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I'm curious what the exchange was that got one user banned and one other user warned. Are we non-subscribers allowed to know what it was?

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My girlfriend might want to convert to Judaism when we get married. I am a cultural Jew, am not strictly observant, and don't go to synagogue. She probably would also be a cultural Jew, not very observant, and not go to synagogue, I realize you don't need to officially convert to do this but it would be meaningful to us. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Are there rabbis (presumably Reform) who will convert you no questions asked, or do you need to promise to go to their synagogue or follow halacha or something? Does anyone have any good ideas for next steps?

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Currently looking for my first real entry level IT job (preferably remote) after my knee exploded during work training. Any pro tips?

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For an artistic project related to engineering ethics and the tribal values of engineers, I am interested in writings which are:

0. easily publicly accessible

1. of literary merit

2. either (a) postmortems of significant engineering failures or (b) statements of engineering values, or both.

Feynman's minority report on the Challenger disaster, with its ringing conclusion that "Nature cannot be fooled," is to me a classic example of both 2a and 2b. What other texts are good examples of these?

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I am writing a series in defense of the Law, in general, and Jewish law, in particular, against the critique from Paul and Buddhism. Here's the introduction https://whatiscalledthinking.substack.com/p/secularism-as-christian-psy-op

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What is dieseach?

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What is dieseach

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I am a graduate student in Mathematics. Some of my fellow math grad students are applying for Machine Learning or Data Science jobs this coming year. Although they have taken online courses in these areas and are reasonably conversant in them, they are finding it difficult to get jobs or internships because they're often out-competed by Computer science or statistics students, who inevitably have more experience than them in these areas. What are some things that these math grad students could do to further bolster their profiles?

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I've recently committed to publishing microfiction weekly on substack - trying to get in the habit of publishing writing more regularly instead of letting it sit in a drawer! If anyone has any feedback it'd be greatly appreciated :)


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Is the world converging toward illiberal democracy?

It seems that total dictatorships are increasingly being replaced by either unstable democracies or total paralysis-- revolutions in Algeria and Sudan finished off just about the last non-monarchic Arab countries spared the Arab Spring; multiple sub-Saharan African former autocracies are either in the process of reform (Ethiopia, Angola) or seeing major protests (Cameroon, Guinea); Eastern Europe has also been wracked by unprecedented and possibly regime-threatening protests (Belarus, Russia). Outside perennial-exception China, and perhaps the Gulf monarchies, it seems a bad time to be an absolute autocrat (the "Not Free" group on FreedomHouse.org, say, minus the ones that are unfree mostly because there is no central control, like Somalia and CAR). Even eSwatini is starting to see serious demonstrations. This seems to be the upside of the general trend against "establishment" politics nearly everywhere. 

At the same time, many democracies have been becoming more "illiberal"-- meaning they don't stuff ballot boxes but do undermine other institutions considered central to "liberal democracy," e.g. courts, media, minority rights, etc. Apart from Trump's US this has become even clearer in e.g. India (recently demoted to "partly free" by FreedomHouse), Brazil, Israel.

At least this is my impression. 

So can we consider this a general trend in global politics toward an all-or-nothing, norm-shattering, "free but not fair" kind of democracy, where the people maintain the ability to change regimes at the ballot box but give a green light to "their team" to pull out all the stops to win? I realize this is a somewhat poorly defined question but it's precisely because it's a very general, imprecise question that I'd be glad to hear the thoughts of this esteemed group. 

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I need a crash course on Scandinavian politics over the last 30 years for boring reasons. Norway specifically but I’d like a solid understanding of all the Nordic countries. Anyone got any good resources?

Context: am Norwegian (by citizenship and language), but born and raised abroad in Texas so I mostly only follow American politics.

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Applied Divinity Studies has a great Chrome extension that lets ACX look like SSC, instead of the uniform Substack aesthetic everywhere else: https://applieddivinitystudies.com/slatestarsubstack/

As a longtime reader I am 97% grateful for this. My 3% reservation comes from the fact that comment section font size is for some reason larger than the post's, so every time I switch between post and comments I have to resize the page.

Does anyone know of an easy fix for this? It's probably clear that I'm not a technical person, so I'd appreciate a dumbed-down guide/pointer to one (say ELI18).

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Continuing a discussion of Benford's Law with regards to the election from the an earlier open thread:

Last November, I had some people around me start citing this as evidence of fraud, so I looked into it. I took one particular article that a conspiracy-claimer gave me that looked at data in Michigan and claimed it did not follow Benford's Law. I did an analysis in Excel and found that most states, for understandable reasons, keep the number of voters as their precincts roughly constant (I think about 1000 voters per vote site on election day).

Therefore, vote tallies for one candidate or another candidate are not at all randomly distributed and do not span even one order of magnitude. So if a several precincts in an area go 90% for D and 10% for R, then this all these sites will look very skewed, because 1 is supposed to be so much more common than a 9.

