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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)   Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:09 am

Me too. And I am looking forward to Jared Diamond's solutions, and to us coming up with even better ones.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:10 am

cactus flower wrote:
Me too. And I am looking forward to Jared Diamond's solutions, and to us coming up with even better ones.

And we can apply those solutions to ensure and safe-guard the ongoing well-being of our civilisation here in the Machine Nation!
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:13 am

I'm off to the Sibín. Thanks for coming .
Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:14 am

Tá fáilte romhat (?)
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:28 pm

Looks like I made the most progress wit the book. I've gotten as far as the modern section.

It looks like poor Jared thought he'd write a book about environmental doom. Then he realised that there's a lot of social stuff in there too and he'd have to account for it. Fair play to him, plenty of others would have just ignored it and written the book that suited them.

I thought the Montana section was a little indulgent. Comparing it to Greenland in particlular was a bit silly. But it served as a good enough example of modern problems.

The Easter stuff was much better. He should have started with that, got stuck right in with the exotic statues and mystery. Instead we got fecking mining practices in Montana. Easter served as a good example of whatmight happen, all the collapse and war and cannibalism (and my, doesn't cannibalism crop up a lot?).

Skip to Greenland, which was very interesting too. Imagine, a taboo on eating fish. It comes as something of a shock to think of Western Europeans being outclassed by Inuits, but there you go. The Norse deserved the three chapters as they covered all five topics very effectively.

He then gave examples of successful societies. Unfortunately he choose societies that were very isolated, deliberately so in the case of Japan. It doesn't fit with his repeated assertion that the world is increasingly interlinked.

One thing I found quite annoying was his habit of talking down to the reader. He occasionally stopped narrating, to take us aside and chide us for being so primitivistic. He did it three times that I can think of. Primitivism is the belief that 'primitive' people, like Indians or Polynesians know how to live in harmony with the natural world. Aparantly we, the simple minded readers, have difficulty believing that these people could indeed cause harm to the environment or practice canibalism.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:06 pm

905 wrote:
One thing I found quite annoying was his habit of talking down to the reader. He occasionally stopped narrating, to take us aside and chide us for being so primitivistic. He did it three times that I can think of. Primitivism is the belief that 'primitive' people, like Indians or Polynesians know how to live in harmony with the natural world. Aparantly we, the simple minded readers, have difficulty believing that these people could indeed cause harm to the environment or practice canibalism.

To be fair, I think that's more aimed at the anthropological community - there's a fair bit about it in the introduction.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:18 pm

ibis wrote:
905 wrote:
One thing I found quite annoying was his habit of talking down to the reader. He occasionally stopped narrating, to take us aside and chide us for being so primitivistic. He did it three times that I can think of. Primitivism is the belief that 'primitive' people, like Indians or Polynesians know how to live in harmony with the natural world. Aparantly we, the simple minded readers, have difficulty believing that these people could indeed cause harm to the environment or practice canibalism.

To be fair, I think that's more aimed at the anthropological community - there's a fair bit about it in the introduction.

I like the idea that he is trying to follow how man can conciously choose sustainable rather than non-sustainable modes of living. However up to the end of Easter Island, where I am, things have not gone too well. In Montana there is a stand off between "freeze everything" environmentalists and libertarian build everthing everywhere people. And in Easter Island they were wiped out.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:26 pm

ibis wrote:
905 wrote:
One thing I found quite annoying was his habit of talking down to the reader. He occasionally stopped narrating, to take us aside and chide us for being so primitivistic. He did it three times that I can think of. Primitivism is the belief that 'primitive' people, like Indians or Polynesians know how to live in harmony with the natural world. Aparantly we, the simple minded readers, have difficulty believing that these people could indeed cause harm to the environment or practice canibalism.

To be fair, I think that's more aimed at the anthropological community - there's a fair bit about it in the introduction.
What, he's accusing us of being primitivist?! The clot, back when him and his hippy ilk were getting earth wisdom from Chief Dancing Badger, we were the ones warning everyone against neo-primitivism!

Besides there other things, like explaining to us what the Black Death was.

Just read the Rwandan chapter and the Hispaniolan one. The Rwandan chapter was starting to look very dodgy indeed. I thought he was going to explain to us that the Hutus killed everyone purely for land. But I underestimated him again, it was very balanced. I wish he didn't feel the need to put inverted commas around every only in the chapter, such as when he was saying "only" 20,000 were killed somewhere. Nobody's going to accuse him of rivialising deaths.

The Hispaniolan chapter dealt mainly with the Dominican Republic and the dictators there who have done a lot of good for the environment. He kept referring to them as the most evil dictators in Latin America; was there a competition between them all? The message is not one youngdan will appreciate but it crops up frequently in the book, top-down managment is often neccessary to protect the landscape. Certainly a lot of organisation is needed, whether fromabove or below.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Thu May 01, 2008 10:25 pm

cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
905 wrote:
One thing I found quite annoying was his habit of talking down to the reader. He occasionally stopped narrating, to take us aside and chide us for being so primitivistic. He did it three times that I can think of. Primitivism is the belief that 'primitive' people, like Indians or Polynesians know how to live in harmony with the natural world. Aparantly we, the simple minded readers, have difficulty believing that these people could indeed cause harm to the environment or practice canibalism.

To be fair, I think that's more aimed at the anthropological community - there's a fair bit about it in the introduction.

I like the idea that he is trying to follow how man can conciously choose sustainable rather than non-sustainable modes of living. However up to the end of Easter Island, where I am, things have not gone too well. In Montana there is a stand off between "freeze everything" environmentalists and libertarian build everthing everywhere people. And in Easter Island they were wiped out.

