The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:46 pm

protagonist wrote:I guess I am robust, then. At least that is something. I wish I was antifragile and made money.


Or perhaps you are antifragile in preparation to a Black Swan, and robust to the Black Swan when it happens.

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:05 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:I guess I am robust, then. At least that is something. I wish I was antifragile and made money.


Or perhaps you are antifragile in preparation to a Black Swan, and robust to the Black Swan when it happens.

Victoria


Well, I didn't lose money in the long run, but I did in the short run, and I didn't make money either........ That's not an antifragile result, is it?
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Fallible » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:14 pm

VictoriaF wrote:...
Black Swans happen, and you cannot do anything about them. That is, you cannot do anything about the Black Swans. You can do something about yourself; you can make yourself antifragile. You cannot possibly know which Black Swan will land in your backyard, but if you are antifragile you have a better chance of dealing with her. [...Victoria


The more I read this thread (and I can't stop) the more confusing it seems and the more certain I am that it will spoil the book for me. But I have to ask: does Taleb take up happiness, the general feeling of contentment and well-being, the natural resilience to adversity that is largely inherited, or does he mention optimism, which Kahneman says is largely inherited? Both play huge roles in an individual's response to minor or major shocks.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:27 pm

Fallible wrote:The more I read this thread (and I can't stop) the more confusing it seems and the more certain I am that it will spoil the book for me. But I have to ask: does Taleb take up happiness, the general feeling of contentment and well-being, the natural resilience to adversity that is largely inherited, or does he mention optimism, which Kahneman says is largely inherited? Both play huge roles in an individual's response to minor or major shocks.


Our responses to stressors are as you say, likely mostly inherited. Genetics define a range with limits, but training and experience can help an individual optimize his behavior within his limited range. Just as most of us can learn to play an instrument pretty well through years of hard work, but some of us will play much better than others and very few will ever become a Mozart, I would imagine that we can also learn to optimize our individual capacity for resiliency through training and experience (using the word "resiliency" loosely, not the way Taleb might use it, since I have not read the book).
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby market timer » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:55 pm

hsv_climber wrote:Imagine "Fat Nassim" and "Dr.Timer". Both are 50% stocks / 50% bonds. "Fat Nassim" is 50% in T-bills, but "Dr. Timer" is 50% in I-bonds.

Who is more antifragile during Flash Crash of 2010 and market crash of 1987? If you know the story behind Taleb's success then you know that "Fat Nassim" would put his 50% of T-bills into stocks or other risky assets on those crash days, so crashes made him richer; thus, stronger and "antifragile".
OTOH, "Dr.Timer" won't be able to move the funds from TreasuryDirect into his brokerage account fast enough to benefit from it. So, while he did not sell, crashes did not make him richer or stronger, he stayed the same. That makes him resilient or robust. But not antifragile.

Thus, by Taleb's definitions, I-bonds offer robustness, not antifragility.

Given the numerous examples of things in Antifragile that are fragile in one context and antifragile in another, I think it's clear that Taleb regards fragility as a property with respect to some stressor. I prefer the vega (or ex ante / second moment) definition of fragility, alluded to in one of the footnotes, as opposed to ex post measures. (For example. a call option is antifragile with respect to share price uncertainty, but is not robust to unexpected declines in share price.) Under the vega definition of fragility, EE bonds are clearly antifragile with respect to nominal interest rate uncertainty, and I bonds are antifragile with respect to real interest rate uncertainty, due to their redemption options. They will be fragile/robust in some contexts, such as when immediate liquidity is required (your example).
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby hsv_climber » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:23 pm

market timer wrote:Given the numerous examples of things in Antifragile that are fragile in one context and antifragile in another, I think it's clear that Taleb regards fragility as a property with respect to some stressor. I prefer the vega (or ex ante / second moment) definition of fragility, alluded to in one of the footnotes, as opposed to ex post measures. (For example. a call option is antifragile with respect to share price uncertainty, but is not robust to unexpected declines in share price.) Under the vega definition of fragility, EE bonds are clearly antifragile with respect to nominal interest rate uncertainty, and I bonds are antifragile with respect to real interest rate uncertainty, due to their redemption options. They will be fragile/robust in some contexts, such as when immediate liquidity is required (your example).


Good points about different contexts.
But I don't think I/EE-bonds would ever be antifragile. By Taleb's definition, antifragile means gains under some stress.
Exact definition is "Anti-fragility goes beyond robustness; it means that something does not merely withstand a shock but actually improves because of it.". But I-bonds won't gain anything extra with rising real interest rates, they'd just the same. That is the property of "robustness". Shorting treasury bonds would be antifragile with rising rates. I really can't think of an example that would make I-bonds either antifragile or fragile (maybe except higher taxes or US default in the future?), but they are "robust" in almost every situation. And that is a very good property to have as well and that is what makes them useful in the portfolio.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby pastafarian » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:34 pm

gd wrote:I'm only on page 70, but he's already bloviated thoroughly on this point. [snip] He's just chosen to write a book focusing and expounding on it. And bloviate. Lots and lots of bloviation...
Yes he does, but apparently that's all part of his awesomeness. :? A keen grasp of the obvious.

hsv-climber wrote:I really don't understand why should we have a cult of a person and then apply our personal investment...
Yeah, the adulation in this thread leaves me shaking my head. Then again I don't get the appeal of Ayn Rand either. :wink:
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby grok87 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:56 pm

hsv_climber wrote:
market timer wrote:Given the numerous examples of things in Antifragile that are fragile in one context and antifragile in another, I think it's clear that Taleb regards fragility as a property with respect to some stressor. I prefer the vega (or ex ante / second moment) definition of fragility, alluded to in one of the footnotes, as opposed to ex post measures. (For example. a call option is antifragile with respect to share price uncertainty, but is not robust to unexpected declines in share price.) Under the vega definition of fragility, EE bonds are clearly antifragile with respect to nominal interest rate uncertainty, and I bonds are antifragile with respect to real interest rate uncertainty, due to their redemption options. They will be fragile/robust in some contexts, such as when immediate liquidity is required (your example).


Good points about different contexts.
But I don't think I/EE-bonds would ever be antifragile. By Taleb's definition, antifragile means gains under some stress.
Exact definition is "Anti-fragility goes beyond robustness; it means that something does not merely withstand a shock but actually improves because of it.". But I-bonds won't gain anything extra with rising real interest rates, they'd just the same. That is the property of "robustness". Shorting treasury bonds would be antifragile with rising rates. I really can't think of an example that would make I-bonds either antifragile or fragile (maybe except higher taxes or US default in the future?), but they are "robust" in almost every situation. And that is a very good property to have as well and that is what makes them useful in the portfolio.

I would say IBonds are anti-fragile to hyperinflation- i.e. they will be the likely be the winner in that scenario.
TIPs may or may not do well. It depends on what happens to real rates. Tips real rates might rise in a hyper-inflation scenario if there is suspicion that inflation is being understated/underestimated.
cheers,
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:53 am

[quote="pastafarian"Yeah, the adulation in this thread leaves me shaking my head. Then again I don't get the appeal of Ayn Rand either. :wink:[/quote]

Matt Taibbi seemed to get the entire gist of Ayn Rand, reducing it to the following in Griftopia:
“To sum it all up, the [Ayn] Rand belief system looks like this:
1. Facts are facts: things can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong, as determined by reason.
2. According to my reasoning, I am absolutely right.
3. Charity is immoral.
4. Pay for your own f***ing schools.”
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby grok87 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:42 am

protagonist wrote:[quote="pastafarian"Yeah, the adulation in this thread leaves me shaking my head. Then again I don't get the appeal of Ayn Rand either. :wink:


Matt Taibbi seemed to get the entire gist of Ayn Rand, reducing it to the following in Griftopia:
“To sum it all up, the [Ayn] Rand belief system looks like this:
1. Facts are facts: things can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong, as determined by reason.
2. According to my reasoning, I am absolutely right.
3. Charity is immoral.
4. Pay for your own f***ing schools.”

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

:)
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby gd » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:41 am

pastafarian wrote:.... :? A keen grasp of the obvious.

Unfortunately, vast portions of our species are oblivious to the obvious. And everybody to something. His books are interesting to me because they provoke thought by waving around a lot of stuff I haven't thought about, making connections I haven't made. In some cases the value is the mental exercise of figuring out why I don't agree with him. His points are not necessarily (if ever) novel, but they are underappreciated, and if this interests you he does a nice job of beating them to death. I find it handy to have a tablet nearby (his book is hardback from library) and every few pages find myself looking up some passing historical trivia-- last night it was Maxwell's 1868 "On Governors" paper. I suspect I'll get through about half the book, return it to the library, and check it out next year to finish. Or not.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby hsv_climber » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:55 pm

grok87 wrote:I would say IBonds are anti-fragile to hyperinflation- i.e. they will be the likely be the winner in that scenario.
TIPs may or may not do well. It depends on what happens to real rates. Tips real rates might rise in a hyper-inflation scenario if there is suspicion that inflation is being understated/underestimated.
cheers,


I'd say that you are forgetting about taxes. Lets say there is a hyperinflation of 25% / year. Don't forget that you are keeping I-bonds in a taxable account and the only real value you are going to get from them is when you sell or at the end of a 30-year period. But that is a taxable event. So, your huge gains will be taxable; and with 0% real rate, you are guaranteed to lose a lot of original purchasing power of the money that you've invested.
OTOH, TIPS, which are hold in RothIRA, would allow you to keep your purchasing power even with 0% real coupon.

Things that are anti-fragile and do really well in hyperinflation scenario are real goods, like gold, metals, oil, real estate, etc. where prices rise with inflation, but no taxable event is automatically triggered.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby grok87 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:54 pm

hsv_climber wrote:
grok87 wrote:I would say IBonds are anti-fragile to hyperinflation- i.e. they will be the likely be the winner in that scenario.
TIPs may or may not do well. It depends on what happens to real rates. Tips real rates might rise in a hyper-inflation scenario if there is suspicion that inflation is being understated/underestimated.
cheers,


I'd say that you are forgetting about taxes. Lets say there is a hyperinflation of 25% / year. Don't forget that you are keeping I-bonds in a taxable account and the only real value you are going to get from them is when you sell or at the end of a 30-year period. But that is a taxable event. So, your huge gains will be taxable; and with 0% real rate, you are guaranteed to lose a lot of original purchasing power of the money that you've invested.
OTOH, TIPS, which are hold in RothIRA, would allow you to keep your purchasing power even with 0% real coupon.

