Zombie Plan Archive
I was looking for things that were funny that involved the phrase “fuck winter” and stumbled across this song and am finding myself listening to Barnzy’s other songs. It is like a slow rap with jazz/blues sound to it (interesting sound).
But in all seriousness, fuck winter. At least there are some funny ecards:
Short of obtaining a Tracking Point rifle system I do not know if I will ever be able to develop the skill to reach out 1000 yards consistently but I am working on becoming proficient in the 700 yard range.
Much of the advise is great, pick the right caliber, get quality components, reload your own and be willing to drop some loot on high quality glass (the part I am comtemplating at the moment).
Many of the scopes listed in the article do make good offerings but they aren’t really top notch enough for 1000 yard shots; when making adjustments they will not move in a straight line. I have fired many rifles using Millet scopes and they are of good quality in medium range but I recently used a friend’s that had a Bushnell XRS Elite which moved and adjusted as if it was made by a Swiss watchmaker and was incredibly clear even at 30X’s magnification. Scopes are very similar to camera lens, pretty good ones can be had for $500 or less but admission to freakin’ sweet really can’t be had for less than $1500 (and I am not willing to drop $1600 on a scope like the one my buddy got his hands on).
Personally I enjoy reloading and it is expensive to get started but once you get going it can save a lot of money. I reload everything, 556, 308, 300AAC, 45ACP; in itself it is a valuable skill. Just like most things precision shooting can become an expensive hobby, especially if one insists on high end quality but the most important thing to get a combination you will use, can keep in good working order, and practice/hone the skill with. Because it is a skill that will be valuable if/when the sh!t hits the fan.
Sniper Basics For The SHTF Survivalist
God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best - Voltaire
For a long time sniper tactics have been considered by many, even in the military, to be akin to a kind of state designated “murder” rather than a legitimate combat strategy. Only in recent years has sniping achieved a certain level of recognition. Centuries of warfare have passed in which snipers were happily recruited for their skills, and then quickly swept under the rug and forgotten once conflict was over. Daniel Morgan and his crack-shot riflemen were instrumental in America’s revolutionary victory over the British. U.S. sharpshooters rained hell down on German troops from over 900 yards during WWI. Snipers have dominated the battlefield in every modern conflagration. Yet, regimented sniping schools were not standardized in the U.S. Army until 1987. All previous schools were abandoned within a few years of their establishment.
Why did it take so long for the sniper to be recognized as essential to victory? Perhaps because snipers are TOO effective, to the point that they become frightening to the establishment.
During the Finnish “Winter War” against the Soviet Union in which they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned, guerrilla tactics, which they called “Motti tactics”, were used to excellent effect. The Finnish devastated the Soviets using hit and run attacks, homemade and improvised weapons, and snipers. The most famous of these snipers was Simo Hayha.
Simo was a common farmer with a diminutive stature of only 5 feet 3 inches tall. His shooting prowess was honed as a hunter in the wilderness of Finland. Simo is credited with over 505 (official) kills, including several teams of Soviet counter-snipers sent specifically to eliminate him. These kills were made during less than 100 days of combat, meaning Hayha engaged and destroyed 5 targets per day by himself. Known as the “White Death”, Simo would finally be removed from the battlefield by a lucky shot from an explosive tipped rifle round to the face while holding off a Soviet advance; he would wake up later in a Finnish hospital at the very end of the war and die of old age in the year 2002.
Simo Hayha proved once and for all the effectiveness of a single shooter in the face of a more powerful opponent. This kind of attrition warfare stopped the more technologically advanced Russians in their tracks, and ended their pursuit of total invasion. The poorly armed Finish prevailed despite all odds.
Sniper training turns a simple rifleman into a weapon of long range mass destruction, which is probably the reason why most governments around the globe have been reluctant until recently to educate more than a handful of soldiers on sniping methods. Hypothetically, a team of snipers could be dangerous enough to topple the political leadership (or oligarchy) of any given nation with nothing more than a few finely tuned rifles and a couple boxes of high caliber rounds.
Governments, fearful of being outdone by such low-tech adversaries, have gone to great lengths in an attempt to negate the sniper as a threat. Night vision, thermal vision, sound detection equipment, gas attacks, white phosphorous attacks, even large scale artillery barrages and laser guided missiles have not been able to stop snipers from remaining as a primary combat tool. Snipers always find a way around existing defenses, no matter how high tech. This is why sniper techniques are one of the ultimate strategies for self defense of the common citizenry usually disarmed of military grade weaponry.
I often hear skepticism when discussing the concept of long range combat techniques for survivalists. People ask why survivalists should even bother with sniper methods? How would they identify legitimate targets that present a tangible threat from such a distance? And, don’t most firefights occur within a range of 50 yards or less?
These questions come generally from inexperience with the methodology and the training. Sniper tactics are as much about reconnaissance as they are about precision shooting. Scoping and identifying targets before they pull the trigger is 90 percent of their job, and they tend to do it well. Unless they happen to work for the ATF or the FBI, usually, snipers are required to evaluate targets before engagement rather than firing on anything unlucky enough to stumble into their crosshairs. This process is just as applicable to the survival sniper as it is to an Army or Marine sniper.
In terms of common combat ranges, it is true that most military engagements occur in close quarters, but this is due more to the manner in which standard militaries conduct operations. Armies with superior numbers and technology PREFER to use shock and awe and CQC in order to quickly overwhelm and subdue the enemy. The modern method of warfare (or local police swat raids for that matter) is merely a refined form of blitzkrieg. The guerrilla fighter, on the other hand, has to remain adaptable, and in many cases, controlling the timing and distance of the fight is his only advantage. Sniper tactics are better suited to the underdog, not mechanized military operations. It behooves the survivalist to have long distance capabilities because there is little chance he will ever be anything but the underdog.
I am a relative newcomer to the world of long distance shooting and sniping with only a couple years of training, and I know how difficult the discipline appears to people who have just become curious about it. The modern “mystic” surrounding the sniper is deserved in certain respects, however, once the fundamentals are learned, it is surprising how easy your shots actually become, even at 1000 yards-plus, if you have the correct mindset.
Before you can practice such accuracy, though, there are many steps you need to take, and they should be taken in this order…
Choose A Caliber
If you want to become a precision shooter it is absolutely vital that you carefully research the caliber of round you will eventually use. The caliber will determine the kind of rifle platform you purchase, not to mention the scope and reloading equipment (if you decide to load your own rounds). Most of us do not have the kind of cash necessary to apply the trial and error method. You have to choose right the first time, otherwise, thousands of dollars may go down the drain.
Read the remainder of the article HERE.
You know what that means:
- Go grocery shopping for milk, eggs and bread, the basic essentials needed to outlast any snowbound apocalypse (as well as make french toast).
- Drive 5 mph even if there is no snow on the road
- Stop halfway up every hill on the way home
- Make sure not to clear any snow off of your vehicle
h/t to billy from TBP.
I wonder if Obama will go on the teevee and read from a teleprompter that this toddler and parents could be his like he did during the Trayvon fiasco.
One of the depressing facts is what the typical talking head libtard progladyte takes from this being made available for the public to see. It’s obviously the workings of the racist police.
Seeing videos like this reminds me to stock up on supplies.
h/t to Yojimbo on TBP for bringing this to our attention.
Shock TODDLER Video Highlights America’s Cycle Of Violence and Thuggery (Caution: Profanity, Obscenities, Racial Slurs)
In a recent article author Michael Snyder discusses twelve signs of extreme social decay in America noting that our country is ”rapidly becoming a cesspool of liars, thieves, murderers, perverts and psychopaths.”
If you’ve ever wondered how we’ve gotten here then take a look at the following raw video.
It was posted by the Omaha Police Officers Association as a public service message to their community:
Folks…this video is bad.
Really, really bad and it will make you angry.
It contains extreme profanity and discussion about adult situations and gang violence…and worst of all…a toddler.
Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
We here at OmahaPOA.com viewed the video and we knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in.
Now while we didn’t see anything in this video that is blatantly “illegal”, we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint.
Listen to the discussions this child is immersed in.
The shocking video shows a two year old toddler with several caregivers in the room. A chair had apparently fallen over, prompting the child to blurt out a profane comment. Normally, a parent might correct or discipline their young child for such behavior, but as you’ll see below this was not the case in this household.
The child raises his middle finger at one point and shouts comments like “You a bitch N*gga” and “You a ho.” The adults in the room shout obscenities and racial slurs back at him, urging him to engage in the discussion by saying things like “F*ck you, N*gga” and “say suck my d*ck” in the hopes of receiving a response.
According to CNN, several people responding on social media sites claimed that the Omaha Police Officers Association’s posting of the video had racial overtones.
The ACLU and community leaders have also objected:
Willie Hamilton, president of the community activist group Black Men United, said the union “crossed a line by doing this.”
