Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

I'll be grateful if you...

Aug 23, 2010

DESIGN STREET and the blast from the past...

I was in discussion with some of my architect friends, and the thought went on to the way our bodies have not been designed to sit. we have been designed to either lie down or walk on four legs, even standing is something that is not natural to us, we need to learn this balancing act. This got me thinking and then I thought of finding some of the iconic chairs and how they have progressed. In this design street section, I have just put them up for you to draw your own conclusion ...

Then there are some very interesting blast from the past... first is the book "Emerging Mind" of V S Ramachandran, considered to be one of the 100 Scientists of the century, which had impressed me the first time I read almost a decade back, and this week it came back to me in some discussions. This is a book a layman can understand about Brain and the most interesting section is on how our brains perceive art and beauty. His first book too created quite a stir - "Phantoms in the brain"

The Movie i have put here is something that I had again seen ages ago and it stuck in my mind and some how this kept coming back to me this week. So here is Samsara for you - a movie by an Indian director which was showcased in Canada. And here is what one of the reviewers said about the movie....

Staggeringly Beautiful! A film that explores desires, destiny and spirituality. Truly a visual feast. A serene and welcome escape from the frantic pace of everyday life. Performances are marvelous, especially Shawn Ku's Tashi, whose exploration of conscience is transparent, and Christ Chung's Pema, is sublime and graceful. Possibly is as close to Shangri-La as we will ever get. Samsara is a haunting, cinematic and spiritual love story to savor. -Urban Cinefile, Australia

The music: is Celtic Thunder... like it a lot. Ok this is not a blast from past but a blast nevertheless.

I recently come across "One Stop Poetry" blog by Adam Dustus, who show cases poetic talents of friends... if you like you can add your poetry to the blog and here is mine ONE SHOT 
Click here to read

Some details blow on how to submit your own poetry....

Welcome to One Shot Wednesday - highlight your poetic talents 

My name is
 Adam Dustus. Welcome to One Shot for our 11th week! I am extremely happy to be part of this supportive peer community of talented poets. Let the fun begin!
New to One Shot Wednesday? Here's a quick recap of how it works:

1. Write a poetic piece & post it on your blog
2. Then let us know about your post. Link back to One Shot
3. Sign up in the Mr Linky list, linking directly to your post, AFTER you've posted it.
4. Go visit others who have signed up! Offer support & encouragement. Share your love of words and insight respectfully. Please try to visit as many participating poets as you can. We all could use and appreciate kind feedback.

All forms of poetry are accepted for One Shot Wednesday. Everyone is welcome.

Click here to post your own poetry


DESIGN STREET: The art of seating: Chairs with art, design, brains and conscience

The art of Seating: The needs of users have grown into the perfection high, and many of the designers have come up with many innovative designs and high class products. From the times of the people using stone's tree stumps to sit apart from just squatting on the earth, the modern design for seating solutions have come a long way. From bizarre to most efficient workplace seating solutions, the modern world is full of great chairs. Below are some that I have come across and like. But to begin with let me give you one, which I find more interesting which was show cased in Orgatec 2008 at cologne, Germany.
Perception Furniture for Inspiration
So here you go for a display of some interesting seating solutions from across the world. Hope you like it.
A hallmark of contemporary design, this chaise longue was created by three architects who were forerunners of the International Style. An adjustable chromed-steel cradle rests on a black steel base. Broad rubber straps support the upholstered cushion with attached headrest and double-reinforced edge stitching to maintain its shape over time. Manufactured by Cassina under license by the Le Corbusier Foundation. For my Indian friends, Le Corbusier was also the designer of the Chandigarh the modern city on India in North.

Lounge chair and Ottoman by Charles and Ray Eames
Today it's one of the most widely recognized and imitated furniture designs, but Charles Eames' goal for the lounge chair and ottoman was much more modest. He wanted to build a chair with "the warm receptive look of a well used first baseman's mitt." So he nestled supple leather-covered cushions in molded-plywood, veneer-covered forms. He connected them with die-cast aluminum back braces. He set them all on bases painted black with bright polished aluminum trim and adjustable stainless steel glides.

Now an icon of modern design, the chair has been produced continuously for nearly 50 years by the original manufacturer, Herman Miller®. This authorized version is made of molded, seven-ply veneered plywood and is upholstered in top-grain black leather entirely by hand.

I have talked about the Charles and Ray Eames in my previous blogs, if you would like to read more please click here - Charles and Ray Eames- My blog post (you will have to scroll down to read it)

Panton chair
Verner Panton
The first one-piece cantilever plastic chair, this handsome, sculptural design heralded the use of molded plastic in home and office decor. Having been through several stages following the developments of plastic, it is now reissued in durable, extruded polypropylene. Made by Vitra. For our Indian friends, this is the chair used in the Ad "AAM SUTRA" where Katrina Kaif is sitting and drinking or rather slurping Slice.

Panton - two level seat
two level seat by Verner Panton
design by verner panton in 1973, made by metzeler schaum Germany , wood and upholster fabric - a very rare in a very very limited edition

Lou Lou ghost chair for Kids

Philippe Starck’s  Louis Ghost Chair for Kartell is a prime example of taking something staid like a Louis XVI chair and transforming into an icon for a new age. And now it’s gone through another evolution. Few years back at the Milan furniture fair the Lou Lou Ghost Chair for kids was launched. 

Aeron Chair
The Aeron chair is a product of Herman Miller designed in 1994 by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf. It is an ergonomic chair that is regarded by many users as inherently very comfortable due to its wide range of fit (available in three sizes) and adjustability. Its novel design has gained it a spot in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Its also the most sold chair in the world.

Z Chair
Giovanni Pagnotta attended Parsons School of Design and obtained a Masters of Architecture degree at Yale University, receiving the Eero Saarinen Schlarship for Design Excellence. His work has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami and at the Yale University Art Gallery

Mi Chair
Mr Pagnotta recently introduced his latest product, the Mi (pronunced ‘me’) Chair, a recyclable molded polypropylene chair.  Most notably, the Mi chair is comfortable, beautiful, and made in the United States.
"What feeds my soul is the challenge of deciphering the secrets of a particular material and translating those discoveries into something unexpected and beautiful." - Giovanni Pagnotta

Now just moving on to some of the daily to use chairs, workstation chairs or if you may like to call it, Task Chairs are listed below which I have liked. These are recently launched products so they have not reached the iconic level of the chairs mentioned above.
The manufacturers of this Chair Herman Miller says about the chair, "True innovation manifests itself in many forms. With Embody, innovation oozes from every contact point your body makes with the chair. Embody makes you feel like you're floating. It promotes health-positive sitting. It helps you focus on your work and think more clearly. In fact, it's the first work chair that supports your body and your mind." and I tend to agree...
The Embody was designed in the design studio of Jeff Weber and the late Bill Stumpf and launched in 2008.

Pic Curtesy GEEK.COM
Ergonomically and environmentally friendly. Zody is the first task chair certified Cradle to Cradle™ Gold by MBDC, and the first to be endorsed by the American Physical Therapy Association for science-based comfort and ergonomics. User control makes it popular around the office, and its global design makes Zody seating right for any work environment. Zody was designed by ITO design in Germany, in collaboration with the Haworth Design Studio. This is, no doubt, one of the very best workstation chairs that I have had used in profession.
Think Chair

Think is the chair with a brain and a conscience manufactured by Steel Case as they say. "It's intelligent enough to understand how you sit and adjust itself intuitively. It's thoughtful enough to measure and minimize its lifelong impact on the environment.
Designed by Glen Oliver Low, Think chair is the first-ever certified level™ 3 product, the highest BIFMA e3 standard. It looks good too, in my opinion. 

RECOMMENDATIONS: Music, Books and Films

EMERGING MIND: A book about understanding mind and how it perceives things including Art and Beauty.

Emerging mind is written by Vilayanur S Ramachandran (Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition and professor with the Psychology Department and the Neurosciences Programme at the University of California, San Diego).  I have been fortunate enough to see him in Chennai (He is from Chennai settled in USA) in connection with one of his book launch and liked his simplicity. He is considered one of the best scientists of the century. He gave four part lecture in BBC in 2003, in the Reith Lecture series.

The book is very interesting and explains, quite beautifully, how our brains perform and what goes on in, inside the brain. I have been much impressed by the book that I have had given this book to almost all my friends. Specially, the section on “The Artful Brain” where he has tried to explain how we perceive art and beauty. His other book, “Phantoms in the Brain” was also a best seller and came before this.

This book, “Emerging Mind” is a scintillating introduction to the latest thinking on the brain and the mind by the world's leading expert. Neuroscience can now begin to unlock the key to the self. Our knowledge of the brain has progressed so rapidly that it will change the way we think of ourselves as human beings. It will change our notion of understanding. This is a revolution which will have impact on all our lives. Neuroscientists are gathering new empirical evidence about consciousness and human nature; they are picking up where the great earlier thinkers like Freud, Darwin, Charcot and others began. This evidence begins to give substance to some of the grand statements and intuitive leaps made in the nineteenth and early twentieth century about the nature of the self.

It’s a very interesting read, hope you will all enjoy it.
Click here to read the BBC lecture - "The Artful Brain"

MOVIE: Samsara - A movie about Spirituality and sense pleasures.

I have seen it almost by the time it was released in 2001 and loved it. This movie's one line "How do you save a drop of water from drying up" is still stuck with me after decades and have featured in many of my writings.

Indian born filmmaker Pan Nalin makes his directorial debut with this sensual, elegant look at sex and spirituality. Tashi (Shawn Ku) is a gifted young monk who is just completing three years of solitary mediation in the mountains. Sporting long hair and a scraggly beard, Tashi is roused out of his deep mediation and brought back to his monastery by his fellow monks. There he rests up to recover his strength, returning to the usual rigors of monastic life. Though he is highly revered for having attained a profound level of enlightenment, Tashi is surprised to discover the sudden awakening of his own sex drive. While blessing the annual crop, he encounters beautiful peasant girl Pema (Christy Chung) and immediately he falls in love. Arguing that to properly renounce the world he would have to experience it first, he leaves his order and eventually marries Pema. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival
Sublime! A surprisingly intense cinematic experience. NOT TO BE MISSED. 

-Vogue Magazine International

The sacred and the profane meet head-on in Samsara. The film is spectacular, spiritual and thrilling. A distinctive debut feature by Pan Nalin is startling, with tech credits are top-notch, crisp widescreen camerawork and all other creatives combining to evoke the region with a stunning clarity and detail 

- Variety USA

A beautiful widescreen production… a metaphorical aerial bombardment that approximates the thunderbolts of love…Hypnotic, dynamic, delicious…Pan Nalin' s film has excellent production values and thoroughly transports one to its far flung world of clear skies, jagged mountains and passionate affairs on the mind and the body. 

-Hollywood Reporter USA

Simply Stunning! Beautiful and serene, Samsara, tells a universal story of desire and destiny and about how the desire for change can change one's destiny. Exquisitely filmed and acted, Samsara, is A FILM TO SAVOUR, …

-WOW Magazine Canada

Click here  "Samsara" to watch parts of the movie...

Click here to read a beautiful review by Devang Vibhakar. Click here for the interview of the director of the movie Pan Nalini by Devang. 
I thank you Devang for the links and a wonderful review. I loved it.

Music: Celtic Thunder - Appalachian Round Up
I have loved the music of the group and here is a favorite of mine from the group..... click here to listen to the song.

Aug 16, 2010

Welcome to the 9th edition of “Shadow Dancing with mind"

Welcome to the 9th edition of “Shadow Dancing with Mind” 

Yogi Baba - An untold story discovers the life of the daughter of a priest and Krishna, the son of the boatman, raised in the monastery after the flood displaced them from their home.
The priest's daughter, in this chapter is on the verge of discovering her bond with a young Bhikshu, living in the monastery beyond the forest... her songs attract him, and he dreams of her singing ... His guru guides him to seek her out and find his answers.... 

Whispering of desires, conflicts and shattered dreams. 

The touch that lingers

Like phantoms of my mind... lines from the Shattered dreams. 

This time, I have included a verse from Pablo Neruda -  "Body of a Woman". This verse as one of the writer said is an introductory text to the poetry of desire.
Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,
You look like a world, lying in surrender

The Reader takes you to the world of being a sucker by reading into history of rare events and expecting them to happen again. The Black Swan Theory or "Theory of Black Swan Events" was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain 1) the disproportionate role of high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology, 2) the non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to their very nature of small probabilities) and 3) the psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs.

The still life is going to take you into the world of Sadhu's from various places. Some of the interesting portraits that I have had captured along my journeys is here for you to enjoy.

Hope you like this edition of Shadow Dancing with Mind; look forward to seeing your comment this week too. I really appreciate when you write to me or leave me comments here. It gets me going, week by week. Please feel free to join in and suggest if something that you don’t like.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

YOGI BABA: A story untold. beginning of 9th Chapter

9th Chapter : Beginning

Bhuvana was sitting by the steps of the temple and listening to the clanging of the bells inside sanctum sanctorum, where her father – the head priest was performing morning rituals. Slowly the sweet scent of the incense, wafting out of the temple, and the rhythmic sounds of mantra chants worked their magic on her and slowly picked her up on their wings to carry her to the dreamland. Her dreams were always vivid, colorful and full of life. There was a lotus ponds complete with the most beautiful fairies, the big floating leaves supported the angels singing the melodious songs and the floral vines served as swings on the over hang of the tree branches. See can actually see the goddess of music Saraswati, sitting there and gently playing on the strings of her favorite instrument Veena and weave a cosmic fabric around her ecstatic soul. She was lying on the bed of flowers, besides the tall Kadamb tree, lost in the melody that was playing on her mind and watching this divine drama unfold around her in misty haze of rainbows, flowers and the back drop of the forest. There, in the middle of the pond, the dancers are now gathering, to give heart to the body of music that was being manifested around her. The soft clap of dancers, tapping of their feets and swirling in their joyous union of desire with love, was reaching towards a soft crescendo. The rising tempo of the music, slowly got Bhuvana, on her feets and she slowly started swaying along with the beat, turning round and round with one of her hand over her head, another on her waist. Her heart merged in the music that was reaching out to her from her innerself. There, beyond the pond, on the edge of the forest, a soft light revealed a young boy, enraptured in the music of souls. When he caught her eyes, he started walking tentatively towards her, with a question in his eyes, wonder on his face and hesitation in his steps. As the music around her moved on to the higher notes, the dancer’s twirling merged in the haze of motion and colorful clothes; and she clearly saw the young boy’s face, smiling but shying away to meet her eyes. She slowly stopped to look at him fully. Before she could ask anything, she found her heart reach out and held the boys hand and smiled. At that moment she heard her father’s stern voice. “Stop, don’t move another step” and her euphoric vision came crashing down around her. She was startled and before she could see her father, who was standing on the steps of the temple, she saw young Bhikshu at the  bottom steps, stopped in mid track with his hand extended to as if to reach out to hold her hand. Now she was not sure that all that she saw was only a dream.

She looked at her father and realised that he was refusing to allow this young Bhikshu from coming into the temple so she asked him, “why not let him come in to pray after all he is also one of the young monks, from the Monastery in the forest?”. Then her father told him that this boy is of lower cast and can not be allowed to come in side the temple and desecrate the purity of the place. Her father was actually furious with the monastery and did not approve of their methods and practices as they were allowing every one from every cast to become a monk. Like this boy, who was ordained a Bhikshu, after only few months of training and they have allowed this boy and his family to live in the monastery for last few years.  The young boy was from the family of Mallahs (Boat Man) a lower cast, from the village down the river, when his father lost everything in the flood many years ago. They had been taken in by the Kumar – the revered Prince into the Monastery, where his father did small works around the monastery and his mother worked in the community kitchen serving the Bhikshu and the monks. Bhuvana was surprised to feel the anger in her father’s voice and but still could resist herself from asking her father, that he never had any issue in crossing the river in their boat, if they were untouchables. This made her father angrier and he brushed the boy aside while climbing down the steps, and informed her that he always purified himself after crossing the river with the holy Ganges water and Vedic Mantras. Finally with a stern look both at his young daughter and the boy, giving instructions to her to clean up the temple floor and light the lamp before it gets dark and come home early. With a final warning not to play around with the young children on the way back home and get to house before it gets dark, her father hurried off to their hut in the village,  further down the river.

She liked her father very much and was inspired by him to a great extent in serving the temple because of the devotion his father has to the temple and the deities living in this ancient temple. His disciplined attitude towards the rituals around the temple was unbroken for years together and his daily routine was cast in stone. Whatever happens around his father, the family or in the village, it never changed, even in times of ill-health, his father manages to do things on his own other wise get his disciples to follow the strict routine. She some times used to wonder, whether father even realised the mantras, invocations and the chants that he performed daily in front of the temple deities, have a meaning too. Though she revered her father, but she sometime felt that he usually speak the words, rattling off sounds as a routine which was what the generation before him and his ancestors had done. Some times it saddened her. Some times when she was alone in the temple, after cleaning of the place, adorning the deities, with garlands, flowers etc, she talked to them, how they are, are they happy and do they want to come out and play with her.  Krishna was her most favorite friend and many times her savior as she used to hide behind Him every time, her mother was angry with her or father wanted her to sing bhajans to his rich patrons – yajmans who were visiting her father.

But she brushed aside these thoughts for now and focused her self on the young Bhikshu, standing in front of her, looking at her with his soft questioning eyes. She moved down the steps and motioned the young Bhikshu to follow her to her favorite spot near the bank of the river, the kadamb tree and sat on her favorite small stone slab left untouched by the master craftsman from centuries ago, who made many of the temple’s sculptures as well as the deities. She always felt that they have left this for her, knowing ages ago, one Bhuvana will be sitting here and watching the river flow by, and softly singing songs in the praise of Krishna and His stories of playful pranks with the Gopis of Vrindavan.

For a girl of 11 years old, Bhuvana was a confident and mature girl. This maturity came from her upbringing by her stern and devout father and religious mother. She was more confident when she was in the temple premises; she was like the princess who owns everything and every one around. The temple was her home for most of the time. She is comes here, early in the morning, to clean the temple, gather flowers from the flower bushes around and make beautiful colorful garlands of marigold, Jasmine, hibiscus etc. Then later on dress up the deities, adorn them with garlands, temple jewelry etc. Then set up the place for her father and his two young disciples who were learning from her father for almost 10 years now. Her father was well known around the land as a Vedic scholar and many students come to him from many villages to learn Vedas, Hymn and Mantra and various Vedic rituals. The two disciples now accompany her father to most of the Vedic rituals his father was asked to perform around the neighbouring villages. They were now her guru brothers, almost adopted by her family. She most of the times joined them in learning Sanskrit, Veda’s and story’s from Purana’s and Upnishads. She used to get immersed in joy when her father recited many of the stories from Krishna’s childhood from the sacred Bhagwatam and felt so much pleasure when he recited in his full throated voice, the hymns praising her favorite friend Krishna. Her Guru brothers, Vishwadeva and Gnanadeva, also took upon themselves to train her with songs and playing of Veena and sitar, that they have learned from another pundit, in the neighbouring village, where their Guru had send them for few months.

