linkfest – 04/28/13

Questions you never thought to ask: Is inbreeding bad for democracy? – i thought to ask. so did a few other people (way before me!): steve sailer, stanley kurtz, parapundit. see also Cousin Marriage and Democracy. and, of course, see also woodley and bell. and see Question of the Day @breviosity. previously: consanguinity and democracy.

A Dose of Clannishness and What’s So Bad About Clanocracy? – @breviosity!

Where do those tensions come from?“When the Milgram experiment was done with Jordanian assistants, they were just as willing as Americans to inflict pain under orders (62.5%). But they were more willing than Americans [1.4%] to inflict pain when no orders were given, with 12.5% of them delivering shocks right up to the top end of the scale (Shanab & Yahya, 1978).” – great post from peter frost!

Modern Europe’s Genetic History Starts in Stone Age“Scientists create the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.” – original research article. see also mtDNA haplogroup H and the origin of Europeans (Brotherton et al. 2013) from dienekes.

As women live longer and have fewer children, they are becoming taller and slimmer, study finds“‘This is a reminder that declines in mortality rates do not necessarily mean that evolution stops, but that it changes.'”

Birth Defects, FBD Marriages – from anatoly.

HBD Fundamentals – from jayman!

Why the Tropics are an evolutionary hotbed“Ant family tree shows tropical New World hosts fast speciation while also keeping older lineages alive.”

Study: People Who Believe in God Are More Responsive to Treatment of Depression“It may be that ‘the tendency to have faith in conventional social constructs’ can be generalized both to religion and the medical establishment.”

Beauty isn’t skin deep – @mangan’s.

Social psychology fraud: Just tell professors what they want to hear – from steve sailer.

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012) by Susan Cain – from staffan. and a classic: Caring for Your Introvert. (just shush already! (~_^) )

Ethnic origins of Forbes world billionaires (2013) – @race/history/evolution notes.

Computer scientists suggest new spin on origins of evolvability“‘[E]volvable species accumulate over time even without selective pressure.'” – in their computer simulations.

Culture — Not Just a Human Thing – vervet monkeys got culture. also Parrots Barter With Nuts.

Humans Evolved Flexible, Lopsided Brains – some of us more lopsided than others. (~_^)

When Do Babies Become Conscious?“New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old.”

Fish win fights on strength of personality“When predicting the outcome of a fight, the big guy doesn’t always win suggests new research on fish.”

Feeding our gut bacteria meat may enhance heart disease risks“Antibiotics or vegetarian diets block production of a risk-associated chemical.”

On Hold: Genes That Pause Pregnancy Discovered

Giza Secret Revealed: How 10,000 Pyramid Builders Got Fed“This meat-rich diet, along with the availability of medical care (the skeletons of some workers show healed bones), would have been an additional lure for ancient Egyptians to work on the pyramids…. ‘They probably got a much better diet than they got in their village….'”

Earliest Mayan monuments unearthed in Guatemala. see also Ancient Maya discovery sheds new light on the origins of civilization.

bonus: Levels of Commitment to the Dark Enlightenment – @habitable worlds. also What are characteristics of the Dark Enlightenment? @occam’s razor.

bonus bonus: How Cuban Villagers Learned They Descended From Sierra Leone Slaves“The amazing story of the traditional songs and dances, passed down over hundreds of years, that have tied a small Caribbean ethnic group to a remote African tribe.” – cool story!

bonus bonus bonus: Revealed: The Indian village with just 6,000 inhabitants … but more than 100 pairs of twins – another town of twins!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Can Animals Be Mentally Ill?

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: not a news story, but here’s the definition of stubborn – Last Two Speakers of Dying Language Refuse to Talk to Each Other

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Thanks to rare alpine bacteria, researchers identify one of alcohol’s key gateways to the brain“Discovery is a step on the road to eventually developing drugs that could disrupt the interaction between alcohol and the brain.” – cool! wait. they want to disrupt the effect of alcohol on the brain?! hey!

(note: comments do not require an email. vervet monkeys!)

110 Comments

  1. re “Ancient Maya discovery sheds new light on the origins of civilization”

    I read that article but didn’t see any new light. Military conquest is the origin of civilization: there is not a single known civilization that did not engage in it. This is almost by definition once conquest became possible (thank you, agriculture): if we don’t do it to them, they will do it to us. It’s possible pastoralists were the very first conquerors, they fell upon the farmers, but the farmers soon got into it.

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  2. Or maybe we should ask if democracy is bad news for inbreeding and clans? ;)

    Hopefully not too off-topic, but I couldn’t imagine any of the largest countries operating solely on democracy and ignoring local tendencies to do things their own way. How could Moscow, for example, possibly micro-manage somewhere like Anadyr, or Khasan? Even in smaller countries, power ends up being filtered through national government, to regional government, to local councils and so forth.

    Perhaps clans, or at least loosely-related groups within a territory coming to an understanding, are desirable to some degree even within democracy.

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  3. brain symmetry – I’ve been wondering for a while if high IQ combined with high creativity may cause problems for palate closure because there seem to be linked traits that include some sort of lisp or asymmetry in the mouth and not only high IQ but also high creativity and musicality, so perhaps these super intelligent and talented types have a higher degree of brain symmetry and that makes palate closure more complex.

    HBD – surely, HBD = human biology + politics? – which is what I don’t quite get because the greatest problem we have in the west is the politicization of human science. the dark enlightenment to me is the cloud that we are having to operate under, the obfuscation of the Enlightenment’s revelation of objectivity and evidence, whereas the beauty of human biology is illuminating not dark

    pyramids – compare pyramid mode of building and purpose of design with stonehenge, erected round about the same time but to all accounts some sort of glorified barn-raising event aimed at the collective dispersal of everyone’s ancestors’ ashes.

    europeans – I’d put money on it that the proliferation of H is to do with lactase persistence, which is about 99% in Holland reducing in concentric circles (which I only know thanks to HBDC of course). the advantage of being able to consume milk into adulthood must have been well worth marrying into, maybe the dairy maids weren’t just comely wenches.

    animals – I’ve just watched Great Bear Stakeout – the team were distressed by some unusual bear behaviour which they thought verged on the psychotic (death and sex) – it’s an excellent watch http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0176ql9 7 days left, disturbing behaviour comes in last 10 mins or so.

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  4. As an extreme introvert with autistic pretensions, I generally have a pew all to myself in church. Mayhap I protested too much, as I wouldn’t mind company if we did “Dress Right, Dress!” or something. Arm’s length is plenty close. Just don’t wear no steenking perfume.

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  5. I too have a pew in church to myself – but I’m thinking it’s not to do with me being any sort of an introvert – rather my gut bacteria.

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  6. @What. Yeah. O-K – “‘Caring for Your Introvert’ <3"

    (^_^)

    there’s just so much great stuff in that atlantic article about extroverts! — makes me laugh every time i re-read it … or even think about it (~_^):

    “The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward.”

    (^_^) (^_^) (^_^)

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  7. @luke – “I thought the pyramids were built by unfree labor?”

    i dunno! it’s starting to sound like they — or maybe some of them — were really sorta public works projects and that, strictly speaking, slave labor was not used at all — or not used to the huge extent that cecil b. demille would have had us believe. apparently, the guys doing all the work moving the huge blocks only came in from their farms for 4-5 months of the year. and, like the researchers have found, they were very well fed on lots of meat (although the supervisors got better meat — beef as opposed to sheep and goats).

