Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown vs. Gown

How did the good people of Cambridge, Mass, home of Harvard the world's most celebrated university (whose motto is veritas) vote in yesterday's Senatorial election? According to this site, 84% went with the state-wide loser, Democrat Martha Coakley, over Scott Brown who won 53% state-wide.

It seems to me here is objective proof that either the Harvard elite know so much better than the ordinary townspeople the truth what's good for all; or it's proof that academe is led by a Gnostic elite who reject worldly realities in favour of a special vision in hopes of a world redeemed by an expert elect, the counterpart to which is a deep resentment of ordinary folk:
You voted for hatred, you voted for ignorance, you voted for Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the vomit producing Republican Party...
But as today the blogs are full of invites to Brownmania, of one kind or another, I think Wretchard of Belmont Club (a blog named for the neighboring town to Cambridge, where Wretchard lived in his Harvard student days - Belmont went 59% for Coakley) provides a healthy warning of the dangers evidenced by a nation run by an elite who, in one way or another, have not the power to control events that I think the Harvard elect likes to imagine they have, or at least should have:
the events of the last few weeks in Massachusetts are a perfect example of an “emergent event”. When the conditions favor it something just happens out of the blue. In a complex system the interactions between things become so complicated that a wholly new phenomenon may just pop up.

Only a little while ago, the SS Coakley was sailing along on a calm ocean, without a cloud in sight. She was as good as docked in Washington DC when all of a sudden this rogue wave comes out of nowhere and turns the ship over. Except it didn’t come out of nowhere. It came out the underlying conditions that sooner or later, through some stochastic process was going to kick up a mega wave. Scott Brown happened to be it.

What really terrifies me about the gradually weakening of the West’s margin of strength by those who assume they still have a wide degree of safety is that the complex system is out there — the financial, economic and security universe — and we just assume from vanity that we can handle it. But it is not linearly predictable, especially when the number of variables beyond the control of the West increases. The last 20 years have created a dangerous world, full of failed states, chock a block with politicians with less sense than an ass, led on by jesters, addled academics and confidence men. And the assumption is that tomorrow will be just like yesterday because it always has.

No. Obama seemed to have everything. By every measure he was ahead. But if you looked at the fundamentals you could see he was building a sand castle in the face of a running tide. His measures showed him safe. But his measures were the wrong ones. And what happened is there for all to see. “You can’t win them all”. Ha.

We live in a world that has far more volatility than before. We ought to be increasing the design margin the way a general, with no knowledge of the future, increases his reserves. Instead we’ve gone from money in the bank to living from paycheck to paycheck. Now we’re borrowing our way out of debt. We ought to be shortening our OODA loop, empowering people rather than making them more dependent on tottering hierarchical structures which bleat out “the system worked” whenever you press a button. It won’t go on, because it can’t.

Who knows what the next emergent event will be? The only thing one can be fairly sure of is that Robert Gibbs would not have foreseen it.

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