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Question for gun people here:

I saw Biden saying he was planning on sending shotguns (among other supplies) to Ukraine. Why shotguns? I'd assume something like M16s would be better for most military uses (and also that the US military would have a lot more surplus M16s). Are there usecases in urban fighting that make shotguns better for some things?

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Mar 27, 2022·edited Mar 27, 2022

I'm looking to spend 2-6 weeks in Austin or Denver (or potentially other cool American cities) this summer as a trial experience to see if I may want to live there. If anyone who lives in any of those cities has a spare room, wants to rent me their apartment (presumably while they go on vacation/travel elsewhere), or do an apartment swap with me in Toronto, please let me know!

Happy to provide much more information.

Please email me at daniel $ mm $ frank at gmail $com (all $ can be replaced with .s)

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Mar 27, 2022·edited Mar 27, 2022

For those looking for remote work: Four people have contacted me. I've responded to all of them and sent them (collectively) something like thirty job postings in the last week with salaries between $40k and $150k. One of them had a good interview and is probably getting an offer next week. I've done this before a lot so feel free to reach out to me. My email is the definite article in the English language (if you Google the phrase "definite article in the English language" you'll get it as first result) plus my username at gmail dot com.

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Any ACX readers in Bend, Oregon? (I'm new to the area and looking to make friends. I'd be happy to meet with people one-on-one, but also, I'll probably offer to host a meetup here for this mini-Meetups-Everywhere thing.)

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Mar 27, 2022·edited Mar 27, 2022

Huh, where's the 4/20 meet up? :^) (Oh I see it's NYC... makes sense.)

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Not a full book review but I wrote a blogpost critiquing Emily Oster’s interpretation of evidence on drinking during pregnancy on IQ (she thinks light drinking has no harmful effects).

Short version. Her preferred studies are clearly confounded towards positive effects of drinking on IQ (which she acknowledges). The studies eventually get zero effect after controls but it’s clear that the controls are very noisy so real effect is probably negative. At the very least saying that these studies invalidate a recommendation of abstaining seems overblown

https://www.filedrawer.blog/post/oster_pregnancy_alcohol/

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What is love?

As in, if I'm dating someone and they ask if I love them, what are they asking and how can I tell if the true answer is yes or no?

The only definitions I've found amount to something like "you'll know it when you see it." As a queer person, I'm pretty skeptical of this approach. Presumably some people don't experience this particular mental state, but that's impossible to even theorize about without a more practical definition.

I'm not even merely being pedantic. I've never been able to find a working definition that is precise enough to navigate simple English conversations. I know it's a step in the process of a growing relationship (somewhere between the first date and marriage, but is it before or after moving in together, or can it be either?). I get that it's more romantic than sexual. Can anyone be more specific?

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I've read that most of Russia's major rivers are partly frozen during multi-month periods each winter, and that this causes major problems. Ice blocks river boats, driving up transportation costs. Moreover, ice dams act as "clogs" in rivers by backing up the water behind them and causing it to overflow the river banks, leading to floods.

Could the Russians fix this problem by building more power plants and factories next to these rivers to heat up the water? The new infrastructure would suck up cold river water to serve as coolant, and would then expel the hot water back into the rivers.

Related: https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/river-don-fig-forest/

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I really want to homeschool my kids. I really don’t want to homeschool my kids.

Both of these statements are very true. Except for the fact that I don’t have kids. But if all goes well, I will have a kid in a couple weeks.

I really want to homeschool my kids for a couple of reasons, one passive and one active. The passive reason is that school sucks. I have no faith in the existing educational system. And once one loses said faith, putting one’s child into the school is like going to church after having lost faith in God — deeply dissatisfying, though not without some social benefits.

The active one is that I want my kids to be awesome. Not awesome by your standards, or by mine. Objectively awesome. Like Marvel superheroes, I want superkids who grow into superhumans.

