Microscopic Black Swans

Microscopic Black Swans
by Uncle Yarra

In general, Taleb refers to a Black Swan as something that is consequential (the preface describes it as ‘massive impact’), but not much about the type of or the size. Admittedly the book is about dealing with the unknown, and our tendency to categorise what we think we know to our own detriment by ignoring what we do not know. Thus it would be slightly odd for him to write about outlier events in a manner that categorises them by size and type. Nevertheless, lately I have been thinking that the Black Swans of science and technology have another common feature – apparent insignificance. What I will discuss here will attempt to show that the smaller and more insignificant something is, the greater the chance of ‘outlier possibilities’. Taleb does not specifically cite anything similar, but p89 “We favour the sensational and the extremely visible” buttresses the general point. I also accept that the risk in such a discussion is to focus on specifics as opposed to generalities – one of the factors, Taleb argues, that stops us perceiving possible Black Swan events.


To clarify, I should cite some examples to illustrate my point.

The birth of modern electronics could arguably be traced back to dirty light bulbs. Edison and others had noted that as an incandescent light bulb approached the end of its life that the glass envelope darkened, reducing its intensity (this was the filament actually being deposited on the glass surface as it evaporated over time). Edison had tried to counter this effect by placing a ‘plate’ between the filament and the envelope. He found that by placing a voltage on this plate, that a small current could be drawn, but only if the polarity was positive with respect to the filament. He called this the ‘Edison Effect’ and did nothing else with it. He had in fact invented the first diode – an electronic one-way street that could rectify (convert) alternating current into direct current. More importantly, Lee DeForest added another electrode to make the diode a triode, and amplification was born. A gossamer thin film of tungsten on a glass surface led to electronics.

The minute differences in the orbit of Mars (long thought to be perfectly circular) raised the curiosity of Gauss, who eventually posited that orbits may in fact be elliptical. He was able to prove this by successfully predicting the orbit of Ceres (to a few minutes of accuracy); a new celestial body that had been observed for only a few days. Successful space flight would be impossible without understanding the time-area rule of ellipses and how to predict the motion of celestial bodies in space.

As chemists began exploring compounds and filling gaps in the periodic table of the elements, there were minute differences in weight between pure forms of elements which did not conform to the simple rules that their knowledge of matter suggested. Those differences we now know to be from different isotopes of the element in question, and of course, we know what can be done with different isotopes of certain materials.

Stating the term ‘apparent insignificance’ does not mean we should all take LSD and ponder the wonderful geometries of lint in our navels; the adjective is important! Rather, it is a small, observable effect that seems unrelated to our knowledge or the mechanism operating around it. Remembering Taleb’s point that information is expensive, we should not let our knowledge become too efficient. That is, develop a body of knowledge on as little information as possible. New information, seen through the lens of our current knowledge may seem to have ‘apparent insignificance’, and unworthy of a place in Mediocristans’ library, yet be the key to the city of Extremistan.

An important aspect to what I am trying to define with the term ‘apparent insignificance’ comes from the second word. No-one would be surprised if further development of spark plugs led to ceramic insulators that could withstand higher temperatures, such a result is almost mandated in the process. The same cannot be said for the discovery of thermionic emission when trying to extend the life of light bulbs, or nuclear energy whilst measuring the weight of different elements.

To be insignificant (in the context of this article) does not mean that there has to be relatively significant things nearby. Indeed, apparent insignificance could well be applied to endeavours with no mandated purpose. The LASER was considered useless, not even an interesting parlour trick when Maiman’s work at Hughes Research was released (except perhaps to avid science-fiction comic book readers).

[The insignificant endeavour I am currently interested in is the most recently created state of matter, a Bose-Einstein condensate (our knowledge now says there are six). Why? Because it does not seem to have any practical use at the moment; has only been created under very special laboratory conditions and (in a nod to Taleb) this ‘stuff’ behaves most strangely when statistical analysis of the particles cannot be applied]

Another reason ‘apparent insignificance’ may be important is cultural. In the West, we have a tendency to go from hypothesis to theory to law; with a law being immutable. Vladimir Vernadsky, the Russian who is generally (though incorrectly) accredited with coining the term Biosphere, wrote at considerable length about empirical generalisations in his book ‘The Biosphere’. Consider this quote (author’s italics):-

“Such a generalisation does not go beyond the factual limits, and disregards agreements between the conclusions reached and our representations of nature”

I read this as saying that we should be extremely careful about reaching conclusions, lest we become enamoured with our own ideas, and ignore new possibilities. Beautifully though, we do not have to disregard any contradictions with an empirical generalisation, because “any contradictions would constitute a scientific discovery” (a black swan is a good example, as is Mendeleev’s generalisations about the periodic table – see above).


