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At this point, nearly every industrialized country has total fertility rates below replacement levels. The US is doing better than many 1.7 births per woman. The situation is much worse elsewhere, with both Italy and Japan at 1.3, and South Korea at a disasterous 0.9. All of this is a problem because it tends to make the population top-heavy, with relatively few working-age adults supporting a relatively large pool of retired seniors.

Anyone care to make some predictions on what we will see countries doing to fight this trend?

I think it's a no-brainer that we will see a lot of money thrown at this problem. Pre-school child care will probably become highly subsidized. Quebec, Canada, for instance has a program where child care costs parents only CAN$9.10 per day. I also wouldn't be surprised to see subsidized housing for young families, although I don't remember seeing it yet. Medical fertility interventions like IVF might also be subsidized.

I also expect immigration to be permitted, and even encouraged, in many places. In some cases that may be temporary imports of labor though guest worker programs, but in other cases it will involve permanent residents.

Finally, I expect to see retirement ages pushed up. Retirement at 65 will probably become something of the past.

But what else might we see? And will any of this work?

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Subsidize minivans, haha.

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They'll simply import a billion Chinese to replace us. Chinese work hard and don't question authority, they make far better citizens than we do.

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Apr 20·edited Apr 20

China's TFR is 1.2, so they have it worse than most of the West. I wouldn't be surprised if they started restricting emigration within the next generation or so, when the problem really starts to bite.

Anyone looking to cover this problem with immigration really needs to be a fan of Africans, since that's where fertility tends to be the highest right now. There are also a few places in Asia (like Kyrgyzstan) and South America (Bolivia) with high TFR, but they are small.

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Africans can't fix the problem, because large scale, unselected african immigration can never have a positive fiscal impact. America needs more Americans - that is, people with the same distribution of characteristics as the American population or better. Unselected African immigrants will, in aggregate, only ever be a fiscal drain, even ignoring the myriad negative externalities they will almost inevitably bring.

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We could legalize housing, and undo many of the other little things that each make parenting just a tiny bit more expensive and annoying. ("Car Seats Are Contraception," that sort of thing.)

Get rid of the expectation of higher education so people can get started on their careers and families four years earlier. Already seeing a little bit of that.

Coming at the problem from the other end, throw money into anti-aging research and then tell all the oldsters to get back to work.

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>We could legalize housing

The most "YIMBY" countries of the world, in Asia, have the lowest fertility in the world.

Not only does it not help things, but population density seems to strongly predict against fertility: https://www.emilkirkegaard.com/p/fertility-questions-the-role-of-population

>Get rid of the expectation of higher education so people can get started on their careers and families four years earlier.

What do you mean "get rid of" as if you're talking about a government policy that can be repealed?

This is a massive cultural change that nobody can will into existence over any reasonable time frame.

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>This is a massive cultural change that nobody can will into existence over any reasonable time frame.

The best time to plant a tree was a hundred years ago. The second best time is today.

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> What do you mean "get rid of" [expectation of education] as if you're talking about a government policy that can be repealed?

Some jobs have some kind of education as a legal requirement. Makes sense for a surgeon, but much less sense for a hairdresser. The specific rules vary from place to place, but generally, formal education is usually required for many kinds of jobs. Software development is a huge *exception* in this aspect.

This also makes it more difficult to change profession, once you decide that the choice you made when you were 18 perhaps does not fit your current personality and situation. For example, once I seriously considered that maybe it would be better for me to walk away from software development, and become a plumber or a carpenter instead. No more meetings and Jira tickets, flexible working hours, doing something useful and relatively well paid using my hands while perhaps thinking about some open-source project I would do in my free time. How difficult could it be? I mean, there are YouTube videos for everything, I could start by doing things cheaply for the most desperate customers and gradually level up... Ha-ha, nope. Instead, it would be hundreds of hours of formal training (not even available in my city, so I would have to relocate or commute a lot), then a few years of practice working for someone else until I am finally allowed to work independently... nope, I am too old for that. (For the contrast, consider a former plumber who wants to become a software developer instead. If he has the skills, he could literally start the job tomorrow.)

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Japan has no shortage of housing, and high school isn't even mandatory there. 1.26 fertility rate.

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Well, it... okay, that's a fair point. We should do it anyway though, it certainly can't hurt.

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The problem in Japan and South Korea is that while they let women get educated and work, they make it difficult for women with children to work outside the home. A lot of young women take a look at those options and say yes to the job and no to the kids.

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Did you have some sort of proof of this? Some data? Surveys?

Sounds reasonable but it's also very easy to just say as a reason.

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It probably doesn't help that Japan requires workers to stay late at the office and then go out drinking every night.

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My last suggestion would also fix the Social Security problem. And George R. R. Martin might even live long enough to finish Game of Thrones (admittedly this one's a reach.) Though on the downside we'll never be rid of Trump and Biden.

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Apr 20·edited Apr 20

There is, of course, one solution that is almost sure to work that nobody wants to consider or even mention. The root of the problem is that many women are pursuing careers, and are either too busy or are simply unwilling to have children (to be more precise, enough children to exceed replacement rate). This was obviously not a problem in the past.

Unfortunately, it seems that allowing women agency is not sustainable. But would any country actually be willing to reverse all of this social progress for the "greater good"? If the GOP does end up taking full control of the US, I could see them doing it. They're already being pretty gung-ho about the whole abortion issue. But I don't see it happening in any functional democracy. Though, all these western democracies do seem to be on the verge of collapse anyways...

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founding

<quote>There is, of course, one solution that is almost sure to work that nobody wants to consider or even mention</quote>

I'm not sure the post actually proposed a solution? Only identified a problem.

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I read it as going back to keeping women barefoot and pregnant would increase fertility rate. Could be an incorrect interpretation though.

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founding

but that's not really a solution unless you say how you would achieve it.

'have more babies' is not a solution unless you say how you would actually get people to do that.

perhaps I can read between the lines, and guess that the proposed solution is to roll back equal rights, but if that's the case than I can toss it out, since that is not a feasible solution.

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I did take it as rolling back equal rights.

With …

> Unfortunately, it seems that allowing women agency is not sustainable

and

> If the GOP does end up taking full control of the US, I could see them doing it. They're already being pretty gung-ho about the whole abortion issue.

… being my clues.

I don’t think it was meant as a solution, more of a lament at the perceived direction of the GOP agenda.

Another clue is anomie’s user name suggesting an anticipated breakdown of moral and ethical standards.

The tone seemed ironic so I didn’t give it a literal reading and that’s why I alluded to a Margaret Atwood dystopia in my comment below

But I should let anomie speak for themself.

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Not sure where you are going with this but I don’t think we’re at defcon Margaret Atwood just yet.

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Say what you will about Nicolae Ceaușescu, but his fertility program ensured that he didn't have to worry about post-retirement life...

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The other one is cutting senior social support and letting the problem take care of itself.

This also works a lot faster than the other suggestion.

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...That doesn't even do anything to solve the problem of declining population. Also, old people can vote, and some of them have a lot of money and power. And also there's the obvious fact that everyone becomes old eventually, and thus have an active stake in this. Even ending democracy might not be enough to get rid of support for seniors.

At least with the gender issue, most of the male population would be happy to enforce the patriarchy themselves.

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founding

There's a list of things I'd *like* to see them do. But I'm guessing the current industrialized-nation governments are not going to do anything effective, just pile on more of the same stuff that hasn't worked so far and probably never will.

Until a number of factors including but not limited to a top-heavy population pyramid lead to economic catastrophe. Which I suspect will increase TFR by reducing the *relative* cost of child-raising and removing some of the tempting alternatives.

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Have you been talking to the Nybbler again, John?

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Apr 19·edited Apr 19

Germany or Sweden seem to do much more when it comes to subsidizing families/children, yet families have less children than in the US for example. Is does't seem to be a lever we can use.

I would say the best chance of actually changing this trend is economic growth / technological change, in the way that we all work far less in the future (and therefore have more time). Another big impact could obviously come from artificial wombs, where women would no longer have to face any trade-offs. Life-extending medicine could also have an impact on demographics (because less people would die over a certain period of time).

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Since 2009, Sweden's TFR actually seems to have tracked the American TFR very closely until the last year or so. https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/sweden/usa?sc=XE26

One could always argue that the TFRs would be even lower without those generous policies.

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Since 2009, Sweden's TFR actually seems to have tracked the American TFR very closely until the last year or so. https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/sweden/usa?sc=XE26

One could always argue that the TFRs would be even lower without those generous policies.

