commissioner was really surprised at the feelings he ran into. "Development, then independence." Of course, most of the Australians had no intention of developing NG into economic independence, that's not what colonies are for.

* Examples of both benign and imperial introductions of money and trade. The early prospectors weren't that violently rapacious, though killing a fair number of people to establish "don't mess with our stuff"; they brought in lots of wealth of shells, axes, and other goods to buy food and labor with, but the workers weren't losing their own land, and had a real choice to work. Administration and the coastal colonists didn't like independent labor though, and instituted poll taxes that had to be paid in Australian money.

(The prospectors might have been worse had they ever found major gold prospects to dredge. Happily they didn't, and coffee plantations ended up the main means of wealth extraction.)

* WWII was a push toward independence. No mention of attitudes wearing off from the Japanese or the fact of their pushing out Australia, but the returning US and Australian soldiers are claimed to have been relatively egalitarian, a shocking contrast with the pre-war colonists.

* Colonialism probably really did bring down the violent death rate, here.
mindstalk: (lizqueen)
I saw a claim that this was Morocco. On researching, it seems a bit complicated.

* In 1776 some Dutch port gun-saluted a US-flagged warship, so "recognition".
* In 1777 Morocco formally recognized the US
* But we might not have found that out until April 1778, due to communication times, by which time I think we knew France had recognized us.

So Morocco seems to have been the first sovereign government to make the decision to recognize us.
mindstalk: (glee)
I was reading about the Darien Gap, nigh-impassable swamp at the south end of Central America. Moderately interesting on its own. But the page ends with "It is also mentioned in John Keats' poem 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer'"

So I read the latter page, which has not just the poem, a paean to Chapman's translation opening Homer up to those who don't know Greek, but analysis of the poem's allusions.

"Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

new planet -- Uranus
Cortez -- actually Balboa
Darien -- Darien

I'm not new to classic poetry referring to modern (for its time) science; I used to be really into John Donne, who had a lot of this. But I'm still impressed by such things.

I also realized that for all my timeline work, I had no real idea when Keats lived. Connecting him to Chapman and Uranus didn't really help, either, though I would have guessed Uranus discovery to be mid-late 1800s. Nope! Keats 1795-1821, poem 1816, Uranus 1781. Which also sounds familiar, hmm. Clearly my art and history time sense needs work.
mindstalk: (Homura)
This is largely mnemonic notetaking for myself, no guarantees of interest to others.

Periods of Japanese history, with distinctive features, and all the reliability of "I read Wikipedia pages last night".

Jomon: 14,000-300 BC. Sedentary hunter gatherers. Ainu anatomy. Some of the oldest pottery in the world, pre-dating the Middle East by millennia, recently beaten by 18,000 BC pottery found in China. Named for the cords used to imprint decorations on their pottery. Contemporary with, uh, everything, from the Ice Age through to Hellenistic times or China's Warring States period.

Yayoi: 300 BC-250 AD. Full-scale rice farming, bronze and iron tools, population changes to more like modern Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese; one could reasonably thing most Japanese people are the descendants of Korean farmers from this time. Chinese documents start referring to 'Wa', as a chaos of tribal communities. Contemporary with Alexander, Punic Wars, Rome's height; Warring States, Qin dynasty, Han Dynasty. Named for an archeological site.

Kofun: 250-538 AD. First part of the broader 'Yamato' period. Yamato dynasty ends up with hegemony over Kyushu and much of Honshu by the end. Named for giant 'keyhole' shaped tomb-mounds. Haniwa (clay tomb offerings.) Contemporary with late antiquity and the early Dark Ages of Western Europe, and general chaos in China.

Asuka: 538-710. Second half of Yamato. Buddhism introduced. Country name changed from Wa to Nihon. Lots of Chinese borrowing including writing, Taoism, and models of strong government. Imperial family claims equality with the Emperor of China and the title of Tennou. Named for I can't tell. Contemporary with the Dark Ages, rise of Islam, and beginning of the Tang Dynasty.

Nara: 710-794. Named for the capital being at Nara, Japan's first urban center. Writing spreads, with Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, and waka poetry. More Buddhism, and building of Todaiji.

