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Thread: WADE FRAZIER : A Healed Planet

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    United States Avalon Member Wade Frazier's Avatar
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    Default Re: WADE FRAZIER : A Healed Planet

    Hi:

    Before I leave Ian Morris’s work behind for now, some odds and ends. First and foremost, the human journey has been all about plundering one energy source after another, to exhaustion, and then plundering the next one, with collapses attending the inability to tap the next source, as the societies ran into energy-capture ceilings. Morris got that part right, but very lightly touched on what the environmental costs are for that undertaking. I found it odd that Morris used a lot of Jared Diamond’s work, and Diamond blurbed Morris’s books, and Diamond is big on environmental collapse while Morris really did not deal with the subject much. Morris linked societal collapses to climate change, which almost always was about droughts, but not how human energy practices contributed to it. The Mediterranean used to be ringed by lush forests (hippos lived on islands which are deserts today), which are all gone, as it has been all turned to desert and semi-desert, all the way to Afghanistan. That contributed in a big way to the aridity that has collapsed civilizations, along with soil loss, etc. Several times, Morris remarked on how what was once a breadbasket of farms is now a desert, such as what was Carthage. The human impact turned it into a desert.

    But Morris at least got it right that energy capture trumped all, for human social development. What he also got right, kind of, was that what is coming, if humanity survives the transition, is so mind-bogging that he could barely imagine any of it. Of course, he was completely trapped in conventionality, as only a Stanford professor can be (Brian sipped that sherry, before he woke up), and could not seem to imagine any energy sources beyond nuclear and solar, and he really could not seem to understand the transformative effects of absolute abundance, as he just saw novel war technologies, not an elimination of the very reasons for warfare. And very ironically for me, the energy technologies to usher in that hard-to-imagine future are older than I am. A lot of the development and organized suppression of independent efforts to develop such technologies happened in California, where Morris lives, for another rich irony.

    To be fair to Morris, his work is more about Eurasian dynamics than global ones, and his tome is devoted to why the West is more developed than the East…for now. What he also gets right is that while geography had plenty to do with explaining the West’s ascendance, today’s conceptions of geography will become meaningless in the Fifth Epoch. Morris is big into Kurzweil’s Singularity, but I am not a big fan of it. My vision for the future is along the lines of hewing toward this world, not some Borg-like human-machine hybrid. Territorial constructs such as nations will vanish in the Fifth Epoch, as will cities, races, and other aspects of the human journey that will pass into the dustbin of history. Morris does get some of that right, to his credit, and I suppose that for a college professor, when he is not doing imperial bootlicking, his work is not bad. I’ll use some of it in my big essay, mostly around Third Epoch societies, which is really the focus of Morris’s work, as he professionally excavated some of their ruins.

    Best,

    Wade
    My big essay, published in 2014, is here.

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    United States Avalon Member Wade Frazier's Avatar
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    Default Re: WADE FRAZIER : A Healed Planet

    Hi:

    Some odds and ends from recent reading… I recently read The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, and I am going to compare it to another book I have been reading, Gaining Ground, on the migration of fish to land. Both are fine books in their own ways, but both are difficult to recommend for what I am doing. I have seen Gaining Ground described as popularized science, but it really isn’t. It is highly technical, suitable for graduate students. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs has kind of the opposite problem. It is popularized science, but almost too much so for what I am doing. It is written by a young scientist in the field, and is written almost like a “Dear Diary” account of his career so far, as he breezily describes his adventures (which admittedly are pretty amazing for a man in his mid-30s). That book has no footnotes, but has sources at the book’s end. I like notes, and rarely recommend books without them.

    The author of Gaining Ground actually helped coin the term Romer’s Gap, and her recent findings are closing that gap. She also takes on Peter Ward’s ideas of oxygen’s role in evolution, particularly at the Devonian Extinction, as her evidence does not show an oxygen-drop event associated with it, although it likely was a low-oxygen time on Earth. Fascinating material, but her work is not really popularized science. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs covers interesting recent findings (that author wrote an article that is the cover story for the current issue of Scientific American, which is why I got his book), but the book is almost more about his journey than it is the findings. For the record, the two key takeaways from his book (and recent article) for me are that dinosaurs evolved in moist temperate lands and were confined there as relatively marginal beasts, to only conquer Earth when its competitors died off in a mass extinction and Earth got a lot wetter, and that it was definitely a bolide event that did them in. There are still many lively controversies about dinosaurs, and many will outlive me, but there is going to be a very high hurdle for those who argue that the bolide event did not wipe the dinosaurs out. Mammals were never going to rise and overtake them. Rats and raccoons were never going to displace T-Rexes without that bolide event that wiped the slate clean. Dinosaurs were doing fine until the very end.

    I have also been diving into that great controversy in anthropology: the Hobbes versus Rousseau views of early humans. It looks like that controversy will not stop anytime soon. That controversy is part of Uncle Ed’s work on Pinker’s imperial apologetics, and I found myself rereading books in my library, such as Demonic Males, the Anthropology of War, War Before Civilization, and other works, as well as plenty of Internet surfing and Douglas Fry’s Rousseauian work, which Frans de Waal wrote the foreword to.

