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The Tropics Man's Next Home
Condensed from The World's Work
Herbert J. Spinden
HE first beast which might be called man walked through the wet tropical forests of Java, perhaps half a million years ago. Today this island, with more than 35,000,000 inhabitants, is perhaps the most densely populated spot on the map. Moreover, the population is almost entirely rural. According to official figures, less than 50 per cent of the land area of Java can be used for agriculture and as a matter of fact only about 25 per cent of it is allotted by the Dutch to the support of the vast human horde, the rest being employed to produce export crops of rice, sugar, tea, coffee, and commercial gums and fibres. Java is equal in area to New York State, and if the Empire State were as densely settled, it could have four additional New York Cities. And Java is more than self-supporting.
These facts illustrate the overwhelming superiority of the wet tropics over other parts of the world in the production of food. And I wish to show that the northern nations should protect their food supply by colonization in parts of the tropics at present undeveloped and in popular opinion considered uninhabitable. Also I wish to show that such colonization
is not impossible, and that the real enemy to be routed is not climate but disease.
Through subconscious loyalty to our northern inheritance, most of us agree in making virtues out of the very vices of our climate, and we talk of sturdiness in body and spirit born from the frost and flame of our capricious northern weather. But man originated in the tropics; today, as in the long past, for all we know to the contrary, his body calls for a warm, even climate-he has natural means of keeping cool, but not of keeping warm. His body is an air-cooled motor with an effective apparatus, in the perspiratory glands, to induce evaporation and thus keep the surface of the skin many degrees below that of the blood. Man has been able to conquer cold climates because of external specialization-tools, weapons, fire, clothing, shelter, and prepared food. These things, however, have had no effect upon the body of man, which remains adjusted in all essentially natural matters to the climate of the Ganges and the Amazon.
2. The moister parts of the tropics never reach the high heat which occasionally beats down upon the heads of New Yorkers and Bostonians. The maximum temperature ever recorded in Boston was nearly 105 degrees. In Para, situated only a degree south of the equator, the highest absolute temperature in the history of the weather bureau is a full 10 degrees less than this. In Batavia, Java, the highest recorded temperature was 96 degrees in 1877 and the lowest 66 degrees in the same year. Only once in recent years has the temperature reached 95 degrees. The mean temperature the year around is about 78 degrees.
3. Food is the basis of civilization: given food and leisure arts of all kinds come easily. Judging history by this economic layout, we find that the classical civilizations of Egypt, Assyria, Turkestan, and northern China are linked by food plants and that at a later time these food plants also invaded Europe. We also find that these economically linked regions are further linked by such diseases as smallpox, diphtheria, and malaria. The magnificent and richly sculptured temples of India, Cambodia, and Java bespeak economic wealth which released labor to the purposes of art. The evidence of history does not support the belief that warm lands enervate while cold ones invigorate. The most stupendous manifestations of the physical and mental energy of man are found in the tropics, and the evidence shows that this energy was continued over stretches of many centuries. Boro Bodur in Java is an edifice with three miles of high rehief panels carved in stone. It was built a thousand years ago and Java still flourishes. The pyramid of Cheops would be a big job for an American contractor for all the power-driven machines that replace the muscles of man. Yucatan is a welter of worked stone in vast monuments and towering temples. But in the long winter months how do the people of Archangel work off the energy with which, if we accept this superstition, they must surely be filled? The Icelanders have become expert at playing chess. The Russians of a colder region wrap themselves in furs and gather around fireplaces.
4. To be sure civilizations appear to have exhausted themselves in certain parts of the tropics, while we of the north, starting late, are in the heydey of freshness. The explanation of this exhaustion is seen, however, in disease rather than in climate. It would not be fair to say that northern Europe has a bad climate because the wolves attack in winter, nor is it fair to say that the tropics have a bad
climate because numerous__parasites invade the human body. Eventually man must fight parasitism everywhere. Most diseases caused by parasites which live in the blood of man, go with man to the ends of the earth. Tuberculosis, for instance, is now cosmopolitan. In Rio de Janeiro I talked with Dr. L. W. Hackett on the International Health Board work of the Rockefeller Foundation. He said: "Many diseases flourish in the tropics for the simple reason that no concerted and continued effort is made to check them. Some of the worst evils in this line can be checked by education in cleanliness and by sewage engineering of the simplest kind. The increase in human efficiency, once certain debilitating ailments are conquered, is remarkable."
