Recent Goings On … Books!!

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts over the last little while. Two things i try to avoid, discussion of Religion and politics. The world has so much going on, that I have opinions about, that sometimes, I think to myself, “why bother?”

As a Citizen of the United States, I received my ballot by mail, some time ago. The Dade County Supervisor of Elections is very diligent in making sure all of our ballots arrive with plenty of time, to be sent back in time for the latest election. I filled my ballot out and sent it back a while ago, and got an email confirming that it had been received in Miami.

We did not get the results we all wanted. But that is the nature of the beast, I guess. Too many red voters down south. We watched the returns until the Canadian National News came on, then we went to bed.

It is a very good thing that so many WOMEN won seats in the government last night. That is very gratifying for sure. We are very proud of all the women, and the first two Muslim women to be voted into seats, for the first time in history.

Ilhan Omar, 37, is one of two Democrats to become the first Muslim-American women to enter Congress. She won a House seat in Minnesota.

Born in Somalia, Ms Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war in 1991. She arrived in the US as a teenager after spending four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.

She is also the first Somali-American member of Congress.

Ms Omar will be joined in Congress by Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim woman who won a House seat in Michigan. The 42-year-old is also the first Palestinian-American congresswoman.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, is the youngest woman ever to win a seat in Congress.

The 29-year-old, a Bronx native from a Puerto Rican family, overcame a top Democrat to become her party’s nominee for a House seat in New York.

BOOKS AND STUFF …

One of my lady readers suggested that I would enjoy Yuval Noah Harrari’s books, Sapiens and Homo Deus. Yuval is a PHD in history. In reading his bio, there are a few letters behind his name.

A while back, one of my friends suggested to me that I read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. that was a FANTASTIC BOOK ! I love Jared’s voice. I love the way he writes books, and the way he explains his methods and the ways he sees the world, based on his own personal experience.

Jared’s Book, Guns, Germs and Steel, tells the history of the world from the point of 13,000 years ago. He explains all the minutia of the different factors that go into human survival, over the eons. But so much more, Jared discusses the particulars of the land, the axes of that land, whether it is a North South or East West axes, that either makes or breaks each civilization.

Jared goes into great detail. Detail that Yuval does not share with his readers. However he tells stories of those early peoples and how they survived through story telling academically. I found Yuval’s stories great and all, but he lacked the precision data and storytelling that Jared gave us in Guns, Germs and Steel. Yuval writes as an academic, and that’s how I took his book, by the book. He did not engage me as a reader in the story of how the earth populated and grew over the eons.

Jared gives a captivating explanation in great detail of where we came from, how we got here, and how the world became the world it is today, through exhaustive details of every aspect of civilization, which I found captivating and enlightening.

The stories of the first people’s, something that is crucial in Canadian society, I attended a Native Blanket Exercise not long after completing Jared’s book, and through his eyes, while sitting in the First Nations exercise, I knew the story historically, because I read Jared’s book, it made the whole experience for me a much deeper experience as a whole.

Yuval did not share stories like Jared’s. Which sets both books apart in story and scope of subject matter. I do not discount Yuval as a writer of history based on his credentials. But he is an academic, where Jared is a scientist and anthropologist and a student of the world, because he has traveled this world in great detail. That shows in Jared’s books, including Collapse, which I am reading at the moment.

Academics are pigeonholed as writers, because they approach their work as an academic. Which tend to be dry and cold to some, reading an academic treatise rather than a book of exploration and wonder.

Yuval did not capture my imagination enough, and by the end of the book, I wanted to get to the end of the book, soon! However, Yuval has perks in his storytelling. His stories differ from Jared, in scope and academic precision.

Both are great writers, Yuval as a PHD in history, so you could not question his sources or information he provided. I moved from enjoyment reading, into reading a PHD thesis on the history of the world. Written by an academic.

Yuval does have his writing perks as I said …

One very noticeable way in which Yuval writes, is that of his choice of language and who he uses to make points along the way. Most writers will write with a bent towards a neutral voice when telling stories. It is usually the male character who appears in storytelling.

Yuval, turns that around throughout Sapiens … I noticed this little turn right away, and took note that he carried his characters throughout his book.

Yuval always notates a woman when telling his stories.

Instead of always seeing His, or He or male representatives, Yuval uses the Female identifier She and Her. His attention to this very little detail, becomes a very big detail in this book. I found it very interesting that he used this format in his writing.

