Quality 2, Friction

Note: This is a selection from Quality, a tdaxp series.

Photo Courtesy Despair.com

After a short review of my neoconservative-theoconservative post, Mark writes

And this is the fly in the ointment because in any forward strategy, like the one outlined very well by Dan, it isn’t simply your momentum that is the main variable but also your friction. You don’t get any higher in terms of friction than Richard ” The Prince of Darkness” Perle…unless of course you are Pat Robertson. And this axis, to the extent that it is perceived to exist as a powerful juggernaut, combines both.

Mark is adding “friction” to “direction” and “speed” as factors that determine whether a movement is winning or losing. Now, if we make a four-by-four square that looks at direction and speed, we get…


Fast Speed / Forward Direction is Blitzkrieg: the 1939 German Conquest of Poland and the 2002 Takedown of Senator Lott. Obviously, Fast Speed / Backward Direction Collapse was also shown in the same cases, but by the other side.

Slow Speed / Forward Direction is Methodical: the 1960-1968 Vietnamese/American defeat of the Viet Cong terrorists and the 1973-present assault on Roe v. Wade by pro-life activists. Obviously, Slow Speed / Backward Direction Erosion was also shown in the same cases, but by the other side.

Would it make sense to add “friction” to these categories? And what is “friction,” anyway?

Fear of Physics has a surprising readable introduction

Friction is the “evil” of all motion. No matter which direction something moves in, friction pulls it the other way. Move something left, friction pulls right. Move something up, friction pulls down. It appears as if nature has given us friction to stop us from moving anything.

Friction is actually a force that appears whenever two things rub against each other. Although two objects might look smooth, microscopically, they’re very rough and jagged.


As they slide against each other, their contact is anything BUT smooth. They both kind of grind and drag against each other. This is where friction comes from.

But friction is not all bad. In fact, it has a lot to do with life as we know it here on Earth. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to walk, sit in a chair, climb stairs, or use a mouse to surf the web. Everything would just keep slipping and falling all over the place.

Wikipedia writes

In physics, friction is the resistive force that occurs when two surfaces travel along each other when forced together. It causes physical deformation and heat buildup.

Physical deformation is associated with friction. While this can be beneficial, as in polishing, it is often a problem, as the materials are worn away, and may no longer hold the specified tolerances.

The work done by friction can translate into deformation and heat that in the long run may affect the surface’s specification and the coefficient of friction itself. Friction can in some cases cause solid materials to melt.

So, friction…

  • Occurs when two things interact
  • Slows things down
  • Enables complex movement
  • Deforms objects
  • Generates heat

First note that friction happens only when there are two things interacting. “Direction” and “speed” are properties of just one thing. Mathematically, direction and speed are components of a single vector. In a Semantic Network, direction and speed are attributes of a single entity. Visually


But to add friction, we need a second entity


And voila — friction!

[Note how similar friction is to Quality, but that is a post for another time… ]

Friction is not an attribute of a single enemy. It is a quality or a relationship between two entities

With that established, the other parts of Friction are naturally derived. Friction is like a chain holding tow prison escapees. It slows things down because the men want to go in different direction. It enables complex movement because the chain enables them to find more leverage. It deforms objects because weak points of contact are eroded away, like the skin where the chain is clasped. It generates heat from the contact.

All of the aspects of friction have political analog. The frictional “deformation” of the Democrat Party against George Bush, and earlier of the Republican Party against Bill Clinton, are well known. Certainly, such friction has been useful to those administrations! But to close this post in a reasonable amount of typing, a quick word of [political] heat, which is always created by [political] friction:

Heat is a measure of agitation. Increasing the heat in a network will either change the temperature of the phase. Temperature is measured in degrees. A network with no heat has no temperature — each atom is content in its own isolation


If we add some heat, then we increase the degree of the network. In the following example, the network has a degree of “2” because each node is connected to two others


[So one way to end al Qaeda would be to “chill” it – to temperature change it – but that is a post for another time… ]

Now lets add some more heat — the degree of the network increases slightly to 2.5


Besides temperature change, there is also phase change. A phase change is a change in kind for the network. For instance, say that because of increased agitation things “heat up” and our Node 4 becomes an enemy of the other nodes. Heat is added, the degree does not change, but the phase does. In the same way, adding heat to a 32 F block of ice doesn’t increase the degree, but it does transform it into a 32 F puddle of water


[So another way to end al Qaeda is to vaporize it – to phase change it – but that is a post for another time… ]

Of course, another definition of temperature is a “property which governs the transfer of thermal energy, or heat, between one system and another.” So Temperature is most meaningful when two networks of different temperature combine. But that is a post for another time…

In conclusion: it does not make sense to add “friction” to “speed” and “direction,” but it would make sense to add “temperature”

But again, that is a post for another time…


Quality, a tdaxp series, has five parts:
The First Part, Beauty
The Second Part, Friction
The Third Part, Seas
The Fourth Part, Inlets, Lakes, and Streams
The Fifth Part, The Magic Cloud