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I knew about line-item vetoes but not the single-digit and Vanna variants. What's next, the Bible Code Veto? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bible_code_example.svg

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Could someone please explain what the mechanism is that big index funds use to get pharmaceutical companies (or other companies, for that matter) to do what they want?

Do they threaten to change the index-status of the company? Threaten to use the votes their stocks give them to fire the CEO? Either of those seem very much against the whole point of index funds--is it just that this is a clear emergency that justifies the exception? Or do Blackrock, Vanguard, etc, have some way of pressuring pharmaceutical companies that I don't know of?

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YES!! Just the existance of this post makes me happy. Thanks Scott :D

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I did a college research paper on the changes in hurricanes over time with global warming. What I found was that the data sets are really bad. They're mostly based on tidal gauge measures of storm surges, but tidal gauges malfunction in massive waves.

The paper Scott linked is based on satellite imagery, which seems like it should be better, but I wonder how they backtested their "Dvorak" technique to estimate storm intensity from satellite imagery. If they had to test it on the old data sets (i.e. the tidal gauges), I'd worry about the reliability of the Dvorak technique as well.

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Have you considered hiring a fact checker/editor with some of your substack money?

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": Seen here: how has the wealth of different generations changed over time? Note that this is not tracking specific individuals, who continue to mostly gain wealth as they get older - it’s tracking how much money an (eg) 25 year old would have made in 1990 vs. 2015:"

I'm pretty surprised at how poorly middle-aged people are doing. You can definitely see a big drop in the 45-64 range from the 2008 recession, which makes sense to me (I would expect that to be age range that had the highest fraction of their wealth in housing), but I would expect some recovery. It also looks like the divergence of 65+ vs everyone younger started around 2004-2007, so I still find myself confused.

"32: Also from the Slime Mold Time Mold blog: a critique of the research on hypobaric hypoxia causing weight loss. I’d previously cited the research favorably in my post on why obesity negatively correlates with altitude; the SMTM authors have a different theory where it has to do with how many pollutants are in your water (the lower you are, the more runoff has made it into your water supply)."

By complete coincidence, I was looking at my comment (https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/11/open-thread-64-5/#comment-443619) following up on that post, and a respondent stated this exact hypothesis. (I'm still a bit skeptical, because for most of the country, the amount of water upstream of you has little to do with your elevation--think about all the people who live along the lower Mississippi, but are at nearly the same elevation as their slightly northerly neighbors, and also for the reasons I pointed out at the time, particularly the extreme selection effect of altitudes above 5,000 feet).

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Local police departments in brazil go on strike all the time (I remember 3 different ones while I was in school in Salvador in the early aughts) and no big terrible things happen.

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Wow, I am a new subscriber and just have to say, the amount of quality thinking-writing you produce on a weekly basis is astounding. Thanks for it.

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Here's a question in light of your final [and potentially most stupendous!!] item, namely the one about the possibility of mRNA vaccines for malaria. [Footnote 1 reprints the link at bottom of this comment should you not want to scroll back up.]


My Question: I note a veritable cottage industry among certain economists (e.g., most blog-famous --- especially around these here parts --- would be Alex Tabarrok, see footnoted link #2) to produce estimates implying that even stupendous additional monies on COVID-19 vaccine manufacture and distribution pass all reasonable cost-benefit analyses.

** My basic question is: Anyone have opinions whether similar cost-benefit analyses for throwing stupendous government monies and effort on potential mRNA vaccines against... well, EVERYTHING (ok, ok, starting with a few major tropical diseases and certain types of cancer) would be worthwhile? **


My own opinion is: Ummm, maybe? Seriously, I would need to expend more effort on the nitty-gritty of estimating costs and benefits. To wit, it's my preliminary impression that in the case of these COVID-19 cost-benefit estimates that a large part of the estimated benefit comes NOT from reducing COVID-19 sufferers' disability-adjusted-life-years-lost by themselves (at least not in the mean of most people's projections for the COVID-19 incidience in 2021), BUT RATHER from:

-- returning the world economy more quickly to its pre-pandemic productivity path [hey, say that 5 times fast ;) ],

-- and (sometimes) the possibility of reducing the tail risks of more-infectious-but-still-vaccine-affected variants getting out of hand and forcing massive lockdowns again --- indeed, lockdowns perhaps even more massive and more strict than those of early 2020.

Not to argue that it's morally right, but I get the strong impression most mainstream cost-benefit estimators wouldn't see those benefits as applicable to the case of markedly reducing the mortality and morbidity from major tropical diseases and a couple major cancers. (Prof. Tabarrok, are you reading this? Did you already think of this question? If so, hi!)


Link Footnotes:

[1] https://academictimes.com/first-vaccine-to-fully-immunize-against-malaria-builds-on-pandemic-driven-rna-tech/

[2] https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2021/02/market-design-to-accelerate-vaccine-supply.html

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Any sold-out-on-wokeness hypothesis for why the Sanders campaign failed has to grapple with several issues:

- Why New Bernie did so much better in Nevada in 2020 (with a much more diverse base). The article claims that caucuses "place a premium on ground-level organizing, where Sanders excelled." But this is not a distinction since Nevada was also a caucus in 2016 and the failures in 2020 South Carolina are being alleged at that same level, not that Bernie ran bad television ads or failed to show up.

