Odd Things and Other Things in History vs Present-Day Life

More literary whimsies from Australian writer Dan Byrnes as he decides how and when to finish his websites, close-up shop and finally go away ... a process he hopes takes years!

(Webpage begun 17-6-2016, a work in progress) Updated 19 January 2017. (Entries here probably proceed from a future date to near today's date to an even earlier date.)

Explanation for this page

Your webmaster Dan Byrnes by 2016 is aged 68 and his website career has to end at sometime. So he has given some thought to how to end things, and adopted the view that humour - or at least something consistent - should do the trick.

Headshot of webmaster Dan Byrnes So this webpage on Odd Things in History vs day-to-day life will have items lodged as they arise, and when they reach their use-by date they will be sent to other pages in other websites. By 2016, your webmaster has been needing a vehicle for new material as it arises more slowly than new material used to do. So this is how these websites will peter out - with humour and deeper inspections of odd spots in human history. Because seriously, the last thing Dan Byrnes as a writer would wish any of his enemies to say about him when he dies would be - that he didn't have a sense of humour. -Ed

Extraordinary call from global elite: ‘Capitalism must be reformed’

World Economic Forum (Davos in Switzerland) Money Finance News 10:45pm, 12 Jan., 2017 By Money Editor Jackson Stiles at The New Daily newsletter

The World Economic Forum, voice of the global ruling class, has issued an extraordinary report slamming the shift of wealth to the “top 1 per cent” and calling for radical reform of capitalism – messages more befitting of a left-wing think tank.

The annual Global Risks report, published by the World Economic Forum on Thursday, lists five key hazards for the year ahead. Among them is “rising income and wealth disparity” and the challenge of “facing up to the importance of identity and community” – including gender, race, sexual orientation and environmental protection.

“More fundamental reforms to market capitalism may be needed to tackle, in particular, an apparent lack of solidarity between those at the top of national income and wealth distributions and those further down,” the report concluded.

The views are notable because the WEF is known for advocating the interests of the wealthy. It has been criticised for advancing the neoliberal policies of corporate tax cuts, free trade, the weakening of unions, deregulation of the financial sector and the privatisation of public services. (Picture Removed: World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab wrote a preface to the report endorsing its contents. Photo: Getty)

Its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for 17-20 January 2017, will be attended by the global elite, many of whom are censured in the report: CEOs, bankers, heads of state, finance ministers, central bankers, and the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, the United Nations, OECD and Bank for International Settlements.

Even if world governments can manage to kickstart economic growth, sluggish almost everywhere since the global financial crisis, this will not be sufficient to calm the “popular disenchantment” exemplified by Brexit, Donald Trump and the defeat of the Italian referendum, the report concluded. No, the ruling class must consider a more radical solution: the rewriting of capitalism itself.

The WEF’s proposals for how to do this were vague. It urged “new economic systems and policy paradigms” that enable more people to benefit from skill-biased technological change; better public goods to address the ambitions of the growing middle class; and more responsive governance systems to empower individuals at the local level without sacrificing the many benefits of globalisation.

But the message was clear. The benefits of the global order must be redistributed to the less well-off, or they’ll vote in more Donald Trumps to wreck the joint. Even Australia was singled out.

“Inequality had been falling consistently in the industrialised world since the beginning of the 20th century, but since the 1980s the share of income going to the top 1 per cent has increased in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and Australia.” The Swiss-based non-profit also took a swing at the controversial topic of rising CEO pay, which has caused great consternation, here and abroad.

“Reasons [for worsening inequality] include skill-biased technological change – which increases the returns to education – combined with scale effects as markets became more interconnected, increasing global competition for talent. “Among other things, this has led to an increase in CEO compensation as firms have become larger. Global communications have also driven up returns for individuals who can successfully cater to a global audience – what Sherwin Rosen described as ‘the economics of superstars’.” For example, the report criticised world governments for failing to match the efforts of their central banks in kickstarting growth.

“In the wake of the financial crisis, economic policy-making has been predominantly monetary rather than fiscal. Unorthodox countercyclical policies such as quantitative easing – large-scale purchases of government bonds by central banks – have evolved into enduring features of economic policy frameworks. (Picture removed: The WEF report said the rise of Donald Trump is an example of “popular disenchantment” with capitalism. Photo: Getty)

“And although evidence points to positive impacts on growth and employment, quantitative easing has also exacerbated income inequality by boosting returns enjoyed by the owners of financial assets, while workers’ real earnings have been growing very slowly.”

The WEF even warned of the distortive effects of low interest rates — a topic The New Daily has reported on extensively. However, it did not mention the impact on property prices.

“Sustained low interest rates can distort the financial mechanisms that underpin healthy economic activity: they make it unusually cheap for struggling companies to roll over their debts, inhibiting the process of reallocating resources from inefficient to more innovative parts of the economy.

“This in turn complicates the process of clearing the debt overhangs that in many countries remains an unresolved legacy of the pre-crisis boom, weighing on growth by diverting income towards debt servicing rather than fresh consumption or investment.”

The side effects of globalisation were mentioned, but the WEF saw technological change (especially automation) as a far more important cause of deteriorating job prospects.

“While innovation has historically created new kinds of jobs as well as destroying old kinds, this process may be slowing. It is no coincidence that challenges to social cohesion and policy-makers’ legitimacy are coinciding with a highly disruptive phase of technological change.” (Ends)

16-1-2017: Director of CIA in USA calls on President-elect Trump to be more "disciplined" in his remarks.

11-1-2017: Only two days go by and suddenly the US media is awash with allegations that allegedly begin with "Russia", and/or a UK MI6 operative, re a dirt file on President-Elect Trump that is presumably designed to embarrass him. Why are we not surprised here? Allegations pile on allegations here. Let's see Pres-elect Trump fight this with 140-character Twitter feeds, this website doesn't think so. Part of Trump's response here is to claim this is a matter of "fake news", so raising, gasp, the Spectre of Truthiness! This website can hardly wait to find out what happens here! Gee, truthiness as part of Russian-USA relations? Really? What could possibly go wrong here?

9-1-2017: It seems that US Pres-elect Donald Trump re her remarks at Golden Globe Awards in USA, has taken umbrage with world-renowned actress Meryl Streep and called her "over-rated". Really, Donald? Since this website is a great fan of Meryl Streep, this website reluctantly has to take sides here, and guess what, you lose, Mr. Trump. Ms. Streep survives in our estimation, you lose. Tough titty, Donald, you poor little snowflake you on the world TV stage here. Poor little snowflake Donald, boo hoo. (Here, use this tissue and stop being embarrassing, Mr Trump.)

1-1-2017: SBS Australian TV Network evening news: World leaders talk of facing "fear and uncertainty". Encouraging, isn't it? - Ed. Uncertainty seems to be a theme here, see the Sydney Morning Herald for w/e 31 Dec., 2016-1 Jan., 2017.

31-12-2016 re the Israeli potential two-state situation (??): There is some disagreement surfacing around the world about the USA's decision (or, the Obama administration's) to criticise the Israeli Government's position on further building for settlers in territory at least once regarded as belonging to Palestinians, that is, non-Israelis. Eg., the Federal Australian Labor Party has decided to criticise the Israel position just as Australia's Turnbull government breaks with the Obama administration on its position in order to show more solidarity with Israel. Sydney Morning Herald, w/e 31 December -1 January 2017, p. 9. This website has the view that in the long term, Israel simply cannot continue to get away with being such a bad neighbour in its region, so scornful of countries near it. One day the enemies of Israel will get sick of her, gather and wreak terrible damage on Israel unless Israel changes its attitudes to its neighbours.

BBC Headlines 31-12-2016: Angela Merkel - "Islamist terror is 'top threat'," to Germany.

31-12-2016: NSW coastal landowners anxious at newly-arising laws designed to target coastal erosion problems. "Battlelines are being drawn along the NSW coast as seaside communities brace for what Planning Minister Rob Stokes dubs the biggest overhaul of coastal management in a generation". Sydney Morning Herald, w/e 31 December -1 January 2017, p. 3, story by Environment editor Peter Hannan.

31-12-2016 - BBC Headlines item - Imogen Foulkes has article: "Are we facing a 'post-human-rights world?'." (The answer is, possibly yes - Ed.)

29 December 2016: BBC Headlines as an international news outlet asks - "Can Israel settlement issues be resolved?" (It might be added that Jewish settlement/resettlement in Palestine was happening before Israel as a State was created in 1948. The Jewish people cannot perceive and deal rationally with an issue in 70 years or more? Really? - Ed)

Predictions from Papua New Guinea that future population increase trends will badly stretch food supplies from traditional agriculture. The upshot seems to be that Papuan food production customs will have to change, perhaps drastically (ordinary farms to be of a larger size in order to achieve more economies of scale?), and/or that Papua-New Guinea will have to import more foodstuffs. (ABC TV news report, 29-12-2016.)

22-12-2016: Crikey Insider [political newsletter]: The Crikey writer-at-large, leftist Guy Rundle, asks a wickedly awkward question: "If another 9/11 happened under Trump, what then?"

What lies in store for the world in 2017?

Mark Urban, Diplomatic and defence editor, Newsnight, 28 December 2016 (from BBC Headlines, from the section Europe)

What lies in store for the world next year? Some telling recent events suggest it could be very difficult for Western countries.

While at the end of 2015 I looked at the way nationalistic populism would make the job of diplomats harder in 2016, now there are signs that the West's ability even to set the rules of the international game is beginning to unravel.

"The post-Cold War era of Western-led globalisation, US predominance and the comfortable ascendancy of liberal international values is over," says Sir Simon Fraser, head of the UK Diplomatic Service 2010-2015.

"The current stresses on the international order that we've known since the end of the Second World War", argues US General Stanley McChrystal, who commanded Nato forces in Afghanistan 2009-2010, "reflect a decentralization or 'atomization' of power on multiple levels".

Among key events in the latter part of 2016:

Russia's alleged used of hacked information in the US election. The suppression of rebels in eastern Aleppo by Syria and its foreign supporters, involving large scale use against civilian populations of weapons banned by many countries. China's decision to ignore a UN Conference on the Law of the Sea arbitration that found against Beijing in a territorial dispute with the Philippines. The decision by some countries, including Russia and South Africa, to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. The faltering of some international trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership after president-elect Donald Trump announced that the US was abandoning it.

Events in Syria underline the failure of the UN Security Council's five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the UK and US) to agree any way of stopping that crisis. But in truth, ever since the UN was founded in 1945, the big players have rarely united during serious international crises, and never when one permanent member has felt its vital interests threatened.

The UN's endorsement of the 1991 US-led war against Saddam Hussein was a very rare example of the Security Council actually backing a war, but it was a fleeting moment.

Our recent conception of international order, "was based on an atypical level of American dominance, which was always going to be finite," believes Professor Patrick Porter of Exeter University, who adds, "this order is unravelling from without, as the shift of economic weight from west to east makes it harder for the West to impose its will."

Of course, many will welcome the eclipse of American hyperpower, the sense of global dominance that flourished for several years after the collapse of communism, and the emergence of a more multi-polar world.

In many African or Asian countries, there is also a sense of empowerment as a generation of statesmen educated in Western universities has given way to those with their own world view.

In the case of South Africa and some other African countries leaving the International Criminal Court or ICC, it's been the result of perceived unfairness, the Gambian information minister saying the court had been used, "for the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders".

Russia and China, both part of the big-power UN club, have recently questioned the UN's competence in relation to territorial disputes they care deeply about.

If old rules seen as being drafted by "colonialists" or powerful westerners now seem less relevant in many parts of the world, they at least embodied a belief system which many countries were willing to agree with for decades, or at least pay lip service to.

Strong emerging ideologies - whether it is China's brand of post-communist/Confucianism, Russia's Eastern Orthodox-influenced sense of national destiny, or the very different Islamic ideas that motivate Saudi or Iranian policy - may appeal to their own people but hardly anyone else.

Rejection of the international status quo is in fact key to many of these national or religious narratives.

Non-national groups (like Hezbollah or Boko Haram to name but two) also pose many challenges.

In security, finance, or technology, new disruptors form such a threat to the established order that, believes General McChrystal, "it is tempting to conjure up a post-apocalyptic vision of no-holds-barred survival of the fittest."

While this host of powerful challenges lurks without, there is also what Professor Porter characterizes as, "unravelling from within". The West itself now harbours a good deal of disagreement. For example, the election of Donald Trump has opened new fears of trade wars.

If the president-elect delivers on his various campaign promises, then "we are heading into a period of tough, big power foreign policy: more transactional, more confrontational, driven by power and national interest, rather than values or a concept of international community," argues Sir Simon Fraser.

There is likely to be more emphasis on bilateral (between pairs of states) rather than multilateral diplomacy - and that could give international relations a more 19th Century feel. Professor Porter argues that "we are moving uncomfortably, and unprepared, into a more historically 'normal' diplomacy where we compete and collaborate with other great powers at the same time."

The relationship between Turkish president Reccep Tayip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin is an interesting example of post-ideological statecraft. They swiftly moved from confrontation and economic sanctions after Turkey downed a Russian jet, to strategic cooperation in Syria in 2016, following a fence-mending summit in St Petersburg.

But can European countries or the US with their democratic traditions and competing interest groups really be as fleet of foot as those with strong leaders wielding autocratic powers?

Britain's former chief diplomat, Simon Fraser, believes, "laws, organizations, treaties, and other 'rules of the road' will remain essential, but will be likely to take on a new look and feel, continuously morphing within very broad outlines generally accepted by enough of the world to have some credibility."

The world's current tectonics seem to put Western societies at a decided disadvantage: they respect international rulings, while Russia and China say they can ignore them (e.g. Crimea and the South China Sea).

Their armed forces have (in many cases) renounced the use of cluster bombs or mines - weapons used so liberally by Syria and Russia in recent months; and the Western ability to respond in kind to Russian or other politically-targeted cyber attacks is limited, and in any case would be of questionable use against countries where there's broad control over the media.

Add to this the strains posed by economic stagnation, protectionism, and populist rhetoric and you have to ask seriously whether the international clubs central to our definition of "the West" - Nato and the European Union - can survive 2017 in their present form.

A series of elections in Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, could severely test the EU, and in particular the euro.

Regarding Nato, president-elect Trump has suggested future US protection will be contingent on European allies paying more. And putting caveats on what was once assumed to be a guarantee of help isn't one-sided: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested future cooperation with America will be conditioned by Washington's "respect for the law and the dignity of man".

In this period of flux there will be opportunities as well as dangers. But the question now is whether western countries can seize them and become the master of events; or whether they will simply be at their mercy? (Ends)

An old friend writes before New Year's Day 2017 on his prognostications for 2017 ... Dear Lost Worlds and To Whom it May Concern ... Given that the foiled Victorian target was on Christmas Day 2016 and that the places to be attacked (allegedly) included a cathedral, one would have to assume it was an anti-Christian terrorist attack. The Victorian premier referred to "these sorts of challenges".

Watch what will happen in Western democracies ...
* voting for right-wing governments who promise to stop unwanted immigration;
* A return to traditional values, eg celebrating Christmas, not "happy holidays" or the "festive season";
* higher penalties for things like not swearing allegiance to the country (eg., case of a US state senator in 2015);
* A ban on all Muslim immigration and refugees until this is sorted out * no ghettos or no-go areas, universal rule of law;
* citizenship is conditional for 10 years, and is easily cancelled;
* Higher penalties for all terrorist offences;
* Bring back the death penalty for treason and terrorist attacks in public places.

Heavy stuff, but watch closely. Merry Christmas, (Your old friend)
======================================== PS: Suicide bombing was invented by the Tamil Tigers. It's instructive to read how their efforts in Sri Lanka ended quite quickly, and listen to the human rights bleating from UN socialism supporters. ==========================================

New book listings

Book lists titles listed here are meant for another website and will be put there in due course. More to come here

Current reading: Gary L. Sturgess, 'A Convenient Cloak for Cruelty? Mutinies and Conspiracies on Early Australian Convict Transports', unpublished paper of 2016 but delivered to an Australian conference in late June 2016. 32 pp. with footnotes. Courtesy of the author. Nick Bryant, The Rise and Fall of Australia: how a great nation lost its way. Random House, 2015.

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. London, Vintage, 2011/2014.

Ian Tattersall, Becoming Human: Evolution of Human Uniqueness. Oxford, England, Oxford University Press, 1998.

Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. London, Doubleday, 2010.

Don't let's get started on Donald Trump

Donald, Donald, Donald. Donald Trump. Don't get me started on US "republican" presidential candidate Donald Trump ...

June-2016: For anyone not from the USA, the first question probably is: could Trump possibly last long in any other country other than the USA? And the answer would be, no. Now ask: could Adolf Hitler have lasted long in any country besides Germany? And the answer is, probably not. In this context, what is supporting Trump in the USA? And it would appear that it is, apart from the media, who have no choice but to report him and so give him more free publicity, the main allies of Trump are Mr. and Mrs. Angry USA, mostly Mr Angry USA. Who is mostly a white man, not a woman, or a Black, an indigenous Indian, Hispanic, Asian or Moslem.
Conclusion: Trump's major backers are less-well-educated white men in the USA who now feel more marginalized, much less economically secure, and who remain angry about it (Anger is not quite the word, the phrase is better, inchoate rage, so that paradoxically, what Trump is actually articulating is the inchoate rage of today's USA). One of my Australian friends agrees: he thinks Trump wouldn't last ten seconds outside the USA because he is merely an only-in-America type of phantasm, he's not a real person.

All this is very interesting, because if the Republican Party of the USA disapproves of Trump, do they also disapprove of his supporters? If we look at things this way, it seems more probable then that Hillary Clinton will be next president of the USA.
Well, how far have we got here so far? So far so good? The USA's first woman president? I'm not a believer in the idea that female politicians will do less damage simply because they are female (and I see no evidence arising from historical cases of female queens where this is arguable.) No, female politicians might do as much damage as male politicians might, not because they are male or female, but because they are wielding power - and power is, and like death, oddly enough, no respecter of persons. Anyone wielding power finds that certain things have to be done, and done they must be, whether or not the doer is a male or female politician. And it is extremely odd that jingoistic proponents of the wonderfulness of female politicians don't see this problem, which tends to leave tender-hearted individuals gasping, which arises from the nature of power more than it arises from gender conditioning or gender re-conditioning.

