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Best popular history of the caliphate in Spain?

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This is an excerpt from a sermon of the Irish mathematician and theologian George Salmon. It appears to have been delivered in 1849. The full text is available on Google Books under the title, “The Propriety of Prayer for Temporal Blessings: A Sermon.” The excerpt appears at page 37 of the Google Books edition.

“I may appeal to many controversies of the present day which it would seem much more easy to bring to the test of experience, and yet on which we may find intelligent men forming very opposite opinions. For example,—whether the distresses of this country have arisen in spite of, or in consequence of, free trade; whether homeopathic pilules or wet sheets be sovereign remedies; whether there be a connexion between the characters of men and the shape of their heads; whether the brain adopts the principle of the division of labor, and whether it be possible to assign the places of the several bits of brain which have undertaken the discharge of each of the mental functions; whether men can see with their eyes only, or sometimes also with the pits of their stomachs; whether it is possible for a clairvoyant at Bolton to discern the doings of Sir John Franklin at the North Pole.”

I read along this enumeration of examples and I recognize them as a variety of now-quaint empirical controversies of the period. And then I hit the part about a controversy over whether people sometimes see with their stomachs. What on Earth is this referring to? How could anyone ever have been even tempted to believe that he was seeing with his stomach? I haven’t been able to find the reference to this nineteenth century controversy on Google. Does anyone have any idea what it was?

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The pdf of my book "Evidence-based software engineering based on the publicly available data" was released under a creative commons license. I investigated the possibility of producing a paper version, but the extensive use of color and the A4 size made it look difficult.

Somebody has taken the trouble to produce a paperback version and make it available on Amazon at a reasonable price. I bought a copy, it looks fantastic and feels good in the hand to read.

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FaceApp morph of all Democratic Senators ("what if John Hickenlooper was a cannibal") and all Republican Senators ("what if Bob Katter was the smuggest individual on the planet") is *extremely* evocative of Paul Fussell's chart distinguishing upper-middle from prole that Scott posted in his book review. Once you get past that they made the faces eerie and demonic.

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Role of concussion/mTBI in culture: maybe some human behaviors which are sometimes thought of as learned or modeled, actually originated as a response to mild traumatic brain injury? I'm thinking specifically of some models of "masculinity" but also general ideas of mental wellness.

Over a decade ago I had basically an undiagnosed mTBI. It delivered a very unexpected plus: I was no longer emotionally oversensitive. All the feels that got wrapped up into other people's lives were suddenly gone, replaced with a cheerful peacefulness. Unburdened from the over-consciousness of other people, I went about making decisions to benefit me & my kids, and life has gotten immeasurably better. The downside: several years of forgetting words, disappearing thoughts, misspeaking, getting lost, headaches, difficulty writing, loss of sensitivity to others' feelings when it might matter, balance problems, etc.

The speech bit especially was very trying. But the emotional upside was profound.

Since then I have begun to wonder if humanity is actually optimized for receiving very mild brain injury. Just enough of a bonk on the head that that tremendous oversensitiveness goes away. Perhaps evolutionarily, if males were more likely to get blows to the head, maybe the uncommunicative, unfeeling man with occasional rage derives from mTBI symptoms, and entered culture as a recognition of the way "men are," being the way men become after they are hit in the head often enough, generally as boys.

And now that we are much more careful physically, we get far fewer concussions in general, and that extra layer of emotional sensitivity is not removed, leading to all kinds of mental health problems (for some people) but also requiring skill sets which really are new across large populations - because before about 100 years ago, people in general would have largely lacked the sensitiveness to use those skills. Especially people who did a lot of heavy work leading to head injuries.

Of course for some people there is no upside to a concussion. But I think considering groups of people, especially for the "stereotypes of masculinity" part, there's explanatory power.

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Would you consider the Russian people more culpable for ignoring the atrocities in Ukraine, given that the information is available to anyone interested, internet censorship or not, compared to, say, German people in WWII, who generally had no idea about the death camps, only about their Jewish neighbors suddenly disappearing from the neighborhood?

