Monday, December 31, 2012

Fiction, Fact and Anthropology

I like Hard Science Fiction and Mystery.  Both are puzzle solving genres of writing so they keep my mind working on how the main character solves the basic conflict in the story.

Anthropology is the study of how people solve the problems related to their general story.

Archeology studies relics of the past and makes guesses about how those relics were used, another application of problem solving skills.

The problem with all problem solving that concerns how people will react is that in stories people react logically and in real life people don't.

People, in general, like to believe that their ideology and their reactions are logical and reasonable.  They aren't.  But writing fiction as if people are reasonable makes sense.

Take the current hoopla about gun control in the United States.  Obviously alcohol control, drug control and prostitution control have not worked out.  All have resulted in violent black markets.  Why would people think gun control will differently?  Do the same thing and get the same results.  Doing something and expecting different results is crazy.

People don't behave rationally though.

Biologists have know for a long time that the odds are against homosexuality being genetic.  If homosexuality were genetic the species would have bread it out.  Darwin suggested that homosexuality was a generic response to a genetic flaw.  Homosexuality prevented the genetic flaw from being bred into the species.  That didn't quite work for biologists either.  Genetic flaws, or mutations, are what evolution is based on.  How would a member of a species instinctively know if a genetic mutation were "bad"?

As time goes on biologists have discovered that quite a lot of human behavior is caused by chemical changes within a persons biology and have created psychotropic drugs to address some of those behaviors.  Are those chemical imbalances genetic?  If so, why didn't the species breed them out?  If not why do they appear to be hereditary?

This kind of kicked me for a loop, but, hereditary does not necessarily mean genetic.

What does all that have to do with fiction and anthropology and problem solving?

People solve problems as a group, The bigger the group the worse the solution.  For example people decided that alcohol in the United States was a problem.  People made alcohol illegal and that created a violent black market that was worse than the problems alcohol caused.  Then they did the same thing with gambling, recreational drugs, prostitution, etc, all creating violent black markets.

You would think that if stupidity is genetic we would have bred it out of the gene pool by now, but, obviously we haven't.  People still make dumb decisions, trying to get different results by doing the same thing.  Gun control will obviously result in the same kind of black market as alcohol, drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.  Yet people still want to do the same thing expecting different results.

The hereditary of some things, intelligence, predisposition for behaviors like addictive, sexual, violent, etc, are probably environmental.  Personally I think some hereditary issues are related to exposure to environmental waste accumulation as population increases.

If I am correct, then as population increases people become wackier and less reasonable and we should be able to track the intelligence of a culture or population using popular fiction.


Are the fictional problems in books easier or harder for the reader to solve?  Are the imaginative problems created by popular writers like Edgar Allen Poe, H. Rider Haggard or Edgar Rice Burroughs more imaginative or more difficult to solve than the problems Stephen King, Dean Koontz or James Patterson have developed?

If a clinical psychologist skilled in intelligence evaluation were to review fiction published over the last few hundred years what would the result be?

Now that is interesting,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Incredibly ignorant fireams

More calls for making laws on firearms more restrictive.  People never learn.  History repeats itself.

Restricting alcohol didn't work and it created a violent black market.  Restricting recreational drugs didn't work and it created a violent black market.  Restricting prostitution didn't work and it created a violent black market.

Of course guns are different, they are too difficult for the multi-billion dollar cartels to manufacture and sell.  You know, the cartels that build laboratories in the jungle to refine cocaine and build submarines to smuggle cocaine.

Ignorant people doing what they think is right, trying to jam their ideology down other peoples throats, because they are not educated enough to know any better.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Past, Present and the Future

Back in 2000 I was working on automating engineering website development.  I was working with Solidworks, a 3D computer aided design (CAD) software, which has a wonderful API, Application Programming Interface.  I wrote programs that took an assembly built with the CAD software and created an HTML hierarchy of web pages where all of the components were listed by name, part number and any other selected attribute.

This allows the manufacturing person on the shop floor direct access to the design so they can determine dimensions or tolerances required.  This is a method of stream lining the manufacturing process and it requires a loot of training.

It solves a problem, design communication, but, it requires significant training and responsibility on the part of the manufacturing personnel.

This idea never really took off.  Today we still use blue prints, or 2D drawings of objects for the most part.  Yes, manufacturing people still have access to the models, but, prints create a paper trail for litigation.

Someone could change a model and my HTML hierarchy would change.  Someone up stream from manufacturing could make a mistake and the person in manufacturing could be blamed for it.

The person doing the design could be in India and the person doing the manufacturing in Germany.  The whole thing was portable to the Internet or Intranet.

It sucks, but, in the end most commercial manufacturing that is outsourced will have prints that can be signed and approved.  The end product will be checked against approved prints and that determines if the manufacturing contracts have been met.

This paper drawing legal issue has been about the same for hundreds of years all over the world.

It sucks because this limits the ability of manufacturing to move into the 21st century.


Direct manufacturing.

Manufacturing people set up machines which build parts and even assemblies directly from 3D models.

Typically these systems use powders or "wire" or a kind of hot melt glue gun as precursors to the  completed part.  There are a lot of benefits to these process and as a result the processes are being developed and costs are being reduced all the time.

There are some very inexpensive 3D printing systems out there and Makerbot is one of the most popular.  Recently Makerbot made the news because they removed some 3D models of gun parts from their website.  Not a big deal, these models are widely available on other websites, and the Makerbot is a big 3D glue gun.  Censorship has always existed and always will exist.  People will always want to destroy knowledge they are afraid will endanger people.  I used firearms in this example, but, there is no end to censorship.

So in looking at the future of manufacturing we have the same issues we have always had, litigation and censorship.

There is also the problem of skilled employees.  As direct manufacturing becomes more and more capable the need for skilled manufacturing labor becomes lower and lower.  There will always be room for craftsmen.  You can still buy a hand made buggy whip.

We can't limit the future by limiting the implementation of new technology.

As skilled trades die away the middle class dies away and we become an economy of servants, just as it has been in the past.

And what happens when there is a two class system?  Revolution.  Always.  It may be a peaceful revolution or it may be a violent, bloody revolution.

What I expect is that people in the States will submit to authority and become a 2 class system and they will have some terrorism and some peaceful demonstrations that will be about as successful as those actions were in Rome 2000 years ago.

What then?  Population grows and Asia needs land to feed their people.  North America has a land surplus and so Asia will invade North America.  By then, just as in Rome, the military will be a high tech heavy "cavalry" that will be over run the same way Roman cavalry was.  The people won't care who is in charge anymore than the Roman plebeians did.

So when does this happen?

In 30 years the world population will be over 10 billion.  There are 4.4 billion hectares of land available for growing crops.  It takes about 0.25 hectares to produce enough food for one person for a year (that number depends on a lot of non-renewable resources).  So we have enough land for 17.6 billion people, right?  No, there are droughts and pestilence so we need a safety factor of about 2:1 or about 0.5 hectares per person.  That's arguable from a production standpoint, but, in real application we already have people starving to death world wide so...practical application we can support maybe 8.8 billion people.

20 years from now, right around the time computers take a dump because of the date issue.

That isn't so far away, and it can become closer depending on what happens in the world.  A disaster here, famine there.

The world isn't going to end, it will go through a political upheaval the same way Rome did.

It sucks, but, history repeats because people don't learn.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Obama proves theory of evolution is wrong!

Okay, so you can't prove a negative, but, you can show that the probability of a theory being correct is very low.  Low enough that the probability of it being correct is minuscule.

So how does Obama reduce the probability of the theory of evolution being accurate?

By advocating for laws restricting firearms.

Every time a government passes restrictive laws an unregulated, untaxed black market is created.  The more divisive the laws the more violent the black market.  Alcohol, violent.  Drugs, really violent.

Making recreational drugs legal would help stabilize governments and reduce violence in the United States and many third world countries.  Making recreational drugs legal would reduce enforcement costs and save the lives of law enforcement officers.  Making recreational drugs legal and taxing them would pay the deficit off in 1-2 years.  Making recreational drugs legal and releasing non-violent drug offenders would save billions in prison costs.

So, we keep drugs illegal because we enjoy destabilizing governments, subjecting third world countries to violence and having a public debt so large that it could literally bankrupt the world.

