Sunday, March 22, 2009

Goldstein Unmasked

Have you heard? They've isolated the cause of the current financial crisis; the biggest economic meltdown since the nineteen thirties. All this time, I'd assumed that it was a combination of several factors; overspeculation by greedy investors, unsustainable debt loads accrued by imprudent borrowers, large-scale investment in complex, high-risk financial instruments, lack of regulation by apathetic governments. It seems I was wrong. It wasn't any of those things. No, according to a Wired magazine article, it was this guy. Let the world tremble at the name of DAVID X. LI (hereafter to be known as "Doctor X").

Oh, don't let his mild-mannered looks fool you! Behind those spectacles lurks a diabolical fiend, bent on bringing the world economy to its knees! Let the amateurs waste their time with their ineffectual terrorist tactics, their trade embargoes, their commodity control, their protectionist economic policies. This guy wields a weapon capable of causing true world anarchy. The GAUSSIAN COPULA FUNCTION!!! (Insert strident orchestral chord here).

We know now that, even before the dawning of the new millennium, this megalomaniacal mastermind laboured in the dark recesses of the University of Waterloo, perfecting the statistical equivalent of the atomic bomb. In the year 2000, his fiendish schemes reached their fruition as he released his evil formula upon a naive world, cleverly disguised as a scholarly paper, in which he urged gullible investors to apply his insidious formula to credit risks, encompassing everything from bonds to mortgages. The unsuspecting fools took the bait, and set in motion an irreversible chain of destruction. By the fall of 2008, American banks and insurance firms began to collapse, taking with them the rest of the world economy. Not since Flexible coding of temporal information by pigeons: Event durations as remember and forget cues for temporal samples (allegedly the inspiration behind Hitchcock's "The Birds") has a scholarly work so threatened the very fabric of our modern society!

I'm certain that "Doctor X" is the only one who knows how to stop this catastrophic formula, and has probably already issued a communiqué to the chief of the United Nations, promising to call it off only after being proclaimed Supreme Emporer Of The World. We puny mortals have no choice but to acquiesce or perish.

In George Orwell's "1984", the Party invented a faceless scapegoat, known only as "Goldstein". Every evil, every misfortune, every form of subversion and perversion was ultimately blamed on him. He was a convenient target for the peoples' anger and frustration; one that conveniently directed attention and scrutiny away from the Party. We already have our modern equivalents for newspeak (political correctness or misleading words) and doublethink (Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass-destruction and multi-millions in bonuses being paid to the same incompetents who visited disaster on Wall Street). We certainly have our Big Brother (the U.S. government tapping its citizens' telephones without cause, mass media and credit reporting agencies). Now, it seems, we have our Goldstein too.

1 comment:

Martin said...

It's always sobering to read something you spent a year of your life on (ie, my thesis on "Event Durations") only to realize that you no longer understand it. That's my typical male brain; when I no longer need a piece of information, it gets purged from memory. Four years of psychology. Purged! I think it was a good thesis, as evidenced by its publication in a scientific journal. But the fact is that it now reads like it was written in a foreign language.