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Would you consider covering the fact that girls have been getting their periods younger and younger? It seems like a topic for a “more than you ever wanted to know about” deep dive. The question is from my wife but I happen to be interested also. To pick a a random one of many relevant links: https://epibiostat.ucsf.edu/news/what-drives-earlier-menstruation-girls

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I worked for several months writing a nerdcore rap song about cognitive biases (it's a lot of lyrics and I have a day job and a weekend gig too). Anyway the song is about how the bees have bounced back from Colony Collapse Disorder, but Negativity Bias prevented people from caring about this good news. The funny thing is by the time I released the song it became apparent that bees were now facing new problems like the Varroa destructor mite, so many of the commenters self-righteously denounced me for downplaying the problem. Still, it kind of proved my point. Anyway here's the song, let's cheer for the bees! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs8_cQpI_IM

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We're not even worried about too few bees now. The new thing is Too Many Bees.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90716696/everyone-got-so-into-the-idea-of-urban-beekeeping-that-now-there-might-be-too-many-urban-bees

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/04/13/bees-urban-beekeeping-native-pollinators/

But seriously - you're right about how rarely we follow up here. And it has consequences - every so often someone tries to downplay global warming by saying "Remember acid rain? Or the ozone layer? Those problems went away!" But those problems went away because people took action. The absence of follow-up leads people to incorrectly conclude that those problems went away on their own.

I would love see some in-depth reporting on the bee thing. Did they truly just recover on their own? Did we Fix the Bees? Was there ever a problem in the first place, or was it a Shark Attack fear cycle?

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Few bees, many bees, it doesn't bother me. What matters most is that the bees are aligned with human values.

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Like in "Jupiter Ascending"!

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In a win for nominative determinism, a man named Quoc Le owned a Quickly.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/S-F-boba-tea-shop-fencing-suspect-was-charged-17169538.php

It's so cute I have to wonder if it's actually his real name.

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Is today's fentanyl epidemic worse than the crack epidemic of the 1980s?

Also, is it fair to say that the fentanyl epidemic is to white Americans today what the crack epidemic was to black Americans in the 1980s?

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I hear that one of the big problems is that other drugs are laced with fentanyl to cut costs while giving them a kick. And so the standard administration measures and doses no longer apply for these other drugs, and result in deaths.

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The current fentanyl epidemic seems to be far more deadly than the crack epidemic. Two sources of drug overdose deaths show that the 1980s were lower than any year since for overdose deaths, and the Wikipedia list says that they were lower than any year before 1979. (They also show a weird discontinuity at 1979 - I'm not sure if that's a real one-year drop, or some data issue.)

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db81.pdf

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

The Wikipedia page also shows cocaine deaths broken out since 2000 - there was apparently a peak around 2005-2007, and a second higher spike now involving cocaine and opiates together.

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Does anyone else not understand why people take so many holidays? Yes, I know I sound like one of those overbearing and demanding managers, but hear me out.

I frequently hear people say that they "need" a holiday as if:

a) the excessive demands of their current work are such that they will not be able to continue without a complete break for some duration, usually in a different country

b) After this complete break, the previously excessive work will no longer be a problem due to the magical rejuvenating powers of the holiday

Is this actually what happens most of the time? Or is the real reason just that people want time off work to do something else?

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It probably involves some status signaling as well. I can afford overseas travel and have earned a vacation because my job is so demanding.

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I guess it is all of that together:

* People need a break to dissolve the stress from work. Yes, having a break makes it easier also for the few days after vacation until the stress accumulates again.

* If you want to visit a different country, a weekend is not enough; the ratio between "time and money spent traveling" and "actually being there" is dramatically different when you take a vacation.

* Yes, sometimes people want or need to do something in the private lives, too. For some of those things, an evening or a weekend is not enough.

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>Is this actually what happens most of the time? Or is the real reason just that people want time off work to do something else?

It kinda works. Time solves everything, and a surprising number of problems go away if you ignore them long enough. So taking a vacation means that of everything that's a problem at work at a time T, a part will have become irrelevant at T+2 weeks, another part will have been solved by someone else, and yet another part you'll have worked out unconsciously. And one can assume you come back better rested than before, and better able to solve the problems that remains.

As for the leading question of "not understand why people take so many holidays", I used to not understand when i started working, but that's because I had just graduated from College, so of course, after a 5-years vacation I didn't need much for the first 2 or 3 years.

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I don't think anyone actually believes (b). The value of a vacation is that you don't have to work for that period of time, not that it's any better once you come back.

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Most people build up stress such that their work performance slowly declines. Taking a break can be a corrective. Not taking a break makes it worse. Evenings and weekends can be enough of a break, and usually at least help, but most people need more than that. Real breaks, where they don't monitor email or do anything else related to work for a period of time.

For me, the break needs to be longer than four days. About 3-4 days into a vacation I start feeling better and my stress drops off.

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I've never had a break help with work stress, but I can imagine a situation where someone's stress is coming from a growing backlog of home tasks, which holidays allow time to address.

Otherwise, taking a trip can provide motivation for continuing a harrowing job; sure the work sucks, but it also means I get to see Hawaii, and if I stick with it I'll get to see Europe soon.

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yes, breaks and holidays are nice

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Time away from work induced stress is immensely valuable. it usually doesn't need to be an overseas trip to be valuable, but for many people home and/or family can be a stressor or a reminder or stressors so getting out of town commonly helps relaxation.

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Re Book reviews: There is a review at the end of the third google doc that is not in the list.

Title of book: The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America

Maybe this has already been mentioned?

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The homepage for this blog has started showing subscriber-only posts in the main list of recent posts to me, a non-subscriber. Given he specifically said he'd avoid this and there hasn't been any announcement from him about the change as far as I've seen, I assume this is due to a change from Substack not Scott. I just wanted to point this out in case he hadn't noticed given it presumably doesn't affect his view of his own blog.

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author

Thanks for the heads up. This is not a deliberate change on my part, but my subscriber count keeps going down and I'm looking for ways to change that, so I'm going to experiment with keeping it for now.

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> looking for ways to change that

[internal screaming] https://www.lesswrong.com/tag/corrupted-hardware

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Scott, I can't afford (or at least justify) the US$100 paid-subscription rate, particularly given that I'm paid in C$, but also feel bad about not contributing.

I know you have a student rate, but that was a long time ago for me. I'm not willing to rationalize that "I'm a student of life" or somesuch rot.

I wonder if you'd consider a retiree rate of US$50/year.

This could be a voluntary thing attracting people like me who want to contribute financially. I'd be fine with paying a reduced rate and not having access to the subscriber-only posts.

Or is there some other way people can contribute financially?

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Could be partially inflation, though I wasn't a subscriber to the blog, I'm letting even my newspaper subscription lapse, gas is 50% more than a few years ago, groceries are up 20% or more on many items; and my pay is not keeping pace; entertainment is definitely one of the areas I am cutting to be able to keep affording car repairs while I wait for my new one to get built and delivered. :(

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The tiles are also much bigger than they were, such that scrolling takes longer.

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Almost all my scores for book reviews are in the 5-8 range and rather a lot of them are 6 or 7. (Because they're almost all at least _quite good_ and most aren't _astonishing_.) I suspect that my book reviewing may affect the final outcome more by rewarding/penalizing the reviews I've happened to choose (depending on whether I'm more or less generous than the average) than by rewarding the ones I like over the ones I don't.

(Perhaps the scoring process should normalize each rater's scores, or use them only to adjust _relative_ merits for pairs of reviews, or something, but that's not so easy to do for people who don't rate as many reviews as I do.)

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Yeah, the problem with normalization is whether the *unrated* reviews should be treated as the *worst* or as *average*. If there are 3 reviews A, B, C, and I rate A as good and B as bad and don't say anything about C, is that "A, B, C" or "A, C, B"? Obviously A is my favorite, but is explicitly disliking something worse than not even bothering to rate it?

If we answer this, the rest is relatively simple. If there are e.g. 10 reviews, then everyone's best rated review gets 10 points, the second one 9 points, etc.; if there are reviews rated the same, they get the average number of the points for their places.

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The book review review submission form doesn't seem to check the email-address field. I have definitely submitted at least one review-review with an "email address" lacking the @-sign and everything that should follow it, and I think probably at least one with nothing at all in that field. But I have no idea whether those submissions will be ignored, or treated on an equal footing with all the rest, or what. (I have not attempted to resubmit them. I have already forgotten which ones they were.)

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Reading book review contest entries, I frequently find myself thinking "this is a pretty good review of a book that doesn't deserve the attention, and its actual value to me is therefore pretty small". (One _can_ in principle write a review of a bad book that's so good on its own merits as to deserve reading, but that's difficult and most reviewers in the contest have not done it.) I've tended to give these good-ish but not great scores, because to me the value of a really good book review is typically _both_ that it's interesting or enjoyable in its own right _and_ that it directs me to a book that's worth reading. I wonder whether I'm typical in this.

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Yeah I also tend to rate highly books I want to read. If I order the book while reading the review then it's at least an 8. I see this as self interest, as I'm mostly here to find other good books to read.

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IMO the point of you fine folk taking the time to do this is to curate what the time poor among us read in a few months time. Thus, if the subject matter is tripe it probably isn't worthy, even with a good review.

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I'm judging these on the standard of the review, rather than the book, because if I like/dislike the book, that would prejudice me.

So if I think the *review* is good, regardless of the book, I give it a good score.

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Does the book review contest really have to be about book reviews? As I’m reading I definitely feel like most reviewers have done their own thinking, and are stretching the definition of a review to talk about what they’re interested in. Which honestly I’m on board with, I just wonder if this really has to be a book review contest every year. Why not- book inspired blog post contest or something?

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I've heard that MMA helped to sort out which of the martial arts were the best since, in the beginning, anyone of any fighting style could enter tournaments. There were weird matchups like sumo wrestlers fighting kung-fu guys. Through a process of natural selection, the winners converged on the best set of fighting styles.

Has this same thing been done with sword fighting? Are there tournaments where guys with medieval broadswords fight guys with katanas or Roman gladii?

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>Has this same thing been done with sword fighting? Are there tournaments where guys with medieval broadswords fight guys with katanas or Roman gladii?

Actual swords where people can literally die, no. But an open ruleset including sticks/clubs as well as full MMA rules? (I.e. you can choose to tackle the guy hitting you with a stick, hit them on the ground, etc.) Yes, it's obscure but has actually been around since a little before the first UFC- it's called Dog Brothers. It's not a competition (there's no winners or losers), but just guys or gals getting together in a park or gym and fighting with sticks. Here's a good sample https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvmLQ_Jjqmk&pp=ygUWZG9nIGJyb3RoZXJzIGdhdGhlcmluZw%3D%3D

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Part of the trouble is that every weapon and martial art is designed for a particular context, and sometimes these are incompatible. Is it for battlefield, or self-defense, or formal duels? Do they wear armor, and if so what sort? Do people carry around shields, daggers, or other off-hand implements? Are there assumptions about the sort of thing a gentleman simply Would Not Do?

Also, being able to practice at full force without injuring your partner(s) is very important, and different schools come up with different compromises. Which inevitably leaks back into the style itself, sometimes creating weak points. So to some extent, the dominant style of this free-form competition would be determined by the rules being set.

The fight choreography at the end of "Rob Roy" (1995) isn't a horrible depiction of different styles in conflict:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERmM5l2ceoY

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My understanding though is that all top-level MMA competitors deploy elements of more than one martial art -- it isn't the case that a pure judo expert is fighting a pure jiu-jitsu expert or whatever. That seems to muddy the sorting part quite a bit.

And would that translate to sword fighting or fighting with other types of weapons? As a practical matter could a broadsword guy and a katana guy each be benefitting from techniques from swords having different lengths/weights than the one they're each holding?

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If you're interested in swords and so on, you might enjoy Stephen Hunter's novel "The 47th Samurai".

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There were; but the gladiatorial games fell out of favour a few centuries ago due to the deaths, and there have been quite a few new swords developed since then.

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It would be hard to tell who wins without anybody dying.

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You could use fencing-style rules, I suppose. Like, most blades don't need a tremendous amount of force behind them to inflict a fatal wound - if you can hit their chest with even moderate force you're going to ruin their day, and that's well within the ability of a judge or even an electronic circuit.

The trouble is, swordfighting under those rules would likely converge on, well, fencing swords - very long and very thin, maximizing your ability to stab your opponent without getting stabbed in return, in an environment where you don't need to worry about armor. Actual fencing foils have a maximum length, but if you went UFC-style anything goes, you'd probably see some stupidly long swords that blur the line between "sword" and "polearm."

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Yea, ultimately the problem is that human anatomy is really complicated, and what, in practice, is a "disabling cut" is basically impossible to ascertain. Increasingly HEMA tournaments are trying to incentivize a greater variety of tactics though, for example "doubles", where the person who scores the initial hit gets hit within 2 seconds of that hit give both people a point, as well as getting extra hits for deep cuts, torso, head or thigh, etc.

Even within this ruleset rapiers tend to win out, although this is mitigated by the fact that slicing cuts with a rapier aren't always counted. I will note that in my personal experience doing HEMA longsword vs katana is a pretty even matchup, the katana has less inertia and can be viably used one handed, but longswords have greater reach and the increased inertia means that they can collapse an opponents block while its unlikely a katana can do the same.

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The stupidly long and thin "sword" has been used in a real war before, and the people who used it conquered the entire known world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarissa

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Well, yeah, I know that polearms beat swords any day of the week, but OP asked about MMA for swords so I only discussed swords.

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Interestingly, the recent upsurge in HEMA has made a lot of people aware of why spears were always the traditional kings of the battlefield. A spear is very hard to deal with for a person using a sword due to its reach and speed.

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I have an old Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, running the Android 5 operating system. I want to upgrade it to Android 11 or higher. Here's an instructional video on how to do that, but I can't understand what the guy is saying, or his written instructions in the video "caption." [Skip to the 4:00 mark]

https://youtu.be/Act7Rtpk2xk

Can someone explain the process to me in plain English?

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Having watched the video, even though I am not technical myself, I would *not* recommend you follow this guy as he has a lot of weird files and dodges and honestly I think you're as likely to wreck your system as update it.

But if you really want to chance it, here's a transcript of most of the video:

You need ODIN 3.1.1 Google it

Samsung USB drivers Google it

Your Cable a good one

The right ROM for your device

SM T530 & T530NU https://bit.ly/3FY0b8m

SM T535 https://bit.ly/3aJ3Kk4

SM T531 & T532 https://bit.ly/3DIZiP2

Find Matteo and Android 9 also a new build and info https://bit.ly/3vhxTAz

Twrp Matisse https://bit.ly/3j3wecY

(After booting up)

And it’s called Linux OS. We will as well install gaps okay so you’re gonna have Google Play Store as well. This tablet can handle it, but how to get started?

Well, just turn off the tablet, power off, okay and then it’s a matter of pressing the Home button, pressing volume down and press power. I keep these three together, we will get into a download mode you see?

(Get to Warning screen about “if you want to download a custom OS, press the volume up key”)

And now you hit “volume up” to continue. Now we are in actual download mode now (get to screen saying “Downloading – do not turn off target!)

Are we gonna connect the cable to the computer and you’re gonna start up your ODIN, okay, and in ODIN when ODIN is started up you’re gonna as well see that the com port is litten up (lighting up, I think he means). Com 4 or whatever it’s gonna be called will be turned on.

As well, if I want to show you that, in options, in ODIN, if you select “options” you’re gonna see “turn off auto restart”. You can deselect it because sometimes it’s a little bit difficult, after the flash is done it’s going really fast and then you must grab the tablet and then hit “volume up”, “power” and “home” together and keep them pressed until you see the Samsung logo.

So you only have a couple of seconds to do that and release the buttons when you see the Samsung logo and then you’re gonna get into the TWRP. But you must do it the first time right - well at least you must do it right after the flashing of the TWRP, because if the tablet is gonna boot up then you already missed it and then the original recovery will be restored.

So then you’re not gonna have TWRP so then you’re gonna have to do this again. Okay? All right, so connect the cable to the computer, in ODIN we select PDA and we browse for the 3.5 star file that we downloaded from the Android file host and we’re gonna go ahead and flash it to the device.

Remember what I said about “options” in ODIN, that you can turn off auto reboot. If you’re gonna turn off auto reboot and the progress will be done, then you’re gonna go ahead with “volume down” and “power”, yeah?, you’re gonna keep them pressed until the tablet so let’s go ahead and exercise that.

Okay, so the tablet is now done with flashing TWRP now, okay, so we’re gonna hit “volume down” first, so we can feel the “volume down”, play with it a bit that you feel it good and then the “power” you press it, press it and feel that you’re feeling it good and then you keep them together until the tablet goes off.

And now we’re gonna switch with “volume up”, “power” and “home” and now we’re gonna see recovery and then we’re gonna go into recovery. I already installed TWRP okay but I’m showing you the procedure. Alrighty? That’s how to go into TWRP. And then when you’re in TWRP you can do several things, you can go ahead and wipe, you must wipe first, you can as well do a “format data”, you’re gonna lose everything on the tablet, you hit “select”, “yes” and “okay” and then you must reboot, you hit the home back and then reboot back into recovery, and when you’re back into recovery, you’re ready to flash the ROM.

We’re gonna do all that in the video but I need you to understand this procedure. It’s not so easy but you can do it, okay, just put the tablet to stand in a thing like this (a stand) and just try it, or let somebody help you.

So make sure that ODIN is seeing the tablet, connect the cable to the computer, make sure the device is in the download mode, this is a download mode, and the yellow com port is lit up.

Select AP, select the TWRP file, the TAR file, hit “start”, and be quick, okay. It’s flash(ed) now and now “home”, “volume up” and “power”, let go when you see the logo, and there we go into a recovery mode.

So now we are in recovery so let’s go ahead and flash Android 11. When you see the blue light turning on, you did it right. So now it’s gonna go into recovery mode and TWRP. You see that? So now we flashed TWRP to the device. It can be a bit of a hassle but just try to keep it right. (Skipped a bit of comment).

So what happens if we do an advanced wipe? Dalvik, System, Data, Cache (select these on screen). Is this thing encrypted? No it’s not. So that means we can boot up the system, we can leave it Samsung firmware if we want, but that’s not what we want, what we now want is, of course, connect to the device, you can close “other” now, and I just downloaded a file.

We’re just going to copy the files to the computer and here you can see that I already copied some files to the computer so let’s go ahead and flash. As you can see we’re getting a red line there, that’s because I’m using old TWRP, so we need to update the TWRP. The TWRP 3.5 you can download from Mateo.

(Skipped advertising for this Mateo guy).

So then we’re gonna go ahead and put the phone (sic) into a recovery mode, we’re gonna copy Android 11 to it, but as well we’re gonna update the TWRP.

The tablet is now off and we’re gonna go into a recovery mode, we’re gonna press “home”, this is “volume up” and “power” and when we see the logo we release these three buttons.

You see we get a little red sign there saying (ignore all the rest of this bit, it’s just blathering)

In the recovery mode – so first of all we’re gonna update the recovery, because this recovery is not proper. It’s image 3.5 and we flash it as a recovery and then we’re first gonna reboot back into recovery.

So now we’re gonna do a wipe (same procedure as for advanced wipe above)

So now we’re gonna go ahead and install Lineage OS 18. The code name for this device is mattisa wi-fi. So we’re gonna go ahead and select 18 and we’re flashing Lineage OS 18 Android 11.

(Problem with wrong files)

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Thanks for your help, but it's still too confusing for me to follow. The fact that he says making a mistake will "brick" the tablet puts me off even more.

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I made a market on Manifold on which Book Review will win the Book Review contest. Making one option for each book would be too much work so I made one option for each letter of the alphabet. https://manifold.markets/TimothyCurrie/what-will-be-the-first-letter-of-th

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Is there a particular "T" review dominating the predictions there? Or are people predicting T because ~25% of reviews start with T?

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This is what happens when you include the definite article in the sort.

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(1) Who is Noah Berlatsky, and why is he an idiot?

I've read his review of the new Disney live-action remake of "Peter Pan", now renamed "Peter Pan and Wendy", and while I don't care too much about the entire thing because I was never into the original cartoon version, this is just ridiculous. They've race-swapped, gender-swapped, and been as inclusive as they could possibly be (Wendy and her brothers are still white, or I should say White given Noah's reviews, unfortunately) and it's still not enough.

It's the colonialism, you see. Neverland is a cypher for - well, the USA? The British West Indies? The exact location isn't important, it's the idea of the British colonial possessions. Go out West and it's filled with childish natives and thus a natural place for literal (White) British children to have fun adventures.

Going by the trailers, I think the movie is not that great. But honestly, this kind of reviewing is just making me tired. "Okay, so they fixed Tiger Lily, they race-swapped Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys are also including girls, but I have to find *something* to complain about, else how will I live up to my trendy bohemian coffee-house Beatnik headshot?"

Yeah, they're giving the female lead agency, but she's still White! Problematic!

"The intention in both is to elevate Wendy as the hero, giving her more agency and adventuresomeness than the sexist prototype in Barrie’s writing. But in centering (White) Wendy, the Peters of color are pushed toward stereotype."

https://edition.cnn.com/2023/04/28/opinions/peter-pan-disney-problem-berlatsky/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2q71Z-o0flaus0Wilg9EuutpogiB4woEj7h7ukODDZbGSmjKdmMwFao1k

Yeah, the 1924 version was full of tropes we find totally unacceptable today. But today is 2023 not 1924, and the new movie is bending over backwards to be as DEI as it can be. And honestly? I find a white guy from Chicago complaining about the treatment of Native Americans in the source material to be a bit, how shall I say, precious? Somewhat like land acknowledgements, which boil down to "yeah we took this land, and we're not giving it back, so whatever".

(2) Anyway, on a cheerier note: an American Youtube cook/chef plumbs the mysteries of the Spice Bag!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBuCq4WAjes

I don't know who this guy is, so I have no idea if he's Youtube famous or just another cookery channel. Ignore the Irish accents, they're terrible, but he does keep the paddywhackery to a minimum and he suffers for his art - he nearly kills himself making the dish 😀

I've never heard of parboiling the chips (fries) before, and I remain dubious, but if it works? Great!

Also the curry sauce is (traditionally) Chinese chipper curry sauce and it's an optional dip rather than an integral part of the dish, but every place has its own version of a spice bag, you can buy commercial spice bag mixes (ranging from the decent to the terrible) and in the end, whatever way you make it, it's going to be great.

The only problem is that now I'm craving a spice bag!

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Why would you assume that a writer for NBC Think, Independent, Public Notice, Atlantic, and WaPo, and a member of the CIC, was an idiot? He's such an idiot that he stumbled, Mr. Bean style, into having millions of people absorb his pontifications on a regular basis? Meanwhile, people like me and you are simply too intelligent to be listened to? What is the mental block with concluding that it is entirely intentional?

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are you familiar with Thomas Friedman?

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I am not, tell me more?

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

He's an idiot because he wrote a stupid review of a bland, inoffensive, carefully ticking all the diversity boxes movie (black Tinkerbell! Mixed-race Peter! Girls in the Lost Boys! Non-stereotypical Native Americans!) to find some scrap of racism he could bloviate about.

I don't care if he's written for Big Name Publications. As we've seen with the NYT, being a Big Name Publication is no guarantee of quality content.

I never heard of him before, and after reading this, I wish I had remained in happy ignorance. Next week: Noah tells us "Did you know Washington owned slaves and Jefferson was a rapist? This country was built on slaves (slaves!)".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0kCH-ACgM8

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But none of this speaks to his being an idiot! It reads to me like he (any by extension this blob of mainstream western media, of which he is an apparatchik) is just straight up oppressing you! He's on your telescreen (which doesn't turn off, remember, if you'll permit me to abruptly change the metaphor) smugly telling you yet more lies and nonsense, as your anxiety increases because you don't know which bits you are permitted to dispute, which bits you are chancing your arm if you even so much as fail to publicly reaffirm -- "the film was PC, why is he still mad about it, oh god what will it take!" -- and he's doing it apace, he's competently and intelligently destroying your probity. And yeah I agree, the founding fathers might well be next, if that hasn't already begun.

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I think he's an idiot:

(1) simpliciter, because of all the valid things to criticise this movie for, "too white" ain't one of them.

(2) because he's a white guy himself, and all the simping in the world isn't going to save his backside should the Revolution come (it never will, but suppose).

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I don't know anything about Noah Berlatsky, but I'd guess his job is to serve up PC nonsense to generate clicks for the crowd that loves such stuff, and also for the crowd that hates it and would enjoy complaining about it. Hard to fault a dude for just doing his (ridiculous) job.

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

A white guy complaining "too much whiteness!" in a movie that is based on an Edwardian story-turned play-turned novel set in Britain is a bit rich, especially when Disney was as DEI as they dared. "No, you left Wendy white, that is wrong!"

I mean, by the same logic, I could complain that Noah's review is Too White and by centering a White writer it pushes the Reviewers of colour to stereotypes (to quote his own lines). Step back, step down, and relinquish your privileged position to a Person (preferably female) of Colour, Noah!

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>gender-swapped,

Wait, so... Peter Pan is a GUY now?

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Well, for the moment perhaps. But who are we to assume Peter's gender identity? They could well be non-binary!

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> They could well be non-binary!

I propose balanced ternary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balanced_ternary

Anyway, your complaint is like: "Who is the Coca Cola company, and why are they idiots? Don't they realize that drinking too much water with sugar (or artificial sweeteners) ruins your health?"

The answer is, yes they know it, no they don't care, and they are laughing all the way from the bank. The don't drink the sugar-water; they *sell* it.

Similarly, the ultrawoke guy is not reading this stuff, he is *writing* it, and he is getting paid for writing it, and who knows he might be getting paid better than most of us. We might prefer keeping our dignity to getting generously paid for writing nonsense, but that's a matter of different preferences, not stupidity.

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I've heard of Coke, I've never heard of Berlatsky. Hence the questions, because I could not understand how he could look at the trailers and (presumably) the movie, and come away with "Wendy is White, Problematic!"

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I hadn't until now thought about the fact that 20th century Peter Pan productions casting an adult woman to play a boy is the mirror-reverse of how the Elizabethans cast female roles.

(Apparently Barrie wanted a boy in the role, but was overruled by the first producer of the stage play.)

https://slate.com/culture/2014/01/peter-pan-played-by-a-woman-why-a-history-of-casting-the-j-m-barrie-character.html

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023Author

"Who is Noah Berlatsky, and why is he an idiot?"

Fewer comments like this, please.

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I genuinely don't know the guy, his opinions, or his politics, and I genuinely wanted to know how he could produce a review of a movie. that made nearly all the Good Guys non-white while keeping the Bad Guys all white, which complained about "too much whiteness, the racism is showing through".

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If you really want to dive in, the Blocked & Reported podcast has a whole episode about Noah (he often pops up in discussion of Internet bullshit) https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/episode-80-because-god-hates-us-or-is-dead-heres-a/id1504298199?i=1000538291640&l=es

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

I mean Noah is consistently an idiot, so none of that is a surprise.

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The movie looks like a safe, family-friendly, forgettable piece of work. Take the kids to it over the bank holiday without needing to worry they'll see blood or nudity.

But the reviews are still banging on about racism. Barrie's work too White! Yes, Tinkerbell is now black, but the actress gets no lines, so this is Bad even if it's the way the original character was written. Wendy and her brothers are White, this is Bad.

Yeah, they can make a version where everyone is a mixed-race trans pansexual nonbinary they/them, but at that point it's not Peter Pan anymore, it's a whole new thing, and if you want that, then why not write a whole new thing? Complaining about oh my gosh, a Scottish writer in 1911 wrote his main characters as white English children is a bit like complaining that oh my gosh, imagine that Gilgamesh is Middle-Eastern and not Latinx!

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

That is a problem with Gilgamesh. Racist Sumerians! Only oppressed people should be allowed in literature.

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Oh, the Epic is just *riddled* with Problematic content. While it gains credit for its sex-positivity, sex-worker support, and valorisation of same-sex relationships, on the other hand it has cruelty to animals (killing the Bull of Heaven), racist and colonialist attitudes (Enkidu the 'wild man' has to be 'civilised'), class struggle issues, environmental exploitation and destruction (cutting down the Cedar forest) and of course the privilege of the rich, powerful, male king.

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Hello,

I submitted a book review before April 5th. I then went away on holiday for two weeks. I came back and opened my laptop and pressed one key on the google doc and deleted it straight away (the letter 'k'). This was saved on the google doc as a change/edit. I tried to 'undo the edit' that further saved that as a change too. I am unsure if you can see edits or if you have only the version I submitted on the day.

Will it show that I edited it and will I get automatically dismissed? I posted this anonymously and left no clue as to my submission date. I hope it is okay to be asking.

Thanks

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How controversial would the notion of "1-10 rating scales are fake, no one actually can consistently & reliably distinguish buckets beyond 4-5" be?

I'll personally be rating reviews on a scale of 1-5, then doubling the score for submittal (except particularly egregious 1s which will stay 1s I suppose)

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You don't need to consistently and reliably distinguish them. You just need your error-prone and inaccurate rating mechanism to have some sort of reliable correlation with how good you actually find the thing, and as long as enough people with similar feelings are averaged together, the noise should wash you, and you get just signal+bias. (And the fineness of the scale doesn't eliminate or magnify bias in any obvious way.)

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You absolutely can distinguish all ten places, though studies of people reading analog instruments (where you visually estimate the last decimal place) show that not everyone is good at it.

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You really don't see a difference between "this is a 5" and "this is a 10"? If I'm confined to 1-5 scale, I might score some things 3 which would be a little higher than I want to score it, but 2 is too low.

For my purposes, 5-6 is not the same as 7-8 is not the same as 9-10. Something to score 9-10 would really have to knock my socks off. A 1 on 1-10 scale is worse than a 1 on a 1-5 scale, because the smaller scale doesn't allow me the same level of discrimination. A 2 on 1-5 scale is better than a 2 on 1-10 scale because of the shortened range, but simply doubling that 2 to make it 4 for 1-10 may not fit with how I score it: it might only be 3 on 1-10 in my judgement.

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1-10 is too finegrained if you're only rating a few items, but once you have rated, e.g., twenty of them, then you can make a large enough number of comparisons for 1-10 to make sense.

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yeah one to ten sucks. 4 is best, though i have a preference for 0–3 over 1–4. just feels more accurate.

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But 1-5 doesn't give you a lot of room. For me, on 1-5, that ranks as "1 - bad, 2 - poor to mediocre, 3 - good, 4 - very good, 5 - excellent".

