Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The internet is so freaking cool

So there is a very respectable blog called Sudden Debt. The host (affectionately nicknamed Hell) is very wise on the ways of the economy. Surely he expected the comment section to become a salon of intellectual economists discussing his witty and profound posts. But it often becomes a saloon of cowboy/cowgirl non-economists throwing bottles at each other and generally shooting up the place with quirky off-topic links. The first name I came up with was aptly "Take It Outside", but that was taken. The second name was the very cool "Patterns In The Noise", but that was taken as well. "Street Rat Crazy" comes from a Jack In The Box commercial that I saw recently.

This blog is in no way meant to replace Sudden Debt. Really, it is a campus pub for the students to come to after an invigorating class. Sure, they're quite bright when speaking to the professor after class. But they need someplace to go when they're only half-bright ;)


Thai said...

Nice job!

SS said...

If Marcus posts his discourse on social security than Debra does something we'll be off and running. Congrats.! SS

Thai said...

And when he does, I have some reading for him.

It is, after all a non-linear system.

Be well


SS said...

@ Dink

Really proud of you, what about those spiders, LOL

SS said...

Does anyone know how to do a link in Safari the Apple browser. I am unable to get it to work?


Thai said...

SS- too many problems with Safari and blogger. I have an apple too and had this same problem.

Use Firefox (or download it if you do not have it) and these issues will go away.

And to pleasurably digress, for those of us who think all humanity is simply fractal structures of emerging energy complexity cooperating in order to compete in a zero sum universe (where energy is conserved), stuff like this makes absolute sense.

Cotton is right, Iroquois had an emergent fractal society. What I am not sure he sees is so do you and I.

Thai said...

Of course, how people don't see this and immediately not realize that the structure of society is as immutable as gravity and hence we may as well stop arguing with each other and start cooperating is beyond me.

But we see it right in front of us and still we deny it- simply makes no sense to me.

Oh well.

SS said...

@ Thai,

Thanks for the browser tip and iroquois inspiration.

Good night


Thai said...

Have a good night SS ;-)

Oh, and Dink, its also the reason why I think all this worrying about our future is nonsense.

Zipf's law occurs because a sphere's surface-to-volume ratio drops (e.g. is inversely proportional) as the sphere's size increases.

So as a sphere gets bigger, the amount of energy lost from the boundaries of the system go down as the system becomes increasingly more energy efficient.

All life is based on energy AND energy efficiency is being forced upon the system around a center, and for better or worse, America (and Europe) is the center around which all things are being squeezed.

So a few people are going to get badly screwed (and I mean badly), but only a few. The rest of us will get screwed "variably" and then we will all be better off as the economics of cooperation are simply too powerful to overcome.

And I truly think the speed of this happening will be much greater than most people realize. As this video of fractal software shows just how fast the world is being squeezed around America and Europe.

Dink said...

Holy crap!! Surly hooligans in the comment section! Yee haw!

Hmmm. So 0.77 is the magic number. I think I also saw that number in The Ancestor's Tale (Dawkins... I know you're more of a Pinker guy). It was explaining why herbivores tend to be very big or very small while predators were almost always middle-sized. Wait, that wasn't it. Hmmm. It may take until this weekend before I can properly absorb it, but I swear I will read it.

Agent Zero Point Double Seven

SS said...

@ Thai

Great link to population and growth data. Really enjoyed it!


Thai said...

Dink, I do have an idea for a "fractal game" to see if we predict what the next great investment sector will be and even what the next great company will be. But it requires multiple people looking at the problem and working as a team.

I remember you once said what "roles" Yo and I play (avenging cop vs. streetwise hooker)?

Well if you think about roles/teamwork/cooperation, it is the ultimate fractal concept- a fractal of different information processors working together for the entire entity for their own good.

There are many people who study teamwork. And what they have found is to some degree dependent on whether they are "lumpers" or "splitters", but the following would be typical of what they have found:

Roles of a team:

* 2.1 Plant
* 2.2 Resource Investigator
* 2.3 Coordinator
* 2.4 Shaper
* 2.5 Monitor Evaluator
* 2.6 Teamworker
* 2.7 Implementer
* 2.8 Completer Finisher
* 2.9 Specialist

Other people have given team roles names like:

1. Innovators (imaginative)
2. Explorer (sales)
3. Sculptor (brings things to fruition)
5. Coaches (agreement, harmony within team- you by the way)
6. Crusaders (stresses priority)
7. Curators (clarifies tasks, improves output)
8. Scientists (the expert, explains what is going on with models)

(again , the first link I gave was a model with 9 roles, the second link had 8 roles, I have read some models with 10, etc...)

