As I have done for the previous years, I provide below some clippings from the books read up to April 2016. For those read after Jorion’s “Le dernier qui s’en va éteint la lumière” I list only the date of purchase on Amazon (Kindle version). The clippings are listed in reverse order. The list of books from April is given after the clippings. Books which I would rate as remarkable are bolded, with a link to Amazon… not that I am a great fan of Amazon, but that’s where I find the books for the Kindle! I have tried a Kobo in Beijing some years ago, and quickly given up to revert to the Kindle, even if our Chinese “friends” were not exactly “friendly” with us foreign Kindle users.
1. 20160101: The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, Thom Hartmann
2. 20160101: ADHD and the Edison Gene: A Drug-Free Approach to Managing the Unique Qualities of Your Child, Thom Hartmann
3. 20160101: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
4. 20160113: New World Order: The Rise of the Police State in America, Ron Taylor
5. 20160113: To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science, Steven Weinberg
6. 20160113: The Most Basic Chinese – All You Need to Know to Get (Most Basic Languages), James McGlasson
7. 20160114: Delphi Complete Works of Cicero (Illustrated) (Delphi Ancient Classics Book 23), Marcus Tullius Cicero
8. 20160114: The Art of Everyday Latin: Part I, George Adler
9. 20160114: The Ultimate Latin Dictionary, Lucas Nicolato
10. 20160214: Lieblingsgedichte der Deutschen – Die 101 beliebtesten und schönsten Gedichte aller Zeiten (Illustrierte Ausgabe) (German Edition), von Goethe
11. 20160214: Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge, Michael Suk-Young Chwe
12. 20160214: Grimms Märchen – Über 250 Kinder- und Hausmärchen der Gebrüder Grimm [Illustriert] (German Edition), Wilhelm Grimm
13. 20160214: The Sea Peoples: The Mysterious Nomads Who Ushered in the Iron Age, Charles River Editors
14. 20160224: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester OBE
15. 20160311: When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future, Abby Smith Rumsey
16. 20160315: MONTAIGNE ESSAIS I (trad. GdP) (ESSAIS de MONTAIGNE t. 1) (French Edition), de Montaigne
17. 20160326: The Culture of Cities (Forbidden Bookshelf Book 19), Lewis Mumford
18. 20160326: Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Neil Postman
19. 20160422: Le dernier qui s’en va éteint la lumière : Essai sur l’extinction de l’humanité (Documents) (French Edition), Paul Jorion
20160424 Le dernier qui s’en va éteint la lumière : Essai sur l’extinction de l’humanité, Paul Jorion, 2016, Fayard
On parle d’une « conversation à bâtons rompus », mais peut-on imaginer un « monologue à bâtons rompus » ? Si la chose avait un sens, on ne serait guère éloigné alors de ce que le psychanalyste qualifie d’« association libre ». Mais l’association libre se caractérise par le coq-à-l’âne, du moins pour l’interlocuteur, puisque c’est le mérite de Freud d’avoir souligné qu’il n’y a rien qui fasse davantage sens précisément pour le locuteur – celui qui énonce – que ce qu’il dit ainsi sans lien apparent, car, sous-jacent à ce qui semble être des sauts dans la continuité, se trouve le lien implicite : le sens de toute sa vie jusque-là pour un être humain qui n’a pas d’autre choix que de dire ce qu’il s’entend effectivement dire. (Sans commentaire: blablabla!)
20160420 Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Neil Postman, 1993. First Vintage Books.
Loc 59-61: Stated in the most dramatic terms, the accusation can be made that the uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living. Technology, in sum, is both friend and enemy.
Loc 163-166: On the other hand and in the long run, television may bring a gradual end to the careers of schoolteachers, since school was an invention of the printing press and must stand or fall on the issue of how much importance the printed word has. For four hundred years, schoolteachers have been part of the knowledge monopoly created by printing, and they are now witnessing the breakup of that monopoly.
Loc 202-223: Here, I should like to give only one example of how technology creates new conceptions of what is real and, in the process, undermines older conceptions. I refer to the seemingly harmless practice of assigning marks or grades to the answers students give on examinations. This procedure seems so natural to most of us that we are hardly aware of its significance. We may even find it difficult to imagine that the number or letter is a tool or, if you will, a technology; still less that, when we use such a technology to judge someone’s behavior, we have done something peculiar. In point of fact, the first instance of grading students’ papers occurred at Cambridge University in 1792 at the suggestion of a tutor named William Farish.3 No one knows much about William Farish; not more than a handful have ever heard of him. And yet his idea that a quantitative value should be assigned to human thoughts was a major step toward constructing a mathematical concept of reality. If a number can be given to the quality of a thought, then a number can be given to the qualities of mercy, love, hate, beauty, creativity, intelligence, even sanity itself. When Galileo said that the language of nature is written in mathematics, he did not mean to include human feeling or accomplishment or insight. But most of us are now inclined to make these inclusions. Our psychologists, sociologists, and educators find it quite impossible to do their work without numbers. They believe that without numbers they cannot acquire or express authentic knowledge. I shall not argue here that this is a stupid or dangerous idea, only that it is peculiar. What is even more peculiar is that so many of us do not find the idea peculiar. To say that someone should be doing better work because he has an IQ of 134, or that someone is a 7.2 on a sensitivity scale, or that this man’s essay on the rise of capitalism is an A ? and that man’s is a C + would have sounded like gibberish to Galileo or Shakespeare or Thomas Jefferson. If it makes sense to us, that is because our minds have been conditioned by the technology of numbers so that we see the world differently than they did. Our understanding of what is real is different. Which is another way of saying that embedded in every tool is an ideological bias, a predisposition to construct the world as one thing rather than another, to value one thing over another, to amplify one sense or skill or attitude more loudly than another. This is what Marshall McLuhan meant by his famous aphorism “The medium is the message.” This is what Marx meant when he said, “Technology discloses man’s mode of dealing with nature” and creates the “conditions of intercourse” by which we relate to each other. It is what Wittgenstein meant when, in referring to our most fundamental technology, he said that language is not merely a vehicle of thought but also the driver.
Loc 281-285: Technological change is neither additive nor subtractive. It is ecological. I mean “ecological” in the same sense as the word is used by environmental scientists. One significant change generates total change. If you remove the caterpillars from a given habitat, you are not left with the same environment minus caterpillars: you have a new environment, and you have reconstituted the conditions of survival; the same is true if you add caterpillars to an environment that has had none. This is how the ecology of media works as well. A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything.
Loc 422-429: The modern technocracies of the West have their roots in the medieval European world, from which there emerged three great inventions: the mechanical clock, which provided a new conception of time; the printing press with movable type, which attacked the epistemology of the oral tradition; and the telescope, which attacked the fundamental propositions of Judeo-Christian theology. Each of these was significant in creating a new relationship between tools and culture. But since it is permissible to say that among faith, hope, and charity the last is most important, I shall venture to say that among the clock, the press, and the telescope the last is also the most important. To be more exact (since Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and to some extent Kepler did their work without benefit of the telescope), somewhat cruder instruments of observation than the telescope allowed men to see, measure, and speculate about the heavens in ways that had not been possible before. But the refinements of the telescope made their knowledge so precise that there followed a collapse, if one may say it this way, of the moral center of gravity in the West.
20160415: L’Academie des sciences et les academiciens de 1666 à 1793, Joseph Bertrand, chez J. Hetzel, Paris, 1869. Publié par le projet Gutenberg en 2016.
Loc 1261-1286: Deux commissions furent envoyées, l’une en Laponie, l’autre au Pérou, pour mesurer les degrés dont la comparaison devait tout décider. Maupertuis, Clairaut, Lemonnier et l’abbé Outhier partirent pour le nord. La Condamine, Bouguer et Godin, accompagnés de Joseph de Jussieu et de Couplet, neveu du trésorier de l’Académie, s’étaient embarqués six mois avant pour le Pérou. L’expédition du nord fut heureuse. Tous les missionnaires revinrent après avoir terminé rapidement leur travail dont les résultats incontestés tranchèrent la question. Aucune rivalité ne troubla leurs relations. Maupertuis, le plus ancien des trois académiciens et chef reconnu de l’expédition, s’attribua le mérite et recueillit l’honneur du succès; les autres le laissèrent faire sans que l’amitié cimentée par les fatigues et par les travaux communs en parût un instant altérée. L’expédition de l’équateur traversée par de plus grands obstacles devint funeste au contraire à plusieurs de ceux qui y prirent part. Bien peu d’entre eux devaient revoir la France. Couplet en arrivant à Quito fut emporté par une fièvre maligne; Seniergues, chirurgien de l’expédition, à la suite de querelles étrangères à la science fut assassiné au milieu d’une fête par la populace de Cuença. L’astronome Godin accepta à Lima une chaire de mathématiques que, suivant le vice-roi, il n’avait pas le droit de refuser. En promettant sur son passeport de rendre au gouvernement espagnol tous les services qui seraient en son pouvoir, ne s’était-il pas engagé à instruire en cas de besoin les étudiants de Lima? Un des aides-dessinateurs, nommé Moranval, resta au Pérou pour y exercer la profession d’architecte et tombant d’un échafaudage mourut des suites de sa chute. L’horloger Hugot et Godin des Odonais partis pour étudier les langues d’Amérique, se marièrent à Rio-Bomba et restèrent au Pérou, ainsi que Joseph de Jussieu qui y exerça la profession de médecin. Godin quitta le Pérou trente-huit ans après seulement pour terminer pauvrement sa carrière dans une petite ville de Normandie. De Jussieu infirme et privé de mémoire fut renvoyé à peu près à la même époque. Ses deux frères l’entourèrent des soins les plus affectueux, mais ils n’osèrent jamais le conduire à l’Académie qui l’avait élu pendant son absence; c’est le seul académicien qui n’ait jamais siégé. Bouguer et La Condamine rapportèrent donc seuls en France les résultats de l’expédition qui, retardée par des difficultés de tout genre, ne dura pas moins de sept années. Bouguer revint en 1742. La Condamine, qui fit de son retour un voyage d’exploration à travers l’Amérique du Sud, ne reparut à l’Académie qu’une année plus tard. Bouguer, dès son arrivée, s’était empressé de confirmer par le témoignage de ses résultats les conclusions déjà anciennes et presque décisives de Maupertuis et de Clairaut. Cassini, après avoir avec l’aide de Lacaille revu les mesures prises en France et trouvé la cause de leur désaccord, s’était rendu lui-même à la vérité désormais bien constante, en sorte que La Condamine arrivant le dernier trouva la curiosité du public épuisée et peut-être lassée sur cette question, naguère encore si ardemment débattue. Les discussions et les chicanes par lesquelles Bouguer et lui agitèrent si longtemps l’Académie naquirent peut-être de la mauvaise humeur qu’il en conçut. Bouguer était sans
Loc 3011-3021: Lagrange, Laplace, Legendre et Monge, ont été connus de nos contemporains, et il m’a été donné plus d’une fois de les entendre juger par ceux dont ils avaient encouragé la jeunesse. M. Poinsot, dans quelques lignes finement travaillées, s’était plu à marquer les traits principaux de leur caractère et de leur talent, et, malgré l’injustice très-apparente envers l’un des plus illustres, il avait assez bien réussi pour que dès la première lecture on n’hésitât pas un instant sur le véritable nom des géomètres A, B, C, D. A. Va d’un air simple à la vérité qu’il aime: la vérité lui sourit et quitte volontiers sa retraite pour se laisser produire au grand jour par un homme aussi modeste. B. Ne l’a jamais vue que par surprise. Elle se cache à cet homme vain qui n’en parle que d’une manière obscure. Mais vous le voyez qui cherche à tourner cette obscurité en profondeur et son embarras en un air noble de contrainte et de peine comme un homme qui craint d’en trop dire et de divulguer un commerce secret qu’il n’a jamais eu avec elle. C. Il faut bien, se dit-il, qu’elle soit en quelque lieu. Or il va laborieusement dans tous ceux où elle n’est point, et comme il n’en reste plus qu’un seul qu’il n’a pas visité, il dit qu’elle y est, qu’il en est bien sûr, et il s’essuie le front. D. D’un tempérament chaud, la désire avec ardeur, la voit, la poursuit en satyre, l’atteint et la viole.
