School in a Book: Essential Skills: Math, Science and History

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Essential Arithmetic Skills

  • Counting by twos, fives, tens, twelves, fifteens and twenties
  • Adding and subtracting numbers up to 1000 without using a calculator or writing instruments
  • Rounding numbers to the nearest ones, fives, tens, hundreds and thousands
  • Solving basic story problems
  • Using a calculator
  • Using a ruler and drawing compass
  • Calculating map distances
  • Converting units of measurement
  • Memorizing the 0-12 multiplication table
  • Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions
  • Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals
  • Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing negative numbers

Essential Algebra Skills

  • Using algebraic symbols
  • Solving simple equations with variables
  • Calculating exponential growth
  • Finding prime numbers and square roots
  • Solving inequalities
  • Understanding sequences
  • Using absolute value
  • Working with polynomials
  • Working with factorization
  • Working with quadratic equations
  • Working with rational and irrational numbers
  • Working with radicals
  • Comparing functions

Essential Geometry Skills

  • Measuring angles
  • Calculating area
  • Calculating surface area
  • Calculating diameter
  • Calculating square footage
  • Calculating perimeter
  • Calculating volume
  • Calculating scale
  • Calculating arc length
  • Calculating area of circles
  • Graphing lines and slopes
  • Working with coordinate planes
  • Proving simple geometric theorems
  • Making geometric constructions based on a given set of numbers
  • Working with the Pythagorean theorem
  • Calculating linear equations
  • Understanding congruence
  • Understanding similarity

Essential Statistics Skills

  • Finding averages
  • Finding means and medians
  • Converting whole numbers to percentages and vice versa
  • Calculating ratios, rates, percentages and proportions
  • Deciphering information on line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs and tables
  • Deciphering information on a Vinn diagram
  • Deciphering the reliability of a research study based on statistical information provided

Essential Science and History Skills

  • Reading and following a map
  • Creating a historical timeline
  • Interpreting the Periodic Table of the Elements
  • Drawing a simple diagram of an atom
  • Drawing simple diagrams of molecules
  • Using a telescope
  • Using a microscope
  • Calculating time zone differences
  • Making and testing a hypothesis and using the scientific method
  • Identifying local plants and animals (daisy, bluebell, iris, crocus, pansy, lilac, rose, marigold, tulip, daffodil, buttercup, lavendar, juniper, oak tree, maple tree, ivy, blueberry bush, apple tree, pear tree, palm tree, raspberry bush, blackberry bush, cedar, pine)
  • Classifying animals into major taxonomic groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arthropods, vertebrates, invertebrates, those having live births and those which lay eggs)

Science Projects

  • Building science-related structures and models with mixed media
  • Building science-related structures and models with Lego (such as solar system models, lifelike animal and vehicle replicas, etc.)
  • Block building
  • Train set building
  • Playing with magnets
  • Breaking open and identifying rocks
  • Building circuits
  • Taking nighttime walks
  • Watching astronomical events (like a lunar eclipse, shooting stars or the Aurora Borealis)
  • Making homemade environmentally friendly house cleaners (using borax, lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar and more)
  • Learning computer programming basics
  • Growing crystals
  • Making a model of our solar system
  • Making a balloon rocket
  • Making a volcano using baking soda and vinegar
  • Making a bottle submarine
  • Making invisible ink
  • Hunting for fossils
  • Making a rainbow
  • Making a bat house
  • Making a birdhouse
  • Making a birdbath
  • Making a bee house for honeybees
  • Making a foam-and-cardboard planetarium
  • Growing coral
  • Comparing rates of decomposition
  • Going on tidepooling and nature collecting excursions
  • Watching sunsets and sunrises

History Discussion Questions

  • What are some of the important similarities between various historical cultures? What are some of the important differences?
  • Were there any good civilizations in history? Were there any bad ones?
  • What part did ethnocentrism play in various historical cultures? What part did racism play?
  • What are the main reasons nations and states waged war? Why did smaller tribes and peoples wage war?
  • How was history influenced by various technological discoveries, including metalwork, gunpowder, the printing press, the train and many more?
  • What are some examples of religious wars? To what extent were they motivated by the spread of religious ideas and the quashing of other religious ideas and to what extent were they motivated by other desires or needs?
  • What are some possible reasons towns and civilizations spring up independently in so many different parts of the world within a few hundred years of each other?
  • Why did safe, prosperous nations, like Rome, continuously try to grow larger? Was this a wise strategy?
  • What are some of the historical reasons for poverty?

School in a Book: History of India

Ancient Times (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Pre-Vedic age: The era of Indian history during which the first known Indian civilization was established

The Indus Valley civilization: The first known Indian civilization, named after the fertile region in which it was established. It featured agriculture including cotton spinning; animal husbandry; carts pulled by water buffaloes; advanced economics; pottery; copper and bronze works; and some trade with the Middle East. This civilization was larger than either of its close contemporaries in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Mohenjo Daro and Harappa: The two most well-known ancient Indus Valley cities whose excavations greatly increased knowledge of ancient Indian history. Mohenjo Daro featured a citadel; a public bath; a granary; assembly halls; drainage; standard weights and measures; writing; and a population of around 40,000.

The Vedic age: The era of Indian history during which the Aryans ruled. It included the introduction and spread of Hinduism and the start of Indian literature.

The Aryans: A central Asian people who invaded and subdued India during ancient times and dramatically influenced the culture. The Aryan conquerors (who had two-wheeled chariots) became the upper classes of merchants, warriors, priests and rulers and the subdued people became slaves, laborers and artisans. In time this became a caste system. 

The Indian caste system:

The Vedas: The classical epic cultural and religious texts composed during the Vedic era in India. These are the first known literary texts of this region and are still widely read today. 

Siddhartha Gautam: The founder of the religion of Buddhism. Buddha, as he later became known, was born in India about 500 years BCE. His teachings did not take root until long after his death.

The invasion of India by Alexander the Great: The brief period of Indian history during which the Macedonians, led by Alexander, held Indian and Persian lands. In spite of their military losses, Indian leaders helped stop Alexander’s advancement with their devastating use of elephants during battle. Shortly after Alexander’s death, the Greeks withdrew from the area, which was too large and remote to rule effectively.

The Mauryan Empire: The first unified Indian empire, which rose to power around 300 BCE shortly after Alexander’s invasion and after a time of fighting between the various Indian kingdoms. During this empire, trade and wealth increased significantly.

Ashoka: The greatest Mauryan ruler, who expanded the empire through conquest then converted to Buddhism and advocated for peace. He helped spread Buddhism throughout India.

The Gupta Dynasty: The Golden Age of Indian history. This dynasty rose to power after several other empires following the Mauryan Empire failed to keep India united and thriving. During the Gupta Dynasty, India reunited and expanded. Trade with China increased greatly and literature, mathematics, astronomy and medicine flourished.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

India during the Middle Ages: After the Gupta Dynasty, parts of India fell to Hun invaders. Following this, several other dynasties (most of which were Islamic and spread the religion of Islam in India) took over temporarily but failed to reunite the whole of India. The invasion of the Turks and, later, the Mongols further hampered Indian progress. 

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

The Mughal Empire: One of the greatest eras in Indian history during which India was again reunited under one ruler. During this time, infrastructure, administration and the arts advanced greatly. Many well-known monuments were built and the government was reorganized. In some areas, the Mughals continued ruling until the British takeover in the late 1800s, though practically speaking, by that time most of India was controlled by various colonial powers.

Akbar the Great: The greatest Mughal emperor, who successfully united India. He instituted social reforms and promoted Hinduism and Persian culture. 

Shah Jahan: One of the last Mughal emperors. He is most famous for building the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal: One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, which was built in the 1600s by emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife after her death. It took 22 years to complete.

The Indian colonial period: The period of Indian history during which Europeans (including England, the Netherlands, Portugal and France) colonized India. This began in the 1500s as various European trading companies competed ferociously for trading rights and governmental control. It continued with British takeover from the late 1800s till India gained independence in 1947. 

The English East Indian Company: The organization created by England in the 1600s to conduct trade with India. They operated in Calcutta, Bombay and elsewhere.

Bombay: The English name of the Indian city of Mumbai. Bombay was first taken by Portugal, then given to the English king, then sold to the English East Indian Company and used as a trading base for many years.

The British Raj: The British ruler of India during British colonization

British imperialism: The period of Indian history during which the British controlled India. For a time, Queen Victoria served as the Empress of India. 

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

The Indian industrial revolution: The industrial revolution took root in India in the early 1900s

Indian nationalism: The political ideology that advocated for Indian independence

India during World War I: India fought on behalf of the British against their will. However, with the economic decline of Britain, Indian nationalists slowly gained influence during this time.

Mahatma Ghandi: The Indian nationalist leader who led the long fight for Indian independence from WWI on. Gandhi was a lawyer who lived in South Africa for a time and served as the leader of Indians living there. After returning to India, he launched a movement of non-cooperation with the British which included boycotts of British goods and schools. He advocated for non-violence, though others involved in the movement did not follow this recommendation. Gandhi went to prison multiple times during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. He was assassinated in 1948, a year after India won independence.

India during World War II: As in World War I, in World War II India fought on behalf of the British.

Prime minister Nehru: The first prime minister of India, who helped create the Indian constitution in the late 1940s

Indian constitution: The constitution created after India gained independence from Britain. It strictly regulated industry, establishing some industries as fully government controlled and others as privately run.

India during the 1950s and 60s: Indian reforms increased irrigation, boosted agriculture and increased industrial production. At the same time, India’s population increased rapidly and poverty and illiteracy were widespread. India also fought some battles with China and Tibet during this time, both of which tried to encroach on its territory.

India during the 1970s and 80s: India experienced inflation and a recession due in part to rapidly rising oil prices. 

India during the 1990s and 2000s: India deregulated the economy, which led to rapid economic growth, and its population continues to rise quickly. 

School in a Book: Logic and Rhetoric

Everyone loves winning an argument. Actually, everyone just loves an argument. It’s stimulating. Challenging. Energetic. If you want to argue better, or just be better able to discriminate between arguments, logic studies will help–a lot. Just keep in mind that once you learn this stuff, it’s hard not to get a bit snobbish about it; I recommend you flavor your powers of logic with tact.

Important note: Many logical fallacies are known by more than one name. I’ve attempted to use the most common in my list, but if you rely too much on memorization, you won’t always recognize other people’s terms. More important, you’ll miss the point.

Finally, a quote to consider: “One and one cannot become two, since neither becomes two.”– Gongsun Long, Chinese logician (c. 325–250 BCE)

I think that pretty much says it all.

Basic Logic and Rhetoric

Logic: The set of rules that guides the formation of valid arguments and tests argumentative conclusions for validity.
Rhetoric: The art of persuasion

Practical uses for logic: Ethics, politics, computer programming, writing and any situation in which arguments are posited, questioned and defended.

An argument: A defense of an opinion or position. Arguments can be logical or rhetorical. Logical arguments are those which determine whether a particular statement is true or false. Rhetorical arguments are those which attempt to persuade a person or audience that a particular statement is true or false, regardless of whether it actually is true or false.

Premise: An idea upon which other ideas in an argument rely.

Logical form: The formula that an argument uses to arise at its conclusion. Example: All A’s are B’s and all B’s are C’s; therefore, all A’s are C’s.

Valid: Logically correct. Example: All zebras are mammals and all mammals are ugly; therefore, all zebras are ugly.

True: Actually correct. Example: All zebras are mammals and all mammals drink their mothers’ milk; therefore, all zebras drink mothers’ milk.

Rational/sound: Logical, valid and true

How to analyze an argument for soundness: First, notice whether or not the form of the argument makes sense. Does the conclusion follow from the premises? If not, you likely have a formal fallacy on your hands. As a beginning logician, don’t spend too much time figuring out the name of the fallacy; instead, point out the problem and say something like, “The conclusion doesn’t follow the premises.” Step two is to notice whether or not the statements made in the argument are true; if not, there is an informal fallacy. You should be able to identify all ad hominem fallacies and name them as such. You should also be able to call out these fallacies by name: the fallacy of equivocation; the slippery slope fallacy; the poisoning the well fallacy; the straw man fallacy; the appeals to emotion, fear, pity, ridicule and the like; and the appeals to tradition, authority, and popularity. Other fallacies can simply be identified as such, and often, this is enough.

Semantics: The meanings of words. These can often be problematic and unstable, which contributes to illogic.

Inference: A true or false conclusion in the form of “A, therefore, B.”

Implication: A true or false conclusion in the form of “If A, then B.”

Deductive reasoning: Deducing a specific fact from a general principle

Inductive reasoning: Arriving at a general principle from a specific fact or case

Analysis: Deconstructing part-by-part to find deeper meaning

Synthesis: Putting parts together to find deeper meaning

A posteriori: Not known to be valid or true except through observation and experience

A priori: Known to be valid or true by reason alone

History of the study of logic: Logic comes from the Greek word logos, originally meaning “the word” or “what is spoken”, but later meaning “thought” or “reason”. Aristotle was the first known proponent of formal logic, and since then, it has been applied to many scientific areas, including computer programming. Logic studies, though, normally refers to rhetorical logic.

Logical fallacy/non sequitur: A weakness in an argument, often hidden, that causes the conclusion to be invalid or untrue. Informal fallacies have to do with the content of the argument, and formal fallacies have to do with the form of the argument. (Non sequitur means “it does not follow.”)

Formal logical fallacy: A fallacy in the structure of the argument that causes the argument to be invalid, regardless of the content of the argument. Remember, just because an argument contains a fallacy doesn’t mean the conclusion isn’t true. It simply means that particular argument doesn’t prove it to be so.

Informal logical fallacy: A fallacy in the content of the argument. Most often, informal logical fallacies are simple distractions from the actual argument. They point to external ideas or the opponent’s personality and the like. Literally any distraction from the validity of the argument itself can be an informal logical fallacy. Don’t memorize the names–just understand the problem with them in the collective. (For a ridiculously long list, see Wikipedia’s list of logical fallacies.)

Common Formal Logical Fallacies

The affirming the consequent fallacy: An argument that states “If A, then B; B, therefore A.” Example: “If Fred killed Todd, Fred is angry. Fred is angry, therefore, Fred killed Todd.”

The denying the antecedent fallacy: An argument that states, “If A, then B; not A, therefore not B.” Example: “If Fred killed Todd, then he hated him. Fred didn’t kill Todd. Therefore, he didn’t hate him.

The affirming a disjunct fallacy: An argument that states, “A is true or B is true. B is true. Therefore, A is not true.” In fact, both could be true.

The denying a conjunct fallacy: An argument that states that “It is not the case that both A is true and B is true. B is not true. Therefore, A is true.” In fact, both could be false.

Fallacy of the undistributed middle: An argument that states that “All Zs are Bs. Y is a B. Therefore, Y is a Z.” One must first prove that all Bs are Zs.

Common Informal Logical Fallacies

Ad hominem (“to the man”) fallacy: An argument that relies on attacking the arguer instead of the argument. This is really a category of fallacies which includes the appeal to authority/expert fallacy and the opposite of this, the courtier fallacy (which attacks the opposition’s knowledge, credentials or training).

The equivocation fallacy: An argument that relies onthe misleading use of a term with more than one meaning (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time).

The straw man fallacy: An argument that relies onan argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.

The slippery slope fallacy: A slippery slope argument (SSA), in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a logical fallacy in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect.

The poisoning the well fallacy: A subtype of ad hominem presenting adverse information about a target person with the intention of discrediting everything that the target person says.

The appeal to emotion fallacy: An argument that relies on the manipulation of emotions. This is a general category that includes the appeal to threat fallacy, the appeal to fear fallacy, the appeal to flattery fallacy, the appeal to pity fallacy, the appeal to ridicule fallacy and more.

The false dilemma: An argument that relies ontwo alternative statements are held to be the only possible options when in reality there are more.

The circular reasoning/begging the question fallacy: An argument that relies on the presence of the conclusion within the premise in order to appear logical

The ad nauseam/ad infinitum fallacy: An argument that relies on mere repetition

The appeal to tradition fallacy: An argument that relies on a conclusion supported solely because it has long been held to be true.

The appeal to the people/bandwagon fallacy: An argument that relies on a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because a majority or many people believe it to be so.

The guilt by association and honor by association fallacies: Arguments that rely on the idea that because two things share some property, they are the same.

The red herring fallacy: A speaker attempts to distract an audience by deviating from the topic at hand by introducing a separate argument the speaker believes is easier to speak to. Argument given in response to another argument, which is irrelevant and draws attention away from the subject of argument.

The cherry picking fallacy: An argument that relies onact of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

The appeal to consequences fallacy: An argument that relies on describing the terrible things that would happen if the opponent’s position were true.

The appeal to motive fallacy: An argument that relies on attacking the motive of the opponent.

The tu quoque (“you too”) fallacy: An argument that relies on pointing out the hypocrisy of the opponent.

The etymological fallacy: reasoning that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day usage.

The moving the goal posts/raising the bar fallacy: An argument that relies onargument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded.

The survivorship bias fallacy: An argument that points to a small number of successes of a given process are actively promoted while completely ignoring a large number of failures

The false analogy fallacy: An argument that relies on an argument by analogy in which the analogy is poorly suited.

The hasty generalization: An argument that bases a broad conclusion on a small sample or the making of a determination without all of the information required to do so.

The oversimplification fallacy: An argument that relies on it is assumed that there is one, simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.

The appeal to ignorance: An argument that relies on assuming that a claim is true because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa.

The pooh-pooh fallacy: An argument that relies on dismissing an argument perceived unworthy of serious consideration.

The moralistic fallacy: An argument that relies on assuming what ought to be true, is in fact true

School in a Book: World History Overview and Timeline

History isn’t hard. It’s just stories. Lots of stories. And remembering some dates is important, too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to recall the approximate date for the beginning of the universe, or the invention of fire, or the first known appearance of Homo sapiens on the spot but could not. Knowing a few key dates is hugely important to your understanding of the world. It provides a framework that you can build on as needed. Below is that framework.

That said, I am not the world’s biggest fan of the timeline. Other than the basic one below, in this book historical terms and concepts are chunked into four broad categories instead: ancient history, the Middle Ages, early modern times and modern times. If you know which of these historical periods an event occurred in, you will have a “good enough” understanding of its context for casual conversation and application.

Note that many dates given here are approximate, tentative and rounded.

Basic World History Terminology

Prehistory: All history that took place prior to the first cities, civilizations, and writing. Prehistory ended around 10,000 BCE.

Recorded history: History that took place after the invention of writing. It began around 10,000 BCE and continues into the present.

Prehistory

  • Beginning of time, the earth and hominids (14 billion BCE to 3 million BCE)
  • The Stone Age (including the Paleolithic Era and the Mesolithic Era and the beginning of the Neolithic Era) (3 million BCE to 10,000 BCE)

Recorded history

  • The rest of the Neolithic Era (10,000 BCE to 3,000 BCE)
  • Ancient times (including the Bronze Age and the Iron Age) (3,000 BCE to 500 CE)
  • The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)
  • Early modern times (including the Colonial Period, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and more) (1500 CE to 1900 CE)
  • The modern era (the 1900s)

The Stone Age: A general term for the prehistorical era after Homo sapiens began using stone tools (around 3000 BCE) and before they engaged in metal work in a widespread manner. The Stone Age encompasses the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Eras and ended at roughly the start of ancient times (3,000 BCE), when the Bronzeron Age began.

