March 14, 2020
The always useful Visual Capitalist has come up with this timely graphic on the history and comparative virulence of pandemics across history. (You will probably have to select the image to get the full detail).
It shows that the current virus is small time in comparison to the serious infections we have faced and survived over the centuries. However, there is no doubt the current numbers will swell and this will then allow us to visualise its force as it grows.
March 4, 2020
America never ceases to disappoint.
February 4, 2020
The often interesting Visual Capitalist has published a graph of nominal interest rates from the 14th century through to today:
Select image for a larger look.
“Today’s graphic from Paul Schmelzing, visiting scholar at the Bank of England, shows how global real interest rates have experienced an average annual decline of -0.0196% (-1.96 basis points) throughout the past eight centuries.
Collecting data from across 78% of total advanced economy GDP over the time frame, Schmelzing shows that real rates* have witnessed a negative historical slope spanning back to the 1300s. Displayed across the graph is a series of personal nominal loans made to sovereign establishments, along with their nominal loan rates. Some from the 14th century, for example, had nominal rates of 35%. By contrast, key nominal loan rates had fallen to 6% by the mid 1800s.
Centennial Averages of Real Long-Term “Safe-Asset”† Rates From 1311-2018
*Real rates take inflation into account, and are calculated as follows: nominal rate – inflation = real rate.
†Safe assets are issued from global financial powers
Starting in 1311, data from the report shows how average real rates moved from 5.1% in the 1300s down to an average of 2% in the 1900s.
The average real rate between 2000-2018 stands at 1.3%.”
The current rash of negative interest rates that we see today is therefore in line with historical trends.
January 11, 2020
New research in South Africa has indicated that early homo were cooking carbohydrate-rich rhizomes about 170,000 years ago:
“[C]ircumstantial evidence for cooking is compelling. The spatial context of the rhizomes in ash rather than adjacent sediment is significant. Further support for cooking comes from amylase gene analysis results, which indicate that a high starch diet, possibly involving processing and/or cooking of carbohydrate-rich geophytes by early humans, was already in place by the Middle Pleistocene. Cooking enables dietary diversity, and transporting geophytes to a home base like Border Cave facilitates both food processing and sharing …
“The Border Cave discovery is early evidence of cooked starchy plant food. The wide distribution of Hypoxis, particularly the small, palatable Hypoxis angustifolia rhizome that grows gregariously in many habitats, implies that it could have provided a reliable, familiar staple food source for early humans moving within or out of Africa.”
This is additional evidence for the hypothesis that cooking made us human (or at least played a significant role in our societal development).
January 9, 2020
In the Public Domain Review, Patricia Mainardi has a fascinating essay on how the image of the pear became a symbol of opposition to the French monarchy in the 1830s.
The most famous of the images was probably this: Daumier’s The Past, the Present, the Future, depicting Louis-Philippe’s pear head in triplicate, his topknot defining the fruit’s stem. The caption (possibly written by Philipon himself) notes: “What was in the beginning: fresh and confident; What is now: pale, thin, and anxious; What will be: despondent and broken. ”
While originally based on the supposed physical shape of King Louis-Phillipe, it quickly became a general symbol for the anti-monarchists.
The essay goes into great detail about how this symbol developed into a political tool — a proto-meme.
“While the government at first responded to these drawings with repression and seizures, they gradually came to adopt, however reluctantly, a laissez-faire approach. In the course of numerous prosecutions, Philipon had learned how to turn court cases into circuses, much to the amusement of jurors who often declined to convict him.”
A really interesting piece of political history.
November 24, 2019
Erica Lagalisse will be talking about her recent book, Occult Features of Anarchism: With Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples, tonight at the People’s Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial from 7pm to 9pm.
Erica Lagalisse is an anthropologist and writer, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE), and board member at The Sociological Review. Lagalisse’s doctoral thesis,“Good Politics”: Property, Intersectionality, and the Making of the Anarchist Self, explores anarchist networks that cross Québec, the United States and Mexico to examine contradictions within indigenous solidarity activism and settler “anarchoindigenism”. The comparative work also throws into relief the idiosyncracies of university-educated Anglo-American leftists, and draws on anthropological, feminist and critical race theory to show how they have preempted the black feminist challenge of “intersectionality” by recuperating its praxis within the logic of neoliberal self-making projects and property relations.
As always, the event is free!