#ThoughtExperiment – A Sticker in Covent Garden

Sometimes you come up with the strangest realisations when you aren’t looking for them.

Whilst Out Walking…

I saw a sticker in Covent Garden with a two letter acronym I recognised.

I calculated the odds of my guessing what it stood for correctly as 671 to 1 (26 (number of letters in alphabet) x 26 (number of letters))

Then after that I thought what other factors could effect the probability I was right…?

  • I hadn’t considered the usage of other alphabets,
  • A bias on probability caused by more exposure to the service in London,
  • People’s preferences for putting stickers in certain places,

and so on…

Which brought me to the conclusion that it is extremely hard to know all the variables to any given situation or question and speak with absoloute certainty. You can never be completely right.

Life is less certain than we’d like to think, and this was, relatively speaking, a simple guess that I was trying to make. What about predicting economic outcomes or conflict scenarios?

The Best Laid Plans

Think about it in your planning. You’ve probably had plans go wrong at some time in your life right, why?

disaster photo
Photo by liquene


  1. A variable you had calculated for went awry
  2. There was a variable you missed

You calculate from a nigh on infinite range of variables, which increases your odds of getting something right, but you won’t catch them all. There are always variables you miss.

You just need for things to be just right enough. And you decide when it is right enough. But they are never completely right; at least, not in the sense of absolute, utter certainty. Like so many things, we put our faith in statistics and probability – even if unconsciously.

And what I mean by that is, if you ask the average person (and I have done this) they’re usually ‘fairly certain’ of a lot of things – but ‘completely 100% certain’ of only a few.

Certainty Is A Mental Crutch / Equanimity Might Make You Invulnerable

The implications in risk management are obvious. I guess you could say there’s always risk and there’s always unknowns. There is no form of insurance against everything happens to you, asides from, perhaps, just being happy.

Say what?

If you are supremely, intrinsically happy, you really won’t care what happens. I guess this is a goal of existential practice, and is a kind of spiritual invincibility.

Yes, certainty is an illusion that makes us feel comfortable.

But what is so uncomfortable about embracing the reality of an unpredictable world?

I mean, apparently the universe exploded out of a tiny dot in an endless void of nothing, and we went from total entropy to pugs stealing human clothing in just a few billion years.

…who could have predicted that?

black and white dog funny photo
Photo by rpavich

#ThoughtExperiment – Ranges

Disclaimer: Geology and the financial markets are complicated. I don’t offend your intelligence by presuming differently, but I make some gross simplifications in the differences between them for the sake of metaphor. Thanks…

When you look at a financial market chart, you may notice that in some way it resembles a mountain range…

It has peaks and valleys, jagged edges and all the formations of a sharp area of the earth’s geography.

stock market chart photo
Photo by Doc Trader

What does it represent? A consensus in value, as projected by humans and plotted over time.

You may see this same jagged formation on the surface of the earth. Certain mountain ranges have harsh jagged edges that resemble more volatile times in the history of the financial markets. Other, more hilly ranges resemble times of less volatile mood.

The stochastic formations of the earth’s surface are the natural result of statistical probability.

The values of a financial market are the same thing. The sum of sentiment makes the trendline of the market. The collective agents (such as the rock and material) which make up the structure of the earth’s surface, form the sum which resembles a trendline. The surface is the trendline.

Here is the Question:

We plot a graph of a financial market to represent the action of this market over time. In a way we know what it represents (well, we designed it after all!).

Perhaps, the shapes of solid things around can be thought of as graphs.

Except instead of being plotted by man, they are plotted from the physical data going on in the background in our real world.

It is interesting to look at the shapes around us as plots of information. And if they are graphs, what is the data they represent?

Definitely they dictate geological data. We can analyse, and using the mathematics that understands pressure formations, work backwards and plot their formulation. We can use mathematical models to plot geological changes and ‘growth’ of a mountain range. So, in a way, by representing them as 3d objects these mountains are ‘graphlike’ manifestations of the data used in our mathematical model.

black and white mountain photo
Photo by Andreas Øverland


Of course there are a few differences. On earth, all natural solids (graphs?) are plotted in 3d, which would lead us to think the graph has more variables (to account for an extra dimension), though the same jagged pattern is unmistakable. As far as data goes, plotting in 3 dimensions gives us a larger range of possible variables to work with, within the same space.

So what does nature plot?

Though consciously designed to plot financial market data, without any labelling, or prior knowledge of subject matter, a graph of the financial markets may hold very little meaning for the reader. With no labels on the side to indicate what the values are, it just looks like a jagged line.

Does nature play games?

Game theorists well tell you that any market is a ‘game’ environment. Here I define a game as ‘an environment in which different agents play out under a certain set of environmental rules, and there of course is an element of chance’. If there wasn’t any chance involved it wouldn’t be interesting, cos we’d know the outcome and would lose all novelty and sense of unpredictability.

Note: Just because it is a game, doesn’t mean that it is trivial. Ask any football fan if his game is trivial and you’ll see what I mean!

You could look at life as a game, a very complicated game, with nearly infinite variables. Our mountain range is just part of the game.

OK so where am I going with this?