Does this sound like the decision of a fit mind?  Of course not, this is the decision of an unfit mind.  The fact that the United States has been the world super power during the ridiculously stupid war on drugs should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that survival of the unfit is the rule.

It becomes better.

Now Obama wants to expand the black market in firearms by making more restrictive laws!

During the assault weapon ban in the United States manufacturing of assault weapons by individuals and small, unlicensed companies exploded.

Insane, right?  If you disagree you actually prove my point.

When we increased restrictions on alcohol we created a violent black market.  When we increased restrictions on recreational drugs illegal we created a violent black market.

Now Obama wants to repeat the mistakes of the past, increased restrictions on firearms and believe that the world will become a better place the same way it did when we restricted alcohol and recreational drugs.

Repeating the same mistakes over and over is not something a fit species does.  Obama's actions in calling for restrictive firearm laws prove that our species is not the fittest.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Old Ignorance in the United States Again

I'm always amazed at my own reaction when people keep making the same mistakes, over and over again. I always expect people, as a group, to learn from their mistakes but they never do and I am always amazed when they don't.

The British created a bunch of restrictive laws governing tea and the response was an armed insurrection against the British Crown. We call it the American Revolution. Others call it a guerrilla war of terror on the British Colonial Government. Whatever anyone calls it, it was a reaction to restrictive laws that the populace felt were unfair.

I could quote thousands of examples from history. Prohibition, restrictive laws on the sale of alcohol is another shinning example of stupidity. The “war on drugs” is a great example. Prostitution another.

What happens when governments make restrictive laws that a significant number of people disagree with? The government loses control of the market. Whatever the government restricts, blue jeans in the soviet union for example, becomes an unregulated, untaxed, uncontrolled black market. If enough people disagree with the restrictions there is a revolution, violent guerrilla terrorist war like the American Revolution or peaceful revolution like “glasnost” was in the Soviet Union.

So some jerk decides the world is ending Friday, he wants to save the children from the horror of it all so he goes to a school and shoots them all.

Now people want to make the same mistake they made with prohibition and recreational drugs.

Amazing isn't it. People making the same mistakes, over and over again. Sometimes I wonder how stupid people are. Other times I just have to shake my head at the pure, unadulterated stupidity.

How violent will the black market in guns become as restrictions increase? Well, we can predict that based on the violence created by restrictions on alcohol and recreational drugs. See, the more people that want something (demand) and the more people who can make it (supply) the more violent the market becomes. Competitors killing each other and the public off.

I know that people who are ignorant of basic manufacturing and engineering often think guns are too difficult to manufacture illegally. The Israelis built clandestine underground factories to build guns and ammunition. Guns can be powered by almost anything explosive, gasoline (using fuel injector systems), butane, propane, natural gas and almost anything including compressed air. I know some people are thinking pellet guns, but, built right compressed air guns can shoot like a 38 special at up to about 25 yards.

The United States is filled with do-it-yourselfers. Guys with mechanical skills who understand how to make things work. Guys who used to work in manufacturing and are unemployed. Guys who are going to need to feed their families and some of those guys will build lighter fluid powered sub machine guns firing ball bearings from bicycles to make enough money to feed their kids.

They can't force people to obey the law in China, the Soviet Union or in super max prisons. The likelihood of everyone in an economic crisis obeying new laws that they disagree with and that open up a way for them to make money to feed their families is pretty slim. About zero.

People amaze me. I can't believe we evolved to destroy the planet, or maybe I can.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rome, Venice and the United States

The problem with primarily socialist economies is that people begin to expect entitlements from the government.  This observation is pretty obvious and some sarcastic people are probably thinking "really?"

Unions are considered socialist organizations because they make workers equal, the same way democracy is supposed to.  To benefit from a union a worker has actually work for their benefits, medical, dental, holidays, retirement.

When the government guarantees these benefits they are no longer something we work for, they are considered entitlements.  Yes, we pay into Social Security as a disability and retirement benefit.  People still consider government sponsored benefits entitlements even though we have to pay for them.

Back at the beginning of the twentieth century the United States began going through a workers revolution where unions began building up popularity, primarily because corporations refused to provide reasonable working conditions.  If a worker wanted to work they were subject to zero benefits, terrible conditions and maximum hours for minimum pay.  There were no age limitations, no disability, no workman's compensation and the liability laws favored the employer.

We are headed back toward that same failure because people say "American Workers" cost too much and are lazy.

After all no one ever became a billionaire paying workers more than their competition does, right?

Well except for that guy, Henry Ford.  He must not count though.  Sarcasm.

Good management can pay workers more and make profits.  Bad management pays themselves more and goes bankrupt.  Look at the AMC Tower, Sears Tower, Chrysler Center, etc.  All monuments to bad management giving themselves more.

The truth is many places make money paying their employees more money than the competition.

So we have union workers, people actually working, making money and receiving benefits based on their work.

We also have people depending on government entitlements.  How did that happen?

In order to stop the union tide rolling over the United States and the perceived spread of socialism our Government passed a lot of laws protecting workers and establishing benefit programs for workers.

Really BAD move.

If unions had been allowed to spread naturally benefits like retirement, health and other things our government is now involved in providing would have been provided by employers.

The employers didn't want to pay these benefits so the U.S. government subsidized the employers fight against unions by regulating and providing benefits, entitlements, that people would otherwise have to work for.

Every worker receiving benefits, disability for example, from the government instead of from an employer is an example of our government subsidizing employers.

So what is going to happen?  If we look at the past, Rome, Venice, other places where governments attempted to subsidize capitalist enterprise, like the United States went broke paying out benefits that employers should be paying.

Eventually the United States will have to stop paying out those benefits and when that happens the unionization movement will start up again.

Because the United States government is looking out for people with money as opposed to the average citizen laws, like the recent "right to work" laws in Michigan, will be passed in an attempt to stop unionization.

History tells us that as government sponsored benefits are withdrawn and workers are oppressed revolution will occur.  Violent or non-violent, a revolution will occur.

If the government manages to suppress a non-violent revolution the people will become apathetic and eventually the government will fall to an outside force.

Why would an outside force come into the United States?

Land.  They ain't making any more of it.

This explanation is actually pretty simple.

Fertilizers are made using non-renewable resources like phosphorus rock.  As population increases agriculture production must increase.  North America has the most arable land per person in the world.  As agricultural resources run out production per acre or hectare will be reduced.  Population pressures in countries like China will force them to either starve passively or accumulate land.

Right now, with inorganic fertilizers, it takes about 0.6 acres or .25 hectares to feed a person for a year.  Historically it takes about 1.2 acres or .5 hectares per person per year.  To deal with production issues like drought or pestilence there should be a safety factor of about 2 so we need about 1 hectare or 2.4 acres per person.  The world can support about 4.4 billion people.

Unless we can invent land.

The obvious thing to do is control populations, but, the Chinese tried that and have been vilified.

So the United States could support unionization and the natural development of union-employer bargaining or the United States can continue down this course of union oppression and entitlement which has failed in past cultures.

People grouping together to address issues is natural, politics, political lobbies, unions, churches, etc.  Oppressing the natural system always has very bad results, and throughout history people have repeated the same mistakes over and over and over.

In a very simplistic model the United States will be conquered by the Chinese within the next century.  Not economically, militarily, because the Chinese will need the land.  Not want, not negotiate, need.  It will be a life and death battle for the Chinese and probably India.

If people in the United States continue to be apathetic because of worker oppression there is very little doubt that the Chinese will succeed and the United States will be conquered the same way Rome and Venice were conquered.  Maybe the first attempts will fail, as they failed with Rome, but in the end they will succeed.

If we look at Rome we see that the government subsidized employers and entitled workers while violently suppressing any change to their system.  In order to maintain the government benefits provided to the citizens the government stripped the military and depended on "technology", at the time heavy cavalry.  When people needed what Rome had, Rome was conquered and destroyed.

 History repeats itself, over and over again.  In the end, if the United States continues making the same mistakes previous cultures made, the United States will be conquered the same way previous cultures have been conquered and for the same reason.  Resources, primarily land.

Oppressing the natural order of people grouping together and addressing issues always has and always will fail

Providing government benefits rather than worker benefits always has and always will fail.

This ain't rocket science.  It ain't complicated. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michigan, Unions and the battle for workers

Back before unions developed the workers in the United States worked as near industrial slaves.  The inheritance laws made it possible for some families to accumulate wealth over generations while other families were stripped of what they had.  There is a Bible passage that supports this, but, only if people insert themselves in the place of God.

