Friday, March 30, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 3.1

Stability is a trough that can lead to stagnation.  Sometimes instability is the only thing that can push it beyond.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Baffler is back!

After several years, a new Baffler has finally found its way to my mail box. Thomas Frank is back to his old style with Too Smart to Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly:
But what rankles now is our failure, after each of these disasters, to come to terms with how we were played. Each separate catastrophe should have been followed by a wave of apologies and resignations; taken together— and given that a good percentage of the pundit corps signed on to two or even three of these idiotic storylines—themy mandated mass firings in the newsrooms and op-ed pages of the nation. Quicker than you could say “Ahmed Chalabi,” an entire generation of newsroom fools should have lost their jobs.

But that’s not what happened. Plenty of journalists have been pushed out of late, but the ones responsible for deluding the public are not among them. Neocon extraordinaire Bill Kristol won a berth at the New York Times (before losing it again), Charles Krauthammer is still the thinking conservative’s favorite, George Will drones crankily on, Thomas Friedman remains our leading dispenser of nonsense neologisms, and Niall Ferguson wipes his feet on a welcome mat that will never wear out. The day Larry Kudlow apologizes for slagging bubble-doubters as part of a sinister left-wing trick is the day the world will start spinning in reverse. Standard & Poor’s first leads the parade of folly (triple-A’s for everyone!), then decides to downgrade U.S. government debt, and is taken seriously in both endeavors. And the prospect of Fox News or CNBC apologizing for their role in puffing war bubbles and financial bubbles is no better than a punch line: what they do is the opposite, launching new movements that stamp their crumbled fables “true” by popular demand.

The real mistake was my own. I believed that our public intelligentsia had succumbed to an amazing series of cognitive failures; that time after time they had gotten the facts wrong, ignored the clanging bullshit detector, made the sort of mistakes that would disqualify them from publishing in The Baffler, let alone the Washington Post.
It's not too shocking that he can't publish something like this in a book, since that particular industry is responsible for these hacks.  The Age of Mediocrity is still chugging along just fine.

Anyway, as a reader since 1995, I highly recommend this journal.  Bashing business culture is lots of fun.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 2.1

A system may be in a state of unstable equilibrium, but this says nothing about the potential of its fall.

Friday, March 09, 2012


The West claims to be democratic, but the reality is far different as discussed Here. It's all about money, which is the definition of a Plutocracy.   A system with the trappings of democracy do not make it one. (Note that Pluto was the Greek god of death, which is very apropos considering the present state of Europe. Foreshadowing?)  Perhaps it is impossible to sustain a large scale democratic republic as it is destined to degenerate into a plutocracy.  Maybe it only works in small scale, where it is easier to hold those in power accountable.  In the US, this would generally imply that nothing larger than a county government could be democratic.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 1.2

Prediction is generally impossible for most complex situations, but patterns may be discerned.   Thus, at certain periods the path forward is all too clear.  In societal affairs, vested interests will throw a great deal of resources into maintaining the status quo.  The amount required is proportional to the level of systemic instability. Hence crisis provides the opportunity for discerning such.

Monday, March 05, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 1.1

Unstable equilibrium may exist in a perfectly balanced state.  It is ready to roll.  The question is direction.  If the situation is analyzed it may be possible to influence the ultimate path; then again, it might not.  If the latter, unless the potential for sufficient impulse exists, one should move out of the way.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

On Unstable Equilibrium 1.0

1.0 Unstable equilibrium is a precarious balance.  A small push can send the unstable object falling one way or another.  Like physical objects, social systems, cultures, economies, religions, governments and other human constructs may exist in such as state.  Unlike the boulder balanced upon a pebble, the critical point is difficult to identify until after the fact of its collapse.  Its boundaries are unknowable, yet graspable with insight, intuition and observation.  Absent such, false interfaces are much more likely to take hold.  Most cannot get high enough to see far; others all too easily.  Boosts do not leave an appreciation for the climb.  In the end, all problems seem too easy--yet still overwhelming.  The view is not much help.  Details matter.