I, unlike some of the other posters here, do not live in what you would call a highly populated area. Having grown up in the shadow of the the Nation’s Capital, I can understand and relate to what my friends here experience on a (mostly) daily basis. However, I live in a relatively small town, in Tennessee, where the spectacle of rush hour beltway traffic and the possibility of a horrific terrorist attack are both equally unimaginable.
I have, therefore, what one might call a unique perspective here.
This is a time of volatility in the United States. It is visible in every aspect of our society. Anyone who owns a car or a home knows that the economy is undergoing vast shifts, at the very least.
Says Greenspan, yesterday, the 14th of September:
“Oh, by far,” Greenspan said, when asked if the situation was the worst he had seen in his career. “There’s no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I’ve seen and it still is not resolved and still has a way to go and, indeed, it will continue to be a corrosive force until the price of homes in the United States stabilizes. That will induce a series of events around the globe which will stabilize the system.”
The volatility is not limited to the United States and the economy. The most complex and sophisticated machine ever devised by man was infiltrated by a group of hackers known as the Greek Security Team a few days ago. While there is no feasible way to remotely (or directly, for that matter) unleash devastating gravitational forces at the LHC, the fact that a group of individuals effectively hacked the ultimate Gibson is a little disconcerting.
This from the Greek Security Team, addressing (I’m assuming) the LHC IT Department:
“We’re pulling your pants down because we don’t want to see you running around naked looking to hide yourselves when the panic comes,” wrote the intruders in a note left on the Collider’s website.
The emergence of coordinated or even solitary offensive action utilizing computer networks as a medium is a phenomenon that is best characterized by the virtually limitless speed that a network of hackers can increase in strength and capability.
This fact made itself grossly apparent during the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia:
“Cyber attacks on Georgia began a day before the actual invasion. On Aug. 9 Georgia’s largest bank was attacked and all electronic banking was stopped. The attack was sophisticated — hackers broke into the information site of the bank and started to change currency rates, devaluing the Georgian currency… Also targeted were the Web sites of the Georgian president and other governmental bodies. The aim of the attackers was to shut down all Georgian news sites, and for the first two days of the war, Russia was the world’s sole source of information on the situation in Georgia.”
The best way to determine a system’s potential volatility is to quantify the level of complexity inherant within that system. If you consider the entire world as a complex system, it behooves one to pay attention to the myriad of metaphorical Canaries dropping dead.
It’s time for me to drive south. Wish me luck!