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Monday, December 31. 2007
Did agriculture make a mess of the world? From Hunter-gatherers: Noble or Savage? in The Economist. It begins:
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The good professor can stop patronizing the restaurants of Westwood and hike around the San Gabriel Mountains collecting acorns off the native oak trees, pounding them down in a stone metate, rinsing - gotta do a lot of rinsing to get those tannins out - and let the mash dry for a few days. Then - lets eat. By some estimates, a male adult Indian in Central California may a ton of acorns per year. Kinda time consuming. Not many hours left in the day to grade papers or hang out in the faculty lounge. The nice thing though is that the faculty lounge cafeteria would only have one thing on the menu which might speed the line up just a little.
Adult male Serranos (SGM indigene) didn't may? (make) a ton of acorns a year.
They left most of the making to nature sent boys to climb and shake branches precipitating acorns easy pickup by girls and women who did the mashing and rinsing.
Men were smoking in the sweat lodge or playing dice with acorns unless they were playing football or fishing and hunting bear, deer, antelope, quail and other birds and small rodents or leaving camp to trade with coastal indigne for beaver and otter and tar and salmon.
When did y'all expect them to waste time with teacher's unionists or grading papers.
Yes. What I meant to say was that by some estimates read during my long ago California school days each adult Indian male may have consumed up to a ton of acorns per year. He didn't prepare them himself though. But he would have eaten a nice hearty acorn breakfast (one of many, many such breakfasts) and then maybe gone someplace near Glendale to hunt for starving jackrabbits along the Los Angeles River. Not much time to grade papers any way you look at it.
I'll take Junipero Serra's vineyards and almond trees, thanks just the same. Now those guys probably did grade some papers.
Thanks for the clarification.
But I doubt veracity of conclusions from any primer school sources, but when y'all are grading their papers y'all take it.
What y'all get, that it is.
Male indigene breakfast is your fantasy.
Your tastes comport well with mine, especially if y'all like artichokes and abalone.
Abalone would also have been occasionally on Serrano menu, me thinks.
Glendale would have been hard tracking out of SGM locale and wouldn't have been much use to indigene for such paltry return.
But it is your fantasy.
Good riposte, skook.
The tribes of the Andaman Islands:
If that way of life worked so well, how did the agriculturalists displace them so thoroughly? Agriculture came to dominate the human existence because of its reliability. Larger populations could be supported in a given area. It is not accidental that these H-G groups - so slim, healthy, and strong - are rare. They died. That sort of isolation leaves tribes vulnerable to occasional deadly diseases, and the lifestyle keeps the childhood survival rate down.
If the idea is that we'd be better off if there were few of us, we died young, but we looked great while we were here, then becoming a gang member or prostitute would seem to be the pinnacle of success.
Y'all don't get out much, apparently.
Skagg's and pimps in Southwestern communities who die young are ugly
Notwithstanding, skooky premised his drudgery fantasy upon the acorn gatherers of SGM, far removed from the Adamans.
But then y'all might be grading papers for some union pimp with tenure and find it hard to focus with all the free time he allows.
I think the main point was about the level of violence in the h-g cultures.
Some students are missing the point, which is not Jared Diamond or the professor but it makes for small nut gathering fun, nonetheless
It being tangents.
What I don't get is a scientist--an "evolutionary biologist," no less--indulging in the weird reverse creationism he'd need to believe in in order to regard the development of agriculture as a disaster from which the planet never recovered. What is mankind and his cities, inventions, development of the natural world, and yes, even his displacement of other ecosystems, if not a product of evolution?
That is, assuming you discount the existence of God, which a 'scientist' such as Jared Diamond quite possibly does.
I dunno, but every time I hear someone stating, however indirectly, that Man is the worst thing ever to happen to the earth, I have to wonder. They can't have it both ways.
I'd rather be a Nez Perce and catch salmon than live in Pakistan, or New York City.
Yes, I think the guys in our part of the world had a much easier time. It simply took less effort to stay alive. Lots of masks and longhouses and carved oceangoing canoes as a result.
Maybe less effort to live at Lewiston ID then than in Manhattan today.
Art in a border, and the mandala, rose with agriculture. Everything had to fit into a bounded field, as everyone had to assume a position in the social structure, where earlier each individual mastered the entire culture. There are no bounded fields in those caves in France, Spain--the first true cathedrals in the history of the world. Joseph Campbell says the earlier folk had a greater capacity to be open to the awe of the universe, as we watch Oprah and blog. Additionally, some anthropologists have estimated the gathers/fishers/hunters had more free time than the average working stiff today, the original relaxed society. And their myths were quite good some of them. Read the Hopi cosmology for instance, though they weren't true h/g. Priest or shaman? Ayatollah or shaman? You take your pick.
Forgive my skepticism, but as a former Anthro grad student I have as much regard for these types of theories and studies as I do Dennis Kucinich's cosmological speculations--or Mike Huckabee's for that matter. But it all counts for little as Kunicich keeps getting re-elected and Jared Diamond will sell books. Now I gotta beat the squirrels over to the oak and fight them for the remaining acorns under the snow or rather, eat the squirrels and then get their acorns.
Consider the Irish potato famine, among innumerable famines. The whole society goes down. If you like to die of starvation, your chances are probably better than with the h/g.
With the rise of agriculture now we are able to kill one another by the mega millions, as happened in the 20th Century. Before that, by the millions and hundreds of thousands. And the odds that we go through it again are really quite high. From this perspective, catching salmon doesn't look so bad. But the runs are mostly gone now, so, Johnny, get your gun, if you think that will help you. (not referring to the John above, just generic)
Johhny's gun won't benefit anyone agaisnt nukes.
Nuking three well chosen sites in totalitarian lands will.
Then the heathen would rage out gabe.
But they couldn't float a boat and would have to self destruct the rest of their miserable hide.
Snap krackln pop.
Fred Thompson in the clip above says the terrorists won't rest until we have a mushroom cloud over an American city. He may be right.
bob, we can kill mega-millions now because mega-millions exist. Famines are memorable because in recorded history they involve a large number of people. On a percentage basis, neolithic man died in violence far more often than moderns do, and starved to death more often than moderns.
Almost everyone's life before 1900 was brutally hard, and you wouldn't want to trade with them. Right now is just great, thanks.
"Famines are memorable because in recorded istory they involve a large number of people."
Ask the chinese and the hindus, they'll tell ya. Or the africans. Or the irish. Or the english in the time of Coleridge, when the peasants were 'eating grass.'
Starvation isn't violence, at least.
Some of the greatest hunter-gatherers were our very own Native Americans--who, to one degree or another--used agriculture--depending upon the climatic conditions. Their history tends to be as bloody as any from Eurasia--and with some tribes a constant state of war existed, e.g., Iroquois preying upon the Hurons, et al.
There is a tendency in anthropology to always find what one is looking for rather like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz". Like so much of science-lite, it reeks of the romantic.
I'm now on Vol. 9 of Lewis & Clark's journals. Sgt. Ordway's diary, actually. They talk about the relations between the various Indian "nations" as they called them. War, war, war, and more war:
As an aside, the most wonderful thing about Vol. 9 is that Sgt. Ordway's powers of observation - and his command of the English language - were every bit the equal of Capt. Clark's. A democracy in the making.
It was hunting without conservation that caused agriculture to happen.
When Lewis and Clark came back from the coast they stopped near here to pick up some supplies, and met one chief so and so, just back from a trip to the shoshone country to the south. Feller had a necklace of scalps, and the Nez Perce were some of the more peaceful folk, compared to the Blackfeet, for instance. Still, the fishing was good, and what's europe been but a series of wars and frauds. :) Nappy Hew Year.