Matthew 25:29
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

That doesn't sound like God alone does the taking, but, this is a parable and it is really about our spiritual connection to God, not material wealth.  In the passages following Christ speaks about the spiritual reality, separating the sheep from the goats.  Some people like to place themselves in the seat of God, separating the sheep and the goats.

One of the reasons God forbids usury, or the charging and collecting of interest, is because God knows greedy people like to strip others of what they have.

One of the few things every person in the world can offer is their labor.  Before unions 12 and 16 hour days were common.  There was no workman's compensation or disability.  There were no retirement benefits.  There were no medical benefits.  Unions fought for those things.

To prevent the spread of unions and "Socialism" the government instituted laws that provided workers with minimal benefits so they would not have to join unions to receive these benefits.  Social Security is one of the government benefit systems designed to protect workers.

Workers are losing benefits.  Workers now have to provide their own medical benefits, this is one of the requirements of the new "Obama Care" law.  Employers are fined about half of what it costs for a health care plan if they do not provide health care so the responsibility for medical insurance falls on the worker.

With Social Security near failing there is no doubt that unions will become popular once again. Unions once fought for retirement benefits, but, when Social Security was implemented worker retirement was insured by the government so workers did not have to join unions.

Over the last twenty years the IRS has worked tirelessly closing "loopholes", really eliminating tax breaks for individuals starting or running businesses from their homes.  These tax laws reduce the potential for entrepreneurship by making it more difficult for people to start their own businesses.

Those that have, corporations and families who already own their own businesses, are favored while people who do not have, those starting out, are taxed out of existence.

Why does our government do this?  Quite frankly greed.

10% of the taxpayers, individual and corporate, pay 50% or more of the taxes collected.  By increasing the income of that 10% the government can make more money than by increasing the income of the other 90%.  The people making up our legislatures are just greedy.

There is a coming labor war.  It will be a violent, guerrilla style war fought between the workers and corporations.  In the beginning it will look a lot like the 1960's and early 1970's left wing terrorism.  Workers will have their rights stripped away and eventually it will become a full fledged revolution.

The United States will become a third world country begging from China, India and Japan.

We can stop this now.  We can pass legislation that supports Social Security.  We can pass a real health care law that provides every person in the United States with health care.

Or we can allow our own greed to destroy us.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Bob Costas is a moron

No one agrees about everything with anyone.  No one disagrees about everything with anyone.  People who think they have the right to force others to adopt their opinions and beliefs as reality are destroying this world.

“Even if all those guns were obtained legally, you can’t have 65 guys in their 20′s and 30′s, aggressive young men subject to impulses, without something bad happening,” said Costas.  Apparently aggressive young men with guns are all bad.  Thanks for that glowing endorsement of the United States military!

Bob Costas is an idiot who believes his opinions and beliefs are reality.  The guy is living in a totalitarian fantasy world where people who disagree with him are "wrong" and "bad".  People like Costas make this world a very bad place.  He is still defending his belief that things are evil and bad things would not happen if people didn't have bad things.

Lets look at that.  California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country.  In 2010 California had more murders than any other state.  2011 stats are not posted yet, way to be transparent Obama!

69.4% of murders in California are committed with a firearm.  Of those murders 52% were committed with handguns and 11% were committed with an "unknown" type of firearm.  Unknown is a euphemism for "zip gun".

I have written blogs on the unregulated economic black markets that restrictive laws always result in.  If there is a demand and resources to supply that demand a market will develop regardless of what totalitarian morons trying to force everyone to abide by their beliefs think.  Want a cure for cancer?  You can buy one.  Will it work?  Probably not, but, you can buy it.  Prostitution, the war on drugs, all examples of black markets created by restrictive laws.

Okay, but guns are complicated are gun powder is complicated so we can make laws that restrict those things and ...... create more black markets.

I can design and build a propane, natural gas, gasoline or even lighter fluid powered gun.  A company brought out a propane powered paint ball gun, but, they stopped selling them.  Converting a paint ball gun into something that shoots 1/4" ball bearings really ain't difficult. 

The easiest firearm to build is a sub machine gun.  I could explain, but, I am not going to.  In Israel during the British occupation the Israelis built underground manufacturing plants where they built guns and ammo.  One of the guns they built the most of was a copy of the Sten sub machine gun.

I have no use for morons.  People develop the most ridiculous, ignorant (uneducated), opinions and believe those opinions have some basis in reality.

My brother and I once argued about safety.  He believed (and believes) that overloading a small, powered open boat in mildly rough weather is safer than leaving people with a small (row) open boat for an hour.

Which of us is right?

Neither of us really, we just have differing opinions.  Sure, my kid brother is in the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard has manufacturers put a tag on boats that specify the weight limit.  My brother believes that his opinion on overloading boats is better than the regulations of the organization he works for.

At the same time, he believes that leaving his family on an island without a power boat is wrong, except when he decides it is ok since he actually does it all the time.

Logically I make a pretty good case for my opinion.  If my brother had developed an opinion from ignorance, if his opinion or beliefs were uneducated, my position would be different.  To me this argument was just a power play since my use of reason and safety were objective and his educated opinion was based on subjective "I'm right, you are wrong" analysis.  Brett does this all the time and he never apologizes when he is wrong, never admits being wrong.  At least not to me, sibling rivalry stuff.

Does the subjective analysis used make my brother wrong?  No, because my brother is well educated on small boat safety his decision to disregard Coast Guard safety recommendation and enforce his own inconsistent "safety regulations" makes his argument or position unreasonable, not wrong.  His opinion is educated.  Unreasonable, but, educated and not "wrong".

Bob Costas is wrong.  He is developing subjective and ignorant opinions.  He isn't bothering to educate himself on the issues.  The guy is a moron.  Bob Costas, and most anti-gun idiots are wrong.  They are ignorant and in my opinion are too stupid to know just how ignorant they are.

This is not the semi-totalitarian monarchy of Britain.  This is the United States.  This is the land of independent "Do It Yourselfers".  11% of murders committed in California were done with "undetermined" firearms which, I am told, is a euphemism for home made guns.  In Britain they have ver restrictive gun laws and people build and use air guns.  Britain does not have "freedom of the press" and they keep a pretty tight rein on news and statistics released so we don't know how many zip guns, air guns or propane powered guns are used in Britain.  We only know that "undetermined" firearms are being used there.

The United Nations is working very hard against the illegal manufacturing and distribution of firearms.

The harder people work to make guns illegal the more profitable illegal manufacturing becomes.  The more profitable manufacturing and sales of firearms becomes the more investment that manufacturing will draw.

Drug lords have probably already built their own weapon and ammunition manufacturing plants.  The illegal manufacturing of weapons is big business in Africa.

Thanks to morons like Bob Costas.

The more restrictive we make laws the less regulated black markets become.

If you want to ensure, ENSURE, that grade school kids can buy sub machine guns they way they can buy crack cocaine keep making restrictive laws and I guarantee it will happen.

In fact,like all markets the price will probably be driven down by competition and without things like liability to worry about the price of your average street sub machine gun will probably go way down.

Free Market economics based on Demand and Supply rules.  No amount of subjective, unreasonable totalitarianism has or will ever stop it.

Monday, December 03, 2012

People are stupid

80% of people are ridiculously stupid.  Another 18% are just stupid and maybe 2% of people in the world are smart enough to make things work.

There are about 7 billion people in the world.  How many people can the world support?  About 4.4 billion.  I won't bore you with how I determined that number, it is based on the amount of resources required to grow food in a sustainable way.  If you were one of the 2% you would understand and probably agree.

I'm smarter than you.

People don't hide their reactions very well.  When I want to know how smart someone is I tell them I am smarter than they are.  80% of people respond by becoming upset or annoyed, etc.  18% respond by essentially ignoring the comment while either becoming condescending or laughing and 2% (and this is rare) by understanding what I said.

See, I didn't say "I'm smarter than you", even though those were the words that were coming out of my mouth.  What I said was "how smart are you?"

If you have no clue what I am talking about and are getting annoyed you are one of the 80% of people.

If you are laughing and asking yourself what kind of reaction I am looking for you are in the smarter portion of the 18%.  If you are annoyed and you think I am arrogant you are in the stupider portion of the 18%.

If you understood that the only reason someone would say something like that is because they wanted to observe a reaction then you are in the 2%.  If you are annoyed I used the time based then rather than the comparative than you are annoying and need to chill.

Communications are based on content, not form and if improper grammar or bad spelling or etc annoy you then you are a problem.

If I just lost you it only means you are in the 80%.

We are talking about communications.  Not the method of communication, but, the content of communications.

What people are saying, not how they are saying it.

I say "I'm smarter than you are".  My actual communication is, "How smart are you?"  Morons focus on the form of communication, the way I phrased my question, and smart people focus on the content of the communication.

This is an easy one.

Communicating with people is a lot like doing a crossword puzzle and this is why there are so many problems in the world.  Most people are really crappy at crosswords.  People are really arrogant too.  Prove a negative?  Not possible, but, morons will claim they can every day.  If you ever hear someone say that a negative can be proved run, saying something like that means the person thinks they know everything and can define every possible scenario.

People are stupid.  They need stuff handed to them on a silver platter all laid out and explained for them, but, they don't want to do the same for other people.

I don't exempt myself from this.  The difference between myself and most other people is that they exempt themselves.  The more complex something is the more questions I ask and the dumber people think I am and the dumber or more arrogant people think I am the dumber I know they are.

People don't understand how difficult communications are.  Essentially most people, the 80%, think everyone thinks the same way they do and communicating is easy.  People in the 2% are willing to take the time to communicate and understand each other.  The 18% will range from stupid to almost smart.

People in the 2% are willing to focus on the content of the communication.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Here is an accurate prediction!

Obama is going to fail to lead the nation out of the economic disaster and the Democrats will blame the Republicans because everyone didn't do what the Democrats thought was right.

The country will probably do about 80% of whatever Obama and the Democrats suggest.  80-20 rule.  So whatever is in the 20% that doesn't happen, brand of toilet paper authorized for government purchase, whatever, will be blamed for the coming economic disaster and the Republicans will be blamed for that 20% not happening.

80% of people will fall for that propaganda and that will make it take 4 times longer to recover.


First things first, no one understands politics in the United States.

That doesn't mean people don't understand how to manipulate others so they or the candidate of their choice can be elected.  There are plenty of people who know how to manipulate other people.  Manipulating people can pass for politics in a democracy, but, it really isn't.

In the end who cares if a candidate is manipulated into office if they can't address the political issues.

Imagine a giant word search without a list of words to find.  When people first look at this giant jumble of words they can't see any patterns.  After a while people begin finding patterns.  Some of these patterns, "abortion", "gay rights", "national security" are focused on to the exclusion of others.  People feel over whelmed searching for these patterns so when they find one or two they concentrate on them and ignore other patterns and how they interrelate.

This is a lot like taking care of one side of the front lawn of a house and feeling really pleased about it.  Yeah, that one little area might look good while the rest of the house falls apart so no one cares about that one little section of lawn.

Politics is like looking at this entire, huge word search and seeing how all the patterns relate to each other.  Only with politics we don't have the nice limitations of a word search.  There are an infinite number of symbols making up these patterns.  These symbols are piled on top of each other using inconsistent layers.  One layer might have several million, another layer only a few hundred thousand.  The "symbols" are not stacked on top of each other, they are not offset with any regularity.

Politics deals with what people need and want.  People are fairly random so the distribution of patterns in the giant mess we call politics is random.

I didn't think John Cain had a chance at winning and I didn't think Mitt Romney had a chance of winning.  I told people that Obama would be re-elected 4 years ago.  I could see the patterns that defined this eventuality.

But patterns change.  I could have been wrong.  I wasn't and the race wasn't any where near as close as the networks made it seem.  They have their ratings to think about and an early winfall for Obama turns televisions off at 8pm which destroys profitability.  The race had to look close right up to the end.  Besides, the loser always feels better if the race was "close".

Once people can admit that politics has nothing to do with manipulating people the way network news and many politicians do we can start focusing on real politics.  The holistic view of all of the issues.  We can put together groups to study specific issues and how those issues interact with other issues until we have a much more complete understanding of how everything inter-relates.

The first thing people have to grasp to do this is that while it is possible to grasp that the big picture exists and to step back far enough to see the entire picture it is impossible for any one person to see how all the different patterns or issues relate to each other.

Suppose I had a word search with 10 million words and it took 30 seconds to solve each word that makes 5 million minutes or  83,333 hours or 3,472 days or about ten years.  If we put that word search solver on a standard 5 day, 40 hour work week the time increases to around fifty years.

In those fifty years the dynamic issues that are the politics in the United States would have changed so the solution acceptable fifty years ago is no longer acceptable today.

Supposedly we have congress with a bunch of people working with special interest groups to address these issues, BUT, these are not holistic solutions.  They are solutions that always present the special interests issues first and foremost.

People starving?  Who cares we are the "World Wild Life Fund" and we have our priorities.  People starving isn't one of them.  Okay, so I am picking on this group, but, every special interest thinks the same way.  We can't ignore animals because people are starving.  We can't outlaw something because some people misuse it.  the War on Drugs is killing millions in second and third world countries.  The War on Drugs is a total failure and we refuse to accept that.  Holistically does it make any sense to continue fighting a failed war that is causing more problems than it solves?

People are incapable of seeing the interrelation between all of these problems and most want to pretend that they can and that their problem is the important issue.

Essentially as long as politicians and new media spend most of their time manipulating people to increase their power and wealth we are screwed.  As long as people want to pretend they understand everything we are screwed.

Somethings are easy to see, Obama's recent victory 4 years ago for example.  Outlawing a product will create a black market.  If there is a huge demand for that product there will be a huge supply regardless of the legality.  Easy prediction.  Other things are not as easy to predict.  Some people pretend they are and often those predictions are in conflict. 

We need to work together while focusing on as much of the interrelation between issues as possible to achieve an actual working solution.  Otherwise we continue to fail.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Food Soverignity and reality

I have been taking a class in anthropology and the professor is an advocate of "Food Sovereignty".  Essentially this is a fancy way of saying people have control over their food supply.  One of the basic tenants of this idea is localized and sustainable small scale agriculture.

I like the idea but it runs into huge problems.

The first problem is that there is only so much land and population is constantly increasing.

The second is a little trickier.  It takes about 0.22 hectares of land or 0.6 acres of land to supply enough food for 1 person for 1 year.  The World Food Organization or World Food Programme is a subsidiary of the United Nations.   These guys create all kinds of statistics about food.  That sounds okay right, 0.6 acres.  Cool.

Not really.  There is a problem.  Japan has about 0.03 hectares of farm land per person.  India has about 0.13 hectares per person.

That creates some huge problems because there isn't enough farm land to supply every person in the country with food.

Wait, it is even better, livestock like cows eat food.  It takes about 2 acres of grazing land or about an acre of grain to feed a cow for a year. Other livestock can take less or more, depending.  Fortunately a lot of ranch land is not very good for farming.  Unfortunately leaving a field fallow and using it for grazing is good for the land and sustainable agriculture.

0.22 hectares is the minimum.  For real security we need to allow for a reduction in production which typically accompanies organic or sustainable farming techniques and we need to account for problems so real food security takes about  1.5 to 2 times the minimum amount of arable land per person or individual animal.

Okay, we can't do local food production everywhere.  Some places we have to transport food to.  It can't be helped.

If we have more smaller farms creating a consistent product becomes more difficult and the production costs actually increase so food prices go up.  Organic food prices compared to agribusiness food prices.

So now we have to pay people more money so they can buy food and that causes food prices to go up.

Somewhere along the line things will level out, but, I doubt if small scale agribusiness is economically feasible any more than local production is feasible.

It is a good idea, but, it would take a return to lower population levels or redistribution of populations and a primarily agricultural economy to work. Population density would have to based on arable land available.

Guys like me that have a black thumb and can't grow grass would have a problem in an agricultural economy.  We would be busy inventing things that increased production.

Big picture, the idea of food sovereignty can't work.   It is possible it could work in some smaller regions with acceptable population density and farm land ratios.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cultural change cannot be avoided

If we simplify people for the sake of argument we can create two groups of people.  Those willing to change.  Those unwilling to change.

In reality everyone is willing to change some things and unwilling to change other things.  Exactly what can be changed varies with the person and the culture that the person is involved in.