The Paleolithic Era: The historical era that began with the evolution of the species Homo sapiens in which these and other hominids primarily survived through big-game hunting.

The Mesolithic Era: The historical era between the Paleolithic Era and the Neolithic Era when humans lived a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribal lifestyle

The Neolithic Era: The historical era that began when humans discovered farming (around 10,000 BCE) and, with this location-stable food supply, began to settle into towns. The end of the Neolithic Era took place at approximately the beginning of ancient times (around 3,000 BCE).

The Bronze Age: The historical era that began when humans learned how to forge metal, particularly bronze, which was particularly useful in weaponry. The Bronze Age usually refers to ancient Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Egyptian history.

The Iron Age: The historical era that began when humans began replacing much of their bronze work with iron work instead. Iron allowed for lighter, cheaper weaponry, which resulted in a more widespread use of it and more battles.

Ancient history: The historical period from the beginning of recorded history (around 3,000 BCE) to the fall of the Roman Empire (around 500 CE).

The Middle Ages: The historical period from the fall of the Roman Empire (around 500 CE) to the discovery of the New World (around 1500 CE).

Early modern times: The historical period from the discovery of the new world (around 1500 CE) to 1900 CE.

The modern era: The historical period of the 1900s, marked by industrialism, globalism, rapid technological advancement and world war.

Outline of world eras: The terms Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age, Paleolithic Era, Mesolithic Era and Neolithic Era are all very rough constructs. Since they’re defined by their technological developments, they took place at different times in different places of the world. However, a rough timeline is as follows:

Basic World History Timeline

PREHISTORY

The Beginning of Time

14 billion BCE: The Big Bang occurred

4.5 billion BCE: The Earth formed

4 billion BCE: The first living organisms formed

3.5 billion BCE: LUCA, the last universal common ancestor, formed

7 million BCE: Hominids evolved

The Stone Age

300,000 BCE: Homo sapiens began using stone tools and the Paleolithic Era began

10,000s BCE: Farming began, the first towns (proto-cities) were built and the Neolithic Era began

8,000s BCE: Mesopotamian and Chinese agriculture began

6000s BCE: Indus River Valley agriculture began and metalworking (copper and gold) began

4000s BCE: Mesoamerican and Central American agriculture began

RECORDED HISTORY

Ancient Times (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

3,000s BCE: The first civilization (the Sumerian Empire, in Mesopotamia on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) was founded; the Egyptian Empire (on the Nile River) began; writing was invented (cuneiform in Mesopotamia and hieroglyphics in Egypt) and recorded history began

2000s BCE: The Indus River Valley civilization began; the Chinese civilization began on the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers; the Mayan culture began; the Chavin culture began; bronze metalworking began; the Babylonian Empire and the Akkadian Empire defeated the Sumerian Empire in turn [?]

1600s BCE: The Shang Dynasty founded

1500s BCE: The Phoenician people arose

1200s BCE: The Hebrew people arose

900s BCE: The Assyrian Empire claimed much of Mesopotamia

700s BCE: The first Greek city-states were founded

500s BCE: The Roman Republic was founded; the Persian Empire claimed Mesopotamia and beyond; Buddha lived and taught; Muhammad lived and taught

400s BCE: Athens and Sparta were at their cultural height

300s BCE: Alexander the Great claimed Greece, Mesopotamia and parts of India for Macedon, creating the Macedonian Empire; the Fujiwara Dynasty arose in Japan

200s BCE: The Qin Dynasty took power; the Mayas were at their peak power

100 BCE to 100 CE: Julius Caesar became the first dictator of Rome; Jesus Christ lived and taught; the Roman Empire replaced the Roman Republic under Augustus Caesar (Octavian)

400s CE: The Byzantine Empire formed and the Roman Empire came to an end

The Middle Ages (500 CE through 1500 CE)

600s CE: The Tang Dynasty ushered in China’s Golden Age

800s CE: Vikings began exploring and raiding; the Toltec culture arose; the Maori culture arose; the aborigine culture arose

1000s and 1100s CE: The Crusades took place

1200s and 1300s CE: Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan led the Mongolian Empire; the Aztec Empire began

1300s CE: The Ottoman Empire was founded; the Black Plague occurred

1400s CE: The Gutenberg Press went into use; the Incan Empire began; Constantinople fell, ending the Byzantine Empire; Russia began to unify

Early Modern Period (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

1492 CE: Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas

1500s CE: Amerigo Vespucci landed in South America and created the first map of the New World; the colonization of South America began; the African slave trade greatly increased; the Ottoman Empire was at its peak; the Elizabethan Era began; the Protestant Reformation began; North American exploration began

1600s CE: The Pilgrims settled Plymouth Colony; the colonization of North America began; the Edo Period began in Japan; the steam engine was invented

1700s CE: The Enlightenment began; Peter the Great unified Russia; Australian colonization began; the French Revolution occurred; the Industrial Revolution began

1776 CE: America declared independence from Great Britain by issuing the Declaration of Independence, starting the American Revolution

1800s CE: The South American colonies gained independence from their colonial rulers one by one; the Scramble for Africa (African colonization) occurred; the Victorian Era began; the Opium Wars took place; the first transcontinental railroad opened; Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb; the Wright Brothers invented the airplane

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

1900s CE: Henry Ford invented the Model T; Einstein discovered the Theory of Relativity; the Australian gold rush began; the dynasties ended in China and were replaced with the Republic of China

1914-1918 CE: World War I occurred

1920s CE: The first modern television was invented

1929 CE: The Wall Street crash set off the Great Depression

1933 CE: The Holocaust began

1930s CE: The Spanish Civil War occurred

1939-1945 CE: World War II occurred

1941 CE: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, spurring the U.S. to join World War II

1945 CE: The U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Japan; the Holocaust ended; penicillin was made available to the public

1940s CE: The League of Nations was founded; India gained independence from Britain

1950 CE: The Korean War occurred; the USSR developed atomic weapons and the Cold War began; apartheid began in South Africa; the civil rights movement began; the Vietnam War began; space travel began

1969 CE: People landed on the moon for the first time

1970s CE: The Vietnam War ended

1989 CE: Pro-democracy student demonstrations were violently quashed at Tiananmen Square in China; the Berlin Wall fell

1990s CE: The Gulf War occurred

2001 CE: Middle eastern terrorist group Al-Queda attacked New York City on September 11

2008 CE: Barack Obama was elected the first African American president of the United States

Naked Interview: “My Car Is My Home and the World is My Bedroom”

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Nick D’Urso is a freewheeling AirBnB rental owner. He teaches people how to make their money work for them (rather than the other way around) at NickDurso.com.

Read my full interview with Nick and many others. Today is the last day to get the Kindle version of The Naked House for 99 cents on Amazon.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly minimized your possessions and simplified your life? Tell me the story.

Nick: In July 2019 I left my corporate job back home in Brooklyn, New York. I bought a car in Phoenix, Arizona to drive to Argentina. I pretty much left everything I owned except a few clothes, my laptop, a camera, and a drone. I built a bed in the back of the car and I have been living on the road ever since, camping at some of the most beautiful places in Mexico. I’m about to enter Belize.

My car is my home and the world is my bedroom.

Mollie: What did you buy along the way? Do you have good camping equipment?

Nick: I haven’t bought much. I bought a new suspension for the car and two front lower control arms. The car is old and I was worried about the rust and being stuck in a country with no parts if something happened. Other than that, I bought a cooler, folding chairs, and a BBQ. At some point I’ll have to buy winter clothes when I reach Argentina but I’ll tackle that when I get there. I also bought a new phone using Google Fi because it works in over 200 countries on their unlimited plan.

Mollie: How long do you plan to travel and what will you do after that?

Nick: Everyone asks me this question. Truthfully I’m planning this trip to find a place where I can build another AirBNB property close to the water so I can run scuba diving excursions. I don’t have a time limit. My goal is to travel around the entire world and it’s taken me 6 months to do all of Mexico. I promised my mom and dad I would spend Christmas with them in 2020. But other than that I don’t have a time limit.

Mollie: What led to this drastic change?

Nick: The thing that led me to this decision was being caught up in the humdrum of everyday corporate life living in New York City. I personally couldn’t take going to work every day to make money to spend at a bar on the weekends with friends, over and over again. I wanted to get more out of life.

Mollie: What do you want to get out of life?

Nick: I would like to teach people that money isn’t everything. It’s a vehicle to get you to where you want to be. We’re all taught that we need to go to school and get a job that pays well. Everyone wants a raise and to earn more money. But the truth is that you most likely make enough money and that money can actually make you more money but your habits prevent that. People look at my Instagram and ask me how I do this. I tell them I drive a ‘98 Chevy Blazer with a bed in it. You don’t need a lot of money to do what I’m doing; you just need to change your habits. And that’s the mark I want to leave. Money is great, but you don’t need to exchange time to earn more. Other than that I would say I just want to be happy and meet amazing people all around the world.

Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle—the ideas you most want to spread?

Nick: My most prized beliefs behind my minimalist lifestyle change is that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about you. I want to spread that to everyone around. With social media nowadays, most people seem to be in competition with people they don’t even know.

Naked Interview: “I Shed Tears Through the Process”

Mary Potter Kenyon is a grief counselor and the author of seven books, including Called to Be Creative and Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief. She lives in Dubuque, Iowa. For more information, see MaryPotterKenyon.com.

Read my full interview with Mary and many others. Get the Kindle version of The Naked House for 99 cents for the next three days on Amazon.

Mollie: Have you ever significantly reorganized and decluttered your home? What led to the decision and what did you change?

Mary: In April 2018, I was offered my dream job an hour from where I lived. I made the decision to sell the four-bedroom, two-story house where my husband David and I had raised the last four of our eight children. David had died in 2012 and my seventh child was poised to leave the nest, leaving me with one daughter and a huge house. Not only did I need to declutter in order to sell my house, the house I purchased in my new town was 760 square feet. I had to do some serious purging, with less than two months to do it.

I began by deciding which furniture could come with me, and my heart sank when I realized my four bookshelves, my huge solid oak desk and my mother’s kitchen table would not fit. The owner of the house I was buying agreed to leave a folding IKEA table in the kitchen, the only kind of table that worked. Two living room chairs would need to be sold. A beautiful closed cabinet that was filled with office supplies and photo albums. A kitchen shelf. The one thing I knew had to come with me was a shaker-style cabinet I’d inherited from my mother, but it would need to be emptied of some of her things to make room for the single shelf of books I would keep.

I went through closets of clothing. As I pulled things off hangers, I priced those I thought would sell. I even had a box of my husband’s shirts stashed away, which my sister Joan agreed to take off my hands and make into Christmas stockings for my children. I wasn’t just dealing with stuff, I was dealing with memories, and I shed tears through the process. I went through thousands of books. The first two boxes sold for $150 at a bookstore, alleviating the distress a little. By the time I held my first garage sale, I’d whittled down my possessions drastically. The most daunting task, though, was the paper: a file cabinet and a trunk filled with letters, college papers, photos, and even scrapbooks from high school. I handed my son a bag filled with twenty daybooks (daily diaries) to burn because I couldn’t bear to dispose of them myself.

After two garage sales, several trips to a thrift store, and even filling my front lawn with items I advertised for free on a local online giveaway board, I ended up with less than half my original possessions. By then, it felt freeing to have dealt with years of accumulated clutter—to have made decisions about which things meant the most and gave me pleasure and joy when I looked at them. I would come to regret only the loss of the desk and the daybooks.

While I no longer have a separate office, I do have my own space, a back room that spans the entire width of the house and serves as both bedroom and office. Everything in it was consciously chosen to survive the Great Purge of 2018. The bedroom portion is sparse: an end table and a twin bed topped with a mockingbird quilt that matches the curtains. Outside of a washer and dryer in the opposite far corner, the rest of the large room is designed around the comfy brown recliner my children gave me for Christmas. When I sit in it to write or read, I’m surrounded by things that bring a smile to my face.

There is the Shaker-style cabinet I inherited from my mother, filled with things I treasure: my collection of autographed books, a hand-blown glass turtle my son Michael made, a toy sheep from my childhood, and bricks my daughter Rachel painted to look like the covers of my books. My grandmother’s trunk is topped by one of Mom’s quilts and her hand-carved Saint Michael statue, his sword upraised in regal glory.

Walls are adorned with paintings by my mother and daughter Emily, along with photographs taken by my son Dan, one framed and another on canvas. A rustic wooden rack is attached to one wall, the wire baskets holding stationery and greeting cards. Wooden letters with the cover designs of my six books on another wall spell the word “writer,” handmade by my daughter Elizabeth. Finally, there’s a book-themed lamp atop an end table Katie painted to look like book spines. I love my smaller space.

Read my full interview with Mary and many more. Get the Kindle version of The Naked House for 99 cents for the next three days on Amazon.

School in a Book: Anatomy and Medical Science

We love our bodies, don’t we? It’s just so nice to understand what’s going on inside of all of this skin.

Basic Anatomy

The eleven systems of the human body: Skeletal system, respiratory system, muscular system, nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, circulatory system, endocrine system, lymphatic/immune system, integumentary system, urinary system

Skeletal system: The framework of bones and cartilage that supports the body and provides hard surfaces for the muscles to contract on

The four types of bones: Flat (e.g., ribs), long (e.g., legs), irregular (e.g., spine), short (e.g. fingers)

Cranium: The skull bone

Mandible: The jawbone

Scapula: The shoulder blades

Clavicle: The collar bone

Sternum: The breastbone

Vertebrae: The bones that make up the spine

Pelvis: The main hip bone

Coccyx: The buttocks bone

Humerus: The upper arm bone

Radius: The bone on the topside of the lower arm

Ulna: The bone on the lower side of the lower arm

Femur: The upper leg bone

Tibia: The shin bone

Fibula: The bone on the underside of the lower leg

Patella: The kneecap

Metatarsals: The foot bones

Tarsals: The ankle bones

Carpals: The wrist bones

Metacarpals: The finger bones

Phelanges: The finger and toe (digit) bones

Joint: The places where bones meet. Most joints are movable.

Bone marrow: The store of fat inside the bone cavity

Cartilage: The alternative to bone that’s more flexible. Most baby bones are actually cartilage and slowly turn into bone later.

Muscular system: The system that enables the body to move using muscles

Muscles: Stretchy tissues all over the body that allow for movement. Some pairs work together with one contracting as the other relaxes. They can only contract and relax, not push.

Muscle contraction: The movement that occurs when muscles become shorter and harder and may bulge

Muscle relaxation: The movement that occurs when muscles become longer and softer

Voluntary muscle: (requiring conscious movement, such as the quads) or

Involuntary muscle: (such as the heart).

Skeletal muscle: (located on the skeletal system),

Cardiac muscle: (the heart and related muscles) or

Visceral muscle: (the intestines).

[add specific muscles]

Circulatory system: The system that circulates blood around the body via the heart, arteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells and carrying their waste products away. It also equalizes the temperature in the body. It includes blood, blood vessels and the heart.

The four parts of the heart: Four chambers (two atria and two ventricles), valves to keep blood moving the right direction through the heart (each time one snaps shut there’s a heartbeat), veins and arteries that carry blood from heart to lungs, upper body and lower body and others for the opposite direction.

Artery: Move blood away from the heart

Vein:

Capillary:

White blood cell: The cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders

Red blood cell:

Digestive system: The system responsible for the mechanical and chemical processes that provide nutrients via the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines and eliminates waste from the body.

Esophagus:

Stomach:

Liver: The organ that allows us to go between meals without eating by storing food energy. It is the largest organ by mass. Extra energy beyond the liver capacity is stored as fat. The liver also processes waste materials we encounter in our environment.

Respiratory system: The lungs and the passages that lead to them and allow for breathing of oxygen and breathing out of CO2.

Windpipe/trachea: A tube that connects the pharynx and larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air

Primary bronchus: The tubes between the trachea and each lung. After passing through the bronchus, air goes into the lungs. Then oxygen goes into secondary and tertiary bronchi, bronchioles, air sacs and capillaries and from there is distributed throughout the body.

Lung: A large air sack containing many tubes

Diaphragm: A flat sheet of muscle lying under the lungs. When you breathe in, your ribs move up and out and the diaphragm flattens. When you breathe out, your ribs move down and in and the diaphragm rises.

Voice box/larynx: Top part of the trachea

Vocal cords: Two bands of muscle that open to let air past when you breathe. When you speak muscles pull the cords together and air makes them vibrate. Shorter, faster cords, as in females, make higher pitched sounds.

Integumentary system: Skin, hair, nails, sweat and other exocrine glands

Skin: The soft outer tissue covering of vertebrates. It contains the epidermis, the dermis and subcutaneous tissues (fat cells).

Melanin: Natural pigments found in most organisms

Pores: Tube-shaped sweat glands

Keratin: What skin and nails are made of

Hair follicle: The opening at the base of a hair. Its shape determines whether the hair is curly, wavy or straight.

Urinary/renal system: The system that controls the amount of water in your body and filters blood. It includes two kidneys, a balloon-like sac called the bladder and the tubes connected to them.

Urethra: The tube that connects the bladder to the urinary meatus for the removal of urine from the body

Kidneys: The two bean-shaped organs on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space. They are about 11 centimetres in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.

Lymphatic/immune system: The system comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph. It defends the body against pathogenic viruses that may endanger the body. The lymph contains the leftover interstitial fluid resulting from blood filtration.

Lymph: Lymph is the fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system

Lymph node: A kidney-shaped organ of the lymphatic system, and of the adaptive immune system, that is widely present throughout the body. Lymph nodes are major sites of white blood cells and important for the immune system.

Endocrine system: The system that provides chemical communications within the body using hormones

Endocrine glands: Groups of cells that make hormones.

Hormones: Any member of a class of signaling molecules produced by glands in multicellular organisms that are transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs to regulate physiology and behaviour. The body makes over 20 types of hormones.

Pituitary gland: Makes growth hormone, prolactine, which control other endocrine glands, growth, mother’s milk production

Adrenal glands: The twin glands that make adrenalin and aldosterone which control blood glucose level, heart rate, body’s salt level

Thyroid gland: Makes thyroxin which controls metabolism

The ovaries:

The testes:

The pancreas: Makes insulin and glucagon which control the use of glucose by the body

Nervous system: The system that collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain and tells the muscles to contract to cause physical actions. It is made up of the sensory organs, the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves. The nervous system coordinates both voluntary and involuntary body movements.

Brain: The organ under the skull that is made up of millions of neurons and cerebrospinal fluid. There are electrical impulses going on between nerve cells in brain all the time. Brain waves (patterns of impulses) can be measured.

Brain stem: Controls automatic functions like heartbeat and breathing. It contains two hemispheres: right and left.

Spinal cord: The thick bundle of nerves that joins the brain to the rest of the body. It is located inside a tunnel in the backbone.

Neurons: Nerve cells. They include sensory, association and motor nerves cells.