But with the book reviews, if I have six of them (say), I may well feel that A is better than B, even if both of them are not the best. So I would give A a 6 and B a 5 on 1-10 scale, where I might be forced to give them both 3 on 1-5 scale.

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Depends on the number and how much you care. I have graded essays on 0-4 and 0-5 scales, and even with that I would sometimes give out a 3+ or a 5-. If you have a lot of items there really can be a need to get pretty fine grained.

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I usually max out at 1 through 4 if I'm trying to grade in a vacuum. 10 is largely useful if you're trying to score things against each other and make a hierarchy; these two are both good but I like this one slightly more than that one, so this one gets an 8 and that one gets a 7.9.

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I think 1-4 was the ideal rating scale.

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Seems like a bit of a pity not to have an optional comments field for the book review contest. I think a lot of authors would appreciate the ability to see feedback for their essay.

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Seconded! I submitted a review, and I would very much appreciate comments/feedback.

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I see in the comments that it is OK to flog one Substack

Mine is "Radical Centrist" and you can subscribe at:

https://thomaslhutcheson.substack.com

Mainly about economics, inflation, trade, immigration, taxes

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Substack's UI (or servers) has apparently lost its mind, they show the "(banned)" flair next to Carl Pham and Freddie DeBoer. Their names in other threads show just fine.

Anybody else seeing the same thing ?

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I did, but I didn't see the usual message by Scott that "user is banned for this comment". So what gives?

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Search for "banned for this comment" on this page. You'll find the comment one of these got banned for.

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I looked for that, but not seeing it.

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Your comment is the only instance of the "banned for this comment" string on this page. What's going on?

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I'm not seeing any of them anymore either (there were 2). Collapsed or deleted?

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Carl got into an insult exchange with someone and drew a one week ban. I don’t know about Freddie.

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Freddie also got a one-week ban, for a comment in which he called YIMBYs a "little cult" who will "kill you" for questioning their ideas.

Harsh? Maybe, but I appreciate the demonstration of the principle that even respected long-term commenters need to keep their comments civil and sensible.

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Especially since I generally consider myself a YIMBY, but find some of his more thoughtful criticisms of the movement quite persausive.

If I were going to kill him for anything, it would not be that. (I do not intend to kill him or any other commenters on this board. Unless there are Wood Ducks posting on here in which case... I'm sorry, but it's your own fault for being delicious.)

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No love for mallards?

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Out of curiosity, do you own a backyard?

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Yes, and I prioritized backyard size over house size or location to the point of moving 3000km to buy a house with a decent sized backyard instead of an apartment condo.

I don't want anyone else telling me what I can do with my land, so, per the Golden Rule, I don't want to tell anyone else what to do with theirs.

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I can not find the SSC post talking about how scarcity leads to politics and scott makes up a fictional example of if there was 10% of the available water all the interest groups would fight for it but with enough water it is a nonissue. It could be a ACT post but I think its older.

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Thank you so much. I paraphrased this idea to a friend of mine to understand why making things cheaper is so good in the context of politics. Weinstein talked about how the enemy of systemic violence in the modern age is not peace but growth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L39Xr6bU9Mg

It is a sort of commentary of the stagnation and perceived increase in 'political violence'. Fundamentally, political ambitions are elevated to a higher level where simple things like plumbing and feeding a nation are seen as a given. This world could be called post-scarcity and it future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.

"Imagine if tomorrow, the price of water dectupled. Suddenly people have to choose between drinking and washing dishes. Activists argue that taking a shower is a basic human right, and grumpy talk show hosts point out that in their day, parents taught their children not to waste water. A coalition promotes laws ensuring government-subsidized free water for poor families; a Fox News investigative report shows that some people receiving water on the government dime are taking long luxurious showers. Everyone gets really angry and there’s lots of talk about basic compassion and personal responsibility and whatever but all of this is secondary to why does water costs ten times what it used to?"

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Showers, is it? I mind the time when a basin and a wash hand stand was the height of technology!

http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-victorian-stand-up-wash-keeping.html

Seriously, as a young child I grew up around houses where the wash basin and ewer had been the most recent ablution technology.

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Ok boomer 😂

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So Hinton has decided that the current AI race dynamics really are dangerous: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/01/technology/ai-google-chatbot-engineer-quits-hinton.html

I wonder whether now others will follow?

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It would be interesting to see someone come up with a diagram showing what various intellectuals and AI big wigs think about AI risk, displaying the relationships among them and who seems to be influenced by whom. Perhaps that would be very hard to do. But, for instance, I imagine Tyler Cowen isn't going to change his position as long as Robin Hanson doesn't. If Hanson did change his position, then TC + hundreds of thousands of his readers also might, some of whom are also public intellectuals with huge readerships.

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It’s a good piece. I wish it had been a lot more in depth though. The near future problem of impossible to detect deep fakes is troubling.

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For some use cases it will be possible to have hardware (cameras, microphones) that cryptographically sign their output to indicate 'yes this is in fact the digital artifact produced by a particular device at some particular time'.

Of course this might make ordinary postprocessing impossible, but in time even that could be solved in a similar manner by having a chain of signatures associated with certain 'acceptable' modification technologies, so that a picture could be cropped while retaining the verification that it was taken by some particular physical camera.

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It's a cool idea, but I can see a lot of ways to cheat it:

1. Buy a crypto-signed camera, crack it open, and find a way to read its encryption key. Or if the chip itself is beyond your tools, find a way to feed it faked data. Physical access is nearly impossible to secure against, especially if you're worried about government action.

2. Actually, if you're a government propaganda agency, there's an even simpler option: Just go straight to the manufacturer and order them to secretly create some encryption keys for you to use.

3. The analog hole: Generate a fake image, print it out, and take a picture with your cryptographically verified camera. Add a bit of blur or JPEG compression to hide any rough spots, if necessary.

4. Just make up a reason why your data couldn't be signed. "This image comes from a confidential source and if they sign it you could track them down" is a good one - it might even be true for a lot of sources.

That being said, news reporters already have some defenses against people lying to them, such as by asking questions of actual human sources. After all, it's been possible to generate large quantities of realistic fake text ever since the invention of the typewriter.

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I've often thought this would be a great idea, glad to see someone else thinking the same way.

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I'm not sure what level of depth is right for someone like you, with lots of tech knowledge. I thought this youtube vid of a talk was good, regarding immediate dangers of AI:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=bhYw-VlkXTU

This article about misalignment made a lot of sense to me:

https://arxiv.org/abs/2209.00626

And here as a bonus resource is my comic illustration of the apocalypse

https://photos.app.goo.gl/PX6XhqJtd4uMiMj38

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Hinton's response to that article, from his Twitter: "In the NYT today, Cade Metz implies that I left Google so that I could criticize Google. Actually, I left so that I could talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google. Google has acted very responsibly."

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

Cade Metz strikes again, huh? I've hit my limit of free NYT articles and I'll be damned and roasting on the hobs of Hell before I subscribe to them so I can't read it, but given that recently (apparently) on their recipe pages they described scrambled eggs and cheese on toast as "toad in the hole", they do seem to be living in their own little reality.

What the NYT thinks toad in the hole is:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1019609-toad-in-the-hole

What sane people know it as:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbREqQm7zzw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xrwwIKlto8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRu_Gq1bDPg

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I'd just add the caveat that while this could be an expression of genuine feelings about google, it could also be the case that Hinton's NDA with google contains a non-disparage clause and he wants to make sure nobody at google thinks he's triggering it.

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A lot of what humans "feel" corresponds to the presence of chemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones. Are there analogs to these chemicals in how AIs work? I would think we would want there to be if we want AIs to feel things.

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Maybe batch normalization is an analog. Rescales the inputs of a whole layer together so it’s something like a hormone having a global effect on all neurons rather than one by one. In general, global parameters (learning rate, regularization strength, others) can also be considered analogs, maybe.

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Our microwave oven died, and I went to a couple of local appliance-parts stores to buy the defective part (a thermistor, a.k.a. thermal cutout). Neither store was able to help me, so I bought the part online.

The part was $13.88, shipping was $20.00, and tax was $4.07 for a total of $37.95*.

A comparable replacement would be $249.99 + 12% sales taxes, so if the oven goes another couple of years it will have been well-worthwhile.

But here's the thing - I'm irked over the shipping cost. (And that is irrational in itself; I spent close to two hours driving around looking for the part, and however much in gasoline and wear and tear on the van, before looking online.)

But in any case, had the part been $33.88 + tax, with free shipping, I would have been quite happy.

So is this sort of reaction normal or explainable? Would I have felt better ordering a bunch of other small widgets to amortize the shipping cost over a more expensive purchase?

* All prices are in C$.

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As Carl alluded to, the cost is for shipping *and handling*. Handling is going to cover wages for, say, time spent driving the package to the post office.

...I'm looking at the tax and trying to figure out what it's based on. That's like 30% of $13.88, so I'd assume they're including the shipping cost, which... I don't know about that, that seems iffy.

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We have two sales taxes - Federal (GST) @ 5%, and Provincial (PST) @ 7%. The taxes are independent (i.e. one is not calculated on the total after the first tax is added), so it's a straight 12%.

The 12% was based on the pre-tax total of $33.88.

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I think it depends. A seller who sells nominally below cost and makes their profit on shipping fees is clearly missleading, and one would not want that. You can mostly tell these sellers because the shipping cost will be per item, while the actual costs would be a fixed base and then scale slowly with mass and volume.

On the other hand, if the part was shipped by air mail from China, perhaps it just costs that much. Did they have a slower option which would take a month?

Contrary to Carl Pham, I don't think using ones personal inconvenience for sending a package should be used as an intuition pump. I guess the costs to getting the item out of the door of the shop/warehouse are lower for online retail than for walk-in shops, additional packaging non-withstanding. The shipping costs should be dominated by what it costs to pay a parcel service to transport that thing.

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I don’t think it would bother me unless I was short on sleep or had a sinus headache or something making a bit of irritation into something bigger. But go ahead and feel annoyed.

Did you check Jameco dot com for the part? They are pretty good. I’ve used them a lot.

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Thank you - I hadn't heard of Jameco.

I have bought from Repair Clinic in the past, and they're good, but the first place I could find that stocked the part, after many misses, was Parts Town LLC. They were really good.

The thing that frustrated me with my first local supplier was that they refused to look for a very generic part because they didn't deal with my specific brand (Panasonic).