I showed this to my conspiracy-claiming friend, and asked him to apply it to data in another state that went 80/20 or 90/10 R. He didn't enjoy seeing that the same "anomaly" appeared in his preferred candidate's positive results.

It didn't change his mind, of course.

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A new political scandal happened in The Netherlands. Before the elections, a documentary was shown by the national broadcaster about the leader of a political party called D66. This party is fairly progressive in the modern way (pro-EU, pro-migration, woke, very pro-euthanasia (not just for the terminally ill), focused on getting as many people as possible into a PMC lifestyle/career & backed primarily by young well educated people). The party considers itself centrist, which is quite defensible in the sense that their electorate has the most trust in government, so they are the most happy with the job that the government is currently doing. However, the establishment may of course not be centrist compared to society. The politician in question has been a secretary of state during the previous administration.

The national broadcaster is paid for by taxes, so they are under scrunity for (and regularly accused of) unfairly favoring certain political parties.

A politically incorrect news blog, GeenStijl (which means 'NoStyle'), requested all government documents related to this documentary, using the Dutch equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act. The released documents suggests that the documentary makers were very eager to portray the politician in a favorable way. Note that the organization who made the documentary is led by someone who was campaign leader for the political party for 8 years.

The working title of the documentary was "Minister of Hope," which is not a very neutral title. The subject got the choice of the topic of the documentary and got to see a raw cut to make suggestions. Most debate between the makers and the politician's people seems to have centered around her not wearing a seat belt in the back seat during an important scene, that the makers didn't want to cut. The politician's helpers seemed very worried that this would turn into a scandal, as she was technically breaking the law. The makers of the documentary actually reached out to a CGI company to see if they could fake a seat belt, although later on, they denied every intending to actually go through with it, which doesn't seem very believable to me.

Some other requests were to remove a scene where she drank champagne during a trip to Niger (which is a very poor country), a petty comment about not being mentioned in a speech and complaints about members of parliament, which the politician's people argue is politicially incorrect behavior (as the executive is not democratically elected, but parliament is). The documentary makers seem to have accepted most of these request, even those that seemed purely aimed at protecting her image, by not showing some of her behavior.

The documentary seems to have been broadcast as close to the elections as was allowed, by the rules. The makers of the documentary told the politician that they were willing to discuss the timing of the broadcast. There's no explicit evidence that the polician desired this, although the emails suggest that the documentary makers were acceding to a request by the politician to broadcast the documentary as close to the elections as possible.

Interestingly, the documentary makers even suggested that the politician should lie about not having seen the documentary in advance, so she could distance herself from it.

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I’m a bit confused about the Deiseach ban / jstr warning. The comment with the “user was banned for this” note seems relatively tame compared to its sibling-comment thread, which does have a heated exchange between the two, and the “user was banned for this” comment doesn’t actually have any replies to it.

Was there another, even more heated exchange in the thread of the noted comment, which was deleted in the course of the ban? Or is the sibling-thread the focus of the ban? Or is there actually something really bad in the noted comment that I’m just too tired to notice?

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So, a bit more than a month ago, a Chinese team announced a neural network called CogView (https://paperswithcode.com/paper/cogview-mastering-text-to-image-generation) that was a serious attempt to replicate OpenAI's incredible text-to-image model Dall-E (https://openai.com/blog/dall-e/). Unlike OpenAI (and in yet another name-related irony for the company), the Chinese team actually released their full model to the public, and you can try it online at https://colab.research.google.com/drive/1ahsm15makBon5DZMy64a76TTWePBBp5l?authuser=1#scrollTo=3KIVmduRWAkl - the model only accepts text prompts in Chinese, but that notebook automatically translates prompts from English.

I spent a few days trying out a lot of different kinds of prompts, and although it's hard to compare directly to Dall-E without being able to try it, the results seem markedly worse than what OpenAI has shown- although still pretty incredible in their own right. One thing I can directly compare the results to are CLIP-based notebooks like the ones at https://old.reddit.com/r/MachineLearning/comments/ldc6oc/p_list_of_sitesprogramsprojects_that_use_openais/. CLIP is a model that OpenAI did release which just takes a text prompt and an image, and outputs a score for how closely the two match. A lot of clever people found out that you can use that to steer the generation of images when you combine it with an image encoder like VQ-VAE (which is the same one CogView uses) or the Dall-E image encoder (which OpenAI released instead of the transformer model). These image encoders are like really advanced image compression algorithms that store image data as coordinates in a latent space- and for whatever reason, it's a lot easier to train a transformer to make images in the compressed format rather than just a matrix of pixels.

Anyway, the results from CogView tend to be far more coherent and realistic than those from the CLIP models- though at the same time, oddly limited and dull. For example, if you give CogView a very simple prompt like "A businessman in an office", it can produce nearly photorealistic results, but if you try something slightly more complicated like "A photo of a cheetah in a cathedral", it's usually only able to produce images of a cheetah or a cathedral, and struggles to combine them. In contrast, the best CLIP-based notebooks can't approach coherent realism with any prompt, but seem able to understand and include elements from anything you can describe. So "A photo of a cheetah in a cathedral" produces images with clear elements of both cheetahs and cathedrals- and even really complex prompts like "A rendering of a golden steampunk robot that resembles a cheetah stalking through the ruins of a vast post-singularity city" will produce interesting results with recognizable elements. See the image at https://imgur.com/a/ESSM4OP for a comparison of CogView results at the top and results from a customized CLIP+VQ-VAE notebook at the bottom for the prompt "A photo of a cheetah in a cathedral".

Part of the difference may be due to the English-Chinese translation creating confusing prompts, though after a lot of experimentation with different translation services and phrasing, I don't think that's significant. It seems like CogView was trained on a far more limited set of images than CLIP- mostly stock photos (often with watermarks!) and historical photo archives, wheres CLIP definitely included things like drawings from DeviantArt, video game screenshots, and even pornography. I have to wonder if CogView's difficulty in generalizing is related in part to China's restrictions on free speech- it seems like the country's internet restrictions may have seriously limited how varied the model's training data could be.

(Also, here are some results from CLIP+VQ-VAE for "A rendering of a golden steampunk robot that resembles a cheetah stalking through the ruins of a vast post-singularity city": https://imgur.com/a/UEFDnOc )

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How can I participate in any survey?

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A low tech substitute for a report function would be to have a Google form people could submit replies to

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I’be been having lots of substack thoughts recently (haven’t we all) and I’ve heard a lot about syndicated fiction on the platform. Are there any good examples of this to start with?

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I've written a blog post about freedom of speech, and I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts about it.

My main propositions are:

1. Social media censored pandemic stories that shouldn't have been censored - but some medical misinformation should be censored, and what/whether to censor should be decided by an accountable, democratic institution rather than a private media company

2. "Cancel culture" is not about free speech and does not threaten free speech

3. The primary threats to freedom of speech in the world are from authoritarian regimes and conservative groups


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What do people think about Github Copilot? Too liable to spit out chunks of copyrighted code verbatim?

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Whether you call them TERFs or gender critical feminists, it seems they're far more successful in the UK than in the USA. So I was wondering if anyone have any theories as to why?

I think part of it is that the transgender activists went for a top down strategy: Convince politicians, change the law, hammer opponents into silence. While the other side went for a bottom up strategy of building grassroots support.

I also have an impression of transgender activists making some major blunders. For example they called a billboard saying "Woman. Noun. Adult human female" part of a hate campaign. That was an elephant trap and they walked right into it. Or calling J.K. Rowling a TERF. It doesn't even matter if she was or not, Rowling is a skilled writer with impeccable left wing credentials. It was only going to end one way, pick your battles and all that.

But there's also factors I'm not sure if they can be explained by which activist groups had better strategies. I see internal battles inside major left wing or progressive groups: The Guardian news paper, the Liberal Democrats, SNP, and Labour party. Does America lack an equivalent grass roots within left wing organisations? Or was it there but somehow defeated?

I'm mostly just brainstorming and trying to figure out why the UK looks like quite the outlier.

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Repeating request from previous thread in hopes that Scott will see it:

Scott, I would be interested in an article about Neuro-Linguistic Processing (NLP, not to be confused with the computer science field of natural language processing). Wikipedia calls NLP "pseudoscientific" and "discredited" but it seems that they have some interesting ideas that are not more obviously bad than other subfields of psychology when taking into account the replication crisis and other systemic problems in the discipline.

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The Toronto CS reading group is about to form a splinter named The David Reading group. We'll shortly be reading/listening to "Debt: The First 5000 Years", and future books of interest include "Legal Systems Very Different From Ours" as well as "The Dawn of Everything".

Our coordination platform is Slack, and our format for the short term is going to be a video conference, very probably bi-weekly, during which we discuss a chapter. We might end up switching to a Toronto meetup with an online component later on depending on how pandemic-related things develop here.

If this sounds interesting to any other readers here; drop me a comment and I'll add you to the relevant channels.

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Does anyone have any good advice/resources for marketing random online publications? I have a few assorted things on the go that I'd like to sell once they're cleaned up, but I'm not sure that cleaning it up will be worth the work if I'll only sell like three copies of a $5 document.

If it helps to have specifics, the planned first one is an "Advent(ure) Calendar", i.e., a D&D advent calendar, with one fight a day. Naturally, I want this to be available no later than Black Friday. But I'd rather get my ducks in a row first.

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Chesterton's fence: the real version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxpbU3Ke6DI (video not mine)

I don't care what chesterton has to say about it, im destroying this fence.

