Re: Weights and Measurements
Stross is a completely awesome writer of entertaining and thought-provoking fiction.
As for economics, I have yet to be convinced that anyone understands economics. As a physicist, I know that fluid dynamics is really hard, and climate modelling even harder. Now try climate modelling with particles (people) that make their own decisions about how they are going to behave, based on the conditions in which they find themselves. You really think you can do that?
Most economists I've talked to don't know enough maths to recognise an (impossibly?) hard problem when they see it. They just catalogue what's (mostly not) worked in the past and suggest on that basis things that might work in the future. Like one would expect,they mostly don't work. But what hey, sometimes you luck out, and then you're famous and influential and enjoying tidbits from the tables of the seriously rich.
To the extent that they are reminding us of the bits of history to remember rather than repeat, they're not entirely bad. Compared, say, to parasitic "professional managers" who claim that they don't need to know anything about the business activities that they are in charge of and the lives they fsck up.