“For them to take a video out of context — a 2-year-old who doesn’t have the brain capacity to know what’s going on — and to say that this child, because two adults acted inappropriately, is going to end up in a life of crime is totally inappropriate,” Hamilton said.
Though Mr. Hamilton argues that the video was taken out of context, to us the context seems pretty clear.
This is where the culture of thuggery and violence starts. They’re not in this video making crafts or playing board games. They’re cussing, referring to women as “bitches” and “hoes,” and embedding the “thug” life and vernacular into the child’s every day experiences.
Though no one can predict where this toddler will end up 15 years from now, if these are his role models and daily experiences we think one could make a fairly accurate educated guess.
Not really, I am just poking fun at the idiocy of the Anthropomorphic Global Warming Crowd. A Polar Vortex is hitting areas of the USSA with temps approaching the minus 50-60 range when wind chill is factored into the equation. If burning too many fossil fuels “causes” global warming these ridiculously cold conditions are the fault of Al Gore and all Prius-driving tree huggers.
They cry about the ice-caps receding and taking away from the polar bears habitats but don’t think about all the animals not equipped to deal with the other-wordly cold conditions we are experiencing.
Do your part and drive something like this:
‘Polar vortex’ pushes subzero temps into Midwest
CHICAGO (AP) — A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a “polar vortex” descended Monday into much of the U.S., pummeling parts of the country with a dangerous cold that could break decades-old records with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama.
For a big chunk of the Midwest, the subzero temperatures were moving in behind another winter wallop: more than a foot of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous. Officials closed schools in cities including Chicago, St. Louis and Milwaukee and warned residents to stay indoors and avoid the frigid cold altogether.
The forecast is extreme: 32 below zero in Fargo, N.D.; minus 21 in Madison, Wis.; and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills — what it feels like outside when high winds are factored into the temperature — could drop into the minus 50s and 60s.
“It’s just a dangerous cold,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye in Missouri.
It hasn’t been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in quickly at 15 to 30 below zero.
Lorna West, a 43-year-old student and consultant from Columbus, Ohio, said thermal underwear, lots of layers and “Eskimo coats” with zipped hoods to block the wind were the norm when she was growing up in Chicago.
“And don’t go out if you don’t have to,” she said.
Elnur Toktombetov, a Chicago taxi driver, woke up at 2:30 a.m. Monday anticipating a busy day. By 3:25 a.m. he was on the road, armed with hot tea and donuts, and an hour into his shift, his Toyota’s windows were still coated with ice on the inside.
“People are really not comfortable with this weather,” Toktombetov said. “They’re really happy to catch the cab. And I notice they really tip well.”
It was 5 degrees at kickoff Sunday inside sold-out Lambeau Field for a playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, one of the coldest ever played.
In the parking lot, Craig and Renee Heling of Waukesha, Wis., set up a camouflage hunting blind behind his white pickup truck and tailgated next to a propane heater. He wore four layers of clothing up top, two on his legs: “Two wool socks on — right now, I feel comfortable,” he said.
“Well, my nose is about frozen. It feels like — I jumped in the lake the other day — it feels about like that,” his wife said with a laugh. She was completely dry, unlike New Year’s Day when she took part in a “polar plunge” into Lake Michigan.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard upgraded the city’s travel emergency level to “red,” making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergencies or seeking shelter. The last time the city issued such a travel warning was during a blizzard in 1978.
For several Midwestern states, the bitter cold was adding to problems caused by a weekend snow storm. The National Weather Service said the snowfall at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport totaled more than 11 inches as of 6 p.m. Sunday — the most since the Feb. 2, 2011, storm that shut down the city’s famed Lake Shore Drive.
Police in suburban Detroit said heavy snow was believed to have caused the roof to collapse at a two-story building that once housed a bar. No injuries are reported and police said no one was inside the building in Lake Orion, Mich., about 7 p.m. Sunday when the roof collapsed.
Missouri transportation officials said it was too cold for rock salt to be very effective, and several Illinois roadways were closed because of drifting snow.
A bus taking the Southern Illinois University men’s basketball team home from a game at Illinois State got stuck in the snow Sunday night off Interstate 57, forcing the group to wait for a tow truck and make plans for a night at a hotel in nearby Tuscola, Ill.
More than 1,000 flights were canceled Sunday at airports throughout the Midwest including Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis.