“A hypothesis, or theoretical construction, is fashioned in an entirely different way. A single or small number of the essential properties of a phenomenon are considered, the rest being ignored, and on this basis, a representation of the phenomenon is made. A scientific hypothesis always goes beyond (frequently, far beyond) the facts on which it is based. To obtain the necessary solidity, it must the form all possible connections with other dominant theoretical constructions of nature, and it must not contradict them”.

[Given the amount of space devoted to this concept in his book, I can only surmise that Vernadsky hated hypotheses, and would hate the application of Gaussian statistical theory to life]

Tying this in with the premise of this article, in my opinion, Vernadsky is not saying that we should ignore ‘apparent insignificance’ because of the danger of forming ego-gratifying hypotheses – rather the opposite. That is, to not place too much weight on current scientific knowledge at the expense of ignoring new information. An empirical generalisation is founded on the same level of precision as a scientific fact because it disregards any agreements and denies extrapolations (another of Vernadsky’s pet hates, it would seem). More importantly, a generalisation does not need to be buttressed by anything other than the facts which is made in regard to, keeping our minds open.

In summary, ‘apparent insignificance’ is probably something we in the West need to be more aware of, but a valuable investigative guide wherever you are.

90 Replies to “Microscopic Black Swans”

  1. anything can be apparently insignificant until shown to be otherwise. then it is significant, by definition.

    let’s go chasing the flapping of butterfly wings in the brazilian rainforest and see where they blow our ship aground. this artcle is stupid and annoying, and not just apparently so.

  2. that’s not to say that if you observe something, wierd, out of ordinary, novel, interesting for it’s own sake, etc., etc…..on and on, that you shoulnd’t go check it out. but most, not all of course, insignificant events, are just insignificant.

  3. randomness needs a patern. someone always needs to reverse engineer a fucking inkblot and turn it into something. what shit. that’s all i can say. what shit.

  4. how abou the significance of the first time a monkey dropped a stone on a rock and made a flake of stone. god, look where that’s lead us. who woulda thunk?

  5. or the first time a monkey stuck astick into a anthill and pulled out some ants? mindboggeling, the possibilities have proved to be in retrospect.

  6. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=DLFkQdiXPbo&NR=1

    with infinite resources(means a lot of things) one can expand complexity infinately, i guess. otherwise the wieght of the structure will meet asymtotic limits and must collapse on itself. taleb seems to understand this, but is not very articulate about it.

    the author of this piece of shit aritcle seems to think that layers of system complexity can be added without reguard. he is promulgating the type of shit that someone like dale(as a convenient example only) loves.

  7. Thanks for the comments Dave. If I wanted my arse kissed I could have posted it on TOD or something.
    So I tried to get an honest response by putting it here.

    Could the whole thing be reduced down to one word, serendipity? Perhaps, but I’m more interested in the small things, which serendipity isn’t necessarily about.

    -Early tools, sure, they certainly were significant, but the stick was supposed to prod the ant’s nest and the primate got ants, no real unrelated discovery there.

    -Butterfly’s wings, not exactly repeatable, which is what I was trying to infer, but more related to Taleb’s book (he discusses this a little).

    “but most, not all of course, insignificant events, are just insignificant.” – Sure, but why do some of the smallest ones end up being so significant? that’s what interested me.

    “the author of this piece of shit aritcle seems to think that layers of system complexity can be added without regard”
    WTF?? You said yourself that if it interests you, check it out – how have I taken it any further?
    (Bif has a point, though, a lot of bad shit could be discovered)

    From previous discussions, Dave, I thought you would have had more issue with the idea that Russians think differently to us in the West.

  8. hmm, sorry yarra. i really didn’t know that you wrote it. i wouldn’t have been so nice about it if i had known.

