Thursday, March 14, 2013

Followup on "Deadbeats"

The BBC has put out a story indicating that the reason Neanderthals are extinct is because they had large eyes like the paintings of large-eyed children I remember seeing in my dentist's office when I was a child. The Just-So story we are told is, because Neanderthals needed larger eyes for to see in the dim, dark conditions of Europe, this resulted in their brains requiring more space for visual processing and less for reasoning and mental gymnastics. Whereas we Hobo Sapiens, evolving under the bright skies of Africa, just out-thunk the Neanderthals and they fell over and died.
Destined For

Am I the only one that thinks this theory is retarded?

Here's my proposal. My very first essay on blogger was devoted to Neanderthals. It was my contention (still is) that a lot of our oral folk traditions are based on true events. And so all of the those stories about gods versus demons or gods versus titans were our telling of struggles between our species and other human species. So, all those giants and ogres, and elves, and goblins, and fairies, and vampires, and werewolves, were all species that we Homo Sapiens in our infinite wisdom, killed off.

So, Neanderthals did have big eyes, and a large portion at the back of their skulls to process visual data, called the 'occipital bun'. And the reason they had these big eyes and a large visual cortex was for seeing in the dark. Neanderthals were creatures of the night. Our folk tales speak of them, as bogeymen, the monster under the bed, the things that go bump in the night. They came out at night to hunt, and, if they could, they'd hunt for human flesh.

So, naturally us daytime monsters had to get rid of those nighttime monsters, and there you go. Certainly as plausible as the other just-so story.

But that's not entirely what I want to talk about, although it is indirectly related. I've been considering a little world-building problem involving my occasional exploration into science fiction called the Convergence.

Short version, humanity has sparsely colonized the universe via wormhole conduits, meaning no spaceships, no spaceports, no spacefaring infrastructure, and doing it all with what amounts to late 1970s technology (nothing to sneeze at when you consider North Korea built a nuclear bomb with 1930s technology). So, these wormholes are fickle things, and for the longest time passage through one amounted to a one-way trip with no return. It was only, say, twenty years after the first foray that humans learned the trick of return trips to Earth. As a result, there's a lot of lost colonies out there in the cosmos, some of which would never be heard from again. And there's the problem involving colonization.

So, let's say you've got this big hole. It's just a big hole. If you want, it's a hole in the sky. On the other side of this big hole is whole new world, lush and green and filled with fresh air, sunshine and animals and clean water and absolutely no people. The hole is going to stay open for a short time, and while it's open, you can go back and forth. But eventually the hole will close and will never reappear again. You know this. You know if go through and stay, you will be stuck in this new world for good.

What do you take with? Oh, one other restriction is you are confined to, say nothing more advanced than 1985 technology.

Well, here's my thinking. You walk into this new world, you'll want to have an idea of what your base technology will be. In other words, you don't come over expecting to use internal combustion engines, since you don't where the oil is, you don't know when you'll have refineries built, you don't have any of the chemical and electrical infrastructure. Similarly, you probably don't bring coal-fire locomotives over. So, in my view, you start out with a base technology of around, say, 1820 or so. You've got high pressure steam engines that burn wood. You've got a lot of spare parts for that. Oh sure, you bring as many modern amenities and appliances and generators and fuel and airplanes and satellite launching rockets and computers as you can shove through the hole, and use as it long as it all lasts. You may have mini-factories stashed in 40 foot shipping containers. You've got a shitload of books. And skilled people. And food. And seeds. And... what else? In other words, this becomes a prepper problem. The world falls apart. How to rebuild it?

Because, you figure, no matter how much shit you shove through the hole, you just can't support a modern world.

One thing you'd really to like to have, and don't, would be robots. But then you get to thinking, you know what makes a really good robot, if you don't mind caring and feeding and cleaning up after it? Animals. Domesticated animals. And you know what makes the best robots of all? Slaves.

And so we are presented with an ethical problem. Do we allow for indentured servitude? Chattel slavery? Is this a good way to start a colonization effort?

What was the point regarding Nation of Deadbeats? Well, it turns out the commonality is colonization. And reading through American history, what you find is the entire colonizing effort was completely subsidized. Don't buy all this libertarian bullshit about rugged individuals carving out their spot in a barren wilderness with their own two hands. Didn't happen. There was a concerted effort to get everyone else to do the work for them. Indentured servants. save labor, cheap labor, zombies, robots, robot zombies, it didn't matter. That was just one long free ride for Anglo-Americans. Don't let anyone bullshit you about that.


  1. Interesting scenario ... I suppose that most would find a way to get cheap/free labor into that hole...though I like to think that we have come far enough to hope otherwise...probably foolishly...

    1. Hi Judy! That is the problem. Why are you going through that hole? Does your life suck so bad, you are willing to sell a portion of it just to get away? Or, as was the case with our African cousins back in the less-than-optimal day, did you just happen to he at the wrong place at the wrong time? And , if so, what exactly would you do to modify circumstanced once.shoved through the hole?