Eikonal Blog

2013.11.26

Checks and balances

Some mechanism to keep society relatively livable for majority of population.


Capping executive pay

  • “Should the US Copy Switzerland and Consider a ‘Maximum Wage’ Ratio?” (SlashDot; 2013.11.23) – http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/11/23/1657202/should-the-us-copy-switzerland-and-consider-a-maximum-wage-ratio
    • “John Sutter writes at CNN that as Swiss citizens vote on November 24 to consider capping executive pay at 12 times what the lowest-paid worker at a company makes in a referendum. Some say the idea of tethering top executive pay to some sort of concrete metric might stop American execs from floating further into the stratosphere. ‘Here in America, the land of unequal opportunity, the CEOs of top-500 companies make in a single day about what it takes an average “rank-and-file” worker a year to earn, according to the AFL-CIO, the federation of unions,’ writes Sutter. ‘Democracy starts to unravel if a few people become wildly, ethereally successful, while the rest of a country struggles.’ A $1 million salary worked for American CEOs from the 1930s to 1980s, says Lynn Stout. But CEO pay, including options realized that year, jumped about 875%, to $14.1 million, from 1978 to 2012, according to the Economic Policy Institute. ‘What we’ve got is basically an arms race,’ Stout says, ‘where the CEOs are competing on pay because they each want to have higher status than the others.’ Peter Drucker, the father of business management, famously said the CEO-to-worker salary ratio should not exceed 20:1, which is what existed in the United States in 1965. Beyond that, managers will see an increase in ‘resentment and falling morale,’ said Drucker. Stout has suggested that the IRS make CEO pay a non-deductible business expense when it’s higher than 100 times the minimum wage. ‘Limiting CEO pay to 100 times the minimum wage would still allow top execs to be millionaires,’ concludes Sutter. ‘And here’s the best part: If the fat cats wanted a pay increase, maybe the best way for them to get it would be to throw political weight behind a campaign to boost the minimum wage.'”
  • “As Inequality Grows, Swiss To Vote On Curbing Executive Pay” by Eleanor Berdsley (NPR; 2013.11.22) – http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/11/22/246678622/swiss-inequality-is-growing-would-curbing-exec-pay-matter | MP3 – http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/me/2013/11/20131122_me_09.mp3
    • The youth wing of the Social Democratic Party collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to turn the measure, known as the 1:12 initiative, into a national referendum.
    • … 25 years ago Swiss CEOs made six times more than the average worker; today, they earn more than 40 times as much. … in a country of 8 million, 400,000 workers don’t make enough to live on.
    • Anger at high corporate executive pay is flaring up elsewhere in Europe
    • http://1a12.ch/
  • “U.S. should copy Switzerland and consider a ‘maximum wage’ ratio, too” by John D. Sutter (CNN; 2013.11.21) – http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/21/opinion/sutter-swiss-executive-pay/
    • Here in America, the land of unequal opportunity, the CEOs of top-500 companies make in a single day about what it takes an average “rank-and-file” worker a year to earn, according to the AFL-CIO, the federation of unions. Switzerland has an average CEO-to-worker compensation ratio of 148 to 1, the group says. The average U.S. rate is 354 to 1, according to the AFL-CIO. Others put the ratio somewhat lower, around 273 to 1 in 2012.
    • Either way, it’s bad. And some U.S. companies are worse, still. JC Penney Co. has the highest ratio — 1,795:1 — on a list of 250 businesses compiled by Bloomberg. That department store’s CEO got $53.3 million in pay and benefits in 2012, Bloomberg says. Workers, by comparison, earned only about $30,000 a year.
  • “Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays” by peter Turchin (Bloomberg; 2013.11.20) – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-20/blame-rich-overeducated-elites-as-our-society-frays.html
  • “Value In Sharing The Ratio Of CEO’s Pay To Employees’?” (NPR; 2013.10.26) – http://www.npr.org/2013/10/26/241030961/value-in-sharing-the-ratio-of-ceos-pay-to-employees | MP3 – http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/atc/2013/10/20131026_atc_03.mp3
  • “What are the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker?” (Center for Poverty Research) – http://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-are-annual-earnings-full-time-minimum-wage-worker
    • The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If a minimum wage worker is employed full-time (forty hours per week for 52 weeks), that worker would earn $15,080 annually.
      In 2012, the poverty threshold for a single individual was $11,945 and the poverty threshold for a family of 4 with two children under 18 was $22,283.
      Thus, a single full-time minimum wage worker has an income above the poverty threshold but if a full-time minimum wage worker is the sole source of income in a family of four, that family’s income is only 65% of the amount required to meet its basic needs.
  • “Turning Up the Heat on CEO Pay” (The Drucker Institute; 2011.02.17) – http://thedx.druckerinstitute.com/2011/02/turning-up-the-heat-on-ceo-pay/
  • “Return of the oppressed” by Peter Turchin (Aeon Magazine) – http://www.aeonmagazine.com/living-together/peter-turchin-wealth-poverty/
    • From the Roman Empire to our own Gilded Age, inequality moves in cycles. The future looks like a rough ride

Term limits

2013.11.24

Poverty

Filed under: education, health, mind & brain, society — Tags: , , , — sandokan65 @ 09:26
  • Poverty @WikiPedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty
    • Poverty is general scarcity or dearth, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money.
  • “Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions (And why their “bad” decisions might be more rational than you’d think.)” by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic; 2013.11.22) – http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/your-brain-on-poverty-why-poor-people-seem-to-make-bad-decisions/281780/
  • “This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense” by Linda Tirado (The Huffington Post; 2013.11.22) – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-tirado/why-poor-peoples-bad-decisions-make-perfect-sense_b_4326233.html
  • “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts” by Killermar (2013.11.22) – http://killermartinis.kinja.com/why-i-make-terrible-decisions-or-poverty-thoughts-1450123558
  • “The High Cost of Not Having Enough” by Emily Badger (The Atlantic > Cities; 2013.09.04) – http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/09/high-cost-not-having-enough/6759/
  • “How Poverty Taxes the Brain” by Emily Badger (The Atlantic > Cities; 2013.08.29) – http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/08/how-poverty-taxes-brain/6716/
  • “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function” by Anandi Mani1, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir and Jiaying Zhao (Science; 2013.08.30; Vol. 341 no. 6149 pp. 976-980) – http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976.abstract
    • Burden of Poverty: Lacking money or time can lead one to make poorer decisions, possibly because poverty imposes a cognitive load that saps attention and reduces effort. Mani et al. (p. 976; see the Perspective by Vohs) gathered evidence from shoppers in a New Jersey mall and from farmers in Tamil Nadu, India. They found that considering a projected financial decision, such as how to pay for a car repair, affects people’s performance on unrelated spatial and reasoning tasks. Lower-income individuals performed poorly if the repairs were expensive but did fine if the cost was low, whereas higher-income individuals performed well in both conditions, as if the projected financial burden imposed no cognitive pressure. Similarly, the sugarcane farmers from Tamil Nadu performed these tasks better after harvest than before.
    • Abstract: The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.

2013.11.21

Peopling of Americas

Filed under: anthropology, evolution, geneaology, history, past — Tags: , , — sandokan65 @ 10:43

2014

  • “Discoveries Challenge Beliefs on Humans’ Arrival in the Americas” by Simon Rommero (The New York Times; 2014.03.27) – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/world/americas/discoveries-challenge-beliefs-on-humans-arrival-in-the-americas.html?_r=0
    • Researchers here say they have unearthed stone tools proving that humans reached what is now northeast Brazil as early as 22,000 years ago. Their discovery adds to the growing body of research upending a prevailing belief of 20th-century archaeology in the United States known as the Clovis model, which holds that people first arrived in the Americas from Asia about 13,000 years ago.
    • More recently, numerous findings have challenged that narrative. In Texas, archaeologists said in 2011 that they had found projectile points showing that hunter-gatherers had reached another site, known as Buttermilk Creek, as early as 15,500 years ago. Similarly, analysis of human DNA found at an Oregon cave determined that humans were there 14,000 years ago.

      But it is in South America, thousands of miles from the New Mexico site where the Clovis spear points were discovered, where archaeologists are putting forward some of the most profound challenges to the Clovis-first theory.

      Paleontologists in Uruguay published findings in November suggesting that humans hunted giant sloths there about 30,000 years ago. All the way in southern Chile, Tom D. Dillehay, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University, has shown that humans lived at a coastal site called Monte Verde as early as 14,800 years ago.

