Maybe the abyss

Following on from my point about expected-value punditry1: if there’s no down side to predicting the end of the world via the collision of large hadrons (which2 end is delayed, though still obviously inevitable) then there’s no down side to predicting the complete and utter collapse of the world financial system.

In fact the prudent thing is probably to go the whole nine and predict the collapse of the human custom of exchanging money for objects and services. If the government moves quickly enough, perhaps with a massive infusion of furs and obsidian chips, then I am willing to allow the possibility that the barter system can at least be rescued. If barter goes, then of course you’re stuck with whatever you can find or make yourself. You can expect your favorite food bloggers to have a lot of suggestions about rat and pigeon meat in the coming (dark) months.

In semi-related news, it seems no less a statesman than Silvio Berlusconi has revealed that he is down with EVP. Hey, Silvio, what’s next for Alitalia?

Maybe the abyss.

That’s the spirit. It’s clever of him to recognize that that is probably the worst possible outcome, and to weight his prediction accordingly. Now even if Italy’s national airline is cast literally into the eternal fires of hell, nobody can reasonably be disappointed. And if it only just goes out of business, I, for one, will be pleasantly surprised3. Give it a try, it does wonders for a cynical worldview.

1) — a theory that upon further reflection I have to admit shares in the spirit, if not the wit, of this classic from the prognosticatory-studies literature.
2) — this tell-tale usage of the word “which” is by way of (not-so-oblique) tribute4 to David Foster Wallace, whose death last weekend (of a commonly fatal disease, make no mistake, but more on that later), I have to admit, made it pretty hard for me to want to bother with writing or even doing much of anything at all for a good few days there.
3) — this is a lie, I’ll be furious, especially if it happens on Thursday when I’m supposed to be flying on Alitalia.
4) — yes and the footnotes too, and more of my other mannerisms and tics than I care to name. If you care enough to get this deep into the nested footnotes then go and see the stuff that Jason Kottke has collected here, which if you follow all the links will lead you within a click or two to everything worthwhile the internet has ever had to say about the man. What a shame.


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