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Does anyone have experience with taking magnesium supplements to alter mood, fight depression, anxiety, etc.? I was inspired by a recent Hacker News link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6163803/ stating that modern vegetables have little magnesium content due to depleted soil. The associated comments section https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27654787 contained a number of people saying that supplementing it greatly reduced their depression and anxiety.

I've been taking them for about a week and a half now, and I have to say that I do already feel a marked difference, though of course placebo effect etc. etc. Everyone seems to say that gastrointestinal discomfort is a side effect, but I have had absolutely zero issues so far- maybe my magnesium levels were just really low! Would be curious to hear other peoples' experiences with magnesium supplementation, if any

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Whatever happened to judges requiring young men to join the military in exchange for a deferred sentence? (I think the practice has a specific name, which escapes me at the moment). This seemed to be a common practice in the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc., and not just during active wartime. Seems like a win-win for society- we probably shouldn't really add to the US prison population if there's another outlet that would work better, and high-testosterone young men who are committing minor crimes are probably the same demographic as who makes up the average soldier- they are all typically not from great neighborhoods. The US always has issues with military recruitment, and lots of these guys could probably use some structure in their lives, so it seems like a net plus for society all around.

However, my impression is that judges don't hand out these type of deferred sentences anymore. Did it become passé? Was there a specific court case that prevented judicial drafting? Did those types of guys end up not being great soldiers? I'd be interested to hear what happened there

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Has anyone else noticed an increased societal obsession with food spoilage? (I'm in the US).

Seems like the over the past ten years or so, many people have started believing that if you leave food on the counter for more than 15 minutes, it immediately turns into poison. And expiration dates are treated as if they were handed down by god. I work with an animal-rescue organization, and they routinely throw away unopened containers of food (both canned food and dry food) as soon as the expiration date passes. This policy makes me very sad, but I'm unable to change it. Back about 15 or 20 years ago, I just don't remember people being very worried about this kind of stuff. Myself, I barely think about it. My kitchen cupboard is filled with condiments that are labeled "refrigerate after opening". And I remember my dad (who absolutely HATED wasting food) searching through the back of the 'fridge for containers of old food, which he would proceed to eat. As far as I know, I've only had food poisoning once, and that was after eating in a dodgy-looking restaurant Moscow.

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I am looking for books or other media about innovations and development in the early history of plumbing (Roman and/or Medieval). Also information (possibly from same source) detailing methods and procedures used in building aqueducts. Ideally something with at least a partially visual component. Thanks!

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Severity Arguments

I'm noticing that most of the disagreements in my life, both those I have personally with others and those I observe in popular culture, don't seem to be disagreements around conclusions but rather disagreements on severity.

IE, pick something controversial. I don't think that mentioning January 6th as being bad is too controversial for an open thread. I don't run into anyone claiming that Jan 6 was good, but I see endless reams of disagreements over precisely how bad it was, ranging from it being a meaningless riot to it literally almost being the downfall of American democracy. (Please don't debate this in this thread, this isn't what this post is about.).

I don't know how to settle these kinds of disagreements. If I'm disagreeing with someone on a factual matter, it gets resolved by us going to primary sources we trust and finding out what the truth of the matter is. If I'm debating theoretical outcomes with someone (IE, what would happen if we did X or Y), we each propose models and then try to figure out who's model will most likely be realistic. I might not always come to an agreement, but I've at least got known pathways to try and find a resolution.

Severity arguments, on the other hand, seem unresolvable. We can both materially agree on every fact of the matter, yet still vehemently disagree on outcomes. Furthermore, these arguments end up being self propagating ("Well, if it wasn't such a big deal, than why is everyone talking about it?") Does anyone have a good strategy for how to approach these kinds of issues productively?

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I'd like to plug Slime Mold Time Mold's recent post on Obesity-

https://slimemoldtimemold.com/2021/07/07/a-chemical-hunger-part-i-mysteries/ and https://slimemoldtimemold.com/2021/07/11/a-chemical-hunger-part-ii-current-theories-of-obesity-are-inadequate/

Amazing read, and helped me process my weight loss process too.

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I'm a non-mexican Latin American who went to the US for grad school and recently moved to Mexico City for work. Anybody based in Mexico City who'd be interested in starting a community/hang-out-group here?

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Inspired by another person in this thread talking about looking for CS work

My eldest son is now legally an adult and looking to leave the nest, so to speak, in the near future. He's a CS major currently working on an internship that has been heavily hinted will turn into a full-time offer upon graduation next June and where he has been promised a significant raise once he goes back to school in the Fall to keep working part-time. It's a systems analyst role and it appears he does a lot of debugging.

I am a math/stats/MBA combo who dabbled in computers for fun - I know enough FORTRAN to be dangerous - but who otherwise has no idea how to advise him in terms of the various subspecialties of CS or even what sort of experience would be best from a monetary, personal fulfillment or combo thereof. In short, I'm out of my depth. It's possible systems analyst work is a dead-end specialty, or it could be a great start for a kid who is barely 18 making his way into CS.

Some details on #1 Son: He aced the SAT at age 15 (1580/1600) and I've struggled to keep him challenged ever since. I'm not looking for miraculous omniscience so yes, proper guidance will be dependent upon his interests but I still want to help him avoid pitfalls that may frustrate him 3 or 5 or 10 years from now. He's generally interested in computers, programming and solving complex puzzle-type things. He's also quiet and introverted but not autistic (with all the positives and negatives that connotes - I do have another son heavily on the spectrum).

Any general advice that can help him out? or further questions I can answer to help me help him?

Also, if it matters: I'm first-generation college. My grandfather came over from the Old Country and his family was super duper poor. My Dad worked the line for 40 years and retired - still alive and kicking at age 93. I majored in chemical engineering but haven't used it one day in my life because I went to Carnegie-Mellon for a Ph.D. program and realized I hated it, so I dropped out after a year. But I chose the path I did because I looked up (ca. 1990, and with zero guidance from family and others) what paid the most and hey, chemical engineering was # 1, so that was a sensible thing to major in, right? Not the greatest process in retrospect and I'm trying to figure out how to save him from several years of wasted grief as well.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

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Thinking about future prospects and jobs. Originally wanted to major in philosophy, have carved out a somewhat passable math degree. There's a lot of pressure to go into CS, or CS adjacent positions. Are there still paths which pay me *a* wage to live without going into CS? Like, I'll do it if I have to, but the thought of grinding on something I've barely had any talent for as well as something I'm not even interested in for the next decade or so depresses me.

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On the subject of preserving books, my father just died and left behind a literal warehouse of old books, and I'd like some advice on what to do with the nice and rare-looking ones beyond taking them to Half-Price. My family needs to get rid of them as the storage is expensive and we just lost our main income source. We've already come across a complete set of the Arabian Nights (already sold) and no telling what else might be in this pile. He had a LibraryThing account and I might make it public. If anyone wants me to look out for any particular genre or title, I will.

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Gah, I kept checking my email for the latest post all last night and I still missed it.

I'm trying to perfect my understanding and develop better concept handles for the Myers-Briggs/FFM behavioral traits. I'm relying a lot on personal experience and social interactions, but the resources that feel most helpful and true to life are coming from the Wikipedia pages Facet(psychology) and Personality Disorder

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Anyone have recommendations for where I can find an online book club or discussion group with good books, smart people and minimal trolls? Preferably reasonably sized.

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Did Ancient Egyptians use scarabs holding bioluminescent goo as lamps?

Wiki, bioluminescence: Before the development of the safety lamp for use in coal mines, dried fish skins were used in Britain and Europe as a weak source of light.[2] This experimental form of illumination avoided the necessity of using candles which risked sparking explosions of firedamp.[3] Another safe source of illumination in mines was bottles containing fireflies.[4] In 1920, the American zoologist E. Newton Harvey published a monograph, The Nature of Animal Light, summarizing early work on bioluminescence. Harvey notes that Aristotle mentions light produced by dead fish and flesh, and that both Aristotle and Pliny the Elder (in his Natural History) mention light from damp wood. He also records that Robert Boyle experimented on these light sources, and showed that both they and the glowworm require air for light to be produced. Harvey notes that in 1753, J. Baker identified the flagellate Noctiluca "as a luminous animal" "just visible to the naked eye",[5] and in 1854 Johann Florian Heller (1813–1871) identified strands (hyphae) of fungi as the source of light in dead wood.[6]

Wiki, religious significance of scarabs:

In ancient Egyptian religion, the god Ra is seen as the star Sirius, when the star came to the Horizon in the south 15 thousand years ago. Beetles of the family Scarabaeidae (dung beetle) roll dung into a ball.[a] Because of its symbolically similar action, the scarab was seen as a reflection the precession cycle of the star Sirus , and as representing the idea of rebirth or regeneration on its swing in the south as it was viewed.

So. I suggest that if you needed a flashlight or nightlight in Ancient Egypt, you took your scarab amulet and scooped up some glowing goop on the end of it. Why bother with a scoop?

'Tell the Court it shines-

. . .and stinks, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight'

-said Walter Raleigh, and an awful lot of bioluminescent stuff does look like you'd want to avoid grabbing it with bare hands.

Pro: scarabs are repeatedly described as 'ceremonial'. 'Ceremonial' beer mugs, weapons, armor, pictures of naked ladies and so forth are routinely found to have some obvious practical use the archeologist who called them 'ceremonial' should have spotted.

Con: Well, SOMETHING the ancient Egyptians did had to be actually ceremonial, and it's not like I can point to useful prongs or spoony depressions for holding goo in any scarab I've seen pictured.