In my further reading, I believe Easter Island is just geographically unfortunate. Of the factors required to support forestry and sustainable complex ecosysystms in the South Pacific, Easter Island is notable in having the poorest fundamentals under-pinning its ecosystem.

So the Easter Islanders themselves only bear part of the blame for the ecological devastation there.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Sat May 03, 2008 2:27 am

http://www.montana-sucks.com/t-shirts.htm

One of the better Montana websites
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:04 am

bounce
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:11 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 05, 2008 12:11 am

I've made a book club forum in Welcome for the book club. Non book club book discussion can still be found in the crumbling Vibes and Scribes area.

So who's here?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:11 am

Anyone want to talk about Easter Island?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:13 am

Can we wait another 10 minutes - I'm nearly finished the chapter Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:16 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Can we wait another 10 minutes - I'm nearly finished the chapter Laughing

Yes, that's a good idea. Give me a wave when you are ready.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:29 am

Ok - I ate all the biscuits on the way here, sorry. Is it just the two of us?
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:31 am

Well, I'm making a little start. Before I read Collapse I saw a very good tv documentary a few years ago about Easter Island - Rapa Nui. It was mainly about slash and burn agriculture, that Diamond doesn't refer to. Slash and burn as I understand it was great for people with few tools. They would burn off a patch of land and it was for a few years full of nutrients - partly from the ash. When they were exhausted the land would be abandoned and left fallow for a few years to recover. Except that would not work too well in a small island.

I found Diamond's account rather confusing and in the end went Googling to find a more coherent picture.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:34 am



The fire is nice on an early summer evening. Yes, the children have such a short attention span. In fact I have to own up that I have found reading Collapse a heavy piece of work.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:36 am

What did you find confusing about it? It was cursory but he could only give it so much space and time there so he glossed over a lot of stuff I suppose though I felt he largely got his point across.

Did you really find reading it heavy going? (says he only on the second chapter)
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:41 am



Because of the lack of a coherent picture. On Easter Island, he makes a lot of assumptions about date of arrival and population numbers. He depicts a people who grew to a very large population (unsubstantiated) of about 15,000 or more, that collapsed in the 16th-17th century - again no solid evidence for that. Then the horrendous events of the 18th century - small pox and mass abduction for slavery, were glossed over in a few lines. He paints a picture I was not convinced by.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:50 am

Fair points - his information was scanty on the numbers above alright and he deferred his assumptions to two or three more experienced researchers. You are of the mind that there was a lot less than the possible maximum of 30,000 inhabitants so I take it? A lot of his 'proof' for the population size was down to the research done on the building of the statues and the required hands to get such an amount of work done ...

So you just don't believe that there was an extinction or collapse of the civilization is that it?

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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 12:58 am

This is my alternative chronology based on a paper by an archaeologist published in Scientific American - he says the rats that were brought to the island did damage - bird eggs and the palm nuts - caused deforestation over a prolonged period of time. The red bits are the disputed Diamond dates. The blue bits are my own guesses.

• 300,000 years ago 3 volcanoes form the island
900 A.D. people reached Easter Island
• 1200 A.D. Polynesian migration reached its outer limit inc. New Zealand - Reached Easter Island (very remote and small) - Hunt's theory based on archaeology.

• 1300 Easter Island rock gardens (agriculture)
• 1350 – 3,000 - stable until 1770
• Population reaches over 400 per square mile total 15,000-30,000 people.
• Hunt says stable population of about 3,000
• 1660s ‘steep population crash’ (Diamond)
Population of 8,000 -10,000 (cf guess)
• 1770 first European visitors – shootings of inhabitants
• 1836 2 smallpox epidemics (could have killed 7/8th of population)
• 1862-3 1,500 kidnapped for slaves by Peruvians
• 1863-4 Smallpox kills off most of the remaining population
• 1864 2000 people left
• 1872 111 islanders left
• 1888 annexed by Chile – sheep farm: grazing.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 1:04 am

Hunt puts a lot of emphasis on rats - it is a well known problem on our islands and islands off Wales - no cats so within a few years a population of millions and they eat bird eggs. That would account for the loss of the bird population.

The other thing that struck me from reading Diamond (and that Hunt confirms) is that the arrival of the europeans was patently the cause of a collapse - there was no immunity to the diseases brought in - Diamond says that smallpox killed 7 out of 10 in the Marquesas and there were at least 2 epidemics in three years on Rapa Nui (Easter). Half the population was abducted and the few that returned brought another smallpox epidemic with them. The people and society must have been devastated.
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PostSubject: Re: Book of the Month April May 08 - 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond (Diamond Video Posted 26 April)   Mon May 05, 2008 1:08 am

How do you relate this to his overall structure though? You think it's not applicable for him to use Easter Island as an example at all is it? Or his focus is on the wrong end of his five points - you feel it was the visitors that did for them while he thinks they obliterated themselves..?. Well, he gives accounts of tribal wars and statue-pushing and all but he more or less attributes deforestation to the ruin of the island. And he says that that happened because the island is a fragile and sensitive ecosystem.

There was some great stuff in that chapter though - the idea of the Polynesians spreading out into the Pacific - those islands truly were the last frontier for mankind when Easter Island was found because those places were not inhabited by anyone - it was like an excursion to Mars would be today - they deliberately and capably set out to inhabit the Pacific Islands thousands of miles apart in little boats...
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