Friday, December 23, 2005

Jethro Tull – Super Hero

Jethro Tull – Super Hero

In 1701 an Englishman called Jethro Tull invented the seed drill . By quickly and reliably planting seeds at the optimal spacing and depth , this invention enabled about a fourfold increase in yield within one season .

This invention created the largest pulse of wealth in history . Bigger than the invention of fire . Bigger than the invention of agriculture . Bigger than the invention of the internal combustion engine or transistor .

It kick-started the Industrial Revolution .

The reasons:
Most wealth was agricultural.
The increase in wealth was within one season . Malthusian population growth would take about 2 to 3 generations to catch up . Imagine getting a 400% raise in your salary in one year without inflation . This was the effect . This pulse of wealth propagated onwards , giving leisure and incentive to inventors . (ref Baby Boomer Pulse)

The result was a pulse of wealth stimulating other individuals to make similar inventions . The Age of Reason was born . The problem was the massive increase in population made possible by the efficient mechanized systems .

The large number of surplus males and the means to support large armies led to the First Large War (Napoleontic) . This gave the Age of Reason a knock (Nationalism), but you could still state unpopular beliefs without being killed for it . The Second Large War (WWI) destroyed the Age of Reason and ushered in the ideologies (Communism , Marxism , Fascism , Capitalism ). If you stated an unpopular belief , you stood a good chance of being heavily penalized for it . The demise of ideologies collapsed the system back to Religious Fundamentalism , where you can be killed for stating an unpopular belief . The Age of Reason is finally dead . This is the state at circa 2006 AD .

The Age of Reason only lasted a century , but gave rise to our present wealth .

When evaluating ideas like that of Huebner ( see “Waiting for the lights to go out” in Sunday Times of Oct 16 2005 ) , it is important to remember that changes come in pulses . Things might seem to be going to hell in a hand-basket (cf horse-poop in New York circa 1890’s) , but discontinuities generate pulses of change and wealth . You might as well try to explain a transistor using Newtonian mechanics . In other words , analyzing pulses of change as simple statistics of numbers of people over time is garbage .

Is Reason a Good Thing ?

The human race is trembling on the brink of extinction because of the inability of reason to resolve the problem of population and competition .

Example: China
Twice China has limited expansion:
1 Destruction of exploration fleets in 15 th century : the result was Western domination 200 years later (not very long) .
2 One child families in the 20 th century . The Result was a pulse of wealth (as more resources was devoted to education of the lone children) , but their main competitor India is exceeding their population .

Reason (ie logic) has two major drawbacks :

1 The Universum (Venn) is unbounded . This has been proven rigorously in 1906 (Principia Mathematica by Whitehead and Russell) . This means that no theory of everything is possible . ( If you think you have a TOE , you can always define items outside the delineated boundary which , by definition , do not fit inside TOE.)
2 Chaos Theory shows that that even inside a deterministic system , time-sequence predictions are only possible with varying degrees of error (cf weather) . The number of near equipotential branches grow exponentially after a finite number of time units .

This means that the End Does Not Justify The Means .
At best , a prediction must have some sort of probability margins .
This argument is only valid if no time-travel is possible .

Is there hope?
Our present locale (the sidereal Universe) can be expressed as Locale I , defined by the principle that conservation laws are possible There are rules !. Seeing Locale I as delineated , means pockets of being (particles) , space , time and curvaceous space-time. But it is unstable iro non-conservation systems (defined as Locale II). Locale I is maintained artificially by Locale II .

Locale I is maintained primarily as a nursery (try bringing up kids where there are no rules!) , but also as a holiday (going primitive) and trading/warfare locale . This is because interactions can be enforced in Locale I (ie the rules:conservation of something) , whereas in Locale II you cannot force an interaction .

The above reasons work better if there is a lot of variety .Also , the usual reasons of humanity , looking after the planet , etc , etc do not apply except as insofar they illustrate a lesson . In other words , nobody is innocent except the children , and they get the lessons they need .

What does this mean ?
There will be a variety increase soon .
This can be
1. Massive depopulation (plague , eco)
2. Aliens in space
3. Aliens in time
4. Both (most likely : there is only one singularity per universe : the first contacts from the local viewpoint will be on most similar interfaces.)
Merry Christmas
The Alien.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Birdflu Survival Update -5

Birdflu Survival Update -5

Dated 20/11/2005

Disaster Planning

Worst Case Scenario:
Birdflu with a
60% infection rate and a
50% untreated mortality rate .
(= The Black Death Scenario : 30% of the untreated population dies)

Strategy: Improve the chances of a group to have better survival rate .
No absolute immunity is known , or , if known , desirable.

1. Communication and Education.
First , establish a CGA (control of a geographical area) ( by military cordons if necessary ) .

Each and every person in a Controlled Geographical Area ( CGA) must not only know what the pandemic is , but what each must do to maximize their chances of survival . This is essential , as a pandemic is a mass phenomenon and cannot be treated on a small scale.

A local radio station keeping everyone abreast of what is going on is also vital .
An internet center (like an Internet Cafe) in each quarantine area will be essential .
Cellphones , email ,etc .

Fast , personal communication will be the difference between this pandemic and previous plagues .

Openness about survival chances is essential . Rumors and panic can destroy the whole CGA , and secrecy is impossible anyway . Humans are tough . If they know that loved-ones might stand a better chance of survival by their self-sacrifice , they will do it . But they must know it .

Every person must be able to recognize the symptoms and know that quarantine is necessary . But equally important , the people must know that the quarantine is survivable , else people will hide symptoms and flee ( as happened in Black death and Spanish Flu) , spreading the problem for everyone . Hence the triage set out below.

2. Get the infection rate down by triage of vectors . (TOV)
The vectors are humans and birds .

Humans inside the CGA are first triaged on
A Symptom free and no contact with carriers.
B Symptom free and with contact with carriers.
C Has Symptoms .

Do not have more than 3 decision points at any level of triage . (Speed and simplicity is of the essence)
Each level has its treatment and quarantine levels as set by medical officer .
Multiple hierarchical triage decision points (not to exceed 3 decisions per point ) can be set below these in hierarchical order .

Keep families and friends in contact via radio , internet , etc.

ARDS seems to be main killer in H5N1 (like with SARS or 1918 Flu) . This is treatable (Loristan) , so the mortality rate can brought down from 50% to about 5% if the necessary resources can be mobilized . Thus , the probability of survival is not dependant on urban/rural , but planning , organization and mobilization of resources of the particular CGA .

But a really tight quarantine is essential .
A porous series of quarantines will lead to a more lethal bug evolving through the barrier. .

Every newcomer (without exception ) and every resurgent point in the CGA must cycle through the whole triage and quarantine process .

3 Birds and the environment:
It is pointless to quarantine a Controlled Geographical Area (CGA) if migratory birds can contaminate it by droppings , contact with chickens or being eaten by local predators . At present moment , about 25% of migratory birds are carriers of H5N1 . There is some disturbing evidence that Bubonic Plague is carried the same way.
(The concentrations of plague occurrences are sensitive to hot-cold fluctuations according to a newly-released analysis of old USSR data.) A large-scale synergistic bubonic Plague has a reasonably probable expectancy in the case of social breakdown caused by birdflu . Rats!

Sadly , extermination of migratory birds seems to be the answer . Since hunters have been trying this for a long time without success , the best strategy in a CGA would be to deny landing and feeding opportunities. Eg in arid areas , dams can be drained.
All chickens , ducks , etc are to be destroyed . Vulnerable elements of the ecosysytem whereby wild bird flesh can be introduced(eg vultures , eagles , falcons , etc) can be eliminated . Pigs as well , to be on the safe side .

It is essential that contamination of the watersheds and aquifers be prevented .
If these are lost , the planet-wide pool of pathogens could mutate faster than humans can adapt . Extinction .

Further eco-proofing can be attempted by adding biologically active sulfer into the foodchain ( eg sulfer injections used by wool sheep farmers to get curly wool , or MSM used by hide or pelt farmers)

4 Modelling and Decision-making .
Present plans for a putative pandemic are based on large computer-agent models as described in Scientific American and New Scientist.
These are general models . A very good approximation for limited Geographical Areas can be obtained by using off-the-shelf engines like Civilization or Empires .

A basin with borders , water supply and defined trade-routes with neighbors can be defined as an empire . A plague can be introduced . Etc,etc,etc

There is some theoretical evidence that coarsening the factors in non-linear systems can change a problem from uncomputable to computable while keeping a reasonable degree of accuracy (the old principle that , if you have enough problems , they solve each other . But be warned: certain cusps can be hellaciously sensitive . )

5 Some consequences:

a During the pandemic , the more successful CGA’s will be under severe volkewanderung pressure . Tough times .

b Initially , the global trade system will collapse . Decreased population leads to decreased demand . Highly automated production systems are little affected . Massive deflation results . The cost of labour (especially in the highest mortality low-skilled labour brackets ) rockets (like in Black death) .

Nation-States collapse , as they are perceived as not keeping the intrinsic contract of protection and not starving their people regardless of the level of taxation. It is a massive tax-revolt .
It is analogous to the anti-church movement that swept Europe after the Black Death . The Church did not keep it’s part of the bargain and the populace voted with their feet(and pockets) . In general , surviving people all over will feel very , very pissed-off and betrayed .

Betrayed by Science , Church and Leaders . A deep revulsion against anything Big , Scientific or For Your Own Good . Small-scale warfare will become endemic , with the present trend to condottieri accellerating sharply .

There is an actual non-linearity here .

There is a also a critical threshold here : A large number of smaller states will not be forced back into a large state . Nuclear weapons forbid it . Neither can economic warfare force a population below subsistence levels in small hi-tech states . The world then moves to a new stable state of small nations serviced by developments of NGO’s and Multi-Nationals . Nation states like the USA , EU ,China go the way of the USSR .
This is an irreversible change .

The transition.
How bad will it be? It depends on the leadership .
The natural tendency would be for fragmentation on the lines of the pandemic’s CGA’s .