Nerves: Cords that contain bundles of nerve fibers. Can be sensory, motor and mixed (both).

Motor nerves: Nerves that receive signals from the brain to the muscles to move

Nerve impulse: A signaling action of a neuron

Sensory organs: Organs that send nerve impulses to the brain along nerves

How eyes work: Light enters the pupil through the clear cornea and lens. These bend the light rays so they form an image on the retina and back of eye. (Turns image upside down.) Rods and cones convert the image to nerve impulses which take the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets and turns the image right side up.

Stereoscopic vision: Perception of depth and 3-dimensional structure obtained on the basis of visual information deriving from two eyes

Ear: The hearing organ. It contains an outer, middle and inner part.

How ears work: The ear flap funnels sound waves to the ear canal, then to the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates. These vibrations pass through bones and holes to the cochlea, then to fluid chambers. Tiny nerve cells in the fluid convert vibrations into nerve impulses, which go along the auditory nerve to the brain. Ears also help keep you balanced through the vestibular system. This works by sensing movement of fluid in ducts and sending that info to the brain. Since you have two ears you can tell which direction sound is coming from.

Chemoreceptors: Small organs in the nose and tongue that detect smells and tastes, which are chemicals, and send this information to the brain.

Nasal cavity: The large air filled space above and behind the nose in the middle of the face

Cerebrum: (for physical activities and thinking)

Cerebellum: (for muscle movement and balance)

Corpus collosum: Bundle of nerve cells connecting the two hemispherres of the brain and allowing them to integrate cognitive, emotional and bodily functions

Cerebral cortex: Covers the two cerebral hemispheres; responsible for memory, concentration, problem-solving abilities, muscle coordination–four lobes: occipital lobe–interprets sensory info throug the eyes, parietal lobe–controls spacial reasoning and sense of touch; temporal lobe–hearing and storage of permanent memory; frontal lobe–sense of smell, body control, movement

Diencephalon: (with thalamus, which sorts and directs incoming impulses) and hypothalamus

Hypothalamus: (which controls hunger, thirst, body temperature, release of hormones from pituitary gland).

Amygdala:

Peripheral nervous system: The whole network of nerves throughout the body

Autonomic nervous system:

Sympathetic nervous system:

Parasympathetic nervous system:

Neurotransmitters: Various chemicals such as serotonin and epinephrin that allow neurons to communicate with each other. These are sometimes called “chemical messengers.”

Neurotransmission: The communication that takes place between neural networks

The lymbic system:

REM sleep: Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep, REMS) is a unique phase of sleep in mammals and birds, distinguishable by random/rapid movement of the eyes, accompanied with low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly.

Reproductive system: The sex organs required for the production of offspring

Sperm/spermatoza: The male reproductive cell

Semen: The fluid made in the testicles that may contain sperm

Testicle: The testicle or testis (plural testes) is the male reproductive gland in all animals, including humans. It produces sperm and semen.

Prostate gland: A gland of the male reproductive system

Scrotum: The suspended dual-chambered sack of skin and smooth muscle that holds the two testicles

Vagina: The elastic, muscular canal leading to the uterus in which sex takes place

Cervix: The lower part of the uterus that contracts and opens during childbirth

Fallopian tubes: The tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus

Womb/uterus: The organ in which fetal development takes place.

Labia: The major externally visible portions of the vulva. It has two layers.

Placenta: The temporary organ that connects the developing fetus via the umbilical cord to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, thermo-regulation, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother’s blood supply; to fight against internal infection; and to produce hormones which support pregnancy

Umbilical cord: The conduit between the developing fetus and the placenta inside a pregnant woman

Basic Medical Science

Infection: The invasion of an organism’s body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce

Immunity: The balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate biological defenses to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases

Drug: A drug is any substance (other than food that provides nutritional support) that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue causes a temporary physiological (and often psychological) change in the body

Nutrients: The vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are used to make body parts, either by facilitating a chemical reaction or by being used as actual material (like calcium an amino acids from protein breakdown), and the carbs and fats that are burned for fuel.

Virus: A small pathogen that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms and can cause illness

Vaccination: The administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen

Antibiotics: A substance that kills bacterial. Not antiviral.

Pathogen: A germ, usually a microorganism like a bacteria or virus, that can cause illness

Tumor: An abnormal and excessive growth of tissue that starts as a neoplasm, then forms a mass

Preventive medicine: Measures taken for disease prevention, as opposed to disease treatment

Alternative medicine: Unproven or disproven medical techniques and substances

School in a Book: Geology, Ecology and Meteorology

As humans, we experience the effects of chemistry, biology and physics every day, but not always knowingly. For this reason, geology and ecology are to me the most visual–even the most sensual–of the hard sciences, the ones that allows us to better understand our immediate environment.

Geology isn’t theory and microscopes; it’s what we see around us every day.

Sometimes, it’s hard to mentally separate geology and ecology. Here’s the short version: geology is the study of all the stuff on the earth, and ecology is the study of the way living things interact with it.

Add: The elements of the earth’s crust (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium). The parts of the earth (crust—oceanic and continental; mantle—litho-sphere and asthenosphere; outer core; inner core). Types of clouds.

Basic Geology

Layers of the earth: The four distinct parts of the earth, which include: the outer crust (oceans and tectonic plates), the mantle (rock), the outer core (extremely hot liquid metal), and the inner core (solid metal).

Rock: A collection of various minerals formed together into a hard mass. Common rocks include: limestone, shale, sandstone, granite, marble, basalt, obsidian, coal, quartz, conglomerate and chalk. Rocks are not made of single minerals or elements, but are compounds of several different minerals.

Mineral: A single material of uniform color, texture, luster and structure. It is usually made up of two or more elements.

Ore: Any natural, earth material that is mined and processed to obtain a desired metal. An example is iron ore, which is rock that contains iron.

Crystal: A mineral whose molecules are arranged in a highly regular pattern, which results in a characteristic shape. Some example of crystals are: table salt, graphite, ice and quartz.

Dirt versus soil: Dirt is a mixture of minerals and organic substances that have been broken down through weathering, animal digestion and more, while soil is dirt that is fit to grow plants in

Sediment: The dirt and sand that is carried away with water and wind and deposited in other places in layers. These layers separate according to the size and density of the materials and eventually harden into rock under the sea and elsewhere.

Fossil: The remains of organisms after those organisms are buried under layers of sediment and pressed upon for many years. Some fossils are rocks that show imprints of organic material that has eroded away. Other fossils are the actual remains of the organism, such as bone, or remains that have slowly become petrified (mineralized and turned into rock).

Clay: A kind of dirt that contains very small particles, which result in a soft, uniform, well-mixed substance. Clay soil (soil with a higher-than-average amount of clay in it) holds water well and is good for farming.

The three types of rocks: Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic

Sedimentary rock: Rock formed when other rocks break down into sediment, then gradually reform other rocks due to pressure and layering. The Grand Canyon is an example of sedimentary rock. Its layers are visible.

Igneous rock: Rock formed from magma that erupted from a volcano, then cooled into layers and chunks

Metamorphic rock: Igneous, sedimentary or other metamorphic rock that has undergone significant changes due to heat

Geological time: A perspective of the history of the earth that divides it into periods based on the types of fossils found in the various layers of the earth’s crust

Radiometric/carbon dating: A scientific, though inexact, method for determining the age of a rock by the amount of carbon it still contains

Water: The most common liquid on earth, whose chemical formula is H2O. It is a solvent that is formed when hydrogen burns in air (oxygen).

The water cycle: The process by which water is continuously recycled between the earth, the atmosphere and living things through heat and evaporation and clouds and rain

The carbon cycle: The process by which carbon cycles through plants, animals, the soil and the atmosphere. This happens mostly due to the respiration of carbon dioxide by animals, the incorporation of carbon dioxide by plants during photosynthesis, decomposition and the burning of fossil fuels.

The nitrogen cycle: The process by which nitrogen cycles through plants, animals, the soil and the atmosphere. When the nitrogen cycle is not in balance, global warming and ozone depletion can occur.

Tides: The rise and fall of sea levels caused by the gravity of the moon and the rotation of the earth

Ocean currents: The movement of the water of the world’s oceans due to wind, the rotation of the earth and more

Groundwater: Water under the Earth’s surface. Most groundwater is found in porous rocks.

The water table: The depth at which groundwater is found, which is affected by rainfall or lack thereof

Air: The gas mixture that we breathe and that makes up the earth’s atmosphere. Air is made up of oxygen (21 percent), nitrogen (78 percent) and other gases, including carbon dioxide (1 percent). It helps plants make food; protects people from UV rays; and helps people obtain oxygen, which is an important component of human blood. The gases in air can be separated out by cooling and compressing the air. Each gas liquifies at a different temperature, allowing for separation.

Earth’s atmosphere: All of the air that surrounds the earth. It is held near the earth due to gravity. There is no distinct endpoint of this region, but instead a gradual decline into airlessness. This is because the gravitational pull on the higher air particles is gradually reduced. Higher air is thinner, with less oxygen, and unbreathable. (Side note: The moon’s gravitational pull isn’t strong enough to hold air down, which is why there is no air or similar gaseous atmosphere on the moon.)

Air pressure: A measurement of the closeness of the particles of air in a particular space. High-pressure air naturally expands into low-pressure air spaces due to its energy and momentum. (Side note: The eardrum in the human ear must have equal pressure on both sides; however, air has to move through a bottleneck and, during quick changes in atmospheric pressure, can move unevenly, resulting in what is known as “ear popping.”)

Earthquake: A sudden shaking of the surface of the earth due to tectonic plate shifts

Seismic activity: The sum of all of the tremors and earthquakes in a region

Tectonic plate: The plates that make up Earth’s crust, whose movement is driven by movements deep in the earth

Fault line: The deep cracks in Earth’s crust that make those areas vulnerable to extreme movement when earthquakes strike

Subduction zone: An area where two plates have collided, causing one plate to slide below the other

Volcano: Vents (openings) in the ground from which magma (molten rock), ash, gas, and rock fragments surge upwards, in an event called an eruption. They are often found at boundaries between the plates in Earth’s crust.

Basic Ecology and Meteorology

Ecology: The study of the way living things interact with their environments

Ecosystem: A group of plants and animals that interact with each other and their surroundings

Biome: A climate and soil type that is unique to a particular region of the earth

The eleven biomes of Earth: Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, mountains, coniferous forests, scrub lands, temperate grasslands/prairies, tundra, tropical grasslands, deserts, polar areas and oceans

Biodiversity: The huge variety of living things in a particular area. Biodiversity is lost with selective breeding.

Renewable energy: Energy derived from renewable resources

Renewable resource: A natural resource that renews itself fast enough to keep up with human rates of use. These include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.

Non-renewable resource: A natural resource that does not renew itself fast enough to keep up with human rates of use. These include minerals, metal ores, fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas) and some groundwater.

Fossil fuel: A fuel that forms deep under the earth from the remains of decomposed animals and plants. Examples are coal, petroleum and natural gas. Fossil fuels are considered non-renewable because it takes millions of years for them to complete one cycle of formation.

The Ozone Layer: The layer of ozone (O3) that exists in the upper atmosphere of earth. It is poisonous to humans when inhaled but, at a distance, protects us from UV rays.

The Greenhouse Effect: The result of an overabundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which traps heat and causes a greenhouse-like effect on Earth, warming oceans and air and, in turn, causing significant climate change

Global warming: A slow warming of the earth resulting from the Greenhouse Effect

Biodegradable: The ability of a substance to be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms in its environment

Erosion: The breakdown of minerals, rocks and organic materials through freezing, thawing, melting, abrasion, wind, acids and more. This is also called weathering. Erosion of soil lowers soil quality since topsoil is richest in nutrients.

Waterlogged: Oversaturated with water. Water-holding capacity is better for rich soil but poorer for sandy soil.

Aeration: The air flow to plant roots. Roots need oxygen, though plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen. Leaves transport sugar but can’t transport oxygen.

Drought: An extended dry period

Intensive farming: Farming with the help of chemicals, technology, high-output machinery and the like

Soil management: Maintaining proper balance of soil nutrients, airflow and water in soil

Soil conservation: Erosion prevention

Crop rotation: Rotating crops in order to balance the mineral levels in the soil since plants use and add different amounts of various minerals as they grow

Weather versus climate: Weather is the atmospheric conditions caused by changing air pressure and heat from the sun, while climate is the long-term weather conditions of a particular area

The four basic climate types: Tropical (hot all year); polar (cold all year); temperate (moderate, seasonal change); deserts (dry all year).

Wind: The movement of air that happens when higher pressure air is moving toward lower pressure air. If there is no pressure difference, there is no wind.

Storm: Any disruption in the atmosphere producing severe weather, including strong wind, tornadoes, hail, rain, snow (blizzard), lightning (thunderstorm), clouds of dust or sand carried by wind (a dust or sand storm)

Lightning: The visible and audible flow of electricity that occurs during a thunderstorm. It can occur inside a single cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. It produces an audible booming sound called thunder. Since the speed of light is greater than the speed of sound, we hear thunder after we see lightning.

Tornado: A funnel-shaped column of wind, evaporated water, dust and debris that moves rapidly, sweeping up objects in its path. It is formed when a thunderstorm occurs in areas of both cold and warm air.

Hurricane: A group of thunderstorms that have formed in close proximity over the ocean, then collided to create a cyclone–a spiral-shaped movement of wind with a low-pressure center. Hurricanes are also called typhoons, cyclones and tropical storms.

Tsunami: A series of huge, destructive waves formed during major events like hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite crashes and earthquakes. Tsunamis are sometimes mistakenly called tidal waves.

Atmospheric particle/particulate: Microscopic solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Some are organic and others are human-made.

Barometer: A tool to measure air pressure

School in a Book: Psychology

For me, the fascinating parts of psychology are the specific anecdotes and examples. What happened when that married couple showed early signs of apathy? Did they separate? How did that executive miss that seemingly obvious right move? Was he misled by his confirmation bias? How come that addict recovered while his friend did not?

That said, a few basics on the history of this field are nice, as they’re definitely part of our ongoing cultural conversation. For more in-depth, practical stuff, I highly recommend reading books on positive psychology and marriage books by John Gottman.

Basic Psychology

Psychology: The study of emotions and behavior and emotions. Psychologists attempt to identify normal, healthy behaviors and distinguish them from abnormal or unhealthy behaviors; to explain why these behaviors occur; and to alter undesired behaviors

Psychotherapy: Counseling with a counselor or psychologist. It usually takes place one-to-one in the therapist’s office (though group therapy is also common). The counselor and client work together to identify problems and goals related to the client’s emotional, mental, relational, vocational or spiritual well-being.

Psychologist: A counselor with a PhD

Mental health counselor or therapist: A counselor with a Master’s degree

Life coach: A counselor without an industry-specific degree

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in mood disorders and drug treatments for these disorders

Clinical psychologist: A psychologist who diagnoses and treats mental disorders

Forensic psychologist: A psychologist who studies criminal behavior

Developmental psychologist: A psychologist who studies behavior over the lifespan

Cognitive psychologist or neuropsychologist: A psychologist who studies how the brain (neuroscience) affects behavior

Evolutionary psychologist: A psychologist who studies how human behavior has evolved over time

Other types of counselors and psychologists: Career counselor, school psychologist, occupational psychologist, marriage and family therapist, marriage counselor,industrial-organizational psychologist

Psychiatric disorders: Substance abuse disorders; psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; mood disorders like depression; anxiety disorders; dissociative disorders such as dissociative amnesia; phobias; sexual- and gender-related disorders; eating disorders; sleep disorders; impulse control disorders; adjustment disorders; personality disorders; disorders due to a medical condition; physical-seeming conditions that are not diagnosed, such as hypochondria; and falsely reported disorders by people seeking attention. (There are also some less common categories.)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): The basic text used by mental health professionals for diagnosis of psychiatric disorders

Common treatments for mental disorders: Talk therapy, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, dialectical therapy, existential therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy, hypnosis, meditation, medication, EMDR

Psychoanalysis: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to bring unconscious knowledge into conscious knowledge through dream interpretation, Rorschach tests, free association and more. It was developed by Sigmund Freud and rests on the idea that early experiences shape personality.

Rorschach test: A psychological test that present ambiguous stimuli in the expectation that people will interpret it in ways that reveal their concerns, desires, feelings and possible mental disorders

Behaviorism: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s behavior through behavioral conditioning. This includes the use of negative and positive reinforcements. In classical conditioning, two stimuli are learned to be associated, such as Pavlov’s dogs and their dinner bell. Salivation, here, is the conditioned response. In operant conditioning, someone must perform some sort of task for their reward.

Extinction: Through behavioral conditioning, a lack of reinforcement leads to a weaker response that eventually leads to the ceasing of the response altogether (for example, not giving into a child’s tantrum until the tantrums cease to occur)

Desensitization: A behavioral conditioning technique for weakening a strong, undesirable response (such as anxiety about airplane flying) by repeated exposure to the stimulus (airplane flying)

Cognitive therapy: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s negative or unhelpful beliefs by analyzing and questioning them. First, the counselor discovers the person’s schema, their belief system through which they interpret the world. Then the counselor and client identify automatic thoughts, fleeting thoughts that, if negative, need to be questioned in order to change one’s beliefs. Finally, those negative thoughts are disputed, logically questioned with the goal of finding more helpful thoughts to replace them.

The ten most well-known psychologists: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow; Ivan Pavlov; Carl Rogers, Martin Seligman, Aaron Beck

Sigmund Freud: The founder of psychoanalysis, which seeks to make the subconscious, conscious, primarily through free association, dream analysis and talk therapy. He is most known for his psychosexual theory of development; his id/ego/superego theory; and his theory of the unconscious.

Free association: A technique for uncovering a person’s subconscious beliefs by having them respond quickly to questions or prompts, without much thought

Freudian slip: An act or spoken thing that is close to the intended, but different, and reflects unconscious beliefs or anxieties

Freud’s theory of the unconscious: Most of what ails us psychologically resides in the unconscious or subconscious and must be coaxed out through various therapies.

Freud’s theory of the id, ego and superego: Freud believed that in our unconscious there is an id, a childlike mind who has little impulse control; a superego, a parent-like mind who tries to direct our behavior rightly; and an ego, the more rational self that balances the other two.

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development: A theory that explains human psychological development through human sexual development. Freud coined the term “anal retentive” to describe people who are too perfectionistic and controlled. He also believed boys become sexually attracted to their mothers, which he called the Oedipus complex, and that all women have “penis envy.”

Freud’s ego defense mechanisms: Denial; displacement (making an unrelated party the object of your anger or blame); intellectualization (to avoid emotion); avoidance; rationalization; projection (placing your own quality or desire onto someone else); regression; repression, sublimation (acting out impulses in a socially acceptable way); reaction formation (taking the opposite stance); suppression.

Carl Jung: A friend of Freud’s and also a psychoanalyst who focused on the unconscious and rejected Freud’s sexual focus. There are still many Jungian analysts today.

Jean Piaget: A developmental theorist who created a popular theory of cognitive development. According to this theory, children progress through the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage and the concrete operations stage before they arrive at the formal operations stage, at which they have an abstract and nuanced view of the world.