Or, say, compared to the American people not knowing much about several massacres in Vietnam/Afghanistan/Iraq (e.g. the Haditha massacre)? Or, in an increasingly controversial order, to some of the actions of the IDF in the occupied territories.

I would like to explicitly exclude things like encouraging the local forces to commit atrocities by giving them financial or military aid, since it gets very murky in a hurry. So, no Sabra & Shatila, no actions by US-financed militias, no actions by Luhansk/Donetsk forces, etc. Probably not worth going further back in time and looking into British actions in SA, or Belgian in Congo.

I'm asking because Germans are brought up to feel collective guilt for the WWII atrocities and for not having done anything to stop it, and it seems to work well so far, though the effects are slowly fading, as the last the death camp survivors pass away. On the other hand, Russians and other allied soldiers (but especially the Russians) committed rape and often crimes against civilians during the liberation of Europe, but it is never a big topic of discussion... not even in Germany. And it is not just winners vs losers, since the Japanese people, nominally the losers, don't feel remorse for whatever Japanese forces did in China, even though it was on par with what Germans did in Europe.

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Repost: please share your favorite biochemistry/ microbiology / medicine blogs and newsletters :)

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I created https://readsomethinginteresting.com/acx for easy access to random book reviews.

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I was hoping someone could answer a question I originally posted to Deceptively Aligned Mesa-Optimizers <https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/deceptively-aligned-mesa-optimizers/comment/6105290>:

How is mesa-optimizing related to meta-gaming? Are these describing pretty much the same phenomenon? Are these actually opposites for some reason, or are we just using the prefix in one of these wrong? (mesa- doesn't seem to be greek, or even a real prefix at all, do they mean "meso-"?)

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Has anyone researched endogenous lipase causing weight loss? Lipase had a moment like ghrelin, leptin and several other enzymes considered a potential weight loss silver bullet, but like everything else that didn’t work out. Usually having too much natural lipase is a sign of trouble with your pancreas, but it’s also in breast milk, to make it more digestible.

I’m curious because while I was nursing I found out I was one of a small number of women who produce too much lipase in their milk. This is inconvenient because it makes your milk go “off” very quickly. But more convenient was that I l lost a surprising amount of weight and have so far kept it off for several years. I’ve been wondering if lipase, produced by the body in a certain way and temporarily, does promote weight loss. I know some folks here are super tapped into this kind of thing, and I don’t have journal access. Has anyone studied high-lipase nursing women?

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Reminder that Schelling meetups are going on in over a hundred cities this month and next! Check this spreadsheet to see if there's one in your city! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KUCsdwLtDB5TQMJ0iqQIlnMgs6iTcgaAKzJdr5FpfmU/edit#gid=1585750313

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Interstellar warfare - would it favor defense or offense?

As long as an incoming attack is slower than the speed of light, then I'd imagine an advanced civilization would have plenty of time to detect and defend their planet against any attack, but I'm probably missing something. Defense would overpower attacks, because it's costly and difficult to send a bunch of ICBMs or whatever many lightyears away.

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Some thoughts after reading 17ish book reviews:

-- Choosing the right book to review does a lot of work, in my opinion. Or, at least it makes your job easier. A mediocre review of a book about ancient history is going to be rated 2-3 points lower than a mediocre review of some interesting, yet not widely known, non-fiction science-y rationalist-adjacent book.

-- Most of y'all could use an editor. If I'm noticing typos on my first read-through...it makes me think no one besides the review's author read it before it was submitted. I'll edit your book review in future years for 10% of any winnings :)

-- For most of the reviews I've read, I've wished they were shorter. Some could be 30% shorter, others need to be 50-75% shorter. (The review of Very Important People was one of my favorites so far, but I also read less than half of it. If it was a 25 minute read, it would have a solid chance of winning this contest.) A long review that's great can be really great. But a long review that's mediocre is worse than a mediocre review that's the "right" length, IMO.

-- I haven't given anything a 9 or 10. Have given two 8's and two 7's. (Both of the 8's were for reviews that took me 16-20 minutes to read) Will be interested to see if any of the reviews I've read become finalists.

Curious if other "book review reviewers" agree or disagree?

