Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nerd imperialism: Why did Apple crash?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 2/13/11

In Egypt, when the MSM was essentially calling for a reenactment of the love feast with the fall of former Soviet countries and varied other “developing countries” Apple computers experienced a flash crash. No one seems to know why. Possibly because the events today in the Middle East are not essentially about Egypt but about America. About wanting the rest of the world to be just like America. It is a kind of nerd imperialism. The uprising, don’t you know, is the work of smart phones and iPads, just as we were told by the glowing supporters here of the Iranian uprising in 1979 that it was all because of the new Walkman technology and the ability to hear a speech by Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris back in Iran via tiny cassette devises. When one Canadian legislator expressed caution in a CBC interview this weekend she was chastised by a reporter for not showing “exuberance” for what was essentially a military coup.

But possibly the events that shook the world this week did not take place in Egypt but at the CPAC conference in Washington, D.C. Renegade Libertarians Ron and Rand Paul are now mainstream. Austrian economist Frederich Hayek is now an operational perspective. New names enter the lexicon of everyday life: Florida Rep. Allen West “rocks the house.” Rick Perry, governor of Texas, calls federal government an intrusive, overbearing “monster.” As Rand Paul said in his CPAC speech this past week, the Founding Fathers knew the difference between “a republic and a democracy.” Possibly nature does as well.

As Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune, something happened to Apple's (AAPL) share price Thursday afternoon that has investors still scratching their heads. “The stock, which had been sailing along near its all-time high of $360 a share, started to drop at about 1 p.m. Then, at 1:39, it collapsed, falling from $355 to $349 in the space of four minutes. In all, $10 billion got shaved off Apple's market capitalization before the stock began to recover.”

It bears a strikingly resemblance to the flash crash of May 6, 2010, he writes. But that shook the entire market. This one belonged to Apple.

Nerd avatar Steve Jobs’s Apple Corporation is of vast symbolic importance to the American tempo and temperament. It is to a generation just this year turning 65 what General Motors was to the Eisenhower generation when Charles Wilson, president of GM in 1953, declared before Congress that “as General Motors goes, so goes the nation.”

Flash crashes are not Acts of God. They respond to subtleties in the culture which are kept in denial then manifest all at once, like a neurosis. Three have manifested this month which will fully change America: The Ron Paul Disorder - The CPAC convention metabolizes a new political perspective, possibly a new party to replace one of the old ones; The Amy Chua Disorder - We have seen the millennium and it speaks Chinese. The Chinese have arrived and they bring again a work ethic. Good bye soccer mom mentality in which everyone gets a little trophy, anyone can go to Yale and just anybody can be secretary of state. Once again we will have to work for it; The Sarah Palin Disorder - She has hired chief of staff. Get ready.

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