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RemovedFeb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022
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Note that there’s also a AI Governance curriculum for a track running parallel to the Alignment course! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1F4lq6yB9SCINuo190MeTSHXGfF5PnPk693JToszRttY/edit#

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Great links, really appreciate the AGI stuff. Thank you.

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#13 can someone help me out here?

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1. In education, always bet on the null.

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28: The snopes link you posted has been updated, suggest you strike that paragraph

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What's cool is how much thought the isochronic map put into human travel time. Apparently I can ride a horse east from Perm much faster than I can try to cross the Greenland icepack.

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#7 corridors invented in the 16C.

I’m not sure. I see a hall as a corridor. In Bill Bryson’s At Home he says the Hall came first and sometimes was all there was, for instance a Viking great hall, then rooms were added around the side, and the rooms took up more space, and the hall got smaller? Is a hall a corridor? I tend to use either interchangeably but maybe a hall/hallway has to get to the front door.

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“ would answer ‘yes’ to this because she [the queen] visited Ireland when I lived there, I watched the parade in her honor, and I could vaguely glimpse her on the inside of her car).”

You and a few thousand Corkonians waving their plastic union jacks. Rebel county, my arse.

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> I have checked Wordle to see if this is true, and can confirm that it now tells me that “slave” is not a real word

This is of course not true. It tells you that "slave" is not in the word list. I also think removing slave from the word list is stupid but misrepresenting what Wordle says in a way that anyone can double check in two seconds is sloppy in a way that seems motivated.

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

#32, on beautiful buildings surviving: there is definitely something to be said about modern architecture, auto-centrism, and technological changes, but I think another important factor that often goes undiscussed is labor efficiency. Construction remains a labor-intensive industry, even as raw materials and equipment grow cheaper. Some of the beauty of old buildings is related to the careful craftsmanship put into designing, building, and decorating even simple features. Today, that kind of time costs more relative to the other costs involved in building (land, permitting, materials, equipment).

The relevant economic law is "shipping the good apples out." If you look at buildings where the price has already been increased by other components besides labor (e.g. homes in an area where zoning limits supply and drives up the cost of lots), it's easier to spend more on construction since that cost is a smaller proportion of the overall cost. As a result, the design is notably better.

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founding

They made a male beauty pageant and they called it Mr Global instead of the obvious high-karma choice of Mr Worldwide?

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

I remember reading that much (all?) of Ms Universe had been changed to not depend on physical beauty. Has that happened to Mr Global as well?

Obviously not in that years batch though

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Not sure how often this is mentioned so sorry if this is banal, but I really hate how substack wraps all the links in the email, making it impossible to see what they are before you click them. This makes reading a lot of posts annoying (since stuff is often linked to with other words that don't directly say what kind of link it is), but it's especially a drag for link posts.

Guess I'll just resolve to stop reading posts in my email client. Great post as always!

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

Regarding (1), on how much / whether being bilingual improves academics, the paper abstract does not claim no effect. They say data is inconclusive. Quote below:

--

Evidence supporting the bilingual effect seems to appear when assessing inhibition and cognitive flexibility, but to disappear when working memory is considered. The inconsistent results of the studies do not allow drawing definite conclusions on the bilingual effect. Further studies are needed; they should consider the role of some modulators (e.g., language history and context, methodological differences) on the observed results.

--

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

Context for non-Jews; "Jewish Genetic Engineering" is mostly about all the genetic diseases Jews, particularly Ashkenazi Jews, have. Jews in the diaspora lived in insular communities periodically decimated by pogroms, creating artificial founder effects.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15516842/

Young Jews all get genetically screened for dozens of common genetic diseases, and occasionally couples are told they must not bear children. Obviously this is heartbreaking, but so are e.g. Cystic Fibrosis, Gaucher, and Tay-Sachs.

You're not missing out on some program to have more IQ points. Or, if you are, so are we.

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Made these notes on Discord, but somewhere other people can see them:

#2 is evidently -- maybe not consciously, but evidently -- drawn from Wikipedia's "did you know?" section (we ran it on NYE), which is amusing, especially given DYK is the subject of constant shitflinging about whether Readers Really Notice It.

#35 is already extensively noted in Wikipedia's article on MS, and 1. Wikipedia's coverage of any complex topic is intentionally slow (medical articles only refer to literature reviews, rather than individual studies) and 2. that article specifically, as a few people would be happy to talk your ear off about if you let them, is about 10-15 years out of date. Accordingly, this doesn't really sound like a Groundbreaking New Discovery.

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On the rise of content censorship: I encourage anyone and everyone to read an old book, published in 2003 called "The Language Police", by Diane Ravitch.

In short, academic textbook and test publishers have employed detailed rules that cater to various political groups (left and right) to police language, bowdlerize literature excerpts, and so forth - cutting out and replacing words, censoring content. I actually own two literature textbooks from c.1990 and have the source material where I can point to examples of that kind of bowdlerization.

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Re 11: I am doing this with the weekly online meetings. The curriculum is quite good and I would recommend for anyone who wants to know more about what is happening in the world of technical alignment stuff.

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On 22, it isn't just the brain that is quite efficient. The human body as a whole is quite efficient. This is especially true for those organs that use a lot of energy. Only inexpensive organs such as the pancreas have significant safety factors (the pancreas has a safety factor of 10x). Peter Sterling's book 'What is Health?: Allostasis and the Evolution of Human Design' (https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/What_Is_Health/s6XODwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0) is excellent on this subject.

Allostasis, being a sort of predictive control directed by the brain, is of course part of the reason for this efficiency. But there are many other reasons of which the most significant is that the human body (and many other complex adaptive systems) relies less on naive redundancy/slack for resilience and more on what is known in biology as degeneracy which is the existence of multi-functional components with partially overlapping functions.

The brain too has a significant amount of built-in degeneracy (e.g. refs https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.160.3469&rep=rep1&type=pdf https://www.pnas.org/content/96/6/3257). Degeneracy enables any system to be robust and still be near-optimally efficient which is why it is common across domains. I wrote something on the subject a few days ago at https://macroresilience.substack.com/p/redundancy-degeneracy-and-resilience?utm_source=url.

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The internet as we knew it in 2017 might not have ended but i'm pretty sure that internets as we knew them earlier have

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

26: Cook's paper itself explicitly says that the vast majority of her data (65%) comes from patent office surveys done by Henry Baker of the USPTO during 1900 AND 1913 (page 9).

https://lisadcook.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/pats_paper17_1013_final_web.pdf

The 1913 survey was considerably more comprehensive, according to the Lemelson Center, which noted that the 1900 survey identified 370 patents and the 1913 survey 800.

https://invention.si.edu/sites/default/files/Lemelson-Center-Black-Inventors-Innovators-Report-updated-2021-10.pdf

The appendix to Cook's paper notes that her total universe of data extended far beyond that, including academic journals, biographies, contemporary lists of African-American doctors/engineers, and other "Negro" exhibits at world's fairs from 1904 and 1933. The elision to 1900 alone is made by not made by her, but by NPR, most likely because her long and technical explanation of the biographical matching process between data sets was too boring for a snappy radio hit.

Is this paper good? I don't know enough about the statistics to say. Is the sharp drop-off at 1900 real, and attributable to Jim Crow? Haven't the foggiest. But if it's wrong, it's for more sophisticated reasons than "lol she used one data set that stopped at 1900."

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

Re 24; I really don't understand what Sumner means by this: "If the Obama tax increases did not cause Gates and Buffett to tighten their belts, then they paid precisely 0% of that tax increase."

