A Layman’s Evaluation of Risk: Likelihood vs. Magnitude

I woke up this morning to a Twitter feed that got the juices flowing regarding ubiquity. Nassim Nicholas Taleb quoted a tweet containing a link to a Washington Post editorial titled “You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist“. The text of Taleb’s tweet suggested he wasn’t too impressed with the article’s content.

More from Taleb…

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Race Is a Social Construct, and It’s Built With Language

Every time I read the statement, “Race is a social construct,” in a blog post or editorial, I can’t help but think the unwritten assumption being made by the author is that race and racism are highly malleable, subject to easy disassembly. We might be led to believe race is merely a social construct and if we talk about it enough we can undo its very existence. I don’t think this is true. I think talking about race instead reinforces its existence and, by extension, strengthens racism. Our only language to talk about race is a language filled with words which only have meaning in relation to the construct of race itself. That we have no choice but to talk about race in this way seems only to make matters worse.

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Captain America Lives In Ferguson, Missouri

Early this month I purchased some books at Barnes & Noble, and found myself musing on the seeming contradiction of purchasing The Virtues of Captain America: Modern-Day Lessons on Character from a World War II Superhero and The Autobiography of Malcolm X during the same visit. I don’t normally purchase pop-philosophy books, but am a bit of a sucker for Captain America. I was looking for a book about Malcolm X and an autobiography seems as close to the perfect book to buy as possible. But maybe buying those two books on the same day isn’t quite so contradictory as I thought.

Marvel is shaking up their roster of characters at the comics level and one of the most notable changes to the lineup is Sam Wilson, the superhero formerly known as The Falcon, taking on the mantle of Captain America. This is a good thing, of course, but it remains within the realm of fiction. The realm of fact didn’t seem quite up to providing an example (other than purely personal notions) of why it might’ve made sense to buy those two books together.

Several days after making the purchase, a young black man named Michael Brown was murdered by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

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Revisiting the Inkwell of Lies

A month ago I wrote and published Donating Blood to the Inkwell of Lies, about propaganda concerning alleged rejection of Israeli blood donations by the Palestinian Authority. I posted a note to Twitter about it:

including a hashtagified compression of Magen David Adom, the name of the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. This turns out to have had the likely side effect of attracting the attention of a particular Twitter user who had something to add to the inkwell:

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On My Recently Dashed Hopes For Sam Harris

I’ve been an admirer of Sam Harris for just shy of a decade. I’ve read most of his books and am looking forward to reading Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion when it becomes available. This admiration has, however, suffered some damage in recent years, and it’s fair to say this damage is in some significant sense a result of my own shifting of views on matters of religion and state power. I’ve held out some hope that Sam might experience a similar shift. I even had specific reason to hope for such a shift given the content of one of his blog posts where he references having watched Dirty Wars, the documentary by Jeremy Scahill and David Riker about US covert operations.

My original concept for this post, thought of a few months ago, was to explore the antagonism between Sam and a few of his most vocal critics: Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, and Murtaza Hussain. I’m replacing that with a much more recent and more topical disappointment. Sam recorded a podcast (which he later transcribed and annotated) under the title ‘Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?’. Whether or not you believe me, I will tell you that nothing in his podcast surprised me in the least. I almost feel like I could have recorded it for him, without him even telling me its content beyond the titular question. And therein lie my dashed hopes.

What follows is a point-by-point criticism of his blog post. Don’t mistake any agreement on my part with any portion of his post an agreement with it overall. As an aggregate, it’s very disheartening.

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Donating Blood to the Inkwell of Lies

Earlier this evening Imraan Siddiqi posted a link to a tweet by Avi Mayer in which Mayer claimed:

This piqued my interest (to put it most mildly, rather I should say my mind was poisoned) and more tweets by Imraan and myself followed:

The only other sites I could find posting about the allegations of blood donation refusal were The Algemeiner and San Diego Jewish World, both of which simply repeat the jns.org text. Note that The Algemeiner is both the source of the profile of Avi Mayer and a reprint of the jns.org story about the alleged refusal of donated blood. Avi Mayer’s idea of “Multiple news outlets” is not very multiple, especially as regards independent sourcing.

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My translation of Darwish’s ‘I Love You More’

The author of the blog ‘In Gaza, My Gaza!’ translates a poem (with a little help from some friends) by the poet and Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish. It is the distilled, undeniable essence of the humanity and passion of the Palestinian people.

In Gaza, My Gaza!

‘I Love You More’

by:Mahmoud Darwish

Gaza, PAlestine Gaza, PAlestine


Rise! Rise!
No matter how neglectful you are,
You will remain in my eyes and flesh an angel.
And you remain as our love wants you to be:
Your breeze is amber, 
Your land bliss— 
And I love you more. 
Your hands are trees
But I do not sing
Like other nightingales.
The chains teach me to fight and fight,
Because I love you more. 
My singing is daggers of roses,
My silence the birth of thunder,
And a lily of my own blood.
You are the soil and the sky
And your heart is evergreen.
Your love when at a low ebb is a flow; 
How, then, can I not love you more?
And you are as our love wants you to be:
I am your beloved child;
On your sweet lap
I grow, and rise.

Translated with the help of 

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