Sometimes I am busy with taking things in. Lately I have been reading non-fiction. The book 1491 by Charles C. Mann is highly interesting to me, a serious review of the latest research and scholarship on what the world lost and gained when European man found his way into the Americas. It is now quite clear that the sophistications of civilized Indians were in certain ways and at certain times far in advance of other civilizations elsewhere on the planet. Things kept happening, as they do everywhere. They Maya were their own worst enemy, for example, with help from their neighbors before the Europeans came. But the worst things that happened to Indians were the inadvertent plagues brought by Europeans post Columbus. The diseases swept the Indian cultures prior to the actual arrival of European man anywhere except the Eastern coastlines in North America. Disease was the primary ruination of the Inca. There is no longer any question of this, though as late as the Eighties it was still in some question. The Indian populations prior to Columbus throughout the Americas was quite high, more than in Europe by far, so successful were the Indian ways of managing their land. Agriculture was everywhere and many forests were actually managed to enhance edible plants. But by the time Europeans found these locations, the Indians had already been wiped out by plagues and their works lay fallow.
Now I am reading Steven Pinker's The Stuff Of Thought, subtitled Language As A Window Into Human Nature. Pinker is a psychologist attached to Harvard, but he mainly works as a Linguist, using language to study mind.
On the telly, as an alternative to ordinary programming, I have currently the course Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side Of The Universe, offered through the Teaching Company, taught by Professor Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology. Backed up waiting is another course Quantum Mechanics: The Physics Of The Microscopic World, taught by Professor Benjamin Schumacher, Kenyon College. These are not nuts and bolts, heavy math courses. They are in depth survey courses.
I have used the Teaching Company many times, taking several music courses, science and philosophy courses, religious studies and linguistics. This is an excellent option for continuing education as long as you don't care about degrees and transcripts, a way to gain college level learning in a really wide range of subjects, all on cd or dvd and offered with a guide and as an extra, full course transcripts if you want. The company emphasizes the humanities, literature, history, music and art, but also economics, science and math. More.
The costs are reasonable when you use the sales they run, basically cheaper then per unit than college is.
4 hours ago