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  8. @kate – “…lactase persistence, which is about 99% in Holland reducing in concentric circles (which I only know thanks to HBDC of course).”

    really?! i thought I learned that from YOU. (^_^)

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  9. @stakhanovite – “Or maybe we should ask if democracy is bad news for inbreeding and clans? ;)”

    possibly. possibly. i’m sure there’s probably feedback in both directions between a free democratic state (or any kind of state) and clannism — what that feedback actually entails is anybody’s guess!

    the theory around here, based on avner greif’s ideas of “corporatism” in western europe [see here], is that you need to have a society based upon individuals (and their nuclear families) rather than extended families or clans or tribes in order to have a well-functioning liberal democracy. these are individuals who will want to come together and work together cooperatively — corporately — for the benefit of each of them. it’s all based on self-interest, of course — just the self-interest of individuals rather than some larger familial group. the minute you have that, you start to have interests in helping your nephew or your cousin before helping your neighbor — and your liberally democratic society goes all to h*ll (actually, it can’t be founded in the first place).

    all of this is (i think) connected to the evolution of altruistic behaviors in different societies which is why there is no easy, overnight solution to any of this (until we can start genetically engineering people in any way we like, that is! (~_^) ).

    i should note that woodly and bell specifically talked in their paper (the paper being mentioned this week in foreign policy and on marginal revolution) about liberal democracy — not any other sort of democracy:

    “Over the past half century, a number of theories have been formulated to explain the different levels of democracy found in the nations of the world. As conceived here, democracy refers to a system in which there is opportunity for competitive elections and deliberative referendums, with broad public participation encouraged for both (Vanhanen, 2003). Democracy in this instance refers exclusively to the liberal variety where the emphasis is on competitive politics, rather than the classical type in which the focus is on consensus building and statesmanship (Werlin, 2002). Two key characteristics of liberal democratic systems include the presence of institutions that permit citizens to express preferences for alternative policies and leaders, and the existence of institutionalized constraints that prevent the misuse of power by an executive elite (Inglehart, 2003; Lipset, 1959; Marshall & Jaggers, 2010).”

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  10. @stakhanovite – “Perhaps clans, or at least loosely-related groups within a territory coming to an understanding, are desirable to some degree even within democracy.”

    well, it all depends on what sort of society you want at the end of the day. there’s more than one way to skin this cat.

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  11. Cheers for the responses hen, no doubt I’m asking about stuff that’s already been introduced way before now. I’m going to be doing some brief studying on regional elections in a certain part of the world, six months ago I’d never have looked past a few numbers, but now I’m always thinking in the back of my mind about biology… :)

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  12. @stakhanovite – “…six months ago I’d never have looked past a few numbers, but now I’m always thinking in the back of my mind about biology… :)”

    that’s great! (^_^) the hbd/sociobiology meme is spreading! (one down, 6,973,738,432 left to go…. (~_^) )

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  13. @hbdchick

    Now to work out how much of it I was just born to believe in, and how much was the influence of my environment…

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  14. @stakhanovite – “I’m going to be doing some brief studying on regional elections in a certain part of the world….”

    ah! is this something you’ll be blogging about? let me know if/when you do! (^_^)

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  15. @stakhanovite – “Now to work out how much of it I was just born to believe in, and how much was the influence of my environment…”

    ha! (^_^) yes, that’s another difficult/interesting part of it all!

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  16. re building the pyramids, hbd chick said, “the guys doing all the work moving the huge blocks only came in from their farms for 4-5 months of the year . . .”

    That is compatible with corvee labor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvée

    Remember in the Bible when the Hebrews start getting restless the Pharaoh orders them to work harder. Year round physical exhaustion is one of the ways to keep a population subdued. Beatings and denial of food are two more. Cooperate and we feed you well. Don’t cooperate and . . . well, you get the idea. We’re talking menial labor. Skilled craftsmen may have had some leverage.

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  17. @luke – “That is compatible with corvee labor”

    well, one man’s public works project is another man’s corvee labor, no? (~_^) (even says so re. egypt on that wikipedia page.)

    @luke – “Year round physical exhaustion is one of the ways to keep a population subdued.”

    this wasn’t year round, apparently. just for part of the year (4-5 months). and they were well fed — very well fed compared to what they probably ate back home.

    i wouldn’t paint the pharonic-types of ancient governments quite so black. for all we know, this labor force could’ve just been made up of the young men in society who had nothing better to do with their time (before they got married and started a life for themselves). it’s good to keep young men busy, otherwise they can be trouble. or maybe husbands were dragged away from their wives for part of the year — they might’ve been glad of that, too. (~_^)

    more seriously, ancient central authorities would’ve provided their populace with some benefits: protection for one. a sort of social security for another — in famine times, the central authority would’ve been able to distribute food from the central grain stores (h*ll egypt still provides its citizens with bread today). the labor could be viewed as a sort of a tax payment.

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  18. “pyramids – compare pyramid mode of building and purpose of design with stonehenge”

    The pyramids do sound more and more like a public works scheme to keep people busy during the long wait for the Nile to flood – a bit like the army getting soldiers to dig holes and fill them in again so they don’t start fighting out of boredom.

    .
    “europeans – I’d put money on it that the proliferation of H is to do with lactase persistence”

    defo

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  19. @grey – “…a bit like the army getting soldiers to dig holes and fill them in again so they don’t start fighting out of boredom.”

    heh. (^_^)

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  20. re – the pyramids hbd chk – “this wasn’t year round, apparently. just for part of the year (4-5 months”

    You forgot about those dad gum crops they had to tend. I’m surprised you have such a leisurely view of human servitude in ancient society.

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  21. Luke Lea
    “You forgot about those dad gum crops they had to tend”

    My understanding – which could be wrong – was that agriculture along the Nile had a natural lull for part of the year because of the way the flooding worked.

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  22. re hbd chick – “more seriously, ancient central authorities would’ve provided their populace with some benefits: protection for one. . . ‘

    Indeed, early civilization was a kind of protection racket. How could it not have been?

    “a sort of social security for another — in famine times”

    Perhaps, though aren’t you just speculating? Famines continued to be a problem in China and Europe up into modern times — why suppose Egypt had a better handle on it (apart from the regularity of the Nile I mean)?

    The state certainly gathered the food supply to a central place and then doled it out. That was the essence of power. Hence the English word lord is derived from the medieval English hlaefward (sp?) meaning “loaf keeper.” The lord was the man who controlled the bread, the grain in other words. Armies moved on their bellies back then. The bigger your surplus the bigger the army you could keep in the field the longest. Grain was power. The original form of capital.

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  23. @luke – ” I’m surprised you have such a leisurely view of human servitude in ancient society.”

    i don’t. but i look at it this way: if you got to reproduce, you won. and anybody lucky enough to do so in the past probably felt that way, too.

    those who didn’t get to reproduce — well, i feel bad for them. like the slaves on roman plantations (or whatever the heck they were called). THEY had miserable lives, toiling away for … nuthin’.

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  24. Greying Wanderer
    04/28/2013 at 7:41 PM

    Luke Lea
    “You forgot about those dad gum crops they had to tend”

    My understanding – which could be wrong – was that agriculture along the Nile had a natural lull for part of the year because of the way the flooding worked.

    Agreed. I think farming is seasonal in every society. My point is that the absolutist state had an interest in keeping its subjects (key word that) busy all the time. Hence monumental architecture. For the central authorities it was all about conquest: of conquering or being conquered. Most of history was little more than a story of warring states in a relentless competition for power. This is what fueled the rise and fall of empires right up until the end of WWII. It was the same story all over the world.

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  25. @luke – “Perhaps, though aren’t you just speculating?”

    not really. there’s been a lot of research/thinking into palace economies.

    i’m not saying they always successfully protected their populations from famine, but that that may have been some of the idea behind the system — or, rather, the willingness of the populace to go along with it. of course there was coercion, too — but, you know — bread and circuses — keep the population happy and well-fed.

    and again we (or rather i) roll back to clannism again. who starved during familines in ancient china? any groups/clans in particular? (i dunno — i’m just speculating now.)