Things that are anti-fragile and do really well in hyperinflation scenario are real goods, like gold, metals, oil, real estate, etc. where prices rise with inflation, but no taxable event is automatically triggered.

You raise a good point. i don't have access to a Roth though. I guess one way to look at it is if all else fails and i have little other income, perhaps my tax rate will be low enough that it won't matter. So sort of a hedge on future poverty I guess...
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:23 pm

grok87 wrote:You raise a good point. i don't have access to a Roth though. I guess one way to look at it is if all else fails and i have little other income, perhaps my tax rate will be low enough that it won't matter. So sort of a hedge on future poverty I guess...


I was just discussing this "hedging on future poverty" thing with a frequent poster. The best hedge on future poverty is to stop thinking Southern California and the Riviera, and start thinking South America, Asia, etc. You don't know how nice it can be until you have tried it. I live like a king by a windsurfing beach on a Caribbean island of Venezuela for less than $1000/month (upper limit estimate) to escape New England winters. What I save on heating costs alone in 4 months (plus rental income from my MA home ), funds long music education vacations in France in the summer and keeps my annual retirement budget well below SWR limits, despite the fact that I'm no Warren Buffett, and my life in Massachusetts is hardly spartan. Asset allocation can go just so far when you are spending your money and nothing seems to safely and reliably beat inflation. If things really hit the fan and the stock market drops 95% I could move there full-time and live well on under $10K/yr, windsurfing daily, eating fresh fish dinners, etc. Being anti-fragile means thinking out of the box. I don't know if Taleb does that or not, or if he over-complicates what seems to me to be glaringly simple solutions. I'll read the book someday perhaps.

And when Chavez nationalizes my condo and moves in 24 Venezuelans, you will all have the last laugh. But whatever. All the world is but a stage.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby gatorking » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:35 pm

I recommend reading the book "resilience" http://resiliencethebook.com/ It seems to cover the same ground as Anti-Fragile (which I haven't read) but with the advantage of not being written by Taleb. :)
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby grok87 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:43 pm

protagonist wrote:
grok87 wrote:You raise a good point. i don't have access to a Roth though. I guess one way to look at it is if all else fails and i have little other income, perhaps my tax rate will be low enough that it won't matter. So sort of a hedge on future poverty I guess...


I was just discussing this "hedging on future poverty" thing with a frequent poster. The best hedge on future poverty is to stop thinking Southern California and the Riviera, and start thinking South America, Asia, etc. You don't know how nice it can be until you have tried it. I live like a king by a windsurfing beach on a Caribbean island of Venezuela for less than $1000/month (upper limit estimate) to escape New England winters. What I save on heating costs alone in 4 months (plus rental income from my MA home ), funds long music education vacations in France in the summer and keeps my annual retirement budget well below SWR limits, despite the fact that I'm no Warren Buffett, and my life in Massachusetts is hardly spartan. Asset allocation can go just so far when you are spending your money and nothing seems to safely and reliably beat inflation. If things really hit the fan and the stock market drops 95% I could move there full-time and live well on under $10K/yr, windsurfing daily, eating fresh fish dinners, etc. Being anti-fragile means thinking out of the box. I don't know if Taleb does that or not, or if he over-complicates what seems to me to be glaringly simple solutions. I'll read the book someday perhaps.

And when Chavez nationalizes my condo and moves in 24 Venezuelans, you will all have the last laugh. But whatever. All the world is but a stage.

I guess I'm not getting the concept of someone wanting to rent your house in Massachusetts just for the winter (4 months).
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:30 am

grok87 wrote:
protagonist wrote:
grok87 wrote:You raise a good point. i don't have access to a Roth though. I guess one way to look at it is if all else fails and i have little other income, perhaps my tax rate will be low enough that it won't matter. So sort of a hedge on future poverty I guess...


I was just discussing this "hedging on future poverty" thing with a frequent poster. The best hedge on future poverty is to stop thinking Southern California and the Riviera, and start thinking South America, Asia, etc. You don't know how nice it can be until you have tried it. I live like a king by a windsurfing beach on a Caribbean island of Venezuela for less than $1000/month (upper limit estimate) to escape New England winters. What I save on heating costs alone in 4 months (plus rental income from my MA home ), funds long music education vacations in France in the summer and keeps my annual retirement budget well below SWR limits, despite the fact that I'm no Warren Buffett, and my life in Massachusetts is hardly spartan. Asset allocation can go just so far when you are spending your money and nothing seems to safely and reliably beat inflation. If things really hit the fan and the stock market drops 95% I could move there full-time and live well on under $10K/yr, windsurfing daily, eating fresh fish dinners, etc. Being anti-fragile means thinking out of the box. I don't know if Taleb does that or not, or if he over-complicates what seems to me to be glaringly simple solutions. I'll read the book someday perhaps.

And when Chavez nationalizes my condo and moves in 24 Venezuelans, you will all have the last laugh. But whatever. All the world is but a stage.

I guess I'm not getting the concept of someone wanting to rent your house in Massachusetts just for the winter (4 months).


Me neither. But that is part of the point. (smiling) The huge financial savings dwarfs just the fact that I don't have to be there until the flowers pop out.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:31 am

protagonist wrote:
grok87 wrote:
protagonist wrote:
grok87 wrote:You raise a good point. i don't have access to a Roth though. I guess one way to look at it is if all else fails and i have little other income, perhaps my tax rate will be low enough that it won't matter. So sort of a hedge on future poverty I guess...


I was just discussing this "hedging on future poverty" thing with a frequent poster. The best hedge on future poverty is to stop thinking Southern California and the Riviera, and start thinking South America, Asia, etc. You don't know how nice it can be until you have tried it. I live like a king by a windsurfing beach on a Caribbean island of Venezuela for less than $1000/month (upper limit estimate) to escape New England winters. What I save on heating costs alone in 4 months (plus rental income from my MA home ), funds long music education vacations in France in the summer and keeps my annual retirement budget well below SWR limits, despite the fact that I'm no Warren Buffett, and my life in Massachusetts is hardly spartan. Asset allocation can go just so far when you are spending your money and nothing seems to safely and reliably beat inflation. If things really hit the fan and the stock market drops 95% I could move there full-time and live well on under $10K/yr, windsurfing daily, eating fresh fish dinners, etc. Being anti-fragile means thinking out of the box. I don't know if Taleb does that or not, or if he over-complicates what seems to me to be glaringly simple solutions. I'll read the book someday perhaps.

And when Chavez nationalizes my condo and moves in 24 Venezuelans, you will all have the last laugh. But whatever. All the world is but a stage.

I guess I'm not getting the concept of someone wanting to rent your house in Massachusetts just for the winter (4 months).


Me neither. But that is part of the point. (smiling) The huge financial savings dwarfs just the fact that I don't have to be there until the flowers pop out and I can wear sandals.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby JMacDonald » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:02 pm

Here is a review of the book in the NY Times today:
A reader could easily run out of adjectives to describe Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.” The first ones that come to mind are: maddening, bold, repetitious, judgmental, intemperate, erudite, reductive, shrewd, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, provocative, pompous, penetrating, perspicacious and pretentious.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/books ... ?ref=books
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:17 pm

JMacDonald wrote:Here is a review of the book in the NY Times today:
A reader could easily run out of adjectives to describe Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.” The first ones that come to mind are: maddening, bold, repetitious, judgmental, intemperate, erudite, reductive, shrewd, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, provocative, pompous, penetrating, perspicacious and pretentious.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/books ... ?ref=books


Hi Joe,

Thank you for the link. Don't you think that the list of adjectives you cited is more extensive than most other books can claim?

Victoria
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby JMacDonald » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:40 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
JMacDonald wrote:Here is a review of the book in the NY Times today:
A reader could easily run out of adjectives to describe Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.” The first ones that come to mind are: maddening, bold, repetitious, judgmental, intemperate, erudite, reductive, shrewd, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, provocative, pompous, penetrating, perspicacious and pretentious.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/books ... ?ref=books


Hi Joe,

Thank you for the link. Don't you think that the list of adjectives you cited is more extensive than most other books can claim?

Victoria

Hi Victoria,
I figure the reviewer must have been reading this conversation given wide range of opinions on Mr. Taleb here and had to use the thesaurus for help. I found your review of his book signing interesting. I go to book signings here on the left coast when someone I am interested in comes to town. Maybe Mr. Taleb will be in this area on his book tour.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:44 pm

JMacDonald wrote: I go to book signings here on the left coast when someone I am interested in comes to town. Maybe Mr. Taleb will be in this area on his book tour.


You may want to check calendars of the bookstores in your area. The last time I looked, Taleb's website listed only the initial events in NYC and Philadelphia.

Victoria
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby JMacDonald » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:58 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
JMacDonald wrote: I go to book signings here on the left coast when someone I am interested in comes to town. Maybe Mr. Taleb will be in this area on his book tour.


You may want to check calendars of the bookstores in your area. The last time I looked, Taleb's website listed only the initial events in NYC and Philadelphia.

Victoria

I checked to see if there was a schedule for his book tour, but I couldn't find anything. Here are the two places that I have been to for book signings:

Los Angeles Main Library: http://www.lfla.org/aloud/upcoming.php

Vroman's Bookstore started in 1894: http://www.vromansbookstore.com/event
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:05 pm

JMacDonald wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
JMacDonald wrote: I go to book signings here on the left coast when someone I am interested in comes to town. Maybe Mr. Taleb will be in this area on his book tour.


You may want to check calendars of the bookstores in your area. The last time I looked, Taleb's website listed only the initial events in NYC and Philadelphia.

Victoria

I checked to see if there was a schedule for his book tour, but I couldn't find anything. Here are the two places that I have been to for book signings:

Los Angeles Main Library: http://www.lfla.org/aloud/upcoming.php

Vroman's Bookstore started in 1894: http://www.vromansbookstore.com/event


Here is a link to Taleb's schedule. He has University of Chicago there. Perhaps, he will come to UCLA?

Victoria
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby JMacDonald » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:14 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
JMacDonald wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
JMacDonald wrote: I go to book signings here on the left coast when someone I am interested in comes to town. Maybe Mr. Taleb will be in this area on his book tour.


You may want to check calendars of the bookstores in your area. The last time I looked, Taleb's website listed only the initial events in NYC and Philadelphia.

