Category Archives: Books

butterfly economics

Currently reading Butterfly Economics: A New General Theory of Social and Economic Behavior. The books central central premise is that “… conventional economics is mistaken when it views the economy and society as a machine, whose behavior, no matter how complicated, is ultimately predictable and controllable.

On the contrary, human society is much more like a living organism — a living creature, whose behavior can only be understood by looking at the complex interactions of its individual parts.” The books chapters explore various sections of our society and world that support this premise, the most interesting of which might be the chapter abouts ants(!).

“Ants, faced with two identical food sources, were observed to concentrate more on one of these but, after a period, they would turn their attention to the other. The same phenomenon has been observed in humans choosing between restaurants. After discussing the nature of foraging and recruitment behavior in ants, a simple model of stochastic recruitment is suggested. This explains the “herding” and “epidemics” described in the literature on financial markets as corresponding to the equilibrium distributio n of a stochastic process rather than to switching between multiple equilibria.” (abstract).

Sounds scary! Succintly, ants, given a choice between A and B (where A & B are equal) don’t go to A 50% of the time and B 50% of the time; turns out that humans don’t either, which is why one particular restaurant will be packed for 3 months and then empty for 2… and I think helps explain why creating “buzz” is so important for companies today… Is PHP better than ASP? or JSP? or CFM? maybe, but so and so says that Perl is better… Should we see One Hour Photo or Simone? Truth is almost *everything* we buy as consumers is influenced by what other people tell us… I think it’s only going to get worse… I find myself not buying books until I see good reviews on Amazon, I won’t see movies until they’ve been out for awhile and someone tells me I ‘have’ to see it. Anyways..

While doing searches on google for more on ants, I came across this interesting page that talks about various AI ant robot studies.

book crossing

A friend sent me a link to… interesting concept. From their email:

“The website encourages people to Read, Register, and then Release their books “into the wild” and then track where they go and the lives they touch. Great concept… share your books and follow their progress forever.”


finished Pilgrim at Tinker Creek… I guess the nap this afternoon gave me enough juice to finish it out. I read books quickly.. I’m sure there are lots of things I don’t even pick up, just like a complicated movie, sometimes you have to see/read it twice, but I usually remember the stories and this book had a great number of them (muskrats… the frog & the giant water bug, grasshoppers and locusts). From the last chapter, page 275:

“There is not a guarantee in the world. Oh your needs are guaranteed, your needs are absolutely guaranteed by the most stringent of warranties, in the plainest, truest words: knock, seek, ask. But you must read the fine print. ‘Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ That’s the catch. If you can catch it will catch you up, aloft, up to any gap at all, and you’ll come back, for you will come back, transformed in a way you may not have bargained for — dribbling and crazed. The waters of separation, however lightly sprinkled, leave indelible stains. Did you think, before you were caught, that you needed, say, life? Do you think you will keep your life, or anything else you love? But no. Your needs are all met. But not as the world giveth. You see the needs of your own spirit met whenever you have asked, and you have learned that outrageous guarantee holds. You see the creatures die and you know you will die. And one day it occurs to you that you must not need life. Obviously. And then you’re gone. You have finally understood that you’re dealing with a maniac.”