Posts tagged ‘out of Africa’

Hunter-Gatherer Economics

In January 1488, Bartolomeu Dias, a Portuguese explorer, rounded Africa’s southern cape and put to shore to take on food and water. There he found a group, smaller and lighter-skinned than the other Africans he had encountered, who, mystified by the odd men appearing out of the infinity of the sea, chased them back to their boat under a hail of arrows.

The exchange, notes James Suzman in his new book “Affluence Without Abundance”, was a meeting of two distant branches of the human family tree: Europeans descended from ancient tribes that migrated out of Africa, and people commonly known as the San, who had called southern Africa home for at least 150,000 years. Just as important, the meeting represented the collision of humanity’s most ancient and durable form of economic organisation with its most powerful. The latter, wielded by Europeans, has dominated the half millennium since that scrape on the beach. But modern capitalist societies may have something to learn from the ways of their ancient forebears.

. . .

Life spent hunting and gathering, while occasionally trying, was not a tale of constant toil and privation. Food could run short during droughts or annual lean periods, but reliance on a broad range of food sources typically afforded such tribes a reliable, well-balanced diet. Even around the arid Kalahari food is plentiful (at least when the tribes are not forced to share the land with farmers and ranchers)—so much so that the typical adult need work less than 20 hours per week.

Living off the land: Hunter-gatherer economics

Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen,” by James Suzman

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Assorted Links 2/7/12

  • Hide From Google – a how-to from WIRED
  • Corporatism Is Not the Free Market – “Young people coming of age in the Internet’s decentralized and wide-open market of ideas and merchandise can’t be expected to show enthusiasm for a system that protects entrenched corporations from the forces of competition. Moreover ‘the legitimacy of corporatism is eroding along with the fiscal health of governments that have relied on it.'”
  • Property and Disputes Over Property – “For over a century England’s judicial system decided land disputes by ordering disputants’ legal representatives to bludgeon one another before an arena of spectating citizens. The victor won the property right for his principal. The vanquished lost his cause and, if he were unlucky, his life. People called these combats trials by battle.”
  • Non-Citizen Voters in Florida – “The non-citizen voters were discovered because they said to be excused from jury service due to their lack of citizenship. The question now is whether this report is symptomatic of a larger problem in Florida, if not elsewhere, or a relatively isolated problem.”
  • I earn my entire living on Craigslist. Ask Me Almost Anything
  • Sister Feng Hands Out Flyers to Seek a Husband in New York
  • Frequent-Flier Tax Traps,” by Laura Sanders, WSJ, February 4, 2012 – “‘The issues surrounding frequent-flier miles are a perfect example of how complex the income-tax law can be concerning everyday transactions for virtually every American,’ says Michael Graetz, a professor at Columbia University Law School and a former top Treasury official.” (emphasis on understatement added)

  • Free Carlos Miller – “It’s easy enough to claim that he was doing something to “obstruct” the police. Any allegation will do, plus they can always jazz it up with some officer safety references and put on the scared police officer face when they tell the judge about their split second decisions and how they do it for the children. But deleting his images can’t be explained. Seize him. Seize the camera. That’s one thing. Deleting the content of the camera takes the officers allegations into an entirely different arena.”
  • Hammer Time Rewind: Depreciation Kills – “In most cases, car buyers get more bang for their buck (power, features, etc.), lower up-front costs, and lower depreciation costs simply by buying a used example of a less well known/accepted car.”
  • Cheap natural gas jumbles energy markets, stirs fears it could inhibit renewables” – “Can an energy source be all that bad if it scares the two most heavily subsidized sectors of the electric power generation industry?”
  • Bacon Butter … and Coffee – “It was good! I’ll still stick to Coconut Oil in my coffee on most days… due to the many benefits of Coconut Oil.”
  • NYC agent arrested in latest TSA theft allegation – “A Transportation Security Administration agent stole $5,000 in cash from a passenger’s jacket as he was going through security at John F. Kennedy International Airport, authorities said Thursday, the latest in a string of thefts that has embarrassed the agency.”
  • Why French Parents Are Superior,” by Pamela Druckerman, WSJ, February 4, 2012 – “The French, I found, seem to have a whole different framework for raising kids. When I asked French parents how they disciplined their children, it took them a few beats just to understand what I meant. ‘Ah, you mean how do we educate them?’ they asked.” Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Creative Commons License photo credit: anokarina

  • Sugar May Be Bad, But Is the Alternative Worse?,” by Brandon Keim, WIRED, February 3, 2012 – “Some studies even suggest that fake sugar may cause the same problems as real sugar. … Another study of 6,184 adult Americans linked diet soda consumption with higher rates of metabolic syndrome, the umbrella term for a physiological disruption that leads to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.” Most people are best served avoiding anything containing wheat or sugar (see next link).
  • Myocardial infraction – “people who follow the basic advice of the Track Your Plaque program to do such simple things as eliminate wheat, don’t indulge in junk carbohydrates, normalize vitamin D status, supplement omega-3 fatty acids, supplement iodine and correct any thyroid dysfunction . . . well, they have no heart attacks.”
  • Did Early Humans Ride the Waves to Australia?” by Matt Ridley, WSJ, February 4, 2012 – “Everybody is African in origin. Barring a smattering of genes from Neanderthals and other archaic Asian forms, all our ancestors lived in the continent of Africa until 150,000 years ago.”
  • Let’s tickle the ivories,” by David Dubal – “There is an old proverb that goes ‘Play the piano daily and stay sane.’ … Playing the piano teaches one much, especially humility.”
  • Programmer 101: Teach Yourself How to Code
  • Seven ideas for learning how to program – Chad Perrin
  • Congressman Hurt To Discover Lobbyist Not Really His Friend

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,