Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Psychiatric emergencies

This City Journal article says that
The number of patients seeking emergency psychiatric care has risen rapidly in the past few years, and the hospital frequently operates beyond its regular capacity, issuing “single bed certifications” and allowing people to rest on cots in the hallways and mats on the floor. The severity of the cases has increased, too. Beall estimates that, as recently as a few years ago, only 20 percent of patients needed inpatient treatment; now that figure is between 50 percent and 60 percent.

I'll trust his numbers for now. I don't think the US population has risen quite that much.

What drives this? Drug use? Vulnerable people who lost their family/network support and wound up on the street and got way worse? Were they always here and somehow found ways of managing until now? Fewer facilities increases the burden on the remaining ones? Minor changes in definition plus low statistics? Something in the water? No, I'm not being flip.

The local school has seen a very significant rise in the number of children needing extra attention, but I've no idea if that's related.

PR

a description of how PR worked in 2005 The tools differ somewhat today, but do the same sorts of things.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Back Home by Bill Mauldin

His Italian campaign Willie and Joe cartoons for the Stars and Stripes are deservedly well known.

I knew he'd gone into editorial cartoons later--seen a few. Back Home shows his transition.

There wasn't economic room for the vast numbers of demobilized men, transition to civilian life wasn't trivial, and the army wasn't always done with you yet--he illustrated them all. Some of our collective memories of the era in our own country are more than a bit gilded, and people were literally starving to death in Europe.

It's worth reading. Don't expect work as compelling as the war cartoons.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Something is missing here.

This would prioritize looking at more-isolated groups or languages, that may not have had time to adapt the new tools, or by looking back in time at past languages using ancient written sources.

Supporting this expectation, subordinating conjunctions, like "after," "before," and "because of," may have evolved only recently, in historical times, and are probably no more a feature of human language than composite bows are a feature of human technological repertoire. The tools of subordination seem less well developed in the earliest versions of Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, and Greek. This makes these languages slow, ponderous, and repetitious to read. Subordination tools seem also to be missing in some living languages, including languages found in Australia (e.g. Warlpiri), the Arctic (Inuit), New Guinea (Iatmul), and the Amazon (Piraha).

This is from The Secret of our Success by Joseph Henrich.

Let's check. Pick a few languages.

"The combination of clauses is in Sanskrit in general of a very simple character; much of what in other Indo-European languages is effected by subordinating conjunctions is here managed by means of composition of words, by the use of the gerunds (994), of iti (1102), of abstract nouns in case-forms, and so on." Sort-of point to Henrich, though I don't think anybody has tagged Sanskrit as ponderous.

There's a .doc file on Navajo that claims they use that gramatical construction. They were isolated from Eurasia long before the Greeks started writing. No points to Henrich.

I started looking up Xhosa and got swamped with English tutorials--and they've had enough contact to have picked up all sorts of things over the past few thousand years--at least one word from Arabic...

So far I'm not thrilled with this section. When he wants to show that one language is more primitive than another, he uses sign languages and whistle languages as examples. I was told that however small the vocabulary of a language was, it was always possible to communicate new concepts even if you had to define new words--so you could translate Plato into any language. Is that true? Still reading...

Trust

Do not put your trust in princes and Cursed is the one who trusts in man turned up in the readings on the same morning.

Hmm. Are there any princes/leaders I put my trust in? Nah. Opinionators? I tend to review their stuff myself. So how does this warning apply?

Looks in the mirror and wonders when all his hair went...

As the kids started growing we changed some of our entertainments. Partly this was because we couldn't afford some of them, and partly because they might mislead. As a simple example, you have to read the kids fairy tales before you let them see Fractured Fairy Tales. In the right order you can fully enjoy both; in the wrong order neither.

Of course the kids learn from others as well. We were fine with Harry Potter, so some of our kids traded books with friends whose parents were opposed on principle to Harry Potter but didn't seem to mind Anne Rice.

I took some directions my life thanks to examples found lying around and from trusted sources. Some of those directions proved costly.

