Friday, April 25, 2008

Long list of things that have to go right

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
-- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

A very interesting application of this principle came in Jared Diamond's very interesting book - Guns, Germs and Steel. Why is it that very few ancient cultures were able to master domestication of animals (especially horses) while almost all cultures had some form of agriculture? Because, to domesticate an animal, a long list of things had to go right -
-- Having surplus food to feed animals
-- Having access to animals with the right temperament (You cant domesticate bears)
etc etc

Just like so many things need to be done right to create a happy family...

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