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 Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)

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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Sun May 25, 2008 11:37 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Give me 15 or 20 minutes and start without me if you like - I have to go get some brownies now Shocked


I can wait - I have to eat one or two here. The recipe turned out well.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Sun May 25, 2008 11:51 pm

The Mayan Chapter of Collapse gets a lot of history into a few pages and is all the better for that I think.

Plus, the whole mystery in the rainforest, Indiana Jones thing is irresistible.

The shortness of the Chapter perhaps owes something to Bishop Diego de Landa, who "in one of history's worst acts of cultural vandalism burned all the Maya manuscripts that he could locate in his effort to eliminate "paganism" so that only four survive today".

The Maya were a lot more advanced and complex as a society than the Rapa Nui or Chaco Valley people (and I suppose you could say in some ways than the Montana people). One of the things that Diamond says is significant is that they lived 80% on corn, that didn't keep well and was low protein, and that stopped them going to war except with immediate neighbouring settlements.

Apparently it is still not known how they produced the amount of food needed for the population. Rain was irregular and a bit like the Easter Islanders, Kings were expected to exert their special powers to make sure it arrived on time. When the rains failed the palace was likely to be demolished soon afterwards.

Does this remind anyone of our political system?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:02 am

That sounds like a perfect introduction to the chapter as far as I remember it.

Didn't pagan society in Ireland crucify its kings like that when they got no .. whatever? (we mustn't have been short of food)

Have you seen Apocalypse by Mel Gibson? It was about the Maya or some crowd like them from around there. The costumes were great...
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:06 am

I didn't see it. It looked far too scary so I went to see the one about Beatrix Potter instead.

Did it shed any light on the inherent weaknesses of Mayan society ?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:08 am

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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:17 am

A classic Mayan dish.

What I understood JD to be saying is that there were the usual problems of a growing population exploiting rich valley soils, and then having to push agriculture up the hills where soils were poorer. Deforestation led to erosion of slopes. The other problem was irregular rainfall that they were only so so at dealing with. He mentions that when Cortés and his army passed through Mayan territory in the early 16th century they nearly starved because they found so few villages from which they could get corn.

This was after there had been a population of between 3 million and 14 million in the area a few centuries earlier.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:27 am

* bloated with Gú brownies and Ben & Jerry's Vanilla ice cream *

Are we agreed then that the Maya ate themselves out of house and home, devastated their environment and suffered unfortunate droughts into the bargain which killed them off?

In Apocalypse which is worth seeing, the horror of it all is the sacrificing which went on in the actual culture. By committing mass murder they tried to appease the gods or something and probably provoked wars.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:46 am

I went to the pre Columbian museum in Santiago a couple of years ago and the artefacts and art show extraordinary elaborate sacrifice rituals. They took a lot of drugs too.
These nasty gods seem to tie in with fear that it wouldn't rain or would rain too much.

We take things like refrigeration and canning of food so much for granted. If you can't store food and have a couple of bad harvests you are a gonner.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 12:55 am

Did you get some flashbacks reading this book then? There were a bunch of collapses in their society which broadly corresponded with climate variations. Again he is highlighting deforestation and fragility of the environment... the same kind of thing in Iceland which is next.

I wonder do cultures get complacent and that kills em too?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 1:04 am

In the Iceland bit, and also towards the end of the Mayan Chapter, he was talking about how conservative the kings/leaders were - how it was in their immediate interest to preserve the status quo and try to keep things as they were and not to deal with long term change and the need to adapt.

This is the bit i think in which he is beginning to develop an argument about how we should deal with changed conditions like end of oil and climate change.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 1:16 am

It's also I thought about knowledge of the local environment and agricultural potential as well as awareness of the local ecosystem like in Iceland where they denuded the place of trees and now they are paying people to research the tree-destroying era. Iceland survived though to become a remarkably thriving entity (I wonder are they getting paid by NATO?)
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 1:20 am

Google search (most general I could do)
SEARCH for Collapse
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 1:40 am

Unfortunately cactus, the same thing happened in Greenland except this time the Vikings could have survived by learning from their neighbours and imitating their habits and technology. Why they didn't I have to admit I didn't really get but the message was clear: adapt or die.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 1:47 am

Oh dear I seem to have lost a post here. I was just saying about Sami people I met in the north of Sweden who are reindeer herdsmen, semi-nomadic, and some of whom are blonde and viking-ey apart from rather cute tadpole shaped eyes and high cheekbones.
Perhaps there was quite a bit of mixing.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 1:59 am

I'm thinking that at it will take me two more weeks to get to the end of "Collapse" - the rest breaks down into two sections. I have got more into the drift of it as it has gone along as the examples he gives reinforce each other.

We have a few suggestions for new books people would like to read. If I put a list up tomorrow, would you turn it into a poll?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:03 am

Poll: Yes I will - max 10 allowed I think. Two more weeks for Collapse so? I'm getting into it too. We'd be finished it only for the party - better not overlap them again. How about Diamond's other book Guns Germs steel?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:05 am

I'll put it on the list. Ibis has read it. I will definitely be reading it, whether Book Club or not.

I think I'll take a look at what's on the non-fiction best sellers too as it might be nice to read something hot off the press.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:10 am

Oh yes - what about Samantha Power's book on
Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Human Rights Commissioner who was killed in a suicide bomb blast in Baghdad ?

He looks like a fascinating character.

Can that go on the list?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:15 am

cactus flower wrote:
Oh yes - what about Samantha Power's book on
Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Human Rights Commissioner who was killed in a suicide bomb blast in Baghdad ?

He looks like a fascinating character.

Can that go on the list?
Ok... What's the general feeling for a book does anyone know? What kind of mood are people in? Something like the one we have now is good - sweeping, bit of science bit of history bit of this that and the other. How about Salt: A History? Seriously..
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:17 am

There was a very good book on Fish I meant to read. If we put Salt and Fish together would be get a kipper?

btw, whatever happened to my thread on Cheese in History - do you remember that one?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:20 am

Good heavens, the Fish book is by the same author as Salt - actually it seems to be called Cod, a Biography.

Amazon.com
You probably enjoy eating codfish, but reading about them? Mark Kurlansky has written a fabulous book--well worth your time--about a fish that probably has mattered more in human history than any other. The cod helped inspire the discovery and exploration of North America. It had a profound impact upon the economic development of New England and eastern Canada from the earliest times. Today, however, overfishing is a constant threat. Kurlansky sprinkles his well-written and occasionally humorous history with interesting asides on the possible origin of the word codpiece and dozens of fish recipes. Sometimes a book on an offbeat or neglected subject really makes the grade. This is one of them. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
In this engaging history of a "1000-year fishing spree," Kurlansky (A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny, LJ 1/92) traces the relationship of cod fishery to such historical eras and events as medieval Christianity and Christian observances; international conflicts between England and Germany over Icelandic cod; slavery, the molasses trade, and the dismantling of the British Empire; and, the evolution of a sophisticated fishing industry in New England. Kurlansky relates this information in an entertaining style while providing accurate scientific information. The story does not have a happy ending, however. The cod fishery is in trouble, deep trouble, as the Atlantic fish has been fished almost to extinction. Quoting a scientist from the Woods Hole Biological Laboratory, Massachusetts, Kurlansky notes that to forecast the recovery of the cod population is to gamble: "There is only one known calculation: 'When you get to zero, it will produce zero.'" Highly recommended for all general collections.?Mary J. Nickum, Bozeman, Mont.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 2:59 am

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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 3:12 am

cactus flower wrote:
http://www.google.ie/search?hl=en&q=collapse+jared+diamond+auditor&btnG=Search&meta=

I win cheers (didn't know auditors would have anything to do with collapses in civilisation but there you go)
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 3:14 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
http://www.google.ie/search?hl=en&q=collapse+jared+diamond+auditor&btnG=Search&meta=

I win cheers (didn't know auditors would have anything to do with collapses in civilisation but there you go)

cheers indeed.

I would be perfectly happy with cod, or salt: both sound excellent: perhaps we could read them as companion pieces.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 26, 2008 3:17 am

cactus flower wrote:
There was a very good book on Fish I meant to read. If we put Salt and Fish together would be get a kipper?

btw, whatever happened to my thread on Cheese in History - do you remember that one?
Tis HERE On Cod: I could probably do with a stricter deadline for a book too. What's the normal timeframe for a book club - one month? The Salt one is supposed to be good and charts wars and economics that resulted from salt... I think it would a good educational and informative book ...
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