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Friday, November 06, 2015

Reading, Listening, Biking


I have been combining audio-books with reading this year to greatly increase the number of books that I finish. It kills two birds on my two hour bike rides and I also can listen to books as I am pedaling around Valencia for whatever reason. I carry my eBook reader with me in the city so when I get off the bike I can quickly find where I am in the book and continue reading.

The latest in this "Listen while I ride and then read at home" series is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I especially was interested in the early chapters which dealt with homo sapiens interaction with other human species, sort of a battle of the planet of the apes thing.

Good stuff although he calls the agricultural revolution the biggest fraud in history and opines that humans were better off as hunter-gatherers. The author’s bad-mouthing of the agricultural revolution in general really doesn’t make total sense. He also doesn’t mention that there were cultures that slipped back into hunter-gatherer societies after giving agriculture a go. Perhaps man’s depletion of his environment led early man to grow crops as he also mentions the great extinction campaign in various part of the world, namely Australia and North America.

He also bemoans how technology has just filled our lives with busy work. I strongly disagree. Technology has made writers out of a great portion of the educated public. How many letters would you have written in the age of paper and pen? I remember reading back before I had a computer about how Thomas Jefferson wrote something like 25,000 to 40,000 letters in his lifetime. That seemed an incredible feat back when I read it. I was always amazed at the prolific letter writing habits of many writers. I'm not so impressed today and I have written MUCH more than most people in human history. Why? Because technology has taken the drudgery out of writing (if not the drudgery of what is written).

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