Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jordon Peterson on Order & Chaos

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

A short clip of Professor Jordan Peterson talking about the necessity of both order AND chaos. In particular, he talks about the importance of being on the edge of chaos, much like a surfer does when he or she is riding a wave that is breaking.

I recently stumbled upon a great collection of resources by The Institute for New Economic Thinking.

From INET’s “About” page:

The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) was created to broaden and accelerate the development of new economic thinking that can lead to solutions for the great challenges of the 21st century.

The havoc wrought by our recent global financial crisis has vividly demonstrated the deficiencies in our outdated current economic theories, and shown the need for new economic thinking – right now.

INET is supporting this fundamental shift in economic thinking through research funding, community building, and spreading the word about the need for change. We already are a global community of thousands of new economic thinkers, ranging from Nobel Prize winning economists to teachers and students who have emerged out from the shadows of prevailing economic thought, attracted by the promise of a free and open economic discourse.

Having graduated from business school in 2007, just before the monetary/financial/economic crisis really kicked into high gear, I’ve grown increasingly interested in how the economics profession (among other culpable professions/schools of thought) could fail so miserably at seeing what was coming and how it would impact our societies.  Granted, I only studied economics & finance in the context of a general business administration education, but I realized that economic theory was the intellectual bedrock upon which many important theories taught in business school rested.  If the intellectual foundation of economics resembled a castle made of sand, then I figured that, as Jimi Hendrix sang, it would “fall into the sea, eventually.”  Whether or not mainstream economic thinking has fallen into the sea, is open to debate.  But I would argue that organizations like INET, the New Economics Foundation, and others, are a clear indication that there is a growing appetite for a major re-thinking of economics.

Although I just found out about INET, I must say that I’m impressed with the quality of content & thinkers profiled on its website.  I still have more to explore about INET, but the fact that I found recorded interviews and talks by thinkers like Thomas Homer-Dixon, Satyajit Das, and William Rees, makes me confident that there is a wealth of relevant, and leading-edge thought going on in this community.

On that note, I wanted to embed a video of a talk given by one of the major intellectual influences of this blog – Thomas Homer-Dixon.  The talk, given at the 2011 Bretton Woods Conference called Crisis & Renewal: International Political Economy at the Crossroads (link), discusses Homer-Dixon’s recent thinking on complexity theory as it pertains to economics & public policy.

More on Thomas Homer-Dixon:

More on the Institute for New Economic Thinking:

More on other organizations & schools of thinking related to heterodox economics:

  • Institute for Integrated Economic Research (link)
  • New Economics Foundation (link)

Great RSA talk by Cambridge economist – Ha-Joon Chang.

You can find out more about Professor Chang at his website (link)

I was thinking about posting this a while back, but The Rookie Cynic beat me to it!

A great Carl Sagan video – This Pale Blue Dot:

I’ve been following Stuart Staniford’s work for a while now and I’ve always found his quantitative & academic approach to “civilizational risks” to be well-reasoned and fairly easy to understand.

Below, I share some annotations from a recent post entitled “Long Term Trends in Economic Output.”

Basically, Staniford calls out Samuelson & Nordhaus (authors of a leading economics textbook) on some of the ridiculous premises upon which economics is built.  It irks me to no end the degree to which economics is flawed, and the extent to which politicians, business people, and other power brokers use this intellectual foundation to justify their errant policies & behaviours.

We need more people like Staniford who can see through the much of the fallacious thinking being taught by economists.

Early Warning: Long Term Trends in Economic Output

  • Samuelson and Nordhaus appear to believe that the main differences between pre-industrial economies and industrial economies were institutional improvements (i.e. medieval craft guilds that had prevented technological innovation were done away with, and people discovered the principle of division of labor, which improved productivity.)
  • The core difference between the pre-industrial era and the industrial era is the development of the steam engine, which allowed the economy to run at much higher EROEI, generating much larger surpluses, which in turn enabled all manner of other developments because most of the population could be freed up from directly working the land.
  • Note how the ups and downs of empires and dark ages before 1800 are barely visible, compared to what happened once you could power vehicles with fossil fuels.
  • It’s also striking how from the outset the book sets up a division into the major factors of production: “Labor”, “Land”, and “Capital”.  Then they explain hastily that these days, the “Land” factor is taken to include energy, minerals, etc.  Energy is a form of Land!
  • Economics is a very useful discipline and has developed many invaluable insights, but it has a blind spot a mile wide when it comes to energy.

A good buddy of mine – Ajani Charles – is a prolific blogger with consistently interesting material to share.  Below, I’m re-posting a recent entry Ajani put on his blog entitled “Scale” – which is one of many recent examples of the kick-ass application of computer graphics & animation to put our place in the cosmos into perspective.


“Scale” is a very nice short film by Brad Goodspeed, and he describes it as follows:

“While watching the video of the lunar eclipse I posted the other day I was looking at the curvature of the earth’s shadow on the moon. It made me think about how large the earth might look if an exact copy of it was up there instead of the moon. Soon curiosity got the better of me, and I was animating!

So the basic idea is, each planet you see is the size it would appear in the sky if it shared an orbit with the moon, 380,000 kms from earth. I created this video in “After Effects”, and because of certain technical considerations had to keep the field of view at 62 degrees. That means the foreground element is not precisely to scale. I realized this after the fact and may update the video at some point in the future. All planets are to correct scale with one another in any case.”

You can view “Scale” below (via Like Cool).

More information on Goodspeed can be found via these URLs:

Ajani Charles

a j a n i photography: digital image solutions

Below is an excellent animated short about the current global population situation by National Geographic.

Although nobody really likes to talk about it, a lack of discussion on the topic of human population & ecological footprints is probably not a wise idea.  It’s a good thing to see National Geographic continuing to raise awareness on this critical issue.  I don’t profess to have the ethical training or understanding to really discuss these issues, but I’m at least trying to educate myself on the nature of the issue.

A line from the video: “It’s not space we need, it’s balance.”

Whether your a globalist banker talking about the need to balance the international trade & monetary system or an ecologist talking about the planetary balance of fragile & dynamic planetary systems – the big question for me at least, is, given that we (almost certainly) have overshot a variety of limits in a variety of ways, how do we get these systems back into balance? Will the process be fair, equitable and smooth or will it be cut-throat, nasty & chaotic?

I’m hoping for the former, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was the latter.

At the very least, we’re in for an interesting remainder of the 21st Century.