Saturday, September 17, 2011

These Are Days of Plenty

Let me start by saying I'm not really a history buff - I just try to understand historical perspectives more than the average modern citizen.  One of the things that I find incredibly ironic in light of human history is our obsession with obesity; granted that the link diabetes from diabetes to obesity is serious, and diabetes along with a diabetic tendency, leads to some pretty serious health issues.  We get a UN report that more people are becoming overweight in the poor countries - in other words, fewer people are starving to death - and that's given as bad news. In the historical context, it's amazingly good news. 

Somehow, Mrs. Graybeard stumbled across this incredible 580 page document sourced on Impact and has been reading it all day -- and reading excerpts out loud to me.  Starting in 6 AD (A famine struck Rome, Italy), and ending in 1900, it lists reported catastrophes, mostly caused by weather.  The reports are astonishing; stories of hail 12 or 18" across - and bigger chunks of ice falling from the sky.
410 A.D. In Rome, Italy, there was a famine followed by a plague.57, 72, 91  Under the Emperor Honorius (who reigned from 395 to 414) so great was the scarcity and dearth of victuals in Rome, Italy, that in the open marketplace, this voice was heard – set a price on man’s flesh.  St. Jerome alluding to this plague, says: the rage of the starved with hunger broke forth into abominable excess, so as people mutually devoured the members of each other. Nay, even the tender mother spared not the flesh of her sucking child, but received him again into her bowels whom she had brought forth a little before.72
I won't try to excerpt more of it, it's 580 pages long and very dense with these reports.  It is the perfect gift if you have an Al Gore acolyte in your email address book, someone who thinks severe weather is due to the SUVs of the late 20th century and never happened before.    

Human history is a continuous record of floods, and droughts, freezes and hot spells; then famine, starvation, plagues, and, yes, cannibalism because of those - mixed with failures of crops and farms due to stupid taxation.  We live in a remarkable time of plenty, despite constant warnings and hand-wringing that we can't produce enough food.  Our biggest problems seem to stem from following the dietary recommendations of our governments.  There has been an undeniable increase in obesity as Americans followed FDA recommendations to eat less fat and more grains, a problem dissected in books like "Wheat Belly",

But no matter how bad wheat might be, it's better than eating your children to survive. 

5 comments:

quizikle said...

Re: "severe weather is due to the SUVs of the late 20th century and never happened before"

What really happened is that Obama's jobs plan actually worked and time travel was invented in Oct 2012 - just before the elections. After Obama's overwhelming election victory and inauguration in 2013, the new Democratic Congress saw an opportunity to use this new technology to improve conditions in the past "for the children" and for "America's Future" in the past - to correct today's failings.

When the "History Corps" volunteers - the 20-somethings that couldn't find jobs in 2011 - travelled back in time, they found transportation too difficult - they had never been exposed to "walking".

They petitioned for a solution to the transportation problem and the History Corps and EPA worked out an agreement to provide modern transportation to the volunteers. Unfortunately, the government's agreements with GM required all government-supplied transportation to use unsaleable surplus SUVs. This got DOT and the UAW involved in a multi-Agency agreement.

The History Corps sent the vehicles back in time along with their volunteers. The volunteers started sending reports back that Global Warming started much sooner than previously thought. After much study by IPCC scientists, it turns out that due to an unforeseen feedback loop of time, those severe weather events of history actually were caused by Americans driving SUVs.
Q

Graybeard said...

I sure can't argue with that logic...

Now it all makes sense.

"Time travel gives me a headache." - Capt. Kathryn Janeway, memorably a primordial lizard spawning with ensign Paris, who, when not also a lizard, was in her command.

Brigid said...

It's a bit long but you might enjoy "Guns Germs and Steel" the fate of human society. If you can't find it I own a copy and would be happy to mail to you.

I keep grain for 5 years packed in nitrogen but that is only to supplement game. It's not going to be, and never has been the prime source of calories in my diet. I eat a lot of game, fish, veggies, apples and yes fat, lots of it. but real fat, not trans fat. I still get carded some days and I'm in my early 50's. Living on diet meals full of white flour and sugar and about .02 ounces of meat with diet coke and fake butter doesn't do anyone any good.

Graybeard said...

It's been reported in a few studies that when societies gave up the hunter gatherer lifestyle and began agriculture, they uniformly became smaller and less healthy. There's also an intriguing amount of data that says dairy, wheat, and maybe some other grains are chemically addictive. For example, you can give people naloxone, which blocks opiate receptors, and they eat less wheat, but not other substances.

Nevertheless, I have some long shelf life wheat stored away, too, and if the alternative is starvation or something that tends to make people fat, fat's probably a good thing.

Thanks for the offer on the book, Brigid. I have a "stack overflow" right now.

Reg T said...

Speaking of cannibalism, I think it was Leslie Nielsen who talked of having a great-grandmother who was a member of the Donner Party - and bulimic.