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Is Civilization Really a Good Thing?

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    CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I never want to go back to rural GA.

    Couscous on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    SkyGheNe wrote: »
    Someone I know is a therapist in rural vermont.

    There is a ton of horrible shit that goes on in those communities D:
    Horrible things go on everywhere. It's just that when there's a larger population, it's easier to hide or dismiss because it's much less likely that it happened to someone you knew.

    Duffel on
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    Angry puppyAngry puppy __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Civilization is good, but every time I go travelling and camping in the wilderness I feel about 100 thousand times happier and more at ease than I ever am when in the city, working, or going to school. This is obviously a personal thing and I can't speak for anyone else. Not to get too Tyler Durden-ey but whenever I think too much about how deeply grounded our society is in competition it always ends up bothering me. I guess that goes hand in hand with my love of travel, but then again travel wouldn't exactly be possible without civilization. It's good, and necessary. We only really have the luxury of thinking how great a hunter-gatherer life would be because of all the advantages of civilization.

    Angry puppy on
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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    Eh, I think the whole "small towners hate people" is kind of a myth.

    What you're dealing with is that, in somewhere like a suburb, there's no real insiders. You're just a bunch of people who share a street, probably have a roughly similar socio-economic status and might throw a barbecue together if they're feeling particularly friendly and the weather is nice. Nobody really knows each other on a meaningful level, they all just live there.

    Now, in a small town - or a tightly-knit community in an urban area, which is for all intents and purposes a small town stuck in a city - you know people. You're related to them, or your dad used to work with them, or your mom and their mom are third cousins, or your brother knows their sister from somewhere, or you went to the same school or church/synagogue/whatever. You grow up and go into the store and the old dude behind the counter asks if you're So-and-so's son/grandson and you say yeah and they've got all kinds of stories. Your teachers taught your older sister in school and you already know like half the upperclassmen anyway. Stuff like that.

    So, when somebody blows in from who knows where with no connections whatsoever, a total stranger... well, people don't really know what to expect. You're an unknown variable. At least until you've lived there for a few years and forged those connections.

    It's one of the things that really makes me not want to live too terribly far from where I originally grew up. When you leave, you're alone, not part of anything greater. It's just you and whatever you've accomplished. That's exciting because you can develop your potential, but it's also isolating, because there's no real permanence to anything you do. You're just FirstName Lastname, Occupation. And to me, that doesn't seem like the best kind of life that we could have.

    Oh certainly, the idea of small towns treating outsiders different is due to them being closer and not because people who live in small towns are different. I was just saying that it has a basis in reality, not that small towns are obviously inferior.

    Julius on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    The bolded part is something you really, really need to provide some evidence of, since you seem to be conflating autonomy with having more chores to do.

    And you're actually ignoring how the war years directly impacted perceptions of gender roles and how a generation of women were exposed to actually working on their own and not for a husband in favor of some vague rage against the suburbs.

    I haven't specifically talked about the war, no, but it goes hand-in-hand with what I'm saying. It certainly made the shift from the pre-war style of living to suburban style of living much more stark. I don't think your wrong about the war's effects at all, but I don't think what you're saying really conflicts that much with my argument though.

    What strikes me as odd about your stance, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that you're taking the circumstances that allowed the first "second wave" feminists to begin to articulate to mainstream culture their alienation with traditional gender roles as being the initial and sole cause of that alienation.

    Wait, you think that post-war suburban living is what enabled women to make their discontent heard -- i.e., they'd just been holding it in all these years? See that's exactly the kind of "progress" oriented thinking that I don't like. The idea that wrongs have always been wrong, and people just didn't get the chance to change things until later.

    I think a lot of social movements are preceded by a steep decline in some standard of living relative to a standard people were acclimated to prior. The labor movement and socialism generally is the quintessential example in this regard, I think. But I think feminism falls into this mold very much as well.

    I think we like to tell ourselves the myth that domestic life for women was always hell until we achieved so much thanks to 60s and 70s feminism, but I just don't buy it.

    I mean, hell, I think it's the GSS, or another prominent annual survey, but the gap between men and women's self-reported happiness has actually widened since the 70s. Domestic violence and sexual violence are still pretty endemic, and that's one thing that would pretty clearly have real impact (being the target of violence, we know empirically, is a really good way to make people unhappy). We never fixed domestic life after we damaged it in the post-war era, but instead decided the solution to women's dissatisfaction was to bring them into the working world -- awesome! Now everyone buys into the shitty cutthroat male-dominated, self-interested, status-grubbing norms of the workplace. Woooooo.

    Again, I also have to contest the idea that what suburban white women experienced in the 60s was similar to a traditional gender role for women in the pre-war era.

    Women in the pre-war era had responsibility -- you call it chores, but it's nice to have more than menial, tedious tasks in one's life. And most of all what I think you're missing is the isolation of post-war suburban life.

    And I think by far the biggest thing you're missing is the isolation, though. One of the most important things to a person's happiness is a robust social network -- we know people with more friends and closer family are happier. Women in the pre-war era had family close by, and robust social networks. In the suburban era, that disappeared, but men retained a work-related social network. I think, honestly, that was one of the biggest things.

    But yes, I think both the higher rate of college education for women, and the experience of independence in the war were catalysts as well by acclimating women to a different standard which was legitimately preferable, which they then lost as they transferred into post-war life.

