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Comment: Re:Slow on the take (Score 2) 377

by Jesrad (#47807349) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Well, there is a word that defines accurately what is happening here, but because this word has been slowly stripped of its rich meaning and turned into an empty slur, most people have stopped using it appropriately, instead merely employing it as a slur. For shame, really, because its attached historical lessons are desperately needed these days.

Comment: Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (Score 2) 281

by Jesrad (#47754549) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

Also, people during that age were not especially healthy. They probably died in their 40s.

Wrong. Half of them died young (typically before the age of 5) and the rest lived to their 60s and 70s, sometimes even older. Reconstructed modal age for primitive hunter-gatherers is 62 to 64 years of age.

There is a marked reduction in average size, and sudden appearance of generalized tooth decay, traces from infectious diseases and formerly absent bone deformities in our record of skeletons from the paleolithic to neolithic transition. Granted, the infectious disease became more widespread because of the growing densities of populations at the time, but the rest has been determined to come from the evolution of the diet. There is also a reduction of serious injuries observed, because less hunting decreased the exposition to dangerous predators and hunting accidents.

As for life expectancy, it decreased slightly with the agricultural revolution until circa 2000 BC, at which point advances in hygiene, sanitation, productivity and trade compensated for the difference. And we only now have caught up the loss in average height. There has been evidence of an adaptation to agricultural diets over time, but its effect is still small in terms of life expectancy.

Comment: Re:Gini coefficient (Score 1) 254

by Jesrad (#47669089) Attached to: The Benefits of Inequality

Thanks for the reference, this is all interesting. It seems to confirm that equality has a lot to do with the level of dissemination of information (and other forms of capital). The 'heavy handed" approaches concentrate it, and thus reinforce hierarchies, whereas the "light handed" approaches disseminate it around which dissolves hierarchies.

Comment: Misleading summary (Score 2) 254

by Jesrad (#47669041) Attached to: The Benefits of Inequality

I went and examined the paper, and damn right the /. summary is misleading.

First one, the researchers don't use the vague term "social inequality". Second, they are merely reporting on the results of a computer model, and not on some new archeological findings. From the abstract:

We model the coevolution of individual preferences for hierarchy alongside the degree of despotism of leaders, and the dispersal preferences of followers. We show that voluntary leadership without coercion can evolve in small groups, when leaders help to solve coordination problems related to resource production.

They did a computer simulation of the classic Coase argument about transaction costs affecting market structure (and its consequences on asymetry of information which equate to inequalities of human capital), applying it to individuals undergoing the agricultural revolution (food surpluses but with delayed returns and higher need for coordination). Well, yeah, a hierarchy emerges in this situation, because the rapid change in productivity is not uniformly distributed and depends on information that is costly to disseminate. That idea's been around at least since Hayek's works on spontaneous order. It's kinda nice to see it verified in a computer model, but it doesn't teach us anything new.

Comment: Re:Change management fail (Score 3, Insightful) 162

by Jesrad (#47579985) Attached to: Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded

Sounds like your IT has been outsourced to India

Not necessarily. I've seen this exact kind of madness happen just as easily with locals, here in France. Like that time the local, on-site support team from our vendor rebooted the production server instead of the test platform, because woops wrong terminal window in the foreground.

Or when they covertly rolled out a "shame-bug fix" remotely on the production platform during a week-end night, again instead of targetting the test platform, then noticed their mistake, and wiped-out months of production data by reverting to a long-expired backup.

Or when the local datacenter people managed to botch our fully-automatized install+deploy+configure solution by messing up on the one thing they had to do right - that is, upload it and launch it on the correct machine of the cluster.

Don't think hiring local people for more money protects you from such cringe-worthy nonsense. The moment you outsource anything, and I do mean *anything*, no matter how far and how expensive and what nationality: if you base your expectations on anything but an actual track-record of reliability and dependability, you're exposing yourself to long hours of hair-pulling and yelling into phones.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman