Friday, September 24, 2021

Postblogging Technology, June 1951, I: Ramping Up For Production


Dear Father:

Yes, yes, rest, no strain, blessed condition, all of that. Well! First of all, I am having some issues in certain departments which I find The Economist very helpful for, and let that suffice! Second, or more reasonably first, I arrived on the Avenue of Harmony to find my subscriptions finally released from Palo Alto quarantine and on their meandering way to me. Unfortunately, the collection is incomplete, because during the year-and-a-half that they were being held strictly out of human reach due to the contagious disease with which I was no infecting them via magical remote contagion powers, and no-one at all at Palo Alto City Hall was taking the interesting magazines out of the pile, it happened that all the boring technical journals came to begin to be returned to sender, and the circulation departments at Engineering, Aviation Week and Flight (and Time, for some reason) have stopped delivery. The stern old wardens who guard these departments are on the lookout for misappropriated subscriptions, and there must be an exchange of correspondence before delivery is resumed. In fine, I still have current copies of Aviation Week and Time before me (and a run of The Engineer from the missionary college that stopped last year), but don't expect to see the others  for a month or two. 

It's an improvement on the previous state of affairs, and a part from allusive, scatalogical jokes about The Economist, I find I miss it. A bit. 

Your Loving Daughter, 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Bishop's Sea: Our Ongoing Project of Building a Better, Stronger Past


This may or may not be on me, but it turns out that I don't have Sunday off. I suspect that after wasting far too much time trying to make iOS and Onedrive get along, I was not going to get a postblogging post up tomorrow anyway, but it sure isn't happening now.

I don't, however, want to leave the blog silent, and it occurs to me that I haven't written about the Columbus problem, either as it is traditionally understood, or as historiography seems finally prepared to confront it. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Bishop's Sea: Seals and State Collapse in the Pre-Columbian


So after eighteen apocalyptic months, UBC Library is open this week, and while I did not visit my precious old journals, because of pure laziness, it turns out that I wouldn't have been able to see most of them due to the usual robot uprising.

Damn. Should have gone with that instead of copping to being lazy.  Anyway, going to lean on the door marked "seals" and see where it takes us!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Bishop's Sea: Floating Proletariats and the Development of Underdevelopment


Sao Tome and Principe is an island state off the equatorial coast of Africa with an area of 1000 square kilometers, a population of 211,000, a GDP per capita of $1668USD and not much else to say about themselves. They were allegedly uninhabited when the Portuguese arrived around 1470, and in 1499, Felipe Fernandez Arnesto reports, the captain, Pedro Alvarez, wrote to complain about a shipment of new arrivals, Jewish orphans deported from Lisbon during the expulsion. There were, the Captain reported, only 50 colonists on the islands, mostly exiled criminals themselves, working a marginal sugar plantation, without a mill to support exports. They had no truck to trade for ivory and pepper on the mainland, little food, and had great difficulties securing wives. The rest of the islands' five century history isn't that much more interesting, although the implied mixed-race community (thoroughly dominated by first-generation Portuguese) did emerge during the next century.  

As a Canadian and a UofT man, I associate the "development of underdevelopment" with Harold Innis' "staples theory," phrased in these parts as asking why British Columbia has forests, logs and mills, but not IKEA. The question of how the long-term development of "the West and the rest" became, of course, ever more pressing in the decades after Innis' death. By the time that Joan Robinson addressed the question in 1978, the state of Africa was frequently presented in apocalyptic terms --that was certainly my high school experience-- and although the worst has not happened there, we have the current state of Haiti to remind us that the Third World is still with us. 

But, you know, why?