Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Edmonton: Gateway to the South

"We have already seen that the technology required for coping with extreme cold did not emerge until after anatomically modern humans invaded Europe around 40,000 years ago, and that people did not colonize Siberia until 20,000 years later. Eventually, those early Siberians crossed to Alaska, either by sea across the Bering Strait (only 50 miles wide even today) or else on foot at glacial times when Bering Strait was dry land. The Bering land bridge, during its millennia of intermittent existence, would have been up to a thousand miles wide, covered by open tundra, and easily traversable by people adapted to cold conditions. The land bridge was flooded and became a strait again most recently when sea level rose after around 14,000 B.C. Whether those early Siberians walked or paddled to Alaska, the earliest secure evidence of human presence in Alaska dates from around 12,000 B.C.
Soon thereafter, a north–south ice-free corridor opened in the Canadian ice sheet, permitting the first Alaskans to pass through and come out into the Great Plains around the site of the modern Canadian city of Edmonton. That removed the last serious barrier between Alaska and Patagonia for modern humans. The Edmonton pioneers would have found the Great Plains teeming with game. They would have thrived, increased in numbers, and gradually spread south to occupy the whole hemisphere." — Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.

Happy new year!

I just finished the Diamond book— it's an interesting read but at times a little too pat. However, the issues that he raises about linguistics and literacy have given me some new ideas for my own research, so slogging through 400-plus pages was ultimately worthwhile.

Obviously I'm continuing my pursuit of 100 books a year — in fact, I surpassed my goal in 2005, thanks to an abundance of YA literature. This month's obsession is magazine editors' biographies — there is a surprisingly large number of these! I'm also making some progress with Wicked, but it's going slowly. And I have a film from NFB to review — I'll post a link if my review is published.

On New Year's Day I made a fantastic turkey with rub marinade and no stuffing — wow! I also made homemade pie filling with cherries from our Evans tree — fabulous! The filling went into tarts and a pie (with storebought shells). So perhaps the Evans will be spared to live another year, despite its prolific suckering habit... If not, I hear that Nanking cherries are also quite tasty...

Not much else to tell right now. School starts again in a few days. I'll be back with more to report soon.

looking out,

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." — Mark Twain