I've been cycling a lot of hardware at work recently -- new laptops, new servers, and the like, and this makes me happy because I finally have some actual spares of system important system components. One thing that strikes me, as I've been retiring older systems, is that Apple had some seriously weird video connectors in times past. One connector in particular connects to two separate video cards (?) in the back of some systems, and the rest of it is a cord to an old-style mac monitor. I don't understand why it's necessary or useful to do that, but that's the way it is, I guess. The students are back, and I think classes begin soon.
I really enjoy my job. Hurrah.
While reading the Muqaddimah, I mind myself thinking that Khaldun, in his analysis of civilisations and their decay, is not as certain that they must decay as an initial reading suggests. I'm feeling as if he's hinting at major obstacles to continuation of a civilisation rather than telling why they must fail, although it may be that that's my own systems-engineering urge coming into the way I read his work. Like many writers of the period, he does assume centralisation of power in the hands of a monarch, but his analysis of the nature of monarchy is incredibly brilliant, giving fresh perspective to even western pre-democracy regimes. Similarly, although it would be easy to dismiss his defense of the role of religion in the affairs of the monarch as being naive and too traditional, he actually moves well beyond orthodoxy in his positions, to the degree that any position he takes which is traditional is such because he thinks it to be good, rather than because he accepts tradition as being completely binding.
I am coming to a new perspective when it comes to history, and why I disliked it so much when I was young. Previously, I assumed that this was because I was a poor student at the time, or because my tastes have changed. To some degree, the second is true, and in a certain light, the first was true, but the first is misleading -- I never cared about grades, but I was quite a reader. I am now coming to feel thtat the bulk of it, especially on rereading some of the history texts I still had from youth, was that the books themselves presented a history vacuumed free of any major themes. One theme which I've adopted for a lot of my recent historical readings is understanding Islamic civilisation. This covers the Muqaddimah, several books I got on Iran, and hopefully a book on Ataturk that I'm looking for. It also covers some reading I've done online regarding Islamic investing and struggles over wealth. If I had gone to Qatar, it would've probably been the highlight of my efforts on the theme. Perhaps I can make alternate arrangements to see some of the middle east -- I may vacation in Persia, or if other interesting opportunities come up, I will probably take them.
It would be tempting to put together a history textbook, although I would lack the credentials and probably would not be published, especially if the blandness of the history classes I had before University is part of the American commericial or politically correct ingrained culture.