Sunday Sermon: On Secret Diplomacy

Elsewhere I have implied that the US, UK, Russia, and China are (to some degree or another) oligarchies masquerading as democracies. They probably could be ordered on a scale from greater to lesser – but that’s a debate for another day. Today, we’re going to consider some of Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus as reported by Will Durant in Story of Philosophy. [amazon]

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1491 and 1493

It is essential to the American myth that North America was wilderness when the European colonists began to arrive. Sure, there were people, but they weren’t ‘civilized’ and therefore didn’t count; they could be brushed aside.

Charles C. Mann’s 1491 [amazon] and its sequel 1493 [amazon] oppose that myth. He can only hint at the complexity of the politics of the era but it’s overwhelming. Of course it is, it’s people doing the things people do.

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Decoding the Unpossibly Secure

Stanislaw Lem wrote some very witty and unusual science fiction. If you haven’t read Tales Of Pirx The Pilot [amazon] or Memoirs Found In A Bathtub [amazon] you might enjoy them if you like quirky and thoughtful fiction.

Tales of Pirx The Pilot has one of the most memorable scenes in science fiction: Pirx, an astronaut in a space mishap, has to spend a prolonged period in his space suit – and discovers that there is a fly in his helmet.

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