Erik Erikson: A developmental theorist who focused on the social development of children on their way to maturity. According to him, babies are in the “trust versus mistrust” stage; toddlers are in the “autonomy versus shame and doubt” stage; preschoolers are in the “initiative versus guilt” stage; children are in the “industry versus inferiority” stage, adolescents are in the “identity versus role confusion” stage, young adults are in the “intimacy versus isolation” stage, middle adults are in the “generativity versus stagnation” stage, and older adults are in the “integrity versus despair” stage. The names of these stages reflect the dominant goal of each and the positive and negative results if the goal is achieved or not achieved.

Abraham Maslow: A humanistic psychologist who created a hierarchy of needs, with warmth, rest, food, oxygen and water at the bottom; security and safety one step up; belongingness and love after that; prestige and the feeling of accomplishment after that; and self-actualization at the top. (Self-actualization is the realization of one’s full potential.)

Ivan Pavlov: A behaviorist who studied conditioned reflexes in the body, such as saliva secretions in dogs after hearing a bell stimulus.

B.F. Skinner: The most well-known behaviorist, who performed experiments on people that showed how their behavior could be modified through learning

Carl Rogers: The founder of person-centered therapy who believed that the therapist should not offer advice, but instead guide the internal processes of the client. He emphasized the importance of forming a strong client-therapist bond and the therapist having sincere positive regard for their client.

Martin Seligman: An early proponent of positive psychology, the study of what makes people happy.

Aaron Beck: The founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of cognitive therapy that also includes behavioral elements

John Gottman: A couples therapist and researcher who studies and writes about couples he observes in real time. He is possibly the most well-known couples therapist.

Theories of intelligence: Some researchers believe that there is a general intelligence factor (the “g factor”) which underlies all intellectual processes. Others believe there are many types of intelligence, such as componential intelligence, experiential intelligence, contextual intelligence and emotional intelligence. One researcher proposed the idea of eight types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical; musical; spacial; bodily-kinesthetic; interpersonal; intrapersonal; and nature.

Crystallized intelligence: Collected skills and knowledge acquired over time. Increases with age.

Fluid intelligence: Ability to deal with totally new problems. Decreases with age.

Type A personality: A high-energy personality type characterized by competitiveness, impatience, and an achievement orientation.

Type B personality: A lower-energy personality type characterized by relaxed and easygoing behavior.

Attachment theory: The idea that securely attached babies develop better physically and emotionally, while others do not.

Dialectical reasoning: A therapeutic process involving identifying and analyzing opposing points of view in order to find the most helpful and rational perspective.

Existential therapies: Therapies that help clients find meaning and purpose in their lives, even in the absence of strong religious faith.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): An evidence-based therapeutic technique in which a client makes rapid back-and-forth eye movements while their counselor guides recollection of traumatic memories.

Systematic desensitization: A therapeutic technique in which the client is suddenly, rather than gradually, exposed to their fear in order to become desensitized to it.

Neurotransmitter: A specialized nerve cell in the brain that receives, processes and transmits information to other cells in the body. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin and endorphins are involved in creating emotions and other states of mind, like appetite and alertness.

Amygdala: A part of the limbic system of the brain that is involved in regulating aggression and emotions, particularly fear

Parasympathetic nervous system: Part of the autonomic nervous system that helps the body maintain calm

Etiology: The cause or origin of a disorder

Histrionic personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by attention-seeking behavior

Narcissistic personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by a desire to be admired

Antisocial personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy

Avoidant personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by social withdrawal

Borderline personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by impulsiveness, emotional extremes and low self-esteem

Agoraphobia: The fear of crowds

Catharsis: The release of tension that results when repressed thoughts or memories become conscious

Cognitive dissonance: A tension inside someone who has two seemingly conflicting beliefs that they are trying to resolve

Compensation or overcompensation: A striving to rid onesself of feelings of inferiority in one area by striving harder in another

Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors that are used to relieve anxiety

Confirmation bias: The tendency to accept evidence that supports one’s pre-existing beliefs and to reject evidence that refutes those beliefs.

Egocentrism: The tendency to ignore others’ points of view in favor of one’s own

Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to attribute other people’s behavior to their (flawed) personalities though similar behavior in onesself is often attributed to circumstance.

Learned helplessness: The tendency to give up too easily, often due to a past pattern of failure

Placebo effect: The improvement of a physical or mental condition in people who believe they’ve received a treatment, but have not

Self-concept: The sum of the beliefs and feelings one has about onesself

Self-serving bias: The tendency to attribute one’s successes to internal factors and one’s failures to circumstance

Inferiority complex: A condition in which a person becomes angry or withdrawn because of feelings of insecurity. This concept was identified by Alfred Adler.

School in a Book: Philosophy

Whether or not you’ve studied philosophy, you’re probably already a philosopher. You think about the meaning of life, absolute and relative moral precepts, political ideals and the indelible qualities of human nature. For this reason, the formal study of philosophy isn’t so much about defining or comparing philosophical ideas–something you’re already quite capable of doing–but about the thinkers of the past who famously argued different sides of these questions. Basically, philosophy is history.

Here, I do briefly introduce some of the major questions of philosophical debate, with the caveat that the list is not comprehensive. There is philosophy in everything—every subject. Every … thing. But these are the questions that have so far seemed most fundamental (such as the meaning of life), most practical (such as political ideas) and have been most famously discussed (such as the empiricism versus rationalism debate). Then I introduce you to many of the major philosophers of history and their most notable contributions, which will hopefully give your philosophical discussions and debates more texture, context and depth.

Basic Philosophy

Philosophy: The study of the meaning and nature of life, consciousness and more. Every subject can be philosophically analyzed to determine the subject’s inherent qualities, purpose and right functioning. For example, the study of medicine has benefited from people asking what the ultimate goal of doctors should be, and then arriving at the Hippocratic Oath (“first, do no harm …”) The word “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom.”

Some major questions of philosophy: What is the meaning of life? What qualities are fundamental to human nature? How can we know what we know (empiricism versus rationalism)? What is truth? How do we arrive at morality and values? What political structures are most beneficial? How does language shape our beliefs? What is the best way to live? Do humans have free will? What is the nature of existence? What is beauty?

Sub-fields of academic philosophy: Metaphysics (the study of ultimate, nonphysical reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), ethics, ontology (study of what exists, i.e. God), cosmology (study of the cosmos), aesthetics (the study of beauty), political philosophy, logic and more

Eastern philosophy: The philosophical tradition of China, Japan, India and other eastern countries. Important contributions include Daoism (The Tao Te Ching of approximately 600 BCE), Confucianism (The Analects of Confucius of approximately 500 BCE) and Buddhism (which arose in India around 500 BCE). Eastern philosophy is characterized by an interest in the unknowable, the unspeakable and patterns and cycles.

“The dao that can be told is not the dao.” – Laozi, who taught about the Tao/Dao, also known as The Way, the indescribable ultimate truth which can partly be discovered by acting in harmony with nature and meditating
“Happy is he who has overcome his ego.” – Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha, who prescribed meditation, the middle way (life balance) and letting go of suffering through wanting nothing
“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” – Confucius, who emphasized virtuous living, loyalty and obedience to one’s leaders, sincerity and self-reflection
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.” – Rumi, a Persian who taught about reincarnation and Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam

Western philosophy: The philosophical tradition of the West dating from approximately 500 BCE with the Greeks (Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle), to the Romans (Cicero and Seneca), to medieval Christian philosophers (Aquinas and Augustine) and beyond. Western philosophy is marked by an interest in logic, absolute knowledge and the Christian faith.

Idealism: belief that ultimate reality is non-material (mind, spirit and/or merely essence)

Materialism: belief that ultimate reality is materialism

Determinism: belief that ‘nothing can happen other than what does happen, because every event is the necessary outcome of causes preceding it,’ which were caused by events preceding them (even thoughts and decisions)

Mysticism: knowledge that transcends the physical world
naturalism: belief that reality is explicable without reference to anything mystical

Postmodernism: distrust of unifying answers; relativity

Pragamtism: a theory of truth. Holds that a statement is true if it accurately describes a situation, fits well with past observation, etc. Uninterested in the unknowable, impractical

Utilitarianism: theory of politics, ethics that judges actions on consequences—most pleasure/good for the most people = good

Noumenon: the thing-in-itself; the unknowable reality behind what present itself to human consciousness/ultimate nature of something

Phenomenon: an experience that is immediately present and observable

Numinous: anything regarded as mysterious and awesome and somehow beyond natural world

Phenomenology: study of our experience of things without making assumptions about their essential nature as independent things

Semantics: Study of word usage

Transcendental: outside sense experience; belief in things outside sense experience

Ancient philosophy overview: During ancient times, philosophy and religion largely overlapped. Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism were of primary signficance.

Daoism: (The Tao Te Ching of approximately 600 BCE), Notable quote: “The dao that can be told is not the dao.” – Laozi, who taught about the Tao/Dao, also known as The Way, the indescribable ultimate truth which can partly be discovered by acting in harmony with nature and meditating

Confucianism: (The Analects of Confucius of approximately 500 BCE) and … Notable quote: “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” – Confucius, who emphasized virtuous living, loyalty and obedience to one’s leaders, sincerity and self-reflection

Buddhism: (which arose in India around 500 BCE). Notable quote: “Happy is he who has overcome his ego.” – Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha, who prescribed meditation, the middle way (life balance) and letting go of suffering through wanting nothing

Rumi: A Persian who taught about reincarnation and Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. Notable quote: “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.”

Ancient Greek philosophy: The philosophy of the Greeks from approximately 600 to 300 BCE. In short, Thales influenced Pythagoras; Pythagoras influenced Socrates; Socrates taught Plato; then Plato taught Aristotle.

Pythagoras: Pythagoras combined math and philosophy.

Socrates: Socrates developed the Socratic Method in which he asked question after question in order to confound people who believed themselves to be wise, digging for deeper truths in everything. He was condemned to die due to his ideas. He drank hemlock.

“The life which is unexamined is not worth living.” – Socrates
“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Plato: Plato introduced the idea of the world of forms, an imagined place that holds the ideal of each type of real thing. (Example: A table has the essence–the form–of a table, even if it is old and broken. But the real table is a lesser version of the ideal table form.) He used the Allegory of the Cave to show how humans only see a mere shadow of what is ultimately real. Plato disagreed with this idea. He was not a rationalist (a believer in the primacy of reason and ideas in discovering truth) but an empiricist (a believer in the primacy of evidence and material reality in discovering truth). Plato founded a famous school called the Academy in Athens. Notable quote: “Earthly knowledge is but shadow.”

Aristotle: Taught by Plato. Opened his school, the Lyceum, also in Athens. Notable quote: “Truth resides in the world around us.”

Parmenides: Said that matter can’t die, and something can’t come from nothing, so everything that is real is eternal, unchanging, and containing some invisible unity. Protagoras argued for moral relativism. Notable quotes: “All is one.” “Man is the measure of all things.”

Ancient Roman philosophy: The philosophy of the Romans from approximately 300 BCE to 350 CE. The main Roman philosophy traditions were stoicism, epicureanism and cynicism.

Stoicism: The stoics (stoicism), led by Zeno, taught indifference to pleasure and pain and acceptance of one’s lot in life.

Epicureanism: By contrast, the epicureans (epicureanism), led by Epicurus, believed that the goal of life is pleasure.

Cynicism: The cynics (cynicism) taught that happiness is contentment with little, particularly little material comfort.

Philosophy of the Middle Ages: The philosophy of Western Europe from approximately 350 to 1300 CE. During this time, religion, particularly Christianity, influenced philosophy to the point of being intertwined with it.

St. Augustine: Wrote extensively about free will. He attempted to explain why both God and evil exist.

Boethius: wrote about God’s foresight but maintained Augustine’s philosophy of free will.

St. Anselm: Attempted an ontological argument for the existence of God, saying that if you can conceive of the greatest thing that could ever exist, it must exit, because the greatest thing has to exist or it wouldn’t be the greatest.

Thomas Aquinas: Wrote extensively about the logical and scientific nature of Christianity.

Renaissance Period philosophy: The philosophy of Western Europe from approximately 1300 to 1750 BCE: Here, philosophy becomes sharply more humanist.

Erasmus: Introduced modern humanism, arguing that religion is folly. Notable quotes: “To know nothing is the happiest life.” “Happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”

Niccolo Machiavelli: Argued that government can’t be bound by morality if it wants to succeed. Notable quote: “The ends justifies the means.”

Francis Bacon: Wrote about the value of the scientific method. Notable quote: “Knowledge is power.”

Thomas Hobbes: wrote that the nature of reality is purely physical, that there is no ultimate meaning to life. He introduced the idea of the social contract, saying that our agreements with each other are what enables a relatively peaceful society to exist. Notable quote: “… The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Rene Descartes: Unlike Bacon and Hobbes, Rene Descartes was a rationalist. He believed that even the existence of physical matter cannot be proven and the only thing we can truly know exists is our own minds. Notable quote: “I think, therefore I am.”

Blaise Pascal: A practical thinker, arguing that it’s safer to bet on God’s existence than to bet against it (“Pascal’s Wager”). Notable quote: “Imagination decides everything.”

Benedictus Spinoza: changed the argument, simply redefining God: everything is one, and everything is God. Notable quote: “God is the cause of all things, which are in him.”

John Locke: Returned us to empiricism, arguing that no truths are universal to all people and all cultures. He came up with the idea of the tabula rasa–the blank slate, which is a metaphor for the unknowing state in which each person is born before they are implanted with cultural ideas. Notable quote: “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

George Berkeley: Foresaw quantum physics, saying that a thing only exists in so far as it perceives or is perceived, and that there is no material substance. Notable quote: “To be is to be perceived.”

David Hume: certainty is absurd; custom is the source of knowledge. “Custom is the great guide of human life.”

Immanuel Kant: Sought to prove the existence of the physical world. He tried to marry empiricism and rationalism, saying that both reason and perceptions are needed for knowledge. “There are two worlds: our bodies and the external world.”

Georg Hegel: believed reality is constantly changing and suggested people use dialectic reasoning and avoid assumptions. “Reality is a historical process.”

Arthur Schopenhauer said that we are all limited in our knowledge due to our unique experiences of life.

Jean-Jacques Rosseau: On the political philosophy front, Jean-Jacques Rosseau argued that though man is fundamentally good, laws and government create injustice and oppression. “Man was born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

Adam Smith, an economist, argued that the basis of society is trade. “Man is an animal that makes bargains.”

Edmund Burke said that governmental change should be slow and argued for a free market economy.

Jeremy Bentham tried to calculate pleasure and proposed that laws are created by considering which give the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. “The greatest happiness for the greatest number.”

Mary Wollstonecraft: The founder of feminism. “Mind has no gender.”

John Stuart Mill agreed with Bentham, adding that people should be free to do with their own bodies as they wished, but not harm anyone else. “Over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

Soren Kierkegaard said that as much as we think we want freedom, we really don’t. He is the father of existentialism, the theory that there is no meaning inherent in existence, that existence precedes essence. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Karl Marx said that class struggle is what causes all of the ills of society, arguing for communism, while “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

Henry David Thoreau argued for individual liberty, non-conformism, and conscientious objection through non-cooperation and non-violent resistance. “Must the citizen ever resign his conscience to the legislator?”

William James founded pragmatism, saying that people should just do the best they can in spite of uncertainty. “Act as if what you do makes a difference.”

Friedrich Nietsche: an existentialist, wrote about the insufficiency of religion. “God is dead.”

Bertrand Russell: insisted that people attach too much importance to work. “The road to happiness lies in an organized diminution of work.” – Bertrand Russell

Ludwig Wittgenstein: described the limits of language and the limits placed on our thinking by language. “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Martin Heidegger: wrote about finding meaning in a meaningless world and about living authentically. “We are ourselves the entities to be analyzed.” – Martin Heidegger

Jean Paul Sartre: Agreed, saying that we must create our own life purpose. “Existence precedes essence.” – Jean-Paul Sartre – “Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.” – Albert Camus

Simone de Beauvior: wrote about the oppression of women, “Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female.”

Noam Chomsky: argued for adherence to codes of ethics and

Jacques Derrida: was a deconstructionist who believed that knowledge is limited by language and by our ability (or lack of ability) to interpret it. Life is a series of flawed interpretations. “There is nothing outside of the text.” – Jacques Derrida “We are all mediators, translators.” – Jacques Derrida

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Sartayana

School in a Book: History of Africa

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Overview of Africa during ancient times: Ancient Africa is most known for ancient Egypt, the first and one of the greatest civilizations in history. Elsewhere in Africa, the Sahara Desert in the North prevented other African cultures from communicating with the advanced north. Also, due to a lack of mountains, the rainfall was extremely unpredictable in most of Africa. Therefore, most tribes were nomadic and did not have the opportunity for settled towns and civilizations. Still, civilizations began to arise in the coastal areas of Africa such as x, x and x. These included advanced architecture, unique pyramids, and a strong trading market with routes to Asia and across Africa.

The Sahara Desert: The desert located in northern Africa that expands and contracts regularly. In prehistoric times, the desert shrank enough to allow humans to migrate out of Africa. In ancient times, the desert became increasingly dry, preventing communication between Northern and Southern Africans. Egyptians in the North had much more contact with Middle Easterners and Europeans than they did with Africans south of the Sahara.

Sub-saharan Africa:

The Nile River: The deep, gentle river in Egypt with predictable patterns and surrounding deserts. Its independent biosphere causes predictable flood patterns so no irrigation systems were needed. Nile offered transportation and irrigation.

Ancient Egypt: The first civilization in Africa and one of the greatest civilizations in history. It included: farming of wheat and barley for beer and bread, flax for linen and more; advanced medicine, astronomy and engineering; a polytheistic religion; pyramids; hieroglyphics and papyrus paper; cattle for transportation; and more. In the time of Greeks, Egypt was conquered. Then, it became a Roman territory and remained so [how long?]

Egypt’s Upper and Lower Kingdoms: The two Egyptian kingdoms that existed before unification. The Upper Kingdom was located along the southern part of the Nile closer to the mountains, while the Lower Kingdom was located downhill at the northern part of the Nile called the Nile Delta.

Pharaoh: The ruler or king of ancient Egypt after Egyptian unification. The pharaoh eventually became thought of as a living god.

King Narmer/Menes: The ancient Egyptian king who, around 3000 BCE, united Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Narmer was the first Egyptian pharaoh. With his reign, Egypt began moving through three stages: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom.

Egypt’s Old Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which Narmer reigned; pyramids including the Great Pyramid at Giza were built; and the tradition of mummification began.

Egypt’s Middle Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which, after a time of decline, Mentuhotep restored Egypt’s greatness and fIne art and literature flourished. Though during this time Egypt invaded Nubia for gold, it remained mostly isolated. 

Egypt’s New Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which, after another brief decline, Egypt’s golden age took place. With a more aggressive leadership in power, Egypt took Nubian slaves; engaged in wars with the Hittites and Arameans; became known abroad; conquered Palestine; had a caste system with a wealthy noble class, a scribe/priest class, a merchant class and a peasant farmer class; had legal equality of men and women. 

Amenhotep III: The most well-known New Kingdom pharaoh, who led Egypt at its height of wealth and influence.

Mummification: The process of preserving dead bodies into very long-lasting mummies. It involved a great deal of salt and cloth wrapping. Mummies of pharaohs were often buried in pyramids. Took 70 days.

Pyramids: Like social structure: pharaoh and nobles, middle class, merchants/soldiers, peasants/farmers. Pyramids were graves. Sand would blow away from graves and expose bodies so started building mud structures over them. Got bigger and bigger, more elaborate. Replaced mud with stones, got rid of steps. Egypt had a stable social structure and stable religious ideas, possibly due to the predictability of the Nile and the farming way of life.

Great Pyramid at Giza: built (when?) many passageways and chambers. Sought to please gods and make a permanent mark on history. Stones of up to 60 tons each. 2.3 million stones used altogether. Pharaohs. Egypt unified in one kingdom for most of their history. Pharaoh considered a living god. Body mummified when died, buried with treasure for afterlife–even food. Sacred writings on walls for protection. Many cities, all hugging the Nile. Most Egyptians were farmers. Mostly uneducated but all very religious. Then–decline for 100 years. No strong ruler….The Great Pyramid at Giza: 6 million tons of stone. Stone bossibly brought on bamboo sleds/stretchers to the desert. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Valley of the Kings: A large burial site of ancient Egypt with many buried pyramids and housing bodies of pharaohs

Amenhotep:

Aten:

Mentuhotep:

Akhenaten: One pharaoh, Akhenaten, tried to change religion to momotheistm (god Aten) but after he died the priests of old gods regained control. Dead king’s name removed from all monuments and records, and his new capital city was abandoned. Many New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings, including King Tutankahamen, whose tomb was rediscovered in 1922.

Cleopatra:

Ra: The ancient Egyptian sun god,

Osiris: The ancient Egyptian god of the underworld

Isis: The ancient Egyptian god of fertility

Nubia: Modern-day Sudan in northern Africa. It began as Nubia and later became the Kingdom of Kush. It was a source of iron and gold for the surrounding areas and an important trading partner for Egypt.

King Tutenkahamen/King Tut:

Book of the Dead: A collection of manuscripts and spells from Egypt

Hieroglyphics: 3200-2600 BCE. First deciphered by modern-day people in 1822 after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone which had both hieroglyphics and Greek writing

Rosetta Stone:

Kingdom of Kush: 2000 B.C.: Kingdom of Kush grew out of Nubia (Sudan), whichtook after Egypt. Trading partner for Egypt, source of gold….1500 B.C.: Egypt conquered Kush for 750 years…700 B.C.: Kush transitioned from stone working to iron working (no bronze) and flourished, supplying places in Africa and the Middle East. Ehipia was more self-contained but also important culture of this time.

Nok culture: 600: Growth of Nok culture on Niger River, Nigeria and Meroe, [?], Chad, Bantu. Southern Africa shepherds and hunter-gatherers called Khoisan.

Aksum Empire: “An empire located in the Horn of Africa that ruled from 100 ce to 940 ce. “350 B.C.: Meroi collapsed and was replaced by Aksum, which grew rich. Great cities and monoliths. Adopted Christianity. Thrived until AD 1000! … 1000: Collapse of Aksum in East Africa.

Jenne-jeno: 200: Jenne-jeno, the first African city (in West Africa) established. Partly due to introduction of camel to the Sahara, so trade could happen in West Africa.

Carthage: “A powerful city-state in North Africa on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.” For a time, it rivaled Rome.

Phoenicians: The Phoenicians established a colony at Carthage and controlled the western Mediterranean for nearly 600 years.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Berber: “The native peoples of North Africa.”

Boers: “Dutch and French settlers in South Africa.”

Overview of Africa during the Middle Ages: Various forms of government–councils, chiefs, indirect rule (during colonial times) and civil wars frequent…ununified…prior to colonialism, at its peak, there were up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs. Seagoing advances led to increased trade with Middle East and India. Gold, salt, ivory, slaves. Success based on trade, not conquest. Even though there were wars between kingdoms.

In 642 the Arabs conquered Egypt. In 698-700, they took Tunis and Carthage and soon they controlled all of the coasts of North Africa. The Arabs were Muslims, of course, and soon the whole coast of North Africa converted to Islam. Ethiopia remained Christian but it was cut off from Europe by the Muslims.

After 800 AD organized kingdoms emerged in northern Africa. They traded with the Arabs further north. (Trade with the Arabs led to the spread of Islam to other parts of Africa). Arab merchants brought luxury goods and salt. In return, they purchased gold and slaves from the Africans.

One of the earliest African kingdoms was Ghana (It included parts of Mali and Mauritania as well as the modern country of Ghana). By the 9th century, Ghana was called the land of gold. However, Ghana was destroyed in the 11th century by Africans from further north.

By the 11th century, the city of Ife in Southwest Nigeria was the capital of a great kingdom. From the 12th century craftsmen from Ife made terracotta sculptures and bronze heads. However, by the 16th century, Ife was declining.

Another African state was Benin. (The medieval kingdom of Benin was bigger than the modern country). From the 13th century, Benin was rich and powerful.

Meanwhile, the kingdom of Mali was founded in the 13th century. By the 14th century, Mali was rich and powerful. Its cities included Timbuktu, which was a busy trading center where salt, horses, gold, and slaves were sold.

However, the kingdom of Mali was destroyed by Songhai in the 16th century. Songhai was a kingdom situated east of Mali on the River Niger from the 14th century to the 16th century. Songhai reached a peak of about 1500 AD. However, in 1591 they were defeated by the Moroccans and their kingdom broke up.

Another great North African state was Kanem-Bornu, located near Lake Chad. Kanem-Bornu rose to prominence in the 9th century and it remained independent till the 19th century.

Meanwhile, the Arabs also sailed down the east coast of Africa. Some of them settled there and they founded states such as Mogadishu. They also settled on Zanzibar.

Inland some people in southern Africa formed organized kingdoms. About 1430 impressive stone buildings were erected at Great Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile in the Middle Ages Ethiopia flourished. The famous church of St George was built about 1200.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese were exploring the coast of Africa. In 1431 they reached the Azores. Then in 1445, they reached the mouth of the River Congo. Finally, in 1488 the Portuguese sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.

Mansa Musa: “Emperor of the Mali Empire who made a famous pilgimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He was one of the richest people in history.”

Ghana: The first known empire in western Africa was Ghana (5th–11th century CE). AD 700-1240: Ghana, the first true African state. Center of gold trade. Located inland and more4 north than modern-day Ghana. Successors were Mali and Songhai. Became rich due to Arabs using camels to cross Sahara for the gold, mined further south and west. Brought in sald, European goods came there and slaves were traded out. Fell in 1076, restored, then fell again and in 1240 became part of Mali.

Mali: Mali founed by Sundiata Keita. Well-organized state, fertile farmlands beside the Niger River. Gold trade. Powerful. Many wealthy cities. Great Mosque designed by an Egyptian. City called Timbuktu on Niger. Key destination of caravan routes. 100 schools, a university, mosques, market. Ivory, too. Slaves to Muslim world, Venice and Genoa. Imported salt, cloth, ceramics, glass, horses, luxuries. Became Muslim for a time under a sypathetic ruler.

Songhai: muslim. (c. 1400–1591).

Sunni Ali: 1465 – Ruler of Songhai in Western Africa. Created the largest empire ever in Africa, captured Timbuktu, took control of the trans Saharan route for gold and salt trade

Bantu: AD 500: Bantu-speaking people from Nigeria migrated south, “leaving the rain forests to the Pygmies and the Kalahari Desert to the Khoisan bushmen. Bantu speakers in east started trading with Greeks and Romans.

Ethiopia: 1137: Ethiopia (Abyssinia) founded. Christians. Capital moved from Aksum to Lalibela. 1270-1500s: Ethiopia expanded into mountains of East Africa, taking in many once-isolated tribes. Regarded as a mysterious Christian kingdom. Had an emperor. Built 11 cross-shaped churches carved out of solid rock. 1500s: Declined due to internal discord.Not great warriors and never expanded (or even tried to) by military means.

Kilwa – Built almost entirely from coral

Benin: 900-1480: Kingdom of Benin in modern-day Nigeria. Benin: West Africa. Forest kingdom. Benin City, capital. Had wide streets, large wooden houses, long surrounding walls. Bronze carvings. Traded in cloth, ivory, metals, palm oil, pepper, poottery and brass art like masks and carvings. King had a rich palace. Ruled at height by Oba Eware the Great, who modernized and didn’t enslave prisoners or engage in slave trade, which protected it from European colonization till 1897.

Zimbabwe: 900-1450: South: Great Zimbabwe. Stone structures built entirely without mortar Large reserves of copper, gold. Walled palace city called Great Zimbabwe. Massive stone structures (granite)–how? by whom? A mystery. (A Zimbabwe is a stone-built enclosure and we call Zimbabwes this because of this famous structure….1450: Zimbabwe overtaken. 1500: Conquered by Songhay (lower down the Niger River).

Kanem & Timbuktu: Two of the kingdoms located along the Saharan trade route that enabled more foreign trade

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Overview of Africa during the Early Modern Times:

In the 16th century, Europeans began to transport African slaves across the Atlantic. However, slavery was nothing new in Africa. For centuries Africans had sold other Africans to the Arabs as slaves.

However, the trans-Atlantic slave trade grew until it was huge. In the 18th-century ships from Britain took manufactured goods to Africa. They took slaves from there to the West Indies and took sugar back to Britain. This was called the Triangular Trade. (Many other European countries were involved in the slave trade).

Some Africans were sold into slavery because they had committed a crime. However many slaves were captured in raids by other Africans. Europeans were not allowed to travel inland to find slaves. Instead, Africans brought slaves to the coast. Any slaves who were not sold were either killed or used as slaves by other Africans. The slave trade would have been impossible without the co-operation of Africans many of whom grew rich on the slave trade.

Meanwhile, from the 16th to the 18th centuries Barbary pirates from the North African coast robbed Spanish and Portuguese ships. They also took slaves from the coasts of Europe.

In the 16th century, a people called the Turks conquered most of the North African coast. In 1517 they captured Egypt and by 1556 most of the coast was in their hands.

Further south Africans continued to build powerful kingdoms. The empire of Kanem-Bornu expanded in the 16th century using guns bought from the Turks. However, in the 16th century, Ethiopia declined in power and importance although it survived.

Meanwhile the Europeans founded their first colonies in Africa. In the 16th century, the Portuguese settled in Angola and Mozambique while in 1652 the Dutch founded a colony in South Africa.

African slave trade: Late 1400s – Europeans joined the slave trade and expended it greatly. Started by trade rather than by force. First to buy slaves: Portugal-took ethiopia in 1543 and increased slave trade – millions shipped to the Americas – many died during slave wars or en route to the americas. Coastal slaves were joined by inland slaves after European developments in gun technology. A catastrophe for Africa to lose so many people. Less tribal security–greedy chiefs sold own people

Slave trade: 1700s: Africa relatively peaceful despite European settlemtn. 35,000 slaves each year sent to the Americas….1787: British established Sierra Leone as a refugee for freed slaves….1822: Liberia founded for freed slaves from the U.S….Early 1800s: Most European countries stopped trading in slaves, though Portugese continued till 1882.

African colonization: Portuguese explored the western coast in the 15th century. Before the late 19th century, Europe showed little interest in colonizing Africa, but by 1884 European countries had begun a scramble to partition the continent, and by 1920 much of it was under colonial rule. Anticolonial sentiment developed gradually, becoming widespread after 1950, and one by one the colonies became independent, the last in 1990. Political instability, refugee problems, famine, and AIDS are the chief problems facing the continent in the early 21st century….

African germs took numerous European lives and deterred permanent settlements. Diseases such as yellow feversleeping sicknessyaws, and leprosy made Africa a very inhospitable place for Europeans. The deadliest disease was malaria, endemic throughout Tropical Africa. In 1854, the discovery of quinine and other medical innovations helped to make conquest and colonization in Africa possible.

Dutch East India Company: 1637: Dutch drove Portugese from the Gold Coast..
1652: Dutch East India Company founded Cape Town.

The Middle Passage:

Horn of Africa:

The Ivory Coast:

The Gold Coast:

Zulu warriors: Early 1800s: Zulu trive in Southern Africa fought constantly with neighbors. Major bloodshed. Zulu warriors! “Time of Troubles.” Islam still going strong. Most of Africa still owned by Africans, but not united against Arabs and Europeans, so very vulnerable.

Fight to end slave trade: In the 1800s European states tried to stop the slave trade. Britain banned the slave trade in 1807.

In 1814 the British took the Dutch colony in South Africa. In 1830 the French invaded northern Algeria. However, colonization only became serious in the late 19th century when Europeans ‘carved up’ Africa.

In 1884 the Germans took Namibia, Togo, and Cameroon and in 1885 they took Tanzania. In 1885 Belgium took over what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The French took Madagascar in 1896. They also expanded their empire in northern Africa. In 1912 they took Morocco and Italy took Libya.

Scramble for Africa: Between 1884 and 1885, European nations met at the Berlin West Africa Conference to discuss the partitioning of Africa. It was agreed that European claims to parts of Africa would only be recognised if Europeans provided effective occupation. In a series of treaties in 1890–1891, colonial boundaries were completely drawn. All of Sub-Saharan Africa was claimed by European powers, except for Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia

Strong motives for conquest of Africa were at play. Raw materials were needed for European factories. Europe in the early part of the 19th century was undergoing its Industrial Revolution. Nationalist rivalries and prestige were at play. Acquiring African colonies would show rivals that a nation was powerful and significant. These factors culminated in the Scramble for Africa.[299]David Livingstone, early European explorer of the interior of Africa, is attacked by a lion.French explorer Paul Du Chaillu confirmed the existence of Pygmy peoples of central Africa … Knowledge of Africa increased. Numerous European explorers began to explore the continent. explorers included Sir David Livingstone …Missionaries attempting to spread Christianity also increased European knowledge of Africa.

The European powers set up a variety of different administrations in Africa, reflecting different ambitions and degrees of power. In some areas, such as parts of British West Africa, colonial control was tenuous and intended for simple economic extraction, strategic power, or as part of a long-term development plan. In other areas, Europeans were encouraged to settle, creating settler states in which a European minority dominated. Settlers only came to a few colonies in sufficient numbers to have a strong impact. British settler colonies included British East Africa (now Kenya), Northern and Southern Rhodesia, (Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively), and South Africa, which already had a significant population of European settlers, the Boers. France planned to settle Algeria and eventually incorporate it into the French state on an equal basis with the European provinces. Algeria’s proximity across the Mediterranean allowed plans of this scale.[citation needed]

In most areas colonial administrations did not have the manpower or resources to fully administer the territory and had to rely on local power structures to help them. Various factions and groups within the societies exploited this European requirement for their own purposes, attempting to gain positions of power within their own communities by cooperating with Europeans. One aspect of this struggle included what Terence Ranger has termed the “invention of tradition.” In order to legitimize their own claims to power in the eyes of both the colonial administrators and their own people, native elites would essentially manufacture “traditional” claims to power, or ceremonies. As a result, many societies were thrown into disarray by the new order.

The Boer Wars: 1836: Cape Colony at Southern tip ruled by British. Expanded northward. Fought Zulus and the Boers for control of area. Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes, sought to unite all of Africa under British rule. Boer Wars.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

In 1914 the British took control of Egypt. By then all of Africa was in European hands except Liberia and Ethiopia. (The Italians invaded Ethiopia in 1896 but they were defeated by the Ethiopians).

Further south the British took Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya. The British also took control of Egypt. Angola and Mozambique remained Portuguese.

However, in the early 20th century attitudes to imperialism began to change in Europe. Furthermore in Africa churches provided schools and increasing numbers of Africans became educated. They became impatient for independence. The movement for African independence became unstoppable and in the late 1950s and 1960s, most African countries became independent.

In 1960 alone 17 countries gained their independence. However, Mozambique and Angola did not become independent until 1975.

In the early 21st century Africa began to boom. Today the economies of most African countries are growing rapidly. Tourism in Africa is booming and investment is pouring into the continent. Africa is developing rapidly and there is every reason to be optimistic.

Swahili: “An ethnic group in East Africa. Also, the language spoken by many East African nations including Kenya and Uganda.

1902: Peace treaty signed making Boer republics part of British empire, though self-governed.

1910: Union of South Africa founded, unifying several African provinces under the British.

1869: Suez Canal opens to shipping.

1875: Britain took advantage of a local financial crisis and bought 50 percent of shares of Suez Canal.

1871: Stanley, an American journalist, met Dr. David Livingstone at Lake Tansanyika (sp?). Livingstone was seeking the source of the Nile.

1876: Belgium took over the Congo.

1880-1912: European nations “scramble for Africa.” Led by Britain, France, plus Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Late 1800s: Britain had modern-day Ghana, Nigeria and controlled Sierra Leone, Egypt and the Gambia. Belgium had the Congo in Central Africa. [see map p362]. French were in West Africa, Britain in w, ne, south; belgium in center and other spred-out colonies. New forms of gov3ernment brought to Africa, but most Africans couldn’t vote and tribes were broken up in the “cake-cutting” process. European colonists often took best farmland for themselves. Profits all went to Europe.(here ins: how african nations gained independence)

1882: British occupy Egypt to protect Suez Canal, which cut their time to India hugely. This caused some fighting.

1884: European nations met in Berlin to divide Africa among themselves. Only Liberia and Ethiopia remained independent.

1893: Frech take Timbuktu, Mali, W. Africa.

1899: British-Egyptian rule of Sudan

Cecil Rhodes:

Suez Canal:

1912: African National Congress forms in South Africa.

Africa during World War I and World War II: With the vast majority of the continent under the colonial control of European governments, the World Wars were significant events in the geopolitical history of Africa. Africa was a theater of war and saw fighting in both wars. More important in most regions, the total war footing of colonial powers impacted the governance of African colonies, through resource allocation, conscription, and taxation. 

Decolonization of Africa: The decolonization of Africa started with Libya in 1951, although LiberiaSouth AfricaEgypt and Ethiopia were already independent. Many countries followed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in 1960 with the Year of Africa, which saw 17 African nations declare independence, including a large part of French West Africa. Most of the remaining countries gained independence throughout the 1960s, although some colonizers (Portugal in particular) were reluctant to relinquish sovereignty, resulting in bitter wars of independence which lasted for a decade or more. The last African countries to gain formal independence were Guinea-Bissau (1974), Mozambique (1975) and Angola (1975) from Portugal; Djibouti from France in 1977; Zimbabwe from the United Kingdom in 1980; and Namibia from South Africa in 1990. Eritrea later split off from Ethiopia in 1993.[322]

1967-2000: Famine in Africa widespread. Drought. Civil war, which made sending aid very dangerous.

1990-2000: South Africa and Apartheid. S. Af was the last country without self-rule. Still imperialist till Nelson Mandella ended apartheid. Apartheid: separation ofr people according to color or race. Started by the Boers in s. af. in early 1900s. Different laws if you were white, black or “colored” (mixed). Blacks and colored forced to live outside cities and movement restricted. White people in power and resisted opposition from the ANC (African National Congress) in the 60s by harsh laws, including making it illegal to have all-black political parties.

