Time exists so that we humans do not get confused. When everything would happen at the same time then we couldn’t manage our economies. This solution isn’t perfect since there is an awful lot that still happens at the same time and that confuses us. We need a new dimension, perhaps one of those of string theory in physics, or perhaps better literature or vacation, where events are more orderly or even entirely absent. Secretary-time would help too, except when she is absent herself again.
One absent event was the visit of Paul Krugman to Holland on June 19th. I spent two thoughtful weblog entries on this promised visit but it didn’t happen. Following Paul on his liberal weblog we can see that he is for a conference in Paris, drinking wine and commenting on Europe’s depressed economy. But the website of the planned visit to Holland has disappeared and there are no reports on his enjoying Dutch cheese.
One cause might be the absence of a high-speed train connection between Paris and The Hague, given the Fyra high-speed train debacle. Dutch NS and Belgian NMBS ordered 19 trains from Italian AnsaldoBreda. This dream deal has turned into a nightmare of technical problems and subsequent litigation, and likely mismanagement on either side.
One thing that didn’t happen either occurred at this year’s Spinoza Prize presentation, on June 10th, organised by the Dutch organisation for science NWO. Last year I already reported that Spinoza himself would not qualify for that Prize. We can observe that nobody listened. For all that matters, the events of last year and this year are merged into one single party event. This train rolled onwards with all its defects but taking advantage of the absence of physical restraints.
One Prize winner was professor Michail Katsnelson from Magnitogorsk in Russia and now at Radboud university in Nijmegen, for his contributions to our understanding of graphene. In an interview he explains that he had to leave Russia after the fall of the USSR looking for a job, and how he pays a high personal prize for this indeed, for he misses mother Russia and the ability to do high level research in his native tongue. His website shows his interest in the philosophy of science, and in his speech he told that he had read Spinoza’s Ethics at a young age. There appears to be a Russian saying when a person does not understand something: “That person isn’t a Spinoza.”
The economic theory presented in this weblog dates back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, see my earlier weblog entry. There is also this memo of me jointly with Jan Tinbergen of 1991 on what the Soviet Union might learn from the OECD. In an alternative reality professor Katsnelson might still have worked in Russia though perhaps not on graphene. It makes me wonder whether professor Katsnelson would understand this.
But the SU isn’t there anymore of course. Another thing that is absent are Economic Supreme Courts, which absence causes a lot of failed economic policies.
Apparently the G8 summit in Northern Ireland June 17-18 was much of a non-event too.
I rest my case: The economic approach to confusion is to focus on things that are absent and do not happen.