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 !

Cassini Probe Images and Final Plunge

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On October 15, 1997, the Cassini Probe was launched from Cape Canaveral on a seven year voyage through the inner planets, past Jupiter and the Asteroid Belt, on its way to the Saturnian system.

Here are some amazing photos that Cassini took3on her voyage to Saturn.

Handout image of Saturn from space, the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars are all visible

 

 

  • Image One: Saturn in all its heavenly glory

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  • Image Two: The Hexagonal Storm on the North Pole of Saturn

Painting for NASA/STScI

  • Image Three: The Aurora on Saturn’s South Pole

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  • Image Four: Cassini’s final plunge into Saturn’s Atmosphere

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  • Image Five: Saturn in all its glory

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  • Image Six: Cassini Stats

In order to preserve the pristine nature of Enceladus and Titan, and all the other moons and moonlets that orbit Saturn, the choice was made to send Cassini into the atmosphere to insure no contamination of the moons of Saturn for future exploration, and not to contaminate worlds yet explored by microbes that might contaminate pristine worlds so far away. On Friday morning Cassini took its final bow, transmitting all the data in real time to Australia as she streaked into Saturn’s upper atmosphere and disintegrated.

The end of Cassini is sad, but what we know today was worth every minute Cassini orbited the Saturnian world.

We have a wealth of Data coming down in data link as we speak. And further research will last for years to come as that data is analyzed and poured over by scientists and researches.

Cassini gave us insight of Saturn and its system, moons and rings that we could not have imagined and found water ice on Enceladus, and methan and ethane on Titan. Maybe one day we might find that, indeed, we are not alone in the universe on some cosmic level.

When that day comes, we can all thank the massive team at NASA and the JPL and the folks in Australia for all their hard work in collecting data that takes 87 minutes from Saturn to reach earth, after the Cassini probe pointed its antenna at Earth from across the galaxy.

We will miss Cassini, at least I will because I have followed this mission since its inception and launch so many years ago.