Comments from anyone who knows something about the subject welcome.

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It seems to me that billionaires now occupy the same space in the left's cultural consciousness that illegal immigrants once occupied on the right. I wanted to post about that here, but I kept wanting to be able to include images and links which sucks on substack comments, so I posted it here instead: https://chadnauseam.substack.com/p/immigrants-the-right-billionaires

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Is willpower consistent across domains? I'm interested in both people's individual experiences and scholarly research.

The research I've seen has been all over the place on this question - on the one hand, certain measurements of willpower seem to be broadly predictive of 'good things' - health, relationship stability, career progression, academic achievement, etc. On the other hand, that might be missing individual details in the aggregate (i.e., overall, people with good self-control have better outcomes across everything, but within-individual relationships between, say, working hard and resisting junk food might be much weaker).


Domain-agnostic: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17437199.2016.1266275

Domain-specific: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625007/

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Does anyone here stay in Seattle ? Wanted opinions on good neighborhoods to move to.

me: mid 20s tech male that likes people and extroverted, but still decidedly nerdy. Want to avoid monocultures.

Want in neighborhood : walkable/bikeable, dense, close to commute, within 50 minutes commute to Bellevue, and it should have a happening location closeby.

Want to avoid: suburbia. rampant homelessness

What sounds good: Wallingford, Northern capitol hill (below volunteer park)

Possible but don't know enough: Capitol hill proper (Near Cal anderson), UDistrict (south side) , Fremont (closer to wallingford) (I'm clearly trying to have access to the 520)

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Yeats' "The Second Coming" is (deservedly) one of the most widely quoted poems in the English language. However, George Orwell made an interesting observation about it in his essay on Yeats:

"[Yeats] is too big a man to share the illusions of Liberalism, and as early as 1920 he foretells in a justly famous passage (‘The Second Coming’) the kind of world that we have actually moved into. But he appears to welcome the coming age, which is to be ‘hierarchical, masculine, harsh, surgical’, and is influenced both by Ezra Pound and by various Italian Fascist writers. He describes the new civilization which he hopes and believes will arrive: ‘an aristocratic civilization in its most completed form, every detail of life hierarchical, every great man’s door crowded at dawn by petitioners, great wealth everywhere in a few men’s hands, all dependent upon a few, up to the Emperor himself, who is a God dependent on a greater God, and everywhere, in Court, in the family, an inequality made law.’"


That is, at least in Orwell's view, seemingly plausible on some cursory further research, Yeats thought that all that stuff about the center not holding and the falcon not hearing the falconer was a *good* thing, worthy of celebration. (The titular Second Coming that these events presumably herald is usually indeed considered thus by Christians, though of course Yeats' views were hardly typical/orthodox.) Yeats looked forward to the destruction of supposedly soulless modern industrial, democratic society, followed by the cyclical return of a more primitive, spiritually vital one. I wonder how many of the people, often with center to left political views, who portentously quote "The Second Coming" whenever politics is contentious (which is to say, almost always) realize this. (I suspect that Yeats would be quoted less often if more people realized that he, like many writers in the 1920s-1930s, was an extreme reactionary who at least flirted with fascism.)

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In multiple threads Scott as well as other people expressed a position that marxist framework assumes too much without providing enough evidence.

What kind of evidence, in principle, do you think is required to take marxist framework seriously?

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Suppose that betting markets (which Scott has suggested) aren't a good way to finance investigative journalism, what might be?

I'm imagining some combination of substack, kickstarter, and gofundme, and some way of combining investigative journalists (dare I call it a newspaper?), but it would be hard. Are there investigative journalists who are so respected that they could attract funding from people who don't agree with their politics? How do you structure a pipeline for new investigative journalists?

What does investigative journalism cost, anyway? It's not just the cost for the articles you get, it's also the cost of articles that don't pan out (how often does that happen?) and legal protection.

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Is it true that the quality of Stephen King's writing is now much worse than it was at its peak? I've only read some of his early work, like Different Seasons and Skeleton Crew.

If it's true he's gotten worse, then what was King's last truly great book?

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Asking for help. This will be rambly and neurotic.

I am a 30 year old woman. After a long period of hesitation and anxiety about it, after months-long obsessive research into the discourse around covid and vaccines, which made me feel confused, frustrated, and terrified, I got vaccinated (Pfizer) on the 4th of July (incidentally, my birthday). I was never that much worried about covid, and I'm currently leading a rather hermitic lifestyle, so it never registered as too much of a danger; I guess my main motivation to get vaccinated was "to get it over with", because I couldn't stop obsessing over it for months, feeling tormented about whether to vaccinate or not. Of course, protecting others was also a factor, as was the feeling that if I am to get vaccinated one day, I'd rather do it sooner, so that it wouldn't haunt me anymore.

