Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rubber bands, Slinkys and Occupy Wall Street...

I am ready to admit that humans are powerless over the world's economic systems and that the world has become unmanageable.

Check this out: (hat tip to

" throughout all of human history up until 2003 we created 5 exabytes of data (five billion gigabytes). We now create that much every day. In 2011, we’ll create 1.8 zettabytes of data (a zettabyte is a 1000 exabytes) and we’ll be creating over 20 times that by 2020."

The world has too many moving parts for anyone to understand or manage. So complex that not only can't we figure out the answers to the problems that face us (economic, social, scientific) - there are no answers.

Imagine that the world is made up of rubber bands and slinkys. If you stretch a rubber band and then release it it snaps back to its original length. A slinky once put in motion down a set of stairs will continue down the stairs (In other words some things go back to the way they were and other things once set in motion continue to keep going). Now imagine a bazillion rubber bands and slinkys comprising a giant Rube Goldberg contraption and all the comings and goings and interactions and interrelationships of all these zettabytes. And there behind the curtain stands whoever... Obama, Romney, Berlusconi, Papandreou, Hu Jintao - people - talented people but human (i.e. flawed and imperfect (some more flawed and more imperfect than others). I am not sure any human can even tell which are the rubber bands and which are the slinkys any more.

I think that is what Occupy Wall Street is about. I think it is not just about economic reform (although that is a part of it). It is not just about a political point of view (although that is a part of it). I think it is about a belief that the world has too many moving parts. It is about the kind of community and society people want. It may even be about our existence.

As one Occupier was reported to have said:

"It is not OK for the richest 1%, to make us bend to the will of the financial institutions and the labyrinth of dividends, offshore tax havens, and money making schemes. Stop referring to fair taxation as socialism. Stop telling dishwashers and migrant farmers that you earned your money, that you work hard for what you have, because lots of people work hard and don't have. There are a lot of hard working people who are not rich. Don't look down from your fairy tale and tell us that people get what they deserve. Stop quoting Reagan. Stop telling us that riches beyond imagination breeds innovation. Stop pissing on our leg and calling it rain.

Occupy Wall Street is not a set of demands, it is a statement: We exist."

PS. I read this piece to my wise and now 87 year old Uncle Yoda (who lives in Santa Barbara, CA because he says it is the only place on earth where calling heaven is a local call) and he said that it was "Typical Rough Fractals, lovely, well intentioned, idealistic and full of shit". He did add however that he does think that "the problem with the world is that it is run by humans and that does not bode well for the future of mankind".


  1. You make a great point, Steven. I loved my childhood Slinky because the law of gravity (and, as I learned later, other laws of physics), made it so predictable.

    Our world has become so complex that mere mortals may not be able to navigate it successfully, let alone our leaders' ability to make the momentous decisions affecting our collective future.

    Chaos theory and the technology of massive distributed databases that intelligence agencies, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, IBM and others continue to develop may help, but woe to those who continue to believe in 'gut' decision-making. On the other hand, the 'gut' often gets it right, at least half the time.

    Your Yoda has it right .

  2. Holy shit! I just finished a blog post that makes a tiny dent in explaining how we can use the twelve steps in this movement, and in an attempt to figure out what the first step should say exactly I googled "occupy wall street powerless over" and found this. I am not alone ;)

    Maybe I'll use your wording! Flip-flopping on the part about the world having become unmanageable, which is true but I think is beyond the scope of our focus in working the steps....



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