Archive for the ‘Behaviour’ Category

Why we need stupid people

November 10, 2021

Feeling a little irritated today.


I find I have been irritated before

Stupid is as stupid does.


 

Colonisation and the genocide of the Neanderthals by the even-newer-Africans

November 5, 2021

Colonisation

Colonisation is not anything new. It is a necessary characteristic for any successful species.

Colonisation is the expansion by one community into the physical space being occupied by some other biological community. The invaders may be a whole species or just a particular strain within a species. It is a phenomenon exhibited by every successful biological community from viruses and bacteria and fungi to plants and animals (including humans). A new territory or habitat may be already occupied by other species, or strains of the same species, or unoccupied. The incoming community, if they dominate the new territory, are considered colonists. Newcomers who merely merge into the existing population are immigrants rather than colonists. Any communities already existing in the space and falling under the sway of the newcomers are the colonised. Many attempts at colonisation fail; either because the colonists cannot adapt to the new habitat or because they cannot compete (biologically, culturally, or technologically) with the existing inhabitants.

That living things exist in every conceivable corner of the earth’s land surface and of the oceans is a consequence of colonisation. That living things find it necessary to search for new habitats is driven by the need to grow and to survive changing environments by utilising the inherent genetic diversity available in every species. The greater the diversity available in any species, the greater the possibility that some individuals can adapt quickly to a new habitat. A successful species is one which grows its numbers and expands its habitat. Evolution results when the genetic diversity available allows individuals in a species to cope with changes to its environment.. These changes are usually small and quite slow. However, much of evolution has been when natural selection has been accelerated as species adapt to the rapid, and sometimes large, changes of environment in newly invaded habitats. Not all succeed and many would-be colonists have failed  to navigate the change. Species die out when they move, voluntarily or involuntarily, to new unsuitable habitats. There are a few species which have stagnated in tiny niche habitats, exhibit unusually little genetic diversity and have lost the wherewithal to change. They have become so specialised to fit their habitat that they are incapable of adapting to any other and have reached evolutionary “dead-ends”. Most such species have gone extinct but a few survive. Panda bears and theridiid spiders are examples. They have become incapable of growth or of colonisation and are probably on their slow path to extinction. 

The reality is that any living species which does not colonise is doomed either to stagnation in a niche habitat, or to failure and extinction. The most abject species failure would be an in-situ extinction without evolution of any descendant species. Colonisation favours, and even enables, the emergence of succeeding species. The change of habitat and the changes it brings about are essential to the continuation of life. Spaces are colonised when expanding communities invade and bring, or evolve, more competitive abilities, cultures, or technologies than available to the current inhabitants, if any, of that space. The dinosaurs on land had a long run but could not finally cope with the changes in their environment. But some of them took to the air. Many found new sources of food. Some developed a taste for insects and worms and begat a plethora of new species. (Along the way they even wiped out entire species of some flying insects). But the descendants of those adventurous, little dinosaurs have become the thousands of bird species to be found thriving today. They have colonised the entire globe while their larger, ancient kin perished miserably a long time ago.

However, success is no longer politically correct. Failure is glorified instead. Failure as a victim of another species is even more highly regarded. In the politically correct version of conservation, even successful species of fauna and flora are condemned for being invasive when they colonise new territories. Failing species, unfit for changed environments, or unable to bear the heat of competition from other species, are artificially, and unnaturally, protected in glorified zoos. However I do not hear any ornithologists condemning birds for being invasive species or for colonising the planet.

Human colonisation

In today’s politically correct world, colonisation has become a dirty word. Colonists are considered evil. Statues of colonists are a seen as a sign of oppression and depravity. The descendants of those colonised in the past claim a self-righteous victimhood in the present. Needless to say, a place in the kingdom of heaven is reserved for the colonised and their descendants. Colonists and their descendants are subject to eternal damnation. Yet, the history of mankind is one of successful communities expanding and colonising. The peopling of the world has been enabled by colonisation. The colonised became colonised usually because their culture was stagnating and their technology could not compete with incoming ones.

It is usually only the successful European colonisations between about 1400 and 1900 CE which have become politically incorrect. But the many attempts that failed are lost from history and get little sympathy. What is conveniently forgotten, though, is that the human populations in Australia and Africa and the Americas, at that time, were ripe for colonisation by any invading community with superior technology. For these populations, their own culture or their technology, or both, were stagnating and they were not growing. During that 500 year period, the native Americans, the inhabitants of S America and Africa and of Australia were themselves neither expanding nor  technologically capable of colonising new territories. If they had been more advanced the newcomers from Europe would have been immigrants rather than colonists. If it had not been the Europeans, it would have been someone else. If not the Europeans, the Chinese or Indians would have colonised Australia. If Europe had not had the capability to expand, they would themselves have probably succumbed to the expansion by the Ottomans. The Americas would then have been colonised from China or from Japan or some other region which was growing. Africa would have been colonised probably by the Ottomans (Turks and Arabs) or the Persians in the north, and by Indians and Chinese in the south. The key fact is that the inhabitants of Australia and the Americas and Africa, at that time, were not advancing (in numbers, culture, or technology) sufficiently to drive their own expansions or growth.

Go back another 2,000 years (500 BCE – 1,500 CE) and we find the South Indian colonisation of large tracts of SE Asia. The Greek and Persian expansions gave way to the Romans. The Mongols, the Normans, the Turks, and the Vikings were busy moving into the new territories they could access. The Norse attempts to colonise North America all failed. The Greeks used colonisation for expansion but also as a way of reducing social stress at home. Dissident populations were expelled to go and found colonies and be a nuisance elsewhere. Han Chinese colonies were used as the spearhead and as the means of expanding Empire. They were often guinea-pigs for testing the viability of new territories. And many failed. Where colonies succeeded, they nearly always had superior technology or weapons or organisation to dominate the local inhabitants. They usually used the indigenous population for labour and often as enslaved labour. These early colonisations were probably more brutal and savage than those which came later, but they go back far enough in time to generally escape sanctimonious censure today.

Delving further back into antiquity, reveals that colonisation was a major means of expansion even then. On land, those who mastered horses had a crucial advantage – at least for a while. Voyages across oceans were limited by the capability for navigating open seas. But sailing boats were quite well developed even if navigation was not, and coast-hugging allowed many communities to colonise by sea. But these expansions by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Persians, Indians, and Han Chinese are far enough in the past to escape moral judgements in the present. If we go back even further to pre-historical times (5,000 – 10,000 years ago), all of hunter-gatherer Europe was colonised by the rampaging Yamnaya and the Anatolians from central Asia. They brought agriculture and cities and civilisation in their wake, and so are now forgiven the conquest and pillage and enslavement they surely utilised along the way.

 But let us not forget that human colonisation was started long before antiquity by the Africans.

Colonisation from Africa

When it comes to the origins of human colonisation we need to go back to before we were ever human. I take humans to mean Anatomically Modern Humans – AMH – who appeared around 300,000 years ago. Around 2.5 million years ago, before AMH had evolved, homo erectus had already spread from Africa and colonised most of Europe and Asia but never reached Australia. These were the oldest-Africans, but they did not then have control of fire. These oldest-Africans were more settlers than colonists. 

Some time after we had evolved from apes, and perhaps around 1,000,000 – 800,000 years ago, a common ancestor of AMH, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and a couple of unknown hominin species (call them homo x and homo y), emigrated from Africa and colonised most of Europe, Central Asia, and South-East Asia. These were the old-Africans. The control of fire was achieved sometime during the homo erectus period and was certainly available to the colonising old-Africans. Most likely the movement of whole populations was motivated to move out of Africa, not so much by a shortage of space, but by growth or by changes of climate and a shortage of food. No doubt some were just seen as trouble-makers at home and encouraged to leave. These old-Africans were emigrants and probably the first ever hominin colonists. They were not strictly immigrants into existing societies since the territories they moved into had no other AMH inhabitants. But they probably did displace the oldest-Africans they found. There were probably many waves of old-Africans and later waves of emigrants may well have been immigrants into existing communities. By 700,000 years ago old-Africans covered all of Africa, Europe and Asia. Many of the areas they moved into may have had indigenous near-hominin populations. However, their indigenous cultures and technologies were not sufficiently competitive to prevent the wave of old-African colonists establishing themselves. The key distinction in these times was probably the control of fire. The colonisation of the world by the old-Africans led also to the demise of many animal species which could not resist the advanced cultures and technologies they were faced with. Some were hunted to extinction as prey, while others were unable to adapt quickly enough, and still others were just crowded out by the newcomers.

In due course (a small matter of a few hundred thousand years) the old-Africans in Central Asia and Europe evolved to become the Neanderthals. From about 500,000 years ago they were the dominant species, and that continued for about 300,000 years. In South-East Asia, the old-Africans evolved to become the Denisovans. In the rest of Asia (S China, India, and the Middle East), the old-Africans were still around but had evolved to become some as yet unknown hominin species. In Africa, the old-Africans evolved, sidestepped the evolution of any Neanderthal-like species, and eventually gave rise to Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) by about 300,000 years ago. Let us call them the new-Africans.