This may not be a popular line of thinking. I know that “one is not supposed to try to mold their kids into something specific.” I’m not trying to mold them into anything. My aim is to help them mold themselves into superhumans. My job is to give them the opportunities, tools, and fuel to do so. That is - awesome opportunities, awesome tools, and awesome fuel. That is - 12 hours per day, every day, of awesome.

So, that’s why I really want to homeschool my kids.

But the problem is that I really don’t want to homeschool my kids. I really don’t want to homeschool my kids for a couple of reasons, one passive and one active.

The passive one is that I may not be good enough. I have big ideas. I have some expertise and some experience. But 12 hours per day of awesome? What if the best I can muster is 12 hours per day of pretty good? What a failure that would be!

The active one is more selfish. What about my awesome? What if I want to build disruptive systems that will change the lives of millions? With time economics being what they are, I kind of have to choose, don’t I? If any of you have succeeded in creating “awesome” in your lives, you probably agree that it’s an all or nothing thing.

So, you might be wondering, “what’s this whiner gonna do about it?”

Well, I’ll tell you what I’ve done so far.

For the past two decades I’ve traded stocks professionally. I took the job out of college because I wouldn’t have to shave for work. I was introduced to it as a video game and I treated it as such. I learned the game. I played the game. I never had much respect for, or interest in, the game, but playing it was fun enough.

In the meantime, I had started a company developing interactive educational content, thinking maybe an AI can teach kids the basics. Then I started a company that developed interactive StoryGames for young kids, because maybe if we gamified education, kids would learn better. Then I started a company that developed a university campus where instead of classrooms we had project incubators, where students worked on solving real problems, because project-based learning yada yada yada…

The first two companies made a bit of money; the last one lost a lot of money; but all three were a winning bet on experience and expertise.

More recently, I started mapping out a more defined version of an anti-school and its awesome-generator functions. I’ll spare you the details. But the idea is that if I could build the anti-school that develops superkids, I solve my problem and the world’s problem as well. Makes some sense, right?! And if this aligns with your practical/personal non-academic interests, then I’d be happy to talk about those details, so please reach out.

Anyway, here’s where I can perhaps tell you something useful. A few weeks ago, my wife came across a podcast which she referred to me. This podcast led me to a small school originated in Austin, Texas. This led me to a book, Courage to Grow, written by Laura Sandefer, the founder of Acton Academy.

Consider this image: a 42-year-old 6’2" hairy ex-Soviet with a 5-day beard and a grey head of hair, sitting at the breakfast table, reading something off an iPad, constantly wiping his eyes and nose with a napkin. He is not sick. It’s not allergies. It appears to be something emotional that’s happening to him. He occasionally lifts his head to see if anybody is watching him in this foreign, tender state.

If you can relate to any of the above (not counting the last paragraph), please read this book. The Kindle version is $1 on Amazon. It maybe a situation where some of you may read it and say “so what”. But others may find, finally, the seeds of something new and better. You, like me, will recognize the struggles that the school founders experienced and the bravery required to meet them. The trials and failures, the risks and payoffs, may seems as profound to you as they did to me. For those of you who are starved for hope in the realm of child development, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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I don't think it's very fair to put an ad for a politician in an odd-numbered thread. I'll assume this is an invite to discuss this in what would normally be a no-politics thread:

I'm skeptical that you can take a good altruist or a science expert, and make them an effective lawmaker. It is a very different discipline. Personally fighting "poverty in Africa" has very little crossover with writing laws that will fight poverty in Africa. This is because politics and economics always involves trade-offs, often ones not aligned with my values. For example, "universal health care" sounds great per se, but how does it sound when it would likely reduce the total supply of healthcare? Environmentalism, abortion, and universal healthcare are usually touted for being "fair" and it's not at all clear these are actually "altruistic" (abortion definitely not, in my morality; universal healthcare would likely reduce the total supply of healthcare, also the opposite of altruism).

Altruism in law, to me, would imply things like revising and removing old and obsolete statue, removing redundant provisions, removing special carve-outs, removing large discontinuities (e.g. a huge penalty if you're 17 years 11 months for something that's legal the day you turn 18), cutting red tape, evidence-based public policy, and breaking down the institutions that keep causing these perfect party-line splits.

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Why does there seem to be an upper limit as to how expensive consumer electronics can get- unlike virtually any other consumer good? As far as I can tell, there is no super-expensive iPhone or Android beyond the latest stock models that any upper middle class person can easily afford- there are no $5,000 iPhones, or ones for $10k, or 50. To the best of my knowledge, I have just as nice of an iPhone as Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, or a Saudi prince. The same seems to be true for laptops- there's just a hard limit on how expensive manufacturers make them.

Why is this true for consumer electronics, but almost no other field? For example you can purchase a car at any price point, and there are specialized automobiles ranging in value of up to a few million dollars (this is excluding antiques- I mean purely, a millionaire can purchase an extremely fast car for a large sum of money). In fact, I almost can't think of another consumer good that doesn't have an ultra-luxury price point- so, why are there no ultra-luxury phones or laptops? Is it just that the latest standard-issue iPhone is already at the technological frontier of what Apple can produce? Hard to believe. Curious if anyone's thought about this at all

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Mar 27, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

Scott’s covid / ivermectin work was quoted in a similar review of many trials and how to think about the collective conclusions. They also highlight the FDA administrative process that means ivermectin would be unlikely to be approved due to financial incentives regardless of whether it actually works or not.

https://www.cato.org/regulation/spring-2022/ivermectin-statistical-significance

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I’m working on developing an understanding of deep learning — not with the aim of becoming a professional in a related area, but just because I crave to understand it. I already understand a reasonable amount about AI, in a general sort of way, & have a “general idea” kind of understanding of neural networks as well. But there’s something at the very beginning of things that I cannot find a clear explanation of, and it’s driving me crazy: Rosenblatt’s 1958 demo of the perceptron learning to discriminate between cards with the square on the left and cards with the square on the right: How, exactly did that work?

Anyone who has the patience to explain, or knows a site to send me to, please read on. However, I have already been to many sites, and so far every single one of them is only useful to somebody who *already knows* the answers to the questions I have.

OK, so perceptron gets card as a 20x20 black & white image. Info from each of the 400 pixels in card photo is fed to machine as 0 if pixel is black and 1 if pixel is white. I believe these 1’s and 0’s are accurate, not random — that is, they actually contain, in numerical form, the accurate info about whether the pixel is black or white. (Do I have that right?) So then the 0 or 1 corresponding to each of these 400 pixels is multiplied by a randomly assigned weight, and all the products are added together, and if the sum is negative that indicates the square is on the left and if it’s positive that indicates the square is on the right.

So at the beginning of the trials, the perceptron is performing at chance.So then Rosenblatt trains the machine by dialing up the weights that were too low and down those that were too high, and he feeds it another card. And adjust the weights again. After a series of these trainings, the machine’s output for each card is correct. It discriminates between the 2 kinds of cards by outputting a negative number if the square is on the left and a positive one if the square is on the right.

OK, so here’s what I don’t understand:

-When the perceptron gets the info on the pixel (0 or 1, black or white), does it also know *where* in the photo the pixel is located? Because if so I don’t understand why we need all this mishegoss. All the Perceptron needs to do is wait til it gets the info on one of the pixels from the center of the left side of the card, and forget about weighting the 0 or 1 (black or white) data on that pixel. If that pixel is 0, then the card has its square on the left. If it’s 1, then the square’s on the right. End of story. OK, then that can’t be how the damn thing works. So does that mean the perceptron gets 400 bits of info, a 1 or a 0 for each pixel, but it does not know the location of any of these pixels?

-Regarding the random weights that are assigned to be multipliers of the number 0 or 1 that corresponds to the color of its pixel: From what set are these weights drawn? All integers? All integers between +5 & -5? All numbers between +1 and -1?

-Did Rosenblatt adjust the weights after each single card, or only running the whole batch through once?

-If Rosenblatt adjusts the weight after each card, he's going to get the correct answer (left or right) for half the cards even on the first run-through. So after those cards he just doesn't adjust the weights, is that right?

-How did he decide *how* to adjust each of the 400 weights? What data did he go by that let him know whether a weight for a particular piece of pixel data is too high or too low? How did he decide how much up or down to move the weight?

I’ve read about 10 explanations of this process online last night, and every single one of them was only suitable for someone who *already knows the answers to my questions, above*. Anyone who can explain this for me, or send me to a site that can, will scratch a huge mind itch that is driving me crazy and will have my eternal gratitude.

I think it might be possible to greatly simplify the situation for the purposes of explanation. Maybe the perceptron gets an image that’s only 2 pixels in size (so then obviously either the left of the right pixel will be black). Maybe there are only 4 cards for the perceptron to work on. So then how would it work with weighting the 2 pieces of info machine got for each card (0 or 1 for pixel #1, 0 or 1 for pixel #2).

Yup, it’s simple questions. But I’m not too proud to post this.

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Mar 28, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

I want to set forth an idea, a way of looking at things, that will make a lot of people very angry, because few people like reconsidering their ideas...

So, if your immediate response is to tell me that I'm wrong, well, hold that thought and maybe spend a day pondering the idea before doing so?

And if your immediate response is some legal-technical response why I'm wrong because of seven minute points of difference, well, you're clearly playing the scoring points game, not the introspection game, so go play with someone else.

And, OMG, I can't believe it's necessary to say this, but such are the times we live in, this is not about blame, it is not about ethics; it is about understanding -- understanding now, and understanding the past, understanding the future. If you don't get that, well, stop reading now.

OK, consider Igor Strelkov. Russian Warlord. Present everywhere you'd expect from Transistria to Chechnya to Crimea to Donbas.

He always has the same story for the locals (plenty of whom support him): "These odds are impossible, we'll give our blood sweat and tears for nothing but our phantoms of honor," and his devotees don't believe him, but then it turns out just as he prophesied. He's saying the same thing right now about Ukraine. If you want to read about him, best is to look for stuff before, say 2020, so you don't get caught up in the most recent emotion, and what you see is stuff like this: https://www.e-ir.info/2017/07/22/igor-strelkov-moscow-agent-or-military-romantic/

OK, so how do we interpret this? Who does it remind you of? Well, many answers could come to mind depending on the point you want to make, but what comes to my mind is characters like Nongqawuse or Sitting Bull. Characters leading people who are well aware that modernity is on the way to crush them, so how should they respond? They (the leaders and the people) are well aware that modernity always wins in the end, the only choices they get are to submit without a fight, or to fight in the hope that thereby they will be remembered rather than just forgotten. This is not Götterdämmerung, it's not about the destruction of the world; it's about leaving some small mark on the world before the inevitable swamping of your culture by modernity.

Now when you see analogy, Russians as Native Americans, Strelkov as Sitting Bull, Putin as Crazy Horse, the point is not "Russians good", The point is what does this analogy tell us? Maybe it tells us something about Native Americans? Maybe it tells us something about whom the current elites in the West have chosen to valorize? Maybe it tells us something about the whitewashing of history (first by the victors, yes, but then by later discontents)?

In 70 years will Strelkov be considered a terrible person? Probably. Hitler believed he was doing, in Russia, no less than what the Americans had done in the West, and they didn't seem, as of 1930s, too upset about it.

