title={Debt: The First 5,000 Years},
author={Graeber, D.},
series={Melville House Publishing / Graeber, David},
publisher={Melville House}, comment={The now classic tome on economists got everything wrong about the history of money in human culture.},
category={Long Entries, Economics, Criticality, debt} }
% The takeaway of this book is that Graeber asks good questions – questions I want academics to be asking – but his scholarship is so awfule and his logic so squishy that I don’t see him making very many good actual theories, arguments, or points.
% Page 3: “Surely one has to pay one’s debts” is a moral concept widely shared, but not actually a part of standard economic theory. In reality, loans have to have risk involved (that is, the risk that you won’t pay your debt), to deter loans being made on unnecessarily risky ventures. eg, a bank would never loan you a million dollars to bet on a horse because it knows it would never get the money back if you lost it. The responsibility is not JUST on the person who owes the debt, but the loaner takes on the risk of the person not being able to pay the debt by making the loan in the first place. That’s THEIR responsibility.
% Chapter 2, The Myth of Barter, explains how the first thing all economics textbook teach is that first came barter, then came coined money, then debt. In fact, the anthropological evidence shows (and has been known for more than 100 years, Page 40) that first came debt (Page 39: Sumerian temples would accept virtually anything in payment of debts), then money, and barter systems were entirely the result of situations where money disappeared for some reason . Barter systems only appear in situations where people still assign value of coins to objects, even though the coins may no longer be available. Even though barter systems are extremely rare in human society, economics always teaches the barter system as the lower form because it is fundamental to the myth necessary to create the “science” of economics because economists believe that stripping away money would leave barter – where everyone has a set value for the goods they stockpile (page 44).
% Page 36: the gift economy. This is what Graeber argues is what the anthropological evidence shows. In a small group where everyone knows everyone else, it is easier to simply give a thing to anyone who needs it, and then you chock that up as a favor the person owes you, where you expect them to reciprocate the gift at some point in the future when you have your own need. Whether to give a gift is based on the relationship with the other person: are they a friend, family, or neighbor? —Things that go wholly unaccounted for in the field of economics. This mode of supplying gifts to people for when they need something is still present in our lives every day (think of keeping kids in clothes or neighbors helping to put a roof on).
% This is wholly convincing, to me. And clearly Graeber is headed towards a place where the concept of “economics” is entirely a construct used to exploit people. But it seems clear, even at this point, that the gift economy works great in a small group where everyone knows each other, while barter or debt becomes a (maybe?) necessary part of any system larger than a hundred people or so. Debt is how you can have a fair relationship with another group that you don’t have a personal relationship with. Is there any other way? To me it reads like what the economists got complete wrong is that people are economic beings. But it does seem like economics might actually be a real natural phenomenon for interaction between groups?
% Page 50: States and markets are intimately related: King create coins and give them to their soldiers and at the same time the king requires coins back in taxes. Then people have to supply the soldiers with food and supplies in order to get the coins to pay their taxes.
% Page 71: “This is the great trap of the twentieth century: on one side is the logic of the market, where we like to imagine we all start out as individuals who don’t owe each other anything. ON the other is the logic of the state, where we all begin with a debt we can never truly pay. We are constantly told that they are opposites and between them they contain the only real human possibilities. But it’s a false dichotomy. States created markets. Markets require states. Neither could continue without the other, at least in anything like the forms we would recognize today.”
% Page 74: Credit markets are based on trust. So much so that anything could be turned into money, as long as someone everyone knows and trusts will accept it as payment for debt. But between strangers, there is no trust. So in trade with another nation, a money that has value accepted by both must be used (ie precious metals). So Roman silver coins circulated at above their metal value because the Roman government would accept them at that value. But in trade with other nations, Roman silver was worth the silver it was minted with, though the same coins were used to pay debts.
% And you can see here how backing money with gold works: it’s entirely unnecessary until you want to trade with another nation. But, if other nations all see, say, the American dollar as having the same value Americans see it as, then backing it with precious metals is indeed unnecessary.
% Page 79: The Eskimo refuses thanks for a load of meat, because he lives in a gift economy in the North, and the bounty that is his one day might be someone else’s the next, and it’s pointless to tally them. “Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.”
% Again, it seems that Graeber is heading towards this argument that a gift economy is the natural human way and we should strive towards it. But I still don’t see how he climbs away from the fact that gift economies are about (essentially) family, and friends who might be family, or at most your tribe. Once you need to interact with strangers (whether from another nation or even at a scale larger than your local town) how do you carry out the economy? All his examples seem to point to exactly this: tallying of debts and money-as-barter is the tool for fair interactions between people who can’t trust each other. And that is coming up again and again through human history. Is there any other way? It seems unlikely.
% Page 94: A section on “communism.” Graeber swipes aside the conventional idea of “communism” (the Soviets), and argues here that a baseline “communism” exists in almost all everyday interactions between people. That is, for most things and labors, they are in fact distributed “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” And then proceeds to lay out how a smoker might bum a cigarette with no expectation that they would get one back, or fishermen might help each other patch nets, or a mechanic might ask someone to pass a wrench, that no mother expects a child to repay her. And he points out that it’s not that anyone expects someone WILL reciprocate, but that they WOULD reciprocate (thus, not a debt, he argues). That all seems right to me, but what he doesn’t address (yet?) is again this idea of scale. The interesting thing, I think, is not really that people fundamentally help those in a shared group, but where and when they draw the line between their shared group and strangers. The failure of what is conventionally understood as “communism” wasn’t the idea itself, it was the attempt to apply it at the national level. It’s not clear to me (or maybe even to Graeber) that this failure of communism is incorrect. It did fail, and it’s hard to imagine how it could not. He describes how (his version of) communism includes that almost no one would refuse accurate directions to a stranger. But he also points out that (his version of) communism is done both from a very low cost (it costs almost nothing to give a stranger accurate directions) and giving people who have more skills the things they need to do a task. I would argue that ALL people ALWAYS draw a line between where their personal communisitic commitment to their community ends, and strangers begin asking too much of them. It varies widely from culture to culture, so an idealist might point to examples of generosity and widely expanded communism from other cultures (so Graeber leans on indigenous Amerian culture) but I would point out that there is ALWAYS a point where the stranger can ask too much, and they will be refused. And it’s not clear this is bad. The North Sentinel islanders, by having a culture that says anyone not from their island is their enemy and shot at them, have managed to preserve their culture in the face of modernization in a way that no other more generous group ever has. My sense of low-contact tribes world wide is that the tribes all vary widely in who they consider a stranger, and how generous they are with those outside their communistic group. (And those tribes that are more generous to strangers have only succumbed to modernity more quickly, and often miserably.)
% This all comes back to the same question I asked in my Anarchy undergrad class 25 years ago: Sure, anarchy/communism is great in my small community. But I want a computer. How do I get a society large-scale enough that I can have a computer in a system that is based on gift/need larger than just my local community? At least Graeber is helping me make this question much more clear and explicit.
% Page 102, Exchange: Here he points out that to settle a transaction is to end a relationship with someone. If someone gives you a gift and you pay them the value of that gift, the relationship is essentially at an end. Whereas if you give another gift of a slightly different value, then they may be in your debt, or you continue to be in their debt, so the relationship continues. What he doesn’t cover (yet) is why this might be a bad thing. Would you WANT to be in a relationship with every person in your life? Hell no. The ability to settle the debt is useful, not something bad (though, to be fair, he has not yet said it IS bad, just insinuated that there could be something more). The last paragraph of this section he admits that this is not totally distinguishable from barter (or, to my mind, the economist view of humanity that sees everything in terms of values). He does not really explain (yet) why this is NOT barter/economics.
% Sometimes he’s really all over the place – Page 113: tribal “big men” and North American Indian chiefs are often the poorest people in a village because they face such pressure to give gifts. Then the next paragraph he suggests you could measure how egalitarian a society is by whether authorities are merely conduits of redistribution or using their positions to accumulate riches, and goes on to suggest that the more wealth captured by war and plunder the more will be given away and they will thus see themselves as champions of the poor, thus the creation of the modern redistributive state. (It’s not clear whether he is including the Indian chief from the previous paragraph – who almost certainly rose to power through war – in this.)
% Then, page 115: “If you have a rich patron, you come to him in times of need, and he is expected to help you. But only to a certain degree. No one expects the patron to provide so much help that it threatens to undermine the underlying inequality.”
% Well, so which is it Graeber? Is the Indian chief poor because he gives so many gifts? Or is it never expected for the rich to give away more than a token amount? Are you saying that only tribal cultures are equal, and it’s only in the modern state that patrons are expected to remain rich? Or are you trying to describe human-wide generalizations?
% The last point above is really the thing that keeps coming up here. He keeps shifting back and forth – sometimes within the same sentence – between describing things that are supposedly general human characteristics based on anthropological evidence and thought exercises that supposedly describe behavior in capitalist modern societies. He’s not cherry-picking evidence so much as keeping is so squishy that you could read pretty much anything you want from it. The only evidence I see so far is that humans are capable of organizing themselves in all sorts of ways and it’s not clear to me that there’s any path for describing one as better than another.
% Page 120: Someone taking a job in a factory (a wage-labor contract) is on the face of it an agreement between equals. They both enter the contract at the same level, but one is agreeing to be subordinate to the other and punch the clock for the duration of the contract. The law protects the person from selling the equality permanently though. This however, Greaber says, is the essence of debt.
% Page 122: the top two paragraphs here lays out his argument most explicitly (in all its confusion, and I suspect the central thesis of this book): No all human interactions are not forms of exchange. Then reiterates that when the debt is canceled people can walk away from each other. It is while in (some kind of debt) to each other that most of the human relations happen. And that thus, these human relations bear a bit of guilt or shame. This all makes sense, but then what is he arguing here? It sure sounds like he is arguing that virtually all human relationship ARE exchange, just that you are constantly willing to forgive that debt with people you care about and trust (his ‘baseline communism’). I don’t think that’s wrong, but I don’t understand how he can argue that it isn’t all about exchange. In many ways, it feels like he is just making the economists’ point that everything is about exchange, just with a slightly modified approach for loved ones (something, I don’t really think economists would deny). He spends he rest of this section arguing that middle class society is built by constantly tallying and forgiving micro-debts (in the form of expected please and thank yous), and ends by arguing that these conventions of debt are only from that last 500 years and not universal. But didn’t he just argue that debt is universal and the foundation of human interactions? Isn’t polite middle-class frivolities just a way of acknowledging that you don’t consider holding the door for someone a debt even though it might for a moment suggest it is? I don’t want to believe that all human interaction is exchange, but the more I read this book the more I feel like the conventional economists are fundamentally right! Thanks a lot Graeber.
% Chapter 6 is awful. So bad I started skimming. Most of it is recounting of (very old – to my mind loaded with the classic problem of white anthropologists analyzing a culture entirely out of context and through a very skewed lens) anthropological accounts of African tribes that are supposed to show, what? Something like that the African tribes have “human economies” that (despite the fact in that in his own recounting they seem as sexist, slave-taking, and brutal as any other culture) somehow is more humane and purposeful, and that those economies were run into by the “commercial economies” of the European slave traders resulting in violence. Does it not make more sense to simply take what he described earlier: that among your personal contacts you have a human economy and interactions with strangers take on an impersonal commercial economy?
% This isn’t to justify the slave trade, but I would argue that people are the same all over. With our close relationships it is a human economy, with strangers it becomes a commercial economy. (He actually MAKES this point in this book, he just doesn’t stick with it, instead seeming to keep falling back to (to my mind somewhat racist and nativist) examples of how ancient and tribal cultures are somehow better for being human economies.) I think the point SHOULD be that all cultures HAVE commercial economic dealing with strangers, and those commercial economic dealings ALWAYS have more potential for violence because you are dealing with strangers. Commercial economics are unavoidable I think (he seems to be suggesting they somehow might be avoidable?), and become more and more unavoidable as cultures scale up. And so, given their tendency towards various forms of violence, all commercial economics need constant monitoring and structural controls. What else is there? Nothing that I can see.
% Page 171: This section on early medieval Ireland seems to be the only place so far where he makes an argument for a human economy larger than just personal relationships. Though, apparently, the Irish solved that problem by creating elaborate lists of values to be paid if someone’s “honor” was violated. I don’t understand how this isn’t essentially barter though. And it doesn’t make early medieval Ireland sound like a particularly lovely place for humans, what with slave women being a unit of currency.
% Page 182: apparently (according to Graeber) prostitution is a result of market economies while courtesanship is a result of human economies. I guess you can argue that courtesans are better off than prostitutes, but it isn’t exactly enlightened.
% This actually suggests the example to me (not mentioned by Graeber) that a prostitute’s relationship to her pimp is a human economic relationship – she senses an unpayable debt to him, he is committed to care for her in a non-monetary way – while her relationship to her clients is a commercial relationship. So… the pimp is exploiting the human economic relationship.
% Really, the only thing he seems to be showing (beyond his initial point that most daily relationships are human economies rather than market ones) is that humans have arranged themselves in different ways, some better some worse, for all time. There are no generalizations to be made. Graeber seems to be persisting in some quest to find some idealized universal truth about how we were all better off when it was more human economies and less market ones, but he isn’t showing that. He does show that there’s no linear positive development over the course of human history (some old societies were clearly better than ours) but that isn’t exclusive to him. I think all modern scholars would acknowledge that. (Though maybe more so now than when this book was written?) The idea that there was some noble earlier version of human interactions is extremely weak and not supported by his evidence (so far) at all.
% The idea that human interactions among those you trust or have personal relationships with take precedence over market relationships with outsiders is not exclusive to money. Law functions the same way. I suppose Graeber might argue that law only exists to enforce commercial economies. But it’s hard to see how that applies to a fistfight. If you get into a fistfight with your brother, you’d probably settle it without getting the police involved. If some random stranger cold-clocks you on the street, you might fight back, but you sure as hell are calling the police. Where’s the money in that?
% Page 217: Oh, and then there’s ancient Egypt. Where a culture that lasted for thousands of years made vast use of money and slaves, but almost no records of interest-bearing debt in the commercial economy. But we’ll relegate that to two pages as “an interesting contrast” and move on.
% Page 237, Materialism 1: Here he seems to be laying out in brief the crux of his argument. Rational inquiry, he says, arrives in all the same times and places. That is, the idea that math can be used to understand the world. It arrived with markets. If you didn’t want to be cheated at the market, you needed to understand how many of X go into something of Y: “rational” thought was all about ratios. This was nothing new, people have always been able to do this, but he argues that beginning around 800 BC, the use of rational markets led to an understanding of human behavior that was reduced to rational thinking, and that everyone is motivated by profit to get the best deal for oneself. And since in this time money, markets, states, and military (the “military-coinage-slavery complex”) were all connected, it was never thought that selfish ends could be pursed by peaceful means. In this world, heroic glory and honor, vows to gods, or vengeance were considered weaknesses to be exploited because they were irrational. He also argues this leads to opposed philosophy, Confucians and Toaists, arguing of idealism, spontaneity, and charity; only imagined because of seeing how terrible pure self-interested greed could be.
% Here he is making more sense, but is not addressing the thing I most want to see addressed: that rational understanding, using math to see the world, is only a tool that can be (maybe easily) exploited by those in power. But to see the person motivated by something other than rational thinking as being exploitable is wrong. Rationality might be used, but it is always an emotional (irrational) human at the core of moving things. Ghengis Khan didn’t conquer the steppes in order to gain profit. It was for power (and power, I would argue, belongs in the category of the human economy, it is irrational and human, not measurable by a ratio counted). Putin did not invade Ukraine for any rational reason. And the tool of rationality can also be used to prevent war, by (as Graeber points out) making it too costly for an enemy who counts resources to invade (though this again depends on your enemy actually holding rational thinking about their human impulses – never a guarantee and anyone who doesn’t understand that is a fool). I suspect this is the key that extends to all the problems with rational thinking about the world: it’s such a powerful tool that people who are good at making use of it begin to assume that is the core tool, that it controls all things. Those people are doomed to be eventually confronted with the messy emotional irrationality of humanity, and have their head handed to them. (It makes me wonder if this could not be so well understood that it could be exploited: one baseball team goes moneyball, and instead of upping your own moneyball game, you throw chaos at them; make them pay for their reliance on statistics. Possible?) Anyway, I’m not sure (at all) where Graeber is landing in all this (or if he ever will land).
% Page 310: A single line with a reference to the Mongols – and that apparently they used paper money. So, I guess since the largest empire the world has ever known didn’t fit his poorly-rendered model of coinage-taxes-military, Graeber just completely passed by the Mongols. I also am entirely failing to see any distinction he is trying to draw between coinage and paper money. The pages of this section do cover an interesting idea that the only reason gold and silver was so valuable in the first half of the second millennium is because China and India had a nearly insatiable appetite for the stuff. And most of the gold from Europe and the Americas ended up there, traded for luxuries like silk and perfumes. Europe had nothing else the Far East wanted except precious metals. (Which, sure sounds like a barter relationship to me – though granted, between foreigners.)
% Again, the only takeaway from this book (if you even trust the scholarship at all) is that people have tried all sorts of different economic systems, and none of them seem to be inherently better or worse. Systems that can be easily exploited will be, particularly if the exploitation is against foreigners, but that’s hardly a revelation.
% The final where-are-we-now section has some interesting stuff in it (explanations of how the Fed issues money not the government, how the Fed creates money (with the usual complete lack of any sense to the explanation, though at lease Graeber talks about how no one understands how any of this stuff works). But the overall direction is the classic military-industrial complex argument, and that running the country on debt is unsustainable so eventually it will collapse. He has no vision that the coming years would show that, indeed, those losing in the debt game (in America) would get pissed off and try to take the system down… from the right by electing Donald Trump, and so the left would react by doubling down in support of the system, from which they largely benefit.
% In other words this book, in the end, completely lacks/ed any predictive power at all, which makes you wonder how much value any of the explanatory parts have.

title={The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I}, author={Tuchman, B.W.},
publisher={Random House Publishing Group},
cateogory={Long Entries, Politics, war, wwI) }
% (Note: page references here refer to 606 page mass-market paperback I read that is not easily found on Google Books.)
% Neutrality: I had always supposed neutrality was assumed by a country that simply had pacifist ideals and didn’t want to be involved in a bloody war. But in Belgium’s case (maybe in the case of far more neutral countries than I know) its neutrality before WWI was established because its locatioon was a flat perfect battlefield by which Germany could invade France, or visa versa. All the surrounding country is difficult-to-traverse with an army mountains and hills. So to create a buffer and take an attractive location for a war off the table, ALL of those countries — France, Britain, and Germany — signed on to a treaty of neutrality for Belgium. Which the Germans violated to being WWI — a major theme of the first half of this book.
% WWI was an incredibly stupid war. It did not have to be fought at all, and if it hadn’t been fought Hitler probably wouldn’t have come to power and WWII wouldn’t have had to be fought either. (WWII DID have to be fought.) The only reason WWI started is because both Germany and France had massed huge armies that they placed at their borders and then set up detailed plans for invasions of each other. All the other countries were tied into this situation by treaties. France wanted to invade and had plans in place, but wouldn’t dare be the instigator. Germany wanted to invade France, and had plans in place, and just barely was willing to instigate. That’s all it took. The Kaiser himself tried to stop it at the last second, but plans were already in motion. And of course all the rulers of these countries were all related to each other. There was zero point to it all, except to give these huge war machines something to do. That’s not to say the British shouldn’t have come in to defend Belgium when the Germans did invade, just that the Germans didn’t even really have a reason to invade, any more than the French had any reason to plan to invade Germany. There was nothing to be gained and everything to be lost. And lose everything is exactly what they did.
% See chapter 10 about the Goeben, a single German warship responsible for bringing Turkey into the war on the side of the Germans and thus (largely by preventing the Russians from using the Black Sea for launching their ships) eventually caused maybe more bloody outcomes than any other single act of the war, including Gallipoli.
% Page 8: “In German practice Mr. Roosevelt’s current precept for getting on with your neighbors was Teutonized to, ‘Speak loudly and brandish a big gun.’”
% Page 11-12: The Great Illusion is a book published in the early 1900s that “proved” war was no longer possible because of financial interdependence between nations, and war had become unprofitable. (Mind-blowing that 1990s neo-liberalism couldn’t draw a lesson from this…)
% Page 23: Quote from Frederick the Great and she says “nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.
% Pages 194-196: description of the fortifications defending Liege, and the German development of monstrous railway and road guns to attack it.
% Page 350: “\emph{Poddavki}, a Russian form of checkers in which the object is to lose all of one’s men.”
% Page 462: The British believed (for decades afterwards) a myth that the BEF saved France, Europe, and Western Civilization in the first month of the war. In fact the British played a very minor role in the massive French and German battles, and mostly retreated. Thanks to government censorship of the newspapers, the British people thought the Germans were continually being beaten; while at the same time they somehow moved forward every day.
% Page 463-464: A rumor spreads across Britain that the Russians are moving troops across the island to land in France as reinforcements. This is patently untrue, but word of the rumor reaches the Germans and they fear a massive Russian influx during the Marne.
% Page 523: In the afterword she says, “Men could not sustain a war of such magnitude and pain without hope—the hope that its very enormity would ensure that it could never happen again and the hope that when somehow it had been fought through to a resolution, the foundations of a better-ordered world would have been laid.” % This is interesting in light of Tolkein; certainly that dude came out of WWII with that sense.
% But, she says, when the war was over the result that transcended all others was disillusion. “All the great words were cancelled out for that generation.”
% In that sense, Tolkein is revisionism, or idealism.
% But I do think disillusion became the defining characteristic of the 20th Century.