Say we raise Gates' income tax such that he pays an additional $500 million in taxes while still eating the same amount of food, living in the same house, traveling the same amount, etc. Isn't this an example of a super efficient tax, whereby we've managed to get $500 million essentially for free without reducing the overall output of the economy? Sure it'll reduce Gates' investment by $500 million, but that money doesn't just disappear, it can be redistributed in a way to increase consumption elsewhere in the economy.

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36. To clarify, the BMJ article was not censored. Facebook applied a "missing context" tag whenever the article was shared. From the lead stories response: "In this case, Facebook users seeing BMJ.com's article are merely warned of "Missing Context", the lightest measure Facebook applies, with no restrictions in traffic, visibility or advertising revenue." I was very impressed by Lead Stories' response to the accusation. The handling of the situation by BMJ is worse than I would have expected.

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> they thought the BMJ article lacked important context, that was all they told Facebook, and they stand by their decision even after learning that the BMJ is much more prestigious and important than they thought.

Even more telling is their description of the "missing context", like this:

> But BMJ's open letter fails to mention important context: The Brook Jackson Twitter account agreed with leading COVID misinformation-spreader Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s criticism of the "Sesame Street" episode in which Big Bird encourages kids to get a COVID-19 vaccine. "Shocking, actually." she wrote in a November 9, 2021, response to a Kennedy tweet blasting Sesame Street (archived here). Elsewhere on Twitter, the Brook Jackson account wrote to a vaccine-hesitant person that vaccination makes sense if a person is in a high-risk category. When the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a federal employee vaccine mandate, she tweeted "HUGE!" and not with a frowny emoji.

Apparently not using the proper emojis is "critical context" to assessing whether claims of data integrity failures have merit.

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Your bit on Wordle is slightly inaccurate: they didn't "screw up synchronization between different layers by rewriting it to ban players from using “offensive” words", as they also went and removed words they thought would be "too hard"*

Funnily enough people on Twitter have in fact convinced themselves that the Times is actually going out of its way to make Wordle harder. There's maybe a lesson in here somewhere...

* I almost feel like the Snopes people playing with weird technicalities to say that a claim is "false" but I think what you said about Wordle does in fact mislead people about what the Times set out to do.

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On the trans statistics, I first think a critique of the source is appropriate. GIDS is a clinic known for incredibly poor record-keeping (I believe it may be actually a matter of court record due to Bell vs Tavistock/GIDS) and essentially refusing to approve any form of medical transition for the vast majority of patients during their tenure at the youth service. They reject current international standards like those developed by WPATH in favour of their own much older standard that apparently relies heavily on appearance and behaviour stereotypes and seems to involve essentially endless psychotherapy that is reported to often be quite hostile. They are an incredible outlier among youth gender clinics in general for those reasons among others, but the poor state of their records is more than sufficient reason to view this result with significant skepticism and to preferentially trust results from other gender clinics, such as the Belgian one referenced in the paper. One specific criticism is including patients on their waiting list in the total. How would GIDS have learned of the suicides of people on the waiting list reliably? Perhaps they might have been told when they went to schedule the person's first appointment or perhaps the person's parents may have called to take them off the waiting list, but we know from court records that they do essentially no systematic data collection at all at the clinic, and both of the opportunistic methods described would be unrealiable and likely lead to a severe underestimate of the suicide rate of people on the nearly 9000-person waiting list (as of June 2021). Also, the journal this study is published in is edited by Canadian conversion therapist Dr. Kenneth Zucker. Some will dispute that description of him, but I have read his work (including a study he published evaluating the "attractiveness" of his prepubescent patients at CAMH before he was fired for doing conversion therapy) and heard testimony from former patients and that is the conclusion I draw from the evidence. Needless to say, one may expect a particular bias to articles published therein.

So, given that the GIDS study is likely unreliable and there is only one other roughly comparable study, let's analyze the situation and decide when in their lives we would expect most trans people to attempt or complete suicide. Not being able to transition is one of the largest suicide risk factors for trans people, as is poor treatment and rejection by those in one's environment and by one's family. Given that, I think an appropriate prior would be that trans suicide rates would be higher while puberty is ongoing and still elevated while they are adults but dependent on their parents. First, the physical changes of puberty would dramatically increase gender dysphoria in most cases. The social changes that happen over that same timespan would likely also do this, as young people are differentiated more and more by gender into separate spheres with different expectations at that age. Especially in the past this was quite strongly and at times violently enforced, less so today.

Second, during this phase, trans minors are unable to take much significant action to alleviate the dysphoria they experience without support from schools and parents. Social transition requires support from teachers and administrative staff at school, and is made much easier with parental support (since otherwise they will be forced to conceal any steps they take). Accessing any form of medical transition essentially requires parental consent and is quite an involved process as a minor. The same is largely true for any sort of psychotherapy, particularly with a gender specialist. Thus, if a trans minor has parents who do or would not accept this fact about them, they are unable to do much to help their dysphoria and may subjected to conversion attempts or abuse if their trans status is revealed.

Much of this continues into early adulthood. While moving away for post-secondary education can make an unauthorized social transition possible, it may be difficult to access medical transition without parental discovery so long as the trans person is dependent on their parents for medical insurance coverage. Parents who discover that their child has transitioned or attempted to may take punitive action (such as by withholding needed financial support for their studies). If the trans person still lives at home, more of the above limitations still apply. One's body may also continue to change during this time, possibly further exacerbating physical dysphoria.

Thus, naively, knowing nothing of the statistics but understanding something of the nature of gender dysphoria and the societal forces that affect people who have it, one would expect suicide attempts of trans people to be concentrated in the pre-teen and teen years and in early adulthood due to factors like the above.

As an aside, almost every death statistic for trans people that is gathered from "hard" data rather than surveys (or a gender clinic that does good data collection, unlike GIDS) is likely a severe underestimate due to data recording problems which massively skew results in that direction. Police (a group that is overwhelmingly right-wing and socially conservative in the US and elsewhere, and thus unlikely to treat trans people with any sort of dignity or care) and coroners will not necessarily know if a deceased person is trans or not by simple observation, they may not accept or record that fact even if they deduce it, and their records systems may not store that information in a systematic way which can be easily analyzed on a large scale. Data from parents is also unreliable and in the same direction, since those who are trans-hostile (which is most of them, historically, though this is changing) may be in denial about their child's trans status and simply record them as their birth sex.

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38. Kirkegaard's discussion of exercise for depression seems to reflect a pure top-down view of problems. He looked at two meta-analyses and two observational studies. He didn't look at the content of the actual experiments. What's the specific experimental claim being made and what are the main points of debate? Surely an area of research with that many papers on the topic should have an opinion that's more specific than simply exercise decreases depression. Perhaps the studies are flawed, but Kirkegaard didn't really examine them.

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What's more, according to my high school Spanish teacher, herself a native Spaniard, the "doce uvas" tradition was entirely the result of a marketing tradition by the grape growers in order to sell more grapes.

Corroborated in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Grapes: "In December of [1909], some Alicantese vine growers spread this custom to better sell huge numbers of grapes from an excellent harvest."

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What is TLP and what does it mean to channel it?

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2. Eating 12 grapes on New Year's is also a (rather old-fashioned) tradition in parts of Latin America. The reference to a clock in Madrid has been forgotten, as far as I can tell.

7. Outdoors corridors (surrounding a patio, or between a building and an open space; covered, and closed on one side) are surely older (though they can have been common only in clement climates). It's the indoors corridor that must have been a novelty. Note it implies that you have space to waste.

15. Here the wording strongly suggests that Galton had really proved that "genius is genetic", presumably to our standards of proof - surely that's an overstatement.

32. Looking at the map of Paris given in the article makes it clear that there is significant survivorship bias. Few buildings survive in the eastern outer arrondissements, which were the poorer ones. (NB: they may also have had some empty space, even in 1914.) Example: the 13th, on the other side of Place d'Italie, was infamous for its poor-quality housing; little of it survives now - it's now the one part of Paris with a substantial number of high rises from the 1950s-1970s (on which opinions vary).