Loc 3182-3190: Dionis du Séjour, tout en se faisant un nom considérable dans la science, avait la bonté, dit quelque part Voltaire, d’être en même temps conseiller au Parlement, où l’on citait son savoir et sa droiture; il étonnait ses confrères par le nombre et la netteté des rapports qu’il pouvait faire sans fatigue. Libéral et sensé, il porta à l’Assemblée nationale l’autorité de ses talents et d’une réputation très-méritée de pureté et de justice. On l’avait beaucoup loué sous la monarchie d’avoir su, malgré le texte formel de la loi, sauver la vie d’un malheureux prêtre coupable de sacrilége. Ce pauvre homme, fort grossier de langage, ayant eu de la peine à faire entrer l’hostie dans l’ostensoir, l’avait poussée avec impatience en s’écriant: «Entre donc…» et ajoutant un mot que Lalande, qui pourtant se gêne peu, n’a pas osé imprimer, il fut entendu, dénoncé, et condamné à mort. Heureusement il y avait appel, et du Séjour était de Tournelle. Le jugement fut cassé et l’accusé, renvoyé devant l’autorité ecclésiastique, en fut quitte pour une année de retraite.
Loc 3873-3898: La partie économique du livre de Réaumur n’est pas moins remarquable: «Il y avait, dit-il dans sa préface, deux partis à choisir pour rendre les arts, et surtout celui d’adoucir le fer fondu, utiles au royaume: ou d’accorder des priviléges à des compagnies, qui, comme celles des glaces, eussent eu seules le droit de faire de ces sortes d’ouvrages, ou de donner une liberté générale à tous les ouvriers d’y travailler. Le premier parti eût plutôt fait paraître des manufactures considérables et le public eût eu plutôt à choisir des ouvrages de ce genre. Dès que la liberté est générale, les artisans se chargeront de ce travail, mais leur peu de fortune ne leur permettant pas de faire les avances nécessaires pour fournir à une grande quantité d’ouvrages très-variés, parce que les premiers modèles coûtent cher, les ouvrages s’en multiplieront plus lentement; les compagnies qui pourraient entreprendre de plus grands établissements n’oseront peut-être pas les risquer, dans la crainte de voir bientôt leurs ouvrages copiés par tous les petits ouvriers; mais, outre qu’un amour de la liberté porte à souhaiter qu’il soit permis aux hommes de faire ce sur quoi ils ont naturellement autant de droit que les autres, c’est que, si les établissements se font de la sorte plus lentement, d’une manière moins brillante, ils se forment d’une manière plus utile au public. Comment s’assurer d’une société qui ne soit pas trop avide de gain? C’est le grand inconvénient des priviléges, qui d’ailleurs lient les mains à ceux qui n’en ont pas obtenu de pareils et qui auraient été en état d’en faire de meilleurs usages, qui auraient eu plus de talents pour perfectionner les nouvelles inventions. Ce n’est pas que les particuliers n’aient pour le profit une ardeur égale à celle des compagnies, mais la crainte que leurs voisins ne vendent plus qu’eux, l’envie d’attirer le marchand, leur fait donner à meilleur marché. J’ai eu la preuve de cette nécessité de faire multiplier le débit: j’avais permis à quelques ouvriers, qui avaient travaillé sous nos yeux dans le laboratoire de l’Académie, de faire des ouvrages de fer fondu. Malgré moi ils voulaient les tenir à un prix excessif; quand ils offraient pour 200 livres, en fer fondu, ce qui, en fer forgé, en eût coûté 1,200 ou 1,500, ils croyaient faire assez, quoiqu’ils eussent dû le donner pour 4 ou 5 pistoles. Il n’y a donc d’autre manière de vendre les choses à bon marché que de mettre les ouvriers dans la nécessité de débiter à l’envi.» Ces excellentes paroles, que Turgot n’eût pas désavouées, sont écrites, il ne faut pas l’oublier, en 1732, et servent de préface à un ouvrage que le duc d’Orléans, alors régent du royaume et fort compétent sur les questions de science, récompensa par une pension de 12,000 livres. Quelques réflexions généreuses sur le devoir des inventeurs envers l’humanité tout entière méritent également d’être rapportées. «Il s’est trouvé des gens, dit Réaumur, qui n’ont pas approuvé que les découvertes qui font l’objet de ces mémoires aient été rendues publiques. Ils auraient voulu qu’elles eussent été conservées au royaume, que nous eussions imité les exemples du mystère, peu louables à mon sens, que nous donnent quelques-uns de nos voisins. Nous nous devons premièrement à notre patrie, mais nous nous devons aussi au reste du monde; ceux qui travaillent pour perfectionner les sciences et les arts doivent même se regarder comme les citoyens du monde entier.» L’événement ne
Loc 3970-3978: «Mettre dans tout son jour l’utilité du parcage continuel, démontrer les suites pernicieuses de l’usage de renfermer les moutons dans les étables pendant l’hiver, essayer les divers moyens d’en améliorer la race, trouver ceux de déterminer avec précision le degré de finesse de la laine, reconnaître le véritable mécanisme de la rumination, en déduire des conclusions utiles sur le tempérament des bêtes à laine et sur la manière de les nourrir et de les traiter, disséminer les produits de sa bergerie dans toutes les provinces, distribuer ses béliers à tous les propriétaires de troupeaux, faire fabriquer des draps avec ses laines pour en démontrer aux plus prévenus la supériorité, former des bergers instruits pour propager la pratique de sa méthode, rédiger des instructions à la portée de toutes les classes d’agriculteurs, tel est, dit Cuvier, l’exposé rapide des travaux de Daubenton sur cet important sujet.» Leur auteur, on en conviendra, n’avait pas besoin de paître lui-même ses troupeaux pour se faire délivrer sans scrupule, pendant les mauvais jours de la Terreur, un certificat de civisme sous le nom du berger Daubenton.
Loc 4275-4286: l’occasion d’un projet de cartouche incendiaire: «Nous croyons devoir observer, sans entrer dans le détail, disent les commissaires de l’Académie, que, si cette cartouche parvenait toujours à son but, elle produirait l’effet que son auteur promet; il en résulterait une grande destruction d’hommes, parce que le feu mis pendant un combat dans les voiles d’un vaisseau, loin de s’éteindre aussi promptement que le prétend l’auteur, le mettrait dans le danger le plus imminent de brûler sans pouvoir recevoir de secours, et peut-être sans qu’on pût parvenir à sauver l’équipage, qui serait alors la proie des flammes.» Ceci mène naturellement à la discussion d’une grande question politique: «Doit-on adopter un moyen incendiaire dont le succès détruirait promptement une armée navale, mais entraînerait en même temps une grande perte d’hommes? «L’Académie, dont le but est le perfectionnement des sciences et arts, ne veut pas sans doute s’occuper de cette question politique et morale; mais elle nous permettra de lui rappeler qu’en 1759, lorsque, pendant la guerre de sept ans, on proposa à Louis XV de profiter de la découverte qu’un joaillier de Paris venait de faire d’un feu inextinguible, même dans l’eau, ce monarque voulut que le secret fût enseveli dans le plus profond oubli. D’après ces considérations, nous concluons que l’Académie, fidèle à ses principes et à ceux de l’humanité, ne peut, sans un ordre exprès du gouvernement, faire des expériences sur la cartouche proposée.»
Loc 4298-4305: Pendant que Beaumé et Fourcroy étudient sans hésitation la composition du métal des cloches et cherchent sans répugnance le moyen d’en séparer les éléments pour les convertir en pièces de deux sous, ou de les plier à d’autres usages, Lagrange et Borda acceptent très-librement l’examen d’un mémoire de l’abbé Mongès, sur les moyens d’utiliser pour la science la prochaine destruction des clochers. «Il sera bon, dit l’abbé, approuvé en cela par les commissaires, d’examiner avec soin l’orientation de la croix de fer qui surmonte souvent l’édifice, de noter si elle est inclinée par l’action du temps et si, conformément à une croyance populaire, elle l’est toujours dans le même sens; on devra aussi étudier avec soin de quels bois sont faites les vieilles charpentes et si l’essence, comme on le croit généralement, a disparu de nos forêts.» Les Académies
20160413 Dictionnaire étymologique, historique et anecdotique des proverbes et des locutions proverbiales de la Langue Française, en rapport avec de proverbes et des locutions proverbiales des autres langues, Pierre Marie Quitard, 1842. P bertrand, Libraire-Editeur. Published by Project Gutenberg in 2016.