1980s: Colored allowed into government but not blacks. Starting in 1978, several reformers for change, inc President Botha, Desmond Tutu (an Anglican leader), PresidentF.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandella, who was released from prison by Klerk after 28 years. Mandella became the head of the ANC, then president. Free elections that included all people came in 1994 andled to end of apartheird. Argued for peacefrul settlement. Focus turned to need for schooling, poverty, lack of electricity and clean drinking water, unemployment and street crime.

African National Congress (ANC):

Desmond Tutu:

Apartheid:

Nelson Mandela:

School in a Book: History of Russia

Ancient Times (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

East Slavs:The earliest known settlers of modern-day Russia. They were independent, nomadic clans with no known agriculture or writing who spoke various Slavic languages.

The Vikings: The various tribes from Scandanavia who, during the Middle Ages, joined the East Slavs in modern-day Russia

The Rus: The tribe (likely Viking) that eventually united the various Viking and Slavic tribes into the single nation of Russia, and the tribe that gave Russia its name

Rurik: The leader of the Rus tribe and the first Russian ruler mentioned in Islamic and Western literature

Kievic Rus: The first Russian state, with Kiev at its center. It was a loose federation of various Rus and Slavic tribes and the center of Varangian wealth and culture

The Varangians: The new name given to the various combined Rus and Slav peoples as they expanded south to Baghdad and Constantinople and along the river routes connecting the Baltic to the Black Sea. After their failure to defeat the well-defended city of Constantinople, they elected to create an ally of it instead by sending gifts of soldiers and more. This effective strategy meant that by 1000, the Varangians were in complete control of the region. However, there was no central government. Varangian clans (each with a prince) ruled local areas along these important (but sparsely populated) trade routes. 

Prince Vladimir: The Rus prince of Kiev who, in the 1000s, greatly expanded Russian territory but failed to fully unify Russia. He adopted Christianity, which started a significant political and cultural shift in Russia that eventually led to the creation of a Russian national identity. He allowed Constantinople to set up an Episcopal see there, beginning the blending of Slavic and Byzantine cultures.

Mongol invasions: The event of the 1200s that contributed to the decline of Kiev and of the Russian state as a whole. This occurred during the last part of the Middle Ages. It halved the population of Rus.

Tartars/Golden Horde: The combined group of Mongol and Turkic invaders that controlled Russia during the 1200s and 1300s. They helped Russia advance in military tactics and transportation while allowing local princes to continue ruling as before. During this time, Russia also developed its postal road network, a census, a fiscal system and its military organization. Soon after the Mongolian Empire broke up, they lost power in Russia.

Moscow: The Russian city that grew in prominence during the Tartar reign by cooperating with it. It became the center of the Russian Orthodox Church, then, under Ivan the Great, the capital of Russia.

Boyars: The Rus princes and upper class government administrators that reclaimed control of Rus from the Mongols. They did not attempt to unify the area under one rule and interfered minimally with the local clan rule. They collected taxes and performed other basic functions. There was only a rudimentary written law code. During this time, cultural and political distinctions formed from one Slavic territory to the next–distinctions that remain to this day.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Ivan the Great (Ivan III): The leader of Moscow who, in the mid-1400s, united Russia. He extravagantly renovated the Kremlin, reformed military service and more.

The Kremlin: The Russian fortress at the center of Moscow that is now the center of Russian government.

Early Modern Times (The 1500s to 1900)

Third Rome: The name given to Moscow after the fall of Constantinople to show that it had taken its place as the third Rome, after Rome and Constantinople

Ivan the Terrible: The ruthless, murderous Russian leader that ruled during the 1500s following Ivan the Great. He took the title of tsar, the Russian word for Caesar. He established the secret police, which terrorized Russia; however, he also established the first feudal representative government–an improvement on the previous feudal system

The Time of Troubles: A period of crop failure and famine in the late 1500s and early 1600s during which Russia lost territory to outsiders. During this time, there was no heir to the throne (Ivan the Terrible had murdered his son), so the other government leaders held the state together until appointing a new dynasty

Romanov dynasty: The dynasty that followed Ivan the Great’s, which ruled from the 1600s till 1917. During this time, the population increased significantly even though the peasants were burdened by high taxes

Peter the Great: The Romanov ruler who, in the 1700s, modernized Russia, which till then functioned under a primitive feudal system. Peter, a great admirer of Western culture, encouraged the arts; spent money carefully; abolished the boyar ruling class; moved the capital to St. Petersburg; gained territory; centralized the government; put the Orthodox Church under state control; hired Western teachers for Russians; created a civil service; improved and expanded infrastructure systems like roads and canals; introduced new industries; and more. Many of his improvements were inspired by his extensive travels to the West, which he undertook while disguised as an ordinary citizen.

The Crimean War: The war between Russia and Turkey over some Black Sea lands, which France and Britain entered on the side of Turkey to check Russia’s growing power. It included the failed Charge of the Light Brigade by the British and was the first war that was covered by newspapers with photographers.

Catherine the Great: The ruler that followed Peter the Great who extended his advances; expanded Russian territory; established social services like education and health care; and established free trade in Russia. Like Peter, she was an admirer of Western culture, and, like Peter, she did not abolish serfdom.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

Russian Revolution: The 1905 worker riots and strikes following Bloody Sunday, when defenseless demonstrators in St. Petersburg were fired on by government troops.

October Manifesto: Russia’s promise of civil rights and representative government following the Revolution. These promises were broken, however, leading to another revolt that ended the Romanov dynasty and instituted a liberal government in its place.

Bolsheviks: The socialist political party led by Lenin that took control of the new liberal government. The Bolshevik Red Army defeated the anti-Bolshevik White Army, then executed their enemies en masse. The Bolshevik party later became the Communist Party.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR/Soviet Union for short): The nation created by a treaty between Russia, Ukraine and two other nation-states. It was led by the Communist Party under Lenin.

Vladimir Lenin: The leader of the Bolshevik party who founded the Communist Party in Russia and was the first leader of the Soviet Union. Following his communist ideals, he gave the land to the peasants and the factories to the workers and promised an end to poverty.

Marxism: Communism, as expressed by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto. Lenin was a follower of Marxism.

Josef Stalin: The communist leader that took over in 1924 after Lenin died (after fighting for power with Leon Trotsky). He served as dictator of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953.

Berlin Wall: The wall built between East and West Berlin in the 1960s to prevent people from the communist east to flee to the democratic west

The Iron Curtain: The metaphor used to describe the separation between the communist and democratic countries of Eastern Europe throughout the Cold War

The Cold War: The hostilities and threat of war between Russia and western countries that began after Russia obtained nuclear bomb technology (in the 1940s) till 1989, when Gorbachev allowed Eastern Europe to elect democratic governments

Sputnik: The first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 and beginning the Space Age

The Cuban Missile Crisis: The threat to U.S. that occurred during the 1960s after the Soviet Union built missile bases in Cuba, aiming the missiles at the US. It came to an end after the U.S. blocked trade with the Soviet Union and the Soviets responded by destroying the launch sites.

The fall of the Soviet Union: The end of the communist government of the Soviet Union, after which it was re-named Russia. This event led to various revolutions in Eastern Europe as these countries fought to gain independence.

“We Have Two Big Rules in Our House”; and, “Fights” Is Free Today on Amazon

It’s the last day to get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby for free on Amazon.

Here, an excerpt from the interviews section of the book.

ZURIE: “We Have Two Big Rules in Our House”

Zurie is 40 years old and has been with her partner for eight years.

Mollie: What have some of your biggest disagreements as couple been about?

Zurie: We don’t have children, just cats, which might be why our biggest fight so far was about cats (except not really). Before that, our biggest struggle was learning to grocery shop together without murderous thoughts.

Mollie: Tell me more about that.

Zurie: It was a thing when we first moved in together. He works from home and I was working in an office. We both dislike the task, so we do it together (unless circumstances prevent it.)

I made a comment a while back about two types of people (on a spectrum): basically, planners and non-planners. My husband is squarely a planner. Lists, schedules, plan of attack. I can (and do) plan, but can also can make a quick decision just to get something done.

So basically, we had several things going wrong.

  • I’m an introvert and being at the office all day exhausts me. He works from home, so he’s excited to go out.
  • We weren’t functioning off a list, so we were buying random things that we did/didn’t need and still having to figure out dinners after.
  • We both wanted to shop how we were used to shopping.

I got mad at him for staring at stacks of American cheese for entirely too long trying to determine the best price on something that I felt didn’t matter. He challenged me when I just grabbed a gallon of milk. “Why that milk? Do you like it better? This one’s cheaper.”

After several months and lots of sit-downs and me being mad, then him being frustrated (not huge fights but intense talks), we’ve figured out and refined our system:

  • I frequently save recipes that I think we’ll enjoy that are healthy enough for me and easy enough for him. We pick two for the week and build a list off of that.
  • We grocery shop on Sundays so I’m not tired and we have a date night once a weekish so he gets out of the house. He has also finally, just this summer, gotten a laptop to give himself the ability to leave the house once in a while.
  • There are brands I’m loyal to. When it’s time to pick up those, I tell him to kick rocks off to the toilet paper aisle to find us the best deal. I give in to him on the generic canned beans because I don’t care and he lets me buy the expensive canned tomatoes without argument.

It works so much better now. We usually have as good a time as you can at the grocery store. And I even stay quiet when he asks the clerk to put the milk in bags (which is silly because the gallons have handles!).

Mollie: You seem like a pretty good problem solver. Do you use these same negotiating skills in other areas of your relationship?

Zurie: We don’t have to formally negotiate too often. We try and function as a team so if one person is doing something, the other dives in to help. We’ve got two big rules in our house:

  • Everyone gets what they need.
  • You have to ask for what you need.

Spats are usually due to me not being able to sort out what I’m feeling before I get crabby.

Mollie: I love those rules! The needs of one person can be dramatically different from the needs of another. Beautiful way to phrase this concept.

So what was the cat thing about?

Zurie: We fought about when to get a new cat after our last two girls died in the spring. I wanted to get a new one and he wasn’t ready.

Honestly, it was 100 percent me not slowing down to figure out what I was feeling so I could verbalize it. Eventually I just realized that I was in an enormous amount of pain and just wanted something to help. I was deeply disappointed that he wasn’t ready even though it was valid.

Once I worked through all that emotion, I was able to explain what was going on. I apologized and he listened and we compromised. We got new kitties sooner than he was ready for and later than I wanted, but they’re perfect.

Mollie: Is there something about your partner you have tried to change? What was your strategy? How well did it work?

Zurie: Sure, there are things we’ve tried to change about each other. He’s organized, but holy cow was his apartment filthy when he moved out. I’m clean, but completely disorganized. Before we moved in together, we talked a lot about chores and values. He sees the value in having things clean, though he just doesn’t notice it. I see the value in having things organized (being able to find my keys is amazing) but I’m not always as good about it as him.

I think we’ve both really tried to be patient with each other. There are times when I have to remind him that it’s okay if I haven’t put something back where it belongs because there’s a reason I didn’t or whatever. And I have 100 percent complained to myself after he does the dishes that he didn’t scrub down the stove. But I also know that criticizing will just make a person shut down, so I think a lot about “how much does this matter?” I’ve had to teach him how to clean the bathroom and the floors and the kitchen and the reasons behind it. He really gives it a good-faith effort, so I let go of the fact that he doesn’t see the dirt and is always surprised that it’s time to clean. It just doesn’t matter.

Mollie: Can you think of a time you became overly defensive in an argument? Tell me the story.

Zurie: When we first met, he used to tell a joke, then say, “Get it? It’s funny because …” and I used to feel like he thought I was so stupid or not funny if he felt he had to explain every joke to me. My dad was really hard on my brother and me and would ask us if we were stupid whenever we did something wrong, so he was really stepping on a land mine he didn’t know was there. I finally told him one night how much it hurt my feelings. I was angry and asked flat-out if he thought I was an idiot. He was horrified. Apparently, this was just something he had always said as part of a joke. He thought it was funny and had no idea that I took it personally.

While I was relieved that I was misinterpreting, I also made it clear that I was never going to be okay with it. He’d done it for so long that he wasn’t sure he could just stop. So we decided that he would make an honest attempt to say it less and I would make an honest attempt to let it roll off my back if he did say it. And honestly, I haven’t heard it in years.

Mollie: Do you think it’s important to apologize even when you weren’t exactly in the wrong, or do you save your apologies for the important stuff?

Zurie: We tend to apologize to each other when we feel it’s warranted. Honestly, we don’t fight dirty or often so I don’t feel that I’ve had to apologize when I wasn’t exactly wrong.

Mollie: Generally speaking, how much do you enjoy partnership? What do you like about it?

Zurie: I love being married. We haven’t reached a point yet where I’ve considered it difficult or a hardship. I really enjoy being on a team with him. I can be exactly who I am at any given moment with him. I can be ridiculous and silly or sad or a big baby and he understands and loves it. I love doing the same for him. I love hearing him sing songs to the cats or laugh at his podcasts while he works. I am so delighted and thankful to be with him and he seems to feel the same way. We married late-ish—I was thirty-seven and he was forty—so we’d gone through those mid-twenties struggles already and had started establishing our own values when we met. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Mollie: Do you have any ongoing arguments that can’t seem to be resolved, even with your great communication skills?

Zurie: Not that I can think of, so definitely nothing major. Things are tough right now for us, but not between us. I’m lucky: he’s funny, responsible, hard working, compassionate and loyal. We make a good team.

It’s the last day to get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby for free on Amazon.


			

School in a Book: History of Europe

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Ancient Greece: The area of Europe and the Middle East that formed around 3000 BCE as a collection of individually governed city-states, but that were culturally related. Ancient Greece included modern-day Greece, Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea, Crete and more. Greece was mountainous, not in a river basin like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Therefore, land was highy valued. Also, Greeks were more isolated from each other and the rest of the ancient world and developed many unique ways. Each city was very proud of itself. Citizens referred to themselves by their first names and the name of their city (polis).

Major aspects of the Greek influence: Democracy, philosophy, rhetoric/oratory, rationalism, individualism, theater, and much more. As a fringe society, Greece assimilated cultural ideas from the larger, more vibrant Mesopotamian civilizations, then built on them.

Minoans: Lived on the island of Crete from about 1700 to 1450. A lost civilization. A palace complex that was the center of city life. Disappeared by 1500 for unknown reasons.

King Minos: The king of the Minoans that was said to be the stepfather of the fabled monster called the Minotaur. Palace called Kuossos (?). Large and elaborate, with a labrynth? Language called Linear A. NOT a predecessor of the Greek language. Large bureauocracy. First people to create indoor plumbing. First great artists. Huge, amazing architecture. Great traders, especially with Egypt. Rich. Peaceful. Since they lived on an island, wealth was directed at cultural achievement rather than protection.

Myceaneans: Linear B, which we know how to decipher. This was the precursor to Greek. Lived in Mycenae. Inhabitants there were called in Homer the “Acheans,” though we call them Myceneans. A very impressive city. Graves filled with gold, silver, ivory, weapons. Warlike. Ruled by kings, including King Agamemnon.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

School in a Book: History of the Middle East

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

[move to prehistory] Cradle of civilization: The various areas of the world in which civilizations arose, largely independently, along important rivers. These include Egypt (along the Nile River); Mesopotamia (along the Tigris River and Euphrates River); the Indus River Valley (along the Indus River); China (along the Yellow River and Yangtze River); the Incan civilization (in modern-day Peru); and, sometimes, the Mayan civilization (in modern-day Mexico–though this civilization arose later than the others, it might have arisen independently, with little or no external influence).

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Overview of the Middle East during ancient times: Several great civilizations concurrently, inc: [name all]. These interacted with each other frequently. Much fighting and vying between them for territory. [Then give broad strokes of who came first, second, etc]

2360 B.C.: Sargon of Akkad (one of the Sumerian cities) united northern and southern Mesopotamia into the world’s first empire. (Note that ‘Sumer’ refers to the collection of cities and Akkad refers to the Sumerian city that became dominant during Sargon’s time.)

The Hebrews/Jews: From Ur, from beyond the Euphrates. Then to Palestine (Canaan) in Israel.  “Hebrews” means “people from the other side” of the Euphrates River. Leaders Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob’s 12 sons that made up the 12 tribes of Israel. Fled to Egypt during a famine, then came back after becoming enslaved there. When came back to Palestine, had to fight the Palestinians (“Philistines”) for territory in Israel. Conquered Jericho as part of that effort. Had judges, then switched to kings: King Saul, King David, King Solomon. Set up Jerusalem as the capital. Peaceful time. Great temple in Jerusalem held the Ark of the Covenant, which housed Moses’ Ten Commandments. Solomon: wise, fair. One god. After Solomon’s death, Israel and Judah split and Hebrews were weakened (700s). Could no longer hold Israel. Assyrians (and Chaldeans?) took them over. Jews forced to Babylon as captives. 586-chaldeans attacked judah. sent jjews into the babylonian captivity. jews brought to babylon and made slaves. 515-king cyrus allowed jews to return to jerusalem. managed somehow to survive as a race. tolerated there for a time.587/97 B.C.: Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and deported most of the Jews to Babylon. Beginning of the “diaspora.” (?: who controlled israel now? assyria or babylong? compare all this with story of the world timelines)

Significance of Hebrews: Introduced monotheism and individualism and humanism/humaneness–originally one of the nomadic groups that wandered around the Near East. Not particularly well-liked. Small in number. No particular religion. Traders. Info about them from the O.T. Also, different perspective of time. Egyptians saw it as a circle, with history repeating itself. Hebrews saw it as a linear thing. also hebrews v concerned with social justice. patriarchal but treated women with respect. hebrews always believed they were the chosen people. also: universalism. applied their own laws to everyone else.

The Old Testament: Based on 6-7000 yr old oral traditions. Written by various authors. Thought to be very reliable historically, though few other sources exist to compare it with. (Ex: In 5700 BCE a flood occurred in the Black Sea that might have been the one in Noah’s time. A cataclysmmic event.) Torah (first 5 books) written on sheepskin and kept in an arc. no mistakes tolerated. no one allowed to touch it. ark of the cov was lost in a battle with the philistines early on in their history. the laws in the early OT books were based on the ten commands, but got more and more and more complex the more the jews mingled with other cultures while trying to remain distinct from them. the prophets, minor and major, often reinforced these strict guidelines. esp decrying baal worship and assimilation of culture.

Moses introduced idea that sinning is responsible for bad things that happen; individual responsibility for fate, fate not at the whim of a god. Revolutionary idea. Also comforting to the Hebrews. Hebrews=israelites=jews. After Moses, settled Canaan (?). Elected Saul as King and defeated the Philistines, who also wanted to settle Palestine, which was a great place to live. Then had King Solomon. A great empire built with Jerusalem as the capital. Jews started spreading their fairth. Grew quickly. 996–death of solomon, kingdom split. tribe of israel to north and tribe of judah to the south. after this, no longer a first rate power.