Heian: 794-1185. Named for its capital, now Kyoto. Peak of Chinese influences, and hyper developed court culture, coupled with shitty popular conditions. Real power largely with the Fujiwara. Rise of the samurai class. Tang Dynasty government model. War against the Emishi of northeast Honshu, probably heirs of the Jomon and parent/cousin to the Ainu. Hiragana and katakana developed. Tale of Genji. Breakdown of strong government and rise of feudalism. Beginning is contemporary with Charlemagne (crowned HRE in 800), Haroun al Raschid, and Tang; period spans 1066, start of the Crusades, much of the High Middle Ages, and rise of the Song Dynasty.

Kamakura: 1185-1333. First shogunate, by the Minamoto family. Named for the de facto shogunate capital. Double figurehead: Minamoto shogun wields power for the emperor, and Hojo regents wielded power for the shogun. Zen Buddhism arises, among many other sects. Mongols invade, kamikaze. Contemporary with High Middle Ages, Black Death, and Mongols.

Muromachi: 1336 [sic]-1573. "It gets its name from the Muromachi district of Kyoto.[3] The third shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, established his residence on Muromachi Street." Openly military government that was nonetheless weak; things get even more feudal, with rise of the daimyo, passing into the Sengoku (warring states) period. Shinto resurgence, spurred by the kamikaze. Europeans start visiting in 1543, bringing pumpkins and guns. Contemporary with Hundred Year's War, Gutenberg, discovery and conquest of Americas, Yuan and Ming dynasties, War of the Roses, rise of Protestantism, fall of Constantinople, Elizabeth I.

Unification period. Most of Shakespeare's career.

Edo/Tokugawa: 1603-1868. Named for capital or ruling family. Very strong shogunate, "sword hunt" of guns and non-samurai swords, stratifies but peaceful and prosperous society, probably the world's best attempt at autarky. Starts in the same year Elizabeth I dies. North American colonies start. Seclusion (sakoku) starts in 1640s, along with Thirty Year's War and execution of Charles I. Ukiyo-e, kabuki, sushi. Rise of literate and mercantile society. Perry visits in 1853, followed by crisis and opening.

Meiji: 1868-1912. Rapid Westernization, industrialization, nominal democracy, end of formal feudalism. More Shinto resurgence, State Shinto, emphasis on Imperial divinity. Defeats of China and Russia. Named for the Emperor (as will be the rest.)

Taisho: 1912-1926. Democratic peak, in between chaos and militarism. WWI and expansion into Asia. First commoner as prime minister. Fear of Communism. Rise of pan-Asianism.

Showa: 1926-1989. Modern history.

Heisei: 1989-. Starts the same year the Berlin Wall falls. Economic stagnation, worldwide appeal of anime.
mindstalk: (Earth)
Do we live in a time of accelerating progress, or one of slowdown and diminishing returns?  I used to think the former, for years have thought the latter.  It seems to boil down to whether you pay attention to computers or to everything else, like speed or energy use or the general conditions of life.

Krugman reviews a book arguing most of the big transformation happened between 1870 and 1940.

For support, I add Tom Murph's old post, comparing 1885 to 1950 to 2015.

And finally, a 2013 article talking particularly about America's great slowdown.  It invokes both the 1700s first industrial revolution and the late 1800s second revolution, saying the second happened to pick up right as the first tapered off, so by sheer luck we had an extended run of rapid growth.

Edit: I'd note this isn't a claim that there'll never big transformation. True AI could well be big, though not necessarily positive for most of us. Advanced biotech could be cool. But they're also distant. I'm not seeing anything analogous to electrification of the home, people moving off the farm and then out of the factories, etc. LED lights are neat, but they just lower electricity bills a bit, they're nothing as radical as going from candles and oil to the electric bulb.

Cool timelines

2016-Jan-24, Sunday 18:09
mindstalk: (12KMap)
The blog "Wait but why" has some cool timelines of people.  Not exactly a new concept, so there's IMO an excessive amount of verbiage describing them, but the charts themselves are neat.

He's also a neat version of zooming out on time.

April 2019

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