Friday, September 25, 2015

Links, 254t September, 2015

Forget 'developing' poor countries. it's time to 'de-develop' rich countries by Jason Hickel in The Guardian
Is this the most effectve development proram in history? by Chris Blattman "It’s a business plan competition for $50,000, and I think it’s a contender.
In 2011 the Nigerian government handed out 60 million dollars to about 1200 entrepreneurs, and three years later there are hundreds more new companies, generating tons of profit, and employing about 7000 new people."
UK, France and Germany lobbied for flawed car emission tests, documents reveal from The Guardian "Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show the three countries lobbied the European commission to keep loopholes in car tests that would increase real world carbon dioxide emissions by 14% above those claimed.
Just four months before the VW emissions scandal broke, the EU’s three biggest nations mounted a push to carry over loopholes from a test devised in 1970 – known as the NEDC – to the World Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), which is due to replace it in 2017."
(many of the above via Lamber Strether of Naked Capitalism)
The Sanctuary by Elif Batuman (from December 2011) "The idea of a religious monument built by hunter-gatherers contradicts most of what we thought we knew about religious monuments and about hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers are traditionally believed to have lacked complex symbolic systems, social hierarchies, and the division of labor, three things you probably need before you can build a twenty-two-acre megalithic temple. Formal religion, meanwhile, is supposed to have appeared only after agriculture produced such hierarchical social relations as required a cosmic backstory to keep them going and supplied a template for the power relationship between gods and mortals. The findings at Göbekli Tepe suggest that we have the story backward—that it was actually the need to build a sacred site that first obliged hunter-gatherers to organize themselves as a workforce, to spend long periods of time in one place, to secure a stable food supply, and eventually to invent agriculture."
Peter Turchin Complex societies before agriculture and Why become a farmer?. both on the same topic (from 2013)
Is it possible to think without language? "However, while it appears that we can indeed think without language, it is also the case that there are certain kinds of thinking that are made possible by language. Language gives us symbols we can use to fix ideas, reflect on them and hold them up for observation. It allows for a level of abstract reasoning we wouldn't have otherwise. The philosopher Peter Carruthers has argued that there is a type of inner, explicitly linguistic thinking that allows us to bring our own thoughts into conscious awareness. We may be able to think without language, but language lets us know that we are thinking."

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