In the past year I heard the story of a man who had shaken off an addiction to marijuana--until he found a bag of weed dropped behind a seat in church.

I wonder in what things I have slipped up, and failed those who trusted me. One of these days I'll find out--may God forgive me.

CRT

"All men thirst to confess their crimes more than tired beasts thirst for water; but they naturally object to confessing them while other people, who have also committed the same crimes, sit by and laugh at them."

Why should CRT be so popular? Fragments here and there seem plausible at first glance, but as an overarching explanation it falls flat. As implemented it demands that people confess sins they haven't committed, and spread the "dysangelion" that your neighbor is also a fiend. There's no redemption for an individual.

Maybe we all know we're guilty of something, and this taps into the thirst Chesterton wrote of. Plus, this kind of confession is abstract enough to not sting much. And we can enlist others to force the sitting laughers to kneel and confess too.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Broken sprayer

I have a deep aversion to throwing useful stuff away. If it is fixable, I want to fix it. If I can't fix it, maybe somebody else with more skill/tools can--pay for it done, or free to good home. The trash can is a last resort.

An airless paint sprayer that rattles loudly and doesn't suck up any water is bad enough. When it decides to trip the GFCI too, I figure something needs replacement instead of cleaning/ oil/ solder, and the cost is probably worse than a new machine.

Trying to find parts for older hardware isn't trivial...

On sleeping on it, I think when I receive or buy something I feel like I'm taking responsibility for it somehow, and trashing something useful violates that responsibility.

Odd primes

We've probably all seen the "proofs that odd numbers are prime" as done by different professions:
Physicist: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is an experimental error...

Engineer: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime...

Modern physicist using renormalization: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ... 9/3 is prime, 11 is prime, 13 is prime, 15 is ... 15/3 is prime, 17 is prime, 19 is prime, 21 is ... 21/3 is prime...

Quantum Physicist: All numbers are equally prime and non-prime until observed.

Professor: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, and the rest are left as an exercise for the student.

This site has the largest collection I've seen, together with a picture of a disputed calendar tool or list of primes?


The latter link is part of a Mathematicians of the African Diaspora set of web pages. A quick perusal suggests that they claim way too much--trying to infer non-euclidean geometry theorems from artwork, for example. It brings to mind an interesting question--is Egypt part of Africa? By geography and if you want an impressive history, obviously yes--but if the subject is politics and quotas, no.

Monday, March 22, 2021

"Ancient invention"

BBC has a story on an "ancient invention" that opened the world to games. (Spoiler: dice) It's an interesting story--read it. But a little note: mancala is a pure strategy game--at least the versions I learned were. (Bao looks hard)

See an online version

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Choosing between customs

Great Slave Lake got its name from the Cree, who named it in "honor" of the Athabaskan tribes among whom the Cree used to raid for slaves.

The French apparently were respectful of indigenous Cree customs, and named the lake "Grand lac des Esclaves" in translation.

'It has been suggested that the lake be renamed as well, particularly because of the mention of slavery. "Great Slave Lake is actually a very terrible name, unless you're a proponent of slavery," says D├źneze Nakehk'o, a Northwest Territories educator and founding member of First Nations organization Dene Nahjo.' He seems to be Athabaskan himself, and of course would prefer a native Dene name. But he calls himself cis-Indigenous, so I'm not sure how representative he is of the Dene.

Indigenous customs seem to conflict here: Cree vs Dene. The Canadians could draw on the liberal Western tradition and put their finger on the scales in favor of changing the name. Of course, that would be a form of cultural imperialism.

Think what other options there are: Leave the name alone because changing the maps is expensive, let Cree and Dene each pick a name and use both, let Cree and Dene pick a name and pick wrestlers to fight it out, go a different direction and name it St. Kateri Lake, name it Lake George Floyd, sell naming rights (and end up with Toyota Lake?)--on and on. You could find support and/or tradition for all of those.>

Swiss Army Knife

I don't remember if I was 11 or 12. My father had a slim little brown pocket knife, single blade and very sharp. But I was fascinated by the bright red Swiss Army knives the Lebanese proprieter displayed in his shop. Five dollars was a lot of money, though. I certainly didn't have that much.