- Why Classic Bernie did almost as badly in South Carolina in 2016. He got 26% of the vote there in 2016 and 20% in 2020. This is not a very dramatic difference considering the first contest was one-on-one against Hillary and it can be parsimoniously explained by an "anti-Hillary but not especially leftist" cohort.

- The specifics of Sanders' supposed sellout. What issues, specifically, does Bernie stand accused of shifting on? As near as I can tell, the only one on offer is that Bernie seems to have agreed with most Democrats that there was some sort of corruption involving Trump and Russia. Setting aside for the moment the various mottes and baileys imposingly shadowed here, I simply do not see a case made that any significant mass of (Democratic primary) voters were specifically motivated by an *absence* of this. And while Bernie was not a contrarian on this issue, neither did he especially lean into it. You can point to statements he made while being interviewed on news shows, but certainly it came up much less in his stump speeches than class issues.

As someone who followed his primary campaigns closely in 2016 and 2020 and supported him in both, I can't buy into this thesis. My view is much simpler: Bernie never had a majority of the primary electorate. In 2016 his numbers were puffed up by non-ideological anti-Hillary votes and in 2020 Democratic candidates simply coordinated to stop Bernie in exactly the way Republican candidates failed to do with Trump. The article skewers a straw man by contrapositing its arguments from "if the Democratic party was so desperate to rally around Biden...." They were not, any more than Republicans were eager to rally around Ted Cruz! The difference is they sucked up and did it when the circumstances left it as the only option. This is not corruption, A endorsing B to put them over C is basic coalition politics as they have been practiced in every Presidential nominating process since the introduction of the party system.

And while I know people here are loath not to take others at their word, I would also like to suggest a distinction between class-first leftists and "class-first leftists." Class-first leftists spend most of their time talking about class, are usually found in obscure academic journals and activist groups, and often have wonkish opinions about monetary policy and the labor theory of value. "Class-first leftists" spend most of their time talking about identity politics, can be found on Twitter, Fox News, or erstwhile pro-Trump outfits like American Affairs, and have often have wonkish opinions about how Republicans are correct to say that idpol is bad and Russiagate is fake, prefaced with "as a class first leftist,"

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Mar 4, 2021Liked by Scott Alexander

Regarding the tricameral legislature proposal, I don't necessarily hate the concept, but one of the major arguments for it in that piece -- that the current political gridlock prevents laws from passing that have very wide support among the population -- is dubious. I don't know much about the other examples he cites, but the one about high support for background checks on firearms sales at gun shows is extremely misleading -- it's effectively a gun control talking point that gets passed around by their lobbyist organizations, but doesn't correspond to reality.

You can get large percentages of people to agree to "closing the gun show loophole" or "universal background checks" or similar, but when laws like these actually get brought up for consideration, even in proposal/referendum systems, the support is a much more partisan-typical 45-55%. This is because "universal background checks" is essentially a feel-good platitude, and the actual laws brought up to implement it are usually poison pills designed to attack gun owners. The usual form this takes is requiring full background checks on any transfer, and counting loans as transfers; thus, interactions that are completely normal among gun owners, like "let me use that rifle today while hunting so I can see how it feels", become felonies if not run through the proper federal bureaucracy. When concretized in this way, obviously support for the proposition drops.

In general, opinion polls like this are very weak sources of information, because even leaving aside lizardman effects, most public policy questions are sufficiently complex and subtle that your average person will require at least half an hour to understand what the question actually means. For people who aren't already policy junkies -- which is an excellent life choice that I endorse -- that means that a phone poll asking "do you approve or disapprove of $THING?" is basically only measuring whether the pollster phrases $THING in a way that sounds positive or negative. Thus a pollster can get whatever answer they want out of such polls, more or less; and any such poll that people are pushing is more likely propaganda than part of an effort to understand the world.

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#8: I had a parent on the wrong side of the ‘08 recession, they’re about mid 60s now, and that trend line down for 50-60 y/o nails it. There’s a large population of 60 y/o’s who will never retire because of ‘08 and ‘20, and I wonder what that future looks like for us. The money just isn’t there.

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> “The United States should issue letters of marque to fight Chinese aggression at sea.”

It's difficult to over-state how stupid this is.

- Piracy and state-sponsored privateering are unequivocally against international law -- law that the US is a signatory to. (See the 1958 High Seas Convention, among others.)

- The Chinese have the world's largest surface navy, and the world's largest submarine fleet -- and they are chomping at the bit for any excuse to flex their muscles in the South China Sea, around the Strait of Malacca, in the Korean Sea, and in the Pacific all the way to the coast of Chile. The balance of power is not equal; the Chinese Navy is very powerful indeed, and these "Privateers" are, more likely than not, going to end up in Davy Jones' locker.

- Chinese trade is oriented towards export: Chinese cargo vessels are typically loaded with goods for US and European customers. Hit a Chinese freight carrier, and you've probably harmed Amazon and WalMart more than you've harmed the Chinese -- if indeed you've harmed them at all.

The notion of privateers may work as Casus Belli. It fails on every other strategic and tactical level. For there's only one way it ends: With the US condemned, with dead privateers, and with a justifiably strengthened and extended Chinese naval presence in every body of water but the Atlantic.

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I'll borrow a page from the subreddit on tricameral legislatures:

Party list proportional representation.