Loc 6168-6175: FATRAS.—C’est du fatras. Cette expression, employée pour désigner une mauvaise compilation, un amas confus de pensées et d’expressions inutiles ou incohérentes, fait sans doute allusion à une ancienne pièce de poésie nommée fatras, où un même vers était souvent répété, comme dans l’exemple suivant: Le prisonnier Qui n’a argent Est en danger, Le prisonnier. Pendre ou noyer Le fait l’agent, Le prisonnier Qui n’a argent. On dit aussi quelquefois, dans un sens analogue: C’est de la riqueraque. On appelait autrefois riqueraque une sorte de longue chanson composée de vers de six ou sept syllabes, à rimes croisées, à peu près dans le même genre que le fatras. Pierre Lefèvre, curé de Merai, fait mention de ces deux espèces de poëmes dans son Art de pleine rhétorique.
Loc 6621-6627: FION.—Donner le fion à une chose. «Un Français enseignait à des mains royales à faire des boutons. Quand le bouton était fait, l’artiste disait: A présent, sire, il faut lui donner le fion. A quelques mois de là, le mot revint dans la tête du roi. Il se mit à compulser tous les dictionnaires, et il n’y trouva pas ce mot. Il appela un Neuchâtelois qui était à sa cour, et lui dit: Apprenez moi ce que c’est que le fion dans la langue française. Sire, répondit le Neuchâtelois, le fion, c’est la bonne grâce.» (Mercier, Tableau de Paris, tome V, ch. 70.) D’après le Dictionnaire du bas langage, imprimé en 1808, le fion est le poli, le dernier soin qu’on donne à un ouvrage pour le perfectionner.
Loc 6643-6645: FLANDRE.—Faire flandre. C’est faire comme en Flandre, c’est-à-dire faire faillite, s’évader; car autrefois les banqueroutiers étaient plus communs en Flandre que partout ailleurs, en raison du grand nombre de commerçants qu’il y avait dans ce pays.
Loc 7009-7027: GÉNIE.—Il n’y a point de génie sans un grain de folie. Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixturâ dementiæ, dit Sénèque, qui attribue cette pensée à Aristote; cependant Aristote n’a exprimé cette pensée d’une manière formelle dans aucun de ses ouvrages. Mais dans un de ses problèmes, il s’est proposé une question qui la renferme implicitement, et qui peut avoir donné lieu au résultat présenté par Sénèque: cette question est énoncée ainsi: «Pourquoi ceux qui se sont distingués, soit en philosophie, soit en politique, soit en poésie, soit dans les arts, ont-ils tous été mélancoliques?» (Probl., sect. 30.) Platon fait entendre aussi qu’on se flatte vainement d’exceller dans un art, surtout dans la poésie, si, guidé seulement par les règles, on ne se sent transporté de cette fureur presque divine qui est en ce genre le caractère le plus sensible et le moins équivoque d’une véritable inspiration. En effet, sans l’enthousiasme, sans cette fièvre de l’ame, il n’est point de productions immortelles dans les arts imitatifs, et un poète, un musicien, un peintre, un statuaire, n’enfantent rien qui frappe, qui émeuve, qui transporte; en un mot, tout ce qui est sublime, tout ce qui surpasse la nature, est le fruit de l’enthousiasme et quelquefois même d’une sorte de folie dont l’enthousiasme est fort près. L’histoire des beaux arts nous apprend que plusieurs artistes et écrivains célèbres furent sujets à des accès de folie causés par une exaltation d’esprit à laquelle ils durent souvent leurs plus grands succès; têtes aliénées par l’imagination. Il est sûr que les passions fortes décomposent l’être moral, et lui donnent pour ainsi dire une autre nature ou du moins une autre manière d’être, soit en bien, soit en mal. C’est là sans doute ce qui a donné lieu au proverbe, qu’on emploie comme une sorte de reproche contre le génie, car on veut que le génie soit toujours sage, sans penser, dit, je crois, Helvétius, qu’il est l’effort des passions, rarement compatibles avec la sagesse.—Pascal remarque à ce sujet, que l’extrême esprit est accusé de folie, et que rien ne passe pour bon que la médiocrité. Il faut reconnaître pourtant que les grands talents se trouvent rarement dans un homme sans de grands défauts, et que les erreurs les plus monstrueuses ont toujours été l’œuvre des plus grands génies.
Loc 7999-8012: JUGEMENT.—Beaucoup de mémoire et peu de jugement. Ce proverbe est dirigé contre les érudits riches du fonds d’autrui et pauvres de leur propre fonds; mais il ne veut pas dire que la mémoire soit contraire au jugement, car sans la mémoire le jugement n’existerait pas, ou du moins il deviendrait inutile; et d’ailleurs l’expérience prouve que tous les grands esprits ont possédé ces deux facultés à un degré supérieur. Il signifie simplement que le trop grand développement de la première nuit au développement de la seconde, que l’excessive abondance des idées empruntées entraîne la disette des idées propres, et qu’une science, ainsi composée d’éléments recueillis de tous côtés et presque toujours disparates, doit produire une sorte de confusion au milieu de laquelle l’esprit de justesse ne peut guère se montrer. En effet, nous voyons que ceux qui s’appliquent à cultiver leur mémoire plutôt qu’à méditer, à penser d’après les autres plutôt qu’à penser d’après eux-mêmes, perdent en esprit de réflexion ce qu’ils acquièrent en connaissances, qu’à mesure que leur mémoire s’étend leur raison se rétrécit. «Le temps qu’on emploie à savoir ce que d’autres ont pensé, dit J.-J. Rousseau, étant perdu pour apprendre à penser soi-même, on a plus de lumières acquises et moins de vigueur d’esprit.» Hobbes disait plaisamment, mais avec assez de raison: «Si j’avais lu autant qu’un tel, je serais aussi sot que lui.» Or, qu’est-ce qu’un sot, si ce n’est l’homme qui a beaucoup de mémoire et peu de jugement, et qui fait briller sa mémoire aux dépens de son jugement?—C’est ce qu’exprime d’une manière aussi spirituelle qu’originale ce proverbe des Auvergnats: Jean a étudié pour être bête.
Loc 8548-8552: Ne nous plaignons pas du mal, il vient de Dieu. Supportons sans nous plaindre les afflictions que Dieu nous envoie.—Proverbe tiré de l’Ecclésiastique, ch. xi, v. 14: Bona et mala… à Deo sunt: les biens et les maux… viennent de Dieu. Dieu est l’auteur du mal qui punit, mais non de celui qui souille, dit saint Thomas. Ainsi le mal qu’il envoie ne peut être qu’un remède ou une expiation des fautes des hommes. Double raison pour le supporter patiemment.
Loc 9365-9381: Je mets de côté plusieurs étymologies de même farine pour arriver plus vite à la véritable donnée par M. de Walckenaer. Suivant lui, les ogres sont les Oïgours ou Igours, dont il est fait mention dans Procope, dès le VIe siècle (De bello Vandalico, lib. I, c. 4). C’était une race turque, originaire du centre de l’Asie, et célèbre par sa férocité parmi les Tartares féroces. Quelques Oïgours pénétrèrent en Europe avec les autres Tartares, se fixèrent en Crimée, et se servirent d’une langue appelée lingua ougaresca par les commerçants italiens qui les fréquentèrent les premiers. D’autres tribus, jointes aux Madgiars partis des bords du Wolga, allèrent s’établir dans la Dacie et la Pannonie. On les désigna alors sous le nom de Hunni-Gours, et leur nouveau pays prit le nom de Hunni-Gourie. Ces dénominations se changèrent dans la suite en celles de Hongrois et de Hongrie. Les Hongrois, au IXe siècle, sont les Oïgours, et dans les écrits en langue romane du XIIe et du XIIIe siècle, ce sont les Ogres. Qu’on ouvre le dictionnaire de la langue romane au mot Ogre, et l’on y trouvera pour synonyme le mot Hongrois; il n’y a rien de plus certain ni de mieux prouvé que cette origine. Ces Hongrois, ces Hunni-Gours ou ces Oïgours, firent deux irruptions en France dans le Xe siècle; ils parcoururent la Lorraine, la Bourgogne, et se répandirent jusqu’aux environs de Toulouse, incendiant les villes, pillant les monastères, outrageant les vierges, massacrant les hommes et emmenant les enfants en captivité. Les horreurs qu’ils commirent, et auxquelles l’imagination ajoutait encore, imprimèrent la terreur à des esprits imbus de mille superstitions; et cette terreur les fit regarder comme des êtres hideux, épouvantables et stupides, qui avaient faim de chair humaine. Les conteurs de profession, les auteurs du Mabinogion, et après eux les bonnes vieilles et les nourrices, employèrent dans leurs fictions les Oïgours ou les Ogres au lieu de bêtes féroces, comme le principal ressort de terreur.
20160401 Boche_and_Bolshevik, Hereward Thimbleby Price, 1919 (reprinted by Forgoten Books in 2013)
Page 67: In one respect they had the advantage of probably any army in the world – in the songs they sang. Not only was the whole wealth of the German *’Volkslied” open to us, but the special soldiers’ songs, “O Strassburg”, or “Ich hatt’ ein’ kamaraden” are all of good quality while one (“Die drei Lilien”) is superb. These songs provided me with unforgetable experiences. I have already mentioned how the Alsatians used to sing “O Strassburg. ” It seemed as if they could express themselves in no other way but by singing that. Although I had lived in Germany for many years, I never understood what a “Volkslied” was till I heard the soldiers sing. They were all peasants, and the impulse which created the ballad never seems to have died out in their class. They sang “Die drei Lilien,” a ballad of high imaginative power, with the most intimate understanding. Indeed, every time they sang one of the old songs it seemed like a fresh creation.