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Random thought: Christian Bale was drastically miscast as Patrick Bateman, he's too good-looking.

Patrick Bateman is a man who spends a lot of effort on his looks, but I don't think he's working with particularly good raw material, so he doesn't wind up looking like a movie star, just like an over-groomed average looking dude. I think that the deep sense of insecurity that Bateman has is not really compatible with natural good looks. Maybe he should look a bit more like Pete Campbell from Mad Men; not bad looking but not exactly lighting up the room with his smile.

He feels to me like an 1980s version of one of those guys who tries way too hard on Linkedin, but since it's the 1980s and there's no Linkedin he just murders people instead.

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I haven't read the book, but...

It works for me. I don't think I have personal experience with Bateman's particular type of psychopathy, but my impression is that it doesn't depend on looks. Whatever it is about him that reads as "insecurity" is more like a gaping internal void that can never be filled; no amount of success or status will ever be enough.

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I get to look at the semi famous face of Vincent Kartheiser - Pete Cambell - every time I stop for a beer at the corner bar. He shills for the joint in a photo because he was born across the river in Minneapolis. I think they might have paid him a few bucks too. Looking at his Wikipedia page I see he dropped out of school at 15 to ‘make money.’

They also have photos of a couple of baseball hall of farmers because they played high school ball at the Catholic school across the street.

No photos of Christian Bale though. Just a sign that says ‘No WiFi. Get drunk and talk to each other.’

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I thought the exact opposite: He was too well cast. A great actor is by definition a form of psychopath, a charming camouflaged thing. The outcome was a cartoon of a cartoon-- one too many layers deep.

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OC ACXLW Sat April 20 Childhood and Education Roundup #5

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 62nd 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, April 20 2024

Time 2 pm

Conversation Starter:

Childhood and Education Roundup #5 by Zvi Mowshowitz: A wide-ranging discussion of various topics related to childhood and education, including bullying, truancy, active shooter drills, censorship, woke kindergarten, tracking, homeschooling, the impact of smartphones on children's mental health, and more.

Text and Audio link: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/a7YuB25vu35ajfxS2/childhood-and-education-roundup-5

Questions for discussion:

1) The article cites a study that finds bullying has lifelong negative effects, including lower subjective well-being, increased mortality risk, and reduced job prospects in adulthood. However, Zvi expresses concern that the study's controls may be inadequate, as bullying is often a function of the victim's social status and response. How can researchers effectively control for these factors to isolate the causal impact of bullying itself?

2) Zvi discusses the case of "Woke Kindergarten," a controversial program implemented in a San Francisco school district that included materials with questions about abolishing work, landlords, Israel, and borders. The article also mentions that test scores in the district fell, with less than 4% of students proficient in math and under 12% at grade level in English. While the article does not directly attribute this decline to the "Woke Kindergarten" program, what does this case suggest about the challenges of implementing politically charged curricula in early childhood education, and how can schools ensure that educational content is both age-appropriate and academically rigorous?

3) The article presents data showing a substantial increase in homeschooling rates in the United States following the COVID-19 pandemic, with many families continuing to homeschool even after schools reopened. Zvi interprets this as a strong endorsement of homeschooling by families who tried it. What factors might contribute to this sustained shift toward homeschooling, and what implications could this have for the future of public education?

4) Citing survey data and time-use studies, Zvi argues that excessive smartphone use among children and adolescents is associated with reduced sleep, decreased in-person socializing, and worsening mental health outcomes. He critiques claims that the evidence is inconclusive, arguing that even the possibility of such significant negative impacts warrants serious concern. How can parents, educators, and policymakers navigate the trade-offs between the benefits and risks of youth smartphone use in an evidence-based manner?

5) The article discusses the potential benefits of student tracking and ability grouping, citing a study that found the introduction of flexible teacher pay in Wisconsin led to improved student outcomes by incentivizing the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers. However, Zvi notes that tracking remains controversial, with some critics arguing that it exacerbates educational inequities. How can schools design tracking systems that maximize student learning while ensuring all students have access to rigorous, high-quality instruction?

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.

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A possibly very stupid questions: Isn't Popper today more or less unimportant for social sciences like psychology? As you might know, every Psy student is taught about Popper: His critical rationalism is the key to our field. We don't validate theories, we falsify them. And for good reason: no matter how many white swans we find, we can never know, if all swans are white. If we find only one black swan, however, we can say with certainty that not all swans are white. Now, in the actual science, we find neither white nor black swans - at least not with a high degree of certainty. Small sample-sizes, failed replications, tests based on probability, internal or external validity, etc. make it questionable, what color the swans really have. And this discussion, the discussion about the real color, seem to be much more important than arguing that a black swan would be of a higher quality than a white one. What do you guys think?

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Teaching "about" something doesn't make people actually good at it. Sometimes people answer the questions correctly in test, and then don't apply them in real life anyway. (I think there were experiments showing that courses on ethics or critical thinking do not make people actually more ethical or more critical thinkers.) Perhaps this could be improved by designing the course differently, with an emphasis on examples from everyday life, both professional and free time... rather than just "this is what Popper thought on the topic". I am not sure.

Probably more importantly, I do not think that Popper correctly describes what scientists (even in STEM) actually do. I think he proves too much... at least the version of him that most people on internet use, which probably lacks most of the original nuance.

Basically, Popper (as used by most people) seems completely one-sided. He argues against any feelings of certainty, ever; his approach is pure negativity. On one hand, sure, you should never be literally 100% certain about something; there is always a possibility of new evidence that will disprove things you thought were true. But he takes it too far, as if there is nothing positive a scientist could ever say about a theory, beyond "it hasn't been falsified yet". From that perspective, a theory that is supported by thousands experiments is no more certain than a crazy hypothesis I made up just now and no one had an opportunity to test it yet. Neither has been falsified yet... and according to (the popular interpretation of) Popper, that is all anyone can ever say about a scientific theory.

But we all know that this is *not* how actual scientists behave. They take certain things, such as gravity or evolution or relativity, as basically true. They may be open to re-examine them critically, if something new and surprising happens. But normally, they just treat them as true. Whenever a journalist reports that the speed of light has been experimentally exceeded (that used to happen quite often a few years ago), a scientist simply ignores that, because he knows that's pretty impossible... and usually a few weeks later it turns out that it was instead a mistake at some calculation. To act otherwise would be a waste of time. For most practical purposes, scientists act as if relativity has been validated.

A crackpot whose life mission is to prove that "relativity isn't true" will quote Popper every day.

Scientists should be open to the possibility that a new fact can make them reconsider the existing theories. They should even actively be looking for possible disconfirmations of the existing theories... of course, not all of them all the time; after the theory has been here for a while, most of the time they should just use it as a tool to derive new useful results. It is okay to take "all swans are warm-blooded" as a fact (unless something extraordinary happens).

The problem instead is that in fields such as psychology, the proper degree of certainty in existing theories should be much lower than in physics. Because there is less experimental evidence, few replications, small sample sizes, often people not even considering alternative explanations of the observed data, etc. Those are the actual problems. Falsifiability is a red herring, in my opinion. It is a one-sided weapon against all feelings of certainty, whether deserved or not. The problem is jumping to conclusions too soon, not making conclusions as such.

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I completely agree! Popper is totally overused. His basic point (there could always be a black swan) is good and important, but in the scientific reality coming to a good valuation of a theory and deciding, how good an empirical study actually was (was that swan really white/black?) is much more relevant. Popper should be named in an introduction to the field, not as a user manual.

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Is it actually true that 'sanctuary cities' policies against cooperation with ICE mean that they protect people suspected even of heinous crimes like raping children?

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I am sure there is at least one tweet out there saying that it is true, and I am expecting you to post it here as a fact.

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No. Remove your tin foil hat and take your meds.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

Do people have strategies for getting a good night's sleep for the nights they really need to? While I have sleep issues usually, they get especially bad when I have something big coming up/on my mind, which means I e.g. go to most interviews fairly exhausted and perform more poorly than I would otherwise. This is on my mind because I just had an interview on literally zero hours of sleep.

I'd like some technique/failsafe to try in situations like this to ensure I get a good sleep. I've tried a lot of the more standard advice like staying off screens and using melatonin which mostly hasn't worked but I'd be interested in hearing things that worked for other people in my situation. I'm fine with medication, but only if it actually leads to me feeling refreshed/alert in the morning and doesn't only knock me out for a while. If it helps for giving me advice, I tend to have issues both with falling asleep and with staying asleep, although my issues with falling asleep become especially acute before a big day.

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A Benadryl in a pinch always works for me but I’m logy the next day.

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I tend to cycle through 3 strategies:

1. Read something that's just kinda boring. For a while, Moby Dick was my go-to. I love the prose, but it's a style of writing that's hard to get in sync with in this day and age. Forcing myself to keep reading it was a good way to exhaust my brain.

2. Watch something kinda boring on my phone. This goes against most advice but it works for me (sometimes). Right now a good go-to is the Halo adaptation on Paramount. I like it just enough to keep watching but sometimes I find myself waiting for something actually interesting to happen and that's when I get sleepy.

3. The real trick, the one that usually works. I tell myself - and I actually believe it - that if I can't sleep, then just lying still with my eyes closed and thinking calm thoughts is a good substitute for sleep. I just try to do that as long as possible, and tell myself that it doesn't actually matter if I fall asleep if I can keep doing that instead. Almost invariably, I fall asleep.

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I do something similar to #3: I lay perfectly still with my eyes close and don't move except for breathing and swallowing. I've never gone longer than 15 minutes before falling asleep no matter how awake i am.

It sounds so dumb, but it works. It's also way harder than it seems. You don't notice how many small movements you do all the time until you try to not do them. There is also a meditation/mindfulness piece to it: you'll get little itches and things all over and all you can do is focus on them and hope they go away. It often seems like your body will create this little irritations almost to "check if you are awake" - they will happen more frequently the closer you get to sleep.

I'll warn that I first learned of this as a technique to encourage lucid dreaming, which many people dont want. Its never produced lucid dreaming for me, though I have had lucid dreams by chance.

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Apr 21·edited Apr 21

As far as reading goes, advanced math tends to work well as well. Or anything that requires mental effort.

The problem I've found with this is that you can be really sleepy while reading, and then instantly become non-sleepy once you stop reading and get into bed.

As for the third, that's a neat trick. I doubt I'd be able to delude myself into making it work, but it's a cool idea.

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I've been pretty satisfied with CBD. As I've gotten older it's been harder to get through the night without waking up. Eating 5 Mg of CBD (in a gummy) before I go to bed have improved my sleep patterns considerably. However, not all the brands of CBD gummies I've tried have been equally effective.

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Stay up late the night before. Then you'll be really tired the next day.

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Sadly enough, for my most recent interview, I had also slept poorly the previous evening. Usually that is enough for me to sleep better the next evening, but this time it wasn't.

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I'd recommend the opposite. If there's a chance you are going to miss a night's sleep - have as much in your sleep bank as possible in the week leading up. Knowing that also takes the pressure to fall asleep on the big night off a bit which sounds useful as a sleep strategy in itself in this case.

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This makes sense. Sleep is most elusive when you really need it, really want it.

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I've tried this, with mixed results. The most regular outcome is that I do sleep better on the second night, but not by enough. My body wants 8-9 hours, if I did nothing I might get 4-5, and by reducing my sleep the night before I end up with 6-7. So two nights in a row with 6ish hours instead of 8 and 4 - mixed results at best.

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This doesn't work for me. When I stay up, my regular bedtime just gets later and later.

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Don’t worry about it. Twenty year olds don’t even need sleep. You can sleep when you are 40. ;)

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I don't have anything that works all the time, but a number of things that increase the probability of a good night's sleep: Most powerful on eis 30 mins or so of cardio in any form done earlier in the day, cardio that's intense enough to get me really sweaty. Another powerful one is to get in the habit of using the bed only for sleep & sex. If you read, watch movies, talk on the phone, browse online while in bed you associate bed with relaxed wakefulness. Relaxed wakefulness is just want you don't want if you're lying in bed trying to go to sleep, right? So do all those winding down things like movies and internet browsing in a chair or sitting on a couch. If you're bothered by noise, use earplugs (I recommend the Macks silicone ones) and a white noise machine. When it comes to drugs I find that benedryl 25 mg or so works well, and does not give me a hangover. Benzodiazepines work extremely well for many people -- but watch out, because you can develop a tolerance, so don't use the stuff more than once a week.

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One thing that works for me is long academic discussion podcasts like The Dissenter or Mindscape. Stuff that’s interesting enough that I would want to listen even if I wasn’t trying to sleep, but not so important to me that I’ll object if I doze off in the middle of it.

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There's a technique I learned from an online post that works decently well for me.

First, and this is probably well known to you, don't try to relax. Because trying to relax is just going to keep you awake. Instead, try to focus on seeing with your eyes closed. Keep your eyes closed but otherwise make an effortful try to see something in the blackness. It will seem slippery and weird at first, but keep trying. Eventually you'll catch a glimpse of something: dark shapes moving in the blackness. If you try to look at them too hard they'll slip away, but that's okay. Keep looking.

Eventually you'll start seeing dream imagery. These will be vivid images, but you aren't actually seeing them with your eyes. Keep focused on trying to see them, on examining the images that come up. At this point you'll be on the edge of sleep, dipping into unconsciousness. You might bob up and down on this border for a while, but when you bob up into consciousness try to stay focused on seeing. Watching for the next dream image.

Eventually you fall asleep.

It is not a perfect "works every time" technique, but when I can't sleep it's my go to and it is fairly effective. I used it last night, which was a pretty rough night for me, and I'd say it took about 15-20 minutes to work. Your mind will want to wander, but just keep herding your attention back to watching for images.

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> It will seem slippery and weird at first, but keep trying. Eventually you'll catch a glimpse of something: dark shapes moving in the blackness. If you try to look at them too hard they'll slip away, but that's okay. Keep looking.

This sounds like the start of a creepypasta.

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Not going to lie, some nights my subconscious will generate a stream of frightening images. I learned how to deal with that from listening to an interview with a guy who does guided psychedelic psychotherapy. He said that most “bad trips” happen because you start to experience something disturbing and then you mentally flinch away from it. But trying to run away from a frightening thing your own mind conjured up is as pointless as trying not to think a thought: as long as you’re trying, you’re thinking about it. So the key is to not flinch away, to look it straight on and then go through it. If you do you may find something better on the other side. I have found that this works with the sleep technique as well, though it can be difficult.

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This is my go-to technique, either learned from you or another ACX or DSL poster sometime last year/two years ago(?) This alone has potentially made lurking around this whole community a net positive for my cumulative amount of sleep.

One other advantage: it has made it much easier for me to fall asleep even if my environment is not totally dark. With a little bit of ambient light, it is easier to attend to the phantom images I see when my eyes are closed.

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We definitely got it from the same place, though I can’t find the source offhand. It was a link to a blog with a long post about it, someone must have put it in the comments a few years ago.

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Do most people not put a second pillow on top of their head? That generally mitigates light issues.

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I haven't seen a lot of people sleeping, but that isn't something I've observed.

For most of the year, it would be too hot for me to cover my head with another pillow, even partially.

One of my children does cover his eyes with a blanket that he claims is for light reduction.

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Have you experimented with sleep podcasts at all? I particularly like The French Whisperer. He has a ton of content free on Spotify. Works both for falling asleep at bedtime and if I wake up in the middle of the night. YMMV of course but maybe worth trying.

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Moderate exercise in the early evening, enough that I feel tired, but not enough that I'll be sore in the morning. Maybe followed by a warm shower, even if I also plan to shower in the morning.

Doing some things like dishes, cleaning, and sorting, which require a small amount of effort, and have clear end-conditions, so I feel like I've accomplished goals and am done for the day. Not things like studying or long-term projects which leave me feeling like there's always more to do.

Tiny amounts of alcohol, mostly smelled and slowly consumed, not enough to produce any real effect, but enough to trigger some of the pleasant associations in my mind.

Pleasure reading with a physical book, of something I enjoy that I've read before, in low warm light. I have a dawn simulator that also works in reverse, as a dusk simulator. But I can also turn the overhead dimmers all the way down, and turn on a side-lamp that has an old 40-watt incandescent bulb.

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It's probably very individual. I get a good sleep after an exhausting workout, but my wife can't fall asleep after one. Sometimes white noise really helps, but not always. Same for reading in bed.

One thing I'd strongly advise against for this purpose is alcohol.

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The German left trying to ban a popular political party, to "save democracy" or something:

https://archive.is/Vk14X

(WaPo: Once wary of extremist violence, Europe now fears extremism in politics)

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This is not new, and also not really 'or something'. From the text you shared:

"Germany’s constitution does allow for parties that “seek to undermine or abolish the free democratic basic order” to be banned, but the hurdle to do so is extremely high. The country’s Constitutional Court has done it only twice — with the Socialist Reich Party, a successor to the Nazi party, in 1952, and the Communist Party of Germany in 1956."

I don't know if 'militant democracy' is the established translation (of 'wehrhafte Demokratie'). 'Fortified' (or: able to defend itsself) sounds to me like it'd represent the original concept better, though maybe it doesn't sound better in english ;).

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Okay, and AfD cannot be remotely described as seeking to do this, which means that efforts to abolish it are not in any conceivable sense actually concerned with "saving democracy". So uh, yeah, the "or something" was actually very generous. Because really, these efforts are being conducted by anti-democratic lunatics.

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Nothing in your comments here so far has indicated that you're well familiar with the AfD, with the inner-German debate on banning the party or with the respective procedures. Please feel free to add relevant information on any of those.

As you can read in the article you posted, while 'lunatics' may any time demand anything "the hurdle to do so ((ban the party)) is extremely high", and the process is taken quite seriously. In the past 20 years, efforts to ban another extremist-right-wing party failed two times, for very different reasons.

As far as the AfD is concerned, in three of the German states their state-wide party organisations are classified as 'definitely right-wing extremist'. This is in contradiction with your verdict of 'cannot be remotely described as seeking to do this'.

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There was an interesting essay I read a few months back about how the mechanism for keeping actual dangerous far-right parties out of power in Germany was for the milquetoast establishment center-right party to move right _just_ enough to steal whatever issue they were harping on, and that worked beautifully for decades. It only fell apart once it was somehow decided that certain positions, immigration restriction in particular, were beyond the pale, and instead they would just suppress the far-right parties and somehow the voters who wanted those policies would just fade away. We're seeing that fail now, as it always does.

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> somehow decided

... is not a very clear term. The far-right was strenghtened when the center-right party being in government decided to let in several hundred thousands of refugees mostly from Syria. The original and most influential decision was taken, when refugees who were already in Europe were both mistreated and being actively pushed westwards by the Hungarian prime minister.

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I think there is something to it, though the way this is described sounds more like a narrative / good story, than the actual events. A couple of far-right parties tried since re-unification, but could never establish themselves. The current far-right party started as a mix of right-wing/libertarian/very-far-right persons and over the years, the latter won the internal fights (although there are still *some* differences among regions). The party also gained enormous momentum, when we had many refugees enter the country in 2015/2016, under the government of a conservative chancellor.

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What would have been or would currently be the right strategy against the now popular far-right party, is a matter of much debate. What is not in doubt is however, that

a) this party is much stronger in the eastern states of the country and

b) the multiple crises of the past years (Covid-19, war in Ukraine, related energy crisis and inflation) have also contributed to a growing number of people overall dissatisfied with 'the state' or 'the democratic/ mainstream parties'.

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Large parties do that anyway -- copying popular policies from small parties. That's how the UK conservatives became greenish, when they were.

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LOL, those are amateurs.

In Slovakia, in recent elections, the ruling party realized that the war in Ukraine will be a divisive topic, so before the election it split into two parts-- one strongly pro-Russian and anti-Ukraine, the other strongly pro-Western and anti-Ukraine -- both got a lot of votes, and after the election they de facto merged again.

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This is an interesting take. Do you have a longer source or text on when and how exactly this happened?

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Sorry, I have no longer text that would describe it all together.

Fico's position on Ukraine is documented on English Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fico%27s_Fourth_Cabinet

> Robert Fico is widely seen as pro-Russian, and his government has stopped militarily supporting Ukraine, saying he "will not send one bullet" to Ukraine. Fico has been opposing sanctions against Russia, with his standpoint on Ukraine being compared to that of Viktor Orbán. In an RTVS interview, Fico questioned Ukraine's sovereignty and independence, claiming that Ukraine is just a US puppet, sparking outrage in both Slovakia and Ukraine. He has also stated that Slovakia will veto Ukraine's NATO membership, and has pushed for a peace deal, even if Ukraine suffers territorial losses. His words regarding Ukraine have been described as "heartless", "vulgar" and "disgraceful".

Pellegrini described himself as pro-EU and pro-NATO. I don't have a good link, because it was a very recent thing and only aimed at voters in Slovakia before the election. I assume he will probably not mention it again (until maybe right before the next election).

And, as you can see on the linked Wikipedia page, today they happily rule the country together.

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Thanks for the information.

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Honestly? I'm not even upset. That's brilliant. Regardless of how much I disagreed with their position I'd be honored to be led by people that devious.

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I don't think they actually have a position, other than "steal as much money as possible". They certainly do say a lot of things, but practically everything is like this, saying whatever their polls suggest most people want to hear (which is typically some form of "social democracy", except this time this one question was too polarizing to have a single best answer) and then doing their own thing regardless.

The same thing will happen about Ukraine -- as long as EU or NATO offers some money they can steal in return for sending some weapons to Ukraine, they will. Otherwise, they will not. It's as simple as that. The story they will tell their voters... either they won't mention it at all, or they will say that someone else would have sent the weapons anyway so at least it meant more jobs for our people. Slovakia is a small country, so on any issue they have the excuse that they were forced to do so by the big bad Europe, but at least they were clever enough to derive some benefit for our people.

I also admire the skills (and I am deeply disappointed that the opposition is sorely lacking them) on the technical level. But the money is really missing in the economy, things are slowly falling apart, to do anything important you need to bribe someone connected to the governing party, and young people are leaving the country.

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Okay, I guess I was too flippant, that does suck. In the US we're so starved for even remotely functional leadership that any foreign leader capable of speaking in complete sentences looks like Metternich to us.

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Incredible

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Hm, I posted on comment on Rootclaims blog (https://blog.rootclaim.com/covid-origins-debate-response-to-scott-alexander/) which was actually very friendly and constructive but it seems like it didn't get through moderation. Did this happen to anyone else?

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Scott, Is it possible to make every 4th open thread have a ban on linking to personal substacks or yt pages? would be a fun experiment to run.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

Once upon a time, linking to personal webpages was a reportable offense.

https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/open-thread-283/comment/18019038

Wish it would still be enforced.

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There's been way more of it lately. Feels like too much to me. I'd prefer it if there was some rule of thumb like not more than twice a year.

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I guess I can't really blame new posters for self-promotion when the top of the page reads, "Post about anything you want."

I searched out that old "twice per year comment" about two weeks ago, intending to link it (and the general policy*) on the next Hidden Thread, hoping it might help other long-time readers who want to police the comments. (You're doing God's work Shaked Koplewitz)

*https://www.astralcodexten.com/p/register-of-bans

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I have to say, I really like the "symbolically banned for one day for interacting with trolls" policy. I wish that were enforced more consistently, even though I might eat a few myself. But Scott is probably doing the right thing by spending more time with his family, and less time policing trolls on his corner of the Internet.

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My big fear in the move to Substack was that working for pay would cause Scott to experience the Over-justification effect. So I try not to complain if he avoids unpleasant chores.

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From past experience here: a huge proportion of people skip over any header text of an "Open Thread", including unusual rules that apply to that thread.

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I think we just need a general rule, something like don't plug your blog more than twice per year. Then the group here would need to remind posters who violate it, because Scott was never good at staying on top of that or on top of reports of incivility, even before he became the father of twins.

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Elementary school age children in the passenger seat of cars with advanced airbags (that is: airbags with a weight sensor that are supposed to deactivate for small passengers): is there a real risk here?

It's easy to find breathless warnings that allowing your child into the front seat before they are thirteen is dangerous, but I was unable to find much in the way of actual data. A few studies from the 90s back when the problem with airbags and children was first being investigated, but nothing about modern cars.

Does anyone have any good data?

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I havent seen any about airbags, though i read a blog post a while ago about how car seats for kids above like 5 don't really reduce injuries (can't find it now, sorry). I'd like to see some data on front seats and airbags too.

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Perhaps a pressure sensor in the lower half of the front passenger seat would solve the problem, combined with the weight sensor in the seat itself. Either that, or make the kids carry a hundredweight sack of potatos on their lap! :-)

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(Banned)Apr 17
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Banned for this comment.

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Makes the whole 'global celebrations of Oct 7' look kinda silly now, doesn't it?

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Hello Hammond. Not exactly sure what you mean by that. I tend to agree with you and others who prefer Europe closes its borders.

https://substack.com/profile/198296034-hammond/note/c-50060425

I just feel we should extent the same to the natives of Palestine who also did not welcome refugees from europe and in hindsight were probably correct to do so.

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Yeah, how's that rejectionism working out for them?

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It's really the soaring height of scum and villainy to pick a politics that you don't like, a downtrodden people who advocate for and/or support it, and then smugly ask "And how is X working out for Y?", before sauntering off cockily.