Victoria

I checked to see if there was a schedule for his book tour, but I couldn't find anything. Here are the two places that I have been to for book signings:

Los Angeles Main Library: http://www.lfla.org/aloud/upcoming.php

Vroman's Bookstore started in 1894: http://www.vromansbookstore.com/event


Here is a link to Taleb's schedule. He has University of Chicago there. Perhaps, he will come to UCLA?

Victoria


Thanks.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby grok87 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:29 pm

JMacDonald wrote:Here is a review of the book in the NY Times today:
A reader could easily run out of adjectives to describe Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.” The first ones that come to mind are: maddening, bold, repetitious, judgmental, intemperate, erudite, reductive, shrewd, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, provocative, pompous, penetrating, perspicacious and pretentious.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/books ... ?ref=books


Thanks for the link to the ny times review. I read it. I then went back and read the wsj review. I agree with the wsj review more.

Incidentally I saw the hobbit movie this weekend. I read the ny times review. I also read the wsj review. I agree with the wsj review more.

I think the parallels between the hobbit movie and anti-fragile are interesting. Both works have flaws. Both could have used more editing. Both are the works of people with perhaps somewhat overly large egos (note re the hobbit I'm talking about Peter Jackson not JRR Tolkien whose name will " shine like the stars for all eternity").  But I think both are interesting engrossing works. I read the ny times a lot and think its reporting is generally good. But I think its cultural reviews suffer from its self-perceived role as THE arbiter of high culture. I wonder what the NY times critics would have made of Wagner's operas or Beethoven's symphonies when they were first written and performed. I imagine the NY times critics would have said, "overly long, pompous works by composers with oversized egos..."
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby james22 » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:35 pm

I’m not trying to mock [Rand's detractors] here – [they are] just repeating an old propaganda line that was hatched by Rand’s opponents – but I have to ask the “adults” who claim they outgrew Rand exactly what earth-shattering insight they have learned against her solution to the problem of universals? Against her solution to the is-ought problem? To her foundation of knowledge in the axiomatic validity of sense perception? To her theory of the locus of free will? How about her theory of aesthetics?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/20 ... mself-out/

On topic: I'm a Taleb fan, myself.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby pastafarian » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:20 pm

james22 wrote:I’m not trying to mock [Rand's detractors] here – [they are] just repeating an old propaganda line that was hatched by Rand’s opponents – but I have to ask the “adults” who claim they outgrew Rand exactly what earth-shattering insight they have learned against her solution to the problem of universals? Against her solution to the is-ought problem? To her foundation of knowledge in the axiomatic validity of sense perception? To her theory of the locus of free will? How about her theory of aesthetics?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/20 ... mself-out/

On topic: I'm a Taleb fan, myself.

I suppose you could have used quotation marks and attributed the remarks to Wendy...or not. At the risk of getting this thread locked, Rand is mind numbingly boring...and I simply could not force myself to get very far into her work. Geez the sheer physical heft of her work, to me at least, is truly a waste of trees. I felt the same way when reading the Communist Manifesto or assigned works of Soviet Literature in the genre known as "socialist realist" in the west. And while probably not fair or accurate, I'm inclined to lump acolytes of Rand into the same bin with those of L Ron Hubbard.

However, John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government truly resonates, as does Richard Bach's Stranger to the Ground...but we digress. :sharebeer
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:59 am

Here is a good article about Taleb This Is Not a Profile of Nassim Taleb. (Thank you, Paul.) It starts with
Tom Bartlett wrote:I had lunch with Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It didn't go well.


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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby hsv_climber » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:35 am

Out of curiosity - how many people in this thread, who adore Taleb, are not "middle class"?
And if you are "middle class" then you might want to re-read his book and pay attention to what Taleb thinks about you.
So, lets not forget that you are all Eddie Willers and Taleb hates you with passion (ok, maybe a bit less than he hates Dr. Ferris, aka Stiglitz).
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby hsv_climber » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:53 am

gatorking wrote:I recommend reading the book "resilience" http://resiliencethebook.com/ It seems to cover the same ground as Anti-Fragile (which I haven't read) but with the advantage of not being written by Taleb. :)


Thanks!
I've just browsed it on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Resilience-Why-Th ... 1451683804 and it looks like it presents the exact same material as "Antifragile", but without the Taleb's self-ego-promotion language.
I've added it to my reading list.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby EyeYield » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:59 pm

There's a review in the LA Times today: http://www.latimes.com/features/books/j ... 8941.story

Not having read any Taleb, but wanting to after I finish my current reading pile, could anyone offer an opinion on where to start? Would it be beneficial to start with Fooled By Randomness then proceed through The Black Swan first or just dive into Antifragile?
Thanks,
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:38 pm

EyeYield wrote:Would it be beneficial to start with Fooled By Randomness then proceed through The Black Swan first or just dive into Antifragile?


I recommend that you read in order: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile.

Fooled by Randomness is technically interesting, whereas The Black Swan is more philosophical. You have to like Taleb of Fooled by Randomness to be interested in his philosophy. Then you will read The Black Swan and think, "OK, Nassim, I get it, there are some extreme things that I have no inkling about and that may completely change my life. Is there anything I can do about them?" Once you internalize the question, you will look into Antifragile for the answers.

