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In Search of Ancient Gods by Von Daniken The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson The End of Days by Zecharia Sitchin The Secret of Bryn Estyn by Richard Webster The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black The Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale Green was the Earth on the Seventh Day by Thor Heyerdahl
The Year Zero by Dr Matthew Kleinman and Nicholas Davies Critical Mass by Philip Ball The Roman World by Martin Goodman Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray The Jesus Dynasty by James D. Tabor From Atlantis to the Sphinx by Colin Wilson The Only Planet of Choice Compiled by Phyllis V. Schlemmer & Palden Jenkins
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In Search of Ancient Gods by Erich Von Daniken
 - My Pictorial Evidence for the Impossible

Some might think of Von Daniken as a bit of a crack-pot, and I can't help but not take everything too seriously when every other ancient picture of 'a being' with pointy things on it's head is an alien with antennae, but how else can such imagery be interpreted. There are also plenty of further images on the internet to back up the belief.

Daniken also talks briefly about the pyramids of Egypt which I am personally interested in and echoes some of what Sitchin later said in his book The End of Days (see below).

There is a review here of the book. This is an interesting extract (although widely quoted with no further, easy to find information): "In the Bodleiean Library, Oxford, England, is a manuscript by the Coptic Scribe, Abu’l Hassen Ma'sudi, catalogued as the Akbar-Ezzeman, M.S. And in it we read:----'Surid, a king of Egypt, before the flood (of Noah's time) had two pyramids built. He ordered his priests to deposit inside of them all the wisdom and knowledge of the scientists then available. In the Great pyramid they also placed information about the heavenly spheres and figures that represented the stars and planets, their positions, and cycles. But also the foundations of mathematics and geometry. He did this so that they would be preserved forever for those descendants who could read the signs." For me, this sounds like Freemasonry.

p.83 Von Daniken "asked several philologists where the word god comes from" and as I have read before, he was told "that in the very earliest writings the singular 'god' did not exist. The first mythological traditions spoke exclusively in the plural of 'the gods', and this primordial concept was roughly translatable as 'those circling in the clouds'. Von Daniken takes this to mean "temporary visitors from other stars", but as I have read elsewhere, I take it to mean the planets.

p.88 I had not before heard about the Codex Fresdensis, the Paris Codex or the Madrid Codex, also known as Tro-Cortesianus.

"The date for the start of [the Mayan] chronology was a day in the year 3113 BC... [this] has no connection with the actual history of the Maya, but has a purely 'symbolic' value... A great deal has been written about the Maya calendar. One fact is that it operated with cycles of years that were only supposed to have repeated themselves every 374,000 years."

p.109 Referring to a large stone Aztec calendar, Von Daniken says that "The calendar relates that in the dim past jaguars came and destroyed the prehistoric animals, after which storms carried men away. In the third age there was rain of fire and a global flood. Oh yes, and the present age, called '4 Olin', is going to be wiped out by an earthquake." There is a bit more on this in part three of this web page.

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Brian's Little Library

 

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
 - A financial history of the world

The author claims early on (p.13 in the Introduction) "that poverty is not the result of rapacious financiers exploiting the poor. It has much more to do with the lack of financial institutions, with the absence of banks, not their presence." but at the same time "finance... [enriches] the lucky and the smart [while] impoverishing the unlucky and not-so-smart.". He does question though "Are we on the brink of a 'great dying' in the financial world"? something I have thought about, and my question then is, what is the purpose of money in our lifetime (if this financial world dies) if all we'll need is food and water?

But "[t]he life of a hunter-gatherer is indeed, as Thomas Hobbes said of the state of nature, 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. But what about a balance between two life styles? Why work to buy food when you can grow your own?

Once you get beyond the introduction and into the main chapters, the book is largely economics based in my opinion, which is a shame because I found it a bit of a chore. It was only in the Afterward that Ferguson returns to broader topics including a brief comparison between how the west and China each treat money differently... or they perhaps did until China became westernised.buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

The End of Days by Zecharia Sitchin
 - Armageddon and Prophecies of the Return

 

I thought I had read one of Sitchin's other books... but it was in fact Gods of the New Millennium by Alan F. Alford as his book is also about Nibiru or as he calls it, Planet X.

'Orbital Considerations for Planet X' is an interesting paper that refers to both authors.

Notes:
p.17 "The twelve zodiacal houses were known to the Sumerians":
1. GU.AN.NA ("heavenly bull"), Taurus
2. NASH.TAB.BA ("twins"), our Gemini
3. DUB ("pincers," "tongs"), the Crab or Cancer
4. UR.GULA ("lion"), which we call Leo
5. AB.SIN ("her father was Sin"), the Maiden, Virgo
6. ZI.BA.AN.NA ("heavenly fate"), the scales of Libra
7. GIR.TAB ("which claws and cuts"), Scorpio
8. PA.BIL ("defender"), the Archer, Sagittarius
9. SUHUR.MASH ("goat-fish"), Capricorn
10. GU ("lord of the waters"), the Water Bearer, Aquarius
11. SIM.MAH ("fishes"), Pisces
12. KU.MAL ("field dweller"), the Ram, Aries
 

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p.61 "Celestially, "the great planet" will appear in the constellation of the Ram..."

p.117 "If in the third millennium B.C.E. god fought god using armies of men, in the second millennium B.C.E. men fought men "in the name of god."

p.220, p.222 and p.223 seem to me to conflict themselves for p.220 states "But then, in 556 B.C.E, there occurred an extraordinary solar eclipse "not in an expected time." [because it was the unexpected arrival of Nibiru]", p.222 states "Still, it is an astronomically historic fact that on a day equal to May 19, 556 B.C.E., a major total solar eclipse did occur." and p.223 states "It was in 556 B.C.E. that the prophesied darkness at Noon came." Solar Eclipses are and were predictable, therefore to say one occurred at an unexpected time is wrong if it was expected, and on the other hand a coincidence that Nibiru returned at the same time, to also cause an eclipse?

p.229 "The prophet's opening statement is usually translated "visions of God." The term Elohim, which is plural, has been traditionally translated as "God" in the singular, even when the Bible itself clearly treats it in the plural, as in "And Elohim said let us fashion the Adam in our image and after our likeness" (Genesis 1: 26." This is is also pointed out in The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black (see below) in which Black states this is because "Gods" means the planets, but Sitchin goes on to state the Gods are the Anunnaki (from Nibiru).

p.232 Sitchin states "The Departure [of the Anunnaki] was related to the Return of Nibiru - the gods left Earth when Nibiru came." but he also points out that "(a) the gods grew angry with the people, (b) the gods "flew away like birds," and (c) they ascended to "heaven". So again, which is it, or did this period of unrest just coincide with the return of Nibiru.

Sitchin paints an interesting picture of the "gods" of Nibiru coming to Earth for its gold because it was required for the atmosphere back on Nibiru (to make it habitable for them?) and that the Cydonia complex on Mars was a way-station, a stop-off point on their way back.

p.281 It was sort of inevitable that the story would lead to the point of time when Jesus was born. Sitchin mentions some parts of Jesus', such as the last supper that are discussed in The Jesus Dynasty by James D. Tabor (see below).

To begin with, this book is hard to digest, and this is from someone who has read a book on a similar topic, but stick at it and what the author has to say seems to fall into place - even if you don't accept what it is he is saying.

Why not read my topic 2012 & The Oil Spill - click here.
 

 

The Secret of Bryn Estyn by Richard Webster
 - The making of a modern witch hunt

It can give an insight into human nature where 'witch-hunts' are concerned (this one based on a child abuse case), but at 750 pages I didn't read it from cover-to-cover but skipped through it after the first few evidence-packed chapters.
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The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black

 

This book documents the evolution of human consciousness and the balance between spiritualism and materialism.

Notes:
"Scientists... however brilliant they are as scientists, are philosophical morons."

"Humans breath on average 25,920 times per day, which is the number of years in a great Platonic year (i.e. the number of years it takes for the sun to complete a full cycle of the zodiac). The average or 'ideal' human life - seventy-two - also has the same number of days in it."

p.43 Kidneys - testosterone

p.48 "Conventionally minded Christians may wish to stop reading now." The author then goes on to explain that because of science all the Gods of the past have been forced out of the picture and thus we are left with "an extreme and radical monotheism" which is what "today's church preaches".
 