The Assyrians: The people in northern Mesopotamia unified and led by Shah-jad (sp?). Assyria was named after one of its prominent cities, Assur (sp?). While Babylon ruled in southern mesopotamia, Assyrians dominated the north. Valley of Upper Tigris River. Last great ruler was Ashurbanipal, who built the great library at Ninevah and vast gardens with plants from all over the world–a major palace. Ordered many historic records and math, chemistry, astronomy texts to be written down. Had some setbacks due to dictatorial leadership style and rebellions, but eventually conquered Babylon. At its greatest in mid-700s. Included Babylon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, northern Arabia, Egypt. Siege warfare experts. Women and children sometimes sold into slavery.

Shah-jad (sp?): The ruler of Assyria, who ruled by force through a military dictatorship. His takeovers of other cities during his period of expansion were ruthless. Assyrians murdered, burned and brutalized their captured towns to instill fearful obedience.

The Babylonians: The civilization in southern Mesopotamia that was unified and led by Hammurabi. It was named after one of its prominent cities, Babylon. Babylonia co-existed with Assyria for several generations. Hamm, then Nebuchadnezzar. Invented base 60 for time and degrees of a circle. Famous for code of law. Stable, efficient rule. Well-disciplined armies. Hittites sacked Babylon, the main city, in 1595 B.C. Continued on but soon overshadowed by Assyria. From Babylongians we get the system of counting based on the number 60 that divides hours and the degrees of a circle. Built on Sumerian math and science. Code of Hammurabi especially known for fairness and “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” as quoted in the Bible. 612 B.C.: Assyria fell to the Babylonians, never to be (regained). 626-539 B.C.: Babylon Revived: Babylon declared independence from Assyria, then took over the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar drove the Egyptians back into Egypt and took Syria. Also captured Jerusalem and forced Jews to live in Babylon as prisoners because they’d tried to revolt. Babylon now master of all lands in Fertile Crescent. Neb made Babylon a beautiful world capital. Made the Hanging Gardens–stepped gardens overlooking the city, a large bridge, the tower of Babel, a fine palace and more. In later years, became mad. Trade and seafaring flourished. Huge metropolis and world market.

Hammurabi: The ruler of Babylonia, who is known for creating a fair justice system.

The Code of Hammurabi: The first known written set of laws. These were created by Hammurabi in order to strengthen Babylonia and encourage internal peace.

The Hittites: First to smelt iron. Warlike. Chariots. 1000 gods. Boulder sculptures. Peak 1300. Developed writing. Introduced the horse to the Middle East. Raided by the Sea Peoples and weakened, then fell. (Made up of several city-states united by warfare around 1650.) Partly concurrent with the Assyrians and Babylonians.

The Phoenicians: First alphabet, great art, great seafarers, made purple dye from snails. Prosperous. Helped rise of Greece, Rome. Independent city-states–no dynasty. 1500-500 B.C.: The Phoenicians. Greatest seafarers of ancient times. East end of Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Lebanon. String of independent city-states. Trade with India, China and crafts, not much large-scale farming or land conquering.. Prosperous, powerful. Saw rise and fall of Minoans and Myceneans and actively helped the rise of Greece and Rome. Invented glass blowing. Purple dye. Supplied materials and craftworkers to Solomon to build temple of Jerusalem. Had many colonies around the Med, inc Carthage in Egypt.

Myceneans (early Greeks) – Crete – 1450. 

Greek dark ages – 1200 to 700 till athens, sparta, other city-states (actually by this time run by barbarians not greeks but the barbarians assimilated into greek life–dorians and Philistines (sea people from the Med Sea) and others–sparse records of them so dark ages)

Homer – lived around 800- wrote down old stories

The Persians: Earliest lived around 700 BCE. 539 B.C.: Babylon conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia, who freed the Jews and created the Persian Empire. Conquered land from one end of MId East to other – Palestine to Indus River Valley. Persians ruled till Alex the Great took it over in 331. Cyrus the Great–assimilation–laissez-faire leadership. Good leader. Greeks fought hard against Persia b.c wanted independence, democracy, etc. Other places didn’t put up much of a fight against Cyrus since he incorporated existing leaders into his leadership structure and let them be. Arabs/Muslims (when were they called each?). Worshipped many gods til early 600s, Muhammed’s founding Islam in Mecca.  Muhammed Started preaching but Mecca felt threatened and he and his followers fled to Medina. There, religion grew. 656-661 B.C.: Muslims divided between Sunis and Shiites due to dispute over who should lead. Sunis more successful. During this time, Muslims seen as liberators and tolerant since they didn’t force conversiona. Arabic became a universal language except in Persia which was mainly Shiite. 636-642 B.C.: Muslims took Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt (jihad) 630 B.C.: Muhammad captured Mecca and became its ruler. 559-331 B.C.: Persian Empire. Modern-day Iran. Medes and Persians who made up the Persian Empire came from central Asia around 800 B.C. Their ruler, Cyrus the Great, rebelled against the Medes and gained control, then expanded Persia with capital on the Silk Road. Persia reached from Mediterranean to Afghanistan. Ruled fairly to gain support of subjects. One Persian king, Darius, especially great general. Followed religious teachings of a Persian prophet named Zarathustra. (teachings brought from Asia.) (Zoroastrianism.) This religion influenced Christianity later. Extended into India and Greece for a time. Satraps (governors) paid taxes and ruled peacefully. Darius built roads connecting all parts of the empire, introduced standard coinage and controlled the Western end of the Silk Road. Conquered by the Greeks.

Persia during Roman times: 238 B.C. to AD 63: First the Parthians, then the Sassanids rose to power in Persia. Not much is known about them, but they did halt Rome’s eastern expansion and were excellent warriors. They practiced Zoroastianism. They fell to Muslim Arabs in 63 and became Muslim, too. 200-100 B.C.: Rome destroyed Carthage and this started downfall of Phoenicians (fact check this).

The Greeks: City-states (polises) – began to arise in mid-800s. Sparta and Athens strongest in 500s and 400s BCE. By 300s, fighting each other too much and vulnerable to Alex the Great.

Ancient Greece: The area of Europe and the Middle East that formed around 3000 BCE as a collection of individually governed city-states, but that were culturally related. Ancient Greece included modern-day Greece, Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea, Crete and more. Greece was mountainous, not in a river basin like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Therefore, land was highy valued. Also, Greeks were more isolated from each other and the rest of the ancient world and developed many unique ways. Each city was very proud of itself. Citizens referred to themselves by their first names and the name of their city (polis).

Major aspects of the Greek influence: Democracy, philosophy, rhetoric/oratory, rationalism, individualism, theater, and much more. As a fringe society, Greece assimilated cultural ideas from the larger, more vibrant Mesopotamian civilizations, then built on them.

Minoans: Lived on the island of Crete from about 1700 to 1450. A lost civilization. A palace complex that was the center of city life. Disappeared by 1500 for unknown reasons.

King Minos: The king of the Minoans that was said to be the stepfather of the fabled monster called the Minotaur. Palace called Kuossos (?). Large and elaborate, with a labrynth? Language called Linear A. NOT a predecessor of the Greek language. Large bureauocracy. First people to create indoor plumbing. First great artists. Huge, amazing architecture. Great traders, especially with Egypt. Rich. Peaceful. Since they lived on an island, wealth was directed at cultural achievement rather than protection.

Myceaneans: Linear B, which we know how to decipher. This was the precursor to Greek. Lived in Mycenae. Inhabitants there were called in Homer the “Acheans,” though we call them Myceneans. A very impressive city. Graves filled with gold, silver, ivory, weapons. Warlike. Ruled by kings, including King Agamemnon.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Overview of the Middle East during the Middle Ages: Major advances in chemistry and astronomy. Invention of algebra. Baghdad became the capital and a flourishing center of culture after the Abbasid Dynasty unified the Islamic Empire and created stability for about 1000 years. Abbasids ruled for most of Mid Ages. Also: Crusades, more (see below)

750-1258: The Abbasid Dynasty. Abassids defeated previous Sunni leaders, the Umayyads. During this time the Islamic Empire was unified, culture flourished and Baghdad, the captial, became great. Court in Baghdad was the setting for much of ‘the Thousand and One Nights.

The Byzantine Empire:

The Ottoman Empire: The Byzantine Empire soon became the Ottoman Empire under the Ottoman Turks and built the Ottoman Empire. Byzantine Empire retook Constantinople in 1261, but Ottomans exanded all over Greece nd Central Europe, then in 1453 finally defeated Constantinople! Ottomans keen on good ties and trade with West. Occupied the Balkans, Blak Sea, Anatolia, Syria, more. Constantinople became Istanbul. Europe did feel threatened by closer presence of Muslims. Ottomans dominated Middle East, especially under Suleymon the Magnificent.

The Seljuk Turks:

The Mongul invasion: 1258: The Monguls overra and destroyed the Abbasid dynasty and the Turks, who had been divided not 150 years before. Turks moved closer to Constantinople.

1095-1291: The Crusades

Palestine was the Muslim and Christian holy land, with Jerusalem as the holiest city. The Turks didn’t allow Crhristians to pilgrimage to there, which sparked the Pope to call on Christians to “fre” it from Muslims. At first, loners went. In 1099, well-disciplined army went and succceeeded in caturing Jerusalem. Massacred inhabitants.

1187: Recaptured by Muslims. Later, after attempts to get it back, a peace treaty signed sharing Jerusalem. Christians allowed to visit again. A fourth through eigth crusade unsuccessful. In 1291, Palestine conquered by the sultan of Egypt and crusades ended.

1347-1351: The Black Death. One of worst disasters in history. Wiped out 1/3 of population of Middle East and Europe.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Early 1500s: Persians gained independence under the Safavid dynasty. Shiite Islam became sate religion. Many religious wars with Sunni Ottomans but held strong against being taken over by Ottomans.

1600s: Slow decline of the Ottomans began. Prosperity reduced gradually by military defeat[?}, plagues, new sea routes let to reductiion of traffic through trade routes. Lost more and more of the empire–chipped away. Russia took the Crimea and most of Ukraine. Whole middle east greatly weakened. Persia, though, remained stable. Did avoid colonization, though. (!)

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

1948: State of Israel formed. Many Jews returned to Palestine. Conflict between Israel and the Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan and Syriaincreased. Arabs aided by other Arab countries, too.

The U.S. sided wih th Mid-Eastern allies who sold U.S. oil, especially Kuwait. Shiite fundamentalists came to power in Iran in 1979. Israel often aggressive, proactive.

1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait to improve its sea access and U.S. and other countries united against Iraq and liberated Kuwait

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3000 B.C.: The Bronze Age began in the Middle East when copper was smelted by Egyptians and Sumerians.

3000 B.C.: Writing was developed in Sumer (cuneiform) and Egypt (hieroglyphs), triggering the beginning of recorded history.

2360 B.C.: Sargon of Akkad (one of the Sumerian cities) united Mesopotamia into the world’s first empire. (Note that ‘Sumer’ refers to the collection of cities and Akkad refers to the Sumerian city that became dominant during Sargon’s time.)

2100 B.C: Ur, then Assyria and Babylon took over location of prominence in Mesopotamia.

1200-1150 B.C.:Bronze Age collapse

1100 B.C.: Use of Iron spreads.

1180 B.C.: Disintegration of Hittite Empire

In Mesopotamia, assyrian empire, persians… Nebuchadnezzar rules as king of Babylon …Cyrus the Great rules over Medes and Persians

3000 B.C.: Wheels first used on chariots in Mesopotamia. Before that, carts/ wheelbarrows.

2500 B.C.: Bricks first used for buildings (Indus Valley).

1900-700 B.C.: Babylon. Under Hammurabi the Great Babylonians began to take over southern Mesopotamia. Then controlled whole of Mesopotamia. Famous for code of law. Stable, efficient rule. Well-disciplined armies. Hittites sacked Babylon, the main city, in 1595 B.C. Continued on but soon overshadowed by Assyria. From Babylongians we get the system of counting based on the number 60 that divides hours and the degrees of a circle. Built on Sumerian math and science. Code of Hammurabi especially known for fairness and “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” as quoted in the Bible.

1900-612 B.C.: Assyrians: While Babylon ruled in southern mesopotamia, Assyrians dominated the north. Valley of Upper Tigris River. Last great ruler was Ashurbanipal, who built the great library at Ninevah and vast gardens with plants from all over the world–a major palace. Ordered many historic records and math, chemistry, astronomy texts to be written down. Had some setbacks due to dictatorial leadership style and rebellions, but eventually conquered Babylon. At its greatest in mid-700s. Included Babylon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, northern Arabia, Egypt. Siege warfare experts. Women and children sometimes sold into slavery.

1800-587 B.C.: The Hebrews: First settled Palestine (Canaan) about 1800 B.C. Came from Ur. “Hebrews” means “people from the other side” of the Euphrates River. OT says leader was Abraham, a shepherd from Ur. Grandson Jacob had twelve sons, twelve tribes of Israel. When famine struch Canaan they all went to Egypt but became enslaved there until Moses brought them back to Canaan, around 1200 B.C. Fought the Philistines (Palestinians) for land, established Israel. Conquered city of Jericho as part of this effort. Wise king Solomon was one of their leaders. Fair, and very rich, too. After his death Israel split into two different states, Israel and Judah, which weakened them and led to their downfall.

Significance of Hebrews: Introduced monotheism and individualism and humanism/humaneness–originally one of the nomadic groups that wandered around the Near East. Not particularly well-liked. Small in number. No particular religion. Traders. Info about them from the O.T. Also, different perspective of time. Egyptians saw it as a circle, with history repeating itself. Hebrews saw it as a linear thing. also hebrews v concerned with social justice. patriarchal but treated women with respect. hebrews always believed they were the chosen people. also: universalism. applied their own laws to everyone else.

The Old Testament: Based on 6-7000 yr old oral traditions. Written by various authors. Thought to be very reliable historically, though few other sources exist to compare it with. (Ex: In 5700 BCE a flood occurred in the Black Sea that might have been the one in Noah’s time. A cataclysmmic event.) Torah (first 5 books) written on sheepskin and kept in an arc. no mistakes tolerated. no one allowed to touch it. ark of the cov was lost in a battle with the philistines early on in their history. the laws in the early OT books were based on the ten commands, but got more and more and more complex the more the jews mingled with other cultures while trying to remain distinct from them. the prophets, minor and major, often reinforced these strict guidelines. esp decrying baal worship and assimilation of culture.

1600 BCE: Great famine in Isrel, where the Hebrews were, so Jacob took his family to Egypt. Then other Hebrews followed. 1225: Jews fled slavery in Egypt and settled in Canaan. Moses was the leader. Moses introduced idea that sinning is responsible for bad things that happen; individual responsibility for fate, fate not at the whim of a god. Revolutionary idea. Also comforting to the Hebrews. Hebrews=israelites=jews. After Moses, settled Canaan (?). Elected Saul as King and defeated the Philistines, who also wanted to settle Palestine, which was a great place to live. Then had King Solomon. A great empire built with Jerusalem as the capital. Jews started spreading their fairth. Grew quickly. 996–death of solomon, kingdom split. tribe of israel to north and tribe of judah to the south. after this, no longer a first rate power.

722–assyrians attacked and expelled israel.

586-chaldeans attacked judah. sent jjews into the babylonian captivity. jews brought to babylon and made slaves

515-king cyrus allowed jews to return to jerusalem. managed somehow to survive as a race. tolerated there for a time.

1600-1200 B.C.: The Hittites. First to use iron. Warlike people. Chariots. 1,000 gods (chief is a strom god). Boulder sculptures. Peak 1300. Developed writing. Introduced the horse to the Middle East. Raided by the Sea Peoples and weakened, then fell. (Made up of several city-states united by warfare around 1650.) Partly concurrent with the Assyrians and Babylonians.

1500 B.C.: Iron smelted by Hittites in Middle East. Stone age – bronze age – iron age sometimes describe historical periods but dates of these ages are different for different areas, depending on when these technologies developed there.

1500-500 B.C.: The Phoenicians. Greatest seafarers of ancient times. East end of Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Lebanon. String of independent city-states. Trade with India, China and crafts, not much large-scale farming or land conquering.. Prosperous, powerful. Saw rise and fall of Minoans and Myceneans and actively helped the rise of Greece and Rome. Invented glass blowing. Purple dye. Supplied materials and craftworkers to Solomon to build temple of Jerusalem. Had many colonies around the Med, inc Carthage.

1037 B.C.: Alongside the Abassids, the Sejuk Turks from central Asia arrived in modern-day Afghanistan and conquered it. Then they conquered Baghdad and defeated the Byzantines

1020 B.C.: Philistines threatened them again. Hebrews changed to a king system (instead of judges between tribes). Saul, then David, who united all the tribes and made Jerusalem the capital and enlargened territory. Built great temple of Jerusalem. Peace-loving, wise king. Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant, the greatest tresure of the Israelites, which housed Moses’ Ten Commandments. (here insert solomon stuff) (cut child in two to discover mom story)

721 B.C.: Assyrians invaded Israel, dispersing many Jews.

683 B.C.: Took Judah, too. Scattered Jews widely. Some became Assyrian slaves.

656-661 B.C.: Muslims divided between Sunis and Shiites due to dispute over who should lead. Sunis more successful. During this time, Muslims seen as liberators and tolerant since they didn’t force conversiona. Arabic became a universal language except in Persia which was mainly Shiite.

636-642 B.C.: Muslims took Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt (jihad)

630 B.C.: Muhammad captured Mecca and became its ruler.

626-539 B.C.: Babylon Revived: Babylon declared independence from Assyria, then took over the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar drove the Egyptians back into Egypt and took Syria. Also captured Jerusalem and forced Jews to live in Babylon as prisoners because they’d tried to revolt. Babylon now master of all lands in Fertile Crescent. Neb made Babylon a beautiful world capital. Made the Hanging Gardens–stepped gardens overlooking the city, a large bridge, the tower of Babel, a fine palace and more. In later years, became mad. Trade and seafaring flourished. Huge metropolis and world market.

612 B.C.: Assyria fell to the Babylonians, never to be (regained)

610 B.C.: Muhammed experienced his first vision, which led to his founding of Islam. At this time, Arabs worshipped many gods. Started preaching but Mecca felt threatened and he and his followers fled to Medina. There, religion grew. Based on prayer, one God, purification, assistance to poor.

587/97 B.C.: Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and deported most of the Jews to Babylon. Beginning of the “diaspora.” (?: who controlled israel now? assyria or babylong? compare all this with story of the world timelines)

570 B.C.: Muhammed born in Mecca.

559-331 B.C.: Persian Empire. Modern-day Iran. Medes and Persians who made up the Persian Empire came from central Asia around 800 B.C. Their ruler, Cyrus the Great, rebelled against the Medes and gained control, then expanded Persia with capital on the Silk Road. Persia reached from Mediterranean to Afghanistan. Ruled fairly to gain support of subjects. One Persian king, Darius, especially great general. Followed religious teachings of a Persian prophet named Zarathustra. (teachings brought from Asia.) (Zoroastrianism.) This religion influenced Christianity later.
Extended into India and Greece for a time. Satraps (governors) paid taxes and ruled peacefully. Darius built roads connecting all parts of the empire, introduced standard coinage and controlled the Western end of the Silk Road. Conquered by the Greeks.

