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02 June 2002 @ 06:55 pm
Online books and stuff  
Grrr, this has apparently been sitting there trying to update since about five or six in the morning. I'm going to try sending it again and see if it works this time.

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Waiting for data to finish building and looking at an interesting new site that Morna showed me.

http://www.bartleby.com/

The first thing i stumbled upon was an index of online works by H.G. Wells. One of the books there was "A Short History of the World."

I jumped in at the middle, "The Expansion of the United States," since it's always interesting to get an outside view on things.

It starts out with a mixed view, after talking about America dispensing with "state-church and crown," he goes on to say "Its method of voting was barbarically crude, and as a consequence its political life fell very soon under the control of highly organized party machines." No argument from me there, although i'd be interested to hear what ideas he had for a better voting system.


A bit later he says "If we had the resources of the cinema it would be interesting to show a map of North America year by year from 1600 onward, with little dots to represent hundreds of people, each dot a hundred, and stars to represent cities of a hundred thousand people." He then goes on to describe a a timelapse map like you'd expect to see on a modern histroy tv show.

Did most people think in terms of multimedia presentations back then? Or was that just another way in which he was ahead of his time?

What i found really interesting though was his closing statement, given the present state of world afairs, "At the beginning of the war there was no railway to the Pacific coast; after it the railways spread like a swiftly growing plant until now they have clutched and held and woven all the vast territory of the United States into one indissoluble mental and material unity—the greatest real community--until the common folk of China have learnt to read--in the world."

The US is finally having to worry about the rise of China and what effect that is going to have on world affairs. At the time of the writing, Russia had udnergone it's Communist revolution, but was pretty much dead in the water in any particular way you cared to measure. In the time since it rose to become a superpower and then collapsed again, leaving China once again the biggest non-US power. (For soem definitions of big.)

It was also interesting to note in later chapters how Wells stated quite bluntly that despite the misconceptions of the times, the Europeans were in no way inherently superior to the rest of the world, and that as soon as science and technology diffused to the rest of the planet that the countries that were being conquered just a few decades before his time would be quite capable of taking care of themselves.
 
 
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