Page 79: On one occasion a regiment had received an order to attack, and its adjutant telephoned to headquarters, “Attack impossible.Clear field of fire.” He received the answer, “Doesn’t matter. Go forward.” He did so, and not a man came back, except the wounded. Sometimes the men themselves took matters into their own hands. We were once attacking a Russian village and were met by a hurricane of shrapnel and bullets. Fifteen times the bugle sounded the charge, and fifteen times not a man stirred from where he lay. At last the artillery came up, and the Russians retired. The losses entailed by mass attacks were staggering. At the first battle of Ypres the Germans lost 120,000 men. As I have mentioned, when I was trained, the Germans were beginning to see reason, and were taught to go forward in open formation. In the Austrian Army, while things were similar,discipline was looser and protest more easy. One officer,when ordered to a attack,refused point blank.”Very well, then,” said the general,*’if you don’t attack, I shall turn the guns on you. ” The officer replied that if the general did that,he would order his men to right-about-turn and take the guns. The generalg ave in,and the officer received neither reprimand nor punishment
Page 186: With the common soldier we were on the best of terms. This brought us several advantages, but to the Russians only harm. The prisoners of war exercised a steady corrupting influence. Many a Russian soldier left Stretensk for the front provided with letters recommending him, in case of capture, to mercy and good usage, because he had treated the Germans or Austrians decently
20160330: The Culture of Cities, Lewis Mumford, Forbidden Bookshelf, Open Road Integrated Media, 1970
Loc 561-563: Stockades, such as one still sees in Lucas Cranach’s woodcut of the siege of Wolfenbüttel in 1542, were a cheap price to pay for such collective security of life and property, such regularity in trade and work, such peace in thought and worship.
Loc 600-603: The confusion scholars have fallen into here derives partly from the fact that they read present motives back into past situations, and partly because they have not distinguished carefully between local, regional, and international markets. Local merchants, as distinguished from craftsmen who sell their own goods, could have played only an insignificant part in the eleventh century revival.
Loc 609-613: It was rather a revival of the protected towns that helped the reopening of the regional and international trade routes, and led to the inter-European circulation of surplus commodities, particularly those of little bulk, wine from the Rhine, spices and silks from the East, armor from Lombardy, woolen goods from Flanders, leather from Pomerania, across the footways and waterways of Europe. Cities formed stepping stones in this march of goods: from Byzantium to Venice, from Venice to Augsburg, from Augsburg over the Rhine—and so, too, from Baltic cities, down to the Mediterranean.
Loc 664-667: For except for a few congested centers, the town of the Middle Ages was not merely in the country but of the country: food was grown within the walls, as well as on the terraces, or in the orchards and fields, outside.
Loc 685-686: In the humble beginnings of the new towns of the Middle Ages, military considerations are always paramount.
Loc 710-711: But town building itself was one of the major industrial enterprises of the early Middle Ages.
Loc 832-849: Beginning with Bologna in 1100, Paris in 1150, Cambridge in 1229, and Salamanca in 1243, the university lay down the basis of a co-operative organization of knowledge on an inter-regional basis: scholars flocked to these centers from every part of Europe, and in turn, the masters studied and taught at distant centers. The combination of scientific knowledge, political knowledge, and sacred knowledge, which the university offered in its faculties, had no exact parallel in any other culture. The germs of the university doubtless were latent in the Library-School at Alexandria or in the lecture system of the Roman municipalities: but in the university the organization of knowledge was elevated into an enduring system, which did not depend for its continuance upon any single group of texts: the system of knowledge was more important than the thing known. In the university the functions of storage, dissemination, and creative addition were adequately performed. As the cloister of the monastery might be termed a passive university, so the university might be called an active cloister: it made explicit, concrete, and systematic one of the enduring functions of the city: withdrawal from immediate practical responsibility and the critical reappraisal and renewal of the cultural heritage. Here was a social invention of the first order: for this alone the medieval corporation would be important. And the very independence of the university from the standards of the market and the city, fostered the special sort of authority it exercised: the authority of verifiable truth, ratified by the methods of philosophic dialectic, factual scholarship, and scientific method, as these have been developed from period to period. The vices of such an organization may be many; and its services during the intervening centuries have not been of uniform value, for the university shares to this day the exclusiveness and the professional conservatism of the guild system, and it has sometimes put a brake upon discovery and creation, so that the major contributions to knowledge have often been made outside its walls. Nevertheless, the enlargement and transmission of the social heritage would have been inconceivable, during the last three centuries, without the agency of the university. As the Church ceased to be the repository of modern values, the university gradually took over the office. The university has become for the modern city what the Cathedral was for the predominantly religious culture of the Middle Ages.
Loc 858-860: syphilis did not make its definite appearance, at least in malignant form, until the late fifteenth century, even prostitution constituted a smaller threat to domestic health and well-being than it did in the following centuries.
Loc 986-989: Consider the death rate from influenza in 1918 in countries entirely outside the war-zone, or from poliomyelitis in its recurrent waves today. If the medieval expectation of life was low, a defective diet, especially a defective winter diet, must perhaps take as large a share of the blame as the defective disposal of fecal matter.
Loc 1049-1052: But in the big cities, the population grew more rapidly than the technical means and the capital necessary to capture sufficient water for its inhabitants: this partly accounts for the loss of cleanly habits and for the water famines that overtook the seventeenth century capitals, and made the later development of the industrial town so vile.
Loc 1215-1218: The limitations on the medieval town’s growth were rather of a different nature: limitations of water supply and local produce: limitations by municipal ordinance and by guild regulations which prevented the uncontrolled settlement of outsiders: limitations of transport and communications which were overcome only in the advanced eotechnic cities that had waterways instead of roadways for traffic, such as Venice.
Loc 1405-1409: That the Swiss achieved unity without despotism or submission to the arbitrary forms of centralized authority shows that the feat was technically possible: moreover, it gives color to the notion that it was humanly practicable on a wide European basis, since the three language groups in Switzerland, with their mountain barriers to transportation and intercourse, gave the country almost as many obstacles to unity as the most diverse territories of Europe as a whole. The proof was genuine, but the example was not infectious: actual life in other regions took a different political course.
Loc 1413-1416: Along the Rhine, for example, there had been only nineteen toll stations toward the end of that century: in the thirteenth twenty-five more were added, and in the fourteenth another twenty: so that by the end of the Middle Ages the total was something over sixty: the stoppages and the burdensome fees might occur as often as every six miles.
Loc 1488-1494: In Rome before Constantine the Christian Church was a mutation: within the city one would scarcely be aware of its presence: living in crypts and catacombs on the outskirts, it hid even its physical presence. In the medieval city the Church was a dominant: no part of life could fail to record its existence and its influence. In the great seventeenth century capitals, the Church had become a recessive: still an imposing visible presence, but no longer a unifying and dynamic social force. In the metropolis today the Church is a survival: its power rests upon numbers, wealth, material organization, not upon its capacity to give its stamp to the daily activities of men: it claims much, but except by repetition and rote, it contributes little to the active spiritual life of the city. What “characterizes”
Loc 1556-1559: But even where it was strong, as in Aragon, royal power was far from absolute: witness the oath sworn by the subjects of the King of Aragon: “We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are not better than we, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided that you observe all our liberties and laws; but if not, then not.”
Loc 1643-1643: Down to the fifteenth century, defense had the upper hand over assault.Loc 1650-1650: The new artillery of the late fifteenth century made cities vulnerable.
Loc 1731-1736: The army barracks have almost the same place in the baroque order that the monastery had in the medieval one; and the Parade Grounds—the new Champ de Mars in Paris, for instance—were as conspicuous in the new cities as Mars himself was in Renascence painting. Turning out the guard, drilling, parading, became one of the great mass spectacles for the increasingly servile populace: the blare of the bugle, the tattoo of the drum, were as characteristic a sound for this new phase of urban life as the tolling of the bells had been for the medieval town. The laying out of great Viae Triumphales, avenues where a victorious army could march with the maximum effect upon the spectator, was an inevitable step in the replanning of the new capitals: notably in Paris and Berlin.
Loc 1812-1816: But in society the habit of thinking in terms of abstractions worked out disastrously. The new order established in the physical sciences was far too limited to describe or interpret social facts, and until the nineteenth century even the legitimate development of statistical analysis played little part in sociological thought. Real men and women, real corporations and cities, were treated in law and government as if they were imaginary bodies; whilst presumptuous fictions, like Divine Right, Absolute Rule, the State, Sovereignty, were treated as if they were realities.
Loc 1852-1854: Alberti, who is in every sense the chief theoretical exponent of the baroque city, distinguished between main and subordinate streets. The first he called—and the name is important—viae militares, or military streets: he required that these should be straight.
Loc 2593-2596: The French Revolution looked like a triumph of popular democracy over aristocratic privilege: at least a victory of the middle classes. But it was this revolution that created that hitherto unheard-of engine of destruction, the National Army, and introduced recruitment by popular conscription: it gave the rulers of the state a power that the most absolute princes had rarely dared to exercise.
Loc 2895-2902: Let me however quote from an early observer, Hugh Miller, the author of Old Red Sandstone: a man thoroughly in harmony with his age, but not insensitive to the actual qualities of the new environment. He is speaking of Manchester in 1862. “Nothing seems more characteristic of the great manufacturing city, though disagreeably so, than the river Irwell, which runs through the place.… The hapless river—a pretty enough stream a few miles up, with trees overhanging its banks and fringes of green sedge set thick along its edges—loses caste as it gets among the mills and print works. There are myriads of dirty things given it to wash, and while wagonloads of poisons from dye houses and bleachyards throw into it to carry away, steam boilers discharge into it their seething contents, and drains and sewers their fetid impurities; till at length it rolls on—here between tall dingy walls, there under precipices of red sandstone—considerably less a river than a flood of liquid manure.”
Loc 2930-2939: As for housing itself, the alternatives were simple. In the industrial towns that grew up on older foundations, the workers were first accommodated by turning old one-family houses into rent barracks. In these made-over houses, each separate room now would enclose a whole family: from Dublin and Glasgow to Bombay, the standard of one room per family long held. Bed overcrowding, with three to eight people of different ages sleeping on the same pallet, often aggravated room overcrowding in such human sties. This type of overcrowding, as we have seen, had been going on in the big capitals since the sixteenth century; and by the beginning of the nineteenth, according to Dr. Willan, who wrote a book then on the diseases of London, it had produced an incredible state of physical defilement among the poor. The other type of dwelling offered to the working class was, essentially, a standardization of these degraded conditions; but it had this further defect—the plans of the new houses and the materials of construction usually had none of the original decency of the older burgher houses: they were jerry-built from the ground up. In both the old and the new quarters a pitch of foulness and filth was reached that the lowest serf’s cottage scarcely achieved in medieval Europe.