title={Son of the Morning Star},
author={Connell, E.S. and Baskin, L.},
publisher={North Point Press},
comment={The masterful retelling of Custer and the Little Bighorn},
category={Long Entries, Humanity, Custer, native americans, indians, little bighorn, montana}
% The first chapter reads like Blood Meridian, with scalping and daggers stuck into eye sockets up to the hilt.
% What’s clear from this book is that the notion that western Indians were a gentle peace-loving people has been propagated to the extent that belies the truth. A huge portion of the Indians – if not the majority – raised up their warrior class and their culture celebrated masculinity and violence. A man proves oneself by slaying enemies and taking scalps. This was, of course, widely understood in the 20th Century, but it seems like we are losing the central truth of this in the wake of re-branding Indians as peaceful victims who simply had everything stolen from them while they passively stood by. They did not stand by, and they were not passive.
% Page 57-58: frontier surgeons learned to identify the arrows of different Indian tribes because they could then tell how deeply an arrow was embedded in a man. The worst wounds weren’t from bullets or flint arrows, but from arrowheads made of iron the Indians got from whites – the heads would curl when they hit bone making extraction difficult, damaging, and painful. The animal-tendon bindings would start to dissolve inside men, so the shaft would come out but leave the head behind. Some Indians deliberately left the bindings loose.
% Somewhere in here (though I lost the exact page) is the story of one Indian coming on a couple of Indians from another tribe who tell him they are chowing down on meat from a soldier they just killed and offer him a bite. But they were just fucking with him.
% Page 90: Consider a scout of the Shoshone (aligned with the whites) who was out preparing himself for war when the Sioux found him, shot him in the back, and scalped him, “from the nape of the neck to the forehead, leaving his entire skull ghastly and white. It was the boy’s first battle.”
% Page 88: “The canyon was in bloom. It is said that the odor of blossoming crabapple, roses, and wild plum mingled sweetly with the dust and acrid smoke of black powder. Gunfire reverberating from the rocky walls echoed the rhythmic pounding of horses’ hooves, dislodging thousands of petals which drifted down like keepsakes among the desperate men.
% Page 90-92: The story of Col. Guy Henry who had his face shot off in the Battle of the Rosebud and survived because a Shoshone war chief, Washakie, stood over him fighting, naked to the waist, and wearing a bonnet with so many feathers they swept the earth (page 88). Henry then survived being carried 200 miles back to Fort Fetterman while being kicked in the head, dropped down a cliff, frozen, almost drowned, his tent shot through, and abused by doctors for days. Supposedly he returned to battle 10 months later.
% Page 92: “Bourke estimates that Crook and his men took more than fifteen thousand trout in three weeks.”
% Page 129-131: Fetterman’s troop of 80-odd men are led into a trap by Indians, slaughtered and mutilated. Graphic descriptions of faces being beaten to a pulp, guts laying about the field, hands and feet severed to the tendons – everyone except a bugler who went down beating on indians with his bugle, and was left with his body respectfully covered with a buffalo robe.
% Page 132: “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. Nothing less will reach the root of the cause.” If one word of this extraordinary telegram is altered it reads like a message from Eichmann to Hitler. (See also quotes from Western newspapers on page 127.)
% Page 133: Indians eating dogs.
% Page 136: 8 million buffalo were slaughtered by white people in a three year period up to 1874.
% Page 137-139: While it was true that Indians made use of every part of the buffalo, it is not true that they used all the buffalo they killed, nor had any particular notions of conservation of the land. They would cut down trees to get at nuts more easily, and start giant prairie fires that would burn through the night. Some species of trees were eliminated by the burning of plains Indians in the 1000 years before the white people arrived. Waste of resources was encouraged by the abundance and by their migratory nature – you don’t care about a particular tree if you won’t be back that way for a few years.
% Page 162-167: scalping goes back to prehistoric times. Ghengis Kahn used to collect human hair from his enemies because it made better rope for catapults. A number of people survived scalping – graphic descriptions here.
% Page 214: In describing an “irascible” scholar of Custer: “Furthermore, Mr. Hyde continues as if he had just enjoyed a refreshing sip of vinegar.”
% Page 215: Cheyennes and Sioux would have their toughest warriors wear a sash of wool that was staked to the ground in battle so they could never retreat without victory.
% Page 216: On the dude who stole Sitting Bull’s hand-made illustrated history: “What happened to him after is not known. Perhaps he lived long and happily and boasted to his grandchildren about stealing the famous medicine man’s picture book, but one should not bet on it.”
% Page 217: Sitting Bull believed there never was a white man who did not hate Indians and there never was an Indian who did not hate whites.
% Page 217: Sitting Bull: He asked if whites considered him to be a poor man, but provided the answer himself: “You are fools to make yourselves slaves to a piece of bacon fat, some hardtack, and a little sugar and coffee.”
% Page 218: After Little Bighorn, in the process of bringing Sitting Bull in, they would show Indians, including Sitting Bull, the telephone as a way of demonstrating white man’s medicine.
% Page 219: Sitting Bull said of the US: “The country there is poisoned with blood….”
% Page 258: Custer was offered Gatling guns, but turned them down because he thought they would slow down his march. Which is true, the carriages were heavy and often got stuck. But that might have actually SAVED him, because he would have arrived later to meet up with the other columns marching and not attackes the Indians alone.
% Page 259: As is stated earlier in the book a number of times, Custer always charged recklessly into battle. Up until Little Bighorn, he got lucky. At Little Bighorn, being reckless, trying to get all the glory for himself by being first to attack the Indians, cost him everything. (Seems like move fast, break things tech companies could learn a lesson here. Being reckless is great – as long as you continue to get lucky.)
% Page 281-282: Indians would execute any wounded white soldiers left on the battlefield. This affected tactics for the whites, in the unlike in conventional warfare where wounded might be left in a field hospital even if that hospital were taken by the enemy, they could never leave wounded behind with Indians. This could sometimes be a severe limitation on the ability of white soldiers to prosecute a fight. Indians thought that the white soldier’s policy of caring for wounded was cowardly.
% Page 301: “And those infuriated braves streaming out of the village must have been as ornamental as charcoal, buffalo blood, pigment, and feathers could make them. One Sioux wrapped himself in the pelt of a bear. Others rode naked, their skin smeared with medicine paint. Perhaps a dozen Cheyennes and forty or fifty Sioux wore bonnets with long trails. White Elk wore a famous headdress designed by his uncle— the brow embellished with dragonflies and butterflies, a forked-tail swallow sewn between a double row of eagle-down feathers at the trailing end. Sun Bear’s bonnet was rudimentary and violent: a single horn projecting from his forehead.”
% Page 309-310: Strong Indians were capable of putting an arrow through a buffalo, and firing so fast they could get up to 10 arrows in the air before the first hit the ground.
% Page 348: Arrows used for hunting had thin blades so they could be withdrawn and used again. War arrows had arrowheads with broad hooked shoulders so they would be difficult to withdraw from the human body.
% Page 368: An interesting description of visual representation among Indian: like why it makes sense to have the shot from a gun drawn without a gun, or that hoofprints recede into the distance are all the same size – things ARE as they are always, not as you see them.
% Page 376: Chief Gall was a huge man who went into battle with a hatchet. He got his name when he was seen tasting the gall of a dead animal as a child. He was a peaceful man, until his wives and children were killed by white men.
% Page 377: Gall “visited Washington and while there was given money to spend as he wished. Later he was asked what he had seen and what he thought of Washington. ‘I went about in your great city and saw many people,’ he replied. ‘Some had fine clothes and diamonds; others were barefoot and ragged. No money to get something to eat. They are beggars, and need your help more than the Indian does. I gave them the money you gave me. All people are alike among Indians. We feed our poor.”
% Page 396-397: Rain in the Face was an Indian as famous in his time as Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse. Largely because Longfellow wrote a poem that claimed he cut out Custer’s heart – which is not true, though he may have cut out Tom Custer’s (GAC’s brother) heart. He was a story-teller though, so no one is sure, but one of the ways he tells it, he cut out Tom Custer’s heart, took a bite of it, and spit it in the dead man’s face. He also suffered being suspended by his chest and back muscles in the sun dance – twice. The second time with buffalo skulls dangling of his feet for two days until his muscles ripped away. A girl dared him to kill a white man, so he painted himself black and snuck into Fort Lincoln, killed a soldier and cut the buttons off his jacket and gave them to the girl, who sewed them into her shawl.
% Page 404: “…we took their country and their means of support, broke up their mode of living, their habits of life, introduced disease and decay among them, and it was for this and against this that they made war. Could anyone expect less?” Sheridan’s question is rhetorical, yet he seems to have been asking himself. Like other generals, bureaucrats, and private citizens who contribute to some irrevocable disaster, he wondered about it afterward.
% (There’s a note earlier in the book, which I missed writing down the page number for, that talks about how people in the East – contemporary commentators; it’s made clear over and over again that the Indian Wars were widely controversial in their time — were adamantly against the Indian Wars: because they did not experience or comprehend the sheer violence faced by settlers in the West from Indians at the time, and since the East’s own natives were pushed to the West many decades before. Still, it feels like there is something of a lesson there – it may be hypocritical for folks from NYC to have opinions about how things should work in other parts of the country, and it may be that folks in NYC don’t really comprehend the on-the-ground situation in other parts of the country; but on the other hand, if the government had respected the desires of the vast population of the East, the buffalo would not have been wiped out, and perhaps the Indians of the plains might have faired somewhat better. Those in the East might have a stench-filled and unearned high ground… but that doesn’t mean they are wrong.)
% (Another minor note: why do we not refer to this period as the “Indian Wars”? Or at least the “Native-American Wars”? That is what they were, without question. It muddles the real history to be where we are now with the impression that the period was a straight genocide, that the Indians were a peaceful people wiped out by evil white men. They were wiped out by unquestionably evil white men – but they (or at least certain powerful tribes of the plains) fought hard and bravely against it with wild and unrelenting violence. It was a war, and there is no other true way to describe the events on the plains.) % Page 414: The Indians say that if Custer has simply talked to them instead of attacking, they would have retreated to the reservation.
% Page 415: Capt. Bourke once remarked that some people learn quickly, other learn slowly. Preachers, school-teachers, and military people most slowly of all.
% Page 416: While riding against the troops they discovered a young woman – Tashenamini, Moving Robe – riding with them. Her brother had been killed during the fight with Crook and now she was holding her brother’s war staff above her head. Rain declared that she looked as pretty as a bird. “Behold, there is among us a young woman!” he called out, because this would make everybody brave. “Let no young man hide behind her garment!”

title={Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier},
author={Glaeser, E.},
publisher={Penguin Publishing Group}, comment={This book sucks. See notes.},
category={Long Entries, Urbanism, nyc, detroit, slums, ghettos, favelas, jane jacobs} }
% Overall this book suffers from the same thing much economics and social (so-called) science suffer from: cherry-picked data to form a narrative that barely holds water and weakens with every year since publishing, and stretching the rule of causation vs correlation. I find myself constantly arguing with the author in my head while reading, and regularly finding giant holes in his logic, and places where he contradicts his own argument depending on what point he’s trying to make about how great cities are. Pretty frustrating, since I agree with the basic premise that cities are capabale of all the claims of the subtitle!
% Page 4: The harbor was NYC’s anchor that centralized so many industries as people wanted to be as close to where goods came off the boat as possible. The Roosevelt family made their fortune building sugar refineries in the city, close to customers so they sugar wouldn’t be ruined by a water voyage. NYC’s publishing dominance was because they were able to publish bootlegged books from Europe before anyone else.
% Page 9: Declining cities have too much housing relative to the strength/demand of their economies. It makes no sense to build more housing or infrastructure in those cities. “The folly of building-centric urban renewal reminds us that cities aren’t structures; cities are people.”
% Page 9: “The job of urban government isn’t to fund buildings or rail lines that can’t possible cover their costs, but to care for the city’s citizens. A mayor who can better educate a city’s children so that they can find opportunity on the other side of the globe is succeeding, even if his city is getting smaller.
% Page 10: More than 1/4 of Manhattan’s residents didn’t live there 5 years ago.
% Page 10: cultural institutions are in cities because the urban scale makes it possible so support the fixed costs of theaters, museums, and restaurants. The cost is shared among thousands of visitors/customers.
% Page 42: 8 of the 10 largest US cities in 1950 have lost at least a sixth of their population since then.
% Page 42: “The age of the industrial city is over, at least in the West, and it will never return.” This is one of Glaeser’s core tenants (being an economist who believes in globalization). Many problems with this: first, since China took the manufacturing from us, now China is the place where people are being lifted out of poverty rather than the West. So… not so sure his argument that the West has capitalized on “ideas” really holds so much water. Seems to me that shifting to ideas-based economies had just made rich people richer, and left poor people poor, which manufacturing economies have shown they lift all boats. Second: post-pandemic supply-chain problems it’s not clear that globalization is so great – “it will never return” may be proved completely wrong within 10 years of the book being published.
% Page 43: “As of the late 1950s, New York’s garment industry was the nation’s largest manufacturing cluster. It employed 50 percent more worked than the auto industry did in Detroit.” …OK so here Glaeser is arguing that even though NYC and Boston were major manufacturing towns they avoided Detroit’s fate by “returning to their old, preindustrial roots of commerce, skills, and entrepreneurial innovation.” Does he really think Detroit wouldn’t have done that if they could have? If NYC was a bigger one-industry town than Detroit, seems to me the real reason it didn’t face the same fate is because rich people stayed with NYC, and abandoned Detroit. That’s it.
% Page 43: “In 1900, all twenty of America’s largest cities were on major waterways. Water reduces resistance, and for millennia, this meant that boats were the best means of moving goods from place to place.” % Page 44: The Erie canal was in fact productive. It turned a profit almost immediately, and cities grew on its path: Syracuse for salt, Rochester for flour milling, and Buffalo for transhipping from the canal flatboats to the ships on the great lakes.
% Page 45: “Between 1850 and 1900, Chicago experienced a fiftyfold population increase, from fewer than thirty thousand to more than 1.5 million inhabitants as trains followed waterways.”
% Page 45: “As transport costs fell with canals and railroads, it became cost-effective to ship corn in porcine form, because ham lies between corn and whiskey in both calories per ounce and durability.”
% Page 47: “In general, there’s a strong correlation between the presence of small firms and the later growth of a region. Competition, the “racing men” phenomenon, seems to create economic success.” But… success for whom? Doesn’t competition also leave vast numbers behind, and the winners take all?
% Page 48: “By turning a human being into a cog in a vast industrial enterprise, Ford made it possible to be highly productive without having to know all that much. But if people need to know less, they also have less need for cities that spread knowledge. When a city creates a powerful enough knowledge-destroying-idea, it sets itself up for self-destruction.” But Glaeser, just a few pages back you were talking about the size of the garment industry in NYC, somehow that wasn’t a knowledge-destroying-idea but the auto industry was? The more evidence he lays out, the more it seems like the conclusions you can draw about the effects of cities when considered across time and space are very very limited. Maybe the real conclusion is that each city is a unique situation.
% Page 51: “In the short term union power meant high wages for New York’s garment workers and Detroit’s auto workers, but those wages ultimately prompted manufacturers to abandon these cities.” Short term? Glaeser’s talking about a period of more than 50 years here! An entire generation of people made their living in manufacturing – that was dismantled and sold off deliberately in the 1990s!
% Page 51: “Industrial decline ultimately hit every older city. Boston’s maritime industries, which had grown great onm the clipper ships and China trade in the first half of the 19th Century, became obsolete with the rise of steam-powered ships. New York’s garment industry imploded in the late 1960s and 70s, and the city lost more than three hundred thousand manufacturing jobs between 1967 and 77.” But Glaeser! These two examples are 100 years apart, across almost the entire space of the rise of the modern city. How can you draw a conclusion that this is the ‘industrial decline that ultimately hits every older city’?
% Page 57: Bloomberg set up his offices with an open plan like Wall street trading floors. “In a sense, trading floors are just the city writ small.” …Here you can really see the weakness in Glaeser’s thinking. It was only a matter of 10 years of open plans before everyone realized how awful they are: bad for work, bad for health, bad for productivity. Glaeser just apes the current thinking of the 2010s without any kind of critical perspective – even with things like open plans, which were obviously bad from the beginning for anyone willing to speak truth to power, and even when his argument from one chapter (or city example) clearly contradicts his argument in a later chapter (or city).
% Page 61: “Detroit’s economy was hurt by the vast exodus of wealthier whites” because of a politically active black mayor who felt he didn’t need rich white people in his city (Coleman Young). …So what are you saying here Glaeser? That the city is this incredible machine for raising people’s fortunes, but doesn’t work for poor black people (or Irish, in the Boston example) unless the rich white anglos are still running the city? Effin’ bullshit man.
% Page 71: In the slums chapters, Glaeser argues (somewhat convincingly) that slums are a good sign in cities: they show that the city is providing services and opportunities for the poor. He backs this up with some data that the poor are better off in slums and favelas than in rural poverty. “We should worry more about places with too little poverty. Why do they fail to attract the least fortunate?”
% Page 71: He argues that mass transit is good for attracting poor people to a city, it makes it easier for them to get around without a car. …But it was just the previous chapter where he was talking about the importance of attracting RICH people to cities. Hopefully his argument is that cities should attract everyone.
% Page 72: “How much would the world have lost if Thomas Edison or Henry Ford had been forced to spend all his days farming.” Well, that’s easy to answer, the world would have lost Detroit and NJ.
% Page 73: “Even when compared with the most dire urban poverty, conditions in rural areas are usually worse. Lagos, Nigeria, is often depicted as a place of profound deprivation, but in fact the extreme-poverty rate in Lagos is less than half the extreme-poverty rate in rural Nigeria.”
% Page 74: “Kolkata is also considered a place of great deprivation, but the poverty rate in that city is 11 percent, while the poverty rate in rural West Bengal is 24 percent.”
% Page 75: “Poor rural villages can seem like a window into the distant past, where little has changed for millenia. Cities are dynamic whirlwinds, constantly changing, bringing fortunes to some and suffering to others. … Life in a rural village might be safer than life in a favela, but it is the safety of unending poverty for generations.”
% Page 77: “Boston is considered the mother city of Irish in America. New York actually received more Irish immigrants than Boston did during the 1840s, but New York’s Irish were later swamped by vast numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere.”
% Page 78: “America is not an Anglo-Saxon nation but an agglomeration of people from around the globe who’ve made their contributions primarily in our big urban areas.” …now that I can’t disagree with!
% Page 79: George Stigler throws out the idea that Fermi or von Neumann might have ended up in dead-end jobs if not “luckily both men grew up in large cities and came from relatively privileged backgrounds.” ..So what’s the evidence really that all this economic success of cities isn’t really just the correlation of so many people coming from privileged backgrounds? Maybe Glaeser’s whole thesis is crap, and cities are so economically successful because that’s where the economically successful want to live, rather than the other way around? That would sure explain the NYC vs Detroit dilemma better than some notion that NYC made good decisions and Detroit didn’t. Here’s an alternative explanations that doesn’t require so many convoluted mental gymnastics: In the 1970s it became cool if you were rich and white to move to the suburbs. Thus everyone went there who could afford it, leaving the center cities with just very poor people. By the 1990s it became cool to live in NYC again, and so the “rebirth” came. Detroit never became a cool place to live again. Economists are SO stupidly immersed in this rational-actor idea that everything is about money. Culture and status are FAR more powerful.
% Page 81: WPA publication New York Panorama: remains a wonderful description of big-city living.
% Page 81: “This history suggests that areas should be judged not by their poverty but by their track record of helping poorer people move up. If a city is attracting continuing waves of the less fortunate, helping them succeed, watching them leave, and then attracting new disadvantaged migrants, then it is succeeding at one of society’s most important functions. If an area has become the home of default for poor people who are staying poor, then the area is failing.” This I don’t disagree with. It suggests the city CAN be a redistribution machine. But elsewhere Glaeser suggests the power to redistribute by cities is limited – you can’t tax the wealthy at the city level or they just move to another city, so it has to be handled at a larger scale. (Not accounting by Glaeser with his globalism-is-the-future perspective of why rich people wouldn’t just move to another country if they are taxed.) Glaeser doesn’t think the mechanism of this machine is redistribution is the thing, he thinks it’s rising wealth for everyone in the city – provided you don’t chase the rich out, but wait, wasn’t he just saying that the migrants leave after they get wealthy? Jesus fuckin’ Christ this guy needs to get some consistency to his arguments.
% Page 109: cites research that the legalization of abortion played a role in the late 20th Century drop in crime… what is implied here? That those with the potential criminal nature were being aborted?
% Page 109: Glaeser argues that criminals are rational, and that increased punishment will lower crime rates. Then in the next sentence claims this explains high rates of recidivism because (I guess) he believes the punishment for crime isn’t bad enough — in America, with the highest incarceration rate in the world. Jesus fucking christ.
% Page 111: cites some “classic” study by Steven Levitt that showed “as prison populations dropped by 10 percent, violent crime increases by 4 percent.” — fuck these assholes and their bad science.
% Page 143: The Empire State Building, built by 1933, was neither fully occupied nor profitable until after World War II. So… in this chapter arguing for sky scrapers, his chief example was an economic boondoggle, a monstrously huge tall building that couldn’t be filled until more than a decade into the future.
% Page 147: Glaeser says that Jane Jacobs argued that neighborhoods should be a maximum of 200 people per acre — that is 6 story apartment buildings. Then he goes on to say that she didn’t appreciate the benefits of high-rises… even though six-story buildings make for an extremely dense neighborhood hardly seen outside of NYC.
% Page 147: Once again, “An increase in the supply of houses, or anything else, almost always drives prices down, while restricting the supply of real estate keeps prices high.” — He is doing this thing that economists do where they believe because they are smarter than everyone else because they paid attention in Econ 101 and everyone else is an idiot for not understanding the basic laws of supply and demand. He accounts not at all for the fact that different types of housing, different cities, different neighborhoods are different markets in which the laws of supply and demand work. No matter how many fancy wood-stove $25 personal pizza sit-down restaurants open in a neighborhood it is not going to have an effect on the price of a corner slice of pizza. No matter how much high-rise luxury housing you build, it’s not going to affect the ability of low and middle income people to afford an apartment in the city. People who choose to move the Phoenix for a cheap standalone tract house instead of NYC are people we don’t WANT in NYC anyway.
% Page 148: “Perhaps a new forty-story building won’t itself house any quirky, less profitable firms, but by providing new space, the building will ease pressure on the rest of the city’s real estate.” This is just trickle-down economics. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work in housing any better than the way it fails in taxation.
% Page 149: He comes out against preservation: “More than 15 percent of Manhattan’s nonpark land south of Ninety-sixth Street is now in a historic district, where every external change must be approved by the Landmarks Commission.” Or, 85 percent is NOT landmarked… I really don’t see what his fucking argument is here.
% Page 175: Architectural experts do tend to value stylistic sophistication much more than most home buyers. Appreciating art is, after all, an experts’ job. But home buyers, unless they are very rich, tend to put more weigh on floor space, lot size, modern conveniences, good schools, and access to jobs.” “To this day, mass production remains a key reason why new homes in suburban areas are much less expensive than bespoke houses built in older places.” — describing the merits of Levittown. It’s hard to see how he’s not simply arguing for suburbs and sprawl here. What does he think is getting built in high-rise towers in the central city if not bespoke architecture? Sure sounds like what people want who make a priority of cheap housing is delivered by suburbs, not by high-rises. So… tell me again how building higher buildings in the central city is supposed to help? Nowhere in this chapter on sprawl does he really make any argument against it. He himself moved to the suburbs.
% Page 179: “For individual commuters in developed countries, cars save a lot of time. As mentioned in the introduction, in the United States, in 2006, the average car commute lasted 24 minutes; the average commute by mass transit took 48 minutes.” Once again he’s munging markets here. There is no WAY it’s faster to commute by car in NYC. This (frankly stupid) statistic is comparing mass transit in dense cities against car commutes in rust belt rural towns. This is just plain terrible social science.
% Page 184-185: Now his moronic comparison between Houston and NYC. Premised on the idea that people weigh rationally whether to live in Houston or NYC with no regard for the fact that the biggest determinant in where someone lives is where they grew up. He goes on to describe how nice and cheap the homes are in Houston… the single-family sprawling tract homes with 3000sf of space and pools versus tiny expensive apartments in NYC. Wait… I thought this guy was arguing FOR denser cities? The truth is he has NO examples in the book of denser cities with cheaper housing because it’s so available. His examples of cheap housing all come from sprawl. Because (again) he munges markets.
% Page 187-185: This crap comparison between NYC and Houston continues. At first showing how housing is cheaper in Houston, but then backtracking to include transportation costs (with an aside that sitting in your car is so pleasant while riding the train and reading must be awful) and comes to the conclusion that in Houston an average family after taxes cars and houses makes 28,500 dollars and New Yorkers have 24,500. So to try to make his argument work, then he compares cost of living from one place to the other and finds the Houston family 58 percent richer. But… they have to live in HOUSTON. There’s no accounting for the fact that maybe it’s worth the trade-offs to, you know, live in a dense city this fucker is supposed to be arguing for.
% Page 189: as if (once again) to undermine his own supposed argument he cites favorably Houston’s permitting one new home for every five acres… every FIVE acres. That’s hardly even a city. He tries to compare Houston to California, as if they are comparable, but has to settle for comparing Houston to the rust belt cities of the cold upper Midwest… because THAT is where Houston is getting all it’s population from, not from NYC or California. …different markets asshole.
% Page 190: “Why should housing in Texas, or anyplace with abundant land, cost much more than the cost of building a home?” So, while supposedly it’s regulations that are making cities so expensive to build housing in, now he admits that actually it’s having abundant greenfields that makes housing cheap. And while there’s many examples of this, he still has no example of dense cheap housing. In the next pages he argues that (somehow) it’s the fault of regulation – giving examples of Westchester and Santa Clara counties where there’s more land per person than Houston. While it sure would be great to have denser housing in Westchester, somehow I don’t think that will affect the price of housing in Manhattan. And how is it “regulation” that’s preventing the increase of density in Westchester. Doesn’t it seem more likely that it’s actually the incredibly high values of the giant mansions there that is the single biggest factor in preventing higher density buildings?
% Page 192: It’s not ALL bad and wrong. “If you require more land per home, you get fewer homes and higher prices.” This is unquestionably true. And requirements like this should be eliminated.
% Page 193: “Tried to make up for the lack of private supply with rent control and public housing. This strategy has failed miserably.” He, of course, just takes the public housing “failure” narrative as given without any acknowledgement of the fact that as much as it has “failed” it’s from defunding and racism, not from any particular Econ 101 lesson. Nor the fact that public housing and rent controlled apartments represent islands of true affordability for MILLIONS of extremely low income people in NYC. There is no WAY any unregulated housing building market would ever have provided housing for those people in the dense parts of the city. The reason he has to argue FOR slums is because he knows that is the logical outcome of where poor people end up in a city with unregulated housing markets. NYC has millions of poor people, and while many live in “bad” neighborhoods, many other live in lovely places peppered throughout the city only BECAUSE of rent stabilization and public housing programs.
% Page 194: “We could have moved to Boston, which is a charming and pleasant city. One of the factors that pushed against Boston is that a 5 mile commute from an urban apartment across the Charles River would have been no quicker than a 15 minute drive in from the suburbs.” I can’t believe his editor let him even write this nonsensical line. What does the distance have to do with the time? He chose the suburbs because he could drive. Asshole.
% Page 194: “The big difference between city and suburb in this case is that the federal government heavily subsidizes home ownership by allowing me to deduct interest on my home mortgage. That subsidy makes owning cheaper than renting, and being pro-home-ownership means being anticity.” OK, this is undeniably true, and I wholly agree with it. But this also seems like a WAY bigger part of the problem than building in cities being limited by regulation. Yet the mortgage interest deduction is only mention a few times versus the constant harping on regulation. The dude has his priorities all libertarianed out of whack.
% Page 195: “In multifamily dwellings, dispersed ownership is a big headache.” “Because dense cities are filled with multiunit buildings, they’re also filled with renters.” This too is true, but seems like he’s undermining his own arguments here (with truth). If we need people to be renters (we do), then why does he spend so much time arguing the merits of cheap single-family (purchased) homes?
% Page 195: “The American public school system essentially puts a public quasi-monopoly in charge of central-city schools. A public monopoly that must struggle to provide the basics to hundreds of thousands of less fortunate children will naturally have trouble providing first-rate education for upper-middle-class people.” Then he argues that the US could either provide nationwide quality schooling, or adopt a voucher system so parents can send their children anywhere. This allows him to sidestep the fact that the US is never going to adopt nationwide quality schooling, and he intrinsically thinks vouchers are the solution. Vouchers, of course, would result in the same thing as the slums above: the rich get the best schools from the public coffers and the poor have to use the under-resourced leftovers. There is NO model there where the poor get good school. No amount of competition or free markets will ever deliver good schools to the poor. Glaeser seems implicitly fine with that.
% Page 201: “Living in a concrete jungle is actually far more ecologically friendly.” “If you love nature, stay away from it.” Totally with him 100 percent on this. % Page 201: Pans The Lorax for depicting “a callous city destroying a once beautiful landscape.” Annoying because this isn’t really true. It’s the industrial forestry that destroys the landscape, not so much the city. And if you miss that, you are missing the point of the Lorax, which is valid.
% Page 204: Olmsted designed Riverside which was America’s first planned suburb.
% Page 204: “Hugh Ferriss saw an urban future that looked liked Batman’s Gotham City. Indeed Ferriss’s drawings would be an inspiration for the comic book.”
% Page 216: “The fact that cities must compete in a globalized world can turn even the most antibusiness politician into an advocate of glossy high-rises, because those high-rises house the people whose takes will pay for social programs.” So the REAL reason to build up is to attract the ultra-rich to your city so they can pay taxes potentially to help the poor. Well why not just ARGUE that fucking truth instead of some stupid notion that more housing for billionaires will somehow make the city more affordable for the poor?
% Page 217: “If people really could be counted on to act like fifteenth-century rural peasants, then rural ecotowns could be extremely green. But people don’t want to live like medieval serfs. If they end up living in a low-density area, they’ll drive a lot, and they’ll want big houses that are comfortably cooled and heated.” True.
% Page 220: “There is a powerful whiff of hypocrisy associate with energy-mad Americans trying to convince Asians to Conserve more. Like a ‘nation of SUV drivers truing to tell a nation of bicyclists not to drive mopeds.”
% Page 223: Chapter 9 is a survey of different cities around the world and why they work. Turns out, they all work for wildly different reasons. Enough to make one suspect that it’s not simple economic rules of supply and demand at play, and in fact cities are maybe wicked problems where each requires a unique solution. (Or at least, some solutions can be shared, but always with the caveat that every city is unique and your mileage may vary.) This chapter is really good and the whole book should have been built from it.
% Page 232: “In larger countries, economic policies are determined mostly at the national level, not the municipal level.” The WHOLE book the dude has been arguing that individual cities are competing against one another, and need to make choices to attract people to their cities, particularly lower-cost housing. And now he says that the economic policies are set at the national level and it’s not really up to the cities. Well, that kinda suggests that maybe all his comparisons between cities might be pretty pointless, doesn’t it?
% Page 232: Even more so: “Indeed, historical accident plays a large roles in determining which American cities are the best educated, and in many cases, the most successful.” THAT right there seems like it should have been the fucking thesis of the book, instead of a throwaway line in a deep chapter.
% Page 237: “Human capital enabled Milan to reinvent itself for our age, when ideas are more valuable than machinery.” This is globalization in exactly the manner that is now understood to not work: ideas were always more valuable than machinery. But in the past they existed alongside each other in the same city, so the rich could work ideas and the poor on the machinery. Regardless of the inequity of that, what globalization ACTUALLY did is export the machinery to China and leave ONLY the rich working on ideas with the poor having less and less good work available. Meanwhile China raised millions of people out of poverty because they had the machinery that provided wealth opportunities for the poor. Soon they will have the all the rich ideas people too, because a WHOLE economy will always do better than a partial economy that only works for the rich.
% Page 240: Expounds on the wonders of Vancouver’s urban planning and how successful that city is with high-rise mixed use buildings. Does not mention the fact that it is the most expensive place to live in Canada.
% Page 243: How Chicago has cheaper and newer housing than Boston or New York. Does not consider that it’s cheaper BECAUSE it’s newer, but instead believes that it’s because there just more of it.
% Page 248: “High transport costs limited one’s ability to make money quickly from selling a good idea worldwide.” This just seems like a laugh line today.
% Page 255: “For cities, investing in schooling yields two payoffs. Students acquire more skills, which eventually makes the place more productive. Better schools also attract better-educated parents, who make the place more productive right away. The single best way to create a smart city is to create schools that attract and train able people.” ‘Better-educated parents’ is of course code for rich people. So basically his model is to attract as many rich people into cities as possible. I’m sure that will keep the cost of living real low motherfucker.
% Page 255: He claims older areas are always supplanted by “upstart” cities, and lists six of the largest 20 cities in 1800 being in Massachusetts: Boston Salem Newburyport Nantucket Gloucester and Marblehead. And only one of those places remained a major metroplis by the end of the 19th century as people moved west. He calls this “decline” that “troubled” residents. But every one of those places is an extremely wealthy area today. It’s hard to imagine Nantucket as “declined”!
% Page 260: “If commuting into a city is a lengthy torment, then companies will head for the suburbs, no matter how many cool museums the city has.” The exact opposite of this was happening in NYC and Boston, even when he was writing this book. Companies were/are moving INTO those cities despite the “long” commutes (again, without consideration for the necessity of transit in dense cities) and greater expense for NO other reason than prestige (which could be read as ‘great museums’). And maybe more crucially because their WORKFORCE wanted that prestige, wanted to live in a major world city, not work in some awful suburban office park.
% Page 265: (finally) a rundown of the MID being a sacred cow that needs to be eliminated. Basic arguments everyone has, nothing new.