The critical areas will be the food-producing plains : American Mid-West , Ukraine and the oil and gas regions. The surviving groups will jockey for control of the trade of these areas .

As can be seen from the argument above , the actual mortality of infected individuals depends on their treatment , which in turn depends on the resources mobilized .

The USA will probably fragment in three : the Mid-West is the only part that still has anything to sell (food) . The East and West-coast have frittered away their built-up capital and neglected their education , while building up their armed forces . A protracted civil-war , with decreasing foreign adventures seems to be probable .

The EU will completely fragment . The collapse might even go to mid-1700 levels .
The whole world reverts to about 1750 as far as political systems goes . Wipe out the disasterous World Wars of Napoleon , Kaiser , Hitler , Stalin , Reagan .

China spins back to protracted civil wars of maneuver , as it has very cleverly reduced its population to the point where it is vulnerable to a sudden plague .

The Japanese find out why communal baths nearly destroyed all humans in the west .

Islam finds out why eating with your fingers out of communal bowl is a really bad idea if you are poor and birdflu prowls around .

Africans find out that genetic diversity means that you have so many more receptor sites for co-evolved diseases .



Monday, November 07, 2005

The New Limited War

The New Limited War

Also called Infowar , Infocentric War , Cyber War

A quick summary is given first . See the end for Mongol references .

In the last 15 years , the cutting edge of the world’s armed forces have been radically transformed . It is not only new technology , but mainly the way that the consequences of that technology enforces new tactics , strategies and logistics .

“Quantity has a quality of its own “ – Josef Stalin

The four principles below seem to be only a quantitive change , but together they spell a qualitative change that any armed force that wants to survive or win will have to adapt to .

The Four basic principles should be seen in synergistic combination :

1 Information technology : The first shot kills . Smart munitions and rapid-fire weapons means that the only safe places are stealthed or deeply fortified . Besides being a force-multiplier , this means that the baddies can be individually targeted . (Theorist : Rona) .

2 Interconnected secure digital communication .

Unfortified military forces have to be stealthed . A good way is interspersed in the enemy and organized via stealthed communications . By this , efficient , secret , interconnected digital communication is usually meant. They have to be stealthed , as anybody who gets identified gets zapped or swarmed (See para 1 above) . (Theorists : Arquilla and Ronfeldt) .

3 Asymmetric threat :

Attackers and Defenders have totally different profiles . A small aggressive , mobile (ie stealthed by uncertainty of position) army can force the defender into a totally different configuration . Cf Guerilla wars , Mongols , Boer war , Wolves and Moose , etc . The classical case is the West’s freedom of info systems (ie computers , Xeroxes , etc) vs the USSR control of all information dissemination . The USSR could not defend itself against the asymmetric threat without losing itself . (Theorists : Marshall and Wohlstetter) .

4 The Decision Cycle . (The Granddaddy of them all)

(Theorist : Boyd) .

The decision cycle or loop is summarized by the acronym OODA

Observation , Orientation , Decision , Action .

It is applicable in any competitive endeavour . If you complete the cycle(s) before your opponent , you win . Baseball , rugby , battles , you name it .

Freedom (democratic) systems historically have been at an initial disadvantage , as the are counter-punchers . (ie Napoleon , Kaizer , Hitler , USSR) . They managed to weather the first punch and gain the upper hand in the decision loop by virtue of their superior internal competitiveness . But note that as technology progresses , the first punch grows stronger . Germany nearly won WWII . The USSR lost the Information War and does not exist any more . But it nearly , nearly won . If it aggressively used its armed forces in the late 1970’s , most of the remains of Europe would be speaking Russian now .

The logic forces aggression upon the USA . It has to close the decision-loop before any enemy . And since the enemies are all hidden and stealthed , it has to go on the worst-case scenario .

The enemies like Al Qaida are not really free-based : their support are drawn from very specific areas and population groups . The West has the nasty habit of drawing things out once it knows it will win . (This is because of vested interests in armaments , politics , etc ) . Eg the West can win easily and cheaply now by nuking all Muslim nations with neutron bombs and interning all suspicious nationals indefinitely .

Boom-bam over . Neither Russia or China will really risk annihilation in protest , since they also perceive these elements as risks to themselves .

The USA is at the present moment willing to expend lives and treasure in a sub-optimum tactic to secure strategic advantages . But it is still the 800 lb gorilla . If the terrorist groups are too successful , it will sit where it wants .

Since neither adversary seems willing to push the other over the edge , a de facto rule of engagement has emerged . The US wants cheap oil , not the territory or the people . The Muslims want the territory and people , as well as a fair price for the oil . Essentially , it is about the price of oil . Osama bin Laden quoted a bazaar price of $160 a barrel . Total denial will definitely cause genocide . A settlement of about $100 - $120 a barrel seems to be barreling down at us , with various guarantees . US troops will wthdraw to bases in Iraq , mainly as a buffer against Iranian adventurism .

This is the most optimistic scenario .

Random fluctuations: Birdflu

A pandemic with death-rates of about 30% planetwide seems very likely (80% probability during northern winter of 2005 .) Muslim populations will be hit very hard (70%-100% mortality) because of their custom of social eating out of communal dishes . Flu is mainly spread by hand-to-mouth/nose transmission . All Muslim communities are overpopulated and depend on external food imports for survival . Primary flu effects will be the flu . Secondary effects will be starvation due to quarantines .Planes , cars and communal dishes will be a lethal combination .




1 “The New Face of War” by Bruce Berkowitz.

ISBN 0-7432-1249-5

Clear and simple by CIA and RAND insider . Worrying because of the hubris leaking around the edges .

2 A very interesting article at the site below:

“Social Science at 190 MPH on NASCAR's Biggest Superspeedways” by David Ronfeldt
First Monday, volume 5, number 2 (February 2000),

An interesting correlation is sonons in superconductivity .

Even Nascar racers should be able to use repeated draft-bumps to speed up the pair to arbitrarily close to in-vacuo speeds .

3 The Castles-Knights defense evolved against exactly this kind of threat . Ie it has happened before .



Whatever happened to William what’s-his-name?

“The only serious challenge would have been from the Mongols .

The Western response to centuries of light-cavalry attacks was numerous fortifications with a few heavy cavalry in each . Light-cavalry (like the Mongols) usually win by getting inside the decision-loop of their enemies . This presupposes that their enemy obligingly masses . A few big fortified cities counts as massing .

The key is the advantage of fortified defense over offense . (In the siege of Malta about 8 000 knights held out against about 70 000 elite Ottoman troops .)

A successful ratio is about 1 defender for every 10 attackers .

What is the Western defense to enemies who do not stand still but can sting ? :

It is Independent defensive positions with a heavy smallish offensive punch which are NOT co-ordinated on a large scale.

Ie Numerous small Castles with a few knights and each having an independent ruler .

They will sit tight , but a few neighbours might combine to hit a tempting target .

If 300 000 Mongols attacked say 1 000 independent neighbouring castles , each with about 20 heavy cavalry , the Mongols will lose .

If they try to reduce each castle in detail , they will be nibbled to death by heavy-cavalry attacks from neighbouring supporting castles . Siege machinery would make the Mongols vulnerable to fixed-point attacks . There are not enough Mongols to attack on a broad front .

There are always more agriculturists than pastoralists .

It is a numbers game as long as the castles do not try to unify . If the castles do not unify , their attacks are random and the Mongols cannot get inside their decision-loop , because there isn’t one . “

End Quote


Friday, October 28, 2005

Birdflu Survival Update -4

Birdflu Survival Update -4

Dated 28/10/2005

Some biochemistry from an evolutionary perspective.
Evolutionary principles:
A Things go from simpler to complex.
B Repetition of coding DNA sequences

This results in conversion of digital DNA to analog concentrations of chemicals . This is a DNA favourite , as it easily happens that portions of the DNA is replicated . Eg CTG might be favourable , but CTG CTG CTG even more so . The rest is straightforward survival of the fittest .

The result is that the system is very conservative . The simpler molecules get used first . More fine-tuned control mechanisms evolve by using the intermediary steps in the more primitive chain as controls in their own right . The hormone system in mammals is a good example . Eg Many essential hormones used to be intermediary steps in the synthesis of oestrogen . The same effect can be seen in vitamins .

What has this to do with flu?

The flu virus penetrates the cell-wall by using a protein called neuraminidase , which dissolves the cell-wall . Once inside , the virus replicates . But it then has to get out again . Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) inhibits the secondary formation of neuraminidase after infection of the cell . The propagation of the infection is inhibited , as the infectious DNA is imprisoned by the cell-wall .

Neuraminidase interacts strongly with a simple benzene-type chemical called Resorcinol . This reaction is so strong that it is used as a marker for experimenters .

There is a whole family of simple benzene-type chemicals associated with Resorcinol

Known ones:
Shikimic acid ( pathways lead to salicylic acid , acetylsalicylic acid(aspirin) , methyl salicilate (oil of wintergreen) , tyrosine , vanillin (vanilla) , essential fatty acids , prostaglandins , anti-biotics like erythromycin , tetracyclines , doxordibicin , tamiflu)

Important study :
Search for “Catalytic properties of neuraminidase of non-cholera vibrios” by Lavrovskii and Berzov .
“…activation of neuraminidase was found in the presence of bivalent metal ions , especially Ca2+ , while chelate-forming complexes and heavy metal salts inhibited the enzyme .”

Pulling it all together:

1 There is interaction between Shikimic derivatives : a very proven one is aspirin and prostaglins . The very simplicity of the molecular structures strongly suggest that there are no energy-humps needing high-energy synthesis or enzymatic intermediation .
( In other words , I suspect that the supposed difficulties in synthesizing Tamiflu are a deliberate attempt to complexify a simple process in order to maximize profits.)

2 Skin and Cell-walls
From the general evolutionary principles above , one would expect that skin-structures would evolve out of cell-wall structures . Why reinvent the wheel ?

3 One would then expect that things affecting the skin would affect cellular walls
Resorcinol , salicylic acid , acetylsalicylic acid and oil of wintergreen are used for “acne,warts,dandruff ,psoriasis and similar conditions”

4 Sulfur
As sulfur is vital to the scaffolding of any cell , it is used as an adjunct in any of the above treatments . The sulfur serves to prevent inhibition of recovery . Think about this carefully .
Human burial practices sequester the large amount of biologically active sulfur away from the recycling process . A serious sulfur deficit is building up . Six billion people , each having about 15 kg of sulfur in their bodies , represents goodly fraction of the available sulfur-biomass . Add the lot in the cemeteries and any large-scale reforestation will create a significant health risk .

5 Arteries and veins.
Inside-out skin . The evolutionary ancestry is the same . The environment interacts in the lungs/gills .
Arterial callus equivalents are called plaque. Note the effect of aspirin .

6 Outside skin
The outside skin is connected to the inside-skin : ie lungs , nose , mouth ,stomach intestines , bladder , kidneys all have direct contact with the outside world and can be considered as one surface . So , for instance , what soap you use influences the micro-ecology of bacteria on your skin and eventually your resistance to disease or digestion Families have their own unique cultures of bacteria and yeasts on their skins . Communal baths (without bactericides) creates a monoculture of skin ecology which can severely compromise immune systems , especially without sufficient sulfur . The medieval decline of communal baths was a logical response . Note that communal baths have not revived . (LA proves the point.) . Japan avoided the worst by keeping it small and class-dependant .

7 What to do
From the suspicion that there is no natural energy hump between Shikimic derivatives (see para 1 above) , the direction of chemical reactions can be driven by concentrations . To be more exact , enhancing the concentration of a derivative can flow-back to the precursor and spill over into other derivatives .There is a back-pressure .

7 ; 1 Raise the temperature : the flu virus does not do so well at temperatures above 104 F . Pulse breathe 105F steam at 5 minute intervals for about half an hour , rest for about 2 hours . Repeat . Adding vanilla won’t hurt . The 5 minutes comes from the potentiating interval needed for a neuron to lay down long-term learning . The logic is that it must have some deep significance in the immune system ( which is , after all , only a glorified school .)

7 ; 1 ;2 : Alter oxidation patterns over longer terms than breathing
The Oxygen and CO2 levels are also dependant on the breathing pattern .
Pulsing the concentration of O2/CO2 over a longer period than the normal breathing influences small organisms faster than larger organisms . This differential can be exploited . (Cf Yoga)

7 ; 2 Add H2S : Suspended animation : About 80 ppm of H2S activates some very old genes that suspends animation at a molecular level ( see below) .

Wear goggles . (See dosages)

Pulsing the concentration of H2S between zero and 80 ppm will incapacitate (suspend biological activity) in small organisms faster than in larger organisms . This differential can be exploited .

I suspect that the normal immune system can handle a lot of insults given this advantage .

It should also help a lot with auto-immune diseases , as each pulse forces the immune system to differentiate between elements it did not think worthy of differentiating before . Neat .

Even neater if the ageing apoptosis mechanisms can be confused .

Suspended Animation (the real thing!)
In 2005, Mark Roth and other scientists from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle demonstrated that mice can be put into a state of suspended animation by applying a low dosage of hydrogen sulfide (80 ppm H2S) in the air. The breathing rate of the animals sank from 120 to 10 breaths per minute and their temperature fell from 37 °C to 2 °C above ambient temperature (in effect, they had become cold-blooded). The mice survived this procedure for 6 hours and afterwards showed no negative health consequences.
Such a hibernation occurs naturally in many mammals and also in toads, but not in mice. (Mice can fall into a state called clinical torpor when food shortage occurs). If the H2S-induced hibernation can be made to work in humans, it could be useful in the emergency management of severely injured patients, and in the conservation of donated organs.
As mentioned above, hydrogen sulfide binds to cytochrome oxidase and thereby prevents oxygen from binding, which apparently leads to the dramatic slowdown of metabolism. Animals and humans naturally produce some hydrogen sulfide in their body; researchers have proposed that the gas is used to regulate metabolic activity and body temperature, which would explain the above findings
Dosages of H2S:
Treatment involves immediate inhalation of amyl nitrite, injections of sodium nitrite, inhalation of pure oxygen, administration of bronchodilators to overcome eventual bronchospasm, and in some cases hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Exposure to lower concentrations can result in eye irritation (because of the high alkality of the SH- anion), a sore throat and cough, shortness of breath, and fluid in the lungs. These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks. Long-term, low-level exposure may result in fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness. Higher concentrations of 700-800 ppm tend to be fatal.
· 0.0047 ppm is the recognition threshold, the concentration at which 50% of humans can detect the characteristic rotten egg odor of hydrogen sulfide [2]
· 10-20 ppm is the borderline concentration for eye irritation.
· 50-100 ppm leads to eye damage.
· At 150-250 ppm the olfactory nerve is paralyzed after a few inhalations, and the sense of smell disappears, often together with awareness of danger,
· 320-530 ppm leads to pulmonary edema with the possibility of death.
· 530-1000 ppm causes strong stimulation of the central nervous system and rapid breathing, leading to loss of breathing;
o 800 ppm is the lethal concentration for 50% of humans for 5 minutes exposition (LC50).
Concentrations over 1000 ppm cause immediate collapse with loss of breathing, even after inhalation of a single breath.

7 ;3 Mega-doses of aspirin should lead to an increase in natural neuraminidase inhibitors . Be careful about side-effects (ulcers , blood-clotting). I cannot find anything on the net . Johan , Eben – your bailiwick .

7 ; 4 Take high Vit C doses ( 3-4 grams /day) As per Linus Pauling. Be careful about ulcers Use buffered preparations .

7 ; 5 Take MSM : about 3 grams a day. (Biologically active sulfur) . Vit C speeds uptake .

7 ; 6 Replace skin cultures : wash in a bacteriocidal soap . Then smear a yoghurt with live cultures all over you . Wait about 10 minutes , rinse and dry . Repeat daily for about 3 weeks . Any probiotic culture can be used instead of live yoghurt. The idea is to shift the skin ecology in the direction of symbiotic organisms , instead of the random guerilla skin our society encourages .

7 ; 7 Take tyrosine. .(Back pressure)

7 ; 8 Eat vanilla flavours.(Back pressure)

7 ; 9 Smell vanilla . .(Back pressure)

7 ; 10 Take erythromycin , tetracycline , doxorubicin. .(Back pressure)

I would really like some feedback on items 7;2 , 7;3 .

Andre Willers

New Climate Paradigm.

New Climate Paradigm.

Scientist : William F. Ruddiman , a professional climate scientist ( Professor of Environmental Sciences at University of Virginia ) . He is a well-regarded university scientist not connected to any pressure groups .

Publications : Various peer-reviewed journals .
Popular book :
“ Plows , Plagues & Petroleum”
Published by Princeton University Press in 2005
ISBN 10: 0 691 12164 8
A very balanced , clear-headed view of the whole climate-change history .

Large scale agriculture has since circa 8 000 ago counteracted natural climate cooling (which was caused by Milankovitch cycles) through land clearing (ie deforestation -CO2 release) and rice paddies ( flooding - methane release) . This was gradual until about 200 years ago , when the Industrial Revolution started .

Evidence used includes quantitive calculations on how humans could have released the required masses of green-house gasses – a very convincing argument .

The inverse ( the abandonment and subsequent reforestation of agricultural areas on a large scale due to pandemics ) and the reversal to the natural cooling is covered .(ie Little Ice Age circa 1400 AD to 1800 AD mainly due to Black Death and American pandemic depopulation of extensive agricultural areas throughout Mississippi-valley , Middle-America and Amazon-riverbank after Columbus ) .

Comment :

1 . The New-Paradigm
The previous assumption was that the climate changed and humans adapted to it . But if the alteration in human numbers or practices is of sufficient magnitude to alter the climate past certain critical thresholds , then a lot of history has to be re-written .

The cause of green-house gases fluctuation may be local , but the climatic effect is global .

2 .Feedback processes :
The effects of even small climate-fluctuations on marginal or overpopulated areas are severe . For example , the Little Ice Age . The extinction of the Norse colony in Greenland and the famine deaths in Europe can be shown to be causally linked to the bubonic plagues in Europe and the massive depopulation in the Americas .
The fate of the Roman Empire is also about to be redelved . Middle-East , etc .
Exciting .

3 Globalization.
Some completely unexpected things occur .

Globalization means cheap trade .
Agricultural products like wheat or corn can be imported cheaper from more favourable areas than they can be produced locally . Local agricultural land is then abandoned and reforested , while the population usually relocates to a city . The effect is the same as a pandemic in the country-side and swollen cities . The imports are produced more efficiently than a subsistence farming set-up , so the net global effect is a reduction of the human agricultural foot-print .

Even a subsistence farmer cannot survive , since he cannot trade a surplus for certain really , really essential things he cannot produce (eg salt , agricultural implements ) . His surplus is valueless for trading , since it can be imported cheaper than he can produce it . He might store it , but one or two years of drought and he literally starves . Of course , minor things like education or health is simply unaffordable

A good example of this is Africa today .
( A personal observation : in the area from Port Elizabeth to East London in South Africa ( about 400 km on the national route) there are no commercial farmers and vwery few subsitence farmers ( I counted 3) . The formerly commercial farmers converted to zero-maintenance game-farms and the subsistence farmers moved en-masse to Cape Town . The whole reach was reverting to thickets of thorn trees .)

The same thing happens with logging : it is more cost-efficient to log virgin tropical forests and ship them thousands of miles than growing and logging cultivated forests .The net global effect is a reduction of the human forest destruction .

The net effect of both is cooling effect , even though populations have increased . (The effect of industrialization is stripped out ) .

Local effects are severely asymmetric . Intensively cultivated prairies in North America means abandonment of farms or factory animal feedlot-farms in Europe or Asia . Clear-cutting in Indonesia means forests in Japan ,Europe or North America . Climatic disturbances in the short term ( 50 years) will occur .

