Book Review: Antifragile–Things That Gain from Disorder

AntifragileI Just completed reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book Antifragile–Things That Gain from Disorder. Mr. Taleb is definitely a brilliant man. By profession he has been a quantitative analyst in the securities market, working with highly advanced statistical modeling. He has also been a professor in a number of notable universities. He has seen problems that traditional theories of all kinds fail to account for, which lead to major problems that though are hard to predict when they happen they are catastrophic, what he calls the Black Swan event or big tail event. People either love or hate him, there are many in the securities world that hate him, others who appreciate his thinking, his fans. He is one who does not suffer fools gladly, strives to be extremely honest and does not tolerate what he considers to be dishonest and evil. He uses material from roman and greek classical periods, history, philosophy to illustrate the points he makes, and characters like Fat Tony and Nero to help us understand his ideas. The book is a hard read, it is very demanding but enjoyable. For those who are more skilled in advanced math such as calculus and statistics, some of his ideas will be clearer. He is however rather arrogant around some areas that he discusses, while his critical thinking is appreciated and we need to be looking at the world we deal with, with a critical eye and not accepting at face value what the experts or talking heads tell us to think or believe, but discussing public health, medicine and psychiatry with no training is a real problem.

Review in the New York Times.


The Fractalist: Benoit B. Mandelbrot

The Fractalist: Benoit B. Mandelbrot is a memoir about the life of a highly gifted mathematician, who identified himself as a Maverick who didn’t agree with the current trends. He grew up Jewish in Poland before World War II and later left to France and then later the United States. It goes into a lot of his early life, growing up and the influences of hist parents, mathemetician uncle in Pre-War Poland that at the time had Elementary schools that were very well run with very bright teachers. In those days, there were few opportunities to work in academic research so many very talented people taught in the schools. His family was lucky and were spared the worst of the holocaust, but were lucky to have escaped, but experienced the discrimination that others felt. Those who are involved in math and computer graphics are probably familiar with his Mandelbrot Set, though influenced by his discovery that Fractals are what nature and much of life is made of, giving order to randomness.

Review on New York Times

Biography and other works

Arguably: Essays

 Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, is a book of Hitchen’s essays, that was published near the end of his life. It includes all the articles that he wrote for various publications such as Vanity Fair, Slate and The Atlantic, in addition to writing several books. The essays are well thought out and written. Hitchens was very sharp, thoughtful and a real intelligent critical thinker who didn’t suffer fools gladly. Although he is a self-avowed atheist to his death, the first article “The God of Our Fathers: The United States of Enlightenment” discusses very eloquently about how religious beliefs played out with the Founders of the United States. The subject is one that addressing in a more thoughtful, nuanced way benefits.


Expanding possibilities for showings of CODEBREAKER

I have earlier talked about the film CODEBREAKER, which is a film about the gifted mathematician and scientist Turing, who was responsible for breaking the Enigma Code.

After crowds enthusiastically raved about the film from coast-to-coast, TODPix is making it available in theaters around the country on December 6th. Using TODpix, a unique theater on-demand system, you can bring CODEBREAKER to your city by creating an event at a theater near you.

Here’s how you do it: Go to

If there’s a screening already set up for your city, go ahead and buy tickets! If you don’t see a screening yet, here’s what you do:

REQUEST A SCREENING: Click on the button, select your city and theater and we’ll immediately get the request. We’ll then set up the event for you and let you know as soon as it is ready to go.

RESERVE YOUR TICKETS: Once the event is set up, you can reserve your ticket(s).

GET THE WORD OUT: Now the fun part…let all of your friends and colleagues know about the screening and ask them to join you! They’ll in turn let their friends know and before you know it we have a crowd! Once 50 people have reserved tickets “It’s a go” and your event is booked!

They already have two events planned for Dec. 6th @ 7:30 pm at the AMC Empire 25 in NYC  and the AMC Loews Georgetown14 in Washington DC .  So if you live there and haven’t seen CODEBREAKER (or have seen it and want to see it again!) you can buy your tickets now. And please don’t forget to share with your friends

Film: Private Romeo

In looking for a film to watch on, I came across this film Private Romeo, a film that was described as a take on Romeo and Juliet at a military academy. I was expecting a film similar to how She’s the Man was written based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, where the characters and places have the character names and place names from the original and the story of the prior, but there is none of Shakespeare’s wonderful dialog. Private Romeo is different, it uses Shakespeare’s original language and dialog and it’s an all male cast that can really act. The acting is wonderful, the cast speaks the language intelligently with real emotion, along with some dialog that fits the scene to tie it to the setting and place. Yes, it’s a gay movie dealing with problems of homophobia and violence, but also love. I think even if you’re not gay, if you love the language of shakespeare, it’s worth seeing. Rex Reed of the New York Observer was impressed with the film. One of the actors Seth Numrich was onstage in War Horse at lincoln center. The film’s director Alan Brown was interviewed by the blog Film International which is interesting to read.

Trailer on

If you don’t have Netflix and want to watch or buy the film you can go here.




Additional Showings of CodeBreaker

For those in the San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale or St. Louis areas, there will be a presentation of the film Codebreaker about the genius
Alan Turing who was part of breaking the Enigma code in World War II. There will be a panel including the film’s executive producer.

San Francisco


DATE: Thursday, November 1, 2012
THEATER: Metreon 16
135 Fourth St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Purchase Tickets

Fort Lauderdale Florida


DATE: Thursday, November 8, 2012
THEATER: AMC Coral Ridge 10
3401 N.E. 26th Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33306

Purchase Tickets

St. Louis, Missouri


DATE: Thursday, November 8, 2012
THEATER: AMC Esquire 7
6706 Clayton Road
St. Louis, MO 63117

Purchase Tickets

Movie Review: CodeBreaker

We discussed previously the upcoming premiere of the new film CodeBreaker about the life career and death of the genius intellect Alan Turing whose work led to breaking the Nazi Enigma code used during world war II, laying out the basis of modern computing and an original paper on morphogenesis. Turing was what we would call now a gay man, but one who could not lie or deceive but wound up being caught because he reported the break-in of his apartment by a working class prostitute that he had an encounter with. This led him to a painful choice, jail or chemical castration. Eventually he committed suicide.  The film was well received and quite wonderful. The film discusses Turing from a biographical perspective including people who remembered him, discussing his accomplishments, which were many. In addition part of the film included dramatizations of sessions with a psychiatrist Turing had turned to toward the end of his life who he established a strong relationship with him and his family, who had been recommended to Turing after the trial. The sessions are quite beautiful with the dialog gave his personality light and helped the audience realize what an intellect Turing was, and the tragedy and mistreatment and outrage his life was. The soundtrack was also haunting drew the viewer in. Although Turing had a speech impediment, the actor didn’t speak with one, after the film in a Q&A, it was said that not having the speech impediment helped make the character more accessible. Members of the audience in the autism spectrum picked up on some of the peculiarities of his personality which might suggest he might be on the autism spectrum, though the producers felt diagnosing him of a disorder which was not known at the time would not be correct, the viewers in the audience felt that the film would be appreciated by that community. Further viewings are planned in San Francisco, St Louis and Fort Lauderdale. Portions of the ticket price are donated to the LGBT community centers where the events are.

Morrissey Live

The artist Morrissey, who is no doubt highly gifted has been doing a nationwide tour. He was recently interviewed in the Village Voice as well as Colbert Report.  He was in New York Wednesday which my partner and I saw. It was at Radio city, and sold out. the performance was ok, he seemed to be a bit off, sounded like he might have had a cold. The band was fabulous as usual. He did some material, I was not familiar with, it is apparently new material. He is currently without a recording contract, and holding out till he has the label, to record the new material. For those against animal cruelty, vegans and vegetarians, he performed Meat is Murder, with a video presentation which apparently came from Peta.

Upcoming Film: Codebreaker

For those in the New York City or Washington DC areas, there will be a presentation of the film Codebreaker about the genius
Alan Turing who was part of breaking the Enigma code in World War II. There will be a panel including the film’s executive producer. This will be the film’s premiere

Washington DC

Event Date

Wednesday, October 17, 2012. 7:30 pm

Purchase Tickets

New York

Event Date

Thursday, October 25 2012 : 7:30pm – 9:30pm


AMC Empire 25
234 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

Purchase Tickets


In Memoriam: Sally Ride, Astronaut, Scientist

We mourn in passing Astronaut, scientist and educator Sally K. Ride who was the first woman U.S. astronaut in space .

Beyond this, she held a Ph.D. in Physics and was a professor in physics, sat on the commissions investigating the Space Shuttles Columbia and Challenge disasters. She wrote five books on space geared to educating students. She was the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company that focused on books and educational materials for science and space education. She was especially focused on education and development of girls and young women.

She will be missed.