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In the past 5 to 10 years, there has been significant progress in understanding exactly what inflammation is. And its connection with aging. The word to google is inflammaging.

I'm very interested in books on menopause nowadays (haven't found a great one for a layperson), but really, the general problem to learn about here is aging.

A key idea is Antagonistic Pleitropy.

The immune system appears to have been crafted to optimize your health when you are young. Once you have reproduced, evolution does not care about your health.

So what this really means, is let us say there is a gene that prevents you from getting heart disease. It could be selected out of the population, as you age.

How can we hack this to be healthier, as we age? Diet, exercise, calorie restriction. (Now intermittent fasting might merely be a way to implement calorie restruction. I see that.)

The endocrine system is key to inflammation. There are a bunch of hormones regulating the functioning of the immune system. Insulin is key.

Our bodies are supposed to work poorly as we age, as a byproduct of evolution.

To ward off problems, we need to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Refined carbs are the enemy. Also, eat the right amount of protein, not too much. Jason Fung says *when* we eat is important.

This and much more, in Fung's recent book on longevity.

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I've heard it said that regularly journaling about your dreams soon after waking, while the details are still fresh in your mind, can increase your retention of your dreams more generally, and may make your dreams more lucid. Contingent on this actually being true, it sounds pretty great -- however, I've also been having terrible nightmares pretty regularly for the past few weeks. Is there any chance this practice (if legitimate) could make my nightmares worse (or better)?

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What percentage of PhDs in computer science in the US are awarded yearly to people who went through public, secular K-12 education also in the US?

From my personal experience I would almost believe this number to be close to zero, but I haven't been able to find good data about it and might be in a bubble myself. There is the NSF survey https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf22300/report/ but it's not this granular. I would especially be interested in seeing this number in contrast to other countries.

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What's the source of Macron's appeal to French voters? He's a product of elite universities and was an investment banker for a bank literally owned by the Rothschilds (it's in the bank's name!) He seems to have basically neoliberal economic policies, an especially tough sell in France, a country with a long protest history. He meets the poly sci definition of an 'outsider' candidate- President is the only elected office he's ever held- yet virtually all other outsiders are populists, and in the middle of a populist age, he is like the absolute opposite. I believe he's trying to raise the retirement age, cut back some pensions, etc.

He not only ran for & won the Presidency twice, he formed his own political party which after existing for a year or two won a plurality in the last parliament. Clearly, he has widespread appeal in France.

I personally have vanilla center-left neoliberal politics, so I think he's fantastic- I just can't imagine a Macron-like candidate winning anywhere else. He seems like the kind of candidate that would've won in a Western democracy in the 90s, but is now scorned decades later. Do the French just really love his specific policies? Is he like unusually charismatic in French oratory or something? What's his appeal? (Can we replicate it here in America?)

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Apr 25, 2022·edited Apr 25, 2022

[Self Promotion-ish]

I'm a data science student, and I'm looking for volunteers for a survey on Spotify User Data. If you have a Spotify account, I invite you to check out the form here: https://forms.gle/U9Y2QMn4EPfh3JjHA

It won't take very long, though you'll need to wait a few days partway through. Thanks in advance to any volunteers!

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Scott, I'm curious, if you're willing to share: how are you going to rate the book reviews?

Are you going to read the n% best-rated reviews, or the top [fill-in-the-blank] reviews? For what values of n and fill-in-the-blank?

Are you going to adjust for the number of scores each review received? What is the median number of scores per review?

Some of the reviews were really great, and I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome! I wonder if my favorite one will win.

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I want to expose myself to the best writing of various major political alignments, and right now I'm looking at conservatism. If you think you can tell good conservative books from bad ones, then my question is...what do you think of the google results for "best conservative books"?

I'm also in the market for blogs (and nothing shorter-form than that), especially blogs with a convenient list of best posts.

Comparisons/contrasts are especially appreciated, not least of all because I expect those to be more substantial and less tribal.

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I'm having a sort of rumination marathon about prose-producing AI. ACX user Lumberheart told me about a Tumblr question-answering bot named Frank, and I just asked it a question posed by Nancy Lebovitz on the recent open thread (hope you don't mind, Nancy!): "Do you need to be a wiseass or have a wiseass on tap to tell whether some ideas are stupid?" Here is Frank's reply:

Not really

It’s a nice quality to have, and some of my ideas (like “a lot of people believe in this and I don’t” or “a lot of people who I interact with online seem to believe in this” or “I’m doing a science project that involves interviewing people and I was expecting to get a lot of negative results” and so forth) are a lot less interesting than they should be if I hadn’t thought up the idea first.

(Or if I’d had someone to whom I could say “hey this is dumb and you should stop believing it, please do so” or “how do people even believe that, I mean come on, that makes no sense, how do they not realize that?”)

Also, it’s a nice quality to have when you’re telling a joke or talking about a book you’re reading or discussing something that other people agree with or are reading. There’s the whole thing of “talking about stuff you like when other people you know like that stuff too is fun,” and then it becomes especially fun when you see the thing they like when they’re a big smartass. It’s a sort of reverse status, I suppose – there’s the feeling that you shouldn’t be agreeing with the other person on every trivial issue, which is fun, and then once you agree with them a bunch, it becomes fun just because you know they’re a smartass about it.

I have made my own mental ratings of various aspects of this answer -- curious what others think.

Edit: Can somebody suggest an article or book about how GPT-3 & the like work? I have read a couple books about AI, so get the general idea about how machine learning and deep learning work. But I want to learn about how you train AI to to do *this*. I'd like to hear about the stages of developing the thing: "So we started out by doing this, and the output was that, which was obviously flawed in ways a, b, and c. So then we tweaked it by . . ." That stuff.

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Anyone have a clue how to measure the total amount (in m^2) of all residential land in Flanders?

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I recently agreed to read a non-fiction book with a friend. After reading the introduction (and the afterword from the second edition), I found myself regretting it because of how often the authors' use heavy rhetoric against their opponents. Here's my questions:

- If you read a book/article that uses heavy anti-opponent rhetoric, do you keep reading it?

- If you do, how do you tune it out to better analyze the argument? Especially so if you're part of the group the author is opposing.

There's a place for rhetoric, but saying your view has "immense and rigorously analyzed body of knowledge" that was "a treasure of information that has been largely ignored" by the opposition and supporting your ideas with "Much as some observers wished it were not true..." is immensely distracting to me. Doubly so when the afterword states the author aimed to be "relentlessly moderate—in its tone, science, and argumentation".

As a further question:

- Do you think authors that write this way still tend to have well-formed arguments (are they worth reading) or do you think your time is better spent in finding and reading a different book/article on the topic?

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Hi, I've decided to give twitter another chance and I would love to get a few more intelligent readers before I burn out in frustration and delete another account.

My page (and come to think of it, my life) is a sort of performance art that I think you're really going to enjoy.


. . .

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The Motte is a nephew of Astral Codex Ten, dedicated towards being "a working discussion ground for people who may hold dramatically different beliefs", currently hosted on Reddit and led by me. It is likely moving off Reddit in the moderately near future. See https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/uaoyng/meta_like_rationalists_leaving_a/ for more context.

Of extra interest to this community, I've set up a set of prediction markets on Manifold, tracking both my decision on how to do this move and the eventual success of that move. The decision market is at https://manifold.markets/ZorbaTHut/how-will-zorbathut-choose-to-contin and links to the others.

Feedback on any part of this is welcome :)

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What do folks think of Michael Saylor? I think he's got a point that inflation and velocity of money (and probably a lot of other measurements in economics) shouldn't be single numbers, but he's got sort of a Buckminster Fuller vibe... skids away into abstractions an awful lot.

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Looking for books that cover the Latin American debt crises of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the Asian contagion and the Russian default of the latter decade. Something like Adam Tooze's Crashed, but 30 years before 2008. I'm interested in BoP crises, sudden stops, monetary policy, fiscal policy, imbalances, and so on and so forth.

Economist's perspectives are heavily favoured, naturally, but it would be nice to be directed to not obviously or aggresively academic (and expensive and dry) overviews. That being said, maybe the best stuff is academic, so I'll take it if you think it's good.