20160313: When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future, Abby Smith Rumsey, Bloomsbury Press, 2016
Loc 172-175: Like muscles, memories weaken with time when they are not used. Just as in the art of packing, in which what we leave out is as important as what we put in the bag, so too does the art of memory rely on the art of forgetting. What this means for the digital age is that data is not knowledge, and data storage is not memory.
Loc 486-490: As experts on ancient slavery have pointed out, the freedom from labor enjoyed by the elites of Greece and Rome was bought and paid for by an increased dependence on enslaved labor. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that knowledge grew at the expense of human freedom, especially when we are used to thinking of the former being a precondition for the latter. But the equation was flipped only during the Enlightenment.
Loc 734-741: Book production soon reached a scale that was unprecedented. By 1500, a mere four decades after printing presses began operations, between 150 and 200 million books flooded the circulation system of European culture. Both the quantity and the quality of what was available to read had taken a dramatic and surprising turn. The result was that in the 1530s, Montaigne learned to read as a “print native,” a creature thriving in the new ecology of memory and learning. He grew up in the midst of the first well-documented information inflation (it was literally self-documenting) and, through a series of bestselling books of essays published over the course of his life, he was both a mirror of his times and helped to shape them. The great inflation of information, carried far and wide in books and broadsides (the precursor of today’s newspapers), created what seemed to many contemporaries, Montaigne among them, a promiscuous intercourse of ideas that was both empowering and bewildering.
Loc 1581-1586: As we outsource more of the most intimate part of ourselves—our personal memory and identity—to computer code, the fear of losing our autonomy—the alienation of our data, so to speak—increases because in the digital age, only machines can read our memory and know what we know at scale. As we gain mastery over our machines, this anxiety will lessen. But it will never go away, for the trade-offs we make between our appetite for more knowledge and our need for autonomy and control will continue to keep us on the alert for unintended consequences.
Loc 1611-1614:At the end of the twentieth century, the invention of digital computers vaulted us over the physical barrier to ideas spreading like fire “from one to another over the globe.” Information can be shared ubiquitously and nearly instantaneously. Now we confront a new barrier—the natural limits of human attention and ability to absorb information. These are biological constraints shared by all living creatures.
Loc 1619-1622: Scientists learn about how memory works in large part by studying what happens when memory breaks down. Two types of memory failure have particular implications for memory in the digital age. The first failure is the interruption of long-term memory formation. Without conversion of short-term memory to long, we are not able to make sense of the world, recognize patterns, make inferences or conjectures; in short, we cannot learn.
Loc 1704-1708: Because every memory is tweaked and fortified in use, we live in a state of nonstop historical reinterpretation. The upshot is that the past itself changes in the process of remembering. The representations of things that were laid down previously—whether five decades ago or five minutes—are modified simply by being used. In use, they are placed within the environment of the present moment and that use becomes an intrinsic part of memory itself—the past plus.
Loc 1757-1757: Emotion is the body’s internal representation of value.
Loc 2012-2015: Party historians were obliged, then, to launch a full-force assault on the past, erasing inconvenient facts from history books, wiping out people who gave credence to those facts, and fabricating alternative pasts that fit better with the story of history moving inexorably toward communism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is why Soviet citizens joked that in their land the future is certain; it is the past that is always changing.
Loc 2527-2531:The physicist Robert Laughlin claims that the physical sciences have also stepped firmly from reductionist techniques to systems analysis. “This shift is usually described in the popular press as the transition from the age of physics to the age of biology, but that is not quite right. What we are seeing is a transformational world view in which the objective of understanding nature by breaking it down into ever smaller parts is supplanted by the objective of understanding how nature organizes itself.”
Loc 2656-2657: Until now, we have been the sole species able to use nongenetic means to transmit information across time and space.
20160320: New World Order: The Rise of the Police State in America, by Ron Taylor. Apparently self-published in Venice Beach, California. Available from Amazon.
Loc 72-75: You can also refer to Governor Chris Christie where in an April 10, 2012 speech he stated, “the government is now telling (Americans) to stop dreaming, stop striving, we will take care of you.” This dependence on government handouts is the first step towards slavery, which is the precursor to a dystopian government.
20160321: Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), Christian Rudder, Fourth Estate, 2014
Loc 481-482: For his favorite movie, Trump picked King Kong, because he of course likes apes who try to “conquer New York.”
Loc 632-634: When you want to learn about how people write, their unpolished, unguarded words are the best place to start, and we have reams of them. There will be more words written on Twitter in the next two years than contained in all books ever printed. It’s the epitome of the new communication: short and in real time. Twitter was, in fact, the first service not only to encourage brevity and immediacy, but to require them.
Loc 945-949: Forty years ago, Stanley Milgram was mailing out parcels (kits with instructions and postage-paid envelopes) to a hundred people in Omaha, working on his “six degrees of separation,” hoping maybe a few dozen adventuresome souls would participate. His quaint methods—ingenious though they were—would give him the famous theory, but not quite its proof. In 2011, the unprecedented and overwhelming scale of Facebook allowed us to see that he was indeed right: 99.6 percent of the 721 million accounts at the time were connected by six steps or fewer.
Loc 1589-1595: Google will complete your prompts with an alphabet of troubles, including this brilliant run: why is my stool green why is my tongue white why is my urine cloudy why is my vagina itchy All of which ailments, I have to point out, are probably the result of sitting at a computer for too damn long.
Loc 1629-1632: In my opinion, Muhammad Ali is one of the bravest Americans. In 1967, as heavyweight champion, he refused to serve in Vietnam and was not only stripped of his title but banned from the sport for three and a half years. He lost the prime of his career, and received a five-year prison sentence (that took the Supreme Court to overturn), because of what he believed in.Loc 1635-1636: As Ali said at the time, “No Viet-Cong ever called me nigger,” and he was probably right.
Loc 1905-1906: In social science, knowledge, like water, often takes the shape of its vessel.
Loc 1937-1950: This counterintuitive relationship between the popularity of a word (its rank in a given vocabulary) and the number of times it appears is described by something called Zipf’s law, an observed statistical property of language that, like so much of the best math, lies somewhere between miracle and coincidence.It states that in any large body of text, a word’s popularity (its place in the lexicon, with 1 being the highest ranking) multiplied by the number of times it shows up, is the same for every word in the text. Or, very elegantly: rank × number = constant This law holds for the Bible, the collected lyrics of ’60s pop songs, the canonical corpus of English literature (the Oxford English Corpus), and it certainly holds for profile text. To see how well it works in practice even on a highly idiosyncratic body of writing, here’s the law applied to James Joyce’s Ulysses:2 word rank number of times it appears rank × number ’s 10 2,826 28,260 is 20 1,435 28,700
Loc 2949-2957: longitudinal data that I’m otherwise so excited about. Tests like Myers-Briggs and Stanford-Binet have long been used by employers, schools, the military. You sit down, do your best, and they sort you. For the most part, you’ve opted in. But it’s increasingly the case that you’re taking these tests just by living your life. And the results are there for anyone to read and judge. It’s one thing to see that someone’s Klout score is 51 or whatever in advance of a job interview. It’s another to know his IQ. If employers begin to use algorithms to infer how intelligent you are or whether you use drugs, then your only choice will be to game the system—or, to borrow the wording from the previous chapter, “manage your brand.” To beat the machine, you must act like a machine, which means you’ve lost to the machine. And that’s all assuming you can guess at what you’re supposed to do in the first place. Apparently, one of the strongest correlates to intelligence in the research was liking “curly fries.” Who could reverse-engineer that?
20160310 To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science, Steven Weinberg, Haper-Collins, 2015
Loc 59-61: But as the book has developed, perhaps I have been able to offer something that goes a little beyond a simple narrative: it is the perspective of a modern working scientist on the science of the past. I have taken this opportunity to explain my views about the nature of physical science, and about its continued tangled relations with religion, technology, philosophy, mathematics, and aesthetics. And what about money, politics and government funding????
Loc 94-95:The West borrowed much scientific knowledge from elsewhere—geometry from Egypt, astronomical data from Babylon, the techniques of arithmetic from Babylon and India, the magnetic compass from China, and so on—but as far as I know, it did not import the methods of modern science
20160302: The essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world (The Saker, 2015)
I stopped reading the book after Loc 3264. I admit that the Saker has a different reading of the news, and that a pro-Moscow bias may be interesting and useful, for a change! Personally, I have to admit some sympathy for the eternal bad guys (Iran etc.), if only because it is not possible to be all-bad. I don’t dislike it either when someone talks badly of the US and their absolute confidence of doing the right thing because, by definition, they are the self-appointed good guys.
– I have little doubt that the Saker is remotely controlled from Moscow. I don’t buy the pious fable of the poor analyst (anonymous, it goes without saying) of the First Directorate of the KGB (“external affairs”) who got fired and who survives thanks to the work of his wife, and who publishes a spontaneous blog. And that blog is, equally spontaneously translated into French, German, Serbian, Italian etc. (http://thesaker.is/) by volunteers. Who believes that?
– The prose of Saker amazingly resembles that of the French and German language (Russian) papers that are very easily available as Moscow airport (and probably nowhere else!)
– The root-level racism of the Saker (anti-Jewish, anti-Femen, anti-pussy riot, anti gay, anti Freemason) ended up giving me a rash.
– There is a strong relationship between the discourse of the Saker is that of the “new European right.” Search the web for Philippe Ploncard d’Assac or read “New Culture, New Right: Anti-Liberalism in Postmodern Europe, Michael O’Meara (2013)” (below on 20140622: ): the similarity with the Saker’s prose and themes is striking!
– And then, there is the cover of the book, showing St George killing the dragon…
Too much is too much: don’t waste your money to buy The essential Saker, and don’t waste your time reading it. Just have a look at the Saker website every now and then!
Loc 463-469: the most frequent and meaningful form of interaction the Russian nation has had with western Christianity was war. And every single one of these wars was a defensive war against a Western aggression. It is true that a good part of the Russian Imperial nobility, which was often of Germanic ethnic extraction, and almost totally composed of active members of the Freemasonry, wanted Russia to become part of the Western civilization. However, this has always been a fashion only among wealthy elites, the already very westernized classes, what Marx would call the “superstructure” of Russia. The Russian Orthodox masses, however, were culturally far closer to their Muslim or Buddhist neighbors than to the westernized elites who took over the reins of power in the 18th century under Tsar Peter I.
