The Future is here

Sometimes, modern, up-to-date folks feel like they are at least keeping even with new technologies and new ways of doing things. There’s a bit of hubris in telling Alexa what to do – as if one actually is in charge of the technology and its consequences. Do not be deceived. Computer technology has leaped into the future at the speed of light – literally.

LiveScience.com has an article about a computer that can foresee the future – all 16 possibilities![1] What staggers mariner’s mind is that data is stored on qubits – a subatomic particle. A quick reference: in the beginning, data was stored by carving into stone; then data was stored on paper by printing presses; then data was stored on tape; then data was stored on disks, all this time leveraging the computer base 2 language of zero and one; then data was stored on magnetic switches; now data is stored on subatomic particles that can be divided and manipulated to predict future events. There is no way mariner can convey how tiny a qubit is.

Without confusing things by discussing quantum mechanics – a valid science that has nothing to do with our sense of reality – mariner will fall back onto Schroeder’s cat. Imagine a cat in a sealed box. Is the cat alive? Yes. Is the cat dead? Yes. As a state of factual reality, alive and dead are both equally true at the same time. It isn’t until one opens the box and measures the situation that alive or dead – it could be either – is true.

If one is truly careful and can open the box with different versions of historical evidence, one can predetermine whether the cat is alive or dead. Hence, foretelling the future. The computer scientists in the article are able to present four variables to the qubit that modify its responses for future processing into sixteen different futures.

Forget history class; take future class.

Ancient Mariner

[1] https://www.livescience.com/65271-quantum-computer-sees-16-futures.html?utm_source=lst-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190419-lst

Being Real

[“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit.]

From the Atlantic:

 Can We Touch?

Physical contact remains vital to health, even as we do less of it. The rules of engagement aren’t necessarily changing—they’re just starting to be heard.

James Hamlin, April 10, 2019

֎  Today’s post largely is a number of excerpts from James Hamlin’s article. Regular readers know that mariner is skeptical about modern technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is cleaving human behavior away from interpersonal touching, hugging, conversation, and deliberate sharing of the intimate space – a column of space that extends about a foot from the body. Several studies are presented that show a human is dependent on touching and hugging not only for social acceptance but for healthy bodies and emotional development. Brackets [ ] encompass quoted material.

[ Tiffany Field has spent decades trying to get people to touch one another more.

Her efforts started with premature babies, when she found that basic human touch led them to quickly gain weight. An initial small study, published in the journal Pediatrics in 1986, showed that just 10 days of “body stroking and passive movements of the limbs” for less than an hour led babies to grow 47 percent faster. They averaged fewer days in the hospital and accrued $3,000 less in medical bills. The effect has been replicated multiple times.

Field, a developmental psychologist by training, went on to found the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. She was a pioneer in highlighting the effects of “touch deprivation” among kids, famously those in orphanages. She explained to me that the effects are pervasive, influencing so many bodily systems that kids are diagnosed with “failure to thrive,” resulting in permanent physical and cognitive impairment, smaller stature, and social withdrawal later in life—which often includes aversion to physical contact. ]

       

      

   

֎ It is beyond question that hugging, touching, kissing, caressing, and many other intimate reinforcements are a biological requirement in primates – in fact all mammals require to some degree feelings of value, justification, affection, friendship, bonding, celebration and love.

[ Physical touch doesn’t make adults larger, but its effects are still coming to light. Field has published similar findings about the benefits of touch in full-term infants, and then children and pregnant women, adults with chronic pain, and people in retirement homes. Studies that involved as little as 15 daily minutes found that touch alone, even devoid of the other supportive qualities it usually signifies, seems to have myriad benefits.

The hug, specifically, has been repeatedly linked to good health. In a more recent study that made headlines about hugs helping the immune system, researchers led by the psychologist Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University isolated 400 people in a hotel and exposed them to a cold virus. People who had supportive social interactions had fewer and less severe symptoms. Physical touch (specifically hugging) seemed to account for about a third of that effect. (The researchers conclude: “These data suggest that hugging may act as an effective means of conveying support.”) Cohen and his colleagues continued to show other health benefits of physical contact, such as a 2018 reveal in the journal PLOS titled “Receiving a Hug Is Associated With the Attenuation of Negative Mood That Occurs on Days With Interpersonal Conflict.” ]

֎ Everything mentioned to this point is critical to a healthy, mature sense of self. But there is another level of reality. Culture comes from human interaction; who we are among ourselves in a world of 7.7 billion people is reality. There is no way to identify and manage reality except through human interaction. Smartphones and iPads and computers are not reality. Let them take control and there will be no reality save ‘the cloud.’ Shades of “The Matrix”. We should have learned this on television: the fun parties in beer commercials are not real.