Look at the (3d) world around you. If it is some sort of graph, what data is it manifesting? If we work out what the data is that makes up the graph, can we work out what this data means?

black and white mountain photo
Photo by Christopher Combe Photography

How to ‘do’ this thought experiment in more detail…

Think of the physical universe as a big, dynamic graph, manifesting certain underlying physical data.

Here are some questions if this is the case:

What controls the variables in this underlying data?

What put the data there?

What happens if you change a value?

How many values and variables could there be?

Could it be derived from one equation?

TLDR: Think of the world as a big graph that represents some sort of underlying physical data. What does the chart mean and what are the variables?

#Poem – Colours Running

I do my best to avoid asteroids, the urge to be destroyed,
Absorbed, exploited or decisive in any way
My disposition makes me defensive
And I analyse all you say
The canvas has dried up, and cracked
The colours ran away
I cant cry due to a lack of tears
You ‘standard’ people are fucked up
Your politics is weird
I cant find myself a place in a world that won’t pay out
There’s nothing for me to talk about
Still I do try to feel
Though I don’t feel I was ever here
And none of this is real

I watch people running by and wonder if they wonder
Of such small wonders like today running seamless into tomorrow
And consider how the world seems to go on
How time gives not a fuck
And it all cares for no one
And I wonder if it is possible to be rational
And still feel compassion if so alienated
And why people here insist on subscribing to these fashions:

Now you talk all the same and feel all the same
Look at you
Business suits
Daily commutes
Why do you do it?
Such angular lives
It seems not to fit to your magical gifts
Artistry I am unfit to describe…

Are you angling social position for better breeding rights?
Lining up circumstance
So that you can be The Progenitor?
Daddy to your own clutch of  genes
And do proud that primal tradition
Of tacking on branches to the family tree
A swath of new lives

Wrapped in swaddling
And gripping tight to the Waking Dream
Breathing and smiling
Laughing and running
Goal directed and fully engaged
Completely subscribed
Going on regardless
And earning:
A wage,
A place
On this little place
In endless space
Where we are
Intent on carving out all things possible
Within the allotted time
And even when
There’s a bullet or a germ with your name on it
And you forgot that you’ve got to die

What the fuck is the point?
And who the fuck am I to comment on it all?
All colours running outward on a familiar scene
And if you should try to describe what I am seeing
You might end up like me

black and white painting abstract photo
Photo by Sarabbit

#Poem – deviant.php

There a black hat sat at a keyboard
Tap tap tap
Viagra was his keyword
Tap tap tap
Computer hacker stereotype
Or archetype
Binary bound to the petabytes,
A houndtooth bite into an ethernet jack
Tap tap tap

Overweight the server crashed
Perhaps a power spike
Wardriven into the wireless
He hammers

Pay per click affiliate cache
Website hexed by green eyes
And clear sight
A trojan skipped a heuristic check
Tap tap tap…

If you could see him you could not suspect
The cialis and erections
Snuck into your inbox
(minus the spellcheck)

Tap tap tap…
And the spambot empire built on the back
Of public information grids
Academic computations, redirected

And now instead
It helps you with
Recontacting your
Nigerian relatives

And getting them to ship you those
Canadian meds
…tap tap tap
Trojans and rootkits
Bank accounts logged
The internet about to die
Or gone to the dogs.

Cryptography crawls in
To crack your code
The spider harvest finds your address
A worm drops the payload

Email your affiliate links
And profit from the confusion
Scrape directories
And Facebook apps
Rape telephony
And behind a firewall proxy
With a whitelist

There a black hat sat
Tap tap tap…

black and white computer dark photo
Photo by timsnell

#Poem – The Artless Sleeper

Destroy music
Attach to the collective
And disseminate your deconstruction from within
Decompile the mechanisms of a melody
Tear the harmonies to shreds
Smash drum patterns
Break beats
 waveform peaks

Teach and abuse what you know
Depress, distrust and compress what you don’t
Dig deeper into the studio
With the non structural haiku
That barely flows
As you
Run a take two
And dominate this bastard industry
In divine solitude

Plant seeds of unrest and test
The waters before you poison them, again
That havoc, venom and bile
The compulsive non-composite that makes up your personal style
And none can resist it
They smile and laugh
So easily led
But they’re dead
All dead
All dead inside
All non music
All non entities
That don’t strive
What the fuck do they know of struggle?
Are they even alive?

You join new networks and spread
Open loops
Unheard and unsaid
But they’re not here
Nobody’s here
And nobody can hear
There’s no message
So you keep going, going
Deeper down
Cos the world awaits the awakening
Of the Artless Sleeper
In the underground

angry technological poem - black and white glitch image waveform
Photo by Daniel Rehn

#Idea – 10.06.16 / “I’ll make them love me for what I do”

There’s a mentality shared by a lot of people in this world
“If they don’t love me for who I am
I’ll make them love me
For what I do
Maybe we just need a reminder…
Though it’s OK (and often noble) to strive for more
(depending on what you strive for, I suppose…)
It’s still placing the need for validation outside of you
Onto other people
And that is a power that you should not take away from yourself

Photo by aaron_anderer