But if the trading system breaks down , (ie collapse of the civilization) , the survivors usually restart subsistence farming , with the consequent deforestation . A warmer period follows . Examples: Warming after fall of Roman Empire , Collapse of Bronze Age civilization circa 1200 BC . (But not the Mayans – why?)

But there is another joker in the pack : ecological disturbance . The original deforestation/land clearing selected as survivors the toughest pests ( like rats) . Disease-prone areas were also left to the last . When abandonment occurs , these pests and their diseases explode into the vacant niches . The humans have by then packaged themselves into nice , concentrated parcels in the cities. Cycles of pandemics occur .

The wild comes to the city .

The broad pattern then seems to be :
Agriculture -> deforestation ->warming ->surpluses -> trade ->cities -> globalization ->farm abandonment -> reforestation -> cooling , severe ecodisturbances -> wars , pandemics -> collapse -> trade ceases -> subsistence farming restarts -> deforestation and the cycle repeats .

4 . An intriguing speculation about the Roman Empire.

Roman Empire:
Did the trade of cheap Egyptian corn through the Roman empire cause a switch from cereal growing to vines or olives (which is reforestation ) , causing a cooling which reduced the rainfall on the steppes , bringing the volkewanderung of steppe-dwellers down on their heads ?

Note that the very large central water wheat-mills in Gaul makes more economic sense if the wheat is imported , ground and the flour then distributed , rather than the wheat being collected , milled and then redistributed .

Reforestation crops (like vines , olives or fruits ) take years to yield a return . They are value-added crops , that can only afforded growers with deep pockets . The net result is the destruction of the small landowner . Even large latifundia were vulnerable . Even large pieces of ground are abandoned as they cannot produce any crop that cannot be produced cheaper elsewhere in the empire . As noted above , not even subsistence farmers can survive in this environment .

The citizen-farmer , once the backbone of the old Republic , has now become a client of a patron in a Roman city . The patron can afford it because of his large landholdings , worked by slaves and maintained by other armed slaves .

The only exception is on the frontiers , where retired soldiers are subsidized onto subsistence farms . But as already noted , subsistence farms are not viable in an empire . So the empire had to keep on subsidizing them . Eventually , this cost beggared the Roman Empire . It wasn’t just a soldier : it was his wife , children ,parents , uncles , cousins , etc. . If the state tried to refuse , they threatened to rebel or join the invaders ( who were family in any case) . The state by this time had only slaves or clients ( who were semi-slaves to the patron ) – not good soldier material .

The exception was the Christians , which had become more militant . (The meeker ones had been killed off in the pogroms) . Constantine realized this . He reorganized the army around loyal Christian cadres , concentrated them in the cities and cut the frontiers and the latifundia loose . This was a much bigger betrayal than the Roman retreat out of Britain . At first , only the relations of the frontier-troops burst through . Still , there were centuries-worth of scores to settle . But then came the steppe-dwellers , ferociously hungry because of the cooling and lower rainfall caused by the Roman Empire .

The age of the independent castle and armoured cavalry had arrived .
One of the largest land-reformation exercises ever unfolded . All the latifundia in Europe were parceled up as farms to the invading tribes . Vines , olivetrees , etc were uprooted and burnt (only fuel available) .

Trade crashed . Food transport ceased . A terrible time ensued .
Cities not having hinterlands protected by Christian troops , were looted and most of the inhabitants killed .
During the first winter , superfluous slaves on the latifundia (or cities) died of starvation , as the invader’s crops were not in yet , and they had none to spare .

Bitter triangular warfare between the newly invading (farmer) tribes , the steppe nomads and the fortified Christian Roman cities raged . The steppe nomads lost and were expelled . The tribes remained on the land outside of the Roman fortified cities .

This learning episode is the main reason why a Mongol invasion of Europe would have failed .

Constantine’s gamble salvaged something , but at a terrible price .

All this burning , looting and farming over the whole of Europe sharply raised the CO2 levels . The time-sensitivity of the climate to mild changes to CO2 levels is about 50 years (from Ruddiman) . So , by about 600 AD the climate in Europe got warmer , rain increased on the steppes and the steppe-dwellers’ pressure ceased .

5 Do the Steppe-Dwellers have a stable population size ?

The answer seems to be yes . (See Atlas of World Population History by McEvedy and Jones ) . The Mongolian steppe area’s population has remained steady at about 700 000 for millennia ( even during Genghis Khan).

The reason seems to be the low wealth multiplier : a herder can get only one calf a year , no matter how good it is . A farmer can get 30 – 100 fold increase in a good year . He can also store this . The herder has to have at least 30 years of good years in succession to equal one good farmer’s year . Now you see why nomads are just about extinct .

A farmer can survive 3 bad years in succession , because of this multiplier . A herder cannot . Every bad year might kill say half his stock , leaving him with about 10 % of what he started with at the end . The succeeding good year will leave him with at best 20% of his starting stock .

So , nomads cannot overpopulate easily , but is very sensitive to long-term downward trends in climate .

Which leads to the interesting speculation that the collapse of the middle-American civilizations (Maya , etc) triggered the initial cooling that led to the Mongolian excursions .

Another anomaly is the collapse of Chinese innovation in the 1400 –1500 ‘s . The Little Ice age decreased temperatures over Mongolia and Manchuria . Barbarian pressures on the Northern Frontiers increased and the disasterous central decision was made to concentrate resources on repelling this threat . The exploration fleets were burnt .

One can go on and on.



Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Life , Immortality and Probability

Life , Immortality and Probability

Probability in a mathematical sense is defined as the ratios of the number of occurrences of equally likely possible events . It is a circular argument , as “equally likely” introduces the probability concept in the definition of probability .

Example: flip a coin .

The ideal coin has only two sides , with equal likelihood between heads or tails .

The real-world coin is totally deterministic on one throw , but can become chaotic on multiple throws . Also , it can be heads , tails or side . So , not only the initial states of the throw has to be considered , but also the end-states (ie if the coin lands on a grid of vertical slats where only sides are allowed , or horreur ! ,slanted.).

Life insurance:

The risk concept here was based purely on statistics :

An example is the best explanation :

Choose a group of humans and an age , say ,45:

Count (all humans with Age 45) = L45 and count the survivors of the group a year later at age 46 =L46 .

The frequency of deaths in the 45 year old echelon per start for your chosen group is :

q45 = (L45 – L46 ) / L45

This factor is (q45) is then assumed to be the probability of death in the next year for somebody in the 45 year-old echelon and belonging to the chosen group .

This qx factor (where x is the age ) , is fundamental concept of the whole trillion-dollar life insurance industry . Of course , it can get very complicated , but this is the core .

For example :

The statistical probability of surviving from age 45 to age 46 = ( 1- q45 ) by definition .

The statistical probability of surviving from age 45 to age 77 is

(1-q45) * (1-q46) * (1-q47) * … * (1-q76) , where * denotes multiplication .

So , to get an age from where you would have a 70% chance of surviving to age 77 ,

Begin with (1-q76) and multiply with successive (1-q75) , (1-q74)) etc until the product equals 0.7 .

Obtaining the qx’s :

The mortality experience is different for different groups . Britain , Japan ,SA are obviously different for all ages and socio-economic groups . Because of the multiplication in calculating the end-probability , even small successive differences in the qx’s can make a huge difference .

For insurance companies , this makes the difference between profit in loss when in a competitive situation . They also cheat , and price-fixing is rife . The amounts involved are huge . A major problem is that an insurance company cannot tell whether is solvent or not , as the inherent uncertainty in the underlying figures , as well as the lack of record-keeping of all previous fudging of the qx’s obscures the company’s liabilities . The actuaries will keep on hedging on the high side , until collapse is unavoidable . Hence , Insurance companies usually collapse rapidly and with little warning (eg Sage , etc)

Actuarial tables of qx’s or Lx’s are available from most libraries , but only for the very broadest of groups (ages per country) .

As Insurance companies became more competitive , the groups of qx’s were sliced finer ( per sex , race , Socio-Economic group , etc ) . The mortality (qx) of a female ,white wife of a company director is obviously much lower than that of shanty dweller .

The problem of the finer slices is that the number people in the groups falls sharply . The statistical side of things get a bit dicey . They are also usually propriatal . (Think thumbsuck)

Notice that the cross-subsidization ( the whole point of insurance) is now only inside the group (unless the company cheats and subsidises the rich from the poor to get bigger premiums : a common occurrence)

Enter genetical testing :

This is a “real” probability based on the individual or on a group of genes , not on a statistical probability . At the present moment , this is still an imperfect science . As it becomes better , the moment of non-accidental death becomes more-and-more fixed and the incentive to insure becomes the same as the incentive to save .

Cross-subsidization vanishes except for accidents and cheating .

Immortality (except for accidents):

An immortal needs only take out accident insurance . It is interesting that the same is true of someone whose genetic risks are perfectly known , but who ages .

How long will an immortal live?

A meaningless question . More insightful is how many out of 1000 immortals will survive after 24 000 years . According to present accident mortalities , about 5 . But the accidental mortality rate for immortals would be much , much smaller than for mortals . It makes much more sense to talk of the half-life of immortals . A power-law is more likely . More immortals in the short term , but about the same in the long term. Still about 5 after 24 000 years.

How many immortals can a society support?

Max about 5 % . The same percentage as the leadership in any human group , regardless of size . Think of it as a recessive virtual gene . Longevity is enhanced as recessives match in the lower strata of society , displacing the top ones . Societies are inherently unstable , because the longevity genes are not dominant . (Dominant longevity genes in any life-system suicided in Malthusian extravagances very early-on)

The 5% leadership class acts like a virtual immortal class , but with internal and external pressures forcing change . Quite elegant , actually .

For human societies , it is immaterial whether the ruling group is immortal or not . An end state which must be extremely frustrating to actual immortals , since any action they take will wiggle back to the start point after a few centuries .