This sort of topic interests me for all historical periods, so if you know something like it for the interwar years, the 70s, the late nineteenth century or whatever, I'll happily take that, too.

Many thanks.

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. When I google for how to reduce my risk I get rather generic advice that doesn't cite sources, doesn't talk about effect sizes, and doesn't get into nuances. Surely there is a source out there that has compiled the research, gives detailed information including effect sizes, admits certain things aren't known, and constantly cites sources. Where do find it?

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Announcing the ACX aphorism competition. Your aphorisms must fit on one line of comment, and the pithiest wins. You have 24 hours, and your time starts now!

Also, if you read one blog this Orthodox Easter week, read mine - not so pithily entitled 'Rabbits, robots and resurrection: Riffing with Karnofsky on the value of present and future lives, to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of 'Watership Down', 'Limits to Growth' and the Alcor foundation...' https://pathfindings.substack.com/p/rabbits-robots-and-resurrection?s=w

Yes, it's about bunnies and population dynamics, but pops down several philosophical rabbit holes and hops for future of humanity, and subheads with terrible puns (Warren peace, anyone... hello...?)

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Why is there an international shortage of MAOIs?

They are decreasingly prescribed by physicians despite their extreme efficacy. Is it just not worth it anymore for pharmaceutical companies to produce them?

Also, any ideas where I could get tranylcypromine (Parnate)?

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Does anybody here know of any research into the supposed 6th sense that humans have. As in turning around when someone behind your back looks at you, or something not quite visible and noiseless behind your back causes you to turn around to see it. I believe there is something there, nothing supernatural but a change in the environment

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Apr 25, 2022·edited Apr 25, 2022

"my hare-brained plan of asking you to just pick something at random and rate it worked perfectly"

"[The newspaper] was bought — first, by all the people who agreed with him and wanted to read it; and secondly, by all the people who disagreed with him, and wanted to write him letters. Those letters were voluminous (I helped, I am glad to say, to swell their volume), and they were generally inserted with a generous fulness. Thus was accidentally discovered (like the steam-engine) the great journalistic maxim — that if an editor can only make people angry enough, they will write half his newspaper for him for nothing."

Or review his books for him 😁

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In regards to GPT-3: I wonder whether meaning for an AI would naturally relate to how an AI works-- for example, how easy it is to gather information about something from online sources, while meaning for humans is sort of a second language.

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Looking for an English -> Russian translator to produce 80000 Hours guide and other EA/rationality related texts, including ACX. It is surprisingly challenging to find someone who would notice when they are being wrong (as a lower bound for high quality), especially someone with related knowledge.

At this point, we are ready to pay the engineer's salary to the person who we'd hire.

We are offering a bounty of 1000$ for a recommendation of someone we will hire to translate ten or more articles.

Telegram me @IAmMckiev if interested

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Apr 25, 2022·edited Apr 25, 2022

I've begun a weight-lifting and cardio regimen recently (with the primary purpose of improving my strength and stamina and overall health, but definitely looking forward to changes in appearance as well) and I've received very conflicting advice about stretching before, or after, or at all. The received wisdom from my youth is of course that you should always stretch before any strenuous activity, to reduce the risk of injury. On the other hand a number of articles I've found say that stretching, in particularly static stretching, does not do much of anything to prevent injury and may actually be counterproductive in that it will temporarily weaken the muscles, which is the last thing you want before a heavy lifting session. I know that in the fitness community there is a lot of bro science floating around that is best ignored, but these articles link to primary sources that seem pretty credible -- yet the "official" advice, to always stretch before a workout, has not changed as far as I know.

Does anyone here have expertise to offer on this subject? Does stretching before a strength- or stamina-training workout have any clear, undisputed benefits? If not, does regularly stretching have any other independent benefits?

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Apr 25, 2022·edited Apr 25, 2022

Someone in the comments below says that Jesus was right when he said “ Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” This supposedly draws a distinction in Christianity between church and state.