But in 150 years will Strelkov be considered a terrible person? Ah, well, that's the question isn't it? Will we see, starting in a 100 years, a stream of stories about the Romance of Old Russia, how its people just wanted to live their traditional lives with their traditional belief systems, but modernity would not leave them alone; how they tried to keep out those corrupting influences but realized that was just impossible, that the only thing they could do was destroy their civilization in one glorious fruitless gesture, kill all their cattle, ghost dance against the cavalry. Will we see movies like "Bury my heart at Kiev" and "A Man named Igor" about the wise ways of these noble people who were too good for the forces arrayed against them? Untll Strelkov is up there with Che, Mao, and Sitting Bull as the T-shirt worn by 18 yr olds just arrived at college eager to show everyone how they understand the true tragedy of the world, and how they would never have been so short-sighted, back in 2022, as to insist that the only way to deal with the problem of Russia was to grind its face into the dirt, and change not only its government but the entire cultural system that had allowed such a government to come to power?

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Mar 28, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

I have a question about the atmosphere at ACX meetups. There seems to be a reasonably active community in my city (Boston). As I moved here during COVID I haven't really met friends - I do know some people in the area, but mostly through my wife, who is from here - and I've recently been looking into ways to rectify that.

However, I wonder if the ACX crowd would be for me. I'm into politics in a technocratic center-left sort of way (I've at times called myself a "Matt Yglesias/Noah Smith Democrat"), I like history and intellectual discussions a lot, and I'm somewhat into political philosophy and economics. I'm also casual-ish cyclist and hiker, and I like wandering around the city. But I wonder if the ACX crowd would be too techie/STEM for me, and/or too explicitly rationalist in orientation (I've tried to read other rationalist stuff here and there and while I think it can be interesting, it isn't entirely my thing for a variety of reasons).

So, are the meet-ups generally a good time? Are people generally friendly and welcoming? Is everyone a programmer who reads Less Wrong religiously and is super into AI risk, or are there different sorts of people with some variety of interests? Just curious!

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Thanks to everyone who donated clothes and other supplies for Ukrainian refugees in Poland! We managed to ship over 500 pounds. https://denovo.substack.com/p/help-is-on-the-way

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How's the stem cell field looking these days? I'm living with and managing a SLAP tear that would require surgery to fix, which I'm not interested in doing unless I have to. There are always stories of people injecting stem cells to fix these kind of shoulder issues, or alternately MCL or ACL tears. I've always assumed that these stories are BS- Joe Rogan has such a story of how stem cells fixed a similar shoulder issue, I don't think of him as a source of legitimate medical information. (Quite the opposite, actually).

Just thought I'd check in and see if any SMEs can describe how the stem cell therapy field is looking these days. Any recent advances? Any chance that musculoskeletal repair is on the horizon? I've also considered doing multiple bouts of PRP (platelet rich plasma), as the part of the shoulder with the injury doesn't receive a lot of blood flow- perhaps adding some blood in could help it repair over time. (I'm also middle-aged so I understand that this is unlikely).

There are also reports in the bodybuilding community of people buying peptides like BPC 157 or TB 500, and injecting those directly for joint repair. I think this is insanely risky

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The Pareto distribution is a more radical and transformative idea than most people give it credit for. Specifically, I propose that all tasks have a Pareto-distributed cost. Wait... wait. I worry what you just heard was: "a lot of tasks have a Pareto-distributed cost". What I said was, ALL tasks do. From grand research programs all the way down to making coffee. And different assumptions about that atomic cost function will drive you to plan projects and even your life differently.

One of the biggest changes is that if you believe things have a Pareto cost, then you should design everything to be easy to throw out. "What's the worst that can happen" is a question that should give you nightmares. If you're a lawyer and you go after some punk kid for jailbreaking your product, there's no possible way your decision will cause a 10% drop in your company's stock price. Maybe you'll get some money, maybe you won't, but you're protecting your brand and your product. But that's exactly what happened to Sony when hackers decided to break into the PSN to punish Sony for their petty case against George Hotz, and the security of the PSN was found to simply not exist.