On a different note - it's trivial to find instances in the literature of new buildings that were considered ugly in their day, and/or associated to the bad taste of a rising class, are now sought after, no?

42. How does one choose grayscale in Android? All I see is settings to adapt to different kinds of (non-total) color blindness - they all still have some color in them.

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Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

RE #32: I'm fascinating by how often the topic of prettiness in buildings comes up in rationalist writings, and how it seems like prettiness gets equated in a staightforward way with how 'traditional' a building is. In a similar vein, it often feels like "design" is taken to mean primarily the 'look' of the building, with relatively little discussion of how the look relates to other paramaters like cost, material availability, performance, etc...

For a community whose tenants are so rooted in modernist and enlightenment projects (and for a community so interested in city building!) the "rationalist" parallel in architectural thought seems conspicuously absent to me. Just wanted to register this observation! Maybe a topic for a longer post.

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35. Did not know about the old cochran paper on the topic. Not surprised. IF the gay germ hypothesis turns out to be correct I will eat a 10pt printed copy of West Hunter

40. Yup, China & India actually. India's per cap income is now like $2k, so $6-$7 a day - a big tranche of the indian population is pushing up that median too.

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> You cannot put the burden of a tax on someone unless you cut into his or her consumption

What a strange take. It's not about forbidding this money to be spent at all, it's about making sure the power to control this spending is not in their hands, but in the hands of somebody ostensibly democratically elected and accountable. The money is not burned

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(Banned)Feb 22, 2022·edited Feb 22, 2022

The idea that scientific American "suddenly" became a bunch of woke extremists is false. Way back in 2013, they were already literally advocating for politically incorrect scientific research be banned. In America.

This is soviet-level censorship being proposed long before the word 'woke' was even a thing.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/should-research-on-race-and-iq-be-banned/

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#31 National Dress: Many of the men look really cool, but USA is superman and looks very silly. see #37 (https://www.boredpanda.com/mister-global-2019-national-costume/)

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That '31% of British people have met/seen Queen Elizabeth' sounds pretty reasonable to me.

I am a normalish, middle class, middle aged, English bloke and I have seen (in person) Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince Andrew, Lady Sarah Ferguson, Prince Philip (to speak to), and Queen Elizabeth. They get around quite a bit.

I have seen more royals than I have seen either cabinet ministers or ABC-list celebs, which is a bit odd from a purely Bayesian perspective as there are far more of the latter than the former.

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Something that struck me when looking at the Sensitivity Readers link was the similarity to bioethicists: the need to say things that border on the deranged, because if they didn't, there would be little need for them at all.

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I’m still working my way through the links, but I think #34 is misinterpreting 1984. The Principles of Newspeak is, to me, pretty clearly a excerpt from The Book - the phony compendium of history and philosophy that O’Brien uses as a stage prop in his efforts to make Winston believe in the existence of The Brotherhood, and thus rebel from the Party.

The genius of the Book is that, while it’s entirely fake in the sense that it does not truly act as a center of gravity for resistance to the Party, it IS true and accurate in its recitation of the history of Oceania and it’s analysis of Newspeak and the philosophy of Ingsoc. It’s supposed to make your head spin and give you Winston’s feeling of being unmoored. It’s part of the tragedy of 1984.

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re: 26 -- you're missing the main article in favor of Cook's research, which is Brad Delong's: https://braddelong.substack.com/p/have-harald-uhlig-and-company-read?utm_source=url . Roughly Delong's argument is "the paper already contains alternate specifications the critiques don't apply to, and they show the same results"

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

To clarify the Wordle thing:

The NYT made two changes to Wordle. The first was removing certain swearwords (such as "whore") from the words you're allowed to guess. The second was removing a handful of words from the *answer* list, including words which are too obscure and words which are potentially controversial - slave, fibre, lynch, agora, pupal, and wench. (I leave it to the reader to decide which were removed for which reason.)

However, what they didn't realise is that Wordle's word lists don't overlap - by removing "fibre" and "slave" from the "answers" list but failing to add it to the "non-answer valid words" list, they made them impossible to guess period. I think it's pretty embarrassing that they haven't fixed this (I just checked and it's still the case as I write this - try guessing "fibre"!)

I will admit in principle it might make sense to remove even the most mildly controversial words from the answer list, especially if you're pruning it anyway (and it probably did need to be pruned, "agora" is absurdly obscure). I'm less OK with removing the ability to guess swear words like "whore" or "bitch" on purpose, especially given the choices were rather random, but it's not surprising I guess.

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Dang, you may be the most highly skilled curator I've ever read. The ratio of (I want to read this ∩ I wasn't aware of this) / (total links curated) is just very high for me. Thank you!

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#4 is great and more evidence that age of consent should not exceed 16 (18 is quite unusual in global terms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent#/media/File:Age_of_Consent_-_Global.svg)

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37: On isochronic maps, see these maps of travel time from New York City to the interior of the country in 1800, 1830, 1857, and 1930 (that last, by rail or air). This country used to be an impassable wilderness. https://dsl.richmond.edu/historicalatlas/138/a/

Also, see this nifty isochrone generator: https://traveltime.com/blog/free-isochrone-map-generator

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

On kids and extracurriculars, just go with gut instinct. Ignore studies. Look to parents with a kid of similar age and abilities, from a family of similar values, for advice. But ignore even that if it makes no sense. Try different things, see what they enjoy. If they reject something you think they ought to give another shot to, then wait a while and present it using different material, maybe in a different environment. And keep them away from screens until they're 7 or so, or they'll only show interest in screens. After that, keep screens rare. This must be hard nowadays as many schools rely on kids using screens.

On another topic you had : Why are Americans suddenly interested in caste? It is pretty bizarre. I'm tired of identity politics. Disappointed to see this blog get into this "new" branch of it, as well.

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Re. the “wear your country’s traditional dress” contest: What would an American contestant even wear?

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"Mister Global Contestants Dress In Their National Costumes And Look Like Video Game Bosses"

#1. Class: Heavy Battlemage. Spells and Abilities: spellshield/deflect; powerstance; can cast large area-of-effect damage spells that deal elemental damage. Slow-moving but very high poise, cannot be staggered or interrupted.

#2. Class: Necromancer. Conjures living dead to fight alongside him, can summon mythical creatures onto the battlefield. Spells: Creeping Death; Curse; Soul of Kahlo

#3. Class: Druid. Summons short-lived but very high damage spirit animals; can transform into one of three Embodiments: Peacock Form (high burst damage spellcaster, glass cannon), Tree Form (heals self and nearby allies), Armadillo Form (tank with very high HP and high poise).

#4. Class: Pyromancer. Casts spells that deal fire damage. Can switch between two stances: Pemanas (highly mobile caster with short-cooldown, long range fire damage spells); when he puts on the mask, adopts the stance of Gunung Perapi (cannot move, but deals massive AoE fire damage in all directions).

#5. Class: Forlorn Cleric. Very high mobility, hand-to-hand combat character. Can phase through walls, deals heavy burst damage. Low HP and low armor, but can lifesteal if he lands his combo.

#6. Class: Aeromancer. Spellcaster specialising in air-elemental damage using his unique casting catalyst Parasolis to channel shockwaves and blasts of air toward the enemy. Very fast moving, low HP and armour but high chance repel incoming damage.

#7. Class: Hunter. Combination melee and ranged physical damage, can call nearby beasts to temporarily fight alongside him. Sets invisible traps that deal very high initial burst damage and cause the player's health to slowly decrease over time. Main weapon is Barbed Net, thrown like a lasso and causes laceration and entanglement upon contact with enemy. Very weak to fire damage.

