Empires on the Edge of Chaos (Prof Niall Ferguson)

If you can spare an hour (or so) please listen to what Prof Ferguson has to say. Initially I was on really interested to hear what he said about the relationship between Empires – Complexity Theory – Economics but I was unable to drag myself away.

BUT do yourself a favour, skip the intro (it’s torture), click to “Watch Full Program” and, at least, spare 8mins to absorb Chapter 4. Unless you are pressed for time…or already know everything…you WILL watch more.

As he says, he is no Economist but I have heard more FACTS, forthright and common sense opinion from him than from many proponents…that’s the Scots for you!

He reminds us Brits about the scale and pace of the decline of our Empire.

He tells Americans what you don’t want , but need to hear…without any political spin or Fed endorsed guesswork.

Chapter 4. Complexity Theory

Elements of this lecture reminded me of my recent blog “Disaster Myopia” but, of course, since starting blogging almost 2 years ago I have made several references to the work of Joseph Tainter (Collapse of Complex Societies) and to Ulrich Beck (The Risk Society)

Current societies…are characterised by their extreme complexity at a moment in history in which traditional political institutions have lost much of the power, a power which has now passed into the hands of multinational companies

Ulrich Beck

Societal greed: Cholesterol is crippling our bodies, businesses, healthcare and economies

If you live outwith North America you should not take any comfort from this information! This is a major cultural problem and it is, quite literally, killing us. This isn’t a tsunami, a famine or a flood over which we have no control this is something that only WE, each and every person, can change…or not!!!


I have been critical of the role FSA have played in the era leading to our financial meltdown but we can’t blame them, or Government (directly!) or Food Standards Agency for these ills

According to a new study released this week by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the total economic cost of overweight (BMI between 25.0 – 29.9) and obesity (BMI of more than 30) in the U.S. and Canada reaches $300(1) billion per year, with 90 percent of the total – $270 billion – attributed to the U.S.

While much research has been conducted on obesity, the SOA study looked at the economic costs of overweight and obesity caused by increased need for medical care, and loss of economic productivity resulting from excess mortality and disability.

In the study, the SOA also divided the $300 billion finding into specific causes of economic costs. The figure breaks down into the following economic costs per year:

Total cost of excess medical care caused by overweight and obesity: $127 billion

Economic loss of productivity caused by excess mortality: $49 billion

Economic loss of productivity caused by disability for active workers : $43 billion

Economic loss of productivity caused by overweight or obesity for totally disabled workers: $72 billion

Complexity: “Cholesterol for business” I have used this analogy before but it is certainly worth repeating as the similarities are apparent and potential impact “alarming”… Business systems suffer from their own version of cholesterol…it’s called…COMPLEXITY. If you don’t test for it you don’t know if it is doing damage to the vital inter-connections upon which your system is dependent? By the time that the outward signs show themselves irreparable damage is done. Sufficiently fit and … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]

Facebook and GS tie-up may be unholy disaster

Saint Wolfgang and the Devil, by Michael Pacher.

Image via Wikipedia

Facebook have been “valued” by banksters Goldman Sachs at an outrageous amount but, on a couple of levels, this may be just a step too far:

Facebook has already lost some of its appeal. It has become less “personal”, more confusing and complex with the addition of more and more features.   

Then there was the underhand way in which the privacy debacle was handled.

Facebook are only where they are now because of the phenomenal growth of its membership and it has been becoming more “monetized” (that’s commercial for us Brits).

Now it’s Facebook v Google.

How many people are  interested in taking sides, if it came to that? If presented with that choice I suspect that, given similar functionality, less commercial (or more personal) would be a major factor.

But, wait a minute, even with this huge investment from GS I have an inkling that success or failure will be determined by the memberships reaction to a deal, done with a firm, who were at the very centre of dodgy multi-billion dollar “off-book” deals, lies to Regulators, pressure on rating agencies, lying to and cheating clients, etc.      Of course GS weren’t  the only guilty firm responsible for saddling much of the current and future generations of potential Facebook members with debt that is not theirs and that they may never be free of.

Want some insight into why or how they have such a bad rep? Here’s what a former MD of GS had to say on their modus operandi:

…get the business, rake in the fees—and pawn off the overpriced goods on the clients (even the “shitty deals” so Goldman’s not holding the bag. That dirty formula cost Goldman a $550 million fine less than six months ago.

Yet the Facebook phenomenon shows us that nothing has changed. Goldman again moved aggressively to get the business—investing $75 million into Facebook early, at a low valuation,

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