Some Thoughts On Various Subjects From Jared Diamond

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves”

Jared Diamond

“[T]he values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.”

Jared Diamond

“The metaphor is so obvious. Easter Island isolated in the Pacific Ocean — once the island got into trouble, there was no way they could get free. There was no other people from whom they could get help. In the same way that we on Planet Earth, if we ruin our own [world], we won’t be able to get help.”

Jared Diamond

“Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies’ histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.”

Jared Diamond

“It’s striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.”

Jared Diamond


Currently Reading: Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed By Jared Diamond

This is another great book by Jared Diamond and I am reading it for a specific purpose. I particularly want to understand what causes, not just in societies, but individual organizations and companies the primary reasons for their demise and damages to themselves. In this book, Diamond primarily focuses on the environment and on page 6 he puts the damage to the environment to the societies in eight categories. Here is his quote:

“The process through which past societies have undermined themselves by damaging their environments fall into eight categories, whose relative importance differs from case to case: deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses), water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, and increased per capita of people.”

Hopefully, by using these categories as a guide, I will be able to more deeply understand other complex adaptive systems and their ebbs and flows.

Books I Have Read Thus Far In 2013

These are books I have read either inspectionally, analytically, or syntopically thus far this year. Some of these I have spent quite a bit of time on while others just to get the sense of the book.

(1) The Signal And The Noise     Nate Silver

I have almost finished this book and found it fascinating. I got pulled away on some other projects and I most likely need to reread it so I can get a full understanding. Highly Recommended!!!

(2) Spillover     David Quammen

This is a tremendous book and to be honest I could only read in small doses because of the intensity of death and dying. One of the best books of the year thus far!!!

(3) Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever     Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, M.D.

I have read this book numerous times and since I have diabetes I am always looking for ways to improve my health. Highly Recommended!!!

(4) Labyrinths: Selected Short Stories And Other Writings     Jorge Luis Borges

There are certain parts of this book that I really enjoyed and others I most likely need to revisit and see if I can understand.

(5) Between Parentheses      Roberto Bolano

This was the second time I read this and I have to say I enjoyed it more the second time and I will most likely read it a third time to get a better feel of Spanish authors.

(6) The Beginning of Infinity     David Deutsch

I did an inspectional reading of this and I must read this slowly to get a good understanding of what he is trying to say.

(7) The World Until Yesterday     Jared Diamond

After having read Guns, Germs and Steel , this seemed a natural and I did an inspectional reading thus far!!!

(8) The Fabric Of Reality    David Deutsch

I am intrigued by parallel universes and I have started rereading certain parts of this book to get a better understanding of parallel universes.

(9)  Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played And Games Are Won     Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wetheim

I was really looking forward to reading this but was disappointed. I will try to give it another go later!!!

(10) Civilization: The West And The Rest     Niall Ferguson

I have done an inspectional reading and it looks to be very interesting!!!

(11) The Emperor Of All Maladies     Siddhartha Mukherjee

I have also done an inspectional on this and I have not made enough time to work it in!!!

(12) Far From The Tree: Parents, Children And The Search For Identity     Andrew Solomon

One of the most thought-provoking books I have read because of the subject matter on which I was not familiar. If you have any interest in understanding deaf, prodigies,autism, dwarves and other societal issues, then this is a fantastic book for you.

(13) Diaspora    Greg Egan

Greg Egan is my favorite science fiction writer as he takes me to places and makes me think outside the box. A tremendous book!!!

(14) The Landscape of History     John Lewis Gaddis

I reread this to get a better understanding of the study of history. I really got a lot out of this.

(15) The Historian’s Craft      Marc Bloch

Same as number fourteen

These are the books that I read through March and I will shortly bring you the books that I have read April through July.

Cover of "The Fabric of Reality: The Scie...

Cover via Amazon

Books In My Pile

Panelist Economic Historian Niall Ferguson at ...

Panelist Economic Historian Niall Ferguson at “Special World Debate” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have numerous (more than I can possibly read in the next year) books in my pile and thought I would mention three since they are moving (very slowly) to the top.

The first is Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals by Peter Provonost, M.D., and Eric Vohr.There are two books to read when it comes to checklists: this one and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (highly recommended). In order to cut down on mistakes in any endeavor and to make maximum use of your time, a checklist seems the way to go (because of its simplicity.

The next book is one I purchased earlier in the year, Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Having been a teaching tennis professional in Alabama and Louisiana in a previous life, I am fascinated in the psychology of how to handle these types of situtations. In tennis, the two best psychologists that I spoke with were Jim Loehr and Chuck Kriese, the former tennis coach at Clemson University. I am hoping this book will give me some more insight in this area.

The last is Civilization by Niall Ferguson. I love these type of books in the same vein as Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and other authors such as Ian Morris (Why The West Runs For Now) and Francis Fukuyama (The Origins of Political Order). This book seems to have broad ideas and makes you consider how the major events in history and society have such cumulative effects on different aspects of our lives.

Currently Reading January 28, 2013

English: Jared Diamond at the 2007 Association...

English: Jared Diamond at the 2007 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, USA Deutsch: Jared Diamond auf dem Jahreskongress der Association of American Geographers in San Francisco, 2007 Suomi: Jared Diamond Yhdysvaltain maantieteilijäyhdistyksen (Association of American Geographers) vuosikokouksessa 2007 San Franciscossa, Kalifroniassa, Yhdysvalloissa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read Tales From The World Before Yesterday: A Conservation with Jared Diamond (12.31.12) Link

I found this article to really describe the New Guinea people. There are three stories that really get personal about the people and their relationships with one another. Read this at your leisure for it is highly recommended.