Advice for Trump from ancient China

The Huainanzi, a collection of essays of Western Han philosophy and statecraft written over 2,100 years ago, states:

If a ruler rejects those who work for the public good, and employs people according to friendship and factions, then those of bizarre talent and frivolous ability will be promoted out of turn, while conscientious officials will be hindered and will not advance. In this way, the customs of the people will fall into disorder throughout the state, and accomplished officials will struggle.

If the ruler ignores what he should preserve and struggles with his ministers and subordinates about the conduct of affairs, then those with official posts will be preoccupied with holding on to their positions, and those charged with official duties will avoid dismissal by following the whims of the ruler. This will cause capable ministers to conceal their wisdom.

If the ruler is frequently exhausted by attending to lesser duties, proper conduct will deteriorate throughout the state. His knowledge by itself will be insufficient to govern, and he will lack what it takes to deal with the world. [Continue reading…]

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Britain left Stone Age 4,500 years ago as early Britons were replaced by metalworking migrants

BBC News reports:

The ancient population of Britain was almost completely replaced by newcomers about 4,500 years ago, a study shows.

The findings mean modern Britons trace just a small fraction of their ancestry to the people who built Stonehenge.

The astonishing result comes from analysis of DNA extracted from 400 ancient remains across Europe.

The mammoth study, published in Nature, suggests the newcomers, known as Beaker people, replaced 90% of the British gene pool in a few hundred years.

Lead author Prof David Reich, from Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, US, said: “The magnitude and suddenness of the population replacement is highly unexpected.”

The reasons remain unclear, but climate change, disease and ecological disaster could all have played a role.

People in Britain lived by hunting and gathering until agriculture was introduced from continental Europe about 6,000 years ago. These Neolithic farmers, who traced their origins to Anatolia (modern Turkey) built giant stone (or “megalithic”) structures such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire, huge Earth mounds and sophisticated settlements such as Skara Brae in the Orkneys.

But towards the end of the Neolithic, about 4,450 years ago, a new way of life spread to Britain from Europe. People began burying their dead with stylised bell-shaped pots, copper daggers, arrowheads, stone wrist guards and distinctive perforated buttons. [Continue reading…]

How Charles Fletcher Lummis helped create the myth of the American West

At Lapham’s Quarterly, Greg Luther writes:

For a people more and more bound to the city, more confined to factory work and its bitter hours and cramped spaces, to a people suffocating from the smoke and greed of industrialism, a walk under open skies must have seemed the purest freedom.

In A Tramp Across the Continent Lummis fashioned himself as a man unafraid to cast off the shackles of society and stride westward: “In my pockets were writing material, fishing tackle, matches and tobacco, and a small caliber revolver.” Mundane lists like this do a great job of underscoring exactly what has been left off the list, namely gumption, and there is no greater theater for the display of gumption than the mythic American West. In our country’s imagination, the West has long been a place where men could regain the strength that had been sapped by society. “Life consists in wildness,” wrote Thoreau, in his essay “Walking.” “The most alive is the wildest.”

Lummis drew on that mythology in A Tramp Across the Continent but converted it to a more consumable, popular form. He fought off bandits with his bare hands, won a shooting contest, and survived a wildcat attack. These now read like fixtures of the Western, but at the time the genre was not yet in full form. Owen Wister wouldn’t publish The Virginian for another decade. Lummis relied upon early progenitors like James Fenimore Cooper and Captain Mayne Reid, an Irishman who wrote adventure novels set in the wilderness. In doing so, Lummis added another tie to the track that leads away from the historical West and toward the Western. But unlike the works of Cooper or Reid, which tell of fictional characters, Lummis fashioned himself as the hero. [Continue reading…]