Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Mouse that Worked

Finally, after three attempts I have a mouse that works now. It was more difficult to install than I anticipated, but I it is now done and I have the ability to left click again. Not having a fully functioning mouse for almost a month was quite frustrating.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Today in Arivaca

Today there were a multitude of events in Arivaca. Most notably the annual House Tour. But, there were about a half dozen other things going on as well. The result was a huge influx of outsiders blocking traffic. I saw plates from Massachusetts, Michigan, Wyoming, Arkansas, Indiana and Nebraska today in town. My uncle and I only attended two events. We went to the library booksale. It is hard to find a better deal than 50 cent hardbacks anywhere in the world. Then we had lunch at the community center. They served Sonora chicken with rice, fruit salad, rolls, lemonade and brownies. It was pretty good. The wind finally died down today so after eating I smoked the hookah for the first time in almost a month. Today's shisha flavor was apple.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Walking the Perimeter with Blaster

Since the start of the year I have been walking around the perimeter of my uncle's property on a daily basis. It is marked by a barbed wire fence to keep out the neighbor's cattle. The distance is 0.42 miles or about 700 meters for my European readers. It takes me about a half an hour due to the rugged nature of the land. Often the dog, Blaster, follows me on these walks. The other day I had to perform emergency field surgery on him when he stepped on a chollo bud. I had to pull the spiked ball out of his paw using only my bare hands. In the last couple days I have taken to walking the perimeter twice a day. During this same time I have noticed that there have been alot more overflights by border patrol. I have no doubt they have increased their presence as a result of the recent armed incursions from across the border.

Friday, January 27, 2006

20 acres is a really small world

It has slowly dawned upon me that my world has been reduced to a 20 acre parcel inhabited by one other human being. More significantly it appears that this situation will probably persist for quite some time. It seems like there are alot of things just out of my reach. For instance there are still two eateries in Arivaca I have not tried. But, they are eight miles away of which four is really rough terrain. I might be able to walk the sixteen miles. I have not attempted it yet. Outside of Arivaca the distances are a bit greater. There are alot of interesting places within 60 miles of here for instance, but I am definitely not up to a 120 mile walk. Lack of physical mobility is an aspect of rural poverty I had not fully considered. Do people in rural areas without cars just remain confined to small areas their whole lives?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Gray Hill Must Die

Between Serenity Ranch and the nearest paved road is about four miles of very rocky and hilly dirt pretending to be a road. In the middle of this journey is an obstacle like no other I have ever seen on a US byway. Gray Hill is a steep and rock strewn protrusion pocked with deep holes. Every time we slowly and bumpily climb up and then back down it in my uncle's truck I proclaim that the monstrosity must be destroyed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Six Months since I moved to the Desert

It has now been nearly six months since I moved to Arivaca. For most of that time I have been confined to the 20 square acres of Serenity Ranch. Granted I did have a one week furlough to go to London in November, but other than that the furthest I have ventured is Tucson to the north and Nogales to the south. Ironically, most of Nogales and the part I visited is in Mexico yet it is actually much easier to cross the border than to fight Tucson traffic.

During my time here I have written one journal article, rewritten one book chapter and written four encyclopedia articles. All of these pieces will see publication in the next two years. I have also transmitted knowledge in my capacity as a guru to a couple of graduate students. Finally, I wasted an almost equal amount of time applying for jobs reserved for carbon copies of Angela Davis. In total this work averages out to a little less than an hour a day I think. Tenured professors generally write alot less than a published piece a month on average. So I think they probably only work an average of 15 minutes a day in addition to the six hours a week spent in class. At anyrate in addition to the unpaid work enumerated above I have spent the last six months reading, meditating, bonding with the dog and blogging. Most of my reading has been on the history of Arizona. Recently, however, I have taken an interest in Mexican history. My reading habits are largely determined by what is available at the Arivaca library.

In the next six months I hope to figure out a way to generate income. Although Serenity Ranch is beautiful it is also limited. I would like to be able to see some more of the world and talk to somebody other than my uncle. Much of my time on Meditation Rock is spent trying to figure out how I can earn enough to live off with a Ph.D. in history. So far I have not come up with much. My only other goals in the next six months are to continue to lose weight and to finish the book manuscript I am working on. Both of these are pretty
easy to do in Arivaca.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Well my technical problems still persist, but it appears I can blog now. I tried plugging in an external mouse. Its left click does not work either. But, since plugging it in I have been able to substitute a combination of right clicks and enters for most left clicks. For some reason I could not do this before plugging in the faulty external mouse. I am going to try and get a fully working mouse soon. The first one I got had the wrong shape of plug.

