What is the general consensus on Tether, the $60 billion stablecoin that detractors allege is a giant fraud? If true, does this pose a systemic risk to Bitcoin and the crypto market in general?

Some relevant articles:

- https://www.singlelunch.com/2021/05/19/the-tether-ponzi-scheme/

- https://www.wsj.com/articles/bitcoins-reliance-on-stablecoins-harks-back-to-the-wild-west-of-finance-11622115246 (paywall)

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Is there a way to search comments on ACX?

I recall a discussion on here where someone suggested that cost disease might be an artifact of a bad CPI basket, and someone else replied that that's plausible but would imply that the US has been in near-endless recession for 40 years, with wages dropping 80% due to 7% inflation. But I can't find it.

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When if ever should people be able to stop something to save the character of the neighborhood.

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Therapists and psychiatrists tend to be skeptical of DID because of the possibility in their minds of it being induced into impressionable minds by media, hypnosis, suggestibility... Here is one meta-analysis paper that compared the "trauma model" (TM) of severe dissociation with the "fantasy model" (FM):


From the abstract:

> There was no evidence that DES scores had decreased over recent decades, which does not support FM assertions that DD were a fad of the 1990s. Three of the five hypotheses tested provided clear support for the TM and a fourth hypothesis provided partial support for the TM. None of the five hypotheses tested supported the FM.

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Antinatalism is the ethical view that negatively values coming into existence and procreation. They typically believe having children is unethical. I could see antinatalism compromising of a disproportionate number of people with the following traits:

1. Intelligence. Entertaining ideas about moral philosophy involves some higher levels of intelligence usually.

2. Irreligiosity. Religious people usually feel they have a higher purpose and many believe having children is a part of that.

3. Depression. I have to imagine that the average antinatalist feels their own life is comprised of a lot of suffering and they feel other’s lives must be as well. I imagine depressed people are receptive to this ideology.

We know that these traits are in some part heritable. I hypothesize the following:

1. The psychological profile of someone who is an antinatalist is heritable.

2.Antinatalists do not have children and therefore do not pass on their antinatalist genetic tendencies.

3. The psychological profile common among antinatalists will become increasingly uncommon if antinatalism becomes popular and the remaining population will be more pronatalist.

The more widespread the ideology and the harsher the stigma around giving birth, the stronger the selection for pro-natalist attitudes in the population. This is not to say that antinatalism is not true. It's just to note that this would mean that voluntary human extinction is unlikely to be possible no matter how convincing the ideology is. Something worth noting.

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Recently, there have been discussions of moral offsetting and utilitarianism on ACX. I found these discussions interesting but I feel as though there are major issues with this sort of moral reasoning. It seems as though you are allowed to offset "trivial" things like eating meat or carbon emissions but not "serious" things like murder. I do not believe that there is a good reason for making this distinction. Utilitarianism maps everything to a linear scale of utility. There is no clear line as to what is trivial or serious. And there is no categorical difference in properties between these arbitrary clusterings that would make one offsettable and one not.

Scott made an essay (axiology, morality, law) creating a distinction between these things but I found its arguments unconvincing. In a utilitarian framework, whatever maximizes utility (axiology) is the action that should be done (morality). Utilitarians do not incorporate other ethical intuitions or considerations in moral choices but it seems like the "triaging" of axiology's demands is incorporating non-utility considerations. Creating a non-moral hazard distinction between murdering and letting die is also incorporating intuitions about inflicting harm which are not justified in utilitarian thinking. It is the feeling of having inflicted harm that makes someone want to offset in my view. It is mostly a way to deal with feelings of guilt. Not donating to reduce carbon emissions should elicit the same feelings for a consistent utilitarian.

Here are my questions for Utilitarians:

1. I am deciding if I should do moral choice A or B. A is utility maximizing and B is not, all things considered. Under what circumstances is B the correct choice?

2. What is a moral consideration that overrides utility maximization?

3. If you believe in this idea of morality (as laid out in Scott's essay Axiology, Morality, Law), can you explain how you come to know moral facts or the nature of this morality. For example, why is it worse to kill 1 than to not save 2 even without moral hazard issues?

Here is a full essay I wrote on the matter: https://parrhesia.substack.com/p/contra-alexander-on-moral-offsetting.