Then from about 200,000 years ago there were a number of waves of new-African emigration/colonisation into Europe and Asia. These emigrant waves continued sporadically for 100,000 years while, in Africa, evolution had created the even-newer-Africans. Around 60 – 70,000 years ago, they were responsible for the major wave of emigration now termed the “Out of Africa” event. The new-Africans and the even-newer-Africans found indigenous populations all across the new territories they expanded into. They were sometimes just other new-Africans and sometimes they were blended populations of old-Africans (Neanderthals, Denisovans, …) and new-Africans. In India, for example, the even-newer-Africans arrived after the Toba eruption and mingled genetically with small surviving populations of old-Africans already mingled with new-Africans. By around 50,000 years ago the even-newer-Africans had reached Australia.

Whether there was conflict between indigenous and arriving populations, or whether one culture was gradually displaced by, or submerged into, the more dominant one is unknown. Whether advanced colonists enslaved less advanced populations is unknown but is quite likely to have occurred. What is known is that the arrival of the even-newer-Africans caused the Neanderthals and the Denisovans and any other remaining hominin species around to disappear. By around 50,000 years ago the Denisovans were extinct and by 40,000 years ago there were no Neanderthals left. However, their genes still survive in tiny quantities and live on in us. So some contact leading to gene admixture certainly occurred. However, whether intentional or not, many communities were overwhelmed. Eventually, entire human species were wiped out.

The time-line for African colonists into Europe and Asia:

  • oldest-Africans – c. 2 m years ago
  • old-Africans – c. 1 million years ago >> evolved to be Neanderthals, Denisovans, …
  • new-Africans – c. 500,000 years ago >> evolved, mixed with old-Africans and other strains
  • new-Africans (AMH) – c. 300,000 years ago >>admixture with previous colonists
  • even-newer-Africans – c. 100,000 years ago >> colonised the known world, eradicated the Neanderthals , Denisovans and others

In current-day, politically correct language it could be called the Genocide of the Neanderthals by the even-newer-Africans.


Passwords and passports are becoming obsolete

September 16, 2021

Passports

I have, along with citizens of over 150 countries, a biometric passport. A special camera is used to capture the biometric information at the time of passport application. Each such passport contains a chip storing standardised biometrics for facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, and iris recognition. That data is contained on the passport I carry around and show to various authorities from time to time. But all that data is also stored on the computers of the issuing authority. 

What then is the need for the passport itself?

Passing through a passport control involves some device which checks some part, or all, of my biometric information which is then matched against the information contained on the chip in the passport I am carrying. It is not checked against the original data stored when the passport was issued. Faking a passport involves matching the data on the chip to the person carrying the passport. In fact, this check only shows that the person carrying the passport matches the data on the passport. As long as the passport is genuine such a check is an identity control. But it is an indirect control. Such a check says nothing, directly, about the identity of the person carrying a passport. 

The passport itself is just a carrier of data which exists somewhere else. It’s function is only to provide a controlling authority with access to the data of the passport bearer. It will not be long before the biometrics stored by passport issuing authorities are accessible directly in the cloud for checking against the actual biometrics of a physical person. The passport itself then has no function. Technologically it is already possible to do this today. But it will need more security to prevent unauthorised access to this data and some more time before the political will to allow this exists. The real technological challenge will be to prevent the accidental or intentional corruption of the master data. Already standard, on-the-street, cameras in some Chinese cities are connected to master data bases such that the camera image (facial + motion recognition) is sufficient to match the person against the master data. 

I am who I am. I do not need a passport to tell me who I am. The personal integrity issues that are sometimes quoted against such expansion of the use of technology are spurious and misguided. 

It may not be quite in my lifetime but passports are becoming obsolete.

Passwords

Passwords are already on the way out. 

BBC

Microsoft has announced users can now delete all passwords from their accounts and instead login using an authenticator app or other solution. The technology giant made passwordless accounts available for business users of its products in March. And that system is now being made available to all Microsoft or Windows users. It said “nearly 100% of our employees” were already using the new, more secure system for their corporate accounts.

If passwordless login is enabled, users re-logging in to a Microsoft account will be asked to give their fingerprint, or other secure unlock, on their mobile phone. “Only you can provide fingerprint authentication or provide the right response on your mobile at the right time,” it said.

Windows users will still be able to use quick-login features such as a Pin code, though. Some rare exceptions will still need passwords, such as Office 2010, Xbox 360 consoles, and Windows 8.1 or earlier machines. 

