[Medium] Lebanon: from Ponzi to Antifragility

About two years before the recent collapse, at a dinner, a then (slow thinking) member of the Lebanese parliament kept bugging me for an economic forecast. There was already some anxiety in the air. My answer was that we were facing imminent financial disaster, but that it was not necessarily bad news, long term. Why? Because such a total collapse could lead to natural responses that are better than the one we would have spontaneously, going from patching bad stuff to patching worse stuff. The lira was artificially kept too strong for any industry to survive and the financial system (the Ponzi) was sucking up all the money and destroying the economic substructure. But my point was that the (unavoidable) collapse would lead to an adaptation, the weaning from chronic foreign “loans” and, possibly, a huge bounce. De-financializing the country was a necessity, and people never do that spontaneously. Nothing was going to be fixed without a collapse. Was I optimistic? pessimistic? He was trying to figure out what I was saying and couldn’t get it as it did not fit his elementary static classification.

Continue reading on Medium: medium.com/@nntaleb/lebanon-from-ponzi-to-antifragility

[Podcast] Conversations with Tyler: Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math

Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Tyler Cowen

“Though what Taleb was really after was a discussion with Bryan (read that here), the philosopher, mathematician, and author most recently of Skin in the Game also generously agreed to a conversation with Tyler.

Continue reading on Medium: https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/tyler-cowen-nassim-nicholas-taleb-skin-in-the-game-black-swan-104620da8a57

Two new Medium pieces from Nassim

Something is Broken in the UK Intellectual Sphere

What was meant to be a “typical” of Roman Britain by the BBC: flowing quotas of political correctness backward in time.

The BBC did some kind of educational cartoon on Roman Britain and represented “diversity” in terms of someone looking African in the show as representative of “diversity” at the time. The BBC was effectively applying quotas retroactively (I mean, really retroactively). Any dissent from the statistical errors made by the politically correct police is treated as apostasy. Effectively, scholarship is dead in the U.K.

Read the rest here: https: // medium. com/ incerto/ something- is- broken- in- the- uk- intellectual- sphere- 7efc9a1f154a


When did Lebanese Christians Start Speaking French?

The current narrative (and, I am not joking, given by “experts” in international relations, etc.) is that the Lebanese Christians, like inhabitants of the Maghreb, picked up French from something called “French colonialism”. But the French only spent two decades in Lebanon, replacing the Ottomans after the great war, a period during which it was a “mandate”, something like a concession. Unlike the Maghreb, there was no settlers, no nothing. And not one noticed that the French language was heavily ingrained in the Christian bourgeoisie during the Ottoman Empire.

Take the Titanic. Among the passengers sunk in 1912 (hence before “colonialism”) are the following Lebanese names: Eugénie Baqlini, Catherine Dawud, Helene Barbara, Charles Tannous, Marie-Sophie Abrahim. A decade before the French army arrived. And my own family has among those, born before 1920, names such as Marcel, Edouard, Angele, Laure, Evelyne, Mathilde, Victoire (later adapted to Victoria), Philomene, etc. My mother was named after her aunt, Minerve (born 1905). Many archaic French names.

Read the rest here: https: // medium. com/ @nntaleb/ when- did- lebanese- christians- start- speaking- french- 771603969932