The 13th Donut or Gift from the Gods


This post was inspired by a comment on my other blog by Joe Murphy.
Tweedy Impertinence

If you click in the box above you will see Joe’s post and my annotation of Joe’s post, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. Not sure, but I think Joe came to my post via #YouShow15 and I really wanted to reciprocate or as Joe puts it, express a little “lagniappe”.  I have always understood this to mean “the 13th donut”,

Missing from the rebus above is the




The annotated link is a way to do this kind of extra reciprocation, an extra donut. The beauty of the tool, Diigo, is that it allows lots of extra little embedded donuts to be hidden in the box.  You can respond with text, you can share with others en masse or in a group, you can embed sound and text and animations and pix.  All of this is free to Joe, but the ‘equal sign’ above lets me tell the rest of the story of that equation.  Honestly, it should be an approximation sign:




The beauty of giving more than you get is that it seems to prime some magical pump.  Bread thrown on the waters does come back, almost always in unknown ways. Here are the ways I know that I didn’t know before:

    • A new word, lagniappe,
    • A new re-acquaintence with an old credo-the 13th donut,
    • A new connection with Joe,
    • The idea that we are simultaneously part of the hierarchy AND the wirearchy,
    • Wise advice: don’t make a fetish of the tools. Valorize the act of serving–the tools will get their due as a matter of course

I also got to share some cool gifs, pix, songs, and personal observations, but here is the important part for me: there are many unknown unknowns that will redound to me. The reciprocation, the equal sign, is always approximate…and mysterious. For me the most mysterious manifestation so far has been how this has prompted me to reconsider an important idea from another point of view:  black swans.

I know this is really far afield, but it is one of the gifts that Joe’s post has washed onto my shore.  Since I am a cargo cultist, I naturally assign preternatural meaning to it.  A black swan is an idea that Nasim Taleb cast into the world to describe the unknown unknown, the wave we do not see coming.  Hell, that no one sees nor can see looming.

There are many global examples of black swans. the internet being one, but they all hold three traits in common–they’re surprising, they’re big, and they’re rationalized by hindsight. So…Joe’s gift to me, the one that I did not know I was going to get until after I had cast my manna on the water, was this question:  can there be local black swans?  And by local I mean a sample of one–me.

In a very uncertain world where I am snapped about by  the crack-the-whip of larger events, am I also subject to personal black swans generated in my own timeline? Could the world be even stranger than I think?  My first thoughts are, “Yes, far stranger.”

If I am subject to global and local swans, how must I live? I take my lead from Taleb. First , I must be on the lookout for black swans as they happen. I have to identify them as they happen.  Second, I must, as Taleb says in The Black Swan, have coping mechanisms in place for dealing with them. The embed below quotes from the second edition afterward in Taleb’s book and outlines ten ways to cope as a society.

Ten Principles for a Black Swan-Robust Society

Now comes the thinking about how to adapt and adopt these principles to the sample of me.  Then that manna goes back out on the water.  Thanks, Joe, for the coke bottle from the sky.


3 thoughts on “The 13th Donut or Gift from the Gods

  1. Jesus … You almost went Rumsfeld there with the “unknown unknowns” but I was with you all the way. What I don’t understand is a blog post referencing donuts and not a Homer Simpson reference … Or did I miss its. Doh. There you go.

  2. This leaves (brings) me multiple links to save/process/share ~ and a book I want. HE colleagues and the Public Education Bloggers Network should take a look a the Lani Guinier book. Mostly though, I am reminded to do more with my upgraded Diigo account.

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