Again, my point is just understanding that in human society, there are certain "building blocks", that form the basis of larger structures and when you are talking about groups of people, you are talking about people as the building blocks of teams (remember how the video on moral matrix talked about when people of similar morals get together, they agree and form teams and then you get into the psychology of teams, etc...)

So thinking about fractals on varying manifolds as cotton likes to say, we should be able to make a reasonable prediction of where to invest or money in the future- if we work as a team.

I think Hell has taught us enough.

Any interest in giving it a try?

SS, any others, I would love it if you are interested as well and would like to provide input.

Its really is just for fun but the competitive side of me would love to go back to Sudden Debt with a real insight they do not have.


SS said...



Cottonbloggin said...


"Cotton is right, Iroquois had an emergent fractal society. What I am not sure he sees is so do you and I."

Tisk-tisk! On the contrary, I DO see ourselves in an emergent Fractal society-- I only continue beating the tribal war drum cause it's a good example of a PROVEN fractal society.

As for ours, It's too bad that it still rests on a soupy foundation! What's needed is a social compact for this emergent system to create the trust necessary for it to congeal.

All I'm saying is that the values need to be sketched out, so that individuals can sign on (no more of this tacit consent bull shit), and people can be excluded from this emergent society's benefits because either A) they didn't WANT to sign on, or B) they fucked up, and face a long, lonely walk of shame out of the digital domain.

Dink said...

@ Thai:
"Any interest in giving it a try?"


I was going to suggest something vaguely related. A post (or series of posts) titled "How To Teach A Squirrel About Fractals". You would be the educator and I would obviously be the skittish mammal. We'd start with a simple equation turning into a pattern. Then perhaps move on to sugarscape showing how evolution works. Bring in some evolutionary psychology showing how subcultures developed in isolation. At various points along the way the squirrel will run away in terror and all the commenters will have to pitch in to try to calm it enough to try learning again ;)

Your teamwork game sounds better though; I just need a moment to synthesize all the neural firing (the damn things are not apparently cooperating; don't they know order is precious?).

(Sorry if this is bantering, but I just got home I can barely think straight enough to spell squirrel correctly).

@ Cotton:
"tacit consent bull shit"

I don't know if you saw Thai's mortal matrix link, but at one point the speaker brought up a study that showed people increase their cooperation when they have the ability to punish the rule-breakers. I felt....relief. I may be trapped in a moral matrix, but at least its a crowded matrix ;)

So let us take a few hours rest before we construct some madness. Night all.

yoyomo said...

I don't know how to break this to you but squirrels eat nestlings and baby bunnies without the courtesy of killing them first. Are you sure that is what you want to represent you? How about a canary?, they're pretty skittish.

Dink said...

Good morning Yo ;)

There is some cognitive dissonance in my relationship to furry predators. I'm a vegetarian, but my pets are not (so they are technically higher on the food chain than I am).

Maybe there should be a concept in evolutionary biology called "the a%%hole paradox" where creatures have to prey on others to make their brains clever, but then reach a point of cleverness where they understand enough science to get all the nutrition they need without being a%%holes any longer. PETA is actually involved in a study to make muscle in a lab without an animal attached to it (hopefully they'll do the same with milk). That would be great because I could feed my ingrate pets without guilt. But you know, I'd still be a vegatarian because it just truly makes more sense health and ecologically.

Anyway, squirrels really embody a certain mix of curiosity, boldness, nimbleness and often outright stupidity that seems to match the human mind pretty well;)

yoyomo said...

Cognitive dissonance was the subliminal point of my comment; how often we try to look away from those aspects of life that make us uncomfortable. Forty years ago it was rare for parents of a child molested by a priest to sue the church, the matter was usually handled quietly and the prevalence of the problem was denied. I find that same dissonance considered almost fashionable amongst many people who see themselves (and want to be seen) as enlightened.

There are some ugly realities surrounding wealth, money, banking, politics and foreign policy but often the only people willing to discuss them openly (if not always honestly) are the partisan propagandists because the polite, sensitive souls are afraid they may offend a friend, colleague, neighbor or in-law. The end result is that important issues are abandoned to less fair-minded people to define the debate around.

