Weekly Recap #8

Conflict I’ve been learning about – Azerbaijan vs Armenia. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more about the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and I figured that I had a responsibility to learn about it. After digging for a bit, I quickly became overwhelmed. This part of the world has been the battleground of foreign empires since before Alexander the Great, and the locals have suffered immensely through it all. In antiquity, the Kingdoms of Armenia and of Caucasian Albania (the ancient counterpart to Azerbaijan) were buffer states that existed between the Roman Empire and the Persian (eventually Sassanid) Empire. When both East and Western Empires were equally matched, peace reigned in the Caucuses region (what we call that part of the world, pronounced Kah-Kuh-Suhz), but when one got stronger, the Kings of Armenia would be replaced with puppets favorable to the stronger empire. This tug of war between East and West over the Caucuses region caused much hardship for the land and it’s people. It never truly could spread its wings, since a smackdown from one of its belligerent neighbours was always around the corner. 

In the last two thousand years, little has changed besides the names of the invaders. The lands have been ravaged by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Medes, the Achaemenids, the Parthians, the Scythians, the Byzantines, the Arab Empires, the Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, the Safavids and other Iranian dynasties, the Ottomans, the British, the Nazis, and finally, the Russians. With each successive conquest, cities were renamed, communities were deported, others, more favorable to the new regime, were imported. Through this human herding, at the behest of foreign bayonets, the diverse local ethnicities, along with their languages and cultural identities, were spread into every corner of the Caucuses.  In times of local stability, the peoples of the Caucuses often continued colonizing and annexing lands from their neighbours, as had been done to them.

Read the rest of this story Here.

Renewable Energy Source I’m Learning About – Underwater Turbines. Have you ever sat by the ocean, and took the time to witness its incredible power? Even on a calm day, the waves breaking in front of you should impress upon you the sheer power of nature. Humans have become adept at using the energy contained in fossil fuels, damming rivers to generate hydro-electricity, and even forms of nuclear energy, to power our cities and machines, but we have not yet learned to tame most of the other sources of energy that exist around us. We are getting good at capturing solar power and wind power, but there are a great many other sources of energy out there.

Geothermal for one. The heat generated by the core of our planet is many times greater than the energy contained in all the world’s fossil fuels, but so far, it’s most successful application has been limited to powering hot springs and spas, rather than a city. Another source of untapped energy is created by the celestial dance of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon: the ocean tides.

Read the rest of this story Here.

Song on my MindPain, by Earl St. Clair. Earl St. Clair is more often the producer of music, than the featured artist. He seems to have been well served by his position in the industry, because his music is fantastically composed. He draws from numerous influences, some old some new, but he always keeps thing fresh. My favorite part in this song comes in the later half of the piece. St. Clair engages in a call and response with the guitar, which is fantastically unusual in modern music. I love his ability to recycle old musical ideas into awesome contemporary formats, digestible to all. Listen to Pain on Youtube, Spotify.

Book I’ve Been Absorbed By – The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King, by Rich Cohen. This is the biography of Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States in 1891. When he arrived in America with his Aunt, he was 14 years old. His purpose? To gain enough money to pay for the passage of his siblings to America. To this end, he worked every job he could, tried every trade. He worked as a carpenter’s assistant, as a delivery boy, house cleaner, he worked in his uncle’s general store, and even as a travelling merchant. Zemurray seems to have worked every job under the sun. He wasn’t too good for anything, but always took the time to take his bearings. What were the best jobs? Who made the most money? How did people in high roles arrive at them? Where was the greatest reward? This drive fuelled a distinct creativity in Zemurray, to see opportunity before anyone else, and the will to act upon it.

Sam stumbled upon the banana in 1895. At the time, the exotic fruit was exceedingly rare in the United States, but as legend has it, he instantly saw potential.

Read the rest of this story Here.

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