Annihilation

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: November 30, 2010

No one gets upset when a positron and an electron come together and annihilate each other. It is what they do. The world as we know it doesn’t work without these sorts of interactions. I personally did not make up the rules for subatomic physics. But I blissfully play by these rules on a day to day basis and live a pretty happy life while all this annihilation is taking place off my radar screen.

On a larger scale, this is the season of the wolf in Yellowstone Park. Once the snows hit, the larger animals can’t forage quite as well. And they have to break trail to get through the snow. Over time they tire and become easy pickings for the wolves. The wolves were removed from the park for years, then they were reintroduced in 1995. Turns out they are critical to the ecosystem there. What happens is that wolves thin the Elk population. When that population thins, another population rises. Oddly enough, the population that rises are the beavers.

Turns out that a Yellowstone without Elk is not beaver friendly. The Elk come in and destroy the beaver habitat. But once the wolves returned, now the beaver flourish. Calling the Wolves predators and banning them from the park was not how the ecosystem evolved. From a food perspective, it is a free market economy there. It is not a government run protection racket.

So subatomic particles don’t work if we have peace. And nature doesn’t work if we have peace. But nonetheless, human being have spent decades trying to arrange peace in the middle east. I just half listened to a talk by William Ury on this topic. Now Ury is a pretty good guy. The book he co-authored with Fischer, Getting to Yes, is one of the best texts on negotiations that I’ve read. But 30 years ago when the book came out I was in DC listening to Fischer on his book tour. And he was asked about Carter’s efforts at middle east peace in the 70’s…yes, 40 years of the best minds of the best meddlers on earth and there is still no peace there.

Two issues come to my mind when I hear these discussions (and fast forward through most of them). The first is “Why bother?” Ury’s answer was “Abraham!” the guy who walked across the desert 4,000 years ago spreading peace and love. Then uh, his descendants, did what? Oh right, family squabble, terrorism, etc, etc. Right, that guy.

Ok, as you can see, I’m not buying in on the Abraham story as the reason all this people are trying to peace up the middle east. There has to be a tangible upside to all the bright people that have tried to meddle here. Short version goes one of two ways. There are huge voting blocks in other countries that take sides with one party or the other. Getting them to “just get along” over there maybe helps remove the tension everywhere else. But that is the global good argument that often fails. The other argument is stronger I think. Whomever does the headwork that puzzles out peace is a lock for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Hands down, no questions asked. You break the code on Middle East Peace, you get the prize. And as it turns out, once you get the Nobel, you are really there as a human being. Besides the cash in hand, your life expectancy increases by two years. So yes, huge payback to smart guys everywhere. Huge incentive to noodle that problem.

But it brings up the second issue. Is it even a possible outcome? I mean in the sense that it is not possible for a positron to exist in the presence of an electron. Or in the sense that a sick Elk can't live in the presence of a wolf pack? My view of all world religions is similar. They were created to maximize human suffering for their own benefit.

The Catholic Church seemed to have had a grip on Europe for centuries, during which time they did everything in their power to stop the advance of science and civilization. They were clearly in the business of keeping people poor and ignorant so that they could rule this world based on their connection to the next world. Nice game if you can get it. But the Kings of Europe needed to destroy the power of that specific Church to enable civilization to move forward. The annihilation of power of that church was critical to development of secular society. If it were up to that church, we’d be plowing fields with horses and carting goods to market in oxcarts and all would be well with the world per the pope.

What I’m saying is that conflict was inevitable. And for the race to advance, the best side had to win. It did. And the human race has won also. Brokering a power sharing deal would have set civilization back decades. I’m not saying the middle east is anywhere near that critical to the survival of civilization. I’m just saying it may not be all that bad if one side gets the edge and the other fades into history. Personally, I don’t have a horse in that race. I just think there is something to be said for standing back and letting the horses run.

Any Comments?


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By GREG MAFFETT
Published: November 7, 2012

We just had an election in the USA. Here is a glance at how we seem to be behaving.

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By GREG MAFFETT
Published: February 12, 2012

A few graphs about power, technology and autonomy.