Monday, February 13, 2012

He asked, "Why The Short Run?"



"Why The Short Run?" a friend asked.

Blog itself sounds very onomatopoeic.  It is the sound of one pouring thoughts and ideas onto the grand cyber universe for others to take in and ponder... the wisdom? the B.S? the constructive insight?   I struggled with naming my site of thinking out loud. I was concerned that someone would come about and point their NSF grant expert finger at the title and use it as a means to ward off my own claims of legitimacy.

The phrase, The Short Run,  came to me as I pondered a passage in Peter Bernstein's Against the Gods: The remarkable story of risk,
Gamblers may think they are betting on red or seven or four of a kind, but in reality they are betting on the clock. The loser wants a short run to look like a long run, so the odds will prevail.  The winner wants a long run to look like a short run, so that the odds will be suspended.
The lesson here, is that the interpreting of odds and "data," is based on perspective.

I chose the short run rather than the long run, because in my opinion, most of what The Royal We knows is based on a short run of information, used to make decisions about the short run future.  What we know about our environment is based on a few hundred years of data, a short run in terms of the long run of earth's environment.  Even still, knowledgeable experts will argue about the quality of such data, narrowing down what some perceive to be a long run of data into an even shorter run.  Then, we take a short run of data, think about it as a long run, and try to make predictions and decisions about the future and pontifications about the past.

In some fields, the long run is a perspective or estimate of the future where none of the variables are fixed.  The short run is a perspective or estimate of the future where some of the variables are fixed.  This tidbit sealed the deal for me and "The Short Run."

Estimates of the future are always short runs because there are inherent assumptions.  The most prominent assumption is that society will remain constant or change as expected- no surprises.  Other common assumptions are the exclusion of extremes or the inclusion of what we believe to be the extent of extremes.  But the occasions by which this has proved wrong are numerous.

As well, life is a short run.  Each individual, limited by perspective, makes decisions based on their own experience and understanding of the perceived long run.  Perspective will also dictate how information about the current time and future is taken  (ie. bad news, good news, just news).  Perspectives are subject to change with time and space.

So, while I'm generally a bit sarcastic, the picture for this post, does have great symbolic meaning and is not intended to solely step on toes.  The Last Supper was a marvel of perspective works in art history.  Jesus was also one who made claims of legitimacy that others fought.  Based on his relatively short life (and perhaps, insight into the long run depending on your own perspective), he made conclusions about the long run, future and past.  Also, the image is supposed to be at the moment that he made a prediction (ie. someone would betray him.)  To this, everyone at the table has a different reaction based on their own personal situations and beliefs.  Indeed, they had different feelings of risk.  The image is also representative of how societal perspectives change.  At the time that the painting was done and the time that the image depicts, religion was paramount in society.  While religion is still important in society, it plays a different role... because perspective changes.

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