Category Archives: Learning from the Past

The Great Courses: Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations – Donal’s Notes

Humans have been on the planet for 3 million years (Homo habilis), 2 million years (Homo erectus) or 200,000 years (Homo sapiens sapiens) depending on what you want to call “human”. The structure and organization of life we know as “civilization” has been around for about 8,000 years. It took us about 8,000 years to discover that our modern way of life, as possibly civilization, itself, is unsustainable (meaning that it will end). Perhaps we might consider the fact that for 96% to 99.6% of human existence (190,000 to 2.9 million years) we lived sustainably on one planet’s worth of resources. What lessons might we learn from our history to guide us once again to sustainable lifestyles, or, even better, thriving on one planet? Because writing, itself, developed with the lifestyle we call “civilization”, we never did have anything like a written owner’s manual for how our ancestors lived sustainably for so much time. Hopefully, archeology, anthropology, and related fields of study will help us create one. These are my notes from a course that may provide some clues.

A History of the World in 100 Objects – Donal’s Notes

Note: I am working on this post off-and-on right now so it is not yet complete. A History of the World in 100 Objects is a podcast series from BBC Radio narrated by Neil MacGregor. To hear this excellent series, read their notes, and see their images, go here. It reviews a history of the […]

“The Great Reckoning” by Davidson and Rees-Mogg – Donal’s notes

Short Summary The economy is bad and getting worse. Put money in diverse assets (including 5-10% in gold and silver) and insurance in multiple countries. Be prepared for government services to be provided privately (e.g., water, education, security). Divest yourself of investment real estate, especially in large cities. For maximum safety move to small, rural […]

What is civilization, is it sustainable, and how long do civilizations last?

In this interview, Derrick Jensen, author of Deep Green Resistance (and many other books; also see Deep Green Resistance, the organization), defines civilization as “a culture—that is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts—that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities (civilization, see civil : from civis, meaning citizen, from Latin civitatis, meaning […]