Archive for Egypt

Tiger By the Tale

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , on May 8, 2011 by rgwallace

–Landlady…
–My name is Rosenberg.
–I didn’t know there were Jews in Dublin!
She grimaces, palpably, and says,
–Yes, there are Jews in Dublin.
–Well, then, Mrs. O’Rosenberg, what can you tell me about the Celtic Tiger? Has it bitten anybody lately?
–Bitten?
–Yes. Where is this tiger now, and does he bite?
Mrs. O’Rosenberg begins to laugh, softly at first, and then even more softly. –Neal Pollack (2000)

The tiger will see you a hundred times before you see him once. –John Vaillant (2010)

One explanation proposed for Arab Spring, riffing off the work of Emmanuel Todd, is demographic in nature.

Rejecting claims of poverty, inequality, food prices, and unemployment, Andrey Korotayev and Julia Zinkina argue Egypt’s economic transition out of the classic Malthusian trap placed it into another, Continue reading

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The Declensionist Diet

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2011 by rgwallace

We continue with the ‘big picture’ of food crises I co-authored with Richard Kock and Robyn Alders. This is the second of three excerpts. The first can be found here.

We argued the causes of our ongoing and oncoming food crises are manifold, rooted in present-day policies as well as humanity’s history, as far back as even our species’ origins.

The past offers us some unlikely lessons. Agriculture, for one, wasn’t so much a bright idea as a damning necessity for populations forced upon overhunting to scavenge for food. Subsequent shifts in food regimes, including those under way today, were likewise defined by such path-dependent contingency.

At the same time, history appears to have produced an illusion of inevitable existence. Humanity was able to repeatedly overcome food and other resource limitations, even as archaeological strata are also littered with dead civilizations. These near-misses, however, can offer no sample sufficiently representative for guaranteeing humanity a future.

Indeed, we now face a complex of problems of another nature entirely.

Continue reading

Egypt’s Food Pyramids

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2011 by rgwallace

A million minds momentarily magnetizing themselves along the same axis can turn a country’s deepest despair into an ecstatic sprint for freedom. What a people find revolting–a dictator decorated in American apologia–can be turned by a people’s revolt ridiculous.

No wonder so much effort (and money) is daily expended on propaganda in countries around the world. Obedience–the notion the rulers rule–is at its heart precarious.

But once a hypnosis is broken and history lurches forward, those who are unable to come to terms with the new order are left behind. They are relics, trivia, answers to riddles lost in the sand blowing about the noseless sphinx of empire. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Washington supporters, Anthony to Mubarak’s Cleopatra, were so startled by January 25th’s uprising that nearly a month later each party still hadn’t grasped their newfound irrelevance.

Continue reading