    I mean, don't get me wrong -- even if we hadn't changed domestic life radically, I would be in favor of gender equality and social reform on that issue, but my point is that social movements generally have catalysts in the form of a preceding decline in standard of living.
    You're also, and again correct me if I'm wrong, claiming that rural and working class women were more content with being in those traditional gender roles simply because they had more kids to take care of and more chores to do, when to me that only means that the rural, working class and women of color of that era didn't have the luxury or the ability to articulate their opinions to history for a whole host of reasons, including their relative lack of leisure time.

    No, I think they were more content because they had real responsibilities, challenging and engaging things to do, and most of all -- other people to interact meaningfully with. How does your argument relate to suffrage, or other movements with large involvement of women, like temperance and abolition? I mean, yes, the well-to-do, white, and educated always tend to wield disproportionate influence, but you certainly see more parity in movements like, say, the labor/socialist movements, and obviously the civil rights movement (i.e., movements where the supposedly too-poor and too-busy to protest managed to find the time because they were the groups experiencing the relative declines).

    Fartacus on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Yeah, I think it's important to emphasize the importance of the extended family network (not just for women, for everybody) in the pre-suburbia world. It's something that in many communities is all but lost today, and I think it's even an alien concept to some people.

    I'm not trying to paint some kind of rosy, idyllic picture of pre-war 20th century life. There were a lot of serious social problems back then - racism, prejudice, sexism and a slew of other things. We're all aware of that.

    However - a couple of generations ago, getting married and setting up a home didn't mean cutting off contact with your extended family. Chances are you were living somewhere pretty close to where you just moved out of, almost certainly within the same town, maybe within walking distance (especially in an urban area).

    What this amounts to is, you're more or less in constant contact with several people. Your parents, your in-laws, your brothers and sisters, and probably some close family friends. You see and visit each other constantly. You do tasks together constantly. You're always going in and out of each other's houses, especially on weekends (for Shabbat or church or just to visit). Your kids grow up together and stay with each other, and kids are much less likely to spend time alone because there's always somebody around. If you grew up on a farm, then probably several people in your extended family helped pitch in on it. Even people who grew up in cities had businesses (stores and workshops and small factories and what have you) then you did the same thing. Then you had all the other people you met outside the family - kids from school or friends you knew from somewhere else and whatever.

    I think that, today, it's probably difficult to grasp just how much of a change it was to take people from farms and urban neighborhoods and ship them all off to shrink-wrapped homes in Levittown where they were entirely cut off from that whole setup. And I think that's one reason we've got such widespread depression, disconnection and isolation now. We've basically created a world for ourselves that prizes individual accomplishment and achievement above all else; meaningful personal relationships are barely even mentioned. In reality, I don't believe individual accomplishment and achievement alone has a whole lot to do with how happy we are, because it's very difficult for most people to be happy completely on their own.

    Humans are innately social animals, and almost all of us need social contact and meaningful personal relationships to survive. We like to feel like part of a group, and you can see people today desperately trying to grasp for that, looking for any kind of group that they will feel some sort of deep connection with.

    Unfortunately, most of the groups people try to fit into these days are pretty superficial. Stuff like hobbies or political parties or something else that really isn't that big of a deal. Whenever I travel and run into somebody from "home" (whether it's another American, or another person from my state, or from my town, depending on how far afield I go), you have this instant connection, because you share a common background. Shallow stuff like what movies you like or bands you listen to or politics? Not really. That stuff doesn't actually matter, and people feel that whether they realize it or not.

    Is this an irreversible trend? I don't know, I personally hope not. But whether it is or it isn't, I don't really care for it.

    Duffel on
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    AresProphetAresProphet Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    From what I've learned recently in my Cultural Anthropology class, though, apparently life before civilization was nowhere near as bad as people believe.

    Introductory college course instructors just love to blow impressionable young students minds by demolishing popular misconceptions with a "did I just blow your mind?" moment. In all fairness, it's a great way to engage students in the subject. Also the self-satisfaction from it must be exhilarating. This doesn't mean that it shakes modern civilization to its foundations.

    Unfortunately for them, "common knowledge" is fucking stupid and destroying it is about as easy and useful as knocking over a house of cards.

    Yes, some people were happy in hunter-gatherer societies. But the data is extremely flawed because modern studies of modern hunter-gatherers are studying modern hunter-gatherers, the ones that (a) wouldn't have survived to this day and age if they weren't exceptional and (b) have an extremely small sample size and (c) are often already in contact with modern societies anyway. The conclusions that cultural anthropologists posit about hunter-gatherers are based on bad data, you cannot realistically apply them to pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers. This doesn't mean they're wrong, it means something worse: they're scientifically and intellectually disingenuous.

    You get the same thing in other fields. Yes, other animal species communicate in something like a language (but to compare dolphin speech to human speech is absurd). Yes some chimpanzees and crows use tools (see all the amazing things they've built with them). Yes most of the watershed inventions of the last two millenia came from China and not the West, look how it only took them until the last few decades to compete on the same level as Western societies. Yes the 17th century had some really enlightened thinkers who weren't all Puritan Bible-thumpers, too bad nobody listened to them until long after they were dead (if at all).

    Just because most people get their historical knowledge from fairy tales, myths, and Saturday morning cartoons doesn't mean that everything you know is wrong and the world is exactly the opposite. Unfortunately it's too easy tio overcorrect your knowledge and take a conclusion to its other logical extreme, like snapping a taut rubberband and watching it fly off across the room.

    AresProphet on
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    PantsBPantsB Fake Thomas Jefferson Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    The popular conception of hunter-gatherer societies is that their members were savages who faced the threat of starvation on a daily basis or the risk of being mauled by the animals they were hunting.

    From what I've learned recently in my Cultural Anthropology class, though, apparently life before civilization was nowhere near as bad as people believe. Hunter-gatherers were nomadic people who obtained much of their dietary needs from plants and lived in small, tight-knit communities. They could not carry many personal possessions with them as they traveled, and everyone had to contribute in the act of gathering food and tending to the needs of the community. As a result, there was little in the way of social stratification. Infectious diseases were also rare, as there were not populations of humans large enough for them to easily spread, and it is believed that the average hunter-gatherer lived a healthy life.

    In light of this view of hunter-gatherer civilizations I've come to question whether modern civilization is indeed superior. Civilization breeds social stratification as man-made systems emerge that allow certain individuals to become much wealthier than others. Civilization gives individuals a way to easily take care of themselves, reducing the need for close-knit relationships. There is also evidence that people in developed countries are more likely to feel stressed and unhappy. Civilization enables infectious diseases, and some fear that such diseases will eventually become resistant enough to overcome our efforts to prevent and treat them. Pollution is another cause for disease. Take into account as well that people in modern societies often don't get the exercise they need, as they do not need to expend much effort to survive in the age of air conditioned homes and supermarkets.

    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?

    I think you need to either listen better or get a better bullshit filter.

    You had to shit on the ground and had nothing with which to wipe your ass. Equality at the sustenance level isn't prosperity. You really have to be out of touch to think that just struggling to survive every minute of every day is good thing.

    I mean it wasn't magic that caused human populations to remain low in those times. You can talk about reduced fertility all you want, but just like with other animals population was kept low because babies died and people died needlessly, young and painfully.

    PantsB on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Julius wrote: »
    Oh certainly, the idea of small towns treating outsiders different is due to them being closer and not because people who live in small towns are different. I was just saying that it has a basis in reality, not that small towns are obviously inferior.

    Cities are large enough that they contain enough minorities such that said minorities can build significant communities there, communities large and important enough to impinge on the public consciousness and to defend themselves against the world at large. This effect is then bolstered by migration of minorities to said cities in order to join those communities. I am, of course, specifically thinking of gay people here, but I imagine it applies more generally. For instance, I know for a fact that the majority of Asian people in the country live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. After all, if you were Asian, would you want to move to a lily white town in the Dakotas, or to San Francisco, where a third of the city is Asian?

    Once these communities exist, it forces the people in the city at large to have a more catholic view about outsiders and their strange customs.

    I also imagine that cities attract people with higher education, partially because knowledge-work is done in cities, and that as such they represent a more educated group. And education at the university level corresponds to broader horizons and broader tolerance.

    MrMister on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    PantsB wrote: »
    I mean it wasn't magic that caused human populations to remain low in those times. You can talk about reduced fertility all you want, but just like with other animals population was kept low because babies died and people died needlessly, young and painfully.

    It was also a lower food supply. Agriculture lead to more abundant, but less nutritive and diverse food. As such, we see in the American Southwest that the adoption of corn as a primary food source lead to a population explosion, but correspondingly lower lifespans and higher incidences of malnutrition diseases like rickets.

    As I said before, it's easy to argue that, for the majority of human history, agriculture was socially more successful (agricultural societies won), but that in terms of individual quality of life it was pretty shit.

    MrMister on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I don't know where people are getting the idea that being a hunter-gatherer was somehow innately filthy. Certainly not any more filthy than most people throughout history. From the introduction of the city-state until...well, about 100 years ago, literal flowing rivers of sewage were a fact of life for every single city on the planet. They still are in many places.

    I also think it's kind of funny that people keep bringing up the whole toilet paper/evacuation thing, when there's a pretty good body of evidence now that modern western-style sit-down toilets are actually pretty terrible for your bowels and stuff, while squat toilets, though not nearly as convenient, are healthier.

    Duffel on
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    PellaeonPellaeon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    I can think of at least one illness in my life that might have killed me without modern medicine. And the broken arm I got as a kid might have left me crippled. Oh, and my wife's appendicitis a few years back would certainly have been lethal. And there was a good chance that without the skilled staff at the hospital, the complications she had when she was giving birth to our son might have killed one or both of them.

    So, yay civilization.

    Pretty much this. I had a double hernia when I was born and was operated on at 6 weeks. I doubt that surgery would have gone well with rock and stick. Plus I was sick a lot as a kid so even if H&G life would be better for mankind (which I am highly skeptical of) I probably wouldn't have been able to reap the benefits of it, being dead and all.

    !vote civilization

    Pellaeon on
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    I also think it's kind of funny that people keep bringing up the whole toilet paper/evacuation thing, when there's a pretty good body of evidence now that modern western-style sit-down toilets are actually pretty terrible for your bowels and stuff, while squat toilets, though not nearly as convenient, are healthier.

    [citation needed]

    saggio on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    saggio wrote: »
    Duffel wrote: »
    I also think it's kind of funny that people keep bringing up the whole toilet paper/evacuation thing, when there's a pretty good body of evidence now that modern western-style sit-down toilets are actually pretty terrible for your bowels and stuff, while squat toilets, though not nearly as convenient, are healthier.

    [citation needed]
    wikipedia wrote:
    Proponents of squat toilets argue that:

    It is less expensive and easier to clean and maintain.[2]
    It does not involve any contact between the buttocks and thighs with a potentially unsanitary surface.[3]
    The absence of water in the bowl avoids the problem of water splashing upwards.
    Squatting might help to build the required exhaust pressure more comfortably and quickly.[4]
    Squatting makes elimination faster, easier and more complete.[5]
    Elimination in squatting posture protects the nerves that control the prostate, bladder and uterus from becoming stretched and damaged.[6]
    Squatting relaxes the puborectalis muscle which normally chokes the rectum in order to maintain continence.[7]
    Squatting securely seals the ileocecal valve, between the colon and the small intestine. In the conventional sitting position, this valve is unsupported and often leaks during evacuation.[8]
    For pregnant women, squatting avoids pressure on the uterus when using the toilet. Daily squatting helps prepare the mother-to-be for a more natural delivery.[9]
    Squatting may reduce the occurrence or severity of hemorrhoids[1][10] and possibly other colorectal disorders such as diverticulosis[11] and appendicitis.[12]

    Sources:
    1.^ a b Dimmer C, Martin B, Reeves N, Sullivan F (1996). "Squatting for the Prevention of Hemorrhoids?". Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients (159): 66–70. http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/96tldp.html.
    2.^ "Squatting Pan & Urinal Series.", a
    3.^ "Squatting Pan & Urinal Series.", b
    4.^ Bockus, H.L., GastroEnterology, (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1944), Vol. 2, p. 469.
    5.^ Rad S (Apr 2002). "Impact of Ethnic Habits on Defecographic Measurements". Archives of Iranian Medicine 5 (2): 115–7. http://www.ams.ac.ir/AIM/0252/0252115.htm.
    6.^ Tobin, Andrew.. Prostate Disorder – Causes and Cure, National Direct Publishing, Bowden, Australia, 1996, (Chapter 12, by Wallace Bowles, entitled "Refining an Everyday Activity"),p.132
    7.^ Tagart RE (1966). "The anal canal and rectum: their varying relationship and its effect on anal continence". Dis Colon Rectum 9 (6): 449–52. doi:10.1007/BF02617443. PMID 5926158.
    8.^ Welles, William, "The Importance of Squatting" chapter in Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management, Bernard Jensen Publisher; 10th Ed edition (June 1981).
    9.^ Nasir A, Korejo R, Noorani KJ (Jan 2007). "Child birth in squatting position". J Pak Med Assoc 57 (1): 19–22. PMID 17319414.
    10.^ Sikirov BA (Apr 1987). "Management of hemorrhoids: a new approach". Isr J Med Sci. 23 (4): 284–6. PMID 3623887. link
    11.^ Sikirov BA (May 1988). "Etiology and pathogenesis of diverticulosis coli: a new approach". Med Hypotheses 26 (1): 17–20. doi:10.1016/0306-9877(88)90107-7. PMID 2840558.
    12.^ Burkitt DP (Feb 1976). "A deficiency of dietary fiber may be one cause of certain colonic and venous disorders". Digestive Diseases and Sciences 21 (2): 104–8. doi:10.1007/BF01072052. http://www.springerlink.com/content/m84u825332110279/.

    Duffel on
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    programjunkieprogramjunkie Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    Yeah, I think it's important to emphasize the importance of the extended family network (not just for women, for everybody) in the pre-suburbia world. It's something that in many communities is all but lost today, and I think it's even an alien concept to some people.

    I'm not trying to paint some kind of rosy, idyllic picture of pre-war 20th century life. There were a lot of serious social problems back then - racism, prejudice, sexism and a slew of other things. We're all aware of that.

    However - a couple of generations ago, getting married and setting up a home didn't mean cutting off contact with your extended family. Chances are you were living somewhere pretty close to where you just moved out of, almost certainly within the same town, maybe within walking distance (especially in an urban area).

    What this amounts to is, you're more or less in constant contact with several people. Your parents, your in-laws, your brothers and sisters, and probably some close family friends. You see and visit each other constantly. You do tasks together constantly. You're always going in and out of each other's houses, especially on weekends (for Shabbat or church or just to visit). Your kids grow up together and stay with each other, and kids are much less likely to spend time alone because there's always somebody around. If you grew up on a farm, then probably several people in your extended family helped pitch in on it. Even people who grew up in cities had businesses (stores and workshops and small factories and what have you) then you did the same thing. Then you had all the other people you met outside the family - kids from school or friends you knew from somewhere else and whatever.

    I think that, today, it's probably difficult to grasp just how much of a change it was to take people from farms and urban neighborhoods and ship them all off to shrink-wrapped homes in Levittown where they were entirely cut off from that whole setup. And I think that's one reason we've got such widespread depression, disconnection and isolation now. We've basically created a world for ourselves that prizes individual accomplishment and achievement above all else; meaningful personal relationships are barely even mentioned. In reality, I don't believe individual accomplishment and achievement alone has a whole lot to do with how happy we are, because it's very difficult for most people to be happy completely on their own.

    Humans are innately social animals, and almost all of us need social contact and meaningful personal relationships to survive. We like to feel like part of a group, and you can see people today desperately trying to grasp for that, looking for any kind of group that they will feel some sort of deep connection with.

    And this is great if you win the birth lotto and are born into a family of mutually concerned, decent people. It is far less good when, as gigantic numbers of societies with close family ties, a matriarch or patriarch domineers your life from birth to death, or your family is generally poisonous for one reason or another. In American society today, people have more choice as to how much contact to have with their extended families.
    Unfortunately, most of the groups people try to fit into these days are pretty superficial. Stuff like hobbies or political parties or something else that really isn't that big of a deal. Whenever I travel and run into somebody from "home" (whether it's another American, or another person from my state, or from my town, depending on how far afield I go), you have this instant connection, because you share a common background. Shallow stuff like what movies you like or bands you listen to or politics? Not really. That stuff doesn't actually matter, and people feel that whether they realize it or not.

    Is this an irreversible trend? I don't know, I personally hope not. But whether it is or it isn't, I don't really care for it.

    It might not matter to you, but it matters to some people. Frankly, the difference these days is people have a choice of whether to keep close ties to their family or find them elsewhere, and they aren't automatically without friends or a safety net if they don't want to marry the person their parents picked out or some other ridiculous bullshit drama*.

    * An acquaintance of mine, to illustrate how bad this can be, was not only determined at birth that he ought to be a doctor, but they picked his fucking specialty too.
    Duffel wrote: »
    I don't know where people are getting the idea that being a hunter-gatherer was somehow innately filthy. Certainly not any more filthy than most people throughout history. From the introduction of the city-state until...well, about 100 years ago, literal flowing rivers of sewage were a fact of life for every single city on the planet. They still are in many places.

    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.
    I also think it's kind of funny that people keep bringing up the whole toilet paper/evacuation thing, when there's a pretty good body of evidence now that modern western-style sit-down toilets are actually pretty terrible for your bowels and stuff, while squat toilets, though not nearly as convenient, are healthier.

    You can squat over a western toilet. But in any case, even if it isn't the most ideal waste disposal method, a knowledge of the germ theory of disease and sanitation still helps keep us safer and more likely to be parasite free.

    programjunkie on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.

    This more or less goes with what I was saying, which is that the H/G life was, on average, better than most other lives up until about 100 or 150 years ago (roughest guess).

    MrMister on
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    AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whatever Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The comfort, safety, and sanitation benefits clearly gained by flush toilets far outweigh any potential outlier negatives.

    Go tell an 80-year old woman to squat over a hole. Then, five minutes later, go and call the ambulance to get her off the floor after she fell in the shit-hole and broke her hip.

    Atomika on
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    Mr. PokeylopeMr. Pokeylope Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    MrMister wrote: »
    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.

    This more or less goes with what I was saying, which is that the H/G life was, on average, better than most other lives up until about 100 or 150 years ago (roughest guess).

    But isn't that shittyness caused by population density? Wouldn't life be just as shitty for Hunter gathers stuck in an area with a population density near the maximum the land could support?

    Mr. Pokeylope on
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    Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The comfort, safety, and sanitation benefits clearly gained by flush toilets far outweigh any potential outlier negatives.

    Go tell an 80-year old woman to squat over a hole. Then, five minutes later, go and call the ambulance to get her off the floor after she fell in the shit-hole and broke her hip.
    go to asia and tell and 80 year old woman to use a western toilet. She'll be like "wtf is this? give me back my squat toilet"

    Pi-r8 on
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    FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    If I had to pick to be something besides a post-civilization human, it sure as hell wouldn't be a hunter-gatherer. What really separates you at that point from animals? I mean, you may have the intelligence but you have no means of expressing it.

    Might as well just be something awesome, like a dolphin or some type of whale or an eagle.

    FirstComradeStalin on
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    AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whatever Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    The comfort, safety, and sanitation benefits clearly gained by flush toilets far outweigh any potential outlier negatives.

    Go tell an 80-year old woman to squat over a hole. Then, five minutes later, go and call the ambulance to get her off the floor after she fell in the shit-hole and broke her hip.
    go to asia and tell and 80 year old woman to use a western toilet. She'll be like "wtf is this? give me back my squat toilet"

    What's your point, sir?

    Atomika on
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    Peter EbelPeter Ebel CopenhagenRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Yes, civilisation is good. Good as fuck.

    I'd much much rather be part of a hunter gatherer society though than be a shit farmer or whatever in medieval cities.

    Peter Ebel on
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    Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    The comfort, safety, and sanitation benefits clearly gained by flush toilets far outweigh any potential outlier negatives.

    Go tell an 80-year old woman to squat over a hole. Then, five minutes later, go and call the ambulance to get her off the floor after she fell in the shit-hole and broke her hip.
    go to asia and tell and 80 year old woman to use a western toilet. She'll be like "wtf is this? give me back my squat toilet"

    What's your point, sir?

    That the western style toilets aren't really such a marvelous creation as people think, it just seems that way because it's what you're used to.

    Pi-r8 on
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    AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whatever Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    What's your point, sir?

    That the western style toilets aren't really such a marvelous creation as people think, it just seems that way because it's what you're used to.

    No, it's because they're fucking marvelous.

    Your other option is dangling your ass above a hole in the ground, which may or may not have plumbing.

    I guess the handicapped in Asia just have to shit themselves?

    Atomika on
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    Hockey JohnstonHockey Johnston Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The moment hunter-gatherer groups band together to trade food and ensure that individuals who have a bad harvest can still survive is the moment that everything radically improved.

    Collective action and the search for win-win transactions are what have propelled our species towards a better life and better morality.

    Hockey Johnston on
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    On toilets: no, they use ceramic or metal toilets. With flushes and so on. Very similar, except for the part where your thighs sit on the back of your calves instead of on a seat.

    But that wonderful trivia aside. On civilization: oddly enough, early farmers had poorer health than hunter-gatherer nomads, a point eloquently described by Diamond. Some of the advantages that hunter-gatherers held over farmers (namely, diversity in foods consumed) were achieved by us settler types only relatively recently in the history of civilization.

    For all that, it's worth emphasizing that we did catch up and are now solidly ahead in terms of what can be achieved.

    And:
    And this is great if you win the birth lotto and are born into a family of mutually concerned, decent people. It is far less good when, as gigantic numbers of societies with close family ties, a matriarch or patriarch domineers your life from birth to death, or your family is generally poisonous for one reason or another. In American society today, people have more choice as to how much contact to have with their extended families.

    +1. The anonymity and formality of the welfare state and society-wide market is alienating, but for a lot of people, what they are being alienated from is not pretty. So, still an improvement.

    Modern societies still can have mostly extended families; it's called East Asia, where the minimal presence of the welfare state means that many families turn inwards for support and intergenerational investment: instead of people saving for their retirement, children are expected to fund their parent's retirement*, and instead of getting student loans, parents pay for their children's educations. The millennia-old culture helps that along.

    So you can observe it in real life, right now. Great for people with great families; not so good for anyone who doesn't.

    ronya on
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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Let's ask Sid Meier

    Fencingsax on
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    Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    +1. The anonymity and formality of the welfare state and society-wide market is alienating, but for a lot of people, what they are being alienated from is not pretty. So, still an improvement.
    Up until recently, in most parts of the world the idea of a person having an individual identity outside of their tribe/clan/family would have been puzzling for most people.

    During most of human history, the only reliable support network was your family. In more highly organized states, that might extend to the patron/client relationship in places like Rome. But for things like financial support, protection from crime and the like, the only group you could rely on was your clan.

    The flip side of this protection was that everyone but the patriarch had very limited rights in terms of things like marriage and property ownership. In some cases, your patriarch literally held the power of life and death over you. Women were, typically, little better than property, to be married and traded for the benefit of the group.

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    Edith_Bagot-DixEdith_Bagot-Dix Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    MrMister wrote: »
    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.

    This more or less goes with what I was saying, which is that the H/G life was, on average, better than most other lives up until about 100 or 150 years ago (roughest guess).

    But isn't that shittyness caused by population density? Wouldn't life be just as shitty for Hunter gathers stuck in an area with a population density near the maximum the land could support?

    That's probably why hunter gatherer societies often murdered the shit out of any human they encountered who wasn't a part of their particular group.

    Edith_Bagot-Dix on


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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    And this is great if you win the birth lotto and are born into a family of mutually concerned, decent people. It is far less good when, as gigantic numbers of societies with close family ties, a matriarch or patriarch domineers your life from birth to death, or your family is generally poisonous for one reason or another. In American society today, people have more choice as to how much contact to have with their extended families.

    But this arguments runs in reverse, as well. Like, the modern American system -- great if you win the birth lotto and are born into a shitty family that you'll be better off escaping. Not so great if you're born into a family you get along with that you'd be happier having close ties to.

    And, in aggregate? Seems that the latter is more common, given people with more close friends and families tend to be happier and even have better health outcomes than people who are isolated.

    I think this is a big theme in Western liberal policy-making -- we're really uncomfortable with policies that don't leave choice open for outliers, even if that means creating a system which actually undermines the outcomes for a significant majority of people. As in, the current system is one that seems to demonstrably make most people less happy than a more robust family-oriented culture, but this system has more "choice" so we're uncomfortable with going back to something that seems to have less choice.

    Choice in general is something that is pretty highly overrated, though. We know that too much choice can make people unhappy from small-scale studies of consumer choice and related tasks. But beyond that, I think it relies on a fundamentally flawed assumption that giving people what they want will make them happy.

    It's an insidious assumption that, frankly, most people would never question. But it seems rather apparent from evolutionary theory that our desires would not lead to happiness so much as reproductive success. Given that everything we do and want and think is mediated by that wonderful product of evolution, the brain, it seems rather straight-forward that we are not optimized to make ourselves happy, but to make ourselves prolific. Hell, the fact that we have a built in capacity for misery demonstrates the adaptive quality of suffering itself. Being miserable is useful to get us to reproduce successfully.

    But anyway, my point is that societal evolution thus far has been pretty clearly attuned to the idea of giving people what they want -- and our numbers have exploded exponentially, while our happiness seems, in aggregate at least, pretty flat.

    It's crucial to distinguish what people want from what will make us happy -- we may want choice and freedom and options (in fact a lot of behavioral economists have demonstrated a really severe and irrational preference for more choices, even when it is explicitly disadvantageous, and that is made clear to the test subjects), but this may not in fact reflect anything that will make us happy.

