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Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Idiot, Yet Not Intellectual

This is a guest post by one of my internet pals, “Joe from Denver”


It was with great surprise that I discovered that I would be quoted on the back of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s forthcoming book. Firstly, because I have no intention of purchasing this book; secondly, because even if I did happen to read it, I would not want my name to be publicly associated with it.

I don’t want anyone reading this to think I am dismissing Mr. Taleb’s work out of hand (I have read The Black Swan, and many of his articles); I hope, also, that readers are not of the belief that I am criticizing Taleb because he is better-known or wealthier than I am.

That said, it seems Mr. Taleb overestimates his intellectual ability. Though he may think otherwise, it’s hard to believe that anyone will be reading his works in one-hundred years, or even fifty, except as an exercise in curiosity.

For instance, Taleb’s tendency toward gimmicky catchphrases is so often the hallmark of a charlatan: instead of using conventional descriptors such as “strong,” or “durable,” Taleb creates the concept of Antifragile, which Taleb claims to be a novel concept. To justify this, Taleb unleashes a barrage of technical terms to bamboozle the uninitiated — but those of us familiar with phoneys are harder to fool.

I won’t dwell any longer on Nassim Nicholas Taleb, except to say that I hope these words find their way onto the back cover of Taleb’s next book.

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Reminiscing

On a Sydney beach in 1984, a fat little boy was playing with a plastic bucket and spade, when the sea encroached, taking the bucket and spade with it as it retreated.

The little boy was distraught.

Luckily for him, there was a much fitter individual — a lanky girl from Japan — in the vicinity of this occurrence. The Japanese girl dived into the ocean, and retrieved the bucket and spade before the ocean took possession; she returned the objects to the fat little boy, who had to be goaded by his mother to thank the lanky girl for her actions.

That little boy was me.

I wasn’t exactly forthcoming with gratitude that day (perhaps, as I was from “the bush,” and had never laid eyes on a Japanese person before, I was taken aback by her appearance), which remains something of an embarrassment, despite the relatively trivial nature of the incident. This post is to rectify that.

So, to the girl who saved my bucket and spade, wherever you are, I say again:

THANK YOU!

A Problem

Well, the mathematical community doesn’t seem to have a problem with this, but I do. Here it is:

0! = 1! = 1

(For those readers who aren’t mathematically-inclined, the ! symbol indicates the factorial function.)

Discarding the third part of our equation, we have:

0! = 1!

Now, we discard the factorial symbol:

0 = 1

I’ll leave it to the reader to explore the reasons given for this apparent absurdity, but I have to say that I find the arguments for this to be unconvincing.

Heartache Over Elton John

I was poking about in The Reject Shop the other day, when a familiar tune from my childhood burst onto the in-store speakers. This song was Heartache All Over the World by Elton John. According to Wikipedia, Elton has described the song as ‘the worst he has ever recorded,’ which I felt to be unfair. Here, then, is an analysis of the lyrics:

Well I’m running away
From this house on the hill
There’s a devil inside
Sitting on the window sill

This first verse is somewhat Poe-esque, but only makes sense in light of subsequent verses.

And it’s a wild Friday night
And I’m all on my own
I knocked on every door in town
There ain’t one little girl that’s home

Here the subject is revealed as an incel. This second verse explains the first: the devil sitting on the window sill turns out to be unfulfilled sexual desires.

And everybody’s got a date
And the ones that ain’t are tired
What the hell do you do on a weekend honey
When your heart’s on fire

A lament over the sexual success of the subject’s rivals.

And you can go from Tokyo to Rome
Looking for a girl
But it looks to me like the weekend means
Heartache all over the world

Here we see a dramatic escalation of the subject’s anguish. Having already taken the extreme step of knocking on every door in town in search of gratification, the subject takes the search global. This is true desperation.

Girls, girls, girls
Have pity on me
Oh it looks to me like the weekend means
Heartache, heartache all over the world

Now things are going from slightly scary to pathetic. Asking for a “pity root” — SAD!

He’s got lipstick on his collar
She’s got fishnets on her legs
I’m at home and I’ve got nothing
Just a cold and aching head

More resentment at the sexual success of others. This bloke would be all over the Manosphere today.

There must be something dirty
Just blame it on the magazines
Don’t read that trash it’ll drive you crazy
`Cause the cops invade your dreams

Here we find our subject has given up on the idea of three-dimensional satisfaction, and has decided to honk the pud instead. But our subject is burdened by the possibility that the cops are going to burst in and take a truncheon to bis boner. The devil on the window sill wins.


Thus ends our lyrical analysis of Heartache All Over The World.

Musically, Heartache is a fairly standard 1980s pop tune, with some amiable guitar riffs and keyboard work. Elton’s vocal performance is solid, gradually gaining momentum throughout each verse. Overall, it’s a nicely-crafted track, which certainly doesn’t deserve the opprobrium from it has received from critics, or Elton himself.

Ⓒ Universal Music Publishing Group

Michael Jackson Was Right

Twenty years ago, Jackson released a song called ‘They Don’t Care About Us’. Exactly who Jackson — an African-American who had infamously bleached his skin white — meant by “us” seemed something of a mystery at the time, given that Jackson himself was a mega-rich celebrity living in the fantasy world of the Neverland ranch, far removed from the everyday struggles of Black America.

Last year, however, I discovered who Jackson was talking about: me.

On 26 July, a eugenicist psychopath murdered 19 disabled people in a care home in Sagamihara, Japan. The reaction to this around the globe to this was…nothing. Nobody gave a shit. Social media was silent. Japanese authorities didn’t release the names of the victims. 

Now, this universe is a cold, dark, empty, and lonely place; but at least we have some sense of being-ness, a sense that our bodies and minds are a tiny bit of something-ness amongst the void. These people were denied that.

This episode is a disturbing one for people with disabilities, a reminder that the “normal” are utterly indifferent to our fate. We are nothing.

Sorry Folks, But Matt Bruenig Is Actually A Fascist

OK, maybe I’m indulging in a little hypabowl. But the term ‘anticapitalist, but socially conservative Catholic’ is a descriptor that fits nicely with historical figures such as Franco and Salazar.

We have been informed by several dudebros and weirdos that the Bruenig family’s hostility toward women’s reproductive rights is no big deal, because Liz Bruenig is a “nice person”. Now I’m not one to take the opinions of podcast clowns and internet fucktards seriously, but this has to be one of the lamest arguments ever put forward by anyone. I have little doubt that most of the reactionary housewives in Alabama will happily bake you a pumpkin pie, but THAT IS NOT THE POINT.

I would suggest that Americans who believe in reproductive rights steer well clear of these Papists. 

Neoliberalism: A History

1970s: It’ll be great!

1980s: Look, just give it more time.

1990s: SEE!?!

2008: Governments ruined it.

2017: Neoliberalism? Never heard of it…