Many cities came to a virtual standstill. In St. Louis, where more than 10 inches of snow fell, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo were part of the seemingly endless list of things closed. Shopping malls and movie theaters closed, too. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, the region’s only ski area, shut down.
School was called off Monday for the entire state of Minnesota, as well as cities and districts in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Iowa, among others. Chicago Public School officials reversed an earlier decision to keep schools open, announcing late in the day Sunday that classes would be canceled Monday.
Government offices and courts in several states closed Monday. In Indiana, the General Assembly postponed the opening day of its 2014 session, and the state appellate courts, including the Indiana Supreme Court, said they would be closed.
More than 40,000 homes and businesses in Indiana and another 16,000 in Illinois were without power early Monday.
Ray Radlich was among the volunteers at New Life Evangelistic Center, a St. Louis homeless shelter, who braved the cold to search for the homeless and get them to shelters.
Among those Radlich and his team brought in Sunday was 55-year-old Garcia Salvaje, who has been without a home since a fire at his apartment last week. Salvaje, a veteran, had surgery three months ago for a spinal problem. The cold makes the pain from his still-healing back intense.
“I get all achy and pained all the way up my feet, to my legs, up my spine,” Salvaje said.
Southern states were bracing for possible record temperatures, too, with single-digit highs expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama.
Temperatures plunged into the 20s early Monday in north Georgia, the frigid start of dangerously cold temperatures for the first part of the week. The Georgia Department of Transportation said its crews were prepared to respond to reports of black ice in north Georgia.
Temperatures were expected to dip into the 30s in parts of Florida on Tuesday. Though Florida Citrus Mutual spokesman Andrew Meadows said it must be at 28 degrees or lower four hours straight for fruit to freeze badly, fruits and vegetables were a concern in other parts of the South.
With two freezing nights ahead, Louisiana citrus farmers could lose any fruit they cannot pick in time.
In Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, Ben Becnel Jr. estimated that Ben & Ben Becnel Inc. had about 5,000 bushels of fruit on the trees, mostly navel oranges and the sweet, thin-skinned mandarin oranges called satsumas.
“We’re scrambling right now,” he said.
In western Kentucky, Smithland farmer David Nickell moved extra hay to the field and his animals out of the wind. He’d also stocked up on batteries and gas and loaded up the pantry and freezer. The 2009 ice storm that paralyzed the state and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people is fresh in his mind.
“We are hoping this isn’t going to be more than a few days of cold weather, but we did learn with the ice storm that you can wake up in the 19th century and you need to be able to not only survive, but be comfortable and continue with your basic day-to-day functions,” Nickell said.
Associated Press writers Julie Smyth in Columbus, Ohio; Tom Coyne in Indianapolis; Jim Salter in St. Louis; Brett Barrouquere in Louisville, Ky.; Verena Dobnik in New York City; David N. Goodman in Berkeley, Mich.; Ashley M. Heher in Chicago; and Christine Amario in Miami contributed to this report.
The Art of Manliness is a great site that I visit sporadically that has a plethora of topics. This article was picked up by LRC and it is probably one of the better ones I have read on A0M.
While reading this I thought the descriptions were extremely accurate but became overwhelmed by the number of people I know, meet and see that fall into the category of fragile. I would categorize the majority of those who live in the US as such.
Much of the changes I have made in my life in 2013 have worked to make me more antifragile but I still have a lot of work to do to prepare for the “Black Swans” that are could come.
Beyond “Sissy” Resilience: On Becoming Antifragile
by Brett & Kate McKay on December 3, 2013 ·
What’s the opposite of a person or organization that’s fragile?
If you ask most people this question, they’ll likely say “robust” or “resilient.” But philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say that’s not the right answer.
He argues that if fragile items break when exposed to stress, something that’s the opposite of fragile wouldn’t simply not break (thus staying the same) when put under pressure; rather, it should actually get stronger.
We don’t really have a word to describe such a person or organization, so Taleb created one: antifragile.
In his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Taleb convincingly argues that this powerful quality is essential for businesses, governments, and even individuals that wish to thrive in an increasingly complex and volatile world.
If you want to succeed and dominate, to separate yourself from the pack and become the last man standing in any area of life, it’s no longer enough to bounce back from adversity and volatility – to simply be resilient. You have to bounce back stronger and better. You have to become antifragile.
Surviving and Thriving in a Whirlwind of Volatility
First, some background.
Back in 2007, Taleb popularized the idea of “Black Swans” in his book of the same name. In a nutshell, a Black Swan is an event (either positive or negative) “that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.”
The mortgage crisis of 2008 was a Black Swan event, as were both World Wars. Hardly anyone predicted them, they all had huge impacts on history, and they all seemed utterly predictable in hindsight.
Many folks walked away from reading The Black Swan with this takeaway: “Sh** happens, so don’t bother trying to predict things.” But as Taleb recently tweeted, that’s the conclusion “imbeciles” reach (one of the best parts of Taleb’s writing is that he doesn’t mince words). Rather, the main message of the book is this: “Yes, sh** happens. The trick is to put yourself in a position to survive and even thrive when it does.”
In his most recent book, Antifragile, Taleb offers some simple heuristics to help businesses and individuals thrive in a life swirling with volatility. Before he does that, though, Taleb makes the case that people/systems/organizations/things/ideas can be described in one of three ways: fragile, resilient, or antifragile.
Which category best describes you? Let’s take a look at the triad.
“Now, what is fragile? The large, optimized, overreliant on technology, overreliant on the so-called scientific method instead of age-tested heuristics.”
Things that are fragile break or suffer from chaos and randomness. Fragile systems/people/things seek out tranquility because they have more to lose than to gain during volatile times.
Taleb likens the fragile to the story of the Sword of Damocles. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this Greek myth, Damocles was a courtier of King Dionysius II who greatly envied the king’s life of power and luxury. The king offers to let him try out holding the throne, so he can see for himself just how great it is. At first Damocles revels in his newfound wealth and finery and relishes having servants administer to his every need. But then Dionysus places a razor sharp sword — hanging only by a thin horse hair — directly over Damocles’ head.
At any moment the hair could snap and instantly kill him.
Suddenly, being king didn’t seem so great.
Damocles begs Dionysius to let him leave. He realizes he doesn’t want to be as “fortunate” as the king after all.
With great power and success come great peril and anxiety. As Shakespeare put it, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” When you gain in status and wealth, your responsibilities increase. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Moreover, you have to constantly be on guard for challengers who want to dethrone you. Which is why the Sword of Damocles is such a great metaphor for fragility. When you’re king or in any position of power, one small jostle could bring down your house of cards; you’re actually more fragile than you might have thought.
You don’t have to be in a position of power to experience the Sword of Damocles effect in your life, though. The sword could also be something like debt. When you’re in the hole everything is hunky-dory so long as things are relatively stable, but add in a bit of volatility — you get sick or your car breaks down — and the sword falls.
So we know that fragile things break or suffer from adversity or volatility. But what is it exactly that makes something fragile? Here are some of the qualities that Taleb argues contribute to a person’s or organization’s fragility:
Fragile things are typically large. Size often offers a false sense of security, but large organizations, such as giant corporations and big governments, typically aren’t agile enough to survive, let alone thrive during times of adversity. There are too many complications and layers of bureaucratic red tape to allow for quick action.
Large entities are much like the Titanic on the night that it sunk. By the time the lookouts spotted the iceberg, it was too late to take corrective action because the liner’s turning speed was so slow and the radius so wide. To successfully navigate toward a safe direction, more time was needed – and time is a luxury not often available during a crisis.
Thus in stressful times, it pays to be small and agile.
Responses to variability and stress come from the outside. If something is fragile and it’s exposed to stress, there’s nothing built in to help fend off that stressor. The response must come from something external to it.
For example, if a porcelain teacup were to fall off a table because the table was jostled, the only thing that would prevent the teacup from breaking would be some external force or object — a hand catching it or a foam pad to blunt the impact.
The same applies to people or businesses. A fragile person will likely require outside help when they hit life’s rough waters because they lack capital — be it financial, social, or emotional — to help them weather the storm.
Fragile things are overly optimized. Fragile businesses, people, and organizations are often too smart for their own good. Our modern world is obsessed with efficiency and optimization. Businesses seek to crank out as many widgets as they can on tight timeframes and with as little cost as possible. Similarly, individuals are told to be as efficient as they can with their time.
And it works…if everything goes to plan. But everything rarely goes as planned. Randomness is the rule, not the exception.
The central problem with being overly optimized and efficient is that we can’t predict when problems and errors will pop up. And as Taleb notes, when these random errors or fluctuations occur in overly-optimized systems “errors compound, multiply, swell, with an effect that only goes in one direction — the wrong direction.”
Here’s an example:
You sign up for a European cruise. It’s scheduled to set sail from Venice, Italy, but you live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so you’ll have to take an international flight to catch your cruise. You optimize your itinerary for getting there with both time and money in mind — the first flight leaves late enough that you can get in a half a day of work, and you’ve minimized your layovers between connecting flights.
