Tim Mackintosh-Smith ‘s Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes, and Empires is a book I recommend without reservation. Many of these types of books about Arabs tend to be focus on two periods, that of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, the 20th-century revival of Arab supra-national identity. Mackintosh-Smith’s small tome lacks these deficiencies.
In fact, it benefits from extensively discussing the history of the pre-Islamic Arabs. The author is a specialist in Arabic language and observes that clearly proto-Arabic names were listed as enemies by the Assyrians in 750 BC. This clearly refutes the misimpression by some that the Arabs burst onto history in the 7th-century out of the obscurity of the desert.
On a minor note, though Mackintosh-Smith presents the origins of Islam in the classical mainstream manner, the scaffolding around narrative makes it clear that he is familiar with the revisionist arguments (he does make reference to Patricia Crone). Though he does not come out and say anything supportive in an explicit sense of the revisionist historians, the totality of the work has made it more plausible to me that the Umayyads were not Muslims in a way we would recognize Muslims.
Islam in a very substantive sense was the invention of the mawali, and the victory of the ajam over the arab.
I am now reading The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World. Pretty good so far, though as with most paleo books there are the “notes from the field” passages which make it seem like something out of Field & Stream now and then.
Interesting profile in The Wall Street Journal of Ramesh Ponnuru.
While this weblog was down I posted more at Brown Pundits. While I was in grad school I really didn’t post there much at all. But about two years ago I started posting more and more, and that weblog is now almost as popular as this one. A lot of it is due to the rise of the “Indian internet”
I phased out of being an active “producer” on Twitter right before this blog went down. I still reply here and there, “like” some tweets, and use the DM feature. But being a passive consumer suits me fine, to be honest. More and more of the stream of tweets are toxic crud anyway.
Twitter is where good faith goes to die, and the profusion of malice in intent and perception is so great that it fosters highly active and tight “circle-jerk” communities. It’s not that fun talking just to people who agree with you on everything (or at least they feign to in public), so ultimately I realized that it wasn’t worth the effort. I’ve been through middle school, and have no need to revisit it.
If you haven’t checked it out, my Pinboard is active again.
Perhaps because institutions of higher learning tend to be dominated by liberals, Republicans who have gone to college are not more likely to caricature their ideological adversaries than those who dropped out of high school. But among Democrats, education seems to make the problem much worse. Democrats who have a high-school degree suffer from a greater perception gap than those who don’t. Democrats who went to college harbor greater misunderstandings than those who didn’t. And those with a postgrad degree have a way more skewed view of Republicans than anybody else.
The major finding is that the less educated/informed have more reasonable perceptions of the “other party.” But the secondary finding is that the skewing effect of more education is noticeable in particular in Democrats. To be frank, the white liberal usage of terms like “inclusion” and “diversity” are straight out of 1984. A large fraction of these people are among the most conventionally intolerant and narrow-minded people you can meet, who at the same time have an image of themselves as exceedingly tolerant and open-minded. In some schools of shariah it is only permissible to interact with and develop friendships with kufars for the purposes of dawah…
Amid Racial Divisions, Mayor’s Plan to Scrap Elite School Exam Fails. I still think in the long-run these schools are going to be abolished.
Erdoğan’s party to lose rerun Istanbul election. Suggests that Erdoğan’s margins over the last 15 years were due to the bubble economy. He can hold power if he goes full authoritarian. Otherwise, he’s probably going to lose.
Genetic substructures and adaptations in Lithuanians. Not a huge surprise, but it does look like Lithuanians are the population with the greatest affinity to the Pleistocene peoples of Europe. Mostly because they have hardly any Anatolian farmer ancestry (something they share with the Finns).
When I type “Ninja” into Google Images I get images of a Twitch streamer. What?
Palladium Magazine is worth reading
The Wild Ride at Babe.Net The Aziz Ansari controversy was just the beginning of the trouble for the website. This was a lose, lose, lose situation. The reporter didn’t benefit. The website went down. Aziz Ansari and their date didn’t come out of it well. A sad observation about the current media and cultural landscape.
Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal”. I doubt a Peter Singer op-ed signals a Thermidorian Reaction, but an Optimate can hope.
After Struggling to Deliver in China, Carrefour Packs Its Bags. Carrefour has been in China since 1995. This isn’t a matter of the Chinese rejecting a foreign brand, but the turn toward delivery and away from huge markets.
The Age of Aquarius, All Over Again!. Just relaxation of functional constraint. Without the indoctrination of organized religion people become “pagan” in a very broad sense.
Putting RFMix and ADMIXTURE to the test in a complex admixed population. Though if you are going to test 30 populations, go with the latter.
They came, they saw, and they mixed. Uralics.
Is the Impossible Burger a threat to vegetarianism? Should be titled “I don’t like the taste of meat.”
Did Big Gods Come Before or After Big Societies? Another review of the huge controversy.