By "obsessing over it"--I mean, I was following the discourse, and trying to make sense of it, researching the contrarian voices, exposing myself to all the vax-skeptical arguments; and I ended up in a very uncomfortable state of "I really don't know what is going on, and I suspect that nobody really knows what is going on (because the issue is super complex and we have too little data), and people who are certain that they know what is the right thing to do seem to be ideologues and not to be fully trusted; and the health authorities are clearly feeding the public skewed and simplistic data in order to get them to buy into the narrative, and their sensemaking is distorted (but that doesn't mean they are all bad or that their narrative is false)". And just a state of uncertainty and anger and frustration at the state of the discourse, and helplessness and confusion in face of all the chaos.

I scheduled the appointment, but then canceled it the same morning (I had canceled about 15 appointments already in the previous weeks), but in the end I went anyway, feeling like if I don't go, I let myself be controlled by my fear. Either way, to get vaccinated or to not get vaccinated felt like a neurotic decision. I was afraid to not get vaccinated, but also to get vaccinated--imagining that very bad things will happen either way, and that trying to prevent them by avoiding danger would just misfire.

More background: I struggle long term with depression, anxiety, including health anxiety, and especially fears about fertility (premature ovarian failure); I have OCD-ish and paranoid tendencies at times. I've been diagnosed with ASD, if that's a helpful information. Obviously, with the fertility-related talk about the vaccine--the period dysregulation that many women are reporting (and that the CDC is blatantly denying exists--note this bit in particular broke me and made me cynical about the trustworthiness of the CDC (that is not to say they are completely untrustworthy, but that they are not as trustworthy as they certainly should be)), the Japanese LNPs biodistribution/pharmacokinetics study, the fact that everybody is saying "there is no evidence of damage to fertility and no plausible mechanism of damage to fertility" (when there is little evidence either way, and when there, it seems to me, certainly are some such hypothetical mechanisms), and then there's the reported long term vaccine side effects--this made me very afraid to get vaccinated. But I guess I was hoping if I do get vaccinated, if I am brave, the fear will dissolve.

Anyway, so I went. I wasn't fully okay with it, but at first it felt manageable. After a few hours, I had a severe anxiety attack, intense dread, suicidal ideation, convinced I have damaged myself; I started hyperventilating, my blood flow was increased etc. which threw me into an even bigger anxiety, because I heard you're not supposed to overexert yourself after getting vaccinated. Now I worry that because of the increased blood flow, the LNPs from the vaccine could have reached my ovaries more quickly and in greater concentration, that the mRNA will be expressed by ovarian cells, and they will get destroyed by my immune system, leading to tissue damage; or that the LNPs are somehow toxic themselves. I worry that this will cause POF. I worry my anxiety will make my immune system dysregulated, leading to an autoimmune-induced POF. I worry that I will get bad side effects from the vaccine.

Ever since I got vaccinated and this initial anxiety attack, the anxiety and depression haven't left me, save for several hours every day (usually later in the afternoon), when I tend to calm down and it feels like my fears are unsubstantiated. But I wake up depressed, and spend the majority of the day unable to think about anything else, in acute fear that I have damaged myself, that bad things will happen, and that I destroyed my life: infertility is my greatest fear (as you probably noticed), but also long term side effects from the vaccine (autoimmune, neurological), cancer. I keep worrying that the anxiety attack after I got vaccinated only made everything worse, and that even if the majority of people are okay and nothing bad happens to them, I will be one of the people who will get damaged by it.

Everybody around me is saying that I am overreacting, and that my fear is not appropriate to the situation. I truly can't tell anymore; it feels like all this could be true, that there really aren't good long term data about the safety of the vaccine, that there might be a plausible mechanism for damage (that I don't really see addressed anywhere), etc. It seems like I can't really be sure that things will be okay.

I can't stop thinking about this what if. I have no idea how to resolve it; one way of dealing with the uncertainties of life is simply to not think about them, to convince oneself that all will be well; but it seems to me this would be deluding myself into thinking that they are not real dangers. But bad things could happen. All the horrible things that I am worried about could become true. How does one cope with that? As I said, it seems to me, the majority of people go by simply not thinking about these possibilities, and so unbothered by the uncertainty of life. But it seems uncertainty can throw me into a state of acute danger; I can so vividly imagine things going badly. And I don't know how to become okay with it. It seems like if I were to become okay with it, I would have to stop caring about these things that I worry are in danger, I would have to become someone else, with different values.