Mostly because I feel it's telling that it wasn't even originally considered. Without necessarily making a value judgement, the various US federal elections are unrepresentative in so many ways - the population disparity of the senate, the per-state rounding of EC votes - that it often overshadows the part where even the House runs on a collection of single-seat elections the aggregate result of which is in no way guaranteed to be representative of the population as a whole. Yes, sortition is interesting and it would be nice to give it a run in a system where it's counterbalanced by more traditional forms of election, but if we're actually looking a for a system that's new, represents the population in a crucially different way from existing systems and is known to be functional and stable by itself, PLPP is the logical place to start.

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Mar 4, 2021Liked by Scott Alexander

I'm going to have to disagree with the article on the 1973 recession. Addressing its initial points:

1) The embargo was declared October 17th, but the price of oil did not really spike until January 1st.

Response: The timeline cited in the response shows that the "embargo" was a number of smaller events, not a single blanket ban, with actions and counteractions by the US and other states. It wasn't until December 22nd 1973 that the OPEC Gulf Six decided to increase crude benchmark prices, which coincides nicely with the January 1974 spike in oil prices.

2) The price of food spiked two months before the embargo was declared and plateaued before oil prices went up.

This part is inarguably true: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=AZ8i However, there were inflation spikes in 1969 and 1980 that led to similar economic slowdowns, neither of which had anything to do with Bretton Woods.

3) A multiyear stock market crash started in January 1973, 9 months before embargo was declared.

Up until December 1973, this was a less than 5% Y/Y drop in the markets: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=BzDe There were similar drops in 1978, 1988, etc., none of which led to severe economic slowdowns.

4) Previous oil embargoes had been attempted in 1956 and 1967, to absolutely no effect.

There's a decent description of the 1956 and 1967 oil embargoes here: https://www.ogj.com/drilling-production/production-operations/article/17235813/the-oil-weapon-past-present-and-future

1956: Embargo is only on Britain and France, not the US; production is not affected. The US makes up the loss in shipments to Britain and France with its own production.

1967: The embargo does affect the US, but only lasts 3 months and involves no production cuts or changes in benchmark prices.

I don't think it's reasonable to compare the 1956 and 1967 embargoes to the 1973 embargo.

My personal opinion is that there was a minor economic slowdown in progress in early-mid 1973, which may have been caused by Bretton Woods-related issues, or may have been caused by other economic problems (inflation-related overheating, steel industry collapse caused by electric mills, etc.). The oil supply shock, however, would've destroyed even a perfectly healthy economy.

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On cost disease: a non-monetary form of compensation is "how hard and how many hours do you have to work?". If competition for skilled labor is high (e.g. programmers and financiers) then even non-productive sectors like education and health have to compensate to attract skilled labor.

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22. I've been noticing how tempting it is to assume that people you don't know and don't like have clearly perceptible bad motives-- and more so if you're in a group that doesn't like those people. Thanks for updating.

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Re# 22, Doesn't everyone think 911 was an inside job? it was used to shamelessly justify the war on terror, drone warware, state secrets and improve Dick Cheney's Halliburton shares. Osama Bin Laden was Bush golf buddy and they refused to find him, despite lots of intelligence tips.

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re flat earthers and humanizing them: https://twitter.com/bucketofkets/status/1363699922915106819?s=21

I think basically everyone could learn something from flat earthers, primarily because we don’t really have good cultural technology for interacting with people that disagree this profoundly with you about something

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"Maybe you’ve heard of the Big Mac Index, where economists use the price of a Big Mac to determine how a country’s currency is doing? And maybe you’ve heard of Goodhart’s Law, where anything that becomes a target gets manipulated? Yeah, Argentina is accused of pressuring McDonalds to underprice Big Macs to get better terms on its debt."

Argentina participated in both the 2011 and 2017 ICP; its price level was reported as 66.4% of the U.S. (lower than Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil) in 2011 and 61.9% of the U.S. in 2017 (still lower than Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil).


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re: #6 I wish I could find it again, but I have a facebook friend with insider-type knowledge of how these public budgets are created, and they basically said that since money is fungible, universities can and do make the budgets look like anything they want at that level of abstraction. And, they claim, this is why the bigger budgets are always sort of milquetoast, across the board rises. As opposed to them being actually milquetoast across the board rises. My facebook friend didn't say what they thought the money was actually being allocated to, and since I can't cite my source this is more like a trailhead or invitation for someone to look more deeply.

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First link is nice demonstration of American empire losing its mind as China rises and it can no longer control the globe.

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That first link demonstrates a pretty terrifying lack of understanding when it comes to who actually owns the cargo on those Chinese merchant vessels. It's usually American or European companies who source from Chinese factories (e.g. Apple relies on factories in China to make iPhones). The goods are carried on a Chinese vessel by a Chinese shipping company, but they're owned by the consignee — the company that actually receives the final goods.

The victims of privateers attacking Chinese cargo vessels would be American firms. This isn't the old days when the Spanish were sailing silver back to Europe.

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Shame about Lambda Schools. I guess they used to be good and all of a sudden... they're just burning their reputation for cash for no apparent reason? What's up with that? I was really excited about the ISA model.

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The widely-shared Academic Times article doesn't appear to contain any new news about the candidate malaria vaccine. Its news hook is that a patent was recently approved, but as far as I can tell, there is no actual status update since early December, when it was reported that a team at Oxford plans to start final-stage human trials sometime this year. (And they don't seem to be saying much, that I can find?) See:


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I don’t have much interest in fashion but I liked this article about Mary Kate and Ashley’s Olsen’s post-Full House career as fashion entrepreneurs. It’s interesting to read about a business so clearly focused on serving the Upper Class, who has nothing to prove, so they buy $1,500 beige sweaters with boring cuts and no labels.


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The privateering article is utterly moronic, and basically an act of war. Sheer lunacy - ask Bean or anyone else.

If you are already in a shooting war with the Chinese, use frigates or corvettes or coast guard cutters or allied navies. If the Chinese have so many allies that they somehow can ignore the huge insurance hikes in a shooting war, you just need to drop more bombs on shipping.

If you are not, and start doing such idiotic things, the Chinese will shoot back. They are in the process of building a navy.

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Re: #8 (wealth decreases over last 30 years). I'm pretty sure that except for the youngest age group (which is more educated, starting their careers later), incomes are up for all the other ages over this time period [citation needed]. Interesting that wealth is down so much regardless.

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Re the first link, it's time for the standard disclaimer any time Proceedings comes up: Proceedings is intended as a forum for discussion of matters of interest to naval officers, and it is not peer reviewed. Often very not peer reviewed. Like in this case. Please don't judge the USNI on the basis of this stuff. They do a lot of good work.

And yes, it is that stupid. First, privateering is probably illegal today. The US didn't sign the 1856 Paris declaration outlawing it, but the ban is almost certainly considered customary international law today, and thus binding on the US, too. (International law is very weird.)

Second, it makes no sense. It was something that people did in an era when the ability of the state to do things was sharply constrained, and it was never all that profitable. These days, the government is a lot more effective, and if it wants to hunt Chinese commerce (never mind the issues about who owns the cargo, which is rather different in the days of worldwide communications and the shipping container) it will make auxiliary commerce raiders of its own. There's definitely no need to have a DDG sit outside a Brazilian port waiting. Take any reasonable civilian ship (big yacht, fishing boat, tug, whatever) and fit it with a couple of 40mm guns and a boarding party. Have it do the waiting instead.

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In "Radical Markets", I think Glen Weyl and Richard Posner make the argument that index fund ownership of large swathes of the economy explain anti-competitive behavior of the airlines. If Delta, American, and United are trying to maximize shareholder value, and they know their main shareholders also own their competitors, then they invest in separate routes and let their competitors keep monopoly profits on some routes, and vice versa. I don't recall if there's anything more sophisticated than the knowledge by executives that their owners are shared, allowing the executives at the different companies to solve their collective-action problem.

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That Kossin paper is rather misleading (and the reporting on it even more so): https://wmbriggs.com/post/34364/

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Putting aside the feasibility and legality of privateering, how much of an investment would it be to become a professional privateer in the event of a war with China? What I mean is, what kind of boat, equipment, and personal would a modern day Francis Drake need to be a success at taking prizes on the high seas? I guess the Somalis would be the ones to emulate, but if you had financial backing what would be the most effective setup? I assume in such a scenario Chinese merchant ships would be better armed then your average ship today.

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My own conspiracy theory is that all of the Flat-Earther YouTubers are just trolls. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone smart enough to operate a computer could also believe that the Earth is literally flat.

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That King of Germany is much less interesting (and handsome) than Louis XX, the current Bourbon monarch of France: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Alphonse_de_Bourbon

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The Yankee Candle bit is a cool proxy, but IDK how useful it will be. Countries with a developed consumer culture, like the US, where people will review everything they get on Amazon, seem to have more or less reliable COVID infection rate statistics already. But maybe if you can tease out the % of coronavirus-infected scented candle buyers, being able to track the spread of smell loss helps?

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>"13: CTRL+F “Blackrock” in this Matt Levine column for a discussion of how we accidentally stumbled into true communism for the good of all. The short version: an investing company called Blackrock owns so much of the economy that it’s in their self-interest to have all companies cooperate for the good of the economy as a whole."

That's not what communism means and as far as I can tell Matt Levine never mentions it in his article, so again this appears to be related to your usual mistakes regarding leftist philosophy Scott.

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#3 see also:

"A Remarkable Decline in Landfalling Hurricanes: Since 1945, the number of hurricanes that make landfall has declined by about a third" by Roger Pielke Jr.


Last week a paper published in Science concluded that worldwide, “To date, there has been no firm evidence of global trends of the frequency of tropical cyclones with maximum wind speed above the hurricane-force wind (64 knots) at landfall.” That finding, which confirms our work, was based on data since 1982. But what happens when we take a look further back in time? What we find might surprise you.

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Re 19: Gah, "A human's guide to words" again. I know that I'm goring sacred cows here, but that is probably my least favorite component of rationalist thought. It begins by knocking down a straw-man Platonism that even Plato didn't endorse (and which is characterized with, of all things, *Aristotelean* syllogism). And while it lays out useful tools to defuse certain kinds of confusion, it is *very* easy to over-apply the principle laid out in (for example) "disputing definitions".

There are certain words where we very much can't just acknowledge different definitions and move on. Moral philosophy can be summarized as a dispute of the definitions of words like "good" and "moral". And while hard-nosed nihilists might be comfortable with getting rid of all that, I don't think most people here will be. We need to dispute the "goodness" of, for example, ethnic cleansing - and we should counter an oppressive government's insistence on a different definition of "good" which includes it. Applied generally, the approach to words in the sequence is a short road to relativism.

As a more specific example, if you think utilitarianism gives you true answers about which actions to do, you need there to be a *real and true* concept of "happiness" (among other concepts), and you have to be prepared to defend your definition through argument. Otherwise, you won't have a leg to stand on in arguing that the mad scientists' nanobots shouldn't refactor you into a hedonium tile.

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#17 The Montreal one... seems not relevant anymore because of the date. 1969 was height of the "We have all been having low grade lead poisoning".

Do something similar now and there wouldn't be nearly so much antisocial behavior.

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#6 Harvard's costs. Who cares. Harvard's costs have nothing to do with their prices (tuition, room, board, fees).

Harvard's customers are completely price insensitive. They are buying status and related things like connections and marriage possibilites. And the more it costs, the better it is. Their customers are the winners in the American economy whose ability to pay is determined by the stock market, not by wages.

Costs can only explain prices in the most competitive markets. Costs can explain why Avocados went from$0.90 to $1.25. But, they have nothing to do with higher ed tuitions, especially not at the top 20 schools.

I should also add that from what I know about management of higher education that none of the schools have a cost accounting system or a cost accountant. They have never tried to control their costs, and they won't until the government puts a gun to their heads.

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I read Steve Pinker's quote about that police strike ending his youthful belief in anarchism around the same time I was reading Bruce Benson's "The Enterprise of Law" and it just made me think it was actually an argument AGAINST government provision of policing service vulnerable to public sector labor unions. In the years since the US has experienced some serious upticks in homicide, and I have a somewhat less hostile stance toward the cops (my opinion on prosecutors hasn't changed). Even if they do commit lots of crimes all the time (and get away with it) and fail to protect people compared to the ideal (or even what they're supposed to do), under current margins things get a lot worse when police reduce their activity and that tends to happen when public opinion shifts against them (or at least when that becomes salient). A whole lot more of "building the new society within the shell of the old" than even Benson describes will need to take place before a prolonged police strike won't make them look essential.

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One possible explanation of the change in relative wealth is the availability of easy student loans in the more recent period. If you borrow $100,000 you probably have negative wealth for quite a while.

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With regard to Ayn Rand's position on accepting government money. When I got an NSF fellowship I put the question to my father of whether it was legitimate to accept it. His response was that he was happy to credit me for some of the money the government had taken off him over the years.

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Just here to mention that #18's "Frankenstein Veto" is popular among contemporary academic poets and is known as erasure poetry. The most popular recent text of this kind is probably M. NourbeSe Philip's "Zong!", which is quite moving.

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30. Reminds me of data scientist David Shor's interesting interview with Eric Levitz that dropped today. Shor has argued in the past that Democrats actually can win when they run on stuff that's popular and in the economic interest of at least some folks who otherwise don't like them or share their values. White folks without college education usually comes to mind here, but it applies to conservative hispanic folks as well - a lot of hispanic people who identify as conservative in polls nonetheless vote Democratic usually, but not always (and there was about an 8-9% shift in hispanic support to Trump in 2020).


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#29 is interesting because it's the Lambda School talking up the importance of something that Lambda School is actually very bad at compared to their competitors, a four-year university. Learning appropriate middle-class signals is an important part of university, for students who didn't pick those up from their parents, and a nine-month all-online course just can't teach you those things as effectively as four years at university will.

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Question about the Harvard issue: Is it possible that administration just isn't interested in profit maximization (or whatever the equivalent term would be for Harvard)? You've got a University with an 11 figure endowment (I think that's correct-- I know it's a lot of money), and you have administrators who a) didn't earn that money, and b) aren't going to take it home with them if they don't spend it. So how much of this is, or could be, simply down to the people in charge of the budget just not having 'tamping down costs' as a prevailing element in their incentive structure?

I've seen this discussion of increasing costs before, and it seems like most of the discussion is centered around organizations/industries that have a significant number of internal stakeholders who might not have the same incentives to manage their cost structure in the same way that, say, the owner of a landscaping company might. Are we seeing these runaway costs across the board (i.e across all industries), or does it seem to predominantly be a problem in particular sectors?

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"conservatives may not really have a stronger fear response than liberals."

Yeah, I thought it was pretty well established that sensitivity to negative emotion is higher on the left and much lower on the right. Leftists get upset more easily, and when they do get upset they get more upset. As someone said the other day, "Personality traits predict political affiliation." That's why the reaction to the election of Obama was "God-dammit" and then going out to mow the lawn, while the reaction to Trump was full-on public freakouts. You have to really suspect any result during the Replication Crisis that lets leftists pat themselves on the back and say that science *just proved* that conservatives really are bad people.

"nobody was able to fix it because it was run by social justice activists who interpreted any criticism of them as racist/sexist."

This is the great SJW strength, though. They are invulnerable to criticism because they believe themselves morally correct. They don't argue and they don't compromise. You gotta take the good with the bad. For those who want to understand the phenomenon, please read James Lindsay's famous essay "No, the Woke Won’t Debate You. Here’s Why." where he lays it all out with copious citations. https://newdiscourses.com/2020/07/woke-wont-debate-you-heres-why/

I read somewhere that the event that precipitated the 1973 recession was that in 1971, France figured out that we were printing too many dollars to pay for the futile (but highly profitable for elites) war in Vietnam, and sent a destroyer to New York to trade in their federal reserve notes for gold. So instead of paying them Nixon took us off the gold standard and started the "what the hell happened in 1971" meme. I can't find any citations to the event, the name of the ship, if they got the gold or not, or anything. Just a message board thread on a naval history forum. https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3178266

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"I’m interpreting this to mean that there are effective ways to reform the police, but that the atmosphere created by media saturation and protests produces ineffective counterproductive reform instead."

