Sunday, September 26, 2010

The great sage Taleb speaks

U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”
Taleb's two masterpieces, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets and The Black Swan are newly-minted classics that should be read by the hyper-rationalists who occupy the White House, the crowd that believes it can master uncertainty and impose its will on economic actors.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stephen Johnson, the man who appreciates the slow hunch

An impressive explanation of creativity by way of Bong Boing: Where Good Ideas Come From.

This is in many ways a response to Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.

Earlier this year Christopher Lydon interviewed the scourge of the multi-tasker over at Radio Open Source.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An interview with Michel Houllebecq, French iconoclast

I have never read any of Michel Houllebecq's work but this interview in the Paris Review is remarkable.