From The Desk Of David Lowery: Nassim Taleb’s “The Black Swan”

lowery110dDavid Lowery has maintained a healthy career as a split musical personality. When he isn’t playing laconic country-tinged pop with his band of 25 years, Camper Van Beethoven, he’s thrashing away at his guitar as the frontman for Cracker, the rock outfit that’s releasing its 10th studio album, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, this week. Lowery adds another line to his resume as he guest edits all week. Read our Q&A with him.

taleb23501Lowery: Nassim Taleb is having his moment as the “it” guy of non-fiction. In 2007, he published The Black Swan: The Impact Of The Highly Improbable, just in time to see the world financial system collapse in a manner that he offhandedly predicted in his book. The Black Swan deals with unpredictable events that have huge impacts, the fragility of our society and how profoundly ignorant most of our academic, financial and political leaders are to the dangers. Most people think this book is about the financial system. Yes, Taleb talks about markets, stock options and credit default swaps. But these are just some of the specifics to his generalities. The guy is wickedly funny. The book is anecdotal and mostly easy to read. There are stories about playing Russian roulette while growing up in Lebanon, dreading visiting his in-laws, envy at his richer neighbors, career advice, musings on why the people in charge usually have that particular WASPy look and, finally, how artists/songwriters who perpetually live in “the antechamber of hope” are like a particular kind of options trader and consequently share the same mental illnesses. Watch a YouTube clip of Taleb discussing The Black Swan after the jump.