Guns, Germs, and Steel
Jared Diamond, in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, explains how he went from being a biologist, studying birds in New Guinea, to developing an entirely new theory on the evolution of human societies. It began in 1972, when a native New Guinean asked him "Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?" (Diamond, 1997, p.14) "Cargo" was what the New Guineans called all the products and technologies that the modern world exports. After 25 years of studying the development of human societies across the planet, his answer, as well as the premise of his book, can be summed up in one sentence, "History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among…… [Read More]
The Italian cities prospered from the transport of Crusaders. Trade passed through Italian hands to Western Europe at a large profit that created a commercial power, which served as the economic base for the Italian enaissance (History World Int., 2007).
More recently, organized religion led al-quaeda to fly two passenger jets into the world trade centre, because those involved were promised eternal life after death. Originally, organized religion united society, but the building animosity between religious groups has only accomplished separation, stereotypes, and war amongst peoples.
Further, The spread of certain diseases can be linked to organized religion. Specific examples of human suffering are not hard to find. For example the Catholic Church refuses to countenance condom use to stop the spread of HIV / AIDS (Hogan, 2009). Hogan cites to empirical data that demonstrates the transmission of the virus is far less likely in countries that have no religiously…… [Read More]
9. Wild almonds contain cyanide: a person can die from eating only a few dozen of them (Diamond, p. 114). They taste bitter due to the presence of amygdalin, the precursor to cyanide. The chemical serves as a defense mechanism for the almond, deterring animals (and people) from eating them and better ensuring the propagation of the almond plant because the nut is its seed. As Diamond points out, if animals feasted indiscriminately on almonds they would minimize the chances that the plant would propagate itself.
However, "occasional individual almond trees have a mutation in a single gene that prevents them from synthesizing the bitter-tasting amygdalin," (p. 118). In the wild those non-bitter almond trees would die out because birds feast on their seeds before they can sprout. Children of early farmers, though, might have gladly munched on some of the sweet almonds and brought the seeds back to their…… [Read More]
Then, in 1000 a.D., Polynesian farmers colonized New Zeeland -- the group would break into two tribes, the Maori and the Moriori, who would later on collide (Diamond).
In 1500 a.D., Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil and claimed it as a territory for his country. The period also represented an ascension in arts, as numerous works, such as sculptures and cathedrals, had been completed. Books were being printed; advancements were being made in literacy and more focus was being placed on the learning process, with the opening of learning institutions; diplomatic services and approaches were gaining momentum; more inventions were being made and the first forms of copy right and patents emerged (Timeline). All these developments were however occurring in the more developed states, such as Spain, France, the Netherlands or Portugal.
Given this situation, as well as Diamond's theory of world evolution, it could be argued that…… [Read More]
Till the period up to 11,000 BC every individuals remained Stone Age hunters/gatherers. Nearly that time, the roads of growth of human societies on various continents started to move away in a large scale. (Guns, Germs, and Steel- the Fates of Human Societies: (www.2think.org) During that period, when Stone Age hunter-gatherers comprised the total human population, a big segregation happened in the proportion that the human societies progressed. In Eurasia, several regions of Americas, and Africa, agriculture started to be the existing pattern of livelihood when domestication of aboriginal wild plants and animals were done by the prehistoric planters and herders. Diamond fairly examines the human history on each continent starting from the Ice Age at a proportion that stresses just the widest traversals of people and concepts. However, his assessment is symmetrical: one eye has rather long-term view of the evolutionary biologist, whereas the other eye and his spirit…… [Read More]
Triumph of estern Civilization
In the book Guns, Germs, and Steel, the historian and New Guinea anthropologist Jared Diamond argues that the geography and the environment of the est played the major role in determining the dominance of estern civilization of the modern world. According to Diamond, although geography and the environment do not automatically lead to dominance over other civilizations, these two factors do make major contributions to the four factors that are responsible for all historical developments. The first of these factors is the widespread availability of potential crops and domestic animals as a sustainable food source. This first factor's importance is followed by the need for a nation's location near the a continental axis in a way that facilitates the sustenance of year-round agriculture and yields the seasonal and climatic advantages for a variety of foodstuffs. Third in importance to holding sway over other nations is an…… [Read More]
Further, Diamond's argument that agriculture inherently provides less nutrition is less valid today, when a greater variety of food choices are available. hile he is correct in noting that there are global disparities in health in today's agricultural society, he also fails to note that this issue could be relatively easily remedied through better food distribution.
Essentially, the disparities in nutrition boil down to issues of political will and wealth, and these issues are not necessarily explained by the growth of agriculture, as Diamond suggests. It could just as easily be argued that the creation of the wheel (which allows for the movement of the military) or of gunpowder (which allows for the suppression of people and societies) is the root cause of such fundamental inequalities between societies.
In conclusion, Diamond's argument that domestication is the biggest mistake in the history of humankind is overly simplistic, and potentially incorrect. It…… [Read More]
Aldo Leopold and Environmental History
In answering the question of whether the United States has improved on environmental policy since the 1930s, the cyclical nature of the political system must be considered. A generational reform cycle occurs every 30-40 years, such as the Progressive Era of 1900-20, the New Deal of the 1930s and the New Frontier and Great Society of the 1960s and early-1970s. All of the progress that the United States has made in conservation, wilderness preservation and other environmental issues has happened in these reform eras. Barack Obama represents yet another reform cycle and his environmental record is better by far than any other president over the last forty years, although much of what he attempted to accomplish has been blocked by the Republicans and the corporate interests that fund them. In conservative eras like the 1920s, 1950s and 1980s and 1990s, almost nothing worthwhile happens with…… [Read More]
Diamond disagrees on two counts: The first is that technology has created "an explosion" of problems and the potential for solving them. Yet, the first thing that occurs is technology creates the problem and then maybe later it solves it, so at best there is a lag (or as noted above a reaction, rather than a proactive stance). Second, an environmental lesson repeated again and again is that it is much less expensive and more effective to prevent a problem from the start than to solve it by high technology later on.
Environmentally, much of the world is in both of these situations noted by Diamond. First, people are just beginning to recognize the environmental problem. Years of concerns by environmentalists did not influence the average consumer. Al Gore's movie and other media pushes have put the idea of global warming and the need to be "green," into the forefront.…… [Read More]
Environmental determinism has long been out of favor among historians and social scientists, although well into the 19th Century even the majority of Westerners were highly dependent on the climate and environment for their survival. Since the entire world economy was based on agriculture, a shortfall in harvests meant famines, epidemics and death for those who were at or below subsistence level. Such famines were a primary cause for the overthrow of the monarchy in France in 1789, for example, and they led to rebellions, riots and instability wherever they occurred. As late as the 1840s in Ireland, the great potato blight led to the death or immigration of half the population, and the near-destruction of Irish society. In the case of Easter Island, Norse Greenland and the Classic Maya civilization, climate change combined with deforestation and agricultural practices that destroyed the environment led to the total collapse…… [Read More]
They goal for globalization is to increase material wealth and the distribution of goods and services through a more international division of labor and then, in turn, a process in which regional cultures integrate through communication, transportation and trade. The overall theory is that if countries are tied together cooperatively economically, they will not have needed to become political enemies (Smith 2007). Notice the continuum here -- globalization, like modernization, is a process, but a process that insists movement from A to B. is not only desirable, but necessary to become part of the Global Club. hile this is primarily an economic determinant, nothing exists in a vacuum. Therefore, economics drive technological, social, cultural, political, and even biological factors. And, with this exchange of paradigms, there is transnational circulation of ideas, languages, popular culture, and communication through acculturation. Typically, we see the movement of globalization moving into the developing world…… [Read More]
Intro to Cultural Anthropology
Ch'en, Kenneth K.S. Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey. New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1907-1964. In this text, Professor Kenneth Ch'en writes a historical account of the development of Buddhism and how it modified as it grew. Buddhism is a unique religion in that it has been adapted to incorporate the cultural attitudes of the various countries in which it is found. Within China, Buddhism took an especially strong hold because it was able to incorporate the philosophical ideas of people like Confucius.
Ch'en's main argument of the piece seems to be that Buddhism is different from other religions. This is what makes the book a useful tool for academic research. There is not one set of dogmatic rules that have to be accepted, but rather many different versions of the religion. In this text, Ch'en has identified all of the social,…… [Read More]
Americans: Environmental Collapse and the End of Civilization" by Jared Diamond.
With a BA from Harvard University and PhD from Cambridge University, as well as a vast amount of works published, professor Diamond uses his extensive knowledge as well as his equally extensive field work and research to put on the table what he found disturbing about the fall by self-destruction of ancient civilizations, among which, he focuses on that of the Mayas.
The author opens his essay with Percy Shelly's poem, Ozymandias, using poetry to appeal to the reader's sensibilities. By creating a sad, hopeless atmosphere, he is setting the tone in anticipation of the rest of the essay. His choice for the poem of an incurable romantic as Shelley, may seem odd for the opening of an essay about the environment. However, it strikes several cords and thus opens the reader's heart instead of just one's mind. This…… [Read More]
The notable exception to this layout of the various departments of the casino at The Venetian is again its Sports-ook, which is entirely rounded into a half-circle and therefore gives an air of having consumed far more resources than a rectangular shaped Sports-ook would. It is easy to craft a desk that is straight, to cut the wood in a way that makes it have strong borders and edges; for that reason most desks that you see are straight. To cut the wood so as to make it rounded is far more difficult, and someone looking at such a curved piece of wood would have to assume high expense involved in procuring and designing wood in such a fashion.
In the center of the floor of the Venetian (and not all casinos are like this) are the slot machines, conspicuous examples of mass expenditure, ringing and glittering and flashing lights.…… [Read More]
History Naval Warfare
What was naval power in the age of sail and how did different sea going states exercise it from the period 1650-1850?
"There is a deep landlubber bias in historical and social research," writes Charles King. "History and social life, we seem to think, happen on the ground. What happens on the water…is just the scene-setter for the real action when the actors get where they are going. ut oceans, seas, and rivers have a history of their own, not merely as highways or boundaries but as central players in distinct stories of human interaction and exchange." Current essay is an exploration of the naval power and sea command during the period of the age of sail (1650-1850). The author has mentioned the war history and war strategies of major navies and sailors during this era. The author has also discussed how different sea going states exercise…… [Read More]
Mann challenges the belief that superior weaponry was the main factor in the Inca loss to the Spanish. Give two examples of Inca weaponry or strategy that was viable in warfare against the Spanish. 1) Huge roadway system connecting all parts of the Incan Empire; 2) Versatility and ability to fight at high altitudes; 3) Overwhelming population; 4)Large stone fortifications; 5) No gunpowder, but an abundance of weapon: clubs, spears, bows, lances, slings that were accurate at shorter distances.
Mann argues that the rivalry for power in the Andes among the Inca and other native groups was a major factor the Spanish conquest. Explain at least one of these rivalries. Who were the two, three or four players involved? Who were they allied with and what role did they play in the Spanish victory? Because Atawallpa's clan had been so authoritarian and destructive in subjugating other populations (e.g. those from…… [Read More]
Some Chinese researchers assert that Chinese flutes may have evolved from of Indian provenance.
In fact, the kind of side-blon, or transverse, flutes musicians play in Southeast Asia have also been discovered in Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asia, as ell as throughout the Europe of the Roman Empire. This suggests that rather than originating in China or even in India, the transverse flute might have been adopted through the trade route of the Silk Road to Asia. In addition to these transverse flutes, Southeast Asians possessed the kind of long vertical flutes; similar to those found in Central Asia and Middle East.
A considerable amount of similarities exist beteen the vertical flutes of Southeast Asia and flutes from Muslim countries. This type of flute possibly came from Persians during the ninth century; during the religious migration to SEA. Likeise, the nose-blon flute culture, common to a number of…… [Read More]
Given that Christianity tended to view history as progressive, and Christ's sacrifice and the event of Christendom being the ultimate apex of earlier civilization, the past was often seen as an inferior precursor to the present in a particularly judgmental light -- hence the persecution of certain groups as infidels and outsiders. It is the historian and the anthropologist's duty to unpack such cultural assumptions and to view the world through a less morally-clouded and self-justifying lens.
Episode 2: Conquest. (2005). Guns, Germs & Steel. PBS. Retrieved May 31, 2011 at http://www.pbs.org/gunsgermssteel/show/episode2.html
Anthropological research project: Celebrating women anthropologists
his website catalogues the research of famous women anthropologists throughout the ages. It has a specifically feminist slant, and details the research these women engaged in, along with their personal struggles for recognition in the field. While most people are familiar with the work of Margaret Mead in Samoa,…… [Read More]
accordingly, is not only an account of the human past, but also a projection of its future; a vision of an end determined and dominated by the est. History is a modern effort at the creation meaning - a reflection over the 'destiny' of the estern man. But, history is the ideological mainstay of life and the ruler of its disciplines. Nowhere are these thoughts more apparent than in James M. Blaut's book, Eight Eurocentric Historians.