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"Christian churches... all over the world have been built on... certain sites... [that] have been regarded as portals for the spirits, cracks in the normal fabric of the space-time continuum." Great Scott!

p.94 "Idealism [according to] philosophy holds that the cosmic mind and the thoughts or Thought-Beings emanating from it (ideas) are the higher reality. Physical objects, on the other hand, are mere shadows or reflections of this higher reality."

p.105 "Because of the encasing, bony skull and the enmeshing of the organs of spiritual perception, humans, were now shut off not only from the gods ranged above them, but also from each other. A shadow was falling over human relations. It became possible for one centre of consciousness to believe itself cut off from another.

"In the same way that we would be overwhelmed by the spirit worlds if they were not filtered out, if there were no filter on empathy we would feel everyone's pain as our own..."

p.108 Enoch knew that just as thought processes weaken health, language weakens memory.

p.115 Before language, everything that happened was meant to happen - people could not question.

p.127 By this point the author leads me to think about suppression. In the past some key examples were the suppression of witches, the native Americans, but now I think how even such groups as the Taliban are trying to be suppressed.

p.130 Spiritual - "the ability to see, hear and communicate with the [spirit world].

p.134 "...consciousness and memory are not stored in the brain alone..."

p.157 "[Jung] concluded that these psychological complexes [such as believing in disembodied spirits] were autonomous in the sense of being independent of the human brain altogether... The reader should beware of taking the same step... [this is] important because a momentary lapse of concentration in this regard you might... begin to walk down the road that leads straight to the lunatic asylum."

p.160 "Marriages [in the past] were usually within a tribe or extended family. Supernatural powers were connected with blood, and marriage between people of the same blood strengthened powers, something which used to be a part of the tradition of the gypsies, for example. Marriage of individuals from different tribes could involve an exchange of powers and knowledge." Similar beliefs hold true today but often it's seen to be genetic makeup, such as if a father has a particular skill then so must his son, and the phrase 'it's in his blood' is still widely used.

p.164 "In the fourth century BC the historian Diodorus of Sicily described a spherical sun temple in the north, dedicated to Apollo. Today scholars believe he was describing Stonehenge or, more likely, Callanish in the far north of Scotland."

p.174 see also The Bible Code as the author brings this topic to the table.

"In esoteric circles language which is imbued by initiates with layers of meaning is sometimes called the Green Language" is Lojban close to this? "One possibility... perhaps we all speak the Green Language all the time? [just subconsciously]."

p.175 Sigmund Freud and Akhenaten's ideas of monotheism.

Akhenaten was brought up inside the temple precincts of Egypt and grew up with a sense of cosmic mission. He had been born with a chromosomal defect that gave him a strange, hermaphroditic, even unearthly appearance: womanly thighs and an elongated face that might be read as ethereal, even spiritual. This defect can also lead to symptoms of mental instability - mania, delusions, paranoia.

Some combination of these factors may have contributed to his actions, which threatened to disrupt the whole progress of human evolution.

The start of his reign coincided with the beginning of a Sothic cycle. He proceeded to really shake things up - he declared that all other gods did not really exist and that Aten was the one, true and only God. - we all know the Egyptians had many gods so this was monotheism in something very like the modern sense (the worship of the other gods was forbidden). Their temples were effaced and shut down, and their popular festivals declared superstitions. This to me sounds all too familiar!

Like today's monotheism, Akhenten's was materialistic. Is this not the underlying reason, to lead people a stray from their spiritual path? "To deny the experience of spirits" Eventually things collapsed - his daughter died, then his mother and then all record of his wife disappears. Then he was killed. All traces of his name were removed and his position on the throne was quickly taken over by the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen.

"Some commentators have seen Akhenaten as a prophetic, even saintly figure. It is significant though, that as we know from Manetho, the Egyptians remembered his reign as a Sethian event. Seth is, of course, Satan, the great spirit of materialism, who always works to destroy true spiritualism."

p.180 This seems somewhat contradictory: "The mission of Solomon was to lead humankind down into a darkening, more material world, keeping the flame of spirituality alive. It was the same mission that Freemasonry would take up in the seventeenth century at the dawn of the modern age of materialism."

p.192 "If we see in the Athenians a gift for free, individual though, we see in Sparta the development of individual will, competitive edge and admiration, to the point of hero-worship, of strong men."

p.193 "The star-like spirits of the dead ascended though the gate of Capricorn and up through the spheres, before descending back into the material world through the gate of Cancer." More on this at www.skyscript.co.uk/cap_myth.html

.194 "In the secret tradition Socrates was a reincarnation of the great spirit who have previously lived in the body of Silenus... the aim of philosophy is to teach one how to die"

p.201 "In The Principles of Human Knowledge Bishop Berkeley... advocated a version of idealism according to which matter has no existence independent of perception."

p.205 "Julius Caesar eradicated the Druids because of their teaching of the Sun Mysteries - that the Sun god was soon to return to earth. Similarly Augustus banned astrology not because he disbelieved in it, but because he was anxious about what astrologers could see written in the sky." Caesar wanted power and control and therefore refused other gods, he wanted to be seen as god.

p.209 "The cosmic plan had been that human spirits should attain individuality, should be able to think freely, to exercise free will and to choose who to love... Human thought and will was then no longer wholly controlled by gods, angels and spirits... However there were dangers in this... not only might humanity become altogether cut off from the spirit world, there was a danger, too, that humans would become completely cut off from on another." This rings true in my mind with the family unit and meal times which are no longer spent together at a dinning table but spent watching TV.

p.219 "The New Testament is full of occult and esoteric teaching, some of it explicitly stated. The problem is that we have been educated to be blind to it."
 

 

The Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale
 - Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy

 

Notes:
p.10 The Pinta was under the command of Martin Alonso Pinzon, "it was claimed that Pinzon had been to Rome and seen charts of new lands across the seas." Because as conspiracy theorists believe, Rome and the Vatican have such knowledge of the world hidden away.

p.12 I found it interesting that while the three ships were embarking on a voyage of new discovery, none were equipped for such a voyage. Even though they were supported by Rome they weren't travelling to spread the "word of God", and they weren't equipped for an invasion either.
 

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p.16 "And there is some reason to suspect that he may have had, who knows how, some idea of the wind patterns across the Atlantic, for he did select routes both out and back that were so accurate in making use of prevailing air currents that sailing ships use them to this day." I read about the winds that carry vessels westward, known in ancient times, in Thor Heyerdahl's book I last read.

p.17 "...the standard historians' line that the European conquest of America was driven by "God, Gold, and glory" would seem to be pretty much on the mark."

p.22 "Just why Colon chose to sail to the Canaries is not quite clear. It is true that they were the westernmost possessions of Castile - but they were 700 miles to the south and represented a considerable deviation for a fleet that would presumably have been aiming due west. It may have been, as some have suggested, that he had picked up somewhere (perhaps during his time in the Madeiras) an idea that he would find easterly winds at that latitude, and if so, that was no doubt the most important single decision in his entire navigational career, for that is exactly what happened... Or it may have been pure dumb luck, as others have suggested, inspired by an idea that his ultimate destination was on the same latitude..."

Basically, I've determined the voyage to (rediscover) America ventured westward on the same longitude as the Great Pyramid of Egypt and many other such sites around the world... that and Rome knew America was there because they had maps (and other documents) which they'd swiped from the Library of Alexandria before they torched the place.

p.48 "There was no doubt that they did know how far it was to their destination, for Fernando assures us that his father "had often told them they must not expect to strike land until they had sailed seven hundred and fifty leagues west of the Canaries."

p.54 Yeah, so it turns out that he wasn't Christopher Columbus (as you seem to get taught in school), but more likely Christobal Colom in Portugal, or Cristobal Colon in Spain.

p.55 I like the Spanish word querencia, "which implies not merely a 'love of home,'... but a deep, quiet sense of inner well-being that comes from knowing a particular place of the earth... It is that place where, whenever you return to it, your soul releases an inner sigh of recognition and relaxation." I realise I have such a place.

p.56/9 "It was just eight days into the voyage from the Canaries that the compasses of the fleet went haywire, at least in nautical terms" Here I started to read between the lines and was thinking 'Bermuda Triangle'! However, the author assures us that "what in fact had happened is that the ships had sailed to a point on the earth where one can see the normal diurnal rotation of the North Star, a phenomenon not visible from Mediterranean latitudes." Shame! Although, I went to the lengths of back tracking though the book and worked out where the fleet were across the Atlantic on any given day. At eight days they were only 500 miles from the Canaries, then just 250 miles further the "crew kept finding signs of land" and it is at this approximate point that there are what look like, according to Google Maps satellite imagery, low lying land/'land' that doesn't quite break the surface.