……….  Security vice-president Vasu Jakkal wrote: “Passwords are incredibly inconvenient to create, remember, and manage across all the accounts in our lives. “We are expected to create complex and unique passwords, remember them, and change them frequently – but nobody likes doing that.”


Wimp-worship (a la Biles and Osaka) is sick

July 29, 2021

A wimp is a weak and cowardly or unadventurous person and the etymology of the word probably derives from one who whines and whinges and whimpers. 

A wimp may sometimes be an object of sympathy but wimpy behaviour is a clear indication of a deficiency and is something to be avoided.

The decadence of snowflake culture becomes apparent when wimpy behaviour and wimps are idolised at the French Open and the Olympics. Instead of admiring all those who struggle and do not give up, those who break under pressure and give up are idolised. Giving up has become something to be more admired than struggling on. A gross disservice to the the majority who – in all walks of life –  do not give up in spite of everything.

That wimp-worship which glorifies giving up is contemptible.

 

Twitter

So, to sum up today’s big Simone Biles debate, snowflake Twitter is 100% adamant that walking out on teammates at work is brave, strong, inspiring and iconic – and anyone who does it should be celebrated as one of the world’s great heroes…. Good to know”. 

It is not the fault of the wimps. But the snowflake media who worship wimpy behaviour are contemptible.


Holding the Olympics now would be against the spirit of the Olympics

May 26, 2021

The Asahi Shimbun is right – I think.

Prime Minister Suga, please call off the Olympics this summer

……

It is simply beyond reason to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer. The central government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and Olympic officials are forging ahead relentlessly, refusing to address the public’s perfectly legitimate questions and concerns. Naturally, people’s distrust and apprehension are growing.

We demand that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga evaluate the situation calmly and objectively, and decide against holding the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. ……

………. A truly astounding remark was made last week by John Coates, vice president of the International Olympic Committee. During a news conference, Coates stated his view that the Games can be held under a state of emergency. But the issue was not just about staging the event without incident. Coates’ thinking was clearly at odds with popular sentiment in Japan, and his attitude of saying “yes” to the Games without presenting any supporting evidence served only to remind us anew of the IOC’s self-righteousness. …….

The organizers must understand that gambling is not an option. 

Many citizens share this awareness, and an Asahi Shimbun survey this month found only 14 percent of respondents in favor of going ahead with the Olympics this summer. The number also suggests the public’s deepening skepticism about the merits of hosting the Olympics. ……. 

The pandemic has prevented some athletes from competing in qualifiers. A huge gap exists between countries where progress has been made in mass inoculations and those where it hasn’t, obviously affecting athletes’ training and performances. For the Tokyo Olympics, athletes’ movements in the Olympic Village will be restricted, rendering it difficult for them to mix with local citizens as was hoped for by the local governments that volunteered to host pre-Olympic training camps.

Clearly, parts of the Olympic Charter have become a dead letter.

What meaning is there in holding the Olympics when people’s activities are being restricted and their daily lives have become difficult?

Cancel Olympics 2021

2020 has gone. Olympics 2021 is already unnatural. Some participants have prepared, some have not. Some cannot.

Much as I would like the Olympics sequence not to be disrupted, it makes no sense to have a shielded and truncated event which is so far from the spirit of what the Olympics ought to be. 

Cancel it and move on to 2024.


New challenges as global population will start declining already in the 2060s

January 24, 2021

The new challenge for the 22nd century, which will override almost all the perceived challenges and existential threats of today, will be population decline. How our intricately connected and interdependent world for food production, manufacturing, financial services, health services, education and leisure will be able to cope with a declining population, a declining work force and an increasing proportion of population (<20, >70) being non-productive, will be the dominating challenge faced by humanity. The pressure on some resources will clearly decrease. The further development and spread of automation will become an absolute must. The increasing use of “smart” contraptions with some embedded AI and the increasing interconnections between smart devices will be the primary means of compensating for the decline in humans available. Paradoxically, increasing automation and the increasing interconnections between our smart devices will probably lead to a decline in the interdependence of humans on each other. Each individual will be more dependent upon interconnected devices but less dependent upon other humans. Human independence – from other humans – could reach levels not seen since before the industrial revolution, but by choice rather than enforced.

The UN medium forecast based on the continuing decline in world fertility has the world reaching peak population at just over 11 billion just before 2100. But fertility rates are declining faster than the medium forecast.

Global fertility is falling faster than any prediction. It has reached critical levels in Japan and parts of Eastern Europe. Iran is providing incentives for increasing birth rates. In most of the EU countries it is only immigration and its consequence on fertility which is delaying the inevitable decline in fertility rates. The increased fertility rates among immigrant communities declines within a generation to match the “indigenous” rates. The Chinese population is already in decline. The Indian population will peak before 2050 rather than around 2070. Even Nigeria where population was expected to peak after 2100 will now reach its maximum probably by 2090, or even earlier.