Eight Eurocentric Historians was the second installment in a trilogy on Eurocentrism. First came "The Colonizer's Model of the orld" (Guilford, 1993), a broad statement of the problem. The final installment would have been "Decolonizing the Past." Offering an alternative model of history, it would have given what Blaut called the "people without history" their proper due. The list of eight Eurocentric historians include the arch theorist of estern rationality (Max eber), the advocate…… [Read More]
Samuel, Marks & Morgan, and a variety of other regional names. For the most part, Signet stores compete in the same middle mass market segment, with some brands such as Ernest Jones competing in the upper middle market. Most consumers buy jewelry as an expression of love, making it a relatively discretionary purchase. Only the wedding and gift-giving segments are considered by the company to be non-discretionary, although consumers may choose to purchase non-jewelry gifts in tighter economic times. Consumers in this segment focus their buying on the holiday season, which accounts for 40% of annual sales. Nearly half of all consumers buy on credit. Signet operates in own credit, rather that working through a third party. Credit and selling policies are roughly in line with those of the competition.
ith regard to promotion, Signet is able to leverage its size to use national advertising campaigns for its national brands.…… [Read More]
Japanese Art of Balance
In Japanese culture there is a balancing act taking place. There is a definite ebb and flow, wax and wane to life. Here several aspects of the culture will be considered and addressed in an effort to show how the art of balance is created and how significant it is in the Japanese culture and lifestyle. It is not just art, not just food, not "just" anything when it comes to where the balance is seen and how much it has to offer to the Japanese people. It seems as though balance has always been part of their culture, from the earliest times right up until the present day. People who are not part of that culture, or who do not focus on the many ways in which balance can be achieved in life, may not realize the significance of some of the things Japanese people…… [Read More]
In the 21st century, American, European, and Asian trans-national corporations (e.g., General Motors; Toyota; Coca Cola; IBM; Nestle, etc., build plants in Mexico and Latin America, where indigenous labor is cheaper than American labor. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of poor Mexican citizens living in poverty struggle to sneak across the borders of the United States, into California, Arizona, Texas, or New Mexico, in hope of finding better lives by working for American dollars, instead of Mexican pesos.
All in all, European colonialism, an outgrowth and direct result of acquisitive worldwide European exploration and expansion, from the time of the Spanish conquistadores through the Enlightenment Period; through the Industrial Revolution and beyond, has done more harm than good within both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. For the most part, within these regions, colonialism (and/or its long-lasting after-effects) brought disease; poverty, and much cultural coercion to those areas. Natural resources were stolen;…… [Read More]
Accordingly, the significance of the application of the conflict perspective to American food is that its accuracy is so blatantly valid that it has progressed almost unnoticed through our nation's history. Out of the philosophical roots of Marx, conflict theory has evolved and broadened its scope; today, it is most commonly used to evaluate the legal system, but the core conflict remains that between the proletariats and the owners of the means of production. In this way, the conflicts surrounding the exponentially expanding fast food industry reach between the working class and the social elite. McDonalds's, in particular, represents one of the most glaring examples of how the social elite in society have managed to package, sell, and justify their prominent position in American society to the masses.