Your efficient flight plan hinges on razor tight margins. With 30-minute layovers, you can’t have any hitches.
You make your first flight with no problem, but the next flight is delayed, causing you to miss your flight to Rome, and thus your entire cruise. Because you left absolutely no time in your schedule for hiccups, your well-intended attempt at optimization turned out to be very costly.
I’ve seen the problem of over-optimization in my own life with my weekly planning. I’ve often planned my week to a T, under the naïve assumption that no unforeseen tasks or distractions will come up.
But of course, unplanned problems do happen, forcing me to change my schedule. Because it was so “optimized,” one change forces another, which forces another, which creates a boondoggle for me. I made my schedule fragile by trying to cram too much in.
Fragile people and systems seek to eliminate variability, noise, and tension. Because fragile people and systems don’t have built-in responses to stress and variability, they naively try to eliminate it completely from the equation.
But trying to eliminate randomness and variability is a loser’s game. It’s simply not possible. Remember, randomness and variability are the rule, not the exception.
Not only is trying to eliminate stress and variability a lost cause, it ends up making an already fragile person or system even more fragile.
Taleb calls these folks who quixotically attempt to eliminate volatility “fragilistas.” Helicopter Parents are great examples of fragilistas. In their attempt to make life as safe as possible for their children, they actually set them up for sometimes debilitating failure when they inevitably face adversity on their own. Human psyches require variability, adversity, and stress to become strong. By depriving their children of stress, Helicopter Parents “fragilize” their future.
The resilient, or robust, don’t care if circumstances become volatile or disruptive (up to a point). They remain steady in times of both adversity and tranquility.
Taleb likens resiliency to the mythical Phoenix. The Phoenix, if you remember, is an immortal bird that dies by fire and is reborn from its ashes to its initial state. The Phoenix doesn’t get better or worse from its cyclical death and rebirth. It just stays the same. Hence, resilient.
People can be resilient when they stay cool, calm, and collected during periods of stress. Buddhism and Stoicism promote psychological resilience, as both philosophies teach indifference to change. When you’re mentally resilient, you don’t care if you’re rich or if you lose your wealth in a single day.
Resilience, or robustness, is certainly more desirable than fragility. We should do all we can to make ourselves, our businesses, and our society more resilient in the face of volatility. But Taleb argues that to aim just for resilience is a “sissy” move because you’re essentially settling for the status quo. Sure, when things are resilient, you bounce back from adversity, but you just bounce back to the state you were in before the fall.
To be truly effective in a world swirling with complexity, randomness, and risk, you can’t stop at sissy resilience. Whenever you can, you should always find opportunities to actually grow from disorder, volatility, and adversity. The goal should be to move beyond resilience to becoming antifragile.
Things that are antifragile grow and strengthen from volatility and stress (to a point). When people or systems are antifragile, there’s more upside than downside when Black Swan events occur. Antifragile systems feed on chaos and uncertainty like a primordial god.
Taleb likens antifragility to the Hydra from Greek mythology. The Hydra was a hideous multi-headed lizard monster. Whenever a hero cut off one of the Hydra’s heads, two would grow back in its place — the Hydra became stronger with adversity. (That is until Hercules learned he could stop the process by cauterizing the wound immediately after chopping off the head. Even the most antifragile system will collapse when exposed to too much stress.)
So what makes something antifragile? Below are a few of this quality’s key characteristics:
Less is usually more with antifragility. To become anti-fragile, it pays to be small. With smallness comes increased agility and flexibility during volatile and chaotic times. If I were navigating a foggy sea filled with hidden icebergs, I’d rather be a passenger on a small, but maneuverable jet boat than a giant, but sluggish ocean liner.
Guerilla armies and terrorist organizations are devastating examples of how less is more when it comes to antifragility. With small amounts of manpower and money, they have the ability to cripple large states, economies, and armies. What’s even scarier, the more that large nation states try to suppress these small, loosely organized terrorist organizations (a fragilista move), the stronger these organizations become. They’re the Hydra.
Responses to variability and stress are built into the antifragile. Unlike fragile things that require an outside response to protect them from variability and stress, antifragile things have strength and protection baked right in. Our skeletal system is a great example of a built-in response to variability. Our bones actually require stress in order to grow and maintain strength, which explains why competitive bicyclists have lower bone densities than non-competitive bicyclists of the same age. Riding a bike doesn’t stress the skeleton the same way that running, lifting weights, or even walking does, thus a bicyclist’s bones can become more brittle.
Antifragile things have built-in redundancies. This point stuck out to me the most. Unlike fragile systems/organizations/people, antifragile things don’t make efficiency the primary goal. For the antifragile, thriving in randomness is the goal, which often requires being “inefficient” through layering redundancies.
As Taleb notes: “Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens — usually.”
Nature is filled with “inefficient” redundancies. Animals have two lungs, two kidneys, and two testicles, when one of each would work just fine. Since one in a pair of organs can become disabled through disease or trauma, it pays to have a spare.
Besides allowing you to weather storms, Taleb argues that redundancies also allow you to become stronger.
The perfect example of this is a survivalist versus a minimalist. Minimalism is aesthetically pleasing, but if the world went to pot, the guy with just 100 possessions would be screwed. The survivalist who has built-in redundancies — not just a fridge full of food but a stockpile of MREs, not just central heating but a wood burning stove, not just money but cigarettes for currency — will not only survive a disaster but thrive in it.
Redundancies need not create the kind of lumbering largeness that can make systems so fragile either. As opposed to layers of bureaucracy, an antifragile person/organization has direct access to their capital and full control over the decision of when and where to use it.
Nature and tradition do a good job of creating antifragility. As Taleb points out several times throughout Antifragile, nature has done a fantastic job implanting antifragility into organisms and systems.
Our bodies have antifragility built into them in several ways. We already discussed our skeletal system’s built-in antifragility. Another example is how our body responds to fasting. When we go without food for long periods of time, our body releases hormones that actually make us stronger and mentally sharper. This antifragile response makes sense. Our caveman ancestors evolved in a time when food acquisition was scarce and random, so our bodies evolved to adapt to that environment.
Taleb also makes the case that human traditions have antifragility baked into them. For us scientific moderns, many traditions seem archaic and silly. But they developed for a reason and survived for so long because they served some purpose. According to Taleb, traditions are often just time-tested heuristics that make living in a random and volatile world manageable. For example, rites of passage have been employed in cultures all over the world to enable young men to have a clear sense of when they’ve become a man and should take on grownup responsibilities, instead of letting them confusedly drift into adulthood. Through these challenging and oftentimes painful coming-of-age ceremonies, a young man emerges stronger than before.
Taleb’s Antifragile has given me plenty of food for thought. I now look at everything through the lens of his triad. It’s a fascinating mental exercise organizing the world around you as fragile, resilient, or antifragile.
Applying this to my own personal life has been an eye-opening experience. Where am I fragile? How can I make different areas of my life antifragile? Can I do things to help my family become antifragile?
While I’ve long been a proponent of becoming psychologically resilient, I really like the idea of going a step farther — not just staying the same during adversity, but becoming mentally stronger from it. I want to learn how I can create an environment that makes such an outcome a possibility.
Most of Taleb’s book is filled with tactics and heuristics you can use to make your life and business more antifragile. Here are some of his tips, as well as a few of my own:
Intentionally inject stress in your life. Stress has gotten a bad rap; while long-term stress can have deleterious effects, short bouts of it can make you stronger and better. Your body and mind have antifragility built into them, but require stress for that antifragility to activate. A few ways to inject positive stress into your life: fast, take cold showers, do a challenging obstacle race, lift heavy weights, run instead of bike.
Add redundancies in your life. Start that emergency fund; add buffers in your schedule to take into account the inevitable volatility that comes each day; make that bug-out bag. The gains from redundancies increase as volatility increases.
Employ the “barbell strategy.” Taleb describes the “barbell strategy” as “a dual attitude of playing it safe in some areas and taking a lot of small risks in others, hence achieving antifragility.” Playing it safe reduces the potential downside of volatility and taking small risks exposes you to the potentially massive gains from the same chaos. For the Average Joe it could mean keeping your boring day job (the safe end of the barbell), while working on your side hustle at night (the risky end of the barbell). If the side hustle doesn’t work out, you still have your boring job, but if it does work out, you could live the dream of working for yourself and becoming wealthy.
Never take advice from someone who doesn’t have “skin in the game.” We live in a world in which people’s actions, opinions, and advice are divorced from consequences. We no longer force people to have “skin in the game.” This fragilizes society. Financial advisors on TV can give terrible advice and pundits can spout off wrong opinions but suffer no consequence for their erroneous predictions, even if those predictions harm others.