After few hours of learning, she usually gets up to go and fetch food for the deities in the temple. Her mother, this time accompanies her to the temple and with another ritual the temple deities are offered food. Then her father and gurubhai’s will sit on the temple floor and eat their food called prasaad (Offering from God). Finally, she and her mother will get to eat and she stays back to clean, do some tending works around the temple fields. Her father will go back home to take afternoon siesta. The she had the whole day in front of her to play around the temple with Guru bhai’s and if they are busy, she had made many friends around the temple, the river, the trees, the stones to play with. Or simply sit on this stone to watch the soft flow of the river, passing by the temple and her day.

After making herself comfortable on her favorite spot, she finally asked young Bhikshu, what is his name and what he is doing here? The young Bhikshu softly said that his name is Krishna and he has been living in the monastery beyond in the forest for last 8 years. He said, “Since childhood, whenever I closed my eyes in solitude, I heard the Krishna’s song, the same song that you sing in the morning every day. And one day when I was searching for the fire wood in the forest, I came across this temple and saw you for the first time singing that song”. “For many months now”, he added shyly, “I have been coming here to the temple to hear you sing. Few months back, Kumar – The prince among the monks, asked my guru Ji to initiate me in the order of Bhikshu and since then I have been practicing meditations, and learning to think about life and simple living, going over to the village asking for alms and trying to calm my mind and find peace but my mind is not at peace”. He now looked down on the ground and continued, “Today, after many days of agonizing over my minds playful unrest, I asked my Guru Ji, why I am not able to focus on Buddha, calmness and peace? Then he asked me to come and meet you. I don’t know why but he wanted me to meet you, so I am here”. The young Bhikshu then slowly bent down on his knees and asked earnestly, holding her hand as a small child would and asked “Tell me, why?”

In that instant Bhuvana’s life changed forever, in that life time….
… to be continued.

To read previous posts of Yogi Baba's Untold StoryPlease Click here

THE READER: The Black Swan

The Black Swan Theory or "Theory of Black Swan Events" was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain 1) the disproportionate role of high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology, 2) the non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to their very nature of small probabilities) and 3) the psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs. Unlike the earlier philosophical "black swan problem", the "Black Swan Theory" (capitalized) refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences. 

Below is the excerpts from the Nassim Taleb's book.
The Black Swan
Before the discovery of Australia, people in the old world were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence. The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few ornithologists, but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird.

I push one step beyond this philosophical – logical question into an empirical reality, and one that has obsessed me since child hood. What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes.
First it’s an outlier, as it lies out side the realm of regular expectations.
Second, it carries an extreme impact
Third, inspite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.
(Highly expected and not happening is also a black swan)

Every body knows that you need more prevention than treatment, but few reward acts of prevention. We glorify those who left their names in history books (like the politician who starts are war and is lucky enough to win rather than the one who avoids a war) at the expense of those contributors about whom our books are silent. We humans are not just a superficial race (this may be curable to some extent); we are a very unfair one.

You need a story to displace a story. Metaphors and stories are far more potent (alas) than ideas, they are also easier to remember and more fun to read. … Ideas come and go, stories stay.

The beast in this book is not just the bell curve and the self deceiving statistician, not the Platonified scholar who needs theories to fool himself with. It’s the drive to “focus” on what makes sense to us. Living on our planet, today, requires a lot more imagination than we are made to have. We lack knowledge and repress others it in others.

The Apprenticeship of an empirical skeptic
History and societies do not crawl. They make jumps. They go from fracture to fracture, with few vibrations in between. Yet we (historians) like to believe in the predictable, small incremental progression. It struck me, … that we are just a great machine looking backward, and that humans are great at self-delusion.

One thousand and one days, or how not to be a sucker
Bertrand Russell presents a particular toxic variant of what people call in philosophy, the problem of Induction or Problem of Inductive knowledge (- certainly the mother of all problems in life). How can we logically go from specific instances to reach general conclusions? How do we know what we know? There are traps built into any kind of knowledge gained from observation. Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the birds belief that it’s the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before thanks giving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.

How can we know the future, given knowledge of the past?
“But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… of any sort worth speaking about…” E J Smith, 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic
Captain Smith’s ship sank I 1912 in what became the most talked about shipwreck in history.
In September 2006, a fund called Amaranth, ironically named after a flower that “never dies” had to shut down after it lost close to $ 7 Billion in a few days, the most impressive loss in trading history. A few days prior to the event the company made a statement t the effect that investors should not worry because they had 12 risk managers – people who use models of past to produce risk measures on the odds of such an event.

I am skeptical in matters that have implications for the daily life. In a way, all I care about is making a decision without being the turkey.  Many middle brows have asked me over the past twenty years, “How do you, Taleb cross the street given your extreme risk consciousness?” Ofcourse I am not advocating total risk phobia (we will see that I favor an aggressive type of risk taking): All I will be showing you in this book is how to avoid crossing the street blindfolded.

An acronym used in the medical literature is NED, which stands for No Evidence of Disease. There is no such thing as END, Evidence of No Disease.

Doctors in the midst of scientific arrogance of the 1960’s looked down at the mothers milk as something primitive, as if it could be replicated in their laboratories – not realizing that mothers’ milk might include useful components that could have eluded their scientific understanding. Many people paid the price for this naïve inference; these who were not beast fed as infants turned out to be at an increased rick of a collection of health problems including higher likelihood of developing certain type of cancer. Further more, benefits to the mothers, who breast-feed were also neglected, such as reduction of breast cancer.

It was shown from the studies of Infant behavior that we came equipped with mental machinery that causes us to selectively generalize from experiences (i.e to selectively acquire inductive learning in some domains but remain skeptical in others… - As in if you show an over weight picture of tribesman to a child, she will not immediately choose to describe the tribe with weight challenge but will generally talk about the color of the skin if the picture has a dark color or white).

In the primitive environment, the “Black Swans” were limited to newly encountered wild animals, new enemies, and abrupt weather changes. These events were repeatable enough for us to have built an innate fear of them. This instinct to make inferences rather quickly, and to “tunnel” (i.e. focus on a small number of sources of uncertainly, or causes of known Black Swans) remains rather ingrained in us. This instinct, in a word, is our predicament.
Try to be a true skeptic, with respect to you interpretations and you will be worm out in no time. You will also be humiliated for resisting to theorize.. Even from an anatomical perspective, it’s impossible for our brains to see anything in raw form without some interpretations. We may not even always be conscious of it.

We members of the human varieties of primates, have a hunger for rules because we need to reduce the dimension of matters so they can get into our heads.

A novel, a story, a myth, or a tale, all have the same function: they spare us from the complexity of the world and shield us from its randomness. Myths impart order to the disorder of human perceptions and the perceived “chaos of human experience”

To view the potency of narrative, consider the following statement: The King died and the Queen died.” Compare it to “The King died, and then the queen died of grief,” This exercise presented by the novelist E M Forster, shows the distinction between mere succession of information and a plot.

In a famous argument, the logician W V Quine showed that there exist families of logically consistent interpretations and theories that can match a given series of facts. Such insights should warn us that mere absence of nonsense may not be sufficient to make something true.

The sensational and the black swan:
If I asked you how many case of lung cancer are likely to take place in the country, you would supply some number, say half million. Now if instead I asked you many cases of lung cancer are likely to take place because of smoking, odds are that you would give e a much higher number. Adding because makes thee matters far more plausible, and far more likely. Cancer from smoking seems more likely that cancer with a cause attached to it – an unspecified cause means no cause at all. Clearly the second statement seems more likely at first blush, which is pure mistake of logic, since the first, being broader, can accommodate more causes. All this can lead to pathologies in our decision making.

As Stalin, who knew something about the business of mortality supposedly said, “one death is tragedy,; one million is a statistics,”. Statistics stay silent in us.

Researchers have mapped our activities into (roughly) a dual mode of thinking, which they separate as “system 1” and “System 2” or the experiential or cogitative. The distinction is straight forward.
System 1 is what we call as intuition, system 2 is what we normally call thinking. Most of our mistakes in reasoning come from using system 1 when we are in fact thinking that we are using system 2. How?  Since we react with out thinking and introspections, the main property of system 1 is our lack of awareness using it!
Emotions are assumed to be the weapon system 1 uses to direct us and force us to act quickly. It mediates risk avoidance far more effectively that our cognitive system. Indeed, neurobiologists who have studied the emotional system show how it often reacts to the presence of danger long before we are consciously aware of it – we experience fear and start reacting a few milliseconds before we realise that we are facing a snake. Much of our trouble with human nature resides in our inability to use much of system 2, or to use it in a prolonged way without having to take a long beach vacation. In addition, we often forget to use it.

Take the relationship between pleasure and drinking water. If you are in state of painful thirst, then a bottle of water increases your well being considerably. More water means more pleasure. But what if I give you a cistern of water? Clearly your well being become rapidly insensitive to further quantities. … So your enjoyment declines with additional quantities.

The uberpsychologist Danny Kahneman has given us evidence that we generally take risks not out of bravado but out of ignorance and blindness to probability.

That we got here by accident does not mean that we should continue to take the same risks. We are mature enough race to realise this point, enjoy our blessings, try to preserve by becoming more conservative what we got by luck

Alas, we are not manufactured in our current edition of the human race, to understand abstract matters – we need context. Randomness and uncertainty are abstractions. We respect what has happened, ignoring what could have happened. In other words, we are naturally shallow and superficial – and we do not know it.

To be able to focus is a great virtue if you are a watch repairman, a brain surgeon, or a chess player. But the last thing you need to do when you deal with uncertainty is to “focus” (you should tell uncertainty to focus, not us). This focus makes you sucker; it translates into a prediction problems.

The more information you give some one, the more hypotheses they will formulate along the way, and the worse off they will be. They see random noise and mistake it for information.

The problem is that our ideas are sticky: once we produce a theory, we are not likely to change our minds – so those who delay developing theories are better off. Remember, we treat ideas like possessions; it will be had for us to part with them.

We humans are victims of an asymmetry in the perception of random events. We attribute our success to our skills, and our failures to external events outside our control, namely randomness. We feel responsible for the good stuff, but not for the bad.

We can not truly plan, because we do not understand the future – but this is not necessarily bad news. We could plan while bearing in mind such limitations. IT JUST TAKES GUTS.

Forecasting by bureaucrats tend to be used for anxiety relief rather than for adequate policy making.

Any one who causes harm by forecasting should be treated as either a fool or liar. Some forecasters cause more damage to society than criminals. Please, don’t drive a school bus blindfolded.

If I can predict all of your actions, under given circumstances, then you may not be as free as you think you are. You are an automations responding to environmental stimuli. You are slave of destiny.

Tolstoy said that happy families were all alike, while each unhappy family is unhappy in its own unique way.

What is the most potent use of our brain? It’s precisely the ability to project conjectures into the future and play the counterfactual game – if I punch him in the face, when he will punch me back right back or worse call his lawyer in New York.

For philosopher Daniel Dennett, our minds are anticipation machines; for him the human mind and consciousness are emerging properties, those properties necessary for the our accelerated development
We are not predisposed to respect humble people, those who try to suspend judgment. Now contemplate epistemic humility. Think of some one heavily introspective, tortured by the awareness of his own ignorance. He lacks the courage of idiot, yet has the rare guts to say “I don’t know.” He doe not mind looking like a fool or, worse an ignoramus. He hesitates, he will not commit, and he agonizes over the consequences of being wrong. This does not necessarily means that he lacks confidence, only that he holds his own knowledge to be suspect.

…. I wanted to put more of the interesting stuff from the book but it was growing big and bigger so I have refrained from it and hope you will go and read it yourself… please do... It’s a lovely book.
Om Namah Shivaya 
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