What's funny is how utterly symmetric and ideology-neutral this is, it's one of the most low-effort celebration of evil that someone could possibly do.

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Uh huh. So seriously though, how's that rejectionism working out for them?

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Cartoonishly vile and moronic, even by the standards of the pro-Israel camp.

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Glenn, as a Pro-Palestinian on your side I'm not pleased with a lot of the phrasings you use in this and other post. Let Me Explain Why (^TM).

Nearly 4 months ago I wrote in reply to a certain Pro-Palestinian commenter who was (and substantially more than you) quite aggressive and displayed very uncharitable behavior [1], in order to advise him/her on how to gradually back off from some of this behavior, this commenter was banned about 3 weeks later. I'm not saying I'm pleased he/she was banned or that I'm hopeful that you will get banned, I'm just saying that, had they listened to even a subset of my advice, they would probably not have been banned, and there would be another Pro-Palestinian voice here, which is ultimately a good thing for Palestine and Palestinians, however indirect and minor the effect of posting walls of text on a textbox hosted on a shitty server is.

Being banned on ACX is **hard**, I was banned twice here before under different (unrelated to Palestine/Israel) usernames and believe me when I tell you, I had to **sink** to deep lows to trigger the Benevolent Libertarian in charge of the comment section. The 2 comments I was banned for are some of the cringiest things I wrote since middle school love poems, and one of them still makes me feel guilty at night as it was full of very mean and flagrant insults. When Scott was banning me for this comment that would get you insta-banned by auto-bots anywhere else on the Internet, he said he was "on the fence" on the actual comment, and only banned me due to an **additional** comment that I wrote in reply to someone who reported the original. I'm just saying this as encouragement, you know. This is basically witch land [2]; you have to be an active demon to be persecuted. A persistent, unrepentant, proud demon. Don't be like this.

The link I posted has 7 pieces of advice in a huge wall of text, I hope you will read it.

I specifically want to comment on your use of the term "Zionist". Zionist is, by and large, an exonym, and is a name mostly used derogatorily to refer to people who do not call themselves by this name. I'm not saying that there aren't unrepentant and proud Neo-Zionists in the modern day who dick around and ramble on how important it's to "redeem" Eretz Israel and establish a Jewish supremacy from Gaza to the Galilee and beyond, they do exist. I'm just saying that the word "Zionist" is a rhetorical trick where you group those scum with less evil people who *merely* think that Israel should stick to its current border but also fully support the war in Gaza, and **then** group all of those with much better people who think that Israel **is** evil and that it **is** treating Palestinians badly and engaged in an unjust war but that it shouldn't be disbanded or destroyed because that would imply certain things about its Jewish population.

In short, "Zionist" is a so-called "Suitcase Word", a term coined by Marvin Minsky to denote confusing words that mean plenty of very different things, they are confusing because they trick the reader into thinking things that are true of a certain subset of the things denoted by the Suitcase Word and then generalizing those things to all the denoted set.

So, to all the advice listed in [1], here's an 8th (or Shemona, in Hebrew):

(8) Eschew the word "Zionist". More generally, eschew words that your opponents don't use among themselves to call themselves. If it's necessary to call someone a name they don't call themselves, make it clear that it's you calling them this word "Xs are what I call 'Y's, let me explain", don't use an exonym uncontroversially as if it's established facts.

More wall of text follows in the reply.

[1] https://open.substack.com/pub/astralcodexten/p/open-thread-307?r=3evauj&utm_campaign=comment-list-share-cta&utm_medium=web&comments=true&commentId=45847539

[2] https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/07/22/freedom-on-the-centralized-web/

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I'm fine with skipping the term Zionist, though I did qualify it as "genocidal Zionist." I agree there are more mild Zionists I happen to know them. But it seems when an issue becomes ethnically/tribally related the lizard brain pops in and the guy who is your co-worker turns into a crazed supremacist. Most of the moderate Jews I know in real life and online seem to just reflexively defend Israelis no matter how progressively worse the atrocity is. I call it the deny, downplay, then distract method. It's not always done in this order.

"There is plenty of things to be said against Israel, browsing goddamn Haaretz will give you a lot of ideas, that's how bad Israel is. "

LMAO yes haha. Haaretz isnt perfect by any means but they've done a lot of good.

" conversely, that's how awesome and selfless some Israelis are, to publicly criticize their state and their people"

I agree and I admire them for overcoming the tribalistic impulse although this is an small percentage of the population. I think I'm a lot more moderate on the ethno-nationalism than I was before. Ethnic/tribal conflict seems to be a pretty consistent theme in human history and its unfortunately backed up by dna evidence. There is a phenomenon known as Y chromosomal replacement where one tribes' men annihilate the other tribes. There are other instances of just complete massacres. At the same time, if we are to transcend our lizard brain and be more than marauding tribalists we have to treat laws and norms around human rights consistently, not just shit on them when its convenient, or for our more impressive/pity-worthy ethnic groups. I was a little bit pro Israel before I turned fully against it so I guess I should be a lot more charitable than I am.

Since you are right about the atrocities being undeniable at this point, I think there are maybe a few claims they still make that need to be addressed and maybe this is the one that gets to me the most so it will be my Final Comment whenever I get around to refining it. I see advocates use this excuses a lot online as a way to dodge criticism. The screeching atrocity deniers are so far gone it is not worth engaging with them.

But the tactic I am talking about is to assign Hamas and Palestinians a quadrillion malintent points, and Israels a quadrillion excuses so no matter what an IDF is doing to a 6 year old Gazan girl, Hamas is just always worse by default "because they would do worse if they could and how dare you suggest otherwise". If Israelis don't deny what they're accused of, they'll downplay it "its a rare instant, hamas is worse" or they will just distract you from the issue like carateca here, who clearly does not want incidents being discussed and would rather attempt to rile you up and I supposed I fell into this individuals little trap and wont be doing so.

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I don't think we disagree about anything on the actual matter-of-fact bottom-line which is that Israel is a genocidal state engaged in merciless and unprecedented murder of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians. We probably **do** disagree a lot on how culpable each individual Israeli are (my view: Not very much if they're a non-IDF person living inside the green line) and how diaspora Jews should react and believe regarding the war (my view: too complex and half-baked to summarize in a pair of parentheses), and we probably disagree a lot and lots of things related to Religion, Politics, etc.... Regardless, "Israel is killing lots of Palestinians and a lot of rabid Pro-Israel commenters are justifying it" is not a particularly contentious point between the two of us.

My long pair (or triple if you count the December 2023 link) of posts is purely an objection on **how** you present your views, not the actual content of your views.

Imagine you and I are both Christian pastors/preachers, in actual fact I'm an Atheist ex-Muslim but that's why I said "imagine". Both of us are tasked with telling people about the fire and brimstones that Yahweh - the Jews' God that billions of non-Jews are inexplicably worshipping - is going to rain down on them if they don't repent. Imagine that:

- You had the idea of actually finding someone who died of first-degree fire, and presenting their charred coal-black body to the congregation as an object lesson in what would happen to them

- I had the idea of merely touching a burning match with my finger, and then telling the congregation to do the same and contemplate the fire and brimstone that Yahweh will bring on us if we disobey.

If this was true, I might then object to your way of presentation NOT because I'm not a Christian, and NOT because I don't think that the ancient Levantine God is indeed going to rain down fire and brimstone on people who disobey Him, but because it's a really over-the-top brutal way of getting your points across. It's a bad idea to make an example out of a dead body, it's a bad idea to display a horribly mutilated human then argue and make a point (the people who saw the horribly mutilated human will be shocked into non-articulacy and no amount of reasoning or argument will reach through). All in all, it's just a really bad idea of making the point.

That was a bit of an unfair and over-the-top example, but I hope you get what I meant by my posts.

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In certain Hollywood productions there is a cliche where someone who lost a loved one in a war tells another loved one who is fighting a possibly different war "I don't want to lose you too", cue the crying and sniveling and perhaps some sexual kissing. This cliche is very cringe and trite and Hollywood in general is very cringe and facile, posting on ACX is not a war even if you're posting about an actual war and being banned from ACX is not Death.

Regardless, I want to be that someone (minus the sexual kissing): I don't want another Pro-Palestinian commenter to be banned. Your job is... honestly not that fucking hard. There is plenty of things to be said against Israel, browsing goddamn Haaretz will give you a lot of ideas, that's how bad Israel is. (and conversely, that's how awesome and selfless some Israelis are, to publicly criticize their state and their people for all the countless millions to see and for the all the internet to remember, because that's the right thing to do.)

