Why tea is femmo while coffee is macho

Two contenders for the most populist drink for all age groups. In the advanced countries they are highly similar — they both contain caffeine, the stimulative ingredient. Yet there is a substantial price difference. Young tea leaves can be harvested continually during most of a growing season whereas coffee beans can only be plucked at a peak moment in their career and those don’t happen as often as their growers would frequently like.

Then try the drinking test by pouring a fresh cup of each and waiting until their temperatures are just right for sipping and then drinking. You find that tea, being a thin liquid, slips down below the perfect temperature all too quickly and then it’s too cold. Coffee on the other hand, being a more viscous drink, allows many more opportunities to sip at perfect or near perfect temperatures.

At this stage a new blog could be budded to explain the variable cultures that have developed in the last 300 years between men and women drinkers, and the young and the old, and the respite times they had in their daily routines. But the above is enough to be going on with today.

Automating more sensibly

Several think tanks of late, including some prestigious bodies, including Deloitte, the OECD and a research group from Oxford Uni have been forecasting that half our present jobs will succumb to robotization within 20 years.

Those are very much objective view and, in theory, could easily by brought about In practice they won’t be — or at least in the short or medium term — for several reasons, including investments and risks much higher than normal development. Also, if too many workers lose their incomes too quickly due to being made redundant, how is a dependable future consumer market to be maintained? Even if consumer sales deteriorate only marginally in an advanced economy then the whole economy can start gyrating into depression — consumer sales being by far the largest item in countries’ national outputs, and ever likely to be.

In truth, serious though the effects of robotization have been already, they’ve not been anywhere near as disastrous as they might have been, had they been brought in going bull at a gate. Anything that resembles a more orderly balance of trade developing between countries — and thus a more gentle rise in living standards in customers of both parties — is best left until the more advanced countries are a long way along exchanging, expensive customised personal services for increasingly cheaper mass production of consumer goods under robotic control in the less developed country in order to maintain an equal balance of trade.

How many human breeds might there be?

A consensus of Kennel Clubs suggest that there are something between 300 and 400 dog breeds have been brought into the world, by a variety of methods of culling and selection of newly-born pups by human dog breeders. Could the same be done to produce a similar number of human breeds?

Certainly it could — although the equivalent results could be achieved without the cruelties involved in culling and other procedures which at present would be deemed unethical. We now have gene-editing methods which allow genes, or small parts of them, to be withdrawn from a fertilized egg — long before the life from can feel pain — and replaced by others.

Such is bound to happen one day when we need to evolve human breeds which can hibernate for years at a time while travelling to a distant planet — and yet wake up fresh as a daisy the next morning on arrival! In the meantime, however, will human breeds take off for much more trivial reasons? It’s an intriguing question that may start to trouble us — laypeople and professional geneticists alike — before too long.

The only way to change race prejudice

This morning, race prejudice is being served up as some sort of ‘hate crime’. At least this is the danger according to a government pronouncement and we are enjoined to have a ‘robust debate’ (a current fashionable phrase) about it.

Race prejudice — and prejudice more generally — whether it’s based on skin colour, thickness of lips, stature, cultural habits or ideological beliefs doesn’t lend itself to any sort of rational discussion. Prejudice  is emotional, not to say, instinctive. It’s the attitude, not just of you, but of the group in which you were born and raised in during your formative years or the group you graduated into in later years by virtue of special skills.  You’re unlikely ever to change your prejudice unless all your group members do so likewise.

Your group’s culture is paramount. Your group is always right, and other groups are always wrong.  Anybody who might disturb it, in propinquity or large size — its activities or its beliefs — is regarded as a danger. This applies when considering your group’s basic ability to find food or in preventing others discovering your particular job skills.

If government politicians want to reduce race prejudice then they’d be better to examine in detail each local situation in an alleged instance of prejudice arises, rather than talk in grandiloquent language such as calling it evil or citing legislation. Once the incident is analysed in terms of what groups and protective practises are involved then there a chance of changing the organisational situation. But, individually, people’s minds won’t change. Prejudice is instinctual.

Government, far more important than business

An early page in The Economist briefly describes the main political events of the world in the previous week. The next page is devoted to news about big business. About a dozen items on both pages. At first sight this implies an equality of importance between governments and business corporations — at least by The Economist. If so, what does the magazine think of the future? It’s an interesting question.