These two books, Guns Germs and Steel, and Sapiens, are similar.

Yuval being a PHD in History, I read his book as an academic. Having degrees in Religion and Theology myself. In retrospect, I enjoyed Guns, Germs and Steel much more.

Yuval’s storytelling was really good. But I found his stories glossed over many things that Jared spoke about as important. Where Yuval’s stories are academic in reach, and factually correct, I wanted more out of his text.

The only reason I finished the book, was that I had committed to reading it because one of my women who read this blog suggested it to me. So I wanted to do it proper justice.

If I had to choose who I would read again, hands down it is Jared Diamond. With that said, I bought two more Diamond Books…

Collapse … How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and
The World Until Yesterday … What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies.

I’m really enjoying Collapse.

Once again, Jared’s voice is fantastic. I love the way he writes and the detail he goes into about every subject he writes about so well. He not only uses his scientific work, but work of other scientists and writers, to shed facets of light on subjects that can be rather dark and/or unknown. 

I also picked up a book called Children of God, written by Lars Petter Sveen.

This book is a story about the child and adolescent Jesus. I’m always on the look out for Jesus books. I have read several really good book, one by Reza Aslan, was a fantastic book about Jesus.

Stories about the child or adolescent Jesus do not exist, because there are no stories written about him, during his young life. Every book that is written has to employ side literature, scripture or old papyrus scrolls that still exist in modern days.

Anne Rice took a stab at this topic a while back. So I also have all of her books in my library.

DARKNESS in MONTREAL

It is very dark in Montreal right now. With the clocks going back an hour, by 5 p.m. it is so dark, you’d think it was really 10 p.m. at night.

They tell us SNOW and a lot of it is coming, soon … Upwards of 15 cm will hit the ground come next week. Right now, it has been raining incessantly, for days and nights. It is a bit nippy out. And it will only get colder when the snows finally appear.

I’ve bought some new cold weather gear, gloves and a pair of warm boots. I’ve been updating my wardrobe for a while now. My reason when shopping is that if I buy it, it has to be able to be worn all four seasons and not just in warm weather.

My Hockey under gear warm layer works very well. Last winter I went to a professional hockey shop here in the city, and purchased thermal under gear that I wear as a base layer, along with special base layer clothing.

Some of my favorite clothing makers have great base layer and warm weather gear for both men and women.

Much more to come, stay tuned.

Thanks for the book recommendations.

If you are going to read any books, JARED DIAMOND should be at the top of your read list.


Guns Germs and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered, how did we get here? Where did we come from?  Why here and Why now? Why are some countries rich, and others poor? Why do human live where they live today, and where did the first peoples come from?

Being an avid reader poses challenges now and then. Picking up a substantive book, and reading it from cover to cover, requires time, treasure and commitment. I have several substantial books in my “read” library stack. It took me quite a while to consume Guns, Germs and Steel. Not only does this book require time and treasure, it demands of its reader, patience, understanding, and a desire to learn; something that I found, was enlightening and educational.

Jared Diamond begins some 13,000 years ago, when the world was first populated with hunter gatherers. The continents were finding their places, ice ages, came and went. And early humans, as archeologists have studied began to populate the earth. When oceans were shallower, and land bridges existed, in several locations on the earth, people moved here and there.

Indigenous peoples worldwide don’t garner very much respect from the conquering peoples who overtook them. There were multiple indigenous communities worldwide, before the proverbial “white man” came and either infected them with disease, enslaved them to serve, relegated them to reserves or killed them outright in wars and conquests.

This book is methodical in its approach to humanity. And in pain staking detail we learn what peoples lived in prehistory. We learn where they lived to begin with and where they moved, on the earth as time progresses.

We learn how advances in food production, disasters of germs and disease, and the advancing industrial revolution, where guns and steel overpower those who did not have them.

We learn that in historical times, conquest and war, dispensed with entire groups of people. You did not only get the peoples who took up conquest, but the people who suffered because of it. The people who were here, before we got here, grew into some, successful communities. In the end, those vibrant indigenous communities were laid wasted by diseases brought by the conquerors, and the wars perpetuated in the names of Kings, Queens or Country.

As the continents were solidified, where people lived either assisted their success or advanced their demise. Where you lived, in relation to the latitude of your environs, either helped you, or harmed you. The success of peoples, farming, livestock, and growth all depended greatly, on where you sat, on the earth, in terms of latitude and longitude.