Reality comes from interaction with other people. The degree to which data mining distracts us from reality is damaging. Stop just to reinforce a friendship and hug them will enforce cultural reality. Giving the thumb a workout is time away from reality.

Ancient Mariner

 

Stuff of Dreams

Be forewarned, mariner is taking a dive into nerdism. A few nights ago mariner had one of those nights where one tosses and turns while the brain works feverishly on some very important issue (to the brain) that seemingly cannot be resolved so the brain keeps returning to the issue seeking resolution.

The brain was trying to define something about how time moves faster or maybe how change occurs rapidly. To make a long night short, the brain was wrestling with Bayes’ theorem, which generally is the kind of probability math that explains the probability of change in genetics among many similar probabilities, even betting on the Chicago Bears.

The conflicting equation, not an official mathematical equation, is Moore’s Law about how increasingly rapid engineers will stuff more transistors into a given space; just Moore’s opinion that has proven true for the last decade or two.

Mariner is not the nerd one might think knowing about these equations. Mariner read Nate Silver’s book about gambling probabilities which contained an entire chapter on Bayes’ theorem. Nate’s book has been a best seller for years. As for Moore’s Law, mariner spent many years as a consultant working on expanded databases – which requires smaller and smaller transistors per square inch.

Back to the brain’s preoccupation. Why? It took a day or two to realize that mariner had read an interesting article on LiveScience.com about the fact that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy will come together sooner than later. Of course, don’t hold your breath for a few billion years but apparently the brain was concerned about the effects of two galaxies crashing into one another. As anyone knows who has had these odd, nightlong dreams, don’t try to make sense of the assumptions.

Now to rinse away the nerdiness. Everyone who has had the opportunity to know is aware that the starting point for humans as we know them was about 90,000 years ago. Suddenly, major change occurred about 20,000 years ago as humans developed rudimentary economies; 12,000 years ago, humans developed religion; 6,000 years ago, humans developed sustainable nations; 300 years ago, electricity was harnessed; 200 years ago, the combustible engine was invented; 130 years ago, the automobile replaced the horse; Less than fifty years ago, computers took control of data; just yesterday, smartphones took over the human brain. Should readers be as concerned about the acceleration of change as mariner’s brain was?

As to Bayes’ theorem, hasn’t everyone thrown a rock into a pond and watched the ripples move out and away from the point where the stone entered the water? Bayes simply said, “What are the odds that the ripple will reach 20 feet within 5 seconds? Will Andromeda coalesce within 4 billion years? What are the odds?

– – – –

Incidentally, Mariner will be traveling for a couple of weeks (Does the reader feel he needs it?). Perhaps a post will be available but no promises.

Ancient Mariner

The New Work Ethic

The only word to describe his history is the word bizarre

While Donald pretends to know what he is doing to stop the nuclear warhead plans in North Korea, he is working to provide nuclear warheads to Saudi Arabia where he and his son-in-law (and the New York Post) have financial interests. Nevertheless, someone nominated Donald for the Nobel Prize for Peace. If Donald could buy one, he’d have half a dozen by now – peace be damned.

– – – –

Alexander Hamilton?

[Atlantic] . . . If you want to understand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to remake the economy to fight climate change, you need to read Hamilton. . . Former Treasury Secretary Hamilton (Jan 11, 1755 – Jul 12, 1804) called for policies that sound familiar to us today. Like Representative Ocasio-Cortez, he wanted massive federal spending on new infrastructure. Like Donald Trump, he believed that very high tariffs can nurture American manufacturing. And like Elizabeth Warren, he was willing to bend the Constitution to reform the financial system. . .