Business is certainly much more recent. The earliest evidence for manufacturing and trading — a cowrie shell necklace — comes from 70,000BC. Government extends backwards far further. The earliest human groups on the African savannah required expert leadership — and thus, probably, pecking order — and these go back at least 200,000 years. But there were many species of proto-humans before then — at least 6 million years elapsed before we separated from the original ape stock.

Government is not only immensely older than business but depends on an innate sense of justice. Without it not even the first trivial business exchange could have happened. Government is far more important than business and will survive it beyond the time that it will be seen as an historic relic.

Having a bet with Trump

In an article about inflation and deflation this week The Economist cites “. . . Some economists reckon that running the economy “hot” [that is, with inflation] to the extent that demand outstrips productive potential [as desired by Trump’s transition team] could nurture growth in America’s economic capacity . . .” [And make America “Great again”!]

Wonderful how wrong you can get, isn’t it? They still can’t get away from the Keynesian line that consumer demand creates economic growth, not supply. Middle-class yeoman’s wives were desperate for colourful light-weight dresses to wear in the summer for at least a century and a half in order to imitate the wives of the aristocracy and their silk dresses.

But no, it wasn’t until automated cotton spinning swept in, closely followed by colour printing, that exactly the right product became available in the early 1820s. It was then, and only then, that the industrial revolution could finally take off.

There are no uniquely new consumer products. Trump is going to wait an awful long time for the major economic bounce he’s expecting.

Successful entities of the future

Is it:  Too many ambitious individuals (males mainly)?  Or: Too few leadership positions available in modern governments.  Take you pick.  They amount to the same thing actually.

What it means is that the preponderance of governments, and other institutions set up by them, are too large and too pyramidal in structure. Too many ambitious individuals fight it out between them in order to reach the too few positions with any personal power.

Compare this with family and small group organisations in which our social skills became more or less compatible over millions of years of evolution.  No wonder that modern advanced governments are being increasingly described as broken.

The world of the future will go to those countries, regions, cities or corporations –whichever inherits the task of government — which learn to operate in small and modest sized units with, mainly,  lateral linkages, rather than top-down ones.

The trouble that social status has got us into

What is the first thing we do when we meet a new person for the first time? We assess them. It’s a double assessment — firstly, a genetic assessment carried out unconsciously within micro-seconds, secondly, a pecking order assessment carried out consciously immediately thereafter.

How long the second phase lasts depends on many factors but mainly where you and your new friend are on the social scale, particularly if within a common speciality group. And the higher you and your new friends are on the social scale the longer the assessment might take.

The basic question is: “Is he higher or lower than me?” The future might depend a great deal on both of you getting your respective assessments right. Pretty well everything bar the kitchen sink is thrown into the second assessment — the way you friend bears himself, his eye gaze, his tone of voice, the clothes he wears and how expensive and fashionable they are. If clothes turn out to be on a par with yours, then what other personal ornamentation do you both wear?

If equality still reigns then matters move on to the cars you drive around in, the grandeur of the homes you live in, and the size of your woodlands or moors. Right at the top of the billionaire tree then it might have to be the size of your luxury yachts — within inches sometimes!

It is all this which makes the professional and business world go round — the social level you acquire from your particular level of earnings. Without status goods — on which we spend the bulk of our earnings — the industrial revolution would have petered out sometime about 1840.

It is only in the social world that status originally reared its head millions of years ago in order to choose leadership positions in the group, yet, paradoxically, business took status over for its own purposes. Today, doubly paradoxically,  it is only in playtime in the social world itself — fully half of one’s wakeful hours, or ought to be — that status levels don’t count for very much any longer.

Economics enters a spooky world

Despite the fact that the Law of Least Effort has proved itself whenever tested — with very great precision — there are those who say that it cannot apply to the great world of manufacturing and trading outside the scientist’s lab. After all, decisions of government economists are constantly interfering with its state of being every day, indeed every hour of the day. How can the economic world be a model of a mechanical system that always finds its level of least effort , or use of energy.

Unless we attribute some sort of spiritual inputs into the minds of economists when they are considering economic quandaries, then the larger world of manufacturing and trading is only a larger mechanical version — admittedly a much larger version — of what is going on outside the scientists’ experiments in the lab. But this makes the larger world no different from the deliberations of scientists inside the lab and consequent.