New studies (The Lancet, July 14, 2020, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30677-2 ) now put the global population reaching a peak of 9.7 billion by 2064 and declining to 8.8 billion by 2100.

The work force decline has already started in China. In India it will start declining by 2050. It has become blindingly apparent during the corona virus pandemic that it is the work force which is both the “blood” which circulates and keeps our societies alive, and it is the glue which holds our societies together. It is in compensating for these human functions that automation and “smart” devices with some AI will come increasingly into play. A natural consequence is that having smarter devices leads to a fundamental change in the classic centralised- distributed paradigm. More smarts locally leads to more and narrower specialisation centrally.

I see the growing independence of individuals as inevitable with a declining human population together with smarter devices serving us. Smarter diagnostics and basic, automated health care locally is then complemented by fewer, very specialised central hospitals. The catchment area has to increase as the specialisations become narrower. (As is already happening in Scandinavia). Increasing on-line learning (local) is then complemented by specialised learning at the – fewer – centres. (As is already happening in Japan). Manufacturing (including food production and even farming) is increasingly automated.

In the 22nd and 23rd centuries there will not be a shortage of resources (food or water or energy), and there will be no shortage of growth as smart machines take over the boring and the mundane jobs, and there will be no decline in human ingenuity and creativity. But there may be a shortage of human companionship.


A Calvin Christmas to all

December 24, 2020

Sweden’s non-strategy has failed dismally to “flatten the curve”

December 12, 2020

I take skepticism to be the most important characteristic of any scientific inquiry. All “experts”, and especially media proclaimed experts, need to be met with a high degree of skepticism. “Experts” have a high level of knowledge, but only of what is known and what is known may not be very much. The inherent paradox is that it is the “experts” who need to be challenged the most, but can only be challenged by other experts. But the very clear lesson that can be learnt is that little “experts” are dangerous.

In Sweden, the media made an epidemiologist from the Public Health Agency (Anders Tegnell of Folkhälsomyndigheten – FHM) into some kind of a superhero in March. The government abdicated its responsibilities and left the stage free for “experts”. The media hype converted FHM’s limited position that face-masks were of most use within health care into a belief that face-masks were counter-productive in general use. “Flattening the curve” was the slogan being touted by everyone (including me). But epidemiology is more art than science. We know a lot about viruses but we knew very little about how humans behave and how the coronavirus spreads. The WHO was an unmitigated disaster as they tried to hide any information that was critical of China. (Someday China will need to be held accountable and take some responsibility for having failed to contain, and allowing the spread of, the virus). The government (and the Public Health Agency) proved to be utterly incompetent in predicting the behaviour of the young (who were not at great risk) and the effects on the old (>80% of fatalities).

Of course, almost every country has failed to flatten the curve. The Swedish non-strategy has also failed.

The diagram below needs little comment. The top curves were what we were shown everyday in March and April by FHM about what the strategy (or non-strategy) would achieve. The bottom curve is the actual burden on the health services in terms of the number of admitted Covid-19 patients in hospital (excluding intensive care places which are 70% full).

“Flattening the curve” has become a nonsense slogan.

Flattening the curve didn’t work

Vaccine races

December 4, 2020

Long-term effects can only show up in the long-term. The UK has won the Pfizer race but Russia and China already won their own races. The EU and the US are just slow (but claim credit for a prudence that is not possible). They are both so heavily invested that they cannot not approve. In fact, the world needs the vaccination initiatives to proceed with all speed, no matter the immunization conferred. Deployment of their own vaccines has started in Russia and China and the Pfizer vaccine will start being deployed in the UK next week. Other countries will follow – have no choice but to follow. The low cost vaccine is the Astrazeneca / Oxford vaccine which is probably 2 months away. Some few countries will deploy the Chinese and Russian vaccines. 2021 is vaccination year. It remains to be seen if this succeeds in preventing another Covid-19 spike in spring 2021.

Long-term effects are unknown but unlikely. The period of conferred immunization is unknown and will come out in the wash.


War and pandemics

November 20, 2020

Over 300 projects for producing vaccines against Covid 19 are being funded. If we are lucky perhaps 4 or 5 will succeed. Each project carries its share of parasitic entrepreneurs.

There is a new story almost every day of some scam or other in the manufacture or supply of protective equipment.

Pandemic profiteering is flourishing among all the desperate cases of bankruptcies and small businesses destroyed.



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