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  26. @luke – “My understanding – which could be wrong – was that agriculture along the Nile had a natural lull for part of the year because of the way the flooding worked.”

    see my link above. (i think you missed it.) (^_^)

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  27. re hbd-chick – ” i look at it this way: if you got to reproduce, you won. and anybody lucky enough to do so in the past probably felt that way, too.”

    Hope this is not a low blow, but African slaves in the ante-bellum south reproduced. Early horticultural societies not only reproduced but also produced some of the most beautiful pottery ever seen. To me that connotes leisure. Freedom. Happiness. The oldest word for freedom by the way is a Sumerian word amargi which translates quite literally as “return to the mother.” I speculate that this may have referred to the matrilineal, matrilocal customs of early horticultural societies before conquest began.

    [full disclosure: this is a pet theory of mine — http://vixra.org/abs/1101.0027 — a consensus of one :) :( ]

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  28. hbd chick – “i’m not saying they always successfully protected their populations from famine, but that that may have been some of the idea behind the system — or, rather, the willingness of the populace to go along with it. . .”

    The willingness of the populace to go along with it? It was go along or die. That is what conquest is all about. You may recall Hegel’s distinction between the nobility and the common herd: the nobleman would rather die than be a slave, the common herd would rather be a slave than die.

    PS Hope I didn’t overlook something re Egypt and seasonality of agriculture? Or something else? Did I?

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  29. I should have mentioned that one of the very earliest artistic depictions we have of masses of people, from early 4th millennium BC Sumer, are of war captives being beaten with clubs. Not killed, mind, but beaten into submission. I have it in a book on the origins of writing. Maybe I can find it somewhere on the web.

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  30. hbd chick (hen is it now? I like chick better) – “and again we (or rather i) roll back to clannism again. who starved during familines in ancient china? any groups/clans in particular? (i dunno — i’m just speculating now.)

    From what I’ve read it was the poorest and the weakest. When things got really bad individual household members would leave home and hit the roads to beg — or starve. (They would also sell their wives and children). If they had rich relatives I suppose they must have got help sometimes. One of the most shudderingly horrible scenes of poverty in China I’ve read about was in the 19th century — there were tall wooden bins in the countryside where mothers would deposit their unwanted newborns, girls mostly, living creatures at the top, bones coming out of the bottom. Makes me sick to think about it.

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  31. Luke
    “To me, this was the human condition throughout most of history for the overwhelming majority. I thought the evidence, while circumstantial, was consistent. Am I wrong?”

    Not sure what the argument is to be honest. There was an idea that the people who built the pyramids were slaves whose job it was to build the pyramids and now it’s turned to the idea that they were peasants who worked on the pyramids in the long gap of farmwork created by the specific nature of Nile farming. The material difference between serf and slave has often been very small so it may only be a small distinction but interesting historically.

    On the other hand *if* they were fed a lot of meat that sounds a bit more voluntary which as you say would be pretty odd historically speaking.

    If i had to guess i’d suggest the guys getting fed all the meat were the skilled artisans who worked on the pyramids full-time while the peasants who did all the heavy lifting got fed on birdseed but that’s just a guess.

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  32. @luke – and here i thought that I was the one with the grim view of humanity, and you were the optimistic fellow. (~_^)

    from Ancient Egypt: Anatomy Of A Civilisation — from part II which is entitled “The Provider State” [pgs. 191-192]:

    “Bureaucracy in the ancient world was an instrument of prosperity of a kind that has surfaced in modern economic debates, revolving around the question: public works entailing massive state employment: are they a good thing? Modern debates mix economics and ideology inextricably, and involve a degree of abstract knowledge and an ability to manipulate economies that is unique to our day. Nevertheless, even if we reject public expenditure as a modern route to prosperity, we must recognize that part of the backcloth of history is the fact that the central direction of resources committed to massive labour-intensive projects was the great engine of growth, creating many of the world’s civilizations. For the ancient Egyptians we can reconstruct the system in quite a specific way. We can see that huge numbers of people received a basic ration — a minimum wage — and a not insignificant number did better still. The number of jobs (with ration entitlement) was artificially inflated by an early work-sharing device: the phyle system in which a person performed his duties for only a limited part of each year. The land and its farmers were obliged by the pressure of demand dictated from above to produce enough. The state had already become the great provider and it produced whatever it is that we wish to call Egyptian civilization. Welfare (as yet innocent of social ideology) arrived early in human history.

    bedtime now. more tomorrow! (^_^)

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  33. See, that’s why I love Mondays! A lot of interesting stuff as usual.

    Now, here’s a link to something that may interest you:
    http://www.vgtv.no/#!id=63523
    This Norwegian guy ( a grown man) has more than 2000 Star Wars figures! It seems he has names for all of them, and if some of his friends start messing with his collection, he gets quite upset.

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  34. Greying Wanderer – “Not sure what the argument is to be honest. There was an idea that the people who built the pyramids were slaves whose job it was to build the pyramids and now it’s turned to the idea that they were peasants who worked on the pyramids in the long gap of farmwork created by the specific nature of Nile farming.”

    I believe the general category is servitude, of which slavery is just one extreme (or, sometimes, not so extreme) form. Serfdom, peonage, cooliedom (sp?), caste, etc. — there are many, many forms that go by different names in different “civilized” societies. The essential feature was taxation (either in kind or in coin) without representation — in a society in which might makes right, the right of conquest that is.

    We still live so close to those times and the condition was so ubiquitous that we lack the vocabulary to talk about it, or even see it, very clearly. It was not a permissible topic of conversation after all until very recent times (except among the upper classes, strictly among themselves).

    My (no doubt amusingly eccentric) hypothesis is that the Adam and Eve story broke that rule, was in fact a covert attempt in Mesopotamian folk tradition to explain the situation in samzidat or allegory form:

    ALLEGORY

    From Greek allos meaning “other” and agora meaning gathering place (especially the marketplace). In times past, it was common to do one’s chatting at the marketplace. Some of the topics discussed were clandestine in nature and when people spoke about them, for fear of being punished, they would speak indirectly. That is to say, they would speak about one thing in such a way as to intimate the actual information to the listener. Thus, the persons discussing clandestine matters were said to be speaking of “other things” in the marketplace. Eventually the words joined and became associated with the act of speaking about one thing while meaning another.

    see here: http://www.westegg.com/etymology/

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  35. hbd chick – “from Ancient Egypt: Anatomy Of A Civilisation — from part II which is entitled “The Provider State” [pgs. 191-192]:”

    It is my opinion that contemporary theories are biased in favor of the idea that the rise of civilization was voluntary and that its value was a net positive for most people — a carry over from the millennia of state censorship on the subject.

    As for this quote: “We can see that huge numbers of people received a basic ration — a minimum wage — and a not insignificant number did better still. The number of jobs (with ration entitlement) was artificially inflated by an early work-sharing device: the phyle system in which a person performed his duties for only a limited part of each year. The land and its farmers were obliged by the pressure of demand dictated from above to produce enough. The state had already become the great provider and it produced whatever it is that we wish to call Egyptian civilization. Welfare (as yet innocent of social ideology) arrived early in human history.“

    I find it ludicrous. Long tradition might have tempered the original demands of civilization but to call it a welfare system (except for the upper classes) strikes me as a lie — a necessary lie, I might add, because the situation was universal. The human race was trapped in a hell hole and there was no way out. Violent exploitation was the way of the world. It’s a miracle it’s not that way still (thank you, Christianity).

    As for my optimism, it is my hope that the long historical struggle from servitude to freedom (at least in the West) ain’t over yet. We’ve come a long, long way but the future now looks bleaker than the immediate past. Based on past historical swings I’m hopeful (my optimism!) that situation can be turned around through popular agitation as it has been in the past. Unfortunately our extreme individualism now makes that a problem (for the understanding of which I am grateful to you!).

