|More History - wednesday 2003-10-01 1813||last modified 2003-10-01 1815|
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Much of my time at home was spent reading. On a whim at the airport, I picked up Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, an examination of the base factors that influenced the way human civilization evolved - put in one key question, why is it that Europeans reached and conquered America instead of Asians?
Diamond points at a few important environmental factors (domesticable crops and herd animals) which lay the ground for other important societal factors (competition and diversity). This is interesting looking back, though the author and I wonder if it has ramifications for the future. Diamond posits that China failed to have an oceangoing fleet able to reach America due to its monoculture. Where Columbus eventually found a backer in Spain, the rest of Europe following after reading his Diario, the Chinese government disbanded its shipbuilding capability in one policy decision and never found reason to resume. Yet today, China is in a position to economically dominate the world, despite the continuation of its millenias-old monocultural policies. Diversity brought us the grand old US of A - where will we go from here? In particular, what happens to a global society? Or a society where the media begins to prune away diversity and encourage uniformity?
I also received a brief education on the histories of Australia / Polynesia and Africa, areas I'm woefully ignorant of (Shaka who?). Khoisan, Bantu, other words I've never heard; time to go find some more books.
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