His Black Swansare high improbable, impactful events that we didn’t see coming. Among his examples are the World Wars, the rise of religions, of the internet, of Google, of Harry Potter and the September 11 attacks
1st coupla events were very predictable - former since 1870 & next since 632
latter mentioned are technological ( web ), trivial ( potter ) or burgeoning ( 9/11 - documentaries say something was brewing since attacks on east african embassy & warship in late '90s )
i'll go out on a limb & say :
- HIV cure in 20y
- limitless fusion power in 30y
- an american heavyweight regains undisputed crown by beating up ruskie in 100y
Taleb's arguments re: the "penny-shares" is that you can make much informed choices amongst them by having a better appreciation of what exposure they have to downside or upside risks.
On the issue of "highly improbable, impactful events", Taleb's point is that most major events are retrospectively predicted - can we post-hoc see the signals for WW2, 9/11 etc? Of course we can. Did we see them beforehand and act to prevent such events (or to protect ourselves from their impact, or indeed proft from them)? No
As for Harry Potter, artists, religions and all the other 'trival' aspects the point is that who wins here can are very impactful but very hard to predetermine, and also that the scale of their impact is unexpected beforehand. We can doddle along with village/tribe level beliefs and all of a sudden a religion can "explode" over a couple of decades/centuries to unprecedented sacel and influence.
And I find it hard to consider the Potter example trivial. The series of books has made the author a billionaire and both a publishing house and a film studio much more significant than they would be without them. Before this, noone was expecting a childrens book to be such an enormous seller. It changes the game in publishing...
Sort of like the impact of Usain Bolt, Paula Radcliffe etc
I'm now into (while taking a mid-book hiatus from The Collapse Of The Third Republic) the Simon Winchester work The Map That Changed the World, about stratigrapher William Smith. If Winchester's name is vaguely familiar that's because he wrote The Professor And The Madman about the creation of the OED.
I'm reading old Arthur Upfield mysteries. Upfield was the first Australian mystery novelist, beginning back in the late 20's. He was the inspiration for Tony Hillerman's series of Navajo detective books. Upfield's protagonist is a half white, half aboriginal who uses both cultural heritages to solve murders in the outback. The writing is antique in style and dripping with colonial racism but is a fun glimpse of the time and place.
And guess what? It's not a novel; it's non-fiction about a railroad job called The Innocent Man.
Makes it hard ever to trust the legal system again.
I couldn't put it down; fortunately that was the day it took me 12.5 hours to get from the Arkansas stadium to my house, so I had plenty of reading time on tiny planes that don't facilitate laptopability. (That's why the NCAA newsletter didn't come out Sunday night.)
I was reading a book about ships that have disappeared without a trace. Can't remember the name of the book. Interesting speculations about the probable causes but about half way through I realized that was the bottom line, we will never know what happened and threw it into my return to Library Book Fair donation box.
just finished reading two books on africa. dambisa moyo's "dead aid" and mahmood mamdani's "saviors and survivors" about the situation in darfur, which is not as what most of the mainstream media would have you believe.
"Havana Nocturne" by T.J. English its about how the Mafia gained complete control over the poor people in Cuba from the 40-50's very interesting and they had full and complete support from the US/Cuban Governments before Castro came on the scene.
gh wrote:I'm now into (while taking a mid-book hiatus from The Collapse Of The Third Republic) the Simon Winchester work The Map That Changed the World, about stratigrapher William Smith. If Winchester's name is vaguely familiar that's because he wrote The Professor And The Madman about the creation of the OED.
he also wrote a short but very interesting book on krakatoa and javanese society at the time...
I'm reading something a German wrote on the far east history in the early 20th century - mainly for honing my German reading but it's also great to know how occidental people think of the spell in history, being a Chinese as I am.
Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-1945, by Max Hastings, an excellent telling of the last year and a half or so of WWII in the Pacific theater.
By 1944 it was clear that Japan was going to lose, but many many thousands were yet to be killed and maimed on all sides before the Japanese actually surrendered. Hastings does a great job of discussing the macro side of the story (countries, political and military leaders, strategies, etc) while also looking at it from the perspective of the grunts on the ground/on the ships/in the subs/in the planes. Doesn't get lost in the minutia of discussing every maneuver by every company in every battle.
Currently I am a bit over half way through and can highly recommend it. Hastings has another similar book I have not yet read - Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 - that will soon make an appearance in the bad hammy household.
-Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World"; not particularly original in any way, but very sensible and--overall--surprisingly optimistic.
-Simon Ings's "The Eye: A Natural History" (this is a British edition; I think it's published in the US under a slightly different title); a genuinely fascinating study of an ability that is at once astonishing and taken-for-granted. I really enjoyed the overview of a wide range of (to me) new material. (A caveat: there was one small section that dealt with my area of specialty, and I was dismayed that it was very shallow. I'm not sure if hard-core scientists would say that about the rest of the book, but I honestly found the rest fascinating.)
Been into travel bum non-fiction lately. Just finished "God's Middle Finger" recently. Definitely killed any desire to travel to Sierra Madre and was pretty informative about the roots of the drug violence in Mexico.
Just about finished reading "Split Seconds" by Jackson Scholz (1927). I had heard that he was good writer and wanted to read something he wrote. It's a book of about ten short stories, each one about a college track and field coach and some of his athletes. It's a bit corny, but the writing is good.
Just finished a book called My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare. An inventive and entertaining read that juxtaposes William Shakespeare's life at age 18 with 1980's era doppelganger Willie Shakespeare Greenburg, a slacker grad student at UC Santa Cruz. Drugs taken by both allow for some interesting cross pollination between the two lives. Lots of sex too. Supposedly the first of a trilogy. Highly recommended.