p.69 "The landfall island itself, as we may surmise from archaeological scholarship, would have been first inhabited sometime around A.D. 900... the landmass that is today known as North America, to which the Bahamian islands are geologically and biologically related, was discovered and temporarily settled by Europeans at least as early as A.D. 1000. There is now no question whatsoever that Norse explorers, presumably sailing from their colonies in Greenland, came upon Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland, all parts of North America, in the eleventh century..."

p.81 "From these elemental patterns in Europe's tapestry of nature - ignorance and fear, separation and hostility, dominance and exploitation - a discernible image emerges: of a world more mechanistic than organic, more artificial than intrinsic, more corporeal than numinous, from which intimacy, sacredness, and reverence have all but vanished (it would be the achievement of the next five centuries to eliminate them entirely) and in which something colder, duller, and more lifeless presides instead..."

p.141 Like the natives of Britain In The Year Zero (see below), "[the native Americans] marry as many wives as they please; and son cohabits with mother, brother with sister, male cousin with female, and any man with the first woman he meets."

p.151 "It is said, by Las Casas among others, that what perplexed the Tainos of Espanola most about the strange white people from the large ships was not their violence, not even their greed, nor in fact their peculiar attitudes toward property, but rather their coldness, their hardness, their lack of love."

p.173 I found it strange that "the ancients and the Holy Church were wrong about the single Island of the Earth and this was some kind of orbis alterius that the theologians had proved was impossible" not that they were wrong but that this sentence contradicts the earlier statement about the Church knowing, and possibly having ancient maps showing that there was an 'America'.

p.177 "There is a recurrent theme among the myths of many of the Indians of the Americas that might be described as one not of Paradise Lost but of Paradise Now: in effect, of peoples having ascended from a dark Other World, a world of sorrow and evil, into the present Edenic garden, peoples not fallen but risen, not damned but blessed, not inherently sinful but inherently salubrious. Such a belief might change a culture's view of the world around it quite substantially." With this in mind, what is it that we, the Europeans, are trying to achieve with 'our world', our constant strive for improvement?

p.190 "Seneca... predicted in Medea that 'the years will come, in the succession of the ages, when the Ocean will loose the chains of things, and a huge land lie revealed".

p.200-1 "...he lost interest entirely in the gentle Tainos... he conquered and ruled [them] by force, killing fellow beings with no more compassion than a butcher for his beasts."

p.206 "Can it be an accident that this was almost exactly the configuration of the Western Hemisphere represented on the first printed map of the New World, by Giovanni Matteo Contarini in 1506, just four years later; on the Johannes Ruysch map of 1507; and quite similar to the Piri Re'is map of 1513 that was labeled as having been based on a chart taken by the Turks...?"

What was the whole purpose of the voyages? Find other lands (secretly known?) unknown? Just to see what's there? Find a route to India (hence the native Americans became know as Indians because that's what they were thought to be? Gold? Colonisation? I question these in my History section.

p.242 Of this latter purpose, it is interesting to note that on the voyage in 1606/7 that resulted in the founding of the first permanent English settlement in North America, Jamestown, in the new Colony of Virginia, "there were no farmers, no botanists, none with a special knowledge of what was then called 'natural history', [nor even any] goldsmiths, and there were no women, although a century of European colonization attempts had demonstrated by then how crucial they were to successful settlement."

p.249 A little bit off topic - witchcraft "[Witchcraft] was in essence, the name given by the established authorities to the various surviving forms of paganism, animism, and goddess-worship that still played a large part in certain European belief-systems, particularly in rural areas, stemming from roots deep in fertility cults and nature-worship from the past that the Church had never been able to suppress."

p.256-7 Learning about the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre was pretty horrific.

p.258 "America in a phrase... the land of exploitation."

p.269 "Whatever the differences between English and Spanish forms of conquest, they were alike in their desire to emplace their own foreign populations, establish political and ideological hegemony, settle and control large stretches pf land, effect military control - and achieve spiritual regeneration in the process." A method I believe that was inherited by the Romans 1000 years earlier.

p.272-3 "Time and again it is reported that the colonists were 'not so provident... as to put corne in the fround for their winters bread' or 'not compelled (since in themselves unwilling) to sowe Corne for their own bellies, nor to put a Roote, Herbe, &c. for their owne partiular good in their Gardens, or elsewhere." Time and again it is said that they succumed to unaccountable 'idleness and bestiall sloth,' 'laziness,' and 'unwillingness,' and 'had they not been forced... they would all have starved.' This is not all that surprising though when you learn of the types of people who we are dealing with - not farmers or even people that know manual labour of any kind - are they not the same types of people that live today off benefits, who have no self-motivation when it comes to providing for themselves but instead expect to be provided for? Sadly, today these people can survive living this way.

"...the alienation from nature [was] already ingrained in European culture - and more so in settlers from distinctly urbanized societies such as southeastern England and southern Spain - might well create a psychological impotence, a withdrawal, a kind of mental fetal-positioning, that would read to the world as idleness and laziness."

p.283 Regarding using/abusing the land for monetary gain "the only way to maintain income with falling prices was to move farther and farther out into Powhatan country and plant larger and larger fields, felling trees and clearing lands wherever they could, regardless of local populations or environments... in Virginia it proved all the more voracious because the tin topsoils of the tidewater coast (not enriched by glacial mineral deposits, as northern soils are) were exhausted in a half-dozen years and [tobacco] plantations were abandoned and left to erosion... such farming ensured that the minimum number of people would have the maximum impact on the soul and forest, none of it beneficial. Even today [these regions] show the disastrous effect... It is perhaps fitting that the first colony of what was to become the United States was saved by, and built entirely around, a product of human and environmental debilitation."

p.284 Reading about the 'slaves' that formed the servants of Jamestown and their 'freedom grants' gave me a sense of deja-vou after reading about the same treatment by the Romans throughout Europe.

p.286 "In its attitude to the land, and the creatures thereof, a culture reveals the truest part of its soul."

p.287 It's sad that for the original colonisers "The world was all before them, but somehow they saw it not." The author suspects "that this remarkable blindness, this separateness, is part of that same mental blockading, the psychological distancing, that psychological distancing and numbing, that descended on the Jamestown settlers... not knowing how to assimilate the American wilderness..."

p.289 "To this terror of the wild the European mind opposed the serenity of the garden: nature tamed, nature subdued, nature, as it were, denatured. The mission to impose control - and its aesthetic analogue, order - on elements of the natural world was seen as the very duty, the very purpose, of civilization and above all its Christian form."

p.291 "...within a just a century [the Europeans] did more to alter the environment of North America, in some places and for many populations quite irretrievably, than the many millions of the American branch had done in fifteen centuries or more. It took a special kind of mind to see that impact as beneficial, as "progress," indeed as "civilisation." But the European (and the American successor) possessed just such a mind: those English who clear-cut their way through ancient primordial forests actually spoke of 'making land.'"

In summary, the Europeans could have learned a lot from the Native Americans, and had they done so, the world would have turned out to be an amazing place.
 

 

Green was the Earth on the Seventh Day by Thor Heyerdahl

 

If you've ever wanted to leave civilisation behind and disappear off to a remote island then this book will wet your appetite for adventure.

The depressing thing is that the author who "became fascinated with people and cultures living in harmony with nature" was unable to find an uninhabited yet habitable island and when he got there with his wife, civilisation was already beginning to take a hold. Since his adventure took place before the Second World War took place the island is probably a lot less 'remote' these days.

Notes:
p.14 "Tiahuanaco was the cult centre of the seafaring sun god and priest-king Kon-Tiki, the pan-Peruvian monarch who, according to Inca traditions, brought culture to South America. It was he who had come as an immigrant, and later left from the coast again with his entourage of fair-skinned and bearded followers, for whom the Europeans were later mistaken.
 