#8. Class: Rune Priest. Medium range spellcaster with unique abilities. Creates identical copies of himself during battle who share the same spells and movesets. Each copy only has 1HP but explodes in a cloud of toxic mist dealing lingering AoE damage upon death. The original Rune Priest can cast Orb of Oblivion, a slow moving projectile ball of dark magic. The Orb is easily dodged, but if it collides with one of his clones, it releases a massive blast that kills the player instantly, so kill all his clones as a priority.

#9. Class: Rogue. Melee character specialising in high burst damage ambush attacks, stealth and assassination. Main weapons are a pair of daggers or a garotte laced with poison. Can throw smokebombs, and when walking through smoke becomes temporarily invisible and immune to physical damage. Can be out-traded in combat by players with high armour and defences, but his poison deals true damage ignoring armour.

#10. Class: Holy Spellsword. Hybrid melee-spellcaster who can conjure a magic sword that lasts a short amount of time but deals heavy holy damage on hit. Casts large AoE miracles causing beams of holy damage to come down from the sky in many locations at once. This spell has a short cooldown so he will spam it, forcing you to stay agile and avoid the blast areas. Immune to lightning and air elemental damage but weak to physical, can be staggered by greatswords and other heavy weapons.

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I do not understand your characterizing of Noah Smith's take on the Lisa Cook / Rogoff situation as even being "woke". Like, he specifically says: https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/1494152400751321088

"This is not to say errors are OK or should be tolerated because "everybody's doin' it". Academic econ is in a parlous state and needs to be fixed (just like other academic fields). There needs to be some form of systematic quality control and error checking."

He's just saying that he thinks the attacks on Cook seem politically motivated, and that if you went after _any_ individual economist, you probably could find errors of similar scale. (And you can look up the Reinhardt-Rogoff 90% of GDP nonsense, for an example.)

There is definitely a problem here with poor-quality peer-review in econ papers. But to the extent you want to condemn Cook, you may as well condemn the whole field. Alternatively, you can decide that econ does still have some useful things to recommend it, and that actually they've come up with some cool new statistical techniques over the last thirty years that even have useful applications in other fields, and then try to assess Cook in more subtle ways than just nitpicking problems in a paper or two. Maybe you'll still decide you think she's not great. But this line of critique doesn't seem to usefully differentiate her even from the people leveling the criticism.

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Regarding the Snopes crack pipe fiasco, there were some mitigating circumstances that justify the "Mostly False" rating. (A few other people mentioned below that Snopes has changed the rating to "Outdated," now that the Biden administration has explicitly confirmed that crack pipes *won't* be included in the program, but I'm going a step further and arguing that the "Mostly False" rating was never wrong to begin with, even given the information available at the time.)

1. Safer-use crack pipes were simply listed in the grant proposal as an example of something that *could* potentially be provided as a form of harm reduction. It's not simply that the grant included money for other things, it's that the part about crack pipes was purely hypothetical and there was a very good chance they might not have been included at all. (And, indeed, that was exactly what ended up happening: The actual program, as implemented by the Biden administration, will *not* include any crack pipes.) So the claim that the program would give out crack pipes was misleading because it presented a mere possibility - and a fairly unlikely one, at that - as a certainty. That alone would justify the claim being rated "Mostly False" or at least "Mixture," and definitely precludes it from being considered "True" or even "Mostly True."

2. However, the claim that Snopes was addressing wasn't *just* about the crack pipes, it was also about the motivation of the program. Conservative politicians, pundits, and news outlets were claiming that the crack pipes were being included in the name of racial equality, implying that the Biden administration was trying to close the racial disparity in crack use by getting more White people hooked on crack. This is an absolutely absurd and outlandish claim with literally zero basis in reality! (The actual reason that the grant proposal suggested included crack pipes was as a harm reduction measure, on the grounds that these crack pipes would be safer and cleaner than the ones crack addicts normally use.) This is the element that pushes the claim from maybe just warranting a "Mixture" rating to conclusively deserving a "Mostly False" rating, since this part of the claim is just straight-up 100% false.

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#34. I'm very skeptical about the idea that 1984's Appendix is a diegetic article written by future historians in the same world. Sanchez's argument for that proposition seems to rest on two points: that it's written in an academic style that contrasts with the rest of the book, and that the last word of the appendix is "2050", which encourages us to think of the Party's rule as having an endpoint. I don't find either of those arguments convincing in the slightest.

He also says that the existence of a "final" edition of Newspeak implies that there's an end-date to the Party's rule, but the early part of the book is pretty clear that Newspeak was never intended to evolve over time: once the language is finished, it's finished. It's another way of showing the static, joyless world that the Oceanian government intends to create.

The appendix seems to me like it has the sole purpose of fleshing out the setting. This is less common nowadays, but seems pretty consistent with other novels from the mid-20th century (such as the Lord of the Rings). I think that it's written from 'our' perspective about the state of the setting in the year 1984. If the appendix was actually written in-setting, I think there would be more references to the horrifying damage done to the world, and more clues about what had happened in the decades since 1984.

I really like the book, so I hope that the diegetic interpretation described above doesn't become commonly accepted. It undermines the book's entire vision: that of the boot on one's face, forever.

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On Mafia degrees, I'm betting the signal to employers raised the floor the Mafia needed to pay mafiosos to retain them vs the money they could make by just e.g. opening a legit business; the degree functioned as a competitive advantage in legit markets and thus the same way 10 years of experience or a degree allow a person to get hired in at a higher rate in corporations, it functions the same in the mafia.

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Re: Preschool-

My first thought on this is, perhaps it's a selection effect where the children of parents who're more able and willing to spend time with them at home rather than sending them to preschool are more likely to perform well?

Preschool might have negative educational value relative to what it's an alternative to (which will probably usually be more direct attention from relatives,) but even if there's no difference at all, children who're sent to preschool may have a comparative disadvantage at the outset.

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#39 checks out. See https://www.gapminder.org/tools/#$ui$chart$opacitySelectDim:0;;&model$markers$mountain$encoding$group$data$;;&frame$value=2001;;;;;&chart-type=mountain&url=v1 .

Median Chinese went from ~$2.30/day to $10.30 between 2000 and 2017.

Median Indian went from $1.90/day to $3.15.

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36. On the BMJ being censored by FB.

I get that it isn't great they couldn't pull rank effectively, but I think that censorship and free speech is a nuanced landscape in terms of the potential harms and historical pathways we've observed. Some forms of suppression and censorship are worse than others.

When a prominent group of intellectuals or academics or whomever...an existing institutional power structure begins to be subverted and attacked and censored by the political elite...that is a very bad sign which means society is heading towards particularly bad outcomes or it has pretty consistently meant that in the past.

When you look at the accounts of the beatings, murder, and loyalty pledges extracted from academics in early Maoist China or you can see the spying and strict political restrictions and gulags of the USSR, you can see how bad a society is getting when it turns its attack dogs on the old institutions of knowledge. Any power or voice outside of the reigning political voice must be squashed, all dissent is intolerable to the new power structures. In this case the axis point where tech, intelligence agencies, and political powers meet on one place to interact with a flowering corporate capture of all aspects of the world within the bounds of a slow motion central banking neoliberal ideological global coup.

So while some purely free speech issue about straight up neo-nazis or comedians using 'bad words' on stage or if you can shout fire in a crowded theatre or 'what is' pornographic...these are indeed important, but are perhaps somewhat limited affairs in terms of knowing if a society is collapsing into a neo-feudal corpo/banking dictatorship or not.

It sounds all newfangled...but in more olden time terms....this is a mercantile class takeover. It has happened many many times in history where the merchants get too wealthy and corrupt the heck out of everything. But they lack the desire to rule, set religious doctrine, and will go to war without regard to human life.

