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The Fog of Numbers

I will admit that reading James Howard Kunstler's blog could be seen as a guilty pleasure bordering on a vice for me. I've already got a pretty good handle on his message, so I'm not really exploring new intellectual territory there, but I am always delighted by some turn of phrase Jim comes up with to communicate his familiar memeplex. By way of example, here is a snippet from his most recent post:
It's especially ironic that given our preoccupation with numbers, we have arrived at the point where numbers just can't be comprehended anymore. This week, outstanding world derivatives were declared to have reached the 1 quadrillion mark. Commentators lately -- e.g. NPR's "Planet Money" broadcast -- have struggled to explain to listeners exactly what a trillion is in images such as the number of dollar bills stacked up to the planet Venus or the number of seconds that add up to three ice ages plus two warmings. A quadrillion is just off the charts, out of this world, not really subject to reality-based interpretation. You might as well say "infinity." We have flown up our own collective numeric bung-hole.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
victoriapandora
Aug. 10th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)
"We have flown up our own collective numeric bung-hole."

Well, there you have it...the supreme clue, MAKE BEER!

I'm a big fan of JFK too, he puts a comical curmudgeon slant on the ugly truth that appeals to me.
victoriapandora
Aug. 10th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
JHK, man I wish their was a modify button on these posts. I guess I am meant to pay attention, but my weather radio is going off just now so I am distracted. Otherwise I would never make a mistake;)
coremarc
Aug. 15th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Doug, Can you give a simple example where "changing how goods and resources are distributed" might ameliorate "further immiseration as a natural consequence of the crisis?" I'm just not following you there.
ps. I promise to catch up with Diet Soap soon.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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