Earthquake in the making:
Having watched myself all unwilling becoming a prophet of doom I admit I take an interest in other prophesies.  There is the ever popular zombie apocalypse, which is going to disappoint a lot of people with its non emergence.  Of course there are hints.  The number of people who are on medically prescribed pain killers is enormous.  There have been a couple of children in South America this year who were found to be alive after having been pronounced dead.  There were a few cases of folks chewing on other folks.  So far as I know there is no epidemic of people returning from the dead in a state of stupor from drugs and going cannibal, but if it were to happen I would surely take note.

There is another disaster on the way, a bit more respectable.  (Kelvin R. Berryman et al. Major Earthquakes Occur Regularly on in Isolated Plate Boundary Fault SCIENCE vol. 336 no. 6089 June 29, 2012 page 1690) 
There is this place near New Zealand where two tectonic plates are moving against each other.  They catch and slip at regular intervals.  After looking closely at the resulting time line the scientists have determined that these events occur roughly at 329 year intervals.  That is most impressive usually I can boast that I can predict the fall of an empire more precisely than geologists can predict an earthquake.  Here they seem to be about as good as I, maybe better.  The time since the last quake was 295 years.  So the next one is due in 34 years. 

Of course it is a probability spread.  Since we are already so close to the middle of the probability curve, technically speaking there is a slightly less than even chance of such a quake over the next 34 years.  But going with the more simplistic description, that’s a nice time in the future.  Not much to worry about just now. 

I was checking up on the Mayan Apocalypse recently, and some cheerful naysayer was assuring the reader that the Mayans had no interest in violent things.  People were mixing them up with the Aztecs.  The notion of an alarming Mayan event in the future was strictly a phenomenon of the 21’st century.  Really?  I do remember reading a science fiction story in the 1950’s about discovering an almost human creature in suspended animation in a Mayan pyramid.  Evidently it was an exotic traveler.  There was an inscription that said the aliens would return in the not too distant future.  So when I first heard of the current rumors it seemed to me that I had heard of it before.

Just for fun, I compared the New Zealand prediction with my own.  First, for this to work, you have to ignore countries and just speak of the middle class.  The assumption is that the mating strategy of the middle class worldwide is about the same and has been for about the same length of time.  In that case the fact that some countries still have acceptable, even very high, fertility is because their middle class is very small.

It’s just an assumption.  I cannot document it.  But then if we take Sweden, which is just about all middle class as our test, fertility has fallen below replacement but is not declining a lot any longer, stable a bit above 1.6 per woman for the past ten years.  But at the same time, age at first marriage for women, which I must take as a surrogate for age of first child, has been going up steadily.  On that path, eventually it will get to about 45 and the birth rate will go to zero.  The women who will be 45 then are about 10 to 15 now.  So, putting all these unsupported assumptions together, that leaves the last middle class baby in the world born in thirty to forty years.  Funny old thing, coincidence, eh?  Not that the two have any causal relationship, and indeed there are things that could be done in both cases.  You build in anticipation of a quake and evacuate as it approaches.  And you can change your mating strategy.

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