It appears they (the local supplier) have to find a specific number for the part, after drilling down from the manufacturer and model number. I would have thought they could have looked up "thermistor" or "thermal cutout", and then find applications from there.

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I feel better about shipping costs when I think of the times I've sent a package. Find a box that fits, no not that one it's got weird stains on it, OK this one will do but a bit big, have to pack a lot of cuhsion in around it....find some newspaper, some bubble wrap, wrap it all up, now tape WHO THE FUCK forgot to tack down the end of the tape onto the little dispenser lip made for that purpose? Grumble, go find the glasses and strong light, finally tape the box up, trundle on down to the post office, wait in line, wait some more after this union drone decides it's lunch break or smoke break or sanity break time, whatever, weight, yes sir/ma'am first class today, I don't even want to think what you apes would do to it if I sent it 4th class, or whether it would get there before the Sun burned out, buy all these stamps, yes, lick them all, why the hell don't they sell $5 and $10 stamps anyway? drop the damn lump off -- finally! done!

Obviously it's way, way more efficient when you do it all day, but you'd have to pay *me* a lot more than $20 to go fetch the part from the warehouse, pack it up, tape it up, address it and send it on its merry way, leave alone the part about people humping the package around through warehouses and in and out of airplanes and trucks.

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This is unrelated to your comment, but I wanted to tell you that I miss seeing what you have to say. You're thoughtful, insightful, intelligent, and knowledgeable, and regardless of whether you ever post here again, I thought I should tell you that. Too many people have fallen in and out of my life without knowing how much I value them, and even though this is just a couple of random people on the Internet passing in the night, I figured it'd be better to tell you than not. :-)

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Well said! I have shipped service manuals and parts for cars I no longer own to people who can use them. What a hassle! I would feel weasely charging more than postage, so I eat the time and cost of repurposing old packaging, tape, and my time. It is a huge pain.

Although I feel good about the stuff going to a good home, I would be better off throwing it out.

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I don't think it would be weasely at all to sell the item itself, even if your reason for charging is mainly the inconvenience of shipping it. I'd happily pay 20-50% of the original price plus shipping for such an item.

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In the news: Adidas shareholders sue Adidas, because Kanye: https://www.axios.com/2023/04/30/adidas-sued-yeezy-partnership-ye

Why is this type of lawsuit permitted? I would understand if they were suing the CEO, etc. But all this lawsuit can do is waste a lot of time and money on legal expenses. The shareholders are effectively suing themselves.

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It's only been filed, whether it's actually permitted is yet to be seen. Looks like those guys are Googling whatever phrases they can get into court with as an attempt to grub money, and once they're in court they're going to be demolished.

The claim is that they only lost money because the CEO lied to them about... whatever they're claiming he lied about. I guess they're arguing businesses have a contractual obligation to pre-emptively air all their sponsors' dirty laundry and deliberately tank their own value. They're going to be demolished in court.

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As is the case with many class action suits the lawsuits could be funded by a law firm. They find clients to represent, in this case they'd probably look for shareholders with a very small stake in Adidas, and then talk them into suing. Since the clients have a small stake they might be close enough to indifferent or mad enough an Kanye to go along with it. The clients might get a small payout but the lawyers can capture a significant portion of a settlement or judgement which can make it very profitable for the law firm.

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Some people like political signaling more than money? Plus they may have people they want removed from board/leadership.

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Are people who wrote a review allowed to vote?

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author

Yes, but please don't vote on your own.

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Scott's essay is about the Glowmar response confirmed!

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Naw I can tell he wrote the Captain Underpants review.

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À-propos of the comments in the fantasy thread about the recondite vocabulary of Stephen Donaldson in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, I have to share these star examples from Chesterton's treatment of the English novelists Thomas Hardy and George Meredith:

"For it is the remarkable fact that it was the man who had the healthy and manly outlook who had the crabbed and perverse style; it was the man who had the crabbed and perverse outlook who had the healthy and manly style. The reader may well have complained of paradox when I observed above that Meredith, unlike most neo-Pagans, did in his way take Nature naturally. It may be suggested, in tones of some remonstrance, that things like "though pierced by the cruel acerb," or "thy fleetingness is bigger in the ghost," or "her gabbling grey she eyes askant," or "sheer film of the surface awag" are not taking Nature naturally. And this is true of Meredith's style, but it is not true of his spirit; nor even, apparently, of his serious opinions. In one of the poems I have quoted he actually says of those who live nearest to that Nature he was always praising —

"Have they but held her laws and nature dear,

They mouth no sentence of inverted wit";

which certainly was what Meredith himself was doing most of the time. But a similar paradox of the combination of plain tastes with twisted phrases can also be seen in Browning. Something of the same can be seen in many of the cavalier poets. I do not understand it: it may be that the fertility of a cheerful mind crowds everything, so that the tree is entangled in its own branches; or it may be that the cheerful mind cares less whether it is understood or not; as a man is less articulate when he is humming than when he is calling for help."

And from the Wikipedia article on Meredith's succès de scandale novel "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel":

"Sir Austin Feverel's wife deserts him to run away with a poet, leaving her husband to bring up their boy Richard. Believing schools to be corrupt, Sir Austin, a scientific humanist, educates the boy at home with a plan of his own devising known as "the System". This involves strict authoritarian supervision of every aspect of the boy's life, and in particular the prevention of any meeting between Richard and girls of his own age. Richard nevertheless meets and falls in love with Lucy Desborough, the niece of a neighboring farmer. Sir Austin finds out and, disapproving of her humble birth, forbids them to meet again, but they secretly marry. Sir Austin now tries to retrieve the situation by sending Richard to London. Here, however, Sir Austin's friend Lord Mountfalcon successfully sets a courtesan to seduce Richard, hoping that this will leave Lucy open to seduction by himself. Ashamed of his own conduct, Richard flees abroad where he at length hears that Lucy has given birth to a baby and has been reconciled to Sir Austin. He returns to England and, hearing about Lord Mountfalcon's villainy, challenges him to a duel. But this goes badly: Richard is seriously wounded. Lucy is so overcome by this turn of events that she loses her mind and dies."

From which the moral is, I guess, don't homeschool your kids! 😁 Also, based on a true story, apparently:

"In 1856 George Meredith's wife Mary began an affair with the artist Henry Wallis. In the following year, pregnant by Wallis, she ran away to join him, leaving her son Arthur behind. Meredith undertook to bring the child up. The parallels with the opening chapters of the novel are obvious, though Sir Austin is certainly not intended as a self-portrait. Meredith was equivocal in his attitude to Sir Austin's favourite educational theories, which, it has been shown, derived largely from the medical writer William Acton's Prostitution, Considered in Its Moral, Social & Sanitary Aspects (1857) and The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs (1857), from Herbert Spencer's essay "Moral Education" (Quarterly Review, April 1858), and from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel Émile."

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That reminds me of a story about the Buddha.

A king had a son, and a fortune-teller said that the son would grow up to be either a great king or a great philosopher. The king decided to raise the boy to have no knowledge of illness, old age, or death, because that knowledge could lead to an interest in philosophy. But one day the guards accidently let an old man into the palace. The boy asked why the old man looked like that, so the old man explained what old age is, and the boy immediately became a philosopher.

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Thanks for reviving this forgotten name. George Meredith was considered the leading "literary" novelist of his day and was praised by Virginia Woolf. His reputation absolutely crashed after his death, and now even I, who have a high tolerance for high-toned 19th Century writing, had to struggle through "Richard Feverel". The story of his errant wife and the raising of his child is memorably treated by Vivian Gornick in her non-fiction "The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith" -- published in the 1970s and considered a kind of feminist classic.

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I think AI maximalists, which appears to be almost everyone, are making a bet on bad odds while under the influence of our natural cognitive inclination to believe that we're special https://freddiedeboer.substack.com/p/the-bet-youre-making

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Alright, I think the article itself is open to a charitable interpretation.

The charitable interpretation is: don't hate the player, hate the game.

Look, the internet blows everything out of proportion, even the apocalypse. I'm sure there's lots of AI doomer "content" out there from people just trying to make a buck 'cuz it's the hot thing right now and I'm sure it's super inaccurate and annoying. And it's fair to be annoyed by that.

But, yo, that's just the way publicity works these days. You gotta draw hype, you gotta draw attention, and every "content creator" is gonna come and provide a cheap knockoff and, ya know, if that gets the message out, that's how the game is played. I don't like, from the article you don't like it, but ya gotta get your message out into the media ecosystem we have, not the one we wish we had. And to be fair to the "content creators", ya know, they have to make what sells, not what they wish they could make.

The media criticism angle? Yeah, totally on board, I'm sure lot's of irresponsible stuff has been published.

But why share that article here? This is, like, the second worst place you could post this behind LW because you know, and I've seen you commenting here and SSC for years, you know we didn't just jump on the hype train and we're not exaggerating. Right or wrong, people here have been worried and discussing AI "doomerism" since...what, like 2010? 2008? Well over a decade of it, ya know, being a weird niche interest. You know we're not just worried about ChatGPT, we're looking at how AI and ML systems have advanced over the last fifteen years and projecting that forward.

If you think the media is overhyping AI doomerism, I'm very sympathetic, if you think Yudkowsky and Altman and others are making headlines irresponsibly, hey, they're playing the media game we have, don't hate the player, hate the game. And I'm sure for 95%+ of the AI content out there, this is a valid criticism. But not here, why here, I remember hearing variations of this argument like 7 years ago, we've heard this and there's a half dozen arguments against it. This is, literally, like the second or third worst forum you could possibly post this argument in.

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> Right or wrong, people here have been worried and discussing AI "doomerism" since...what, like 2010? 2008?

I want a T-shirt: "I worried about AI apocalypse *before* it was cool".

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author
May 1, 2023·edited May 1, 2023Author

Please, someone, anyone, try reasoning about the object-level question instead of doing bias-hunting along the lines of "well, sea level rise is a lot like Noah's flood, so believing in climate change is just a secular apocalypse".

In terms of your actual argument: 7% of people throughout history are alive today. So if the world ends tomorrow, 7% of people throughout history will have been alive when the world ended. I agree it's mildly implausible that I'm in the 7% of closest-to-the-end people, but I'm much higher than the 7%th percent of richest people, or most educated people, so apparently mild 1/13 coincidences happen pretty often. I don't think this is a strong update. If I said we weren't going to have giant changes, you could fairly accuse me of status quo bias, which is also a real bias we are frequently told to avoid. This is why at some point you need to stop lobbing bias arguments and reason about the actual question.

There's a much stronger argument against either of us being real Substackers. We're probably in the top 0.001% of people in terms of media influence, so we should be pretty strongly worrying that we're in a simulation or something, where they only simulate the people with important effects on history. I do worry about this pretty often, and the Substacker thing seems like much stronger evidence than the "alive during big AI transition" thing.

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The Doomsday Argument is just an intractable disagreement about reference classes. I don't know what else you're thinking is being overlooked.

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

Was it unreasonable for the people at the time of invention of nuclear weapons, or when the US and USSR were amassing giant stock piles of nuclear weapons, to worry about the possibility of a war driving the human race into extinction? It seems to me that Freddys argument would work equally well for telling those people they were being unreasonable, and yet I don't think that's obviously right.

What if the US and USSR had developed intentional doomsday weapons, for example, nuclear weapons designed to put massive amounts of fall out into the atmosphere and poison life on earth, as a deterrent to any possible aggression from the other side? Would people living in that timeline be less subject to Freddys argument than us living in the current timeline?

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I don't think you represented the odds fairly. Instead consider what percentage of humans who have ever lived are alive today.

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I think your primary argument is that Homosapiens have existed ~300,000 years, and humans live only ~75 years. Therefore, it is unlikely (75/300,000 = only 0.025%!) that you live during the end of human kind, and the only reason anyone thinks there is a significant chance is because of humans' innate desire to feel special.

This is an argument is a survival analysis model that only uses information about how long humans have existed and how long we live on average. It assumes constant rate of extinction for all time. The model doesn't use any additional information, and so can be applied to almost anything. We can use it to estimate how long a country will exist, how long a star will last, or how long human kind will survive. These aren't especially useful models since they don't account for any details like political unrest in the country, astronomical models of star lifetimes, or all the arguments used about AGI that are based on some evidence. Somewhat ironically, we can even use this same model to suggest there is a 50% chance humanity will end in 300,000 years, though again, that's not really a meaningful number.

Also, might as well note that your argument overlooks that more people are alive in modern times than 300,000 years ago. I found estimates that ~120 billion humans have ever lived and ~8 billion are alive today. As in ~7% of humans who have ever been alive are alive now; if now were the end of humanity we would be part of the "special" 7% that get to see the end of the world, which is much more probably than your 0.025% estimate. I still don't think this is a good model from what I wrote earlier, but 7% would still be alarming!

I personally don't really know where I fall in the AGI doomerism spectrum, but I just don't think this is a good approach for dismissing people's concerns. If there is a flaw in doomer arguments we should find it explicitly.

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May 1, 2023·edited May 1, 2023

I'm not a maximalist, but do think a really terrible outcome isn't unlikely, and I feel like I'm constantly pushing *against* my natural cognitive inclination to believe tomorrow is going to be like today, and 5 years from now is going to substantially the same, with a just few tweaks. In fact, I go through whole afternoons without thinking once about AI dangers, and feeling as thought everything's the same as ever. Then something brings AI to mind, and I feel disoriented and creeped out, and I think, "but come on, everything feels normal, can that possibly be true?" And I think through the whole thing again, and reach the same conclusion: a really terrible outcome isn't unlikely. I do very occasionally have the thought that if our species is going to be annihilated, I'm sort of glad I'm one of the ones here to see it. But the occasional thrill of that is WAY more than balanced off by my distress about my daughter meeting some terrible end.

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I think my modeling goes something like; end of human race 5%, major progress towards utopia 20%, major progress towards a dystopia, 20%, general acceleration on current trajectory 35%, unknown unknowns 20%.

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The industrial revolution changed the world. The atom bomb changed the world. The internet changed the world. I don't think believing that AI will change the world is the result of a "the most special time in world history is when I'm alive" prejudice. To be sure, there are some extreme views about exactly how much AI will change things, but I don't know that those views should be off the table a priori.

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"The industrial revolution changed the world. The atom bomb changed the world. The internet changed the world."

Thank you! That was _exactly_ what I thought when I saw "...that the world is going to mostly go on the way that it has, always the best bet you can make..." in Freddie deBoer's essay.

He does have a point that AI has a history of hype, and it is reasonable to do some discounting of the predictions of major effects based on specifically that history, but that still isn't a strong object level argument.

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There have been a lot of conversations lately on ACX about what "change the world" means. Lots of things can and do change how we live our lives, and that's not new for humanity. A previous discussion thread looked at specific 40-year timespans where the original poster thought life didn't change that much, but several of us disagreed and pointed out how much changed within that time period even though it seemed intentionally selected to not involve a lot of change.

Anyway, those of us who are saying AI isn't special are not implying a lack of change, even world-changing levels of change. We're saying that major change is actually the norm, and that even if AI represents major change this is within normal bounds. Killing all of humanity would obviously not be normal, and transhumanist immortality would also not be normal. So arguing for transformative but not by as much as the maximalist positions seems to be Freddie's argument. If so, I agree.

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Nah, the OP said that "We all were living radically different lifestyles than we were in the 1980s."

I disagreed that for any meaningful definition of "we all", "radically different," and "lifestyle" this was untrue.

And then a bunch of 20/30-somethings tried to zoomersplain how the '80s were so different than now.

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I take your point, but over the sweep of human history, I don't think major change is the norm, certainly not major technological change. Until the industrial revolution most people lived agrarian lives, and technological advance was slow and gradual. We're so used to our historically anomalous fast pace that now people only count armageddon or transhumanist immortality as abnormal.

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I'm wondering. Could we develop a metric for what would count as "major change" in terms of the difference between how life is like at a particular place and time, and what it was like X years later, where X is intended to encompass a person's lifetime or similar. Specifically, they are old enough to remember the first date, and can examine the level of change by the second date. I'm thinking 40-60 year gap.

Then, could we examine how much actually changed during that time period, and determine if a random sampling of periods did or did not have "major change" as we define it?

My gut tells me that we would count most or all post-Industrial-Revolution dates as constituting "major" and a large number but far less common before that. Before the Industrial Revolution I would expect location to matter much more, such that some places might be having "major" change while others are quiet, and vice-versa.

I can't rule out that if we really knew history (even as much as modern scholars, let alone people living at that time), we would consider almost all eras to show "major" levels of change, even compared to modern definitions.

Do you feel up to defining "major"? Technological would be a part of it, but can't be all of it. The fall of the Roman Empire, in part and then in whole, would certainly be "major" even without any new technology. I don't think I would count the founding of Rome as "major" because at first it affected so few people.

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Well, there are changes that people will feel to be personally major ones in their lives (476 in Rome, 1453 in Constantinople, the Black Death, Columbus). But there's a real sense in which those event don't fundamentally affect the way human beings live together, or the kinds of lives they have. You could take a Roman engineer and put him in 17th century Britain and I don't think he would have a hard time picking up work. Technological unemployment might be a useful measure. When Gutenberg came along, that was world-changing--when the expensive scribes got put out of business and books were mass-produced and disseminated, that led directly to the Reformation and arguably to democratic revolutions.

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And there's a trend: the time between world-changing events is getting shorter.

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Well, betting on bad odds is sort of our species' signature move. It's how the future learns wisdom, looking back at our follies and saying "Welp, not doing THAT again. Onward! To new and different mistakes!"

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We *are* in (or rather, at the end of) a "special" period in development. Most of it happened in the 20th century, and while AI will be associated with the 21st century, it is the last gasp of that trend. There is a credible potential for it to be transformational (to the degree of "the concept of money becomes obsolete") that you simply want to *guess* will not happen.

I wrote up my thoughts on the broader topic earlier: https://www.newslettr.com/p/the-long-twentieth-century

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Mmmm, I think the evidence is strong that the period of greatest human development was around 1860 to 1960 and that the returns from scientific and technological development of the past 60 years have been wildly disappointing relative to that baseline. In that sense we missed the special period.

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Either way, there is very little sense in using statistics to try to guess *when* that period would happen, if we can consult a history book and see that it has already happened.

Also, there is no point in using statistics to try to guess if various adolescent fantasies about Dyson-sphere powered galactic colonialism (or nightmares about AI manifesting grey-goo) will come true. One can just point to the insurmountable engineering obstacles. Or one can acknowledge that they are merely "adolescent fantasies", and not consider them a serious idea worthy of debate.

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May 1, 2023·edited May 1, 2023

Nice essay! I think that the 19th century rise of the chemical industry and discovery of 42 of the natural chemical elements ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_chemical_element_discoveries ) and Darwin's and Maxwell's work are at least within a factor of 2 or 3 of 20th century advances.

( am I misreading, or is the space race omitted from your essay? Arguably the lunar landings themselves didn't change peoples' lives, but weather satellites and GPS did. )

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Probably true, but I was commenting about an essay on the 20th century (albeit a "long" 20th) and contrasting it with the 19th. While AI started in the 20th, it looks more like a technology of the 21st (particularly LLMs, other big neural nets, and systems containing them - presumably leading to AGI).

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I think we've actually lived through fairly uninteresting times for the past twenty-ish years. I suspect when the history books are written the 1940s and 1990s will get most of the focus out of the past century. And the present will be seen as an interlude between the 1990s and the next world historical period. Like the 1880-1910 or 1820-1850 period in the US.

I think every time period is important and critical. But we certainly don't treat them that way. A lot of history mentions the start of things (often a somewhat artificially invented start) and when they become big enough to make "sudden" changes.

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I think you're right about technology. The technological change I saw in my childhood, and even more so what my parents lived through, seems to me much bigger than anything that's happened in the last 25 years.

But sociologically...? Contrariwise, it feels to me like there is greater upheaval, division, and discontent around social shibboleths and norms than at any time since maybe the first decades of the 20th century -- which arguably led to the unspeakable horrors of the mid 20th century.

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I think most of those trends really came out of the '90s. Like politically polarized parties, party line votes, political correctness/wokeness, impeachment hearings as political tactics, etc. Though of course they've grown and somewhat changed over time.

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Strong agree, and I've made similar points before. I don't think the current generations have any idea what real change even looks like, so we think what we are seeing now is big. It's been unusually quiet in real terms since probably the early 90s at least.

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If you were living a fairly cosmopolitan existence then the technology wasn't such a big deal. Big changes have been in the developing world, where you went from living in your little village, to living in your little village with a cell phone and internet. These mass migrations from Africa to Europe have been made possible with information technology.

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Relatively mild mass migrations, compared to much of history. Between 1820 and 1850 the population of the US *tripled*, mostly from immigration. The US also expanded from the Mississippi river all the way to the west coast, taking half a million square miles of land from Mexico. It's hard to comprehend that kind of massive change in 30 years. Then, the number of immigrants skyrocketed after 1880, and the US built a colonial empire in that 40 year period, conquering Cuba, the Philippines, Hawaii, and various islands around the world.

No modern country is seeing anywhere near the frequency and magnitude of the changes the US saw then. And we consider those quiet years! WWI and WWII were far more massive in scale and scope, and set off very significant changes in the post war years.

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If you say we are living in uninteresting times, are they uninteresting for the individual alive today, or for future historians? I am talking about changes on the lives of individuals. You could live on your farm in the US in the 1800s and milk a cow every day of your whole life, even if US population tripled over 30 years. Population % change was faster back in the old days, but with a much smaller population to start with. And migration within borders, and within EU for example is quite a lot if you consider numbers of people rather than % of population.

I guess I see technology as the probable driver of the sociological change that has been happening worldwide. People spend a lot of their time on screens in third world countries, and previously they didn;t even have TV or phones.

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They're uninteresting for both the individual and for historians. For historians, we're in a period of extremely low military and political change - few wars, few boundary changes, few changes in government (not elections, but entirely new governments). Cultural historians will find interest, but that's literally true of every period of time ever, at least for periods when we have enough records to do anything about it. In terms of individuals, as a percent of the population, it's much more likely that an 1850 person lived in multiple countries and undertook extraordinarily difficult tasks to get to where they wanted to go. Someone born in Ireland who moved to England, then the US east coast, then US midwest, then US west coast (each of which had vastly different standards of living, from urban to pioneer) is not an uncommon story. That would be like a significant number of people leaving central Africa to move to Brazil and then go live in the Amazon. I don't think that's a very common type of story today. Even the immigration we do have affects far fewer percent of people than it used to. The percent is important, rather than raw numbers, because if you're moving 20% of your population that affects everybody and everything in your country. If you're moving 1%, it's really not. More than half the population of Ireland moved to the US over a 50 year period (8.2 million total population in 1841, and 4.5 million moved to the US by 1920). Italians, Eastern Europeans, and Asians also came in similarly large numbers in that same time period.

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The decades where everyone thought global realignment was going to happen because of China, 9-11/Iraq, and the financial crisis, and then it just didn't happen.

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I half-agree with you, Freddie: "it's not going to be very different for the majority of us whatever way AI turns out" is the most likely outcome. I don't believe in either the dystopia or the utopia, there is never going to be post-scarcity anything because what business on earth runs on "our productivity is so high and it is so cheap to make that we are giving this away for free"? Oh, this time it's gonna be different because Fairy Godmother AI is so productive and so smart? Then a totally new economic system is going to have to be implemented, I hope you enjoy the fall of capitalism because while it may be a bad system, it's the one we're currently running on, and history tells you what happens when you suddenly pull the rug from under it.

On the other hand, I disagree with you because we *are* special. There aren't any real dogs, dolphins, whales or elephants engaging in discussion on the Internet. Koko was not able to speak sign language. Our sister and cousin hominid species are gone, either absorbed by us or defeated in the battle of natural selection. We're so damn *lonely* for an equal intelligence that we believe in aliens and AI. No matter how much people go on about how we're only animals and use terms like "non-human animals" and how much they wuv their fur-babies and are their Mommy/Daddy, your dog or cat or rat or snake is not a human child, is not a human in any way, and is not your equal.

So we want AI to be our brain child (literally), a consciousness and/or intellect equal to or even greater than ours, but different, so we're not alone in the house anymore. I don't think we're going to get there, but we've managed at this moment - which *does*, unfortunately, make it special - to entangle ourselves in a net where computers (whether you want to talk about coding or AI or the Internet or whatever damn thing) are vastly important to the way we live now. Where the answer to "how do I get a good job that pays well?" is "learn to code" (or it was, up to recently).

People living at the time of the Industrial Revolution *were* living in a special time that changed the world (see climate change activism, if nothing else, about how that worked). Depending on how AI goes, we may be living in a similar time. ChatGPT and the rest of it is something genuinely new.

I think the problem will continue to be humans, not the AI; greed, fear, avarice, misplaced idealism and the rest of it making us pin our hopes on getting the Fairy Godmother AI. That's why I think the appeals for a moratorium will go nowhere; everyone is afraid of missing out, of not being the first with a product to market - whether that be "We can't let China beat us!" or "We can't let Microsoft beat us!"

The end result will be "them that has, will get and them that hasn't, will be left without" and, if we're particularly stupid, putting all our eggs into the one basket of "the AI is so smart, let it run our economy/our political system" and then Humpty Dumpty has a great fall.

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>what business on earth runs on "our productivity is so high and it is so cheap to make that we are giving this away for free"?

You're describing like the ideal business model for the modern tech industry, and several products have pulled it off (Google search, Facebook, YouTube, etc). This is like the main advantage to turning business logic into software and then running it on machines, you can drive the marginal cost of serving another customer to near zero.

I'll concede that this only has been achieved so far in information products. I think you need more advanced robotics to pull it off for physical goods.

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Except all the companies that used to do "buy our package one time for good" have now switched to "software as a service" which is hugely annoying to me. We're paying €X per month for a software package of email etc, that we will be paying forever and a day as long as we use this, which before we could have bought for a one-off price. It's not like we're doing anything with the fancy bells and whistles add-ins.

Youtube has gone to monetisation and ads, Facebook is using ads and trying to flog services, Google - if you had not noticed - has the "sponsored" search results (and ads too, if you permit 'em).

There is no "get this for free".

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May 1, 2023·edited May 1, 2023

Uh, well sure, someone is paying for it, but users receive the services of YT, FB, and Google for free. They literally "get it for free" because it's so cheap to serve them that you can make money off the side effects of them existing as users on your platform. This is a business model innovation as much as it is a technological innovation.

Sure, business is never going to do something for totally free, without the expectation of making money off it somehow, but for opportunity cost reasons alone. I don't really think anyone is arguing this, I suspect you're engaging with a strawman.

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Radio and TV were free for decades based on ads, and definitely not because it was "so cheap to serve them." It was because that's how people could monetize the product. Notably, to get a physical product (buying seasons of a TV show, for instance), you still had to pay money for it. Information services that are cheap to replicate can work with a subscription model or an ad model. This isn't new with Google, in the 1930s we were already there. Then Google didn't innovate the business model, whoever mass marketed the radio did.

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You're missing the word "marginal." Setting up broadcast towers is a high upfront fixed cost, but then there is zero marginal cost to serving an additional customer. This drives you to "post scarcity" business models. Historically we have seen this in nonrival services like radio/tv broadcasts. But if you drive the marginal costs of anything to near zero, business models of this type become attractive.

Building Facebook, YouTube, and Google search also have high upfront costs, engineers and data centers are expensive. Once you have those, though, serving additional customers is nearly free.

Training models: very expensive. Running inference: dramatically cheaper than training but not quite "round to zero" yet.

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City planners/engineers/architects:

Have any of you ever come upon a model that describes population density as a fractal pattern, where the highest density is in the very center and the lowest density in the very edges (or maybe a model with many clusters of population that are separated by areas with population density=0)?

I'm somewhat fed up with the "missing middle" rhetoric and I'd love to be able to refer to a model that shows that ideally, any density is surrounded by areas of both lower and higher density. Related material is also welcome.

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I am not a city planner/engineer/architect, but these subjects are one of my hobbies. I advent seen anything like what you are describing, but have thought about it myself. You could probably use census data to do this to a certain degree.

Can you elaborate on your issues with "missing middle" debate and also how data of this type would play into that?

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The "missing middle" proponents point out that there's a niche for 2-4 story buildings in between highrises and the suburbs, but I feel like it's often stated like this 2-3 story density could and should swallow up everything else, especially the suburbs. I miss a mention of how at the periphery of the 2-4 story "middle", before you reach area suited and/or designated for agriculture/industry/nature, there exists a niche for suburbs. And outside the suburbs there exists a niche for the population occupied with the primary industries.

I've seen a pattern approximated by regulation within cities - regulations like "no place should be more than x time or distance from a park/a school/a fire department". But I've never heard of "no one density should be x time or distance from another density" . I guess it's redundant, because these things figure themselves out (I guess Alain Bertauds "Order Without Design" says something about this). But I'd love a predictive model anyway, for geek reasons.

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The greater Boston area is full of "Three decker" housing of exactly that sort.

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The "Missing middle" is named as such not because it doesnt exist - it exists very much in Europe, and is found somewhat more rarely in the US, just like you pointed out - but for many years now it's been under-represented in new construction in the US.

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May 1, 2023·edited May 1, 2023

"Imagine that in the year 2025, a new virus occurs somewhere on Earth. This virus has a mortality estimated in the range of 0.1–1.0%. Not much later, scientists discover two things. One discovery is encouraging: there is a small number of people who are naturally immune, and who can transmit their immunity to others. The more disturbing discovery is that their immunity is transmitted only sexually. If one has intercourse with an immune person, one can acquire a partial, but not complete, degree of sexually transmitted immunity.

The medical authorities proceed to advise everyone to seek intercourse with one or multiple immune persons. Some consent, others do not. The former generally become immune, but only partially; the latter are usually not immune.

Because the partly immunized are still susceptible to infection, some of them are pressuring the medical community to find a way to immunize the non­consenting. A brilliant doctor invents a procedure that can immunize people without full­blown sexual intercourse: required is only penetration, by an immune person, with a penis­-like object—a medical dildo. . . . Alas, only a small number of additional persons agree to receive immunization by dildo. The rest object that penetration by dildo is too similar to intercourse for them to consent to: after all, receiving dildo penetration would ordinarily count as cheating on their partners.

What to do now? . . ."

https://journalofcontroversialideas.org/download/article/3/1/231/pdf

https://journalofcontroversialideas.org/article/3/1/231

https://twitter.com/MihneaCapraru/status/1652254754481872897

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

>> What to do now?

Alternate response: One potential course for society in this scenario is as follows.

(1) Dildoings are not made mandatory. Everyone looks askance at the brilliant doctor, wondering why *this* was his chosen path for his research, but he did have IRB oversight, and someone points out that Barry’s always been weird. He is generally avoided at conferences.

(2) Research into a normal vaccine continues. In the meantime, voluntary medical dildoing is available at government expense. Conservative news networks make much of *your* government dollars paying for other people's dildoing, but the nation’s leaders hold their course in the name of public health.

(3) A less weird doctor develops a less weird vaccine.

(4) Since vaccines and dildoing are not equally invasive, a vaccine mandate is now more seriously considered. During debate, one legislator rises to offer the position that, if you think about it, being vaccinated isn't all that different from being dildoed. There is a long silence, and everyone in the chamber gives him a strange look, after which debate continues without further comment on this line of reasoning.

(5) In a normal country, a mandate might not pass, or one might pass with reasonable exceptions or limitations. For the sake of argument, though, let's assume that this is the nation of Humorstan, and the mandate passed there goes further than any policy seen in the US during the COVID pandemic. Vaccination is required. Full stop, no exceptions, no ‘you don’t have to get it but it’s a condition of going to school/work/etc,’ for whatever reason, Humorstan's leadership is drunk at the wheel and instead of trying to balance bodily autonomy interests with public health interests, it just slams the gas and careens into the autocratic abyss. Government is literally tracking everyone down and making sure they get vaccines and boosters, on penalty of fines and arrests. This assumption is silly, but hey, we started our journey at medical dildos.

(6) Most people get vaccinated.

(7) Some people object to the vaccination, on the grounds that being vaccinated and being dildoed are, to them, not all that different, and thus the mandate is like rape.

(8) Only the government of Humorstan foresaw this, and there is a special provision in the law. It states that anyone objecting to vaccination on the grounds that “being vaccinated is like being dildoed, so this is like rape” is offered a choice. They can (a) receive a vaccine, or (b) push a button which will determine, at random, whether they receive a vaccine by force or a dildoing by force.

(9) Strangely, vanishingly few people in the “being vaccinated and being dildoed are analogous” crowd choose option b. It’s almost as though it’s a bad analogy and being vaccinated is in fact very different from being dildoed, but the elders of Humorstan choose to keep their peace rather than make a big fuss of it.

(10) Eventually, the pandemic subsides and life moves on. Barry's medical dildo research continues. Everyone wonders where the heck he keeps getting funding.

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May 3, 2023·edited May 3, 2023

The button-pushing argument is an interesting one. But it misrepresents my argument as presupposing that vaccination and dildoing are equivalent. The argument makes no such presupposition. Notice the paragraph on page 5:

> Sentence 10 is not the conclusion that non­consensual vaccination is exactly as wrong as sexual assault. The conclusion is simply that non­consensual vaccination is impermissible: it may perhaps be less wrong, to be sure, but it is wrong. Likewise, sentence 18 is not the conclusion that medical harassment is exactly as bad as sexual harassment. It is simply the conclusion that medical harassment is not to be permitted.

Also notice the footnote:

> I have also encountered the opposite opinion. An anonymous referee points out that non­consensual vaccination sometimes yields lifelong adverse effects, whereas sexual assault sometimes does not. Hence, depending on further details, non­consensual vaccination may in certain cases be worse than sexual assault.

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

Question and comment.

(1) Is this hypothetical 2025 near-Earth one in which the concept of ‘dildoculation’ has existed for centuries, is widespread and commonplace, and has eliminated a variety of diseases that were previously large causes of mortality? To the point that people generally now think nothing of requirements that they or their families be barred from accessing certain schools, professions, or international travel unless they are pre-emptively dildoculated for disease, and people who "fear the poke" are a small minority generally thought of as kooks and conspiracy theorists but mostly left to their own devices unless some kind of pandemic raises the specter that their unpoked-ness could cost the lives of their fellows? If so, this society’s sexual mores and attitudes are probably so wildly different from our own that trying to map “what they’d do” to “what we’d do” would be pointless.

(2) If, on the other hand, your answer to #1 is “no,” then you haven’t really made an effective analogy to vaccines. It's just a weird dildo hypothetical, and one can't practically map "how society should engage with hypothetical dildo medicine that isn't comparable to vaccines" over to "how society should engage with vaccines."

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

> has eliminated a variety of diseases that were previously large causes of mortality

Smallpox to my knowledge is the only highly lethal disease that was eliminated through vaccination. Do you have other examples in mind?

Notice in any case that in my thought experiment we are talking about vaccines that confer only partial immunity, which makes them unlikely to eradicate anything.

> people generally now think nothing of requirements that they or their families be barred from accessing certain schools, professions, or international travel

You must be living in a fairly small bubble if you think people 'generally' think nothing about those things.

You make an interesting point that people would probably think differently from us under your highly counterfactual circumstances. But I doubt that it matters in practice. Those people would have to be very different from us, from a moral standpoint, if they practiced non-consensual sexual immunization for centuries. It is more important in practice to think about what real people think. If medical dildos had eradicated smallpox, then I doubt we would find them much more justified or permissible than we do as it is. The end does not always justify the means. After all, the Nazi doctors tried at Nuremberg had made useful medical discoveries, but they were still hanged. Would it make a difference to you if the Nazis had been doing it for hundreds of years?

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May 3, 2023·edited May 3, 2023

"If medical dildos had eradicated smallpox, then I doubt we would find them much more justified or permissible than we do as it is."

Original efforts at inoculation/vaccination of, yes, small pox were met with the same kind of horror, mockery, and rejection as your medical dildos hypothetical. But then people noticed "not dying of a fatal illness" or "surviving but being deeply facially scarred", and they dropped the objections.

(1) It'll turn you into a cow!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_cow_pock.jpg

(2) Saviour of humanity

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0808-7646

(3) Vaccination produces Erysipelas, Consumption, Small-pox and DEATH!!

https://static.wixstatic.com/media/8913b9_0f75a09459f94dffb9308d8f28b20eb7~mv2.jpeg/v1/fill/w_488,h_800,al_c,q_85,enc_auto/8913b9_0f75a09459f94dffb9308d8f28b20eb7~mv2.jpeg

So yeah, I think if we had three centuries of medical dildos, today it would be as unremarkable as getting your teeth filled if you needed that.

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

Look, it’s just a bad analogy.

“Public Nudity Laws are just like RAPE! Most people can’t see it because the clothes just touch the outside of our skin, but what if the only way to hold up our pants was with BUTT PLUGS? What say you now, liberal? For you, maybe there's no difference between pants with a belt and pants with a butt plug, but some people hate pants so much that those two things are THE SAME to them, so you're a RAPIST if you think I should have to wear pants to go to Quiznos.”

“And Seat Belt Laws! Some think nothing of them because the seatbelt just rests gently over their clothing, but what if the only way to attach them was with NIPPLE CLAMPS? Communist and fascist totalitarians might not see any difference between a regular seatbelt and a nipple-clamp safety device, but some people hate seat belts so much that those two things are THE SAME to them, so you're a RAPIST if you think I should have to wear wear a seatbelt while I drive, pantless, to Quiznos.”

Only pants don't need butt plugs, seatbelts don't require nipple-clamp attachments, and vaccines don't need dildos. So trying to make those analogies (amusing though they may be to write) just fails to yield any useful inferences, due to the many *many* significant differences being papered over.

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Your analogies seem facetious. Pants and seat belts don't penetrate your body and inject fluids that make lifelong changes to the functioning of your immune system in particular, and of your organism in general. If they did, then similar objections would presumably apply to them.

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Friend, I'd accept your pooh-poohing of Freudian implications in your hypothesis much more easily if you didn't use terms like "penetrate your body and inject fluids".

If you'd been in Vienna, by now we'd be reading the Case Study of M.C.

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Freudian jokes stopped being funny around 1997, so why would I make one now?

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

Why does it matter what the consequences are? As long as the victim feels that, for example, wearing clothes is a violation of their bodily integrity, aren't laws that "all persons must be clothed" equivalent to sexual harrassment?

Remember that the definition of sexual harrassment (any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person) does not distinguish between penetrative and non-penetrative, the presence or absence of long-term effects, or the magnitude of the act.

Now, imagine a group of clothes-rejectors, who view being forced to wear clothing as a violation of their bodily integrity, and I will quote directly from your journal:

"Some people will be given money, or other benefits, in return for consent. The rest will be banned from restaurants; they will be banned from shopping centers; they will banned from trains, airplanes, and buses; and they will be fired from their jobs, and banned from reemployment. Some of these bans will be implemented by the government itself, and others by privately owned corporations. Those who refuse to ban will be banned themselves..."

Could you make the argument "anyone who views clothes as a violation of their bodily integrity is not of sound mind"? If so, how is that different from "anyone who views vaccines as a violation of their bodily integrity is not of sound mind"?

If we assume that both clothes-rejectors and vaccine-rejectors are of sound mind, then the question is: should anyone be allowed to go nude in any public space? Why/why not?

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The difference is that vaccines affect one's bodily integrity, whereas ordinary clothes do not. If somebody 'feels' that clothes do that, they should first explain how. For vaccines that explanation is easy: they penetrate your body and introduce foreign substances with lifelong effects. (Normal) clothes don't do that, so the one who 'feels' otherwise must explain what the problem is.

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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

My point is you can put any policy you don’t like into a Rube Goldberg machine and try to turn it into a sex thing, but if you do your output is pretty invariably going to (a) look histrionic and silly, and (b) be so bent out of shape by RG machine processing that by the time its hammered into its new sex thing shape it no longer shares enough in common with the original policy you didn’t like for it to be relevant in a discussion thereof.

“Sure you say you’re okay with kids saying the pledge of allegiance in schools, but what if they pledged allegiance by FELLATING a George Washington statuette? Well for some people those two things are just the same!”

“People say there’s nothing wrong with requiring pasteurization of milk, but what if there were a NEW milk disease that could only be removed from dairy with HUMAN SEMEN? Well for some people…”

“Some believe that the right to own guns should be uninfringed, but what if there were a new hormone gun that could SPONTANEOUSLY TRANSITION YOUR CHILD if they found it unsecured in the closet while playing at a friend’s house? Well...”

"You might be fine with with forcing doctors to wash their hands before a procedure, but what if the best way to disinfect was to give another doctor a HANDJOB?"

So goes the dildo vaccine. I'm even against a good chunk of the policy positions I've critiqued here with this method, but while the results are varying degrees of funny, they’re still not relevant to any real-world policy conversation.

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