“Hamilton, in short, successfully used the power of the federal government to boost manufacturing, to pick winners and losers, and to shape the fate of the U.S. economy. He is the father of American industrial policy: the set of laws and regulations that say the federal government can guide economic growth without micromanaging it. And the Green New Deal, for all its socialist regalia, only makes sense in light of his capitalistic work.”[1]

–> Over most of the Nation’s history, manufacturing was the source of GDP. The North American continent was rich in every conceivable commodity from agricultural crops to steel. The corporate world earned its profits by engaging in manufacturing and innovations in manufacturing from plows to rocket ships. Over the decades, it was noticeable than everything from doilies to washing machines to automobiles left the US bound for other national economies. Since the Reagan Doctrine in the 1980’s, corporate profit has been made from investment first and only indirectly from manufacturing. Now, in an age when manufacturing salaries are a shadow of the past, when an age of investment oligarchs has emerged, and the Nation’s government follows money rather than statesmanship, it may be time to cancel the Reagan Doctrine and return to a manufacturing economy.

But the twenty-first century is not your grandfather’s world of manufacturing. If the fact that 195 nations signed the Paris Accord on Climate Change is anything to go by, there is a new market environment that will provide new demands, new products, and especially a new way in which the world must approach its global economies.

Al Gore years ago made a prediction: “When Americans understood what climate change would mean for their children and grandchildren,” the former vice president warned, “they will demand that whoever is running for office, whoever is elected to serve, will have to respond.”

The new manufacturing policy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others is based on different things than dishwashers: What will the US economy have to generate and reinvent in order to relocate New York City, Miami, and New Orleans among dozens of other cities that will be swamped by rising oceans? How will manufacturing transfer from fossil fuels to other forms of energy? How imposing will the new climate be that American infrastructure must be retooled with new processes, new inventions and new economic methods for providing salaries and welfare during a time when big hurricanes are nothing compared to the damage of a two-foot rise of ocean front along the Atlantic Coast? How will international policy change as whole nations disappear beneath the waves? How will economies be restructured to survive as Artificial Intelligence arrives and changes the workplace?

Perhaps it is time to go back to the history books. What was important to the founding fathers that we have ignored in the last sixty years? How would Alexander have handled things? Is our current Congress capable of refocusing on a new future not run by investment but by, as the Amish would suggest, putting its shoulder to the wheel and solving new problems?

Whatshisname is a pain in the ass but it is Congress that must take action. Mariner is pleased by the new blood in Congress. Let’s pray the new mindset grows. Alexander would be proud.

Ancient Mariner

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/02/green-new-deal-economic-principles/582943/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190219&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

As the World Turns so does American Culture

The city of Sandusky, Ohio, population 26,000, has swapped out Columbus Day for Election Day and declared it a paid holiday. Thus far, only 250 city employees are affected — “But we’re very hopeful that the message that it sends will be contagious,” the city manager said. [NPR]

-> Mariner notes in passing such a small adjustment to American culture. He remembers Columbus Day being a big deal which brought a few days of holiday spirit and even a few parades. On the other hand, democracy shows signs of rumbling from its grave, insisting voting is more important than Chris.

– – – –

OMAR IN HOT WATER — Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is under fire for a recent tweet seen by some as anti-Semitic. The Minnesota Democrat, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, suggested Sunday night that Republican support for Israel is fueled by campaign donations from Jewish lobbying groups. While Omar has been repeatedly attacked by the GOP for her critical views toward Israel, her latest remarks earned rebukes from members of her own party. “Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” said freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.). [Politico]

-> Three cheers for diversity. God bless the New Bunch (freshman Representatives). The Muslims have been on the spot for decades; now the Jews. Let’s throw in the Mormons, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Native Americans and while we’re at it, the Zen crowd, too. The schisms and protectionist behavior between these groups have lasted far too long. What is the common thread of humanity among them? As for Jewish politics, well, politics is politics; money is a religion, too.

– – – –

Few species live past the point they can produce offspring. Why do humans?

Anthropologists have had reasons to suspect that a mother’s help allowed their daughters to have more children. New research into 17th century genealogical records backs that up, showing that a grandmother who lived close by allowed a mother to start having kids sooner, reduced child mortality, and resulted on average in 1.75 more children. But another study found those benefits only existed if the grandmother was young enough to help out.[1] [NPR]

-> Monkeys around the world have known this all along. The role of family matriarch is an important role in simian colonies. Mariner makes note of this because it is another indicator that worldwide human reproduction is undergoing a change. Not because grandmothers are too old – well, maybe, as actuary tables creep into the 80’s – but for some reason every modern, industrialized nation is suffering from a lack of citizen replacement. A report from the United Nations says:

“Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as housing, transportation and social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.

“According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision, the number of older persons — those aged 60 years or over — is expected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. Globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.”

