phillipgoodrich t1_jecdu4t wrote

Please don't underestimate the immense value of a common language (despite G.B. Shaw's famous quotation!) in the hallways of politics and diplomacy. Nuance and idiom are better understood when both parties are speaking their native language. In the U.S., Americans, who are famously and woefully uneducated in any other languages (over 90% of native-born white Americans speak only one language with any fluency), are forced, as were their ancestors, to seek rapport with those who also speak their language. In international diplomacy, there is a perennial distrust of those with whom one cannot smoothly converse. Famously, interpreters in one-on-one conversations will pose a yes-or-no question on behalf of a speaker, to the other individual. And after perhaps a 30-second or more interaction, will turn to the questioner and say, "He says 'yes.'" Well, no, of course he didn't say "yes." He sought clarification, or posed a different response subjected to condensation by the interpreter. Not uncommon.

So, the Americans and their UK cousins, working around accents and idioms, were able to carry on much smoother and understandable deliberations and compromises, than either group could accomplish with any other nations (outside the Commonwealth, who unsurprisingly also remain our closest allies). Once again, famously, the 8000+ mile border between the U.S. and Canada, which has gone unguarded for over two centuries, is unprecedented in world history.


phillipgoodrich t1_jcjvr6v wrote

Some things never change historically/culturally. A "city" or a "nation" can exist where an administration has the ability to provide services in exchange for fealty. The chief service first sought by a population tends to be common defense, which allows everyone to live their quotidien lives in peace. And the more ready the natural defense, the more likely a nation can be created and preserved.

The best and most obvious example of this throughout history is of course islands. The vast majority of islands today are the homes of a single nation (yes, there are notable exceptions, such as Haiti/Dominican Republic ("Hispaniola") and Cyprus). Islands have an often formidable natural boundary which makes defense a reasonably easy task. Being situated between large rivers, or mountain ranges is another example.

Beyond the role of defense, internal services such as health, education, housing, commerce, etc., tend to be facilitated when a nation shares a common climate, via longitude, elevation, proximity, etc., so here again geography can play a major role. A nation like Chile is a great example of the difficulties faced in adminstration of a nation situated in a relatively finite space with spectacular variants in geography. Thus the geographic features within a nation are counter-productive to nation building, and problems with administration ensue. A classic recent example is the Soviet Union, for which administration ultimately produced bankruptcy. Likewise, we can witness within several hundred years the difficulties of administration of larger nations within Europe during the past 1500 years, such as France and Germany, whose mutual border remains somewhat murky, while internal geographic features tend to make provision of services far more expensive than in a smaller nation such as Luxembourg or Belgium.


phillipgoodrich t1_jcjts3m wrote

Perhaps best-known, but little-known (huh?) is the the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It was ordered to be built on the site of the "real" temple (of Solomonic legend and recorded by Ezra) in Jerusalem by Herod the Great, following his return from Rome. He had secured the title "King of the Jews" and wanted to show his magnanimity to his new subjects (Herod was not Jewish as is commonly thought, but was an "Edomite" from Iudemea). After his sparkling new temple was finished, it was looked upon by the most strict Jewish sects (such as the Essenes) as a "fake temple." (Kind of like the "Cathedral" of Monte Carlo, which was built by the Grimaldi family and meant to "look like" a medieval European cathedral). While the Essenes had little use for Herod and his "temple," it is indeed the western/"wailing" wall of this temple that is venerated by Judaism today. But it is by no means a part of Solomon's temple.


phillipgoodrich t1_jc00v9y wrote

Couching cataracts appears to be as old as civilization, and is recorded in cultures in both the Greco-Roman and Indian ancient civilizations. Experts in this technique could apply orbital pressure and dislodge a clouded lens into the posterior chamber, thus restoring a modicum of vision. Jesus pulled off this maneuver in Mark 8: 22-26.


phillipgoodrich t1_jboxezp wrote

There is an interesting little anecdote along these lines that I learned from visiting the site museum at Buchenwald, Germany, provided by their federal government. There was a prison population of communists and Russian POW's housed there in the last year of WWI, and in the waning months of the war, when Buchenwald fell to the Allies, that the guards turned their weapons over to the prisoners, along with the keys to the gates and barracks, and simply traded places with the prisoners. It must have looked very weird at the time, and resonates the same today.


phillipgoodrich t1_jbowa8m wrote

Significantly, the Germans of Weimar, after WWII, almost universally professed total ignorance of what was happening in the concentration camps of Germany and Eastern Europe. But....Buchenwald is approximately six miles from Weimar, and in the last two years of the war, as the work forces were rapidly depleted to replenish the military losses, prisoners in shackles were brought to the local factories, standing side-by-side at assembly lines with civilian workers. How those workers could ever claim ignorance is known only to them now, but yes, of course they knew. They all knew.

