I was down at the Maker’s Place this afternoon. The North End Churches had put on a display of craft based on the stations of the cross. There were three at the Maker’s Place. About 12 people came through. It was the end of the afternoon.

I took Guns, Germs and Steel with me in case I needed something to read.

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.” (p. 25)

To reach Australia / New Guinea from the Asian mainland [40,000 to 30,000 years ago] still required crossing a minimum of eight channels, the broadest of which was at least 50 miles wide. Most of these channels divided islands visible from each other, but Australia itself was always invisible from even the nearest Indonesian islands, Timor and Tanimbar. Thus, the occupation of Australia / New Guinea is momentous in that it demanded watercraft and provides by far the earliest evidence of their use in history. Not until about 30,000 years later (13,000 years ago) is there strong evidence of watercraft anywhere else in the world, from the Mediterranean. (p. 41)

Given a few more millennia, perhaps Tonga and Hawaii would have reached the level of full-fledged empires battling each other for control of the Pacific, with indigenously developed writing to administer those empires, while New Zealand’s Maori might have added copper and iron tools to their repertoire of jade and other materials. (p. 66)

“If night had not come on, few out of more than 40,000 Indian troops would have been left alive. Six or seven thousand Indians lay dead, and many more had their arms cut off and other wounds. Atahuallpa himself admitted that we killed 7,000 of his men in that battle. The man killed in one of the litters was his minister, the lord of Chincha, of whom he was very fond. All the Indians who bore Atahuallpa’s litter appeared to be high chiefs and councillors. They were all killed, as well as those Indians who were carried in other litters and hammocks. The lord of Cajamarca was also killed, and others, but their numbers were so great that they could not be counted, for all who came in attendance on Atahuallpa were great lords. It was extraordinary to see so powerful a ruler captured in so short a time, when he had come with such a mighty army. Truly, it was not accomplished by our own forces, for there were so few of us. It is by the grace of God, which is great.” (p. 73)

The role of horses at Cajamarca thus exemplifies a military weapon that remained potent for 6,000 years, until the early 20th century. (p. 77)

Wild Peas have to get out the pod if they are to geminate. To achieve that result, pea plants evolved a gene that makes the pod explode, shooting the peas onto the ground… [T]he only pods available to humans to harvest would be the nonpopping ones left on the plant… Similar nonpopping mutants were selected in lentils, flax and poppies. (p. 120)

[T]heir wild ancestors required very little genetic change to be converted into crops, for instance, in wheat, just the mutations for nonshattering stalks and uniform quick germination.(p. 124)

(Two examples of how we have experimented with our food. If the reader wishes to avoid GM foods I recommend only eating wild cousins of domesticated plants — it’s the only way to be sure.)

Being out during this time I was not at home when Joe left for Invercargill.

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