The spread of all things necessary for life, worked well, in areas with an expansive East – West axes. Those countries with North – South, axes, did not fare so well, the population and spread of food, animals and technology flourished in the Eurasian, East West Expanse of location.

There is a direct correlation between the location of a people, and the environment they found themselves in. From the Equator, reaching either North or South, temperate regions flourished. Guns, Germs and Steel tells the story of how the world became what it has.

Time, Distance, Location and the problems associated with location either helped peoples grow and succeed, or they took much longer to achieve certain benchmarks in their human existence. All things moving East – West grew faster than those things moving North – South.

Time is measured in hundreds of years,  The movement of people, goods, animals, and agriculture took TIME. And it seems that in pre-history, time is a very important component in the building of peoples, world wide.

Jared Diamond spins a very intricate web of story telling about Time, Talent, and Treasure. How the world built itself, learned how to govern itself, farm the land, produce food, and be able to store that food over Time, and then industrialize, are very important factors in human existence.

Guns, Germs and Steel is not a simple story, it is complex on many levels and explains the difficulty early peoples faced, in maintaining a home, finding food to eat, and learning the hard way, especially, “what not to eat.”

Every continent on the earth has a particular Origin Story. Every peoples who populate the earth, where ever that may be, also have complex Origin Stories. This very complex but wonderful study of humanity is one of the best books I have ever read, on the subject of just How We Got Here !

How each continent and how each people on each continent arrived where they did, and prospered to the level they are at today is studied exhaustively in this text. The Origins of People, Language, Customs and Lives and how all these things moved from one area of the world to other areas of the world is fascinating.

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

Pulitzer Prize books must contain certain factors that I always look for, IF a particular book has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Because I have read a handful of winners, that turned out to be real losers.

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !

How Canada’s bloodiest day at Vimy defined Great War sacrifice

Nova Scotia Highlanders marching.

The Nova Scotia Highlanders, marching through Belgium in World War One 1914. (Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Canadians think of Vimy Ridge as the moment our nation came of age. It is less than that—and more, too.

by

Macleans.Ca Report

In the end it came down to a battalion of aggrieved Nova Scotians, mostly men from Cape Breton, to put the final seal on the Canadian army’s most iconic victory and the bloodiest day in the country’s military history. By 6 p.m. on April 9, 1917, Canadians and Germans had already been mowed down in their thousands across the heights of Vimy Ridge. Along the far right edge of the battlefield, Arthur Currie’s 1st Division had swept along four kilometres of Vimy’s most gentle terrain at a cost of 2,500 casualties, a dead or wounded man for every metre and a half. The casualty rates only rose as the distances grew shorter but steeper, and the 2nd and 3rd divisions successfully advanced in the centre.

At the far left, though, the day was ending in crisis. Maj.-Gen. David Watson’s 4th Division faced the shortest distance (800 m) and the hardest climb. They were up against Hill 145, the highest point on the ridge—where the Vimy monument now stands—and a tenacious, well-fortified enemy with all the defensive advantages of height. The continuing German hold on Hill 145—maintaining the possibility of reinforcements and the same kind of counterattack that had preserved the ridge in German hands for years—imperilled the entire enterprise, all the bloody day’s efforts and sacrifice.

MORE: Vimy Ridge, April 9, 1917: ‘Like a scene out Dante’

Watson didn’t have much in the way of fresh combat troops to throw into the maelstrom; hardly any fresh troops of any kind, save for the 85th Battalion. Mocked by the other battalions as wannabe Highlanders—the Nova Scotians hadn’t yet been issued their kilts—and unhappy about it, the inexperienced 85th had mostly functioned as a non-combatant labour battalion. They moved up through the trenches to the front lines, where they anxiously awaited the only thing that would give them a fighting chance: a preliminary bombardment. Without it, bayonets versus machine guns was the definition of a massacre. The shelling never came, because senior officers determined that attackers and defenders were already too close to chance the friendly fire.

Not every front-line officer heard that news, and many were perplexed when the appointed hour came and passed without the guns opening up. After a few minutes, though, they took what military historian Tim Cook calls “the gut-wrenching” decision to attack regardless. The element of surprise—who attacks without artillery?—bought a few precious seconds, but the machine guns were scything through the attackers soon enough. The survivors, though, refused to go to ground in shell craters and kept running until they crashed into the German lines, shooting, stabbing and clubbing the enemy.

