Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What on earth?

.Went to the bookstore in Tower Records in Shibuya, they have some nice imported books, graphic novels. Then i flip through this book 'What on earth happened? brief', few pages and i'm sold.
Here are some interesting snippets from the book, besides from "the doctor's" eye view from the birth of universe, the earth, evolution of life, human civilization ups and downs up until now.

What on earth happened?
pg.163 (template our world is using today)
What made the Roman civilization so remarkable in the classical world was its ability to survive so long, despite its addiction to the constant economic growth needed to feed the insatiable appetites of its rich ruling class. It ruthlessly suppressed the poor by enlisting them as soldiers for its armies or slave laborers for its engineering projects. It controlled its huge populations through mass-entertainment programs and propaganda. It exploited the earth's natural mineral resources when further military expansion proved impossible, and it hijacked a minority religious sect to incorporate a new state religion with fierce intolerance for anything its leaders deemed heresy.

Such tactics become powerful templates for the future. They were subject to repeated reincarnations in various guises, initially across the fractious lands of Europe and the arid deserts of the Middle East, but later throughout  the entire world. THanks to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the relationship between human civilizations and nature lurched into new phase that helped set the stage for the beginning of the modern world.

pg169 (closer to home, Penan tribe from Borneo)
Sharing resources between all living things, animals or people was central to the lives of animistic people. SOme of the most common taboos didn't prohibit things at all-rather they promoted obligations of generosity. The Penan tribe belongs to the Dayak people of the Borneo. They are thought to have been part of the Austronesian expansion which took place about 1000 BC, eventually leading to the populating of Polynesia. A distinctive element of of their culture is the requirement of always sharing wisely. This is called 'molong', a word meaning 'never take more than necessary'. To molong a sago palm is to harvest the trunk with care, ensuring the that the tree sucker up from the roots. Molong is climbing a tree to gather fruit rather than cutting it down, or harvesting only the largest fronds of the rattan, leaving the smaller shoots so that they reach the proper size in another year. Whenever the Penan molong a fruit tree they mark it with a knife -  a sign that means 'Please share it wisely'. The greatest taboo in Penan society is see hun -  a failure to share.
The tougher the living conditions, the more generous the spirit. In Timbuktu, a city in present day Mali that lies on the southern edge of the scorching Shara desert, there's an ancient tradition that still survives amongst some camel herders. It demands that any guest be given what he needs-even if it means slaughtering the last goat whose milk feeds the nomads' children, or sharing the last drop of drinking water.
Some cultures venerated trees as much as animals, and for them the forests were the holiest of holies on earth. They were the sacred places of the Celtic European pagans long before the onset of Christianity gave them a new, more abstract God to worship. The pagan beliefs of the Nordic people, who came front eh Southern Scandinavia, the Netherlands and northern Germany, led them to worship their gods in woods not temples.

pg. 192 (localized outside knowledge like what the Japanese are doing now)
Rulers such as Harun al-Rashid (ruled 786-809 AD) sent diplomats to Constatinople to acquire Greek texts. His son al-Ma'mun (ruled 813-33 AD) is even  said to have made it a condition of peace that the Byzantines habd over a copy 'Ptolemy's Almagest'. Written in about 150 AD, this book of matematical astronomy explained in precise detail how to predict the position of the sun, moon, and planets on any given date, past, present or future. It became an astronomical gospel for Islamic rulers, who used it to determined the dates of future religious festivals, such as Ramadhan, that were based on the cycles of the moon.
Thousands of other ancient texts were translated into Arabic or Persian in Abbasids' House of Wisdom, an enormous royal library in Bahgdad. Caliphs lured translators, scholars and philosophers from all over the known world to their courts and even encouraged debates on how  to reconciled the works of rational philosophers like Aristotle with the divine revelations of Mohammed.

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