I think people mis-interpret that statement. Jesus wasn’t saying the coin did in fact belong to Caesar - had he done that then he would have fallen into the very trap set up for him. He was playing with words. Sure Caesar is on the coin but did he specifically say it was Caesar’s coin? Any Roman soldier listening in would think so, Wikipedia seems to think so, theologians often seem to think so, but he didn’t.

If you are Jewish at the time you realise that he avoided the question. The coin could still belong to God, if everything actually belongs to God. That’s why they “marvelled” at his response. “Smart guy avoiding that question, innit? The Pharisees couldn’t get him”.

The other interpretation doesn’t make sense because it states that the trap was designed to make Jesus either accept Roman authority and lose face with his Jewish followers, or be arrested by refusing to accept Roman authority over Jews, particularly in punitive imperial taxation represented by the coin - but he “avoided” the trap by saying that Rome has legitimate taxation authority over its coinage. Clearly that is actually falling into the trap.

In summary “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” is not “this coin is definitely Caesar’s coin”.

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LOL: no plan is Hair brained: at least it is a plan :) OUCH on the OPEN ENDED book "recommendations" there is a big difference in genre and what one would consider classical, fantasy, sci fi: though I am older than many of you: My recommendation would be FRANK HERBERT's DUNE Series: ALL OF THEM.. the BOOKs.. not the "movies": Dune was never meant to be made into an epic movie: If I have to explain then you won't understand unless you read the first Dune.. :) Have a great Monday.

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Apr 25, 2022·edited Apr 25, 2022

Well, it appears the poison pill and similar threats were a bunch of hot air: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/04/25/twitter-elon-musk-deal/

I'm curious what the thoughts of the commentariat at-large are regarding the implications of this deal. Do you think Twitter will meaningfully change under Musk's ownership, and, if so, do you believe these changes will be a net-positive or net-negative for the end-user experience?

Also, congratulations to anyone who placed long-shot bets on the prediction markets when the poison-pill shitstorm was being kicked up.

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Apr 25, 2022·edited Apr 25, 2022

Looking for a book recommendation, but I don't know the terminology I need here. Basically, I am interested to learn why and how groups of people believe different things. To apply to the war in Ukraine, why there are pro-Russian and pro-Ukraine stances on the level of the whole countries?

I've already read a bunch of things about related effects: "The Elephant In The Brain" about how we genuinely believe in what is beneficial for us, Scott's writings on in-group/out-group dynamics, "Imaginary Communities" which explores the origin of one particular group belief (but doesn't provide the underlying theory why individual humans work in way that allows group beliefs to arise), "The Lucifer Effect" as a long exploration of the fundamental attribution error.

However, what I lack here is a coherent theory with predictive power which ties everything together and explains how this all works on the level of large communities of people. And, to clarify, I am really looking for some rigor here, as it seems pretty easy to formulate a just-so-story here ("people first identify with a particular group, and then rationalize their beliefs in group-and-self-serving way").

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How stupid an idea is it to try and buy Valproic acid online, so that I test if I can develop perfect pitch?


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A few months ago there was a link in an ACX post to an article arguing that the human body usually maintains the correct balance of vitamins and nutrients regardless of diet. I think it was titled "The *Something* Principle". Does anybody know the article I'm talking about? I haven't been able to find it.

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So with all the impressive results coming out of DALL-E 2 recently, does anyone know how readily this sort of technology could be applicable to videos? DALL-E creates images of pretty much whatever you want, and videos are just sequences of images.

If so, this would have some pretty interesting consequences:

Say you don't like Joe Biden and want to spread fake news that makes him look bad. So you go into DALL-E 3, type the prompt "Video of Joe Biden kicking a puppy," generate the video, and polish up a few imperfections until it looks super realistic.

(Of course, people can already do that with deepfakes and whatnot. But an AI like DALL-E could make it much easier, such that any random person could generate hundreds of these videos with no technical background.)

Other applications could be in animation. For instance, instead of hiring a bunch of animators to draw animations, you just type the prompt "Girl with blue hair running across a field, anime style" and polish up the result. Similar techniques could be used to add special effects to movies.

I guess one obstacle would be that image training data is usually well labeled, whereas videos don't always have clear textual descriptions.

