icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Rediscovering AnimalsĀ 

Economics As Complex--Tipping Points

When complex systems produce unpredictable, inevitable catastrophes--a given in the ubiquitous power law distributions of common events like earthquakes and collections of bad debts--there is often a tipping point that triggers the catastrophe. That tipping point is the moment of criticality, when one more input, no matter how small, produces a sudden change. The famous one more straw that breaks the camel's back. Self-organized criticality is also seen in volcanic activity, as well in the slippage of faults that produce earthquakes.

Examples: In ant colonies, tactile and chemical communication is maximum at critical population densities, resulting in stable patterns of raid activity. Termite mounds don't develop in pillars until the termite population reaches a critical density. Read More 

Be the first to comment

No shell--Big Trouble

Red and Gwendolyn

"Americia," aka "Red," didn't hop into my lap yesterday. Something was wrong. She sat most of the day in a lovely deep nest in the straw bale. I thought she had gone broody. She hadn't been laying eggs lately, just one, without much of a shell. I added crushed calcium to the treat bucket, but when I picked her up to put her on a more protected nest, I saw half a weak shell fall from her behind. I checked and extracted something else, then looked around in the straw and the nests. The other half shell must be still inside of her--an emergency situation.

Thanks be to those who contribute to Wikihow.com!! It was all there and it worked--first a quiet time separate from the other birds, then a soak in warm water. I had to talk her into sitting down into the water, but she trusted my insistent push and seemed to relax when she felt the warmth. I checked her vent and applied a sterile lubricating gel, then gently massaged between her legs for several minutes, several times.

Red survived the night and is doing well today. After her treatment, she settled down on a towel in a box set on its side , and in the morning I found the second half of the shell in the towel. She's going on a diet of calcium, shrimp tails or dried mealy worms, kale and broccoli, and no corn mixed in her lay pellets. I suspect she's been overdosing on the 10% prescribed cracked corn and ignoring the oyster shell the other birds devour every day.

Be the first to comment

Power Laws--Economics and Complexity

Per Bak in "How Nature Works" pointed out that understanding complex systems requires accounting for fractals and the ubiquity of power law distributions.

Power laws, called 1/f noise, mean there are lots of small events and few large ones and a moderate number of moderate events--like earthquakes. If you plot the frequency vs the size of events, you get a straight line on a log log plot-- frequency is inversely proportional to the power or size of an event. The data are scale free, like fractals, but can breakdown at very small or large values. See Benoit Mandelbrot's "The Misbehavior of Markets." Someone has pointed out that no laws in physics hint at the ubiquity of this observation.

Some interesting examples are the distribution of internet nodes with certain numbers of links, canopy gap size in forests, Zipf's Law--the fraction of cities with so many inhabitants, the frequency of the use of words in English, and economic systems--a realization just now making some waves carrying a touch of hope. Check out the Bibliography in the previous blog.

Since economic systems are certainly complex, they might carry the features--indicators, we've called them--of complex systems, including unpredictability from at least six sources. We'd better get cracking on regulations that protect us against any more unpredictable and "inevitable catastrophes," assumed by power law distributions. We need not stand under the mountain waiting for the avalanche to cut loose again.

Be the first to comment

Human Race Longevity Survival Bibliography

Completing the Picture--Adding Ecological Economics and steadystate.org imperatives to Complexity Economics

A little late with a big Aha--it's time to put together a mini-Bibliography to review the new economical thinking that could save the future.

Start with a general overview of problems with classical economics, economics as a complex system, and the role of government, leaving the How of solving problems to citizens. Be sure to read The Gardens of Democracy by Eric Liu and Eric Hanauer, Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books, 2011.

For tending the economic garden that has become overgrown, go to steadystate.org and see C.A.S.S.E.'s twelve steps to a no-growth economy--how to get over our obsession with growth and its cause, uncontrolled debt.  Read More 

Be the first to comment