Civilization Mechanics

Nasty rain yesterday late. What I have observed the weather beavers to call “pop up” rain. Quite worrisome. Gutters overflowing. And no rain five kilometers away. The sort of thing that delights insecure religionists (redundant? !) who labor mightily to find some reason for the deity to have cause such waterfall at that space/time coordinate.

I have to wonder at the hubris of that labor. 

As I was off on constitutional this morning, just down the road next Castellum SCP, I took note of the undrained water and the soft gurgling in the ditches. And how I fretted over the overspill and what rot it might cause. And hence to think on the physics of civilization.

The thought train goes something like this: physics is about motion; humans are primarily about society; society is primarily about civilization; and civilization is about organization(s). So what may be said about the motion of civilization?

I have commented previously about that Sundae evening back when I was a bairn, back when television was monochrome and its transmission was strictly by disturbances in the ether. In those days Sunday evening television was dominated by this rather staid nasal fellow called Ed Sullivan. I say called because I doubt that to be his name. Surely his mother was not Southron enough to have a child named Ed? Probably Edward or some such, since Edward (Ed) is not a name found in scripture. 

(Side question: If we can name a child Jesus, why can’t we name a child Yahweh?)

Anyway, Mr. Sullivan was the vocal integrator of what was called a variety program, which was a potpourri of staggering different – and usually aentertaining – demonstrations. I only recall one such clearly which was of a long table with many vertical rods attached to it and some fellow, ostensibly an entertainer, who spun dinner plates on the rods. I found this demonstration riveting but, of course, not entertaining since it was so impressive I should never have to see it again. 

Nor was it enjoyable, per se. What it was, was life changing. It was one of the remembered factors in convincing me to become a STEM nerd. Not particularly to understand the rigmarole of plate spinning as entertainment, that was orthogonal. But what the mechanics – the motion – of a plate spinning on a rod was. 

The metaphor has been useful over the years, in many ways. Now it seems applicable to civilization. One of the characteristics of our civilization is that the governments are run by politicians. Not people who have capabilities or education to run governments mind you, at least for democracies (or dictatorships,) but politicians. And in democracies, the primary concern of politicians is not running the government, but being re-elected to their office (or elected to “higher” office.) 

Apparently politicians are rewarded (or entertained?) by holding office rather than for running the government. Hence, the politicians are, in effect, ambivalent, if not apathetic, to keeping the plates spinning. Evidently broken plates do not preclude politicians from re-election. 

Hence, civilization is a progression of broken plates and deterministically doomed since someday, all the plates will be broken at the same time.

But the politicians will be enriched.