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The Black Swan, or This is more like what a blog entry is supposed to be

I received a manuscript copy of Naseem Taleb’s The Black Swan the other day. (See here for my comments on Taleb’s previous book.) As with the earlier book, The Black Swan covers topics with which I am already familiar, so the act of reading it (with pen in hand) jogged a bunch of my own thoughts out in the open. So that’s mostly what I’ll talk about here.

Or that’s what I would talk about, except that I took the manuscript with me downtown today, made comments on the first 40 pages or so, then put it in one of the bags on my bike and went to the store, head full of thoughts. When I got to the store to write down my ideas, I saw nothing in my bike bags but blackbody radiation (the physics majors among you will know what I’m talking about here), meaning that the manuscript, my comments, and my shopping list were gone. Maybe that bus that had honked at me 15 blocks back was telling me something was flying off my bike, maybe I shouldn’t have flipped him off. Or that’s what I would’ve thought, except that when I was putting the groceries on my my bike, I noticed the manuscript was there all along! I’d forgotten that nothing useful escapes from a blackbody–you have to shine a light in or feel around a bit.

So I actually do have a lot of comments, but I’ll save most of them until I’ve finished the book.