That one on the right is the one I hated when I started spinning it. But I’m glad I didn’t trash it. It’s not THAT bad. I’ll stay away from that gray in the future though.

Topic change. I always get embarrassed when someone asks me what I’m reading. I feel like I’m expected to name something they’d recognize. Instead of the truth. Which is basically always, “Some weird shit that interests me.”

& I get embarrassed when someone asks if we have cable or Netflix or what-have-you, and I have to say, “I don’t watch TV.” I don’t like that phrase. I always hear it in a snooty voice. But I don’t mean it that way. I used to watch TV. But lately it just doesn’t fit into my life.

Book Corner 2021.57

by Joseph Henrich

Along the lines of Jared Diamond’s GUNS, GERMS, & STEEL, this is a big-picture book with a big-picture answer to the basic question: Why did and does Europe rock so much?

In one of the final sections he answers Diamond directly: GG&S is a great theory to explain why Europe was so far ahead circa 1000 AD. But then, why England? Why the Netherlands? TWPITW purports to be The Explanation for why Europe continued to rock so much.

To recap Diamond (and GG&S has always been one of my all-time favorites): it’s agriculture. Eurasia got all the good crops and domesticatable mammals. If you’re stuck eating cassava with nothing to pull a plow, why invent the wheel?

And to summarize TWPITW’s 489 pages of content (there’s a couple hundred more pages of appendix & index)… it’s what the Catholic Church (back then simply the Church) did to the family.

I should probably back up: WEIRD people are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. (Just double-checked myself – yup, 5 out of 5.) And we got this way because our psychology was altered when our vast kinship networks were destroyed by what he calls the Church’s MFP – no, not Maximum Fluoride Protection, but Marriage & Family Program. The Church’s rules said: no more marrying your cousin. No more staying within the husband’s or wife’s parents’ house after marriage. No more arranged marriage. No more polygyny, “or even moderate bigamy” as THE KING AND I song goes. No more marrying your former in-laws.

And this was all a tremendous shock, and a heck of a lot of work to get people to go along with – it took centuries for it all to really gain a foothold. And that’s because being proto-WEIRD is truly weird – we, meaning humans, have always lived within vast kinship networks. Marrying cousins or in-laws kept everything in the clan. Polygyny and arranged marriage cemented patriarchal power. Family/clan/tribe has always meant everything it was to be human. Now, disassociated from that source of meaning, protection, and power, individuals had to look elsewhere – to strangers, voluntary organizations, the Church (how convenient) – and within. This made us more trusting of strangers, and more literally self-centered, than we were when were all Family Guys.

It played a lot of other psychological tricks too. 400 pages worth. Yes, this was a difficult book to read, physically – every night was a weight-lifting exercise. In the end I do like the theory; definitely a fascinating way to look at things. But I guess I have two faults to find.

a) It wasn’t the book I thought I was going to read. It starts out with in-depth looks at non-WEIRD societies, and contrasts with our own – but I thought it was going to be mostly, or more of, that. It’s actually a lot more rah-rah cheering for how great us WEIRD societies are, and less about how, well, weird we are.

b) Why exactly did the Church do all this, fight for centuries to come up with weird new rules for who and how and how many to marry? The reasons were “many and varied.” I kid you not. That’s the extent of the explanation.

So just keep in mind, next time you’re reading a blithe statement about human psychology – it may very well apply only to WEIRD human psychology. Things we think of as rational “givens” aren’t givens. The ideals of democracy, human rights, etc. – these are not self-evident, with apologies to Thomas Jefferson. They are ideas cooked up by WEIRD minds.

Great food for thought – WEIRD thought.

More Fails!

How about a bread machine fail today!

I had an inspiring thought today. Thinking back to my nervous-breakdown years during my father’s decline, you know something that I never, ever find myself thinking? “I sure wish I’d worried more.”

In-law time; it’s do-over time. Do it better this time.

Evangelist of Work-Life Balance

I would love to make this, but as I oohed and aahed over it, I was summarily told that it would require “more than four harnesses” and would not be a good choice for someone at my level.

Anyway, today someone from TechLab wrote me a belated farewell, and mentioned she was “envious” of my “lifestyle.” Maybe DC people are different from NY people, or the NY people just all know me or know of me; but the TechLab people seem to be slightly dumbfounded at my life. That I raise goats and take time away from work to go to weaving school and whatnot. It seems not to have occurred to them that one could do these things.

If I perhaps inspired one person for one moment to “step away from the computer” and saw some wood or something (manager said he had always wanted to try woodworking school)… then that was a 10-month-year well spent, I would say, even apart from the fact that it was a total blast.

Workers of the world, relax!

Book Corner 2021.56

by Agatha Christie

OMG, click the link under the book image for the Wikipedia entry, if you want to be shocked by this book’s original title. And I thought “Ten Little Indians” was offensive.


This was the first Agatha Christie I’ve ever read. I kept thinking, boy, this is cliche; and having to correct myself, NO, this is where the cliches COME from. But I couldn’t help thinking that the butler probably did it.

I thought the ending would be more of a trick.

I do have to admit that although this genre does not interest me much, her building of suspense and character and suspicion was very artful. I guess I see why she is considered a master.


I went to Marshfield yesterday (day off) to look over samples of things that I could make for my next project, which is to be in January, and which is to be silk. Silk! Which I will do in a twill, providing extra-lovely drape. I was really drawn to this cheerful little check here, which they say is called “cherryderry”. Was called “cherryderry”, I forget in which century.

Now to look over the available colors, and play with my colored pencils for weeks on end until I hopefully come up with something that will please me as much as the last project.