The other day, a natural healing practitioner explained the strategy used by a tapeworm to prosper. A tapeworm, she said, injected a chemical into its host that triggered a craving by the host for what the tapeworm wished for its dinner. By managing it’s hosts desire, a tapeworm manipulated its host to set aside self-interest and please its parasite. And so the tapeworm proceeded to consume its host’s energy and health, with the host doing most of the work.
The story of how a tapeworm parasitically eats away at its ecosystem came at a moment when the math lover in me was having an adverse reaction to the description of America as the new Roman Empire that seems to be inspired by the recent occupation of Iraq. The investment economics of American imperial conquest work more along the lines of the tapeworm than of the Romans.