Since I have been absent from the internet I have written a little bit on my popular history of the Russian-Germans under Soviet rule. I have also read several books dealing variously with the history of Arizona, Mexico, Tuscon, Geronimo and Nogales. I also read some mystry novels. My uncle and I have taken a great like to the works of James Burke recently. Yesterday I saw a deer outside the kitchen window and today our road runner, Dum-Dum, managed to fly onto my back porch. I still have not figured out an alternative career to academia. Other than that not much has happened here at Serenity Ranch.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Another strange computer problem

I seem to have another strange computer problem. I can not log into Windows. I think my touch pad is broken. I am going to try replacing it with an external mouse. At anyrate it may be a while before I get this problem fixed. Eventually I will get a machine that works.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Human Cost of Communism part V

Starting in November 1929 the Soviet government began the forced collectivization of agriculture in Kazakhstan. At this time some two thirds of the native Kazakh population were semi-nomadic. Another tenth of the population, some 566,000 people, were totally nomadic. Collectivization required permanently settling these populations onto collective farms. This process involved a great deal of violence against the rural Kazakh population by Communist activists from Moscow and other cities.

Nomadism persisted in Kazakhstan due to the inability of much of the land to support settled agriculture. The Stalin regime settled most of the migratory Kazakh households onto collective farms that lacked sufficient arable land, grazing land, water, shelter, farm implements and other neccessities to support either raising livestock or growing grain. These poorly constructed farms often did not even have adequate housing and bathing facilities for the newly settled nomads. From 1930 to 1932, the Soviet government settled 320,000 Kazakh nomads, but only built 24,106 houses and 108 baths to accomodate them. The new collective farms could not sustain the large Kazakh cattle and sheep herds upon which the rural population depended for food.

Many Kazakhs resisted collectivization by slaughtering their animals to prevent their confiscation by the state. Those not killed often died from lack of shelter, food and water in the new collective farms. Some 90% of Kazakhstan's livestock perished during the 1930s. Cattle declined from 6,509,000 animals to 965,000 and sheep likewise fell from 18,569,000 to a mere 1,386,000. This destruction of Kazakhstan's herds resulted in mass starvation for the native Kazakhs. Between the 1926 and 1939 Soviet censuses their population decreased by 1,321,000 (36.7%). Much of this decline can be attributed to flight out of Kazakhstan to other parts of the USSR, China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey to avoid starvation. Nevertheless the loss of human life among the Kazakhs due to this man made famine certainly exceeded a million people, over a quarter of their population.


Zh. B. Abylkhozhaev, M.K. Kozybaev and M.B. Tatimov, "Kazahstanskaia tragediia," Voprosy istorii, no. 7, 1989, pp. 53-71.

Robert Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine(Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 191-196.

Martha Brill Olcott, The Kazakhs 2nd edition (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution, 1995), pp. 179-186.

Pavel Polian, Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migration in the USSR,(Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004), p. 87.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Dozen Most Important Historical Events in Modern Kazakhstan and Arizona

Recently a number of bloggers have been listing and debating what are the ten most important events in the history of modern France. I personally believe that French history has been done to death and there is nothing more to say on the subject. It has all been written about numerous times in several languages. Other areas of the world, however, have not been so well covered. Below I present what I think are the 12 most important events in the history of modern Kazakhstan followed by a similar list for modern Arizona.


1. Russian conquest and settlement
2. 1916 Uprising
3. Bolshevik Revolution and Civil War
4. Demarcation of national borders
5. Soviet promotion of national cadres and culture in the 1920s
6. Collectivization of agriculture and the famine of the 1930s
7. Industrialization
8. Mass influx of national deportees during World War II
9. Virgin Lands Campaign
10. Consolidation of Kazakh cadres under Kunaev
11. Glasnost and Perestroika
12. Independence


1. Mexican-American War
2. Formation of the Territory of New Mexico
3. Gadsen Purchase
4. Civil War
5. Formation of the Federal Territory of Arizona
6. The Long Walk
7. Development of the cattle industry
8. Apache Wars
9. Development of the copper mining industry
10. Development of the rail network
11. Formation of the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association
12. Admission of Arizona to the United States as the 48th state

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More technical problems

Sorry about the repeat post the other day. My internet connection has been giving me a hard time and I could not get back on to rectify the mistake. Usually I can get on between 1am and 7am, but last night it would not let me on at all. If this erratic ability to get online continues then my blogging will probably be less frequent than it has been.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Guru Pohl's Introduction to the History of the Muslim Orient

This is the first post in what I hope to be another series. It is a highly experimental post so bear with me. It has come to my attention that while highly intelligent that not all my readers have a strong background in Oriental history. So I am taking this opportunity to provide a list of books that I think provide an excellent introduction to this subject for the average lay reader. I have broken down the list by region. Unfortunately, the list is incomplete. I have not yet been able to find suitable books on Iran, the North Caucasus, Azerbaijan, the Volga-Ural region, Eastern Turkestan, Indonesia or Maylasia. If anybody has any additions to add to this list please put them in the comments. It is a work in progress.


Barnett R. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, 2nd edition (Yale University Press, 2005).

The Arab World

Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Harvard University Press, 1991).

Central Asia

Edward Allworth, ed., Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Dominance: A Historical Overview, 3rd edition (Duke University Press, 1994).


Alan W. Fisher, The Crimean Tatars (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1978).


Martha Brill Olcott, The Kazakhs, 2nd edition(Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1995).


Husain Haqqani, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005).


Erik Zurcher, Turkey: A Modern History (London: I.B. Tauris and Co., Ltd., 2001).