It’s a spooky concept perhaps but it’s only part of the new science of quantum physics into which scientists are entering carefully — and also which economics must now enter if it is ever to become a scientific discipline.

Some questions from Arthur Cordell

Keith, let’s all come back in 100 years and see what happened.

Q> “Did we run out of oil?”
A> Unlikely, if we include shale oil and gas among it.

Q> “Was global warming “for real”?”
A> We’re certainly into a warm spell. But whether it’s different from about a dozen that preceded us in the last 10,000 years remains to be seen.

Q> “And where did digital technology bring mankind?”
A> To the stage where a great deal of muscular work – though not all – is done by machines.

Q> “Did people still “go to work”? ”
A> Most definitely. Most people need to attend a ‘work group’ every day in order to face a joint challenge under a leader who issues instructions and gives advices from the top rank of he pecking order.

Q> “What do people “do” when work is no longer needed and automation has pretty much taken over?” A> With full automation, there will always be new algorithms to be devised and software written in order to compete for trade with other groups all round the world. Some work will always be done by humans — our bodies being the best designed engines for some tasks. When automation has pretty much taken over people will still always want to meet in groups on a daily basis purely for social enjoyment and also raising and teaching children.

Q> “Will work be something that people vie for as a way to be creative and structure their days?”
A> Creativity is a long spectrum within any generation and high creativity is rare. However, everybody but everybody has a huge need for daily society and, in any healthy group, there is also a residual challenge, no matter how low key that may be.

Will Trump think again or will it be impeachment?

People of more than average intelligence are considered to be less impressionable than the bulk of the population whose scores on the standard IQ test lie between 90 and 110. This isn’t so. Think of Hitler and his Nuremburg Rallies and the thousands who became Nazis after attending them and listening to his passionate rhetoric.

Think also to the recent Trump Election when the original tranche of 30% of those intending to vote for him ballooned in the following weeks as his message was repeated forcefully.

The reason, so it is alleged, is that intelligent individuals with their more networked brains are more quickly able to make connections than the less intelligent despite their original wariness as to the logic of the argument. Emotions from their evolutionarily older parts of their brains finally overcame the rationality of their more recent frontal lobes.

Go a grade higher until you’re in company with rarer individuals of 1% of the population or fewer and then you find that they quietly begin to examine their new beliefs for flaws. And, they will find them. In abundance in Trump’s case.

However, are they qualified to make any sort of criticisms when most of the world is economically floundering? How do they know that Trump has himself not come to the same conclusions as themselves and that when he’s actually elected he’ll bring about policy changes that are significantly different from the ones he initially sounded forth with?

At the end of the day — that is, long before his first term of office comes to an end — there’s always impeachment. That’s one possibility that the Founding Fathers definitely got right in the Constitution.

Nigel Farage, Ambassador to the United States?

“Over my dead body”, says Sir Jeremy Heywood, Head of the Cabinet Office. Mind you, his reply would have been confined to his colleagues — a cluster of about five or six other senior civil servants, heads of the important departments, individuals who’ve known one another for 40 years ever since Oxford and Cambridge as undergraduates. Together, they make up an informal group who meet and lunch together frequently.

They are very much an indissoluble part of the British Government no matter what political parties are in power and have a major say in all legislation as well as having immense regulatory responsibilities of their own — including that of choosing ambassadors. With one ir two very rare exceptions the choice of British Ambassadors to the United States has always been regarded their perk

Nigel Farage himself would have chuckled as much as the mandarins over this suggestion but he would have known that a suggestion coming straight from the mouth of the American President-elect would have been the most laughable of them all.

Preventing rigid class divisions for good and all

British children are among the least healthy in the world.   A study by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance shows New Zealanders, South Africans and Slovenians leading the pack while the British are rated D minus.  The government hoped that holding the 2012 Olympic Games in London would boost the health of the nation. So it did temporarily but children since then are in worse condition which can only lead to a lot of illness and diseases in later life — diabetes-2, for example.