Does muching at Mickey D's make people "American"?  Of course not.  If a French person buys a burger that person is still French.  However, food is something the French have identified their culture with so many people in France think the food at Mickey D's disgraces their culture.  Sure, it really sucks and we all know that, but, the United States does not identify their culture with Mickey D's.  We identify our culture with patriotism, freedom, democracy, achievement, high standards of living.  Mickey D's represents achievement in business rather than a high quality of food.  Mickey D's represents the speed at which "Americans" progress.

But people in France don't associate Mickey D's with speed of progress or achievement in business.  Many people associate Mickey D's with crappy food.  Why would anyone want to embrace this garbage?

But cultural change is unavoidable.  Sure, we can make Mickey D's illegal and the next thing you know we have the "War on Burgers" which would be a lot like the "War on Drugs" with hidden butcher shops like we have hidden drug labs.

When cultures come into contact we exchange values, customs, traditions and resources.  Eventually the cultures coming into contact change to the point where they are no longer what they were.  Typically the predominate culture will absorb the sub culture.

So what happens when two predominate cultures clash?  They either destroy each other, absorb each other or one ends up dominating the other.

Take the current clash between Islamic cultures and Western cultures.  I can guarantee that one of these two cultures will predominate the other.  The two cultures have too many mutually exclusive customs and traditions.  Both cultures are dependent on each other in the exchange of resources and as long as the contact exists the conflict will exist.

Which one will predominate the other?  If I have to guess I would say that the Islamic nations were going to eventually dominate Western cultures and eventually Eastern cultures.  That is just an opinion based on my assessment of perseverance and democracy.  The Islamic nations are willing to kill off all opposition culture and the Western nations are not.  The last culture left standing is predominate so ....

Even if each culture closed itself off from the other the economic pressures of co-existence would eventually force them into conflict.

We can't stop cultural change.  We can attempt to manage it.  The founding fathers of the United States attempted to build a constitution which incorporated the ability to plan for cultural change while ensuring specific rights.  Today people are trying to eliminate some of those civil rights, like the right to keep and bare arms :-).

Democracies can change their protected rights, the right to freedom of speech is not the same in the United States and the United Kingdom.  In both places it can be changed to prevent "hate speech" like speaking out against the religion of Islam.

However Islamic Law cannot change to allow speaking out against the religion of Islam.

One culture can change and exist.  The other cannot change and exist.

But cultural change can't be avoided?  Right and the incorporation of the West and East into Islam will result in some changes.  Islam has changed some in the last 1500 years and will change some more, however, there are some things that cannot and will not change because they are fundamental to the culture.

The Catholic church might allow priests to marry again, but, they will not eliminate the Pope.  The Christian church may dress in black or white or red or rainbows but they won't eliminate the Cross.  People may interpret the Bible differently but they won't eliminate the Bible.

Western cultures won't eliminate democracy or constitutions but those constitutions can change because democracies can vote to change them.

When two cultures clash they will change and eventually stabilize into some new form.  What can be changed will change and what cannot change will not change.  If the predominate culture is unwilling to accept the existence of those things that will not change the things that cannot change will be eliminated or be hidden from the predominate culture.

Religion in the U.S.S.R.  Drugs in the United States.  Prostitution almost everywhere.  These things go into hiding because some people want them and other people are unwilling to accept their existence.

There are two prerequisites for elimination or being forced into the "underground".  The first is the unwillingness of the predominate culture to accept the existence of whatever custom, value or tradition is unacceptable.  The second is the unwillingness of those who participate in the unacceptable value, custom or tradition to cease participation.

Openness and cultural change

In my last blog post we looked at a summary of my "world according to Jack" theory ending with the opinion that the most important resource for cultural change is people and the interpersonal trust relationships that they build.

The "problem/desire>solution>acceptance>stability/satisfaction" pathway is the heart of "the world according to Jack" theory.

The second most important resource for cultural change is acceptance of the possibility for change.  The more open and accepting a culture is the more likely it is to undergo changes.  The less open and accepting a culture is the less likely it is to undergo changes.

Change and the openness of a group to the possibility of change is directly linked with the ability or charisma of a presenter of an idea to the group.

Essentially the better someone is at encouraging others to change the less open the group has to be to change.  The more open the group is the less skilled the presenter of change must be to encourage change.

If a group is open to change and there are multiple skillful presenters encouraging mutually exclusive forms of change the group becomes conflicted and stagnates, unable to change.

For cultural change to occur we need a group problem or desire.  We need a presenter of a solution.  We need a group open enough to embrace or accept the presenters solution.  We need the solution to satisfy the desire/problem or improve the group stability.

If the group fails to stabilize or is unsatisfied with the solution the process repeats.

Again people are the most important component in cultural change.

Because change is so dependent on both the openness of the group and the ability of an individual to encourage through either coercion or convincing culture change cannot be predicted in any specific way.

We can predict that sub cultures will change in order to either cooperate with or oppose dominate cultures.

Typically the result of opposition with a dominate culture is the destruction of the sub culture.  An example is the sub culture of the 1960's and early 1970's called the "Hippies" eventually dwindled away feeding into other oppositional sub cultures.

There are times when oppositional sub cultures such as the communists in Viet Nam or the revolutionaries in the United States were able to successfully oppose the predominate cultures they were in opposition to.

The specific outcome of either becoming the predominate culture or being eliminated is so dependent on human variability and the available resources that the longterm outcome is often impossible to predict.

For example some people will claim that the "Hippie" sub culture was not eliminated even though it is not the dominate culture in the United States.  The distinctive forms of dress, hair styles, language and the cultural focus on "peace" that predominated in the "Hippie" sub culture are not currently predominate in the United States.  Many younger people don't even know the word "Hippie". 

People who believe strongly in the cultural values of that sub culture will insist that they have been incorporated into the predominate culture.  When President Bush sent troops into both Afghanistan and Iraq his public approval ratings were in the 90% range.

Today those decisions are regarded differently, however, for a culture focused on the value of "peace" which was central to the "Hippie" sub culture a 90% public approval rating at the time for a President involved in a controversial war tells us quite a lot.

Regardless of the example used to demonstrate the idea or the ability of the individual to objectify their response to an example I stand firmly behind the premise that human variability prevents the possibility of creating a model that will predict cultural change.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


My past several blog posts all relate to cultural anthropology and my theory, “the world according to Jack”. I'm Jack.

My theory starts out with the idea that both people and cultural groups begin with either a problem or a desire which requires a solution. The individual or group utilizes the resources available to create a solution which is acceptable to the individual or the group as a whole.

The most important resource in developing these solutions is the people involved and not the material resources. Material resources are important and yet they are not any where near as important as the individuals involved.

According to “the world according to Jack” people have two basic biological predispositions which are important to this process of implementing cultural solutions. The first is the predisposition to group together to enhance the ability of the group to survive. The second is the predisposition to assure their position within the group to enhance their individual survival.

Specific individuals who have “charisma” will present ideas which are more likely to be accepted by the group even if those ideas are not “technically accurate” or prevent the group from developing technologically.

Consistency is important to developing interpersonal trust issues, although to much consistency can lead to stagnation.

The group acceptance of these ideas becomes important in the survival of individuals within the group. The more important the group believes an individual is to their survival the less likely the group is to abandon that person. Individuals who constantly present ideas which the group rejects will be abandoned or marginalized by the group regardless of the technical accuracy of the presented solutions. This marginalizing reduces the individuals importance to the group which decreases the probability of survival of the individual.

Solutions are created and accepted by people and approved by people regardless of secondary issues such as technical accuracy. The survival of individuals is tied to their ability to provide the group with acceptable solutions.

“Charisma” is a form of interpersonal trust relationship established between individuals. This interpersonal trust relationship between people is the most important issue in the adoption of a presented solution.

There are a lot of different ways that we as a group attempt to define the “charisma” of an individual. Presidential approval ratings are one way. Voting is another.

Sometimes a small group can “bully” a larger majority into the acceptance of a solution using media tools called “propaganda”. Attacks are made ridiculing solutions to groups issues in the attempt to humiliate those who support those solutions.

People will support a solution to an issue and will resist changing that solution until it becomes obvious that the current solution no longer solves the problem/desire that it was meant to solve.

In the end the technical or material resources are far less important in the application of a cultural solution, cultural ritual, cultural law, than the human resources available and the ability of those individuals presenting solutions to establish interpersonal trust relationships with other members of the cultural group.