There is a trap that is very easy to fall for when you're angry about an injustice, that trap is to mistake discharging your anger for correcting the injustice. What I mean is: Suppose you saw an Israeli soldier do... whatever the fuck they have been doing in Gaza for the past 5 months, their TikToks speak louder than anything I will write. You get very angry at this clear injustice, who could blame you? What unfeeling piece of rock would not? But then you feel that you have to do something, and Israel is some X thousand kilometers away and it's very unlikely you can get to this particular soldier or his boss or his boss' boss and it's very unlikely you can do something to them when you're unarmed and not an Israeli, so you go to a random Jewish guy in your neighborhood - X thousand kilometers away from Israel - and yell some racist thing in his face, or comment a mean thing under a YouTube video featuring a random Israeli.

What happened here? What happened is that you mistook your own anger as the injustice itself, the injustice that you witnessed in Gaza hadn't changed a single bit by your actions, the only thing that changed is that you are now less angry because you insulted or threatened someone that you perceive as similar to the one who committed the injustice. Those are not the same thing. That's your own ego talking, it's not about Palestine or Palestinians or helpless people, it's about you.

That's enough wall of text for now, I hope you will read it and get something out of it, Cheers.

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You're completely unhinged, dude. Hopefully someday Scott will get around to looking at his report queue, which I'd wager is 90% you at this point.

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Normally Carateca would be banned for this comment, but I just got around to looking at my report queue which was 90% this guy, so whatever.

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Are we returning insults now? I distinctly remember calling *you* unhinged a while ago. Very creative.

Report away, I'll be reporting you.

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I'm not "returning" anything, dude. I barely recall anything else you've posted other than how it seethes with wild-eyed, foaming hatred for the Jews.

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You are literally the cue in. Incredible.

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I'm not even in this conversation, but I am also unfamiliar with the term "cue in". If you have a few free minutes, would you please explain it? Seriously, as someone with a bit of a linguistics background, I'm curious about what it means and where it came from. I'm familiar with the usage "to cue someone in", but this is completely new to me.

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i just mean, "you are the person being cued in"

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Not a native English speaker, but English has a famous habit of freely transporting words from one linguistic category to another, right? The most famous instance of this is verbing non-verbs: "I will google this", "They should email us", etc... The reverse is also true, searching for "nouning verbs" on google (or **googling** it, hehe) yields the fancy name for this, Nominalization. Among the famous examples listed are "Throw" and "Smile".

"The cue in" is just an instance of this, "cue in" is a phrasal verb. It's a bit more unusual to noun phrasal verbs, but I found a lot of examples after a bit of searching and following dictionary suggestions:

1- A giveback: An agreement between employees and employers to surrender benefits in return for other beneifts

2- A payback: Revenge

3- A pushover: Someone or something who is easy to "push over", to coerce or persuade to do what you want without much difficulty. This one is so famous that the verb itself is relatively obscure relative to its nominalization.

4- A getaway: An escape

5- A handover: Infamously [over]used in corporate contexts, meaning when someone hands over jurisdiction and/or responsibility for something to someone else, typically (in corporate contexts) when the person doing the handover is about to quit or be fired. Googling "The Handover" yields as the first result the Wikipedia page about the handover of Hong Kong from UK to continental China https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handover_of_Hong_Kong.

Judging from 5 examples, the only mistake that Glenn seems to have made is that he didn't append the 2 words together to make the nominalization. It should have been "The cuein" not "The cue in", but that would have made it incomprehensible.

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I have no idea what a "cue in" is.

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In response to the comment that you deleted: yes. I did in fact have a perfectly civil conversation with Glenn on one subject, even though we disagree on another subject.

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Really do report me, it will mean attention to you're comments I've reported and I would like this. You are the case in point commenter who defaults to denying, downplaying, or just flat out distracting from anyone who criticizes Israel. It is a pathetic method of sabotaging debate and reeks of insecurity which is natural I guess. You are not different from other atrocity deniers. I actually think you are more rabid and nasty than online communists who defend stalin and pol pot.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

The people that I'm supposed to think are superior to Hamas because Hamas as infinity malintent points or something.

https://twitter.com/zoe_sottile/status/1779948428803395723

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The kind of investigations the IDF does into their own crimes when the evidence is damning

https://x.com/jsternweiner/status/1778725035370295343

As someone who has come around to the view race is real, but who also believes human rights is also real, this is showing me the former is going to be trumping the latter worldwide. Because the descendants of the Holocaust decided to open that door.

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https://x.com/BeckettUnite/status/1779574790669406577

Murdering people as they try to return to their homes.

Literally terrorizing little kids.

https://x.com/GozukaraFurkan/status/1779220248844968325

And when they decided to go ahead and snipe those kids

https://x.com/leloveluck/status/1779570958132543734

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You're reposting stuff written by Muslims.

There's two groups whose opinions on the current conflict need to be absolutely and totally disregarded: Muslims and Jews. I don't want to read anything written by one of them on this subject, there's too much ingroup bias.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

Found something not by Muslims. Although a better approach would be try to listen to literally everyone and discern the truth from that, muslims, jews, christians especially palestinian christians, etc.

https://x.com/evanhill/status/1780293554629194163

https://x.com/ggreenwald/status/1780253058389123321

https://x.com/LongTimeLefty/status/1780252359764934896

"The Zionists slaughtered children in their hospital beds, dumped them in pits outside and drove over them with bulldozers. Many kids bodies were found with their drips still attached."

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I mean not exactly the worst approach I guess but most independent observers sooner or later observe the IDF are unhinged killers. I know I was I guess more on the pro Israeli side (a little) before learning a lot more, listening to both, and and turning more and more pro Palestinian the more I listened to either.

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Question for Americans: how important is housing space to you?

I am quite aware that Europe is considerably poorer than the US, a topic that comes up frequently in US-Europe discussion, other through Americans triumphantly explaining this fact to Europoors. There are quite a few indicators that can be used to show this, from incomes to wealth levels to various owned appliances.

However, one of the most common things to come up is something that seems less important than all those: Americans consider Europeans to live in pitifully cramped houses with little space. Take this tweet (https://twitter.com/scottlincicome/status/1779635261661417518) and its reactions, for instance.

I, personally, live with my wife and two kids in an apartment that's a bit smaller than the average size of housing for Finland. If I had the choice I'd take those few extra square meters and put them in the kitchen, since I like to cook and a bit more space for appliances and shelves would be nice. Other than that, I don't really have a problem with the size: there's four rooms and a kitchen, enough for the kids to have their own rooms and for me to work quietly in the bedroom when I'm working from home.

When living in America for a few months in 2008, I visited ordinary American houses, and it was of course evident already then that the house sizes are indeed bigger than here. However, this particular difference aroused no envy in me; I mostly remember thinking that it's just more room to vacuum and mop. There are, of course, people who bitch about how houses are too small, but they are mostly concerned with the amount of rooms, i.e. "Why are they building all these two-bedroom places where you can't fit a family?", rather than the square meters, as such.

Is it one of those things where if you are used to comparatively compact houses, the bigger houses don't really seem that different, but if you are used to bigger housing, the compact houses and apartments immediately come off as hopelessly cramped?

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I think there's something buried in the American mythos/dream, going back in Anglo-American history to before the Revolution, where we want space to do our own thing. With enough space, we can have privacy, we can do what we want without other people telling us "no", we can get away from "all that bullshit". The response to people getting in your face, telling you what to do, is to go somewhere else, somewhere on your own, and be free. This even applied to runaway slaves - the solution was to gather up the people you loved, and get the hell out of there.

I suppose it gets laid at the feet of the "germs" part of "Guns, Germs, and Steel".

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It's kind of important to me that my house has a dedicated home office, a library, and a guest bedroom. The extra storage space and the big kitchen are also nice, as is having enough room for two indoor cats to do their thing. And the two-car garage is turning into a workshop; I can still fit one car into it if I need to, but I basically don't.

I could downsize my life to fit into a smaller space, but the things I'd be giving up are things I would miss. Being a Rich American(tm), I don't have to and I'm fine with that.

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Large houses are nice. Having a spare bedroom for guests and bouts of flu, an office space for working from home, a large kitchen with a big stove, a workout space, and a garage for the two cars (no public transport and two working adults) is… I can’t complain?

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Having space to exercise at home (lift weights, stationary bike) is hugely convenient.

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As a single person in a city, not very.

As a teenager in the suburbs, very.

I agree with Ghillie’s hypothesis.