What can done about it? Nothing much. In recent years it is being realised that evolution is not only a long-time percentage change but can also involve relatively rapid adjustments to new circumstances. In these days of increasing intellectual competition, particularly in science, a young woman, seeking a dependable partner for her future children will tend to choose the most intelligent male in her chosen social circle.

Unless advanced governments make very serious endeavours to equalise social and educational opportunities for all its potential geniuses in all classes then it will inevitably divide into two populations of distinctly different intelligence levels well within a few generations.

Confucianists both, but what a difference in outcome!

In China, Confucianism existed mainly in great plains and the rich were army generals not merchants, There, respect was imposed from above and the pecking order swept downwards from the Emperor to the poorest peasant scrubbing in the soil. The mandate of heaven was usually benign as it surveyed the masses working below but at a time of prolonged drought or other disasters the masses would rise up and slaughter the Emperor wanting a new mandate.

In Japan, Confucianism could only exist in small valleys and ravines pinched in by an infinity of mountains streams. These had to be constantly shielded with sluice gates and irrigation channels as high up the mountainsides as possible in order to build as many terraces below in order to grow rice. Pecking order was unobtrusive. Everybody within a village had a vital job to do. A neglected job at aa crucial time could strip a village of all its growing food.

The differential has led to many differential origins of Japanese and Chinese industry has led to many different styles and cultures within both industry and society at large. To choose one that could become very significant in the Euro-American world before too long are income differentials. The original close-knit nature of Japanese industry has given the Japanese only a modest difference in earnings between the Chief Executive of a typical Japanese firm and the lowest paid worker. It is about 25:1. In Chinese firm it is more like 250:1, typical of Euro-American firms.

This, to my mind, is going to be a specific point of policy in the yeras to come.

The story of a national enquiry

It was the most ambitious national enquiry ever launched in this country at the time in 2013. This was to investigate the extent to which vulnerable girls and young women, dissociated from their parents and living in local authorities’ care homes, was satisfactory. The investigator, Alexis Jay, soon discovered that all was not well and that even in one local authority alone, Rotherham, scores of impressionable girls a year were being groomed by young men on the outside, seduced and then, usually, forced into sexual slavery.

Alexis Jay wrote a report which reverberated all over the country, especially when it was realised that all this was going on simultaneously in scores more towns and cities.  Something had to be done. The government made a serious commitment and the Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was born. So far there have been three resignations of high social class, lawyer-type Chairmen, and also leading counsel.  Alexis Jay becomes Chairman by default.

To prevent her own resignation, Alexis Jay badly needs the technical support of a couple of top-ranking civil servants not so much to help her case –Jay is thorouhly familiar with all the details — but tuition in the many ways that she can get respect in the conversational interplay in the prima donnas of the legal world to prevent them walking out in a huff.

Making the big transition

Of interest this morning is the Times Higher Education list of the top universities in the world for employability. As usual, only two British universities make it into the top ten:

1. Caltech, United States
2. MIT, United States
4. Cambridge, United Kingdom
5. Stanford University, United States
6. Yale University, United States
7. Oxford, United Kingdom
8. Technical University of Munich, Germany
9. Princeton University, United States
10. University of Tokyo, Japan

Nine British universities appear in the next 90:

16. Imperial College London
23. King’s College London
24. Manchester
32. Edinburgh
45. LSE
48. University College London
84. Bristol
90. Birmingham
93. Nottingham

Approaching 30 more appear in the remaining 900.

What can one say to to all this? Competition for bright students by universities all round he world is more intensive than it’s ever been.  America has overwhelming superiority in numbers.  This doesn’t guarantee similar success in scientific discovery. As has already been pointed out (“Keeping ahead, but for how long?” 14 November) a large fraction of American Nobel prizes in science were won by scientists born in Britain and Germany and became American citizens only in later years.

With that proviso we can say with reasonable confidence that America, Britain and Germany will be among the earliest countries that will make the transition from the present post-industrial era into the new one — as yet unknown.

An explosion becomes a steady state

Steve Kurtz writes: “I agree with most of your post (“The wilful world economy!”), Keith, but the physical universe, and its components have shown no ability to ever reach a steady state. Energetic systems grow and senesce. At least that’s what I understand.”