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  36. Romans kept a year’s supply of grain.

    **********************

    Saudi Arabia,[30][31] Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates have become welfare states exclusively for their citizens. All foreign nationals, including legal residents and legal long term employees are prohibited from partaking in the benefits of the welfare state. wiki

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  37. Big Nose Kate – “Romans kept a year’s supply of grain.”

    That would certainly have protected against famine, at least in the capital and, I presume, the legions. But what about the provinces? And speaking of servitude, what about Spartacus.

    Of course the modern petro states manage it with their oil revenues, an historical anomaly.

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  38. @crassus – “…and if some of his friends start messing with his collection, he gets quite upset.”

    well, that’s understandable! (~_^)

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  39. @kate – “All foreign nationals, including legal residents and legal long term employees are prohibited from partaking in the benefits of the welfare state.”

    nothing wrong with that! (^_^)

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  40. @ Luke (generally)

    I watched some documentary somewheres (Discovery?) and saw where alot of names/tribes were inscribed on quite a number of the stones.

    The pyramids being “reserved for the pharoah” (the holy) to me implies “slave” in ancient Egypt was significantly different from say, “slave” in America’s South.

    For instance Washington DC was to a significant degree, constructed by slave labor, I’ve never seen (or heard) mention of any slave’s name being inscribed on the cornerstone of the US Capitol.

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  41. @luke – “I find it ludicrous.”

    it’s not ludicrous, luke. there are records. rolls and rolls of papyri recording who worked where and for how long and how much they received in return, etc., etc. this is how we know at all that there were these phylae labor groups (in ancient greece the phylae were kin-based, of course — i have no idea if they were in ancient egypt or not) and that they worked just some months out of the year and so on.

    most of the population of ancient egypt at any given time was made up of free(-ish) farmers, not slaves. of course there were slaves that were brought in from conquered areas, but these were never the majority of the population. and, yes, the farmers had to do a certain amount of work for the state — which they grumbled about and probably even protested against at different points in time — but mostly they acquiesced, not only, i think, because they were coerced into giving up their labor, but because they realized they also got something in return. maybe the balance wasn’t fair — maybe the 1% in egypt got more than they gave back — but the 99% also benefitted.

    i think this was the case in most societies in the past. of course there were slaves, often captives from other places, and they were usually treated poorly to abominably (it varied) — and of course the people on the lower rungs of society had less than the upper — but i don’t think that most people in the past lived in such (comparatively to their own days) horrible conditions and were beaten regularly and had utterly horrible existences. if that had been the case, i think that there would’ve been waaaaaay more spartacus-type uprisings in all directions almost all of the time.

    no. rulers are, believe it or not, not completely stupid. most of them figure out that a bread-and-circuses approach works better than a boot-to-the-throat approach. i think that a lot of people in the past had ok lives. and they very often managed to reproduce, which is all that counts from a biological perspective.

    remember, too, that half of any population is going to be below average as far as intelligence goes. those people very often need help and guidance in life — they very often want it (now i’m drawing on personal knowledge — thinking of family and friends of the family who are not so bright — they tend to want strong leaders). and we are primates, too — most of us “programmed” to follow. i imagine that a lot of the farmer-pyramid builders of ancient egypt felt a sort-of pride in working on these huge monuments. it doesn’t make much sense to me, personally, but people take pride in all sorts of weird things that their group does (e.g. think sports teams). humans are funny like that.

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  42. @luke – “And don’t forget this rare eyewitness account we have of the life of a Polish serf….”

    yes. but don’t forget, either, that jan slomka was an activist for peasants’ rights so taking his word unquestioningly on how the peasants in poland were treated is a bit like believing everything the world wildlife federation tells you about the status and well-being of different animal species. i’m all for preventing the extinction of animals — and for peasants’ rights, too — but i don’t swallow wholly whatever the wwf tells me.

    maybe it was really as bad all over poland as slomka describes for the residents of dzikov. or maybe the tarnowskis were just a particularly bad bunch of lairds of the manor. (or maybe even things weren’t quite as bad in dzikov as slomka says they were.)

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  43. @luke – and speaking of slomka’s description of peasant life, this…

    “The cottage of the peasant or the hired laborer was made up of a single living-room, alongside of which was a large shed and store room. The peasant had besides this his stable for horses, cattle and pigs, and his granary…. In neighboring villages, especially farther from the Vistula and set in the woods on sandy beaches, the cottages were almost all ‘smoke’ ones: i.e. the fire was built on a broad drum, made of packed clay, called an ‘old woman’. The smoke went through the whole room, and out through the door to the shed, and so out the roof. The door had to be open when cooking went on, and everybody had to sit on the ground or go about stooped in order not to be choked. The walls were covered with soot, never whitewashed. The people were blackened and saturated with smoke…. Of old we used for cooking only the open hearth, on which the pots with food were set either close to or on the fire, according as we were in a hurry or not. Here and there folk used tripods or other iron fixtures to hold the pot…. The house furnishings were of the simplest. For furniture we had tables (though not in every house), a couple of benches, a chest that took the place of drawers, and beds or bunks…. Still all the walls were hung with pictures—a thing everyone loved. Once a year the walls would be whitened—mostly at Easter…. There were no floors, except in the manor house. When the cow was to calve in winter, they would bring her into the house, so that she would be warmer…. For spoons we had wooden ones, much larger than the metal ones we now use. There wasn’t a clock in the village. In every house, however, there was a rooster, whose shrill crowing told you in winter when to get up…. The beds for the most part lay all in confusion during the day….”

    …i remember the first time that i read this (sometime last year?) because it made me smile broadly with fond memories. this description — except for the clock — sounds EXACTLY like one of my great-uncle’s houses back in the old country. and, trust me, he was not oppressed! nor was he unhappy. he had running water in the house — a sink in the “kitchen” which was really just a cubby-hole of a corner in the main room of the house (which served as living room, his bedroom, and dining room — and, no, he didn’t have a table!) — but he didn’t really have an indoor bathroom. there was a flush toilet, but you had to go out of the house and around the corner into a little closet that had been appended onto the house. (^_^) he lived this way until he died in the 1990s, very happily.

    and speaking of the family back in the old country — another set of my family, one of my uncles and his wife and kids — they didn’t have running water until 1984! and it’s not because they were oppressed or even particularly poor — they had electricity and a television and a car. they just … yeah … never got quite organized enough to get that installed in the house. i love ’em all to death, but none of them have an iq of above probably 90. that’s how a large segment of the world lives, or lived (many — too many — much worse off, of course) — and i don’t think that it was a particularly horrible way to go through life.

    (note, too, that slomka says that “The peasant had besides this his stable for horses, cattle and pigs, and his granary…”, so these peasants/serfs weren’t that deprived.)

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  44. @luke – “Hope this is not a low blow, but African slaves in the ante-bellum south reproduced.”

    yes. and, so, they were better off from a biological p.o.v. than the roman slaves on the latifundia who didn’t get to reproduce at all. and they were better off nutritionally while they were slaves than after emancipation [pdf] — although not better off nutritionally than african americans today, of course. and certainly not better off in any way than me sitting here typing this.

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  45. @grey – “On the other hand *if* they were fed a lot of meat that sounds a bit more voluntary which as you say would be pretty odd historically speaking.”

    well, the researchers think that all this meat (the mutton/goat, not the beef which was reserved for the supervisors) was being fed to the guys hauling around the huge blocks of stone. and that makes sense. those guys would’ve needed to eat well if they were going to expend that much energy — you just wouldn’t have gotten a good day’s work out of any of them if you didn’t feed them properly.

    like the article about african american slaves i linked to in the comment just above this one, the working slaves were actually fed pretty well, and were commensurately taller and all that. it would be a very bad investment to have your slaves die of starvation anyway. like not feeding a workhorse. what would be the point of that?

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  46. Heck. In not so long ago and faraway Arkansas, the pigs (and the milk-cow) spent the night in the dog-trot.

    A “dog-trot” for those not familiar was the open at the ends porch that separated the (mostly) kitchen from the miscellaneous part of a hillbilly’s house.

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  47. @jk – i’ve always thought that i’d feel right at home in the south. (^_^) never spent much time down in those parts (except for passing through on the way to florida). definitely need to!

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  48. I personally was *lucky* my Dad being an MD.

    But just after I posted that above I recalled from my childhood – visiting/playing up until I was fifteen (1971) with friends who lived in dog-trot houses. With red clay chinking.

    And outhouses.

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  49. Back when you mentioned having *experience* with the “old-timey network” [not Facebook] I understood that young lady. Might not be too whoopie with this here hbd stuff – but I do recognize a hillbilly when I see their typing.

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  50. @hbd chick (specifically this single time)

    …i remember the first time that i read this (sometime last year?) because it made me smile broadly with fond memories. this description — except for the clock — sounds EXACTLY like one of my great-uncle’s houses back in the old country. and, trust me, he was not oppressed! nor was he unhappy.

    I’m not one to give out possibly ID’ing stuff on the Internet – f’instance I know there’re no pictures of me winging through cyberspace. No Facebook, LinkedIn etc. I’ll risk stating Mom’s maiden name was Jeffery – only ’cause I did chance early on when I first efforted commenting here that “we’d” been here a long time.

    And were you to ken this is my county of residence, it might’ve been prior to 1836 though I do have many kin there now.

    It’s just that … well

    http://exploreizard.blogspot.com/

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  51. Clannish, yet Hindus knew how to frame a functioning democratic system.

    http://www.vepachedu.org/manasanskriti/Democracy.htm

    The salient features were that a person should have a minimum educational qualification, should be above 35 years of age and below 70, should own a minimum of landed property, should have a residence built in his own land and finally, should be a tax payer. Only such men, who felt it was their responsibility to contribute to the governance, were allowed to contest. It was obligatory that a legislator should understand at least what he is legislating, as these acts affect the life of the people. In disqualifying a candidate, primary importance was given to elimination of corruption. Not only corrupt persons but those who abetted corruption and the near relatives, were debarred from contesting an election for seven generations.

    Those elected could be recalled any time if they were found not discharging their duty properly. With all these rigid rules if one got elected he could not contest the next three consecutive elections. And one could contest only for three terms throughout his lifetime and should make way for other members and families to get elected. Uttiramerur definitely shows the way in democratic participation extended to a larger section of society, exerting at the same time constant vigil and scrupulous enforcement of the Law, without favours or prejudices.

    In place were several committees such as the Annual Administrative Committee, Tank Committee, Gold Committee, Field Committee, Garden Committee, etc. which were all democratically elected under the overall supervision of the Annual Committee.

    Each serving member is debarred from standing for any other committee within three terms. Many of the evils prevalent today were anticipated 1,000 years ago and this made the Constitution framers, men of great vision, who deserve to be at least remembered. Uttiramerur, in this context, has a message to be acknowledged.

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  52. @anonymous – “Clannish, yet Hindus knew how to frame a functioning democratic system.”

    yes. lots of peoples have/have had democratic systems of one form or another. there are even democratic elements to the arab tribal system.

    what most societies have not invented and/or do not manage very well is the specific type that woodley and bell considered — the kind that we have in the west today — the anglo kind — and that is liberal democracy (fwiw).

    as robin fox describes it:

    “…a system whereby political factions could compete for votes and, most amazingly, the loser would *voluntarily cede power*.”

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  53. hbdchick
    “well, the researchers think that all this meat (the mutton/goat, not the beef which was reserved for the supervisors) was being fed to the guys hauling around the huge blocks of stone. and that makes sense. those guys would’ve needed to eat well if they were going to expend that much energy — you just wouldn’t have gotten a good day’s work out of any of them if you didn’t feed them properly.”

    Well they’ll know more than me. I’m not surprised they were fed well – for the obvious calorie reasons you mention – i’m just a little curious about the meat as i always imagined Egypt was very crop-orientated because of the flooding – with meat therefore being rare and special – but that’s not based on anything but assumption.

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  54. @grey – “i’m just a little curious about the meat as i always imagined Egypt was very crop-orientated because of the flooding”

    i know! i was surprised, too. apparently there were huge herds that were split up to be grazed throughout the country but then rounded up whenever required to feed these public works projects laborers. i saw a calculation of how many head of cattle/goats was probably required, how many herders, how much land … but of course i don’t remember any of the figures or even where i read it now. (*^_^*) i’m guessing that some of the herding could’ve been done on lands that were just harvested — at least during some times of the year. guess egypt wasn’t so crowded back then. now it’s all chickens and rabbits — not much cattle i think. maybe some goats.

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  55. hbd chick — thanks for your point of view. Somehow I have gotten the idea into my head that almost all pre-modern societies, outside small middle classes, were based on the principle of domination and submission, and that the people on the bottom were very, very poor and worked very, very hard. That they were a species of domestic animal in fact, and were treated as such. And were better off before civilization began, civilization itself being a barbarous institution. In Sumerian ideology (about which I know much more than about Egypt) they were conceived as the slaves of the gods.

    Maybe it would be interesting to look at the actual living conditions of the peasantry in late medieval and early modern England and Germany, during the period when the tribes disappeared, on the manors. That’s much closer to now and we have more evidence.

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  56. @Luke Lea
    There is some evidence that conditions of peasantry in Poland deteriorated in XVII and XVIII century. There were laws in XVI century forbiding peasants to wear gold chains. No such laws in later centuries.

    Clanns vs democracy
    Well, I started to think that what if this whole business comes to the one thing:
    we are inbred == I know who is my family, and the outsiders are bad! (Syria)
    more outbred == it seems everyone around me is my family, we should cooperate in creating better resistance to other nations/tribes! (Iceland)
    even more outbred == oh shit, I have no idea who is my family or not. Maybe we are all one big family, including those funny folks who are coming to me with spears? They look very friendly, waving their axes in my directions… (USA)

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  57. As regards peasant welfare, a great deal just depended on the luck of the draw as to when precisely you were born during your country’s Malthusian cycle.

    For instance, being a peasant just after the Black Death was pretty good, at least as far as these things went (and assuming you survived it of course). Wages increased by about 3x relative to the overpopulated period just a few years ago, the nobility introduced sumptuary laws (i.e. indicates richer peasants acquiring luxuries).

    Calculations have shown that the average Russian peasant in the middle of the 17th century actually lived significantly better as measured by grain consumption, livestock possession, etc., than his counterpart in 1880.

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  58. Pyramids – I saw a docudrama along these lines yonks ago and it did seem quite cool under the awning with something scrummy sizzling on the stove, and plausible.

    But my feeling is that claiming ‘the welfare state’ originated in Egypt is a little on the PC side of the strictly-speaking accurate.

    Classifying pyramids as public works is stretching it a bit. Public works are generally infrastructures that the public interact with and benefit from – roads, bridges, libraries, swimming pools. Do we know if the Egyptians interacted with the pyramids like Americans interact with the Abe Lincoln memorial, as a place of gathering for various democratic type events? or were the pyramids more like Norman castles built for a single family and designed to put the fear of god into everyone else.

    I would say that the same distortion of interpretation occurs vis arabs and the middle-east. J haplogroup is indigenous to the Arabian peninsular. J mixed with the Egyptian population of the Levant and only moved north after the Caucasus had gone through the agricultural barrier via G haplogroup, now confined to Georgia. G haplogroup founded the Minoan – peaceful – civilization and the Black Sea Cucuteni civilization, which developed cuneiform millennia before Sumeria.

