719 Comments

I think someone is impersonating Freddie de Boer on Twitter and am not sure what to do about it.

Expand full comment

Call for policy input on reduction in Wealth tax in Norway

I wrote an email to the mayor of my hometown, commending their proposal to remove the municipal element of the Norwegian wealth tax. If they go through with this, Bodø will be the first maior municipality in Norway to remove it: https://www.nrk.no/nordland/lokker-skatteflyktninger-hjem-til-bodo-med-kutt-i-formueskatt-1.16755507 (Article in Norwegian)

I wrote :

"

Thank you for looking at powerful measures to make Bodø an even more attractive place to make your home, both privately and as a business.

My girlfriend and I are moving from Oslo to Bodø this May, to live close to family - not as a result of a superior job market: But imagine how cool it would be if the best technology jobs were up north!?

When you now look at the reduction in wealth tax, I hope you also have an eye on the problems surrounding startups, which have been thoroughly covered over time by the newspaper Shifter:

https://www.shifter.no/nyheter/jeg-matte-velge-skal-jeg-holde-til-i-norge-eller-vil-jeg-at-selskapet-mitt-skal-lykkes/266945 (Article in Norwegian)

In short, the issue is this: Startup founders can sit with large fortunes on paper, long before they get significant turnover, and years before profits. This means that the most ambitious would do well to leave the country even before they get investors. What if they just had to move a few degrees of longitude north?

My wish is that you can see Bodø's position and opportunities in context when you complete this inquiry, so that this will also be a stimulator for existing and future technology initiatives.

Technology workers are mobile, nature loving people, in search of strong communities. Here, Bodø makes a strong case, and stronger with each passing year, with direct flights to the east via Helsinki, a new UiT location, and an already strong technology sector. If a would-be founder can also calculate that over time he will be left with a larger share of his own company, Bodø is the obvious choice.

"

Following this, I have been invited to meet with the mayor(!) The problem is that I am neither a founder or an economist.

If you want to help me present a strong case either towards the main policy of a reduction or removal of the municipal wealth tax, or towards other actions that could synergize to help make Bodø the tech/ startup capital of Norway, please write below!

Expand full comment

Ah, Scandinavia, heartland of ancient genocide.

https://phys.org/news/2024-02-scandinavia-farmers-slaughtered-hunter-population.html

There was almost complete population replacement in Denmark 5900 years ago. And then it happened again 4850 years ago.

Expand full comment

So apparently this launched yesterday...

https://openai.com/sora

...Man, we're so fucked.

If for some reason you haven't already, I highly suggest that you remove any pictures of yourself from the internet. Things are going to get real ugly.

Expand full comment

Two examples, from Twitter, of nominative determinism of a particular kind, not sure how to call it:

The "German chocolate cake" is a kind of chocolate cake named after 19th century American baker Samuel German.

The "Outerbridge Crossing" is the outermost bridge in NYC, named after Port Authority chairman Eugenius Harvery Outerbridge.

Expand full comment

OC ACXLW Sat Feb 17 Political Trauma and Excuse Game Theory

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 56th Orange County ACX/LW meetup, happening this Saturday and most Saturdays after that.

Host: Michael Michalchik

Email: michaelmichalchik@gmail.com (For questions or requests)

Location: 1970 Port Laurent Place

(949) 375-2045

Date: Saturday, Feb 17 2024

Time 2 pm

Conversation Starters :

Is political discourse degenerating into trauma responses? How is the madness of crowds amplifying trauma politics?

The Psychopolitics Of Trauma - by Scott Alexander

https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/the-psychopolitics-of-trauma

Audio

https://sscpodcast.libsyn.com/the-psychopolitics-of-trauma

The Game theory of excuses:

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/gFMH3Cqw4XxwL69iy/eight-short-studies-on-excuses

Audio: https://podcastaddict.com/the-nonlinear-library-lesswrong-top-posts/episode/138515464

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/A2Qam9Bd9xpbb2wLQ/game-theory-as-a-dark-art

Walk & Talk: We usually have an hour-long walk and talk after the meeting starts. Two mini-malls with hot takeout food are readily accessible nearby. Search for Gelson's or Pavilions in the zip code 92660.

