March 27, 2008
It can be summed up in one word: excess. Most people I know live with mountains of debt. Many people bought houses that were way beyond their reach in price, only to find several years later that their house is worth less than what they owe on their mortgage. How did things get so bad?
Have you ever been at a performance where the audience begins clapping in unison to encourage an encore? Sometimes, the pace of the clapping becomes faster and faster until it eventually disintegrates, because it reaches a point where it is just too fast to maintain uniformity. The chaos currently running through our economy is the metaphorical equivalent of the clapping at the point where it loses its order and becomes random before petering out. (I’m sure that there are other examples of this phenomenon in nature, and if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.) Too many people have been in a race to catch the sun, which would be analogous to the race to acquire more STUFF. You can run as fast as you can, and you may outrun a lot of people, but the truth is, no one can catch the sun. It will inevitably set and come up behind you. In a race to attain unattainable levels of wealth, people will increase the amount of risk they are willing to take. Combine that with the decreasing value of the US dollar, and you have one big, tragic MESS.
Another symptom of excess in our society is the size of food portions served in many of the nation’s most popular restaurant chains. Portion sizes served have increased several times in size over the past 30 or so years. The largest companies have conspired with meat and poultry farms to produce obscene quantities of meat at very low cost to our ever more greedy society. These farms are rife with animal abuse, filth, and pollution, and produce huge quantities of greenhouse gases. And now, a lot of poor countries want the same access to cheap, plentiful meat and are destroying their countries’ ecosystems to achieve this goal. The American obesity epidemic is analogous to the economic excesses which have caused our current “economic diabetes” crisis.
March 21, 2008
Did you ever notice or have an encounter with someone and wonder how his/her partner could ever possibly stand them? There are many parallels to this in nature – one that came to my mind this evening involves anemone fish, who live among the stinging tentacles of sea anemones. Most mobile coral reef inhabitants seem to know better than to flirt with an anemone, but the anemone fish is miraculously immune to the anemone’s sting and poison. I don’t know if anyone has ever discovered what, if any, benefits the anemone gets from the fish, but the fish definitely benefits from the shelter provided by the anemone. Anyway, they’re beautiful. Feast your eyes on this photo taken by Shek Graham (Thank you, Shek. Beautiful work.).
March 17, 2008
Here’s a parallelaphor for you: the problems in our economy, i.e. the subprime mortgage backed securities debacle, the “credit crunch”, etc, are like food poisoning working it’s way through one’s digestive system. All our economic problems stem from a basic leaving behind of the basics: don’t spend more than you earn, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. When one starts gorging on junk food (read: subprime mortgage backed securities), some of which may have been fried in rancid oil (again, read: subprime mortgage backed securities), one can become frightfully ill. The result is nasty bouts of vomiting and diarrhea (read: dizzying stock market gyrations, skyrocketing commodities prices, banks collapsing [oops, did I say that? I wasn't supposed to say that, was I? Forget it, I didn't say that]). When the greedy bastards on Wall Street said, “here, eat this (subprime mortgage backed securities), it’s really good!” and challenged eachother to a drinking contest with the most foul rotgut you can possibly imagine (more subprime mortgage backed securities), many who should have known better succumbed to the debauchery, all in the name of getting as drunk (rich) as possible. Now, banks don’t even want to lend to eachother because they don’t trust eachother (…dude, you made me eat that stuff, next time I throw up it’s going to be on YOU). And guess who will ultimately have to clean up the mess? US. The American Taxpayer. The Fed (read: the American Taxpayer) had to step in and save one of the worst offenders (Bear Stearns) from literally dying. In Bear Stearns case, they had lost so much money that unless they got a massive infusion of cash, much like a patient dying from food poisoning needs IV rehydration to survive, they would have died. But we saved them, even after what they had done. And we will pay for it by having to clean up their vomit and diarrhea (read: pay higher taxes and higher prices for food, energy, etc. as our dollars decrease in value). The only reason we saved them is so we wouldn’t have to clean up a lot MORE vomit and diarrhea (read: domino effect in the financial industry leading to catastrophic consequences rivaling the Great Depression). It’s just unbelievable what some people get away with.
March 16, 2008
This is a beautiful fractal knot that I found on Google Images and in a great blog (http://growabrain.typepad.com/growabrain/fractals/index.html) (Thanks, Hanan!). It’s entitled “Animated Sierpinski”. I LOVE fractals. Mathematics is the language of infinity.
March 16, 2008
Parallelaphors is a blog dedicated to my observations of the parallels and metaphors between our everyday lives and the natural world. I am a biological scientist and an animal-lover. My goal in creating this blog is to teach a little and learn a lot. I’m very new at blogging so this site should change quite a bit over time, but I’m very excited to finally exist in the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to your comments on my future posts.
Not all the posts will discuss specifically parallels and/or metaphors. They will pertain to my various interests which include, but are not restricted to:
- Obesity – the latest cutting edge research in biology, psychology, sociology, etc.
- Trends in American society, particularly work habits
- Animal welfare and the physiological and psychological benefits of human-companion animal interaction
- Politics and environmental issues
- Art, color and design
- The interface between art and science.
Dudes, you are so welcome here. I have a ton of links I would like to add, once I figure out how to do it. So please bear with me – this will be a real blast!!
March 16, 2008
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Copyright 2008, 2009 by Miriam Gordon. All rights reserved.