Tribalism: Good, neutral or bad?

My definition of tribalism: Part of the nature of humanity that leads us to support those from the group we identify with, over those from other groups.

Most people watching an event at the Olympic games will support the contestant from their own country over those from other countries, even when they had not previously heard of any contestants in the event.

This I consider an a simple and benign example of tribalism.

In the case of the Olympics it may be a very tenuous reason to support one competitor, but it can generally be argued that many positives arise from this form of ‘tribalism’.  An even more passionate case can be mounted for the positive aspect of tribalism referred to as patriotism, that can motivate some of the greatest war heroes. But I suggest there  is also a negative side to this same ‘tribalism’ instinct that can drive discrimination, racism, terrorism and even be responsible for war.

Can we restrict tribalism to the benign? Aspects of tribalism will be discussed for consideration in a series of pages :

  • Tribalism and sport
  • tribalism and racism
  • tribalism and terrorism
  • the engine of war



What really killed the dinosaurs?

485176_441599455926469_1655029236_nWhile I do literally mean the actual dinosaurs, there is also a lesson in the answer for the metaphoric dinosaurs that big companies can become.

“A giant meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs” is the catch phrase.  But have you ever wondered “why the dinosaurs, when so many other animals survived?”.  The alligators survived, fish survived, mammals survived, even other reptiles survived, and even frog species that seem so sensitive to any change in environment survived that meteorite.

So why the dinosaurs?  And what is the lesson? These answers after first some background and myth-busting. Continue reading

The ‘perfect’ everyday bag: messenger bag, shoulder bag or backpack?


Not everyday bags

I am on the hunt for the perfect bag to carry things with me, but is this a backpack, a messenger bag, or some hybrid of the two. The strongest candidates right now, are the peak design backpack, or the ‘urban disguise’ series from Thinktank. Peak design make a messenger bag the can work as a backpack, or a messenger bag like backpack, but there is not a single review I have found evaluates use of the backpack as a messenger.  Given how frequently I see people with backpacks slung over one shoulder, surely someone else cares about how a backpack performs in messenger mode? The perfect bag? John Steed and the Avengers? All will be revealed! Continue reading

Syria: Why Assad did not use chemical weapons to kill Syrian citizens

The proposal that Asad used chemical weapons in order to kill Syrians depends on the following steps, from the almost certain through steps with less and less certainty

  • it was chemical weapons that were really to blame for deaths in the recent attack
  • chemical weapons were in fact launched by forces supporting Assad, and not opponents
  • chemical weapons were launched by Syrian government forces
  • chemical weapons were launched by Syrian government forces under the direction of president Assad
  • chemical weapons were launched by Syrian government forces under the direction of president Assad in order to kill a group of ‘rebel citizens’

The problem with the last step, is that chemical weapons are very evidently no more effective to kill the people in question than conventional bombing, as previous bombing raids have shown. So if all you want is to attack those people, why go to the trouble of using expensive and troublesome chemical weapons? Continue reading

7 trillion humans? The Scale and impact of population growth

overpopulated_earth17 trillion looks like a typo, but no, the maths shows that either by continuing the actual global population growth levels typical the 20th century, or achieving 2% per year or far less than what is currently happening in Nigeria, the maths produce this number in a relatively short time!

A key theme of this blog is that, while population growth is no longer the threat that it once was, economic policy has yet to adapt to the slowing in population growth.  While population growth has slowed since the 20th century, growth is not at 2% as some dangerous people advocate, and all the world is not like Nigeria, it is still worth understanding just how quickly things can escalate  and not take for granted the slowing population growth that is both happening, and needed, to avert crisis.

Does it feel crowded now?  Can you imagine Earth inhabited by not 7 billion (7,000,000,000) humans, as we have now, but 7 trillion (7,000,000,000). That would be one human for every 3.3 meters x 3 meters of habitable land on the planet (calculation below).  Around 10 square meters allocation per person to live, grow food all of one food and that is without allocating any wilderness for other living things or trying to allow space (corridors?) to move outside your own space.  This is a level we would reach if were able to continue peak 20th century population growth rates.

Continue reading

The New Economics of Population Growth in a Finite world

historical_map_world_1800Summary: Most of us now live under ‘finite world economics’, where population growth results in a smaller share of wealth for each individual and the majority of the population, but increased revenues for Governments, nationwide businesses and multinationals who gain revenue from the entire population.  The rich win, the rest suffer.

The now finite World

When Christopher Columbus set sail for America, no one had a world map, doubt about a map the included America.  When Captain Cook ‘discovered’ Australia, as it approached the year 1800,  no civilization knew where all the land on Earth was located.  By 1900, humans knew where all the land was, but still had not explored all that land. Now (2017 at the time of writing), we basically know where all the land is and have even allocated ownership and mineral rights of all the land. Our world is now finite.

The post explores the ‘finite’ world concept, then discuss each of the two dynamics resulting in the widening of the gap between rich and poor. Continue reading

No new Surface ‘Pro 5’ after all?

Lots of others ‘crystal ball gaze’ into the future of Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ products. Here is another perspective. A lighter tone than the usual post, here is a look at both what Microsoft are likely to do, and what they should do. 🙂  Ok, it is largely crystal ball gazing, but so it seems is every other prediction on the ‘Surface Pro’, so here is a different perspective.

1) There may be no ‘Surface Pro 5’, as a name change really makes sense.

Since releasing the original ‘Surface’ and then ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface product line’ has evolved to a point where the original names are in serious need of review. Which is the most ‘professional’ product of the current range? The ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface Book’ or the ‘Surface Studio’?   The ‘Surface Pro’ was ‘Pro’ relative to the original ‘Surface’, and the two names made sense.  Now ‘Surface’ is a family and ‘Pro’ does not describe where the ‘Surface Pro’ fits in that family.  How about ‘Surface Tab Pro’ or ‘Surface Pad Pro’?  Microsoft can afford to pay people to come up with a better name, but a new name is needed.

2) Two new products, one Qualcomm based, one Intel Based!

“We need to be willing to lean in to uncertainty, take risks and move quickly when we make mistakes, recognising failure happens along the way to mastery,” Nadella wrote in a 2015 memo to Microsoft employees

So what will be the new ‘non pro’ device?  The philosophy of the ‘Surface’ products is to do things differently and take risks. Innovation. But as the most successful product in the Surface line-up, there is a limit to the risks that can be taken with the Surface Pro.  Which is why, beyond the logic for the name change, there will logically be a new Kaby Lake CPU based device to follow on from the Surface-Pro.

Contrary to other suggestions, the USB-3 port should stay, and instead the mini-display port should upgrade to Thunderbold-3.  Re-chargeable pen, improved battery life, incremental improvements.

3. The ‘Surface’ replacement, the bold step!

This is where the room to take risks exists.  The recently demonstrated ability to run full windows on a Qualcomm CPU opens the door for something new, lighter and with LTE connectivity.  Such a device would be the logical reason for display at MWC 2017.  Running full windows on such a CPU enables a phone, but this new device needs to be another leap, and something targeting both phone and tablet is the logical solution.  Phones today are ready for the next step, with so many people using hands free or earphones/headphones, do we really need a device designed to be held to our head anymore?