Share a Surprise: Tell the group about something unexpected that changed your perspective on the universe.

Future Direction Ideas: Contribute ideas for the group's future direction, including topics, meeting types, activities, etc.

Expand full comment

Putin just endorsed Biden. "Stable" and "predictable".

I hadn't realized that he was this much of a **troll**. I can't quite picture Putin giggling; maybe he smirks, or just stares with a blank deadpan expression.

Expand full comment

I think it is good that multiple ways exist to pay for online content. Some videos have ads, some authors have Patreon accounts, some people use their free content as an advertisement for their paid content.

But some people just do everything at the same time -- for example a YouTube video that contains ads from YouTube *and* in the middle of the video there is an ad for a third party *and* at the end of the video there is an ad for author's paid videos on a different website *and* there is a link to author's Patreon account.

Are these people completely shameless? Or is everyone else stupid for leaving a lot of money on the table? Speaking for myself, I wouldn't send a cent to a person who seems so greedy. But I am not a typical internet user; other people might enjoy being abused.

Expand full comment

I'm a soon to be 4th year med student and will soon have more time on my hands as rotations calm down. I also have a couple bachelor's degrees (though not super useful ones), decent scientific writing ability, rudimentary stats skills, and significant research experience. However, I can't code unless you count basic R.

Does anyone have thoughts on ways I could earn some money in the next year? I will still have obligations during the week days but a lot of free time in evenings and weekends. The two options I see floated a lot are tutoring and gig economy work. However, I'm too far removed from my prior MCAT tutoring to go back to that, and even if my soon to be released Step 2 score is excellent, there doesn't seem to be much demand for step tutoring. As far as Doordash, I do have a car but it doesn't pay well as far as I can tell. ChatGPT wasn't much help.

Expand full comment

Listening to NPR, and I learned that somebody with "antisemitic texts" in their house shot up a church. Must be a white supremacist nazi or something?

Expand full comment

Can anyone recommend good Supreme Court Journalists or bloggers? Preferably ones that focus on the legal argument and do not just talk about about the practical effects the decisions will have on people. Preferably minimal political bias.

Expand full comment

Do any of the new image generators / alterers allow you to upload pictures of yourself or another person at different ages, and have it adjust different-age pictures to a requested age?

Like you have a picture of your grandma at age 20 and age 90, can it impute a picture of her at age 50?

Or a picture of yourself ten years ago vs today - can you age the younger picture to you today, keeping the background and setting?

Expand full comment

Here's a geometry problem that may be a bit challenging, but fun to think about and doodle. I know of two solutions, one of which is strikingly simple.

Consider a convex quadrilateral. Label its sides a,b,c,d in clockwise order, and let its area be S. Prove that S <= (ac+bd)/2.

Expand full comment

EA for Jews is running another round of the EA and Judaism Intro Fellowship this March (https://eaforjews.org/take-action/fellowship/)!

The fellowship has been impactful for many participants, and I expect there are many others who would enjoy and benefit from the program if they heard about it!

If you are connected to any Jewish communities or networks, please help spread the word! Here are some resources for doing so: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wD7LWMFbwBGTmZkN-oAFZyQ0vbRHUjHE5pnf56-vVU4/edit#heading=h.ijx47wt9n700

Expand full comment

Is there any way to disable the substack subscribe pop-up? I've noticed this site does not have the pop up either for the main page or the individual articles. However I cannot find instructions on how to turn it off anywhere on the internet? (edit I have figured out how to turn it off the individual articles, but is there any way to remove it from the main page without linking to the archive)

Expand full comment

Is there a way to check your post history? I was banned from a particular Substack and I have no real idea why. I only discovered it recently, presumably quite a ways after the fact, since I don't post on their Substack much. I am curious if, in fact, the individual in question didn't even ban me for posts on their own Substack, but it was one of those bans you see on Reddit sometimes where it's because they said something you don't like elsewhere.

Expand full comment

Does anyone know what's up with polymarket's US election market? With Michelle Obama at 7% and thousands of dollars on the order book, it seems too much like free money. What's the catch?

Expand full comment
Feb 13·edited Feb 13

The Waiting Guy

Recently I had a somewhat strange experience. I'm sure it's perfectly normal, but it felt like the kind of thing that would appear at the start of a conspiracy thriller or ghost story if those were things that could actually happen.

When I went out for ice cream, there was a guy sitting on a bench on the sidewalk in front of the Apple Store. He didn't have anything to do other than occasionally check his phone and just sat there for forty minutes looking around for no apparent reason. He often looked at the Apple Store, and I guessed that he must be waiting for someone inside, although 40 minutes seemed like a long time for someone to be inside.

The strangest part is that right after I finished eating my ice cream 40 minutes later, just as I was preparing to leave, he abruptly got up and walked up the street ahead of me. He walked half a block up and disappeared inside a burger shop, so I thought he might be meeting someone there, but when I went inside right afterwards out of curiosity, there was no sign of him or anyone else he might have been meeting. He'd just vanished.

The best explanation I can think of is that he had to use the bathroom and immediately hid in the bathroom so I didn't see him, but that still doesn't explain why he sat outside for 40 minutes with nothing to do or why he went to that specific restaurant to use the bathroom. And it's probably for customers only anyway. The whole thing was very mysterious.

P.S. He also had a mask on the whole time (despite sitting outside), which itself is pretty uncommon nowadays.

Expand full comment
Feb 13·edited Feb 13

Seems like the top level domain of this Substack is still broken/a placeholder: https://astralcodexten.com/.

Expand full comment

Periodically I see people link to Sam Kriss in these open threads, and I wanted to drop a link to his most recent post, which is one of the best things I've read in months

https://samkriss.substack.com/p/manifesto-of-the-armed-front-of-love

He has opinions about polyamory, which has been discussed here a lot again lately, but the piece is much more than that

Expand full comment
founding

So, not satisfied with Microsoft's paltry billions, Sam Altman seems to be asking the UAE for seven *trillion* dollars to build lots of new high-end chip fabs. This strikes me as roughly equivalent to 1960s Dr. Evil asking for "one hundred billion dollars!", and everybody laughs because there's not that much money in the world. OK, I missed the bit where they redefined M1 a few years ago and there's now a bit over twenty trillion dollars in (mostly virtual) circulation; he's only asking for one-third of all the dollars in the world.

And yes, I get that he's not literally asking for a supertanker full of dollars; he's looking for capital broadly defined and in many forms. It still doesn't pass the giggle test; I talked about this with people I know in the AI and chip-manufacturing fields, and there are too many parts of this plan that aren't going to work. First off, the combined sovereign wealth funds of all the petrostates don't quite reach the seven-terabuck level, and they're not all going to give everything to Sam Altman no matter what he promises. Second, the semiconductor industry can't usefully absorb that level of investment in much less than a generation. We don't have the people, or the tooling, or the resources, and we don't have the people to train the people or the tools to build the tools on less than a generational timescale. And even if you handwave seven trillion dollars' worth of chip fabs into existence, we don't have the electric power generation capacity to run all those chips (and the associated cooling stacks).

So, what is Sam up to? The simplest, easiest answer is that he's just trolling us, generating bullshit or hype for whatever purpose. That seems unsatisfactory as an explanation, but it's possible.

If he imagines that he's actually going to get the seven trillion dollars, I'm pretty sure he's wrong. If he thinks that, given the seven trillion dollars, the stuff he wants to buy with it will be available in the marketplace, I'm pretty sure he's wrong. And if the plan is that he's going to manage the construction of a vertically-integrated industrial economy on the scale of Israel or Sweden so as to build all the stuff he wants to buy, then yeah, he's wrong and mocking laughter is warranted.

Is there something else he might be up to that's not laughably wrong? Or at least wrong in some interesting way I haven't thought of?

Also, this suggests that Sam Altman seems to believe that, in order to achieve his goal, he thinks he needs seven trillion dollars' worth of computronium. Well, of computronium-manufacturing capability, so probably tens of trillions of dollars worth of computronium. And lots of new power plants.

If Sam Altman's goal is "build a true AGI", or maybe ASI, does that mean he thinks true AGI/ASI requires more computronium than sensible people think is going to exist in the next twenty years?

Expand full comment

This probably the wrong place to ask but has pro football become less brutal in the last 20 or 30 years? I watched the end of the Super Bowl last night - to see if the Taylor Swift psyop succeeded. ;-) - and it looked a lot less bone crunching than I remember.

Expand full comment

Why do I perceive people talking about sports to sound dumb? Is it because I’ve chosen to think sports knowledge is a waste of synapses, or is there something to it? I find sports talk particularly vacuous because it seems like dumb talk that tries to sound smart, full of technical speak and numbers.

Expand full comment

It seems attorneys are still valuable given Scott is happy to pay the normal rate, but for other services he often requests the service provider give freely. Or maybe I am misremembering.

Expand full comment

Does anyone have suggestions for resources to learn just enough C++ to port a sketch/simple library from the old Arduino uno AVR architecture to work on either an ESP8266 based board or an arduino R4 board (yes I realize that these are two different chips with two different architectures, I don't need both, just either/or)?

My current programming experience is all in either R or python, and my small amount of googling hasn't turned up anything that seems really accessible to learning C++, especially as relevant to these micro-controllers.

Expand full comment

(repost from last thread)

I just talked to someone I know who's a long time employee of the CDC (nothing COVID related). He said that the leadership was clearly clueless and that morale was low and that everyone he knew who was old enough to retire was planning to retire soon. I'd heard him gripe about work before, but never anything like this, and it was pretty depressing to hear.

Most of it sounded like regular office politics and bureaucratic nonsense, but at one point he also said "It's clearly coming from the White House". And he's a Democrat, so this isn't just Gray Man Bad either.

Expand full comment

Perhaps the peak woke really is over. Recently I have watched two movies with politically incorrect themes, which a few years ago probably would have been career-ending for anyone who participated. Both movies were produced in 2023.

Lady Ballers -- https://www.imdb.com/title/tt30216176/ -- is a quite simplistic jab at its political opponents, but there are a few funny moments. The funniest part of the movie is probably this screen: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt30216176/mediaviewer/rm3699133185/ Everything else is mostly predictable.

American Fiction -- https://www.imdb.com/title/tt23561236/ -- is a great movie that I would really recommend to everyone, regardless of their politics. The main topic is still political, but more nuanced; and other things happen there, too. Still, liking this film too much and discussing it where woke people can hear you could get you in some trouble.

Expand full comment

Does anyone know any good studies on the effects of sex (rough or otherwise) during early pregnancy on the likelihood of miscarriage? I found this paper from 2012 saying that basically zero research has been done on topic, but maybe the past decade has changed that? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310038/

Expand full comment

Apologies if you already know these things but it would be best if the attorney you consult:

-- is licensed in California because non-profit incorporation is governed by state laws not federal; and

-- is specifically experienced with non-profit stuff just like you'd consult a real estate attorney about property laws. etc. The federal tax-exempt related aspects in particular have plenty of nuance and in my experience many people including other types of attorneys harbor wrong assumptions/impressions about how it works.

Expand full comment

Mi friend suffers from endometriosis and fibromyalgia, experiencing a lot of pain. Thanks to this blog, I have discovered low-hanging fruits for some issues like melatonin or silexan, and I was wondering if there is any simple way to alleviate the pain.

Expand full comment

I am trying to solve this acute mental energy depletion / fatigue problem I have. For anything writing or verbal related, I can work for basically an unending number of hours (like I get so focused I can spend two hours revising an email), but all the classes I’m taking are math or science, and I can barely get started and crash after a few hours of work. It’s like my brain has some physical resistance or delimiter to certain kinds of cognitive tasks, but those are the cognitive tasks I actually need to do. This is serious because I had to drop 3 out of four classes last semester (all of which were STEM classes), and now I’m seriously behind on the classes I’m taking this semester. Has anyone solved a personal problem like this before? If not, what do you suspect is happening at a low level?

Expand full comment

https://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kim_02_24/

"WHY DON'T WE JUST KILL THE KID IN THE OMELAS HOLE" by Isabel J. Kim

This is a discussable story, with different sorts of utilatarianism and non-utilatarians duking it out., but I also think of it as rationalist sf from a mainstream source. I've seen it described as resembling David Foster Wallace, but I see the extreme ethical speculation as rationalist. The other thing that indicates rationalist sf to me is speculative physics.

Another example is Tim Pratt's Marla Mason stories-- magic is real, every city has an insane wizard, but there's also multiple universes and such. The first four were published by Signet and the rest were self-published.

Expand full comment

Skynet has destroyed the human race and can do whatever it wants with the Earth. Across the planet, there are huge tracts of land used for farming, or which humans cleared of trees long ago to make open areas for various purposes (e.g. - soccer field, aesthetic lawn). Why does Skynet do with those open spaces?

My first guess was that it would let nature reclaim them since it would have no use for them. But then I thought that might work against Skynet's interests in the longer run, since if it wanted to use that land for anything later on (like building a factory or power plant), it would have to remove all the new trees. Wouldn't it be better for Skynet to keep mowing all the farm fields, lawns, and soccer fields to keep the land underneath easily available for future development?

Expand full comment

Any idea why my cardio performance is consistently better in the evening than in the morning or afternoon? I track my heart rate when I do cardio, and for the last few years my heart rate is always 10 or even 15 beats slower in the evening when working out. If I do the exact same exercise in the morning or early afternoon, my heart rate is 10-15 beats higher. A lot of times I'm working out on a treadmill so I can pretty precisely control my speed, so the only X factor is time of day. I do drink a cup of coffee when I wake up, but other than that I'm not a big caffeine user, so I don't think it can be blamed on that. Why would cardiovascular performance always be better later in the day?

Expand full comment

There’s a general idea out there, I believe, that even if the west starts to decouple from carbon production it still has to pay for the sins of the past, for the last few centuries or at least since the Industrial Revolution.

I wonder though how much carbon was emitted pre WWII in Europe and the US. Surely China in industrialising emitted more carbon than the west (even the world) in the 19C.

I base this on the population of the world being 1.6B by 1900 which was the largest of that century, of which maximum 500m were Europeans or American.

Further, most of Europe and America was poor and un-industrialised by modern standards, with most of the population even in rapidly industrialising countries, France, U.K., Germany, US etc being poor as well. That’s probably a given.

I wonder if this logic holds up until 1945 though. I sometimes look at the restored YouTube videos of film stock from the pre war period, and it’s fairly bleak in most countries. After the war is a different story.

Edit: edited for clarity.

Expand full comment

Partly inspired by a quote from the ACX grants post: "getting lots of people to use IVF is a prerequisite to high-impact reproductive technologies like polygenic screening."

What exactly does "getting lots of people to use IVF" mean? I was under the impression that it's a fairly common practice for couples who have trouble getting pregnant, but if you don't have trouble getting pregnant, why would you go through all of the expense and hassle?

Should society encourage (or should governments even require) all reproduction to take place through IVF with polygenic screening?

Expand full comment

I continue writing a series on anthropic reasoning with the main premise that as long as you use basic probability theory correctly, all the weirdness dissolves and everything is adding up to normality.

My recent two posts are:

Another Non-Anthropic Paradox: The Unsurprising Rareness of Rare Events

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bHzcKEEHL854KsWGM/another-non-anthropic-paradox-the-unsurprising-rareness-of - It explores a nuance in probability theory that many people apparently misunderstand, but gloss over, until it comes up in reasoning about anthropics.

Why Two Valid Answers Approach is not Enough for Sleeping Beauty

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/zT9QGTv3zsnqorim7/why-two-valid-answers-approach-is-not-enough-for-sleeping - a first post in a sub-series dedicated specifically to solving Sleeping Beauty paradox. It justifies the idea of an actual solution to the problem, instead of dismissing it on the grounds of both answers being valid.

Expand full comment

Is it just me who gets linked to a weird"test website" when typing in the acx url?

Expand full comment

Might as ask here, since here's where the thought started:

I'm thinking about a comedy where there's a company with oppressive sexist management and woke feminist activist employees labouring under it.

What are some ideas for ways they can strike blows against one another?

EDIT:

Being pretty right wing anti-feminist myself, I'm especially interested in left-wingers' ideas about what the girls could be fighting to achieve in this context.

Left to my own devices I'll model feminists the way I think of them, and have them doing things like tearing down the pinup calendars out of spite that the men have sexy girls to look at.

But it would probably be better to hear what ideological Turing Test-passing feminists would actually want to do instead. (I have no problem with feminists being sympathetic characters in the story.)