“Within 10 mad minutes,” Cook writes, Hill 145 fell to the untried Maritimers, wannabes no more, “in the most audacious Canadian bayonet charge of the war.” The 85th suffered almost 350 killed and wounded, including nearly all its officers, but it reversed imminent defeat on the 4th Division front and may well have saved the entire battle. By the time the sun set, Canada was in charge of Vimy Ridge.

It’s probably safe to guess that for every American who can talk about Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg or Briton who knows the fate of the Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo, there is—statistically speaking—no Canadian at all who has heard of the 85th Battalion. Even as royalty, government dignitaries and thousands of ordinary Canadians prepare to converge on northwest France in April to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle, vanishingly few of us know anything at all of what unfolded on Vimy that day.

Through a series of historical twists, expertly traced by Cook in his brilliant new book, Vimy: The Battle and the Legend, Vimy—and its soaring, moving, beautiful monument—have come to mean a lot to Canadians. Our concept of it tells a tale of national unity: the battle was the first time—and the last, Cook points out—that the entire Canadian Corps, men from every part of the nation, fought together. It also whispers of a quiet, almost regrettable, skill at killing. It speaks most insistently about sacrifice. But that icon of Vimy is strangely bloodless, especially in reference to a real-life Vimy soaked in it: on April 9, 1917, and in mopping-up operations the next morning, one in three front-line Canadian soldiers was killed or wounded.

MORE: Vimy: The day the earth shook

Cook’s adrenalin-fuelled account of the battle is a powerful antidote. The Great War is peculiarly poised between traditional and modern warfare, the historian notes. It featured aerial maps, enormous artillery pieces that could accurately target positions kilometres way, and machine guns that fired 500 rounds a minute. Yet soldiers threw grenades, unused since the Napoleonic wars, and wore steel helmets, not seen since the 17th century. Often enough, after all the long-range shelling and the rapid-fire machine guns, they were wielding bayonets and rifle butts when they closed with their enemies, in a denouement that would have been familiar to an Egyptian pharaoh.

At 5:28 a.m. on April 9, Canadian heavy machine guns tilted their barrels upwards and rained bullets on enemy crossroads and trenches. Two minutes later, almost 1,000 big guns opened up, providing a creeping barrage that moved forward every three minutes. And 15,000 Canadians went over the top.

The planning was intricate and months old, right down to the pits dug for the dead long before the battle. But the fate of entire battalions turned as often as not on chance. On the 1st Division front, artillery had hit most key defences facing the 15th Battalion from Toronto, which had a relatively easy time of it—at Vimy, its 20 per cent casualty rate was light. But the 14th from Montreal was caught in the open by four surviving Bavarian machine gun nests. Grenades took out two, while the third’s gunners were shot dead by the survivor of a small assault party gathered in the mud, and the three-man crew at the fourth was single-handedly charged and bayoneted by the 14th’s sergeant-major. Almost 40 per cent of the Montrealers were killed or wounded.

The two forward companies of Saskatchewan’s 5th Battalion lost 200 of 300 men in the first 40 minutes, and arrived at the enemy front line in a ferocious emotional state: “There were smart bayonet fights,” records one terse official account, and “cases of treachery on the part of the enemy were summarily dealt with.” Battlefield surrender, writes Cook, was a “perilous” business, especially for machine gunners who fired until the last minute before raising their arms. Most times, the Canadians accepted the surrender, but not always.

A private from Toronto’s 3rd Battalion recorded a grim moment, when the Canadians encountered a lone, shell-shocked German: “Somebody said, ‘Shoot that son of a bitch,’ and somebody did. I concluded that not all sons of bitches were in the German ranks.” Yet when a corporal from the 28th Battalion—known as the Northwest because it recruited men from Saskatchewan to Thunder Bay, Ont.—found a Canadian cowering in a dugout, the corporal “kept him till dark, then advised him to go up to his battalion. He got away with it.”

RELATED: A century later, remembering the hard win at Vimy Ridge

Elsewhere on the front, the situation was similar: battalions from Kingston, Ont., British Columbia, central Ontario, Alberta, French Canada and New Brunswick all pushed forward, were pinned down by machine gun fire, and overcame it by slow attrition at a high cost. Or by acts of individual heroism—four Victoria Crosses were awarded that day, three posthumously.

But at the ridge’s high point, along the 4th Division front, the situation was far worse. An untouched section of the German defences was only 365 metres from the Canadian lines. The first wave of attackers from Montreal’s 87th Battalion were literally shot back into their own trenches. Some 60 per cent of the battalion was lost, and most of the rest hid in shell craters. Seeing this, the neighbouring 78th from Winnipeg quite reasonably refused to go over the top. When their last nine officers finally convinced the soldiers to advance, they too were mowed down. The 72nd Battalion, B.C.’s Seaforth Highlanders, lost three-quarters of their men. But collectively, the decimated 4th Division accomplished enough to set the stage for Nova Scotia’s 85th.

To read a description of the battle is to look through a glass darkly, into the enduring mystery of the Great War, when whole nations and ordinary soldiers absorbed tremendous losses and simply re-dedicated themselves to the cause. Vimy is a story of reckless bravery and fear, a minor mutiny, more than one desperate charge, compassion and brutality, industrial-scale slaughter and intimate killing, and the fortunes of war. Vimy, which in Canadian consciousness stands in for the sacrifices of all wars, is equally a microcosm of Great War combat. And its survivors were like the other combatants, both sombre and proud: he and his comrades, wrote Lt. Edward Sawell in his diary, on “this day did more to give Canada a real standing among nations than any previous act in Canadian history.”

 

Tuesday: We Must Speak Up

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There are times in life when we must take a stand. Take a stand for our fellows, Take a stand for Women. Take a stand for children. Take a stand for Immigrants. Take a stand for our Nation and its Democracy. Take a stand for our Morals, Rights, and Values.

Then there are times when we MUST stand up and Speak when our President does stupid things, and speaks stupid words. The time has come, and it has been time, for a long time to remove President Trump from office.

Sooner than Later.

Because in the end, we will all suffer his stupidity.

It is time to Interfere …

Some Tattoos Have Origin Stories …

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Adrenaline Tattoo Montreal

This is the story about a tattoo. This above image is an original work of art, located over on a Portuguese Blog. The original artist is not indicated. I did not know this original work of art existed, before my appointment with my new tattoo artist at Adrenaline Tattoos.

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This original art work spawned a number of iterations of this picture. My artist had done some preliminary sleuthing to find context and the original art work. Because every tattoo is unique. (I knew that). From every iteration of a piece of art, meaning is gathered by the human who bears new artwork. That tattoo has specific meaning to its bearer.

This second image is the Full Sleeve Tattoo that I drew my choice from. This tattoo is one iteration of the top photo, work of art.

Clock-and-Stairs

I cropped this photo into a Half Sleeve Tattoo. The little boy is climbing the same stairs as in the original. In the original, it is a Woman on the staircase. In the original artwork, the time piece (clock) is being blown apart, the clock face is disintegrating as the numbers are falling off the clock, into the surrounding water.

We gather that from the original image, time is ending … My artist has explained the psychology of a tattoo and why he does what he does as an artist, to respect the original image of the original art work, and its artist, to try and gain context of the original and also to study the various iterations of the original artwork.

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In my art work, we will use a fully functional pocket watch (that runs) to note that time exists and is NOT ending. The style of the pocket watch will be carefully shaded a rhodium gold, (like our A.A. Medallions). The boy will remain on the stairs, facing the clock, (going UP the stairs). His shirt will be shaded RED. I will get my color finally.

In the original artwork, the woman is climbing stairs to a clock being destroyed and time is coming to an end. (noted by the disintegrating clock face) Also in the original, the staircase is rising OUT of the water, and moves OVER the water, towards the clock face.

The elements that I needed in my Tattoo are the Clock Face, The Boy, On the staircase, The red shirt, and The water below. The clock face and the boy’s shirt are the only pops of color, to allow the tattoo to say WOW.

I had thought about coloring the water (blue) but my artist thinks that if we add that color to the image, in addition to the pops of color already there, the tattoo would go from WOW to ugh …

We also think that the tattoo that I am working from rests on the inside of the arm, down the sleeve to the wrist. Our new idea it to move it from the inside of the arm, to the outside of my arm on my left side.

Thank you Google for that art lesson.

And thank you to the blog writer for posting this original work of art.
We will represent your art work with respect.