Ignorance is Bliss?

Maybe
But only if your ignorance is buttressed by a life untroubled by interaction with the greater world, and the outside world is untroubled by interaction with you. 

Ignorance is not about technology or science (or it can be but usually is not,) it’s about the willingness to see things as they are not as you wish them to be, the strength to change your mind when the evidence shows that some alternative is superior, the arrogance to ignore the milling masses if need be and the humility to listen to the quiet voice of reason.

Some comments from some folks who understood …
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Collected Works
 “Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.”
― Benjamin Franklin
“Beware the man of a single book.”
― St. Thomas Aquinas
“Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.”
― Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

DoD Buzz | The Iran problem

DoD Buzz | The Iran problem.

The problem with Iran is that there is nothing we can do about it as the article below points out.  Short of all out war we are not going to make the situation any better proliferation wise and almost any other option at least leaves open the opportunity for long termsolutions.

The article points to a think tank paper arguing (rightly I think) that Deterrence like that used vs. the USSR is the most realistic option but it requires constant vigilance and a very credible threat on our side.  Maintaining such a credible threat is not cheap, has to be part of the grand strategy and force structure of the US.  The issue is, is the current administration up to the job of planning that grand strategy? Is the US up to sustaining another deterrent axis and the costs associated,  the article highlights the (largely artificial) stresses even the limited missile shield for Europe is causing with Russia.

One interesting thing about this is that all the Wests attempts to halt proliferation have in the end come to nought, the worst of the worst are going to get the nuc’s, unless we provide an almost blanket assurance that we will avenge any first use then at least one more tier of nuc powers will emerge.

It’s also of some ironic interest that it was the US’s perfection of smart weapons and limited war tactics that could be seen as driving this nuc arms race.  We should remember that at one time or another we saw nucs as the cheap counter weapon to the Russian horde .  These smallish countries now see nuc’s as the cheap counter to folks with deep pockets and smarter magazines.

Complexity and Size…the silent killer of Progressive dreams

I don’t want to crow that I have pondered these things for some time but I have recently seen a couple of posts on some sites where people are beginning to wonder about the problems of size and complexity and interconnectedness that are at least a chunk of the problems bringing the Euro down and that I also think had.   I think that its still a nascent thought but R. Fernandez had a pretty good post here that tied this together

I think some of this is in response to the Rauche Book Demosclerosis The Silent Killer of American Government, (which is mentioned in the Belmont Club piece) but I think that this is just one part of the overall puzzle.

demosclerosis…. which Jonathan Rauch defines as “government’s progressive loss of the ability to adapt” as a side-effect of the postwar style of politics that emphasizes interest-group activism and redistributive programs.”   In Phillip Longman’s book review of Rauch’s  Demosclerosis: The Silent Killer of American Government. – “Rauch rightly asserts that the “American system of governance today is much less at the mercy of any narrow manipulative few than at any time in the past.” The era of back room bosses who called the shots in service of rich patrons is long gone. But that has hardly brought about a more effective, or even more equitable, government, Rauch observes, because it has been replaced by a coalition representing virtually everyone. “We have met the special interests and they are us,” Rauch writes. “Much as mutual funds have offered ordinary people the access to almost every type of productive investment, so interest groups have offered ordinary people access to almost every kind of redistributive investment.””

“Here’s the problem: there are no grownups. “

I have a new hero!  I love this line, maybe it was just a matter of right words at the right time on the right topic but it is perfect.  Bob Krum was discussing the euro debt crisis among other things (like stupid questions on ‘presidential debates’) in Stop Waiting for Superman.  

There are no grownups; there are just folks (blokes in Brit speak) like us, imperfect humans who are lucky to make a right decision (on issues more complex than whether to turn into the path of that oncoming Mack truck or not) much more than 50% of the time (and we don’t always make the right one regarding the Mack truck.) 

What does that mean? Many things but one of them is that overly complex political, financial, social, technical…etc constructs are asking for problems.  Stable systems are ones that are essentially self organizing, a pile of sand will settle into the same conical shape every time because its stable in its environment.  Small c capitalist, old meaning liberal economies, are self organizing and stable.  The euro zone is a complex web of overly constrained systems that like some cartoon Rube Goldberg steam plant is constantly threatening to blow a gasket and it requires a genius just to know where to apply the next tourniquet. 

In the last few decades we have made vast strides in understanding ourselves and our world (in a thousand different dimensions.)  Then we have often reacted to this increased understanding by thinking we can control more things and implementing more and more rules.  The effects of those rules are often individually complex and unintended but the interactions between them is (IMHO) utterly outside of our ability to cope with.  Among other things I rather suspect that every one of us (barring a newborn baby maybe) is technically a criminal, having violated at one time or another various laws, rules or regulations most of which we had no idea existed or had no way to follow.

Somehow we have become inured to the regulated world, see it as natural, but it’s probably reached its practical limits and is now in the process of imploding.  We have the tools to creat a more self organized – de-bureaucratized world but have not yet quite figured out what it really looks like and how to transition from where we are to where we need to be. 

Maybe that’s just wishful thinking….fueld by a frustration at the idiocy that seems to have become institutionalized in so many places.  But change ‘is in the air,’ though it may still be some years away.  I just hope that the transition can be made relatively peacefully, there are far too many people on this orbiting rock (7Billion!?) for a major disruption to be anything other than catastrophic for far too many.

There is no utopia waiting over the brow of the next hill, and there was never a golden age that we have somehow lost (one man’s golden age was someone elses hell.) We can’t go back to a past that never existed, and refusing to live and work today because the day after tomorrow will be better is foolish and self-destructive.  Tomorrow never gets here, let alone the day after, and your vision of the world will never occupy a future today unless you work for it in the today you find yourself in. Live in the now with a vision of where you want to end up.