Loc 643-650: The vast majority of Russians today would agree on the following basic ideas: a) The West is no friend to Russia, never was, never will be, and the only way to deal with it is from a position of strength. b) Russia needs a strong government led by a strong leader. c) Russian “liberals” (in the modern Russian use of the word) are a small degenerate group of US-worshiping intellectuals who hate Russia. d) Russia has to be a “social state” and the “pure” capitalist model is both morally wrong and fundamentally unsustainable, as shown by the current financial crisis. e) The democratic system is a fraud used by the rich for their own interests.
Loc 2314-2320: Well, as I recently wrote, the US and the EU have very different objectives in the Ukraine: the EU wants a market for its goods and services, the US want to hurt Russia as much as possible. We have all seen the total lack of effectiveness of the EU bureaucrats and their naive attempts at finding a negotiated solution. The US foreign policy goal has the advantage of being simple yet clear: fuck Russia and fuck the EU! From the US point of view, the worse the situation becomes, the better it is for Uncle Sam. At the very least, this hurts Russia, at the very best, it gives the US a wonderful pretext to “protect” Europe from the “resurgent Russian bear” while standing up for civilization, democracy and progress. A neocon’s wet dream […] After all, if a US policy was to failed somewhere, the response could always be the same: fuck them! Fuck the Yugoslavs! Fuck the Serbs! Fuck the Iraqis! Fuck the Afghans! Fuck the Pakistanis! Fuck the Libyans, and the Egyptians, and the Palestinians, and fuck the Somalis, the Koreans, the Colombians and the Venezuelans and, of course, fuck the Canadians, the Mexicans, and the Africans, and, of course, fuck the Russians, fuck the Chinese, and fuck everybody else with it! No matter how stupid or how destructive a US policy toward another party it—it either works, or fuck them! Ms. Nuland’s words could really become the State Departments or the CIA’s official motto. See http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/feb/07/eu-us-diplomat-victoria-nuland-phonecall-leaked-video.
20160227: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary (Simon Winchester, 2008)
An interesting & very “British” book (of course!), but somewhat condescending when mentioning lesser cultures such as the French, the German (incl. the brothers Grimm, who deserve a better treatment!) and … Esperanto. If you are in a hurry, I suggest you watch (or listen to) this video and look up some of the extraordinary characters mentioned by Winchester: Samuel Jackson, Richard Chennevix, Frederick Furnivall and, the most extraordinary of all, James Murray.
Loc 2718-2720: Hereward Thimbleby Price,10 who was conscripted into the German army, captured by the Russians, and escaped overland to China—he wrote a book in 1919 called Boche and Bolshevik: Experiences of an Englishman in the German Army and in Russian Prisons;
20160130: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014, by Yuval Noah Harari)
Not a bad book. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you have bought it, you may as well read it. There some weaknesses but there are some interesting views too. I hated the tendency to skip some real and important issues, such as the invention of cities before the invention of agriculture.
Page 13: A single woman with a flint or fire stick could burn down an entire forest in a matter of hours. The domestication of fire was a sign of things to come.
Page 24: Yet the truly unique feature of our language is not its ability to transmit information about men and lions. Rather, it’s the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched or smelled. Legends, myths, gods and religions appeared for the first time with the Cognitive Revolution. Many animals and human species could previously say, ‘Careful! A lion!’ Thanks to the Cognitive Revolution, Homo sapiens acquired the ability to say, ‘The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.’ This ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language.
Page 24: You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.
Page 64:The journey of the first humans to Australia is one of the most important events in history, at least as important as Columbus’ journey to America or the Apollo II expedition to the moon. It was the first time any human had managed to leave the Afro-Asian ecological system – indeed, the first time any large terrestrial mammal had managed to cross from Afro-Asia to Australia.
Page 66 : It’s common today to explain anything and everything as the result of climate change, but the truth is that earth’s climate never rests. It is in constant flux. Every event in history occurred against the background of some climate change.
Page 74: The First Wave Extinction, which accompanied the spread of the foragers, was followed by the Second Wave Extinction, which accompanied the spread of the farmers, and gives us an important perspective on the Third Wave Extinction, which industrial activity is causing today.
Page 78: more than 90 per cent of the calories that feed humanity come from the handful of plants that our ancestors domesticated between 9500 and 3500 BC – wheat, rice, maize (called ‘corn’ in the US), potatoes, millet and barley. No noteworthy plant or animal has been domesticated in the last 2,000 years. If our minds are those of hunter-gatherers, our cuisine is that of ancient farmers.
Page 88: The story of the luxury trap carries with it an important lesson. Humanity’s search for an easier life released immense forces of change that transformed the world in ways nobody envisioned or wanted. Nobody plotted the Agricultural Revolution or sought human dependence on cereal cultivation. A series of trivial decisions aimed mostly at filling a few stomachs and gaining a little security had the cumulative effect of forcing ancient foragers to spend their days carrying water buckets under a scorching sun.
Page 93: Egg-laying hens, dairy cows and draught animals are sometimes allowed to live for many years. But the price is subjugation to a way of life completely alien to their urges and desires. It’s reasonable to assume, for example, that bulls prefer to spend their days wandering over open prairies in the company of other bulls and cows rather than pulling carts and ploughshares under the yoke of a whip-wielding ape. In order for humans to turn bulls, horses, donkeys and camels into obedient draught animals, their natural instincts and social ties had to be broken, their aggression and sexuality contained, and their freedom of movement curtailed. Farmers developed techniques such as locking animals inside pens and cages, bridling them in harnesses and leashes, training them with whips and cattle prods, and mutilating them. The process of taming almost always involves the castration of males. This restrains male aggression and enables humans selectively to control the herd’s procreation.
Page 97: This discrepancy between evolutionary success and individual suffering is perhaps the most important lesson we can draw from the Agricultural Revolution. When we study the narrative of plants such as wheat and maize, maybe the purely evolutionary perspective makes sense. Yet in the case of animals such as cattle, sheep and Sapiens, each with a complex world of sensations and emotions, we have to consider how evolutionary success translates into individual experience.
Page 99: As late as AD 1400, the vast majority of farmers, along with their plants and animals, clustered together in an area of just 4.25 million square miles – 2 per cent of the planet’s surface.2 Everywhere else was too cold, too hot, too dry, too wet, or otherwise unsuited for cultivation. This minuscule 2 per cent of the earth’s surface constituted the stage on which history unfolded.
Page 130: The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world. Free association and holistic thought have given way to compartmentalisation and bureaucracy.
Page 132: Writing was born as the maidservant of human consciousness, but is increasingly becoming its master. Our computers have trouble understanding how Homo sapiens talks, feels and dreams. So we are teaching Homo sapiens to talk, feel and dream in the language of numbers, which can be understood by computers.
Page 157: The militarily incompetent Augustus succeeded in establishing a stable imperial regime, achieving something that eluded both Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, who were much better generals. Both his admiring contemporaries and modern historians often attribute this feat to his virtue of clementia – mildness and clemency.
Page 193: When the Romans invaded Scotland in AD 83, they were met by fierce resistance from local Caledonian tribes, and reacted by laying waste to the country. In reply to Roman peace offers, the chieftain Calgacus called the Romans ‘the ruffians of the world’, and said that ‘to plunder, slaughter and robbery they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace’ […] No Caledonian writer preserved Calgacus’ speech for posterity. We know of it thanks to the Roman historian Tacitus. In fact, Tacitus probably made it up. Most scholars today agree that Tacitus not only fabricated the speech but invented the character of Calgacus, the Caledonian chieftain, to serve as a mouthpiece for what he and other upper-class Romans thought about their own country.
Page 212: Farmers may have desired absolute control of their sheep, but they knew perfectly well that their control was limited. They could lock the sheep in pens, castrate rams and selectively breed ewes, yet they could not ensure that the ewes conceived and gave birth to healthy lambs, nor could they prevent the eruption of deadly epidemics. How then to safeguard the fecundity of the flocks? A leading theory about the origin of the gods argues that gods gained importance because they offered a solution to this problem. Gods such as the fertility goddess, the sky god and the god of medicine took centre stage when plants and animals lost their ability to speak, and the gods’ main role was to mediate between humans and the mute plants and animals. Much of ancient mythology is in fact a legal contract in which humans promise everlasting devotion to the gods in exchange for mastery over plants and animals – the first chapters of the book of Genesis are a prime example. For thousands of years after the Agricultural Revolution, religious liturgy consisted mainly of humans sacrificing lambs, wine and cakes to divine powers, who in exchange promised abundant harvests and fecund flocks.
Page 216: On 23 August 1572, French Catholics who stressed the importance of good deeds attacked communities of French Protestants who highlighted God’s love for humankind. In this attack, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, between 5,000 and 10,000 Protestants were slaughtered in less than twenty-four hours. When the pope in Rome heard the news from France, he was so overcome by joy that he organised festive prayers to celebrate the occasion and commissioned Giorgio Vasari to decorate one of the Vatican’s rooms with a fresco of the massacre (the room is currently off-limits to visitors).
Page 236: Our liberal political and judicial systems are founded on the belief that every individual has a sacred inner nature, indivisible and immutable, which gives meaning to the world, and which is the source of all ethical and political authority. This is a reincarnation of the traditional Christian belief in a free and eternal soul that resides within each individual. Yet over the last 200 years, the life sciences have thoroughly undermined this belief. Scientists studying the inner workings of the human organism have found no soul there. They increasingly argue that human behaviour is determined by hormones, genes and synapses, rather than by free will – the same forces that determine the behaviour of chimpanzees, wolves, and ants. Our judicial and political systems largely try to sweep such inconvenient discoveries under the carpet. But in all frankness, how long can we maintain the wall separating the department of biology from the departments of law and political science?
