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 !

We Went to the BEACH …

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It was a fabulous weekend in Ottawa. I love getting on a bus, and having someone else do the driving. I put on some tunes, or I hit a meeting in a pod cast, or I read. On the recommendation of a good friend, I had ordered a couple of books via Indigo last week. One of them, which I took to Ottawa this weekend was Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” It’s a history of the world kind of book. Very interesting, a little academic, but so far, I have enjoyed the read.

Friday night we hit the Royal Oak for dinner, after my arrival and I got a free dinner because the kitchen screwed up my order. Free Food gets my vote any day.

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Saturday we packed the car and drove into Gatineau on the other side of the river from Ottawa to a National Park, and Lac Philippe. It is a HUGE lake, park, picnic and BEACH park, with all kinds of water fun to be had. Canoes, paddle boards, and stuff like that.

This car was parked right near us, and I had to photograph it because it was cool. A Canadian Maple Leaf car …

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I haven’t been in a body of water, i.e. a beach, since I left Florida all those years ago. We have a pool in the building, but it is enclosed on the 20th floor. And I never use it. So going to the beach was a novel idea.

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The water was cool, and very welcoming for sure. We hung out in the lake all afternoon, and watched people frolicking in the water.

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After the beach we went to Carlo’s for dinner. It is a roadside retro, restaurant in an old bus, with the retro neon sign above, serving easy quick fare of poutine, burgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches. They have a picnic table area to sit and eat. It was quite good actually. Very enjoyable.

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We then drove over to Wakefield for desert. Wakefield is close to the park we were at, so we parked the car and browsed the little shops in town, and had some ice cream. They built a brand new boardwalk along the river.

It was a special occasion. Rafa crossed his six-year mark a few months ago, so we gave him his six year chip standing at the river walk. Wakefield is where they want to live in the future, so I thought it would be a good spot to mark an anniversary.

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Old train tracks run along the river walk, and there are portal signs along the way explaining the history of the village where ever an old house or building stands along the line. We found this push car on the tracks at the end of the line. The kicker had been disconnected from the push bar, so the little car would not move, but you could push it manually.

The sun had set as we hit the road. And on the highway, the “You have low fuel light came on, and we were running on fumes by the time we found a gas station, thanks to Google Maps … We came into Ottawa around 9:15, and thought we should hit Parliament Hill to see the Northern Lights, light show. So we parked the car at the lot and walked back to the Hill, and got prime seats for the show.

The Northern Lights show runs all summer. It is a multimedia light, laser and film presentation, that is illuminated right on the face of the Parliament building itself. It tells the story of Canada and all the history of our country. It was the second time we have seen this particular show.

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At the end of the presentation, they play O’ Canada.

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Everybody stands while we sing …

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

It was last summer that we first saw this show, and it was an emotional moment for me, standing on the Hill, with my best friend, both of us had become citizens, he, a year or so ago, and me, in 2003. I did not get pomp and circumstance when my papers came through, so standing on Parliament Hill, with my best friend, two new citizens of Canada, singing the National Anthem … Gets me every time.

When I get to the line .. God keep our land Glorious and Free …

My heart swells and tears fall from my eyes. It is like that whenever they play O’ Canada at the Olympics too.

It happened again on Saturday night, however, all three of us were sobbing by the end of the anthem. I think that is the most patriotic thing to do, is stand on the Hill, with your friends and family and sing the national anthem.

I get very emotional over that.

Sunday we slept in until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, had a brief but tasty brunch and I took the bus home to Montreal. Today it is miserably hot. Supposed to rain for he next 4 days. UGH.

We really need the rain.

More to come.