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If you were a billionaire, would you have a larger house? I know I would. When you remove financial constraints, people tend to choose much larger houses. They don't choose arbitrarily large houses (nobody lives in a house the size of an airport terminal even if they can easily afford it) but they tend to choose houses that are several times the size of a normal person's house.

Conclusion: larger houses are better, and any argument to the contrary is just poverty cope.

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A few years ago we sold a flat in central London and bought a rambling great eight bedroom house in Devon, with a large garden. Although it is hard and time-consuming to keep on top of the cleaning indoors, and weeding and maintaining the garden, a big advantage of larger houses generally IMHO is that, all things being equal, the occupants of one have more exercise just making their way here and there round and about the house than people in more compact dwellings. It all adds up, if you think about it.

As some evidence (perhaps) for that contention, consider to the British Royal family, whose various members have reached very old ages in recent and even not so recent times, Queen Victoria for example, despite having more than a dozen children (I think). Then there was the late Queen Mother, 101, and nearly 100 for the late Duke of Edinburgh, and late 90s for the late QE2. Besides having the best medical care of course, I suggest that at least in part it is simply the extra exercise they gained trotting around in their vast dwellings, and the grounds outside!

It is true that some monarchs of recent times, such as Edward VII and George V died quite young. But that may have been due more to over-indulging in food and tobacco products (certainly in Edward's case) or just bad luck I guess, like King Charles having cancer.

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No I wouldn’t and didn’t. Because I could afford a much bigger house - but there’s just the two of us. Wouldn’t mind a pool though - but I live in Ireland.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

All else being equal, larger houses are better (with qualifications).

But all else is not equal. Larger houses (or houses at all as opposed to apartments) lead to lower population density, and that comes with its own drawbacks.

I prefer to live in an apartment in a walkable city with good public transport, instead of living in a house while being car dependent. And that's not poverty cope, that's just understanding trade-offs.

It would be great if we could maintain higher conversational and discussion standards than accusing (?) people with different perspective of "X cope" rather than steelmanning their position properly.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

Man, talk about generalizing from one example. Have you considered that people have different preferences? During one vacation back when I was a kid, we rented this really big three-story house for absurdly cheap because the owners liked my dad for some reason. We all ended up hating it by the end. There's just so much god damn space that had no point in being there. It was like... the opposite of claustrophobic, whatever that's called.

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Hypothesis: the median American has fewer available out-of-the-house spaces (especially if you only consider those that could reasonably be walked to) than the median European, such that space *in* the home is more important to Americans.

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That definitely applies to Japan, particularly Tokyo.

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Or, you know, the reverse is true.

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It's relatively common for Americans to have a roomba or other robot that will vacuum and mop for them. So that often isn't perceived as a major issue.

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I've begun to suspect I'm somewhere in the autism spectrum. I've never been able to pick up on the subtle fluctuations in emotion/vibes that normies instinctively pick up on, and a friend told me recently he feels like I'm behind a wall (I've been reading neurotypicals can't pick up on the emotions of autistics), and also, reading and interacting with other autistics is like my whole life suddenly makes a lot of sense (I also got 26 out of 30 in an online test). I mean it's either that or I have enormous subconscious emotional repression (how would I be able to tell the difference?).

At any rate, I suspect there is a higher amount of people on the spectrum here than elsewhere on the internet, and I was wondering if there is anything they would like to say about thriving as an autistic in the social/romantic domain, which I hear, can be done.

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I'm curious to know what Internet test you took. I'd like to do a trustworthy test (if there is one).

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One thing that helped me was that, when I was a little kid (1st grade ish), for one summer my parents had me attend some sort of junior theater class. I got a lot of practice there in emoting, and over the years, it helped.

It's like: there's me on the inside, and then a surface on the outside, which is my face and body language. Normals have a connection between them, so that what they feel on the inside is shown on the outside, but I don't. However, I can consciously work on dredging up feelings while making the appropriate facial expressions, and eventually they start working together, like the whole "hand-eye coordination" thing.

And so the next step is that my face shows my feelings, kinda like normal people. But after that, I can also brute force empathic mirroring, by using my imagination. If I can find the sadness in someone's sad story, even if I don't care, or find the humor in someone's joke, even if I find it boring or distasteful, I can project back the right emotion and make an appropriate response. (Tabletop roleplaying and LARPs can be good practice for this.) And the thing is, at some point it stops being a conscious artifice, and becomes real empathy. I interact with people, and see in them things I like, and respond to that automatically. The emotions are there, the patterns are built in, even if I have to thump the engine a few times before it catches.

It's tricky with romance. First, because in the times when I've been head-over-heels, my head is somewhere else and so it stops working, leading me to be less good at flirting with the people I most want to flirt with. Second, because the mirroring means that I wind up reflecting back other peoples' interest, and like I said the feelings are real: other people being interested in me is not the primary criterion for whether I should be interested in them. Plus, I've noticed that I tend to have a lot of emotional inertia, whereas most other people seem more changeable. And third, building on the previous, because while flirting can be very fun, it's only appropriate if both of you are on the same page: it's unethical to lead someone on and engage their emotions, if your emotions are not similarly engaged.

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> But after that, I can also brute force empathic mirroring, by using my imagination. If I can find the sadness in someone's sad story, even if I don't care, or find the humor in someone's joke, even if I find it boring or distasteful, I can project back the right emotion and make an appropriate response. (Tabletop roleplaying and LARPs can be good practice for this.) And the thing is, at some point it stops being a conscious artifice, and becomes real empathy. I interact with people, and see in them things I like, and respond to that automatically.

Holy crap, oh man, did this ever describe my experience - but not as a product of ASD.

Someone in the classified thread speculated that some of my personal quirks could be a product of ASD, but I don't think so. I don't have most of the notable ASD traits, and never did. The ones I identify with tend to be borderline cold-reader-ish ("Do you get obsessive about stuff you like?" etc). I just took an ASD quiz linked above and was on the low end of "you have a few traits."

No, I suspect my identification with your internal experience generates from a whole other "disorder," one having to do with a deficit of involuntary (eg, "normal") empathy. I hesitate to use the "p" or "s" words here, because they specifically describe an *antisocial* behavior which I don't engage in - but "brute forcing empathy via imagination" was indeed something I had to consciously do in my young adulthood until it became the mostly automatic process that it is today...assuming I've judged someone to be worth of it, and almost everyone is indeed worthy of it.

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Yeah, I've wondered about that in myself. Twice it's happened that I've been woken up in the middle of the night, and the "nice" part of me wasn't online. It was just a cold reptilian thing that wanted to fix the problem and get back to sleep, and would say whatever was necessary for that, while the "nice" part of me was way back somewhere, screaming "oh, no, this will wreck everything!" I had to do some serious damage control the following mornings, but both relationships did survive.

FWIW, I think it's possible for people without our particular internal setup to learn it, at least for certain situations or classes of people. That's what I tend to call the "s" word. And I've run into one of the, well, other "n" word, let's say, and it seemed in retrospect that what was inside was alternately a roaring black void, or something like a 2.5-year old. (I'm not good with child ages, but I have some friends with a 3.5-year old, and 2.5 seems about right from that one example.)

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This study is a very small sample size of people at the very extreme end of the (very criminal) "p" spectrum, but some of it felt familiar: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-empathic-brain/201307/inside-the-mind-psychopath-empathic-not-always

I often hesitate to refer to that article because only one tiny part of it resonates, but the *capacity* to opt in / out of empathy at all and perhaps even moreso a willingness to admit to it, seems to freak people out regardless of how pro-social the opt in / out behavior looks in practice.

I absolutely agree that prosocial behavior can be developed absent "normal" empathy. My chief values are fairness / justice, a result of decent parenting plus a love of storytelling (where fairness and justice are generally the guiding principle of the universe).

So in practice, I "opt in" to empathy in order to be maximally "fair" to people while I'm making a judgment about how to think/feel/interact with them. I have enough experience with both fictional and biographical stories to know that people's behaviors are usually informed by things which might not be apparent to an observer, so in order to be "fair," I am almost infinitely more ungrudging and patient and forgiving of certain kinds of unpleasant behavior than a "normie" who reflexively feels entitled to unexamined anger when they perceive an intrusion or slight. I am always ready to be "wrong" about someone "harmless" that I merely dislike.

My empathy only shuts off in response to unambiguously predatory victimizing behavior. And even then it's never reactive anger, the way it would be for a normie, but rather a sense of righteous pragmatism about wanting the threat stopped.

And, like, sorrynotsorry, but I think this framework results in a way more prosocial way of being than the normie empathetic reactivity.