238 B.C. to AD 63: First the Parthians, then the Sassanids rose to power in Persia. Not much is known about them, but they did halt Rome’s eastern expansion and were excellent warriors. They practiced Zoroastianism. They fell to Muslim Arabs in 63 and became Muslim, too.
early 500s: Haggia Sophia built in Constantinople.

200-100 B.C.: Rome destroyed Carthage and this started downfall of Phoenicians (fact check this).

69 B.C.: Cleopatra born

School in a Book: History of China

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers: The two rivers in China along which ancient agriculture-based civilizations arose. Though early Chinese dynasties were centered along the Yellow River, both of these areas are considered cradles of civilization.

The Xia Dynasty: The first Chinese dynasty, located along the Yellow River in the 2000s BCE. Due to sparse historical references and no historical records, this dynasty’s existence is disputed. It did not feature strong monarch; instead, it was a collection of small, mostly independent farming villages led by a ruling clan. During this time, irrigation and dams were developed.

The Shang Dynasty: The second Chinese dynasty and the first with written records. Like the Xia Dynasty, it was located along the Yellow River and was ruled not by a strong monarch, but by a ruling clan. This dynasty featured bronze and jade works; horses and chariots; domesticated animals; wheat, millet and rice agriculture; silk and calligraphy; and ancestor worship.

The Zhou Dynasty: The third Chinese dynasty, which was characterized by civil war. During this time, paper was invented.

The Warring States Period: The period during the Zhou Dynasty (around 500 BCE) during which Chinese towns were in civil war.

The Qin Dynasty: The fourth Chinese dynasty and the first to feature an emperor. This dynasty marked the beginning of China’s imperial (strong monarch) era and saw great advancements; however, it only lasted fifteen years. The wheelbarrow was invented during this dynasty.

Shi Huang Di (Qin Shi Huang): The first emperor of China. Sometimes called the Yellow Emperor, Shi Huang Di united who, after the Warring States Period, united China for the first time and started the Qin Dynasty. (This happened around 200 BCE. “China” comes from “Qin.”) Born Qin Shi Huang, the emperor changed his name to Shi Huang Di, which means “first emperor.” He introduced standardized weights and measures, a single currency and a writing system; created the Terra Cotta Soldiers; began construction of the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road; instituted Confucianism as the official state religion; replaced feudal system aristocrats with capable administrators; built roads, canals, irrigation systems and other infrastructure improvements and more. However, a modernist, Shi Huang Di also destroyed classic literary works, including some by Confucius.

Xiling Ji: Wife of Huang Di, who is credited with the discovery of silk

Great Wall of China: The wall started by Shi Huang Di in the 200s to help protect China from invaders, such as the Mongols

Silk Road: The trade route stretching across China and into Europe. Traversing it was treacherous and could take several years each direction.

Terracotta soldiers: The over 7,000 larger-than-life terracotta statues that were housed in Shi Huang Di’s tomb

The Han Dynasty: The fifth Chinese dynasty and one of the most powerful and important in Chinese history. Co-existing with the Roman Empire, the Han dynasty started trade with Central Asia and Europe along the Silk Road. During this time, Confucianism became the official Chinese religion and Buddhism and Taoism also grew in popularity. Chinese inventions during this time included the first anesthetic, the first seismograph and improvements in paper making. For a time, its capital was the largest city in the world, and China was as large as the Roman Empire.

Emperor Liu Bang: The first emperor during the Han Dynasty. Popular, he relaxed harsh laws and instituted fair Confucian laws. He also worked to replace classic writings destroyed by the Qin Dynasty, introduced Buddhism from India and beat back the Huns of Mongolia.

Mandarins: The professional Chinese officials that ran the government during the Han Dynasty. Their education included an exam on Confucianism.

Wei Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties: The other ancient Chinese dynasties to rule (briefly) before the more stable period that began around the start of the Middle Ages. Like Rome, China was in political disarray during this time due to economic troubles and border encroachment by outsiders. Buddhism grew in popularity during this time, partly due to its emphasis on suffering well.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

The Sui Dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that restored stability during the early Middle Ages. During this time, China built the Grand Canal and rebuilt the Great Wall. Even more important, a strong bureaucracy was established. Bureaucratic positions were established and given to highly educated individuals who passed an imperial exam. This merit-based bureaucratic system lasted until the 1900s and provided a strong foundation for Chinese culture, unity and economy. Japanese emissaries sent to China brought these ideas back to their country, which vastly influenced their government.

The Tang Dynasty: Tang dynasty took over, organized empire beyond anywhere else in world. Stable for 300 years. Expanded to west to keep control of Silk Road. Empire extended from Korea to Afghanistan and Thailand.

The Tibetan period: The period of Chinese history after the Tang dynasty and before the Song dynasty during which Tibet defeated parts of China and China was highly unstable. Still, during this time, porcelain was invented and the Chinese printed the first book. 

The Song dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that restored Chinese unity in the middle to late part of the Middle Ages. Initiated long period of cultural eminence and great economic growth (surpassing the economies of the West). Painting. Made peace with the now-unified states on their borders (Tibetan, Liao, Thai and Vietnamese states.) Agriculture expanded, population grew. 100 million people. Invented porcelain, far ahead of Europe. Also invented gunpowder, clocks, movable type printing, paddle-wheel boats, magnetic compass. Had poetry, theater, banking, trade expansion. Government reform. Increase in shipbuilding. First paper money of the world. Start of foot binding practice. The “four great inventions” of the Chinese people in ancient times (paper, printing, the compass, and gunpowder) were further developed in the Song Dynasty

The Mongol Empire: After several hundred years of peace and eminence, China fell to the Mongols under Kublai Khan. This empire was the largest in history. Took Turkestand, northern China, Korea (failed to get Japan), then Afghanistan, Persia and parts of Russia. Fast horses, far-firing bows, disciplined army. Pacific Ocean to Black Sea by 1200s.

Genghis Khan: The first leader of the Mongol army, which eventually created the Mongol Empire. was 13 when he took leadership of his small warlike tribe. GK means “emperor of all men.”

Kublai Khan: The grandson of Genghis Khan and the second leader of the Mongol army who completed the conquest of China (and other places in Asia) in the late part of the Middle Ages. 

The Yuan Dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that was started by Kublai Khan in China, and which Khan ruled as emperor. Khan encouraged trade, opened Silk Road to the west.

Marco Polo: The Italian merchant and explorer who famously spent 17 years at the court of Kublai Khan and wrote about the luxury enjoyed by the Chinese

The Ming Dynasty: The Chinese dynasty that followed the Yuan Dynasty, which returned China to Chinese leadership and restored peace and stability. (“Ming” means “bright” in Chinese.) Though the Mongols retained control of parts of China during the first part of this dynasty, they had fallen from power in China as well as Russia and other areas by 1400. During this dynasty, the Forbidden City was built. Roads, canals, palaces, temples, leraning, arts, trade, exports. Ornamental gardens. Capital goes from Xian to Beijing. More foreign trade and exploration.

The Forbidden City: The extravagant residence of the emperor that was built during the Ming Dynasty. No one was allowed to enter or leave it without the emperor’s permission. It is said that it included 9,999 rooms. Its halls and temples, some of which were used solely by the emperor, were astonishingly ornate.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

China during the colonial period: Colonists arrived in southern China in early colonial times, establishing thriving trading ports. The foreigners were met with suspicion by the Chinese.

Qing Dynasty: The last imperial dynasty of China. It ruled from the mid-1600s till 1911. Prosperous, it was ruled by the Manchu people. They expanded the Chinese empire to become the largest in the world in 1800; brought efficiency without greatly disturbing existing Chinese customs; and increased trade, especially of tea, porcelain, cotton and silk. However, they were isolationists, only allowing Chinese to take silver as payment for their goods and disallowing foreign goods to enter China. This policy increased illegal foreign trade, including the opium trade.

Manchus: The rulers of the Qing Dynasty and a foreign people from the northeast. At first, the Manchus lived separately from the Chinese in closed-off areas and Chinese men had to wear long hear in pigtails to show inferiority to the Manchus; however, both Manchus and Chinese were allowed to be civil servants (mandarins). Eventually the Manchus assimilated and were accepted.

Opium Wars: The wars between China and the colonists over the illegal importing of opium into China. It occurred partly because the colonists were not allowed to trade their goods for Chinese goods, only silver. This policy caused an increase in illegal foreign trade, with opium as a key export. Colonists encouraged heavy opium use by the Chinese and exported huge quantities to this country. When Chinese officials burned British stores of opium, Britain sent warships. Britain won the war and took Hong Kong as its own. After this, China was forced to open trade and made trade agreements with many countries.

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

Boxer Rebellion:

The Republican Revolution: The revolution led by Sun Yat-sen in 1911 which overthrew the Qin Dynasty and ended the Chinese imperial era.

Sun Yat-sen: The first president of the Republic of China and the leader of the Republican Revolution

Republic of China (1912-1949): The government that took the place of the Qin Dynasty, which was ruled by a president and military leaders. It had two centers, one in the north in Beijing and one in the south at Nanjing. It was characterized by continuous civil war between the communist north and the nationalist south.

Chinese Civil War: The war that began with the Republican Revolution and continued throughout the time of the Republic of China.

China during World War I:

China during World War II:

Chiang Kai-Shek: The leader of the joint nationalist and communist forces who defeated northern rebels during the beginning of the Chinese Civil War, then became the leader of the Nationalist Party after the communists broke away.

Mao Zedong: The leader of the Communist Party who prevailed after the long Chinese Civil War and created the People’s Republic of China

The Long March:

Chinese-Japanese War: The war between China and Japan that took place during the Chinese Civil War. It started in the 1930s when Japan invaded China and captured several important cities, including Beijing. For a time, nationalists and communists allied to fight them. When they defeated Japan in 1945, they resumed fighting each other.

People’s Republic of China (1949 to the present): The modern government of China, started by Mao Zedong. Strictly communist for several decades, in the late 1970s it began adopting free trade policies that brought on an economic boom

Great Leap Forward: Mao Zedong’s campaign to end poverty through the redistribution of land to be run by giant peasant communities. It was a failure, leading to widespread food shortages and the death of millions by starvation.

Cultural Revolution: Mao Zedong’s campaign to suppress anti-communist ideas in which over one million intellectuals, political opponents and others were placed in concentration camps and killed

Little Red Book: The nickname for Mao’s political treatise titled The Thoughts of Chairman Mao

Tiananmen Square demonstration: The 1989 student demonstration in Beijing in which 3,000 people were killed and 10,000 people were injured for advocating for democracy

Return of Hong Hong: The 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China after 100 years of colonial rule

Add: invention of gunpowder, paper, magnetic compasses, abacus (best calculator/computer until the early 1980s)

School in a Book: History of Australia and Oceania

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Polynesians: The first people to settle modern-day Australia. [?] They might have first come from Taiwan, then Melanesia, an area in the Pacific Islands (2000 BCE). After that, they settled the Polynesian Triangle around Fiji, then moved to Tahiti and the Marquesas (1300 BCE). From there, they visited America, Easter Island and Hawaii. They carved wood; kept livestock; and grew coconuts, taros, yams and vegetables. They were remarkable sailors, with large oceangoing canoes featuring sails and paddles stabilized with outriggers or doubled up like catamarans. They also had advanced knowledge of stars, currents and winds.

Easter Island statues: They might have created the famous Easter Island statues, or they might have been created by unknown earlier settlers since the Polynesians weren’t known to be stone carvers.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

The Maori: The Polynesians who settled modern-day New Zealand during the Middle Ages (850 CE and on). They traded with the Aborigines.

The Aborigines: The Polynesians who settled modern-day Australia. [?] The Aborigines were tribal societies ruled by chiefs. They were experts in wood carving, even though they were isolated from Asia and Indonesia.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

New Holland: The name the Dutch gave the Australian continent in the 1700s after discovering it in the 1600s. (The Dutch also discovered Tasmania and New Zealand around this time.)

Captain Cook: The British explorer who claimed New Zealand and Australia for Britain. He also traveled to Tahiti, Hawaii and Antarctica. In Antarctica, he was pushed back by glaciers.

First Australian colonists: Convicts exiled from Britain in the late 1700s. These were followed by free settlers, who also colonized New Zealand. They introduced new diseases to the Aborigines and changed local culture.

British takeover of New Zealand: During the 1800s, the British colonists of New Zealand competed with the Maori for land. Eventually, the Maori gave ownership of the island to the British in exchange for land ownership rights. Some accounts claim that two versions of the treaty were written, though, with one leading the Maori to believe they were giving up governorship, not ownership. Following this, there were violent Maori uprisings. Eventually, New Zealand became an official British colony.

The new nation of Australia: The nation created by the British in the 1800s. Following this, the British and Aborigines coexisted, but not entirely peacefully. Many Aborigines were killed in conflicts over land and many others died of Western diseases.

Portuguese and Spanish explorers may have landed in Australia in the 1500s. In the 1600s several Dutch explorers reached the continent. They included Dirck Hartog and Abel Tasman. Hartog discovered the west coast, and Tasman sailed along the southern tip of what is now called Tasmania. Because of all these voyages the Dutch named the continent New Holland in 1644. But they did not settle there.

William Dampier, an English pirate turned explorer, landed on the west coast twice in the late 1600s. In 1770 Captain James Cook landed in southeastern Australia and claimed it for Great Britain. He named the region New South Wales. Others later explored the continent further, including Matthew Flinders, who suggested the name Australia.

First Fleet and Settlement

Captain Cook thought that New South Wales was a good place for settlement. At the time, England’s prisons were overcrowded. So the English government decided to send prisoners to Australia to start a penal colony—a place where criminals are sent to live.

Captain Arthur Phillip was in charge of the First Fleet. He led 11 ships carrying about 200 marines, a few free settlers, more than 700 convicts, food stores, and farm animals. The trip took eight months and conditions were very hard. They reached Australia in January 1788 and settled in a bay that they named Sydney Cove. Phillip became the first governor of the colony.

Convicts and settlers worked to clear land and to establish farms. They were not used to the climate, which was different from England, so the colonists struggled to survive. But soon more convicts and settlers arrived. The settlement grew bigger and stronger. In the 1800s other parts of the country were settled. Some were also penal colonies. In 1851 the discovery of gold drew thousands of new immigrants to Australia. The settlements grew and became colonies separate from New South Wales. They became TasmaniaWestern AustraliaVictoriaQueensland, and South Australia.

The flood of settlers nearly wiped out the Aboriginal population. Many Aboriginal people died while fighting for their land or from European diseases.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

The Commonwealth of Australia: A federation of various Australian colonies founded in the early 1900s. These colonies set up governments based on free trade and equal rights. Many of them achieved independence from Britain and wrote constitutions based on the American and British constitutions.

By the late 1800s the six separate colonies each had an elected assembly. In 1901 they became states when they joined together to form a federation. The new Commonwealth of Australia had a national parliament and six state parliaments. It kept ties with Britain, however, as part of the British Commonwealth (a group of former British colonies).

The Australian gold rush: The influx of settlers in the 1900s (mid or early?) resulting from the discovery of gold there. (Need more.)

Australia in World War I & II: During both world wars, Australia fought for Britain.

Postwar Australia: During the robust postwar economic times, Australia gained wealth and tourism. They imported a great deal of American technology and culture. Immigrants came from war-torn countries.

“Finally, Our House Feels Like a Home”; and, “Fights” Is Free Today on Amazon

Right now, get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby for free on Amazon.

Here, an excerpt from the interviews section of the book.

CAL: “Finally, Our House Feels Like a Home”

Cal, age forty-four, has four children with his wife of twenty years.

Mollie: Is there an argument that just keeps coming up between you and your wife?

Cal: Many of the long-running arguments that we have seen to be centered around the lack of defined roles in our relationship. We are both products of the feminist movement—women aren’t going to be forced to be at home taking care of children and cooking dinner! So the systems of our household are perpetually left leaderless as both adults strive for success and validation outside our home.

This lack of definition has plagued us since the days we just started living together and couldn’t agree on who did what chores and who was responsible for what. It’s rather embarrassing to say that we still run across these problems twenty years later. At least a few generations ago they had one person who gathered resources and one person who saw that those resources were well managed in producing a family. Now we are both responsible for everything, and that leads to chaos and frustration for us.

Mollie: Can you give me more specifics? Which chores are still up for grabs? Which chores have you come to an agreement on?

Cal: We have written out three sheets of information for the family. One sheet gives our vision, values, expectations and measures of success. It’s funny that after being married over twenty years we are still working out what our vision for our home is. We’ve had other vision statements in the past, but they seem to have a finite life span. The vision needs to be renewed and revived periodically; for us, it seems like we can agree on one for about two years.

The next sheet shows the systems we are working on to make the household run more smoothly. We started with agreeing on twenty minutes of cleaning and that’s going really well thus far (maybe for the past two months). We’re still working on figuring out the rest.

Finally, we have a chores sheet. This is laminated (yes, we have a laminator and every family needs one!). We assign and check off the chores using a dry erase marker. There are six of us, and six people cleaning a single area isn’t going to work, so we have two or three areas separated out into five days (our goal is to clean five days per week). We schedule the cleaning via group text message at least two hours ahead of time. Then we assemble at the table, pick a day, assign the jobs, start the timer, start some music, and clean for twenty minutes. If someone finishes early, they get re-assigned to another job until we have all worked for twenty minutes. We clean with whoever is home at the time, even if it’s only a couple of us.

This cleaning system has finally gotten our house to feel like a home. We all now have clean, paired socks and vacuumed hallways.

Bedroom cleaning is handled by a different system of weekly room inspections.

Mollie: Any other ongoing arguments?

Cal: Nothing is jumping to mind. My wife and I are pretty low-key people, but we have still managed to have some pretty turbulent times in our marriage. This point isn’t one of them. Our kids are now 18, 16, 14 and 11. They are old enough that they are becoming self-sufficient, but young enough not to realize how clueless they are in the real world. It’s a frustrating time. I think we’ve been handling it well, overall, but have been far from perfect.

Mollie: Finally, how much do you enjoy your marriage? Is it worth the hardship?

Cal: I do enjoy my marriage. The sex is amazing, and that’s a large part of male happiness. Consistent access to a female is success in an evolutionary sense. Beyond just meeting physical needs, my wife is a wonderful friend who I still enjoy having dinner with or accompanying to one of our children’s events. I made a really good decision before we started dating: I had just had a mediocre dating experience with a pretty red-haired girl, who treated me like a distraction. Based on that experience, I decided that the next person I was going to spend my time with would be one who I enjoyed being with. My wife is remarkable in that I was always sorry when the evening came to an end; there never seemed to be enough time.

Twenty-three years later, I still think that was a wise decision. I haven’t had the most exciting life from the outside, but I’ve enjoyed most minutes because I made a really good choice. I married an honest friend who I really enjoyed being around. Fights come and go, but we still like having dinner, watching a movie or doing a project together. Even when we are at our worst, there has always been that underlying layer of friendship and enjoyment that we fell back on. It’s a pretty amazing connection.