dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
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Today's theme is discontinuous change. In Mathematics, we define a discontinuity as a situation in which the normal flow of the function, f(x) on the range x->xo. It's the place where, while a limit may exist. it's value changes depending on which side you come at it from. If you graph this condition, you see that the value of function jumps from th smooth line to a new value. You can get sharp angles, points or jumps. You can even get gaps where the function simply does not exist. Back in my Physics days, I was fascinated by this stuff. It led me to study fairly alarming Chemistry in the form of far from equilibrium reactions. I then wasted way more time than I should have studying the Theory of Complex Systems. I love this stuff. I like studying the places where our laws, mathematical, Physical and/or Social, break down and cease to predict our immediate future. Ido not, however, enjoy experiencing this sort of thing directly. And, yet, my life lands me in these situations. Looks like that old Medicine Woman was right when she said I was 'Coyote'. No joke here. This was actually one of the first things that happened at college. I guess the moral of that story is never hit on Apache Medicine Woman's daughter if you a white a guy like me. Right now I'm experiencing several discontinuous changes. Some are good like the 2300 DIY move we just did to Los Angeles. The other good is shifting from Mac OSX to Linux. My new laptop is a powerful ox sort of machine. Actually, it's more like a Diesel Electric locomotive packed into a mid sized sedan body. The bad is my cycling epic today. I've been escorting Michelle to and from campus just to get some exercise in and to help here deal with traffic in Westwood. This is less stressful than you'd imagine. We're used to Philly volume and Philly's anti-social personality in all things motorized. Compared to that. the Wilshire/Westwood corridor is nothing. So, I'd figured that since I'd been doing twenty miles all told everyday this week. I figured riding to my parents house would be no biggie. Wrong. My total Today's theme is discontinuous change. In Mathematics, we define a discontinuity as a situation in which the normal flow of the function, f(x) on the range x->xo. It's the place where, while a limit may exist. it's value changes depending on which side you come at it from. If you graph this condition, you see that the value of function jumps from th smooth line to a new value. You can get sharp angles, points or jumps. You can even get gaps where the function simply does not exist. Back in my Physics days, I was fascinated by this stuff. It led me to study fairly alarming Chemistry in the form of far from equilibrium reactions. I then wasted way more time than Ishould have studying the Theory of Complex Systems. I love this stuff. I like studying the places where our laws, mathematical, Physical and/or Social, break down and cease to predict our immediate future. Ido not, however, enjoy experiencing this sort of thing directly. And, yet, my life lands me in these situations. Looks like that old Medicine Woman was right when she said I was 'Coyote'. No joke here. This was actually one of the first things that happened at college. I guess the moral of that story is never hit on Apache Medicine Woman's daughter if you a white a guy like me. Right now I'm experiencing several discontinuous changes. Some are good like the 2300 DIY move we just did to Los Angeles. The other good is shifting from Mac OSX to Linux. My new laptop is a powerful ox sort of machine. Actually, it's more like a Diesel Electric locomotive packed into a mid sized sedan body. The bad is my cycling epic today. I've been escorting Michelle to and from campus just to get some exercise in and to help here deal with traffic in Westwood. This is less stressful than you'd imagine. We're used to Philly volume and Philly's anti-social personality in all things motorized. Compared to that. the Wilshire/Westwood corridor is nothing. So, I'd figured that since I'd been doing twenty miles all told everyday this week. I figured riding to my parents house would be no biggie. Wrong. My total mileage was something like fifty miles. Home to UCLA, UCLA to home to Venice Beach to Lawndale and all the back. Man, this was only my third bike ride since the Ohio winter came crashing down. You have to build up to these things. I can't really feel my legs right now.


While riding, I found myself musing on another discontinuity thrust on us right now. We've known about Peak Oil for a couple of years now and that we've been sliding down the decline of the world's oil. What most people didn't know was that the countries of North Africa and Saudi Arabia were teetering on the edge of rebellion and revolution. What only news junkies like me noticed was a series of back page stories about the fact that the Saudis have been overstating their oil reserves for years. Oil's becoming inaccessible The easy to get stuff is disappearing fast and the people of the nations that hold most of it can no longer be bought off. They want, as one Libyan rebel put it. 'To live as other people do.' The elites of these countries have socked away billions in overseas bank accounts while bribing their people with bread and by providing foreign scapegoats to focus popular anger. That's not working anymore. The people of the countries are now willing to die for the right to live the way we do, as free people. And they are dieing in numbers. We have to be honest. This won't get better. The Libyan war will drag on. Egypt will take a long time to sort out their new, more democratic, system and we have no idea what that will do for or to their economy. Protests are springing up in Iran. The Saudis are worried and they are very worried that their largest customer, the Western world, doesn't much like them. Fact is we don't even if most of us think Arabs are generally okay. The Saud family is going to go down. They're just likely to be last domino in this chain of sudden change.

 

 

What does this mean for us? As I noted earlier, driving through Oklahoma and Texas, I saw signs of the increasing price of fossil fuel. The towns from Oklahoma city to Arizona are in bad shape especially in Texas. The towns in Texas were very decayed. Stops showed people who were just hanging on. There was a subtle fear in everyone's eyes, a kind of tension that kids in abusive households learn to read and continue to read even after they become adults. Everyone was looking at the gas pump as they pulled in to gas up and feeling the end of their way of life. LA is not immune to this insanity either. I see lots of cyclists out here but I still see way too many cars and the highway system is downright science fictional. What I don't get is how so many people can continue to put gas in their cars. What is this realignment of household expense doing to the seemingly millions of people on I10 everyday? What's the breaking point. LA Metro can cope. A lot of LA metro is accessible by bike. The buses are great and more can be bought in a relatively short amount of time. Revenue will be found if things get bad enough. The real question we have to face is that of the fate of the small towns in in th Texas panhandle. People in LA live in an dynamic economy and have the income to pay for gas while they wait for alternatives. People in places like small towns West of Amarillo are totally stuck. Our leaders should have used the continuous rise in oil prices as an opportunity to plan for and implement policies that mitigate the consequences of post peak oil supply. The haven't and we are out of time now. Mass transit looks like the future and cities like LA, New York, Boston and other large coastal metro areas stand to inherit that future. Given the realities of industrial agribusiness, our food supply can be created using fewer and fewer workers and will likely turn to more energy efficient technologies fairly rapidly. This means that the small, conservative places in interior of the country will likely be buried with history and there is probably little that any policy can do to stop that from happening.

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dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
dagoski

July 2011

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