Aquatic Disaster

Patricia heard a noise in the middle of the night that she described as “gnashing of teeth.” When I went out to look at the pond this morning, it was almost empty, with a couple of the large rocks that line the edge of it having fallen into it, and apparently having cut the liner. Likely it was a raccoon trying to get the fish, who tipped the rocks over and fell in. Fortunately, at least some of the fish, including the one koi, are still in the bottom, but I’m going to have to find and repair the leak before I can refill it, and with fish in it, I’m going to have to neutralize the chlorine when I add water. And it’s a chilly day to be dealing with it.

Late-afternoon update]

Well, if I have a leak, it isn’t in the pond. I added some water that had been sitting overnight in a bucket to evaporate off the chlorine, and it didn’t go down. If it doesn’t go down overnight, I’ll turn the stream back on and see if that’s where the leak is.

[Friday-morning update]

The pond didn’t go down overnight, but when I turned on the stream, I found the link. It was backing up to the beginning of it, beyond the liner.

The Rise And Fall

of a great something.

Adding more money will not fix the problem; it may even make it worse because things have just gone over their heads. The expansion of private activity into outer space will create a still bigger challenge for the 20th-century state. Latencies in communication imposed by the limited speed of light mean that real-time control from the center will become impossible in principle. Even the Mars copter is largely autonomous.

Taken together, these developments suggest that the collapse we may be feeling — if one is in fact occurring — is not the fall of a hegemon but the crumbling of hegemony itself. It is probably driven by the drastic increase of complexity in the 21st century, represented by an ever-lengthening flood of bits which, if not understood, is psychologically indistinguishable from entropy. The world, like a team of wild horses, may have gotten away from the UN, Xi, Vladimir, and Joe because it’s gotten too dang complicated to control. Going back to historical metaphors, humanity may be reliving, not the fall of Rome but the fall of Babel.

Vernor Vinge, Neil Stephenson, and others saw this coming.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!