I-less in Gobi

[From: Bruce Nevin (Thu 930318 11:52:38)]

I assume that the only *current* purpose of the railroad in the
Gobi is supplying the soldiers who maintain it, and that some
other purpose is foreseen for it (or was at one time, allowing
thus for bureaucratic inertia).

Much the same criticism could be made of recessive traits in
genetics.

Something like an analog to recessive traits has been discussed
in anthropology. A river-dwelling tribe shifts from a fishing
and hunting economy to farming. Circumstances change, farming is
a bust. Only a few cranky old people have bothered to retain
knowledge of the "old ways" and they were always regarded as
peculiar and marginal, but now young folks learn from them and
take up fishing and hunting again.

Conversely, "primitive" tribes in South America that hitherto
have been described as representing an earlier stage of human
cultural evolution turn out (it is now recognized) to have gone
from farming to hunting/gathering under the impact (sic) of
European contact and conquest. Perhaps they did not reinvent the
necessary primitive technologies entirely de novo if some aspects
were learned and remembered by some individuals. And whether
reinvented or recovered from hitherto oddballs with quirky
hobbies, they modernized them e.g. with bright dyes on arrow
shafts to make them easier to find. (This converse case in a
recent issue of _New Scientist_.)

Aaargh! I wasn't going to put any time into CSG today, too much
to do!

        Bruce
        bn@bbn.com