A society is bankrupt and dangerous for commoners at well....pretty much all the time....but this is very true when the merchants take over and make everything about money.

All those years of stakeholder profits and lean management in California haven't done well for the people when their electricity went out due to there being no redundancy or disaster preparation were skipped. But those wealthy merchant class investors get to keep all their money over all those years as wildfires burn and people live with rolling blackouts. Merchants are about extraction, it is a game of cut and run with a global society where those juicy California utility dollars buy them a nice home in Europe where they don't have to live with the problems they caused.

A politician wants your vote, a general wants you to fight, a priest wants you to worship...but a merchant will just leave you for dead after taking everything from you. They just don't need you if you can be replaced and as big as any merchant gets, no single one tends to run society or have a total monopoly in all industries....so people are seen as easy come and easy go.

But when expert speech or political speech in the form of protests or journalism by those wicked 'non-journalists'...then the issues really extends beyond free speech and we talk about curtailing a broader collection of rights.

Who is doing this? Why are they doing it? What power to do they have to go outside courts, use a secret police or even a public police force to do this? What tools of oppression and punishment do they have available to them. Will they get you fired, freeze your bank accounts, put you in jail, plant fake evidence, or will they murder you, threaten your family, torture you?

All very real possibiltles and when we see the 3 letter agencies in the US and in Canada saying that 'misinformation' as deemed by them is a crime which exists outside the legal and court system and is determined upon their whim...when they call speech terrorism...that's a HUGE problem and is worse then locking up comedians for saying 'dirty' words. Both are bad, but one is a harbinger of the downfall of your society and any residual scraps of democracy you thought you had.

So the BMJ is yet another canary in a very unsafe and very profitable mine in my view and has ramifications beyond just free speech.

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On #8, India-Brahmins-USA-Immigration, here's another counterview: https://twitter.com/counterviewnet/status/1495223939475423233

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I am extremely confused by the article on pretty buildings. As evidence that cities in the past didn't have "ugly buildings" that were later demolished, he offers some aerial photos of cities in the 1800s. And those photos look... completely unremarkable? Basically boxes with gabled roofs? I honestly have no idea what these are supposed to prove - from this distance all I can say is "yup, that looks like a city." If you took a photo of a modern city of similar density from a similar height, and tinted it sepia, I think I would have a hard time telling which was which.

He also cites the "Gorbals slums" as evidence of "look, these buildings from the past weren't that ugly," but it looks as boxy and monotonous as any of the concrete apartment blocks that anti-modernists love to complain about. And he also shows off some historic wooden houses as "not splendid, but not generally ugly." But I would say the same thing about a lot of "ugly modern buildings"! They're not ugly, they're just not particularly splendid. They're apartment buildings, not gothic cathedrals. This seems like equivocation to me - on the one hand asking why modern buildings aren't *beautiful*, and on the other hand asking us to forgive older buildings so long as they're not outright *ugly.*

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

My understanding is that early 20th century eugenicists understood that "positive" traits were heritable, but just considered sterilizing people to be easier than encouraging people to breed. The 1918 textbook Applied Eugenics contains several schemes to increase the number of good genes, such as creating lots of propaganda about the nobility of parenthood, which would appeal more to "the superior" and thus cause them to breed more. There's also a section telling alcoholic geniuses that they should reproduce because increasing genius is more important than decreasing alcoholism.

(Eugenic texts are interesting because they're a time capsule of what traits were valued in the past. Nowadays people who are swayed by that kind of emotive propaganda are seen as uneducated bumpkins, not as superior. On the other hand, contract laborers are for some reason on the list of classes not allowed to immigrate to the United States in 1918.)

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founding

"The authors gather data on completed suicides among trans people, and find that they’re about 0.01%/year (which is about 5x the cisgender rate)."

The sources I'm finding all give the adolescent suicide rate as 0.011%/year,

https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/health-of-women-and-children/measure/teen_suicide/state/ALL

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr69/nvsr-69-11-508.pdf

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/youth-suicide-rates-are-on-the-rise-in-the-u-s

If so, then your trans adolescent suicide rate of 0.01% would be almost identical to the cis adolescent suicide rate. From which we would conclude,

A: half of trans adolescents "attempt suicide", but they suck at it compared to the cis kids, or

B: half of *all* adolescents "attempt suicide", and they all suck at it, or

C: trans adolescents vastly overstate the frequency with which they "attempt suicide", or

D: as suggested by naamah, GIDS isn't credible.

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Grayscaling your phone does 100% make it less addictive. It's partially because the "normal" colors are a hypersaturated superstimulus. I first turned on grayscale mode while walking around in the Castro district of SF and had the sudden realization of "oh my god, I'm surrounded by rainbows!". They simply didn't stand out beforehand because the colors on my phone were so much more intense.

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> 2: Did you know: Spanish people consider it good luck to eat twelve grapes at midnight on New Years, one at each chime of the clock tower in Madrid. This has caused enough choking deaths that doctors started a petition to make the clock tower chime more slowly.

It's a tradition. I never was told it was for good luck. It was just The Thing You Do On New Years. Often washing it down with wine.

> 7

He didn't invent it. He popularized it as a new style in England and started to put them in smaller homes that previously hadn't had them. Basically trading smaller space that was private per person instead of a larger shared space. But he didn't invent them. They existed before that. Both in contemporary Europe and going back to at least the Bronze Age if not earlier. You can even look at plans for Whitehall (where the monarch lived in his time) and see corridors. Yes, even separate rooms that were places you could stay while moving between rooms.

> 12: The Dangers Of Low-Pay, High-Status Jobs. A good article in many ways, but the part I appreciate most was taking “why are so many journalists live in Brooklyn?” (which I had always thought of as a kind of a running gag, or dig on the journalistic monoculture) and doing economic analysis to it, of the same form of “why are so many tech companies in the Bay Area?” or “why are so many entertainment studios in LA?”

Something the article only indirectly brings up and I think they underemphasize. If your "compensation package" is largely based in status then you take a bigger "pay cut" by leaving a high status region than a profession that pays more in money. Imagine that the average Brooklyn journalist gets paid $40k and 100 status points. They do (as the article mentions) need to live in a place where they can spend those status points. But they also get a certain part of those status points simply from being in Brooklyn and from doing the "work" of conspicuous participation in the industry's culture.

Imagine if a journalist got an offer to get $70k to work at the Plain Dealer. An old, prestigious newspaper with a good circulation in (low cost of living) Cleveland. They'd be gaining $30k. But they'd be losing a lot of status points by moving into a city that's constantly the butt of jokes and won't let them rub shoulders with Ezra Klein or whoever. Perhaps they've stored enough from their career they can do it for a stint. But that's like moving to New York and living on savings in reverse.

Of course, you can just... not do this. Scott and Freddie don't. (Admittedly, I think Freddie was forced out over some controversy? But from reading him I really, really don't think he was ever the type to care about meeting Ezra Klein. I'm not picking on Ezra Klein, by the way. He's just the first name I came up with.) You do need status with some community to be a success on a subscription model. But any community will do. Dollars are fungible.

Which leads me to the second point: I think they tend to jump to edgelord stuff because they spend so much time in progressive conformity. Every Christian semi-intellectual knows about the arguments the New Atheists in detail. They might know something of pagans or Muslims but they couldn't pass as one. But an edgelord New Atheist? Being a Christian actually qualifies you to be better at that! Likewise, if you spend all day fretting about conservative anti-woke arguments then that sets you up to become a conservative anti-woke writer.

But you can just... not. You can write for an audience that isn't one side or the other. It's actually easier! The field is less crowded! Write about sake production! Or African agribusiness! Or a third thing that isn't food related! (I'm hungry.) But you get the point. Think about how few people need to follow you to have a decent living. Let's say you get a thousand people interested in your substack (SakeTalk) paying $5 a month. That's $60k. And a thousand people isn't hard. Not over the long term. Hundreds of millions of people pay for online writing. You just need a fraction of a percent. You can't find a thousand people interested in sake?

Yes, you're not going to be Ezra Klein with his six interns and his six figure salary. But you probably weren't going to be anyway. And you can live where you want and do what you want and never have to feign sympathy with a high 24 year old in a bathroom saying her life is over because she doesn't get to write "real stuff."

> 23: I’m not going throw out my copy of The Case Against Education just yet - I haven’t checked this study but I bet there are lots of possible confounders. Still, this would be fun for somebody more interested to analyze in depth:

Criminal organizations pay more for criminals with useful skills (hacking, chemistry, accounting). They also piggyback have various forms of education. The traditional example is footsoldiers joining the army to get combat training. But the skilled workers are what they really have trouble with. These people are so in demand that the mob will sometimes contract innocuous activities onto legitimate firms while keeping them in the dark. As you'd expect, mobs in poorer economies have an easier time attracting skilled talent. Which is why Russia or Nigeria can become havens for hackers. Lower wages means criminals can more easily outbid legitimate firms. (Though at least in Nigeria the government is trying, albeit not hugely successfully, to crack down on such activity. Russia actively encourages it.)

Anyway, this is the third time I've heard about this study. I'll give it a read later. My unstudied thesis: everywhere (though especially in advanced economies) illegal organizations have a relative surplus of low skill talent and a relative deficit of high skill. It's easy for gangs to attract high school dropouts and hard for them to recruit cryptography PhDs. They also tend to be highly hierarchical and have huge amounts of pay inequality. So I thought it was people with more useful skills starting at a higher payscale plus the need to compensate them against more lucrative legal opportunities and the need to pay more for the talent they have a deficit in.

> 24: Best of Scott Sumner archives: There’s Only One Sensible Way To Measure Economic Inequality. “You cannot put the burden of a tax on someone unless you cut into his or her consumption. If … tax increases did not cause Gates and Buffett to tighten their belts, then they paid precisely 0% of that tax increase. Someone else paid, even if they wrote the check. If they invested less due to the tax, then workers might have received lower wages. If they gave less to charity then very poor Africans paid the tax.”

In short, taxes are not paid by the person who transmits the money to the government but by the person whose consumption is ultimately redirected to government ends. Insofar as the person paying taxes controls their own spending, this actually empowers the taxpayer to direct who pays the tax. For example, a perfectly non-competitive unregulated business (so with absolute control over its economic decisions) will decide to pass it all on to other people. A perfectly competitive business with extreme regulation (so with minimal control over its economic decisions) will be forced to eat the costs. (And, in some societies, might even be prevented from exiting the business so the state can continue to extract from them!)

But taxpayers will almost always have some economic choice. They will generally choose to distribute the loss of consumption in the way that's least personally disadvanageous. This will generally not be in a way the government intends. At that point the government can either realize it's a failed policy or double down. They usually choose the latter. That means asserting control over private decisions which is almost invariably bad.

I'm not saying the government can't gather tax money or spend it on useful things. I'm saying it has minimal ability to determine who pays taxes. So you should be inherently suspicious of any claims about robbing one class to pay another. Because what they usually mean is they're going to levy the tax in one place. But that doesn't mean that's where the tax will be paid from in an economic sense.

> 32: Related, from Works In Progress: no, it’s not just that only the prettiest buildings of past ages survived, past ages really did produce (on average) prettier buildings.

I don't struggle to identify an ugly house from the 19th century. Have you ever seen a wattle and daub house? I have. This is like saying clothes have gotten worse because you've looked at a lot of royal dresses in paintings and museums. This is simply the author being unable to comprehend that urban areas were a much smaller, relatively wealthier part of the population in the past. Even when they mentions surviving cities they're dealing with the most downtown areas. The author conveniently ignores all kinds of slum clearance in the exurban areas. Or renovations. He kind of glides over this citing a few elite houses in remote villages and paintings, of all things. Yes, picturesque paintings meant to romanticize the countryside look nice. That says more about painters than buildings.

> 39. Interested in hearing more about this: was the 2000 - 2017 period really better than previous periods? If so, why? Is it just China, or something else?

Yeah, it was better. And not just in China. It still baffles me how much is just missed by the average person. The birth of the Nigerian film industry. The end of the deadliest conflict since WW2. Brazilian GDP per capita going up by a factor of four. Or any number of other changes. I probably notice it more because (as I said above) I have fairly significant international exposure in economic terms.

The main things I'd say is increasing peace, better economic governance, and more trade. We are unfortunately seeing reversals in all three of these trends.

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Here's a theory for the uglification of buildings: are managers at construction companies still architects/engineers/people who have actually built a building? Or are they professional managers?

I was recently listening to the cast of Critical Role's watch party of their recently released show, and time and time again they pointed out little moments where, because they the actors were running the show and not just cogs in a machine, they were able to go the extra mile and put their soul into it. And it shines through! Legends of Vox Machina is not a perfect show but it is an awesome one.

So maybe you can run that change in reverse, and replace *specifically the managers of construction companies* with MBAs? Did such a thing happen? Did it happen at the right time? Is it sufficient? The first MBA was awarded by Harvard in 1908, so it at least satisfies a Fermi quiz but I don't really know how to get more traction.

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Why isn't the obvious answer to why college increases mafia earnings just that college selects for smart hard working people. And smart hard working people are probably better at crime.

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The Gwern link on Dune led me to his review of Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life, which made me feel less out of step. I had read that story after reading Pinker trash Sapir-Whorf in "The Language Instince" and took the scifi premise to me that S-W was actually true and changed how the protagonist wrote about past/present/future. Then I saw "Arrival", which differs from the story in that she makes use of future knowledge, and concluded I had misread the story. But Gwern appears to agree with my take, unlike every other take on it I've read.

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28: Another cool quote in the Scientific American article: "First, the so-called normal distribution of statistics assumes that there are default humans who serve as the standard that the rest of us can be accurately measured against." I'd be interested in the details of that interesting new limit theorem.

A bit of truth in this: much psycho diagnostics (personality, clinical, educational, and of course IQ that so many people in this forum love so much) is actually "norm-based", telling the patient that "you differ from the rest". It's not like a driving license in which there are some established criteria that you need to pass ("criterion-oriented"). That norm-based diagnostics is logically flawed and should definitely disappear.

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I'm looking for a source for the "petition to make the clock tower chime more slowly" but I can't find anything. Is it true?

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I'm going to push back on the implied 'wokeness gone mad' frame around NYT's Wordle censorship. I get the idea that including a word on the list is a value-neutral act; obviously it doesn't imply endorsement of the referent. But would you be annoyed to learn that they'd struck out 'cunty' or 'shits' or 'semen' or 'vomit', along with 'slave' and 'wench' and 'lynch'? They're all just words, and plenty of people are comfortable seeing any or all of them. But they'll have a negative emotional impact on a non-trivial number of others. So why not omit them from an inoffensive mainstream word game? The word list is already heavily curated; it's not like we were promised the full set of 5-letter English words.

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#24 is very wrong. Say we accept the premise that money spend/invested by Gates is spend/invested just as beneficially to the people as the government would. The "real tax" still occurs much before Gates himself will feel it in his consumption. It will be his children's children (and so on) that will feel it. He has more than enough money to last many lifetimes. He will not notice a million more or less. But with an exponentially growing number of life's depending on that money a million dollars more or less is definitely going to be noticed somewhere down the line.

(P.S. Gates is not the best example as he is arguably spending his money much better and more altruistically than the US government would. He also plans to give most of his money to charity rather then his family/descendants. However, this does not hold for most billionaires.)