The authors seem to suggest it is mostly the investigations themselves causing the increase in crime, rather than any particular policy changes. The mechanism they propose is that police officers greatly reduce their quantity of policing when under federal investigation after a "viral" incident, but there is little indication that this comes about as the result of any particular policy reform - the suggestion is that police are either reducing public contact in an effort to avoid having their own actions scrutinized, or are trying to make a point (in the case of deliberate strikes and slowdowns/sickouts). There's also a section (page 27) where the authors talk about the possible impact of increased paperwork, and estimate it might account for about 20% of the reduction in police activity in one city. I'm not sure if we're calling this "reform" but even if we do it's a small proposed effect.

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> Except he does say that he’s still completely sure 9-11 was an inside job

To be fair it's orders of magnitude more likely that 9-11 was an inside job than that the earth if flat.

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I'm still at a loss as to why you think saving lives is the highest ethical goal possible (re. malaria).

Now, arguably, malaria doesn't kill only infants so there's a destruction of resources in the deaths of young adults you want to avoid but, surely, the aim of a world wide ethic would be to maximize the ability for all people alive to live the good life, not simply maximizing the amount of people alive.

Otherwise, aren't you embracing those quiverfull natalists positions?

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So "class" is just office culture now? Do people inherit this from their parents or something?

Learning the jargon and culture norms of a new workplace, mostly by imitation, is what everyone does. Fitting into groups is one of the things your intelligence is _for_.

Either SV culture is really weird and elitist, or the Lambda School article is really patronizing towards the bright people it's supposed to help.

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I'm surprised by "ping me" being used as an example of a class divide. I thought it was a nerd culture phrase, based on the telecommunications metaphor - a bit like saying "the pandemic is DDOSing hospitals" or "my mental stack just overflowed". I'd have expected it to be as opaque to someone from a family of old-school lawyers as to someone from a family of truckers.

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Re: 26 "though I can’t access the reviews to see how critical they were." I suggest using scihub, it works great!

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The tracking COVID by candle reviews definitely looks like a case of [xkcd 1725](https://xkcd.com/1725/).

That aside though, I would like to see some data on reviews of other common items before I buy that this is due to loss of smell. I could easily come up with a story where negative reviews in general are increasing because everyone has tons of time and is stressed/bored/depressed from sitting at home all day.

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There seems to be a structural issue with (parts of) science where they enthusiastically adopt new methodologies and draw far-reaching conclusions, only to then find out that the methodology has serious issues.

I think that they should first validate the methodology, before drawing those far-reaching conclusions.

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#1) ***Stan Rogers enters the chat***

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Hey Scott, I'm Trey Goff, Chief of Staff at Honduras Próspera (point 4), and I'd like to correct one small point: we are a private, for-profit firm not affiliated with the Charter Cities Institute in any official way (although I love Mark Lutter's work and did a panel on Clubhouse with him last night). If you'd like more info on the project, please let me know, I can send you some doing business guides, a white paper, a peer-reviewed academic paper about the project I recently co-authored, or even hop on a call to discuss.

Additionally, we have a foundation focused on working with the local community that has done all sorts of awesome work I can show you. There's a lot more than meets the eye there with community relations.

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On item #21--I checked the methods section, and the scope of the paper is much narrower than the abstract makes it out to be. The study's survey of "political attitudes" only includes social and religious issues (such as abortion and evolution). There's nothing about economic policy, foreign policy, immigration, the environment, or any of the other things people do politics about.

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Why don’t you like watching videos? Neither does Nassim Taleb apparently. I wonder if there’s a pattern here.

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The tricameral legislature didn't work so well during the French Revolution, because it turned two of them (the one for the nobles and the one for the clergy) were on the same side, which was basically "let's not reform much of anything." I would imagine the same would hold true in modern times, in that if a party or set of interests can manage to capture two of the three houses, isn't that going to leave us with roughly the same situation we have now, just with more overhead costs in the legislative branch?

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#31: "tricameral legislature"

I've been thinking a bit about these things. I like the idea of different chambers representing different segments of the population, with somewhat different interests, who all have to agree to legislation.

The obvious categories are age and gender. I guess the article didn't bring up gender since, depending on who you ask there are either 2 or 57 genders, and they're aiming for 3 chambers.

Alternate gender elections every 2 years would certainly be interesting to see!

With age, you could have as many chambers as you like. Just determine the birth dates that splits the electorate in equal sizes for each election, and that's it.

I'm not at all sure either of these electoral inventions would improve things, but I'm damn sure it would be interesting, and much would be learned!

PS: You *can* consider the Presidential veto a third chamber in the US system.

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> If you think mainstream philosophy is dumb, this post might help you appreciate some ways it’s getting smarter.

That's not my take-away. Chalmers' article just seems to be an implicit defense of weaponizing language. He even uses the term "conceptual activism" and bemoans the difficulty in making others adopt his new definitions for existing words. He recognizes that "words have power" and argues that words should be redefined to use that power to "make for a more just world," like pushing through things like gay marriage, without having to change the law. He completely ignores Foucault's objection that language is used for social control by the powerful.

This is just another step in turning academia into political weapons, where elites try to to use 'science' to social engineer society based on claims that their politics is obviously just and things like democracy and classical liberalism are obstacles to justice.

PS. https://sci-hub.se/https://doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2020.1817141

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i like watching videos

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Seems misleading to bring up the Montreal "Night of Terror" without the context that it involved the police going on strike when the city was already tearing itself apart over Quebec separatism and general late 1960s craziness. The way it reads currently it sounds like the police went on strike and it prompted a riot, rather than the police going on strike because they were tired of dealing with riots.

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"If a big pharma company shares lots of stockholders (eg Blackrock) with a generic company, it will put up less of a fuss when the generic company tries to copy their drug. This particular example is good because people get cheap medication more easily..."

I'm pretty sure that's the opposite of what that paper is reporting. I can't get past the paywall, but the abstract seems to say that if a pharma company shares lots of stockholders with a generic company, they will be more likely to come up with a deal wherein the pharma company bribes the generic company *not* to copy their drug. That does not result in people getting cheap medication more easily!

BTW, this is exactly what econ theory would suggest the companies will do, if given an opportunity to collude. Total profits (i.e. the profits from selling the brand-name drug, plus the profits from selling the generic version) are higher if the generic company stays out of the market. If the generic company stays out of the market, the brand-name pharma company can charge monopoly prices and make some huge amount of profit $y. If the pharma company enters the market, prices are set competitively, so prices fall and each company makes some tiny amount of profit $x, x<<y. In a well-functioning market, the generic company figures "I'd rather make $x than zero profit", so it enters the market and we get cheap drugs. But if the brand-name company can pay the generic some amount $z, where x < z < y-x, in exchange for a commitment not to enter the market, then they both come out ahead! (And the consumers get stuck with high prices.)

If the shareholders of the generic company also own part of the brand-name pharma company, you don't even need to make that payment explicitly. Those shareholders actually benefit more from the generic staying out of the market (since total profits are higher that way.) This dynamic generalizes, so we can broadly say that when you have more shared ownership or consolidation in an industry, consumers suffer. This is the classic point of the antitrust movement. (Along with the other classic point about concentrated economic power leading to political power.)

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"sweeping conclusions about the trajectory of music" is a reasonable dig at this genre of writing, but it's worth pointing out that the data is from the Echo Nest, which was acquired by Spotify in 2014 https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/06/spotify-echo-nest-streaming-music-deal

So if you are a Spotify user and have ever benefited from their music personalization (I have), then there's reason to believe there's some correspondence between their models of music and the real world.

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In which the Wisconsin Legislature Discovers Blackout Poetry

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So it turns out Lenin was almost right, he just needed to found the Vanguard company instead of a vanguard party.

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Thanks for the link post I guess! (These ones usually take me an absurd amount of time to get through for obvious reasons, but I don't mind.)

Somewhat related to item #7: I am now generally pro-life. Prior to that I was just unsure. The reason I became pro-life is not to roll in money (unlike Roe; my net worth is *tiny*), but because I like loving things and because gwern pointed out that modern ethics actually hates some things that ancient ethics loved (c.f. https://www.gwern.net/The-Narrowing-Circle).

Also, #15 is great entertainment, and #24 is not very surprising based on how anti-inductive the market is (something something Efficient Market Hypothesis?).

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My theory with police reform is that viral incidents have a bigger impact on morale and police work has a lot of components where morale is important. For instance, I think if morale is worse, then police officers are more likely to interpret an encounter with a random person in a more negative way, and thus more likely to accidentally escalate things.

On the other hand, without viral incidents, inertia and politics can kill reforms (even with viral incidents politics can kill reforms). So it's tricky. That's why I think it makes sense to not directly attack the "few bad apples" response of police. Even if it's not a few bad apples, you want the general police force to feel like they are part of the solution.

I think you see a similar situation with education reform. Whether or not the reforms are important, a significant drop in morale due to the politics around the reforms can nullify any gains (although I'm just speculating here, would be interesting to find out any stats related to this).

I don't think there's any settled solution for education reform (I'm not even sure there is a consensus that education reform is a good thing), but I think one thing that has happened in many cases is trading pay increases for the union agreeing to reforms.

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#7) For the last week I have wondered why this link was included since the documentary aired in May 2020. Norma McCovey was apparently a grifter who was the vehicle for important political change in the US and the Reverend Rob Schenck is an example of maturation of perspective and understanding. Yet the culture war rages on between groups calling themselves pro-life and pro-choice while enriching the donation harvesting industry in the guise of promoting political activity.

Now every healthy female can potentially give birth to approximately twenty children and in fact on the street I grew up on in Massachusetts, there were three families with that many children. Today American women are choosing to have 1.71 children over their lifetimes, so by whatever means, women today are choosing to deny life to 18 potential children. So the issue becomes virtual abortions versus real abortions. Since Roe vs Wade the real rate has dropped to an all time low of 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. As studies have shown, the choice is dominated by virtual abortions. Clearly the choice of how many children to have is a personal one and should be private. The government's role should be very limited. The Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs Wade clearly reaffirmed that status.

According to CDC, in 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm

Number of births: 3,747,540

Birth rate: 11.4 per 1,000 population

Fertility rate: 58.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 ( measures the average number of children per woman)

Percent born low birthweight: 8.31%

Percent born preterm: 10.23%

Percent unmarried: 40.0%

Mean age at first birth: 27.0



Ironically for the Pro-Life faction, ~11-12 million children in the US live in poverty.