If you model with finite, normal distributions - or even memoryless, exponential distributions - that outcome is a fluke. An act of god. You can't predict it. If you model with the Pareto distribution, it's a boring eventuality. "It's true," Nassim Taleb says as he walks in, coincidentally emerging from one of his strolls to lecture you. "you can't predict where these heavy tail events will come from. You can only design for their eventuality. Stop losses. STOP LOSSES!" He continues away mumbling something about fractals and the Stoics.

You'll still care about efficiency, but the biggest efficiencies are in not stumbling into one of those heavy tail events, almsot never in small optimizations. And if you do stumble into a heavy tail event, pulling off the bandaid and shelving your work and starting again. Yeah, sure, *maybe* you're almost done. Or maybe you're trying to turn lead into gold, which you can't do and even if you did it would kill you. In fact, in the Pareto distribution, the longer you've been working on a case the longer you expect you have left to work *from now*. This is the one true innoculation against the sunk cost fallacy.

You'll develop a suspicion of time estimates. You can estimate normally distributed hours, but not the mean of a Pareto distribution. The variance could be infinite, even when the mean is finite. You can maybe estimate the median, though, which is why it's usually the superior average.

You'll find a joy in breaking down problems into their smallest parts, so that as few things as possible are levered on whatever you discover to be the heavy tail.

You'll develop a stiff reluctance to take on tech debt; not are bugs combinatorially complicated to

find and fix, but each combination is a task which could incur you a tail cost.

The optimistic note to end on is that tasks can have positive pareto value, too. Sometimes you go to clean bird shit off your radio antenna and discover the Big Bang. Sometimes you accidentally discover positrons because your equation has a square root. Sometimes your dirty dishes lead you to penicillin.

Keep an open mind, and think about the specific facts over the general prediction, and it will make all the difference.

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Fun times in gout land tonight. Annoyingly enough, apparently losing weight can trigger gout flare ups.

There seems to be a link between hyperuricemia (high uric acid in the blood can cause gout flares) and kidney disease, but it's not entirely clear yet whether the former can actually help cause the latter (and how it does it), or whether it's just a result of the latter (since declining kidney function can cause it).

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I was inspired by Scott to express my ideas in a more in-depth and nuanced way compared to what traditional social media platforms allow for. I opened my own independent blog.

I wrote about why you should move the conversation from social media to long-form blogs:

https://lanfranco.me/posts/reptiles-on-supernormal-stimuli/

and how exactly to do it from a practical point of view:

https://lanfranco.me/posts/resilient-lean-low-cost-blogging/

I am not an experienced writer, so any feedback is more than welcome.

I hope this does not violate any rule about self-promotion, if that's the case please remove this comment.

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"He also supports normal Democratic priorities like the environment, abortion rights, and universal health care"

Is it possible to be a Democratic candidate without thinking that killing the unborn is a basic right?

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I am not sure this is allowed, feel free to delete the post if it isn't.

I am a Machine Learning Scientist. I left Russia and now I am looking for a new position.

I once found a great job via ACX (then SSC), so maybe it will work again.

My linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/btseytlin/

Feel free to reach out!

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Karl Friston's book, Active Inference, comes out tomorrow. Very excited to read it!

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ACX Philadelphia is doing a special meetup with Mingyuan on Friday, April 15 starting at 6:00pm. We'll be checking out the Uptown Beer Garden as a possible steady meetup location (at least while the weather is good).

We typically hold our meetups on the last Thursday of the month at 7pm.

Uptown Beer Garden is right next to Philadelphia City Hall, and the nearest train is Suburban Station. In case of rain, we'll move to Tir na Nog Irish Pub across the street.

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A rather hopium-ish study mentioned in MR says far-UVC lamps are likely to be very effective at reducing indoor airborne virus transmission.

https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/new-type-ultraviolet-light-makes-indoor-air-safe-outdoors

Questions:

1. Any informed opinions out there on how likely this is to replicate?

2. Any recommendations for far-UVC lamps one could use in a DIY indoor disinfection setup? I sing in a choir and am thinking of trying to set up something for our rehearsal and performance spaces.

