Latest TTC course was Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations. Short one, just 12 lectures. Lecturer is Kenneth Harl who also did the good "Rome and the Barbarians" course.
Covers the main early civilizations: Sumer, the Hittites, the Akkadians, the Assyrians, Egypt, Persia, the Indus valley and so on. Goes pretty fast since it's so short: dynasties rise and fall with bewildering speed. Probably for the best since history and evidence for some of these is a bit scanty.
There seems to have been a kind of Dark Age between the end of the Bronze Age and the start of the Iron Age: Harl draws parallels with the decline of Rome.
Also puts the early Jewish civilization into context, demonstrating their links with the other Semitic civilizations. The tie ins between the Noah and Gilgamesh flood myths make more sense to me now.
Other stuff. Writing seems to have been a by-product of accountancy. The Assyrians seem to be as bloody as their reputation: there's a first-person account of post rebellion torture and mutilation that makes the Romans seem like big softies. And trade seems to have been a part of civilization from the start: even the earliest cites of Sumer did a lot of it.
Good course, worth a listen.
Should have known better than to hope: Darling and Brown seem to be following the US in the bank bailout. Doesn't look quite as bad since we're getting genuine equity, not just the crappiest of crap assets.
Still think they're making a mistake though. We have a hypertropied finance system: I think of it like an enormous tangle of leaky pipes that eventually feeds through into the Real Economy. The problem is that the bailout eventually affects the Real Economy, so it would be better to pump money straight into there while the finance sector plugs the leaks and short-circuits the worst pipes entirely. Instead they're desperately pumping more and more money into the leaky tangle.
Paradoxically, I think the global nature of the crisis is a good thing. When individual nations suffer a banking crisis, all the capital can just move to another country with better returns. Whereas now, there's not so many places for it to go. Eventually investors are going to have to put their money into real businesses. Unfortunately it might take high inflation to force them to do that.
YouTube. Toy Story / Dark Knight trailer
Quite liked one bit of this Savage Love:
Some bullshit is intolerable, AAU, but there's no such thing as a bullshit-free relationship. A long-term relationship is, at its core, two people struggling to put up with each other's bullshit -- day in, day out, year after year -- in exchange for things intangible (love) and things tangible (sex). And why should anyone put up with your bullshit, kiddo, if you won't put up with theirs?Debate over Conservatism:
Today’s conservatism is lost. It is so lost it doesn’t actually know if it lost at sea, lost in space, or lost in a desert. It lacks moral courage, a philosophical core, and intellectual certitude. McCain’s defeat will help change all of that because his defeat will lead to a debate within conservatism unlike anything in several decades.Bailout Web
Naked Capitalism, Johan Norberg think UK bailout not so bad.
VoxEu says Too many bankers.
When the French government nationalised Crédit Lyonais, the opposite applied, with the people running the bank believing the state guarantee gave them the security to take ridiculous gambles with taxpayers' money, including buying a Hollywood film studio, with predictably disastrous results.Daily Mash:
The historic move is being hailed as a lifeline for the financial system as long as nobody asks too many questions.
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