11. Januar 2020

History for 13,000 years

This book has 580 pages, You better use a rubber band to keep it closed. Even better: read it!

Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs & Steel – A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. Over One Million Cipies Sold.

Book online for exampe at

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among people’s environments, not because differences among peoples themselves” (p 19), single sentence book summary by the author.  

Peoples adapted.

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• p 9. “Many other indigenous populations … became so reduced in numbers … that they are greatly outnumbered. Although thus incapable of mounting a civil war, they are nevertheless asserting their rights.” – A first, luckily rare appearance in the book of the modern moralization. Rights are today’s rights.

Woman without torso, source
• p 11.The author has divided his life between United States cities and New Guinea villages. He does not want to “celebrate one type of society over another …”.  “33 years working with New Guineans”, p 13

• Rise of Darvinian theory …

vestiges = traces

Circus World Museum
• “Europeans became considered genetically more intelligent than Africans …”
  Around 1900 albinos like the Muse brothers or other rare people like fake “women without a torso” (Frauen ohne Unterleib) were on display in Circusses and shows.
   Diamond does not look at the time from about 1900 to 1940, when society’s goal was to improve ‘the race’.

• p 12. “Racist expanations are not just … loathsome [ugly], but … wrong.”

• p 13. Examples of differences in relative intelligence. But “a state of war was the exception” in Western societies?

• p 14. Selection in Eurpean societies by body chemistry were more potent thab by changing genes. – Certainly faster.

Childhood stimulation! – We’ll see what Smartphones stimulate.

• p 15. Climate?

• p 16. Irrigation?

• p 17. “Africa remains a big puzzle.

Arnold Toynbee Study of History,published in 1934–61”.

• p 18.  “… a lack of … ultimate explanations leaves a big intellectual gap”, fine and challenging, but “more serious is the moral gap left unfilled”? For me the history of morals is another ballgame.

lopsided = leaning to one side, unbalanced, opinioned. Ethymology possibly from ships badly balanced and leaning to one side, http://www.latin-dictionary.net/search/latin/lop (Schlagseite)

• p 25. Philippines. The neighbour’s cleaning woman comes fom the Philippines. She had a hard youth. From the about 150 languages back home she probably speaks some, mainly the standard “Tagalo”, she says, when she chats with other Philippinos after (catholic) Sunday church service in Cologne. Her German is weak, and she uses no grammtic gender. For her all people are politely “she”, »sie«, aunt or uncle. That confuses me. She is very kind and very intelligent, but formally insolvent. Since her older German husband here died, she never found lasting genuine goodness in personal relations.

• p 24. “Geography’s effect” for the spread of peoples, north-south continents like the Americas at a climatic disadvantage vs. better off east-west continents as Eurasia. Continuous land better than islands, especially as ships came into use late. Australia, terra incognita.

• p 29. Cajamarca, Peru, 2,750 m (8,900 ft) above sea level. “The history of the city is highlighted by the Battle of Cajamarca, which marked the defeat of the Inca Empire by Spanish invaders as the Incan emperor Atahualpa was captured and murdered here.”

Homo erectus, Photo Wikip.
• p 31 footnote Calibrated radiocarbon dates

• p 32. “Homo erectus [-1.7 mio] … was close to us humans in body size, its brain size … barely half of ours.”

• p 35. “Neanderthals had brains slightly larger than our own.” – At that time “Africans couldn’t even catch fish”.
   Neandertal – spelling until 1903: Neanderthal with h – is a valley (Tal) east of Düsseldorf, Germany, at 21.220416 6.925427 just 6 kilometers or 12 minutes by car off North-South autobahn A3
   Another story. The Homo sapiens (modern man) couple found near Bonn, -14.000, at the end of the Last Glacial Period (LGP) would have found the Thames flowing into the Rhine, look at my album https://photos.app.goo.gl/AEpIAOP423572EeF3 . Brexit came later.
Thames (Themse) flowing into the Rhine (Rhein)
14,000 years ago. From exhibition
»Eiszeitjäger«, Landesmuseum Bonn 2015, relief on floor.
Foto Jörn
 • p 36. Lascaux Cave with great art, Concorde airplane with great speed. I’ve been in both, admiring art and feeling the heat in full flight; how lucky I am to span this long a time!

 • p 37. “Within a few thousand years there were non more Neanderhals.” – Will we survive year 3000? I think so.

• p 38. “During the Ice Ages … sea levels dropped hundreds of feet below their present stand.” – And we (few) survived.

“Australia itself was always invisible from even the nearest Indonesian islands…”

Wann Schiffe?

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