Factory production figures show that the equable season of spring and fall, when the northern climate most nearly approaches tropical conditions, lead in the output of human labor. Building contractors say that winter jobs carry an added cost of from 5 to 20 per cent. Harvesting crews on our Western wheat fields demonstrate that men can work hard and for long hours in the hot sun of the northern summer. But the summer heat of the wheat belt is greater than any found in the tropics. Many kinds of factories maintain an artificial climate much more dfficult for man to withstand than the worst the tropics have to offer.
5. In both the New and Old Worlds there are large and extremely produetive areas which can be redeemed for human occupation. And it Would surely be the part of wisdom for the white races to habilitate parts of the tropics now undeveloped and scantily populated and protect by colonization sources of food supply not entirely dependent upon trade. The United Fruit Company has invaded the wet tropics and its fleet pours southern food into our markets. The Orinoco and Amazon valleys should be the future garden spots of the New World. The Congo and the vast timbered vastnesses of New Guinea offer potential food for many centuries to come.
The Secret of Sound Sleep
Condensed from The American Magazine (Feb.)
An interview with Dr. Boris Sidis by Keene Sumner
"Dr. Sidis, the famous psychopathologist, explains what he declares to be the only road to a real cure for sleeplessness. He says that the popular devices for going to sleep do not get at the root of the trouble."
F you want to get an eager response out of the average person, just say, "How did you sleep last night?" Few indeed are the persons who do not know what it is to wrestle with the Angel of Sleep.
Sleep is not as important as people think it is. Rest is essential. But we do not have to sleep in order to rest. Animals literally sleep with one eye open. They prick up their ears at sounds which, in our own sleep state, we would not hear. them, sleep is only a pronounced rest state. Therefore, you must realize first, if you are wakeful, that it is nothing to worry about. Moreover this realization that sleep is not all-important will be a great factor in helping you to sleep. Ninetenths of your difficulty in going to sleep is due to your fear that you won't go to sleep. And nine-tenths of the bad effects of a sleepless night are not the result of your loss of sleep, but of your worry over it.
Some people say that they can't sleep if there is a clock in the room and they can hear it tick. But it isn't the clock that keeps them awake. It is their fear of the clock -their fear that it will disturb them. I could prove to you that almost no sound in the world keeps a person awake. It is only what we feel about that sound.
People make a sort of fetish over sleep. If they fall short of a certain number of hours of sleep, they are full of worry and fear. Yet the after-effects of a bad night are not caused by lack of sleep but are chiefly due to your emotions of anxiety and fear.
However, there may be another factor. In addition to worrying because he doesn't go to sleep, the person who lies awake is thinking about the same things that have occupied his thoughts during the day business domestic problems, cares, ill health, etc. Now, here is a very important fact: When we use a nerve cell, we exhaust some of its stored-up energy. Mental fatigue comes through a continuous use of the same group of cells without giving them a chance to renew their store of energy. The mental exhaustion of a bad night is due not only to our anxious emotions but also to the fact that we have gone right on working the same nerve cells which we have been using during the day. Everyone ought to realize the importance of resting the nerve cells. We should do it a number of times during the day. Stop your work once in a while. Either lie down a few moments, or sit back in your chair with closed eyes, and completely relax. Stop thinking about what you have been working on. Make your mind as blank as possible. This practice not only prevents the nerve cells from becoming exhausted but it helps one to acquire the ability to relax at will. Practice it in the daytime. It is easier then because you are not obsessed with the fear of not going to sleep. In this way you will "get
the habit," and will be able to do it at night. It isn't true that you can't relax your mind, to let alone the things you have been thinking of during the day. It takes cultivation. The reason I object to the use of the countless formulas for going to sleep is that I think they defeat their object. They require you to concentrate the mind on some definite thought, even though it is a trivial one. It is mental concentration that we want to overcome, and to substitute in its place mental relaxation.
Now, when your thoughts keep you awake, it is because you are selecting and arranging ideas in your mind. If you didn't, you wouldn't have consecutive thought. Well, then, this is the very thing you must stop if you want to have mental rest. Sometimes you are conscious you are going to sleep. You know vaguely that you are "dropping off." At such times your thoughts are broken and disconnected. Halfformed ideas, fieeting and unrelated impressions, pass through your mind. It is because you no longer are selecting your thoughts and fitting them together. If you let your mind alone and don't direct your thoughts they will wander from one thing to another-merely a train of disconnected ideas. This is the normal state of the mind as it approaches sleep. Therefore, the normal way to go to sleep is to put the mind in the normal state for sleep.
