This is one of the times that you buy a book because it popped at a trusted source. I bought «The Art of Thinking Clearly» because it popped up at the SIRA mailing list. So I bought it without looking much into reviews.

The book has an excellent start by discussing survivorship bias and an excellent ending after presenting 99 fallacies in a row and a well written epilogue. It presents counterintuitive thinking in a popularised form and it tries its best, but somehow leaves you wanting more. A typical failure when someone tries to explain mathematical concepts to the layman. Stop doing this people, especially when you are not trained into explaining Mathematical concepts. Because of the 98 fallacies in a row, which sometimes contradict themselves or even worse are stretched enough to be different between one another, it can be tiring to read it in one row. It is best that you take breaks and read other stuff after every two or three fallacies.

It also has some serious plagiarism issues that the typical reader can ignore if they like. If you want to treat this as a self-help book, you’re good enough with chapter 99: «Why you shouldn’t read the News». The line:

news consumption represents a competitive disadvantage

sums it all up. At least for Greek media. But then again we already knew that.

Bottom line: If you understand survivorship bias and groupthink you’re not missing out buying the book. If you do buy it, it is not a total waste of time.

If you are running Ganglia in a non multicast environment, it may be the case where a gmond process occupies 100% of the system’s CPU. In such cases it is helpful to check whether the node should be deaf or not (when it is a node that should not receive any messages from others). So try to set in your gmond.conf:

deaf = yes

and see what happens. This has happened to me on CentOS 6.x systems.

Regression to Mean


Yesterday, Spanoulis’s performance was subpar, save it for two critical shots, a three pointer and a two pointer right after. While for the whole game his performance was down the rest of the team kept up. And as Stojakovic taught us Olympiacos fans, in such cases all previous missed shots do not matter. Why?

Regression to Mean.

As long as the team kept up without his help, I expected his critical shots to go in. A player’s performance does not vary from his average behavior for long. Coaches know this and that is why they allow the last shot to their star shooter even when on a very bad day. And that is why it does not matter if they miss it. Because their performance will return to their expected level, so the sooner the better. And sooner means take the damn shot.

This note was prompted by the fact that I heard today two other dads discussing those two shots that they did not expect to go in. I did not intervene in the discussion.

Δεν μπορούσα παρά να θυμηθώ την παραπάνω φράση όταν είδα τον Υπουργό Πολιτισμού να απαντά σε χρήστη στο twitter:

.@kyr_ath Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen (Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein)

Όποιος ενδιαφέρεται για την φράση, μπορεί να ξεκινήσει από εδώ. Όποιος ενδιαφέρεται για το βιβλίο μπορεί να ξεκινήσει από εδώ. Υποψιάζομαι πως η σχέση αναφορών στις δύο διασημότερες φράσεις του βιβλίου προς τις αναγνώσεις του είναι χαώδης.

Thank you guys!


A lesson in not qutiting

A lesson in not qutiting

This is one of my favorite productivity stories, although most people use it when confronted with educational or ADD/ADHD diagnoses:

Telling us a story about a famous ballerina, Robinson tells us that the young woman, these days, would likely be diagnosed as having ADHD, as she didn’t concentrate in her classes. Taken to see an educational specialist, the psychologist was smart enough to leave the room, turn on the radio, and let the young girl dance. He told her parents, “Jilien isn’t sick – she’s a dancer”. She went on to a dance school, joined the Royal Ballet and has choreographed most of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musicals. Nowadays, we would give her medication and tell her to calm down.

So sometimes, when you see someone being unproductive, maybe he’s just not a dancer for the tasks at hand. If you’re a manager you may need to figure out how that person dances.

Note to self: If you ever mess up your terminal defaults in Yosemite execute

defaults delete

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