    “In summary, ‘apparent insignificance’ is probably something we in the West need to be more aware of, but a valuable investigative guide wherever you are.”

    anyhoo, i’m not sure what you’re getting at. what else drives science other than anomolies within data? that’s how old theories get thrown out, and new, hopefully more complete theories get advanced. this is a long and labrious process. it usually involves the death of adherants to the older paradigm.

    now, if you’re talking about technological adavance based on happenstance, well how else dose it happen? people look for better ways to do things all the time. sometimes they get lucky, and it takes off.

    tungsten being deposited onto the inside of a glass bulb is no different than a butterflie’s turbulence in the amazon. under the right conditions, equally as rare, one gets turned into a hurrican, and the other turns into microprossesors.

    no difference, when looked at from the right perspective.

  9. i’ve not read taleb, and maybe i should. but i’m not that interested.

    anyhoo, from what i know of taleb, his basic message is that statistics are just that. it’s a matter of taking a bunch of data and massaging it into some useable form. what useable is, depends completely and utterly upon the user. there will always, always, be anomolies to the data. only god can have a complete set of data.

    so, does this mean that statistics and the accumulation and manipulation of data are useless? well, id’ say that that’s a matter of perspective.

  10. if you think that your data and you massaging give you a complete picture, you’re wrong. many people think that. and that, i think, is mainly what you can take away from taleb.

  11. anyhoo, your article is nice. but if you’re advancing some notion that happenstnce leads to progress of some sort, then i’m not sure what you’re taliking about. and maybe that’s my problem.

    happenstance leads to further happenstance.

  12. “what else drives science other than anomalies within data?”
    Well, that is mostly it (apart from a bit of “I’m bored, let’s blow some shit up” type experimentation).
    But technology is related to engineering and all the restrictions that it entails.
    You could pursue some anomalies in data if you had the time, but Mr Nippondenso is badgering you for that new racing spark plug.

  13. Taleb talks about dis-confirmation a lot, i.e. it only takes ONE black swan to destroy all those years of false confirmation of all swans being white. Then when you look for them, you find other black swans.

    Say you meaure till your fingers bleed the current through a light bulb. See? every time I measure, the current in equals the current out, no current can leave the filament. You try different filaments and they all confirm (falsely) your data. Then someone tries the plate/diode thingy.
    That first instance is repeatable though, not like the chaos theory you referred to with the butterfly, i.e. the circumstances are not anywhere near as rare.

    “happenstance leads to further happenstance”
    -no argument there.

    Fuck, maybe the smaller the discovery the more dangerous it is.

    What’s Kuhn write about?

  14. Here’s some possibly related tid bits that I have learned in my 38-year career in state-sponsored scientific research:

    (1) The greatest advances are not funded in the traditional manner. Almost by definition, if you are innovating, you are way ahead of the traditional funding curve. Funds will be obtained subversively, likely from unrelated efforts, if at all. Your superiors will either be clueless or unappreciative, if informed.

    (2) Because of (1) above, one has to gamble and be subversive to “get er done”. Some call this expeditious behavior, others (e.g., “bean counters”) call it dishonest, not playing by the rules, etc. Sometimes these gambles pay off–all is forgiven. Sometimes you lose–watch your back time.

    (3) If you’re excited about the potential outcomes and having fun, chances are you are doing great science. For me, this is about a 5-10 year recurrence.

    (4) Once the real funding is in place and higher ups are informed of your activities, the incremental, boring research begins. Time to dream up some new exciting research pathway.

  15. That first instance is repeatable though, not like the chaos theory you referred to with the butterfly, i.e. the circumstances are not anywhere near as rare.

    the first instance was the only instance(just sticking to your story anyway. in my view any idea of this or that causing one thing or another is kind of arbitrary. but everystory needs a beginning and end, i guess.) that launched the current, and only ever, electronic industry. i’d say that butterflies causing hurricanes happen much more often.

  16. “i’d say that butterflies causing hurricanes happen much more often.” – more of them than light bulbs, too –
    But both are scalable, one flap could cause a small or large hurricane*, for the same effort on the part of the butterfly; which is why hurricanes occur in the real world and not in Mediocristan.**

    * or none, mostly,
    ** Taleb jargon alert

    Looking at that wiki blurb on Kuhn kinda makes me think you agree with Vernadsky about generalisations.

    You do spin people out with the way you think, Dave.

