Twitter Digest: 2011-08-01

The Life-Spans of Empires


The Life-Spans of Empires

The collapse of empires is exceedingly difficult to understand. The author examined the distribution of imperial lifetimes using a data set that spans more than three millennia and found that it conforms to a memoryless exponential distribution in which the rate of collapse of an empire is independent of its age. Comparing this distribution to similar lifetime distributions of other complex systems—specifically, biological species and corporate firms—the author explores the reasons behind their lifetime distributions and how this approach can yield insights into empires.

via Taylor & Francis Online :: The Life-Spans of Empires – Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History – Volume 44, Issue 3.

Cayman Islands on the Prairie

How Casper, Wyoming became Cayman Islands on the U.S. prairies in terms of paper business registration.

The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming.

At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isnt a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. Its a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.

Neighbors say they see little activity there besides regular mail deliveries and a woman who steps outside for smoke breaks. Inside, however, the walls of the main room are covered floor to ceiling with numbered mailboxes labeled as corporate “suites.” A bulky copy machine sits in the kitchen. In the living room, a woman in a headset answers calls and sorts bushels of mail.

A Reuters investigation has found the house at 2710 Thomes Avenue serves as a little Cayman Island on the Great Plains. It is the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a business-incorporation specialist that establishes firms which can be used as “shell” companies, paper entities able to hide assets.

via Special Report: A little house of secrets on the Great Plains | Reuters.

Twitter Digest: 2011-07-31

The Springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition

Great series of accessible papers in the current issue of Science on global population growth. As regular readers of this site will know, I’m semi-obsessed with the neolothic demographic transition, so this paper caught my eye.

When the World’s Population Took Off: The Springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition

During the economic transition from foraging to farming, the signal of a major demographic shift can be observed in cemetery data of world archaeological sequences. This signal is characterized by an abrupt increase in the proportion of juvenile skeletons and is interpreted as the signature of a major demographic shift in human history, known as the Neolithic Demographic Transition (NDT). This expresses an increase in the input into the age pyramids of the corresponding living populations with an estimated increase in the total fertility rate of two births per woman. The unprecedented demographic masses that the NDT rapidly brought into play make this one of the fundamental structural processes of human history.

via When the World’s Population Took Off: The Springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition.

And here is a graph showing same from the paper. The y-axis is the proportion of 5- to 19-year-old skeletons (to all skeletons 5 or more years old)  in 133 cemeteries across the Northern Hemisphere during the transition from foraging to farming, and the horizontal axis is the elapsed time between the advent of farming at that particular location. Ndt

Inside The Trouble with 45-Year-Olds from New Jersey

A visit to the world’s largest dating service,

“The Match algorithm should have figured out that I don’t want a 45-year-old from New Jersey,” said one frustrated thirty-something professional woman from Manhattan. “Every time I log on I feel faintly insulted.”

via Inside –

Tax Burdens Around the World

Comparing tax burdens around the developed world, I am, as always, left to wonder how the opposite meme has taken hold in the U.S. conciscousness.

[via Globe & Mail]

Twitter Digest: 2011-07-29

  • The Art of Flight, the movie trailer. Epic and delirious. /via @aspenjfm ->
  • We are in a "landmark [historical] event – an exclamation point to the closing out of the American Century" – ->
  • Love how people think that raising U.S. taxes is politically unviable, as if that's up with laws of physics. It isn't, as will be found out. ->
  • [post] Niall Ferguson on the U.S., Debt, etc. ->

Niall Ferguson on the U.S., Debt, etc.

Long interview (audio-only) with Niall Ferguson about the U.S. education, debt, etc. I haven’t listened to this yet, so feel free to add a summary in comments. [-]

Are We Broke Yet? Live tracking Treasury cash balance.