Mariner continues to stumble over bits of information that are related to an increasing ratio of senior citizens to younger ages. For example, the Calhoun studies with overpopulated mice showed that reproductive ability in the females failed as the mouse society began to crumble; the issue of excessive numbers of humans which disrupts the environmental balance of the planet is another area; continuous articles about the financial support for the elderly because of fewer taxes from younger generations, and even the collapse of day-to-day life in Japan.

Japanese childbearing is currently estimated to be nearly 35 % below replacement level. According United Nations Population Statistics estimates, these demographic trends will drive Japan’s total population down from 127 million to 114 million by 2030 – a level affecting economic stability.

Sex ratio at birth has declined significantly in Japan and in U.S. whites, but not for African Americans, for whom sex ratio remains significantly lower than that of whites. The male proportion of fetal death has increased overall in Japan and in the United States.

Here’s a note for Donald’s Base: If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, Japan will not benefit from immigration and faces critical economic issues by 2050.

– – – –

Guns in America, through the eyes of the next generation.

A year ago, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Afterward, students at that school set off an unprecedented wave of youth activism for gun control — and eventually against it as well. NPR interviewed teens across the country to document their relationship with guns — including sport shooters, aspiring soldiers, gun control activists, those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence and those who live with the threat of it every day.

What emerged were portraits of the budding political consciousness of the next generation, and of America’s complex relationship with firearms.[2] [NPR]

-> Mariner wishes the New Bunch well. They have their hands full – guns are a religion, too.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] Read more at http://click.et.npr.org/?qs=3bb04c48d17980f1972efdceec6ec1537d4d4e3ab45bb9a862a531c7dfa237876a73f7abd948a02320f46b7955fd8fd6f61d69902f4ebf7a

[2] For more see: http://click.et.npr.org/?qs=3bb04c48d17980f1a39e73822fcf25413dd2313a7e25c0c3fd75f7abdfc31b2b11dcc11e26a733603b3af38b925bd27af45381a5576a42b6

Subscriptions

Just a sampling from the many email subscriptions mariner receives. Perhaps one of them may provide new insight.

֎3-fold increase
If you’ve noticed something different happening these past 290 million years, it’s not just you — the rate of asteroids striking Earth and the moon have increased sharply, from once every 3 million years to once every 1 million years. Be careful out there. [The Guardian]

֎TOP LOBBYIST SPENDERS (FOURTH QUARTER ONLY)
National Association of Realtors: $19 million
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $16 million
Open Society Policy Center: $10.9 million
U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $9.5 million
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $6 million
Business Roundtable: $5.7 million
American Hospital Association: $5.5 million
Google: $4.9 million
American Medical Association: $4.7 million
Comcast: $3.9 million
Boeing: $3.9 million
NCTA — The Internet & Television Association: $3.8 million
Amazon: $3.7 million
CTIA: $3.6 million
National Association of Broadcasters: $3.3 million
AT&T: $3.3 million
Southern Company: $3.3 million
General Dynamics: $3.2 million
Altria: $3.2 million
ExxonMobil: $3.1 million

֎$100 million vs. $6 million
The federal government response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida was “faster and more generous” than its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, according to new research out of the University of Michigan. “The variation in the responses was not commensurate with storm severity and need after landfall in the case of Puerto Rico compared with Texas and Florida,” the researchers wrote. Specifically, survivors in Texas and Florida received about $100 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds over a nine-day period; Maria survivors received about $6 million in that time. [CBS News]

֎There’s only about 10 years’ worth of helium left in Earth’s reserves, if humans don’t start changing their balloon-releasing behavior soon.[LiveScience]

֎Thousands of years ago, 50,000 acres of glacial ice crusted Venezuela’s peaks. By 1910, maps showed that these glaciers had shrunk to 2,500 acres. By 2008, fewer than 80 acres remained.[The Atlantic]

֎More than 70 percent of House members
The House of Representatives is, ostensibly, representative. I mean, it’s in the name. But its members tend to follow specific and elite career paths before joining the body. More than 70 percent of current House members, for example, were lawyers in private practice, businesspeople or medical professionals. As a result, the House is “much, much richer than the people it represents.” [The New York Times]

֎Senate Republicans have such little appetite for another dreaded shutdown that they may try to stop it from happening again, report Burgess, Bres and Sarah. Trump hasn’t ruled out closing down the government if Congress can’t reach a deal, which could spark an internal revolt in the GOP. “I did not love the shutdown. I wouldn’t think anybody would have another shutdown,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). [Politico]

Ancient Mariner

Mother Nature Continued

The last post recognized how much and how rapidly change is occurring in our global society. It introduced four key areas that drive society: economics, sociology, religion and psychology. The last post addressed economics and sociology. The background theme was that humans are bound to behave the way Mother Nature created them no matter how sophisticated the extra-human inventions and liberties therefrom may seem.

Economics is based on a leverage of group behavior and its rewards – not mathematically but as a group of H. sapiens participants. Lifestyle and the conveniences of electricity, combustion and modern chemistry draw Mother Nature’s primates away from the normal physical environment for which they were designed. Each and every new invention, including telecommunication advances, which draw the brain away as well, have created a society that will change overnight to adapt to the newest contrivance. Yet ties to primate limitations cause stress on the relationship between basic human characteristics and omnipotent domination by a non-primate world. Mother Nature is watching.

This post will present the last two areas that drive society: religion and psychology.

– – – –

Religion, stripped of specific theologies, doctrines and rituals, is how humans relate to a reality that is beyond their understanding and control. Mariner’s use of the term ‘Mother Nature’ is typical shorthand for the Universe and its parochial characteristics on Planet Earth. In a subtle way, if one wants to stabilize one’s psyche, the individual must feel in unison with the universe; one must be linked to the power that permits existence. Throughout time, H. sapiens has developed interpretations for being in accord with the universe. Various interpretations have evolved in history depending on when and where and why – hence different theologies, doctrines and rituals.

Today, religion is caught in the same rampant change as the rest of society. The advancement of science, universal knowledge, an awareness of global issues, and instant communication has altered the reasons for religion in daily life. A human has been elevated from parochial wisdom and ritual to a point where a world view is available – even the kind of world among billions of other worlds in the Universe. Theologies are struggling.

Joseph Campbell, a renowned anthropologist, used the term ‘myth,’ suggesting that the myths or understandings between humans and the powers of creation that developed from 6000BC to 1000AD are no longer de rigueur. Wars in the name of religion (if only in name) have existed almost continuously because religion is as important as any human endeavor; religious sanctity is discriminatory in its ethics and morals. Today, however, situation ethics, a term coined in the 1960’s, is prevailing as a general doctrine. The new God is not anthropomorphic, it is the Universe.

– – – –

Psychology incorporates terms like behavior, personality, maturity, compassion, fear, greed, self-awareness, emotions, and many other terms including those that describe emotional disorders like neurotic, schizophrenic, arrested development, etc. For the purposes of this post, its broadest interpretation is used: psychology is the response mechanism that reacts to sensory input.

Despite more obvious influence on behavior by modern technology (don’t get mariner started on smart phones), the true threat is the displacement of human, plain old H. sapiens control over its own behavior and priorities. To keep from prattling on, mariner offers the global, environmental conflict between MN, her primates and that of the non-human influence of devices made from electricity and chemistry which discount the environment and the behavior of species within that environment: the John Henry syndrome.

As mentioned in the previous post, mariner suggests that the global war for humanity is represented as a battle for control between governments (A version of control that focuses on primate need first) and corporations (a version of control that uses primates as objects of profit). Even simpler, it is a battle between money and human liberties based on MN’s creations. This conflict is of immense proportions, truly a global conflict over the future of life on the planet.

Today, this conflict, hidden beneath keyboard games and meaningless conveniences, is fully engaged. It is a battle between the corporations and the common life of normal H. sapiens – who owns the rights to human life?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Mother Nature

No one can deny that the times they are a-changin’. They are changing in every corner of economic, sociologic, religious and psychologic areas. Mariner is a gardener and he relates cultural change in human societies to the seasonal cycle of plants, birds, insects and mammals of all sizes. What all these living things have in common is that Mother Nature is a bitch – it’s her way or the highway and often she makes the choice herself.

From a less extreme perspective, humans are unique among the flora and fauna and as such can manipulate Mother Nature (MN) just a bit. MN notices but is tolerant for a while until things obviously aren’t going her way. At first MN sits and smirks as humans pretend they are independent of their own biological place in her environment. Perhaps she hopes that humans will learn their place in the larger reality of things but alas, they never do. Humans have this disorder called hubris (excessive pride and self-importance).

Today, humans are in disarray, in conflict with MN and dismissive of the behavioral rules of the human species. To varying degrees most of today’s humans hoard if they can. That’s not the way it is supposed to be. Anthropologists have identified a characteristic in Homo sapiens that differentiated them from Neanderthals – H. sapiens was able to construct multiple roles for members of a small group which in turn generated more resources. Further, the rules for sharing reflected the amount of resources available. Had an individual hoarded in the face of group need, they would have been driven from the group and possibly killed according to primitive, H. sapiens roles of behavior. So in one sentence we can make a generalization about economics: If the rules aren’t fair, H. sapiens is going to take umbrage. That’s how MN designed her primates. That is a brief explanation why most industrialized nations are having difficulty with their citizenry.

It is also the reason why many humans are promoting the idea of income distribution that is, in over simplified terms, taxing the wealthy class to redistribute GDP to lower income classes. Whether governments can rein in corporate profits is the battlefield.

– – – –

Sociologically speaking, behavior didn’t change much in the good old days. The good old days ran from 90,000 years ago until electricity was invented in 1600 and combustion was harnessed around 1800. Before those dates, humans were permitted to toy with seven tools: lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. There were simpler tools like the rock but the advantage of a rock can be distributed among the seven tools depending on how one uses it. The most significant change in the good old days was the enslavement of animals like horses and water buffalo. Still, the animals had to make do operating a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. This was fine with MN because the energy still came from H. sapiens or other MN creations. To quote Tennessee Ernie Ford, “muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong.” Or to quote Pete Seeger,

“The man that invented the stream drill

Thought he was mighty fine,

But John Henry made fifteen feet;

The steam drill only made nine. Lord, Lord.”

Alas, John Henry died and the glory of human capacity was forever diminished by combustion. How we measure our worth changed, ergo our social values changed and changed and changed ever more rapidly as H. sapiens forgot its MN roots and sought existence beyond primate reality. The path of combustion has been rude to MN. Beginning around 1850, humans began interfering with MN’s environment. She has noticed.

Manner often has pondered that the popularity of sports is because of a deep desire to have one’s value based on genuine human capacity – like John Henry.

Continued in the next post.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

The mice warned us

The early pioneers in psychology, the standard list around the western world is Pavlov, Skinner, Jung, Maslow, Erickson, Rogers, Freud, and Piaget, focused on an individual’s response to reality. These folks helped us understand the physiology of the human brain and mind; they provided insight into the human response to love, fear, success, failure and a myriad other emotional behaviors. It wasn’t until the Second World War and after that psychology partnered with sociology and history to investigate group behavior. Similarly, management theory and economics incorporated psychology and sociology to uncover new approaches to management; one thinks of Deming, Drucker, Chandler and Aldrich among others.

An interesting observation is that the study of group behavior began about a decade before differences in individual behavior versus group behavior began to be documented in contemporary terms. Two world famous experiments were conducted that have become common knowledge. The first was one of a series of studies of mice by John B. Calhoun in 1972; the second was a college experiment performed at Stanford University in 1971 covered in the next post.

CALHOUN’S MICE

The mouse study was performed to answer the question, ‘what happens when overcrowding occurs?’ (The human brain is optimized for a social group of about 150-200 people). Calhoun was careful to eliminate the lack of resources as an influence and fed his mice with an endless supply of food, water and nutrition. Calhoun provided a mouse utopia with apartments and different levels called Universe 25; the initial number of mice was 8. The landings of the pilgrims and the first migration to the Middle East from the Rift Valley in Africa come to mind.

Brackets [] in the quoted material below are added by mariner.

At the peak population [2,200 by day 560], most mice spent every living second in the company of hundreds of other mice. They gathered in the main squares, waiting to be fed and occasionally attacking each other. [Nations live this way now on every continent except Australia and Antarctica] Few females carried pregnancies to term, and the ones that did seemed to simply forget about their babies. They’d move half their litter away from danger and forget the rest. [Forced migration] Sometimes they’d drop and abandon a baby while they were carrying it. [Closely approximates behavior in estranged communities and certain starving populations in Africa; mice had no chemical alternatives or voluntary abortions]

The few secluded spaces [owned territories] housed a population Calhoun called, “the beautiful ones.” [wealthy class] Generally guarded by one male, the females—and few males—inside the space didn’t breed or fight or do anything but eat and groom and sleep. When the population started declining the beautiful ones were spared from violence and death, but had completely lost touch with social behaviors, including having sex or caring for their young.” [Comparatively, humans in their teens and twenties today have significantly less sex than their elders at the same age] [Add to that the lessening need to socialize with other humans directly because of the smartphone, TV and other electronics]

A notable side effect as the population approached its maximum was that mice that still had a bit of territory chased other male mice into specific corners at the opposite end of the cage. Mariner wonders whether suppressed groups in Africa and other nonproductive locations are simply ignored because there is no forced limit of territory at this time. Oh to live in Silicon Valley….

Now, in 2015, interpretations of Calhoun’s work have changed. Esther Inglis-Arkell (UCSF) explains that the habitats he created weren’t really overcrowded, but that aggressive mice enforced territorial prerogative to keep the beautiful ones isolated. She writes, “Instead of a population problem, one could argue that Universe 25 had a fair distribution problem.

“In 1972, with the baby boomers coming of age in an ever-more-crowded world and reports of riots in the cities, Universe 25 looked like a Malthusian nightmare. It [collapse of society] even acquired its own catchy name, “The Behavioral Sink.” If starvation didn’t kill everyone, people would destroy themselves. The best option was to flee to the country or the suburbs, where people had space and life was peaceful and natural.

“The fact remains that it [Universe 25] had a problem, and one that eventually led to its destruction. If this behavior is shared by both mice and humans, can we escape Universe 25’s fate?” [Inglis-Arkell]

Mariner leaves the door open for readers to have further speculation about group behavior in unbalanced societies.

Next post, the effect of power.

Ancient Mariner

2018 Observations

    Speak to a member of Donald’s base and they will say “Donald is doing exactly what we want him to do.” The populist base wanted a grenade thrown at the Establishment. It did explode and has upset the status quo to a great extent – especially in Cabinet policy. In fact, the grenade exploded so strongly that it exposed the GOP for what it is: Republican Senators living foremost for selfish reasons; Senators holding on to Reagan economics which don’t work in today’s international economy; GOP Senators are conservative tribalists rather than national statesmen. Could a blue wave wash over the Senate in 2020? Mariner believes a few new democrats may make it but not enough to overturn the GOP majority. The Senate doesn’t work correctly in today’s Government consisting of 50 states, 350 million citizens and a modern computerized society. Mariner’s observation is to abolish the Senate completely or at a minimum combine the two houses thereby making every representative subject to proportional representation. And toss out the Electoral College while we’re messing with the Constitution.

   January 2018 had bouncy temperatures ranging from below zero to days in the sixties in the Southeastern part of Iowa. El Nino is forming in the Pacific; it appears the winter jetstream will offer slightly warmer weather in January 2019 than we had last year. If one lives in the Carolinas or New England, the same jetstream won’t be so nice with increased rain, snow and energetic storms. It is a fact that one cannot predict climate change with weather forecasts over a short time. However, mariner agrees with the observation of scientists who study the Earth in geologic terms: the climate change thing already is out of the bag and will have its way with us. Even if the international community meets the requirements of the Paris agreement, the Earth is a big place and large, slow moving planetary phenomena have too much momentum for us to steer. The main worry is what will rising seas, floods and droughts do to our economy?

   According to a Senate Intelligence Committee report, Instagram “was a significant front” in Russian election meddling, eclipsing even Facebook itself. Between 2015 and 2018, there were 187 million interactions with Instagram content from the Internet Research Agency, the Russian trolling operation, compared with 77 million interactions on Facebook and 73 million on Twitter. [Bloomberg]

A popular quote is in frequent use at the moment. The quote is Ben Franklin’s response to a woman’s question about what the founders had delivered: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

A democratic republic requires constant maintenance by its citizens. This means that managing our government at Federal, State and Local levels is a necessary chore that we must continually exercise by voting (but today only 47 percent vote), attending town hall meetings and other events that provide access to our representatives, participating in political causes and party affiliations (only 12 percent of citizens participate even minimally in civic activities). This is sophisticated stuff that requires an educated understanding of citizen responsibilities (civics is not taught in public schools).

It is mariner’s observation that US citizens duck responsibility and blame Russian influence on the Russians. There’s nothing stopping any citizen from taking ownership of their democratic republic at a cultural level and at a political level. Stop blaming others a la Donald and step up to ownership of a nation. If we Americans did that, the Russian issue wouldn’t exist.

Ancient Mariner