title={Moby Dick},
author={Melville, H.},
series={The Modern library of the world’s best books},
publisher={Modern Library}
% Page 1: On page 1 he talks about how all the people of Manhattan go down to the water to gaze at the sea as if it holds some magical power over people.
% Page 3: Reference to the poet who decides to spend his meager money on a trick to Rockaway Beach, rather than a sorely-needed new coat.
% Page 9: “But it’s too late to make any improvements now. The universe is finished; the copestone is on, and the chips were carted off a million years ago.”
% Page 17: The market is overstocked with heads. “ain’t there too many heads in teh world?”
% Page 19: the landlord was ‘spliced’ to his wife
% Page 21: “And what is it, thought I after all! It’s only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin.” Ishmael is actively learning about implicit bias here. Though, of course, Melville’s own inherent cultural racism is apparent with the mutilating of south sea religous rites on the next page, the conflation of ‘tomohawk’ with south sea island culture, the assumption that someone from the islands must be a cannibal, and the fake pidgin English Queequeg speaks. So many levels of interesting stuff about racism to take apart in just a few pages! (Of course never addressed in racism studies is that someone from the south seas would have an equally confused (and racist) assumptions of white Christian culture – though they were not the colonialists.)
% Page 22: the correct usage of ‘nonplussed’ to mean confused.
% Page 24: “Better sleeep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.”
% Page 29: QueeQueg uses his harpoon to shave
% Page 30: QueeQueg uses his harpoon to grapple raw beefsteaks towards himself at the breakfast table.
% Page 71: “Clap eye on Captain Ahab, young man, and thou wilt find that he has only one leg.” “What do you mean, sir? Was the other one lost by a whale?” “Lost by a whale! Young man, come nearer to me: it was devoured, chewed up, crunched by the monstrousest parmacetty that ever chipped a boat!—ah, ah!”
% Page 83: “Betty, go to Snarles the Painter, and tell him to paint me a sign, with—“no suicides permitted here, and no smoking in the parlor;”—might as well kill both birds at once.”
% Page 86: This is the reason why most dyspeptic religionists cherish such melancholy notions about their hereafters. In one word, Queequeg, said I, rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans. I then asked Queequeg whether he himself was ever troubled with dyspepsia; expressing the idea very plainly, so that he could take it in. He said no; only upon one memorable occasion. It was after a great feast given by his father the king, on the gaining of a great battle wherein fifty of the enemy had been killed by about two o’clock in the afternoon, and all cooked and eaten that very evening. % Page 116: The third mate was Flask, a native of Tisbury, in Martha’s Vineyard. A short, stout, ruddy young fellow, very pugnacious concerning whales, who somehow seemed to think that the great leviathans had personally and hereditarily affronted him; and therefore it was a sort of point of honor with him, to destroy them whenever encountered. So utterly lost was he to all sense of reverence for the many marvels of their majestic bulk and mystic ways; and so dead to anything like an apprehension of any possible danger from encountering them; that in his poor opinion, the wondrous whale was but a species of magnified mouse, or at least water-rat, requiring only a little circumvention and some small application of time and trouble in order to kill and boil.
% Page 111: Melville wonders if they annoint kings with oil to lubricate their brains, like a machine. And then points out that they of course annoint kings with whale oil.
% Page 132: Despite laying out linaeus’ clear argument from the 18th Century that the whale should be separated from fish, the narrator goes on to claim that he will continue the ancient custom (backed up by God in Job) of the whale being a fish. Not clear if this is Ishmael as a character speaking, or Melville.
% Page 132 footnote: I am aware that down to the present time, the fish styled Lamatins and Dugongs (Pig-fish and Sow-fish of the Coffins of Nantucket) are included by many naturalists among the whales. But as these pig-fish are a noisy, contemptible set, mostly lurking in the mouths of rivers, and feeding on wet hay, and especially as they do not spout, I deny their credentials as whales; and have presented them with their passports to quit the Kingdom of Cetology. % Page 133: It was the idea also, that this same spermaceti was that quickening humor of the Greenland Whale which the first syllable of the word literally expresses. [then he goes on to say that later the name Sperm whale was applied and kep by dealers to emphasize the rarity of the substance]
% Page 161: “Aye, Starbuck; aye, my hearties all round; it was Moby Dick that dismasted me; Moby Dick that brought me to this dead stump I stand on now. Aye, aye,” he shouted with a terrific, loud, animal sob, like that of a heart-stricken moose; “Aye, aye! it was that accursed white whale that razed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!” Then tossing both arms, with measureless imprecations he shouted out: “Aye, aye! and I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye, men, will ye splice hands on it, now? I think ye do look brave.”
% Page 162: Starbuck thinks it’s evil to pursue a whale for vengeance and not profit. ie, it’s evil for Ahab to seek vengeance, capitalism and profit are divine.
% Page 162: He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations.
% Page 165: the harpooneers cross lances and are annointed.
% Page 182: The rest of his body was so streaked, and spotted, and marbled with the same shrouded hue, that, in the end, he had gained his distinctive appellation of the White Whale; a name, indeed, literally justified by his vivid aspect, when seen gliding at high noon through a dark blue sea, leaving a milky-way wake of creamy foam, all spangled with golden gleamings.
% Page 184: If such a furious trope may stand, his special lunacy stormed his general sanity, and carried it, and turned all its concentred cannon upon its own mad mark; so that far from having lost his strength, Ahab, to that one end, did now possess a thousand fold more potency than ever he had sanely brought to bear upon any one reasonable object.
% Page 205: Yet I tell you that upon one particular voyage which I made to the Pacific, among many others we spoke thirty different ships, every one of which had had a death by a whale, some of them more than one, and three that had each lost a boat’s crew. For God’s sake, be economical with your lamps and candles! not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of man’s blood was spilled for it.
% Page 218: He would say the most terrific things to his crew, in a tone so strangely compounded of fun and fury, and the fury seemed so calculated merely as a spice to the fun, that no oarsman could hear such queer invocations without pulling for dear life, and yet pulling for the mere joke of the thing.
% Page 219-220: Those tiger yellow creatures of his seemed all steel and whalebone; like five trip-hammers they rose and fell with regular strokes of strength, which periodically started the boat along the water like a horizontal burst boiler out of a Mississippi steamer. As for Fedallah, who was seen pulling the harpooneer oar, he had thrown aside his black jacket, and displayed his naked chest with the whole part of his body above the gunwale, clearly cut against the alternating depressions of the watery horizon; while at the other end of the boat Ahab, with one arm, like a fencer’s, thrown half backward into the air, as if to counterbalance any tendency to trip; Ahab was seen steadily managing his steering oar as in a thousand boat lowerings ere the White Whale had torn him.
% Page 234: In tempestuous times like these, after everything above and aloft has been secured, nothing more can be done but passively to await the issue of the gale. Then Captain and crew become practical fatalists. So, with his ivory leg inserted into its accustomed hole, and with one hand firmly grasping a shroud, Ahab for hours and hours would stand gazing dead to windward, while an occasional squall of sleet or snow would all but congeal his very eyelashes together.
% Page 235: A wild sight it was to see her long-bearded look-outs at those three mast-heads. They seemed clad in the skins of beasts, so torn and bepatched the raiment that had survived nearly four years of cruising. Standing in iron hoops nailed to the mast, they swayed and swung over a fathomless sea;
% Page 258: nigh to the man who was apt to doze over the grave always ready dug to the seaman’s hand
% Page 259: a strange fatality pervades the whole career of these events, as if verily mapped out before the world itself was charted.
% – The above two references are from the Story of the Town-Ho chapter, which annoyingly seems to hinge around what the seaman whispers to the captain to keep from being whipped, but never reaveals what that was!
% Page 265: And what sort of lively lads with the pencil those Chinese are, many queer cups and saucers inform us.
% Page 265: As for the sign-painters’ whales seen in the streets hanging over the shops of oil-dealers, what shall be said of them? They are generally Richard III. whales, with dromedary humps, and very savage; breakfasting on three or four sailor tarts, that is whaleboats full of mariners: their deformities floundering in seas of blood and blue paint.
% (Imagine if a gas station had an oil rig explosion as it’s logo? Or crab meat was sold with a drawing of a hand mangled in hydrualics or a guy pulled overboard in the bite of a line?)
% (In many places it surely seems like it’s Melville talking, not Ishmael. Those parts have some entertaining stuff in them, but are clearly the parts that probably should have been cut out of the book. They often contain not just opinions that haven’t aged well, but are wandering and sort of pointless to the whole theme of the book. Oh well. Even most great novels aren’t perfect.)
% Page 262: So there is no earthly way of finding out precisely what the whale really looks like. And the only mode in which you can derive even a tolerable idea of his living contour, is by going a whaling yourself; but by so doing, you run no small risk of being eternally stove and sunk by him. Wherefore, it seems to me you had best not be too fastidious in your curiosity touching this Leviathan.
% Page 270: Even Scoresby, the justly renowned Right whaleman, after giving us a stiff full length of the Greenland whale, and three or four delicate miniatures of narwhales and porpoises, treats us to a series of classical engravings of boat hooks, chopping knives, and grapnels; and with the microscopic diligence of a Leuwenhoeck submits to the inspection of a shivering world ninety-six fac-similes of magnified Arctic snow crystals. I mean no disparagement to the excellent voyager (I honor him for a veteran), but in so important a matter it was certainly an oversight not to have procured for every crystal a sworn affidavit taken before a Greenland Justice of the Peace.
% Page 287: The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing upon this crimson pond in the sea, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like red men. And all the while, jet after jet of white smoke was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and vehement puff after puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked lance (by the line attached to it), Stubb straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale, then again and again sent it into the whale.
% Page 287: And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!
% page 299: In the long try watches of the night it is a common thing for the seamen to dip their ship-biscuit into the huge oil-pots and let them fry there awhile.
% Page 310: A short space elapsed, and up into this noiselessness came Ahab alone from his cabin. Taking a few turns on the quarter-deck, he paused to gaze over the side, then slowly getting into the main-chains he took Stubb’s long spade—still remaining there after the whale’s decapitation—and striking it into the lower part of the half-suspended mass, placed its other end crutch-wise under one arm, and so stood leaning over with eyes attentively fixed on this head. It was a black and hooded head; and hanging there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx’s in the desert. “Speak, thou vast and venerable head,” muttered Ahab, “which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid this world’s foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went; hast slept by many a sailor’s side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw’st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw’st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed—while swift lightnings shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!”
% Page 342: And thus, through the courage and great skill in obstetrics of Queequeg, the deliverance, or rather, delivery of Tashtego, was successfully accomplished, in the teeth, too, of the most untoward and apparently hopeless impediments; which is a lesson by no means to be forgotten. Midwifery should be taught in the same course with fencing and boxing, riding and rowing. % Page 356: For all his old age, and his one arm, and his blind eyes, he must die the death and be murdered, in order to light the gay bridals and other merry-makings of men, and also to illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional inoffensiveness by all to all.
% Page 357: They find a whole harpoon in the body of an old whale they killed. And then they find a stone lance-head, and wonder at who may have struck the whale with it.
% Page 358: Awesome description of the ship leaning over under the weight of a sinking whale corpse, and desperately trying to free the corpse from the chains that held it.
% \url{}
% Page 376: So in dreams, have I seen majestic Satan thrusting forth his tormented colossal claw from the flame Baltic of Hell.
% Page 395: Mr. Erskine was counsel for the defendants; Lord Ellenborough was the judge. In the course of the defence, the witty Erskine went on to illustrate his position, by alluding to a recent crim. con. case, wherein a gentleman, after in vain trying to bridle his wife’s viciousness, had at last abandoned her upon the seas of life; but in the course of years, repenting of that step, he instituted an action to recover possession of her. Erskine was on the other side; and he then supported it by saying, that though the gentleman had originally harpooned the lady, and had once had her fast, and only by reason of the great stress of her plunging viciousness, had at last abandoned her; yet abandon her he did, so that she became a loose-fish; and therefore when a subsequent gentleman re-harpooned her, the lady then became that subsequent gentleman’s property, along with whatever harpoon might have been found sticking in her.
% Page 415-16: Whale guts definitions for white-horse, plum-pudding, slobgollion, gurry, nippers. Then cutting off toes in the blubber-room.
% Page 420-21: two pages here describing the demon ship alight with the flames of hell: It has an unspeakable, wild, Hindoo odor about it, such as may lurk in the vicinity of funereal pyres. It smells like the left wing of the day of judgment; it is an argument for the pit. … But that darkness was licked up by the fierce flames, which at intervals forked forth from the sooty flues, and illuminated every lofty rope in the rigging, as with the famed Greek fire. The burning ship drove on, as if remorselessly commissioned to some vengeful deed. So the pitch and sulphur-freighted brigs of the bold Hydriote, Canaris, issuing from their midnight harbors, with broad sheets of flame for sails, bore down upon the Turkish frigates, and folded them in conflagrations. … As they narrated to each other their unholy adventures, their tales of terror told in words of mirth; as their uncivilized laughter forked upwards out of them, like the flames from the furnace; as to and fro, in their front, the harpooneers wildly gesticulated with their huge pronged forks and dippers; as the wind howled on, and the sea leaped, and the ship groaned and dived, and yet steadfastly shot her red hell further and further into the blackness of the sea and the night, and scornfully champed the white bone in her mouth, and viciously spat round her on all sides; then the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander’s soul.
% Page 422: “Look not too long in the face of fire, O man! Never dream with they hand on the helm! Turn not they back to the compass.” — This kind of thing is Melville’s conceit throughout the book: describe a working function of the whaling ship or the whale, and then find a metaphor in it for something larger. (See also previous chapter on The Cassock.) Nothing is left to suggestion though. He likes to lay out in technical detail how a thing works, and then spend a page or two explicitly explaining the metaphor of what that technical process is. This is, of course, how a lot of sermonizing works. In some places it’s really good. In others, he seems to really be stretching the metaphor unecessarily, or at least to the modern reading (for example when he makes a metaphor of the something particularly ‘fishy’ about the whale when we firmly understand them to not be fish now) — it hits many times a little too on-the-nose. In other places you really wish he wouldn’t give the metaphor away explicitly, and let the reader come to their own meanings. I guess that is the more modern way.
% Page 466: This is a cogent vice thou hast here, carpenter; let me feel its grip once. So, so; it does pinch some. Oh, sir, it will break bones—beware, beware! No fear; I like a good grip; I like to feel something in this slippery world that can hold, man.
% Page 471: There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod.
% Page 472: Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.
% Page 482-483: Look ye here!” jingling the leathern bag, as if it were full of gold coins. “I, too, want a harpoon made; one that a thousand yoke of fiends could not part, Perth; something that will stick in a whale like his own fin-bone. There’s the stuff,” flinging the pouch upon the anvil. “Look ye, blacksmith, these are the gathered nail-stubbs of the steel shoes of racing horses.” “Horse-shoe stubbs, sir? Why, Captain Ahab, thou hast here, then, the best and stubbornest stuff we blacksmiths ever work.” “I know it, old man; these stubbs will weld together like glue from the melted bones of murderers. Quick! forge me the harpoon.
% Page 484: “No, no—no water for that; I want it of the true death-temper. Ahoy, there! Tashtego, Queequeg, Daggoo! What say ye, pagans! Will ye give me as much blood as will cover this barb?” holding it high up. A cluster of dark nods replied, Yes. Three punctures were made in the heathen flesh, and the White Whale’s barbs were then tempered. “Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!” deliriously howled Ahab, as the malignant iron scorchingly devoured the baptismal blood.
% Page 513: There he goes now; to him nothing’s happened; but to me, the skewer seems loosening out of the middle of the world.
% Page 522: The Rachel: Ahab refuses to help another captain look fr his lost sons.
% Page 532: Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Ahab stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl’s forehead of heaven % Page 533: “Oh, Starbuck! it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day—very much such a sweetness as this—I struck my first whale—a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty—forty—forty years ago!—ago! Forty years of continual whaling! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep!
% Page 547: “Aye, aye!” cried Stubb, “I knew it—ye can’t escape—blow on and split your spout, O whale! the mad fiend himself is after ye! blow your trump—blister your lungs!—Ahab will dam off your blood, as a miller shuts his watergate upon the stream!”
% It’s funny, ‘whiteness’ is definitely a theme in the book (with an unspecified meaning) that one might miss if it were not pointed out to you beforehand. And I wrote that paper in college that sarcastically drew meaning from the word ‘aye’ to poke fun and the over-scholarship of MD, and specifcally at drawing meaning from themes like ‘whiteness’ that arise just from being mentioned many times in the book. (I wish I still had that paper.) But it is possible you might be able to read the book looking for some kind of symbolism thread of the use of the word ‘aye’ and potentially actually draw something from it. See quote from Stuff above!
% Page 559: at that moment a quick cry went up. Lashed round and round to the fish’s back; pinioned in the turns upon turns in which, during the past night, the whale had reeled the involutions of the lines around him, the half torn body of the Parsee was seen; his sable raiment frayed to shreds; his distended eyes turned full upon old Ahab.
% Page 564: Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.
% [make sure to get all the Wrath of Khan quotes – which I point out here: in that movie, it is Khan who quotes Moby Dick, it is Captain Kirk who is the white whale.]