Good luck,

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby nisiprius » Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:33 pm

And where, in that sequence, would you recommend reading The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms?
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:58 pm

nisiprius wrote:And where, in that sequence, would you recommend reading The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms?


In my opinion, not before finishing The Black Swan. One has to get used to Taleb's way of thinking and know his background before reading his aphorisms.

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby EyeYield » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:30 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I recommend that you read in order: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile.

Fooled by Randomness is technically interesting, whereas The Black Swan is more philosophical. You have to like Taleb of Fooled by Randomness to be interested in his philosophy. Then you will read The Black Swan and think, "OK, Nassim, I get it, there are some extreme things that I have no inkling about and that may completely change my life. Is there anything I can do about them?" Once you internalize the question, you will look into Antifragile for the answers.

Good luck,

Victoria

Thanks Victoria, that's what I gathered from reading the excerpts. Looking forward to them and taking a break from general investing and retirement reading.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:00 pm

VictoriaF wrote: Then you will read The Black Swan and think, "OK, Nassim, I get it, there are some extreme things that I have no inkling about and that may completely change my life. Is there anything I can do about them?" Once you internalize the question, you will look into Antifragile for the answers.

Good luck,

Victoria



Hi, Victoria. As I have stated in posts above, I have never read Taleb, and certainly all the controversy here has made me curious. That said, your quote above seems to sum up pretty much what I have gleaned from these three pages of posts. But I DO get it without Nassim, that there are some extreme things that I have no inkling about that may completely change my life. I HAVE wondered what to do about them and I think I know the answers (to the limited extent that one can prepare), because the existence and critical effect of "black swans" seems fairly obvious to me (in life, the universe and everything), as do the potential solutions to dealing with them (to the limited extent that they exist). That seems fairly obvious. As well as hugely important, granted.

So what new substance can Taleb add to my understanding that would justify all that reading? I WANT to want to read him, but so far I am not that motivated by what I have learned from you and the posts above. It seems like it may be much ado about the obvious.

Please try to convince me that all that reading of Taleb might teach me something new , perhaps by telling me some insight that Taleb expresses that I (and many others) don't already know and haven't internalized.

By the way, though not technically a "black swan", I assume we are all going to die, yet none of us know when or how. If you have ever come very close, you may have more of an internalized appreciation of "black swans".

To some extent I am playing devil's advocate. To another I am very serious.

Respectfully,
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Last edited by protagonist on Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby sschullo » Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:06 pm

The search for certainty and the explanation for not controlling it results in numerous influencial books, but still leaves us without solid answers and the human minds' worse nightmare.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:32 pm

protagonist wrote:So what new substance can Taleb add to my understanding that would justify all that reading? I WANT to want to read him, but so far I am not that motivated by what I have learned from you and the posts above. It seems like it may be much ado about the obvious.


Hello Protagonist,

I never wrote that people must read Taleb. I object to people judging him without ever having read him or speed-reading his books without stopping to think about them. If someone is not interested in Taleb or starts reading him and puts a book down, that's fair.

protagonist wrote:Please try to convince me that all that reading of Taleb might teach me something new , perhaps by telling me some insight that Taleb expresses that I (and many others) don't already know and haven't internalized.


One of the most important insights for me was about scalable and un-scalable occupations. In scalable occupations people can win big, but the masses engaged in these occupations are doomed to obscurity. A trader puts as much effort into a $1k trade as into a $100k trade, but the outcomes are dramatically different. An author puts as much effort into writing a bestselling book as in a book that will sell in single digits. Luck plays an enormous role in scalable occupations. Taleb was lucky in both his trading and writing, but he does not recommend others to follow his path.

The lesson I learned was to rely on my un-scalable occupation for my general well-being and venture into scalable pursuits in my spare time to test my luck. Perhaps, you have learned this lesson already. Perhaps, my description has provided a time saving shortcut. I have never used Cliff Notes, but that's me.

protagonist wrote:By the way, though not technically a "black swan", I assume we are all going to die, yet none of us know when or how. If you have ever come very close, you may have more of an internalized appreciation of "black swans".

To some extent I am playing devil's advocate. To another I am very serious.

Respectfully,
protag.


Black Swans could represent a sudden disease or an unexpected recovery. For me, an instantaneous death is better than alternatives, and I would consider it a positive Black Swan. Of course, the main feature of Black Swans is that they surprise us.

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby protagonist » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:15 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
The lesson I learned was to rely on my un-scalable occupation for my general well-being and venture into scalable pursuits in my spare time to test my luck. Perhaps, you have learned this lesson already. Perhaps, my description has provided a time saving shortcut. I have never used Cliff Notes, but that's me.


I read Matt Taibbi's "Griftopia" to get a better understanding of the financial crisis. He, like Hunter S. Thompson, and (from what people say here) perhaps like Taibbi , is an engaging and incendiary author (also like Thompson, but perhaps not like Taleb, often offensive and profane). I don't know enough about the underlying subject matter to evaluate whether or not he got his facts right. But I had to read the whole thing to get an understanding of complex ideas that I had not previously encountered, such as collateral debt obligations squared, default credit swaps, etc. Cliff's notes would never have done that for me.

Regardless of whether the concept you allude to is obvious or not, it SEEMS obvious when you explain it in a couple of sentences. I can't see what more depth of understanding could be attained by reading a book about it. I would defy anybody here to explain collateral debt obligations squared and their effect on the housing bubble to me in a couple of sentences. Somebody tried once, when talking about Taibbi's book, and failed. That is why I took the time to read the book.

That is also why I never bothered reading stuff like the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, How To Win Friends and Influence People, etc. I assume they can all be summed up in a paragraph or less. I did read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, which were a lot of pages to try to convince me that charity was immoral and truth as Rand perceives it is absolute, but I was so much younger then.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:34 pm

protagonist wrote:That is also why I never bothered reading stuff like the Communist Manifesto,


You read that to avoid reading rest of Marx-- which is much more subtle. Marx the critic still cannot be ignored, even if Marx the Prophet turned out to be horribly, tragically wrong.

Mein Kampf,


Of historical interest. The books of madmen *do* matter if they go on to positions of authority. Which is why Rand matters-- she's so influential with the likes of Alan Greenspan etc.

If we'd all sat down and read Mein Kampf in 1936 say (and if there was an English translation) and if some Prussian officers and aristocrats had taken it seriously, then we might have saved the world a *lot* of grief. But we thought he was just writing and would be a reasonable chap once in office.

Generally, with politicians, what they wrote and said before they were somebody tells you a lot about the real politician in power: Thatcher, Reagan etc. People don't generally change radically just because they become a world leader, prophet etc.

How To Win Friends and Influence People, etc. I assume they can all be summed up in a paragraph or less.


It's not the book so much as the application. Having it practised rigorously on you is pretty disturbing. I had a colleague who had picked up (from 'Primary Colors') that trick of grasping your elbow-- creepy. Oh and saying your name a lot when they want to persuade you of something (to your detriment) THAT is SOP at various 'influencing' courses taught at churches and in business contexts.

Despite the annoyance of reading it '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey is a good book.

I did read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, which were a lot of pages to try to convince me that charity was immoral and truth as Rand perceives it is absolute, but I was so much younger then.


I think it is baby Nietsche. That very adolescent sense that we are alone, superior, benighted and oppressed, and we need to 'break free' from that and become 'free men'.

The movie 'Fight Club' I thought was a masterful satire of Nietsche. Of course I cannot talk about it ;-). Or as Jeeves told Bertie Wooster 'You would not like Nietsche sir. For he is unsound' (Jeeves was a Spinoza fan) ;-).
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:37 pm

protagonist wrote:
grok87 wrote:I guess I'm not getting the concept of someone wanting to rent your house in Massachusetts just for the winter (4 months).


Me neither. But that is part of the point. (smiling) The huge financial savings dwarfs just the fact that I don't have to be there until the flowers pop out.


I should think the academic year? Lots of people have half term appointments either as professors, or untentured faculty, post grads, grad students, etc.

Other than Northern California (Bay Area), I cannot think of a part of the USA that has so many post secondary academic institutions in a small area?
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:40 pm

Valuethinker wrote:If we'd all sat down and read Mein Kampf in 1936 say (and if there was an English translation) and if some Prussian officers and aristocrats had taken it seriously, then we might have saved the world a *lot* of grief. But we thought he was just writing and would be a reasonable chap once in office.


But the thing is that we don't take is seriously until it's too late. Think of Lenin's statement, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." The capitalists sold the rope and the communists hung them, literally.

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:44 pm

james22 wrote:I’m not trying to mock [Rand's detractors] here – [they are] just repeating an old propaganda line that was hatched by Rand’s opponents – but I have to ask the “adults” who claim they outgrew Rand exactly what earth-shattering insight they have learned against her solution to the problem of universals? Against her solution to the is-ought problem? To her foundation of knowledge in the axiomatic validity of sense perception? To her theory of the locus of free will? How about her theory of aesthetics?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/20 ... mself-out/

On topic: I'm a Taleb fan, myself.


I never quite recovered from the portrayal of Rand in Tobias Wolf's Old School, I have to admit- -when she and her acolytes come to visit his private school. Her personal life is richly entertaining in the best possible and most salacious way.

I suspect her books are so widely read because they provide an intellectual justification for what her readers already believe at a gut level.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Goddess-Market- ... 019983248X

very much the thesis of this biography. I suspect she will go down in history for her role in mid 20th century American culture and her formative influence on that, rather than for her contributions to philosophy.

My preferred mid 20th century philosopher is Popper. Without being at all philosophically literate (I am told his philosophy of science is discredited) I thought his defence of liberal society and liberal politics (in the 19th century classical sense) was one of the best 'Democracy and its Critics'.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:54 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:If we'd all sat down and read Mein Kampf in 1936 say (and if there was an English translation) and if some Prussian officers and aristocrats had taken it seriously, then we might have saved the world a *lot* of grief. But we thought he was just writing and would be a reasonable chap once in office.


But the thing is that we don't take is seriously until it's too late. Think of Lenin's statement, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." The capitalists sold the rope and the communists hung them, literally.

Victoria


? on that.

In that, Lenin was a nothing after the failure of the 1905 Revolution. You could argue that his subsequent success was as a result of German intelligence, anxious to undercut the Czar and drive Russia out of WW1 in 1917 (the 'Sealed Train' incident that got him out of Switzerland and back to Russia)-- is that what you meant by 'capitalists selling him the rope?' Because Imperial German intelligence in WW1 was not so much capitalist as Imperial, monarchical and militaristic.