  17. hey yarra,

    well, i spent some time reading your original piece through again, carefully. this is all i really have to say:

    i’d say that there is much more danger in jumping to ego gratifieing generalization by paying too much attention to small(whatever that is) empirical disparities, than there is in sticking to well established, tried and tested, theory.

    for example, purely whimiscal, one could test the 2’nd law and find appearant violations. i’ve had people argue these points with me more than once. even after i’ve pointed out thier errors in both practice and logic, they insist that i’m just hiding behind dogma. thier egos just won’t let go. so what’s a girl to do? go buy a push up bra i guess.

  18. but again, this is to say that one shouln’t investigate apperant inconsistances. but one should never attach some preconcieved notions to those inconsistancies, if that’s even possible.

  19. finally, context is everything in practice. for example, just suppose it turned out there was only half the oil available as there turned out to be to fuel the electronic industry, or any other limting resource made itself know. it simply would have died on the vine. very analogous to a potential hurrican passing over a patch of cold water. if the patch is big enough, it dies out.

    i could go on with monkeys and sticks and ants and shit, but i won’t.

  20. i really dislike that butterfly-hurricane analogy. there is no appreciation of scale there whatsoever. it just points out to me another case of where humans disconnect with the reality of this planet.

    sorry to interrupt, dave and yarra.

  21. eh, do you really think that, i, or anybody else for that matter, thinks that butterflies cause hurricans? the real point is, that you just don’t know what causes what.

    take hurricans, for example, and forget butterflies. you can, after the fact, point to various atmospheric conditions that might support the formation of hurricans. but you cannot point to any one specific factor or event that that causes the formation of any particular hurrican. you may be able to point to a small storm that became a hurrican. but what formed the storm……ect.etc? maybe a butterfly.

  22. “but again, this is to say that one shouln’t investigate apperant inconsistances. but one should never attach some preconcieved notions to those inconsistancies, if that’s even possible.”

    And that’s about it.
    Like I said, after reading Taleb some ideas came to mind. I threw them out there, you guys made some comments, and that’s about it. Hopefully it wan’t a total waste of time.

    BTW, it was farkin humid up North, but I did get to go to the beach this morning.

  23. well, i’d just like to applogize again. if i had know it was you who wrote from the git go, i would have read it in a different light.

  24. Doom-

    I’ve been looking for the little piece below for months so that I could send it to you “re” our long-time-ago exchange on the tsunami. Lo and behold, up it popped just now and here’s the appropriate discussion for it!

    Indonesian Earthquake Shook Planet

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    The Washington Post

    The great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake that generated a devastating tsunami in December was so powerful that the ground shook everywhere on Earth’s surface and weeks later the planet still trembled.
    “No point on Earth remained undisturbed,” said Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado. Ground movement of at least four-tenths of an inch occurred everywhere as a result of the strongest quake in more than 40 years, though the sensation was not noticed in many areas.
    The quake resulted from the longest fault rupture ever observed – 720 miles to 780 miles, which spread for 10 minutes. A typical earthquake lasts 30 seconds.
    The quake was the first of its size to be measured and studied by the new worldwide array of digital seismic instruments. A special section of a half-dozen research papers on the quake appeared in today’s issue of the journal Science.
    The quake caused the planet to oscillate like a bell, at periods of about 17 minutes, which scientists were able to detect for weeks.

  25. “Hopefully it wan’t a total waste of time.”

    C’mon, off course not. It struck me as a thought you are developing. It’s incomplete. This is as good a place as any to float it. Getting red ink all over it will challenge your ideas, assumptions, arguments, etc. and make it better. Some editors get hold of your stuff its like they had a nose bleed.

    Hey if we agree with each other too much here it will get boring fast. What good would it be if Dave just blew smoke at you. His negative reaction will probably make you think harder about it and you can frame the idea better.

    We have editors where I work that are heartless and merciless. They don’t sugar coat anything. Even though I bring them gifts, those rotten no good smarti-pants fuckers. It’s humbling, but you know, the criticism does help (if you are on to something) make the end product much tighter.

  26. EE, thanks for that. I take Science, so I’ll look for that issue.

    Not to brag or anything, but I study megatsunamis caused by giant submarine landslides. I have publically defined a megatsunami as one with wave heights of 100 m or greater (last week in SF and the fall AGU meeting).

    The “great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake that generated a devastating tsunami” had wave heights of 20 m or less. Therefore, it does not qualify as a megatsunami.

  27. Nuke weed?

    Thats not what mine would look like.

    Ah the good old days before kids

    Someday in the near future it will be ok to do it again.

  28. I was driving home and there was a big plastic wiseman in the street. or it might have been a Joseph. We’re having a wind storm here. Someone’s nativity setup must have gone airborne. Its probably an omen.

  29. “Not to brag or anything, but I study megatsunamis caused by giant submarine landslides.” –Dr. Doom


    Hey, I’m impressed! That’s why I keep coming back to you with my silly questions.

    “I have publically defined a megatsunami as one with wave heights of 100 m or greater (last week in SF and the fall AGU meeting).”

    It makes sense that the potential land damage of a megatsunami could be much greater than a tsunami because of the greatly increased wave height. But is there some kind of direct corollary between the underwater shifts and the wave size in terms of potential damage?

    While I was still watching occasional TV back then (early 2005), I remembering seeing this long and fascinating program on megatsunamis and how they were created. The tsunami models–and how the pressure built up–were very reminiscent of financial risk-testing models I’ve seen since.

  30. Honolulu got hit with some kind of mega-lightning strike today, that’s what made the power go off.

    Probably a sphere like the one Klaatu in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” came in. Oh, wait… that was just a movie. sorry.

  31. “While I was still watching occasional TV back then (early 2005)”

    It seems like eons ago. Nothing has changed.

    Little hint/tip for those who like to “chip” a little. For $80 you can get a HDTV USB-key from Pinnacle. It picks up broadcast HDTV (ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX/PBS and others BY LAW) on your computer.

    It is an inch and a half long. It is a USB-flash key. Comes with antennae, works fine without it.

    In all my tears of testing new computer equipment, this performed out of the box better than any of my most optimistic expectations. True HD 1080i resolution, perfect on any laptop manufactured in the last 3 years. I was blown away.

    You can record with it. Comes with a remote. will obviously work on desktops. If I had some column in a tech mag I would give this gadget of the year.

    I bought this for my retard brother-in-law thinking I would just see if it worked and return it. He was able to set it up himself inside of 30 seconds and started watching the Celtics/Lakers game while I insisted on the Monster Jam Marathon on the Speed Channel (just kidding, he insisted on both).

    Like I say, I was able to spend some alone-time with my sister, since fucknuts was so enthralled with his little toy he couldn’t come to the movies with us.

    Yeah. 80 bucks will buy you an HDTV the size of a flash-drive. I don’t make shit up.

    I’ll post a link in a second.

  32. “I was driving home and there was a big plastic wiseman in the street. or it might have been a Joseph. We’re having a wind storm here. Someone’s nativity setup must have gone airborne. Its probably an omen.” –St. Bif

    LOLOLOL… it means that either Joe Lieberman or some wiseguy from the east coast will make a huge push to expand highways despite windy opposition.

  33. “either Joe Lieberman or some wiseguy from the east coast ”

    Oh, c’mon. It will be Obama :)

    Sorry, Obama now IS the wiseguy from the east coast.

  34. Yeah, they say the NY senate seat is narrowed down to Caroline Kennedy, Oprah, or Rosie O’Donnell. Will Caroline take the Amtrak into the slush and mud of upstate NY to come see me?

  35. “Little hint/tip for those who like to “chip” a little. For $80 you can get a HDTV USB-key from Pinnacle. It picks up broadcast HDTV (ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX/PBS and others BY LAW) on your computer.”

    I’m interested- please post that link. Thanks

  36. “Mostly heirloom tomatoes in the far beds.”

    VERY impressive Yarra! That one batch of tomato greens on the right looks like it’s on steroids.

    “Will Caroline take the Amtrak into the slush and mud of upstate NY to come see me?”

    Just send her a link to your fish picture, Bif. She’ll be there in a NY minute to mud wrestle with Mrs. Bif for the honor of meeting with you. (Her hubbie, Ed, is a dilletante designer… very boring.)

    I just hope my former fellow NYers don’t get stuck with that douchebag Andrew Cuomo.

    IMHO, Joe Lieberman is a sanctimonious putz.

  37. “California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.”


  38. Ya Remus, the Russian is channeling JHK’s TLE book. I once drew a similar map to illustrate Jim’s vision of the future US lower 48 and sent it to him for comment. He has few illustrations in his books, and none in TLE. So, he took mock offense at me calling his “Old Union” Yankeeland (NE states) but we agreed on “New Dixie” for the Old South southern tier states (red states).