title={Design with Nature},
author={McHarg, I.L.},
comment={The classic work arguing that cities should be designed to work with nature.},
category={Long Entries, Science, Criticality, landscape architecture, design)
% (Originally published in 1967) % The big takeaway for this book is that McHarg is a planner’s landscape architect. The book is not as the title suggests, about creating site or city plans that incorporate a lot of plants and nature. His method rather is not to create plans (he may feel that is left to planners proper) but to create indexes (mostly with maps) of a regional-acale area which can be used as a reference for a plan when making the large-scale decisions about what things should go where. The index information he creates show the natural and social uses and values of the region so that the plan can take these things into account.
% Page 3: cyclists used to ride out to a glen outside of Glasgow and collect bluebells, some of which would fall from their bikes in the ride back into town leaving a trail of flowers.
% Page 7: The Dutch have three levels of dike: The Guardian (Waker), The Sleeper (Slaper), and the Dreamer (Dromer). (Though from what I read it looks like since McHarg wrote this book the Dutch have doubled down on giant hard-wall, public-works coastal defense systems and left the “design with nature” soft barrier idea of three successive dikes behind.)
% It’s interesting to note how dated some of the notions of this book are. He is writing at a time where it seemed obvious to him that the interests of the hippies were prevailing and they would shape a future of ecology and equity. He has no vision in 1967 how the stuff he is laying out here would be contested for the next 100(?) years. Even though fundamentally he is correct about most stuff. He is, I think, precisely one of those old 1960s hippies to whom we owe a cultural apology for not paying attention to what he was saying sooner.
% Still, big chunks of the book are essentially philosophy and a lot of that is new-agey enough to be just shy of annoying: like arguments that the mans-dominion-of-the-Earth stuff in the bible has been bad for the planet and at the same time trying to reframe plants in a biblical tone (page 46 “as if the leaf said to the sun, may I use some of your energy? And the sun assented.”) It would be a stronger book without this hippie crap.
% Page 34: He lays out his idea that one can create transparent map overlays for social impact factors like scenery, income, pollution, and other things not traditionally included in cost-benefit analyses where the most negatively impactful areas are darker, and the less lighter. These can then be laid down over each other and the lightest areas showing would be the least socially-impactful route to lay a new highway through. (It is interesting that being 1967 it never even occurs to him that new highways just shouldn’t be built at all. I’m sure that today he would agree that there just shouldn’t BE new highways, and would support the trend of taking down old ones. This shows how smart people can be enmeshed in the values and visions of their times, and might do a productive thing — like here creating the useful tool of social impact map overlays — but miss the forest that should be preserved entirely for the trees that he is routing around.)
% Page 46: It is from the exhalations of all plants in all time that an atmosphere with free oxygen hs developed. Indeed, all food, all fossil fuels, fibres, all atmospheric oxygen, the stabilizers of the earth’s surface and its terrestrial water systems, the melioration of climate and microclimate, have been accomplished by the plant: all animals and thus all men were plant parasites.
% Page 48: The briefest of mentions of fossil fuels upsetting the carbon/CO balance. Still, pretty precient for 1967.
% Page 56: there is lots of open space in urban areas, but it gets used up by growing into the undeveloped part of the cities. The open space is simply the places with the fewest people. The right way to develop is to make the open spaces IN with the development, on the lands that are prone to hazzards (floodplains, coasts, the hurricane and earthquake prone lands in a city.)
% page 151: Nowhere in McHarg’s work is there space for gathering the input of people who live in these regions. And… I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. Making decisions about land use is already such a squishy art (as he points out on page 151 – you can’t be a pure scientist) adding in the input of local folks would drive up the entropic data to a useless point. McHarg seems like he was on the right path: an expert with a vision for a balanced, equitable, and rational regional plan as a goal. Unfortunately planning as a field has ended up being ruined by too many experts who were corrupted into neighborhood-ruining, politically-motivated planning goals. We may have missed out on the opportunity to establish planning as a noble and just field where planners are trusted to have the best interests of communities, regions, and the future in mind and are making the decisions about how to manage areas. Planners don’t have that trust any more than politicians or city workers do. I don’t think planners could ever get it back. And so without that trust, the only recourse for equity is to go to communities themselves — who for better or worse (better = wanting safer, nicer places to live; worse = nimbyism) have little to know knoweldge or motivation to make decisions beyond their personal sphere.
% The problem with McHarg is that he is the purest form of Modernist. His “Process and Form” chapter is an explication of precisely that secular spriritualism that is at the heart of modernism. He argues that it is not that form follows function but that all things evolve towards their fittest form, in both nature and man. It therefore follows that what you observe are things that are on their way to, or already have achieved their “highest” form. (Particularly in nature, one would assume McHarg would argue.) On page 170 he literally claims that the jet engine is a more ‘fit’ form than the propeller engine. This of course ignores that even before humans extinction was the biggest feature of the fossil record and animals were dying off all the time for lack of form, only for evolution to be ‘set back’ and start again from microbes. And it ignores that while the jet engine might be ‘fit’ if your criteria is to go fast, if you want to conserve fuel (something you would think would be a priority for a naturalist) you would choose the propeller plane (or better yet, take the train). McHarg says the dilapitated, abandoned, crippled, and unpracticed are ‘less fit’ (‘fitness’ being his measure of ‘highnest’ use) putting aside the often intrinsic beauty found in those things, or that within say the context of a 3-legged dog’s life, learning to run might be an achievement worthy of celebrating. Context is eveything, but McHarg is another hippie trying to find some higher-level yardstick to measure everything by – something that isn’t God, but a rule or value against which we can all agree. Time has passed the well-meaning old man by on this one.
% In the last chapter he uses his method to make the argument that density (more so than poverty!) causes disease and social disease. It’s a great example of the kind of respected and knowledgeable author writing with the weight of science behind him to make a point that is just absolutely wrong-headed. When I read this kind of thing, I think less about the failing of McHarg on this, and more about how I read stuff just like this all the time today, that seems to me to be equally wrong-headed despite the scientific credentials backing it up. It’s an example of just how much science is shaped by the culture that it happens in.

title={Jerusalem: A Novel},
author={Moore, A.},
number={bk. 1},
publisher={Liveright Publishing Corporation},
comment={3 volumes. 1266 pages. Northhampton. Everything else under Alan Moore’s sun.},
category={Long Entries, Novels, alan moore, },
} % This book is also available on the Anarchist Library: \url{}
% Page 22: Sometimes, if the knew Mick’s background, they’d sit looking thoughtful before asking home how anyone like Alma Warren could possible have emerged from a notorious urban soul-trap like the Boroughs. He considered this a stupid question, as if there were any other place she could have come from, Hell or Narnia or somewhere. How long was it since there’s been even a trace of the authentic working class, if its conspicuous products were today unrecognisable as dodos? What happened to that culture? Other than those parts of it which had been tempted up into the low boughs of the middle classes or drained off into the cardboard jungle, how hand it all vanished so that these days if they saw it, now one had a clue what they were looking at? Why hadn’t somebody complained?”
% Page 115, on a page already dog-eared and folded down, pointing to a paragraph where Fred the ghost climbs “The Jacob Flight, a seemingly deliberately inconvenient construction somewhere in between a d boxed-in staircase and a roofer’s ladder, as as awkward and exhausting to ascend as ever. All the treads were no more than three inches deep, while all the risers were a good food-and-a-half. This meant you had to climb the stairs just as you would a ladder, sort of upright on all fours, using your hands and feet. But on the other hand you were enclosed by rough white plaster walls to either side, the stairway being no more than four feet across, with just above your head a steeply sloping ceiling, also in white plaster. The ridiculous impracticality of such an angle to the stairway made it seem like something from a dream, which Fred supposed it was. Someone’s dream, somewhere, sometime.
% Page 135: Peter drinks from the well to find it is blood. 136: it is in fact dye
% Page 229: When he’d started it, he’d been a schoolboy from a dark house down in Freeschool Street, deploring all the grimy factory yards the way that he thought John Clare would have done; lamenting the bucolic idyll that, in his imagination, the contemporary mean streets of the Boroughs had displaced. Only when those slate rooftops and tree-punctured chimney breasts had been themselves removed had come belated recognition that the narrow lanes were the endangered habitat he should have been commemorating. Bottle-caps, not bluebells. He’d thrown out his central metaphor, the droning, drowning hedgerows of a continent that he’d reported lost but in all truth had never really owned, and written “Clearance Area” instead. After the neighbourhood as Benedict had known it was no more, at last he’d found a voice that had been genuine and of the Boroughs. Looking back, he thought that later poem had been more about the bulldozed flats of his own disillusion than the demolition site his district had become, although perhaps the two were ultimately the same thing.
% Page 237: Teenaged and pretentious, he’d bemoaned the loss of byres and furrows that he’d never known, that were John Clare’s to mourn. Benedict had composed laments to vanished rural England while ignoring the fecund brick wilderness he lived in, but as things turned out there was still grass, there were still flowers and meadows if you looked for them. The Boroughs, on the other hand, a unique undergrowth of people’s lives, you could search for it all you wanted, but that one particular endangered habitat was gone for good. That half-a-square-mile continent had sunk under a deluge of bad social policy. First there had been a mounting Santorini rumble of awareness that the Boroughs’ land would be more valuable without its people, then came bulldozers in a McAlpine tidal wave. A yellow foam of hard hats surged across the neighbourhood to break against the shores of Jimmy’s End and Semilong, the human debris washed up in a scum-line of old people’s flats at King’s Heath and at Abington. When the construction tide receded there’d been only high-rise barnacles, the hulks of sunken businesses and the occasional beached former resident, flopping and gasping there in some resurfaced underpass. Benedict, an antediluvian castaway, became the disappeared world’s Ancient Mariner, its Ishmael and its Plato, cataloguing deeds and creatures so fantastic as to be implausible, increasingly even to Ben himself. The bricked up entrance to the medieval tunnel system in his cellar, could that truly have been there? The horse that brought his dad home every night when Jem was passed out at the reins, could that have possibly existed? Had there been real deathmongers and cows on people’s upstairs landings and a fever cart?
% Page 245: Nobody cared. Nothing meant anything that couldn’t be turned instantly into its opposite by any competent spin-doctor or spoon-bender. History and language had become so flexible, wrenched back and forth to suit each new agenda, that it seemed as if they might just simply snap in half and leave us floundering in a sea of mad Creationist revisions and greengrocers’ punctuation.
% Page 404: There he’d been, just leaning on somebody’s old dream of a balcony and puffing on his favourite pipe. This was the one he’d whittled from the spicy, madness-seasoned spirit of an eighteenth-century French diabolist. He fancied that it made his best tobacco taste of Paris, sexual intercourse and murder, somewhere between meat and liquorice.
% Page 418: pigeons can move back and forth between the regular three-dimensional world and the higher planes. Possible because of all the birds they are the only kind that feed their young milk.
% Page 468: Phyllis Painter lived in a place where she could take the board off in the basement and see the spring for which Spring Street was named.
% Page 692: Wealthy homeowners are doomed to spend eternity worrying about whether the value of the homes they used to live in was rising or falling. NIMBY protesters are doomed to spend eternity fretting about neighborhood change and unable to do anything about it.
% Page 693: those who were concerned with status in their mortal lives fail to make it to the upper levels of the afterlife. There’s no rule about who can get into the afterlife, people do it to themselves. People fail to move to the afterlife because they feel either like they are too good for most people, or not good enough. Those who can’t be comfortable with the masses are those who can’t bring themselves to go.
% Page 838: Alma improves her childhood vision problems by refusing to wear eyeglasses
% Pages 835-839: Descriptions of (the real) Ogden Whitney’s amazing Herbie comic character.
% Page 863: the passionate desire to change reality into a domain more ammenable to human beings
% Page 883: Alma watches The Wire then wakes up at night with a vision from it.
% Page 884: Here begins a 50-page chapter with the central character being Lucia Joyce, James Joyce’s daughter, and written entirely in the style of Finnegan’s Wake. Every word has more than one meaning, something I always say about Watchmen, but in this case it is literally true. It’s almost impenetrable for the first 10 pages or so, but then it eases up and is easier reading. I think Moore almost can’t even help but make his work more accessible.
% Page 895: A reference to Bill Drummond and burning a million pounds buried in the finnegan’s wake style text.
% Page 929: A lesbian sex scene represents the fusion of the avante-garde and popular work for the betterment of everyone.
% Page 936: Alfred the Great divides the country up into pieces, making Northampton (Hamtun) the capital.
% Page 939: “All about will and flammability, so Alma says, and Roman thinks she’s right. Having the fire of will and spirit is a must, but useless if your fuel’s damp or goes up like tinder. What’s important is the way you burn. He can remember Alma telling him about how she has Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond from the KLF turn up one day at her house on East Park Parade to show the film of them torching a million quid up on the Isle of Jura, where George Orwell completes 1984. She says she likes a movie where you can see every penny of the budget up there on the screen but Roman’s not sure how he feels at first about all that potentially life-saving lucre going up the chimney. Still, as Alma points out, if the million had gone up their noses nobody would raise an eyebrow. In the end, Rome comes to the conclusion that it’s glorious, more than just a gesture. It’s the whole idea of money being burned, not just the actual loot. It’s saying that the golden dragon that enslaves us, that allows a tiny fraction of the global population to own nearly all the wealth, that ensures almost universal human poverty by its very existence, doesn’t actually exist at all, is made of worthless paper, can be taken care of with a half-box of Swan Vestas. Drummond is Northampton reared, a hulking Scot from Corby who goes to the art school here and works at the St. Crispin’s nuthouse for a while. Rome fancies you can see the town’s brand on the renegade rock-god: incendiary, justified and ancient.”
% Page 1088: sometimes, sometimes I wonder if the things in life aren’t all laid out from the beginning like town planning, there’s a good example, if there’s only one way things are going to go for say a district or a neighbourhood it’s all already been decided but the people living there don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in their future there’s been public consultation only none of them have heard about it they all think they’ve got a say in how life’s going to go for them they think that their decisions matter but they don’t it’s all a done deal from the start whether they have a job or not and where they end up living where their kids are sent to school and how they’re likely to grow up as a result I mean I’m talking now about the worse off obviously but what if that was true for everything that everything was planned out from the kick-off and although we all think we’re the masters of our lives and free to make our own decisions that’s just an illusion in reality we only make the choices we’re allowed to make already set out for us in the planning documents there’s no effective consultation process how much of a choice have any of us really got it’s like I made a conscious choice to not go left and up Chalk Lane not go up Gold Street into the town centre but it sometimes feels like I’ve arrived at my decision only after I’ve already started doing what I’m going to do, as if making a choice is all after the fact is all justification for things that were always going to happen when you look back at your life some of the things you’ve done that you well not regret exactly let’s say errors that you’ve made errors of judgement where you genuinely tried to do the right thing but when you look back it’s as though circumstance conspired against you where temptations were so huge that nobody would stand a chance where literally you’d have to be a saint an angel it feels like there’s something nudging you, making you go the way it wants and when you look at it like that then who’s to blame for anything
% Page 1096: back at Spring Lane school sometimes at Christmas I remember how I’d read a ghostly tale or two you know something traditional they used to love it nothing really frightening I’d read A Christmas Carol not The Signalman, Canterville Ghost perhaps but not Lost Hearts, the English ghost story it’s marvellous one of the things that can make teaching English such a pleasure just the way the masters of the form can set the scene and structure things they mostly seem to take a lot of time establishing a situation that’s believable and quite a lot of them like M.R. James they base the stories solidly upon a real location so you get the what’s the word I hate it when I can’t remember things it worries me verisimilitude and there’s the moral aspect of a ghost yarn that’s quite interesting the way that sometimes like with Scrooge the ghosts are actually a moral force and he’s done something to deserve a visit from them whereas to my mind the other type of story, that’s more frightening, where ghosts descend on somebody because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time where the victim is somebody innocent someone who doesn’t know what he’s done to deserve it I suppose that the abiding fear in all these stories is the world we live in comfy and predictable it might all of a sudden change and let in things that we can’t understand or handle that’s the underlying terror, that things might not be the way we think they are it’s almost dark now all the streetlamps have come on
% Page 1133: The narrator has an idea for a better story than Murder on the Orient Express — where instead of everyone being the murder, everyone is both the murderer and the victim. I watched the movie of Murder on the Orient Express the night before reading this. 2021-11-06
% Page 1135: working backwards up from the bottom of the page, Moore ties 1970s, 80s, 90s goth pop culture to the Bauhaus (band) (with some tenuous connections to Northampton). The Bauhaus were a reboot of gothic literature from the 19th century, a genre which Moore credits with basically inventing the fiction novel, and from there all other fiction (at least pop fiction) including science fiction. (Some authors Moore recommends are listed on this page: Horace Walpole, Matthew Monk Lewis, Beckford, Vathek, Otranto, and Edgar Allan Poe’s detective story Chevalier August Dupin. Also an aside for what fiction was before gothic fiction: Goldsmith, Sheridan, and Jane Austen.) Moore further traces to the roots of gothic fiction to a preacher in the (I think it was) 18th Century named Hervey who lived and worked, where else? Northampton. This section is written entirely in a pseudo-noir detective story style, though framed as an actor trying to practice noir.
% Page 1178: The aces, in their abstract grandeur, had been the four archangels or maybe the quartet of fundamental forces constituting spacetime, spades bewilderingly singled out by an impressive Gothic filigree. This attribution of a personality to each design reminds him of the tarot images his sister maintains both precede and serve as basis for the ordinary deck, the stack of archetypal bubblegum collectables that Alma drags to Mick’s house every year at Christmas dinnertime so that she can read Cathy’s fortune or at least pretend to; Hanged Man, Chariot and all the rest of the unsettling crew, as if that’s any sort of proper seasonal tradition. To hear his crow-scaring elder sibling tell it, Draw-the-Well-Dry is derived from divination while all board-based pastimes are descended from those tricky magic squares where all the rows and columns add to the same number, as though every innocent and commonplace pursuit were only a degenerated form of sorcery. She has a wilfully Carpathian worldview, Alma, although now he thinks about it games might well have had some metaphysical or more important human function back at their inception, judging from the terminology found everywhere in language. Hunting some animal down and killing it, that makes it game. Being prepared to carry out some act is to be game. Something that offers easy opportunities for exploitation is regarded as fair game and then of course there’s prostitution, going on the game. Game face, game on, game over, plays of light and sports of nature, Einstein making out God does not dice with matter. Mick’s not sure about the last of these, suspecting that not only do the powers that run the universe do a fair bit of shaking, rattling and throwing, but that generally they do this so the die end up behind the settee and you have to take their word about the double six.
% Page 1240: The still, prismatic scene insinuated that unearthly worlds and inconceivable experience might lie behind more faces in the crowd than were suspected, and that the agreed-on family-friendly Milton Keynes of mass contemporary reality may not be privileged.
% Page 1241: a description of a painting about the K-Foundation burning.
% Page 1242: Moving on to item twenty-eight, just underneath, Mick thought that the idea of slavery might well be what connected the two juxtaposed exhibits to each other. With a title-note that read The Rafters and the Beams, the lower work was a brightly-embellished reproduction of an eighteenth-century sea-chart that had three-dimensional inclusions. Hanging slack across the canvas, linking the west coast of Africa to Britain and America, were heavy lengths of dirty and encrusted iron chain attached by rusted fastenings to the picture’s surface. He looked carefully for hidden ironies or meanings, perhaps subtleties concealed within the map’s antique background calligraphy, but there was nothing. The mixed-media piece’s statement was apparently as stark and simple as it seemed on first sight. The tea-stained cartography with its quaint flukes of spelling and its guesswork coastlines was a Western view of history, the map and not the territory, a construct that was never real except on paper, which would be revised, forgotten, superseded, lost, a mind-set that would crumble and disperse more quickly than the parchment it was written on. The chains, though, they were real. Chains of event that could not be undone, they would endure forever and have solid consequence long after all the plans and paperwork and trade routes that had forged them had been rendered obsolete; long after every other element in this specific image had returned to mulch and dust.
% Page 1247: It had felt more like meeting with a crush from junior school, that meaningless vestigial flutter of the heart, the sweet and pointless sadness for alternate universes that would never happen.
% This review connects the book the David Graeber’s Debt book:

title={The ants},
author={H{"o}lldobler, Bert and Wilson, Edward O and others},
publisher={Harvard University Press},
comment={The classic in-depth look at the lives of ants},
category={Long entires, Science, ants},
% Cartoon: The Ants is hard to read. How to read The Ants? In bed with your knees up and the book resting on your raised lap.
% Page 1: In 1979 an ant colony was found in Japan with more than 300 million workers and 1 million queens in 47,000 interconnected nests over nearly 3 square kilometers.
% Page 2: The Ants of the Amazon rain forest are responsible for much of the formic acid in the atmosphere over the rain forest.
% Plate 1: the sole example of the missing link ant between wasps and ants. Would make a good record cover.
% If you see the whole colony as the organism, rather than the individual, then the males are nothing more than winged penises. Page 150: the males are active during their mating flight hour, but do nothing else but groom themselves, solicit food from the female workers, and walk sluggishly around the nest.
% Page 178: a common Japanese ant species has eliminated the queen caste entirely, and the colony reproduced parthenogenically. They are essentially asexual.
% Page 178: “It can be said that a principal different between human beings and ants is that whereas we send out young men to war, they send their old ladies”
% Page 180: kin selection — this theory of how altruistic behavior evolved in ants jibes with Darwinian evolution. There is some sense implied that it must apply at some level to humans too. But whereas in ants it can be codified and literally formulated, in humans it seems like it must be far more complex, if it exists. I’m sure there’s further reading on it somewhere.
% Page 184: prediction of a 3:1 ratio of energy investment in queens as opposed to males during the production of reproductives. “a rare instance of quantitative prediction in evolutionary biology.” This is because ants have a reproductive system where only half the genetic material is passed on to males, and all genetic material is passed on to females. This is also why females end up being workers. While this supports kin selection theory in ants, humans pass all their genetic material on to both males and females so kin selection is not nearly so straightforward.
% Page 185: eusociality: the “highest” form of social interaction. To be classified as eusocial, an animal has to exhibit three characteristics: brood care, overlap of at least two generations, division of group into reproductive and sterile castes. Later, in the mid-2000s, Wilson would claim that human beings are eusocial, and that is what led to our dominance.
% Page 216: Unicolonial ants (a colony with many queens, each in their own nest) totally dominate their environment and become the largest of ant colonies. Typically they wipe out nearly all the other ant species in the area. (Also see graphic on page 215 of nest sites and the networks between them that looks uncannily like a map of cities in a country and the networks between them.)
% Page 223: who is in charge queens or workers? There is a lot of control of queens by using chemicals that stimulate the workers to do things for her and the colony. However its not clear-cut domination, the workers express choices about which queen will be the primary queen in many species.
% Page 224: in certain species the queen feeds exclusively on the blood of her growing larvae, by slitting their skin and drinking the pooling liquid.
% Page 246: ants are so sensitive to their pheromones that one milligram of the trail pheromone substance (about what is in a colony) would be enough to lead a trail of ants three times around the world.
% Page 250: the dance of the honeybee explained. It’s pretty straightforward actually, the bee dances in a direction that indicates a direction to fly for food, and then for a distance to show how far to fly. This is ‘ritualization’ where flying movements were evolutionarily adapted to a secondary communication signal.
% Page 256: some ants have a stridulation/scraping organ that allows them to produce a ‘chirp,’ characterized as the shortest unitary rhythm element distinguishable by the human ear.
% Page 257: generally ants can’t hear sounds transmitted through the air, rather the stridulations are heard through the ground or nest material. The chirps are often used by ants who are trapped by a cave-in or some other thing, to summon help to dig them out.
% Page 271: Complexity arises from simplicity: Individual ants laying a trail reinforce the quality/size of a food item by having more and more ants lay trails together, making the trail scent stronger and indicating the quality/size/distance of food. At the same time the maximum number of ants at the food will start to turn away uneeded extras, so the right number of ants needs is self-correcting.
% Page 272: At the same time ants don’t want to be TOO specific with their information, because scattering around a target is useful (think of a moving prey target, older trails become less accurate). See note on naval gunnery. (See note on page 272 though about alterntative possibility for quantity on ant trails.)
% Page 298: Clock analogy: the power of eusocial organization comes from the division into castes for different groups of work to be done. Particularly important is the separation of a reproductive caste. Compared to a clock, each piece of a clock can be a simple piece, and assembled together create a complex mechanism. It would not work if each piece needed to know something about time (as ant colonies would not work if each ant needed to carry out reproduction).
% Page 301: They lay out a glossary of castes, vastly simplified from a very complex glossary laid out by a scientist first looking at the subject in the early 1900s. What’s interesting (to me) is that the guy who tried it first (Wheeler), because he didn’t have enough information (and he did have a penchant for classical languages and neologisms) created a much more complicated glossary of castes — far more categorical divisions than were actually needed to effectively explain observations. Further more, Wilson argues that the category definitions should actually be kept a little loose and non-specific, to facilitate better comparisons across groups, and easier understanding for more scientists. I believe there’s a lesson here about diving in too soon to complexity, and as often happens, someone needed to come along and cut out much of excess complexity that was actually obfuscating insight.
% Page 307: Adaptive demography: ants will deliberately change their population size based on their colony life cycle stage. Vertebrates don’t do this at all. It is yet another powerful result of eusocial behavior. It also, I think, is one of those ways that humans are not at all like ants. Ants are facinating because they are at once both so alien, and also have uncanny characteristics akin to human hebavior that must have some revealing insights into our own behavior. I think Wilson understood this, but at the same time it’s dangerous work to try and cut where it is that we can learn about ourselves from ants from where it is that they are insanely alien lifeforms that seem like they arrived from another planet.
% Page 323: Some ants use “alloethism” — caste distinctions by large size differences — to create workers who can handle a wide range of tasks and thus exploit a wide-ranging generalized set of food sources. “Hunter-gatherers.” % Page 325-326: Leaf-cutter ants (genus: Atta) use the same huge size differences to specialize in food: the largeest cut tough leaves, smaller one shred them into small pieces, and even smaller ones mush them up and place them as a substrate to grow fungus on. The tinest tend the crops and harvest fungus heads to feed to other ants in the colony. They are using both assembly line processing and agriculture/farming to feed the colony.
% Page 342: most ants spend most of their time doing absolutely nothing at all. In one species up to 78 percent of the time is idle. This is widely common among animals in general. They cite work by Herbers (1981) that showed most animals gather fuel until they hit a certain level of energy, and then just idle out.
% Page 345: pusatile activity — ant nests have been observed breaking up their idleness with regularly periodic bursts of activity. This is speculated to be regular communicative “check-ins” across the colony, where it is more efficient to communicate all at once and rapidly in or that information doesn’t change as it might during a slow spreading system.
% I think this could have interesting implications for organizational management. Imagine an office where the workers spend most of their day idle (or at least working on their own) punctuated by designated communication times at specific times, a few times during the day. Say you use chat software, that you leave quiet for the group until a specific time, and then have a rapid reporting of anything affecting the team. The periodicity of the reporting could be changed depending on what the team does, but the idea that there would be mostly time of ‘idleness’ punctuated by a colony-wide fast report-out is interesting.
% Page 356: reliability theory — a system made with redundant parts is more reliable than having a whole redundant system (since any individual part might fail in both instances of a redundant system).
% Page 358: Rules of thumb — any individual ant operates on nothing more than a few rules of thumb. Complex behavior arises from these simple rules.
% Page 358-359: the superorgamism — Wilson recounts how Wheeler first popularized the whole any colong as a superorganism in his paper “The Ant Colony as an Organism.” And this blew up until it entered pop culture, and doses of mysticism were applied (“spirit of the hive”). By the 1960s scientists weren’t using the concept anymore. But Wilson here is arguing that all of the sophisticated tools they have to stuf ants now (that is, the 1990s when this book was written) mean that the concept of the superorganism is once again useful. Mainly, that is the ability to measure ant colonies at a far more fine-grained level to deduce it’s quantitative relationship to other organisms. Essentially, Wilson is saying that all the complex statistical analysis they have been presenting so far in the book have led to this argument that it is now time to think about the superorganism again. (This little section on the superorganism really feels like an inflection point in the book to me.)
% Page 363: different species of ants have different tempos. Some are slow and deliberate and careful in their movements. Others are fast, random, and chaotic and take risks. It seems that the fast-tempo ants occur in species in large colonies. Those colonies are labor saturated with many many workers, so it is more efficient (for the colony) for individual workers to work themselves to death or die taking risks because there’s always another ant to pick up the job. Slow tempo colonies are smaller and the individual ants live longer.
% Page 398: The common pavement ants in North America carry out some of the most dramatic battles between colonies of the same species. Huge wars between hundreds or even thousands of ants.
% Page 400: “Invasive” species tend to settle into a niche: in the 1500s a fire ant (then called F. omnivora) invaded Carribean islands in huge numbers. The people of the islands called on their saints and leaders to protect them. By the 20th century the ant had settled down into a commone “native” fire ant with very modest numbers.
% Page 512: Most mimicry by other insects that exploit the social behavior of ants is chemical not physical/morphological. Some beetles that run with army ants have evolved a striking resemblence to the ants — but that is almost entirely to fool predators (birds) that look for insects stirred up by passing ants. There are many parasites that look nothing like the ants, but live in and off of an ant colony purely by chemical mimicy. % Page 513: There are exceptions to parasites fooling ants with only chemicals though: one cricket lives among blind ants and fools them with just enough physical parts that resememble ants so the ants don’t attack them — until they feel something alien. On this page is a vibrant description of blind humans living in a room with a monster that has human hands. The blind humans aren’t aware they live with a monster until they feel something other than hands… % Page 530: This chapter on ants and plants should be read by any landscape architect or person interested in plants. Plants evolved a number of structures to encourage ants to nest on and around them, including special chambers for ants to use as nests, and food bodies to feed ants. The ants in turn defend the plants from other insect predators, move nutrients to the plants’ roots. and prune and weed around the plant to keep other plant leaves from bridging to their home plants and allowing competing ants to attack. This is all on top of the relationship ants have with aphids, (described in previous chapter) where ants care for their aphid broods, keep aphid eggs in their nests over winter, and disperse them to more favorable “pastures” among plants. There’s even a nomadic species of ant that move with its aphid flock from pasture to pasture. % Page 554: Cordyceps fungus that parasitize ant species, consuming their bodies from the inside until they burst out the head and throw up a stalk. (This book has been far more entertaining in the last quarter than in the first three quarters.) % Page 569: some ants are capable of controlling the amount they dispense with their sting, so they can inject just enough poison to paralyze their prey, and then store their prey in their nest, alive, for weeks until they eat them. % Page 575: A detailed description of the sound of a column of hundreds of thousands of moving army ants: the prey insects scurrying before them, the ant birds chirping around them, and the shuffling of the mass of ants itself. (This seems like a natural phenomenon that would be worth experiencing in real life.) % Page 588: The army ants and the driver ants hunt by creating pseudopods of ants that spread out slowly from a trunk, rather than a singular ants randomly foraging. In Africa the driver ants drive everything before them and consume anything they find, including large animals that do not get out of the way. This page contains an awesome descriptive excerpt from the mid-19th Century of driver ants invading a house and the people standing on chairs to escape them. % 597: The sheer mass of leafcutter ants (mostly Atta) and the amount they consumed is detailed on 597. Including the fact that there are few large herbivores in Central and South America because the ants consume most of the vegetation. % 607, and some stuff in pages before: the ants use their fungus to act as external pre-digesters of plant matter. By growing fungus on the plants, they found a way to consume many plants that are toxic to other insect herbivores. % See this article with an estimate for the total number of ants on Earth: \url{} % “new ant census count: 20 quadrillion — 20 with 15 zeros following it. Ants outnumber humans at least 2.5 million to 1.” % And Farhad Manjoo’s wonder at this number: \url{}

author={Eliot, G. and McDaniel, M. and Schwartz, L.S.},
series={Barnes & Noble Classics},
publisher={Barnes & Noble Classics},
comment={The classic 19th Century epic costume drama about a small town in the English countryside.},
category={Long Entries, Novels, 19th century novels, costume drama}
% General notes
% * Page 5: Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.
% * Page 9: “How very beautiful these gems are! said Dorothea, under a new current of feeling, as sudden as the gleam. “It is strange how deeply colours seem to penetrate one, like scent. I suppose that is the reason why gems are used as spiritual emblems in the Revelation of St. John. They look like fragments of heaven. I think that emerald is more beautiful than any of them.”
% * I wonder if we lost something from the world before industrial dyes. The world must have been a much less intensely colored place then. More greens, grays, and beiges. And now, with industrial colors, it is full of all manner of color — false colors, in their way (not so false in others). It has certainly, like the coming of prevalence of aluminum, devalued color. We live now in a world surrounded by a king’s richness of color, and nobody really cares.
% * That makes sense too, why should anyone care about what is common? But it must also have been, it its way, such a richer world when the sparkle of some small glowing red jewel could hold your attention, entertain you, satisfy you, move you.
% * For these people, it seems like the diamond would hold little interest. Just like a dull chip of colorless glass, what’s good about that? Is it also possible (putting aside the well-documented commercial machinations of deBeers) that the rise of industrial dyes meant that people started looking to the diamond as a more valuable thing because it DIDN’T have a color?
% * Personally, maybe my wardrobe is an attempt to get back to that more colorless world, and maybe through that to appreciate color more? It would be interesting to insist on sticking to natural dyes!
% * Page 27: Dorothea wants to be an architect/designer. She designs cottages for the poor in her spare time.
% * Page 37: In short, woman was a problem which, since Mr. Brooke’s mind felt blank before it, could be hardly less complicated than the revolutions of an irregular solid.
% * Page 64: He did not usually find it easy to give his reasons: it seemed to him strange that people should not know them without being told, since he only felt what was reasonable <– the core of all mansplaining!
% * Page 65: It is a very good quality in a man to have a trout stream.
% * Page 79: Genius consisting neigh in self-conceit nor in humility, but in a power to make or do, not anything in general, but something in particular.
% * 85 pages in and this book has not passed the Bechtel test yet — except one brief conversation between two ladies about chickens, and half a page about quack medicines. Lots of women talking to each other, but only about who men would marry.
% * Page 84: her complaint, which puzzled the doctors, and seemed clearly a case wherein the fulness of professional knowledge might need the supplement of quackery.
% * Page 86: Mr. Lydgate has the medical accomplishment of looking perfectly grave whatever nonsense was talked to him.
% * Page 385: There are a number of anti-semetic allusions in the book. Here: And now I’m going to be as rich as a Jew. But in other places even more strongly anti-Jew. See also:
% *
% *
% * Chapter 56: This chapter has a lot about the railway coming to town:
% * Page 525: Women both old and young considered traveling by steam as presumptuous and dangerous.
% * Page 527: “Why, they’re Lunnon chaps I reckon,” said Hiram, who had a dim notion of London as a centre of hostility to to country.
% * Page 532: Caleb was in a difficulty known to any person attempting in dark times and unassisted by miracle to reason with rustics who are in possession of an undeniable truth which they know through a hard process of feeling, and can let it fall like a giant’s club on your neatly-carved argument for a social benefit which they do not feel.
% * Page 680, top: Lydgate doesn’t even consider interviewing the housekeeper about Raffles death. This whole book has this interesting 19th century relationship to the servants: they are always implied to be there in the background, but they are barely seen as human so they only come to the foreground on the rare occasions that their actions directly interact with an upper-class character, much like a pet in a modern novel. This isn’t so much a criticism as pointing out this interesting shift in the culture. If someone, even someone without deep resources of vision or analysis of human behavior, just a ‘casual’ author, were writing this story today, they would, by default, make the servants real people, and would make the main characters interact with them as real people. It is amazing to me that a mere 100+ years ago people could be intimately part of one’s life, but (at least in the novelistic view of the world) essentially treated as furniture.
% * Page 710: “Poor Mrs. Bulstrode.” — In the later parts of the novel Eliot more and more uses this construction. She by this point she has described nearly all the characters with a sympathetic ‘poor’! Is it possible that Eliot was starting to feel sorry for the miseries she put all these characters through?
% Why Middlemarch is a novel about male domination:
% * Page 82: “Surely I am in a strangely selfish weak state of mind,” she said to herself. “How can I have a husband who is so much above me without knowing that he needs me less than I need him?”
% * Page 84: “Yes, but not my style of woman: I like a woman who lays herself out a little more to please us. There should be a little filigree about a woman—something of the coquette. A man likes a sort of challenge. The more dead set she makes at you the better.”
% * Page 84: “Ay, to be sure, there should be a little devil in a woman,” said Mr. Chinchely, whose study of the fair sex seemed to have been detrimental to his theology. “And I like them blond, with a certain gait, and a swan neck.”
% * Page 190: “I hope you are thoroughly satisfied with our stay—I mean, with the result so far as your studies are concerned,” said Dorothea, trying to keep her mind fixed on what most affected her husband.
% * Page 190: “I hope when we get to Lowick, I shall be more useful to you, and be able to enter a little more into what interests you.”
% * Page 254: He held it one of the prettiest attitudes of the feminine mind to adore a man’s pre-eminence without too precise a knowledge of what it consisted in.
% * Page 261: When would the days begin of that active wifely devotion which was to strengthen her husband’s life and exalt her own?
% * Page 261: In this solemnly pledged union of her life, duty would present itself in some new form of inspiration and give new meaning to wifely love.
% * Page 271: Her little hands were clasped, and enclosed by Sir James’s as a bud is enfolded by a liberal calyx.
% * Page 336: He felt as if already breathed upon by exquisite wedded affection such as would be bestowed by an accomplished creature who venerated his high musings and momentous labours and would never interfere with them; who would create order in the home and accounts with still magic, yet keep her fingers ready to touch the lute and transform life into romance at any moment; who was instructed to the true womanly limit and not a hair’s-breadth beyond–docile, therefore, and ready to carry out behests which came from beyond that limit.
% * Page 340: He relied much on the psychological difference between what for the sake of variety I will call goose and gander: especially on the innate submissiveness of the goose as beautifully corresponding to the strength of the gander.
% * Page 370: “We must not have you getting too learned for a woman, you know.”
% * Page 389: Will any one guess towards which of these widely different men Mary had a peculiar women’s tenderness? – the one she was most inclined to be severe on? Or the contrary?
% * Page 414: How delightful to make captives from the throne of marriage with a husband as crown-prince by your side – himself in fact a subject – while the captives look up for ever hopeless, losing their rest probably, and if their appetites too, so much the better!
% * Page 433: “Is that enough music for you, my lord?” she said, folding her hands before her and putting on a little air of meekness.
% * Page 552: Her baby had been born prematurely, and all the embroidered robes and caps had to be laid by in darkness. This misfortune was attributed entirely to her having persisted in going out on horseback one day when her husband had desired her not to do so; but is must not be supposed that she had shown temper on the occasion, or rudely told him that she would do as she liked.
% * Really, this book could be read as being ABOUT male domination of women:
% * Dorothea is absolutely servile to Casaubon, but he isn’t worthy of her service; she needs to find someone who is
% * Mary holds out her service to Fred as a carrot to improve his character, and will only give it to him when he is worthy of it
% * Rosamond doesn’t do as the worthy Lydgate tells her, and she loses her baby
% * Celia is a perfect wife to the good Sir James and is rewarded with a healthy baby she and Dorothea sit around and admire.
% * This book came out in 1871, Frankenstein was written in 1818 — so it’s not like there weren’t other female authors addressing bigger topics than who the women in town will marry, and who will get the inheritance. This book would really have benefited by having a war in it. It feels a little like such a talented writer as George Eliot was wasted on such mundane subjects.
% * George Eliot was in an open marriage — it’s possible she really had a very specific vision of what relationships between men and women should be.
% * Page 618: He was prepared to be indulgent towards feminine weakness, but not towards feminine dictation. The shallowness of a waternixies’s soul may have a charm until she becomes didactic.
% * Page 628: Lydgate sat paralysed by opposing impulses: since no reasoning he could apply to Rosamond seemed likely to conquer her assent, he wanted to smash and grind some object on which he could at least produce an impression, or else to tell her brutally that he was master, and she must obey. But he not only dreaded the effect of such extremeties on their mutual life — he had a growing dread of Rosamond’s quiet elusive obstinancy, which would not allow any asssertion of power to be final; and again, she had touched him in a spot of keenest feeling by implying that she had been deluded with a false vision of happiness in marrying him.
% * Page 635: He told himself that it was ten times harder for her than for him: he had a life away from home, and constant appeals to his activitiy on behalf of others. He wished to excuse everything in her if he could — but it was inevitable that in that excusing mood he should think of her as if she were an animal of another and feebeler species. Nevertheless she had mastered him.
% * Page 701: “You used to submit to Mr. Casaubon quite shamefully: I think you would have given up ever coming to see me if he had asked you.” “Of course I submitted to him, because it was my duty; it was my feeling for him,” said Dorothea, looking through the prism of her tears. “They why can’t you think it your duty to submit a little to what James wishes?” said Celia, with a sense of stringency in her argument. “Because he only wishes what is for your own good. And, of course, men know best about everything, except what women know better.” Dorothea laughed and forgot her tears. “Well, I mean about babies and those things,” explained Celia.
% * Page 789: “Because I’ve always loved him. I should never like scolding any one else so well; and that is a point to be thought of in a husband.”
% * Page 796: He once called her his basil plant; and when she asked for an explanation, said that basil was a plant which had flourished wonderfully on a murdered man’s brains.

title={The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich},
author={Shirer, W.L.},
comment={The classic in-depth history of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany up to and through WWII.},
category={Humanity, history, wwii, nazis, hitler},
% He begins the book with Santayana’s quote about those who do not
% remember the past being condemned to relive it. As if understanding
% the rise of the Nazi’s will help us prevent it in the future.
% I believe that’s up for debate, but it clearly doesn’t really apply to
% Trump. There are SO many differences between Trump and Hitler. Shirer
% makes a strong argument that the rise of the Nazis simply couldn’t
% have happened without the specific man Hitler. It’s an astonishing
% thing to think about, but Hitler brought a specific insane evil genius
% to the Nazis that would have left them basically powerless without
% him. Unlike Trump who is just an evil idiot and it can be easily
% imagined how 100 other monsters could have easily been in his place
% instead of him. Hitler had a whole army already by the time he got any
% real power, and using that army for violence to show strength was one
% of his key tactics. It’s hard to imagine anything like that with
% Trump. The only thing that is similar is the use of lower-middle
% working class anger to stir up political support.
% In reality, those who remember the past are condemned to be shocked
% by the ability of fresh new horrors to arise from almost anywhere.
% A person who studies history with the idea that there are patterns
% that could repeat is doomed to never understand the real risks of bad
% things happening.
% Hitler believed in the power of a single man to shape history - he
% also believed that a dictator was a real option for running a
% country. I think neo-Nazis don’t actually have ANY sense that a
% dictator is a good option - their motivation is to engage in racism
% without feelings of guilt, and in no small part, want to piss off
% mainstream thinking.
% The idea that a single person has such influence feels very outdated
% now. Today, the systems are more powerful than any individual - and
% not fully understood by any individual, as Adam Curtis points out. It’s
% a RADICALLY different time than the rise of the Nazis. The SYSTEMS run
% things, Trump could be swapped out with a hundred other horrible
% people. And Trump is far from all powerful - his entire time in power
% has been battling the system that crushes him - but that’s not to say
% that his opponents have any more control over the system than he does.
% Page 8: how Hitler almost had the last name of Schicklgruber. Both
% Shirer and Hitler himself point out that he probably would not have
% achieved much if he hadn’t had the name Hitler instead. The power of a
% name cost millions of people their lives.
% Page 19: Hitler’s attempt at art, includes ads for Teddy’s
% Perspiration powder and Santa Claus selling candles.
% Page 21: Hitler’s dedication to the power of violence to show
% strength.
% Page 25: Hitler’s realization of the power of oratory.
% Page 43-44: Hitler designs the Nazi flag. Interesting stuff here:
% he’s a failed artist, but there’s no question that a design piece
% the Nazi flag is among the most effective things ever made. The
% description of ancient swastikas here, and the somewhat mysterious
% adoption of it by Hitler makes one think that this symbol that’s been
% with us for all of humanity might have contained some trans-temporal
% sense of what it would become? Maybe it always HAS been the Nazi
% symbol, has ALWAYS been evil, so evil that the ancients had a sense of its
% importance long before the Nazis were invented? Considered in light of
% the more crazy mathematical solutions to theoretical physics, it
% starts to seem like an interesting idea… Though obviously not
% ACTUALLY science or history.
% Also the flag said “Germany Awake!” on it - raising interesting
% questions about the idea of being “woke”.
% Page 56: The constitution of the Weimar Republic was modern,
% well-balanced, and had strong representation. See also critiques in
% footnote on this page.
% Page 61: In 1923 it took 4 billion marks to buy a dollar.
% In the 1920s the government let the value of the mark tumble, as a way
% to free themselves from debt, and escape reparations.
% Page 96: Late 19th Century Germany had the most comprehensive social
% security network maybe in the world. It profoundly influenced the
% working class by making them value security, and seeing the state as
% benefactor and protector. Hitler took advantage of this. (In footnote.)
% Page 100, footnote: Nietzsche said in Thus Spoke Zarathustra “Thou
% goest to women? Do not forget they whip!” Bertrand Russell said of this
% “Nine women out of ten would have got that whip away from him, and he
% knew it, so he kept away from women.”
% Page 144: Deutsche Bank on the list of banks that financed Hitler.
% Page 195: The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was
% their failure to unite against it.
% Page 185: “Fourteen years of sharing political power in the Republic,
% of making all the compromises necessary to maintain coalition
% governments, had sapped the strength and the zeal of the Social
% Democrats until their party had become little more than an opportunist
% pressure organization, determined to bargain for concessions for the
% trade unions on which their strength largely rested”
% Page 212: Hitler wins a staggering (if questionably honest) election
% victory because the German people appreciated his defiance of the
% outside world.
% Page 223: The purge of the S.A. resembles the settling of all debts
% scene in the Godfather.
% Page 227: German officers fell back on their honor codes, often
% citing “honor” as the reason for supporting the Nazi state. And thus by
% honoring their oath, they dishonored themselves as human beings.
% Page 232: Before the war, Nazi Germany was open to visitors, and the
% tourist industry thrived.
% Page 240: The Nazis persecuted the Christians too, since Christianity
% was considered incompatible with Nazism. The Nazi Church required the
% removal of crosses from churches and that they be replaced with a copy
% of Mein Kampf on the altar, and a sword. And of course a swastika.
% Page 244: the story of the terrible Nazi art show, and the popular
% “degenerate art” show.
% Page 248: “No one who had not lived for years in a totalitarian
% land can possible conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread
% consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda.”
% Page 259: Prussia during the 18th and 19th centuries spent 5/7 of the
% government’s revenue on the military. The economy was part of military
% policy, not people’ welfare.
% Page 260: The Nazi government would create alternate currency to pay
% industrialists, like the Mefo bill.
% Page 266 and 267: How Volkswagon got its start (but not successfully)
% under Hitler.
% Page 271: The Nazis would arbitrarily arrest people and put them in
% concentration camps and call it “protective custody”
% Page 273: People paid to spy on the general population of Germans for
% the Nazis were young intellectuals recruited from universities. So there
% was a bizarre atmosphere of pedantry and an interest in things like the
% skulls of inferior people and the eugenics of the master race.
% Page 327: Hitler intends to build the greatest skyscrapers the world
% has seen.
% Page 338: Any time an opponent concedes something to the Nazis, they
% raise the stakes and demand more.
% Page 424-427: The results of Munich: Here, again, you can see how
% it was mostly just Hitler’s “luck” that allowed him to succeed so
% spectacularly. Chamberlain was committed to appeasement for fear of
% another major war. Hitler was committed to war, fully intending to
% invade Czechoslovakia. Later analysis shows that Chamberlain was
% completely wrong to appease Hitler - the combined forces of Europe
% would have easily defeated him at the time (if the plot to overthrow
% him by the German generals had been executed and failed). And Hitler
% was wrong to think he even COULD have attacked Czechoslovakia - which
% had near-impregnable mountain defenses built against German attacks.
% Appeasement SAVED Hitler from his own intentions which would have
% defeated him, and gave him a chance he didn’t know he needed to build up
% further strength. Nobody knew that at the time - it is just the random
% twists and turns of history that repeatedly let Hitler succeed.
% Page 966: Hitler and the Nazis started mass execution of the jews early
% because they didn’t have the patience to work them to death, nor the
% foresight of the value of slave labor. (Stalin, maybe learning from the
% Nazis, didn’t make this mistake. See Gulag.)

Author={Lethem, Jonathan},
Title={It All Connects},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A profile of Adam Curtis, the British documentary maker who tackles politics and culture. The films take familiar subjects — the Cold War, the growth of public relations or financial or military-industrial bureaucracies, the premises of the ecology or anti-psychiatry movements, the enmeshment of Western democracies in quasi-colonial military adventures in the Middle East — and render them strange. Stories that might seem like “social studies” fodder become, in Curtis’s hands, compulsive, like a giddy horror film you can’t quit watching.'' He is a master of finding obscure archival footage from the BBC archive and compiling it into a narrative explaining 20th Century history in a completely new way. His most famous films include: If Americans like Morris and myself have tended to learn of Curtis’s work beginning with “The Power of Nightmares,” his British viewers usually started earlier, with his landmark treatises on the biases of technological utopian social thinking (“Pandora’s Box,” 1992); on propaganda, historical amnesia, brainwashing and nostalgia (“The Living Dead,” 1995); on the growth of popular psychiatry and public relations, and the merging of the cult of personal fulfillment with consumerist imperatives (“The Century of the Self,” 2002). “The Century of the Self,” in particular, is seen by many in Britain as Curtis’s signature accomplishment. These early works construct a kind of “bible” of Curtis’s thinking, upon which his later arguments build.’’ },
category={century of self, propaganda, adam curtis, Politics, Economics, Criticality, The Art, documentaries}
% Other interesting quotes from this article:
“This is the whole thing about ‘good and evil’ — it’s a naïve view of the world. The problem is bigger, it’s a system.” Curtis and I briefly discussed a word coined by the critic Timothy Morton to describe a problem so vast in space and time that you are unable to apprehend it: a “hyperobject.” Global warming is a classic example of a hyperobject: it’s everywhere and nowhere, too encompassing to think about. Global markets, too. But naming a hyperobject alone is of limited use; human cognition knows all too well how to file such imminent imponderables away, on a “to-do” list that’s never consulted again.'' % “One week I was sent up to Edinburgh to film a singing dog,” he said. “His owner said that when he played the bagpipes, the dog would sing Scottish songs. We set the camera up. The owner dressed up in a kilt and started to play the bagpipes. The dog refused to sing. It just sat there looking at me just saying nothing. It just sat there, with a really smug look on its face. This went on for about two hours.” Curtis phoned his producer. “She said: ‘Darling, that is wonderful. Don’t you see that the dog refusing to sing for a man dressed up in a kilt is actually very funny? Go back and keep filming. Film the dog doing nothing. But film the man as well.’ ” “So I did. We ran a long close-up shot of the dog’s face with the sound of out-of-tune bagpipes. It was quite avant-garde, but the audience loved it, especially when you cut it against the face of the man puffing at the bagpipes who genuinely believed that the dog was about to sing. “That time with a dog taught me the fundamental basics of journalism. That what really happens is the key thing; you mustn’t try and force the reality in front of you into a predictable story. What you should do is notice what is happening in front of your eyes, and what instinctively your reaction is.’’
% Curtis prefers Balzac, the novelist of intricate social tapestries, to the modernist tradition of interiority defined by Woolf and Proust. But the novelist he claims as inspiration is Dos Passos, whose “U.S.A.” trilogy he read when he was a boy, and whose centrifugal blend of pastiche and documentation may be the key to Curtis’s style. At the other end, Curtis’s artistic nemesis is Andy Warhol. “I’ve got this idea. I call it the I.A.R., the Inappropriate Aesthetic Response. I date it back to Warhol. It’s this idea you can take horrific images like the electric chair and aestheticize them. The beheading videos, the orange jumpsuits against the desert background; ISIS uses that knowingly. I have a ruthless theory, that the radical-art movement, which grew out of the failure of revolutionary politics, becomes the outriders for the property developers. You need the aesthetic of decline in order to make those buildings desirable.” “HyperNormalisation” is a summation of one of Curtis’s major themes: that liberalism — since the collapse of certainty about how its values would transform politics, finance and journalism — has in fact become genuinely conservative. In a world of unpredictability, it has retreated from genuine frontiers, instead opting for holding actions that can make it feel stable and safe.'' % Curtis’s critiques of the internet sometimes echo those of skeptics like Jaron Lanier, who sees it as a dead end for art, and Evgeny Morozov, who questions its ability to effect social change. “The internet was invented by engineers,” Curtis tells me. “When engineers build a bridge, they don’t want it to develop, they want it to stay stable. And the same is true of the fundamental engineering system of the internet. It’s based on feedback. And feedback is about stability. So, what happened with Occupy, and with Tahrir Square, is that it was a great system to get everyone together into a group, but then it had absolutely no content. It’s a really terrible mistake they made — they mistook an engineering system for a revolutionary set of ideas.”’’
% Elsewhere, Curtis sounds like a science-fiction writer — one from the 1950s, when S.F. writers began accurately satirizing the world we find ourselves in today. “The utopia they hold out is a world where machines make everything for you and you have endless leisure time, you become creative and everyone’s happy. And the only thing is, actually, everyone’s incredibly unhappy because they haven’t got anything to do. What we call our jobs today are actually fake jobs. We sit in our offices in front of our screens in order to get the money to go out and buy stuff. Our job is really to go shopping. And the rest of the time, we sit in our offices doing complicated managerial things, and when we’re not, we’re actually watching the internet. The internet is there to keep you happy during your fake job.” Curtis’s antic side, however, can’t turn away from the bloody wreckage. “I see people in shops now, going through Instagram, and then looking at things like ‘Is this right?’ It’s almost like they’re reading the Bible. It’s absolutely fascinating. Instagram is the aestheticization of everything. What began with Modernism, which is to actually worry about how things are done rather than about what they’re saying, has now ended with Instagram. I love it.'' % “What will happen to the internet in the future?” He’s riffing again. “Will it become a bit like a John Carpenter movie? You go there, amidst the ruins, and it’s weird, and you can be nasty — just have fun and be bad, like a child. From about ’96 to about 2005 people built these lovely websites, they put up masses and masses of fantastic information. They’ve left them sitting there, but it’s like a city that everyone’s gone from. And what’s come in instead is a weird world where you don’t know what’s real — just people shouting at each other. It’s good fun, but it’s not real.”’’
% Curtis seems to cherish his place in America as a voice seeping from under the floorboards. In a way, the ruined apocalyptic John Carpenter city appears to be where he wants to live.'' % Speaking of “The Power of Nightmares,” he told me, “A lot of people said, ‘Oh, the television networks in America would never show it.’ What I’d noticed is that the moment I put it out, it went up on the internet. I understood at that point that it would have more political power and be seen by many more people if I let it be a thing that people want to find illegally.” (Virtually all of Curtis’s films are available to the intrepid Googler for free viewing, but if I told you where to find them, they might vanish.)’’
% On seeing HyperNormalisation: poses the idea that the world has become so complicated that nobody can control it anymore. Instead people in power simply try to prevent disasters from occuring - mostly through “perception management”. Reality doesn’t matter, only people’s perception of it, which is maleable.
% There is an amazing sequence of disaster movies featuring actors with wide-eyed stares at some horror of destruction (usually a collapsing building) set to Dream Baby Dream by Suicide - all movies leading up to 2001.
% Also poses the idea that liberals rerteated from reality to cyberspace (which is now mostly online videos) — because it was too complicated to understand, and the protests of the iraq war suggested that they couldn’t change reality.
% This article is about the BlackRock data center in Washington state, Aladdin, that Adam Curtis talks about in HyperNormalisation: \url{}
% On seeing Pandora’s box: In a number of these documentaries there’s points where the people in power are embarrassed that their ideas didn’t work, and so their next step is not to admit failure, but to try something new without admitting they were wrong.
% This makes me think that a major tool for change is to recognize that you have to give the politicians a chance to get out of what they have done without having to admit they were wrong. Perhaps the right KIND of protest or riot - or asking for the right thing, might give a politician the opportunity to get out and save face: “not because I was wrong, but because we need peace in the streets, I am changing course”
% Adam Curtis might be one of the few (or only) people dealing with the systems of power by trying to think about them systematically. Or at least he’s one of the only one’s doing it in a way that’s comprehensible to normal people.
% Think of his construction, “they believed that…”. He uses it all the time. It’s a whole WAY of thinking about power - that the people in power don’t KNOW anything, they just BELIEVE something, and try to apply what they believe. More often than not, they are wrong.
% See notes following kudler2017urbanpolitics
% The movie Cube (1997) features a giant machine which appears to have no purpose but to torture people. It is revealed during the movie that it is a huge public works project - a bridge to nowhere - that was begun, then continually funded and built because nobody really knew what it was or what it was for. After being completed people are put into it simply because it exists and therefore should be used. The monologue where this is explained bears uncanny resemblences to Adam Curtis’ current thinking about world power systems.

title={Blood Meridian, Or, The Evening Redness in the West},
author={McCarthy, C.},
publisher={Vintage International Edition},
comment={The fictionalized retelling of the adventures of the Glanton gang in 19th Century Mexico.},
category={Novels, The Art, old west, violence, 19th century, scalping, gunpowder, weapons}
% One of the best books I ever read.
% It makes me wonder about the creation of masterpieces. For our culture to generate one single masterpiece like this, does it mean we need to be able to support authors like McCarthy through all the weak books he wrote before (and AFTER) Blood Meridian?
% “You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it.” Page 19.
% “slept with their alien hearts beating in the sand like pilgrims exhausted upon the face of the planet Anareta” Page 46. Planet Anareta is the planet in astrology that signals the end of the world.” Page 46
% “That night they rode though a region electric and wild where strange shapes of soft blue fire ran over the metal f the horses’ trappings and the wagonwheels rolled in hoops of fire and little shapes of pale blue light came to perch in the ears of the horses and in the beards of the men. All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear. The thunder moved up from the southwest and lightning lit the desert all about them, blue and barren, great clanging reaches ordered out of the absolute night like some demon kingdom summoned up or changeling land that come the day would leave them neither trace nor smoke nor ruin more than any troubling dream.” Page 47
% Description of Apache attack. Page 52-53
% Description of the Glanton gang, “short twobarreled rifles with bores you could stick your thumbs in and the trappings of their horses fashioned out of human skin and their bridles woven up from human hair and decorated with human teeth and the riders wearing scapulars of necklaces of dried and blackened human ears” Page 78.
% Description of the giant pistols of the Glanton gang, concluding with “in that courtyard other than merchants and buyers were a number of living things.” Page 82
% “The white man looked up drunkenly and the black stepped forward and with a single stroke swept off his head. Two thick ropes of dark blood and two slender rose like snakes from the stump of the nect and arched hissing into the fire.” The killing of white Jackson by black Jackson. Page 107.
% “He had with him that selfsame rifle you see with him now, all mounted in german silver and the name that he’d give it set with silver wire under the checkpiece in latin: Et In Arcadia Ego. A reference to the lethal in it. Common enough for a man to name his gun. I’ve heard sweetlips and Hark From The Tombs and every sort of lady’s name. HIs is the first and only ever I seen with an inscription from the classics.” Page 125
% The judge mixing gunpowder on the run from indians in the wilderness. And the slaughter of indian on the volcano. Page 131-134. “I didn’t know but what we’d be required to bleed into it like freemasons but it was not so. He worked it up dry with his hands an dall the while the savages down there on the plain drawin night to us and when I turned back the judge was standin, the great hairless oaf, and he’d look out his pizzle and he was pissin into the mixture, pissig with a great vengeance and one hand aloft and he cried out for us to do likewise.” Page 131 bottom to 132 continuing.
% “The way of the world is to bloom and to flower and die but in the affairs of men there is no waning and the noon of his expression signals the onset of night.” Page 146. This is where the judge uses the concept of the meridian.
% The attack on the village, the Deleware smash baby heads against rocks. Page 156
% “All about her the dead lay with their peeled skulls like polyps bluely wet or luminescent melons cooling on some mesa of the moon.” Page 174
% “The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.” Page 245
% Brown going to the farrier and demanding he cut down the barriers of a royal shotgun, and the farrier refusing. Page 265
% The slaughter of the buffalo by the tens-of-thousands. Page 316.

