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Gleick’s ‘The Information’: An intellectual challenge that I don’t always overcome

Is the U.S. military’s (non-doctrinal) wartime goal of “stability” a Quixotic quest?


Much of Gleick’s book, The Information, is over my head. I am not very good at arithmetic, let alone math. So I just skip a lot of the equations he offers up and take his conclusions about them as correct.

But one of the points I understood and liked was about the disruptive nature of life. “Living things,” by themselves, are “unstable,” he writes. “In other words, the organism sucks orderliness from its surroundings.”

So, a military question: Is the U.S. military’s (non-doctrinal) wartime goal of “stability” a quixotic quest?

While you ponder that, here’s another comment in the book that I don’t understand — but I like the poetry of it. “At every given moment, there is only a fine layer between the ‘trivial’ and the impossible. Mathematical discoveries are made in this layer.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at

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