Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning for Learning's Sake

Today I started reading up on some history.  As mentioned many times lately, my region of focus for July and August is the Middle East and North Africa.  I've, of course, had world history classes that taught me about the Fertile Crescent, the Nile River, Isis and Osiris, and the pyramids.  But even reading about things I supposedly know about, I have had a few ahhhhHA moments.  These may have been things I knew before and forgot or things that I really either never put together or just never came across.  Either way they make my brain make that awesome clicking sound I love so much.  So I wanted to share some things I learned today:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Section 1 for Where the History Comes From:  Middle East and North Africa.

I chose this region to be first because, well, it was first.  At least my limited knowledge of the world and all that seems to suggest that perhaps the first people were found in Ethiopia (maybe not technically North Africa but still...) and that the Fertile Crescent and Egypt are the cradle of civilization.  So that is where I would like to begin.  Conveniently, not only is the history deep and fascinating, but once I reach current events there is a lot to learn about as well.  Should be a fun two months :)

In addition to the general history books I just received, I am going to ask around (aka ask you!) and do some research myself on books/documentaries/radio shows/museum exhibits/cultural events that I can leverage to get a rich learning experience.  The first one I received is Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade.

If you know of any good sources or events please comment!!!

PS Here are the countries I am including in this list:

Palestinian Territories
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates


My books came today!!!  So I can get started on the Where the History Comes From (part of my 30/30).

I received:

A People's History of the World by Howard Zinn

World History for Dummies by Peter Haugen

A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich


A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (this one is actually about the history of science, not political)

I will have to strategize the process as I want to focus on one region at a time but yet also want to have some kind of chronological thread to tie things together.  Basically I will have to just roll with it and figure out what makes sense.  But they are here so I can get started!!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Knew You Were Bluffing!! I Knew He Was....Bluffing...

This is a real book?  (From the sound of it you should have strong opinions about it either way).  I have a suggestion: how about you read the book or perhaps ask questions about it from those who have.  You might learn something interesting if you stop pretending to know and actually acquire the knowledge.*

PS - Isn't this an Onion news piece?  (If something is not onion-y is it UNiony?)

PPS - Doesn't Ira have something to say about this phenomenon??

*(should any fans of Laurel & Hardy be reading this, drunken confusion does not count as intellectual bluffing) 

Bed of Books

Today is cleaning day. Why, you ask?  Well I shall tell you!  Erin will be here in one week!!!!!  Woooooot!!!!   So I am getting my shit in order to ensure we can maximize the time she's here (also my room is a crazy, freaky mess to the point where I am sure my mom in Atlanta is losing sleep over it).  I'm rocking out to some party tunes and trying to get things done in time to go to the ultimate Sunday party destination.  The Church.  Today is a toga party and that sound like a fucking good time!  Plus it's on my 30/30 list.  Got to get this stuff sorted first though.  But just so you don't think I am all party and no study I will say that I am cleaning all the crap off my bed and amongst the many things piled on it (again, don't tell my mom this, please) are the following books:

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (I love this book so much!)
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (book club book for the 28th that I haven't started in a real way yet.  Shit.  I have to crank that puppy out!!) 
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (read this on our Cornwall extravaganza
  • 1000 Things to do in London by Time Out
  • The Kindness of Strangers by Kate Adie (she's amazing!) 
  • British Maps and Map-Makers by Edward Lynam (I love maps.  I carry my A to Z pretty much everywhere and have maps on my wall marking where I've been - which I just realized I have never posted about but will now...) 
  • 2011 Road Atlas: Britain - again from the Cornwall trip
  • English History made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable by Lacey Baldwin Smith


Where the History Comes From

My 30/30 list is nearly complete.  I am rounding it out with a section on general knowledge as I constantly feel that the more I know, the less I know.  Game Plan: spend a year (plus a little) studying up on general history, philosophy, religion, politics, art, literature, etc of the world by breaking it into two month segments as follows:
    • July/August - Middle East & North Africa
    • September/October - Asia 
    • November/December - Europe & Central Asia
    • January/February - Africa 
    • March/April - South & Central America
    • May/June - Australia & New Zealand
    • July/August - North America

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Apple a Day

I think I just made a guy throw up in his mouth a little bit and not in a good way.  I was waiting for the toilet (I know it is base and crude and awful but that's what they say here) and eventually the guy in there walked out and took a seat.  I went in and noticed a bag on the floor indicating a freshly-picked Apple product.  Smaller than a breadbox, heavier than a pound of butter the only obvious thing it could be was a brand spanking new iPad.  I took it out to him and when he realized he left it in the toilet (again, not the actual toilet) he lost his breath a little.  I felt in a way that I had hurt him by returning it; so panicked was his reaction.  It's like those times you freak out and get anxious about what could have possibly happened but aren't quite to the point where you can tell yourself, "wait self, my iPad wasn't stolen from the bathroom where I accidentally left it, I do, in fact, have in my hand the £500+ piece of equipment I purchased no less than an hour ago."

Not Sure If I Should Be Proud or Offended

"The influence which the bigotry of one female, [6] the petulance of another, [7] and the cabals of a third, [8] had in the contemporary policy, ferments, and pacifications, of a considerable part of Europe, are topics that have been too often descanted upon not to be generally known."

~Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers