Sunday, February 16, 2014
  Stacks and styles, poles and piles.

Continuing yesterday's discussion of potential differences in electronics and economics. Thinking again of these alternate ways to describe a system.

You can start from two TYPES of force or source, two separate poles or centerpoints.... or you can treat local pieces of the system locally, dealing only with the observed gradients. Neither style is universally better. Yesterday I maintained that the internal-difference style works best for practical electronics. Now I'm thinking that the two-poles style works best for economics.

Techy types often say that the door to modern life was opened by the switch from Roman to Arabic numbers, and by later inventions like negative numbers and complex numbers. I'll go along with part of the argument: Roman numeration was horribly complex and inflexible. Place-notation, whether Chinese or Arabic, is tremendously better. No contest there.

But place-notation didn't bring negative numbers with it. Those were a recent invention, and commercial arithmetic got along without negative numbers until digital computers took over from mechanical adding machines.



When I was a bookkeeper in the '70s, none of my ledgers or adding machines used negative numbers. The columnar approach kept income and expenses as separate positive totals until it was time to reconcile. At reconciliation (whether daily, weekly or monthly) the total of income was compared with the total of expenses. If the difference favored income, you had a black-ink profit. If the difference favored expenses, you had a red-ink loss. Those numbers remained distinct in position and color, which gave them a distinct 'personality' or 'feel'.

I wouldn't suggest eliminating negatives; they're extremely handy in algebra. But I do wonder if we've become too comfortable with the idea of sliding back and forth on an endless linear axis.

= = = = =

Economics has to start with a clear understanding of human perception. Our perception has three salient qualities:

(1) Nearly all measurements are logarithmic, based on percentages. With the possible exception of touch and pressure, we don't do linear. In vision, both intensity and color are log. In hearing, both intensity and frequency are log.

Our sense of number, though not well understood, also seems to be log. When we feel an increment of income or price, we feel it in percentage terms, not linearly. "Rich enough" is my current income TIMES 2, not my current income PLUS $13000.

(2) Static states are nearly irrelevant to perception at all levels. We quickly adapt to current conditions of light, sound, heat, and wealth. We notice a change in any of these, and then we re-adapt to the new condition. In some cases (eg pitch of sound) we even adapt to the current rate of change. When decrease starts to happen faster, we notice it. When increase flattens, we notice it.

(3) We don't have a smoothly sliding axis from positive through zero to negative. In every type of sensation we have distinct words and feelings for positive and negative DELTAS from the current adapted condition. Cold and hot, light and dark, noisy and quiet, rich and poor. We think of these poles as perfectly distinct entities, even though a strict numerical measurement doesn't agree. When we're adapted to a temperature of 70 degrees, 60 is Cold and 90 is Hot. When we're adapted to 50 degrees, 40 is Cold and 70 is Hot. Describing this situation with algebra leaves out the static/delta, leaves out the logness, and leaves out the poles with personalities. It's just (0 + x), (-10 + x) and (+20 + x).

= = = = =

The algebraic method makes it WAY too easy to treat borrowing as just another part of the line. Krugman/MMT starts from this inappropriate comfort, then revises history and nature to make borrowing the default condition. Purely wrong. Suicidally wrong. STORING AND SAVING are the default condition of every living thing, whether storing food internally as fat or storing aphids or nuts or grain or beer or dollars against future deficiencies. When you keep two piles in mind, you can't make the Krugmanite error. Saving is MY pile. Borrowing is GOLDMAN's pile. Every time I save, I'm increasing my own future safety and nutrition, or the safety of my descendants. Every time I borrow, I'm increasing Goldman's abundance, which is already a trillion times larger than mine.

Labels: , ,

 


<< Home

blogger hit counter
My Photo
Name:
Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

My graphics products:

Free stuff at ShareCG

And some leftovers here.

ARCHIVES
March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / March 2012 / April 2012 / May 2012 / June 2012 / July 2012 / August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012 / December 2012 / January 2013 / February 2013 / March 2013 / April 2013 / May 2013 / June 2013 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / May 2014 / June 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / December 2014 / January 2015 / February 2015 / March 2015 / April 2015 / May 2015 / June 2015 / July 2015 / August 2015 / September 2015 / October 2015 / November 2015 / December 2015 / January 2016 / February 2016 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / August 2016 / September 2016 / October 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / January 2017 / February 2017 / March 2017 / April 2017 / May 2017 / June 2017 / July 2017 / August 2017 / September 2017 / October 2017 /


Major tags or subjects:

Aberree
Carbon Cult
Constants and variables
Defensible spaces
Experiential education
Grand Blueprint
Гром победы
Heimatkunde
Language updates
Metrology
Natural law = Sharia law
Patient things
Skill-estate
Switchover

Powered by Blogger