Interpersonal trust issues, cultural anthropology and the solutions to problems

People love consistency, unless that consistency is something that has rotted away and once people understand that the consistency has become stagnation and rot they will reject the rotten stagnation.

WTF does that mean?

Suppose you put some water in a canteen and take a sip of 1/10th of 1 ounce every week.  How many weeks before the water becomes so disgusting you can't drink it anymore?  Instead of the canteen being a solution to the problem of water storage it has become a problem of stagnation.

Often the solutions become stagnant.  Once more we return to the rejection of the heliocentric universe theorized by Aristarchus and the acceptance of the geocentric universe theorized by Aristotle.

Aristotle's theory eventually became stagnant and was rejected, yet, very few people run around talking about how great Aristarchus's ideas were.  This is because Aristarchus's theories were rejected as "rotten" hundreds of years before Christ.

I am a very inconsistent person, on purpose.  I rarely do anything the same way all the time.  I am constantly stressing myself by changing how I shave, the route I drive to a place, etc.  I develop almost no routines.  Consistency breeds stagnation.

Consistency also encourages trust.  If something is always the same people can trust it to be the same.

Aristotle was usually right so people trusted Aristotle to be right about the universe.

Unfortunately consistency eventually becomes stagnation.  How quickly something "rots" away depends on a bunch of things.  It took almost two thousand years for Aristotle's geocentric theory to "rot" away.

Since scientists seek to have their work trusted they try to be very consistent in what they do and say.

This creates a level of emotional involvement.  If you want to see a temper tantrum just prevent an obsessive person from completing a ritual.  The more obsessive the person is the more of a temper tantrum they will throw because the rituals involved in consistency become emotional.

We HAVE to do those rituals.

We also HAVE to question those rituals constantly or we are no longer scientists, we are religious nut jobs and our religion is the consistent ritual we engage in.

Maybe, like Archimedes, our Ritual is the unwavering support of a scientist we believe in, like Aristotle.

Maybe our ritual is something different.

Maybe our society, our culture, has rituals or consistent actions that it takes as a group which no longer make any sense.  Maybe the argument can be made that those rituals never did make any sense, yet, at some point the group required them because the group believed that they did.  Aristotle's geocentric theory is once again a perfect example.

In hind site it is often easy to see problem rituals.  When we as individuals ,or we as a society, are engaged in those rituals it can be much more difficult to see how ridiculous they are.  History often ridicules "rituals" or "customs" which have fallen out of favor.

We, as people, as cultures, as societies, need to question our "customs" and our "rituals" constantly.  We need to debate them and discuss them.  We don't need to fight about them, but, we will because we become emotionally involved in our rituals and our customs the way Archimedes became emotionally involved in his support of Aristotle and his opposition to Aristarchus.

Our emotions help us trust people.  Consistency helps us build trust in relationships.  Trust is important in the acceptance of cultural solutions and our emotions play a huge part in building that trust.

Emotions and consistency can also become stagnant pools of rotten water which can kill us if we continue to drink it after it turns.

Question emotions.  Question trust.  Question consistency.

Now, these questions won't make you popular.  People will attack and condemn for questioning "truth" as given to us by our authority figures such as our teachers.  Eventually someone else will take credit for your theories the way Copernicus now receives credit for the theories originally postulated by Aristarchus.

Yet we can stir the waters preventing stagnation and even death with our questions and our sacrifice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Athropology, capitalism and socialism

In previous blogs about "the world according to Jack" I discussed why so many of the theories of cultural development are bogus.  I theorized that the variation in development within various cultures around the world is primarily based on problems and the utilization of resources to solve those problems.

One of the issues people miss with all the self help actualization crap in our post industrial societies is that people are always the most important resource and we need to group together to survive.

Okay so why do people jockey for position within a society?

Lets dump all the self-help pseudo-psychological bullshit about self actualization.

We react to the opinions of others within our social groups because the survival of human beings, more than any other animal, depends on our ability to work together in a group.

Our need for socialization is based on our need to survive.  Our survival as individuals depends on our position within our social group.  This is why we freak out when people treat us badly and why people treat us badly.  Even as children we jockey for our position within our social groups.  In my opinion this is not a learned skill, we have a biological predisposition to socialize  and jockey for position based on our need to group together to survive.

As individuals we have a predisposition to group together.

As individuals within that group we have a predisposition to encourage a group perception of our own importance over others within our group increasing our chances of survival within the group.

As groups and individuals we address perceived problems using resources in ways that the group can accept.

Acceptance of a particular solution is often based on a specific individuals ability to convince a group that solution presented by the individual is "best".

Once a group accepts a solution it will maintain that solution until the group can be convinced that the solution is no longer viable.

So the most important resource is not the technical accuracy of a solution, but, the charismatic ability of the presenter to encourage acceptance of their solution.

In other words, the most important resource is people.

The primary reason, in my opinion (IMO), that Europe jumped past other cultural groups is because Europe became the base of a religious movement willing to accept and educate almost anyone capable of learning and accepting the sovereign position of the religion.  This religious movement collected and educated people for almost a thousand years.  By collecting intelligent people together into specific areas for a very long time the religious group created the conditions necessary for a cultural technological leap.

Kind of ironic because the technological revolution we call the Renaissance actually helped destroy the political influence of the religious group.  Where the solution to many problems had been "religion" it now became "science".  Eventually the problems solved by "religion" or "science" will be solved by something else.

Most of the Cultural Anthropological developmental theories currently focus on resources and cross cultural communications.  They don't focus on the influence of charismatic individuals.

Issac Asimov wrote a book where a mathematician came up with a way of predicting cultural change.  Asimov postulated that a "wild card" in the form of a particularly charismatic individual destroyed the accuracy of these calculations.

I loved that when I was 13 or 14, whenever I read that book.  Total horse crap.

It is always the influence of a particular individual presenting a solution which changes society.

That influence can be technological, however, technological solutions by less than charismatic individuals typically take a long time to become accepted.

Typically solutions provided by charismatic individuals, like the geocentric solution provided by Aristotle, are accepted regardless of technical accuracy.

Individuals can do very little to change a cultural group by themselves so they encourage others to work with them to initiate "change".  If the individual assembles a large enough group initiating change to over come the resistance to change by other groups the change will occur.  If the individual does not encourage or assemble enough people to work with them the change will not occur, regardless of technical accuracy of the solution.

 The existence of these individuals promoting cultural change can be accurately predicted.  The exact solutions which these individuals will support cannot be accurately predicted.

This is why capitalism is preferred by individuals as an economic system, we have a predisposition to enhance our position within the group to increase our chances for survival.

We help each other and defend the group we belong to because we have a predisposition to band together and survive.

There is a parable in Ecclesiastes about a city.  The city was in trouble and no one knew what to do to save the city except for one poor man.  The poor man knew he needed the group to survive so he presented his solution and was ignored.  Eventually in desperation the city used the poor man's solution and was saved.  Afterward they went back to ignoring the poor man.

This is a common story.  Steve Wozniak created a solution and everyone ignored him.  Steve Jobs marketed the solution and became a "great man".  The solution presented by the charismatic person is accepted.  Without the person the group perceives as "successful" or charismatic the solution is ignored irregardless of the accuracy of the solution or how many people the solution is presented to.

A perfect example is me.  I'm the poor guy who wants to help the world become a better place because when the world is better things are better for me too.

I'm not Aristotle, more of a kind of Steve Wozniak, and until my "world according to Jack" torch is taken up by a charismatic presenter and then attributed to that presenter it won't get anywhere.  And when it does become accepted I will be saying, "I wrote that years ago" and will be promptly ignored by the group for some flashy charismatic.

Life would be so much better if we could always identify the "Aristarchus" and the "Aristotle", the one with the correct solution.  Instead we identify the charismatic.

So the bottom line is that people are the most important resource.

People have a predisposition to group together for survival.

People have a predisposition to jockey for position so that their importance to the group will enhance their own chances for survival.

This jockeying creates situations in which the individual presents solutions to cultural problems are presented to and are accepted by the group irregardless of the technical accuracy of the solution.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Technical details versus big picture viewpoints in Anthropology and stuff

In my never ending search for knowledge and my recent studies in Anthropology I am finding something very interesting out about science in general.

Often the “big-picture” theories are easily contested while the technical details are not.

Working with some technologies I found that the most common “mistake” in working with a new technology was an inaccurate assessment of the variability in the output of the technology.

Manufacturing engineering is pretty simple, find out where the largest variability in time or results are and make that part of the process less variable. Mis-characterizing a technology as being less variable that it really is makes the technology more marketable. We often read about similar things concerning the drug industry. A drug is thought to be consistent and when it is released to the public the variability is actually so great that people end up dead.

In Anthropology the same thing is true. Often those studying a specific group of people create an ethnography which is later refined by later researchers. The technical details of the group are refined to become less variable over time.

In humanistic studies the technical details are less specific and not as easily quantifiable as they are in a more technical avocations such as engineering and manufacturing. All groups attempting comparative studies between groups will attempt to develop quantitative data which can be used to compare these groups. In humanistic sciences such as psychology and anthropology this quantitative data is subjective rather than objective. Bottom line, quantifying subjective data is different from quantifying objective data.

If we can agree on the subjective classification of details, and a lot of the time people don't, the technical details accumulated in any science are “facts” and can not be argued with.

As our data grows and we develop conclusions from the data and then use deductive or inductive reasoning to develop theories based on these conclusions we get farther and farther from facts.

My anthropological theory, “the world according to Jack”, is a high level theory on the development of culture. In most cases, like Aristotle and Aristarchus, it is the theory resulting from conclusions after reviewing the technical data which result in conflict between scientists.

Okay, in anthropology and psychology the data is pretty much all subjective so we can argue the technical data also. In this case we will ignore that, mostly because while I am smart enough to question the big-picture theories I do not have the technical expertise to question the subjective data collection. I don't have to be an expert on cars to tell that a car needs work done, there are lots of indicators. I do have to be a technical expert to determine exactly what details must be addressed to accomplish that work.

To give you an idea of how stupid and unreasonable debates about technical theories and detailed data acquisition are I will once again turn to the laughable geocentric vs heliocentric argument which our hero Aristotle won, proving once and for all (or almost two thousand years) that the earth is motionless and the sun revolves around it.

Aristotle put a ball on a string. He placed an object on the ball and then swung the ball around in a circle over his head, using the string. The object flew off the ball.

This was stupid, even for people who had no concept of gravity. Aristotle knew that there was some force which prevented him from jumping off the earth. He attributed it to gravitas or heaviness. Essentially people were too heavy to jump off the earth, but, if subjected to centrifugal force they would fly off the planet. Yeah, planet because Aristotle knew that the Earth was a sphere and that water will find it's own level.

How does water find it's own level on a sphere? This is actually one of the reasons people believed in a flat earth. Not anyone who understood geometry, just people with a very basic understanding of how things work. Imagine trying to explain how water at the bottom of the sphere didn't fall off to a person.

Aristotle knew, from studying shadows (even at sea) that the surface of the Earth was curved and that the surface of the Mediterranean sea curved with it. Why?

There are actually some interesting explanations for this, but, Aristotle was an expert showman so he ignored the things he didn't know in order to supply a culturally acceptable theory based on conclusions from factual data.

Like most scientists Aristotle knew there was stuff missing which he ignored and during debates used ridiculous “experiments” that made crowds laugh in support of him while ridiculing his opponents.

A politician once accused his opponent of monogamous heterosexuality during a debate, asking, “Do you deny that you are a monogamous heterosexual?” The opponent admitted he was and lost the election. This was one of William Randolph Hearst's favorite yellow sheet tricks, “Do you deny that you were ever in a mental institution?” or “Do you deny having sex with a prostitute?” Even today people fall for similar political propaganda.

The technical details are typically ignored in the debate surrounding the conclusions and theories developed from those conclusions.

It is the big-picture stuff that is fun and entertaining. However, developing an opinion on the conclusions from which a theory is developed without understanding the technical basics is the development of an uneducated opinion. Most of us gladly develop uneducated opinions.

On an Internet message board I was discussing evolution and one of the posters explained that he had minored in evolution. I explained that universities didn't give degrees in evolution, either majors or minors. Evolution was an anthropological theory and someone studying evolution would have taken classes in anthropology. Someone else posted a link to a small private college catalog which included a course on “evolution and natural science”. Sometimes I just want to puke at how hard people work at being ignorant.

How many of us develop political opinions without ever reading a single political party platform? Most people I discuss political party platforms with don't know what they are any more than my anonymous debater knew what evolution actually was. These are the basic technical details that I believe are required to develop an opinion.

Personally I would never hazard an opinion on a subject about which I have not studied the basics. This was not always true, in my twenties I was just as ignorant and opinion prone as most people.

I once told someone that the universe had to be either open constantly or intermittently open. He asked why it had to be. I considered this Hearstian question and refused to answer. A technically oriented question seeking a legitimate answer might be “how do you know that?”

One of the laws of physics tells us that a closed system will not gain or lose energy. Here we have a universe with energy in it. How did it get there? The system, like all systems with any energy in it, has to have been open at one point. Since we don't know if the universe is an open or closed system we can only say that the universe must be either intermittently or constantly open.

Open to what? Being religious I would say God. As a scientist I can say that I don't know what our system is open to.

All theories of the universe start with a miracle, here we have stuff. The technical details of physics and matter can't be argued. Okay, the subjective ones can, but, the objective data cannot be argued which is why so many scientists try to make subjective data look objective.

People need classes in statistics to get a B.S. In psychology or anthropology because they have to be able to convert subjective data into something that looks objective. This makes the conclusions look more substantive.

The bottom line is that science is filled with Hearstian stunts like the one Aristotle pulled that are used to argue conclusions and theories, but, properly collected data cannot be argued. Data can be supplemented and conclusions based on the data can change. Those conclusions can change theories. Properly collected data never changes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Utilization of resources on a cultural basis

Yeah, more crap on anthropology. Not as much fun as ridiculing demophyte politicians, that slavery supporting genocidal political party that still uses the symbol Andrew Jackson used to demonstrate that he was too stubborn to allow those abolitionists change his mind.

Still, I find Anthropology a lot of fun.  Probably for the same reason.

Lets get on with the anthropological use of resources in 'the world according to Jack' theory.

As I mentioned in a previous blog (just typed that out a that a Freudian slip?) some where in the past one of our evolutionary ancestors came up with the psychotic idea of cutting off a dead thing's skin and wrapping themselves up in it.

While I am sure that not every member of whatever group this was rejoiced in this solution they did not oppose it by beating the inventor to death.

Solutions to problems and/or attainable desires must be acceptable to the group.

Some anthropologists believe that many societies did not develop the metallurgical skills necessary for technological development because they did not have much access to metals.

Yeah, not buying that. Copper and iron are plentiful in the United States, specifically in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Maybe, as the Natural Scientists of old believed (including our bigoted professor Darwin), Native Americans were just stupid.

Yeah, not buying that either. I have a different idea.

I think Native Americans were too smart to spend their lives digging under ground or heating and beating rocks into shapes. I think there was probably a lot of cultural or societal pressure not to do anything that stupid. Life was worth living, why dig, heat and pound rocks into shape?

Sure, Native Americans pounded copper and other metals and did some open pit mining. There was probably a cultural or societal preference not to dig big, nasty mines. The open pit mines that were dug were probably about as large as was culturally acceptable in that society.

The old world in Eurasia and Africa had things a little differently. Once some group developed new weapons technology the rest of the groups had to catch up in a never ending arms race that even today goes on.

Our world has developed a cultural resistance to specific technologies in a similar way that I believe other cultures have. Primarily against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Some members of our one world culture embrace these technologies. Most members do not and if the news is any indication I believe that, as the ancestors of gorillas probably once beat a group member that cut the skin off a dead thing and wore it, our one world culture will probably destroy those members who insist on using a culturally unacceptable solution.

Sure, lots of people will disagree. Those who think of the psychotic who originally cut the skin from a dead thing and began wearing it as a cultural hero for example. Personally I think the ancestors of gorillas had the right idea. Living naked in a warm region sheltered by trees. Yeah, I'm a bit of a tree hugger. Not too much though because I envy the big game hunters who once bagged elephants and rhino on the plains of Africa. Poachers have made the hunting of such animals unforgivable in my personal ideology. I can, however, envy those who hunted these animals in the late nineteenth century before the population became decimated.