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p.18 "Xium became the father of Calla, who founded the temple city of Tucume."

p.19 "Some fragmentary tradition has it that Tucume was named after a chief name Tucmi in the days of King Callac.

p.23 "The days were never rushed, and watches were big, with ample space between the hours."

p.26 "'Progress' was synonymous with distance from nature."

p.51 Captain Brander of the Tereora detested civilisation, that's why he was there, yet he spread it from island to island "They want it. once they have had a little taste of it. Nobody can save them from the avalanche. I certainly can't. Why do they want sewing machines and tricycles or underclothing and canned salmon? They don't need any of it. But they want to tell their neighbours: look here, I've got a chair while you are squatting on the floor. And then the neighbour also has to buy a chair, and something else not possessed by the first one. The needs increase. The expenditure. Then they have to work, although they hate it. They harvest coconuts and split them to dry the kernel into copra to earn money they absolutely don't need." The talk of how the islanders were becoming 'civilised' reflects clearly on how we in the west live in our materialistic world - often there is no need for it... all you need is shelter and food... anything else is really a luxury that you have to work for.

p.59 I found it amusing that an old native woman when seeing Liv, the author's wife couldn't believe there were white women, having only ever seen white men. "The vessels anchoring on twenty-four-hour visits to the islands had brought ashore many white men who came for brown girls, but no white woman had ever come for a brown man."

p.99 "Medicine is civilisation."

p.102 "Man is an important cogwheel, but not the only one. He cannot rotate alone." We have created medicines to combat disease, natures way of maintaining our numbers, thus we have become overpopulated. The outcome is war, our way of maintaining our numbers.

p.143 "The world of Ioane, Tioti, and Pakeekee (natives on Fatu-Hiva) was tiny when seen from a distance. With the eyes of the universe, mankind is reduced to microscopic proportions, and our quarrels assume absurd dimensions, like the invisible trifles we fight about."

p.154 "'There is no reason to doubt what these people were absolutely sure of,' said Henry Lie. 'Two different peoples had come to this island before any Europeans. The Polynesians were ancestor worshippers. If their own ancestors had erected these monuments they would never have forgotten it.'" "...and industrious people, often with reddish hair and fair skin, had been found by their forefathers on the various islands and expelled or absorbed by the newcomers."

p.159 "...Easter Island stone giants antedated their smaller relatives in the Marquesas by at least half a millennium. The Puamau images were erected about A.D. 1300, whereas the first colossal stone men had been set up on Easter Island by A.D. 800."

p.171 "...when the last of the flesh-eating humans left Motane, there was nothing to stop the plant-eating sheep from breeding lambs and multiplying far beyond the saturation point. Hordes of wild sheep consumed all the grass, all the leaves within reach, and when famine hit them, they devoured the roots of the grass and the bark of the trees until even the last of the foliage high above their heads withered away and the island became a desert." It this how many other the earth's deserts began?

p.173 "Easter Island had once been wooded. Like Mangareva and the nearest island in Polynesia... Above these original levels was a layer that contained ashes from extensive forest fires, marking the arrival of man. In the layers above this, the original species vanished..."

p.175 "Many years would pass before I would come to realize that the fate of Motane and Easter Island is sneaking up on us almost everywhere on our planet... But where the destruction advances slowly over the centuries we do not even see it. We assume that our planet was presented to man the way we see it today. That the Sahara was always a vast desert. That parts of Greece and Spain always presented a bleak and barren landscape.

p.176 "At the naked rock plateau of Tassili, 2,000 meters above the sea and about 1,000 kilometers from the coast, deep into the heart of the Algerian desert, the former inhabitants of the Sahara paddled reed boats to hunt hippopotamus on rivers and lakes. On smooth, overhanging rock faces between five and six thousand years ago, they painted in elegant lines the incidents of their daily lives when they hunted all sorts of forest animals and herded domesticated flocks of cattle. At the base of the cliffs, over a bone-dry waterhole in the rocks, they sculptured the relief of a weeping cow, tears falling from her eyes as she bends down to look for the water that has forever disappeared.

"What happened to North Africa? Why did waterways and fertile pastures dry up to become the world's largest desert? This desert still advances southward and eats up central African jungles with a speed measurable in kilometers per year. Classical writers from the centuries around the time of Christ tell us that when the Greek and Roman conquerors reached North Africa, they found a green continent abounding in timber and fertile soil. The modest grain cultivation by aboriginal Berber population was quickly expanded at this time, until North Africa became the fertile granary of the Roman Empire. The Berbers had navigated in reed boats, but the Phoenicians who had settled among them and founded commercial city-states, began cutting timber for wooden ships. This modest exploitation of the forests increased when the Romans needed timber for their naval fleet. The Arab armies later conquered all former Berber lands, and in the wake of the soldiers came the shepherds, moving into North Africa to slash-and-burn and to raise ever-increasing herds of sheep and goats. In the end, man's failure to protect what nature had offered him enabled the climatic change that had already begun about 3000 B.C. to turn jungle humus and cultivated soil into sterile sand. What Roman mosaics from the time of Christ depicted as colorful paradise was transformed into the Sahara's endless desert dunes. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that in his day one could travel from Tangiers in Morocco to Alexandria in Egypt along the entire coast of North Africa - in the shad of green foliage."

p.179 "Through unlimited exploitation and expanding farmlands the forests were felled northward through the Low Countries, and the large oak forests of Norway available to shipbuilders in Viking times were gone by the eighteenth century."

p.225 "Primitive man's work has become modern man's leisure. Even spring water, clear air, and sunshine is luxury to modern man. He locks himself up indoors with artificial light so that he can earn enough money to pay his electricity bill and a few weeks outside in the sun."

p.252 "...our wonderful time in the wilderness had given us a real taste of what mankind had once abandoned. And what mankind was still struggling to get ever farther away from. And in his attempt to build a better world, man still [had] no sign of a sensible destination. We were looking for progress but should not fool ourselves into thinking that just any road ahead is that progress."

p.256 "...the only place where it is possible to find nature as it always was is within man himself."

p.263 "...by definition everything nature does is natural. Again we fool ourselves with our own words. If anything is supernatural, that is what nature does. The only thing that is natural, that is what man can do to nature. Cut it to pieces. Kill it. Dissect it... but at the very best, we will never get beyond the stage of plagiarism."

p.291 "The rotation of the earth keeps sea and air in constant westward drift in these areas."

p.303 "Thanks to medicine, the arts, education, and communications, we have produced great advantages for the minority of mankind that can afford them. Our only fear is that overconsumption may set a limit to growth and to how long our present living standard will last. We speak of the possibility of a future catastrophe. But those of us who speak in public or write forget that the majority of mankind today are already hit by that catastrophe and still exist in living conditions as miserable as those of the Middle Ages.

"We have mercy for labourers who work with their bodies, and so we invent push-button systems and computers to relieve them of physical toil. And then we send them unemployed into the streets, while those of us who can afford it exercise by pedalling stationary bikes."

This book was an awe-inspiring and beautiful tale of the author's attempt to return to nature. As I was approaching the last few chapters I knew something had to make a turn for the worse - the author and his wife had to leave their utopia and return to civilisation for some reason. I didn't want their adventure to end but I read on. In the end, civilisation found them, or at least a western way of life did. It was a sad end, but they accepted their time was up.

I skipped the part at the end of the book of the author's version of Genesis, but his final words of wisdom rang true for me - an effort needs to be made to look after this planet.
 

 

The Year Zero by Dr Matthew Kleinman and Nicholas Davies
 - The true story of life in Britain 2000 years ago

 

For one, Britain was called Albion. It was "peopled by warring, primitive, illiterate tribes" known as Chavs! "Greek writers referred to Albion as a mysterious place, a land of spirits, of evil and danger." Cheap cider, happy slappings and knife crime!

I found this book to be an interesting and also saddening insight into the Roman invasion of Britain but it made for a nice companion to The Roman World (see below).

Notes:
p.15 "The British men wore their usually fair hair at shoulder length and cultivated long moustaches which drooped down on either side of the mouse. The rest of their faces were closely shaven which was most unusual among tribes throughout Europe. In this respect, the British warrior was a far more striking and unusual figure than his European counterpart who, at that time, nearly wall wore beards.
 