The squirrel was just a cuddly lure to get you to think about some issues that you're probably happier to avoid, tootles.

Thai said...

"Cognitive dissonance was the subliminal point of my comment; how often we try to look away from those aspects of life that make us uncomfortable."

Does this mean you finally see that the structure of society is as immutable as gravity???

I am getting really tired of being called a bad guy for pointing out the obvious.

Cottonbloggin said...

I'm down for some co-operative game theory madness, Thai. It falls in the "I'll try anything twice" category.

yoyomo said...

Nope, but I've never called (or considered) you a bad guy; just a SELECTIVE nuisance.

Thai said...

SS- Awesome! I was hoping you would say that.

Personally I find saving the planet from destruction a fare more interesting job than repetitively complaining about those who destroyed it (since to some degree I am looking at him in the mirror).

We can all see who the really bad guys are if we look hard enough- my money is on certain people in the insurance companies.

By the way, did you watch the Haidt vid Dink referred to?

The reason I ask is that I may be in my own latest version of a logic prison but I just don't see how your statement "values need to be sketched out, so that individuals can sign on (no more of this tacit consent bull shit)" will solve anything.

I like your idea, I truly do, but the more I play with it in my mind, the more I see "problems". Diversity simply can't be eliminated, however seductive an idea this may be.

Take a simple example- marriage.

I could try making a formal "prenuptial" with my wife with lots of "if-then" rules predetermined, but in the end, there seems to me there will always come a time I can't foresee (I see this literally every day in end of life decisions where these living wills and DNR documents are useless to give a road map to the situation at hand).

And when this happens, I am just going to have to trust her at some level, even if it means I can get screwed.

AND if I do get screwed, I still have to decide whether to forgive. Not forgiving can be just as expensive as forgiving- i am sure we can both agree with this.

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

-- Mahatma Gandhi

Thai said...

OK, think about friction.

Then think about those areas of society that really do not run well.

I personally see health care as a big one but I have myopia on this so I will put down others.

Make a list, and we can start creating a model.

Thai said...

And the structure of society?

Debra said...

Wham, whttttt, whtttt...
Debra just walked into the saloon. (sorry about the sound effects, just haven't managed to get those swinging doors into poetry yet...)
Thai, I like Dink's metaphors better than yours. Less abstract.
I ought to remind you guys, if you hadn't already guessed it, that I AM HOPELESS AT TEAM SPORTS and have always detested them.
It takes all kinds to make up a world, doesn't it ?
That's why I'm into reading Rousseau (no provocation intended, Thai).
I am in total favor of the name Hell has given to this little colony of Sudden Debt.
Hell is a great player with words.
I'm crossing my fingers because this time it's going to work and this post will appear, magico presto.
On the subject of squirrels, my European family is STILL in shock after meeting up with a furry BIG obese one somewhere near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon last summer.
There was an obese American woman who was chuckling next to it as it raided her picnic.
Obese animals in the States these days ?
Where will it all end ?
I hope that Joe is going to come join us too...

Dink said...


I'm sure we've all had HR types tell us that communication is 90%+ tone of voice, facial expression, and body language. All of which internet communicating lacks. So its prone to people "reading in" personality or intent from limited data. I'm reading in "combat ready" with some of your posts, which may or may not be your intent.

Which leads me to believe you've had some success in your life with full-on combat confrontation strategies. This would never have worked for me as I would have been stomped like a grape by the other kids.

Being the only kid from a "secular humanist" family in a neighborhood full of Christians, I did learn that sometimes you keep your mouth shut. This isn't the same as submission, BTW.

I also learned that I often knew more about the Bible than the Christians did. Often. It seems odd to me to this day, but they just didn't seem that interested in the book or the history.

So anyway, to superimpose my early experience onto our current brou-ha-ha. Lets go after evil-doers, but leave their various religions out of it. 1) Probably only a few of them even know any details about their religious books, 2) all religious books say some REALLY CRAZY crap, and 3)most people on this planet are religious so its kicking up a hornet's nest that will not work in our favor.

Your pal,
N. Machiavelli

Dink said...

Hey Debra!
"Wham, whttttt, whtttt...
Debra just walked into the saloon. (sorry about the sound effects, just haven't managed to get those swinging doors into poetry yet...)"

