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review 2018-10-15 18:48
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond

This is an interesting and influential book that in its broad conclusions makes a lot of sense, though I have doubts about Diamond’s reasoning on some of his smaller points. It’s longer than it needs to be, but largely because it is thorough and takes the time to break down academic subjects to be accessible to intelligent but non-specialist readers.

First published in 1997, this book sets out to explain why Europe was able to colonize such a large part of the world in the last few centuries. Europeans’ possession of “guns, germs and steel” was an immediate cause, but why did they have these things when people on many other continents did not? Diamond’s answer comes down to the environment in different parts of the world. In essence, all of these advantages come down to agriculture. In a hunter-gatherer society, population is kept relatively small, people have to focus on acquiring food, and (unless they live in an especially bountiful area), small groups typically need to move from place to place, such that they can’t have too many belongings, especially if they have no domestic animals to carry them. A society built on farming, however, tends to be much more populous, can support a class of people who do something other than farm (an elite class of nobles, but also specialized trades), and can accumulate belongings, which makes developing new technology more worthwhile. So, parts of the world that had a head start on farming also had a head start on developing technology, such as metallurgy.

Meanwhile, European germs played probably the most decisive role in their conquest of the Americas, as well as some other parts of the world; given the size of the native population (an early European visitor to the east coast of the modern U.S. wrote that there didn’t really seem to be room for colonies because the area was so heavily populated) and the difficulty of getting even small numbers of people across the ocean on wooden ships, one can imagine that this could have turned out much more like the English conquest of India, or might not have happened at all, if not for the epidemics that killed some 90% of the population. Why were the Europeans the ones with the germs? Well, human epidemics have come from domestic animals (think swine flu and avian flu today), and epidemics need a large population to stay alive; otherwise they will simply kill everyone they can kill and then die out with no new hosts. Therefore, epidemics evolved in places where people lived in close quarters with domestic animals, and stuck around in populations large enough to produce a new crop of children before the epidemic died out (this is why diseases like measles were once considered “childhood diseases” – not because children were more susceptible, but because the diseases were so prevalent that children would almost inevitably catch them before growing up). Both individuals and populations exposed to these germs would eventually develop immunity if they survived.

But the opportunity to domesticate animals wasn’t spread evenly around the world. Asia and Europe (referred to throughout the book as “Eurasia” since it’s really one landmass, considered two continents for political rather than geographic reasons) had lots of options, including horses, cows, water buffalo, sheep, pigs, and goats. As far as domesticable large mammals go, the Americas had only the llama (which didn’t spread beyond the Andes), while sub-Saharan Africa had none. It isn’t that people didn’t try – people will keep almost anything as a pet – but numerous factors influence whether a large mammal is a good candidate for domestication. It needs to live in herds, to tolerate its own herd’s territory overlapping with others (or you’d never be able to bring in a new cow that wasn’t related to your current cows), to not be overly or unpredictably aggressive toward humans (this is why the zebra has never worked out), to not panic, bolt and throw itself against the fence until it dies, and more. Eurasia had a couple of major advantages here. Being the largest landmass, it had the most animal diversity. And, as modern humans evolved in Africa and Eurasia, animals evolved alongside them, presumably learning how to deal with human hunters’ increasing skills; on the other hand, most large mammals went extinct in the Americas and Australia shortly after people arrived.

With agriculture, too, Eurasia had an advantage, causing it to kick off there early. Again, there was a greater diversity of plants, only some of which make sense to domesticate and begin to grow. The Fertile Crescent (roughly modern-day Iraq and Turkey), perhaps the first site of agriculture in the world, had it particularly easy: wheat already existed in a form quite similar to its modern equivalent, and grew bountifully, so the idea of taking it home and growing it wasn’t much of a leap. On the other hand, with corn – a staple crop of Mexico and eventually the eastern U.S. – there isn’t even agreement on what the wild ancestor was; the plant that might have been the original corn produced husks only about an inch long with tiny kernels and other disadvantages. People had to work on it for a really long time before it became a suitable staple crop for large swathes of the continent.

