Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pictures and History of Mission San Diego de Alcala

Mission San Diego de Alcala is the first mission in San Diego and has a long history of local influence. It is now a National Landmark due to its 1769 start that has molded the city. Thousands of visitors come to the landmark to see the early beginnings of Western influence in the area. Prior to this, Native Americans lived in the region and maintained natural lives unseen by outsiders. The mission was an attempt to colonize and convert these locals while maintaining ownership of the land. 

Photography PrintsThe European story starts with the arrival in 1542 of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. There was no interest in colonizing the area until 1768 when King Carlos III of Spain became aware that Russians were fishing off of California. The push to build settlements became a heightened need to ensure that the land was controlled by Spain. 

The first mission was established in On July 16, 1769 by Father Serra. It overlooked the bay but only lasted five years because of a lack of water and ability to maintain crops. The new mission was moved closer to the Native American tribes at the mouth of the river. However, discontent broke out in the Native American villages and 800 warriors sacked the location fearing the mission’s intent. 

Because of the sacking, the mission was rebuilt like a fort to protect the inhabitants. It was a poor area but eventually with time, effort, and Native American interest it became self-sustaining and productive. It stayed untouched until secularization removed some of the religious leaders after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821.

Once the U.S. claimed the area, the military in 1853 brought its cavalry and artillery to ensure control. They improved mission infrastructure but eventually abandoned it until nuns came and started a school. It moved back into an active parish and historical landmark visited by people studying California history. The cost of admittance is $5.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is Europe One Big DNA Strand? How Related Are We?

Recent research indicates that Europeans may actually hold similar genetic traits that make most people related to everyone else on the continent. So do you have a great cousin in France or Turkey? The research helps to highlight how a similar ancestry made its genetic line throughout the continent retaining DNA similarity. This same phenomenon may actually exist in other areas of the world as well but has not yet been tested. 

Professor Graham Coop from the University of California recently published on May 7th, 2013 in the journal PLOS biology that nearly all Europeans are related to each other. “What’s remarkable about this is how closely everyone is related to each other. On a genealogical level, everyone in Europe traces back to nearly the same set of ancestors only a thousand years ago,” (UC Davis, 2013). 

Coop along with his co partner Peter Ralph set out to study DNA samples to trace back family origin to 3000 years ago. What they found through 2,000 samples is that people from the United Kingdom to Turkey have similar relatives just a thousand years ago. The ratio is around 20% of the time there are similar genetic strains. 

Out of all of the European states Italy appears to have the least association with the rest of the European families (Boyle, 2013). One explanation is that they were a heavy trading nation and many different cultures made their way into Italy at one time or another. The more people associated the more they shared genetic material. 

The study confirms a mathematical model proposed by a Yale scientist that indicates we are all sequentially related (Chau, 2013). Accordingly, each regional society shares similar genetic traits to root families. As each generation bears more children the general genetic material becomes more loosely associated. Perhaps one day the world will have similar genetic material throughout all of the population. 

You may be interested in reading the Author Summary below or the entire report at PLOS Biology

Few of us know our family histories more than a few generations back. It is therefore easy to overlook the fact that we are all distant cousins, related to one another via a vast network of relationships. Here we use genome-wide data from European individuals to investigate these relationships over the past 3,000 years, by looking for long stretches of genome that are shared between pairs of individuals through their inheritance from common genetic ancestors. We quantify this ubiquitous recent common ancestry, showing for instance that even pairs of individuals from opposite ends of Europe share hundreds of genetic common ancestors over this time period. Despite this degree of commonality, there are also striking regional differences. Southeastern Europeans, for example, share large numbers of common ancestors that date roughly to the era of the Slavic and Hunnic expansions around 1,500 years ago, while most common ancestors that Italians share with other populations lived longer than 2,500 years ago. The study of long stretches of shared genetic material promises to uncover rich information about many aspects of recent population history.

If we look at Coop & Ralph's research on genetic material and we compare that with Mark Pagel’s work on root words we may find that there is association between the two. One explains genetic material and the other explains language usage throughout Europe. Both studies included Turkey in their findings of similarity. These two studies indicate that we are really not that distant from each other and around 10,000 years ago we may have all been related to everyone else on the planet. If anything else it should teach us to treat each other with some level of care as most of us are related in some way. It would be nice to have this study completed again using material from different parts of the world to see if we are all really from an original root family of people. If we were all related would it change the way you think about yourself? What do you think cousin?

Boyle, A. (May 9th, 2013). All Europeans are related if you go back just 1,000 years, scientists say. NBC. Retrieved May 9th, 2013 from
Chau, M. (May 8th, 2013). How closely related are we to each other? Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 9th, 2013 from

Coop, G. & Ralph, P. (May 7th, 2013). The geography of recent genetic ancestry across Europe. PLOS Biology, 10 (1371). Retrieved May 9th, 2013 from

UC Davis (May 7th, 2013). One European Family. Retrieved May 9th, 2013 from

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Review- Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft and World Order

Grand Strategies by Charles Hill offers some interesting insights into the building of nations and their relations to each other. The understanding of current states requires delving into the historical past. Without this knowledge one suffers from an improper perspective due to a lack of international context. Through the development of this philosophical perspective readers better understand how thoughts led to the development of a nation and modern forms of existence. 

The work uses philosophy and history to create an interesting read that will maintain your interest from cover to cover. Filled with philosophical ramblings, poetry and historical tidbits the book appears to be well researched and thought out. The state of diplomacy between nations is rift with drama and intrigue ranging from the odd to the downright ludicrous. 

In many ways the fear of government and its very purpose is the protection of people. This protection might come from foreign nations but might also come in the form of protecting ourselves from each other. Government is a product of need and thought that impacts the very manners in which we live. Such government is not perfect but is on a plane of development from one historical point to another. 

The book discusses how our chaotic tribal past created a world order from the Treaty of Westphalia. It is through this world order that nations and states have developed, existed, and inter-relate to each other. Threats to this order come in varying forms ranging from historical conflicts to new one’s experienced in modern religious conflict. 

The book discusses classical orders as seen in stories of Homer, Aeschylus, and Virgil. It moves into concepts of creative disorder from the likes of Hugo and Shakespeare. It discusses the sources of world order, the Enlightenment, America, and modern conflict. The poem The Ocean to Cynthia by Ralegh helps to understand American existence from the love of the old to the novelty of the new:

To seeke new worlds, for golde, for prayse, for glory,
To try to desire, to try love severed farr,
When I was gonn she sent her memory
More strange than were ten thousand shipps of war
To call mee back, to leve great honor thought,
To leve my friends, my fortune, my attempte
To leve the purpose I so longe had sought
And hold bothe cares, and comforts in contempt.

To Hill literature gives a key to understanding statecraft. By covering historical literature he is also giving readers a keen understanding of the world and its development. Such literature provides the backdrop to why we think the way we do and the reasons we exist in the world in which we do. It is a deep and insightful book that is written at a graduate level. For those who need resources there are plenty available.

Hill, C. (2010). Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order. London: Yale University Press. 

ISBN: 978-0-300-17133-4
Pages:  368
Price: $15
Blog Ranking: 4.3

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley brings the readers through a series of events in history in order to show a pattern of economic development in society. According to the author innovation in society helps develop wealth through new products and services. His optimism is that the economy and peoples lives will continue to develop into the future as they overcome challenges.

The book discusses everything from tool specialization to the collective mind. Society is getting better and people should be optimistic about the future. According to the book, the development of society is economic fact and there is no reason to expect things to ever get worse. Whether this is the price of fuel or the next challenge, society will innovate to overcome the problem.

According to Newsweek, "Ridley eloquently weaves together economics, archaeology, history, and evolutionary theory to take the argument (that we are living through the most prosperous, peaceful times in history) a step further...His words effortlessly turn complicated economic and scientific concepts into entertaining, digestible nuggets...Unless you're an environmentalists or a WTO protester, there's plenty to be rationally optimistic about here."

The book appears to be worth the purchase and will give a very broad overview of how society developed and the manners by which humans innovated their surroundings. Some of the criticism is around the very broad overview of history which is difficult to pack in this small of a book. However, this may be more by marketing design. Another potential criticism is the lack of strong citations and references that academics would like to see. All-in-all the book meets expectations and the reader won't likely be dissappointed.

You may desire to visit the authors website.

Price: $10.87
Pages: Approximately 365
Blog Ranking: 3.3/5
Ridley, M. (2010). The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. UK: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-145206-2

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review: The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner

Have you ever wondered how the world's economic system developed? If you have then you are not alone. Between the covers of The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers you can quench your thirst for the knowledge of how both society and the economy developed hand-in-hand. Today's economic decisions rest on ideas of the economic thinkers like Adam Smith, Parson Malthus, John Maynard Keynes, Carl Marx, Joseph Schumpter and J.S. Mills.

The book moves through the historical development of society and the economic system. Each concept provides further understanding of the nature of society and the development of modern commerce. The economists chosen as subjects have created larger influences on world development and understanding. It is through this understanding that we can see why the U.S., the European Union, and China have different currencies and different spheres of economic influence.

Business owners, investors, and decision makers can benefit from understanding the underlying principles that contribute to the structure of the modern economic system. Many of the decisions companies make today are based in the vantage points of the philosophers that fostered Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. Each of these vantage points are seen by certain populations as an ideal in society that fosters cohesion and human development. All three exist in the world today and influence the nature of business, decision making and the preferred methods of economic gain. Each of the systems have changed over time in order to avoid collapse or weather difficult times but still hold to their root principles.

The book provides a nice overview of the most influential economic thinkers. Where additional depth was needed it seemed to be lacking. Yet this is not the nature of the book as it appears to be offering a broad overview of the concepts versus in-depth analysis. A more logical development of concepts from the earliest to the latest concepts would be of great benefit. Furthermore, organizing the index around the economist versus around broad concepts would provide additional benefit as a resource. It is worth the purchase price.

Heilbroner, R. (1999). The worldly philosophers: the lives, times, and ideas of the great economic thinkers (Seventh Edition). NY: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-86214-9

Price: $12.24

Blog Ranking: 3.9 out of 5