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An interesting aspect of Dutch is the many food-related ways in which you can refer to people. For example, these are mild pejoratives if someone is doing something stupid that bothers you (like in traffic):

- 'pancake'

- 'meatball' (this one also exists in English)

- 'bag of fries'

- 'soup chicken' (if it is a woman)

And you can refer to a weird person like this:

- 'weird haricot'

- 'grape'

And when someone someone is incompetent, you can call them a 'cookie baker'. This goes back to 1572, when mayor Cookiebaker refused to hand over the Dutch city of Brielle to the Sea Beggars, the Dutch revolutionaries led by the William of Orange who fought the Spanish rulers. This refusal was rather silly, since the city was not garrisoned, so it was defeated quickly. This conquest was rather important, as the Sea Beggars no longer had a base of operations, as Queen Elisabeth I had turned them away from the English ports. The attack on Brielle was one of desperation. Emboldened by this victory, the citizens of another major Dutch port revolted. They handed over that city to the Sea Beggars. Thereafter many more cities revolted and the conquest of Brielle is commonly seen as the true start of the fight for Dutch independence, as the Sea Beggars were merely a raiding force before that time.

Another word for a fool is a 'cheese head.' In Germany, it is a pejorative term for the Dutch in general.

A word for a young man who thinks he knows it all, but who lacks experience/wisdom, is a mik mouth. In Dutch, we use the term milk teeth for baby teeth, which is where this derives from.

An adolescent girl who always spends her time with her friends, constantly laughs and otherwise is very silly, is a 'baking fish.' This refers to fish that is too small to be a meal in itself, but too large to throw back in the water, so a bunch of them are baked together.

A weakling can be referred to as a 'tasteless snack', which can also be used for poor products and the like, in which case it is similar to the English 'weaksauce.' Another word for such a person is a 'soft boiled egg.'

A very irritating person can a 'stuk vreten,' which is a bit hard to translate. 'Vreten' means eating fast and sloppily. Just shoving the food in there. 'Stuk' means 'a piece of'. So it's a rather weird statement.

A hypocritical person can be called a 'holy bean'. This derives from a sarcastic statement about orphans, who used to wear multicolor clothing, which can be referred to a 'bont' in Dutch, and often misbehaved themselves in public, but behaved in sight of the orphanage workers (who would beat them if they misbehaved). Later on, people forgot about the original meaning and misheard the statement as 'holy bean.'

When a man is a great guy, you can call him a 'cool pear'.

A person who always complains is a 'sour plum'.

A very loud woman is a 'viswijf.' This word consists of 'vis', which means 'fish', and 'wijf', which goes back to the same word for woman that ended up as 'wife' in English. However, in Dutch it is fairly pejorative. Calling someone a fishing woman goes back to the tradition of men going out to sea to fish, while their wives would sell the fish at the market and would shout loudly to sell their wares.

A slut can be called a 'licked sandwich'.

And an old woman can be referred to as an 'old cake' if you don't like her and an 'old berry' if you do, but she is very fragile.

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Ethics and Aesthetics

For rationalists and philosophy majors in general, ethics seems like a sort of mathematics: there are axioms (you can buy them or not), and then there is the logic that fills out that implication of the axioms.

I find this to be a lovely endeavor, and I am not at all against it. Those engaged in it are living in accordance with their nature.

I suspect that most rationalists would object to using your gut as opposed to your brain to determine matters of ethics, so I'm going to try to steelman why you should.

For context, I'm not making this idea up from scratch. I believe that when the Buddhists talk about "living according to your nature" and when Emerson says "If I'm a Devil's child, my duty is to the Devil."(or something like that) they are getting at the idea of morality I am trying to get at: Just be your fucking self. That's good enough.

I think the best ethics amounts to going with your gut. That may mean you've read extensively on the subject, sweated over it, debated it, lost sleep over it, and then came to a gut conclusion. Or it may mean you gave it zero thought, as most of us do on most subjects.

The pragmatic problem with a rational ethics is most of us aren't rational. So if rational ethics are going to make a dent in the world either most people need to become rational, or rationalists need to gain so much power that their minority philosophy has sufficient sway. I don't see either of those things happening.

So my title here is Ethics and Aesthetics. My belief is we mostly do what seems right based upon what could be called an aesthetic judgment. For instance, I'm an atheist. I don't believe if I murdered someone I would experience eternal damnation. But I don't have no desire to murder someone because the idea of it horrifies me. Same goes with stealing, coveting my neighbors' wife, hiring a lawyer who advertises on TV, etc. My moral sensibility is an extension of my aesthetic sensibility.

Given there is no God, don't aesthetic sensibilities fully explain moral sensibilities?

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I am looking for co-author for a paper in the field of Deep Learning Computer Vision.

I have three ideas for papers that seem decent, and I would rather not do it alone:

1. A new (hopefully) way to process video using CNN's.

2. CNN-based keyframe extraction in videos.

3. A way to interpret penultimate layer features of a CNN.

I am looking for a person with experience in DL, CV, pytorch, who writes decent python code and has enough free time.

My background: Masters of CS, ML engineer, 3 papers published (no top journals/conferences yet though), based in Russia.

