Skip to content

IYI, Minority Rule, Tawk, Lindy Effect, 21, Academia, Dumb Enemies, Salafism | Facebook

[New Version] 9/16/16
The Intellectual Yet Idiot


 It is as irrational to reject all conspiracy theories as it is to accept them. 9/13/16


The classical idea is to build mental capacity, physical strength, and moral fortitude to face the world (Antifragile).

The modern one is to technologically change the world. 9/12/16

———————————————————————…/where-you-cannot-generalize-from-knowl… 9/11/16
Where You Cannot Generalize from Knowledge of Parts (continuation of the Minority Rule)



There is this formidable scene in the Godfather when the Hollywood executive wakes up with a dead horse in his bed. It was a threat, and not an empty threat.

Threats reveal weakness, except when they are real. The method of conveying real threats was perfected by the sect of the Assassins, an 11th-14th C. sect that specialized in political assassination (they always spared civilians and people who were not directly targeted). Just as with the Godfather scene, legend has it that the head of an army moving against them woke up to find a dagger and a message near his head. It was a “recommendation” to stop the war (he promptly took the advice). They could have killed him, but they were too strong for that and proved it. They supposedly did the same with Saladin, informing him that the cake he was about to eat was poisoned… by them.

The Assassins were often associated with the Templars as they fought frequently on the side of the crusaders –they were part of a branch of Shiite Islam that was violently anti-Sunni.

The method of putting skin-in-the-game in political leaders started with the sicarii who used similar method of targeted assassination by means of a dagger (as opposed to the sword which entails battles).

They were exactly the opposite of Salafi terrorists: as I said, they killed leaders, not civilians, hence unlike wars their methods focusing on precision avoid the civilian “colateral damage”. Comparisons with Jihadis get it backward: they were targeted (Salafis are not discriminating, going after anything that moves, even their own). Much of what we read about the Assassins can be smear by their enemies (including their name linked to Hashish).

And the dagger-near-the-pillow scene is signaling at its best: the most effective way to deal with an enemy is to prove to him that you own him. You are so strong that you keep him alive.



The New York Municipality has been trying for 70 years to change 6th Avenue to “Avenue of the Americas”, unsuccessfully.

Place names are sticky, we should be able to get back 6000 year old languages… from the names. Or the timing of the settlement. I speculate that the placename is likely to correspond to the time of the first settlement and sticks throughout. Cartagena in Spain was a Carthaginian settlement (itself from Kart-7adash). All villages in the Levant bear either ancient Semitic (Canaanite or Aramaic) or Greek names (“Kfar-something”, “Beit-something”). It is when a new settlement is made, such as Laodikeia (during the Seleucids, 3-4th C BC) that a new name appears, or when one part near a small town is rebuilt as a government center such as Caesarea. When the Romans give a placename, it is usually a corruption of the originial: Berytus to Beirut (small well in Canaanite), Apamea from 7ama (though it is not in the same location), etc.

Now let us speculate. Knossos, the Minoan center, maps most certainly to to a Semitic root (meaning gathering, like Knesseth, Knisse, etc.), so I conjecture whether Linear B=>Canaanite or reverse.

I also speculate that there is a deep connection of pre-Canaanite for my ancestral village Amioun: 3am Yawan “the Ionian people’s settlement” in Canaanite (we have same genes and genetic diseases as Cretans).

And Marseilles, in France, while its inhabitants claim a Phocaean origin (Greeks of Asia Minor), makes me suspect a Phoenician connection, since “Marsa” means port in Canaanite and a nearby hilltop village is called Ramatuelle, from “Ramat El”, Hill of God, which is certainly Phoenician placename.


The more you use a metric (“metrify”), the more you will compare yourself to others.

The more you compare yourself to others, whether favorably or unfavorably, the worse off you will be.

(This continues the odometer story). 9/4/16


Someone I know refrained from riding his bicycle because the odometer was broken. He felt that his cycling didn’t count towards his “goal”.