The money they raise would be better spent taking care of the children that are born.

According to UN statistics, the US will have ~60 million youths age 0-14 years for the foreseeable future..


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#6 On Harvard Finances: I would not be so quick to pooh-pooh Alex Tabarok's cost disease explanation.

Of the $40k increase in expense per student, $20k is directly increases to salary and benefits. The total labor expense per student is up >20% while the number of employees is only up 8% per student. This suggests that the majority of the increase in cost per student comes from increasing salaries. Moreover, the labor shifts from relatively higher cost employees (faculty per student is down 7%) to relatively lower cost administrators and non-faculty academic staff (up >25% collectively).

Additional labor price increases are likely hidden in categories like "Other expenses" and "Services Purchased" whose cost increase of about $20k constitute almost the entirety of the rest of $40k increase per student.

Taken all together, this suggests increasing labor costs constitute more than 50% of the increased cost per student and likely much more than that. Of this more than half of the budget increase, more than half of that comes from increases to cost per employee rather than number of employees. So while "Cost disease" as Alex Tabaraok may not be 100% explanatory, any explanation that explains at least 30-60% of a phenomenon should be taken seriously.

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(Just wanna say the comment textbox erased my pretty N++ formatting...)

I'm going to write a long comment about the Sanders article. I'll give my confidence for my statements as well. Michael Tracey has a unique view and not everything he says is agenda free.

Bernie Sanders ran a terrible campaign. In the end all the responsibility lies on the candidate, even if the proximate problems were caused by staffers.

There are several major problems with the campaign but the most prominent was the strategy devised by Faiz Shakir, previously director of political engagement with the ACLU.

The issue here was that their stated strategy was a common strategy among candidates but uniquely worthless for Sanders. Win early states with plurality victories and convince the party to coalesce.

100% confidence, the media had quotes from Faiz saying this.

This is a terrible strategy because the way it actually works is that the party coalesces around an establishment candidate. Even Obama was essentially a party insider. Also Bernie isn't actually a Democrat.

Not only is this strategy stupid on its face but, Bernie didn't get the kind of wins he needed. In fact one win is in dispute and the mainstream position is probably that he lost. The infamous Iowa Caucus.

Furthermore the strategy *did* end up working for Biden. As soon as the king of the Democrats won a single unexpectedly dominant victory, blamo!, he was crowned as the nominee as the other moderates dropped out.

Bernie's failures in Iowa and New Hampshire, even though he had a clear win in the latter, are unforgivable. His campaign plowed the majority of their resources into these states.

In a world where Bernie had a chance to win the nomination he would have been sailing to a 50-60% majority win in Iowa without expending the majority of his cash and human capital.

You can read my popular blog about winning the campaign here: https://electingberniesanders.wordpress.com/

I quit my job to volunteer for the campaign. I went to Iowa but I mostly did online stuff. Permanently Online Posters may be aware of the Markos Dailykos Dem straw poll.

I organized series of victories there, with plenty of help, prior to the launch of the campaign. We basically tossed it once the campaign started because Markos stopped going on national TV when we started to win.

I had done the same thing in 2016 which is how we got it done so easily. I reconnected with old Bernie Bros like RoseAnn DeMoro through this. She would link my blog several times which was helpful.

I mention the blog so that you can see what strategy I advocated for and see my arguments against the actual campaign strategy. It was obviously shit and never had a real shot.

The Sanders campaign made several other major blunders like not fighting for a climate debate and refusing to direct the campaign at older and rural voters. These were key errors that hurt them in Iowa.

Another major error was that Bernie dropped popular ideas and policies from his actual political career and previous campaign. Flip flopping on guns, dropping his socialist support for police, etc.

Of course he had a wide open lane in police reform, rather than abolition, and could easily have got ahead of "defund the police" in a way other candidates couldn't. Huge failure.

If there was a popular Bernie Bro twitter account you hated I was in a DM group with them. Nate's Liver, John Cusack, RoseAnn, Savage Joy, Bethlynch2020, Tania Singh, etc. And also prominent but less controversial people.

I know that Faiz literally lied to Bernie about stuff. He lied about being in regular contact with Michael Sayman, famous Google and Facebook employee who has a very campaign/zeitgeist relevant life story.

95% confidence, the info comes from Levi Sanders

Bernie was unaware that the "1 million volunteers" were actually just 1 million webform signers.

90% confidence, came from PeopleForBernie source

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Didn’t read all of the comments so someone may have mentioned this already but:

The Pudding article on songwriting mentions the growth in writers per song as an explanation for things starting to sound more similar and contrasts this to previous eras where one or two writers would be credited.

While I do think there is something to calling out the weird “too many cooks” and modularization problem in contemporary songwriting, the reality is that - in previous eras - there would often be “studio bands” that would write many key parts of hits and go uncredited.

The article mentions Motown, and The Funk Brothers (Motown’s house band) are one of the most salient and heartbreaking examples of this.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the absolute number of writers per hit song is pretty similar now as it was in the 60s.

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The third tricameral chamber should be 10 electorates of evenly sized groups of people sorted by age, you could use census data to determine where the age cut-offs should be.

Back in reality though: try and spread Maine's system of instant run-off voting, if you're in Maine try and form a third party (that eschews the extremes of either establishment party, so you can actually win elections).

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