And then too, you wouldn’t switch from hunting and gathering to farming for just one crop. While hunting and gathering seems like a precarious lifestyle to us, it can actually be better than subsistence farming. Farmers worked harder – which makes sense, since they had to nurture their food every step of the way rather than simply finding it and bringing it home – and based on their skeletons, early farmers’ nutrition was worse than that of hunter-gatherers. So it’s the total package that counts; in areas that provided a nutritionally-balanced diet of domesticable plants, plus domesticable animals to supplement that diet and also provide labor and fertilizer, farming made a lot more sense than it did in areas without such a bounty. Essentially, the sort of lifestyle people had depended on the food options available, and some places supported agriculture much more than others. Nobody’s building a densely-populated empire from a desert like the Australian outback.

There is a lot more to the book of course, but I think it’s the central thesis that’s the most convincing. Many of Diamond’s other points – ancillary to his main argument – don’t work so well. For instance, he’s very interested in how a Spanish force of about 150 managed to defeat and capture the Inca emperor Atahualpa, who was supported by thousands of troops. Certainly the Spanish weaponry played a decisive role, particularly since it was the first time the Inca had encountered guns or cavalry. But Diamond claims that we know well what happened based on the (likely self-serving) accounts of several Spaniards, without apparently realizing that the Inca would probably have told a different story, and then makes a big deal of the fact the Inca lacked writing, arguing this is why they weren’t aware of prior Spanish conquests in Central America and therefore walked into a trap. But this ignores the fact that people who can’t depend on storing information in written form tend to have far better memorization skills than people who write everything down (Homer was not unusual in being able to recite epic poems from memory), and the fact that “they’re going to try to kill you with terrible weapons” is a simple message that could certainly have been transmitted intact had the Inca had envoys in Central America, all while assuming that Atahualpa didn’t know it was a trap. Without contemporary Inca sources, we have no idea whether perhaps he did know, but being new to the throne of an empire destabilized by epidemics, had to go anyway or risk looking weak to his subjects and promptly being overthrown.

There’s some other questionable reasoning here: that it makes sense that the wheel, while invented in Mexico, wasn’t actually used for transportation because there were no animals capable of pulling carts. (So what? People too can transport far more weight on wheels than they can carry.) That New Guineans are probably smarter than Europeans because their society has a higher homicide rate. (A society with lots of murder and warfare would select for strength, skill with weapons, and ability to maintain strong social ties far more than it would select for abstract, creative, or analytical thinking. Plus, an anthropological study of a New Guinea tribe found that those typically targeted for murder were the elderly, who would have already passed on their genes regardless.) And the 2003 epilogue, attempting to apply principles of societal development to how corporations should organize themselves to best promote innovation – apparently inspired by business leaders writing to Diamond about the book – even if true, has nothing to do with the contents of this already-long book.

Obviously there’s a lot to chew on here, hence the long review. I do think the book is worth reading, though it’s unfortunate that Diamond doesn’t cite sources for individual facts, and only includes generalized “further reading” lists. The book has some repetition that makes it a little longer than it needs to be, but overall I think it does a sound job of explaining some of the broad strokes of human history.

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text 2018-10-15 08:21
Human Milk Oligosaccharides Market Worth USD 170.4 Million by 2024

15 October 2018, The global Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) Market size is expected to reach USD 170.4 million by 2024. It is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 12.3% over the forecast period.HMO is a bioactive complex sugar molecule, which promotes growth of healthy bacteria, such as bifid bacteria genus in human gut. It also and helps improve metabolic activity in human body. In addition, incorporation of HMO in the formulation of functional foods and beverages not only promotes growth of healthy bacteria but also eliminates harmful microbes such as salmonella, listeria, and campylobacter.

 

High infant mortality rate coupled with rising demand for human milk donors in North America is one of the major drivers for the HMO market. North America accounted for around 25.0% of global market share in 2015 and is projected to expand further during the forecast period. Growing demand for infant food especially for infants with non-lactating mothers coupled with strong presence of infant formula manufacturers in U.S. is expected to have a positive impact on regional market. Besides North America, Europe is one of the key markets for human milk oligosaccharides. Presence of a large biotechnical institutes engaged in the development of enzyme formulations in Germany, U.K., and France is encouraging HMO manufacturers to establish tie-ups to improve their R&D activities.

 Global Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) market revenue, by application, 2013 - 2024 (USD Million)

 

Over the past few years, many R&D institutes have launched chemically synthesizing techniques and cow milk processing methods for the production of HMO. Extraction of human milk oligosaccharides is a bit expensive due to the limited access to raw materials. Product innovations aimed at improving brain health, are expected to pose a threat to the existing market participants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world population is expected rise by over a billion in the next 10 years. This factor is anticipated to propel demand for infant food, thereby driving the global market.