But as to why it was tolerated, once an extremist group in any country takes control of the military, the civilian sector is rapidly subdued, and understands that the only two responses to authoritarian behavior are tolerance or extermination. That is an extremely powerful motivation, be it in Nazi Germany, Egypt, Iran, China, Russia, or Uganda.


phillipgoodrich t1_jaz3ktn wrote

The concept of "repatriation" of people of African ancestry who had unwillingly been brought to the Americas, was initially developed in Great Britain by well-meaning but misguided white abolitionists like Granville Sharp and David Barclay (the latter of Barclays Bank) in the 18th century. This led to spectacular failures in West Africa due to undercapitalization and poor planning.

In the following generation in the U.S., once again well-meaning but poorly educated white Americans who were sympathetic to the cause of abolition of all human chattel slavery decided that Black people of African origin, because they were not of the same capacity and abilities as whites, could not be assimilated into white society, and therefore would need their own lands and governments back on the African continent. Among those of this mindset were Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. But there was never any intention of whites, the proponents of "manifest destiny," to return with Blacks to Liberia in any capacity, so the concept of manifest destiny in Africa would have been stillborn.

In the U.S. it was primarily through the writings and speeches of Frederick Douglass that the concept of repatriation of Blacks to Africa was finally pointed out as hopelessly racist and a bankrupt concept. Douglass correctly pointed out that "my people built this country, and we have no desire to leave the nation of our birth to go elsewhere." Douglass, born in Maryland in slavery, had successfully escaped and ultimately was able to purchase his own freedom, and that of his family. He would advise Lincoln throughout the American Civil War, and Lincoln gradually came to adopt Douglass's point of view in the main, leading to the Emancipation Proclamation, and more importantly to sponsoring the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


phillipgoodrich t1_j7rxqrs wrote

You're going to love David McCullough's The Wright Brothers, which is an intensive look at how the Wright brothers solved the issue of powered flight by painstaking, careful, and exhaustive engineering research over several years. McCullough lays to rest any discussion of alternative pioneers who may have accomplished powered flight ahead of the Wright brothers. Never happened, as no one else did their homework like Orville and Wilbur. Enjoy.


phillipgoodrich t1_j7rx4ke wrote

The Captivating History series has some good volumes on West African history, which can give you overview and direction in further African stories. In the US, Black historical events are rooted in the institution of slavery, the repercussions of which continue to influence the Black American experience to 2023.


phillipgoodrich t1_j7rw4a6 wrote

You might try looking at some of the books of John Julius, Lord Norwich. He is more of a "story-teller" than historian, and famously stated that "facts are important to history, but one should never let them stand in the way of a good story." He is a delightful read to his fans, but serious academic historians have a kind of "love-hate" relationship with his books. I've always loved his books, and his stance on history, and find him a British treasure. Sadly, we lost him about two years ago....


phillipgoodrich t1_j78wmpr wrote

Watch for map references to "licks." These are natural salt sources, typically from springs/brooks that are partially dry. In central Missouri, there are "Booneslick" everything: roads, trails, libraries, etc. All refer to a natural "salt lick" owned and operated by Daniel Boone and his kin through Nathan, just west of present-day Columbia, MO. But "licks" are found all over the forest lands of the midwest.


phillipgoodrich t1_j21ky41 wrote

Apparently not a lot of takers on any interesting, and most assuredly not "funny," anecdotes regarding blizzards, harsh cold conditions, or etc. But the "take home" message is clear from accounts like Alive by Piers Paul Reid, or any of the many accounts of the Donner party in the High Sierras/Truckee Meadows: if you find yourself in a situation of extreme cold/ice/snow and a distance from civilization, someone in the group with good survival and orienteering skills is going to have to walk out, or the entire party will die. Just to keep it in mind. Survival against cold is rare beyond 96 hours without taking some steps toward warming, and protection from the elements.