title={The city in history. its origins, its transformation, and its prospects},
author={Mumford, Lewis},
publisher={Harcourt. Brace & world},
comment = {The classic tome in which Mumford looks deeply at the long history of cities and tries to tease out the specifics aspects that let them thrive or caused them to fail. Mumford has a deep appreciation of social justice (and a lot of criticism of modern'' (that is, 1960s) life is slipped in) but he also comes from a school (garden cities) that believed there was a perfect size and organization of cities that could be achieved. Those things are what he looks for. So, Rome is examined in light of its eventual failure. Eventually in Rome 1/3 of the days of the year are holidays. (Many of those holidays are circuses, with elephants and tigers and whatnot. Mumford postulates that the remnant of those carried down as a subculture for thousands of years to the circus we have today.) For Mumford, Rome's vices cause it to miss the perfect city size/relationship, and it grows huge solely on econimic power, causing it to fail.}, category = {classics, tomes, cities, history} } % See also: % Mumford's idea of how the dark ages ended: people were scattered widely around the countryside in Europe. The Vikings got organized in warfare, and started attacking along the coast, and deep into the countryside. People in started building walls around the towns (again - this technique had been lost since Roman times.) The walls created safe spaces for merchants, markets and capitalism to thrive, cities grew, and trade and science reestablished themselves. % Look up the Cloacina % Quotes: % democracies are often too stingy in spending money for public purposes, for its citizens feel the money is theirs. Monarchies and tyrannies can be generous, because they dip their hands freely into other people’s pockets.’’
% What goes so lavishly into space rockets of our time went, with perhaps little more visible reward, into equally monumental architecture almost equally empty of human benefit. In both cases, paranoid power learned to 'rationalize' the expression of its irrationality by its homage to art or science.'' %From the standpoint of both politics and urbanism, Rome remains a significant lesson of what to avoid: its history presents a series of classic danger signals to warn one when life is moving in the wrong direction. Wherever crowds gather in suffocating numbers, wherever rents rise steeply and housing conditions deteriorate, wherever a one-sided exploitation of distant territories removes the pressure to achieve balance and harmony nearer at hand, there the precedents of Roman building almost automatically revive, as they have come back today: the arena, the tall tenement, the mass contests and exhibitions, the football matches, the international beauty contests, the strip-tease made ubiquitous by advertisement, the constant titillation of the senses by sex, liquor, and violence – all in true Roman style. These are symptoms of the end: magnifications of demoralized power, minifications of life. When these signs multiply, Necropolis is near, though not a stone has yet crumbled. For the barbarian has already captured the city from within. Come hangman! Come vulture!’’ Page 242
% Instead of evading the ugly realities of his time, the Christian embraced them. by doing willingly what pagans sedulously avoided, he both neutralized and in some measure overcame the forces that threatened him. He visited the sick; he comforted the widow and the orphan; he redeemed the ignominies of starvation, sickness, and squalor by making them am occasion for fellowship and love. Instead of clinging for security and comfort to the presense of large crowds, he accepted their dispersal and looked for solace in a more intimate union when only two or three were gathered together in the name of Christ: indeed, the holiest withdrew altogether, seeking solitude and silence.'' page 244 % Cities are like trees; once established, they must be destroyed to the roots before they cease to live: otherwise, even when the main stem is cut down, shoots will form about the base as happened in Jerusalem even after its complete destruction in A.D. 70. What Lavedan calls the law of the persistence of the place'' might even be widened into the persistence of the individual urban archetype.’’ page 245
% In the past half century architecture has turned from enclosure to exposure: a virtual replacement of the wall by the window. Even in the dwelling house, as Henry James was quick to note on his visit to the United States in 1905, all sense of intimacy and privacy was being forfeited by throwing one room into another, to create a kind of exposed public space for every moment and for every function. This movement has perhaps now reached the natural terminus of every such arbitrary interpretation of human needs. In opening our buildings to the untempered glare of daylight and the outdoors, we have forgotten, at our peril and to our loss, the coordinate need for contrast, for quiet, for darkness, for privacy, for an inner retreat.'' page 269 % Medieval guild halls: But those that have been preserved often vie in their magnificence with the town hall or cathedral. W. J. Ashley notes that the cost of these buildings was one of the circumstances which led to the restriction of the membership to more wealthy members of the community. Not the first or the last time in which the pomp of a great architectural shell has destroyed the creature who burdened himself with its creation....'' Page 271 % But in the university, the pursuit of knowledge was elevated into an enduring structure, which did not depend for its continuance upon any single group of priests, scholars, or texts. The system of knowledge was more important than the thing known.’’ Page 276
% Those who refer to the winding streets of such a town as mere tracings of the cowpath do not realize that the cow's habit of following contours usually produces a more economical and sensible layout on hilly sites than any inflexible system of straight streets.'' Page 301. So - grids are great in 2-dimensional space, but cowpaths work better if the site has 3 dimensions. % Even town-planning theorists have made such errors, largely because of their failure to grasp the difference, familiar to students of biology, between homologous and analogous forms. A similar form does not necessarily have a similar significance in a different culture; again similar functions may produce quite different forms.’’ Page 301
% Not without statesmanlike cunning, the Pope insisted on making the Franciscan order an instrument of Papal power, and he ensured its subordination, indeed its inner subversion, by encouraging a heavy investment in appropriate conventual buildings, in the very birthplace of the new order; for there is no quicker way of killing an idea than to `materialize' it too soon.'' Page 319 % The canals, now some 177 in all, serve as the boundaries of these neighborhoods, as well as connecting links: they are both waterbelts and arterial highways, functioning like the greenbelts and through motor ways of a well-designed modern town, though not so reckless of urban space as American highways or the neighborhood greenbelts of English New Towns frequently are. \ldots By making the most of their opportunities, in other words, the Venetians, no doubt inadvertently, invented a new type of city, based on the differentiation and zoning of urban functions, separated by traffic ways and open spaces. This was zoning on the grandest scale, practiced in a rational manner, which recognized the integrity of neighborhoods and which minimized the wasteful journey to work.' Page 323 % ``The urban community was kept in some degree of balance because its ruling group at least paid the price for their system, as totalitarian states do today, by trading security for freedom: thus they provided over many centuries for steady industrial employment, social services of many sorts, and dazzling public festivals. So, typically, it was not the workers, but rival members of the ruling class that usually threatened treason or revolt.'' Page 324 So - by taking care of the working classes, they didn't have to worry about revolt from below, but from a coup of their colleagues who couldn't do whatever they pleased with the working classes. % On the changeover to guns as the primary weapons of war: ``The need for more costly sinews of war put the cities into the hands of usurious oligarchies that financed the ruler's mischievous politics, lived sumptuously on the profits and the loot, and sought to entrench their positions by backing the ensuing despotism.'' [there's a little more on this page - 361] % It's kind of amazing how anyone living through that process probably didn't even realize it was happening. Long-term trends like that seem to need hundreds of years of hindsight. % Mumford references ``Sombart'' (presumably in the bibliography): ``Soldiers, as Sombart has pointed out, are pure consumers, even as in action they are negative producers.'' - To keep a standing army is to simply buy tons of stuff without them ever actually producing anything. Page 362. % ``The change from a goods economy to a money economy greatly widened the resources of the state. \ldots To increase the boundaries of the state was to increase the taxable population: to increase the population of the capital city was to increase the rent of land. \ldots Capitalism in turn became militaristic: it relied on the arms of the state when it could no longer bargain to advantage without them: the foundations of colonial exploitation and imperialism.'' page 363-364 % ``The long approach and vista into seemingly unbounded space---those typical marks of the baroque plan---were first discovered by the painter.'' And from here he goes on to fashion, and then to history. From war to fashion in two pages! page 365 % ``The gain in the power of systematic thought and in the accurate prediction of physical events was to justify itself in the nineteenth century in a series of mighty advances in technics. But in society the habit of thinking in terms of abstractions worked out disastrously. The new order established in the physical sciences was far too limited to describe or interpret social facts, and until the nineteenth century even the legitimate development of statistical analysis played little part in sociological thought. Real men and women, real corporations and cities, were treated in law and government as if they were imaginary bodies; whilst artful pragmatic fictions, like Divine Right, Absolute Rule, the State, Sovereignty, were treated as if they were realities. \ldots With the quest for financial and political power, the notion of limits disappeared---limits on numbers, limits on wealth, limits on population growth, limits on urban expansion: on the contrary, quantitative expansion became predominant. The merchant cannot be too rich; the state cannot possess too much territory; the city cannot become too big. Success in life was identified with expansion. This superstition retains its hold in the notion of an indefinitely expanding economy.'' Page 366 % ```The world,' as Stow remarked when the fashion was taking hold in London, runs on wheels.’’’ Page 368
% In walking the eye courts variety, but above this gait, movement demands repetition of the units that are to be seen: it is only so that the individual part, as it flashes by, can be recovered and pieced together. What would be monotony for a fixed position or even in procession, becomes a necessary counterpoise to the pave of fast-moving horses.'' Page 368 % On irregular streets, poorly paved, with plenty of loose cobblestones and places of concealment, the spontaneous formations of untrained people have an advantage over a drilled soldierly: soldiers cannot fire around corners, nor can they protect themselves from bricks heaved from chimney tops immediately overhead: they need space to maneuver in. \ldots To rule merely by coercion, without affectionate consent, one must have the appropriate urban background.’’ Page 369-370 [Does this suggest that in addition to the right to bear arms, we should compel the government to provide us with irregular and hard to understand street systems? it would, after all, help the resistance fight the battle to keep the government honest!]
% During what Mumford calls the Baroque period, there was a split in use types: homes were split from workplaces. Producing, selling, and consuming were separated into three different institutions, and three different sets of buildings, three distinct parts of the city. The housewife loses touch with affairs of the outside world, and works instead only on domesticity or sex. Increased domesticity also weakened public interest of middle-class citizens. Page 383
% To make up for the lack of effective domestic work, a new type of housework was invented that took up the slack and enriched the ritual of conspicuous consumption. I mean the care of furniture. \ldots Display outstripped use; and the care of furniture commanded time that once went to weaving tapestries, the embroidery of garments, the mailing of useful household preserves, perfumes and simples. These new burdens were inflicted upon housewives and domestics at the very moment that the form of the house itself changes, multiplying the number of private chambers...'' Page 383 % Up to the seventeenth century, at least in the North, building and heating had hardly advanced far enough to permit the arrangement of a series of private rooms in a dwelling. But now a separation of functions too place within the house as well as within the city as a whole. Space became specialized, room by room.’’ Page 384
% In context of Da Vinci and the Italian bulldozing'' habit of mind: The wholesale remove of the buildings embodying these forms of life [human households, shops, churches, neighborhoods] would wipe out the co-operations and fidelities of a lifetime, often many lifetimes. The in making a clean job' the planner would have to destroy precious social organ that could not be replaced as easily as streets can be paved and houses build did not seem important to the early military engineer and more than it seems to his twentieth-century successors, in charge of slum clearance projects’ or highway designs.’’ Page 387
% Living space, in the baroque plan, was treated as a leftover, after the avenue itself determined the shape of the houseplot and the depth of block. With this neglect of urban functions other than traffic went an overvaluation on the geometric figure: a square\ldots a nine-sided figure with radio-centric streets,\ldots a partial star \ldots The abstract figure delimits the social contents, instead of being derived from them and in some degree conforming to them. The institutions of the city no longer generate the plan: the function of the plan is rather to bring conformity to the prince's will in institutions.'' % If one compares the handsome geometry of a baroque plan with the kind of patient, piecemeal replacement and modification suggested in Rowland Nicholas’ plans for the rebuilding of Manchester, one discover the specious advantages of this administrative superficiality.’’ Page 402. Might be worth looking up those Manchester plans.
% Once wheeled traffic is treated as the chief concern of planning, there will never be enough space to keep it from becoming congested, or a high enough residential density to provide taxes sufficient to cover its exorbitant demands.'' Page 405 % What steamship companies discovered in the nineteenth century in their exploitation of steerage passengers, the ground landlords discovered long before: maximum profits came, not from providing first class accommodations for those who could well afford them at a handsome fee, but from crowded slum accommodations, for those whose pennies were scarcer than the rich man’s pounds.’’ Page 417. This is a pretty amazing statement, it suggests that in capitalism, you will never get as rich offering options to people who can afford them, as you can selling necessities to people who can’t afford them.
% If a layout of a town has no relation to human needs and activities other than business, the pattern of the city may be simplified: the ideal layout for the business man is that which can be most swiftly reduced to standard monetary units for purchase and sale. The fundamental unit is no longer the neighborhood or precinct, but the individual building low, whose value can be gauged in terms of front feet: this favors an oblong with a narrow frontage and great depth, which provides a minimum amount of light and air to buildings, particularly to dwellings, that conform to it.'' Page 421-422 % With this blank formal layout, no thought was given to either the direction of the prevailing winds, the circumscription of industrial districts, the salubrity of the underlying soil, or any of the other vital factors that determine the proper utilization of an urban site. As for orientation of buildings for maximum exposure to winter sunlight, that ancient necessity, know to both the Greeks and the Chinese, was completely overlooked, until the principle was belatedly re-established by a series of independent investigators, notably by the French planner, Augustin Rey, early in the twentieth century. And one further lack must be noted: the absence of any functional differentiation between the residential, the industrial, the commercial, and the civic quarters—though if their requirements were respected each would demand blocks of different lengths and depths, with appropriate streets and avenues, to accord with their different loads of traffic, and their functionally different building layouts.’’ Page 423-424
% Mumford references Arturo Soria y Mata’s Linear city. He was a Spanish planner who had an early notion of transit oriented development. The gridiron plan reached its ideal culmination in Se\~{n}or Soria y Mata's proposal for the Linear City. Himself a transportation engineer, he boldly proposed to make the new city a function of a spinal rapid-transit system, projecting a continuous urban belt parallel to the transportation lines, to connect the old historic centers. Motorized movement was all-controlling.'' Page 425 % In estimating the need for new subways in New York, for example, almost half a century ago, the engineer of the Public Service Commission furnished the classic statement of these aims: All lines must necessarily be laid to the objective point---Manhattan. Every transit line that brings people to Manhattan adds to its real estate value. The value of property on Manhattan Island on account of its geographic and commercial location must increase just so long as population in the surrounding territory increases.'' The object of a good transit system might be the more even distribution of industrial and commercial opportunities, of good housing facilities, and even of land values, so that the whole process might have some other aim than enriching the holders of land in Manhattan at the expense of the rest of the metropolitan community, seems not to have occurred to this na\"{i}ve agent.'' page 425 % Hence the peculiar function of the over-developed street in the commercial plan: it was forced to take the place of the back garden and the protected square of the medieval town, or of the open place and park of the baroque order. Thus this paved desert, adapted primarily to wheeled traffic, became also park promenade, and playground: a grim park, a dusty promenade, a dangerous playground.’’ Page 427
% Rapid public transportation, instead of reducing the time required for reaching the place of work, continued to increase the distance and cost with no gain in time whatsoever. What holds true for the horizontal extension of the commercial city in the nineteenth century and later, holds true equally for its vertical expansion by means of the elevator.'' Page 430. So you can think of your commute as something that is 3-dimensional if you include the ride up the elevator. % To understand the source of this congestion, apart from the desire for wringing profits out of the necessities of the poor, unable like their economic superiors to bargain and withhold acceptance, one must realize that by the seventeenth century destitution had been accepted as the normal lot in life for a considerable part of the population. Without the spur of poverty and famine, they could not be expected to work for starvation wages. Misery at the bottom was the foundation for the luxury at the top.’’ Page 432
% Part of the economic use of the capital city, was to discredit local goods, which varied in pattern, in color, in stuff, in texture, in decoration, in accordance with local traditions, and give circulation to those in use at the capital.'' Page 437 % In our time the ultimate fate of the commercial city is to become a backdrop for advertising: a fate well symbolized by the recent transformations of New York’s two railroad stations from great public monuments to exhibition halls for a commercialism whose tawdriness by contrast gives almost a regal dignity to the financiers who originally conceived these stations with some sense of public obligation.’’ Page 445
% Up to the nineteenth century, there had been a rough balance of activities within the city. Though work and trade were always important, religion and art and play claimed their full share of the townsman's energies. But the tendency to concentrate on economic activities, and to regard as waste the time or effort spent on other functions, at least outside the home, had been growing steadily since the sixteenth century.'' Page 446 % ```Without design' was a laudatory term in the Victorian period. As in the decadent period of Greece, Chance had been elevated into a deity that was supposedly in control not only of human destiny, but of all natural processes as well.'' Page 452. He goes on to tie this idea to Darwin. % To bring back fresh air, pure water, green open space, and sunlight to the city became the first object of sound planning: the need was so pressing that despite his passion for urban beauty, Camillo Sitte insisted upon the \emph{hygenic} function of the urban part, as a \emph{sanitary green}, to use his own expression: the lungs' of the city, whose function became newly appreciated through their absence.'' Page 475 % Webb - 19th century - municipal socialization ``In smaller centers, private companies might be left with the privilege of maintaining one or more of these services, until some notorious outbreak of disease dictated public control; but in the bigger cities socialization was the price of safety; and so, despite the theoretic claims of the laissez faire, the nineteenth century became, as Beatrice and Sidney Webb correctly point out, the century of municipal socialism. Each individual improvement within the building demanded its collectively owned and operated utility: watermains, water reservoirs, and aqueducts, pumping stations: sewage mains, sewage reduction plants, sewage farms.'' Page 476 % Grave errors of railroads repeated by cars - ``At the very moment the elevated railroad for public transportation was being eliminated as a grave nuisance, these forgetful engineers re-installed the same kind of obsolete structure for the convenience of the motor car.'' Page 479 (mid) % modern buildings are above ground versions of underground technology - ``The next step in the city's development, already taken in many American cities, is to extend the principle of the underground city even to the design of buildings that are visibly above ground, and so defeat art at every point. With air conditioning and all-day fluorescent lighting, the internal spaces in the new American skyscraper are little different from what they would be a hundred feet below the surface. No extravagance in mechanical equipment is too great to produce this uniform internal environment: though the technical ingenuity spent on fabricating sealed-in buildings cannot create the equivalent of an organic background for human functions and activities.'' Page 480 - bottom % suburban freedom - ``The great residual freedom of the suburbanite is that of locomotion. For esthetic and intellectual stimulus, the suburb remains dependent upon the big city: the theater, the opera, the orchestra, the art gallery, the university, the museum are no longer a part of the daily environment. The problem of re-establishing connections, on a regional rather than a metropolitan basis, is one of the main problems of city planning in our time.'' 493 (bottom) - 494 (top) % Is the above still true? Should we be trying to figure out how to reconnect the suburbs? Or just give up? Or figure out a non-locomotion way to bring the suburbs better connection-like things? % The fastest way to move 100k is on foot - ``What an effective network requires is the largest number of alternative modes of transportation, at varying speeds and volumes, for different functions and purposes. The fastest way to move a hundred thousand people within a limited urban area, say a half mile radius, is on foot: the slowest way of moving them would be to put them all into motor cars.'' Page 507 (bottom) % ``The organizers of the ancient city had something to learn from the new rulers of our society. The former massed their subjects within a walled enclosure, under surveillance of armed guardians within a smaller citadel, the better to keep them under control. That method is now obsolete. With the present means of long-distance mass communication, sprawling isolation has proved an even more effective method of keeping a population under control. With direct contact and face-to-face association inhibited as far as possible, all knowledge and direction can be monopolized by central agents and conveyed through guarded channels, too costly to be utilized by small groups or private individuals. To exercise free speech in such a scattered, dissociated community one must buy time’ on the air or buy space' in the newspaper. Each member of Suburbia becomes imprisoned by by the very separation that he has prized: he is fed through a narrow opening: a telephone line, a radio band, a television circuit. This is not, it goes without saying, the result of a conscious conspiracy by a cunning minority: it is an organic by-product of an economy that sacrifices human development to mechanical processing.'' Page 513 top % Does the above change in light of the internet? Or did we miss an opportunity, when the internet was going to be a two-way thing, the early days when every single person would have their own web page? % Howard's term Garden Cities’ isn’t really unfortunate, since it is more descriptive of suburbs which are far less dense than Howard was calling for. His plans were distinctly urban, calling for density similar to NYC in 1811. In converse, Letchworth and Welwyn are true Howard garden cities, and should not be mistaken for mere suburbs. - 519 (top)
% So far, then, Howard's proposals have failed to halt or even retard the automatic processes that are at work in our civilization. The underlying reason for this failure is that Western civilization is still carried along by the inertia of three centuries of expansion: land expansion, industry expansion, and population expansion; and these movements have taken place at a rate that would have made public organization and containment difficult, eve if the need for a more stable life-economy had been recognized.'' Page 524 - % But Howard's plan was for only 30k people at a time, how could it even have addressed the scale of what cities have become? % Ethereal powers city walls - Both the citadel and the wall had long been obsolescent in the great capitals; but at the very moment they disappeared, a network of organizational controls centering in the dominating capital city, ramifying by instant communication everywhere, came into existence and performed the same functions more effectively. Just to the extent that new powers were shadowy, impossible to pin down or come to grips with, etherialized, they were all the more effective. One might breach a city wall or kill a king: but how could one assault an international cartel?’’ page 531 (bottom)
% 19th century is a history of illness says Lavedan - page 532
% concentrate organs of administration - Once the means of instantaneous communication were available, there was a fresh incentive to concentrate the organs of administration \ldots all these devices aided the rise of a vast commercial bureaucracy, capable of selling in ever-remoter territories by establishing the fashionable patterns of the metropolis as identical with civilization itself, or with anything that could remotely be called `real life.' '' page 534 % The concentration of the rich is a typical metropolitan phenomenon. The princely ritual of conspicuous expenditure, no longer confined to the royal court, gives rise to the special luxury industries of the metropolis: dress, food, adornment, cosmetics. Because of the universal nature of the metropolitan standards, the exotic fashions of the rich are presently copied and reproduced on a mass scale for the benefit of the entire populace: that indeed is a necessary pillar of an expanding economy.’‘page 538
% In short the monopoly power and knowledge that was first established in the citadel has come back, in a highly magnified form, in the final stage of metropolitan culture. In the end every aspect of life must be brought under control: controlled weather, controlled movement, controlled association, controlled production, controlled prices, controlled fantasy, controlled ideas. But th only purpose of control, apart from the profit, power, and prestige of the controllers, is to accelerate the process of mechanical control itself. The priests of this regime are easy to identify: the whole system, in its final stages, rests on the proliferation of secret, and thus controllable, knowledge; and the very division of labor that makes specialized scientific research possible also restricts the number of people capable of putting the fragments together. But where are the new gods? The nuclear reactor is the seat of their power: radio transmission and rocket flight their angelic means of communication and transportation: but beyond these minor agents of divinity the control room itself, with its Cybernetic Deity, giving His lightning-like decisions and His infallible answers: omniscience and omnipotence, triumphantly mated by science. Faces with this electronic monopoly of man's highest power, the human can come back only at the most primitive level. Sigmund Freud detected the beginnings of creative art in the infant's pride over his bowel movements. We can now detect its ultimate manifestation in paintings and sculpture whose contents betray a similar pride and a similar degree of autonomy---and a similar product.'' page 542 % For unfortunately, once an economy is geared towards expansion, the means rapidly turn into an end, and “the going becomes the goal.” Even more unfortunately, the industries that are favored by expansion must, to maintain their output, be devoted to goods that are readily consumable, either by their nature, or because they are so shoddily fabricated that the must soon be replaced. By fashion and built-in obsolescence the economies of machine production, instead of producing leisure and durable wealth, are duly cancelled out by mandatory consumption on an ever larger scale.’’ - page 545
% By the same token, the city itself becomes consumable, indeed expendable: the container must change as rapidly as its contents. This latter imperative undermines a main function of the city as an agent of human continuity. The living memory of the city, which once bound together generations and centuries, disappears: its inhabitants live in a self-annihilating moment-to-moment continuum. The poorest Stone Age savage never lived in such a destitute and demoralized community.'' - page 545 (top) % That life is an occasion for living, and not a pretext for supply items to newspapers, interviews on television, or a spectacle for crowds of otherwise vacant bystanders—these notions do not occur to the metropolitan mind. For them the show is the reality, and “the show must go on!” The metropolitan world, then, is a world where flesh and blood are less real than paper and ink and celluloid. It is a world where the great masses of people, unable to achieve a more full-bodied and satisfying means of living, take life vicariously, as readers, spectators, listeners, passive observers. Living thus, year in and year out, at second hand, remote from the nature that is outside them, and no less remove from the nature within, it is no wonder that they turn more and more of the functions of life, even thought itself, to the machines that their inventors have created. In this disordered environment only machines retain some of the attributes of life, while human beings are progressively reduced to a bundle of reflexes, without self-starting impulses or autonomous goals: ‘behaviorist man.’’’ - page 547 (bottom)
% Strangely the greatest justification for metropolitan congestion has passed almost unnoticed. Through the operation of these forced the big city, in the nineteenth century, served by way of size and variety of its population to foster functions that had never been sustained on anything like the same scale before: corporate associations and societies of like-minded persons, pursuing special interests that covered every aspect of human life. Up to this time, the church, the university, the school, the guild, had been the main foci of associated activities, apart from the city itself. But from the Renascence onwards, these new associations began to flourish and took a thousand different forms: scientific societies, museums, social clubs, insurance associations, political parties, economic groups, historic societies, fellowships of all kinds.'' - page 551 (now, with internet, what?) % [The Spruce Goose might have been an evolutionary dead end, but it was evolution nonetheless] % In its own right, the historic city retains, by reason of its amplitude and its long past, a larger a more various collection of cultural specimens than can be found elsewhere. Every variety of human function, ever experiment in human association, ever technological process, every mode of architecture and planning, can be found somewhere within its crowded area.’’ Also a paragraph here about how cities pull in culture from wide distances around them and sort them.’’ - page 562 (middle)
% Though the great city is the best organ of memory man has yet created, it is also---until it becomes too cluttered and disorganized---the best agent for discrimination and comparative evaluation, not merely because it spreads out so many goods for choosing, but because it likewise creates minds of large range, capable of cooing with them.'' - Page 562 (bottom) % In the Museum of Mural in the Palais de Chaillot, a large number of admirable replicas of these paintings have been brought together. In a single afternoon one may see more paintings than one could take in comfortably in a fortnight of travelling. … With color slides now available, the process could be carried even further: any small-town library or museum might borrow, and show in a projection room an even larger collection of murals.’’ - Page 564 (top)
% Nice description of the electric power grid — a centralized power station, no matter how big, would only be able to reach so far. But our power system is made up of many small stations, each generating power in its own way, and serving its local area, but connected to the larger grid so other areas can pull in power from elsewhere on the network if needed. Then he compares that to the English library system. - page 565 (middle)
% Through its concentration of physical and cultural power, the city heightened the tempo of human intercourse and translate its products into forms that could be stored and reproduced. Through its monuments, written recored, and order habits of associate, the city enlarged the scope of all human activities, extending them backwards and forwards in time. By means of its storage facilities (buildings, vaults, archives, monuments, tablets, books), the city became capable of transmitting a complex cultures from generation to generation, for it marshalled together not only the physical means but the human agents needed to pass on and enlarge the heritage. That remains the greatest of the city's gifts. As compared with the complex human order of the city, our present ingenious electronic mechanisms for storing and transmitting information are crude and limited.'' - page 569 % Without the superposition of many different human activities, many levels of experience, within a limited urban area, where they are constantly on tap, too large a portion of life would be restricted to record-keeping. The wider the area of communication and the greater the number of participants, the more need there is for providing numerous accessible permanent centers for face-to-face intercourse and frequent meeting at every human level.’’ - page 569 (bottom)
% [it is possible, when we look back, that we will realize that it took only 100 years for the worst fears of the luddites to come true]
% under one roof' was the ideal expression of the paleotechnic planner in the nineteenth century. Steel and glass had a hypnotic effect upon the `progressive' nineteenth century minds, and still have on their successors. This ideal form derived from the hothouse.'' and All under one roof’ may prove just a mock-up for the terminal form of the anti-city: all in one underground shelter.' This would be environmental control with a vengeance.'' - Plate 38 [climate control = air-raid shelter] % The original Saltaire was named after Sir Titus Salt who built factory housing. - Plate 41 % ``Stuyvesant Town, was built by a private insurance company with generous aid by the State: but its residential density of 393 per acre remains that of a slum. Despite its inner open spaced, this housing would require eighty additional acres to provide the part and playground space now regarded as desirable, nineteen more than the entire project without the buildings.'' - Plate 46 % Mumford argues for garden cities because he still believes in the factory/worker relationship. He doesn't anticipate the power of urban _mixing_. % ``Witness the combination of shops, business and professional offices and municipal buildings show here, with an open plaza admirably designed---I speak as an eye witness--- for staging public ceremonies. No isolated shopping centers can compare in either convenience, efficiency, or human interest with the complex activities of a genuine civic center. The planning of cities cannot be confined to housing, work, recreation, and circulation,’ the standard planner’s definition: the whole city must rather be conceived mainly as a theater for active citizenship, for education, and for a vivid and autonomous personal life.’’ - Plate 61 (bottom)
% Mumford puts forward a Chinese painting of the Festival of Spring as the ideal model of a city. - Plate 64