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"The British men also shaved the rest of their body which in Year Zero was quite profusely hairy. The average height of an ancient Briton at that time was approximately 5ft 6 in, while the women were remarkably small, measuring on average two or three inches below 5ft."

p.18 "It revealed to Caesar that at least some of the British - as well as the intellectual Druid priests - could read and write and had even acquired a knowledge of Latin, the mother tongue of the Romans. It suggested to Caesar that Britain must have had a scholarly culture equal if not superior to what they had discovered during the conquest of Gaul decades earlier."

p.20 "Modern Britain claims a 'democratic' form of government, but in reality Britain's alleged democratic process is an oligarchy in which the people are governed by a small group of people of a particular political party."

p.23 "For centuries before Year Zero, the British Isles had been a natural place in which the tribes and peoples of Europe would settle." Not much it would seem, has changed since then, although maybe we (those that think they are British) have become less tolerant.

p.24 As for sex, for the men it was a free-for-all and thus "most girls produces their first child by the age of 14 and would then become pregnant usually once a year" even including by their father or brother. It's explained later in the book that the constant wars between tribes helped to keep population numbers in check but later when the Romans took over and peace time hit the nation the population began to boom. Further more, wife sharing and homosexuality were also common place as noted by Caesar.

p.87 "The Druids were considered both the priestly class and the wise men of the tribe who carried on the traditions of those early Magi who had planned the stone circles of Britain, such as Stonehenge." Who were these "early Magi", are they who the Druids gained their early knowledge from and were the Magi originally from Egypt or even Atlantis? Read more about my ideas on my History page.

"The Druids continued the megalithic (stone worship) folk practices of ancient Neolithic (Stone Age) people certainly until the Year Zero and beyond.

"And yet the rites and teachings of Druidism seemed to have much in common with the religions of India, especially the similarities between the functions and the positions in society of the Druids and their Indian counterparts, the Brahmins, the wise men of the Hindu religion. Both Druid and Brahmin were heirs to a common tradition of learning and culture.

"Both the Hindus and the Druids worshipped sacred trees..."

p.89 "In the centuries around 4,000BC, Europe was covered with oak forests, and primitive hunter-gatherers saw the oak as a symbol of plenty, a tree from which they would collect acorns as an integral part of their staple diet...

"Oak was also respected as the tree that supplied excellent hard wood for burning, as well as being used to build timber dwellings... so believe [the oak] might never die if not cut down." But it was cut down, and thus are landscapes are virtually void of them.

p.90 "Most hamlets and villages in pre-history Britain were selected and built around a tree which immediately took on a sacred status. It was usually called the tree of life, standing as a talisman in the centre of the community. Sometimes raiding parties would attack a small commune solely with the intent of cutting down the sacred tree..." Maybe once all the oaks were gone a standing stone was erected instead.

p.91 And the obvious symbolic reference to the oak (and standing stones)... "the ultimate phallic symbol". "Tacitus (55-120AD)... wrote of the greatest shrines of the classical world being revered features, such as trees or rocks, and usually situated in rural and often extremely remote areas in forests and mountains."

p.93 "Though the Druids preached the doctrine of transmigration of the soul, it was not accepted by the mass of the British people who, in Year Zero, still held firm in the belief that there was a future life after death, a form of the 'Continuance Theory" which for centuries held sway in primitive and more modern tribes. The Britons believed in [what we would term Heaven]."

p.94 "To Rome, the Druids represented an intellectual and challenging opposition. The Romans were materialistic, the Druids spiritual.

"Romans looked upon women as bearers of children and objects of pleasure to e used and abused as men saw fit, while the Druids respected women, including them in both their political and religious life."

p.97 In some hamlets and villages, there were also human images carved out of stone and huge boulders and these, too, were venerated as local gods. Indeed, some societies worshipped large stones and boulders on which nothing had been carved at all. Sometimes, large stones became objects of worship locally, perhaps because of something as banal as the sun shining on them in some unusual way..." or perhaps because the were the counterpart to the sacred oak.

p.98 "The idea of erecting altars to various gods had been imported into Britain... on the majority of these altars the solar symbol - the six-spoked solar wheel - was carved." It is widely accepted that numerous ancient Celtic crosses are carved on what were standing stones.

p.101-4 The authors talk about the religion(s) of pre-Roman-invaded Britain and the religion of the invaders but I failed to fully understand which the author was talking about. "When Caesar visited Britain during his two invasions, he recorded that the tribesmen of Britain worshipped [what he called] Mercury, Apollo, Mars and, first and foremost, Jupiter, the sun-god, just as the people of Gaul did at that time. It was only after Rome's successful invasion of Britain in AD43 that the truth of the facts of pagan religion and the multitude of different gods gradually emerged." That makes sense although it is Caesar that is describing them as gods and not necessarily how the natives saw these 'influences' (gods/spirits).

The confusion for me comes from reading that "Religious buildings were constructed on the edge of large villages in which the inhabitants would go to pray to their gods." I presume these are what Caesar witnessed, not what the Romans instigated. Public 'churches' and private places of "worship" were present too. "Some were sited in their own enclosures, but all were separate from the rest of the village." I am surprised that such buildings, if built by the natives, were present as I had previously thought that religious sites were simply that, sites, maybe with a stone or tree as mentioned earlier.

"The intellectual elite were divided into Bards, Druids and Vates... Druids were also teachers, healers and judges, physicians and historians, astronomers and astrologers, seers and magicians, poets and musicians. And they kept the all important [Coligny] calendar around which ancient society was organised." The authors then go on to say how it much have been the Druids who constructed Stonehenge in the second Millennium BC and that they also 'knew the shape and size of the world' as noted by the historian Pomponius Mela (10-75AD). But were these things actually developed by the Druids or was their knowledge inherited from others.

It is mentioned earlier on that the Romans had a high level of respect for the druids, maybe for both their level of knowledge, their influence over the more common people of Albion but at the same time they maybe realised that removing this influence would aid their efforts to invade and diminish attacks on themselves.

p.113 "During the last 2,000 years, however, respect for the mighty Druids has been slowly, continually and deliberately under minded principally by the forces of the Christian church." But only the Christian church? What about the Catholic church which is usually more widely known for its underhand tactics when it comes to suppressions? And why have these suppressions continued for so long? I was under the impression that the Druids were essentially ousted once Britain became Romanised, why were there such efforts to continually ensure no such Druidistic ways of life or seeing the world would make a come back? The conspiracy theorist in me is lead to think that the Church recognises that there is something in this Druidistic belief system, a knowledge of this something that they want to reserve for themselves and keep within their inner sanctum and not let back our into the wider world, a knowledge to be kept from the common intellectual.

"Originally, the Magi were the wise men and priestly caste of ancient Persia and their alleged powers over the supernatural gave us the word magic. In essence, the Magi were the equivalent of the Druids of Europe." They suffered at the same hand of the Romans as the Druids, earlier in fact. Was the belief system of the Magi the same as the Druids and if so, where did it come from or was it just something that developed naturally over centuries or millennia?

p.146 "Those first two engagements were mere skirmishes and the large Roman force had not yet broken the spirit of the British warriors who still confronted their enemies from a distance, yelling obscenities and profanities which the Roman legions would never have understood"... this sounds like the familiar noise of drunken yobs on many a high street in modern day Britain (the Roman force being the police in this case)!

p.161 "[Ostorius'] first campaign took the Roman legions to north Wales, a part of the country inhabited by the Decangi tribe..."

p.163 More on Wales... "By the year AD47, Caratacus had become the general in command of those tribes which still opposed Rome and he set up his headquarters in the territory of the Ordovices in Wales, where he hoped to be out of reach of the Roman legions."

p.176 "At the time Boadicea struck at Colchester, the Governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was encamped 240 miles away in Anglesey [(North Wales)] with both the Fourteenth and the Twentieth Legions."

p.186/7 I found it interesting to read that "...the idea that the Romans came to Britain and constructed towns, cities, superb buildings and a wonderfully efficient road system for the benefit of the local citizens of Albion was far from the truth. Indeed, the occupying Roman legions didn't, in fact, undertake any work for the local population, not even defence works... The only buildings constructed by the Romans were for their own occupation... the famous roads... were only built to speed the movement of Roman troops."

p.189-191 "The state Roman objective was to persuade Britons to move from their scattered dwellings, become educated in Roman ways and take part in public life, which in Roman terms was a city-based concept." This to me is like the current British forces in Iraq. "...village life... had dominated the [British] country from the first settlements centuries before. Roman philosophers believed that man's bodily and animal existence might be satisfied by country life but his spiritual needs could only be satisfied by the town." For me, both are satisfied by the country and I find little to be spiritual in towns and cities. The same was felt by Thor Heyerdahl (see above) who went to live on a remote island - he also found it was western civilisation that was inflicted, with a negative impact, on these areas. However in this book the authors go on to say that "the town was [what raises] man above the beasts of the field." Man has this constant urge to separate himself from nature, by becoming 'civilised' as if there is something wrong with being at one with nature. However "None of these towns or cities were bustling affairs filled with throngs of people, for much of the space inside the walls was open and most of the buildings had ample spaces between them... only a small proportion of the population moved into these towns..." Unlike today where all towns and cities are overcrowded... although much of the countryside doesn't fair much better due to overpopulation.

p.209/210 The Roman population is greatly to blame for the overpopulation that followed their invasions because "the arrival of the Roman legions... put a halt to further invasions and inter-tribal warfare..." which was apparently common before and was how population numbers stayed constant. Population numbers increased at such a rate that there wasn't enough food and "infanticide became a stark reality... it was their only form of birth control." Interestingly "the killing of infant boys and girls appears o have been carried out with the full knowledge, permission and understanding of the mothers who accepted that... they were simply unable to care for all their children... young women were permitted to keep their first three or four babies and after that their newborn offspring were taken from them... the sacrifice of babies to the gods was considered an honourable event..." So what changed? I suspect changing religions with Christianity becoming widespread in later years after the Romans were 'ousted'... thus the blame of today's population crisis could be blamed on inflexible religious beliefs. I personally think, like the Chinese, only one child per couple should be permitted until population numbers come down to more 'sustainable' levels, and by sustainable I mean at a level where we are no longer a burden on this planet. I would even go as far as saying that where adults lack no self-control/respect for this planet by bearing more offspring then their allotted quota, infanticide should be used... alternatively they can sacrifice themselves to spare their newborn child.

p.210 During Roman times "there was a dramatic upsurge of imported goods... and this caused a horrendous trade imbalance, the first of many that have continued to the present day."

p.213 "Rome ruled Britain for 400 years..." My previous basic understanding of the control of Rome over Britain was a positive one, an understanding largely gained from watching such television documentaries as Time Team... "look at this wonderful Roman artefact"... "what an amazing feat of Roman engineering" but after reading this book I am left feeling that the Roman's invaded and it wasn't all for the better. They brought civilisation which I have my issues with, they enforced their way of life, their beliefs, something that still happens to this day. This caused the beginnings of mass importation and overpopulation... two things that are now ruining the whole planet.
 

 

Critical Mass by Philip Ball
 - how one thing leads to another

Notes:
p.45 "Thermodynamics is the science of change" and it has three laws, the first two are that "energy is never destroyed but only transformed" and (to express it one way) "heat always flows from hot to cold." What is meant by this latter law is that "there exist processes which go only one way, which are irreversible. Water does not flow uphill... [and] if there are irreversible processes, then time has an arrow."

p.56 "The crucial point about this explanation of the Second Law is that it shows how the irreversibility of time can come about through the operation of mechanical laws which have no preferred direction in time. Picture a movie of two billiard balls coming together, colliding, and moving apart. Played in reverse, the movie would not look at all odd... But the coalescence of a droplet of ink [does]..."

p.68 Ball quotes the precocious mathematical genius a few times and I find reading these interesting: "Condorcet was aware that population growth could eventually overwhelm available resources and threaten the stability of civilization, and he had a simple remedy - birth control. Malthus did not think it would be so easy. He reckoned that the 'passions of mankind' put population outside the control of governments, whether they sought either to encourage or to limit its rise. It was, he believed, a 'law of nature' that the populace would multiply exponentially, while society could not increase the means of feeding itself at the same rate. Thus nations must succumb sooner or later to overcrowding, misery, poor health and social unrest."

p.70 Thomas Jefferson who wrote the American Declaration of Independence, "his vision of a free and happy nation was that of a man in love Newtonian mechanics and the ideals of the Enlightenment, one who believed that humans are compelled towards happiness just as apples are pulled by gravity towards the earth." I think that sums up my outlook!

p.78 Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) a Belgian astronomer, is also talked about. His "social physics became founded on the concept of the 'average man' (l'homme moyen), whose dimensions and physical features and also moral and aesthetic attributes represented a perfect mean to which all should aspire. To be great was to be average ...an individual who epitomized in himself, at a given time, all the qualities of the average man, would represent at once all the greatness, beauty and goodness of that being." Ball describes this as a "disturbing worship of uniformity" and Quetelet goes on to say that "deviations more or less great from the mean have constituted ... ugliness in body as well as vice in morals and a state of sickness with regard to the constitution." I think we all thrive to be different but at the same time try and conform to a uniformity within society, we don't want to stand out... and thus we become sheep.

p.80 "Awareness of Quetelet's work was promoted in Britain by one of the most avid proponents of a law-bound social physics, Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-62). Like many adherents of Comte's positivist philosophy, Buckle wanted to fortify the world of human affairs against the meddling influence of governments... like Adam Smith, he argued actively... for the need for people to be allowed to govern themselves."

I wonder if our country was not overpopulated that this would be viable - I certainly believe that because of over-population it would not be possible to just scrap the current law and bureaucratic system that keeps society in check. Even though we all know the difference between right and wrong, we still do things for our own gain, even if that leads to the suffering of others. I believe overpopulation is a cause of this.

Looking at the history of England and the Roman empire (from how I visualised it after reading The Roman World by Martin Goodman) and how the governing a society came about, it was for the benefit of the government - charge people taxes so they can fund the government and its schemes (from simply providing those who had put themselves in charge with a lavish lifestyle to funding wars which were themselves used to expand an empire and thus impose their tax system to a wider 'audience'. In the world of Robin Hood (at least how it has been portrayed on screen) those in charge (the Sheriff of Nottingham) would bully those living in his county "pay me taxes, keep me happy and I wont attack your village", playground bullying tactics of "give me your lunch money" which can include some other form of incentive such as "I'll protect you from your next worse enemy".

p.106/7 Back to particle physics and Ball explains that an individual particle can be either part of a solid, liquid or gas, but only in its collective form will its state be revealed. Throughout the book these physical situations are related to society, so the same is try of people - you need to look at society as a whole to understand what's going, pulling one person off the street to understand them will not tell you much about the world.

p.119 Another key topic of the book is phase transitions. What's happening when a solid object turns into a liquid or a liquid into a gas. These phase transitions happen in society too, such as when moving traffic on a busy motorway suddenly jams. Ball states also that the beginning of the universe was a phase transition... and "a phase transition is a sudden, global change in behaviour arising from the interactions of many constituent particles. Typically these interactions are short-range, local ones."

p.184 Back to the topic of overpopulation within society "disturbed by the grotesque overcrowding within and around the city walls [of London], Elizabeth I prohibit 'any new buildings of any house or tenement within three miles from any of the gates of the said city of London'. Did this stem the city's outward sprawl, a process accretion that had long since burst the bounds of the encircling stone walls? You might as soon try to contain a wildfire." "In 1787 Henry Kett compared the expansion of London to an epidemic". But wasn't it what I call 'the powers that be' that caused the overcrowding?

Overpopulation is caused by births outweighing deaths. People are encouraged to procreate - through the mass-media advertising, TV programs, films, musical topics and the world of celebrities - having sex is promoted and encouraged, we are brainwashed to think think this and thus it becomes engrained into our subconscious "this is normal" and we struggle to base our lives on anything else. Governments want to be seen to be doing the right thing and make a token gesture of promoting better education and the concept of "safe sex". I believe promoting the concept of "no sex" would be a step in the right direction. This bias from 'the powers that be' is because they don't want population growth to plateau or decline.

p.189 Looking at two cities with different planning laws, the urban sprawl is very similar, thus "planning seems to have no effect on [the] law of growth" A further concern to this is that the Green Belt policy implemented in the 1960s. "Gene Stanley [argues] 'that the lawmakers do what they want to do, but people will live where they want to live."

Just because an 'imposed law' tells us to live a certain way/defines what is acceptable, would removing that law have any effect? Although, obviously, laws or their punishments of nonconformity do provide an incentive to a point. "Get caught carrying a knife and you risk having a criminal record which could affect your ability to get a job"... but surely the incentive for not carrying a knife should be promoted as "carry a knife and you might find yourself using it and taking someone's life... value all life".

p.191 "The US economist Herbert Simon points out that an absence of central planning does not necessarily mean that all cities are poorly 'designed'. On the contrary, they are (or at any rate, they once were [became overpopulated and urban planning waved its dictatorship] often remarkably effective..." "'To my students a pattern implied a planner in whose mind it had been conceived and by whose hand it had been implemented. The idea that a city could acquire its pattern as naturally as a snowflake was foreign to them. They reacted to it as many Christian fundamentalists responded to Darwin: no design without a Designer!'"

I do website design and contrary to how other designers build a website I prefer to let a website develop, starting off simple and gradually amending the design and layout to incorporate new pages and sections, pages and sections that cant be foreseen at the birth of a website.

p.193 "Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone. - Rudyard Kipling (1890)"

p.197 "James Lighthill (1924-98), one of the great twentieth-century experts on the physics of fluid flow... was anything but average in his driving habits. He was a persistent speeding offender, but would explain in court that as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge (the chair once occupied by Newton) he was fully aware both of the laws of mechanics and of his social duty not to waste energy. As a result, he told the hapless judges, he felt obliged to desist from breaking when going downhill. It seems that this defence was occasionally successful." If I get done for speeding I am so going to use this point!

p.218 More on driving and "Helbing and Huberman say that their model [on traffic] also reveals how American lane rules, which allow drivers to travel at any speed in any lane, can make roads more efficient that European rules, under which the lanes are graded from slow to fast... reducing the capacity of the [motorway] by up to 25 per cent."

p.220 "If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion - George Bernard Shaw"

p.288 Adam Smith (1723-90) "pointed out, profits are always being eroded: by rising wages, and by the force of competition, which pulls the market price of goods down towards the cost of producing them. The only way a company can maintain a profit is by expanding." It would seem that the expansion of an empire (geographically or in population numbers) works towards the same end. Marx said of the companies must then "constantly bid for additional labour. This increase in demand of labour means that workers can ask for higher wages, which bites back into the capitalists' profit margins. To escape this cycle, Marx assumed the factory owners would do what he saw them doing all about him: introduce labour-saving machinery."

"But here's the catch... workers can produce goods worth more than a subsistence wage. This 'surplus labour' is the source of the capitalists' profits. Machines, however, do not offer surplus labour - in a competitive market, industrialists will have to buy them at a cost equal to the value of the goods they can generate. So mechanisation renders workers unemployed..."

"The result is an economic recession: wages are low and unemployment is rife." Exactly what we see today - thus the recession, while many blame it on the bank's tactics, was in fact inevitable and caused by mechanisation (because wages can't go any lower than the inflicted minimum wage).

Further to this minimum wage, I believe it provides a means for people to compare there self-worth. No one wants to think of themselves as only being worth the lowest value (that of the minimum wage) so they refuse to take such jobs... and even prefer to claim unemployment benefit, especially if they were previously employed in a job that paid higher than minimum wage. Even young people who have only finished high school education and have no previous employment experience have this inbuilt principle (maybe picking it up from their parents).

For some reason it seems to pay the government to provide its society an unemployment benefit rather then make job for those out of work in the public sector... even cutting positions during the recession. I also believe unemployment adds to overpopulation, not just because those that are unemployed aren't giving anything back financially, but because couples who are at home with nothing else better to do other than procreate.

p.275 "...it is sheer folly to imagine that the market can be engineered to iron out blips on timescales of days or weeks, or perhaps even longer. Yet many governments continue to believe that this kind of manipulation is both possible and desirable. Most probably it is wasteful of resources, if not positively harmful to the economy."

I believe the same is the case the the governments meddling with society and further to a waste of resources this is going to be the outcome of the governments efforts to end the recession. This is because efforts to end the recession early are futile - the recession is the natural occurrence, a natural cycle that the economy is going through due to the way it operates. Money should not be thrown at the recession, it would be better to ignore that it is happening and instead use this downturn as a stop-gap to change the way the economy operates and encourage it to operate greener. Jobs should be provided to all so that everyone has a purpose, how much these jobs pay in money should be made immaterial.

"Keynes feared that, left to itself, the economic system might spiral into a decline which would ultimately leave it frozen, unable to bounce back through the normal business cycle." But it was the normal business cycle that was the case in our recession, thus it should not be encourage to return to how it was, it should be guided to a new path.

p.326 "What makes [people] happy? That depends on the [person]. Each of them pursues two goals: money and leisure. Unfortunately, in Axtell's world one can't have both at the same time, because money is made only through hard work. Money and leisure are conflicting demands... some settle for low wages if it means they can do a lot of lounging about."

p.335 "The piece-rate systems of car factories were abandoned because they destroyed social relationships in the workplace... and established a working environment in which no one cared about the quality of the product."

p.383 "...many psychologists and sociologists have exercised themselves over how we make decisions, society is geared largely towards removing that need. Many social norms exist simply so that we no longer have to think about other options [(like shaking hands with out right hand)].... [some agreements are] endorsed by law, of course; in general, though, laws simply consecrate pre-existing social norms."
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The Roman World by Martin Goodman
 - 44BC - AD180

I figured, with the books I've read recently I should really make an effort to further my knowledge of the Roman world. What I found most fascinating was how western society, particularly here in the UK, is similar in many ways to the Roman world.

Notes:
p.25 It's interesting that "The Roman state had been geared to war throughout its history, in the very simple sense that religious ceremonies marked the beginning and end of the campaigning season each year, regardless of the presence or absence of an enemy..." and a "stream of legislation [was] passed... in attempt to curb violence, bribery and murder... by the simple expedient of defining them as illegal." Does this not happen today for the most "simple" of "crimes"..."make it illegal and they won't do it any more"!

p.83 The Roman empire was controlled by terror instilled by its rulers, a terror of an invasion/war (similar I find to today) although "usually, it did no good to the rulers or to the ruled... none the less, the effect of a massive army loyal to the emperor, to whom they swore an oath, and whose image was placed with their standards, was clear enough... But why so many troops? [because what one ruler] could do, others might attempt."

p.104 "The accumulation of revenues did not require any new conquests beyond the huge area already under Roman control in 31 BC, but two factors encourage continuing expansion. One was the simple fact that a huge army was anyway permanently in commission, and might as well be used, especially since emperors needed the prestige of victories to justify its retention. The second was the Roman method of defence by instilling terror."

p.106 An area of interest for me is prehistoric Britain. Evidence for how people lived in pre-Roman-invaded Britain is biased by the Romans no less "...the Roman senate and people... received the surrender of eleven kinds of Britain conquered without any reverse and because he was the first to subject to the sovereignty of the Roman people barbarian tribes across the ocean." This was not the first move though, an earlier account on page 53 tells of how when Gaius "drew up his army in battle array facing the Channel and moved the arrow-casting machines and other artillery into position as though he intended to bring the campaign to a close. No one had the least notion what was in his mind when, suddenly, he gave the order: 'Gather seashells!'"

"...emperors campaigned when prestige was needed and didn't when it was not. In some areas on the edge of Roman influence, visible signs of Roman power were erected, of which the most notorious is Hadrian's wall..." Plus, it was erected because that was as far as the troops could get, erected as a sign of might... it was never an effective barrier (p.107)

p.139 "During the first century AD...privileges were granted to the rich simply on the grounds of their wealth. Such privileges were enshrined in law... the empire was in effect ruled by a wealth-defined elite... unified in their determination to keep power out of the hands of the poor... Council membership was open only to the rich." Sound familiar!?.
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Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray
 - The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

And that's how it reads - an attack on Christianity. The author tells how the bible is full of contradictions and the reader can choose to live by one set of rules or another. So to blame the religion for the society it creates is misplaced - a reader of the bible can base his/her life of one interpretation or another, thus their chosen path is decided upon from within. Do away with religion and those same decisions have to be made - let our conscience be our guide, so to speak. The Koran as portrayed by the author is a different matter though because moral paths are not so equally balanced - there is a strong "anti-everyone else" theme, with only the occasional "love thy neighbour" contradiction, although I have heard views that oppose this view and that not every Islamist shares the views of the Taliban.

One concept that I did find interesting was that one cannot be a self-proclaimed atheist. The term is used by someone or a religion to describe others that are unbelievers, or traditionally (and politically) anyone that believes differently to them (not specifically someone that doesn't believe in God).

