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Fooled by Randomness

Nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness (the first in his Incerto series) delightfully yet forcefully causes the reader to confront the fact that random chance rules much of human fate. Emotions are lubricants of reason, aphorisms allow us to judge situations fast and easy.

Taleb hits a number of highlights along the way, such as:

  • Noting the urge to keep up with the Jones’, while we might be happier staying put as the most successful of our original social milieu. (The big fish in the small pond may be happier than the big fish in the big pond.) To this end, much of happiness is derived from the perceived trajectory of your circumstances, rather than the circumstances themselves.
  • Rejecting luck as a reason for our success, but embracing it as a reason for our failure.
  • The real phenomenon of luck-induced dopamine causing self-fulfilling-prophecies of success and charism.
  • The value of a slow information diet, eschewing the daily news cycle.
  • His deep disdain for journalists.

I really enjoy his writing style. A modern man of letters… I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Incerto.

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Essays

Capturing Shawmont Station before its $1,000,000 preservation begins – the oldest extant passenger rail station in America

Originally a 18′ by 36′ stone house (Wissahickon Schist), the structure wouldn’t have stood out from the other country homes in this part of Philadelphia, at the tip of the Manayunk Reach, situated at the end of today’s Manayunk Canal Towpath.

Testing WordPress Gutenberg on a high volume news site

Water, sand, and societal change

How Warren Buffett thinks about Berkshire’s newspaper holdings

At Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting, the Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett shared a dismal outlook on print media.

EverQuote and patent medicine

In a thread begun October 2016, Washington Post technology director Aram Zucker-Scharff tweeted about the shady advertising practices of EverQuote, a Boston-based startup. Since then these ads have become prolific on the web (and nearly as prolific are Aram’s tweets documenting the malfeasance).

The other Hershey (and its railroad)

Cuban town Camilo Cienfuegos might be one of the least expected places to find remnants of America’s great 20th-century industrial expansion – that is, until you hear its pre-revolutionary name: Hershey.

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