    We seem to disagree with the Russian on the fate of California. Jim and I believe that Mexico will claim or reclaim at least the southern portion, along with Arizona and New Mexico. His analysis of the Pacific NW falling under Chinese influence mirrors Jim’s views. Alaska could indeed be reclaimed for debts to the Russian empire. As for Hawaii, maybe Japanese or Chinese, more likely Japanese. The interior states could just be a no-man’s land. Why would Canada want it?

    I suspect none of this will occur without a fight.

  39. BTW Uncle Yarra, that’s an impressive hot house garden you’ve got going out there.

    My Aunt Cozy had a similar green thumb. Her husband, the ever resourceful Uncle Herchel, built her a large hot house from used fluorescent light bulbs–8 footers I recall. Their son-in-law was the head of some SoCal school district, and got them for free. Uncle H had some welder dude make an open frame out of steel. Then they just dropped them in.

    Aunt Cozy’s other secret was loads of chicken manure, also free as they had a small chicken egg ranch in back. The raw stuff is strong.

    Too bad they wasted it all on exotic plants, like fuschias–her specialty, but that was in the day of 20 cents per gallon gasoline.

  40. Yarra, looks like gravel in that tub, is this your hydroponics setup?

    EE, I agree, Lieberman is pure scum.

    Doom, people in the south don’t want to be called Dixie anymore. Just call it the ‘Land of the Lizard People’. I don’t think Mexico will have firm possession of anything. It will just go chaotic, and ultimately splinter into quasi turf-states, and southern California and Texas will somehow be connected into that loose arrangement. Holmes will lead his people over the mountains, establish a web of trading posts, warehouses, functional transport and regional communication networks. His accumulation of power and broad region of influence will allow him to muster an army of a hundred thousand strong. He will wear white robes and fly across the desert on his own personal diesel locomotive. Something like that probably.

  41. Holmes, all you need to do is give the signal and I will be there with my people. We are there for you. All we ask is that we get our share of the booty.

  42. A mix of red scoria and expanded clay.
    Remember there are no hydroponic chemicals though, it’s all organic – fish provide the nutrients into the water which is recycled.

  43. Talapia are African I think. Starting to be commercialized more here in U.S., and also China and other warm/temperate places. As I’m sure you know, omnivorous/vegetation eaters, which has its advantages. Traditionally a poor peoples fish, but also easy to grow and feed, and happens to be highly nutritious. My opinion is some day much of the world will be kept alive by growing and eating tilapia.

    So your fish pond effluent provides the nitrogen. What about phosphorous, potasium and trace elements?

  44. Uncle Yarra, that’s a very neat hydroponic greenhouse system you’ve got going. I trust you also have a seasonal outdoor garden as well. Just in case. You know, the kind with dirt, compost, birds, and bugs. Also, what do you use for pollination inside there?

  45. Hey, GB,

    Because of the Time Zone difference and other factors, it’s not always possible to have a normal conversation with Yarra. But I know how much this stuff interests people including myself, so I’m going to set up a dedicated section for it.

    probably a Tab up the top (I’ll probably have to lose Sports). In the meantime, I highly recommend that aquaponics website that Yarra is a member of.

    I love it. It’s so cool to go somewhere completely free of politics, ideology, and all the other bullshit we humans have dreamed up.

  46. Don’t fret, we’ll squeeze some porno into Sports under the wholesome sex sub-category. Fit women in scanty bikinis, cheer leaders, etc.

  47. Yeah, you are right. Ultimatum and probably Airlines can go, since they’re not big issues. Sports is staying. It’s too much of a guy thing.

    I’ve always allowed EE to have the Cultural Area and she can change that anytime she wants. If they want to change it to Sex in the City or Desperate Housewives, that’s up to them, or Obama (I’m not sure who runs anything these days, but it ain’t me).

    I know I can be overbearing with my Formula 1, but at least it’s not football.

  48. It relates to this thread because it is zulukilo. Perhaps I should set up another Tab on Drugs.

    Any news on whether Obama has “quit” yet? I never liked the man. I still don’t. But I’ll give him a cigarette anytime.

    The last thing this country needs is a president trying to quit.

    Good Movie: I’ll write something about this soon. Google it. The third brother “Mad Dog” just killed himself. I don’t know if you can call this ironic. I’m always a stickler for definitions of ironic.