One day my father brought home a beautiful knife. It had a main blade that I could barely pry out with my fingernail, a sharper small blade, a screwdriver/bottle-opener, a can opener, a pair of scissors, toothpick, tiny tweezers, corkscrew, and a hole-poker thing that I never knew the name of. I carried it everywhere.

I was playing with the other MKs in a tree. When I came home the knife was gone. I retraced my steps and searched thoroughly, but nothing showed. Other people had gone by in the interim; it was well and truly lost--at least as far as I was concerned. No doubt somebody knew where it was.

I was disconsolate, of course. My father let things stand for a while--possibly to drive home a point about keeping track of things. About three months later, he gave me another, smaller knife--without the scissors or tweezers or toothpick (a silly thing -- how would you keep it clean?).

The logo fell off years ago leaving a little hole, and the plastic has a little crack at one end. The finish is matte now after 53 years of pocket riding. The corkscrew has been in two corks--it's really too short for that sort of thing--but has pulled hundreds of staples and started any number of drill holes. The hole-poker thing is the only one that is hard to prise out these days--it has done a lot of reaming and making holes in cardboard and soft wood. The knives and screwdriver have seen lots of use, and the can-opener has a tip tiny enough to work into a lot of phillips screws. The frame has a dent where I used it to pound on a stuck lever. (Nothing else was handy.)

I never did get the hang of, or interest in, whittling--except when I needed to get something to fit. I did remember the "always cut away from yourself," and I think I jabbed myself once (lightly) in all those years--with the corkscrew. And when I was reaming the pokey tool bit me once. That's not too bad for years of food cutting, box opening, scraping, fingernail cleaning, screwdriving, prying out broken lightbulbs, screwing a NIM crate into a relay rack, and other obvious jobs.

A lot of my life is connected to my father's gift. It has always been "just there"--I'm pretty sure it was in my pocket on my wedding day.

Yes, it went to school with me. But not to Switzerland.

Friday, March 19, 2021

"All Gaul is Divided" by Anonymous

Letters from Occupied France, 1941

Letters smuggled out of France during 1940 tell of the interactions with German soldiers, officials, and refugees; and with their own countrymen and strangers.

The writers of these letters are old friends of mine. They are deeply rooted in the French soil and know thoroughly the peasant life which they describe... Elizabeth Morrow, Next Day Hill, Englewood N.J.
  • Letter I "It is obvious that the invaders wish to accomplish their task with a minimum of friction."
  • Letter VI. "The Germans have decreed that no restaurant shall serve more than three dishes to a customer. Last night, having consumed my three meager rations, I remarked to the waitress, 'I guess that is all I am to be allowed.' She breathed cozily into my ear, 'Step across the street and come back. I won't recognize you, and you can eat three more.'"
  • Letter IX. "Trust the Good German Soldier... When this poster first appeared in late August it was promptly defaced and torn down. Grammar school girls, enraged at the idea, were the commonest vandals. But second and third copies were affixed by the patient thought conditioners, together with hand-size announcements that interfering with German advertising is sabotage, punishable by death."
  • Letter XI. "The lack of butter, lard, beef suet, olive and arachide (peanut) oil makes a big hole in the larder. ...I had a barrel of winter-grade motor oil, which we tried in the kitchen. A hearty man can stomach it about twice a week, on a cold night. We also experimented with melted candles. Worse."
  • Letter XIII. "I find myself shocked to discover the extent to which many of my intimates and relatives have been converted to Hitlerian dogma."
  • Letter XIV. "quoted verbatim from the letter (from the Head of the Clan) 'If you do not support the admirable old soldier (Petain) you are a traitor. ... And if you do not share this patently sound view, from now on our paths had better separate."
  • Letter XV. "For the harvest I hired a sailor, wearing a pair of khaki trousers and a BVD. He slept in a box stall, ate like a pair of mules, and was the best worker we have ever had on the place... as he pedaled into the pines he called back 'Cheerio,' and began to whistle 'There'll Always be an England. In this matter I do not want to speak heedlessly. But something resembling the underground railway of the Dred Scott era has come into existence just inside the shore line."