Highly energetic systems do, of course, grow and then subside, as you say. The fast-moving atoms and molecules always seek to dissipate as much waste heat as possible — and as far away from their source as possible (entropy). But when you talk of physical systems that are constantly driven by new energy from the outside, then there’s no reason why a state of balance should not follow — at least for us humans to describe it as a steady-state.

Indeed, ever since the first replicating molecule of life appeared on earth and was energised by the daily receipt of sunlight then the ecology of the earth developed over billions of years in what is reasonable to describe — from our point of view — as a long series of steady-states from year to year and decade to decade.

Exactly the same applies to industrialised man from the time he discovered vast resources of deep-mined coal adding to the energy able to be added. And this was boosted enormously by the further additions of oil and gas. Economic growth could thus bound forth. But it would reach an inevitable steady-state unless further huge quantities of additional energy could be found and then applied to yield yet more economic growth.

Fortunately that is no longer possible — even with shale gas! — and, with luck, the world’s manufacturing and trading system, may have already reached stasis, and the wild life of the planet given a chance to start recovering.

The wilful world economy!

When thinking of “infrastructure” — roads, rail, electricity grid, freight containers, etc — economists don’t realise that all these items and activities are actually superstructures. They are the obvious signs of a great deal else that is going on underneath. By this is meant molecules and atoms and, underneath them, and most importantly of them all, the movement of electrons.

Electrons, during their lowliest, basic movements — moving from one atom to another —  govern every larger physical action that will ensue. In doing so, electrons always travel along the shortest possible routes between two atoms that are available to them. This is called the Principle of Least Effort. Why this must happen is something that even geniuses such as Richard Feynman in the last century said was too mysterious to explain. It is a fact of Nature.

Leaping upward to using “infrastructure” as we usually use the term, what economists have yet to learn is that every single mechanical action in the world-wide manufacturing and trading system is actually striving on its own account to become more efficient and will settle into a steady-state sooner or later. In our present state of doldrums, are we approaching that point already?

Keeping ahead, but for how long?

It can be shown very easily — and very conservatively, too — that Americans are least three times less creative than Britons and Germans. In terms of Nobel prizes in science subjects, the US has won close on 250 while the latter are on about 90 each. Given that America has recruited at least 100 of the best scientific brains of Europe since the 1930s then, thinking about where they were born, raised and schooled, more realistic figures should be 150, 140 and 140. Considering that America’s population is three times higher than Britain or Germany, then QED.

Considering further that Confucian countries such as Japan and China are authoritarian and, so far, highly resistant to the necessary freedom of thinking that’s required — hardy winning any Nobel prizes at all — why will they not be any less able to recruit the best brains of what’s available as America has done? And still does

M’mm . . . perhaps I’d better revise my (complacent) ideas about the half-dozen European countries plus America being able to keep their (economic) noses ahead of Asians for a long time ahead.

Re-gaining deeper social satisfactions

Lawrence de Bivort asks me: “As global wages even out, how evenly level do you think wages and cost of living might eventually become? ” He adds the thought: “. . . as they even out, the differentiating factors will probably be, skill and work productivity–education and indigenous culture.

According to those economic historians who’ve toiled on the matter, they reckon that in pre-Copernican Europe — when living there was pretty measly — Chinese, Indians, Africans and mid-Asians all had much the same incomes. Over time they’ll all have gained similar production efficiencies relative to their circumstances. Astonishing though this seems to us these days, I think it might well turn out to be the same over the longer term.

Out of thousands of sub-populations all over the world the usual small crop of geniuses will elect to join fellow creative minds in specialized research groups for a few years whose discoveries might then become available more quickly and widely dispersed than now. Why so? Perhaps because they’ll regain — and re-enjoy — the social satisfactions of their original parental group. . . . Something most people treasure as they get older.

Why Trumpism will decisively fail

In 20 years’ time the British airplane worker will be buying flights on Chinese-made airplanes and flying to his holidays — if he has any — on a Chinese airline.

This will be identical to a period in the history of my home town — the ‘car city’ of Coventry in the 1960s — when a car worker would be making British automobiles Monday to Friday, but parking his Japanese car in the factory car park during the day. He got an equivalent car for less money or, the other way round, more for the same money. This destroyed the British-owned car industry.

The financial power of the individual as a customer over the longer term is greater than an occasional fit of voting anger when manipulated by a demagogue.

When Hillary Clinton truly lost the election

Hillary Clinton is apparently blaming her defeat in the US presidential election on interventions by the FBI director James Comey. Well . . yes. His cryptic warnings about what the 3.5 million e-mails sent from Clinton’s private server when she was Secretary of State might or might not have contained — and so soon before the election itself — must have had some effect. But it would only have been mildly marginal.

The damage had already been done. It was her enthusiasm in making a fortune for the Clinton family fund after husband Bill’s term of office ended. This didn’t sit well with many in the Democratic Party, particularly among the poorer members. What put the tin hat on it was when it was revealed not long before the election that she had “earned” (!) $800,000 giving a speech to Goldman Sachs, followed by another with similar payment to JPMorgan. That was when she truly lost the election.

Caught in the job-changing scene

Trump’s election as the 45th President of the US only confirms what I have been writing on the internet for years — that the electorates of the larger advanced countries have been dividing into two distinct populations. In each country, most of the larger part — Brexit voters in the UK, Trump voters in the US — have laundry-type jobs, with declining wages in real terms which add little or no value to the economy and, increasingly, with declining chances of buying a house of their own and raising a family.

This to be compared with a minority of about 20% of the electorate comprised of the very rich through to many new, highly paid, sophisticated specializations, increasingly mathematical and scientific, requiring higher intelligence, motivation and numbers of years of education. It is this so-called ‘cosmopolitan-elite’ group that is increasingly responsible for a healthy balance of payments every year as global competition rises.

Unfortunately, those of the larger group who voted for Trump haven’t yet realised that, whatever he may have said while campaigning, he will be trapped in the same job-changing scene as Obama was before him.


My friend’s friend, calling for help, was away for a few days. It had been a call beyond his (and my) working group, therefore quite rare. It had even been beyond his social group and even his family group, so therefore rarer still. On his return, I’d no need to ask for the reason. But it had had to have been a strong one. Hadn’t it? I learned soon enough.

America revolts behind Trump

“Above all, don’t renege on free trade.” This would be the advice given by those closest to Trump. Once we raise tariffs then other countries will retaliate by raising theirs. American customers will have to pay more for many of their purchases. The world economy might sink in a deflationary spiral.”

It would be America’s 1930s Depression all over again. The robotization of future jobs is far more costly to those on low incomes than exporting their jobs elsewhere. The cost of the latter soon catch up anyway.

Stepping into the river

The shock that very rapidly dawned on media journalists at 4.00 this morning was a sight to be seen. Hardly one ‘objective’ observer in a thousand had guessed that Trump would actually be the winner.

Trump’s promise to “make America great again” is, however, doomed. My theory suggests that America and half-a-dozen other advanced countries are already entering a totally new post-industrial economy. The Chinese have a saying of long ago: “You can’t step into the same river twice.”

More geniuses needed

Genius can — and does, often enough — rise from the bottom of the social-financial pack. Children from the higher social levels score abut 20 points higher than those of the lower levels, but not the offspring over four or five generations after parents’ genes have become thoroughly mixed at every fertilization.

Half of the country’s leading researchers were educated in private schools — 7% of the total population. About 10% of the state secondary schools that take science seriously comprise the rest. Thus we waste four-fifths of the potential scientific talent who are frustrated by a lack of adequate science teaching. This is why the government is now beginning to take science teaching seriously for the first time in 150 years. If we don’t, then we won’t remain an advanced country for much longer.

Starting economics all over again

In terms of physical power alone only two important things need to be said of the industrial revolution (IR). One is that it was an almost explosive release of underground energy which took off in 1775 and has only recently settled down somewhat — that is, at the time of the 2008 Crash.

It is the “settling down” that has surprised most economists, having been deeply influenced by two economists of the last century. One was J, M. Keynes who wrote a classic essay of what our grandchildren could hope to enjoy in future decades.

The other is how to achieve it — the repeated editions of the classic textbook on the subject by Paul Samuelson who has meanwhile guided the training of hundreds of thousands of economists.

It is beginning to look as though both assumptions may be wrong. It looks as though the subject of economiis might have to start all over again to get into the right tack — hopefully scientific next time.