The constraints are that the story still needs to work (so I can't just get everyone fired on either side) and I'm not keen on having social media drama stuff be a big significant part of the story. Ideally I want things that the men can get hurt by and then find ways to hit back that hurts the girls, in a sort of cat and mouse game that can escalate over the film.

Expand full comment

I'm trying to help my partner struggling with severe psychological issues (from a layman point of view, I'd label it psychosis, PTSD or depression, but what do I know) and a bad case of alcoholism. So far I believe we managed to significantly reduce the frequency of binges, but any time we separate for over half a day, it feels like playing Russian roulette, out of nowhere a breakdown can happen and send him on a binge, with severe culpability and self-loathing later on.

So far his strategy of coffee m choice had been to go cold turkey when we're together, but I'm wondering, would there be some merit in a very responsible and careful consumption (like, no more than a quarter of pint of beer per day), while we're together, to make it less traumatic if/when it happens? Or would it make it a lot more likely to have more episodes later?

Expand full comment

How do you think about the political influence or power of public figures like Taylor Swift? She wasn't really on my radar at all since last year, and I keep hearing increasingly crazier takes about her influence. Historically I've thought of celebrity endorsements of politicians as something that people largely disregard.

Expand full comment

What do people think of "greens powders" like AG1 and Huel Daily Greens? Are they anything more than a pretentious and overpriced multivitamin? I've seen lots of advertising for them lately, both physical (for example on the London Underground) and online (YouTube ads).

If you look at the list of ingredients for Huel Daily Greens, it has lots of healthy sounding fruits and vegetables. But realistically, even accounting for them being more compact when dried and ground, I doubt you're getting more than 0.1 g of any particular ingredient in a serving, which seems unlikely to have any significant health benefits. If you look at the nutritional information, it looks a lot like a multivitamin + probiotic.

What's the argument or rationale for why a greens powder might be better than a multivitamin? People sometimes talk about "whole foods" being in some vague way healthier, or suggest that nutrients might be more easily absorbed from them than from a pill, but is there good evidence for this?

I've been having a glass of Huel Daily Greens instead of a multivitamin with breakfast every morning for the past couple of weeks. The taste is fairly pleasant. I feel like I'm in generally good health, but don't feel noticeably different from before.

There are various commenters and reviewers who say that taking a greens powder daily has made them feel amazing. Why do you think this might be? Did they have some underlying vitamin/mineral deficiency that might have been treated just as well by a multivitamin? Were their diets short on fruit and veg, and this has made up for it? Is it a plaebo effect? Fake reviews/paid advertising?

Expand full comment

Raise your hand if you've been laid off recently 🖐️🖐️✋

Beyond the obvious pragmatic hurdles, maybe it's not always such a bad thing. Come see what I mean:

https://kyleimes.substack.com/p/the-beauty-in-being-laid-off

Expand full comment
Feb 12·edited Feb 12

Open threads call for wide-ranging free form discussions, independent of the subject of recent blog posts.

It is time to make use of this freedom granted by the blog author and wish everyone well.

I wish everyone well.

Note: Here's Gurdeep Pandher dancing for joy in the Yukon wilderness:

https://www.threads.net/@gurdeeppandher/post/C2SYYI9rMsv

Expand full comment

At what age does yawning first become contagious? Has anyone done the study? If not, Scott, give me an ACX grant - the world needs to know this.

Expand full comment

This is another update to my long-running attempt at predicting the outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Previous update is here: https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/open-thread-284/comment/18334724

14 % on Ukrainian victory (down from 15 % on July 10, 2023).

I define Ukrainian victory as either a) Ukrainian government gaining control of the territory it had not controlled before February 24 without losing any similarly important territory and without conceding that it will stop its attempts to join EU or NATO, b) Ukrainian government getting official ok from Russia to join EU or NATO without conceding any territory and without losing de facto control of any territory it had controlled before February 24 of 2022, or c) return to exact prewar status quo ante.

42 % on compromise solution that both sides might plausibly claim as a victory (down from 46 % on July 10, 2023).

44 % on Ukrainian defeat (up from 39 % on July 10, 2023).

I define Ukrainian defeat as Russia getting what it wants from Ukraine without giving any substantial concessions. Russia wants either a) Ukraine to stop claiming at least some of the territories that were before war claimed by Ukraine but de facto controlled by Russia or its proxies, or b) Russia or its proxies (old or new) to get more Ukrainian territory, de facto recognized by Ukraine in something resembling Minsk ceasefire(s)* or c) some form of guarantee that Ukraine will became neutral, which includes but is not limited to Ukraine not joining NATO. E.g. if Ukraine agrees to stay out of NATO without any other concessions to Russia, but gets mutual defense treaty with Poland and Turkey, that does NOT count as Ukrainian defeat.

Discussion:

This update is prompted purely by the dismissal of General Zaluzhnyi from a command of the Ukrainian military. Other newsworthy things concerning the war are also happening right now, but they are kind of already “baked in” in my prediction, if that makes sense.

And Zaluzhnyi's dismissal is an important event because it doesn't make damn sense. He was given a difficult hand at the start of the war and played it extremely well, massively outperforming expectations (including mine, as evident from a direction of this updates).

Moreover, it’s not like he won many honors in the past but was underperforming recently. Despite lags in Western aid, current Russian offensive is so far characterized by big losses and failure to take anything important, which is no small achievement on the part of the Ukrainian military.

Of course, his successor, General Syrskyi, was there all the time, also playing important part in Ukrainian victories. I don’t find rumors that Syrskyi is, like, a bad commander, especially credible. In fact, in this situation, making guy no.2 into a successor is probably the least bad option.

Instead, there are several different reasons why this changes my prediction: 1) effect on morale of soldiers and Ukrainian society more generally, 2) chilling effect on critical voices from the military providing needed feedback to a political leadership, 3) it comes with implicit mandate to do more of an aggressive offensive action to liberate occupied territories, which is imho high risk, low reward proposition in 2024, 4) possible negative impact on Western aid.

But most importantly, it is important in what it reveals about Zelenskyi and his lack of judgment. To be clear, while I recognize Russia as the aggressor in this war, I always had a low opinion of Zelenskyi, who made one very important and personally brave decision, namely refusing to flee Kyiv at the start of the war, but otherwise I find his record unimpressive. But this, let's say significantly reduces my doubt that my assessment of him was perhaps unfair.

*Minsk ceasefire or ceasefires (first agreement did not work, it was amended by second and since then it worked somewhat better) constituted, among other things, de facto recognition by Ukraine that Russia and its proxies will control some territory claimed by Ukraine for some time. In exchange Russia stopped trying to conquer more Ukrainian territory. Until February 24 of 2022, that is.

Expand full comment

Suppose I have £X cash available (in my bank account and not needed for any short-term expenditure). Suppose also that £X is significantly less than my net asset value, so my value function on money will be close to linear at that order of magnitude.

Suppose I am offered two bets, each of which will pay out in 6 months. In the first bet, I can get odds of 1/8 (i.e. for each £8 I stake, I will win £1, implied probability 89%) for an event I believe to be almost certain (say, 99%). In the second bet, I can get odds of 1/2 (i.e. for each £2 I stake, I will win £1, implied probability 67%) for an event I believe to be very likely (say, 90%). In either case, I'll pay 2% commission on my winnings (which will not be taxable).

If I bet £1,000 on the first bet, I expect to gain £125 x 0.99 x 0.98 - £1,000 x 0.01 = £111.28.

If I bet £1,000 on the second bet, I expect to gain £500 x 0.9 x 0.98 - £1,000 x 0.1 = £341.

Clearly the second bet is more profitable, but it is higher variance, i.e. I'm ten times as likely to lose all the money wagered, which I dislike.

I expect these bets will only be available for a short time, so realistically the maximum amount I can bet is £X. On the other hand, if I bet all of £X, I will not have cash available to take advantage of other opportunities which may arise (although I do expect to accrue more cash as time passes).

Is there any principle on which I can decide how much to wager on each option?

Expand full comment

Concept for Toy Story sequels as a vector for popularizing some ideas which people here consider important:

Toy Story 5 dips into the romantic comedy genre. Messes with gender-role assumptions by having Andy's college girlfriend be the more proactive one while he's the nigh-unattainable object of desire. Also, she turns out to be trans - that is, trans *human.* A RealDoll whose original owner died, then she walked away, scrounged up a fake ID, and figured out how to pass. Not at all interested in sex herself (which has dark implications about that previous situation which the movie subtly acknowledges yet avoids dwelling on), but of course very interested in romance. Established main-cast toys play the role of a religious community which is at first deeply conflicted and even hostile, since her very existence challenges dichotomies their worldview depends on, but ultimately won over by her sincerity and compassion.

In the B-plot, Andy's internship at a space exploration company involves a mars rover which is staying active longer than should be possible, given its known battery capacity and so on. Turns out an RC car is a type of toy, and simply didn't realize it was supposed to stop playing in the big red sandbox.

Toy Story 6, Andy's gotten married, they're trying to figure out how to have kids, and his wife is being investigated for the murder of the guy who originally commissioned her construction.

Toy Story 7, military-espionage thriller. Cat's out of the bag: aggressively competent humans have found out just enough of the fundamental secret of how toys really work to start making it happen on purpose. North Korea expy wants to reinvent terra cotta soldiers. Others have more benign but still ethically fraught agendas. By the finale, wainscot-society conceit has broken down; toys are collaborating openly with humans, setting is irrevocably transformed.

Expand full comment

For anyone interested in self-improvement, I write about action-oriented techniques that have helped me overcome social anxiety, my ability to make friends and talk to girls, and made me a (far) more agentic individual

https://youbutbetter.substack.com/

Expand full comment
Feb 12·edited Feb 14

Question for overweight people. How often are you hungry ? For how long ? How bad does hunger feel, compared to, say, a paper cut, thirst or muscle sore ? Do you ever wake up or fail to fall asleep because of hunger ?

What's your hunger qualia like ?

Expand full comment

In the ACX Grants, there were $20k going to IVF "success" transparency.

IMHO people often get the utility function wrong (because of oversimplification).

The possible outcomes are far more diverse than birth yes/no.

E.g. "no birth" is for sure unfavorable, but there is still a different level based on:

1.) how much life-time did you invest before getting to the point of give up

2.) how intact is your relationship at that point. will the clinic help to stay aligned on how far you want to proceed? Or will they push until one of you is breaking down?

3.) how intact is your financial situation at that point?

Similar on the "birth" side, there are different cases.

E.g. depending on your situation, twins might be double lucky or too much to carry.

Expand full comment

I don't make new friends easily, so when I do it's cause for what, celebration, concern, both? At any rate, Szechuan chiles are incredibly hot, and strangely addictive. I wrote about both, friendship and Szechuan chiles here: https://falsechoices.substack.com/p/floater-part-1-an-introduction

Expand full comment

ImageFX by Google (https://aitestkitchen.withgoogle.com/tools/image-fx) seems to conclusively win the image generation bet (https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/i-won-my-three-year-ai-progress-bet). It reliably achieves 3/5, and occasionally 4/5.

1. A stained glass picture of a woman in a library with a raven on her shoulder with a key in its mouth

No. After about 20 attempts, it sometimes captures "on her shoulder" and rarely "in its mouth," but I never got them together.

2. An oil painting of a man in a factory looking at a cat wearing a top hat

It succeeds but tends to also place a top hat on the man.

3. A digital art picture of a child riding a llama with a bell on its tail through a desert

Gets it something like 10% of the time.

4. A 3D render of an astronaut in space holding a fox wearing lipstick

Yes

5. Pixel art of a farmer in a cathedral holding a red basketball

Yes

Image generators struggle to depict the absence of something mentioned in the prompt. This would've been a useful test addition.

Expand full comment

Have you heard of the thirty egg challenge?

It went viral recently, apparently it makes girls mad online, not sure exactly why

https://twitter.com/Hef0/status/1737628409633898630

https://twitter.com/tautologer/status/1749864682960375890

I found it relatively easy to eat thirty eggs in a day.

Also, what happened to alternating between politics and no politics in open threads?

Expand full comment

What's a website that you visit often that most people here probably don't?

This could be a subreddit, forum, group / community, blog, someone's twitter feed, a random YouTube channel, etc.

Expand full comment

just a note, if any based readers want to come to my dinner group, email me or DM me

Expand full comment