    The idea that European civilization came from the middle-east and that the middle-east has always been ‘arab’ is a distortion. It’s quite possible that the population who gathered from all over Britain, and possibly the Continent, at Stonehenge for community-based celebration of the dead, were sophisticated societies. Then there’s cattle breeding beginning in Denmark – that’s huge from a developmental point of view. But the establishment struggles to move away from the ideology that all ideas filtered up from the middle-east.

    @GW defo

    I went to Wales at the weekend and chatted with a Turkish barman who had lived in Amsterdam for 20 years. He told me an anecdote about how the Dutch could keep their passwords secret during the war due to the pronunciation of g, and I said ‘the Dutch suffered terribly during the war’, and this is what he said:

    “They’re not fighters. The Dutch are farmers not fighters. But they’re very clever. The best art in the world is Dutch and the Dutch are the best seamen in the world”. and then he told me about a Dutch sea rescue company that is the preferred choice for companies internationally.

    Reading the link on twitter to Daily Mail _Dutch_ survey on the negative impact of multicultural education gives me some hope that Homo Helena can get us out of this pickle if only at the eleventh hour.

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  59. Big Nose Kate – “G haplogroup founded the Minoan – peaceful – civilization and the Black Sea Cucuteni civilization, which developed cuneiform millennia before Sumeria. . .”

    You had me going before you said that. Still, your comments are interesting. Don’t go away.

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  60. P.S. Cuneiform writing or not cuneiform writing, that Cucuteni culture is fascinating. I had never heard of them before. I will guess that they were an early horticultural society not unlike those that preceded the the rise of “syphilization” (hat tip James Joyce) in ancient Iraq. That there was a decline in living standards and in the general quality of life with the dawn of the rise of political states is a generalization that I think will hold water. People were happier then than later.

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  61. The downside of using the WordPress phone app is that it doesn’t have an option of notifying you of new comments. I don’t get to keep up with fascinating discussions like this unless I check. Fixing that now! ;)

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  62. Hello! Nice blog! HBD is not new to me since I grew up on 3 different continents and continue to travel a lot. My parents instilled in my a fascination with and appreciation for the wide variety of ethno-cultures this world has to offer. I have noticed however that on the internet at least some racists have hijacked this science for their own ends. And their assumption that everyone will naturally want to mate or marry within their own ethno-culture, which in my case has never been the case.

    Exposure to the differences has only made me more attracted to them.

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  63. hubchik
    “apparently there were huge herds that were split up to be grazed throughout the country but then rounded up whenever required to feed these public works projects laborers”

    ah so, didn’t know that.

    .
    szopeno

    I think that’s it in a nutshell.

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  64. @culture chick ciara – “…their assumption that everyone will naturally want to mate or marry within their own ethno-culture.”

    well, i can’t speak for anybody else around here, but i, myself, don’t assume that everyone will naturally want to mate or marry within their own ethno-culture, although there are some interesting studies out there showing that people do tend to marry someone quite like themselves. sometimes this can cut across racial or ethnic lines, oftentimes it doesn’t.

    personally, i’m for free association — in everyday affairs and in matters of the heart. i don’t care who people marry — that’s up to them.

    however, i do think it would’ve been good if people were aware of both the pros and the cons of marrying in or marrying out. on a population level, marrying in over the long term seems to make groups clannish. whether that’s good or bad i leave up for the folks out there to decide. on a more individual level, marrying out — like marrying someone from another race — and you might risk your children having difficulties finding an organ donor if they should ever need one. but you’d have to weigh that against the potential benefits.

    pros and cons. pros and cons.

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  65. @luke – “Somehow I have gotten the idea into my head that almost all pre-modern societies, outside small middle classes, were based on the principle of domination and submission, and that the people on the bottom were very, very poor and worked very, very hard. That they were a species of domestic animal in fact, and were treated as such.”

    well i’m sure that most people down through the aeons were very poor and worked very hard, but i’m not convinced that all of them were wretched all of the time everywhere. most farmers treat their domestic animals with some humanity, as it were, ’cause if you didn’t, you’d have some very angry cows and horses to deal with! or they’d be so sullen that they’d be useless and you wouldn’t get any work out of them. i know one idiot of a farmer who treated his dog terribly, and the dog just cowered in the bushes most of the time and didn’t even bark when strangers arrived. aside from the dog being miserable (which i can’t stand to see), the dog’s of no use to anyone at all since he doesn’t carry out any of his doggy duties!

    i guess what i’m saying is that, even though servitude might’ve been rough in many places, in many other places that was just life, and people got on with it — and that it probably wasn’t all that bad.

    a big mistake for a society is if you don’t have any social mobility whatsoever — then you miss out on making use of any smart or particularly industrious individuals that will inevitably pop up in the lower classes.

    @luke – “And were better off before civilization began, civilization itself being a barbarous institution.”

    well, maybe. but a lot of that better-off-ness might’ve simply been because people weren’t farmers, and farming is a lot of hard work for comparatively little payoff (until modern times anyway).

    @luke – “In Sumerian ideology (about which I know much more than about Egypt) they were conceived as the slaves of the gods.”

    are you talking about actually conquered peoples or all of the lower classes? i’m sure that nearly all peoples everywhere have treated conquered peoples like cr*p (to various degrees), but i have the vague impression that people treat their own a bit better, if only marginally so. (btw – i don’t know a THING about ancient sumer.)

    @luke – “Maybe it would be interesting to look at the actual living conditions of the peasantry in late medieval and early modern England and Germany, during the period when the tribes disappeared, on the manors. That’s much closer to now and we have more evidence.”

    early- and mid-medieval i think. not late or early modern. the tribes were well gone by that time in europe (except in the funny pockets like albania). ok. putting this on my “to do” list! (^_^)

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  66. @szopeno – “Well, I started to think that what if this whole business comes to the one thing:
    we are inbred == I know who is my family, and the outsiders are bad! (Syria)
    more outbred == it seems everyone around me is my family, we should cooperate in creating better resistance to other nations/tribes! (Iceland)
    even more outbred == oh shit, I have no idea who is my family or not. Maybe we are all one big family, including those funny folks who are coming to me with spears? They look very friendly, waving their axes in my directions… (USA)”

    as greying wanderer said, that’s it in a nutshell! (^_^)

    at least that’s how it really appears to be — and i’m having a hard time finding exceptions. then the question is: what’s the mechanism? how does it work?

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  67. @anatoly – “As regards peasant welfare, a great deal just depended on the luck of the draw as to when precisely you were born during your country’s Malthusian cycle. For instance, being a peasant just after the Black Death was pretty good, at least as far as these things went (and assuming you survived it of course)….”

    very good point.

    @anatoly – “Calculations have shown that the average Russian peasant in the middle of the 17th century actually lived significantly better as measured by grain consumption, livestock possession, etc., than his counterpart in 1880.”

    @szopeno – “There is some evidence that conditions of peasantry in Poland deteriorated in XVII and XVIII century. There were laws in XVI century forbiding peasants to wear gold chains. No such laws in later centuries.”

    oh, that’s interesting! didn’t know any of that. thanks!

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  68. @kate – Do we know if the Egyptians interacted with the pyramids like Americans interact with the Abe Lincoln memorial, as a place of gathering for various democratic type events? or were the pyramids more like Norman castles built for a single family and designed to put the fear of god into everyone else.”

    good question. and i don’t know the answer to that (back to google books…!). further research is required. (~_^)

    @kate – “Public works are generally infrastructures that the public interact with and benefit from – roads, bridges, libraries, swimming pools.”

    i did read in the same book that i got the welfare state business from that there were projects undertaken in ancient egypt by the phyle teams that would be more recognizable to us as public works projects: lots of irrigation projects, local temple maintenance, etc.

