Guns, Germs, and Steel

Front Cover

Guns, Germs and Steel

 

888 Casa Kim
Unicorn St, Rainbow Town

May 14, 2015

Department of Geography
University of California, Los Angeles
1255 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA  90095-1524

Dear Mr. Diamond,

Hello, I’m a twelve year old boy writing to praise your book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. For my science class I had to read a book and write a letter to the author. I chose Guns, Germs, and Steel, and I’m glad I did. I was originally torn between Cosmos, and your book. Although I have an interest in astronomy, I eventually chose Guns, Germs, and Steel. Mainly because the question of Europe’s industrialization had been nagging at me for awhile. How come Eurasia was able to create vast colonial empires while The Americas was still stuck in the stone age? I was hoping your book would provide the answers. I wasn’t disappointed.

My favorite part by far, was when you discussed food production. I always knew food was important (well, that much is obvious), but I never knew how important it truly was. It hadn’t occurred to me the important role that large mammals played in the birth of Civilizations.  By providing large quantities of meat, labor, war machines etc. For example when you discussed how all the big mammals in the Americas and Australia became extinct in the ice age; which meant the Aboriginal Australians and the Native Americans weren’t able to create communities large enough to allow for full time bureaucrats. And not having densely nutritious crops to feed large communities; allowing them to gather and have specialized workers and professional soldiers. I didn’t comprehend how much livestock and domesticated crops contributed to centralized governments and states, until I read your book.

The book altered my perspective of Native Australians. Before I read this book, I didn’t understand or know much about the them. I knew about the European colonial empires, but I never understood why Europe was the one who possessed those colonies, instead of the Australians or the Native Americans. After you explained how Australia’s climate couldn’t support crops, and how all the large mammals were wiped out in the ice age. It helped to answer my aching questions.

I appreciated your use of personal experiences as an example to illustrate your points. It helped me to visualize what you’re saying.  For instance when you described the time you landed a helicopter in front of a tribe, and they glanced over and looked away. It brought to life your point about some groups resisting technology, and some groups embracing it. Especially in comparison to that other tribe who embraced it. Another example I enjoyed was when you wanted to hike inland, and you had to turn back because you ran out of water. It helped to give me an idea of how dry Australia’s climate really is. I really appreciated that you supported your text with personal experiences.

Reading your book answered a lot of my questions, but now I have even more questions that I want to ask you. For instance, what was the role of the Chinese in Oceania? I’m not sure if their ships were advanced enough, but couldn’t they have sailed and colonized Australia? And did the ancient nomadic hunters from the ice age really have the manpower to hunt all the large mammals in the Americas and Australia into extinction? Another one of my burning questions is why did the Australians dispose of the bow and arrow? I know you talked about how some societies dispose of new technology, but why did the Aboriginals dispose of theirs? Did it become useless? Wouldn’t at least one tribe kept it? I wonder if Australia had at least one cereal and one large mammal, would they have evolved from hunters gatherers to an industrialized colonial empire without European influence?

Anyway, thank you so much for writing this book, I really enjoyed reading it! I know the book was written awhile ago, but I hope you continue writing amazing books like this.

 

Sincerely,

Jett Kim

 

 

 

Poop Coffee (aka Kopi Luwak)

 by:TheJarrett818

We are on vacation. We were in Penang, Malaysia and now we’re in Singapore. I am really sorry about not updating, the internet was very slow there. Anyway I got the rare opportunity to try Kopi Luwak. A coffee made from coffee beans harvested from the poop of Civets. It was only MR$35, about US$11 (malaysian ringgit – MR$3 = US$1). Normally in other parts of the world it costs about US$300 per cup. I usually can”t dink coffee but this was a special occasion.  Anyway we went to a local coffee shop call the gusto cafe, in Tanjong Bungah neighborhood. I tried it straight drip, and as a latte. Anyway enough gibberish, let’s get on to the coffee. 

Gusto Cafe - Penang, Malaysia

image   image  They look like normal coffee beans but they smell like chocolate and citrus, and you can almost taste it just by smelling the beans.image image

So first I will talk about the straight drip.I really enjoyed this because of it’s flavor. It was very strong, but the flavor was not bitter, a little close to bitter but not bitter. It was also very smooth and silky. It also had an aftertaste, I thought the aftertaste was very interesting, it was not very harsh and bitter like most coffee. It was very smooth and had lots of flavor. But what was the most interesting was the aftertaste lingers on the front of your tongue;  unlike the latte version which lingers on the back of your tongue. Now onto the latte review.  wpid-20130701_101156-1.jpg image

The latte was the version i tried first. It was very interesting because unlike the drip the aftertaste is closer to bitterness.I have no problem with bitterness, but was very different than I had expected. Also there was another thing about the latte, unlike most coffee where adding milk only adds creaminess; adding milk to kopi luwak dramatically changes its flavor. It becomes a lot stronger and the texture changes. So that’s the Kopi Luwak review. Over all I really enjoyed the coffee, it was very different from my expectations, but in a good way. I rate it a 10/10. I also had a special treat, another kind of coffee that me and my mom tried.     imageimage

We (me and my mom) also tried kopi tubruk, which was very different than most coffee. The coffee beans are roasted in sugar, so the coffee is sweet, but not in the candy sweet way. You drink it very differently, you drink it on a plate, not in a cup The reason you drink like that is so the coffee beans stay at the top. I found this was very different than Kopi Luwak, mainly in taste. This coffee was smooth, but not very silky, but also sweet. Overall I really enjoyed this coffee, I will rate it a 9/10. image