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I donated to Carrick Flynn's campaign on the basis of this recommendation. The Metaculus odds being decently high were a significant factor.

This makes me wonder if this kind of usage poses a threat to low skin-in-the-game prediction aggregators like Metaculus that people are using to direct skin-in-the-game decisions like donating money to particular candidates. Carrick's team could make the Metaculus watchers of the world more willing to donate by estimating higher odds on Metaculus at no monetary cost to them.

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(Banned)
Mar 28, 2022·edited Mar 28, 2022

Will Smith, Juwan Howard, Putin, January 6ers. "I/we was/were 'disrespected'." Is the source of violence "hidden" shame?

See James Gilligan, Thomas Scheff or in Girardian terms perhaps what is hidden is the shame about the process of concealed mimetic desire.

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If you're a Russian in Tbilisi and you want someone to invest in your business, I'll meet with you

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Any thoughts about how a world which is hospitable to refugees on a large scale could be structured?

Assume that Ukraine is only the beginning.

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I just stumbled on this clip from the newest Jon Stewart show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cmnwbGmu7w

The way they are talking just feels so far from reality to me. Am I just missing what's going on in the world?

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I've been mentally toying around with a theory of morality lately that can be roughly summarized as "X is objectively good if, for any coherent value system Y, promoting X is required to promote Y; value systems can be compared against one another on the basis of the degree to which they promote objectively good things". Has any philosopher articulated a view like this before? It seems like I'd expect there to be one, but I don't think I've ever heard of any.

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So is Yakov Kedmi as crazy as this article makes him sound, or is this some kind of internal politics or propaganda that doesn't translate well?

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/russia-ukraine-war-final-and-complete-defeat-panic-on-russian-state-tv-over-the-war-in-ukraine/X43IJZA5DLQ6VDVP2NYSED4H3E/

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Over the past decade the word "status" has gained, um, significantly in status, as far as I can tell. It is treated now as a natural end in itself, nevermind the irony that whatever value status has, its only obvious value is that it is upstream from many other things people want as more terminal desires.

"Status" seems to have replaced wealth or fame or sex-appeal as a catch-all upstream cultural value. I'm talking specifically about the word "status". Concepts such as class have always been with us, but unless you believe in the dubious prospect of perfect synonyms, status means something different from class. "Status" seems to be a new concept, perhaps an American or Americanized one, to distinguish it from old European classist values.

But is status really a terminal value? Might there not be something more upstream from status? Or something with more immediate value?

How many of us are really striving for status? All?

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Oh. Just saw thread about ukr-rus community member. Don't know if I am counted... Long-time SSC reader from Russia here with psychiatric problems (I have a legal disability). Somatic health got worse in later 2 years, too.

I'd leave Russia if I could. One of main problems..... I hate programming now and have no experience doing anything else.

I worked for Russian military contractor for some time and left in late feb 2014. I guess this could earn me virtue points. But any use of these?

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Regarding the book report contest, I assume it's ok to write a review of 2-3 books/essays that relate to each other?

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A few years ago someone on (IIRC) Less Wrong or Slate Star Codex or somewhere like that linked to a web comic making the point that in order for an analogy to be useful two things don't have to be similar in *all* respects, only in relevant ones. Does any of you guys know where that was?

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Why is metaculus pronounced like “metalculus” but not spelled that way?

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Anyone here work at Tesla or Goldman Sachs (or similar places) and willing to provide a referral ? If that’s you please email me (rot13) lcrvxrf18@tznvy.pbz

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"An Assessment of the Evidence For Psychic Functioning"

https://www.ics.uci.edu/~jutts/air.pdf

Anyone who is smarter than I am and wants to analyze the above?

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I found myself without something to read this morning - Donna Tartt, get on the ball and write another great novel please - so I bought NRSV the C S Lewis Bible. So far I’m disappointed. I was expecting a lot more exegesis than I’m getting so far.

