While our bodies are at rest, scientists theorize, our brains are extracting what’s important from the information and events we’ve recently encountered, then integrating that data into the vast store of what we already know — perhaps explaining why dreams are such an odd mixture of fresh experiences and old memories. A dream about something we’ve just learned seems to be a sign that the new knowledge has been processed effectively. In a 2010 study published in the journal Current Biology, researchers at Harvard Medical School reported that college students who dreamed about a computer maze task they had learned showed a 10-fold improvement in their ability to navigate the maze compared to participants who did not dream about the task.
Absolutely love studies like these, shows that dreams are far from story but more to do with visualizing the brain at work, processing experiences and emotions to make room for new ones. Just like a computer. For more on the science of dreams, give my #Dreams tag a browse.
Leipzig - An international team of scientists have successfully sequenced the Neanderthal genome, and the evidence shows that humans in Europe, Asia and Papua New Guinea carry Neanderthal genes - while African peoples are 100 percent human.
An international team led by scientists from the respected Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have successfully sequenced 65 percent of the Neanderthal genome. It is the first time that the genetic code of an extinct human relative has been decoded, and the present announcement cam after 4 years of diligent study.
The results of this study, published Thursday last week, are similar to the findings reported (and foretold) last month here in Digital Journal, but the final publication of this study by researchers Svante Pääbo, Adrian Briggs and colleagues truly shows that years of denial about interbreeding between the two primates should now really come to an end.
One of the co-authors of the scientific paper, Adrian Briggs, stated unambiguously that the DNA of “Humans and Neandertals are 99.5 percent identical,” as is quoted in the English language section of Der Spiegel.
Better yet, and a blow to Caucasian and Asian racists, the comparison of the human and Neanderthal genome makes it clear that it is only Africans who are 100 percent Homo sapiens, while in European (including American and Australian settlers) and Asian populations one can find up to 4 percent DNA stemming from the archaic and often maligned Neanderthal species - a hominid that went extinct more than 20,000 years ago. A graphic designer at the BBC has transformed this information into a surprising graphic everyone should take a look at (see above).
Meanwhile, the team keeps working in order to isolate the last 35 percent of the genome as well, and perhaps we’ll see even more interesting revelations in the future.
Detractors remain, of course, especially since archeologists have until now come to different conclusions and have a different timetable when it comes to human evolution. A New York Times article from May 6 gives voice to these two ways of thinking.
These are from 2005 and 2006, they’re apparently old news. There has been a widespread campaign by Citigroup to cover these up and sue anyone who mentions them, but it just made its way onto reddit. There’s no covering this up now. If you can still mock the Occupy movement after reading these, then you’re nothing but a fucking slave. I’d rather you read the entire things, but here’s a taste to get you pissed off. Sorry for the huge block of text, but this is important.
1) the world is dividing into two blocs - the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest.
Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S. What are the common drivers of Plutonomy?
Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist- friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.
4) In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take.
There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie. Consensus analyses that do not tease out the profound impact of the plutonomy on spending power, debt loads, savings rates (and hence current account deficits), oil price impacts etc, i.e., focus on the “average”consumer are flawed from the start. It is easy to drown in a lake with an average depth of 4 feet, if one steps into its deeper extremes. Since consumption accounts for 65% of the world economy, and consumer staples and discretionary sectors for 19.8% of the MSCI AC World Index, understanding how the plutonomy impacts consumption is key for equity market participants.
THE UNITED STATES PLUTONOMY - THE GILDED AGE, THE ROARING TWENTIES, AND THE NEW MANAGERIAL ARISTOCRACY
Let’s dive into some of the details. As Figure 1 shows the top 1% of households in the U.S., (about 1 million households) accounted for about 20% of overall U.S. income in 2000, slightly smaller than the share of income of the bottom 60% of households put together. That’s about 1 million households compared with 60 million households, both with similar slices of the income pie!
Clearly, the analysis of the top 1% of U.S. households is paramount. The usual analysis of the “average” U.S. consumer is flawed from the start. To continue with the U.S., the top 1% of households also account for 33% of net worth, greater than the bottom 90% of households put together. It gets better(or worse, depending on your political stripe) - the top 1% of households account for 40% of financial net worth, more than the bottom 95% of households put together.
This is data for 2000, from the Survey of Consumer Finances (and adjusted by academic Edward Wolff). Since 2000 was the peak year in equities, and the top 1% of households have a lot more equities in their net worth than the rest of the population who tend to have more real estate, these data might exaggerate the U.S. plutonomy a wee bit.
Was the U.S. always a plutonomy - powered by the wealthy, who aggrandized larger chunks of the economy to themselves? Not really.
Society and governments need to be amenable to disproportionately allow/encourage the few to retain that fatter profit share. The Managerial Aristocracy, like in the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the thriving nineties, needs to commandeer a vast chunk of that rising profit share, either through capital income, or simply paying itself a lot. We think that despite the post-bubble angst against celebrity CEOs, the trend of cost-cutting balance sheet-improving CEOs might just give way to risk-seeking CEOs, re-leveraging, going for growth and expecting disproportionate compensation for it. It sounds quite unlikely, but that’s why we think it is quite possible. Meanwhile Private Equity and LBO funds are filling the risk-seeking and re-leveraging void, expecting and realizing disproportionate remuneration for their skills.
IS THERE A BACKLASH BUILDING?
Plutonomy, we suspect is elastic. Concentration of wealth and spending in the hands of a few, probably has its limits. What might cause the elastic to snap back? We can see a number of potential challenges to plutonomy.
The first, and probably most potent, is through a labor backlash. Outsourcing, offshoring or insourcing of cheap labor is done to undercut current labor costs. Those being undercut are losers in the short term. While there is evidence that this is positive for the average worker (for example Ottaviano and Peri) it is also clear that high-cost substitutable labor loses.
Low-end developed market labor might not have much economic power, but it does have equal voting power with the rich. We see plenty of examples of the outsourcing or offshoring of labor being attacked as “unpatriotic” or plain unfair. This tends to lead to calls for protectionism to save the low-skilled domestic jobs being lost. This is a cause championed, generally, by left-wing politicians. At the other extreme, insourcing, or allowing mass immigration, which might price domestic workers out of jobs, leads to calls for anti-immigration policies, at worst championed by those on the far right.
To this end, the rise of the far right in a number of European countries, or calls (from the right) to slow down the accession of Turkey into the EU, and calls from the left to rebuild trade barriers and protect workers (the far left of Mr. Lafontaine, garnered 8.5% of the vote in the German election, fighting predominantly on this issue), are concerning signals. This is not something restricted to Europe. Sufficient numbers of politicians in other countries have championed slowing immigration or free trade (Ross Perot, Pauline Hanson etc.).
A third threat comes from the potential social backlash. To use Rawls-ian analysis, the invisible hand stops working. Perhaps one reason that societies allow plutonomy, is because enough of the electorate believe they have a chance of becoming a Pluto-participant. Why kill it off, if you can join it? In a sense this is the embodiment of the “American dream”. But if voters feel they cannot participate, they are more likely to divide up the wealth pie, rather than aspire to being truly rich.
Could the plutonomies die because the dream is dead, because enough of society does not believe they can participate? The answer is of course yes. But we suspect this is a threat more clearly felt during recessions, and periods of falling wealth, than when average citizens feel that they are better off. There are signs around the world that society is unhappy with plutonomy - judging by how tight electoral races are.
But as yet, there seems little political fight being born out on this battleground.
A related threat comes from the backlash to “Robber-barron” economies. The population at large might still endorse the concept of plutonomy but feel they have lost out to unfair rules. In a sense, this backlash has been epitomized by the media coverage and actual prosecution of high-profile ex-CEOs who presided over financial misappropriation. This “backlash” seems to be something that comes with bull markets and their subsequent collapse. To this end, the cleaning up of business practice, by high-profile champions of fair play, might actually prolong plutonomy.
Beyond war, inflation, the end of the technology/productivity wave, and financial collapse, we think the most potent and short-term threat would be societies demanding a more ‘equitable’ share of wealth.