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  69. Having read all of the comments above, I am very glad that I have a pew to myself, because if someone like me were sitting next to me, we would be discussing all aspects of the service, instead of paying attention to it.

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  70. @jayman – “The downside of using the WordPress phone app is that it doesn’t have an option of notifying you of new comments.”

    oh, noes! (^_^)

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  71. cousins?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22344054

    The four on the right particularly.

    I’m beginning to think the easiest way for anti-terrorist units to operate once they have a mark is not to try and sift through everyone the mark knows which takes more time and manpower than is available but instead just check through his brothers and cousins – much faster and possibly at least as effective and maybe more effective.

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  72. My first thought reading the NatGeo article about Indus Valley Civ was “cremation”. In traditional South Asian cremation procedures the skull is cracked with a blunt force.

    “@kate – “Do we know if the Egyptians interacted with the pyramids like Americans interact with the Abe Lincoln memorial, as a place of gathering for various democratic type events? or were the pyramids more like Norman castles built for a single family and designed to put the fear of god into everyone else.”

    Kate, “the fear of god” is a monotheistic Abrahamic religious concept. The concept is not quite there in the non-monotheistic traditions I’ve studied and practiced. I think we do a lot of cultural and religious projections onto the ancient world. Even if we are not religious ourselves, the Western world is very influenced by monotheistic Abrahamic thought. Its a thread that runs through our cultures and minds, even the atheists here seem to paint all the world’s religions or theistic philosophies with the monotheist/abrahamic brush, and that’s a fear based brush.

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  73. @grey – “I’m beginning to think the easiest way for anti-terrorist units to operate once they have a mark is not to try and sift through everyone the mark knows which takes more time and manpower than is available but instead just check through his brothers and cousins – much faster and possibly at least as effective and maybe more effective.”

    absolutely. especially terrorism suspects from this arab/middle east/north africa/pakistan/afghanistan part of the world (i know that’s what you meant, but i thought i’d just spell it out).

    couldn’t find out if any of these guys are related (man, that is one dodgy looking group!). but i did find out that tommy robinson’s second-in-command (as it were) is his cousin. told you the irish are clannish. (~_^)

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  74. @ciara – “My first thought reading the NatGeo article about Indus Valley Civ was ‘cremation’. In traditional South Asian cremation procedures the skull is cracked with a blunt force.”

    that’s interesting! didn’t know that. what’s the point of that, i wonder?

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  75. “the fear of god” is a monotheistic Abrahamic religious concept.

    I think I was speaking figuratively. The Normans probably justified their castle-building as the work of god but I think they had more earthly ideas about British minerals and agriculture. I really meant that the pyramids appear to me more as demonstrations of an elite’s power over the masses rather than a collective effort to create a public utility.

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  76. @luke – “In Sumerian ideology (about which I know much more than about Egypt) they were conceived as the slaves of the gods.”

    are you talking about actually conquered peoples or all of the lower classes?

    It was a creation myth, so would have applied to human beings in general. Each city state had a city god whom the populace served by bringing sacrifices to the central temple. The priests administered in the name of the god. This is roughly the idea.

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  77. @luke – “And were better off before civilization began, civilization itself being a barbarous institution.”

    well, maybe. but a lot of that better-off-ness might’ve simply been because people weren’t farmers, and farming is a lot of hard work for comparatively little payoff (until modern times anyway).

    What I was trying to say was that life in pre-state societies was generally easier. This would apply to early horticultural societies, not just hunter/gatherers. Not sure about pastoral peoples however.

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  78. Big Nose Kate
    05/02/2013 at 12:43 AM

    “the fear of god” is a monotheistic Abrahamic religious concept.

    I think that is correct. In Genesis, where God and Abraham get introduced to each other and the world, it is only the “god-fearers” among the various peoples encountered in the promised land who can be trusted. Literally, those who were not god-fearers were not fully human beings. Only believers were created in the image of God. Only with god fearers could one make treaties. Thus at the well at Beersheba we see Abraham making a treaty with the King of Michelsidek (sp?) “in the name of the Most High God” whose actual content was essentially the golden rule. This is where ethical monotheism begins.

    But there are two competing narratives in the Torah (and in Jewish history generally): one associated with the name of Abraham, the other, more tribal, with Moses — which is what makes it all so fascinating.

    I explore this paradox in some scholarly detail (well, as scholarly as I get anyway) here: https://sites.google.com/site/thetorahandthewestbank/

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  79. “Surprising Discoveries From the Indus Civilization”

    Archaeologists say the Indus civilization wasn’t nearly as peaceful as popularly thought. It’s always the same thing. War is the mother of all things (Heraclitus). And once agriculture is introduced that leads to conquest. People used to believe the Maya were peaceful too.

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  80. re “Surprising Discoveries From the Indus Civilization”

    It’s always hazardous to comment before reading. :) I notice the article says nothing about warfare or conquest. But just wait.

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  81. @kate and luke – “‘“the fear of god” is a monotheistic Abrahamic religious concept.’

    “I think that is correct.”

    but didn’t (don’t) the polytheists also fear the gods as well? i mean, don’t they give offerings to the gods, not only to pray for something, but also to appease them?

    and some of those polytheistic gods are kinda scary! zeus might smite you down just on a whim. at least moses and his people had a contract with their god — obey these ten commandments (which somehow got inflated over the millennia!) and i (god) promise not to smite you down. that god is practically … rational.

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  82. Kali is similar to the demon Kroni. Kali is the great-great grandson of Lord Brahma. He is the son of Krodha (Anger) and his sister-turned-wife Himsa (Violence). [wiki]

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  83. hbd chick – “but didn’t (don’t) the polytheists also fear the gods as well? i mean, don’t they give offerings to the gods, not only to pray for something, but also to appease them?”

    No doubt. But the Hebraic conception was of a just God who judges all men by a single standard of equity according to their deeds. It’s all about tzadic and tamim:

    “Be thou whole-hearted [tamim]. And I will make my covenant between me and thee. . . .” (Genesis 17:1-2).

    ‘. . . do righteousness and justice [zedeq] to the end that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken. . . . “ (Genesis 18:19).

    Originally, the Hebrew word tamim meant and zedeq meant “hard”, “straight”, “rigid”.(5) From very early on, and throughout the Bible, we find these two words used to describe the proper conditions of the weights and balances that were used in ancient commerce to measure commodities. A proper weight was tamim — i.e. whole, complete, not lacking; a proper balance beam was zedek i.e., straight, true, rigid. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 25:13-15, Leviticus 19:36, Micah 6:11, Amos 8:5. and elsewhere.) The reason for the tamim of the weights is, of course obvious; the use of short weights would be tantamount to cheating the party with whom one was dealing. As for the zedek of the balance beam, the following technical observation is perhaps in order:

    [F]or the justness of an equal armed balance it is requisite. . . . [t]hat the two points of suspension of the pans from the beam be in exactly the same line as the center of motion of the fulcrum on which the beam turns when set in motion. The line joining these three points is the axis of the beam.(6)

    So, by metaphorical extension — or is it literal interpretation? — the terms of the covenant can be reduced to fair dealing. Abraham and his descendants are to treat honestly and fairly with those whom they encounter in the promised land if they are to find there a new home for themselves in which to live out their lives in peace and prosperity.