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I've been sharing this Mr. Global photoshoot with my female friends a lot, each one has a different favorite contestant. Here are some other photo albums I like:

Cage homes of Hong Kong (TW: claustrophobia): https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2017/jun/07/boxed-life-inside-hong-kong-coffin-cubicles-cage-homes-in-pictures

Using drones to make light halos around mountains:

https://mymodernmet.com/reuben-wu-long-exposure-drone-photography/

https://mymodernmet.com/reuben-wu-long-exposure-composite-photos/

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards:

https://www.comedywildlifephoto.com/gallery/comedy-widlife-2021-competition-winners.php

Reactions of Soviet people to seeing Dior fashion models in Moscow:

https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/dior-models-soviet-moscow-1959

Longest photographic exposures in history:

http://itchyi.squarespace.com/thelatest/2010/7/20/the-longest-photographic-exposures-in-history.html

This street photographer has impeccable timing:

https://petapixel.com/2015/01/02/self-taught-chinese-street-photographer-tao-liu-eye-peculiar-moments/

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Zendaya seems like some kind of Leonardo da Vinci of weird low-brow popculture. After seeing Euphoria in particular, I remain impressed by the person behind all the masks.

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

35. MS by virus by Cochran: 43 pages tl;dr: first mentions the logic at Page 422 "Several common disorders reduce reproduction sufficiently to generate high fitness loads. Schizophrenia has an fitness load that is at least 0.005, much larger than that of any autosomal dominant genetic disease.

Many diseases ascribed to autoimmunity, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and lupus, have fitness loads above or only slightly below 0.001 (Table 1), high enough to implicate infectious origins."

On page 429 Cochran hits it with the Epstein-Barr-Virus: "Virtually all MS patients are infected with Epstein-Barr virus, raising the possibility that MS may result from coinfection of

Epstein-Barr virus with one or more other pathogens [82]." - 82 is a study from 1998!!! SORRY? It took 24 years to acknowledge? Still unknown when any action will result - My mom bakes the cakes for the local MS-group, brother's friend died on it - not an abstract matter to me.

On page 436f Greg's famous take on gays: Infection as cause for male homsexuality. Fun-sentence: "The occurrence of exclusive male/male sexual preferences in sheep shows that cultural “powers of suggestion” are not necessary to generate the phenomenon [127–130]. (Sheep do not watch television, read newspapers, or discuss alternatives lifestyles.)"

Wikipedia on Greg felt the strong need to write a repudiation. Wokipedia?

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Re the EBV-MS link, iirc the consensus is that contracting EBV as an adult is a risk factor. Most of the population is infected in childhood and it seems safe. This is related to the hygiene hypothesis - the Third World has basically no MS, to the extent some article brought up geomagnetism as a possible causal factor (!).

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Great stuff, thanks.

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I actually did some work for members of a militia some years back. Nicest antigovernment extremists I ever met, and they were quite emphatically opposed to racism.

They sent me Valentines' Day cat treats there for a while.

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#7: “All artificial things are designed” - Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

29. As kinda expert in Ukrainian/Russian matters, I liked the article by Anatoly Karlin much more than I expected. I would be very, very happily surprised if Putin's action (22.2.22) - now officially taking over his two puppet-republics - will be the end of this. Still the idea that a *rapidly* aging population of 200 million of which MANY dislike you is more viable than, well, an aging people of 144 million (which might stabilise by generous gas-financed-subsidies) that you got brain-washed just fine - I would stick to my empire - I mean: You been to Ukraine, ever? Seen anything outside Odessa, Lviv or Kiev worth taking - or much improved since 1999??? I want your glasses!* - I guess it is similar for Belarus. - I see cities emptied of 30-50 year olds. They work in Poland/Germany - or Russia. Those with kids leave them to the their granny. 20-25: students, learning a trade to use abroad. Will they fight? Mostly not, cars are packed to drive west, fast. Putin conquers a nation of grumpy pensioners. Posdrawlaju! (my congrats)

29 b) the Kazakhstan tweet: excellent? Sorry: BS. - not as in "all lies", but as in "all less-than-half-truths and you know it!". I worked in KZ for an NGO. "1 million"? Ridiculous. Xmas - indeed at Jan. 7. - but not even a small deal outside church. Russians go over the top on New Years Eve (they really do - Santa comes that day, too). And so on. Every single tweet is sh..t - I hate to say it: Karlin's text excels.

* From 1992 - my first bicycle tour Kovel-Luhansk - to 2020 I saw a lot of positive change. As in: stinky factories closed and more consumption (2nd hand-clothes/cars from the west - much better than what they had). Efficient western agribusiness. Just no investment in industry, little in infrastructure, little in housing outside the capital. No profitable raw-materials. No value-added exports. ("no" meaning: too little to mention). Only "human ressources" and those work: abroad. The most valuable asset is the relatively new visa-free-travel to the west. Ukranians would hate to lose this. As Putin's underlings they would.

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

As someone living in a post soviet country neighbouring Russia, and with Ukranian friends, I strongly feel that that Anatoly Karlin is a piece of shit, showing a disturbing lack of basic empathy and decency.

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Back when I did the ACM programming tournaments in college, we literally had a binder full of "standard" algorithms printed out on paper (since we were allowed unlimited paper resources, but no digital resources) that we transcribed into the contest computer really quickly at the beginning of the contest and then copied-and-pasted as necessary to solve particular problems. And many of the easier problems were explicitly designed by the judges to be straightforward applications of those same "standard" algorithms.

Our team members who specialized in those simple problems would get good at skimming the problems for keywords in the first couple of minutes after opening them, shouting "Problem C is just Floyd's!", and immediately start the ten-minute task of parsing the problem's input format and passing it into our boilerplate implementation of Floyd's algorithm. Following that strategy, it was pretty typical for the top teams to have accepted solutions for the two or three easiest problems within 15 minutes or so. (The ACM contest format was usually five hours, with 6-10 problems total.)

I don't know how much more variety there is in the Codeforces problem set, but I'm pretty sure a dumb brute-force program that just generated random permutations of the same dozen or so algorithm snippets would probably have done okay-ish on the ACM problems.

(And I'd be really curious to see some work from human competitors in that same 54th percentile... how many registered accounts on Codeforces are just curious noobs who joined one contest once, solved zero problems, and gave up forever?)

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Scott, how about a new lynx? The old one is cute and all, but I like variety.

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Does anyone know if there's a good contemporary isochrone map of the United States? I think that, given air travel, it would have to be denominated in hours rather than days or weeks, but it would have some really interesting structures. For instance, I just traveled from College Station, TX to Chicago, and it's clear that this took a lot longer than it would have to get to Chicago from Los Angeles or New York, despite being a lot closer. But the places halfway between College Station and Dallas would probably have even longer travel times. You'd have an interesting polka-dotted landscape around airports, highway exits, and the like.

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I could have sworn I'd seen an isochrone map of travel times/postage in the Roman Empire at some point.

Just went down a moderate internet rabbit hole looking for such a thing. It appears that whatever I'm remembering was probably a modern reconstruction -- the Romans had the necessary information on travel times, but their cartography wasn't up to the task (at least as much due to printing constraints as other factors).

Super fascinating Roman guide-map of the whole empire's postal system -- surviving copy transcribed in a 13th century Germanic hand: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_Peutingeriana

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Feb 23, 2022·edited Feb 23, 2022

While that Scientific American article is weak, much more credible and serious allegations about his support for Philippe Rushton have come out since and are quite a bit more serious: https://science.thewire.in/society/history/new-letters-questions-edward-o-wilson-racism-philippe-rushton/. The accuracy of the claim in that article has been acknowledged by his foundation. https://eowilsonfoundation.org/e-o-wilson-rushton/. If you find this evidence more convincing, consider how it should make you feel about dismissing prior criticism of Wilson based on interpretation of his more public statements.

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Careful tracking of human metabolism found that exercise (generally?) doesn't increase total energy use. Instead, the brain uses less energy, possibly on energetically costly anxiety.

https://www.science.org/content/article/scientist-busts-myths-about-how-humans-burn-calories-and-why

"By borrowing a method developed by physiologists studying obesity, Pontzer and colleagues systematically measure the total energy used per day by animals and people in various walks of life. The answers coming from their data are often surprising: Exercise doesn’t help you burn more energy on average; active hunter-gatherers in Africa don’t expend more energy daily than sedentary office workers in Illinois; pregnant women don’t burn more calories per day than other adults, after adjusting for body mass."

"For his Ph.D. thesis, Pontzer measured how much CO2 dogs and goats exhaled while running and walking. He found, for example, that dogs with long legs used less energy to run than corgis, as he reported in 2007, soon after he got his first job at Washington University in St. Louis. Over time, he says, “What started as an innocent project measuring the cost of walking and running in humans, dogs, and goats grew into a sort of professional obsession with measuring energy expenditures.”"

"Pontzer’s first of many breakthroughs with the method came in 2008 when, with $20,000 from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, he got the chance to collect urine samples at what was then the Great Ape Trust, a sanctuary and research center in Iowa. There, primatologist Rob Shumaker poured isotope-laced sugar-free iced tea into the mouths of four orangutans. Pontzer worried about collecting the urine from a full-grown ape, but Shumaker reassured him the orangs were trained to pee in a cup."

Partly about the trained orangs, but also a reminder that small grants can make a big difference.

"Subsequent doubly labeled water studies of apes in captivity and in sanctuaries shattered the consensus view that mammals all have similar metabolic rates when adjusted for body mass. Among great apes, humans are the outlier. When adjusted for body mass, we burn 20% more energy per day than chimps and bonobos, 40% more than gorillas, and 60% more than orangutans, Pontzer and colleagues reported in Nature in 2016."

"Individual Hadza had days of more and less activity, and some burned 10% more or less calories than average. But when adjusted for nonfat body mass, Hadza men and women burned the same amount of energy per day on average as men and women in the United States, as well as those in Europe, Russia, and Japan, he reported in PLOS ONE in 2012. “It’s surprising when you consider the differences in physical activity,” Schoeller says."

https://www.inverse.com/article/46350-surprising-health-benefits-from-4-cups-of-coffee-a-day

The big question remaining might be whether there's something about being the sort of person who likes a lot of coffee is related to whether they get a benefit from coffee.

If that's true, then people who were cutting back on coffee for their "health" (rather than for particular symptoms) should just have their coffee, but we still don't know whether coffee benefits people who weren't drinking it because they didn't like it or because of religious rules.

"Altschmied and Haendeler, both University of Dusseldorf biologists, say that four cups a day can actually help heart cells function more efficiently, as that amount of caffeine will “push” a protein called p27 into the mitochondria of heart cells."

https://heart.bmj.com/content/101/9/686.short

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> 1: The newest studies don’t find evidence that extracurriculars like chess, second languages, playing an instrument, etc can improve in-school learning.

I suspect the causality is something like this: higher intelligence makes people more successful at school, and also more likely to pick hobbies such as chess or foreign languages. So between the hobbies and school, there is correlation but no causation.

And when it becomes known that "chess and languages make you better at school", average parents will force their average kids to do chess and language education. And then the correlation disappears.

see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law

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Feb 24, 2022·edited Feb 24, 2022

Does 'you are writing a book with a deaf character and you don't know much about deaf people so you pay a deaf person to read it and see if you wrote anything tremendously stupid' go from being a good idea on it's face to a bad idea in practice if you call that deaf person a 'sensitivity reader'?

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Re: 32 Pretty buildings. I think this idea is from "A Pattern Language" by C. Alexander etal. You need 'things' at every scale, from 1/4" to ... It's all the fiddley bits at the ~1 inch scale that cost money and get excluded from modern buildings. But it's the fiddley bits that draw you in, beauty at all levels.

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I need someone to explain “You cannot put the burden of a tax on someone unless you cut into his or her consumption ...... they gave less to charity then very poor Africans paid the tax.” to me a little bit.

It reads as facile trickledown nonsense, or a totally dishonest representation on what taxes are; which can't be right.

Alright, I buckled down a read the post, and I still don't see the connection. He makes a bunch of true statements and interesting points, but fails to come to grips with what he (seems?) to be arguing against, eg, that the hyper rich have too much liquidity under lock and key, and that it should be anywhere else.

Or maybe I misunderstood it X2/

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Feb 24, 2022·edited Feb 24, 2022

> implies that 1/1000th of the youth who report attempting suicide on surveys complete suicide - which sounds about right to me

Whoa, are you telling me you expect 99.9% of suicide attempts to fail? I know of one person in my life who attempted suicide. And she died. Of suicide.

Edit: I just remembered about magic9mushroom....

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Feb 24, 2022·edited Feb 24, 2022

My issues with # 28:

Ant "colonies" being an issue matches my pattern of 'rage meme' that doesn't reflect reel people or at the very least is extremely non-representative. My prior on this being 'real' (as I see it) is about 1/20, even after taking into account Scott's high epistemic status.

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27 sounds plausible - one of the requirements for being a good monarch is showing yourself in public as much as you can, things like TV help of course but HM Queen Elizabeth II has been very dedicated to travelling around and putting in appearances in person.

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I think Viking longhouses had corridors in the middle ages, way before 1597.

Google "viking longhouse floor plan".

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RE 36: I think this is an interesting conflict that shows different ethical standards in research and journalism. It also seems to show that BMJ really dropped the ball with their open letter, even according to their own standards. A more in depth analysis from the fact-checker ( https://leadstories.com/analysis/2022/01/context-matters-why-lead-stories-fact-checked-the-bmj.html ) is worth a read. The fact-checker claims that the paper has the following journalistic problems: 1. the headline does not mention that the whistleblower is at a subcontractor (Ventavia) that is responsible for only 3 out of 153 sites. Now, it is possible that this is only the tip of the iceberg, but this is speculation, and publishing that is irresponsible journalism, unless it is a quote from an expert or in an opinion piece. And it seems that quite a few experts (including someone at the FDA, which was aware of the situation, unlike what the open letter from the BMJ seems to suggest. This open letter is also a very good exercise in (mostly) telling the truth but still being very misleading) think the whistle-blowers report is no cause for concern. 2. The evidence for violations is circumstantial and unclear. The whistle-blower only claims to have noticed meetings about potential violations, and did not personally witness them. So, the precise nature of the violations and whether they actually impacted the vaccination (were the incorrectly stored vaccines used or thrown away? ) is unclear. 3. The author of the piece did not inform Ventavia or Pfizer before publication and did not give them an opportunity to comment on the allegations. This (the fact checker claims) is an important journalistic principle, but (I know) is not something scientific journals usually care about. 4. The investigative journalist that wrote the article is known to push an anti-vaccination agenda. While most journals encourage authors to not such conflicts of interests, it's all voluntarily, and too objective to catch "pushes an agenda" unless you are employed by an organization with this purpose. 5. Many social media accounts, politicians, and news outlets published false conclusions based on this publication. This is of course not data the BMJ could be aware of before publishing, but it does support the claim of the fact-checker that the publication, while true, is misleading without further context.

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I just saw https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-59601335 which looks like the sort of Model City you're interested in, and I don't recall having seen you write about it before.

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Anyone have a link to the TLP "you have said it" source? Don't get the reference and couldn't find anything googling

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