A new vehicle redesign

If there were a sleeping pill which, taken at bedtime tonight, could send me to sleep until Wednesday morning then I might be tempted to take it. On this side of the Atlantic, most of us have now had more than our fill of the Hillary-Trump election and the thousands of media people who’ve worked themselves up into a raucous cacophony which I’ve never experienced before in the 20 such elections in my lifetime

Whatever and how many of the presidential-type policies and decisions that will be tackled in the next few months and years, there are some that are far deeper than mere workshop jobs. Almost very aspect of modern life — taxation, representation, access to justice, good quality education for all — needs a governmental vehicle redesign.

What language?

One of the reasons why the Holy Roan Empire failed when Individual European nations start stirring in the 16th century is that it hadn’t established Latin deeply enough among as its universal written language among its aristocracy, upper middle-class lawyers and scholars. The Pope wasn’t powerful enough to achieve a common written script, unlike Emperor Qin 700 years previously in China.

Today, we have mid-Atlantic English spoken and written all round the world and it is second language of choice by at least two billion young people, especially males. Most ot them want a job in England or in an English-speaking country. But soon, some jobs will become much harder to come by. Those who try to migrate into America and Europe will be increasingly repulsed and in many cases treated brutally. What do readers think?

What will the UK Supreme Court decide?

Now that the nation, albeit narrowly, has voted for Brexit strong voices against leaving the EU have just won a case in the UK Supreme Court. After a decision by a panel of three justices, the consequence is that the full court — 11 justices — will meet again on 5 December to make a definitive decision as to whether the referendum decision should stand all by itself or whether leaving the EU needs an additional Parliamentary decision — a new Act in fact.

That remains to be seen. UK Supreme Court, being relatively new — only seven year ago compared with the 200 year-old US Supreme Court and still relatively fragile — will carefully watch the shaping up of decisions of MPs in the meantime.

If the MPs look as though they’re in favour of Parliamentary approval but that, all the same, a majority of the House of Commons will want the referendum decision to stand then the Supreme Court will almost certainly vote in favour on both counts.

If there are any doubts about either question then it’s likely that the Court will vote to dismiss the first requirement and allow the referendum’s vote to count as a full and final Constitutional verdict.

The effect of those early months

It is scarcely believable but, every day since a baby is newly born, hundreds of neurons — brain cells — begin to die. This amounts to a handsome assurance that the baby will be able to cope with a wide variety of possible environments. The neurons he won’t need for many environments over the coming months — are thus not stimulated — and quietly fade away.

In this way, a child of an upper middle-class family at 11 years of age — and who has been to a good nursery, prep school and expensive private school in the meantime — can be as much as three or four years ahead in educability than a child from a poor background. Such a child, deprived of plenty of socialisation, books, conversation and supportive parents, will remain a low earner for the rest of his life.

The new contenders

In their continuing campaign to retain government as they know it — and enjoy it — senior politicians endeavour to keep alive the myth that economic growth of the last century was due to the growth of democratic institutions.

There are no such institutions. All of them consist of small to modestly-sized groups with pecking orders within all of them — and from which single leaders of more then usual social ability and intelligence emerge. In organisations that are large enough and which persist for long enough, group leaders become single leaders again.

All these leaders, and their attendant institutions don’t just float into positions of power and influence. They all have to contend with previous holders of power. Thus industrialists of the 19th century displaced the previous aristocracy, followed in turn by being displaced by trade unions, followed much more recently by entrepreneurs well educated in science and engineering.

Scientists and engineers. Are they the beginnings of a new power class? Probably. There seem to be no other likely contenders currently in the market place.

Waiting for the smartphone

The smallest item in my business supplement this morning is one which is headed “Phone web surfing overtakes the PC”. Web searching via smartphones has overtaken television viewing  — at least among teenagers — for a year or two. This immediately confirms what I wrote in the opening sentence of my previous blog.

Early television, as did early radio, had many effects, especially of holding the family together, particularly those with adolescents at the time.  What can be said about the latest phenomenon?  Nothing much compared with what the full consequences are likely to be.  It’s still early days.  What can be said so far?

Smartphones, and even simpler mobile phones have already been the cause of mass riots and revolutions in several deprived countries and the means by which thousands of miles of Africa and the Middle and Central Asia are now concatenated into well organised immigrattion routes.  For such a prolific innovation as the smartphone we probably won’t have to wait for long for its further manifestations..