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Andrea Matranga of the New Economics School in Moscow joins the podcast with a fascinating question: Why did humans adopt agriculture in the times and places they did? His research paper, The Ant and the Grasshopper: Seasonality and the Invention of Agriculture, offers a potential solution. Here’s the abstract:

During the Neolithic Revolution, seven populations independently invented agriculture. In this paper, I argue that this innovation was a response to a large increase in climatic seasonality. Hunter-gatherers in the most affected regions became sedentary in order to store food and smooth their consumption. I present a model capturing the key incentives for adopting agriculture, and I test the resulting predictions against a global panel dataset of climate conditions and Neolithic adoption dates. I find that invention and adoption were both systematically more likely in places with higher seasonality. The findings of this paper imply that seasonality patterns 10,000 years ago were amongst the major determinants of the present day global distribution of crop productivities, ethnic groups, cultural traditions, and political institutions.

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  • Today, on Google+, I was accused in an anarcho-capitalist forum of being a coward.  It was sort of an off-topic comment in the thread, but it was of the form “unless you’re taking up arms against the oppressive government, you’re part of the problem, and you’re what makes Libertarians look bad.” So I deeply disagree with this assessment, and see other paths to liberty.  I don’t a-priori rule out the concept that sometimes violent defense of one’s rights is called for, ethically justified, and occasionally even wise and effective.  I do not think that in a society such as ours, today, such a violent revolution is wise, could avoid harming innocents, or even could be effective, as I do not think it has the support of enough of the people to be so. Additionally, I fear it will simply galvanize a fearful population under the banner of the state, and further reinforce its hold on the populace. What say you, cloud city?

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  • Suppose a group of Ancaps are on the verge of overthrowing a government somewhere and imposing a libertarian social order. Suppose there was a debate in the US about whether to use the military to help them, stop them, or do nothing. Which do you choose and why?

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  • I had a serious epiphany driving home from work today. I had realized, I don’t have to feel guilty or afraid anymore because of what society or the government would label me as.   I just drove home and felt…pureness. Innocence for ONCE in my life. And it all came from the feeling of Freedom. Having Freedom, and recognizing it in others. Even before a court of “law.” They have no right to take my Freedom away, and in thinking this I realized, that I was already, and always will be, Free.   When I parked at my plot I saw two young girls and a boy, and one of the girls had a puppy and the puppy was SO HAPPY! Full of joyful curiosity for adventure, and then I realized Freedom was in that puppy. And I thought…that is Freedom.   As the boy and girl with the puppy walked ahead, I saw the other girl turn back and walk towards a rose bush, she picked a rose from the bush, and then I had witnessed… that is Freedom.   No one has ANY right, to take that away from anyone. NO ONE. Neither YOU nor me, God or the Devil himself… NO ONE! (Not that I’m religious mind you, no offense.)   Freedom is more than just speaking freely and choosing freely.  It is being able to be like that puppy, or like that girl that had the ability of CONSCIENCE to pick that flower out of her own Free Will.   In these moments I had the epiphany of TRULY respecting EVERYONES Freedom and understood what Freedom was all about.   Maybe I’m just a sentimental bastard, or maybe I’m just an emotional.   But I do know, that this feeling of Freedom is too beautiful for ANYONE to take it away from anyone else.   I personally feel that we can rehabilitate thousands of people in the penal system, if we simply explained to them the concept of Freedom: that it brings happiness and joy and compassion to others, and without Freedom, there will be none of those things. They will not exist. Freedom is pain, Freedom is suffering, but its also joy, life, happiness and compassion!   Have any of you had moments like this? Where time just slows down and catches up with your thoughts? And then BOOM! It clicks. It makes sense, you have an epiphany of the human soul. Hopefully there is someone out there that has had it.

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  • What are you growing in your garden this years? Do you have any photos to share? As of this writing my wife and I have English and snap peas, lettuce, carrots, radishes, and leeks going from seed. We have kale still going from last fall that we over wintered and our seedlings for the remainder of our crops are about ready to transplant.

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