Page 240: History cannot be explained deterministically and it cannot be predicted because it is chaotic. So many forces are at work and their interactions are so complex that extremely small variations in the strength of the forces and the way they interact produce huge differences in outcomes. Not only that, but history is what is called a ‘level two’ chaotic system. Chaotic systems come in two shapes. Level one chaos is chaos that does not react to predictions about it. The weather, for example, is a level one chaotic system. Though it is influenced by myriad factors, we can build computer models that take more and more of them into consideration, and produce better and better weather forecasts. Level two chaos is chaos that reacts to predictions about it, and therefore can never be predicted accurately. Markets, for example, are a level two chaotic system.
Page 242 3738-3743: Wednesday, 17 February 2016 06:42:38
Ever more scholars see cultures as a kind of mental infection or parasite, with humans as its unwitting host. Organic parasites, such as viruses, live inside the body of their hosts. They multiply and spread from one host to the other, feeding off their hosts, weakening them, and sometimes even killing them. As long as the hosts live long enough to pass along the parasite, it cares little about the condition of its host. In just this fashion, cultural ideas live inside the minds of humans. They multiply and spread from one host to another, occasionally weakening the hosts and sometimes even killing them. A cultural idea – such as belief in Christian heaven above the clouds or Communist paradise here on earth – can compel a human to dedicate his or her life to spreading that idea, even at the price of death. The human dies, but the idea spreads.
Page 242: According to this approach, cultures are not conspiracies concocted by some people in order to take advantage of others (as Marxists tend to think). Rather, cultures are mental parasites that emerge accidentally, and thereafter take advantage of all people infected by them. This approach is sometimes called memetics. It assumes that, just as organic evolution is based on the replication of organic information units called ‘genes’, so cultural evolution is based on the replication of cultural information units called ‘memes’.1 Successful cultures are those that excel in reproducing their memes, irrespective of the costs and benefits to their human hosts.
Page 266: Throughout history, societies have suffered from two kinds of poverty: social poverty, which withholds from some people the opportunities available to others; and biological poverty, which puts the very lives of individuals at risk due to lack of food and shelter. Perhaps social poverty can never be eradicated, but in many countries around the world biological poverty is a thing of the past.
Page 274: In short, scientific research can flourish only in alliance with some religion or ideology. The ideology justifies the costs of the research. In exchange, the ideology influences the scientific agenda and determines what to do with the discoveries. Hence in order to comprehend how humankind has reached Alamogordo and the moon – rather than any number of alternative destinations – it is not enough to survey the achievements of physicists, biologists and sociologists. We have to take into account the ideological, political and economic forces that shaped physics, biology and sociology, pushing them in certain directions while neglecting others.
Page 277: The discovery of an effective treatment for scurvy greatly contributed to British control of the world’s oceans and its ability to send armies to the other side of the world. Cook claimed for Britain many of the islands and lands he ‘discovered’, most notably Australia. The Cook expedition laid the foundation for the British occupation of the south-western Pacific Ocean; for the conquest of Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand; for the settlement of millions of Europeans in the new colonies; and for the extermination of their native cultures and most of their native populations.
Page 304: Scientists have provided the imperial project with practical knowledge, ideological justification and technological gadgets. Without this contribution it is highly questionable whether Europeans could have conquered the world. The conquerors returned the favour by providing scientists with information and protection, supporting all kinds of strange and fascinating projects and spreading the scientific way of thinking to the far corners of the earth. Without imperial support, it is doubtful whether modern science would have progressed very far.
Page 304: Science was supported by other institutions, not just by empires. And the European empires rose and flourished thanks also to factors other than science. Behind the meteoric rise of both science and empire lurks one particularly important force: capitalism.
Page 326: In 1821 the Greeks rebelled against the Ottoman Empire. The uprising aroused great sympathy in liberal and romantic circles in Britain – Lord Byron, the poet, even went to Greece to fight alongside the insurgents. But London financiers saw an opportunity as well. They proposed to the rebel leaders the issue of tradable Greek Rebellion Bonds on the London stock exchange. The Greeks would promise to repay the bonds, plus interest, if and when they won their independence. Private investors bought bonds to make a profit, or out of sympathy for the Greek cause, or both. The value of Greek Rebellion Bonds rose and fell on the London stock exchange in tempo with military successes and failures on the battlefields of Hellas. The Turks gradually gained the upper hand. With a rebel defeat imminent, the bondholders faced the prospect of losing their trousers. The bondholders’ interest was the national interest, so the British organised an international fleet that, in 1827, sank the main Ottoman flotilla in the Battle of Navarino. After centuries of subjugation, Greece was finally free. But freedom came with a huge debt that the new country had no way of repaying. The Greek economy was mortgaged to British creditors for decades to come.
Page 331: It is important to remember that the Atlantic slave trade was not a single aberration in an otherwise spotless record. The Great Bengal Famine, discussed in the previous chapter, was caused by a similar dynamic – the British East India Company cared more about its profits than about the lives of 10 million Bengalis. VOC’s military campaigns in Indonesia were financed by upstanding Dutch burghers who loved their children, gave to charity, and enjoyed good music and fine art, but had no regard for the suffering of the inhabitants of Java, Sumatra and Malacca. Countless other crimes and misdemeanours accompanied the growth of the modern economy in other parts of the planet.
Page 332: Rubber was fast becoming an industrial staple, and rubber export was the Congo’s most important source of income. The African villagers who collected the rubber were required to provide higher and higher quotas. Those who failed to deliver their quota were punished brutally for their ‘laziness’. Their arms were chopped off and occasionally entire villages were massacred. According to the most moderate estimates, between 1885 and 1908 the pursuit of growth and profits cost the lives of 6 million individuals (at least 20 per cent of the Congo’s population). Some estimates reach up to 10 million deaths.
Page 335: Human history was consequently dominated by two main cycles: the growth cycles of plants and the changing cycles of solar energy (day and night, summer and winter). When sunlight was scarce and when wheat fields were still green, humans had little energy. Granaries were empty, tax collectors were idle, soldiers found it difficult to move and fight, and kings tended to keep the peace. When the sun shone brightly and the wheat ripened, peasants harvested the crops and filled the granaries. Tax collectors hurried to take their share. Soldiers flexed their muscles and sharpened their swords. Kings convened councils and planned their next campaigns. Everyone was fuelled by solar energy – captured and packaged in wheat, rice and potatoes.
Page 354: Each news programme opened with a live broadcast of Big Ben tolling the hour – the magical sound of freedom. Ingenious German physicists found a way to determine the weather conditions in London based on tiny differences in the tone of the broadcast ding-dongs. This information offered invaluable help to the Luftwaffe. When the British Secret Service discovered this, they replaced the live broadcast with a set recording of the famous clock.
20160101: The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child (Thom Hartmann, 2005)
Loc 628-634: that paper, titled “Revolution in Evolution: ADHD as a Disorder of Adaptation,” he and his coauthors strongly argued that ADHD children shouldn’t be told they have an illness but that instead parents and teachers should emphasize their positive characteristics. “In reframing the child who has ADHD as ‘response ready,’ experience-seeking, or alert,” they wrote, “the clinician can counsel the child and family to recognize situations in modern society that might favor such an individual, both in terms of school environments, as well as future career opportunities, e.g., athlete, air-traffic-controller, salesperson, soldier, or entrepreneur.” Source: Jensen, Mrazek, Knapp, Steinberg, Pfeffer, Schowalter, and Shapiro, “Evolution and Revolution in Child Psychiatry: ADHD as a Disorder of Adaptation,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (December 1997).
Loc 634-638: all just speculation until 2000, when the article “Dopamine Genes and ADHD” appeared in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. This paper, by lead author Dr. James M. Swanson and ten other scientists, noted that, “The literature on these candidate genes and ADHD is increasing. Eight molecular genetic studies have been published, so far, about investigations of a hypothesized association of ADHD with the DAT1 and the DRD4 gene.”7 Soon other scientists
Loc 941-946: The past eight to ten thousand years, it turns out, have been a period of relatively unusual stability, although even during this period there occurred a series of smaller climate changes that led to the rise and fall of civilizations in the Middle East, Asia, and North and South America. (The largest was probably that instigated by the eruption 535 C.E. of Krakatoa, off the coast of Sumatra, which so altered the world’s weather that droughts resulting from it ultimately brought about the end of the Roman Empire; drove rodents out of their normal habitats into human communities and thus caused the first eruptions of the Bubonic Plague; and brought out of this chaos the rise of Islam.)
Loc 1091-1096: Similarly, in the 1990s, scientists discovered that some humans are immune to AIDS, and they tracked this immunity to a rare gene variation known as CCR5-delta32. A very few people of European ancestry carry one copy of this gene, and a much smaller number of people inherit two copies of it, one from each parent. Those people with two CCR5-delta32 genes are immune to AIDS, even though they can carry HIV. Perhaps most interesting is the revelation that the gene that gives immunity to AIDS also confers immunity to the bacterium Yersinia pestis, cause of the black plague, which wiped out as much as a third of all Europeans in its first wave across the continent in 1347.
Loc 1349-1350: Reference. J. M. Swanson, G. A. Sunohara, J. L. Kennedy, et al., “Association of the Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4) Gene with a Refined Phenotype of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Family-Based Approach,” Molecular Psychiatry 3 (1998): 38–41.
Loc 1373-1377: in the past twenty years in the United States, starting largely with George H. W. Bush’s “New World Order” of international “free trade” replacing historic notions of “fair trade,” and accelerated by Bill Clinton’s support for General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA), those jobs are gone. American and European factory workers no longer compete with each other in the world labor market; they now compete with fourteen-year-old girls in Indonesia, eight-year-old boys in Pakistan, and slave labor in China.
Loc 1433-1445: A similar process occurs in over 90 percent of all people of African or Asian ancestry and about 20 percent (depending on whose numbers you use) of people of European ancestry who have a condition called lactose intolerance, which causes them to experience gas or other intestinal distress when they drink milk or eat products that contain milk sugar (lactose). For years, it was assumed that people with lactose intolerance lacked a specific gene to encode for the production in the stomach of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose so that it’s digestible. But in research conducted at UCLA and in Finland and reported in the January 14, 2002, issue of Nature Genetics, scientists who looked at the genetic profiles of 196 lactose-intolerant people descended from Finland, Africa, Europe, and Korea and other parts of Asia found they all had the same identical gene. “If [a genetic disorder] is found around the world, genetics tells us that it must be very old,” said researcher Leena Peitonen, who chairs the Human Genetics Program at UCLA and led the study. “Perhaps,” she added, “it was even in the genome of humans before they migrated out of Africa.” In fact, everybody has a gene that tells the stomach to stop producing the enzyme lactase when a person is weaned. But in northern Europe, where people eat dairy products daily, the gene doesn’t get a chance to turn itself off—people there are, in effect, never weaned. But if they go a year or two without dairy products, even people of Scandinavian ancestry often find themselves incapable of digesting milk thereafter, because the switch of that gene has been flipped by the dietary change.