Notes:
p.13 "God, manufactured by mortals in their own quintessential image, exists only to make daily life bearable despite the path that every one of us treads toward extinction. As long as men are obliged to die, some of them, unable to endure the prospect, will concoct fond illusions."

p.16 "'Atheism' is thus a product of verbal creation by the manufacturers of gods."

p.129 "Jesus was thus a concept" His whole reality resides in that definition. Certainly he existed, but not as a historical figure..." I believe he did exist as a historical figure and the stories in the bible began with that as a basis, but the scribes ran with it and what we now read is far removed from who Jesus was.

p.181 I found this part interesting about the people having to pay taxes to Caesar thus "accepting the burden of financing the imperial forces, and submitting to the laws of the empire." very much like what some people feel in the modern west regarding wars carried out in their name.

p.208 "Muslim theocracy - like any other - presupposes an end to the separation between private belief and public practice. The believer emerges from the private center of his being to take over every single area of the community's life. We no longer enjoy a direct relationship with God, based on a mystical intimacy touching us alone, but an indirect relationship mediated by the political community and regulated by somebody else."

p.215 De-Christianisation comes about "through the injection of reason into human conscience."
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The Jesus Dynasty by James D. Tabor
 - The real-life inspiration behind Kathy Reichs' bestselling Cross Bones
 - Stunning New Evidence About the Hidden History of Jesus

I was half expecting to have this book bog me down with biblical references but that hasn't been the case. I'm finding this book pretty interesting and the way the author compares writings in the New Testament is easy to digest and it's all giving me a greater understanding about Jesus as a Jew and the 'Jewish way' as a whole which I've never really read about before.

Chapter 5, The Lost Years sites the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and gave me the picture of Jesus, a young boy, as being a bit of a prankster, or a young magician if you will, seemingly bringing clay birds to life and stretching a piece of wood - an angle I am aware is covered in more depth by other authors and may be a further area of reading for myself.

Notes:
p.231 "The phrase 'for whose sake heaven and earth came into being' reflects a Jewish notion that the world exists and is sustained because of the extraordinary virtues of a handful of righteous or 'just' individuals" My belief is that we each experience our own reality and I feel that the effect seen in physics whereby the world needs us as observers in order for it to exist. Perhaps the Jewish notion is claiming that only just individuals have any bearing over the world or reality as a whole.

ch.16 revealed why I find the bible, or rather Christianity hard to digest. It was Paul, the self-proclaimed 13th Apostle, who created Christianity in his own view, causing people at the time to convert from Judaism. His ideas and preaching's (letters that made their way into the New Testament) were born out of his premonitions - he claimed Jesus came to him in spirit and told him how things should be. He must have had some social power in order to have the effect he did, an effect that has lasted for almost two thousand years, and people still buy it. Looking at it with an open and logical mind, based on how Tabor has revealed the Jewish life Jesus was born in to and lead, for me Paul should have been put on some medication and led on his way, for one the breaking of bread to symbolise the body of Christ and the drinking of wine to symbolise his blood is totally anti-Jewish and inconceivable by the followers of Jesus.

p.246 goes on to say "[Christianity] was based upon [Paul's] mystical experiences. [He] never met Jesus... [and] the New Testament itself is primarily a literary legacy of the Apostle Paul... author or thirteen out of twenty-seven 'books'."

p.247 "[Mark] is a primary carrier of the message that Paul preached... Matthew and Luke... use Mark as their main narrative source. The gospel of John... also reflects Paul's essential understanding of Jesus... the letter of James... is the only original voice."

p.253 "Paul regularly uses the expressions 'Jesus Christ' and 'the Lord Jesus Christ' as if the term 'Christ,' which was a Greek term for the Messiah or anointed Davidic King, were a proper name rather than a designated title."

p.257 "Zaddik" means 'the righteous one' or 'just one' as in James the Just.

p.275 Towards the end of the last chapter Tabor mentions the Ebionites (meaning "poor ones" in Hebrew) who I found interesting. They were considered to be heretics by Eusebius in contrast to the Christian orthodoxy. Eusebius charged that they made Jesus a plain and ordinary man... and further stated that they insisted on observance of the Jewish Law or Torah. They also rejected the letters of the apostle Paul. Their views to me make total sense as I hear them echoed throughout the book.

p.319 Did you know there is an ancient Jewish system called Gematria that is just like numerology. Nero Caesar = 666.

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From Atlantis to the Sphinx by Colin Wilson

If you've already read books about the Sphinx and Atlantis like me then the first half of this book will simply echo what other authors have said before - Wilson quotes the likes of Hancock and Bauval often. Get passed this point and eventually the book turns more down the route of how the human mind works, how it has evolved and how we have changed from right-brainers to left-brainers.

Notes:
p.128/220 the topic of the Aztecs anticipating the end of civilisation with violent earth quakes on 24 December 2012. For me the Mayan calendar simply reaches the end of a great cycle, apparently "when the sun's magnetic field will again reverse" as it did at the time of "the 'birth of Venus' in 3114BC." Poles of the Sun or the Earth reversing, it all sounds pretty much the same to me.

p.129 some baffling notes about the precise layout and design of both the Great Pyramid and Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan. "...why did the builders of the Sun Pyramid want to install a layer of mica? The same applies  to a building known as the Mica Temple... under its floor are two enormous sheets of mica, 90 feet square... the chemistry of the mica reveals that it is not local mica, but that it came [two thousand miles away] from Brazil.... why was it placed under the floor? What purpose did it serve there? Graham Hancock points out that mica is used as an insulator in condensers, and that it can be used to slow down nuclear reactions."

I have read before now that traces of radiation have been detected in the Great Pyramid and Alan F. Alford in Gods of the New Millennium raised his idea that the pyramid was some kind of power generator or hydrogen fuel cell.

p.143 on the topic of human population (which I think about in the relation to climate change) Wilson says even Charles "Darwin recognised the truth that if every couple of animals or birds or fishes produce more than two offspring, and those offspring also produce more than two offspring, the resulting population explosion would cover every habitable inch of the earth in a few generations." Nature is acts as the Earth's birth control but as humans we have bypassed that too and now shouldn't we take responsibility and control our births more actively?

p.215 in our change from being right-brainers to left-brainers we have become less sensitive to nature but "even the most sceptical scientist acknowledges the influence of the moon on mental patients." "Our Cro-Magnon ancestors [were more] sensitive to the sun, moon and other natural forces (like earth magnetism) as a mental patient is to the full moon." The author talks more about astrology for our ancestors were obviously astrologers/astronomers as is obvious with places like Stonehenge. But it's not actually the positioning of the constellations (as the author tells us) at the time of our birth, but the position in the Sun's cycle at the time of our conception that affects us and gives us our star sign traits. In relation to this topic I think about such people that are termed at electro-sensitives - people who are sensitive to electrical equipment - for electro-magnetism is one and the same. This also reaffirms my ideas about about the standing stones erected by our ancestors and the leylines they mark/harness/create/disrupt... and my conspiracy theory shared by the likes of David Icke that the powers that be recognise these forces and disrupt them by building nuclear power stations in such areas (Anglesey).buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

The Only Planet of Choice Compiled by Phyllis V. Schlemmer & Palden Jenkins
 - Essential Briefings from Deep Space

This book has the potential to change ones life or at least make one think about where we came from and how we should treat others and our planet. That is, providing you don't get put off by the whole "this book was written by aliens" thing (or the Nine as they are called). This wasn't a problem for me, I felt I could either accept or look past it - the message was still there and just as effective in my mind. What I found harder to digest was the many references to the Bible (something that causes me a problem with other books), and if the messages are really communicated from alien beings, why are their view points largely that of a typical westerner?

Looking through this list of books I've read, you may see that I read books on certain topics and this book seemed to bring together many of these topics and things that make me stop and think. Topics including the ancient Chinese, free energy and our use/abuse of fossil fuels, the Church and our blind faith in God, crashed flying saucers and visits from aliens (good and bad), standing stones, ley lines, Atlantis, ancient Egypt and Dolphins. This last one is something I've not really read into but I have to admit I have a soft spot when it comes to these beautiful creatures and I actually get a little emotional about them.

A beautiful concept this book revealed to me is that we all chose to be here.buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Because some of my reviews on books have increasingly included vast notes and quotations, I would like to point out that I do recognise that these books are protected by the Copyright act. I put my views online to share with other internet browsers in the hope that little snippets of information may be useful and my views interesting. I have always included links to the online retailer Amazon and encourage anyone that finds any title particularly interesting (thanks to what I have to say) to either buy a copy or borrow one from their local library.

 

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