Thursday 9 October 2008

Sprung Incompleteness

I enjoyed today's In Our Time, on Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem (where I lead, Melvyn follows 8v) ).  So it's not just me who says not all that is true can be proven, nor all that is false disproven.

There was a more practical demonstration of this in our Common Room Meeting today, when a room-full of ordinands were so struck with the futility of words that we agreed to do nothing about something we had previously agreed was burdensome and unjust when it was announced, that we had just agreed had resulted in all kinds of problems, and that we were experiencing directly as some of its impact fell on them.

We are, though, considering buying more newspapers every week.  We will therefore be better informed on all kinds of injustices in which we are less involved, in respect of which we have a less credible voice, and about which we will agonise and do practically nothing.

[I wrote those two paragraphs first with 'they' not 'we,' because mine was one of the voices raised against defeatism and inaction, but did I press my point? No.  So it's 'we,' all right.]

We are the future of the church.  Lord help us. Lord help them.

I feel like the Roman confronted with a dish of battered eels - O Tempura! O Morays!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Think, people!

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For us here in Britain, the banking system as most of us have known it through our lives has come to an end.  From today, our taxes will support our loans, and the increasing inflation that will come with increased public sector debt will be the legacy of the banking bubble.

You meet this scenario quite early on in maths, where instinct and 'gut feel' are tested to destruction.

For instance, common sense says if you take a punt on the toss of a coin, head or tales, then if you lose just double your bet, however many times it takes.

And if you have unlimited resources, and unlimited time, and the person you're betting with gives fair odds, and no limit to stakes, your expectation is to come out even. But...

But at every loss, your exposure increases.  In every real game, whether in a casino or in commercial banking, the odds are not fair.  And in every transaction, the strongest party calls the shots.

At some point in time, if I understand it correctly, 'real' banking activity became smaller than  the casino.  For instance, derivatives (bets on share price movements) became more significant than shares.  On the surface everything continued as normal, but vast profits in some places must imply vast losses elsewhere, and the whole thing turned out to be a latter day South Sea bubble, where the vast losses turn out to be everywhere.

Banks are not the same "yesterday, today and forever."  My immediate future and yours will be adversely affected by this, one way or another.  We had better look for security other than in the securities market, for peace elsewhere than our pensions, for liquidity in the one moving over the face of the waters and not the one drowning in them.