I like the sound effects! Funny, I've always pictured swinging doors for the saloon too :)

Also, I think Thai may have linked me up with a metaphor for fractals that my squirrel-mind can work with. Plants. Its full-on spring in Seattle so absolute green anarchy flaring up everywhere. I detest the bushes around the house that have branches that grow perpendicular branches that then grow other perpendicular branches. Its just impossible to deal with them (roses do this to some extent, but the bushes I thinking have smaller and more numerous branches). Theyr'e complex, complicated. Not nice linear hydrangeas or lilacs (now those satanic wisteria vines have a strategy that I don't even think neural networks dare attempt).

So the bastard bushes are my new conceptual model for fractals. Thai- feel free to get "combat ready" at me if I'm off the mark here with my metaphor.

Thai said...

Hey Deb! Did Firefox work?

And no offense taken. I have never had much humanities training so I am sure my metaphors will never be as warm.

SS, I thought you might enjoy this.

Thai said...



I guess it is a lot of overnights lately combined with the effects of trying to get a few extra hours of sleep on Lunesta in the middle of the day but I just noticed as I was heading into work that I wrote the last several comments to SS when I meant them for you.

Better living through chemistry I guess.

Comments @2:34pm and 3:51 pm were intended for you Cotton.


PS- no offense SS.

I can't wait until I come off this stretch of nights... Studies show they shorten my life span the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day.

Oh well, someone has to do them. It is what it is.

Thai said...

And SS, awesome that you want to cooperate as well.


I am kind of hoping you will help the team as well as studies show your brain is better suited for this in a zero sum world than all the rest of us combined.

It takes different information processors.

SS said...

@ Thai,

Looked at your video on fractals, very interesting. Do fractals have any relation to fibonacci numbers? I don't know if you know this but fibonacci numbers are used to find patterns of support and resistance and periodicity in the stock market. They are one of the few things that work at all in predicting stock prices. Mandelbot did a study on cotton prices I believe some time ago which is one of the seminal studies, a ton of work has been done since. Long term economic and social phenomenon, like depressions, wars, have also been said (found?) to have cyclical relationships of regularly recurring frequencies. They are called Kondratief cycles after a Russian mathematician.

@ Dink-

So glad to see everyone using your site now. What I think needs to be done to move things along is a comment clearer, e.g. a new post which would relegate this now lengthy stream of comments to a link on the right side of the page that people could go back. We could than restart at zero comments on a new date with a new blog post that would focus everyone, There are many here that could contribute the new post on a topic of interest or you could try one yourself.


Cottonbloggin said...

@ Dink--

I agree with SS about comment clearing and new posts. And what I think might be interesting is--instead of you doing all the work-- you allow one of us to "guest author" a headline post from time to time.

That would allow each and any of us to be professor-for-a-moment in the bat shit, street rat insanity saloon here.

That and you should start serving us moonshine. for the giggles of it, and the pubfights that would undoubtedly ensue.

Dink said...

"That would allow each and any of us to be professor-for-a-moment in the bat shit, street rat insanity saloon here"

Absolutely! In fact, when I was setting this thing up it mentioned that option (along with adding pictures...I kind of whipped through the process without due diligence). I would need e-mail addresses (setting up a gmail address on google takes, like, 14 seconds if you don't wish to use your primary address).

I popped up new posts this morning in a scramble to give us a common language when we make up the game. Thai is an advanced fractal Jedi and if we didn't have a basement foundation we might explode when he unleashes a firehose of knowledge at us. The fact that he is now nocturnal(fixing arterial sprays and such)and medicated in the daytime is buying us some time to do some quick study;)

Thai said...

Yes, the Fibonacci sequence creates a fractal, perhaps some of the most beautiful.

Dink said...

Thai, in your link do you know what the 5th image to the right is? If its a shell, I've never seen anything like it.
Julia sets are nice too.. Julia was a prof of Mandelbrot apparently.

SS said...

@ Dink

I think you need our comment clearer and new blog post. Thanks

Dink said...

@ SS,
Are you able to view the 5/23 posts? They may be sort of spastic, but they do in fact exist:) In the comment section of one of them I give my e-mail address for y'all to send me your e-mail addresses. Once I have those I can add you as author so you can "Gong Show" my posts by adding a newer post.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits