Well it happened again. I bought a pair of shoes with a tag price of 29.99 zl (polish currency), gave the vendor a 100 zl note and received 70 zl in exchange instead of the 70.01 zl I was due.

– Where is my grosze? I asked. (A grosze, 0.01zl, by the way, is equivalent to 1/4 of a cent of Euro, not much indeed).

– I am sorry,sir, I don’t have any.

– Well, then look for one. It is not my fault if you put these stupid prices. I want my grosze.

She ended up calling the store manager who, visibly upset, gave me a 0.05 coin and said: Surely you are happy now. (she was not at all).

They deserve it. If you go to your grocery store and after weighing this and that you end up with a 29.99 or a 29.95 final price, you immediately round up to 30 to make things easier for everybody. But here it is not a result of fortune that such an odd price appears. The marketing department of the store has decided positively and actively to put that price for selling reasons without any regard for the time and comfort of customers and vendors. So, if they don’t have the 0.01zl coin to give me back, then they have a problem. I am not going to get out of the store without it. That 0.01 is nothing? Then put a price of 30.00 and stop torturing my sight with strings of 9’s.

I have researched a little the Internet about where this stupid price comes from:



Among other possible reasons:

– You sell much more with 29.99 than 30.00

– Historical reasons to force cashiers to open the register machine to give change and avoiding this way that they could keep the money for themselves.

– It makes bargaining more complicated.

But wait a moment. Imagine that you want to buy a car from your neighbor and, after asking him how much does he wants, he says: 2499,99$. What do you immediately think? Well, that your neighbor is a moron, that is laughing at you and has no respect for you time. That is exactly how I feel when I enter a 9-enriched store.

And yes, this is what we should do:

In its 2005 United Kingdom general election manifesto, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party proposed the introduction of a 99-pence coin to “save on change”.

(from the wikipedia page above).

The Top 100 Scientific Papers

A very interesting article -with online demo, video and everything- on what are the 100 most cited papers. It’s not really surprising that most of them are techniques used over and over to make new experiments.

The image used is very compelling: If we just print the first page of every article published and indexed in the web of science, we’ll get a paper tower as tall as the Kilimanjaro. The top 100 papers will make just a tine 1 cm at the top but, and here is where things don’t look that good, papers with more than 10 citations can be found between 4500 and 5500 meters; Between 1500 and 4500 meters we found papers than have been quoted in between 1 an 9 times.

From 2500 to 0 we have papers… that have never been quoted.

Makes you think, huh?


Antifragile: 25. Conclusion / Epilogue

Following the schedule of our Reading Calendar

Well, we have reached the end of the book which came a little as a surprise since the length of the bibliography and notes sections creates the feeling of being in the middle of the book when one is really almost at the end. The notes, by the way, doesn’t have page references to the main text which makes really a hell to follow them. Probably it is part of Taleb’s plan to increase the attention of readers by making things purposely more difficult.

These two short final sections, Conclusion and Epilogue, contain a final message of what Taleb considers the core message of the book and a mysterious ending about Fat Toni’s will. What are the 20 millions for? In my opinion is the f**k money that will allow Nero to achieve the final freedom of thought. But probably we will be out of doubts next book.

Surprisingly, in this second reading of the book Taleb has irritated me very often with his rude and despising attitude, gratuitous jokes, name dropping (yes, it is incredible but there is a lot of it) etc. Also, I think that he goes a step too far when trying to build a comprehensive theory of the universe based in his idea of antifragility. And why is this so? The reason is very simple. In my first reading, all objections to the book were eclipsed by the depth of the message and the intelligence of the insights. However, and this is probably the highest praise that a book can receive, the central ideas of the book have got so ingrained into my mind, they are now such a intimate part of my vision of the world, that they are now obvious to me and became transparent. And so, I could perceive the ugliness in Taleb’s style.

But to understand, enjoy and repeat Taleb’s ideas is the easy part. The real challenge is to practice Antifragility.