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black swan

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This guy is a trip. Nassim Nicholas Taleb… He’s got a book out that I’ll likely buy, and I most definitely remember the alluring New Yorker article about him by Malcolm Gladwell. He fancies himself something of a renaissance man, and I guess to a certain extent he is one, if one of a very peculiar sort.

But check this out from something on his site that he reminds us at length is definitely not a blog.

This brings me to my comparative discussion Benoit Mandelbrot/ Susan Sontag that I truncated on the day Sontag died. I met both on the very same day, in New York, in October 2001. At the BBC studio where we were interviewed (separately) about our books, Sontag was told that I dealt in “randomness” and developed in interest in talking to me. When she learned by looking at my bio on the dust jacket that I was “in markets”, she gave me the look as if I had killed her mother. She turned her back to me as I was in mid-sentence, leaving me to the discomfort of having to speak without audience. It feels extremely humiliating to be speaking to someone’s back; it felt like the worst, most demeaning insult I ever had in my life. I swallowed my pride and, as I had an afternoon to kill, I forced myself to go to B&N get a copy of her book. I forced myself to enjoy her style, in spite of the frustration, and, after 4 pages, I was able to find it charming –but I kept wondering & introspecting: had I not had witnessed closed-mindedness and abject manners, how would my appreciation of the text turn out to be? (Levantine patricians used to be taught that manners > acts; it is worse to be rude to someone than try to murder him.)

Probably yet another mark in Sontag’s favor. I’ve been on something of a Sontag kick lately, and this one warms the heart a bit…

A bit further in the same post (not a blog so it can’t be a post), we get this lovely nugget:

My Stand Againt Atheism. This, and many other things explain why I just cannot understand atheism. I just cannot. If I were to take “rationality” to its limit, I would then have to treat the dead no differently from the unborn, those who came and left us in the same manner as those who do not exist yet. Otherwise I would be making the mistake of sunk costs [endowment effect]. I cannot & I just do not want to. Homo sum! I want to stay rational in the profane, not the sacred.]

Not really sure what this has to do with atheism/theism, but the “sunk costs” bit is rather fantastic bit, no?

Here’s the kicker: both excerpts are from a post entitled: Baudrillard-Give the Dead Some Respect-Against Atheism.

And finally, a paper that executes the closest thing to perfect-10 Inverse Sokal that I’ve ever seen.

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm

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