Other Thoughts

Thoughtworthy (Antifragile, Humble Pie, November Challenge, and MORE!)

November 1, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

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First:

You’re welcome.

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This week was much better than last week, probably because I got a chance to see my husband over the weekend, which was nice. Plus I knew he’d have a three-day weekend when he came home again. That starts today, which means things are looking up.

One highlight of my week was actually having enough time to start a book I chose for fun. Antifragile is my fourth Taleb title. If you recall, I like to choose a new-to-me author now and immerse myself in their thoughts for a while. Taleb is a bit of a name-dropper, but I thoroughly enjoy him, and Antifragile is definitely my favorite so far.

I can’t say anything in the book has surprised me so far. I was raised on the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and this book is basically an exposition of that very idea. With that said, it’s pretty evident we’re producing increasingly weak offspring. Taleb’s book explains some reasons why that might be, which means I feel some blog posts coming on. Eventually.

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The latest from Scholé Sisters:

It’s so humble, it’s cheesecake. I need a headslap emoji in honor of this graphic! Ha. But still: a great conversation. You should listen. Even better, you should subscribe in your favorite podcast player.

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This month in 2016:

Apparently, Bacchus and wisdom don’t go together … and never have.

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Podcast episode of the week:

Tom Woods

This is something I thought would be fun. I listen to podcasts while I fold laundry, cook dinner, or am doing therapy for my back (I have a traction thing I have to do at night before bed). For a while, at least, I plan to share my favorite episode from the past week.

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This week’s links collection:

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The Scholé Sisters November Challenge kicks off TOMORROW! I hope you join us! Click here for more information.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Jamie November 5, 2019 at 6:26 am

    The Challies article is good and is exactly the reason we do not allow sleepovers or playdates (unless myself or husband is there – which means we don’t do many playdates). My kids don’t mind the rule because they are pretty close and enjoy playing with one another. My husband knew of a sleepover gone wrong situation that occurred with one of his friends when he was younger.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 5, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      It’s so sad, isn’t it? Someone in our neighborhood was arrested after we left home for abusing girls his teenage daughter had brought home (and his daughter as well). That one story was enough for me!

  • Reply Lucy barr-hamilton November 3, 2019 at 11:25 am

    I posted the Challies article on my FB page where it seems to have divided people by faith. Christians keep their kids sleeping in their own home and look back negatively to their own childhood experience of sleepovers. Not-christians think it’s a necessary experience in growing up.

    On podcasts, I’m enjoying the regenerative agriculture podcast which my organic dairy farming brother told me about. The episode i just listened to made me wonder if my husband’s various food intolerance have been contributed to by chemicals in food, herbicide residues. Some of the episodes you probably need to be a farmer to appreciate although the hour I spent listening to six American farmers talking about cover crops gave me a lot of food for thought anyway!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 4, 2019 at 9:48 am

      That is interesting about the faith divide! The people I know who have this rule either had issues at sleepovers themselves when growing up, or know others who did. For me, it was hearing about what happened to other people, for the most part, that made me even think about it.

      Regenerative agriculture! That sounds interesting. I was listening to someone the other day (don’t remember who) talking about how the symptoms of glyphosate poisoning are so similar to gluten allergy that he wondered if they were actually the same thing!

  • Reply Elaine November 2, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    My phone blocks all social media most of the day, so I’m glad I made the effort to come see the site on my computer. Love the humble cheesecake!

  • Reply tess November 1, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    We don’t do sleepovers, either. I had to make it a hard and fast rule, too, to avoid offending other parties, so no cousin sleepovers, either.

    I enjoyed Antifragile. Mostly it made me want to learn to trade options and make “f– you money”. I could definitely use some of that, lol. But I did feel that some of those passages really highlighted Taleb’s rather privileged upbringing/adulthood. You know, it takes money to make money and all that.

    I did think a serious weakness of any global application of his argument (which he really seemed to push for) was in trauma recovery. There really is a point of psychological/physical/emotional trauma that one cannot reasonably be expected to become antifragile to (though it does happen on occasion, the possibility doesn’t mean that it should be the rule). His argument could *potentially* be shame-inducing for an actual trauma victim.

    I also thought sometimes his cultural background bias became an unnecessary hindrance to the points he was trying to make (though it’s been a few months and I can’t remember a specific example). LOL– he’s definitely a man with a Middle Eastern background.

    I *did* kind of face palm when he went on a rant against alternative medicine. To me, it showed that he hadn’t really bothered to educate himself before pronouncing his opinion, which made him a little more unreliable of an author to me. Sure, there are charlatan alternative practitioners, but hell, I just got rid of a family dentist who was attempting to fund his Porsche payments with rather interesting diagnostic techniques. What did you think about that part?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 2, 2019 at 7:22 am

      I laughed so much when you mentioned trading options! My dad was a broker and traded options when I was growing up, among other things. It’s a really high stress job, even for people who don’t live in a big city. He’s retired an owns an agricultural drone business (which is almost a hobby but not quite) — waaaaay better for his blood pressure! I already noticed some of the alternative medicine stuff, even though I’m only in the beginning pages. His drawing lines between hormesis and homeopathy was funny to me because most people consider homeopathy to be a *form* of hormetic medicine, with hormetic medicine being the larger category.

      I’ll be interested to read his trauma recovery thoughts that you mentioned above. I think I see a breakdown already. IF you use the analogy of building up a poison intolerance, it seems like extreme trauma is more like being poisoned WITHOUT being immunized first rather than a chance to get stronger.

      I think I’m not far enough into the book to notice these things yet, but I’m glad you mentioned them because I’ll be watching for them now! But yes: we once overheard a doctor complaining that someone didn’t get a flu shot because he was trying to earn a vacation from his pharma company. Ick. It had literally nothing to do with the welfare of the patients.

      • Reply Katie November 3, 2019 at 8:46 am

        I think Taleb does acknowledge that there is a point of stress where it becomes damaging – his comments relate to stress that is below that point (which exposure to also pushes the damage point further out, iyswim) but it’s not something he brings up much. And he is prone to unnecessary ranting and sweeping conclusions that aren’t always justified. I like a lot of his main argument, but some pinches of salt are required!

        I did immediately notice the connection with forest fires though – this is one of his examples; by guarding carefully against small fires you in fact set up the conditions that make larger fires more likely in the long run – a random set of smaller fires would periodically clear the debris and make it harder for the fires to spread to a larger area. I don’t know enough about forest management to know if this is true (wildfires aren’t an issue in Wales…) but it seems plausible.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel November 4, 2019 at 9:46 am

          Ooh! I like that forest fire connection. The Native Americans often set fires at certain times of year, which prevented them from happening unexpectedly at other times. The fire departments do controlled burns here at time, though admittedly environmental regulations are making it more and more difficult to pull that off legally. But that is the interesting thing: the lake of proper forest management is directly tied to why my state is on fire in multiple places right now.

      • Reply tess November 3, 2019 at 9:49 am

        I’m interested to hear what you think as you get through the book. Maybe devote a post or two to it? 🙂
        To be clear, he didn’t talk about trauma recovery per se. But he does seem very insistent at times that his theory can be used as a kind of theory of everything, lol. I think his argument is weak in that I tend to believe there are traumas that it is not possible to be mithridatized against— but it’s not so much against his argument as against global implications of his theory. His net’s a little wide for me.

        Also, I’m interested in your observations on where portions of his philosophy may seem to go against a Christian understanding of the world. I’m curious to see what, if anything, you pick up on. 🙂 Happy reading!

  • Reply Lisa V in BC November 1, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Oh, so much good stuff 🙂

    I ordered the book Antifragile & I’m excited to read it – I can see so many ways that society’s children are being raised to be fragile & I’m looking forward to reading the author’s take on this!

    That article by Tim Challies is just what I needed today after a conversation with my son where he expressed frustration at the lack of playdates in his life when he was younger… honestly, I made decisions ultimately based on a certain level of fear which is not a good way to base decisions and I do have some regret about some of those decisions, but one thing I don’t regret is our stance on sleepovers for exactly the reasons outlined in this article! I tend to follow my gut feelings about these types of things and I’m glad I did, but also thankful for an article that outlines exactly why I feel that my gut feeling was correct all those years ago!!

    Thanks for sharing!!

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