    • In what may be another blow to the Clovis model of humans’ coming from northeast Asia, molecular geneticists showed last year that the Botocudo indigenous people living in southeastern Brazil in the late 1800s shared gene sequences commonly found among Pacific Islanders from Polynesia.
  • “Native Americans Descend From Ancient Montana Boy” (Science; 2014.02.12) – http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2014/02/native-americans-descend-ancient-montana-boy

2013

  • “DNA reveals details of the peopling of the Americas” by Tina Hesman Saey (Science news; 2013.11.21) – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/dna-reveals-details-peopling-americas
    • Migrants came in three distinct waves that interbred once in the New World
    • About 15,000 to 18,000 years ago, the first migrant wave spilled from Asia down the Pacific coast and then pushed inland, eventually peopling the land from “the tip of South America all the way to Hudson Bay,” says Andrew Kitchen, a genetic anthropologist at the University of Iowa who was not involved in the new research. That first migrant wave contained the ancestors of all South and Central American tribes, and North Americans, too. But something different was going on in North America, an international team of researchers has discovered.
    • A second wave of migration probably left Siberia only a couple thousand years after the first wave. Instead of trickling down the coast, the second group slipped through an ice-free corridor running from Alaska into what is now southern Canada, the team found. The second wave never made it south of the present-day United States. The mixture of first-wave and second-wave genetic signatures in some Native Americans today indicates that the newcomers and existing populations interbred.
    • A third wave of migration started around 4,000 years ago in Alaska and swept mostly eastward across Canada.
    • Previous studies of human migration into the Americas have sometimes focused on two types of languages that emerged among the tribes: the Na-Dene language family, including Navajo, Apache and Tlingit, and non-Na-Dene languages, including Algonquin, Ojibwe and Chippewa. Scientists had thought the language groups reflected genetic separation, with the second wave being restricted to the Na-Dene language family. But Torroni and his colleagues discovered that second-wave genetic marks occurred in people who spoke languages from both groups. The finding suggests that the languages developed after the people arrived, and gives a more dynamic picture of what was happening in eastern North America, says Kitchen.
  • “DNA testing on 24,000-year-old skeleton reveals that Native Americans could have EUROPEAN origins” by Ellie Zolfagharifard (MailOnline; 2013.11.21) – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2511172/DNA-testing-24-000-year-old-skeleton-reveals-Native-Americans-EUROPEAN-origins.html
    • The genome of the four-year-old boy is the oldest sequenced to date
    • DNA from the remains, discovered in Siberia in the 1920s, are thought to contain a third of Native American ancestry’s gene pool
    • Interestingly, the boy showed no similarities with populations in East Asia
  • “Ancient Bone of 24,000-Year-Old Siberian Youth Shows Native Americans had West Eurasian Origins” by Kathleen Lee (Science World Report; 2013.11.21) – http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/11072/20131121/ancient-bone-of-24-000-year-old-siberian-youth-shows-native-americans-had-west-eurasian-origins.htm
  • “DNA indicates Eurasian roots for Native Americans, new study says” by Meeri Kim (The Washington Post; 2013.11.20) – http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/fossil-indicates-eurasian-roots-for-native-americans/2013/11/20/2777ac24-51fa-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_story.html
  • “24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship to Europeans and American Indians” by NICHOLAS WADE (The New York Times; 2013.11.20) – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/science/two-surprises-in-dna-of-boy-found-buried-in-siberia.html
  • “”Great Surprise”—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins” by Brian Handwerk (National Geographic; 2013.11.20) – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131120-science-native-american-people-migration-siberia-genetics
    • Oldest human genome reveals less of an East Asian ancestry than thought.
    • Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.
  • “Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans” (Nature; 2013.11.20) – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12736.html
    • Abstract: The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians1, 2, 3, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Here we sequence the draft genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual (MA-1), from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia9, to an average depth of 1×. To our knowledge this is the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date. The MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers10, 11, 12, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages5. Similarly, we find autosomal evidence that MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americans, with no close affinity to east Asians. This suggests that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, we estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. This is likely to have occurred after the divergence of Native American ancestors from east Asian ancestors, but before the diversification of Native American populations in the New World. Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians2, 13. Sequencing of another south-central Siberian, Afontova Gora-2 dating to approximately 17,000 years ago14, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as MA-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum. Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.
  • “Disputed finds put humans in South America 22,000 years ago” by Bruce Bower (*Science News; 2013.04.20) – https://www.sciencenews.org/article/disputed-finds-put-humans-south-america-22000-years-ago
    • Brazilian site may have been home to people before the Clovis hunters
    • C. Lahaye et al. Human occupation in South America by 20,000 BC: The Toca da Tira Peia site, Piaui, Brazil. Journal of Archaeological Science. Doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.02.019.

2012


2011

  • “Stone tools cut swathe through Clovis history” by Matt Kaplan (nature; 2011.03.24) – http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110324/full/news.2011.185.html
    • Dig uncovers previously unknown North American culture.
    • The long-standing idea that the Clovis people of ancient North America were the first tool-using humans on the continent 13,200 years ago is being overturned by the discovery of human artefacts in a Texan creek bed that are even older.

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