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A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Saturday, April 10, 2004
AN OBSERVATION ON THE STATE OF THE TIMES I think we are at a catastrophe cusp concerning the Bush Administration. Catastrophe Theory was developed by Rene Thom. "Thom's theory is an attempt to describe, in a way that is impossible using differential calculus, those situations in which gradually changing forces lead to so-called catastrophes, or abrupt changes.". Basically, loosely bend a piece of paper back on itself. Usually, a little ball on that paper will move nicely on the surface or "manifold" of that paper. If the ball is near the edge, a slight hiccup, or shaking of the hands might send it precipitously off the paper. Free fall.

Running with this metaphor, a predictable path for a variable, say the re-election of a President, runs off the reservation in an unpredictable way, leading to the incumbent's defeat. How likely is this to happen? I don't know, that's the beauty of catastrophes. But, I do get a sense that there is increasing variation and instability within the White House on how to handle problems. The fact that no coherent message got out to deflect Richard Clarke is evidence of this. The fact that Presidential approval ratings have been falling slowly over the last three months is also a sign that something is up. The question is: will there be a precipitous drop? The beauty of the US political system is that small swings in voter ballots can lead to large swings in Electoral College votes.

One point concerning Catastrophe theory is that if one has an idea as to what the path looks like, the possible bifurcation points, and the factors that move you closer or further away from the edge, than one has the possibility to move oneself away from the edge of unpredictable disaster.
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