You can do the rest yourselves


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Birdflu Survival Update

Birdflu Survival Update

Dated 3/10/2005


“Nature Medicine , DOI : 10.3038 / nm1267 “

“New Scientist 16/07/2005 ‘Halting Meltdown in the Lungs ‘ by E. Mackenzie”

Summary :

ARDS ( Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome ) is the result of a runaway response by the host’s own immune system . The mortality rate is about 50% .

The stronger the host’s immune system , the more lethal it is .

This is the main killer with SARS , the 1918 Flu and H5N1 .

It is triggered by too high concentrations of Angiotensin II .

One of this chemical’s receptor sites can be blocked by the blood-pressure drug Losartan . This apparently also block ARDS .


Remember this!

It might save your life this coming Northern Hemisphere winter . See WHO warning of 29/09/2005 . Estimated fatalities range up to 120 million .

(Note that the only effective treatment – Tamiflu- has not yet been approved in South Africa and only limited supplies in First World countries have been stockpiled .)

Reminder in case of pandemic :

Do not touch your nose , lips , eyes or ears with non-sterile fingers . This is more difficult than it sounds , as self-grooming is deeply-hardwired in the mammalian genes . See how often people on TV touch their noses , etc .
Do not touch possible transmission surfaces with your hands . In SARS it was mostly lift-buttons and door-handles . Tap-handles , toilet-buttons , hand-driers , cutlery and in general , anything handled by anyone else should not be touched with bare hands .
Stay away from airports , shopping malls , libraries , video shops (especially) , pharmacies , hospitals , buses , trains , work until the end of the emergency .
Lay in a supply of Tamiflu , Losartan , MSM , VitC , mult vits , tinned food .
Make sure your affairs are in order .
Have a portable radio(batteries) , torch , emergency cooking stove .
Pray .



The Safest place in the next century.

The Safest place in the next century.

Taking into consideration food-production changes due to global warming ( as per World Meteorological Organization) , Population pressures , water , Earthquakes , Hurricanes and Tsunamis , the safest place until 2100 by far will be

1 . Mid-Canada

At distant second is
2 . South mid-Argentinia
3 . South mid-Brazil

The worst place by far will be Mexico , followed closely by India , North Africa and the Middle East . Food production in these areas will fall by 10%-20% by 2020 (only 15 years from now) , then decrease even more sharply for Mexico , India/Pakistan and the Middle East towards the end of the century . Africa’s food production grows worse with time from the north toward the south .

These are classical recipes for volkewanderungs . Europe , Russia and China will be under intense pressure from India and the middle east , while there would be no stopper to African population movement toward the south . The USA will be a buffer between Canada and Mexico , while north-Brazil will buffer Argentinia and southern Brazil .

This is , of course , barring Super-volcano’s , asteroid strikes , singularities , etc .

Yours contemplating my suitcase


Friday, September 23, 2005

The Collapse of Civilizations.

The Collapse of Civilizations.

I am indebted to N.K.Sandars ( “The Sea Peoples “ , ISBN 0 500 02085 X ) for her insight that large civilizations collapse from inhibitions to recovery . They obviously handled disasters and invasions before . A large civilization ( in her case the Bronze-Age civilization , encompassing Europe , North Africa , Egypt and the Middle-East) or the Roman civilization is a tough beastie and cannot be brought to its knees by a single factor .

A simple , measurable definition of Civilization .

First , we have to know what we are talking about .

Define a Civilization as the way an entity or entities produces and stores surpluses .

These surpluses follow the hierarchy : Air , Food , Water , Shelter (inclusive of clothes) and Art .

(Art is the Curiosity element , which includes monuments , literature , recreational war , games , religion , courting-behaviour , etc . These are all anti-boredom , leisure-consumption activities and constructions . This is because any neuronal-net will evolve to handle peak-challenges , but degrade optimally-learned feedback weights in the troughs . Since peaks are infrequent , successful civilizations have evolved to spend most of their time on Art , Play , Games , etc . This raises the interesting question of whether ants , squirrels ,etc have anti-boredom activities : ie Art . Courting-behaviour seems a prime candidate for anti-boredom activity like intelligence and humour .)

Human Civilizations .

We can then classify human civilizations by the way they produce or store surpluses : hunter-gatherer , agricultural , pastural , nomad-herder , with sub-classes like stone-age , bronze-age , iron-age , steam-age , electronic-age , pottery-ages , literary-ages , film-ages , etc , etc . The sub-divisions are endless and satisfy the anti-boredom criteria .

The Career of a Civilization :

1. The Rising Civilization :

A random fluctuation (usually organizational) makes a certain group better at generating surpluses . People flock in . The successful society has a way of incorporating them (this is possible due to the genetic conformity of humans (cf Toba)) .

Manufacture and export is vigorous . People want to belong to this new way of doing things , no matter what their initial status .

This progresses in a positive-feedback exponential fashion until certain negative-feedback elements become more-and-more important .

2. The Plateau Civilization .

The flies in the ointment : the negative-feedback factors :

2.1 Malthus

The population will expand to the limit of the resources . This takes some time , especially since civilized humans with some store of value (ie money) and a fairly stable political system optimizes on the grand-children instead of their direct children.

The surplus-per-person falls .

The very rich get much richer . The poor get even poorer . (Power-Law distribution.) A Middle Class forms , becomes important for a while ,then is squeezed smaller and smaller as surplus per population falls with rising population . See also factors below .

2.2 Diminishing Returns.

A quiet killer . Also known as the Rising cost of Marginal Returns .

Simply put , the easiest and cheapest things get done first . Subsequent things become harder and more expensive . (The classic example is the modern motor-car : in real terms , it costs about 100 times as much as Ford’s old Model T , but is no faster in traffic and cannot be repaired by the owner . Software shows the same tendency : expensive extra features are never used by most users , but has to be paid for . )

It is a real killer , because the marginal cost can be driven to a point where it is higher than the cost at an earlier point . The overhang creates a collapse pressure .

This has already happened in a large commercial system : the Concorde . If the time-cost of travel to the airports are factored in , the marginal gain in flight-time was not worth the cost . It took only one disaster to collapse the supersonic commercial market . Compare this to more robust tourist systems .

2.3 Relative Competitive Advantage.

The long-term killer .

It basically means that some things are cheaper to make elsewhere . If transport is cheap enough , these items can be imported and sold cheaper than they can be manufactured locally . (Globalization is the present term , but it has happened many times before .) The local artisans , manufacturers and peasants are pushed down into the unemployed class . The former pool of sturdy potential soldiers become a festering sore of embittered unemployed , kept pacified by a client-makework political system , the dole and the arena . (Present equivalents are party-politics , the dole , TV )

A classical example is the peasant wheat growers in the old Roman-Republic competing against cheap Egyptian wheat . The peasants and their children had no choice but to become professional soldiers . The state’s armed forces then essentially consisted of mercenaries paid by the state . The same thing happened to the other Roman manufacturing classes . The Roman corn-dole evolved as a consequence of Globalization . But this undercut the very basis of Roman power ,which was citizen soldiers . The result was that they had to induct foreign mercenaries into the Roman legions .

Simply put , the Roman upper classes could not trust soldiers drawn from their underclasses .

Question : Whatever happened to the Roman Mob? Answer : they all became slaves .

The Collapse.

The same scenario above played out in the late Bronze-age civilization . (circa 12 00 BC).

The rich used the trade-network to import cheaper manufactured articles , probably of superior quality initially , as well as food . This displaced their own artisan and upper peasant class (ie middle class) into penury . The rich used mercenaries from the outlying territories to keep the situation under control .The foreign manufacturers became more civilized and raised their prices . The profit-margin shrank . A random disaster made it impossible to pay the mercenaries . The system was stretched taut due to the decreased profit-margins . The mercenary commanders then allied with whoever offered them the best deal . The trade system broke down . Ship captains of food-ships refused to sail without some security from pirates and especially , a surety that they will be paid .

The surpluses (especially food) vanished . The food production areas were not going to produce anything without payment . Besides , the general collapse would have unleashed the locusts on them as well .

But the overpopulated areas were not going to lie down and die . The only way they could survive was by taking from somebody else . The previous nobles had the advantage of experience in organization and had some capital . The result was the Peoples of the Sea .

The resulting mess of semi-organised reivers washed back-and-forth from the Ukraine till Egypt . Egypt was the final nut , since this was where all the cheap food came from . Remessus III defeated them in detail , first the land lot , then the sea-lot . They were like locusts , not even making an effort to make a living . Taking and taking .

This happened very quickly . Remember : “Three meals away from revolution” and “One salary cheque away from the street . “ Once the mercenary commander was convinced that he could not feed or pay his troops , he would immediately switch to the alliance that promised at least a short-term possibility of this .

The relevance today.

The general principle is that people do not think that they will be better off belonging to a particular civilization . Ask the poor of New Orleans , who were left to die . Or the innumerable dead in China or the old USSR .

So will the whole shebang collapse in a welter war and grimaces ?

The truth is that most of the planet’s population is bored . Just look at history or at individual’s life courses . It is chaotic right down to what your teen-age daughter wants for breakfast .

Large-scale patterns are observable , but nobody pays them any attention . They are mostly artifacts , in any case .

So , it is pointless to try and project a course of events that is bland . Maximum drama and heart-wrenching emotions are the course . (Surplus of Art)

Humans do not want repetition . The thirst for drama and art is so strong that it even supersedes survival .

Complete systemic collapse is interesting , but partial collapse is even more interesting . Skating on the edges of chaos .

So , you can look forward to interesting times , but not complete annihilation .


Not the result I wanted


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Whatever happened to William what’s-his-name?

Whatever happened to William what’s-his-name?

After his lucky win in 1066 at Hastings , ruthless suppression of revolts through a scorched-earth policy around 1069-1070 at York and buying off King Swein of Denmark , he considered England reasonably secure from internal and external threats.

He spent the rest of his life fighting for his Home : the duchy of Normandy . England was considered and treated as a conquered cash-cow . (Something like his descendants thought of India )

He was a near-perfect Machiavellian Prince : ruling through fear and respect , distilling the ruling class to clients and close family . His only lapse was that he could not bring himself to kill his eldest legitimate , rebellious son (Robert Curthose) .

He had a long sick-bed , then death-bed , attended by the “best physicians and priests” . The fear and respect vanished upon his death . He was embalmed and shipped to Caen for burial . The state of his respect then can be judged by the fact that his sepulchre was too small for him ( he was about 5 feet 10 inches tall , but very corpulent at the end (kings are never fat.) ) . The bearers also dropped him , “breaking him” according to current accounts . No attempt was made by his successors to counteract the various spins put about by his erstwhile enemies . His grave was despoiled by Calvinists in the sixteenth century . A new monument was vandalized by French revolutionaries in 1793 . Today only a commemorative slab in the abbey at Caen remains . He would have been amused.

An interesting aside was that his long-time wife Matilde was only four feet tall . (Her bones were disinterred in 1968 ) . They must have made an odd couple . She was the daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders and he was the very able , but illegitimate , Duke of Normandy , something like the Prince of Pirates . He married her despite the opposition of Pope Leo IX and his liege-lord king Henry I of France : not a good career move for an ambitious princeling . He reputedly remained faithful their whole married life (she died before him) .
Their oldest son (Robert Curthose) was her favourite . She supported him even when he was in armed rebellion against her husband . Such was William’s love for her that he forgave both . On his deathbed (having a suitable time for remorse ) he forgave Robert and made him Duke of Normandy , but not King of England .

What If William did not win at Hastings ?

William’s attack was a typical Norman strategy . Keep up aggressive pressure and rapidly exploit any lucky break . The lucky break at Hastings was that all three Godwin brothers were killed in the battle . ( The King and his two brothers) .

Plan A for William was that his attack would be inconclusive and Harold would pay him to go away (like William did with King Swein of Denmark in 1070) .

When all three brothers were killed , the Saxons broke . The battle was lost , but the war was then lost because there was nobody of sufficient stature to rally the troops and the country . William’s speed , ruthlessness and tactics ( motte-and-bailey castles) prevented any rallying until the rebellion of 1068-1070 .

The very fact that William went to great trouble to bring across cavalry shows that he felt that the main probability favoured a standoff . Battles were decided by infantry , but even a modest cavalry force could prevent a rout if the enemy was deficient in cavalry (like the Saxons were). William had a fall-back to his ships and castle at Pevensey .

England then soaked up 10 000 aggressive and greedy Normans .

If William was forced to return to Normandy , he would still have been saddled with problem of about 10 000 aggressive Normans . Guess where they would go ? The way had been paved by the conquest of Sicily and Southern Italy by the Guiscard family of Normandy . Bohemund Guiscard went on to conquer Antioch during the First Crusade . Imagine 10 000 more like them .

What would the world look like now ?
What if William withdrew to Normandy and all those really aggro Normans went to the Middle East ?

Normans acculturate very quickly . A Norman Caliphate stretching from Constantinople to China is the likeliest solution . Semitic hysteria and Norman cold-bloodedness would make a formidable combination .

The only serious challenge would have been from the Mongols .
The Western response to centuries of light-cavalry attacks was numerous fortifications with a few heavy cavalry in each . Light-cavalry (like the Mongols) usually win by getting inside the decision-loop of their enemies . This presupposes that their enemy obligingly masses . A few big fortified cities counts as massing .

The key is the advantage of fortified defense over offense . (In the siege of Malta about 8 000 knights held out against about 70 000 elite Ottoman troops .)

A successful ratio is about 1 defender for every 10 attackers .

What is the Western defense to enemies who do not stand still but can sting ? :
It is Independent defensive positions with a heavy smallish offensive punch which are NOT co-ordinated on a large scale.

Ie Numerous small Castles with a few knights and each having an independent ruler .
They will sit tight , but a few neighbours might combine to hit a tempting target .

If 300 000 Mongols attacked say 1 000 independent neighbouring castles , each with about 20 heavy cavalry , the Mongols will lose .
If they try to reduce each castle in detail , they will be nibbled to death by heavy-cavalry attacks from neighbouring supporting castles . Siege machinery would make the Mongols vulnerable to fixed-point attacks . There are not enough Mongols to attack on a broad front .

There are always more agriculturists than pastoralists .
It is a numbers game as long as the castles do not try to unify . If the castles do not unify , their attacks are random and the Mongols cannot get inside their decision-loop , because there isn’t one .

Has this happened before?

Yes .

The collapse of the late Bronze-age civilizations around the Mediterranean .(circa 1200 BC) Refer to the best study on the collapse of civilization I have come across :
“The Sea Peoples” by N.K. Sandars (it was dedicated to Sheila and John Campbell – is this by any chance the John Campbell of Analog fame ? )In any case , the arguments in the book have a distinctly Cambellian flavour .

The collapse of the Western Roman Empire was similar , but not as bad .

See Alfred the Great’s system of burghs .




Insurance , Over-population and AIDS

Insurance , Over-population and AIDS
Without a reliable store of value , the only way to ensure for old age is to have as many children in the hope that some will look after their parents .

The prudent person thus has as many children as possible .

Gold can be stolen , cattle can die , children can be ungrateful .

How can a prudent man ensure that a part of the extra wealth of his good years can be reliably saved for his old age ?

Enter the Insurance Company .

Birthrates fall when reliable financial institutions are introduced , since children change from an asset to liability .

Furthermore , extra longevity insured by having money for expensive medical care in old age postpones and decreases inheritances to the children . In Europe this effect can be seen in the increased number of children staying with the parents (previously they would have inherited the house) and fewer children , as family money is used for medical old-age expenses instead of babies .

Chart Sanlam’s growth against Afrikaner family size . Every endowment policy to age 60 or 65 is actually resources taken from present children to future parent (as well as a vote of no-confidence in the children . (Justified by the burgeoning of old-age homes and retirement villages.))

Inalienability :
This is a major point , since no parent can really say “No” to child dying of AIDS . It might break their hearts , but they must be able to say that their savings are locked up and outside their control .

What African clients want is reliable payment on proof of identity and inalienability .

Typical products would be
Endowment policies to age 60 or 65 or pensions after age 55 tied to the JSE Xchange trade market in gold . Each rand buys the customer a fixed amount of gold guaranteed by the JSE . No interest . No admin after purchase until redemption . Rates published in the newspapers . Absolute minimum admin.
Commission , expenses and profits 3% - 5 % .
Maturity only on the maturity date (not death) . The heirs might claim after maturity .
It is like a bearer bond with limited term payable on proof of identity .

Tell it straight . For the man who likes surety for his old age . Nobody can touch it except him or his heirs before the due date .
(Things in Africa do not get much surer than the JSE and RSA .)

Secondary markets:
It is tempting to set up loan and surrender markets , but this invalidates the principle of inalienability , especially taking AIDS and other pandemics into consideration .
Also , the expense is damnable .

The client must be absolutely assured that only he or his legal heirs can get the money
And only after the term has expired .
Informal secondary markets will spring up (ref trades in bearer bonds) , but this does not concern the original assurer.

One would think that the lower-birthrate effect would be slow , but lower-income parents are terrified of being cast away by their children (ref funeral policies) . They would rather pay premiums on a policy than have more children . Contraceptive methods always seemed available if enough people really wanted it . White Afrikaner birthrates in RSA dropped dramatically between 1920 and 1950 , pari-passu with the growth of Sanlam .

It will happen in Africa .

But the first ones will get the cream of the pent-up demand .



Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Attractors for repeated hurricanes in Mexican gulf

Repeated hurricanes near the mouth of a major river will at first be deflected , then deflected less (maybe even attracted) to the river-mouth .

The outflow of a large river like the Mississippi creates a bubble of low temperature around it's mouth . The river water is at a lower temperature than the Gulf of Mexico . A hurricane is fuelled by heat and will follow the heat contours from lower to higher energy . So a large river like the Mississipi will tend to deflect the the first hurricane . (Like Katrina).

A hurricane passing close to the Mississipi's mouth dumps a lot of warm rain and surge. A subsequent hurricane , as can be expected in a warming scenario , will thus encounter a greatly decreased deflection effect . If the heating of water in the flood-plains causes a warmer sea-temperature at the Mississipi's mouth than in the Gulf , following hurricanes would be attracted to the river mouth , instead of being deflected .

Probability :
A near miss on the Mississipi's mouth will be followed by closer and closer hits until the end of the hurricane season .

High probability prediction:

Katrina will most likely be followed by at least two hurricanes this year , hitting Mississipi's mouth or close to it .


Roman Garum , Tables and Terrorism

Read an interesting book:"Around the Roman Table" by P.Faas ISBN 0333904664
Some interesting points arose:

1. Garum : apparantly , decomposing fish is rich in mono-sodium glutamate . The ability to taste it (the receptor for umame) is
linked to a definite gene-set. This gene is common in the East (hence their love of soy-sauce , etc) , but gets swamped in the West . So where did the Romans get it ? The candidates seem to be Troy , Etruscans ,Sabines , the major sources of early
Roman genes . The Etruscans' origin is mysterious enough to be possibly from middle-asia (the asian aryans) .
Gene enrichment from Troy plus patrician intermarriage and fashion could explain the popularity of the sauce . At least until
the ruling classes no longer could taste umame , and warped the sauce into a salty,fatty,saucy thing by another name.

Johan , can you dig into this ? It seems strange that a bunch of farmers far from the sea should have their major
sauce based on fish .

2. Sabine women : Rose and Inge , take note .
One of the few instances where a single instance of woman-power had an effect reaching over the centuries.

The Romans abducted some Sabine woman , presumably young unmarried woman . After two years , the Sabine men decided to reclaim their woman . By this time , they had children and must have been treated better by their captors than they would
have been by their own lot . In any case , they interposed themselves between the two bunch of posturing
warriors and managed to negotiate one of the most significant treaties in Western history :

The Treaty:
"Roman women would not grind or cook grain" (from Pliny) .

This task was to be done by slaves ("Pitor" for grinding and "Coccus" for cooking.) . At this time and for the next 3 centuries ,
the staple grain was spent , which was very difficult to shell . It took a lot of work to prepare a meal , which is
why the women took the opportunity to duck out . And who can blame them ?

At one stroke , the labour force of of the embryo Romans was halved . Slaves were needed to fill the gap left by the women.
You can calculate the calory requirements yourself . It would need at least 4 - 5 slaves for a consumer household
just to feed itself . This launched the Romans on an expansionist phase looking for new slaves .
For instance , from 672 BC to 235 BC the doors of the temple of Janus was not closed : 337 years of continuous warfare .
The Romans were very aggressive , since they needed new slaves for their expanding population (see below)

The pampered Roman women had higher birth-rates than the surrounding tribes.
These other tribal woman had to do hard tasks done by slaves in the Roman households .
Hard here work means really hard work . There were no labour saving devices . This inevitably meant a high rate of stillbirths ,
low conception rate (little fat) , child mortality due to neglect or infanticide.

The relative advantage in birthrates generated the Roman powerbase.
This not only gave rise to new girls, but also to new boys : soldiers . As you can see , this is an exponential process :
hardly perceptable at the start , but then a sudden run-up where the Romans had armies of 200 000 men as in the Carthaginian
period.All healthy and strong individuals.

This was probably as close as humans have come to Draka .
Note that all females(even slaves) were used for breeding soldiers.
Which is how men ("Cocci") became cooks . The Roman matron was never expected to cook food (not in her job description)

The man had to provide slaves or hire professional firms of slave cooks . Or they ate out .

Initially , the pitor was a strong prisoner-of-war (because of the hard labour involved in using a pestle to husk spent wheat) .
So , the Romans never evolved the concept that cooking was woman's work . Many Patricians and Emperors
were enthusiastic cooks . (of course , they never did any washing-up , but neither did a Roman wife . )

A gentleman had his vegetable and herb garden (derived from the inner enclosed courtyard of the Roman house).
Allotments evolved from here : even lowly government employees could have vegetable ,herb or flower gardens
without been seen to be in "trade" . This spread all over Europe as discussed before.
This had a long lasting effect.
For instance , an English gentleman may grow pumpkins or roses , and nobody will think anything of it . But if
he grows wheat , he is a farmer .

An intriguing note here is from "L'Alimentation" by J . Andre . By AD 369 , 200 000 Romans on food-aid got 1360 grams
of oil,bread and meat a day , but no vegetables .

3. Game farms
Romans had game farms (Fulvius Lippinius:from Pliny)
Also oyster and fish farms.
The collapse must have wiped them out , a-la-Zimbabwe.

4. Collapse of pepper trade.
Alaric's ransom demand to Rome included gold,silver silk and pepper . Faas intimates that either this was the last of available pepper,or that Rome could not meet the pepper demand . Given global winter caused by a major meteor strike or
volcanic eruption circa 422-427 AD , what would have been the effect on Indian trade patterns and agriculture?
Why was pepper a thousand years later worth the same as gold by weight , while it was one
the most common Roman spices ?

5.King Arthur's Round Table.
The commonest Roman triclinium for dining was a like a half an inverted saucer with the center cut out .The round communal
table is in the cut-out part . The guests recline on the slopes of the saucer , usually eating with their right hand .
Slaves served from the open side of the saucer .
There is no equality as implied by our concept of a round table . The social position of every position had been determined
centuries before. Furthermore , it took about thirty or forty slaves just for the banquet .

Martial (admittedly a few centuries earlier ) described this sort of environment . During a banquet like this , a boy-slave
(used to carry wine beakers and slake the occasional pederast) stumbled over the sprawling legs of the host .
The host was mildly annoyed and ordered the boy to commit suicide . The boy burst into tears , and was forgiven .
But it shows the absolute power the owners had over the born-and-bred slaves .

Now you see why the Saxons extirpated the Roman remnants in Britain . We would call it an evil empire .
You can feel it inside yourself:the revulsion not just at the misuse of this power , but that this power
should exist at all .

Interestingly , systematic use of suicide mechanisms have always led to the extermination of the relevant
social system . It is not as strong a taboo as cannibalism , but "eating yourself" is only slightly less acceptable than
eating somebody else .

Japanese kamikazes:exterminated by Americans
Hashishen:exterminated by Mongols
American Indian Ghost warriors : exterminated by Americans
Jewish Zealots : exterminated by Romans

Suicide systems as presently practised by Muslim countries offends Western civilizations at a visceral level .
The willingness of the US to take casualties is a symptom . It seen as fighting Evil .

Terrorism has been done before.Remember the Nihilists and Anarchists at the beginning
of the Twentieth . They were symptoms of the deep underlying malaise of the pre-1914 society .
The result was terrible . But note that there were no terrorists after 1918 . They were either dead or the government.

After four years of thousands of tons of explosives , poison gas , millions on men trying to kill you , a few people
with a small bomb simply got sneered at.

The same in 1945.

As Rumsfeld said in Arabia : the only good Semite is a cement Semite.



Louis IV , Martinique and Conspiracy Theory

I've been reading an interesting book , an extract of the 40 plus volumes of Saint-Simon's memoirs about life at the court of Louis XIV (circa 1690's).

Louis XIV was a alpha dominant male who broke the the back of independant French barons and established a totalitarian state: all power vested in him and he kept close personal supervision on immediate suborbinates , keeping them enmeshed in the snake-pit at Versaille . This is a pattern followed by Napoleon , Stalin and Hitler . Ie a successful dominance meme .

But , surprise,surprise . There surfaces Francoise d'Aubigny , Marquise de Maintenon , from Martinique , nogal .

Louis XIV's mistress and apparently secret wife,
who was nearly successful in poisening all the legitimate heirs to the throne . The plotters had succeeded in getting all of Louis XIV's bastards declared Princes of the Blood . The only surviving legitimate heir ( a baby) , the Duke of Anjou ( future Louis XV) was saved by the Comtesse de Verue with a antidote . A crux-point in history . If he had died , a bastard of Louis XIV (Duc de Maine) would have become king , and the divine right of king's claim would have been broken in France . A turbulent period would have followed , but a revolution probably would not have occurred .

This is the third time I know of that someone from Martinique has surfaced as the woman behind the throne : Francoise de Maintenon , Josephine Bonaparte , Naksh the Beautiful ( Turkey) .

A bit much .

Why Martinique? At the time , it was about as far as you could get from anywhere and still be reckoned respectable . Lapses could be ascribed to distance . Communications were extremely slow and of very low band-width . Not enough detail could be transmitted to securely identify a fake .

What has this to do with conspiracies ?

Dominance/cooperation can be seen as one of the major mammalian Male/Female characteristics. This is dictated by sheer biology . In-body pregnancy requires cooperation if the species is to survive . Dominance is needed for the most successful traits to be fixed .

This pattern is true for any evolutionary system . For the most successful organisms , the ratio between dominance and cooperation will skirt chaos . Ie , it will fluctuate , but not have definable periodicity . Sometimes dominance will be , well , dominant , sometimes cooperation . The successful patterns get fixed in the genes or memes .

Successful cooperation genes/memes will tend to be incorporated into dominance systems .

This fluctation is essential to optimal survival and is rooted deep in our biology .

In other words , the fluctuation between kings and libertarians is essential and healthy for the species .

Which brings us to the conspiracies .

A cooperative system which is in decline and has some dominance memes , will try to perpetuate itself . Crudely put , this will be a female conspiracy .

A dominance system which is in decline and has some cooperative memes , will try to perpetuate itself . Crudely put , this will be a male conspiracy .

Secret , dominance conspiracies tear themselves apart quickly . If there are enough cooperation memes , the surviving systems evolve to open conspiracies .
Examples: marriages,families,most churches,Freemasons ,Elks,Moose,political parties,De Beers diamond cartel, most business cartels,companies,etc

To join the outer circle is open to anybody , but to penetrate deeper takes more cooperation and dominance .

If in a group everybody is of similar mind , they will act as if a conspiracy exists . A good example is the Ultra secret in W W II . Thousands of people (including mass media persons) knew about it , but it was kept quiet for 30 years because they all judged (a word used
deliberately) that this would be the
best course.

This brings us to old conspiracies.
Every cycle of civilization to barbarism spawns organizational entities that try to maintain themselves . I use Civilization as Cooperative here in the sense of the heyday of the civilization , when people joined because they would be better off .

As things get worse , people opt out and join an open conspiracy ( ie Roman Catholic Church circa 400 AD)

But this also means that there are some really old conspiracies around , involving women . Remember that Cooperative systems with a smidgen of Dominance will tend to to survive better than Dominance systems with a smidgen of Cooperation .

Women will keep a conspiracy going much longer than men .

Run this over millennia,different social systems and resource fluctuations , and you get a number of secret societies of women . The dominance memes they need to have to survive will ensure that that there is not just one secret society . But the small percentage of dominance memes also means that these organizations are small . If one grows big and successful , it becomes dominant and is subsumed in Dominance/Cooperation cycle .

The result is that surviving conspiracies of woman are fairly small and rarely uses violence.

My favourite candidate is Circassian women .

These are women who were originally bred by their slave trader men for beauty . As Empires arose , they faced stiff competition from natural occurring beauties(because of improved transport). They then selected for charm and it's concommittant , intelligence . You can imagine what happened. Smart,beautiful women vs stupid , strong men . Who do you think won ? (The Circassian tribe was the only one ever to be granted asylum in about 1834 in Constantinople.(The russians were then beginning to conquer the Caucasus.) They then promptly vanished from recorded history .)

The meme that evolved would be control of Dominant individuals by Cooperative individuals . They essentially domesticated men . This process is still going on .

This is an interesting example of the Gaia hypothesis: Excessive human male aggressiveness was bred for by women's selection during the arms race in the build-up to city-states. It paid everybody to have large number of highly aggressive,surplus males around . A settlement could'nt survive without them .

