Wed. Open Thread: The Astronomical Clock Tower of Prague

c1rrrzuucaavmmr I hear this clock tower is in Prague, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. I mean really, if you’ve ever wanted to live out your steampunk/gothic aesthetic in real life, Prague is the place for you.

I am tired so I am jut going to say that clocks are really pretty and I love escapements and then go back to work.

Comment of the Week goes to Erik Gertkvist for creative app ideas:

I am almost negatively impressed by the lack of imagination from those that try to help the Gypsies. Wouldn’t a text-to-(Roma) voice smartphone app be a temporary solution to analfabetism among Gypsies? Similar to offer some “dating outside your small group”-app as a way to stop inbreeding, “find a Gypsie-friendly doctor in your town”-app or teaching materials? Given the billions EU have assigned to help Gypses (that simply aren’t used) some app developers could deliver these support apps within a year.

Jefferson had an interesting post on the effects of density:

I’m a bit of a broken record on this, but there is a much cleaner explanation for density’s negative consequences. Density has two components, removal from natural feedback mechanisms, and social disruption (exceeding the Dunbar’s number, and the as yet unnamed version of this for acquaintances). Both of these components lead, inevitably to increased narcissism and increased status signaling (which have multplicative effects on each other). …

And heading back to an older post, Barry Jones has some interesting thoughts on atheism, homosexuality, and complexity:

I believe America is becoming way too polarized in its disagreements about everything under the sun, and Joseph Tainter correctly predicts the collapse of any society precisely because their solutions to immediate problems always increase the overall complexity of the society. For example, new laws allowing employees to sue to get their jobs back was an immediate good, but contributed to an already congested court system, motivating many judges to engage in more dismissal of cases than they used to. us Americans are brutally stupid in our penchant for thinking short-term solutions are the end-all, be-all of existence. …

So, what are you guys up to? Any requests for future posts? Any recommendations on the subject of pastoralism/pastoralits? Or the Cowboy/Sheep man conflict? (I’ve been trying to find sources on that and only turning up indirect references.)

Have a great week!

10 thoughts on “Wed. Open Thread: The Astronomical Clock Tower of Prague


    Even if Shakers are such a textbook case for how not to design a long-term stable society, being celibate and all, it’s still kind of sad to watch their demise, since as far as I can tell, they’ve pretty much always been relatively nice and useful to have around…

    Prior to clicking on the Shaker story, I was reading a story about Nepalese menstrual huts. In high school a friend of mine was saying how gosh-darn-awful it was to be a woman in western society. I didn’t know about Nepalese practice then, but it’s pretty easy to come up with a long list of places and times that are way worse places to be a woman than modern western society… (That said, as a teenager I really hated the modern idea that you should pretend like there’s nothing different that time of month… I wouldn’t have wanted to be cast out to a stick hut at night, but I remember a teacher saying how awful it was that women in Japan got to* take one day off a month. Because Equality.)
    *Maybe it was “had to”, but how long would it take between being women being allowed one day a month and practically all women taking one day a month, at which point, not taking that day would look odd, and you’d effectively have to…

    (Note, I’m not generally of the “let’s discuss menstruation in mixed company” camp, but it fits with the whole Western-Civ-is-nice theme… Plus, there’s a definite human biological variation factor…)


    • I am grateful for modern sanitation and hygiene products.

      It seems like there are at least some people with a Shaker-like disposition, like nuns, but the particular paths they take can vary. Since Shakers do seem to cease existing rather quickly, I wonder what conditions could cause them to exist in relatively large numbers in the first place. Do they reflect normal human variation? Cultural factors? Or did the settling of the American interior somehow encourage this?


    • One of the big knocks on orthodox Judaism is how women are treated. “Family purity,” is a big deal (it’s also complicated, but the tl;dr is no physical contact for about two weeks each month), and only men do most of the religious stuff, but I’m finding that orthodox women seem dramatically less frustrated than secular women, on average. It’s much harder as a stay at home dad, than as a working mom, overall.


  2. Just wanted to say great blog and thanks for actually consistently talking about HBD and the like unlike other so-called ‘HBD’ blogs.

    Call me crazy but I’m beginning to think Neanderthals had at least the capacity to be as intelligent as us now. It’s estimated that they had around the same amount of neurons as we do, at 85 billion while we have 86 billion. There’s also evidence that there was no ‘cognitive superiority’ of modern humans over Neanderthals.

    So it’s possible (in my opinion) that cultural acquisition and transference may explain our success as a group, individuals and as a species, as crazy as it may sound, over other hominins who, in theory (and quite possibly due to arcaheological evidence) were just as intelligent (or had the capacity to be) as we are today.

    This actually lends some credence to Stephen Jay Gould…. I have some quotes of his that go along with this research.

    What do you think?


    • Thanks. HBD is the most fun to write about, but coming up with new ideas can get tough.

      Neanderthals certainly had large brains. I haven’t studied them in detail, but my impression is that there tech level was fairly similar to that of other humans of their day.

      Interestingly, “behavioral modernity” kicked in around 50-40,000 years ago, about the same time the Neanderthals died out, and We have various groups of humans, such as Aborigines and Bushmen, whom genetics says split off from everyone else and had little to no cultural contact with other humans thousands of years before before behavioral modernity.
      And yet, Aborigines and Bushmen, as far as I know, have all of the hallmarks of behavioral modernity.

      This suggests that either A. Behavioral modernity is older than thought, B. groups split more recently than thought, or C. once the process that led to behavior modernity got rolling, it kept going in all human groups.

      But is it any coincidence that Neanderthals died out right around the time BM set in? Perhaps not; there is some evidence that humans left Africa, encountered Neanderthals, got driven back, tried again a few thousand years later, and defeated the Neanderthals. Perhaps BM gave H Sap the advantages it needed to win out.

      If so, then whatever capacity–or abilities–Neanderthals had may have been greater than H Sap the first time around and less the second time around.

      So the big questions are what caused BM, and when exactly did it start?


  3. I saw a tweet some time ago about modernity selecting for those who resist it. Would you like to expand on this?


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