 

The HMO is also useful for adults as it helps maintain health of the digestive system. The ingredient acts as a microbiota modulator and maintains health of the immune system. HMO also helps prevent T1D, which interacts between the innate immune system and intestinal microbes in adults. High demand for digestive health supplements among adults due to rising concerns regarding gastrointestinal disorders is expected to promote market growth.

 

Some of the key manufacturers in the Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) market include Inbiose; Jennewein Biotechnologie GmbH; Elicityl SA; Glycom A/S; ZuChem, Inc.; Medolac Laboratories; and Glycosyn LLC. Increased number of health claims in U.S. and several developed markets of Europe has spurred studies to explore the potential of HMO. These studies have derived different microbial challenges in gut, prevention of diarrhea, and protection from infectious diseases. In September 2013, ZuChem launched new HMO formulations including l-galactose, as well as sugar phosphates such as β-l-glucose-1-phosphate, α-d-galactose-1-phosphate, and β-l-xylose-1-phosphate. In October 2014, U.S. based Madolac Laboratories completed construction of second phase of HMO purification plant. This plant will synthesize human milk oligosaccharides on a large scale, which will be further used in clinical trials and scientific research.

 

Browse Related Category Market Reports @ https://www.hexaresearch.com/research-category/nutraceuticals-and-functional-foods-industry

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review 2018-08-16 17:31
4.2 Out Of 5 "Diabolic's Rule, & The Grandiloquy Drool" STARS
The Empress - S.J. Kincaid

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~BOOK BLURB~

The Empress

S.J. Kincaid

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It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

 

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

 

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I really loved the first book in this series and like most people I thought it was going to be a stand-alone.  I was fine with that, but someone must've really wanted this story to continue…and continue it did. 

 

One of the things I loved about the first book in this series was its darkish feel and unfortunately this was missing that darkish-ness most of the way through, added to that, the first half was way too political by far.   I was really leaning towards a 3.5 Star rating on this, right up until the end. 

 

That ending saved this from a lower rating…because…I loved that ending.  Thankfully, Nemesis pulled through and oddly enough, Tyrus did too, in a way.  I can see a lot of readers not liking where this book was going by the end, but I am not one of them.  I'm really intrigued to see where this story goes in the final book…I'm hoping since it was mentioned, that it will involve going to Earth in some way…I just wish they would have someone else narrate the audiobook.

 

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~MY RATING~

4.2STARS - GRADE=B+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4/5

Main Characters~ 4/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.2/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 4/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.8/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 4.5/5

Ending~ 5/5 Cliffhanger~ definitely a "to be continued"

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Book Cover~  It's okay…

Narration~ 3 for Candace Thaxton, I don't really like her voice…too nasally and I wish this series was done by someone else.

Series~ The Diabolic #2

Setting~ Outer Space

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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review 2018-08-10 16:41
3.7 Out Of 5 "Untamable Demdji" STARS
Hero at the Fall - Alwyn Hamilton

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~BOOK BLURB~

Hero At The Fall

Alwyn Hamilton

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When gun slinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untamable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I have struggled with each book in the Rebel of the Sands Trilogy when I first start them, there is a lot of characters to keep straight and the story is really complex, but I have always managed to get "with" the story early on…at least with the first two books.  This third book…not so much.  It has too many small stories within the main story itself, to keep it all straight.  I also believe it could have benefitted from a list of characters, I have just learned that the book does have a list…unfortunately, the audio does not.

 

Overall, I'm glad I finally managed to listen to this final book, and I think I it was satisfying ending to the series, at least once it got to the actual story.  I would have liked it to be a tad shorter, without all those other mini stories.  I still love the characters, Amani and Jinn and lots of others who have joined the rebellion along the way.  They are what makes this story so memorable.

 

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~MY RATING~

☆3.7☆STARS - GRADE=B

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3.8/5

Main Characters~ 4.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.2/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~3/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 2.8/5

Backdrop (World-Building)~ 3/5

Originality~ 4.5/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

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Book Cover~ This one is cool…I like it. The actual cover for the audio version is not so cool.

Narration~ Soneela Nankani, she's perfect for the voice of Amani.

Series~ Rebel of the Sands #3

Setting~ Miraji Desert

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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