I have mentioned that my beliefs and my desires are not always consistent and that those who want to call me a hypocrite for liking toilet paper as one of mankind's greatest inventions while at the same time detesting the environmental impact of human waste products are welcome to their judgmental opinions.

This is where Aristotle and Aristarchus come into play. Cultural acceptance of solutions is often driven by a charismatic leader regardless of solution accuracy.

In other words a likable person can convince an Eskimo to buy ice cubes while the Eskimo ignores advice from someone who is less likable.

Another way to put this is that politicians often sell us a bill of goods and deliver a fantasy instead of reality.

Aristotle convinced people that the sun revolved around the earth. Aristarchus was sure the earth revolved around the sun, but, people called him an idiot. Welcome to politics and cultural solutions.

Cultural solutions do not have to be “truth” or “accurate” or “best”. Cultural solutions have to be accepted by enough members of the group that the group can utilize the solution irregardless of their accuracy.

Irregardless does not mean without regard, by the way. Irregardless is a non-standard form of regardless. Look it up.

Solutions have to satisfy the group and create some kind of stability.

The geocentric solution offered by Aristotle did both of these. The theory stabilized education for almost two thousand years because it satisfied the group curiosity about the motion of the universe.

If the group accepts a solution and it does not help create stability or provide whatever benefits the group believes the solution should provide the group will reject the solution and seek out a different solution.

The ancestors of gorillas probably decided that the solution of wearing a dead thing's skin did not offer the cultural stability (for lack of a better term) that freezing to death offered.

The ancestors of people did believe the solution of wearing a dead thing's skin offered a culturally stable solution. If you believe in the theory of evolution. Fortunately I don't.

Disagreement does not, in spite of cultural stereotypes and propaganda, indicate opposition. I can disagree with an idea without opposing that idea. I can and will disagree with everyone about something and will agree with no one about everything. Because I disagree with a person or an idea does not mean that I oppose the idea, or research into the idea or concept or the person or whatever.

When an idea, or solution, is offered there are three possible actions that members of the group can take. Agreement, disagreement and apathy. If the disagreement is antipathetic (really strong) the group can literally beat the one who came up with the unacceptable solution to death.

Some people think disagreement is an insult. There is a word for people like this and we will get to that later.

Disagreement and discussion is a method of education. In my opinion people who have an ego so large that they feel they are always right and no one is allowed to disagree with them are morons.

What is really ridiculous is that when I disagree with someone who believes their opinion or theories unimpeachable they accuse me of thinking I know everything. How is that for ridiculous?

When I disagree with people they call me a smart ass, they will say I don't know as much as I think I do, that I think I know everything, etc, etc.

Pretty ridiculous, and very common in almost every documented culture. When I was a child teachers hung paddles on the walls and hit children who disagreed with them. I know because I was the subject of more than one teachers egotistical and corporal defense of their opinions.

As a result of this common behavior children grow up with the idea that people should not disagree with authority and seek to place themselves in a social position where people must not disagree with them. These people will defend themselves, verbally and physically, those who disagree with them. The more egotistical the more vicious the defense.

Many cultures realize this and create methods of arbitration that reduce the potential for violence. Yet, we still encourage children to react disagreeably when people disagree with them. Yeah, I could have said “badly” but I like “disagreeably” in this context.

I think we should encourage disagreements and help children learn to handle disagreements without punishments, even when they disagree with authority figures. Probably not going to happen, ever. Too much egotism and elitism in educational professionals and other authority figures.

So here we are, disagreeing, discussing and developing culturally acceptable solutions that provide increased stability for the group regardless of the technical accuracy of or the availability and application of specific natural resources to those solutions.

Or we beat those offering an offensive solution to death.

So much for evolution.  :-)

In summary every cultural group creates a set of cultural rules that favor presentation of solutions by charismatic presenters regardless of the availability of resources or the technological accuracy of the solutions.

Once a group accepts a specific solution and finds that it eliminates whatever problem or desire it was designed to be a solution for it will oppose alternate solutions to that same problem.  Often violently.

Violence is not a indicator of cultural advancement.  All cultures engage in violence in some ways.  There are no indicators of cultural advancement, there are variations in cultural behavior and resources including technology, natural resources and people.

Some things disgust or are accepted by some individuals and some cultures.  What an individual or a culture finds acceptable or disgusting is not an indicator of advancement or superiority.

So no matter how disgusting I think cutting the skin off a dead thing and wearing it is does not mean that gorillas have a superior culture to humans.

It just looks that way.

Monday, September 10, 2012

increasing group size in cultures

Okay, we have totally dumped the illogical theories on cultural change within groups and accepted without reservation "The world according to Jack" where: problems/desires>resources>solutions>stability/satisfaction.

So why or how does group size influence changes in culture?

Group size is pretty important.  Anthropological theory tells us that the smaller the group the less likely it is to have personal property issues.  Small groups, what Anthropologists call "bands", have very few personal property issues and typically don't think of owning property in the same way that individuals in larger "tribes" do.

I believe this is based on personal relationships between members of groups. Without getting too deep into the relationships individuals have within and between various cultural sub-groups the basic idea is that people believe more in other people than they do in ideas.

Aristarchus developed the heliocentric theory of the universe about 600 years before Christianity actually became a fully organized religion.  His theories were discounted because people believed in Aristotle and his geocentric theories.

This belief in people spreads.  As individuals we tend to accept people who are accepted by people we "know".  If someone we have a positive relationship with, someone we believe in, accepts a person or their theories we will typically accept that person.

The fewer people who believe in a person the less likely their beliefs are to be accepted by the group.

In this case the problem is interpersonal trust and typically we place our trust in people we believe in.  That interpersonal trust relationship is extended from the trust we place in one person to the trust that person places in another person.

If we trust our government and our government tells us that we have to kill Osama Bin Laden to be safe then we all cream for joy when we kill Osama Bin Laden.

Is that good or bad?  Does killing a leader whose tactics we understand actually make us safer?  Will that leader be replaced with another leader whose tactics and strategy we won't understand?

There are no perfect answers to this or similar questions.  There is no "truth" here, just some answers that some people trust more than others.

Some people wanted Osama Bin Laden dead in revenge for 9-11.  Some people feel safer now that OBL is dead.  Others are angry that the intent of the United States laws against the specific targeting of individual national leaders was broke.  OBL was a cultural leader but OBL was not a leader of a country recognized by the United Nations.  The intent of the law against targeting specific individual cultural leaders for assassination was to encourage diplomatic solutions.

Cultural groups exist with or without recognition or permission.  At the beginning of the genocide of Native Americans their cultural groups were not recognized.  When those groups were larger than the invading groups diplomatic solutions were worked out.  As the invading groups increased in size the diplomatic solutions were ignored and cultural values were imposed.

Personally I find a great deal of similarity between the killing Native Americans who opposed the United States and the killing of specific cultural or political groups who currently oppose the United States.  Both groups expected different behaviors from the United States and both groups reacted violently when those expectations were not met.  Both groups developed a lack of trust in the U.S. when the U.S. did not behave as expected.

All of these conflicts revolve around personal trust issues.  Those personal trust issues extend into trust of leadership, trust in the leaders of leaders and so on.

As group size increases individuals within the group have reduced trust relationships.  This causes smaller sub groups to form where people within these sub groups have stronger trust relationships.  These groups form trust relationships with other groups.

Individuals can belong to as many or as few trust groups as they can.

The more rigid the expectations a group has concerning its individual members the more exclusive the group will be.  The less rigid the expectations of the group the more inclusive the group will be.

The lines between individual and group psychology and the anthropology of these small cultural sub groups blur at this point.  Some will believe that the two disciplines complement each other and some will believe that they have opposing ideologies or goals.

In any case I believe that it is the individual trust issues extended into group trust issues that define the trust issues between various cultural and sub-cultural groups.

Trust is based on expectations.  We all have different expectations.  When a person or group or thing behaves as we expect we increase trust.  When a person or group or thing does not behave in the way which we expect them to our level of trust decreases.

Sometimes we cannot even specifically define our expectations.  We only know that our expectations have either been met or not.

 In the 'World According to Jack', trust grows out of expectations and trust is transfered from one entity to another.

Trust and expectations become the basis of most of the inter cultural issues we face in cultural groups.  The remaining issues are related primarily to ecological conditions such as climate and the condition or availability of natural resources.

Those issues are addressed by applying the available resources, primarily human resources, to the issue.