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What would be a good computer game for 4 and 7 years old kids who don't speak English? Preferably one that doesn't require internet connection.

Most games that I tried are simply too complicated for kids that small. (And then there is a specific genre of baby games where you just point mouse cursor at things and they do some animation, and a short story is told, but those require speaking the language.)

Or, not necessarily a game, but something enjoyable. Currently the only things I found are Tux Racer and Tux Paint. (Also tried GCompris, that was too boring.)

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Mar 31, 2022·edited Mar 31, 2022

Can someone explain why Russia wants to be paid in rubles for its gas now?

My guess is that it would somehow help the value of the ruble, but I can't figure out why it would. German firms would have to, say, trade euros for rubles and then use those rubles to buy gas. So it would increase the demand for rubles in the very short run but not on net since those rubles would immediately be spent. It seems like the end result is simply using euros (or dollars) to purchase Russian gas.

I feel like a fair analogy would be if there was a huge increase in the number of people who wanted to flip used cars. If a bunch of people suddenly want to buy and then immediately sell used cars, what would that do to the price of cars? It should do nothing, right? Because the increase in demand for used cars would be perfectly matched by the increase in the supply of used cars for sale.

What am I missing?

It occurs to me now that Russia could, perhaps, force German utilities to pay a premium for the rubles it purchases, although I'm far from confident that is the explanation.

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Mar 31, 2022·edited Mar 31, 2022

Some moderately well known people in the rationalist [adjacent] community[s] make a habit of thinking and writing and polling about topics relevant to everyday life, often from a rationalist perspective, rather than just writing about rationalist thought and behavior itself. However they tend to do so either in places where there is a low level of discussion-style engagement between readers (e.g. a Substack with posts that mostly get single digit comment counts), or in places with strong algorithmic sorting/filtering that leads to less influential participants having few opportunities to interact with more influential participants (e.g. Twitter threads with hundreds of replies and thousands of threaded replies, where most people won't see all the replies at any particular level).

Naming one of these people on the ACX Discord had some undesirable consequences, so I'll try naming two here and see if that goes any better: Duncan Sabien and Aella

Are there any more active and/or centralized forum-like discussion platforms where I am likely to find discourse on the sorts of posts I've described here? A forum, discourse instance, subreddit, etc. Failing that, a Discord or other chat-like environment? Not about these specific two people, but in general about the "off topic" writings of prolific rationalist community members who don't themselves directly post on such platforms.

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Ways to organize a search for a missing person in LA from abroad?

TL/DR: My father-in-law is missing, asking for help/advice in coordinating search from abroad

My father-in-law, Igor, has gone missing in LA after the stroke; because of his medical condition he is confused and unable to use his phone. He doesn’t have any friends or relatives in the US, his English is not very good (he is Ukrainian and only moved to LA last year), and he doesn’t have a place to go to – his landlord has evicted him from the apartment he rented when Igor was admitted to the hospital.

My wife and I live in Georgia (the country, not the state), and we try to organize a search for him from abroad; we can’t come to the US.

So the question is – what would be the recommended course of action to coordinate the search for a missing person from abroad? We have filed a missing person report to the police, we post to Facebook groups and made a simple website with basic information – https://findigor.help/ – what are our other options?

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Research Study of Microplastics and Human Health

Lots of [interest/concern/alarm/hysteria] over "microplastics" these days.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-microplastics-in-human-blood-pose-a-health-risk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microplastics

Research protocol. Take a tissue sample from the same part of the body of ten percent or more of the people who died in a year in the US. That is roughly 300,000 samples (or more).

Null hypothesis: there is no significant relationship between microplastics concentration and age at death.

One might find that people with lots of microplastics in their flesh die at a younger age, or older.

Same study could test for other substances.

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Is it still allowed to edit the book review after submitting, wrt language etc?

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