[python-committers] Transfer of power

Tim Peters tim.peters at gmail.com
Fri Jul 13 23:22:09 EDT 2018

[Nathaniel Smith <njs at pobox.com>]

> That's not really true -- life expectancy *at birth* was ~35 years,
> but mostly because so many people died as infants/children. If you
> survived long enough to get nominated for a judgeship, then by that
> point your life expectancy wasn't too different from what we're used
> to today:
> https://passionforthepast.blogspot.com/2011/08/average-life-expectancy-myth.html

But that's just anecdotal, apparently cherry-picking the oldest people of
the time the author could find, and misleadingly saying "George Washington
was a young 67 [at death]", implying that was exceptionally young.  A
better account is here, which shows a bell-like curve for _all_ the
Founders' death ages, peaking in the 60s (Washington did not die
exceptionally young - except by _contemporary_ standards):


I happily grant that the vast bulk of mean expectancy increase is due to
surviving early childhood, but it's not true either that life expectancy at
(say) age 30 hasn't also increased.

But I think there are a lot of differences between a 21st-century
> F/OSS project and an 18th-century federal government, so probably not
> the most relevant model in any case. And of course it's always
> tempting to start inventing neat rules and procedures, but IME those
> details are actually the least important part of project governance
> (compared to things like, having a healthy discussion culture, tools
> for building consensus, etc. -- by the time you're voting on something
> you've already failed). So debating the pros and cons of term limits
> seems a bit premature to me right now :-).

The subject "Transfer of power" is a pretty good clue that building tools
(etc) isn't the primary topic of this thread ;-)  We're looking to fill the
void left by an Absolute Dictator for Life stepping down.  It's important
to get that part right too, because "by the time you're voting on something
you're already failed" is a thing that will happen, and repeatedly.  Guido
has been the last, best resort in such cases.

The US Supreme Court is the closest thing to a dictatorial institution the
US has (lifetime appointments, answerable to nobody, and against which
there is no appeal), so it's a natural model to consider when replacing a

Maybe people don't want a dictatorial court of last resort at all.  That
would be germane too.
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