This is what happens with systems that becomes “modernized”. 9/2/16


By the Lindy Effect, you should know 20 times more about history of the past 2000 years than that of the past 100 years.

In fact, not only most people know more about the past 100 years, but they knew even more about the past 100 days.

Further, history is not geopolitics (who met whom) or wars, but an understanding of what people used, ate, produced, thought, and argued about. 9/1/16

Found the picture of my 21y old self that I mentioned in the commencement address. 8/28/16…/commencement-address-american-universi…


Academia is (nearly) zero-sum: every position, honor, promotion, rank, and reward is taken from someone else.

Business on the other hand creates business.

That’s the only career advice I feel compelled to give. 8/28/16


 Anger is privilege for the strong, duty for the righteous, and self-harm for the weak. 8/23/16


I speculate that the constant internecine and tribal fights in the absence of external dangers made armies stronger. Which is perhaps why the Greek city states were able to fend off the Persian attacks, but Egypt, with its central order, fell apart when Western Asians came down to invade.

This applies to all scales: Sicilians, Maronites, Cretans, and Corsican families, with their culture of vendetta, fight one another when they run out of enemies. 8/19/16


Dumb enemies are a problem as they can be very hard to predict. 8/19/16


Those who say “I feel sorry for you” mean “I feel envy”. Those who really feel sorry for you don’t say anything. 8/17/16


Refine your mind, keep avoiding BS vendors, journos, & statistical noise to the point when logical flaws and nonsense sound like a jarring notes to a musical ear in a middle of a concert. 8/16/16


The more ritualistic your business life is, the more likely you are to go out of business. Many people just go to the office to go to the office, partake of the rituals of the office, get coffee from the coffee machine, then return home. Some, in order to fill the alloted time, partake of something very structured commonly called a meeting.

So, if you are self employed, the discipline is to be in your office if and only if you have something very, very specific to do. If you are employed, the same works indirectly: the more ritualistic your function, the more probable is your eventual redundancy.

There is another dimension: noise. The shorter the time-scale of information, the more noise you will be getting in the office (or online), relative to the signal. Reducing the physical presence is protective in that sense. 5/15/16


The Most Intolerant Wins 8/14/16…/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dictators

[Trying a new venue to post chapters. ]


In every undertaking, the more humans try to be demi-gods, the more they become half-monsters 8/13/16



There used to be a distinction between an athlete representing virtus (human-ness*) and ἀρετή (the quality of being what you are made to be) on one hand, and, on the other the circus acrobat selling uniqueness and deformity. Mediterranean ideals, as opposed to the Egypto-Babylonian ones, were about scale and balance: even the Gods were brought down to human scale. (Yet homines sumus, non dei: we are men, not gods)

Today’s Olympics, by dint of specialization and overoptimization, thanks to the media and the huge financing involved, have transformed the athlete into a circus acrobat, a mutant selling deformities.

Let me insist: anything overoptimized, or even barely optimized, is no longer human.

Hominem te esse memento!

* manliness in PC terms.


I never imagined that, in 2016, people selfdefined on the “left” would be in favor of repression, censorship, cronyism, Monsantoism, lobbies, elitism, military interventionsim, and … Salafism ! 8/11/16


That Thing We Call Religion [SKIN IN THE GAME] 8/5/16

The problem of the verbalistic (and the journalistic) is expressed in an aphorism earlier in the Incerto: mathematicians think in (well precisely defined and mapped) objects, philosophers in concepts, jurists in constructs, logicians in operators (…), and idiots in words. We saw that risk and tail risk are mathematically separate objects, conflated by the IYI (intellectual yet idiot) crowd. Two people can be using the same word, meaning different things, yet continue the conversation, which is fine for coffee, but not when making decisions, particularly policy decisions affecting others. But it is easy to trip them, as Socrates did, simply by asking them what they mean by what they said –hence philosophy was born as rigor in discourse and disentanglement of mixed up notions, in precise opposition to the sophist’s promotion of rhetoric. But, since Socrates we have had a long tradition of mathematical science and contract law driven by precision in mapping terms. But we also have had many pronouncements by idiots using labels.

People rarely mean the same thing when they say “religion”, nor do they realize that they don’t mean the same thing. For early Jews and Muslims, religion was law. Din means law in Hebrew and religion in Arabic. For early Jews, religion was also tribal; for early Muslims, it was universal. For the Romans, religion was social events, rituals, and festivals –the word religio was opposition to superstitio, and while present in the Roman zeitgeist had no equivalent concept in the Greek-Byzantine East . Law was procedurally and mechanically its own thing, and early Christianity, thanks to Saint Augustine, stayed relatively away from the law, and, later, remembering its foundations, had an uneasy relation with it. The difference is marked in that Christian Aramaic uses a different word: din for religion and nomous (from the Greek) for law. Jesus, with his imperative “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”, separated the holy and the profane: Christianity was for another domain, “the kingdom to come”, only merged with this one in the eschaton. Neither Islam nor Judaism have a marked separation between holy and profane. And of course Christianity moved away from the solely-spiritual domain to embrace the ceremonial and ritualistic, integrating much of the pagan rites of the Levant and Asia Minor.

For Jews today, religion became ethnocultural, without the law –and for many, a nation. Same for Syriacs, Chaldeans, Armenians, Copts, and Maronites. For Orthodox and Catholic Christians religion is aesthetics, pomp and rituals. For Protestants, religion is belief with no aesthetics, pomp or law. Further East, for Buddhists, Shintoists and Hindus, religion is practical and spiritual philosophy, with a code of ethics (and for some, cosmogony). So when Hindu talk about the Hindu “religion” they don’t mean the same thing to a Pakistani as it would to a Hindu, and certainly something different for a Persian.

When the nation-state idea came about, things got more, much more complicated. When an Arab now says “Jew” he largely means something about a creed; to Arabs, a converted Jew is no longer a Jew. But for a Jew, a Jew is someone whose mother is a Jew. But it somewhat merged into nation-state and now means a nation.

In Serbia-Croatia and Lebanon, religion means something at times of peace, and something quite different at times of war.

When someone discusses the “Christian minority” in the Levant, it doesn’t mean (as Arabs tend to think) promoting a Christian theocracy (full theocracies were very few in Christian history, just Byzantium and a short attempt by Calvin). He just means “secular” or wants a marked separation of church and state. Same for the gnostics (Druids, Druze, Mandeans, Alawis).

The problem with the European Union is that the naive IYI bureaucrats (these idiots who can’t find a coconut on Coconut island) are fooled by the label. They treat Salafism as just a religion –with its houses of “worship”—when in fact it is just an intolerant political system, which promotes (or allows) violence and refuses the institutions of the West –those that allow them to operate. As we saw with the minority rule, the intolerant will run over the tolerant; cancer requires being stopped before it becomes metastatic.

We will see in the next chapter that “belief” can be epistemic, or simply procedural (pisteic) –leading to confusions about what sort of beliefs, are religious beliefs and which ones are not, disentangled through signaling. For, on top of the “religion” problem, there is a problem with belief. Some beliefs are largely decorative , some are functional (they help in survival); others are literal. And to revert to our metastatic Salafi problem: when one of these fundamentalists talks to a Christian, he is convinced that the Christian is literal, while the Christian is convinced that the Salafi has the same oft-metaphorical concepts to be taken seriously but not literally –and, often, not very seriously. Religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and, to some extent Shiite Islam, evolved (or let their members evolve in developing a sophisticated society) precisely by moving away from the literal –in addition to the functional aspect of the metaphorical, the literal doesn’t leave any room for adaptation .

PS We classicists can invoke Graeco-Roman ethics, that is, virtue ethics, and claim wisdom of the ancestors, or distillation of 3000 years of Mediterranean wisdom and benefit from the Lindy effect. The Salafis are trying the same thing (Salafi means ancestral) –and failing to do anything … actually going backward as we keep advancing. Why? Because Graeco-Roman ethics was never literal, but about principles


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *