Observed on Swann Street (really), Northwest D.C.:
And, yes, the black swan metaphor is biologically ignorant.
Australia issued a “Black Swan” stamp on Sept 28, 1929 (Centenary of Western Australia; Scott catalog number 103). Over a month before “Black Tuesday”. So we were warned, but nobody paid any attention.
My favorite “black swan” story is from a veterinarian friend of mine. Along with the other animals at her vet school, they had a noisy, clever zebra who often escaped from his stall or enclosure and liked to raise hell. In class, they were taught the usual parsimony: if something sounds like a horse, it probably is a horse, not a zebra. Of course, at their school, if you thought you heard a horse clomping around the grounds and making a lot of noise, the odds were it was their zebra.
Really? I thought the existence of black swans was the entire point of the modern metaphor—playing off the old meaning of an impossibility to indicate something that’s been dismissed as too unlikely for consideration coming to pass. I mean, I guess if you’re from Australia it doesn’t quite work, but as kaleberg demonstrates sometimes we need to live with that.
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