Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Seneca effect

Temple of the Great Jaguar, Guatemala Dennit Jarvis

Yours truly wrote a piece titled Thru the Looking Glass - Fragile vs. Robust ... A tiny sample :) a blurb focusing on complex vs. simple in terms of fragility and how it applies to civilization. Seems Seneca focused on this very same issue in the 1st century, which means this rube is not alone in showing why complex system fail ... with undue haste.

Nature: Small periodic fires, started by lightning, clears away dead brush to permit new growth. Robust 

Man: By trying to prevent fires of any kind insures the build-up of dead brush to biblical proportions, thus generating the distinct possibility of creating fires unable to be controlled. Channel CA in 2019. Fragile  

To assume is to err. Fragile


Ancient bust of Seneca, part of the Double Herm of Socrates and Seneca

During the first century of our era, the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote to his friend Lucilius that life would be much happier if things would only decline as slowly as they grow. Unfortunately, as Seneca noted, “increases are of sluggish growth but the way to ruin is rapid.” We may call this universal rule the Seneca effect.

Seneca’s idea that “ruin is rapid” touches something deep in our minds. Ruin, which we may also call “collapse,” is a feature of our world. We experience it with our health, our job, our family, our investments. We know that when ruin comes, it is unpredictable, rapid, destructive, and spectacular. And it seems to be impossible to stop until everything that can be destroyed is destroyed.

Figure 1: The Seneca curve, from Bardi's ‘The Seneca Effect’ (2017). The intensity of something as a function of time (going left to right). For intensity, imagine it is the value of a financial stock. It grows slowly, then it declines rapidly when the company generating it goes bankrupt.

Figure 1: The Seneca curve, from Bardi’s ‘The Seneca Effect’ (2017). The intensity of something as a function of time (going left to right). For intensity, imagine it is the value of a financial stock. It grows slowly, then it declines rapidly when the company generating it goes bankrupt.

Seneca's take aligns with science as phase transitions are never linear. Remember, the day before a pond freezes, 50% of the surface is ice free. 

Entropy rules ...

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


A choice resting spot

30X30, a plan to save biodiversity on planet earth can work if we let it.

The question to ask is ...

Ai Has No Rights - Dilbert by Scott Adams

 Time to go, is it not?

They don't want ...

The sad state of affairs regarding the gullibility of people to buy into bogus crap perpetrated by trolls too many to count is galling but, as the great, late George Carling so often said, They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests. 

Which leads us into ...

Meet the Shitposter Who Started a Right-Wing Moral Panic About the Snickers Dick Vein

Juniper is very open about her posts being fake news — but this isn’t the first time they’ve gone viral

To whit.

The pinned tweet on Juniper’s account is “it’s incredibly easy to create fake news it’s actually ridiculous lol.” But that hasn’t stopped right-wing media outlets from frothing at the mouth over her tweets, most recently a fake news headline indicating that Snickers was set to remove the beloved “dick vein” from its eponymous candy bars.

George Carlin

George Carlin

I rest my case.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Keeping America safe from democracy ...

Keeping America safe from democracy is the latest republican plan. Excellent is it not?

Maher is right, the most dangerous party in America is the repugs. 

Ethics 101

 Ethical To Kill Ai - Dilbert by Scott Adams

A serious question is it not?

Of Light & Shadow

Goethe's theory of light always involves shadow as we always see the interplay of the two no matter the light source. This clip shows why Goethe was onto something profound without question.

Something profound indeed.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Buyer beware ...

BRT has discussed the dubious value of NFTs for quite some time, equating said way of creating value along the lines of the tulip mania in Holland in the 1600s as both entities are replicable but differ as tulips are physical while NFTs are not. Seems legal scholars agree.


Friday, April 22, 2022

Early Spring

Early Spring's the time earth wakes up. Flowers start to bloom, insects make their presence known, birdsong permeates the air and frogs begin their annual mating dance the moment water warms to the right temperature.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Insect Apocalypse ... looms

While Americans are the leaders in not worrying about climate change, the rest of the world is not, especially when considering how rapidly the 6th great extinction event, known as the Anthropocene, is gathering speed with one focal point being the ongoing insect collapse happening 24/7 as we speak.

Logic be dammed ...

Spock, the prime example of logic and coolness under pressure, was wrong 83% of the time as the word assume was inherently part of his persona. Nevertheless, he was pretty damn cool without question.

“Spock is held up as this exemplar of logic and reason and rationality, but he’s set up, in my opinion, as almost a weak caricature—a straw man—of reason and rationality, because he keeps making all these dumb mistakes,” Galef says in Episode 462 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “That’s the show’s way of proving that, ‘Aha! Logic and reason and rationality aren’t actually all that great.'”

When reading this, the profound philosophy of the Tao comes to mind as to assume nothing is both hard and wise as reality is always changing, where information is always incomplete and the ability to accept this is key to thriving in a world we will never fully understand.

In the franchise, Spock makes confident predictions based on his superior Vulcan mind. Galef was curious to see exactly how often these predictions pan out. “I went through all of the Star Trek episodes and movies—all of the transcripts that I could find—and searched for any instance in which Spock is using the words ‘odds,’ ‘probability,’ ‘chance,’ ‘definitely,’ ‘probably,’ etc.,” she says. “I catalogued all instances in which Spock made a prediction and that prediction either came true or didn’t.”

Spock’s biggest weakness is his failure to understand that other people don’t always behave “logically.” He also makes no attempt to update his approach, even when his mistakes get his crewmates killed.

He's lucky he didn't get killed also.

“He’s not a spring chicken,” Galef says. “He’s interacted with non-Vulcans before, and so presumably he’s had lots of opportunities to see that, actually, lots of people don’t behave the way he thinks they—rationally —should behave. And yet he fails to learn from those instances of missed predictions because instead he just shrugs and says, ‘Well, the world didn’t behave the way it should have.'”

It never does

The Art of War also applies, does it not?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


Artist reconstruction of Tupandactylus imperator. Credit: Bob Nicholls (CC BY)

Of all the animals yours truly would like to see, Pterosaurs top the list. Exotic, mysterious and above all else, spectacularly weird, these ancient flyers top the list in terms of what wonderful mischief nature can come up with to beguile us humans to the max.

Long before the first birds flapped and fluttered, pterosaurs took to the skies. These leathery-winged reptiles, their bodies coated with wispy filaments paleontologists call pycnofibers, were the first vertebrates to truly fly. Now experts are beginning to think pterosaurs and birds had more in common than previously assumed: An exquisitely preserved fossil from Brazil not only hints that pterosaurs’ peculiar filaments may have been true feathers but also suggests that this plumage could possibly have been as riotously colored as that of any modern toucan or tanager.

If both pterosaurs and dinosaurs had feathers, and if those feathers had variable shades for visual communication, then either those traits evolved independently in each branch or they go back to the common ancestors of both groups—reptiles that lived early in the Triassic Period more than 243 million years ago. “We feel that the common structure in dinosaurs and pterosaurs reflects shared ancestry,” McNamara says. Likewise, the findings add support to the hypothesis that some kind of feather or feather precursor was present among these Triassic reptiles, hinting that many more pterosaurs and dinosaurs wore feathery body coverings than paleontologists expected. Pêgas points out that no skin impressions, feathers or other body coverings from Triassic dinosaurs and pterosaurs have yet been found to test this hypothesis. Paleontologists are only just beginning to uncover the deep history of colorful fluff and fuzz, a line of inquiry that will have experts digging into the earliest days of the Age of Reptiles. 

From the tiny to the huge, weird is their middle name.  :)

Adaptations of these amazing flyers to their environment goes beyond imagination.

Various pterosaurs

Addendum. The strangest of them all were the Azhdarchid pterosaurs  With wingspans up to 40 feet, as tall as a giraffe and weighing close to 500 lbs, they were the true terrors of the skies without question.

Wonderful mischief indeed.

Phobos in transit ...

Monday, April 18, 2022

Up & Up ...

There's money to be made, this time its Ukraine for 3 billion & counting. Who knows, it might be more, much much more if WWIII doesn't intervene.

 1935 cover from the first printing

1935 cover from the first printing

Addendum ... 

Agan .... it's all about the money.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Something perverse about this ...


IMHO, something's perverse about the upcoming sale of one of Warhol's Marilyn prints but it's not about the piece, it's about how much money billionaires will pay for said art. Tulip time resides big time in terms of buying art or could it be an artistic way to launder money? One never knows, do one?

Will This Warhol Become the Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold?

When one of the pop artist’s famed portraits of Marilyn Monroe goes to auction next month, some observers think it could fetch up to half a billion dollars. What is it about this particular work that gives it such potential to break the market?

“Two hundred is a huge benchmark. It’s the highest reported estimate ever, it’s the highest estimate ever put on an artwork,” said Alex Rotter, the Christie’s chairman who’s overseeing the sale. “Could we have set more? You could always say more.”

Many are indeed saying more, making the $200 million mark seem not like the estimate—but the jumping-off point. Several dealers, advisers, auction specialists, and Warhol experts who I spoke to recently believe that, if the right tech billionaires, Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds, Asian foundations, or pandemic-enriched shipping magnates go head-to-head during the bidding, the work could hammer as high as $500 million, making it the most expensive artwork of all time—a marker currently held by Salvator Mundi, a rendering of Jesus Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that went for $450 million in 2017.

Nothing personal but the talent required to paint the Mundi is somewhat higher than creating a silkscreen print of a photograph is it not?

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The missing word is ...

BRT has discussed the issue of AI ad nauseam as said subject is both interesting and disquieting at the same time. Not only are we losing control of this emerging tech due to the fact we don't know how it works, said open ended entity is becoming smarter at rates beyond the kin of man.

It gets better ...

Fulcrum ...

Mission creep ...

In 1961-2, US Advisors began training the Montangnard to fight the North Vietnamese Vietcong, thus starting the disaster of Vietnam after Kennedy was assassinated Nov 22, 1963. Echos of this  CF can be seen with the $800 million dollar initiative to support Ukraine to include, you guessed it, training soldiers, in this case, to use US 155mm howitzers against the Russians. The difference here is Russia's nukes and the potential of staring WW III if a misstep is made in how the US handles its undeniable escalation vis a vis the Russians in the supporting of Ukraine.

U.S. troops deployed to Europe will begin training the Ukrainian military on howitzers and radar systems as part of a massive new weapons and security aid package announced Wednesday.

The planned training is a major development in the U.S. involvement in the bloody Russian war on Ukraine and will put its military once again in direct contact with Ukrainian forces after U.S. troops left the country in the weeks ahead of Russia's invasion.

President Joe Biden has vowed that Americans will not fight in the country, and thousands of troops deployed to eastern Europe have so far only guarded the border of the NATO alliance as the conflict rages next door.

Tell me if we heard this narrative before regarding Nam. Mission creep looms.

History does not repeat but it often rhymes. - Mark Twain

Friday, April 15, 2022

Double Entry

We all know Elon Musk is the wealthiest man on the planet, right? Well, maybe not as accounting 101 shows a different picture as how exactly accounting works differs from what this rube has mistakenly assumed about how accounting actually works for far too many years. :)

To whit.

How accounting really works. :)

The word Assume applies ...