Divided into three parts by the Germans, divided by their reactions and relations with the Germans, with all news tightly controlled, shortages everywhere--how does one live?

It's 94 short pages, and I can't find it online (thanks, Disney...) If you find it, read it.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Hitler's Beneficiaries by Gotz Aly

In April 1945, a German-born British officer named Julius Posener returned to his former homeland, traveling from the lower Rhine region to the bombed-out city of Cologne. He had previously fought on the Italian front, "where in the hard winter of 1944-1945 Neapolitans had starved to death on the streets by the hundreds" and where the people, "even from the upper echelons of society, were broken, pale, and hopeless." The war had been relatively benign in France, Posener wrote, "but that was nothing compared with the rows of lovely girls dressed in white" in Germany, "taking an evening stroll past the ruins of the city."

Although the extent of the damage exceeded his expectations, Posener, who was a construction engineer in civilian life, had been prepared for the destruction of cities. What surprised him was the way the people looked: "The people did not fit the destruction. They looked good. They were rosy cheeked, happy, well-groomed, and very well dressed. An economic system that had been propped up by millions of foreign hands and the total plunder of an entire part of the world was here displaying what it had achieved."

This book documents that. Nazi means National Socialist, and they took the latter part extremely seriously. They promised equality and to support the common man--and they did, provided he was German. And they were rewarded with loyalty. They didn't need a great deal of internal coercion: In 1937 the Gestapo had 7000 staff, while the Stasi later would employ 190,000 and an equal number of volunteers.

From the beginning the Nazis played financial games to keep the goodies coming, and when they launched their wars they were careful to make sure that as much of the revenue as possible came from looting--Aly estimates 70% (Revenue is not the same as expenditures.). They had determined not to finance more than 50% of their war effort from loans, and to keep taxes as low as possible, in order to keep full support of the German people. This was obviously never going to be stable, and only a "blitzkrieg victory" would keep financial collapse away. But in the meantime, they found many ways to loot.

One clever scheme was RKK certificates. They were sort of like marks, but they couldn't be spent in Germany. When the German army needed to requisition a horse, they'd pay the owner in RKK. These were redeemable in the local currency by the local banks (or else). So the farmer doesn't object too strenuously, or hide all of his stuff or refuse to grow crops--because he gets paid, and gets French francs for his stuff, even if it's inconvenient. The French bank and government get stuck with the bill redeeming the RKK notes. And that eventually has to come out of the farmer's hide, but that comes later.

He explains how schemes like this, occupation cost charges, and manipulation of international clearing accounts worked in the different occupied countries.

Demanding that Jews turn over all assets and buy Reich bonds looks superficially legal, though they made sure nobody would live to collect. Stealing 100% from a few percent of the people actually has a noticeable effect on revenue--for a year or two. Aly goes through country by country to show how the extermination of Jews supported the Wehrmacht. It enriched corrupt people along the chain too, but most of the money wound up in the German treasury. Aly claims that the preoccupation with exterminating Jews wasn't a detriment to the war effort, and didn't divert resources. Salonika Jews were robbed of 12 tons of gold--which he traces to being used (for a change!) to try to prop up the Greek banks instead of the German, since the drachma was in free fall and Germany needed a working economy to provide the resources Germany needed to steal.

The Holocaust will never be properly understood until it is seen as the most single-mindedly pursued campaign of murderous larceny in modern history.

The campaign against Jews grew in intensity as losses grew and the need for money grew.

He describes slaves a bit, and forced labor a bit more. The latter was paid: 1/2 to 2/3 the going rate. But of course, most of the money was used to buy Reich bonds on the laborer's behalf, and then there was room and board to pay, and a tax for services, and and and

Food was another thing to be stolen, on a huge scale. Even allies like Italy came out on the short end. Soldiers were informally allowed to ship home what they could buy or steal. Back home, things were not bad at all--better than in Britain.

Later, when the fighting was over, the fateful collaboration of millions of Germans vanished, as if by magic, to be replaced by a wildly exaggerated--and historically insignificant--record of opposition to Hitler.

Even if the Nazis had won, they'd have run out of other people's money, and the way they treated captive peoples wasn't going to generate prosperous economies they could tap into.

Belgium comes off well--they often refused to cooperate.

Lessons learned: it isn't hard to buy a people's support for a while. When the bill comes due, those purchasers can turn hideously ruthless to stay in power. Theft can be very devious. Beware of politicians promising the moon.

The Nazis screamed that the Jews were economic bloodsuckers of the world. It proved to be the Nazis who were.

The book might have benefitted from some reorganization, with sections divided into "summary and human interest", followed by the details of how the schemes worked out in each region if you wanted to read those too.

Brutal

How did the Humanities Building wind up so awful? And it is--it is hard to navigate, has lousy acoustics for concerts(!), single-pane windows to face Wisconsin winters, and it's uglier than homemade sin. How?

Step 1: Brutalist architecture. Step 2: Cut the budget.

"I always tell people, 'Look, it's a really cool piece of architecture, but it doesn't function,'" Brown says of Humanities. "And it really hasn't functioned from day one."

At SIU, Faner Hall, another Brutalist "masterpeice", needs a map. It used to house campus student computing, with IBM 370s and lots of noisy card punches. The curious are invited to try to trace a path through the halls from one end of the second floor to the other.

At UIC the Physics/Chem/Bio building is by no means the oddest architecture on campus. One building--I think it was art--had a layout in which the main hall went up and then down, and rooms branched off upwards from it. The campus once had an amphitheater sort of arrangement by the student center that reached down through the two-level walkway system, the latter presumably to expedite draining buildings in a hurry. For UICC (now UIC), probably the most brutal part was the eminent domain destruction of an ethnic neighborhood that had just undertaken major renovation. I was told that for years a student who showed up in one of the few remaining local businesses could stand waiting for hours.


UPDATE: "the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th floors on the northwest side of the Humanities building will be closed to staff, students and the public effective at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 30". "an expansion joint on the 6th floor of the west side of the building has failed"

Monday, March 15, 2021

Asterisks

The 2020 baseball season will have an asterisk by it. So will plenty of other sports and awards. It's the era of the asterisk. Was that book or song really the best--or even within shouting distance of being the best? Who knows--the praises don't generally mention quality.

Unexpected detectors

"As it turned out, the spray of debris was coming from Juno’s expansive solar panels — the biggest and most sensitive unintended dust detector ever built." "Dust grains had smashed into Juno at about 10,000 miles (or 16,000 kilometers) per hour, chipping off submillimeter pieces." Is the zodiacal light dust Martian? Maybe.

Greenland

The report that an ice core into the ground under the ice in Greenland turned up bits of plants seemed very odd. After all, most of Greenland's actual land is below sea level. If all its ice melted, Greenland would look like a lagoon--and it would take a long time for the land to rebound. That works both ways, of course--it takes time to subside. So when would there have been time to grow tundra?

The place the cores were drilled is part of the area that wouldn't be underwater, so I think it makes sense--probably the glaciers filled the lower areas and pushed outward, or just accumulated (almost a mile of ice on top of 400,000 to 1,000,000 year old landscape). Because this is fairly high up, it says something about the overall ice sheet but not everything.

BTW, scientists have been looking at this for a while: this is from 2014.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Familiarity

Is it easier to hear something when someone unfamiliar says it? I like his image of the twisted trees. He left out the warning that the twisted trees must also be careful comparing themselves with the protected ones, though.

Kings

I've always had trouble connecting names to faces. Sometimes it caused me more than just a little embarassment. Politics was never a career option.

Names in the news befuddle me. Is Markle a German Prime Minister, a TV talking head, or a basketball player?

I grudge the effort spent skimming the article only to discover that this is a generic celebrity, and one from a family I thought we fought a war for the right to ignore.

Now Q. Elizabeth II seems like an interesting character, for her laudable devotion to duty--and even for just her long path through British history. But the rest of the clan leaves me glad we aren't saddled with them.

I guess a lot of us like royalty--because I remember there being fascination even when the royal house wasn't such an obvious trainwreck, and William Brann had hot acid words about American adulation of a wastrel prince.

I don't think actors quite fill the emotional bill, and politicians' role is allegedly public servant rather than ruler.

Christopher at AVI referred to a British love/hate relationship with their royal family. I wonder if monarchies are all like that to some degree: people longfor the great and admirable, and "Who died and made you God?"


Sometimes they're good for entertainment. Years ago there was a rumor that Prince Charles had converted to Islam. Since that family is related to Muhammad (via Spain), wouldn't it be wild if he were to claim custodianship of the Two Holy Mosques?

Friday, March 12, 2021

March thaw

It is the season of discovery.

The snow is gone, and the cans appear: soda, energy drinks, and something I don't recognize--not beer, I think. Straws and bags, of course--and a glove. And its mate, 60 feet away. Several USB cables, and the control for someone's home sound system. A circle around our neighbor's porch is paved with four months of preserved dog droppings, as I found when I went to retrieve a barrel that had blown away.

One year a battered swivel adapter for a 3/8 socket appeared in a crack in the pavement at my bus stop. It works fine.

The ground's still too soggy for a pickup sweep.

It felt a little odd to be standing around while others did all the shoveling--2 yards of dirt arrived at 9. But my shoulder won't take it, and as supervisor I taught the grandkids a few handy hints about how to dig with less effort, using ramps, why getting a wheelbarrow tire pumped up is good, and so on. They got good practice.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

In his steps

I watched a (to me) interesting 17-part documentary in which a couple of Coptic monks at St. Anthony's explained their life and the reasons for it--and the purpose of tradition. I found this episode ironic: they extoll the blessing of being able to put your feet where St. Anthony put his.

In a way this is the exact opposite of detaching yourself from attachments to the world. The highest things for them should be the mass and prayer, with nothing between them and God. That St. Anthony walked there is a mere accident in comparison.

But it's natural to sense a connection with other people through things. "This was my great-grandmother's lace." "My father gave me that knife." "My granddaughter made that card for me." "This is where Degas used to sit and paint." "Her icon is a window to Saint Magdalene."

I think it was meant to be that way; that we were meant to incarnate love through action in the world. Because God is love, that means that we have a role in making God immanent in His world, a role in creation. (This isn't "free-form" "love," of course.) Grandfather's gift is an incarnation of his love, and through him of God's love.

To aim for complete detachment in a cave seems wrong to me. It is ungrateful--unwilling to put love into and receive love from the world. We weren't put in a desert, after all, but a garden. But the other side, clinging to souvenirs rather than holding them lightly for God, is clearly wrong.

I, of course, tend to cling and detach exactly backwards from what I ought.

Jesus built a number of things, which I assume all wore out long ago. He also healed a large number of people, fed a lot of people, produced quite a lot of very good wine--all long gone, except from God's presence. What would you do if you could get one of the yokes Jesus made? See Justin Martyr From the fact that none seem to exist anymore, I guess people used them for what He made them for. I wonder which approach He would prefer.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Fittingness of ads

I was watching a documentary in which Coptic monks explained living in the desert the way the old Desert Fathers did, and why emptiness was important. Flashy ads for the newest cell phone and vacation homes and the latest dating show frequently interrupted them.

I know how they would have interpreted these interruptions. Maybe I should too.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Currently reading

I just started Hitler's Beneficiaries by Gotz Aly. This may take a while. I keep finding parallels with today's feckless social justice leaders. I'll have to dig deeper to decide if that's deliberate on the author's part, but I suspect it goes with the territory. It does seem easy to buy support from the favored group:

How best to use my time

As I sit looking out the window at a blocked-off street, I'm listening to emergency dispatch. I'm told our home doesn't face the home where the murder suspect is hiding, so I may very well see nothing except empty street, even if something happens. The sun will set soon.

I'm curious, of course, and I'd like a few extra seconds heads-up if something starts to go south (literally in my case). But I've got huge blind spots out there--the neighborhood wasn't designed for defense.

Maybe doing the dishes is a better plan.

UPDATE: The dishes got done, and they arrested the guy without incident.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

History of the Incas

Never mind the rabbit track that led to Sarmiento's book, The History of the Incas. I found it very interesting--and it certainly puts the lie to claims that Indians were pacifist before Columbus. It is every bit as bloody as Cross and Crescent in the Balkans (I was trying to fill up some large gaps in my knowledge). He asked various Incan historians for details, and ran his treatise by them afterwards to make sure he had the story right.

I don't think his Incan sources would have approved of his purpose in this book: to demonstrate that the Spanish king had the right to rule them.

But as the devil saw that this door was shut, which he had begun to open to introduce by it dissensions and disturbances, he tried to make war by means of the very soldiers who resisted him, who were the same preachers. They began to make a difficulty about the right and title which the kings of Castille had over these lands. As your invincible father was very jealous in matters touching his conscience, he ordered this point to be examined, as closely as possible, by very learned doctors who, according to the report which was given out, were indirect and doubtful in their conclusions. They gave it as their opinion that these Incas, who ruled in these kingdoms of Peru, were and are the true and natural lords of that land. This gave a handle to foreigners, as well catholics as heretics and other infidels, for throwing doubt on the right which the kings of Spain claim and have claimed to the Indies. Owing to this the Emperor Don Carlos of glorious memory was on the point of abandoning them, which was what the enemy of the faith of Christ wanted, that he might regain the possession of the souls which he had kept in blindness for so many ages.

All this arose owing to want of curiosity on the part of the governors in those lands, at that time, who did not use the diligence necessary for ascertaining the truth, and also owing to certain reports of the Bishop of Chiapa who was moved to passion against certain conquerors in his bishoprick with whom he had persistent disputes, as I knew when I passed through Chiapa and Guatemala. Though his zeal appears holy and estimable, he said things on the right to this country gained by the conquerors of it, which differ from the evidence and judicial proofs which have been seen and taken down by us, and from what we who have travelled over the Indies enquiring about these things, leisurely and without war, know to be the facts.

(That bishop would be Las Casas, about whom many of us have much more sympathetic views.)

Inca Yupanqui re-invented the Assyrian approach to pacifying his rebellious empire: Chapter XXXIX: mitimaes--population transfers.

His son expanded the empire more, and tried his hand at searching for gold to the West (very much like some others to his east were starting to do). "Tupac Inca navigated and sailed on until he discovered the islands of Avachumbi and Ninachumbi, and returned, bringing back with him black people, gold, a chair of brass, and a skin and jaw bone of a horse. These trophies were preserved in the fortress of Cuzco until the Spaniards came. ... The duration of this expedition undertaken by Tupac Inca was nine months, others say a year, and, as he was so long absent, every one believed he was dead." "Black people?" Fiji is probably well over 5 months travel to or from, which doesn't leave a lot of time to go exploring when you get there. Maybe some of the Polynesians looked black to the Incas.

The Incan kings are credited with remarkably long lives: Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui "laid his head upon a pillow and expired, giving his soul to the devil, having lived 125 years."

Without money, the Incans had to come up with other ways of rewarding conquerors:

"Tupac Inca ordered the seclusion of certain women in the manner of our professed nuns, maidens of 12 years and upwards, who were called acllas. From thence they were taken to be given in marriage to the Tucurico Apu, or by order of the Inca who, when any captain returned with victory, distributed the acllas to captains, soldiers and other servants who had pleased him, as gracious gifts which were highly valued."

His introduction to the history has to be read to be believed. He starts way back with "Noah and his wife Terra or Vesta" and includes Hercules and Atlantis.

If that doesn't entice you to read it, I don't know what will.