    “Bigger, Stronger, Faster”

    Excellent, excellent documentary about steroids and the USA. You know I don’t watch crap.

  49. “It’s toasted!” — that marketing slogan was lifted/used in the first (or second) Mad Men episode.

    JR, you can probably also add Stephen Leeb, who wrote “The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel” (2006), to your list of “chickens”. Disastrously wrong investment advice. So far.

  50. Holmes? Are you watching Mad Men now. Oh. My life is complete. Isn’t that the best?… oh, wait. I should ask your opinion before I assume it, let’s try again.

    I loved it. How bout you? Seriously (as John Hamm) what did you think?

    I’ve seen them all (I’m guessing you’re just a newb clearing season 1 on DVD) so don’t fuck with me.

    …uumm, no wrong, idiot, he said first or second, so simmer down and hope he doesn’t notice.

    …. Uh, yes, Leeb, yeah, the “investment” book. Saw it early on, was not impressed. Actually read through large parts of it. Horrific.

    It’s a moneymaker. It still is. It is remarkable how popular stuff like this is. Guys like dale love this stuff. It’s enticing. Anybody could fall for it. especially the way it is marketed.

    Soon I’ll post my history with peak oil.

    Holmes, I’m hoping you’ll help me with my writing, we’ll brush it up a bit, and then you and Bif and I will escape to France with your wives and my francs. Jus sayin.

  51. Yeah, we’ll hang with Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. She’ll get wasted and start talking about Eric Clapton and we’ll have to tactfully change the subject and steer it toward something less inflammatory like how much longer will the French language be spoken outside of Vietnam or maybe clear the bad air by proposing an electronic Maginot Line (just like the high tech whimsy previously talked about for the US/Mexico border).

  52. Usually MaryW saves me. but it takes like 3 weeks. Time Zones.

    Thanks, Brother, I was won dering when someone was gonna show up. Let’s get the fuck outta here. I’m drivin. Wooooooooowheeeeee!

  53. 6 minutes later JR is in the drivers seat. Doesn’t sound possible. It’s not. But i am. I’m super fast. check me.

    I would never even check up on my closest homies. I know they are all much faster.

  54. Holmes, 30 years from now, no matter what, me and you will me sitting on a beach in Greece sipping ouzo and griping about arthritis and the books we didn’t write. I guarantee it. Nicholas can join us if he wants.

  55. GB,

    (if you are greenbeans from CFN this will be old-hat for you, but anyways…)

    Summertime makes the thing farkin hot, there is a big hangar-style door at the side that I open. I also have native bees (JR has pictures – I’m hoping to get better pics soon).
    On the AP thread you can see some plywood at the back of the shed before it was built – that is the side of the chook shed. Outside the greenhouse I also have 4 5mx5m garden beds which I intend to occassionally irrigate with the nutrient rich water from the aquaponics system (currently they are organic and happily tractored by a flock of about 20 chickens).
    I also have a herb mound and a permaculture ‘zone A’ near the house. I have plantings of ‘good bug mix’ which is a mix of seeds designed to attract pest-eating insects. I harvest composting worms from the septic tanks (yes, I rinse them first).
    As for other minerals, the most common additives are chelated iron and shell grits, which seem to keep most people’s systems OK, as long as organic fish food is used.
    Yes, a closed system is a double-edged sword – you can keep out the bad stuff, but you have to make sure the good stuff goes in, too.

  56. UY

    Your set up makes my garden look pathetic but everyone’s gotta start somewhere. To attract bees we have heaps of borage planted out as they love the blue flowers but I don’t know how it would go in your neck of the woods.


    Fucking sad those fag ads, almost as bad as the old ‘9 out of 10 men who’ve tried a camel prefer a woman’ T shirts.


    The Danzatap site was a laugh – I pissed myself when I read the posting re the price check for the lube.

    The program on the steroids sounds interesting – saw a US one about four months ago on some guy who just couldn’t stop injecting until one day he felt like utter crap and tried to extract some of the junk out of his biceps. I’ll never fathom why a guy would want such huge biceps and such a small dick after pumping himself full of that crap.

    And as it’s 2009 already, one of my faves from LZ1 – I never can decide whether I like LZ1 or LZ3 better. If people don’t like it then they can get a big dog right up them – fuck it, I’ve been on the ouzo, even soused some strawberries in it :

    Robert’s just been made a CBE:


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