Using fossil pollen records as an index of vegetation change, they demonstrated the (somewhat intuitive) main result that the time to recovery following a disturbance generally decreases as the past disturbance frequency increased. This appears to be a vindication of the idea that a system’s adaptive strategies evolve as a product of the local disturbance regime. More importantly, they found that recovery was faster following ‘large infrequent events’, which are natural perturbations such as cyclones and major fires. While most past disturbances were caused by humans clearing forest, the fact that tropical forest systems were most resilient to ‘natural’ events means that if we can’t stop human disturbances, at least we can attempt to emulate natural processes to maximise the rebound potential.
Tony Blair is old, older than time itself. Beyond left and right, beyond right and wrong, beyond age and death. When the first cave-dwellers made the first image of their god, Tony Blair was there with his shiny spiv’s suit to suggest that it might require a blood sacrifice. When the first half-fish heaved itself out from the boiling sea to flap around in the sodden tidal slime, Tony Blair was there with his cold intense stare to offer it words of vague encouragement and then crush its head under his heel. When the first drifting clouds of interstellar dust began to coalesce into what would one day become our little speckled world, the bodiless malice of Tony Blair was there to help them set the stage for our future suffering.
Let me suggest that, in the fraught and unpredictable world in which we live, both of those ideals – total certainty and perfect reward – are delusional. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to increase knowledge and reward success. It’s just that, until we reach that utopia, we might want to come to terms with the reality of our situation, which is that our lives are dominated by uncertainty, biases, subjective judgments and the vagaries of chance. … There’s something liberating, maybe, in being able to acknowledge that the reasons we have are often inadequate, or downright poor. Without needing to impose any supernatural system, it’s not hard to picture a society in which chance plays a more explicit, more accepted role in the ways in which we distribute goods, determine admissions to colleges, give out jobs to equally matched applicants, pick our elected leaders, and make personal decisions in our own lives.
graphic design student sat down opposite me with Ortlieb backpack-convertible pannier, put on his Sennheisers, whipped out then refilled his Lamy from his hand sewn pencil case and got to sketching on linen paper. i am nervous; i don’t have time to be caught up in a William Gibson novel and yet clearly, this branded scene setting is foreshadowing the shit out of an oncoming eruption of Teutonic zeitgeist plot developments. Halp.
Some will object: but people who believe in pseudosciences—whether creationists or anti-vaxxers or climate change deniers—already know they’re in a minority! And far from being worried about it, they treat it as a badge of honor. They think they’re Galileo, that their belief in spite of a scientific consensus makes them heroes, while those in the giant central component of the trust graph are merely slavish followers. I admit all this. But the point of an eigentrust system wouldn’t be to convince everyone. As long as I’m fantasizing, the point would be that, once people’s individual decisions did give rise to a giant connected trust component, the recommendations of that component could acquire the force of law. The formation of the giant component would be the signal that there’s now enough of a consensus to warrant action, despite the continuing existence of a vocal dissenting minority—that the minority has, in effect, withdrawn itself from the main conversation and retreated into a different discourse. Conversely, it’s essential to note, if there were a dissenting minority, but that minority had strong trunks of topic-relevant trust pointing toward it from the main component (for example, because the minority contained a large fraction of the experts in the relevant field), then the minority’s objections might be enough to veto action, even if it was numerically small. This is still democracy; it’s just democracy enhanced by linear algebra.
The methodology and findings: For an eight-month period, the researchers interviewed the study participants to gauge their social personality, as...”