Today that is not true.So selection now is for less aggressive men . As is to be expected,the birthrate falls. In societies like in the Middle East , highly-aggressive individuals are being culled out . Entire societies are being culled out . With nuclear and bio weapons , aggressiveness is a low option .An aggressive society will be culled as a society , and if that does'nt work , per individual . This has already started in Afghanistan and Iraq .

A microcosm of what will happen can be seen in the 9/11 flight 51 : the passengers attacked the dominance individuals(the hijackers) without any hope of survival : ie cooperative endeavour .

To get back to the conspiracy of women:

Old secret societies dating to Stone and Bronze ages especially would probably have merged with empire type societies. These old societies would tend to promote and flourish in hierarchical , male civilizations . The top male can be influenced , but influencing hundreds of men will push the conspiracy into the mainstream .

As discussed , if they are too successful , they get subsumed . If too little successful , they vanish . So the surviving secret societies tend to the mediocre . They might be lions individually , but collectively they are sloths . Fittingly , they collect useless ceremonial trappings over the centuries ( cf Freemasons).

How successful can they be? It is easier to block something than to promote it . Furthermore , any fundamental change is usually to the detriment of those at the top . So a civilization where they are prevalent will be static .

This begin to sound horribly like the Middle-East .

If the above is correct , there should be a small group of extremely beautiful , extremely smart women floating around the world , united in a rather outdated concept of control via dominant males . I wonder if the whole concept of veiling is still being kept alive to hide the beauty of this small group . (They must be really something : super images plus pheromones plus smarts). Remember,veiling was prevalent in the west as well , but died out .

To get back:
Francoise de Maintenon , Josephine Bonaparte , Naksh the Beautiful ( Turkey)
If these were from this putative secret society of women , the mediocrity as theorized above can be seen in the support they received:the first two :nothing , the last only enough to break the Janisseries.

The future:
It is ironic that both the West and East are moving in directions of increased Cooperation .

The Middle East is still in the throes of a dominance system , aided by what is essentially a Cooperation system . They will get ground down Any survivors will be cooperative.



Johan and Andre : I came across a reference in a review of Vegetius's "De Res Militarii" stating that after the Roman soldier has been carefully selected , done his basic (+- 6 weeks : some things never change) and undergone a further period of about 5 months of probation , he was tattood and signed on as PF (probably a 5 or 10 year stint depending on the political circumstances. )

My question is : what was tattood and where ?

I have not come across this before . Any ideas?

Modern equivalents : Elite units like the US Marines , Nazi SS : both used tattoos on the upper arm . The US Marines uses a "Semper Fi" motiff on the outer arm (and only a fool will try to counterfeit this) , while the SS used the soldier's blood group hidden on the inner upper arm .

Back to the Romans:
The most likely seems some form of ID . A honourably discharged veteran was given a diploma : two leaves of inscribed metal-leaf , one for himself and the other for the records of the district where he was bound to (usually for a ground allotment) . He was allowed to keep his arms , but not the shield ( presumably because this was property of his legion .)

Anyone with an enlistment tattoo without his half of a diploma would be identified as a deserter or bandit and summarily executed . A very neat and economical control . He was never really out either : like a reservist , he was subject to re-activation . As a trained veteran , he had to get permission to go anywhere outside of his assigned district .

Immediately observable status emblems were worn by all Roman peoples :

The Roman Citizen iron ring : survives as Papal , Bishop , Monsignor ring . I wonder at what stage the original Citizen ring became so devalued that the Roman Catholic Church could ring their revaluation ? Are there any other remnants ? The troth ceremonies ? Originally , the exchange of rings signified oaths of fealty : still does for marriage and engagement .

The Freeman's ring : a freed slave or a born free person , but not a Roman Citizen .

Everybody else had the status of a slave ( which tells you a lot about the real nature of the Roman Empire) .

Criminals that escaped execution or being worked to death in the mines or latifundia were branded in the face , usually the forehead and cheeks.

New Scientist 5 June 2004 p12
Key words:"Gary Huffnagle" "University of Michigan" Facts:Rats' gut microbes are replaced by human skin yeast . Exposure to fungi causing asthma has exaggerated immune effect on lung linings.
Translated: early exposure to antibiotics without replacing biota leads to lung damage due to exaggerated immune response.Change in gut denizens cause problems with the lung immune system.

New Scientist 5 June 2004 p19
Key words:"Blocking HIV" , " "Lim Tao" , "University of Illinois" Six of 140 Lactobillus varieties of mouth bacteria bind to HIV.This prevents Mother to Child HIV infection.

Johan:remember :about 15 years ago I sent you an email about the interactions between the various surfaces interacting with the environment : ie skin,mouth,gut,lungs. The human body is but a inner tube,topologically speaking.

New Scientist 22 June 2004 p41
Key words:"Feeding the flames"
Argument and evidence: starting inflammation is an active process.The immune system is activated and messenger molecules are sent all over the the place to mobilise cells.BUT the deactivation is also an active process . Just removing the source of infection does not stop the inflammation process . Normally the body does this , but sometimes it misses and we get things like auto-immune diseases.

Put all three above together and see what you get.
Messing with gut flora leads to lung immune complications . Strangely , it does not seem to depend on age . You can get asthma at any age . This also gives an indication that it can be reversed:

How to ameliorate asthma:
1. Take an anti-biotic to kill flora in gut.(Lots of hard liquor on an empty stomach will do as well.) 2. Take probiotic.(Acidophilis, live yoghurt,etc) 3. Take large doses of MSM at the same time.(3x3 grams per day) 4. Take about 5 grams of vitC per day (just enough till diarrhia starts) 5. Do this for about 5 days. Then drop antibiotic. 6. Continue with probiotics,MSM and VitC for 3 weeks. 7. Reduce dosages to about a third for 3 months. 8. Test

Work out why it works.


Andre Willers

The External Gut

There is a very interesting map of study done on human carbon production vs usage in New Scientist 26/06/04 p9 . The basis of our civilization is vegetation grown in the ground . All else is dependant on it . This study shows that the global average is about 20% . We consume or use about one fifth of the planetary vegetation growth . This is not spread evenly : a large number of people in a dry area will consume a higher percentage of new growth ( crops,firewood) than in lush areas . This uneven distribution is of great interest . Areas in Africa where this happens are prone to political instability ( to put it mildly ) .

It is the typical volkewanderung pattern , but there are no empty spaces . Civil war of the genocidal variety ususally results . Actual examples are the hot spots in a band stretching from the northern parts of Nigeria,Ghana ,Liberia through to the Sudan , Ruanda , Eastern Congo , Ethiopia . Note the recent genocides:they are not madness , but a logical solution to a scarcity of resources . We have seen their like before in Europe's volkewanderungs.

The critical limit in a primitive society seems to be about 30% . About 60% of plant mass is used as fuel and the rest as food .

Note that Gorillas and other plant eaters need a huge gut to keep in the length of intestines necessary to digest plant matter. Humans first lost the big gut by eating meat , then exploded in numbers when they learned to use an external gut : the cooking pot .

Humans cannot survive in the wild without an external gut . (For instance , a human will have to eat about 10 kg of raw vegetation each and every day (that is more than twenty pounds) to just have enough calories to keep going .

An interesting point is that at first the good cooking vessels would have been fragile ceramics . This tied groups to a hearth and family . When copper and bronze was worked , it freed the surplus males from the hearth . Note how Homer extols copper and bronze bowls . They were essential to survival .The second-last thing a Mongol would give up is his cooking bowl . (The last thing was his horse) .

Where fuel is scarce and expensive , wok-style cooking evolved . Lots of
(cheap) human preparation and short , high-temperature cooking ( to break the stubborn chemical bonds - thats why you cook) .

Europe initially had a lot of fuel (the forests) , but as they were consumed , things like pittas and pizzas evolved. Old style peasant slow cooking is now very expensive in terms of fuel and attention ( compared to fast fries).

A deep covered pan of hot oil can cook the food for a small army using very little fuel . The second-last thing a Roman legion abandoned was its cooking pots . (The last thing was the standard . ) Legions were judged on the standard of their cooking .

Bread yeasts were jealously guarded . The Lightning got its name from its spicy food . A good (make that a superb) cook had it made . He never had to fight , had the best of the camp girls and could retire just about anywhere he liked . As usual with really good things , you don't hear about them . Why spoil a good thing .

To get back to the main argument:
If humans consume more than 30% of yearly vegetation for food, they must have an alternative fuel or food source . They do this by trade . As long as there are areas on the planet where the usage of vegetation is less , then manufactured items or raw materials (like oil) can be used to smooth the demand .

But areas like India , China , Saudi-Arabia , Israel , Western Europe are consuming far more vegetation than they produce . They import by paying with manufactured goods . (Oil is a manufactured good)

This is analogous to an entropy system . As long as there is an area where usage is say 20% and an industrialised state where usage is 2000% , trade can flow. But there is a cut-off point . The poor area cannot be be stripped by more than 100%.

This has already happened with cod , for instance .

Most of the population of the planet still depends on firewood for cooking , and is thus trapped in the 60% zone . If they can't cook they die . If they haven't food ,they die .

The grandmother gene kicks in and does what it can to ensure the survival of its grandchildren . Interesting to note that one can predict genocidal civil wars for areas like Northern Liberia,Ghana,Nigeria,Ruanda ,Sudan,Saudi,Israel,Western India,Southern China,South-Eastern Europe .

The shit will really hit the fan if the global average of vegetation usage hits 30% .(Compared to the present 20%) It then means that there is no reason for commerce. One of the parties will die if they trade .

If global trade diminishes significantly , these unstable regions will explode . They will have nothing to eat .

Something similar happened at the end of the Bronze age . They despoiled their environment and then a dry spell overwhelmed their transport capability.The result was the Sea Peoples ,as desperate a bunch of suburbanites as ever survived the collapse of the mall . According to archeological evidence , the mortality rate was 90% . The Med seaboard never recovered . Ever .