Political Heat (Chicago 1995)

Political Heat (Chicago 1995). New Yorker (via Jorn again – how does he find them ?) review of book by Malcolm Gladwell. A complete set of rationalisations of poor decisions leading to many deaths, and the “political” reality and “act-of-god” justifications used. Interesting blend of science / engineering calculations in sizing power supplies and air-con units, vs the “complexity” of weather forecasting vs the political aspects of decision making, together with the “random” chance outcomes of who does and doesn’t survive. Review based anecdotally around July 1995 Chicago heat-wave disaster, but drawing on references to many earlier, mainly natural / extreme weather related, disasters. Interesting angle on behaviour at extreme cases in complex systems being the true determinant of “good performance”, rather than long-term steady-state averages. I was beginning to wonder why disasters like Enron, 9/11 etc were becoming an emerging theme of this research – morbid fascination / ambulance chasing or a natural consequence of looking at complex behaviour ? In fact it is quiet literally “Catastrophe Theory” all the significant minutiae are hidden or suppressed until the chaotic outcome reaches some cusp, whereupon we have a catastrophe on our hands. Blindingly obvious again – “ambulance chasing” a euphemism from the “Many a true word” thread.
[And a further review from Salon, also via Jorn.]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.