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The Biden administration is now allowing people to sponsor Ukrainian refugees. Under the program you can sponsor specific refugees for entry to the US. The way it works:

-You find a Ukrainian or group of Ukrainians (think family sized, not a village).

-You file a Form I-134 declaring you are willing to assist in their entry, including financially.

-The government checks out your information and the information of the Ukrainians.

-If approved, the Ukrainians are eligible for a temporary stay period of two years during which they can work. They are eligible to apply for a green card and eventual citizenship on the basis of jobs/residence they get under this status.

The requirements for this kind of thing are very low. It's about $23,000 + $6k for each additional person. So a family of three requires an income of $34,687. Note this is what your income must be, not what you are expected to pay. There's no specific amount you have to pay other than keeping them in decent conditions. A spare bedroom in a decent house (clean, structurally sound, power/water) is fine. Likewise them working to pay their way once they get work authorization is normal. And they don't have to live with you if you can make other arrangements or they become self-supporting.

The big potential downside is that you are responsible for keeping these people in a basic standard of living and off of welfare. If you don't then the government can force you to pay. That requirement goes away at the end of the sponsorship period, currently two years.

There's currently no cap and the government has set a minimum of 100,000 people before they'll even think about caps. (And being the Biden administration I doubt a cap will ever come.) So if you know someone who wants to come over or if you have the ability to sponsor then I'd suggest you check it out!


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Which American author has the highest literary reputation? I won't answer any questions about the question.

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What were the best and worst book reviews you read?

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Can anyone ref me a good history of politics between Western countries during the Cold War?

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Anyone read through the Meadows texts, because holy shit.

I was part of the "Clown coup" camp vis. 1/6; that it was absolutely intended to be a coup, but it was a bunch of Q-anon wackos that were doing it and it could be safely ignored. Turns out I wasn't cynical enough.

Some shit about false electors, a pre-arranged vote in the legislature if Pence was willing to push the button, etc.

Could be why Pence refused to leave the capitol.

In any case, I encourage everyone to look into these in particular.

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Apr 27, 2022·edited Apr 27, 2022

A revision of my earlier question about Literature. I'm interested in what authors you think are either underrated or overrated. Let's categorize them by country.

For example, I think for the US, John Steinbeck is overrated, Thomas Pynchon is underrated.

It seems to me like countries go through phases in which their literature is more fashionable. It's crazy to me that Thomas Pynchon nor Philip Roth has won a Nobel while so many obviously inferior writers have. I believe post-war American writers are mostly underrated because after Hemingway nobody really wanted to celebrate another US author that much.

What authors from various countries do you think are underrated or overrated?

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I think I am the only person who has been banned from DSL, what Scott calls the Bulletin Board, by number of strikes. I'm not here to argue against that. I do find it interesting how different an offshoot of one group can be. I didn't get along with those guys for various reasons.

In retrospect it's obvious that one group that is distilled from another will be very different from the mother group.

This phenomenon may explain a power law, why large firms get larger and vice versa.

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The last famous philosophers outside academia were Sartre and Camus. I don't even know if they are taken seriously inside academia. But they were famous because they wrote not only boring philosophical essays but plays and novels (Boring ones, but they achieved popular acclaim...)

Why don't more philosophers write plays and novels? On the one hand, I'm glad philosophy and art isn't generally conflated, because I prefer art to be pure. OTOH, I get sleepy reading philosophy and wish philosophers wrote more plays and novels. I think the reason Scott is so internet famous is because you never know whether you are getting a dry analysis of a meta drug study or a short story about gods. He's the American Camus, if Camus were funny.

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Let's start a political party! Seems to me there's room for a new one as the left and right continue to slide apart.

The new party should be the sensible middle. Not woke, not conservative. A bowling ball strike right through the center of the lane.

Why can't we do this? Does anyone here actually like the Republicans or the Democrats?

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Notice you got a mention in the Times today (not NY).


Not sure if any of that column could have been written without your piece.

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Guys how do you manage your acid base balance? There must be something else besides taking some magnesiumcitrate and potassium and what not. Stop bullshitting with “oh it’s bogus science”. How do I increase that HCO3

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