Check out my LinkedIn for more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/btseytlin/

Shoot me an email! b.tseytlin@lambda-it.ru

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TL/DR: Heritability of any disease with heterogenous etiologies is always very heritable to not

Did you know scientists in the 90s were utterly perplexed by the high rate of completed suicide by men in the 90s? It led to a bunch of terrible terrible hyotheses like this one- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finno-Ugrian_suicide_hypothesis

But! Like it is ridiculously high and I was trying to finish my Dad's side of the family tree which is mostly Finnish and I kept on running into suicide after suicide after suicide- like this is my great uncle! https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/58897638/waine-walpo-herronen "Mr. Herronen was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room Sunday night. Death was attributed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound."

Which - side note- great debate on whether the high rate of suicide in Las Vegas is because suicidal people go to Las Vegas or whether Las Vegas makes people suicidal- and given my great uncle emigrated from Finland to shoot himself in Vegas- data for the former.

Anyway, there's actually some v weird Finnish ER protein variants that cause weird diabetes and hearing loss and! major depression. And it made me realize that every time we give a rough summary of heritability of any syndrome or illness- we're lying because it very much depends on the etiology. It's like breast cancer. The BRCA variants account for like a very small percentage of overall breast cancers and yet white girls in my age group outside of science frequently refer to it as a definitive overall risk factor.

Anyway, we should test for the obvious genetic causes of mental illness even in mental illnesses that are traditionally thought of as not heritable.

Also the transcriptome only predicts 60 to 70% of ribosomal occupancy and no one really knows how earth's magnetic field works. And I don't really understand why anyone touts the current era of being one of inescapable science and technology where surely we will crack the code on aging when we're still living in that degree of dark-ages ignorance.

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How concerned are Americans about the Delta variant and other yet-to-be discovered variants? There seems to be an idea that COVID is mostly over in the US, but the Delta variant has some vaccine evasion and seems a lot more contagious. What are the odds that the US sees another wave of COVID (35,000+ cases per day as a weekly average, to pick an arbitrary number that may be too high or too low to be useful) before the end of January 2022?

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My friend and I just recorded an album of songs we wrote during the late half of COVID I thought I’d share. You all entertain me every week on this site so if you like it I’d be happy to send you a free download code, just reach out to us on the “Contact Cold Beverage Link” and mention Astral Codex Ten

Cold Beverage - Hot Wax

Garage Rock, Blues, Punk


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There is a lot of talk about possible booster shots of COVID vaccine being made available some time this year. It all seems to skip over recipients of the J&J vaccine though.

Should the people who received the J&J consider getting the Pfizer or Moderna also?

Would it be safe?

Would it be useful?

Would it be ethical?

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I have the impression that aging is driven by genetic damage. My understanding is that when cells replicate, there’s a chance of transcription error. These errors accumulate over time and eventually our cells stop replicating.

If this is correct, wouldn’t one possible approach to aging be to sequence our DNA when we are young, then record it in some database, and then eventually use some yet-to-be invented nanotechnology to repair DNA damage?

Is there some aspect to this that I am missing?

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Does anyone have good recommendations for parenting books? Preferably early years but anything up to teenage years might be useful. I've found a few that look interesting but there are loads on the market, and I'd be interested in recommendations from rationalists/rationalist-adjacents/nerds.

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Denizens of ACX, I am going to be returning to the USS Iowa in July, and am hosting a meetup on the 10th. If any of you want to come see a battleship and live in the LA area, then I'd love to see you there.

More details at https://www.navalgazing.net/Naval-Gazing-Meetup-2021-Los-Angeles.

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Tried posting this in the subscriber only thread and got no joy, so trying again here:

I'm designing an English lit. (loosely defined!) course for second-year Cégep students (roughly 1st year Uni) that will be centred on EA and related issues. Students will be reading Will MacAskill's Doing Good Better and a bunch of fiction related to Global Health, Animal Welfare, and X-risk/Longtermism . . . Any recommendations for the fiction? For reference, some texts I'm looking at: "Pig," by Roald Dahl, "Blood Music," by Greg Bear, and "The Volunteer," by Lucinda Nelson Dhavan.

Short stories are especially welcome, but I'm happy to excerpt from longer works and/or show films/video, etc. Thanks in advance from a first time poster.

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I've heard a lot of people mention that bitcoin can't handle very many transactions (this link: https://towardsdatascience.com/the-blockchain-scalability-problem-the-race-for-visa-like-transaction-speed-5cce48f9d44 says about 4-5/second).

People made fun of Elon Musk for saying they should increase the block and speed it up and cut transaction costs (was that doge?).

Are there actual numbers on this? Are there coins/protocols that don't have this issue? Is this just part of the nature of any "proof of work" system?

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Is the cancelling of Bret Weinstein on youtube a political discussion? It seems the same as Dr. Suess and publishing. So I'll say yes and save this space for next week.

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I recently read a news article about someone investing $20 in an unknown crypto currency on Coinbase, and become a trillionaire...well he's probably not going to get that amount of money from Coinbase, but essentially the currency just exploded overnight.

If I have $100 to spare, would it be rational for me to log into Coinbase and invest $20 each into five crypto currencies with very low prices? Or is it irrational on a level comparable to buying a lottery ticket after seeing someone win the lottery on TV?

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I just came across this video. Does this count as successfully passing the Turing test? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coNjpBa5m1E

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This has literally nothing to do with anything but I wrote a song and maybe you would like to listen to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH7si4ZNvRU

People say that I am missed, but I can't imagine why, and even if I am, it's not for things like this. I've been writing things instead of despairposting. Instead of despairposting as much, anyway. I haven't changed my beliefs since they are based on observations, I just try and think about them less.

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How do you find good modern fiction? (I define modern as first published in past two decades.) I was kind of baffled by the fact that I can't do this. Non-fiction is no problem, great fiction of past century is no problem either, but as for modern day fiction, um... I just randomly look it up online or in bookstores and it's bad, which is an obvious consequence since my strategy is bad.

So, how do you do it?

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I've been thinking a lot about have developing stronger trust networks can save me a lot of time and resources. (I detail my best current model for how to do that here: https://escapingflatland.substack.com/p/scaling-networks-of-trust)

What am I missing?

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Somewhere -- I could have sworn it was on SSC but I have been unable to find it -- I remember someone posting about a book on a group of radicals back in the 70s, like Weathermen or some such. They were discussing strategies and options and the talk came around to what to do with the proportion of people who would never support their proposed society even after the revolution was successful. The upshot was they decided they would have to imprison or execute all of those people. This was presumably testified to by a mole, I think.

Does this ring a bell with anyone? I thought the book was "Days of Rage," but I can't find any reference to it in there.

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I haven't been closely following COVID treatment studies, since the vaccine is so effective at preventing it. But I've recently read some conflicting information about the effectiveness of certain medications when treating COVID.

Could someone more knowledgeable give me a good faith survey of the evidence for and against the following medications:

* Hydroxychloroquin

* Ivermectin

I'm trying to gauge whether, in general, doctors use such medicines when treating COVID, what they are effective for, and how effective they are.

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Are kids around the world going to grow up with American accents? I know several people whose little kids are watching youtube since age 2. It seems to be taking up the vast majority of their interest.

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Critics of electric cars have claimed that they will be bad for the environment since there will be mountains of old, toxic batteries someday. Supporters of electric cars counter that this won't be a problem since we will be able to keep using the car batteries, but in stationary applications like house backups. But aren't old car batteries wasteful at storing energy? 

Here's how I envision it works: A brand-new Tesla's batteries can be fully charged up with 100 units of electricity, and they discharge all 100 units to power the car. However, a 10-year-old Tesla's worn-out batteries still need 100 units of electricity to get "full," but the batteries will only release 80 units of electricity to power the car. That's why the car's range decreases as it gets older. Eventually, this gets so aggravating that the owners have to sell them. 

Why would I want to use the old Tesla batteries as a power backup for my house when they lose so much electricity? I pay to put 100 units into them, but then when the power grid fails, the batteries only provide me with 80 units before running out. 

Is my conceptualization of how battery wear-out happens right?  

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Ozy's started blogging again. https://thingofthings.substack.com/

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Realistic Acting

My girlfriend isn't a big fan of old movies (like, say, noir's from the 40s) because she finds the acting too melodramatic and unrealistic.

On the one hand, I agree that the acting then was more melodramatic (self-awarely so, mostly). OTOH, I suspect our notion of realistic dialogue, body language and behavior comes from the media we consume. Movies and TV are a big portion of our culture, and we learn a lot of subtleties of behavior from them. Supposedly, in the days when movies were in black & white, most people dreamt in black & white, and then when movies went color people started dreaming in color. (What were dreams like before there were movies?)

If our dreams are so influenced by media, then our waking behavior must be also, I'd imagine.

With that in mind, I suspect that 50 years from now the most "realistic" seeming movies and TV today -- in terms of say, dialogue and delivery -- maybe take a recent show like Mare of Eastown or a movie like Nomadland, both which purport to portray realism, will seem melodramatic or weirdly unrealistic in 50 years.


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Is there any way to get access to Scott's old LiveJournal posts as Squid314? I came across an excerpt from his "World War II is full of plot holes" rant, and I'm dying to read the rest.

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