    This interpretation gathers plausibility when we examine it against the sociological background of the patriarchal age. Thus, even though, as I have noted, some experts dispute it, both the established academic view and the Torah itself agree on the point that, before Moses, the ancient Hebrews were a stateless, semi-nomadic people who migrated to Palestine sometime in the first half of the second millennium B.C.E.. Like all such pastoral peoples in the ancient Near East, and the Semitic peoples especially, they did not dwell in splendid isolation off by themselves, together with their flocks and their gold. On the contrary, they existed in a close symbiotic relationship with the surrounding agricultural states, among which they lived and moved and had their being. In Ancient Iraq, the eminent French Sumerologist, Georges Roux, has reconstructed a picture of life in those days:

    Before that time, i.e., before the introduction of the camel around 1200 B.C., which made long-distance travel possible, the nomads, who rode on asses and practiced sheep-rearing, were much more restricted in their movements than the Bedouins of today and could not wander far beyond the limits of the grassy steppe which extends between the Tigris and Euphrates and at the foot of the Zagros, the Taurus and the Lebanon. There they were in close and constant touch with the agricultural populations which bought their sheep and supplied them with grain, dates, tools, weapons, and other utilitarian objects and amenities. . . . In general the two groups met regularly in villages or in market-places outside the gates of the cities, and exchanged goods, together, no doubt, with a number of ideas. Then the nomads returned to the steppe, perhaps only a few miles away. Occasionally, individuals left the tribe as Lot did in Sodom to Find work in the towns as mercenaries, craftsmen, or merchants. Sometimes a family, a clan, or a whole tribe would acquire (or be granted) land and devote itself partly to agriculture, partly to sheep-breeding. Not infrequently the local governments exercised some control over the nomads, using them in particular as auxiliary troops whenever required.(7)

    Commercial intercourse, in other words, played an integral part in the livelihood of the nomadic peoples of the ancient Near East. It follows that, to a very considerable degree, they depended for their welfare and survival upon the good-will of their agricultural hosts with whom they had an on-going exchange. This was part — the peaceful part of the age-old relationship between the Steppe and the Sown.
    In the case of Abraham and his descendants, the situation was made still more precarious by the fact of their having left the traditional home of their ancestors in Mesopotamia, where, in time of trouble, they could expect to find allies among their own kith and kin. Having moved to Palestine, they traded in this security and became, instead, “strangers in a strange land.” Indeed, it is an old scholarly conjecture that the word, “Hebrew,” itself, may be derived from the ancient Semitic word hapiru, meaning “stranger” or “foreigner.” But be that as it may, it is easy to see why the ancient Hebrews in the patriarchal age should find the strongest practical motive for straight-dealing with the settled agricultural peoples among whom they lived. Any attempt to cheat or defraud their hosts; as by short weights, for example was bound to arouse hostility and prove counter-productive in the long-run.
    Illustrative is an episode recorded in the 34th chapter of Genesis. Jacob and his household are dwelling peacefully among the Hivites in the land of Canaan when the son of the king of the Hivites seduces daughter and falls in love with her. He wants to marry her and asks his father to ask Jacob for her hand. The latter does so and, at the same time, extends an open invitation toJacob and all of his household to intermarry with, and live permanently among, the Hivites as one people. The sons of Jacob, who are outraged that the Hivite prince has their sister, reply that this is possible only on the condition that all the male Hivites agree to be circumcised. The Hivites agree and are duly circumcised; but, on the third day afterward, when they are still sore from the operation, the sons of Jacob “deceitfully” fall upon them and slay them, carrying off all of their wives, children, and possessions. When Jacob learns of this treachery, he exclaims:

    “Ye have troubled me, to make me odious unto the inhabitants of the land, even unto the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and, I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me and srnight me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house” (Genesis 34:30).

    In sum, it was perfectly natural for the small tribe of Hebrews who were migrating along the arc of the Fertile Crescent in the second millennium B.C.E., to find in the tamim of the weights and the zedeq of the balance beam the ideal image of a wise foreign policy. Being stateless, “few in number,” and shorn of reliable allies, their reputation for integrity and straight-dealing was, for them, the very touchstone of survival. It was the special genius of Abraham or whoever was responsible for the Abrahamic legends — to take this idea a step further and proclaim a Most High God (“maker of heaven and earth”) who was likewise “just” (Genesis 18:25); who judged all people everywhere by the standards of justice (Genesis 18:20-33); and who, in His capacity as just judge of the earth, watched over Abraham and his descendants as their shield and protector (Genesis 15:5). (Incidentally, this helps shed light on an historical riddle: How was it that a tiny, insignificant people like the ancient Hebrews should have their peculiar conception of God taken up by the peasant and proletarian masses of the Roman Empire and, later, throughout the whole Western world? The answer would seem to lie, at least in part, in the fact that, like the ancient Hebrews, common people everywhere were exposed to the depredations of powers and principalities and found in the Bible the only organized body of belief —before Marxism, at any rate — which systematically championed the interests of the poor, the weak, the defenseless, and the oppressed.)

    Lending substance to this interpretation of the covenant is the actual behavior of Abraham and his household upon entering the promised land. For, as recounted in Genesis, we find them there putting into practice those self-same principles of equity and fair-dealing with the native inhabitants whom they meet.

    The first example, to which I have already alluded, occurs in the 14th chapter in an episode known as the war of the four kings against the five. In the course of this war the city of Sodom is sacked and Lot, Abraham’s. brother who was living in Sodom, is taken away captive along with many others. When Abraham hears of this he sets out with three hundred and eighteen men from his camp in pursuit of the plunderers, with whom he catches up and whom he defeats in battle near Damascus. (This incident, by the way, belies the notion sometimes advanced that Abraham was a pacifist.) Returning home with Lot and the other captives and booty that were taken from Sodom, Abraham is met by the kings of Sodom and Salem along the way in the vale of Shaveh. Significantly, the king of Salem (on the West Bank, possibly Jerusalem?) is named Melchizedek (literally, “the king is justice”) and is described as a priest of God Most High, like the God of Abraham. Melchizedek blesses Abraham in the name of God Most High, “Maker of heaven and earth,” “who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand,” and gives him a tithe. Whereupon the king of Sodom goes further and offers to let Abraham keep all of the goods that were taken out of his city and asks only for the return of the human captives. Abraham rejects this offer out of hand, explaining:

    “I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord, God Most High, Makér of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say: I have made Abram rich” (Genesis 14:22-23).

    (Notice the past tense of the oath: not “I lift up” but “I have lifted up” my hand unto the Lord, indicating that this is but the particular application of a more general oath which has already been taken in the past.)

    A second, even more telling incident is recorded in the 21st chapter of Genesis. It takes place between Abraham and a king of Gerar (from near Gaza) named Abimelech. The place is Beersheba. Because of its centrality to the argument which I am making, as well as the economy of the narrative, I will quote it in full:

    And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spoke unto Abraham, saying: “God is with thee in all that thou doest. Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that 1 have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and unto the [and wherein thou hast sojourned.” sojourned.” And Abraham said: “I will swear.”

    extracted from: https://sites.google.com/site/thetorahandthewestbank/

    Reply

  84. Luke
    interesting stuff

    “This was part — the peaceful part of the age-old relationship between the Steppe and the Sown”

    one of the main drivers of early history imo

    Reply

  85. twixt the Steppe and the Sown

    I homed in on that phrase too, it’s like ‘between the tides’, peri-urban, these are the places where things happen

    great neologism

    all this bible stuff is fascinating, didn’t Abraham’s clan(?) go to Mesopotamia and then Egypt before reaching Israel? Some genomists say that in the period between Exodus and the dismantling of the 7,000 yr old wall of Jericho, the Phoenicians happened.

    Reply

  86. BNK
    “all this bible stuff is fascinating”

    yes it is. i keep meaning to re-read it with all this hbd stuff in mind looking for clues – especially anything pastoralist vs agriculturalist related and/or clan / marriage related.

    Reply

  87. GW

    “especially anything pastoralist vs agriculturalist related”

    Well, there’s always the Cain and Abel story — except my theory is the pastoralists slew the farmers, not the other way around. Since the pastoralists came out on top they found it best not to tell the true story to the future farmers of America.

    Reply

  88. @grey – “i keep meaning to re-read it [the bible]….”

    having been raised a roman catholic, i’m going to have to read it sometime. (~_^)

    Reply

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