It's an interesting question, isn't it? Would any famous or notorious politician from a particular country actually last in any other country? I ask due to reading too much British Imperial History, where we find many cases of UK parliamentarians (admittedly mostly men) who were brought up in other countries (such as Ireland, Canada or on some Caribbean island) but who survived well as politicians in Britain's home parliament. So what about Nelson Mandela surviving outside of South Africa, probably yes. Kevin Rudd once a Labor prime minister of Australia, no but Gough Whitlam, once Labor prime minister of Australia, yes. Robert Menzies, once Liberal prime minister of Australia, yes. (Menzies' name was Scottish and the correct pronunciation is "Mingies", probably the origin of one of his nicknames, Ming). Josef Stalin of Russia, no but his predecessor Vladimir Lenin yes. Mao Tse Tung of China, no. Pontius Pilate, governor of Palestine, yes (as is a matter of record, actually). And so on. Thomas Jefferson or George Washington, noted politicians of the American Revolution, yes for either of them, either could have done well in a different country, Jefferson for example in France, Washington probably in England where his ancestors had lived.
US President Richard Nixon (oh oh, he probably could have done well enough in a different country, but which one? Russia? Romania?). US President Andrew Jackson no but US President John F. Kennedy yes. Prime minister William Pitt the Elder in eighteenth century Britain no but his son William, also Prime Minister of Britain, the youngest man ever to become a prime minister of Britain, yes.

Book review upcoming

Dan Byrnes reviews Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. London, Penguin/Allen Lane, 2014.

Klein’s book reminds me of the wonderfully bitchy old line from New York book reviewer Dorothy Parker, "This book is not one to be put down lightly, it should be hurled with great force." But to be more moderate, Klein’s book has satisfying vs unsatisfying aspects and I feel readers have been insufficiently warned about the unsatisfying aspects. One might well ask: how dare Klein write a book on climate change if she doesn’t know anything – and she doesn’t - about climatology, or climate science? She is not a scientist, she is a journalist, quite a good one, but she has written a book about the everything, not the "this".

But is it so simple? Not actually. Satisfying is Klein’s ability to tease out the emotionality of how anyone, particularly an intelligent and well-informed woman, might feel about climate change, the worries, the unease, the sense of responsibility for the future. The footnotes are uncommonly well done, particularly for anyone wishing to study a particular issue, more so as we live in days when footnotes are going out of fashion in the publishing industry, and regrettably, with many readers. On the other hand, Klein gives no bibliography of works consulted, so as a reader, I cannot see if she has cited or read any of my favourite reading.

The situation is that before she wrote this book, Klein wrote a book on the ills of US-led capitalism mostly in South America, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. (2007) Klein, a Canadian and not from the USA, but obviously from North America, seems a somewhat reconstructed Trotskyite, certainly a leftie critic of “capitalism”, and she seems to have imported her 2007 dislikes of US-led capitalism into this 2014 discussion of the implications of climate change. (Maybe the problems I have with Klein’s book derive from a too-late-discovered feeling that I wanted a book on climate change itself, not on the mere implications of it?) And certainly, climate change is going to have a decided effects on “capitalism”. I happen to believe the effects will be worse than and different from what Klein warns us about, which makes her book unsatisfying.

This goes on, a conflict between satisfying vs unsatisfying. Klein’s book is hardly about an enjoyable topic, all that one can do is admire or not-admire the treatment of the issues. And well, the book is long, dense, incredibly well-researched, quite eloquent in its way, it can be seen as admirable in parts, yet it becomes total victim of US-led capitalism, North American situations, the Northern Hemisphere. It has almost nothing about Africa, Australasia, South America or Antarctica, so it is hardly global in outlook, yet it dares to imagine it is treating a global problem. Because of its preoccupation with US-led “capitalism”, Klein’s book is almost useless in its capacity to advise non-North American climate change activists what to do in or about economic systems which are not totally US-led, that is, led by corporate-capitalism. (Think, China, Russia, or today’s Central Asian nations once dominated by Russia which are still learning how to be themselves free of old Russian/Soviet interferences).

So the problem is with Klein’s sub-title – Capitalism vs. The Climate. Perhaps it depends on what kind of capitalism one believes or disbelieves in, or how much one knows about The Industrial Revolution (as it’s called). But I for one believe that climate change - yes, the science is in - is going to cause more and worse problems than Klein realises, for crops and so for food supplies, for coastlines (whether well-managed by municipalities or not), for animals (particularly migratory animals but including domesticated animals or other animals in our food chains) and for river systems. (Along with water wars in more human spheres.)

In the dissatisfying zone, Klein because she knows little and cares little about climate science, has little of any use on glaciers around the world (there are about 198,000 of them according to the Internet), ice sheets, ocean currents. On ocean behaviours, reactions and food supplies, effects on fish stocks, the possible/probable release of methane from cold ocean floors or the tundras of Russia and Canada (as distinct from the effects of carbon dioxide). What Klein seems to most delight-in are the prospects for US corporate capitalism to be embarrassed by inconvenient scenarios, so that the powerful (incidentally the capitalistically wrong-headed such as former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott) are brought down.

This outlook is simply not good enough nor broad enough, the effects of climate change are going to be worse than that (I happen to think). Yet paradoxically, nor does Klein (or perhaps more so, the worried people she cites) underplay the risks for North American ecosystems, plants and animals, economic regions or futures. Klein’s index has three entries on glacier melt and the facts given are near-to-frightening. It is not as though Klein does not at least try to provide useful overviews, the problem is that her overviews get buried in the business of her clearing ground for her targetting of her enemy – her view of “capitalism”.

And to be fair, it is hard to see how any set of writers of the kind Klein has consulted could sit and design a book on climate change that was acceptable to all people from all regions. It is not deliberately unfair then that Klein’s book is biased not just to the Northern Hemisphere but to North America, it might well be perfectly understandable. The problem then is emotional at least – that as an Australasian reader I find that Klein doesn’t tell me enough, she merely adds to my general reading about probable climate problems. And so I wonder, what anyone reading Klein’s book would think if their views were formed in Norway, India, Central Asia, South Africa or Tierra del Fuego, South America. I think they too would be severely tempted to discuss the satisfying vs dissatisfying aspects of Klein’s book – because it is that kind of book.

Quite frankly, we all need more facts and less hype. Klein's book is a convoluted exercise in schadenfreude should the climate gremlins ever come and harm "capitalism". The planet itself, independent of economic systems that play out on its surface, is something she hasn't matured yet to perceive. Perhaps, Klein simply hasn't yet spent enough time in aeroplanes flying at 30,000 feel to get the picture. (Ends review)  

Political hopes

Tony Windsor vs Barnaby Joyce and the National Party in New England electorate. On Saturday 2 July I'll be voting with enthusiasm for Windsor, because Windsor is a beacon of sanity, common sense, shrewdness, hope and a fount of good ideas with it, an ideal mix for a Federal MP from a rural constituency which is mixed with metropolitan experiences - and technology. BTW, I note more than in passing, and with great disfavour, that the main rival of Windsor, deputy prime minister and leader of the National Party, Barnaby Joyce, does not even mention the NBN in the letter he sent to me and presumably to thousands of other residents/voters of this electorate. My Joyce should know, as personally as he likes, that this absence of mention of the NBN in his electoral publicity was quickly noted by yours truly, not appreciated and sent straight into the garbage bin where it belongs. Bah humbug to the small-minded Mr. Barnaby Joyce, then! Joyce is exactly what we don't want in present days - a small-minded politician rendered even more small-minded by the institutionalised small-mindedness of his political party - The National Party. But as it turned out on election day (2 July), the result was very poor for Windsor supporters - the preference count by early 3 July was 58.1 per cent votes (48,139) for Joyce and 41.9 per cent (34,673) for Windsor. Very disappointing, indeed. The Windsor supporters in New England will simply have to grin and bear it.

Reactions to the news - really?

I was most impressed on 31 May 2016 to hear someone on the news say that whatever the Labor or Liberal parties (of Australia) are doing re The Great Barrier Reef, there is nothing they are doing that can cope with the scale of the damages being inflicted on the reef. Unfortunately The Great Barrier Reef is not the only issue in Australia suffering from the too-small-scale ideas/remedies applied by Australian politicians. Many issues in Australia are suffering from this problem of smallmindedness.

Where trickle-down economics came from ...

As a friend advises ... Trickle down economics is not new. When Reagan was peddling that nonsense in 1980, John Galbraith wrote an article for the New York Times pointing out that the theory was popular back in the nineteenth century, where it was known as the horse and sparrow theory - the theory being that if you shovelled enough oats into a horse's mouth, some would get through to feed the sparrows. As Galbraith pointed out, the theory is just ... horse shit.

Ancient History tid bits

By 2 June, 2016, I was emailing a friend, "I don't know what news stories are getting so excited about, re an 'iron age dagger' of non-terrestrial origins being with Pharoah Tutankhamun's remains, there is a view that the Iron Age began in Turkey with iron derived from meteorites, and that no one in Turkey at the time found this overly mysterious. (?)." Quite a few meteorites were lying around Turkey, evidently. The iron age beginning somewhat after the demise of the Bronze Age ... I don't think there's any mystery about Tut's tomb having a dagger with an iron handle made from a meteorite, it'd merely indicate the reach a pharaoh had in those days - quite extensive. So it might be more surprising if Tut's tomb DIDN'T have an iron-handled something or other. I'd get more excited about Tut's tomb having had a boomerang in it, since because I'm an Australia, that really is unexpected!

History: Re The Basques of Spain

1087AD: Can anyone help me to progress this research on the Basques of Spain in the time of William the Conqueror of England (died 1087)? Years ago I became interested in the Counts of Barcelona (of whom I'd never heard at the time), which got me thinking more about the Langeudoc, Sn France, the Pyrenees, Northern Spain and Basques and so on. The Basques I imagine were sidelined long ago, and they're still unhappy about being sidelined, hence their coming-and-going terrorism. As a people still surviving as distinct they seem to have been held together only by a language (rather mysterious). I imagine however they were sidelined first by the Romans (if not by the Carthaginians who first established Barcelona?), later by the Visigoths who took over Spain, probably were sidelined by the Moors, then sidelined by some medieval nobles (associated with the Counts of Barcelona, then by visiting French ejecting the Moors?). So the Basques should be looked at as multi-sidelined, as well as quite intermarried with the general population of Spain as it changed (?). I do wonder if the Basques were not some kind of European aboriginal people, where the finding is, around the world, aboriginal peoples find themselves looked down on by people who are in fact interlopers in aboriginal territory(s). I would like to know more in detail about what happened with the Basques of Spain from about 900AD as “new aristocracy” arose in regions nearby the Pyrenees. (In northern Spain, some these areas would have been Pamplona which was in turn subdivided into the kingdoms of Navarre, Aragon and Castile.) And I use a good quality genealogy database as I delve here. See also any relevant Wikipedia pages on The Basques. I am aware of the book on Basques by Mark Kurlanksy but have not yet read it. (Query posted to Practical History Forum on Linked -In in June 2016). Emailers say, see Basque Studies Centre, Reno, Univ of Nevada. Museums in Bilbao Spain, a museum in Hokkaido, Spain, Basques are related to Ainu of Canada and Saami of Norway, see re Basque language.

Re links between the Sami of Norway and Basques, the Basque areas of Pyrenees were refuges during last major period of glaciation, some Basque men it is said were reindeer hunters, and here we speculate, did the same move back North as ice retreated, but the Basque did not. Basque languages are pre-PIE, the Vascones, of Navarre, Aragon, maybe including the Aquitaine tribes of Gascony, and it not BTW the Occitan medieval language. Their area was invaded 40,000 years ago as Cro-Magnon superseded Neanderthals, but Basques are RH+ or RH- and often have blue or gray eyes, so does blue eyes come from Caucasus? Are the Basques pre-Celtic and remnants of hunter-gatherers before the farmers of Europe settled,

These questions about Basques keep growing. If we can believe the ponderous and slow old movie starring Charlton Heston, El Cid, we might believe that William the Conqueror of England was more or less contemporaneous with that hero of Moorish Spain, El Cid (Rodrigo Bivar 1049-1099) ... ?

From my genealogy database, follows a list of the contemporaries of William the Conqueror (died 1087AD) which might read-put something like this – Drawn from a list of his mother’s descendants, we find we could be interesting in inspecting: Decline of the Carolingians. Vikings various, especially Vikings in Scotland, Normans various (as post-Vikings, family name, De Conteville). William’s rather lauded and laudable wife, the Frenchwoman Matilda of Flanders (died 1083). A King of Leon of Iberian Peninsula, Alfonso IV Jiminez The Brave (c.1040-1109) (These names of what became Spain were preparing for the ejection of the Moslem Moors from Spain, probably not entirely unaware they might be overtaken by [their Christian allies] nobility from France, as they slowly were taken over.) A daughter Godehilde (c.995-1077) of the Count of Barcelona Raymond III Borrell, married a De Conteville. In the fifth generation, Adela de Conteville married Count Blois/Chartres, Stephen Capet (1046-1101 died a Crusader in Palestine)
Here we see the rise of the name Capet in France generally. French Crusaders as carriers of “feudalism” becoming “Kings of Jerusalem”, given that The First Crusade is listed historically for 1096-1099. Kings of Scotland various. Nobles in Scotland, various. Counts of Toulouse, southern France, as Crusaders. The French-nobility name De Tosny-de Toni in England. The Counts of Anjou (begetters of the Plantagenet lineage). The rise of the Hohenstaufers in Germany, leading on to the Holy Roman Empire. A King of Aragon/Navarre in Iberian Peninsula. The decline of Anglo-Saxon names in England.
In the given timeframes, around 1087AD, for the death of William the Conqueror of England, what is noticeable is the extent of violence apparent in European history various, in France, England, Scotland, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy. For the same timeframe, a read-out on the Norman name De Hauteville in France then Italy gives us: a progenitor, the rebel Tancred de Hauteville (died 1021), who provided posterity with a son who married a de Conteville, a daughter of the third Duke of Normandy. The de Hautevilles as unscrupulous military men in Italy toyed with the Papacy in Rome, confronted Byzantine or Moslem forces in Italy, and took over southern Italy while their Northern Norman neighbours took over north-western France, then England. There were some de Hauteville-related marriages in turn to the Counts of Toulouse (southern France).
Intermarriage situations arose with the Hohenstaufers of Germany plus the Counts of Barcelona, in the context of “German” interferences in so-called Italian affairs, and conflict between the papacy and German-backgrounded emperors of the so-called Holy Roman Empire as European Crusades came and went with such limited success. The rise of the first queen of Sicily (Elvira Jiminez 1098-1135 a daughter of Alfonso VI Jiminz The Valiant, King of Leon). Rulers of Hungary named Arpad (who were descended from the Magyars who invaded Hungary, the Magyars having originated from The Urals/North Caucasus regions and who were earlier allied at times to the Khazars (active in the north Black Sea area), the Khazars who finally became victims of the rulers of Russia. A daughter of El Cid (see above). And soon rulers of Portugal (who might have been lauded as “conqueror”). Italy saw the rise of the nobles named Savoy.
Some database read-outs for various Vikings influential in Scots history might draw our attention to: From a Macalpin progenitor died 1097AD, we get amongst the origins of lineages lost in the mists of historical time, Stewarts/Stuarts as High Stewards of Scotland, Sinclairs various, earls Carrick (producing the name Bruce) or Menteith or Atholl, Somerleds of The Isles. De Burghs of Ulster. Any of various Vikings kings in a Scandinavian country, eg Norway.
In short, the nobles of Europe in the time of William the Conqueror were a fractious lot who intermarried extensively in order to shore up their positions, were territorially expansive, brutal in the name of expanding their territories, and in fact covered Europe from Ireland in the west (which had been long harrassed by Vikings) to Moscow in the east (where Vikings had become the Rus who began to rule what became Russia but what was originally, probably, land areas of Russia which were near the big rivers the Vikings found navigable).
Conclusion: Since the Normans of north-western France were post-Vikings, it rather seems as if European history has still not quite yet absorbed the meanings of the entire sets of Viking movements in history, nor their Christianization, let alone the movements of other peoples (such as the Magyars) and the impacts of those peoples in various locations. The reason these people movements have been so badly handled by historians of Europe would seem to be due to the excessive attention given in the past, since 1000AD in fact, to the spread of Christianity and then to the long squabbles of Christianity with Islam. Ironically, treatments of the tribulations of theology have won out over evidence of the tribulations of humanity.

History: Rome vs Carthage

Recently online I was reading someone's thesis on Rome vs Carthage, I was exploring a weird zone I've noticed about Rome vs Carthage, Hannibal and his elephants and all that, it's very odd. I can't find a report that Roman chaps were marrying lasses from Carthage, or vice versa, or not, and no one else seems to notice anything ... whereas I need to know if Romans were marrying Carthaginians, or not, so I can then ask: if not, why not? And I might not even bother to ask, except, I happened to grow up in a town which had a Carthage Street. I grew up well-used to the word "Carthage", which sensitised me to ancient history, but I suppose for most people in the world, things didn't happen this way.

What's wrong with right-wing US Christians?

2014-2015: July 2014, on the Linked-In History Enthusiasts forum, I had a flame war with a US right-wing religious conservative, and if it matters, a white man. (I won't bother to name him here, though I am tempted to.) An unpleasant but thought-provoking and educational experience for any secularist like myself. These religious right-wing conservatives, seldom well-educated, seem to be a cult unto themselves and their logic and feelings work something like this. “I Hold my faith passionately and it gives meaning to my life. I do not believe in eg, Theory of Evolution as that would be antithetical to my faith. Therefore, if anyone who holds to eg., The Theory of Evolution contradicts any element of my faith-based belief system, then this is “disrespectful” both to my faith and myself and therefore must be contested. Due to becoming victim of such disrespect, some kind of ad hominem personal attack, deliberate or not, I therefore am quite justified in responding to personal attack in a personal way and to accuse my opponent of making ad hominem attacks on me (of the kind to be listed in due course) and/or my deeply-held set of beliefs. I am correct, the rest of the world is wrong, praise The Lord and pass the toast.”

Of course, this sort of cult-talk can go on in terms of any unscientific, faith-based statement at all. And it did. It does seem as if members of this cult, so-called US “Christians”, are not a little xenophobic with it. They certainly do not appreciate the views of secular Australians. Lord knows how they would find Indian, Chinese or Russian participants in any such forum! International in outlook they are not, world citizens they are not. They are a clear and present danger to the once-held reputation of the USA as a home for civilized persons.

In October 2015 I had another and different run-in with an even more biased US Christian right-winger, running a decided anti-Islam campaign, who got sick of my "liberal" bias and ensured I was blasted off the Linked-in forum we were part of, and dis-membered me. Months of late 2015 and early 2016 have gone by, and I can't do anything on this Linked-In forum as its programming now defines me as a non-member of the forum. Technically, I think this dis-membering was an accident on the part of my opponent, but he's been very effective all the same.

And so now we know why the religious fundamentalists of the USA are at war with the religious fundamentalists of the Middle East- because no one else will talk to them and so they need each other.

2016: re politicized Hindus in modern India. More to come here.

Mismanaged economies

Mid-2016: Economic problems in Venezuala. The school system is reportedly breaking down. Both students and teachers are running short of food. Electricity supply is erratic, apparently. Nationally the problems seem to arise from long-term mismanagement of oil revenues. What can be said of such a mismanaged country? Scenarios remind us rather of the way the economy of Argentina simply fell over in the early 2000s. How can an economy simply fall over? Well we might ask, but it seems, it can happen.

Speaking of mismanaged economies, try this from BBC Headlines on 18-6-2016 ...
"The Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has declared a financial emergency less than 50 days before the Olympics.
Interim Governor Francisco Dornelles says the 'serious economic crisis' threatens to stop the state from honouring commitments for the games.
Most public funding for the Olympics has come from Rio's city government, but the state is responsible for areas such as transport and policing.
Interim President Michel Temer has promised significant financial help.
The governor has blamed the crisis on a tax shortfall, especially from the oil industry, while Brazil overall has faced a deep recession.
The measure could accelerate the release of federal emergency funds.
Rio state employees and pensioners are owed wages in arrears. Hospitals and police stations have been severely affected."
Oh yes, as Peter Allan sang so happily years ago, "When my baby smiles at me I go to Rio ... de Janeiro ..." Then of course, there's Greece.

Serious things in Australia

Let us not put too fine a point on it ... a society that doesn't build enough homes for its people is an idiot. Can this be made clearer in Australian politics, please? Demographics rules ok, and as is clear, demographers, public servants, politicians, builders, real estate agents and home buyers can all find the figures on how many homes the nation will need (consider the birth rates, the death rates etc), in which areas of settlement, in the next five, ten or 20 years timeframes. So if there is any problem here, it might be that people-in-power have been ignoring the relevant statistics. If they have deliberately or inadvertently been ignoring the available information, equally we can ask: why should they continue to be paid?

I will definitely not be voting for the National Party in the 2016 Federal election in Australia, I'll be voting for Tony Windsor. In the New England electorate in NSW Australia, if National Party incumbent Barnaby Joyce gets such a buzz out of helping people, as one of his TV adverts suggests, why then didn't he become a doctor instead of a politician?

Classic insults

I do like a good insult, and really, why not collect them? I like Dorothy Parker's infamous book review one time, which ended more or less with .... "This is not a book to be put down lightly, it should be hurled with great force ..."

Moving along (this is from Column 8 w/e 18/19-6-2016, in The Sydney Morning Herald) ... There is an apocryphal story from the 1930s about an encounter between ballerina Margot Fonteyn and actress Jean Harlow. Jean kept addressing Margot as 'MarGot'. At last, sick of this nonsense, Fonteyn corrected her, saying, "No dear, the 't' is silent, as in 'Harlow'."

More humour ...

I like what Bill shorten said to QandA compere Tony Jones in June 2016 - "Sorry Tony, I didn’t mean to interrupt your question with an answer." Being an avid fan of Shaun Micalleff's TV masterpiece, Mad as Hell, I like zingers like that. Meantime, just now I am reading essays 1952-1992 by US writer Gore Vidal. Vidal just goes on and on and a few of his jibes are/were well worth passing on here. And oh dear, the state of the novel. Not just the state of the US novel but the novel internationally, in Britain, France or Germany. Some concern about the theatre but fewer worries about the state of the short story. The state of film and cinema in the USA in the days when Hollywood was well, Hollywood, not the only place in the world that made movies but the movie-making place we heard most about, and much before we knew the word Bollywood. Long before Hollywood fell into its present sad state where it mostly makes movies drawn from US combicbooks and the Academy Awards tries vainly to rescue itself from accusations it lacks diversity. Something is wrong here with cause and effect, it seems to the present writer than any organisation (such as The Academy Awards) which lacks diversity would soon find itself reduced to making movies out of comic books! What has happened with "Hollywood" is hardly surprising.

Luckily, Vidal is less concerned on the state of poetry since 1952 and didn't much follow jazz or popular music. Vidal (p. 92), quotes someone saying, "The deeps uncovered by Proust's analyses have already proved to be nothing but a surface". On p. 96, Vidal himself in 1967 observes what is said and complained-of even more vehemently today for the Internet Age, "people don't write letters anymore, they use the telephone." (I'd observe myself that whatever has happened with letters, and I write them rarely myself these days, although I use e-mail daily, people are still communicating, all you have to do is just stand on some steps at some major Australian railway station and watch people using their mobile phones to notice this.) See Gore Vidal, Gore Vidal: United States: Essays 1952-1992. London, Abacus/Random House, 1993.

Nonsense from modern marketing

More nonsense from modern marketing. Firstly, is it true by 29-6-2016 that Brexit wrexit? Secondly. The prize here for pretentiousness might well go to whoever sells "smashed avocado" in Australian restaurants, and probably, from ordinary sandwich shops as well. Smashed avocado, indeed! Bah humbug, I say. Avocados are pretty ancient. Smashing them is a pretty recent occurrence, methinks. Oh, modern marketing. What's happening in my neck of the woods here? ... But no, and on measured reflection, and thirdly, perhaps the top prize for world pretentiousness should go to the people behind the "TV show", Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I mean, who are the Kardashians and why should we bother to keep up with them? Really? Is not "Kardashian" an Armenian name. We should all keep up with US-Armenians? Really? The main offender here, Ms. Kim Kardashian, was on Time magazine's 2015 list of 100 most influential people and in 2016 Vogue thought she was a pop culture phenomenon. Really? Give us a break. Does anyone else suspect that Time magazine signed its own obituary with this "recognition" of Ms. Kardashian?

Nonsense from Spammers

More nonsense from spammers? What's happening in my neck of the woods? Spam has sadly become an unavoidable part of modern life. Maybe humanity has made some progress with "the Internet" but I don't see that spam is any part of progress. Let's see ... By July 2016 there is noticeable with spam a return to the scene of "field management of sales representatives" via use of a database as it used to be. Gee, I can revolutionize my business here, really? Spam advertising this sort of computerised tactic was common in the late 1990s, but has been little heard of, at least by me, since then, till now, July 2016. In brief, there is nothing new about using a databasing system for the field management of sales reps. So the questions must be asked, why are the spammers bothering here? What are they up to this time around? Is this due to the recent rise of computerised/Internet services such as Uber?

Books incoming to the Odd Things file

Brexit problems: What about the bewildered EU official who said (29-6-2016) he imagined that any country leaving the EU would have a plan, but it appears Britain had no plan, so he shakes his head.

Hugh Mackay, Beyond Belief: How We Find Meaning With or Without Religion. Macmillan, 2016. (Reviewer Stephanie Dowrick suggests this is an analytical view of the ways we make sense of life. saying, "The convictions, traditions and personal experiences that bundle together under the heading of 'religion' profoundly influence and shape billions of lives. This may go beyond the search for meaning that's so precious to our species to the very essence of identity: both to how we view ourselves and certainly to how we view and categorise others. Naming a faith tradition may trump gender, profession, social class or nationality. Yet, Mackay here says that humanity has developed "infinite ways" to approach or to talk about The Infinite. Jesus as an opponent of dogmatic religious belief was interested in - how best to live. Mackay sees humans as driven to make sense of everything, but it is a problem that if we see with "the eye of faith", "we will tend to see only what we are looking for". Our views will distort our perception. Religion possibly tends too much to emphasize tribal identifications, so that in-groups reject out-groups to question their legitimacy and to mock their beliefs or experiences. Mackay says, "God is an idea we can only try to imagine, each in our own way." He rather disapproves of trying to wrap the inexplicable in religion. In general, Mackay sees Australia as "having lost its appetite for conventional religion".)

Madeline Gleeson, Offshore: Behind the Wire on Manus and Nauru. Newsouth, 2016. (About Australia's asylum seekers and its "Pacific Solution", an ugly story.)

Anna Clark, Private Lives: Public History. Melbourne University Press, 2016.

Stan Grant, Talking to my Country. HarperCollins,, 2016. (Confessions of a media personality with an Aboriginal background)

John Newton, The Oldest Foods on Earth. A History of Australian Native Foods with Recipes. Newsouth, 2016. (Food as used by Australian Aboriginals for thousands of years).

Christobel Mattingley, Maralinga’s Long Shadow. Allen and Unwin. 2016.

Bernice Barry, Georgiana Molloy: The Mind That Shines. Picador, 2016. (On a noted botanist of West Australia.)

Helen Garner, Everywhere I Look. Text, 2016. (Essays etc from a distinguished Australian writer).

Sarah Ferguson and Patricia Drum, The Killing Season Uncut. Melbourne University Press, 2016. (Politics about the well-known TV expose of the same name.)

Thornton McCamish, Our Man Elsewhere: In Search of Alan Moorehead. Black Inc., 2016. (Biography of expatriate Australian writer Alan Moorehead)

John Lanchester, How To Speak Money: What the money people say and what they really mean. London, Faber and Faber, 2014.

Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World. Allen Lane/Penguin/Random House, 2016. Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World. London, Bloomsbury, 2016 (paperback, published earlier in 2015). John Matthews and Caroline Wise, (Foreword by Ian Sinclair), The Secret Lore of London. London, Hodder and Stoughton/Hachette, 2016. For finishing the manuscript of The Bleak, Ian Tattersall, Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Jenny Uglow, In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815. Faber and Faber, 2014. Notes to be taken.

Philippe Sands, East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Hachette, 2016, 464pp.

Jon T. Coleman, Here Lies Hugh Glass. Hill and Wang, 2016. (On Hugh Glass the US mountain man behind the story of the movie The Revenant with Leonard diCaprio, a trapper who was mauled by a bear and left for dead by his companions, on whom Hugh later took revenge.)