Loc 1525-1527: Wednesday, 6 January 2016 07:39:54
The cause for the increase in ADHD, Ratey said, is found in our culture and technology: With television and video games and other elements in our rapid-fire culture, we’re training children’s brains to function with ADHD.
Loc 1628-1629: ADHD is strongly associated with the 7R variation of the DRD4 allele.
Loc 1685-1687: But the thing most responsible for this genetic variation spreading across the world, according to anthropologists, is probably the tendency of the variation of the 7R allele to push people toward novelty seeking, toward exploration of the unknown.
Loc 1700-1701: hunters drove innovation even in the farmer’s society. Loc 1700-1705: It’s possible, then, that the nonconformist hunters drove innovation even in the farmer’s society. 9 The ADHD Gene and the Dawn of Human Civilization All the means of action—the shapeless masses, the materials—lie everywhere about us; what we need is the celestial fire to change the flint into crystal, bright and clear.
Loc 1737-1741: The researchers found 56 variations, or alleles (al-LEELEs) of a gene called DRD4, which produces the receptor for dopamine, a neurotransmitter. One allele, known as 7R, was strongly associated with ADHD. By analyzing the variations in DRD4, they also found that the 7R allele was created recently and may have provided an evolutionary advantage at some time in human history. The study could not determine, however, if that evolutionary selection is still occurring. Brain cells
Loc 1955-1960: As Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, of the Childhood Trauma Academy points out: The sequential and use-dependent properties of brain development result in an amazing adaptive malleability, ensuring that, within its specific genetic potential, an individual’s brain develops capabilities suited for the “type” of environment he or she is raised in. Simply stated, children reflect the world in which they are raised. If that world is characterized by threat, chaos, unpredictability, fear and trauma, the brain will reflect that by altering the development of the neural systems involved in the stress and fear response.9
Loc 1984-1987: Interestingly, it was discovered that school-age children with unusually low levels of salivary cortisol were more violent. It appears that their brains and cortisol-producing systems had already been rewired by maternal stress, infant stress, and/or abuse as very young children; as a result, their systems “down regulated” to produce less cortisol in response to stress.
Loc 2011-2018: up until around the age of fifteen, the prefrontals continue to grow but direct their connections to the left hemisphere (responsible for more sophisticated language) and then to the rest of the brain. Throughout this entire period, the prefrontal lobes are forming, in part based on the continual question of Mother Nature: “Is this a safe environment?” If the answer is no, as evidenced by cortisol in the bloodstream, then development of the prefrontals is slowed (and the child is more likely to remain at the fight-or-flight competence level). If yes, meaning there is little stress and few or no continuous startle flickers such as television in the child’s environment, the research of Pearce, Schore, Winn, and others shows that the prefrontals then form more rapidly and interconnect with the rest of the brain at the fullest and most aggressive rate that evolution has provided for and nature has intended.
Loc 2143-2149: the stresses in the culture produce more and more children whose brains defer to the survival mechanisms of the reptilian brain. These children, in turn, grow up to produce cultures that are less feeling, less intuitive, and more power-oriented—and, as is seen in both ancient and modern feudal societies, very stable and persistent. The culture feeds the neurology, and the neurology then sustains the culture. TRIGGERING EVENTS In The Biology of Transcendence,16 Pearce suggests that some sort of triggering event drove societies worldwide into this cycle of domination, stress, and proliferation of children whose reptilian brains are dominant.
Loc 2153-2157: Riane Eisler’s theory that the violence associated with eating domesticated animals has required a change in the brain, and the theory first presented by Walter Ong18 in 1982 and Robert Logan19 in 1986, and later brilliantly developed by physician Leonard Shlain in his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess,20 that the development of the alphabet created a rewiring of the brain, which led to hierarchical behavior when the alphabet was taught to children younger than seven years old.
Loc 2329-2332: Interestingly, most of the research on the DRD4 7R gene shows that it occurs in about half of the children diagnosed with ADHD. The other half may have been diagnosed not because of novelty-seeking behaviors (indicative of true, genetic ADHD) but because of a wide variety of cultural, nutritional, psychological, environmental, and family factors ranging from growing up in a stressed-out family to mineral deficiencies.
Loc 2427: only in the past decade that German research found there is almost no caffeine in maté, and that mateine has different pharmacological properties than caffeine.
Loc 2428-2432: The main claims made for mateine are that it doesn’t elevate blood pressure, as caffeine does, and that it doesn’t lead to a “crash” after taking it, the way caffeine does. Its effects come on more gently and last longer, and it’s more mood-elevating and less likely to create nervousness. Little solid science has been done on this (most drug research is funded by companies who seek patents, and mateine is not patentable), although many people report this experience and it has been my experience over the years that I’ve been drinking yerba maté.
Loc 2542-2545: Despite optimism by professionals and researchers years ago that treating ADHD in childhood led to improved outcome in adulthood, current research has not supported this perception. In fact, the research suggests that relieving the symptoms of ADHD may not necessarily contribute to increasing the likelihood of positive outcome in the adult years. Loc 2546-2546: similar conclusion was reached in a 2001 evaluation of sixty-two different studies on Ritalin completed in the United States.
Loc 2705-2708: The conditioning for a lifetime of patient, determined, cubicle-friendly labor, starts before a child is only partially neurologically developed, thus increasing the probability that, regardless of the enthusiasm or idealism of teachers, by the time the child reaches adulthood she will be a compliant worker and a relatively unquestioning citizen, just as German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte envisioned when he invented modern compulsory education.
Loc 3027-3028: Adler noticed that a child most often misbehaves as a way of trying to get or accomplish something, whether it’s a candy bar or simply to be noticed.
Loc 3561-3564: From the time of the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s through the end of the Civil War in the 1860s, several million Irish people immigrated to the United States, and most of them ended up in the Boston area. The power structure of the region had been Anglo-Saxon Protestant since the days of John Adams, but in a twenty-year period the population had shifted to a majority of Roman Catholics.
Loc 3565-3572: In part in reaction to this, members of a Protestant secret men’s club called the Order of the Star Spangled Banner began to run for political office and to appoint individuals from their ranks to judgeships. Eventually, the order had enough members in political office that it came out of secrecy and proclaimed its control of the Massachusetts legislature and governor’s office. One of the first official acts of the “Know-Nothing Legislature” of 1854 (referred to as such because the secret password of the Order of the Star Spangled Banner was “I know nothing”) was to pass a constitutional amendment barring Catholics from voting. It failed ratification when submitted to the people for a vote. The legislature further ordered compulsory education of Catholic children, and that the Protestant King James Bible would be read daily in the state-run schools. The Catholic Problem was finally solved.
Loc 4925-4925: See www.preciouschild.net.
Loc 3777-3780: Modern women with ADHD face many of the challenges confronted by men with ADHD, but to all these they have two added layers of difficulty. Subtle yet pervasive and powerful, these two layers are composed of cultural barriers and cultural programming/expectations, which can work together to wound all girls and women,
Loc 3893-3902: Thursday, 28 January 2016 06:23:41
But in order to truly heal, people must place the past behind them and see in front of them a shining, powerful future with a clear picture of themselves and a world in which they can be a dynamic force for change and success. For Edison-gene girls and women, this is particularly critical because, while they so often face the same difficulties and challenges in school and the workplace as do Edison-gene boys and men, they have the added burden of cultural myths and expectations that don’t match their neurology. The Iroquois were very clear that we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors but instead borrow it from our grandchildren. Therefore, they built an absolute injunction into their system of governance stipulating that every decision be made in the context of its impact on the seventh generation from that time. Can you imagine how a similar policy would transform our political, corporate, and educational processes? Even more significant, the Iroquois knew women were the ones among them who were most concerned with the seventh generation. Therefore, in four of the five nations of the original Iroquois Confederacy, only women could vote on matters of long-range importance.
Loc 4217-4220: The natural thing to do is to help each other, and the unnatural thing to do is to compete with each other. I see in my own grandchildren, when they play together without toys, they collaborate. As soon as you bring in toys or a game with rules, then they compete. If you ask kids to pick fruit, they will help each other to climb this tree. But when you say, “Let me see who can pick the most of this fruit,” then you introduce a whole different element into it.
Loc 4358-4361: We know that those children born with this advantageous gene have variously been called “disordered” (ADHD) and evolved or mutant or brilliant (Indigo Children). They certainly have a history of transforming the world—people with this gene are well-represented among our most successful inventors, entrepreneurs, and politicians.
Loc 4394-4398: For example, as explained earlier in this book, only in the past 250 generations, or five thousand years, has lactase persistence (that is, after a child is weaned, the stomach continues to produce the enzyme necessary to digest milk) appeared in the human genome, and predominantly only in those people whose ancestors are European herders. While about 80 to 85 percent of those with European ancestry can easily digest milk as adults, the number drops to only 10 to 30 percent among Asian, African, and Native American populations, depending on the local tribal subgroup.
Loc 4406-4408: As mentioned earlier, a similar genetic pattern can be found in the ability to digest the protein gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley. The first evidence of humans eating grains comes from archeological digs at Catal Huyuk in Turkey, where eleven thousand years ago, people used oxidian blades formed into sickles to cut grain, most likely barley.
Loc 4406-4412: As mentioned earlier, a similar genetic pattern can be found in the ability to digest the protein gluten found in wheat, rye, and barley. The first evidence of humans eating grains comes from archeological digs at Catal Huyuk in Turkey, where eleven thousand years ago, people used oxidian blades formed into sickles to cut grain, most likely barley. The practice spread through the Middle East over the following four thousand years, into southern Europe about five thousand years ago. From their the cultivation of grain moved into northern Europe with the Celtic and then Roman invasions three thousand and two thousand years ago respectively, finally reaching Scandinavia a mere one thousand years ago. As a consequence, the farther north you go in Europe, the more people there are who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
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