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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Tour de Force

Anybody that has taken minimal economics in college has had to make the decision whether to go for the course in Macro or the course in Micro. For whatever reason I opted for the Macro course. (Taught by Walter Heller of JFK's CEA, that and a risk/insurance class comprised my business training.)

In the hard sciences I ended up taking lots of the equivalent macro courses, statistical mechanics chief among them. Studying how large populations of "dumb" particles interact cooperatively and independently, you quickly realize that you can make some gross predictions of numerical trends for "smarter" macro problems and that's about it. Topics like oil depletion estimation make up the mathematical landscape I inhabit.

This and the problems of chaos in general quickly sours one to worrying about futuristic apocalyptic visions. I won't pretend to predict how anything will turn out. Even the simplest predator-prey equations can drive a numerical analyst batty. Constructing more complex theories over how people will battle over table scraps just leads to mental traumas of a more clinical nature.

I mention all this because I don't think that the majority of the population understands the difficulty in predicting group behavior. If somebody says that Microsoft will disappear by 2009, I tune it out. Others believe that with a sufficiently persuasive rhetorical argument, you can sell books on any topic (see DOW 36,000 or the yet-to-be-published Bush Social Security fantasy).

Granted, in an artistic sense, I can appreciate when other people attempt to paint a picture. Good writing is good writing. However, I have an admission to make: even though I have a blogroll link to the Life After The Oil Crash web site, I have yet to browse through any of the post-crash scenarios that populate the site. Moreover, I don't think I have posted anything on this site on any futuristic sci-fi vision of my own making. I ask myself: What does it really accomplish?

With that I applaud Philalethes' tour de force articulation of my own thoughts, prefaced by Monkeygrinder's intro.

Kudos to both.

Plus, I really like the idea of subsidies for encouraging people to ride their bike to work. In the immediate future, and for me, it's really about health, fitness, and making the environment more pleasant. Screw the apocalypse. Do the little things and claim them as your own personal Tour de France victories.


Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I had Walter Heller, too. Biggest name-dropper I have ever encountered (if sitting in the back of a large lecture hall can be called an encounter). "As I was telling President Ford last week...as I once told President Kennedy...."

I like your blog....

10:11 PM  
Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I confess to nurturing a few outlandish post peak scenarios - some I've posted, some I won't. I don't want to be the carnival barker for the end of the world.

It is humbling enough just trying to keep up with current events.

For upcoming predictions, maybe I'll take my cue from nostradamus - you know, pestilence in Gog, earthquake under a sour moon, you'll meet someone new soon, your fly is undone.

1:35 AM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

Since I mentioned Heller, that makes me guilty of name dropping too. :)

10:49 AM  
Professor Anonymous Chris Tannlund said...

Speaking of "Life After the Oil Crash," Matt Savinar, and anti-apocalyptic responses to the Peak Oil scenario, check out my article:

"Oil, Instinct, Anxiety and Ascension: An E-Mail Exchange with 'Life After the Oil Crash' Author Matt Savinar" at


By the way, very cool blog. I receive your RSS feed on my SBCYahoo home page. Keep it coming!

8:00 PM  

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