I know that because of my severe anxiety and depression, my view of reality is probably very distorted. I can see how my current acute fears (worrying about vaccines causing infertility, or cancer) reflect my long term, chronic fears (worrying about fertility, or cancer): I can see how my anxiety is excellently skilled in picking up on patterns and links and connections in all the chaos and uncertainty, and constructing plausible (sounding) scenarios for how the things that I am worried about the most might realize. But still, I can't help but feel that the threat is real, that bad things will or could really happen, that there is no guarantee things will be okay, that everything could crumble. I should also maybe mention that one of the things that is an important factor in my state is the fact that in a month, my partner, with whom I've been long distance for almost half a year, is scheduled to finally arrive. So, just as something absolutely wonderful, that I've been looking forward to for so long, is about to happen, I am terrified that everything will fall apart.

This is a community whose sensemaking I generally trust. It would help me very much if I could get some more perspective, some more feedback, maybe some advice, if any of you have previously dealt with similar issues, and have found a way to resolve them, or to alleviate them. Some resources, words of wisdom, reality checks. (But please be kind.)

Thank you very much.

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People in the US are generally significantly richer than those in most European countries (e.g. see tables of median income like this one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disposable_household_and_per_capita_income#Median). But I don't have a good understanding of what this actually means. Does anyone have any (anec)data about what the medianish American does with the 5-35% of their income that a comparable French/German/British person lacks? My vague impression (as a Briton who hasn't lived in the US) is some of the gap comes from working more, having bigger houses, and better healthcare (e.g. more frequent doctor visits). But probably someone has better insights. Also interested in the same question regarding the handful of European countries that are richer than/on part with the US (Norway and Switzerland are the main ones I think).

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Is rationalism actually a good way to model the world? Is it better to assign only True/False/Unknown to propositions, and thus avoid being wrong when events you have assigned low probability to happen?

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New post up over on "History for Atheists" about Hitler's religious beliefs (or lack of them). Read it not so much for the political argy-bargy but for things I had never heard of previously, like the World Ice Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welteislehre

"Hörbiger had various responses to the criticism that he received. If it was pointed out to him that his assertions did not work mathematically, he responded: "Calculation can only lead you astray." If it was pointed out that there existed photographic evidence that the Milky Way was composed of millions of stars, he responded that the pictures had been faked by "reactionary" astronomers. He responded in a similar way when it was pointed out that the surface temperature of the Moon had been measured in excess of 100 °C in the daytime, writing to rocket expert Willy Ley: "Either you believe in me and learn, or you will be treated as the enemy."

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The new Tesla Model S Plaid accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 1.98 seconds. If you put the car in reverse and jammed your foot on the gas pedal, would it accelerate backwards at the same rate?

I ask this because my own car is a clunky gas-powered vehicle with an automatic transmission, and it only has one gear setting when I put it in reverse mode. If I put it in reverse and jam on the gas pedal, it would accelerate backwards at a slow rate, and the 0 to 60 figure might be 20 seconds.

However, I've heard that electric cars like the Tesla Model S only use one gear. If that's the case, then shouldn't their forward and reverse acceleration rates be the same?

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Given the large overlap between Republicans and anti-vaxxers, Covid will kill proportionally more Republicans. Will those numbers be large enough to affect future elections? If so, would the Republicans realize this and change tactics?

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First time attend this wonderful thread, thanks Scott Alexander.

The post is mainly for asking feedback about the discussion tool I am building.

Pnyx: https://www.usepnyx.com

The reason behind the project is simple, discussion feel like a mess in internet right now due to various forums sort discussion like blog posts, social media are flooded with new content day by day. And people are constantly distracted.

The place like ACT open thread for people to discuss wide variety of discussion in one single place seems lacking.

In the meanwhile we are hard to find a dedicated, persistent place built for public discussion with specific topic. These place's discussion almost will seem like a mess due to everyone is posting but no one is organizing( not mod did like reddit, but to organize, group same discussion in same group..etc)

I wish to toggle these situation with Pnyx, with a graph-oriented discussion tool.

Wish to hear your feedbacks and look forward to discuss here.

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Let's say I wanted to manufacture an organic compound that is currently made through an industrial chemical process (imagining metoprolol or some common medication). Is there any sort of library of enzymes and their functions people know of that you could search to try and develop a biosynthetic pathway?

Or (seems much less likely) is there any work being done into designing enzymes to do specific reactions?

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I have recently started medication for ADHD (Brand name Vyvanse, chemical name Lisdexamfetamine). I have found it to be enormously helpful with productivity. However, I am wary of negative side effects. To that end, I have kept track of my resting heart rate before and after the medication with a smart-watch.

I found that my resting heart rate in the weeks prior to starting to take the drug was 54.7 bpm, and in the weeks while taking the drug it was 61.4, a difference of 6.7 bpm. I performed a t-test using scipy, and found that this was significant with a p-value of 0.01.

Is this something I should be worried about? I have heard that higher heart rates are associated with higher general mortality. My layman's look at studies suggests that this effect only exists at heart rates above 75 bpm.

For context, I am a mostly healthy 25 year old man, with reasonably good cardio fitness (regularly runs 5km in ~30 minutes).

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