Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pyramids built by paying workers, not slavery.

During the course of study at IIT I came upon a source which stated that the pyramids were not built with slave labor. Rather, according to this source, the workers were paid.

Now this doesn't mean we can assume the wages were generous, however, it shows that the rulers and their aides were men of some economic sophistication greater than that which dominates those civilizaations that resort to slavery for their public works.

Considering this, while offsetting any conclusions with the fact that I cannot vouch greatly for the source, the portrayal of the Jews in the movie, The Ten Commandments, as outright slaves seems to be in some question. The regional employment picture, however, may have been such that thee were no better opportunities available, and considering the stress Jews place on their bonds as a race, historically, it may be that the flight from Egypt was more of a struggle for leadership among the Jews and the rights of representation to the Egyptian authorities, than a work of grim individual faith, Moses being the final victor in either case.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress Classification

i became interested in library book classification systems when i was a student at Yale and observed there the transition the library went through from its own classification system to the Library of Congress system. with several million books there it was of course a major and lengthy project. i was mystified by the decision to change. from the appearance of the two systems there didn't seem to me to be any advantage of the LC system over the Yale.

finally today i did a little work of my own and found a website about the history of the Dewey system that i knew was widespread in the united states and was the system used by my hometown public library. here is that website.

i also went to wikipedia for their entry on the Dewey Decimal System and there the differences between library of congress and dewey decimal are discussed.

at wikipedia it is observed that dewey decimal is a top-down system, having been created by one man and his determinations extend downward hierarchically to all branches of knowledge. this the advantage of simplicity.

it is also observed that the library of congress system is filled out by the work of experts each in his own field so that recent developments can always be incorporated into the system. this has an obvious advantage but it has the disadvantage of tending to inconsistency since the various experts are not bound to create a consistent system. the dewey system does not have this disadvantage but it is weak because it does not have the advantage the library of congress system has of being easily updatable.

there is also the consideration that dewey has gone to great lengths to make itself available all over the world whereas the library of congress system is primarly and characteristically american. i had thought when yale made the change that the whole world was switching to LC and that this was the reason for the change. not so, apparently. though yale's system is defunct, dewey is still widely used around the world and in the u.s. too.

technically this post is a departure from the intent of this blog to do all the research in the stacks here rather than on the internet. but that intent is not meant to be a burden, only a special pleasure of mine, and it seemed appropriate to accent it with a little net work. the present post serves better understanding of library book shelving, in any case. this library where i frequent, the chicago public library main branch, the harold washington library center, uses the LC system.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

sunspot magnetic polarity cycle

The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Sun
by Jay M. Pasachoff, Ph.D.
Alpha, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
QB 521.P37 2003
pp. 20-21

i had always thought that susspots changed magnetic polarity every 11 years simply uniformly throughout a hemisphere. that of course is ridiculous because there are no magnetic monopoles. sunspots occur is pairs with the field lines extending from one to the other. every 11 years the polarity of this pair changes, as the book points out. one of the pair leads the other and this relationship reverses. the relationship is opposite between north and south hemispheres.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thinking Economically, How Economic Principles Can Contribute to Clear Thinking, by Maurice Levi
New York: Basic Books, 1985
LC HB71.L53 1985

"...the extra satisfaction from consuming more will eventually decline. The economist believes that this is true of every product or activity we3 consume. It is referred to as the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility."

that individuals obey this law of diminishing marginal utility but producers do not, but instead stockpile commodities to satisfy their production goals, a totally different dynamic than diminishing marginal utility, seems to me to be at the heart of what homo sapiens does to adapt. at some point there arose an agreement among packs of individuals to feed commodities in and out of the collective hoard with an idea of production rather than consumption, a totally different way of accounting for substances. this proved itself first in hunting and gathering. individual consumption is incapable of managing it. too many complexities. no resolution of functional variety necessary to beat other species at predatory competition. the management of a material concept abstracted from individual consumption made the difference. how did they succeed in keeping everyone convinced there was a benefit in a way of reckoning material that essentially denied the reality of individual consumption? If I could identify how they did this, i could start a new trail of species adaptation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Plato on the song of a swan near death

The Collected Dialogues of Plato Including the Letters
ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989
LC B358.C57
pp. 67-8

“Evidently you think that I have less insight into the future than a swan; because when these birds feel that the time has come for them to die, they sing more loudly and sweetly than they have sung in all their lives before, for joy that they are going away into the presence of the god whose servants they are.”

as a homeless in Santa Cruz, CA, I wandered into an estuary where I found a large swan's nest. I wrote a poem about this among the 1221 poems I wrote in 1999-2003. “Leda” was in the title.

In the nest I felt more protected than on the streets and I took all my clothes off and started to masturbate. I don't recall what image I used.

Before I could ejaculate I was interrupted by the sound of a swan leaving the water and entering the vicinity of the nest. It then approached me slowly. Right in front of me it hesitated. I reached out and stroked its breastbone. As I did this it turned its head to one side and then the other. I realized later it was assembling a more rich image of me than one eye, set opposite the other, could develop. I shouted out, “Leda!” Suddenly, it reared up, spread its wings, and I noticed a spider couched in each wing at the base by the chest, two of them. I didn't know spiders made use of birds as a habitat this way.

Then the bird swatted me with one wing, then the other. Its blows were strong and I immediately feared for my life. I grabbed my shoes and threw one of them at the bird. Then I grabbed ahold of it and thinking I would cripple its ability to fly but not kill it, I broke its neck. It lay motionless and I examined it. One of its eyes was seriously wounded. This was a pre-existing condition.

I held my right hand in the angle of the interior angle of a pentagon and placed it over the wounded eye. Then I held open the mouth and spit into it.

Right then there was the sound of another bird entering the vicinity of the nest. I guessed this was the mate. I repaired, after putting on my pants, to a distance away from the nest. From this vantage I began to sing. I believed I was singing on behalf of the inert swan. I had not known of the nature of the song of a swan before death.

Then the living swan went away. A threesome of six year old boys came wandering through the estuary and I hailed them and told them briefly what had happened and asked them if they knew anything about swan anatomy. One said he did. We went to the inert swan and this boy gave the swan c.p.r., but to no avail. The boys left one way and I another.

Having just read Plato on swans I now know the significance of the term “swan song” for someone near his end. Also, I can wonder that I sang for a swan its final notes, without awareness of how necessary that was.