When determining whether or not to take advice from someone, look to see if they have skin in the game. If the person dispensing the advice or making the prediction has nothing to lose from being wrong, don’t listen to them. Pay more attention to people who have accepted risk and responsibility for their words.
Practice via negativa. According to Taleb, “the first step towards antifragility consists in first decreasing downside.” We do that through practicing via negativa – a phrase borrowed from theology. Instead of focusing your time on adding things to your life to make it better, focus first on subtracting habits, practices, things, people that fragilize you. A few examples: get rid of debt, quit smoking, stop hanging around toxic friends, eliminate unhealthy foods.
Keep your options open. Increase optionality in your life. When volatility and chaos increase, it’s the man with the most options who is the most antifragile. How do you increase optionality? Having money in the bank certainly increases your options; it gives you breathing room during economic downturns, but also provides flexibility to take advantage of positive unforeseen opportunities or to pursue goals. Increasing your skills gives you optionality as well. If one career goes bust, you have the skills to jumpstart a new one.
Many of these methods deserve more unpacking, and we’ll be revisiting how to become more antifragile in greater detail in the coming year. Until then, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Antifragile. It’s a great book that’s both enlightening and enjoyable to read.
Here’s to becoming antifragile in 2014.
I just watched Eminem’s new video for his song “Rap God.” The song is ok (I do like the album overall) but I actually liked the video a lot; it included various 80′s references (Max Headroom) and some comic references. Here it is below for those interested.
But then I watched a video by Mark Dice. For those that don’t know, he does those videos where he asks the hoi polloi to sign fake petitions for things like post birth abortion and Vladimir Lenin to take over for Obama. I applaud him for showing us how stupid and gullible the typical mouthbreather really is. Sometimes he can’t even keep a straight face when dealing with the average American, i.e. moron.
He posted this video regarding “Rap God.” He obviously doesn’t like Eminem’s music which is fair and then goes into the satanic/illuminati messages and ideas regarding technological singularity/transhumanism (the combining of the human body with technology).
Eminem is talking about being a “Rap God” and he is portrayed as doing this by being hooked up to hard drives and uploading everything to his brain. I guess so he can have a better vocabulary to rhyme with. To be the god of Rap doesn’t seem to be all that important in really, personally I would much rather roll like Poseidon and rule the Sea.
The human brain is not much different than a computer with a hard drive, processors etc. How can the limitations of the human brain and body be exceeded? We use computers and the internet on a daily basis (I am using it to write this right now) but that interaction has physical limitations. What if we were directly connected to said machines? One of the best way to look into the future regarding science and technology is to look at science fiction. Much of what will become reality tomorrow was an idea that was fiction today.
I think of beings such as the “Observers” in Fringe who were actually humans who could experience time in a non-liner fashion due to their enhancements. Even though they have god-like abilities, they still wreck their planet (a future Earth) and become tyrants in the present day/near future. They travel back in the hopes of survival and building a new world in the past. But they are cold, oppressive, murderous and bald (they have a lot in common with politicians) because their calculations/models tell them this is the way to survive. One of the main characters, Peter, obtains a piece of their tech and has it implanted in himself. His abilities increase but his humanity, morality and judgement start disappear.
There is also Robocop who is what many think of when picturing a cyborg. A human consciousness within a robot. Here the brain is enhanced and limited at the same time. The enhancements include interfacing with computers directly and all the data they can provide along with the physical strength and speed of a robot. The limits were to disregard the human’s morality and judgment so they could simply follow orders like a good Nazi soldier. In the original the human part of the being must override the robotic part to overcome his government/criminal/corporate owners (doesn’t sound too far fetched IMO).
Blade Runner, Terminator, Almost Human all deal with robots/androids that are self-aware and beg the question of what makes someone human. Is it our bodies stuffed full of diet soda and McShits or is it our consciousness that makes us people?
All these examples play into the tug of war between technological enhancements vs our humanity. An important limitation of machines is that they only know what they are told. One thing that needs to be made clear would be that in regards to transhumanism one would not know everything, they would simply have access to all that is known. The unknown would still be invisible until it is discovered. The creative human mind is what allows the unknown to enter the realm of the known.
Would technological advancements actually require us to be less “human”? I’m not so sure.
I pose the question, would you meld yourself with technology. I can’t say definitively whether I would or wouldn’t if given the opportunity.
When I picture what it could be I want to envision a utopian possibility designed by Ray Kurzweil himself but instead I picture this as a more likely outcome…