The industrial Revolution (IR) couldn’t have continued longer than it did — approximately 1780 to 1980. This was when unique consumer goods ran out — that is, status goods, such as expensive clothes, personal ornament and foreign travel — among the 1 billion buying public in the half-dozen or so advanced countries.
The IR can’t be extended into the rest of the world’s population because the remaining 5 billion people would require the injection of 5 times the amount of electricity made, mainly, from fossil fuels. There’s plenty of this available for at least a couple of centuries to come — particularly as shale gas and oil — but there isn’t the capacity for oil multinationals or governments to exploit the reserves fast enough.
Instead, apart from most countries outside the advanced network which mainly trade high-value goods and services, the remaining 180 countries will remain trapped at living standards roughly where they are now until they start reducing their populations significantly. Until then, a “building a wall” policy against foreign immigrants will prevail, as already being amply demonstrated by the EU Commissioners in Brussels, Japan, the UK, and, of course, Donald Trump.
Fox-hunting is no more a traditional countryside sport than a number of other activities that were developed in the 18th century by a prosperous middle class as an entertainment. In that respect it ranks alongside croquet, cricket, football (soccer and rugger), game hunting, polo, point-to-point, tennis and a variety of other sports. The Countryside Alliance (CA), which exists mainly to promote fox-hinting has no genuine claim to charity status as many other genuine charities –such as the League against Cruel Sports, Badger Trust or the International Fund for Animal Welfare– do.
The Charity Commissioners are to be congratulated for their unequivocal decision to remove CA from their list. Perhaps it’s now time for CA members to quietly fade away and join one of the many countryside protection and re-wilding organisations that are now becoming characteristic of the new post-manufacturing epoch taking shape around us.
Why both Conservatives (Republicans) and Labour Party (Socialists, Democrats) are both lost in a fog — not knowing what to decide as policy — is that they haven’t made up their minds about the social pecking order.
Conservatives are well aware of it as a primal instinct. But because most, if not all, of them make full use of it in exploiting social and eonomic inferiors, they don’t draw atttention to the fact in daily life. Sociaists simply refuse to face what goes on in every organisation — including their own party..
If right-wing and left-wing both admited reality then they could both have natural differenes between them — the argument being what are the acceptable income differentials between succssive classes
What none of the EU politicians and Brussels commissioners dare to confess as we we now come close to starting serious Brexit negotiations is that England plus London need the EU a great deal less than the EU needs us. Our trade with the EU was already declining years ago. Yet the EU depends on us a great deal more than ever.
Our exit would be a body blow to the EU if it ever came to that. The likelihood is that within a week or two of negotiations the European Central Bank will probably agree with everyone else that there is now no known method of bailing out Greece once again. The faintest whisper that Greece will then decide to leave the EU will galvanize Italy to do so, too. The EU politicians and Brussels commissioners will hang onto power like grim death but, at the end of the day, it’s the mathematics that count.
The tragedy that struck on Westminster Bridge two days ago not only affects three families who have lost their loved ones who were innocently going about their daily business, but was yet another indication that the issue of religious fanatics — Muslim in this case — are not yet being identified early enough in their lives to be medically treated or, at least, taken away from normal society before they become dangerous when adult.
It is said that there are about 2,500 extremist supporters of Islamic State out of a population of about 2.5 million immigrants in this country in the last 20 years. But in order to keep close surveillance on the potentially unstable would require an enormous secret service. Our own culture would be very unhappy about this. It is only in childhood and adolescence that worrisome signals can be recognized easily.
If, for no other reason, additional amounts of expenditure should now be applied to nursery and junior education in order to afford many more teachers and experts.
An innovator or just a highly curious research scientist needs other people if his idea is ever to see the light of day. He needs to belong to a close group of friends he can trust — and who trust him — and/or professional colleagues who have both sufficient managerial experience and further contacts with an investor or financial intermediaries such as banks and venture capitalists.
Best of all is if the original creator of a new idea makes direct contact with an investor and is thus already articulate enough in more financial language but also and, most importantly, with a good potential managerial team behind him — or her — eager to carry out the project.
We all have good ideas most days of the week but we invariably become distracted very quickly. That’s the way the brain works. It is always looking for new information. The ideas that actually persist in the brain and have support of what is described above and get to the market place must be fewer than one in a million.
If a scientific research group of, maybe, a dozen members, A to L, decides it badly needs three foreign researchers with special skills then, other things being equal — e.g. funding — then the leader, A, will invite them. Because such a research group has a precise objective then new members M, N and O will find their acceptable rank order fairly quickly.
Not so if, by any chance, the new group, A to O happen to live near one another and develop a rich social life between them. If A to L tend to come from one culture — the indigenous one — and if M to O from another then there are likely to be problems. This is due to the enormous number of differences in the way that each group expresses itself — trivially or substantively.
There has been a cloudburst of major discoveries about human nature in the last few decades. The quicker these get into the curriculums of schools and universities the better.
The Saudi Arabian royal family almost succeeded two years ago in bankrupting America’s nascent shale gas industry. It came very close. Over 2,000 shale wells were priced out of existence and only abut 500 were profitable. However, those that remained have been assiduously developing all sorts of improvements and, today, can make as much profit as those of two years ago.
From now on, the Permian Basin being as extensive as it is — occupying almost the total width of the country — and investment funds of the oil majors being as large as they are, then we can be certain that the Saudi Arabian oil and gas fields will not have the same price-setting powers that they once had — or that they thought they had. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is going to use its large national surplus in order to pay for the education and training of its young people — now clamouring for attention and relevant jobs.
All this is yet another busted spoke in the wheel that we call the Middle East. The whole region is edging towards some sort of catastrophe.
Had the komodo dragon been another animal that peacefully grazed on the African savanah or the Asian steppes then it would undoubtedly have been extinguished — along with the woolly mammoth and many other species — by early man with his atlatl and, later, bow-and-arrow.
It is fortunate indeed that the komodo survived because it may be the answer to one of the most serious problems now facing man — the resistance of many bacteria, such as tuberculosis, to the limited range of anti-biotics that biologists have been able to develop so far. It now turns out that the bloodstream of the komodo is awash with venal bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, but these are kept to ultra-microscopic unharmful quantities by a supervisory body of at least 28 special peptides which act as if they were anti-biotics.
If one dragon bites another then the recipient can quickly make whatever special peptides it needs to counter the bacteria entering its blood-stream. However, if it bites a prey then the latter will either die almost instantly or within an hour or two, having no ability to resist the fast multiplying bacteria in its blood-stream.
We’ve saved this komodo dragon but have there been other ‘komodos’ we haven’t been able to — not realizing at the time of the benefits it might have had. We might never know.
In his comment to my blog about man dividing into two breeds, and possibly two species ultimately (“Will we become two species?” 26 February), Arthur Cordell reminds us of the brilliant science fiction writer, Kurt Vonnegut and his book, Player Piano written 50 years ago. It was then just a glimpse of an amazingly prescient mind. Today, we know from scientific research that it has happened in the past. There’s no reason why it might not happen again.
In fact, 50 years ago there were four different breeds of man — Homo erecctus, Home Neanderthalensis, Homo Denisova and Homo Sapiens. There is but one now but that would be able to divide into two different breeds if the environment threw in a new factor to which only one of the breeds could respond abundantly.
Today, when a highly complex economic system is overlaying the natural environment a new selective factor might be coming to the fore — high educability or intelligence. The signs are, in the advanced countries, that this is becoming important and a division is already occurring.
So far man has lived through three grand eras — hunting, agriculture, metals-based industry. Each one has a characteristic social structure — small groups, massive pyramids with strong personal weaponry guarding the leader, dense urban cities congregated into nation-states much smaller than empires because they are becoming complex to govern.
There is much evidence and anecdotal comment that it’s now the turn of the nation-state to crumble. The most obvious evidence of a new social structure just dawning is that there is a fantastic burgeoning of specialist jobs, each with its own hierarchical power structure. Each silo has a leaders and a top small community of two or three or four and it is this group that seeks privileges from the government and the regulatory bodies of the day.
Due to increasingly intensive global business competition in the years to come, profits will tend to zero, thus normal saving will not be taking place. Investment in scientific research can only come from government taxation. Dispersal of funds to different projects is something that various scientific research bodies do already.
What else can one say about the new mainly-services era? Not a lot. Too much is still unrevealed. It’s a fascinating prospect for any younger reader.
A recent detailed study reveals a significant difference in the causation of acts of terrorism between those immigrant Muslims — or sons of immigrants — when it is high among those who come from localities of high Muslim density or low from those whose families are well scattered among the host population. Birmingham, for example, gives rise to far more terrorist acts than Manchester. Even though the latter has a far higher population, its immigrant homes are far more widely distributed.
In the former case a prone individual is exploited by extremist networks and groups around him — as well as being trained and given resources — and taken onwards to feelings of greater intensity. In the latter case, without the ‘support’ from others, planned projects tend to falter along the way.
The report, appearing in this week’s Sunday Times, was written by David Anderson, until recently an independent reviewer of terrorist legislation. He covers almost 400 offences and 269 individual convictions from 1998 to 2016.
When someone as rich and notable as Bill Gates makes a suggestion you assume that it has been well thought through and holds water. He’s made a suggestion on the robotics problem. If automation continues to displace normal human jobs, why not tax the robots — just like normal employees?
If, however, you propose taxing the robots sufficiently to cause the human jobs to be retained then your tax becomes a subsidy and a small number of workers benefit from higher wages. But the price of the product necessarily goes up.
When the price-hike subsequently cycles into the general economy it means that all customers are paying a little bit more for everything than they otherwise would have done. It’s so little that government politicians affect not to notice it. Nevertheless it means that the general standard of living of the population is diminished by a little bit.
The huge difference between the large business corporations of today — which effectively set the economic scene for the whole world — is that each of them only have one ambitious leaders at the top. Bearing in mind that every hunter-gatherer group depended on having at least one ambitious person per ten or twelve mature adults, then where are all the ambitious males in a modern corporation?
They are, of course, scattered about at all levels within a large corporation — indeed, in every very large organisation — for example, the UK civil service, or the National Health Service. All the ambitious males, frustrated by lack of sufficient routes to the very top do the next best thing and build up their own departments in order to gain personal power — and, of course, earnings.
Ever since the beginning of civilization abut 8,000 years ago its by-product, empires, have never lasted for long. Internal inefficiency grows, as does dissention between frustrated males. Their demise is inevitable. A warning sign to prime ministers and chief executives? Not that you’d notice so far.
China and half-a-dozen of the most advanced countries of the world (England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and America) can make all — repeat, all — of the latest high-value status goods and services that the whole world — repeat, whole world — can afford.
This means that the remaining 180 countries will only be able to make reconstituted lower-value fashions and versions of these goods and services. The businesses of the 180 countries will have nothing to offer the businesses of the above first mentioned, but only for businesses and consumers in similarly inferior countries. In other words, the standard of living of the 180 countries will become trapped at various levels below — sometimes well below — those of the advanced countries.
This will apply for at least the next 150-200 years until the governments of the 180 countries adopt de-population policies seriously enough to compensate them for their poor economies
After 40 years of a governmental one-child per family policy China is finding it difficult to raise the worker/retired person ratio in the population — and thus pay for the latter’s welfare and old age pension.
Here in Western Europe there’s been a similar vast decline in fertility even though it’s not governmentally imposed. It’s simply the fact that young adults’ wages have declined so much over the past 40 years that many would-be parents can’t even afford one child while they are saving for a deposit on a house. An average of just over two children per family — necessary for replenishment — has long gone in almost all countries in Europe. America is now just on the cusp of it now.
A counry’s population can go down, even to the point of extinction, or it can totally recover. Or — a big or — it can go two ways simultaneously — part of it disappearing, part of it growing again — as discussed in my recent blog (Will we become two species?” 26 February)