The central premise of social conflict theory is that individuals and groups within society generally use their power -- as much of…… [Read More]
globalization is generally understood to be the expansion of businesses and corporations to foreign markets either to expand their consumer base or to utilize a cheap workforce. However, the history of globalization really dates back to colonial and even ancient time periods; when strategic and monetary aims were first being seen from an intercontinental perspective and were usually achieved to increase the power and wealth of the state. Originally, as with conquerors like Alexander of Macedonia, expansion of a more global empire was advantageous for the purpose of simply increasing the land, population, and influence of a single ruling party; riches were plundered and dissenters subjugated. Overall, in ancient times, huge empires were merely expansions of the state. This began to change at the beginning of the colonial period as it was seen as more worthwhile to not formally indoctrinate conquered lands and peoples into the ruling nation. This began…… [Read More]
This issue was put in front of the public with the story of Keiko, a killer whale that was badly abused in a Mexican facility. Eventually, Keiko was moved to a better aquarium in Oregon, but activists insisted that Keiko should be released to live in the wild (Staff writers, 1997). In fact, people have worked for animal rights since the 1860's when the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established in the 1860's (Unti & Rowan, 2001), but until recently, most people did not consider holding captive animals in well-designed and well-maintained zoos as inhumane or cruel. ecause of the attention Keiko received, including the animal being represented as the lead character in two "Free Willy" films, Keiko was eventually released. This action demonstrated the difficulty of returning captive animals to the wild. Although Keiko had begun life as a wild animal, he did not…… [Read More]
The Aleutian Islands run from the Peninsula of Kamchatka in the Asiatic portion of Russia to Alaska. All the islands are bare and mountainous and the coasts rocky and surrounded by crashing waves and enormous breakers. (Larkin, unpaged) Some believe the Aleutians offer the worst weather in the world: eather fronts originating in the South Pacific create storms hundreds of miles long and many weeks in duration (Sipes, unpaged) that pick up the frigid moisture of the waters and air as they move northward. It would seem that anyone desirous of living there would need some overwhelming reasons to do so. The Russians and Scandinavians who first 'discovered' the area for non-natives, and later the Americans, did have good reasons to be there. As for the Aleuts and Alutiiq, an abundance of fish and sea mammals might have been the attraction if, as some theories surmise, they arrived…… [Read More]
Joseph Tainter, Sustainability
What does moving toward sustainability really entail? Joseph Tainter's article on "Social Complexity and Sustainability" makes a crucial distinction at the outset, differentiating sustainability from resiliency. Sustainability entails a society's ability to continue along in current patterns or modes of existence, whereas resiliency is a society's ability to adjust and reorient itself during conditions of change. It is possible that unsustainable policies or activities may have put is in a position where drastic changes are to be expected, and where resiliency may be something we all require -- but as Tainter notes, "the goal of human groups is more often sustainability or continuity than resilience" (Tainter 92). Yet the concept of resiliency is important to understand Tainter's insight that "Given the role of complexity in both sustainability and collapse, 'success' consists substantially of staying in the game." I would like to consider Tainter's insight while ultimately pondering…… [Read More]
These conservatives are, in the authors' estimation, anti-Western, even though they perceive themselves to be upholding Western values.
But is this really a useful or complete understanding of the complexities of the religious and cultural debates that exist within the Middle East, America, or the larger world? Although the use of the term Occidentalism helpful to some extent in examining why 'they' hate 'us' in the Islamic vs. Western world's culture wars, ultimately the term is so broad its value is somewhat limited, especially if their construct is applied to Nazi Germany vs. The West. Further confusing the issue is that the authors note that many Western critics come from within the system itself, from the ultimate critic of Western bourgeois values Karl Marx to Western-educated fundamentalist terrorists. This makes the definition of 'the Occident' even slipperier, especially as Marx was pro-urban, pro-science, in contrast to religious fundamentalists.
This blurry…… [Read More]
, lands useful to man, but according to technical and conspicuous for purposes that each civilization.
When business needs and adds prestige to urban heritage, religions, however, that mark their territories of pagodas, churches, monasteries, mosques and other places of worship, this singularity is affirmed more, while the forms of urban and rural habitat are specified, they are luxuries or miserable. And civilization, always customary in everyday life acquires additional visibility monumental materializing the skills of craftsmen-artists who enrich the work of the builders.
Added to this are, of course, the wealth and prestige that comes from adding additional, oral traditions of all time, written tradition gradually spread to shops and palaces, and the ideological apparatuses of all kinds, from which they eventually win the depths of peoples. o, the graphics become, like languages, distinctive marks of the various civilizations.
Maturation profoundly affects trade flows of civilization. On the one…… [Read More]
9% of the turtles" -- and "plastics" dominated the debris found (Katsanevakis, p. 75). The list of plastic trash found in those turtles is too long to include in this research.
Seabirds (especially pelicans, gannets and gulls) often fall prey to "monofilament line"; albatrosses, petrels, penguins and grebes are not found entangled in plastic fishing line or other plastic debris as often as pelicans and gulls (Katsanevakis, 2008, p. 69). hat is particularly insidious about plastic is when it is ingested by marine animals is releases "toxic chemicals" due to the chemical additives that are added to the plastic during the manufacturing process. Once in the abdomen of the animal the toxic materials can block the digestive tract and block "gastric enzyme ingestion, diminished feeding stimulus, nutrient dilution, reduced growth rates, lowered steroid hormone levels, delayed ovulation and reproductive failure," Katsanevakis asserts (p. 71).
There is lethal danger for small…… [Read More]