Call "Stumbling and mumbling" Chris Dillow   2 votes - 50 %
Call "Stumbling and mumbling" "Stumbling and mumbling"   1 vote - 25 %
-   0 votes - 0 %
Great Man theory of history is right   1 vote - 25 %
Great Man theory of history is wrong   2 votes - 50 %
-   0 votes - 0 %
Bankers are modern witch-doctors   3 votes - 75 %
Bankers are not modern witch-doctors   1 vote - 25 %
4 Total Votes
Jug sauce elite. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #1 Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 07:35:02 AM EST
I suspect that as far as the metal deposits are concerned, it's not the rarity of iron ores, it's the rarity of ones that you can make steel from. At a guess (I'm no chemist otherwise I'd say ferric vs ferrous, knowing which was which) magnetite (Fe3O4) rather than haematite (Fe2O3). Any tin ore's going to be obvious and easy to extract from. That said, reading your other examples, it looks as if your impression's right.

Great Man theory by ni (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 12:08:51 PM EST
It seems clear, as in most of these eternal debates, that the truth lies somewhere between the 'great man' theory and the 'environment and conditions' theory. But which explanation is more interesting? My vote is conclusively on the great man theory. Perhaps I'll try to pirate this course.

"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM
"Great Man" theory by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 02:18:41 PM EST
It's easy to find places in history where one man's decision very obviously changed the course of history.  That said, it's also pretty easy to find big historical events that were inevitable.  For instance, it is obvious that war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia was inevitable, yet the decision to invade late in the summer, while still at war with England, had massive ramifications for the course of the war.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
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Web designers whiny webcomics by duxup (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 01:51:34 PM EST

As a non designer I find many websites suck. I however am not of the mind like many such comics indicate that they'd be all that much better if designers were left on their own. I’ve visited many sites where it seems the designer was left to his own devices, often a personal site, and they’re clunky, gimmicky, illogical, and stupid in their own way. I always read those comics that complain about interference by corporate drones in the voice of comic book guy.
Damn your eyes man by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #4 Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 01:55:06 PM EST
Oooh, eee, oooh oooh aah ah ooh eee
Walla walla bing bang!

A most unfortunate earworm.

Ooo. Eee. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 10:07:55 PM EST
Welcome back! by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:17:56 AM EST
How's life in grad school treating you?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
I do stop by occasionally. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 11:40:50 PM EST
It's just that I haven't been able to find any reason to talk about myself that wasn't just simple whining. I've written at least a couple of diary entries that I deleted at the preview stage (or after) for that reason. I've been posting on facebook, but the larger audience of that forum has kept me censoring myself.

But - I haven't stopped thinking about my friends at Husi; and I've been reading their diaries. I'll try to post something now.

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
[ Parent ]
I wonder if by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 05:21:46 AM EST
The lessons from history school were mostly Marxists and are now so desperately out of fashion even Great Men look preferable.

The Great Man thing is a bit silly, but it does make for better narrative histories. There is some stat about Napoleon increasing the chance of his armies winning by 50%. That has got to count for something.

I thought witch doctors were now considered to be providing some valuable medical and community services, appropriate to the culture and the economic environment available? Does this mean in fifty years we will view 20th century bankers with a paternalistic affection? "They did the best they could with the crude theories and computers they had, poor dears"

Will sig for food

(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 08:24:03 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

I like them a lot by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 10:08:18 AM EST
But bear in mind they have an odd strategy where the full price of each course is ridiculously expensive, but once a year every course goes on sale for a reasonable amount.

So, make sure the subscription applies to sale prices, and that the person you're giving it to understands that and doesn't try buying the full price ones.

They now have a UK website at the unhelpful url greatcourses.co.uk.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 12:29:38 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

[ Parent ]
cookie monster ftw by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 11:15:58 AM EST
The great man thing is a lot of fun to think about.

I think it may be most applicable to Ghengis Khan, afaik there was no historical inevitability to one dude uniting the Mongol tribes and conquering all of China and beyond instead of the status quo of disunited tribes nibbling on the edges.

And yeah the Mongol Chinese dynasty didn't last long, but the fragments of that empire were freaking enormous, and some of them lasted for centuries. The Russians didn't fully get out from under the Mongol boot until the late 1400s.

Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 12:38:58 PM EST
I reckon it's a mixture of all factors. Decisions of people in power make a difference, though often not the ones they want. Fears reckons that Alexander wanted to create a tolerant, inclusive, multicultural superstate; but ended up spreading Hellenic cultural imperialism all over the place when his generals took over after his death.

Chance is also a big factor: if the wind hadn't wrecked the Spanish armada things could have been different.

But neither of those are much help in looking at the big picture of historical processes though. The War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe course did a good job of explaining how the concept of the "balance of power" explains a lot of European history. But Fears doesn't really believe in balance of power.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Great men by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 01:08:53 PM EST
Seem to need armies that have some tactical advantage, not necessarily technological. Alexander the Great had no better technology than the Persians but he had the Greek Phalanx. Likewise Genghis Khan had his horsebacked archer. Napolean had conscription etc.

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