title={The misunderstood limits of folk science: An illusion of explanatory depth},
author={Rozenblit, Leonid and Keil, Frank},
journal={Cognitive Science},
url = {},
comment = {This was also referenced in the NPR article What You Really Know About Bicycles and it seems relevant to all sorts of stuff, up to and including CUP. },
category = {bicycles, illusion of explanatory depth, explaining}
% Indeed, even the theories used daily to guide scientific research are now considered to be incomplete, or at least less formally logical than classical views assumed them to be. Science-in-practice is often driven by hunches and vague impressions.'' % The incompleteness of everyday theories should not surprise most scientists. We frequently discover that a theory that seems crystal clear and complete in our head suddenly develops gaping holes and inconsistencies when we try to set it down on paper.’’
% Laypeople rarely have to offer full explanations for most of the phenomena that they think they understand. Unlike many teachers, writers, and other professional “explainers,” laypeople rarely have cause to doubt their naïve intuitions. They believe that they can explain the world they live in fairly well.'' % A second feature leading to the IOED may be a confusion of higher with lower levels of analysis. Most complex artificial and natural systems are hierarchical in terms of explanations of their natures. In explaining a car one might describe the function of a unit, such as the brakes, in general terms, and then turn to describing the functions of subcomponents, such as pistons and brake pads, which in turn can be broken down even further. The iterative nature of explanations of this sort may lead to an illusion of understanding when a person gains insight into a high level function and, with that rush of insight, falsely assumes an understanding of further levels down in the hierarchy of causal mechanisms. This effect can easily happen for many natural and artificial systems with complex causal structures, especially those that have “stable subassemblies.” The concept of stable subassemblies was developed by Simon (1996) as a way of describing units in the hierarchical structure of complex systems that are sufficiently internally stable that they can be conceived of as an operational unit.’’
% It may be that phenomena that are easy to visualize, and especially those that are easy to mentally animate, trigger an especially strong illusion of understanding and these may be more common in the domain of causal explanations.'' % In short, if people have a drive for coherence and sense coherence when it emerges in a set of beliefs, they may confuse that sense of coherence with a more detailed understanding. Indeed, this may be a more accurate way of characterizing the levels-of-understanding confusion.’’
% ``Since it is impossible in most cases to fully grasp the causal chains that are responsible for, and exhaustively explain, the world around us, we have to learn to use much sparser representations of causal relations that are good enough to give us the necessary insights: insights that go beyond associative similarity but which at the same time are not overwhelming in terms of cognitive load. It may therefore be quite adaptive to have the illusion that we know more than we do so that we settle for what is enough. The illusion might be an essential governor on our drive to search for explanatory underpinnings; it terminates potentially inexhaustible searches for ever-deeper understanding by satiating the drive for more knowledge once some skeletal level of causal comprehension is reached.’’

title={The Fatal Shore},
author={Robert Hughes},
series={Vintage Series},
publisher={Vintage Books}
comment = {The classic history/tome on the founding of Australia.},
category = {tomes, history, australia, criminals, founding}
% The unalterable fact of their tribal life was that women had no rights at all and could choose nothing. A girl was usually given away as soon as she was born. She was the absolute property of her kin until marriage, whereupon she became the equally helpless possession of her husband. The idea of a marriage based on romantic love was as culturally absurd to the Iora as it was to most Europeans. The purpose of betrothal was not, however, to amalgamate property, as in European custom, but to strengthen existing kinship bonds by means of reciprocal favors, It did not change a woman's status much. Both before and after, she was merely a root-grubbing, shell-gathering chattel, whose social assets were wiry arms, prehensile toes, and a vagina.'' % As a mark of hospitality, wives were lent to visitors whom the Iora tribesmen wanted to honor. Warriors, before setting out on a revenge raid against some other aboriginal group, would swap their women as an expression of brotherhood. If a tribal group was about to be attacked and knew where its enemies were, it would sometimes send out a party of women in their direction; the attackers would then show that they were open to a peaceful solution by copulating with them. But if the women came back untouched, it was a signal that there was no choice by battle. A night’s exchange of wives usually capped a truce between tribes. On these occasions most kinship laws except the most sacred incest taboos were suspended. Finally, at the great ceremonies or corroborrees, which involved hours of chant and ecstatic dancing and were meant to reinforce the tribe’s identity by merging all individual egos into one communal mass, orgiastic sex played a part. However, since these affairs were rarely seen, sketchily described and never understood by the early colonists, it is impossible to say how large or how strictly prescribed a part it was. If a woman showed the least reluctance to be used for any of these purposes, if she seemed lazy or gave her lord and master any other cause for dissatisfaction, she would be furiously beaten or even speared.’’ - Page 16
% - So much for the argument that women’s equality could be rooted in some kind of primativist framing. The BDSM community plays their little games of fantasy lifestyles that resemble this - but who would want to actually live in this world, if given the option?
% We are tied to the Georgian past through artifacts that we would still like to use, given the chance. The town houses, squares, villas, gardens, paintings, silver and side tables seem to represent an "essence" of the eighteenth century, transcending "mere" politics. Since they present an uncommonly coherent image of elegance, common sense and clarity, we are apt to suppose that English society did too. Btu argument from design to society, like the syllogism that ascends from the particular to the general, usually goes awry.'' - Page 19 % The Georgian London a modern visitor imagines was not their city. There were two such Londons, their separation symbolized by the cleavage that took place as the rich moved their residences westward from Covent Garden between 1700 and 1750, as the speculators ran up their noble squares and crescents—an absolute gulf between the new West End and the old, rotting East End of the city.’’ - Page 10
% London was judged the greatest city in the world, but also the worst smelling. Sewers still ran into open drains; the largest of these, until it was finally covered in 1765, was the Fleet Ditch. Armies of rats rose from the tenement cellars to go foraging in daylight.'' - Page 20 % To speak of an eighteenth-century “working class” as though it were a homogeneous entity, united by class-consciousness and solidarity, is both anachronistic and abstract. It is a projection of the twentieth century onto the eighteenth. Loyalties ran between workers in the same trade, but rarely between workers as such.’’ - Page 20-21
% Doctors tended to side with their class allies, the factory-owners, and went on record again and again with their considered opinions that cotton lint, coal dust and phosphorus were harmless to the human lung, that fifteen hours at a machine in a room temperature of 85 degrees did not cause fatigue, that ten-year-olds could work a full night shift without risk of harm.'' - Page 22 % Little mini-history of gin, page 23-24 % In social matter, Georgian Englishmen far preferred generalization to reportage. … A Spitalfields weaver, an Irish casual laborer and a Scottish ditch-digger might not even understand one another’s speech, let alone share any aspirations; but seen from above they all belonged to the “mobbish class of persons.”’’
% Like the Church, Law had its own diction and rituals and its own priests---bewigged men in scarlet and ermine.'' - Page 30 % List of euphemisms for hanging - page 33 % The common simile for the prison was a monastery or seminary, a closed order of people who studied vice, no holiness — an appealing figure in its perfect inversion.’’ - Page 38
% In practice, high-security prisons are still human zoos. But the liberal view is that a jail is a sad but necessary expedient, harsh but susceptible of reform, which, if decently run, can keep a criminal out of social circulation without making him or her much worse. No such opinions were held two hundred years ago. Then it was clear that prisons, before they are institutions, are \emph{concentrations of criminals}: Their institutional definition began with the fact of criminality, not the hope of reform, and their essential nature was to degrade all their occupants by the relentless moral pressure of the group. The prison pickled the felon in evil, hardened him, perfused him with the hard salt of sin. Hence the loathing in which English jails were held by those who would never see the inside of one. They were the republics of a sublimated criminal class; they belonged to the antipodes of crime, not to the bright world of authority, which they represented only in a nominal way.'' - Page 39 % A good description of the effort to figure out scurvy, how to calculate longitude, find the southern continent’’ and observing Venus’ transit of the sun. - Pages 49-50
% Irish uprising on Norfolk Island - Page 116-117
% To construct a sense of power from the meager social resources of the colony, the top dog had to be capricious - otherwise, the underdog's servility might be taken as a contract. Watling could neither dignify himself by rebelling, nor protect himself by truckling.'' - Page 104 % Good description of the crossing the line’’ (equator) ceremony - Page 154
% We are used to thinking of the language of class as the language of the working class - as Gertrude Himmelfarb suggested. "because social history has generally been written by labor historians and socialists." But the language of class in the 1830s was mostly invented and used by a middle class trying to describe the social complications that surrounded it, and it did not resemble the scheme of a two-class society---proletariat versus bourgeoisie---that Engels would later invent.'' - Page 164 % For the official English morality of the early nineteenth century was far more absolutist than ours. Today’s orthodoxy is to look for the environmental excuse and seek the roots of crime in nurture, not nature—that is, outside the criminal’s power of choice. One hundred and fifty years ago it was assumed that men and women \emph{chose} a life of crime.’’ - Page 167
% Such ideas, however, were in themselves a harshly coercive part of the social environment and may have caused many people to give up the struggle---to let go, to be what society said they would become, and accept the only milieu that would not rebuke them: crime.'' - Page 167 % Many observers realized that crime does not appear in a social vacuum. From 1800 onward, a large literature—at first Evangelical in tone and rising at last to the power of Dickens’s encyclopedic vision of the city as ultimate social and moral compressor—sought to describe the causes of crime: poverty, lack of work, dislocation, vile housing, addiction, the death of hope.’’ - Page 167
% The difference between the criminal classes’’ of London and the \emph{classes dangereuses} of Paris was that the English were not as dangerous; events like the Gordon Riots in London were the exception, not the rule. England had not tradition of riot and revolt abetted by outpourings of aggression from the criminal classes, whereas the French were used to such explosions from the vile mob,'' as the French minister Adolphe Thiers called it in 1850, that had brought every Republic down in ruin.’’’’ - Page 168
% Overview of the history of Irish rebellion and class unity - Page 181-182
% The story of the escape and turn to cannibalism of prisoners from Macquarie Harbor. - Pages 219-226
% Bushranger gangs of Thomas Davey and Michael Howe who eluded the authorities and fought bush battles and became the stuff of legend. Pages 226-234
% The women on Norfolk island were prisoners of prisoners, sold in an old store where the women has to strip naked and `race around the room' while Potter kept up a running commentary on their `respective values'.'' Page 260 % The regular social pleasure was the Thursday evening dance in the soldier's barracks where, all the women would join in the dance of the mermaids, each one being naked with numbers painted on their backs so as to be recognized by their admirers who would clap their hands on seeing their favorite perform some grotesque action…with the assitance of a gallon or two of Rum. Such amusements were the talk of the soldiers for days before and after the performance.’’ Page 260
% Homosexuality and sheep fucking in the bush, Page 267
% Contemporary realization that sexual contact in prison tents to be metabolized into relationships of power.'' Sadistic humiliation, the strong breaking down the weak. Page 269 % The Irish and English working people called homosexuality the crime whose name cannot be uttered’’ which was softened by Oscar Wilde to the Love that dare not speak its name''. Page 264 % When one of the Jacobins pointed out that Christ himself had been a reformer, Braxfield chuckled and snorted: “Muckle he made o’ that—\emph{He} was hanget.”’’ Page 176
% Everywhere else in the historical experience of the British Empire, colonies had been planted where the "natives" and "Indians" understood and defended the idea of property.'' Including Virginia, Africa, New Zealand, and the East Indies. "These proofs of prior ownership might be violated by the whites (and often were); but they could not be denied or ignored.'' The Aborigines were hunter-gatherers who roamed over the land without marking out boundaries or making fixed settlements. They had no idea of farming or stock-raising. They saved nothing, lived entirely in the present, and were, in the whited’ eyes, so ignorant of property as to be little more than intelligent animals “who only superiority above the brute consists in their use of the spear, their extreme ferocity, and their employing fire in the cookery of their food.’’ Page 273
% the Aborigines seem to have despised the convicts, whom they saw laboring under conditions which their own pride would never have accepted, treated like the defeated members of some enemy tribe.'' “No good-all same like croppy,” some tribesmen said when offered some left-over convict slops, “croppy” being the disdainful term for an Irish convict’’ our natives commonly attach some idea of inferiority to what is Irish and Ireland.'' - Page 279 % Legend had it that Charles Dickens based the character Fagin on Ikey Solomon, who escaped on the trip to Newgate Prison in London, and made his way to Australia, where they couldn't touch him because there was no warrant for his arrest there. Eventually the warrant from England did arrive, and Ikey offered his services to the government of Australia as a detector of forged money to try to keep from being deported. But that didn't work. Page 390-391. % When Australians see the ruin of an old building, our impulse is either to finish tearing it down or to bring in the architects and restore it as a cultural center, if large, or a restaurant, if small. Port Arthur is the only major example of an Australian historical ruin appreciate and kept for its own sake (although local entrepreneurs have tried, and so far failed, to refurbish it as Convictland).’’ Page 399 onto 400
% How had he achieved such quiescence with such minimal means? He saw to it that convicts were never insulted or sworn at, and that he rarely had them flogged because the lash "often exacerbates them and drives them to crime instead of reforming them"; he preferred solitary confinement, which, "much dreaded...subdues them through boredom.'' Page 403 % The knout was made of the hardest whipcord, of an unusual size. The cord was put into salt water till it was saturated; it was then put into the sun to dry; by this process it became like wire, the eighty-one knots cutting the flesh as if a saw had been used’’ - page 404
% This wasp-waisted isthmus between the surf of Pirate's Bay and calm of Norfolk Bay, less than 100 yards wide, was the key to Port Arthur; it was and still is the only way a man can leave the Tasman Peninsula by land. Getting across it, therefore, became an obsessive focus of convict ingenuity. They walked, crept, ran, waded and even hopped. One prisoner, a former actor named William Hunt, "who in his younger days had belonged to a company of strolling mountebanks," disguised himself as an enormous "boomer" or male kangaroo. He nearly got across to Forestier's Peninsula before two picket-guards, thinking he really was a kangaroo, spotted him and gave choice , levelling their muskets. "Don't shoot, I am only Billy Hunt," The nervous marsupial squeaked to their consternation'' - Page 406 % Pages 414 - 424: The story of the last aboriginals on Tasmania. Eventually every white man in Tasmania formed a line across the whole peninsula with a thousand muskets and 30,000 rounds of ammunition and in seven days swept the whole land, but they only managed to catch two aborigines. Then it tells the story of Trucanini who helped a white dude named Robinson to round up all the last of the Aborigines in Tasmania and resettle them on Flinders Island, and tried to Europeanize them. The last man died in 1869. Trucanini was the last living Aborigine on Tasmania. She died in 1878. % There's an amazing plate on race relations from 1828. It's pictographic and shows Arthur's policy of equal justice to blacks and whites alike, for Aborigines to read. % The treadmill was like a waterwheel, but it was forty feet long, with wooden treads nine inches wide. As many as fifty convicts could be punished on it at once. The convict’s name for it were expressive: the everlasting staircase, or because the stiff prison clothes scraped one’s groin after a few hours on it, the cockchafer.’’ Page 454
% Descriptions of torture devices, the tube-gag, the spread-eagle, and the scavenger’s daughter. The tube-gag was an adaptation of an ancient English instrument of torture for women, the “scolds’ bridle”. Page 535-536
Gold disturbed the order of Anglo-Australian society - from pastoral "aristocrat" down to convict-with shudders of democracy. Gold wealth was not "democratic," but it did expand the existing oligarchy. It would diversify both Australian markets and Australian production and help create Australian bourgeoisie. The clay-stained digger, a butcher in his former life, who still carried the grease-stink of tallow in his hair and argot of the diggings on his tongue, would soon have his Axminster-carpeted drawing room in Toorak. The cash his gold set in circulation would construct suburbia. His spending habits would raise more merchants to comfort. Fortunes were made by diggers-and extracted from them. Gold did respect class. It slightly favored the low: A horny-handed navvy miner or seaman with muscles hardened by years of manual work could sing a shaft twenty feet to the blue auriferous strata of Bendingo in the time that it took a refined "new chum" his hands pulpy and blistered, to scratch away three feet of earth.'' “We be the aristocracy now,” miners were heard to say as they rollicked in the Melbourne grog-shops, “and the aristocracy now be we.’’ Page 564 onto 565
% Unrelated to this book, except for Tasmania, I heard on the BBC that the Tasmanian Tiger went extinct when farmers hunted them because they thought the Tasmanian tiger was stealing their sheet. Turned out it was competiting neighbor farmers.

title={Gulag: A history},
author={Applebaum, Anne},
publisher={Doubleday Books}
comment={An in-depth look at the effects of the GULAG on the prisoners in it.},
% See photo: By changing nature, man changes himself'' of a woman with a jackhammer working on the White Sea Canal % This book is 600 pages of listings of the minutia of daily life of the GULAG prisoners. Written in the modern academic style it is edited for content not at all, and not written in a way that tells any kind of story. % It does HINT at what could be an amazing book: documenting the effort at total top-down control of an economy, making heavy use of this mechanism of the GULAG. How at the top they continually kept trying to tweak the GULAG to work better, and instead managed to make it worse at the bottom, with the expected declining output overall. % Another form of torture specific to the islands, mentioned in both archives and memoirs, was to be sent to the mosquitoes.'' Kinger, a White Army officer who later made one of the few successful escapes from Solovetsky, wrote that he once saw this torture inflicted on a prisoner who complained because a parcel sent to him from home had been requisitioned. Angry prison guards responded by removing all his clothes, including his underwear, and tying him to a post in the forest, which was, in the northern summer, swarming with mosquitoes. Within half an hour, his whole unlucky body was covered with swelling bites,’’ wrote Klinger. Eventually, the man fainted from the pain and loss of blood.’’ - Page 24
% Mussolini once said of Lenin that he is an artist who has worked in men as others have worked in marble or metal.’’ This description may be better applied to Stalin, who literally enjoyed the sight of large numbers of human bodies, marching or dancing in perfect synchronization. He was captivated by ballet, by orchestrated exhibitions of gymnastics, and by parades featuring giant pyramids built out of anonymous, contorted human figures. Like Hitler, Stalin was also obsessed with cinema, particularly Hollywood musicals, with their enormous casts of coordinated singers and dancers. He might have derived a different but related form of pleasure from the vast teams of prisoners who dug canals and build railway lines at his bidding.’’ - Page 53
% Chapter 4, on the White Sea Canal, is pretty good. But the White Sea Canal, dug by hand with primitive tools at great cost in both money and human life was again replaced by the railroad, just like the Erie Canal and other US canals. Canals were a technological fad of the 19th into 20th centuries. People with more foresight may have seen their inevitable demise.
% On pages 213-215 there is a lovely description of how the awful black bread became sacred, and the rituals that arose around it. There’s a nice description of how if you are starving you need to eat your food slowly, but all at once in about half an hour. It isn’t good to stretch it out over the course of the day.
% Since crossing the tundra or the taiga means days of traveling with little or no food, some prisoners would plan their escape with a extra person, preferably a fat person, who they would call the meat'' or the walking supply.’’ The meat of course would be killed and eaten when food supplies ran low. - Page 398
% Description of, and doubts about the book The Long Walk - it may just be a retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s short story The Man Who Was. (Which makes sense in the context of other parts of this chapter which talks about how people who could tell a really good story could use that as a way to get extra food and supplies from other prisoners. Story telling was an extremely valued commodity. Maybe The Long Walk is a prison-story-told version of The Man Who Was?) Page 399
% The story of how Beria almost immediately after the death of Stalin started the first wave of amnesty for prisoners. Perhaps because nobody knew better than he how abusive and uneconmical the prison system was. Page 480

title={Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America},
author={Barry, J.M.},
publisher={Simon & Schuster},
comment={An in-depth Power-Broker style history book about the engineering of the Mississippi and the flood of 1927. Covers the lead-up to the flood, and the power manipulations that went on during the flood that led to the dynamiting of the levees below New Oreleans, ostensibly to relieve pressure on the levees that protected New Orleans.},
Category={Criticality, Transportation, Economics, flooding, mississippi, engineering, new orleans, nola}
% The men in power made moves to dynamite the levees even though the preponderance of scientific evidence suggested the levees would be fine due to other levees failing further up the river.
% The book suggests they did this to protect their investments in NOLA (most of the men involved were bankers.)
% The idea was that even if the levees held, people were panicking and leaving the city, and thus impacting their investments.
% I think it’s equally likely that these men of power felt like they COULD take action, and so they did. And they knew other people EXPECTED them to take action, and so they did.
% It makes me wonder about willful people: are they likely to push through bad ideas, to take action where NOT taking action is the right move, just because they CAN take action? Should these people really be our leaders?
% One theme that recurs throughout this book is that labor was understood at the time as a critical resource to industry. In the early part of the century, while labor was recognized as being people, it was ALSO talked about at a higher level as just a cold resource, in a way that would never be tolerated today. (Even if the old way is actually more accurate.)
% Labor, like soylent green, is people. Then, the needs for labor outweighed the fact that labor is people. This was well understood in the south. Without slavery, how do you keep labor in the remote parts of the country where it was needed for planting?
% The easiest way was to treat people well. But as soon as the flood arrived, there was nothing left to treat them well with. And so they FORCED the labor to stay. By not evacuating them. By holding them in camps.
% Labor was treated as people only as long as it benefited capitalism. As soon as treating them as people wasn’t feasible, the necessary resource was retained in alternative ways.