Relaxation of the body is equally important. First, close the eyes. Next, keep perfectly still; no turning or tossing about. Every movement of any part of your body causes a reaction of the brain cells. You give them no chance to rest. Over and over again I have put cats, dogs, guinea pigs and frogs to sleep merely by closing their eyes and holding them quiet, even when they were so excited and nervous that I had to keep them still by main force. Perhaps you say, "But I can't relax."
It isn't true. You can-but you won't. At first, you will have to compel yourself to keep still. You will think that you simply must move, if only for an inch or two. You will have to restrain yourself, by an effort of the will, for several minutes. But you will find that these inclinations to move will pass, if you do not yield to them.
Tell yourself that you don't care if you do not go to sleep. And you can believe it; for you have reason on your side. You have had it explained to you by scientists, for they all will tell you this: That a prolonged sleep state af unconsciousness is not essential to your health! What you do need is relaxation and rest. So you tell yourself that you will relax, be quiet, and think idly of something remote from your personal interests. You can do this. Of course, these being the conditions favorable to sleep, you probably will go to sleep anyway. The point is, not to care whether you do, because you realize that it is not vitally important whether you go to sleep or not.
There is an old story of a peasant who went to a magician and wanted to be told the secret of how to find a hidden treasure of gold. The magician assured the man that it would be perfectly simple. "All that you need to do is not to think of foxes' tails for three days." Well, of course, the peasant couldn't keep for from thinking of foxes' tails three minutes, let alone three days. It was so tremendously important for him not to think of them that he was afraid he would; and his fear made him think of them constantly. It is the same with sleep. You have a mistaken idea that it is vitally important for you to sleep a certain number of hours every night. Because you think it is so important you are afraid that you won't. And your fear brings about the very result you dread.
The Wisdom of Laziness
Condensed from Harper's Magazine (Feb.)
1. Why women age sooner than men!
2. Lazy waiters the most satisfactory.
3. Nearly all progress due to lazy men.
4. Most great executives and writers are lazy. 5. "We comprise the hope of the race."
NE of the lessons in McGuffey's Readers that made a deep impression on me dealt with the nonconformist attitude of Lazy Ned, who deplored the time and energy which must be devoted to trudging up a hill after coasting down. Lazy Ned, it appears, was the only one of the coasting party who showed any intelligence. We have no record of what became of him in after life. But presumably he grew up to be a successful executive, or efficiency engineer, with a knack for industrial economies and labor-saving devices.
From childhood we hear our elders talk about lazy people as if laziness were ignoble, whereas the truth is that except for our lazy men there would be no progress and the lives even of energetic persons would be filled with drudgery. When a little girl helping her mother to clear away the dinner dishes sensibly carries a large tray-load to eliminate more trips, the mother chidingly observes: "Lazy man's load!" and the child thinks she has done something wrong. After a few reprimands of that sort, she falls into the habit of squandering her energies by needless steps until by the time she is grown,
she wears the world-weary expression so characteristic of housewives who imagine that laziness is a curse. Most women, it may be noted, show their age sooner than men, doubtless because the average woman is less lazy than her husband and doesn't mind ten steps where one or two would be enough. She would rather be conventionally tired than intelligently lazy.
2. The lazy waiter in a restaurant is always the most satisfactory and best. He brings everything that the diner will need the first trip because he regards every extra step as an abomination. It is the energetic waiter who brings coffee but no sugar or spoon and doesn't object to unnecessary journeys one at a time to fetch these while the coffee grows cold.
3. Nearly all progress in human affairs must have been due to the contrivings of lazy men to save themselves steps. When our early kinfolk lived in rude caves, every time a man desired a drink of water he had to walk to the spring. Presently some lazy fellow, tiring of so many trips to quench his thirst, fashioned a rude pail in which he could bring home a day's supply all at But even carrying a bucket of water is not pleasant, if one is lazy enough, and the next step was doubtless to hew troughs by which water could be diverted from the spring direct to the cabin of the consumer. A later achievement of the lazy man, to avoid carrying his water up a hill, was a pump and windmill. Similarly, the first boat, consisting of a hollow log, must have been born of the desire of one of our ancestors to avoid