Frank Dikotter, The Cultural Revolution: A People's History. Bloomsbury, 2016, 432pp. (On China's so-called Cultural Revolution, sees Mao Tse Tung as a disaster for China. This is the third book of a trilogy. Vol. 1 is The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957. Vol. 2 is Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe 1958-1962, published in 2010.

David Hepworth, Never a Dull Moment: 1971, Rock's Golden Year. Transworld Publishers, 2016, 384pp.

Michael Caine, The Elephant to Hollywood: The Autobiography. Hodder and Stoughton, 2010. Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden, (Eds.), The Letters of TS Eliot: Volume 6, 1932-1933. Faber, 2016, 896pp.

Avril Horner and Anne Rowe, (Eds.), Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934-1995. Chatto and Windus, 2016.)




Nick Bryant, The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a great nation lost its way. Updated edition. Random House, 2015.

Mario Vargas Llosa, Notes on the Death of Culture. Faber and Faber, 2016. ("Withering" critique of today's lack of a respectable high culture, who governs a degraded sense of taste? Reviewer suggests that Llosa follows T. S. Eliot's well-known, Notes Towards A Definition Of Culture - Ed.)

Tim Whitmash, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World. Faber and Faber, 2016. Hector A. Garcia, Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression. New York, Prometheus Books, 2015.

On Beatles lyrics

Dan Byrnes' review of Steve Turner, The Beatles: Stories Behind The Songs. Scoresby Victoria, The Five Mile Press, 2010. (Text first published in 19 1994.) For an old Beatles fan, what a delight to read this book! Which I got at a 2016 second-hand book fair in Armidale. I ended finishing it in two readings, as bedtime reading, the second time reading it late into the night, to finish it, as it so interesting. To my mild amazement, I found I had been quite wrong in my views on why some Beatles songs were written as they were, and to my pleasure, right about others. Bono, of the Irish band U2, blurb-writes for this book, "I am a huge fan of The Beatles: The Stories Behind the Songs. It's an inspiring and humbling book." I feel much thew same. Nor has the book dispelled one impression I have of The Beatles - they were a remarkably hard-working set of musicians. It's been said of drummer Ringo Starr (by their producer, George Martin, I think), that you could set your metronome by him. George, Paul and John were all very hard-working musicians, writers, creators. The book has extensive chronologies and discographies, and news on some Beatles songs I still haven't heard. Which means, there is still more enjoyment waiting for me in Beatles Land. All ultra-enjoyable.

OPINION OF THE DAY (Taken from Lost Worlds website)

8 January 2015: Message for anyone interested in the issues, which are world-wide. Following the atrocities of the attack 7 January 2015 in Paris on the offices and people of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, so soon on the heels of the atrocious siege in Martin Place, Sydney, 15 December 2014, below appears a now-old US cartoon on outrages arising from the Islamic World. US cartoon on problems of the Islamic World The time has come for the entire non-Islamic World to protest the hijacking of well-known Islamic propositions, such as "God is Great" by nutters, radicals, jihadis, whatever we shall call them. The time has come for the Middle Eastern World to realise what it actually is in the middle of - The Rest of The World - and that nonsense need not and will not be tolerated. If every print media outlet in the non-Islamic world, if every website in the non-Islamic world, began to display sensible solidarity, perhaps the Islamic World might get the message - God may indeed be Great, but the non-Islamic World doesn't particularly care about it. Atrocities in defense of an ideological proposition that God is Great are unacceptable behaviour, to say the least, and will not be tolerated. Certainly not by a cultural comment website like this one.
ps: It is criminal negligence that the UN is not acting against Boko Haram in Nigeria. When will there be protests about this?

An old complaint about website misuse and it's still not fixed ...

Main page of Cambridge Tehological Seminary Ohio USA

This complaint has been extant for some years by now, but not been acted on in public till now due to a sense of despair about USA life. It so happened that years ago, I was compiling a set of various notes (21,275 words) on the American Revolution 1776-1783 and subsequent events. I put these notes briefly on a website to see how they looked online, intending to soon remove them. Some year dates were given as "more to come" as I filled in extra details. I wasn't quick enough. While the notes were briefly online, they were lifted in entirety and placed on a US website (URL below) unedited, raw and undigested as they were. I later met these notes while netsurfing in a routine way on the same topics mentioned in the notes; they had some extra editorial remarks placed at the beginning with which I would not necessarily agree. The notes as rendered on the misusing website do mention my own name and the surname of some relatives (in a section intended within those notes as a note to myself only).

It turned out that the website lifting these notes is run by a disreputable "seminary" type website in the US which advertises its educational opportunities for trainee protestant ministers in the USA. These plagiarising twerps made no efforts at all to edit the material, it is still on their website. They even left in registrations of "More to come" where I needed to fill in some gaps in chronology and had made a note to do so. This is all a matter of stealing information from an Australian researcher to support USA Patriotism, and to fail to try to edit it properly seems quite a brainless exercise to me.

The offending website page (it is rather long, see half-way down) is at www Ministers-Best-Friend: George Washington as a radical Christian

Ameripedia (TM). George Washington - The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived? Greatest Christian Outside the Biblical Heroes? Business Men of the American Colonies - Copyright - NewtonStein, Cambridge Theological Seminary 1973. I don't think so! Oh Lord, give me a break - Dan Byrnes Nov 2014.
(It is not clear who or what "NewtonStein" is, but this form of words turns up often on the website in question. An explanatory note on the website does indicate: "Ministers-Best-Friend.com is an Absolute, Bible-Believing, Conservative Christian Ministry, seeking to serve the Ministers who serve the LORD JESUS. As such, we provides web-space to a number of Ministries, notably NewtonStein (a Creation-Science-Based Research Group), as well as AMERIPEDIA, BIBLIPEDIA, CHRISTIPEDIA, CATHOLIPEDIA, ISLAMIPEDIA, JUDAEOPEDIA, TEA-PARTY-UNITED, TALK-RADIO-REPUBLICANS, ETC., – seeking to be an outlet for many CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE VOICES who love the LORD JESUS CHRIST ABOVE ALL!") (sic)

This Ameripedia reference regrettably appears in a compilation bibliography available online of historical references otherwise unknown to me, which cites several other of my own compilations. Mr Jarrett has had no contact with me whatsoever at any time that I can recall. THE BEGETTERS OF REVOLUTION: ENGLAND'S INVOLVEMENT WITH FRANCE, 1759-1789. By Jarrett, Derek.

Note: Ameripedia, Christipedia and some similar web operations (TM) seem to be under the control of Pastor Donald Glass (and his wife, Patricia?), of 64561 Arrowhead Road, Cambridge, Ohio USA, 43725. Phone: USA - 740 439 3377. Or, USA 1.740-675-2159. This address, which is not-quite-findable via Google Earth, according to a local-area real estate website was last sold in 1994 and is near the junction of Arrowhead Road and East Pike Road. Pastor Glass seems to be associated with Freedom Worship Chapel, 10 Weedon Avenue, Cambridge. Glass is, or has been, associated also with Cambridge Christian Academy. Glass seems to be classically religiose US Protestant ultra-conservative in outlook, and seems quite the Internet activist. He's shockingly modern except for his lack of a usable e-mail address and his views on online text-use morality.

(Ends this article)

Updates re Islam

By 21 July 2016, one of our Lost Worlds readers has alerted us to the outbreak (shall we call it) of what looks like a fresh history-and-cultures war between apologists for Christianity and for Islam on the very topic of the origins of Islam. It seems to Lost Worlds as a book reader (or rather in this case, a YouTube viewer), that the Christian apologists have lobbed a ball strongly into the Islamic court, and that the defenders of Islam will soon have to respond intelligently in order to retain credibility. (So Lost Worlds will continue measuring such outcomes from 21 July 2016. It seems important to notice that by 21 July 2016, one of the YouTube treatments on this had internationally had only 3373 views, so one can hardly imagine a controversy has blown up yet!) Now, to name some names on the Christian side of the argument.

We refer to YouTube material distributed in the name of the (Protestant) Christian-promoting www.trinitychannel.com of Michigan USA. This "trinity broadcast channel" is devoted to challenging those who challenge Christian beliefs in The Trinity. It is a "Christ-centred broadcast and training [channel interested in] Apologetics, Theology, Leadership and Missions. Under "Islam" (it apparently has no files re Buddhism) it offers files on Christianity in Islam, Muslim Ministry Outreach. Human Rights. Jihad. Life and Teachings of Muhammad. Refutations. Shariah. In particular, www.trinitychannel.com wishes to cast doubts on ideas that Mohammad ever existed.

Here at trinitychannel.com we seem to find a group of well-organised Christian Evangelists who have gathered an array of well-informed and well-read researchers (and self-confessed apologists for Christianity) who include Jay Smith, Sarah Foster and Beth Grove.

(See for example on YouTube, Jay Smith, An Historical Critique of Islam's Beginnings. There is a wikipedia page on Jay Smith (born 1954) as a "Christian Apologist" as well as a website on Muslim Responses to Jay Smith's Papers at: www.answering-islam.org/Responses/contrasmith.html). See also: www.debate.org.uk which carries some chronological material Smith has developed. Smith is a grandson of some Christian missionaries and himself has become a Christian missionary to the World of Islam.