Once they were in power, the Bolsheviks fought a war against every capitalist power there was: German, US, Britain, Japan, Canada all invaded Russia and fought on the White side against the Reds. Their strongest internal threat came from *further* to the left-- The Socialist Revolutionaries-- who staged an abortive uprising (see 'Riley: Ace of Spies' with Sam Neil, for a masterful treatment).

Once the Bolsheviks had consolidated power and purged their enemies (the Civil War left over 1 million dead, with atrocities on both sides) then there was the brief period of the 'New Economic Policy' and its NEPmen, when private enterprise was tolerated and art culture and the economy thrived (and a baby boom gave Russia the manpower to win the Second World War). Many shades of perestroika. Followed by mass collectivization, liquidation of the Kulaks etc.

However the capitalist states isolated Russia-- either refusing to have diplomatic relations, or sharply curtailing trade and investment-- there was a semi effective embargo I believe. Henry Ford did build that car plant, and the T34, perhaps the most famous tank in history, was based on an American design by Christie, but generally I think Russia was fairly isolated?

With Lenin's death (1928? but he was a very sick man), the long slide into total isolation, paranoia, the Great Purges and the Gulags would begin. Culminating in an abortive alliance with Hitler (again, no capitalist-- a Nationalist Socialist) and then the bloodiest war in human history. (Taiping Rebellion in China in 19th century might have killed more, but it was internal).

Agreed in WW2 the US provided *massive* support to Russia-- indeed I read the Russian word for truck became 'Studebaker' after the most common form of American truck ;-). Not least combine harvesters, which gave Stalin werewithall to feed his workers whilst the young men fought and died on 'the Stalin Front' as the Germans knew it. that however was not for profit, it was self interest to keep Hitler occupied and eventually was critical in his defeat (the American weapons were of little use, but the trucks and other supplies were absolutely critical).
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:56 pm

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
The lesson I learned was to rely on my un-scalable occupation for my general well-being and venture into scalable pursuits in my spare time to test my luck. Perhaps, you have learned this lesson already. Perhaps, my description has provided a time saving shortcut. I have never used Cliff Notes, but that's me.


I read Matt Taibbi's "Griftopia" to get a better understanding of the financial crisis. He, like Hunter S. Thompson, and (from what people say here) perhaps like Taibbi , is an engaging and incendiary author (also like Thompson, but perhaps not like Taleb, often offensive and profane). I don't know enough about the underlying subject matter to evaluate whether or not he got his facts right. But I had to read the whole thing to get an understanding of complex ideas that I had not previously encountered, such as collateral debt obligations squared, default credit swaps, etc. Cliff's notes would never have done that for me..


Along with Charles Ferguson's film Inside Job (which has an agenda, but tells the story well) I can recommend Nouriel Roubini's book as quite comprehensive and balanced.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:09 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:If we'd all sat down and read Mein Kampf in 1936 say (and if there was an English translation) and if some Prussian officers and aristocrats had taken it seriously, then we might have saved the world a *lot* of grief. But we thought he was just writing and would be a reasonable chap once in office.


But the thing is that we don't take is seriously until it's too late. Think of Lenin's statement, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." The capitalists sold the rope and the communists hung them, literally.

Victoria


? on that.
...
Once they were in power, the Bolsheviks fought a war against every capitalist power there was: German, US, Britain, Japan, Canada all invaded Russia and fought on the White side against the Reds.

I don't recall the details, but I think Western entrepreneurs ("capitalists") were trading with Russia just as their countries were fighting it.

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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby Epsilon Delta » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:05 pm

VictoriaF wrote:But the thing is that we don't take is seriously until it's too late. Think of Lenin's statement, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." The capitalists sold the rope and the communists hung them, literally.

Victoria

Viewing "The Capitalists" as a collective is a communist view of history. To a capitalist "the capitalists" are nothing but a group of competing individuals. Some of whom did quite well by selling the rope to hang their competitors.
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:18 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:But the thing is that we don't take is seriously until it's too late. Think of Lenin's statement, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." The capitalists sold the rope and the communists hung them, literally.

Victoria

Viewing "The Capitalists" as a collective is a communist view of history. To a capitalist "the capitalists" are nothing but a group of competing individuals. Some of whom did quite well by selling the rope to hang their competitors.

The communists were exploiting these individualities while trying to create a unified and expanding force. Thankfully they have not succeeded.

Victoria
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Re: The anti-Taleb reviews Antifragile

Postby backofbeyond » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:03 pm

Victoria...excellent review. I envy the fact that you got to actually meet him.

Also, I have to acknowledge that you were the one that turned me onto Taleb about 3 months ago with one of your comments on my query about Black Swan. I'm very grateful that you did.

I'm reading his latest book now. I find his way of thinking both refreshing and rather unique. He comes across as both funny and highly intelligent. He also 'eats his own cooking". All things that I admire in a person.

I also agree that most of his books don't deal specifically with investing, more like a way of looking at life. I really admire how he became physically fit to warn off others. I think his ideas about dieting are fascinating. And like another poster, I think Doctors will write him off their Xmas list for next year.

All in all, he is just about my favorite author now.
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