    Richard Wrangham and de Waal are the most prominent chimp researchers in the West, after Jane Goodall, and both say that for human traits found in chimps, the rebuttable presumption has to be that those traits were passed down the human-line split from chimps. It did not have to be that way, but that is what likely happened, such as chimps’ kissing and their politics, which are crude versions of human politics. After a career spent studying chimps and bonobos, de Wall put chimp social intelligence on par with humanity’s, which is an amazing statement.

    Only two animal species have patrilocal, male-bonded territorial dynamics that launch lethal raids on their neighbors, to steal territory and females: chimps and humans. They also have a direct evolutionary relationship, and Rousseauian theorists have a big task ahead of them, to make the case that the human line lost that trait, to re-evolve it later. It is far more theoretically economical to argue that the human line never lost those traits. There is some evidence that maybe the human line became matrilocal again, like monkeys are, and reduced incisors in Ardi’s species is some evidence of it, but for what it is worth, while I definitely promote the bonobo way of life, it was economically conditioned by their food supply’s doubling (the human journey was economically conditioned the entire way, to today), and I think that Hobbes is still the victor. But I also make it very clear that the human journey had many golden ages, which were always about the early days of exploiting a new energy source. Then it was peace and plenty, for a time. In those early days of Earth’s conquest, and when Homo erectus lightly populated Eurasia and Africa, it was likely fairly peaceful, as territorial disputes were easily resolved by simply moving to the next river valley. It did not start getting violent again until the easy meat ran out, and the human line became fiercely territorial again.

    The Fifth Epoch would likely mean a permanent golden age, as the free energy technology that I am aware of won’t lead to exhaustion of the energy source, at least not anytime soon, and likely never.

    Time to begin my busy weekend.

    Best,

    Wade
    Last edited by Wade Frazier; Yesterday at 17:36.
    My big essay, published in 2014, is here.

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    Default Re: WADE FRAZIER : A Healed Planet

    Hi:

    I have a little time to write this weekend, and want to cover a topic near and dear to me. Making that Wikiquote page for Uncle Ed is just a prelude to some substantial Ed work that I will do at the Wikis. My first effort was on the censorship of Ed and Noam’s first work together, and a lot more is coming. I am finishing my Ian Morris detour, and getting back to Ed and Noam, and I needed a break from it – it is harrowing stuff. While making Ed’s Wikiquote page, I looked at Noam’s. The quotes about him were largely about American hacks defending their imperial turf. Here is an example, from Daniel Flynn’s Intellectual Morons:


    “Chomsky blasts the United States for having supported [post WWII] internal movements to liberate Eastern Europe from Soviet totalitarianism. "These operations included a 'secret army' under U.S.-Nazi auspices that sought to provide agents and military supplies to armies that had been established by and which were still operating inside the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe through the early 1950s." This U.S.-Nazi army is so "secret" that only Chomsky knows of it, and he has thus far kept the documentation of it to himself, lest his secret get out.”


    Chomsky was referring to the well-known Operation Gladio, Christopher Simpson’s Blowback has a chapter on the “Guerillas for World War III,” the Gehlen Org was deeply involved in those events, and so on. Some secret that only Chomsky knows about.

    Brad DeLong has long been one of Chomsky’s chief assailants, and he wrote:


    “PUH-LEEAAZE! Chomsky did not write that Faurisson was a Nazi sympathizer whose right to free speech needed to be defended on Voltairean principles. Chomsky wrote that Faurisson seemed to be "a relatively apolitical liberal" who was being smeared by zionists who--for ideological reasons--did not like his "findings." Herman then repeats the lie by claiming that Faurisson's critics were "unable to provide any credible evidence of anti-Semitism or neo-Naziism." Feh!”


    Of course, it is easy to see what Chomsky actually wrote and compare it to DeLong’s characterization of it. Chomsky wrote long on the issue, which, along with the Cambodia fabrications, was his biggest source of grief as a public intellectual. Ed wrote on DeLong’s smears of Noam.

    It is really something to study for writing Ed’s biography and being struck by how clear Ed and Noam’s work is, to see how the hacks misrepresent it while attacking it. I almost wonder who put up those quotes, Chomsky’s supporters or attackers. If it was the attackers, what a statement, to publish such easily disproven, even libelous, attacks. If it was his defenders, they had to be showing how credible the attacks on Noam were.

    Those attackers fail on the integrity or sentience issues, or both. As Orwell said, the biggest violators against clear thinking and common sense are usually “intellectuals.” It is really amazing how the most irrational writings often come from the “smart.”

    The attacks on those great men strongly remind me of the attacks that I have seen on Dennis over the years, as his critics vie to tell the biggest lies about him, which easily dupe the credulous and, to be frank, the credulous lap it up because it aligns with what they want to believe.

    As I look back at my life, carrying the spears for Dennis, Brian, Ed, and the like have been among my life’s greatest honors, greater than I could have imagined when I met Dennis. Those are some of the greatest humans to walk the Earth, and I was able to carry their spears, for a task that can help right humanity’s ship, and quickly. On one hand, it has been anything but an easy ride, but on the other, I don’t know of a higher calling. That damned voice knew what it was doing.

    Best,

    Wade
    My big essay, published in 2014, is here.

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