18 Mar 2012
Monasteries in the remains of the Old Western Roman Empire evolved into vertically integrated biotech companies ., specialising in horses and crops .
Monasteries evolved in old civilizations to smooth over the “bust” periods of their cycles .
(The civilizations that did not have the equivalent , perished)
They all share some characteristics :
1.Large , fortified buildings (they had to survive)
2.A disciplined labor force willing to put the common good above selfish considerations .
3.Extensive agricultural hinterlands , worked by the monks in para 2 above.
4.A culture of literacy and record keeping .
5.Ties to the surrounding communities (markets , innovation , quality control )
6.Vertical integration :
Implied in the above . The monastery had to be self-sufficient , not only in it’s own needs , but in producing trade articles to be used to purchase paper , ink , etc .
6.Disinterested in Procreation
See Appendix I .
About 11%-21% of population .
Any society that selects against this group has insufficient reserves to survive a major collapse . They will go out not with bang , but a whimper .
The military connection .
The severe shortage of manpower after the plagues of circa 130 AD in the Roman Empire
(See http://andreswhy.blogspot.com “Hadrian and Critical plague mass” Apr 2009)
, combined with the Roman experiences with Parthian Cataphracti , led the Roman military establishment to start a breeding program for large horses , centered in Gaul .
The idea was the same as what they did with the navy during the Punic Wars .
Put the heavily armored legionnaire on top of a mobile platform , the horse . This would use mobility to compensate for lack of numbers ( Mongols did the same) . When the shebang collapsed , the duces (later dukes) formed the core of their knights around the breeding establishments , which became monasteries because the religious orders were the only literates around . And they needed literacy for breeding programs .
These monasteries became really ,really good at it . Look at all the very specialised breeds of horses a knight needed .
They could furnish a new breed of horse , mule , ox ,cow ,sheep , dog within about a century from when the order was put in . (Present biotech companies cannot even do it)
Crops as well .
Flax of Flanders spring to mind . So does merino sheep , percherons , mules . The list goes on and on .
Monks were all over the world , ostensibly as observers (see 12th and 13th century Chinese and Mongolian writings , or Marco Polo) . They were looking for useful genomes .
The islands around Britain made for useful test sites . (Eg Friesland , Guernsy , Jersey cows) .
All modern fast racehorses are descended from a single Shetland pony with very fast-twitch muscles , putatively brought in from Tibet (some DNA sequencing required)
Beer , wine and cheese :
The same breeding principles apply to yeasts . These are so well known no further explanation is required .
An interesting aside:
Gregor Mendel’s experimental results have been conclusively proved to be fraudulent . They used fairly sophisticated forensic statistical techniques to do so .
Essentially , he knew what the results of his peas should be , and fudged it in the time-honored tradition of all undergraduates . This much is generally acknowledged .
But how did he know what the correct results should be ?
Data from the monasteries , of course (he was a monk) . All kept confidential as trade secrets for centuries .
Where are they now ?
All around you . Incorporated and at the frontiers of technology , like always . Just look for vertically integrated companies in biotech .
http://andreswhy.blogspot.com “The Sexes of man” Nov 2004
The Sexes of Man
Standard Darwinism as applied to genes would indicate that the optimum strategy for a single cell is to have as many offspring as possible .
But how did multicellular organisms then manage to survive in competition with single cells ? After all , it takes more energy to run a multicellular : the organizational overheads .
Their edge is “tough times” . Some cells in multicellular organisms learned to utilize neighbour cells . Since these resources were close , the energy of utilization compared to a unicell hunting food was low .
If times are good , unicellular organisms like bacteria are inclined to eat multicellulars alive or eat their food (cf virulent tropical diseases , etc) . Unicellulars are still by far the biggest biomass on the planet .
If times are bad , the multicellular lives off the designated sacrificial cells , while the surrounding unicellulars die off en masse .
So the optimal environment for multicelluar organism to evolve and flourish is in environment of periodic scarcities . ie Tidal pools , seasons , Milankovich cycles , meteor strikes, volcanoes etc .
Note:the synoptic argument below is in time- and logical sequence .
Some cells became more important than others : in good times cells differentiated , in bad times the less important were scavenged first . Cells learned to package themselves for neat absorbtion (apoptosis) . Organs formed . Only some cells reproduced new organisms . This was a huge saving : stem cells differentiated from egg-cells . The immune system developed. (Differentiated stem cells) . Sex developed as a immune system response against attackers (parasites and diseases ) . Sex also had huge energy saving advantages , since a single gene-set could populate an eco- niche (and deny it to competitors) , but nearly all the males could be sacrificed when times are bad . One would expect a really strong hardwired tendency for males to die near their offspring . (Cf wars , exiles)
Parental care evolved . Now surpluses could be transferred from the adults to the children as long as the adults lived ( or were programmed to care ) .
To put it another way : a gene group can ensure better survival by having a non-reproducing group of relatives. This is but our old principle above where close cells are used as reserves . The only question is the exact percentage .
If a constant percentage (r) of every human generation is postulated to lead to offspring , the relevant percentages for maximized resources per child are
Grandchildren Offspring : 79.3701% No-Offspring : 20.6299%
Great-Grandchildren Offspring : 88.0749% No-Offspring : 11.3251%
(This derivation is available on request , but can easily be duplicated . Just remember that the surplus per generation is the children the “non-offspring” lot did not have , and that the surplus only accumulated after the “non-offspring” should have had children (ie one generation))
As long as the number of offspring per parent remains constant (regardless of 1 to 1 , 1 to many) parentages , these percentages will remain .
What does this mean ?
With humans , it means there is a large niche ( 11% to 21% ) of any generation where having no offspring means that the chances of a gene-groups viable survival is optimal . ie It pays the society to have 11-21% childless people .
The other sexes of Man
These are the gays , asexuals , misanthropes , explorers and other assorted misfits .
(Note recent statistical finding that the female relatives of gay men have more children than average : either a gene fit or the women looking around and thinking they can afford more children on expectations . )
Furthermore , if the birthrate decreases , this niche decreases by between the square and the cube of the decrease the birthrate during the period of the decrease . (Vicious)
Ie a halving of the birthrate will mean a decrease in the niche to ( 3% to 5%) at the best . Note that this is only applicable during the transition . Once it is stabilized , it will return to the 11-22 % range . But things in the interim will not be pleasant .
A societal decrease in tolerance of 8% can only be described as a turn towards fundamentalism .
This is structural:ie driven by factors effectively outside human control .
In both the West and Muslim worlds , the chance of having viable offspring in the 2nd and 3rd generation has decreased markedly . In the West by decreasing birthrates , and in the Muslim world by a static resource base divided by an increasing population . This tends to fundamentalism . Ironically enough , it does not hold (at the present moment) for China,India,Japan because of high growth rates .
But if a worldwide recession (a-la-1930’s) set in (probability +-45%) , then China and Japan could hunker down , but India would be forced into a fundamentalist Hindu expansionist phase . This would trigger a US - India alliance which would grind Islam fine , re-colonise Africa and eye South-America with a hungry eye . Australia is already past its carrying capacity .
To put it in other words , get off-planet . The monkeys are soon going to render this one uninhabitable .