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30 August 2009

of a few things large and many things small

reading Robinson's Red Mars reminds me of a basic and oft-under (or un-) appreciated principle of ecology: change in the ecospere tends to flow from small to large, and not vise versa.

sure, planets have colided. asteroids caused massive turnover in earth species composition. nonetheless, where did life come from? the smallest of units, testing a galaxy of possibilities, some succeeding, some aggregating.

the little things. we dream grand dreams of galaxies, of control. seen from a plane, humans' works are not vast. none but our roads and our lights warrant note. points and lines.

ozone hole; global warming; oxygen atmosphere: consequences of small units, people and plants and refridgerators, units repeated to vast proportions over time, an inflation of individually insignificant individuals that, together over time, effects nontrivial change.

this is the law of history as well as ecology. the pyramids, slaves. democracy with it's masses, intel's chips.

small isn't trivial.

07 August 2009

classroom economics experiments

i've been thinking lately about inflation and the meaning of money lately. i think a classroom experiment with monopoply money and a real lemonade stand would be great. folks draw some sort of income (perhaps making the lemonade and selling it to the vendor), vendors get paid a fixed turn-based wage. if the resale price of lemonade rises 10% every turn, the "real value" of money immediately becomes apparent.

as an added capitalist spin, savings might be used to buy a stand or "manufacturing plant", and employees are hired from the participants. finally, adding or removing money from the system, a bank with a savings rate...