Topics these researchers dwell on include: The similarities/differences between Isa/and Jesus in Koranic and non-Koranic treatments (they are not the same entity at all in the view of these Christians; Isa being one of the Koranic names for Jesus). The history/development of Petra in the Jordan Valley, in "the Levant" in an archaeological context. The history/development on the Arabian Peninsula of Medina and Mecca as trading centres in the context of ancient economic history as well as in archaeological contexts. The role of the contents of what is now in The Khaaba, Mecca (a meteorite?).

The discussions managed by these Christian apologists (as they call themselves) are all well-read and scholarly in a tidy way, and this website looks forward to hearing from interested parties on the Islamic side of the debate. More to come here

Some things begin as Jay Smith makes some chronological remarks about the life of The Prophet, then says, are there any problems here? He wonders why the first book on Mohammad as Prophet (who died 632AD) did not arise till about 833AD. Here Jay Smith cites books such as Robert G. Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam from the Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam ... .... Princeton, NJ, Darwin Press, 1996. (A survey of primary sources written between 620-780AD re Greece, Syria, Coptic areas, Armenia, Latin sources, and Jewish Persian and Chinese reports.)

Also, Tom Holland, In The Shadow of The Sword. (On the origins of Islam which Holland sees as having occurred to the north of Mecca, about the borders of Palestine and Syria, and here see the documentary also by Tom Holland, Islam: The Untold Story). Indeed, the idea that the first biography of Mohammad did not appear till 200 years after he died might be first-traceable to popularization by Holland. (A reviewer not fond of Holland's work called his material "revisionist ideology masquerading as popular history").

Also cited are books by Canadian historian Dan Gibson on Koranic Geography (2011, publisher not given) (See, Dan Gibson, Quranic Geography. 2011., which treats the People of "Ad, Thamud and Midianites, and Gibson also sees an early role for Petra supplanting that of Mecca. Petra (see its own wikipedia page) was also known to the Nabateans as Raqmu, is in the southern Jordan of today. Petra is perhaps settled as early as Ahkenaten's time as pharoah of Egypt? Established as early as 312BC by the Arab Nabateans, who were nomads. Petra's location was partly due to the eastern flank of Wadi Araba, a large valley running from the Dead Sea to Gulf of Aqaba. The Petra site was unknown to the wider world till 1812, when popularized by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It had however been a centre for caravan trades - and the area had olives growing. Petra had a perennial stream; flash floods did occur but were controlled by dams, cisterns and water conduits, says a webpage, Tradition gave Petra links to the tomb of Aaron the brother of Moses; Petra was perhaps associated with "stations" of the Exodus myth, near Petra is a Wadi Moses, and the area might have once been home to the Horites who came before the Edomites. As the Edomites fell away, the Nabateans took control of the area. The area became subject to both Egyptian and Greek influences as show in its tomb architectures, and/or North Syria and Rome. Before entered into Roman hegemony, Petra loomed within the east-west incense trade (400BC-200AD) beginning in Yemen. Petra was a mostly Greek city by 40AD, but ruled by Rome by 106+AD and would be given notable Roman roads. Petra was rivalled as a trader by Palmyra. Sea-trade routes were being revised, Petra's trade suffered. The city had an earthquake in 363AD and its water supply was weakened, it had another earthquake in 551AD. Arabs conquered the area in 663AD. Perhaps it was known as a regional capital for the Byzantines (Palaestina III), but in general Petra slowly faded away. (New archaeological features of Petra were discovered in 2016, about which we wait with bated breath.) In Nabatean times, residents of Petra had worships pre-Islamic deities plus some deified kings, the deities included Dashura a male god with a female trinity of consorts, Al-'Uzza, Allat and Manat. The deity names Allah, Allat and El also arise for inspection, as do al-'Uzza, Baal and Manutu/Manat. Christianity did not find its way to Petra till the 4thCAD, by when the area had been a trade centre for 500 years or more.

Gibson speculates that 100 years after Mohammad died, during an Islamic civil war, the Khaaba of Petra was destroyed and the Black Rock therin was taken to Mecca.) and on The Sacred City (2016). A TV movie Jay Smith further says that the first reference(s) to Mecca do not arise till 741AD - why is this?) Smith adds that the first biography of Mohammad within "Islamic sources" does not arise till 833AD.

Mecca didn't exist, Smith suggests, till 741AD (?) He then cites P. Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Smith adds that today, Meccan redevelopment and building work has produced no new work for archaeologists, no ruins have been found, there seems to be nothing of interest underground as there ought to be in an allegedly old trading city.

This documentary narrated by Jay Smith then refers to an element of the religious function of the standard Islamic mosque, the Qiblah (kibla), which traditionally in Islamic life would face the "prayer-direction" of the mosque to the location of the Khaaba in Mecca. Unanimity of the qiblah (direction) relates to Islamic feelings about the health of the Ummah, the state of Moslem well-being. The qiblah might also have importance for the conduct of proper burial customs, A webpage says that at first within Islamic tradition, the qiblah originally faced the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, about 610AD-623AD, in the time of The Prophet. About 622-624AD the qiblah was re-directed to the Khaaba in Mecca and at the time, Mohammad was in Medina, but facing Jerusalem, God directed him to face Mecca. Determining the direction of the qiblah

Yet as Dan Gibson's research shows, an old mosque in what became known as Canton, China, faced Petra in Jordan, not Mecca in Arabia. By 701AD in Lebanon a mosque faced Petra. What was the role, if any, of pre-Meccan Petra? The mosque in Jerusalem known as Dome of the Rock (c.691AD) once faced Petra. But between 701-740AD a change occurred, or rather, a change was evident 725-822AD, a period of confusion about whether a mosque should face Petra or Mecca. Petra being a hub-city for the Nabateans. (On the Nabateans, please see more material below. -Ed )

Remarks arise about Abd-Al-Malick, the Arab reformer who built Dome of the Rock c.691AD (also known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque). One of the motives of Abd-Al-Malick was to be one-up on The Byzantines to the north of his region, based at Constantinople in Turkey, on the Bosporus. About 619-692AD, Smith says, came big changes for the followers of Islam, but these had perhaps followed a 551AD earthquake at Petra? Meantime, Abn issued coins as part of an effort to forge a new sort of Arab identity. Abn and his ilk by 700AD if not before needed a new religious revolution, and a Prophet to introduce it, plus a sanctuary to house it, this became the beginning of the fabrication of the career of Mohammad (from about 833ad?).

[The things that one can read about what seems the intellectual irresponsibility of the Islamic world often seem unbelievable. In a review by William Dalrymple of Ziaddin Sardar, Mecca: The Sacred City. London, Bloomsbury, 2014., we read that "The house of Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, has been turned into a block of toilets. Here whether one might be an Islamic believer or not, the evident disregard for the world of archaeology seems blisteringly stupid. A webpage says that Mecca has also lost its Ajyad Fortress - Ed]

Jay Smith says he began his journey with all these topics about 1994. Mohammad received his "Meccan revelations" about 610-622, and in 622AD Mohammad went from Mecca to Medina. In 630AD Mohammad "conquered Mecca peacefully". At which point, Smith wants to ask: when was the classical account of The Koran written down? He suggests the first appearance of "The Koran" was not until 833AD, and in fact, by 855AD, Moslems were in control of territory from southern Spain to India. He cites authors such as Crone of Princeton, Rippin , Nevo, von Bothmen. Here, Beth Grove, from the Pfander Centre for Apologetics, claims historians were concerned and sceptical. At which, Sarah Foster asks, where should historians begin? Islam evolved over 200-300 years, there is a 238-year gap between the death of Mohammad (632AD) and when writings were begun on his teachings.

Jay Smith here cites on Western scholars of Islam, such as Dr. Hartin. ()Is this Father Patrick Hartin, Prof. Religious Studies at Gonzaga University? Dr. John Wansborough, Koranic Studies, Dept. Oriental and African Studies, 1977-1978, re role of Damascus - and a suggestion that the early Koranic stories were mean for an urban audience, not an audience drawn from desert-Arabia. See re Dr John Edward Wansborough, see his wikipedia page, JEW (1928-2002 an American historian ex Harvard University, lecturing at University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, caused a furore in the 1970s with ideas that Islam began with a Christian sect working to convert Arabs, a sect which became changed on the way through, although some Islamic views were fabrications created by later generations). (A related list of Western scholars who have doubted traditional Islamic traditions on the origins of Islam include: Michael Allan Cook (born 1940, see his wikipedia page, became a lecturer in Economic History and Reader in Near and Middle Eastern History, became Professor at Princeton University, in 1977 wrote with Patricia Crone, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World. 1977 (see a wikipedia page on this book, which has been contested as "bitterly anti-Islamic" and "anti-Arabian", or, universally rejected and by 1991 the writers Crone and Cook distanced themselves from their own book and disavowed it). Cook wrote Muhammad. 1983, then Early Muslim Dogma: A source-critical study. 2003; and Studies in The Origins of Early Islamic Culture and Tradition in 2004. Cook also has written on why Mesopotamian ideas never arose in Australia, making him one of the few thinkers who has ever wondered aloud about Northern Hemisphere links with Australia; Australian conditions are too tough for successful agriculture needing the Mesopotamian style of irrigation. Patricia Crone. Martin Hinds (1941-1988, a student of Early Islam and Islamic architecture, co-author with Patricia Crone of God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam.) Gerald R. Hawting (born 1944) a British orientalist, see his wikipedia page, studied under John Wansbrough and Bernard Lewis. Hawting wrote: The First Dynasty of Islam. 1986, then The Idea of Idolatry and the Rise of Islam: From Polemic to History, Cambridge University Press, 1999. Christoph Luxenberg (a pseudonym for the author of The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: A Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran; which argued that the language of the early compositions of The Koran were not exclusively Arabic but used elements of the C7th Syro-Aramaic dialect as used by the Meccan Quraysh tribe, Aramaic being influential with regional Christians). One scholarly view is that Luxenberg's book is unreadable for the layman as it requires familiarity with 5-8 languages. Luxenberg however seems to be the one responsible for the view that it is a mistranslation of hur (relating to raisins) for houri (virgins in heaven notyed in Koran, Suras XLIV.54; LII.20; LV.72 and LVI.22), which leads to errors of view that jihadis will enjoy the favours of 72 virgins when they arrive in heaven. Gerd R. Puin is a lecturer in Arabic/Islamist at Saarland University, Germany who wrotes that The Loran is a book with a "textual history", not the unchanging word of God. Puin has worked on old version of The Koran known as the Sa'na Manuscript, copies discovered by a Yemeni antiquities officer in a loft after renovation works, in the Great Mosque of San'na in 1972. Puin was shown the manuscripts in 1972. Prior to this, the earliest copies of The Koran were to be found in Library of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The Ma'il Manuscript kept to British Library, London. Topkapi Museum, Istanbul, Turkey. (Yemen Govt. has latterly withdrawn permission for Puin to work on these manuscripts.) Andrew Rippin).

There are remarks re Negev Desert (see webpages on it). USA on Mecca as part of trade routes found that references to Mecca as a trade centre are difficult if not impossible to find. Smith finds there is no reference in the Arabic language to Mohammad as Prophet till 691AD. There are no references to Islam as a religion till 691AD. There is no reference to Mecca till 720AD-741AD. Further, there are only nine geographic locations mentioned in the Koran, the field of action was limited. It gets worse, There are no olive trees in Mecca, as the olive tree is indigenous to Mediterranean coasts only. Jay Smith that Mecca is not mentioned except in The Koran, Mecca has no history. Sarah Foster and Beth Grove find that prayer-directions (qiblah) till 725AD pointed to Petra, (to the Kaabah there?), in North Africa, the qiblah faced south. Petra here was a Nabatean kingdom about 600 miles north of Mecca, a noted trade cross-roads, a cross-over point of east-west. and a pagan, multi-idol country. Allah was a god of Petra, and he had a female consort Allat, plus some daughters. The trinitychannel.com apologists here suggest that some Meccan rituals were actually pre-Islamic rituals known at Petra. But in 713AD an earthquake destroyed Petra, so all things Islamic were moved to Mecca, and so it was not till about 725 that mosques began to be turned to Mecca, but there was nothing useful written till 835AD.

... Citations various: (Cf., Carlos A. Segovia and Basil Lourie, (Eds.), The Coming of the Comforter: When, Where and To Whom? Studies in the Rise of Islam and Other Various Topics in Memory of John Wansborough. Piscataway NJ USA, Orientalia Judaica Christiana, 2012.)

Notes extra: What of economic history of Mecca? (Makkah in Arabic.) Mecca is 277m (909 feet) above sea level. By 2012 it had a normal population of about two million. One view is that it does have a valley, and so a watercourse? Mecca is watered by the Zamzam Well. Mecca (Koran 48:24) is said to be birthplace in Year of the Elephant (570AD) of Mohammad although an alternative name for the city is Baca/Bakkah (Koran 3:96). It is said that camel caravans were first used in Arabia by great grandfather (?) carrying leather, livestock, metals mined in local mountains, Mecca received money, weapons, cereals, wine, which went all over Arabia. One view is that Meccan trade was a mercantile glue holding Arabia together. Non-Moslems are forbidden to visit Mecca. By tradition, Abraham and Ishamel had built the Kaabah in Mecca but local backsliders had fallen away from Abraham's monotheism. Ishmael or his son Nebaioth or Nebaioth's sons are said to have settled at Mecca about 1000BC. Mecca was noted by Greek historian Diodororus Siculus (60AD-30AD) and he saw Mecca as isolated but holy and revered by all Arabians. By 500AD Kaabah was a place of worship for Arabian's pagans, deity was Hubal for the ruling Quraysh tribe; who in the C5th had been skilled merchants/traders of Mecca. Spice trade was a prize as trade routes were moving from sea routes (become dangerous) to land routes, a wikipedia page says - about which one might be sceptical. Byzantine Empire had lost control of the Red Sea. Trade routes through the Tigris-Euphrates area were preoccupied by the Sassanid Empire. Mecca was not as great a trading centre as Petra or Palmyra. By 570AD, Mohammad is born of the Hashemite branch of the Quraysh tribe. Mecca was not as great a trading centre as Petra or Palmyra.

[At which point Lost Worlds finds that Christian apologists interested in these matters are not interested in comparative chronologies as they wrok, ]

And so Lost Worlds is forced to present its own chronologies on events ...

Chronology drawn from Traditional Islamic View
By tradition, Abraham and Ishamel had built the Kaabah in Mecca but local backsliders had fallen away from Abraham's monotheism. Ishmael or his son Nebaioth or Nebaioth's sons are said to have settled at Mecca about 1000BC.
Unspecified: Minority view that about 100 years before Mohammad's time, Arabia had been more lush but aridified, leading to economic collapse leaving people in such moral disarray they would respond to Mohammad once he became a religious prophet/reformer.
Unspecified: Legend that Mohammad's grandather had tried to sacrifice his son (later Mohammad's father), but did not and instead paid a sacrifice price of 100 camels.
500AD: By 500AD Kaabah was a place of worship for Arabian's pagans, deity was Hubal for the ruling Quraysh tribe; who in the C5th had been skilled merchants/traders of Mecca. Spice trade was a prize as trade routes were moving from sea routes (become dangerous) to land routes, a wikipedia page says - about which one might be sceptical. Byzantine Empire had lost control of the Red Sea. Trade routes through the Tigris-Euphrates were preoccupied by the Sassanid Empire.
570AD. Year of Elephant (due to a battle) and Birth of Mohammad.
M is of the Hashemite branch of the tribe Quraysh which rules the region of Mecca.
Mecca was noted by Greek historian Diodororus Siculus (60AD-30AD) and he saw Mecca as isolated but holy and revered by all Arabians.
610-622AD, Mohmmad receives his Meccan revelations.
855AD: The Islamic world controls territory from Spain east to India.
See chronologies given elsewhere on this webpage.
Chronology from US Protestant Christians in 2015-2016
Ideas that Mohammad never existed at all.
Ideas and/or that the Islamic religious view began in the urban environs of Petra, not the desert areas of Mecca.
Disorganized views on geography of Mecca, does it display a valley or not?
Jay Smith finds that there is no reference in the Arabic language to Mohammad as prophet till 691AD.
833D: Jay Smith finds that "The Koran" does not appear till 833AD, (Re 833AD: This is because a life of Mohammad was written by Ibn Hisham [died 828AD])
These US Christians protecting, as they they they are, the Christian doctrine of The Trinity, should not be let off the hook easily at all, as any of their allegations that The Koran was a text which had been worked on could easily be applied to the Old or New testaments they might happen to recognise. They are, however, not saying this.

Comment by Lost World (if any)
Mecca is watered acceptably by the Zamzam Well.
(A related list of Western scholars who have doubted traditional Islamic traditions on the origins of Islam include: Michael Cook, Patricia Crone, Martin Hinds, Gerald Hawting, Christoph Luxenberg, Gerd R. Puin, Andrew Rippin).
500AD: By 500AD Kaabah was a place of worship for Arabian's pagans, deity was Hubal for the ruling Quraysh tribe; who in the C5th had been skilled merchants/traders of Mecca. Spice trade was a prize as trade routes were moving from sea routes (become dangerous) to land routes, a wikipedia page says - about which one might be sceptical. Byzantine Empire had lost control of the Red Sea. Trade routes through the Tigris-Euphrates were preoccupied by the Sassanid Empire.
Mecca was not as great a trading centre as Petra or Palmyra.
A webpage comments that about 29 years after Mohammad's death in 632AD, divergent copies of "The Koran" were circulating in the already-growing Islamic empire, so the third Caliph, Uthman, issued a standardised copy of "The Koran". Puin's work on the Sa'an manuscripts would date the manuscripts after this version issued by Uthman. Puin found the Sa'an version defective in language and merely a guide for people who had already memorised The Koran. It is said that The Koran's use of Arabic was not "stabilised" with diacritical marks till 694-714AD by Hajjaj bin Yusif, a governor of Iraq 694-714AD. To orthodox Muslims, it is blasphemy for Puin to suggest that the Uthmanic version of The Koran was reworked in any way. Puin also doubts that The Koran has been rendered in the purest Arabic, he sees it as being reflective of changing language uses.
A variety of wikipedia pages give the view that Western scholars distrust the historicity of early Islamic treatments of the rise of Islam and regard it as problematic. There is no way however to arbitrate between competing views, and the pressure is to step outside of all arguments and to start again.
1970s: Controversy arises with Islamic studies based ultimately at University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies by a new use of material from linquistics/languages and from archaeology.
It seems that between 720-741AD, and as a matter escaping the attention of book readers till the later C20th, perhaps even the C21st, a switch was made in early Islamic circles, about 80-100 years after the death of Prophet, for the direction that qiblah's (or "prayer-direction") should point - not to Petra or to Jerusalem, but to Mecca. This was in effect a switcheroo which has escaped notice. If we ask questions here, me might also ask, why would the early Moslems have regarded it as so important that prayers be given any particular direction to anywhere, what could be the theological logic behind this custom?