    I'm also troubled by policy-by-outlier. How exactly is it good policy to have a system that undermines the quality of life for most people just so some people on the margins have more opportunity not to get the shaft? This doesn't actually remove the arbitrariness from the equation, it just displaces it (again, in that in one system, one group of people benefit by their birth, in the other system, it's the outlier group that benefits by their birth. We've simply flipped who benefits more from the current system without changing the fact that each system pays greater dividends to one group over another)
    It might not matter to you, but it matters to some people. Frankly, the difference these days is people have a choice of whether to keep close ties to their family or find them elsewhere, and they aren't automatically without friends or a safety net if they don't want to marry the person their parents picked out or some other ridiculous bullshit drama*.

    * An acquaintance of mine, to illustrate how bad this can be, was not only determined at birth that he ought to be a doctor, but they picked his fucking specialty too.

    But this is apples-to-oranges -- in a different culture, this isn't necessarily perceived as overbearing. The interpretation of these sort of actions are highly dependent on frame of reference. Again, you're displaying choice-bias.

    Fartacus on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    MrMister wrote: »
    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.

    This more or less goes with what I was saying, which is that the H/G life was, on average, better than most other lives up until about 100 or 150 years ago (roughest guess).

    But isn't that shittyness caused by population density? Wouldn't life be just as shitty for Hunter gathers stuck in an area with a population density near the maximum the land could support?

    That's probably why hunter gatherer societies often murdered the shit out of any human they encountered who wasn't a part of their particular group.

    Actually, inter-group murder is really only common in environments of scarcity. In environments of plenty, intra-group murder was actually far more common (whereas it was very rare in environments of scarcity).

    But yeah, I think violence was probably one of the biggest drawbacks to h/g life.

    Fartacus on
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    Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    MrMister wrote: »
    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.

    This more or less goes with what I was saying, which is that the H/G life was, on average, better than most other lives up until about 100 or 150 years ago (roughest guess).

    But isn't that shittyness caused by population density? Wouldn't life be just as shitty for Hunter gathers stuck in an area with a population density near the maximum the land could support?

    That's probably why hunter gatherer societies often murdered the shit out of any human they encountered who wasn't a part of their particular group.
    This takes me back to my Indian Law class in law school. We were discussing the American Indian views on real property ownership. Our prof told us that the whole "Indians didn't believe you could own land" meme that's become common is mostly a load of bullshit. Sure, Indians didn't have a system of individual land registry. But any outsider found hunting, fishing or farming on a tribe's territory would consider themselves lucky if they just ended up as slaves. And farming tribes like the Seneca and Cherokee had the same views of land ownership as other agricultural people around the world.

    Modern Man on
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    Edith_Bagot-DixEdith_Bagot-Dix Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    That's accurate. I'd rather be a hunter / gatherer than a child laborer being poisoned or ground up in the vilely wicked early days of the industrial revolution, but I'd sure as fuck rather be a college educated professional with great health care, an awesome job, and internet than either of them.

    This more or less goes with what I was saying, which is that the H/G life was, on average, better than most other lives up until about 100 or 150 years ago (roughest guess).

    But isn't that shittyness caused by population density? Wouldn't life be just as shitty for Hunter gathers stuck in an area with a population density near the maximum the land could support?

    That's probably why hunter gatherer societies often murdered the shit out of any human they encountered who wasn't a part of their particular group.

    Actually, inter-group murder is really only common in environments of scarcity. In environments of plenty, intra-group murder was actually far more common (whereas it was very rare in environments of scarcity).

    But yeah, I think violence was probably one of the biggest drawbacks to h/g life.

    Well, this is where it gets complicated. Current hunter-gatherer societies tend to have low rates of inter-group violence when resources are plentiful. However, conditions of scarcity correlate strongly to the presence of multiple groups dependent on the same resources. In the scenario where you have one local group and one interloper group, the local group is likely already at the maximum sustainable size for the resources available, so the presence of the new group is likely to lead to an environment of scarcity.

    Also, when you're talking about currently existing hunter gatherer societies, in most cases (perhaps all, now?) those societies are ones that have survived and adapted to the presence of people outside their group. The more hostile hunter gatherer societies aren't around anymore, because a societal policy of killing anyone outside the tribe is inimical to the survival of that society when it is confronted with more numerous, better armed and better organized outsider groups.

    Overall, though, the trend is one of eliminating potential competitors through violence. In times of plenty, those competitors are in-group, social competitors. In times of scarcity, they are out-group, resource competitors.

    Edith_Bagot-Dix on


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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    The comfort, safety, and sanitation benefits clearly gained by flush toilets far outweigh any potential outlier negatives.

    Go tell an 80-year old woman to squat over a hole. Then, five minutes later, go and call the ambulance to get her off the floor after she fell in the shit-hole and broke her hip.
    go to asia and tell and 80 year old woman to use a western toilet. She'll be like "wtf is this? give me back my squat toilet"

    What's your point, sir?

    That the western style toilets aren't really such a marvelous creation as people think, it just seems that way because it's what you're used to.
    No, it's just that, appropriately enough, you're talking straight out of your ass. Squat toilets are well on their way out.

    My direct experience is in Japan, where it's a rather popular topic in the 'traditional vs modern way of doing things' debates. Aside from the difficulty and discomfort of using them for the elderly (modern hospitals and elderly care facilities are going for exclusively sit down toilets with railings), when offered the choice, most people prefer western style.

    Case in point, when I was looking at office space in Japan, locations that were otherwise identical in every other feature had significantly lower monthly rent if the bathrooms had squat toilets.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    The popular conception of hunter-gatherer societies is that their members were savages who faced the threat of starvation on a daily basis or the risk of being mauled by the animals they were hunting.

    From what I've learned recently in my Cultural Anthropology class, though, apparently life before civilization was nowhere near as bad as people believe. Hunter-gatherers were nomadic people who obtained much of their dietary needs from plants and lived in small, tight-knit communities....

    As a class project you and a few friends should put your meal card down and forsake society and forage for a week with a knife.

    then tell us about how awesome it is being a hunter-gatherer.

    Deebaser on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    No, it's just that, appropriately enough, you're talking straight out of your ass. You obviously have no actual experience with 'old asian women' from one thing, so you'd better take a moment to think before attempting to speak for them. Squat toilets are well on their way out.

    My direct experience is in Japan, where it's a rather popular topic in the 'traditional vs modern way of doing things' debates. Aside from the difficulty and discomfort of using them for the elderly (modern hospitals and elderly care facilities are going for exclusively sit down toilets with railings), when offered the choice, most people prefer western style.

    Case in point, when I was looking at office space in Japan, locations that were otherwise identical in every other feature had significantly lower monthly rent if the bathrooms had squat toilets.

    Choice bias though. Just because people think they prefer something doesn't mean they actually do!

    I know I seem like I'm being a pedant here, but I think this is actually important stuff. People are really, really bad at knowing what makes them happy, and even worse at predicting it or comparing things separated temporally.

    Fartacus on
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    citizenMckeecitizenMckee Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I watched a video on TED where there have been studies on happiness / quality of life, that concluded it is apparently quite irrelevant to what life you lead, how many breaks you got, bad fortune, where after a few months the human brain adapts to its new surroundings, achieves a chemical balance, and regardless of your status or condition we return to the same baseline level of happiness. The example they gave was of the parapalegic and the lottery winner.

    I think its a winning characteristic of our brains to do this, and It is a extremely common theme in our 1st word lives, where no matter what you gain its never enough and the quest only continues with futility.

    So would we be happier in H/G society? No. Are we missing out on some experiences? I have no doubt. We live in a large world and if one cares enough it is still possible to live the H/G life style in some quieter corners of the planet. It would be something special if a stable nation was devoted entirely to this process, a place where one could journey and travel the land for a part of thier life before returning to society.

    citizenMckee on
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No, it's just that, appropriately enough, you're talking straight out of your ass. Squat toilets are well on their way out.

    My direct experience is in Japan, where it's a rather popular topic in the 'traditional vs modern way of doing things' debates. Aside from the difficulty and discomfort of using them for the elderly (modern hospitals and elderly care facilities are going for exclusively sit down toilets with railings), when offered the choice, most people prefer western style.

    Case in point, when I was looking at office space in Japan, locations that were otherwise identical in every other feature had significantly lower monthly rent if the bathrooms had squat toilets.

    Choice bias though. Just because people think they prefer something doesn't mean they actually do!

    I know I seem like I'm being a pedant here, but I think this is actually important stuff. People are really, really bad at knowing what makes them happy, and even worse at predicting it or comparing things separated temporally.

    Except there's very little here that choice bias can apply to. I cited the hospitals and elderly care facilities because a sit down style toilet is indisputably better. Although the human body might be designed so that squatting is the more natural position, if you've ever used a squat you can see the stresses it puts on the body. My host-uncle had bad knees and needed to push himself off of chair armrests just to rise from the table - getting down into a squatting position and then back up just wasn't possible, and he had colorful comments reserved for whenever he found himself at a train station or the like that didn't have the option to sit.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No, it's just that, appropriately enough, you're talking straight out of your ass. You obviously have no actual experience with 'old asian women' from one thing, so you'd better take a moment to think before attempting to speak for them. Squat toilets are well on their way out.

    My direct experience is in Japan, where it's a rather popular topic in the 'traditional vs modern way of doing things' debates. Aside from the difficulty and discomfort of using them for the elderly (modern hospitals and elderly care facilities are going for exclusively sit down toilets with railings), when offered the choice, most people prefer western style.

    Case in point, when I was looking at office space in Japan, locations that were otherwise identical in every other feature had significantly lower monthly rent if the bathrooms had squat toilets.

    Choice bias though. Just because people think they prefer something doesn't mean they actually do!

    I know I seem like I'm being a pedant here, but I think this is actually important stuff. People are really, really bad at knowing what makes them happy, and even worse at predicting it or comparing things separated temporally.

    The squatting position is actually better for.....erm.....flow. And for people that are used to them it's not a big deal (at least that's what I've seen in India) to squat.

    But no, if you're handicapped you have to use a western toilet. But that's not really a problem overall, since you'd have to have a special bathroom for that either way, Western or not.

    FirstComradeStalin on
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    SpeakerSpeaker Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I read a book by Derrick Jenson that was basically anti-civilization.

    The gaping hole seems to be that civilization is inevitable because there is no force to check its growth. I couldn't get around that problem in his writing.

    Speaker on
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