But I can absolutely see how not having the framework (or some other framework of guiding principles) can send the empathic opt in / out in some truly monstrous directions.

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> It's like: there's me on the inside, and then a surface on the outside, which is my face and body language. Normals have a connection between them, so that what they feel on the inside is shown on the outside, but I don't.

Haha, similar here. No matter what happens inside, good or bad, by default my face remains neutral. I need to consciously give it a little push to also show the emotion on the outside. (Or, with people who know me, I just express the emotion verbally, sometimes using a scale from 0 to 10 to express the strength of the emotion.)

Sometimes people compliment me for staying calm in situations where internally I feel I am falling apart. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. It's only my face staying calm, but my thinking is impaired by stress.

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Huh, my face tends to run on autopilot these days, unless I get into a particularly grim mood. I sometimes wish I could add a little interrupt switch in, since it would make my life a bit easier if I didn't show what was going through my mind. I console myself that I like the enforced honesty, but it might be sour grapes. :-)

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I wonder whether it would make sense to imagine normies as autists whose obsession happens to be humans... instead of trains or similar things. Just like an autist interested in trains will tell you thousand details about them, and would immediately notice that a picture of a train contains a wrong kind of wheel, a normie can tell you thousand details about celebrities, the birthdays of everyone around them, and will immediately notice a new haircut.

Autists can be shocked by strong sensory inputs, normies can be shocked by explicit discussion of things, or by thoughts that their social group would disapprove of. (Note that the social group does not necessarily refer to the mainstream. A normie rebel is triggered by thoughts that their fellow normie rebels would disapprove of.)

You need to start paying more attention to humans, no matter how boring that sounds. They *are* important, so the time invested here will pay off. But ultimately, you will never learn the same amount of information about humans (or trains) as someone who is naturally obsessed with them, so you need to focus on the most important parts. And maybe find normies who are more tolerant of someone who does not share their obsession.

Autistic women are often less visible than autistic men, for reasons that are not obvious to me. Maybe there is something about male/female brains which makes the expression of autism different. Or maybe it is different social expectations, which makes different parts of autism more or less visible. For example, in romantic relations, men are expected to approach women. So the autistic men typically screw up by "approaching in a clumsy way" and sometimes it gets reported in newspapers. Meanwhile autistic women typically screw up by "not noticing that they are approached", which means a lost opportunity for them, but does not get reported by newspapers, because from outside it seems like the normie way of rejection (i.e. not responding to subtle signals).

So.... I am out of the dating market for more than a decade, but my recommendation for a heterosexual male on a spectrum would be like this: Find an interesting girl (someone who has hobbies other than celebrity gossip). Say hello. Talk to her about her hobbies. If she refuses to talk to you, find another one. Find a moment with her alone (e.g. invite her for a walk or for a coffee/tea). At the end, tell her that you really like her and would like to spend more time with her... no pressure, it's okay when she tells you whether she likes you the next time you meet; goodbye. The next time, at the end, ask "so, this means we are dating?". (In the meanwhile, learn how to do massage and how to dance, those are basically cheat codes for progress from "no contact" to "full body on body contact" without being awkward.)

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

Though I've never been officially diagnosed, I'm pretty Aspergery. I had shitty social skills growing up (and some on ACX may say I still do). I'm very bad at reading facial expressions and social queues. And because we are bad at reading people — i.e. we're not picking anything up from their facial expressions and social queues — we pay attention to things that may provide us with more interest. That makes normies uneasy if you don't look like you're paying attention to them. Even though I'm bad at reading people I learned a few tricks along the way to disguise my neuro-atypicality — so normies will take me for a normie (which is half the battle). And this is advice for a cis straight males. YMMV if you're female or gay.

They are:

1. Look at people's eyes when you speak to them. Normies take that as being interested in them. Even if you're not interested in them it puts them at their ease. There are some caveats, though, and you'll need some practice to navigate them.

1a. Males may take eye contact as a threat if you hold it too long. So, if you're being introduced to somebody new and it's a male, only make eye contact while shaking their hand or fist-bumping them (as is more common in these post-COVID times). After the intro you should discontinue eye contact but look in their general direction while they're talking to you. Nodding your head will help put them at ease, even if you're thinking about something else and not paying attention to them (because, let's face it, a lot normies are pretty boring to talk to).

1b. Hold the eye contact longer with females. Don't forget to smile. Hold their gaze for a couple of seconds after you greet them. If you're attracted to them, make a point to reattach yourself to the gaze every so often during the conversation. And remember to smile whenever you catch their gaze again. If they brush their hair back with their hand, they're likely interested in you. I have no frigging clue why that is, but I had to be taught that. Normies seem to pick it up naturally. Human courtship rituals are weird. I cannot say I fully understand them. After the initial greeting ritual, when it comes time to look away DO NOT look down! — because women are likely to think you're looking at their breasts even though you aren't.

2. Remember to smile occasionally during your conversations with people. Not a big grin, but learn to curl your lips upward slightly. I found that very difficult to do. I had to practice in the mirror to not overdo it or underdo it. But after I learned to half-smile properly, I realized I could identify when other people were doing it — which gave me some more insight into the other person's internal psychological state.

3. Train yourself to keep your posture upright. Don't slouch. Normies read people who have upright postures as being confident. Even if you're not confident you want look like you're confident.

4. How's your sense of humor? Making people laugh is very important. I can't tell a joke worth shit, because I don't have a normie's ability to pace the joke (which requires a successful joke-teller to be sensitive to the vibes that other people are putting out). But I am quite good with logical absurdities. If you want an example of humor that's full of logical absurdities listen to Jerry Seinfeld's material. Don't steal his material though, because other people have probably already heard it.

5. Ask people about trivialities. As you get to know them, you'll get to know that people each have unique concerns and obsessions. If they're into gardening, ask them how their garden is doing. Try to look like you're sympathetic to their problems (even if you have no clue as to why they're getting upset about something).

5a. This is very important for dealing with female humans. They seem to be very sensitive to slights from their own sex (and they seem to be much more socially competitive than male humans). Nod a lot. And learn to make sympathetic noises and comments.

5b. Males are generally easier to socialize with because they tend to be less socially competitive than females — at least at the inter-individual level. However, males seem to be more socially competitive at the group level. You're either part of "the team" or you're not. If you are on the team, all sorts of slights and faux pas are ignored. If you're not on the team, well, you're likely not to be invited to the next BBQ or out to happy hour. Try not to talk politics, because that tends to trigger more primal emotional responses, and that will bring out the competitive team instincts in the males. Best to learn something about sports (yawn!). Make a point of knowing what the favored local sports team of the tribe is, so you can at least ask what they think their tribe's team chances are.

There's a lot to digest. Good luck. Hope I didn't piss off the normies with my advice.

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You really think you're Aspie? Jeez, you don't come across that way at all to me, and I spend 10 hours a week or so talking with smart male Aspies (patients, mostly). Here's a test of facial expression reading that's pretty well thought of: https://s3.amazonaws.com/he-assets-prod/interactives/233_reading_the_mind_through_eyes/Launch.html

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Got 24/36, but after extensive cheating: the "multiple choice" thing of eliminating two or three options, and taking a protracted "System 2"-type approach to choosing answers. There may be a couple (possibly but not very likely slightly more) of pictures where I could guess the answer instinctively. There were also some answers where I remained confused after being shown what the right answer was: e.g., a woman being interested or having desire is not something I can make sense of as reflected in the eyes, even after seeing the picture and being told the answer.

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25 of 36, but I felt like I was guessing about half the time.

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Everybody feels like they're guessing. The version of the directions I read said "if you're not sure, just go with your feeling." I felt that way when I took it too. Not quite like I was taking wild guesses, but more like, well, these eyes look irritated to me, but I may just be talking myself into that so I'll have an answer, but I guess I'll go with it. I think some of the accurate responses come from parts of us we don't have introspective access to -- like when somebody asks you how it is you angle your key jiggle & it a certain way to make your finicky lock open, and you can't tell them -- only your hands know. Same with reading faces.

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I've got a response to the original comment, slightly above this, and I'd be curious to hear what you think. :-)

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About half of my responses were just me looking at the words and clicking the right one without any conscious thought. The other ones, I'd be staring at the eyes, and have no clue, and I'd do the multiple-choice-test thing where I rule out one or maybe two answers, and randomly pick from the remaining answers. I guess I did a bit better than chance, so probably my proportions are off, or I still had some unconscious instinct pulling me toward the right answers.

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Oh you did way better than chance. 27 or maybe it's 28 is average, so you're in the average range. I think everybody has a feeling of guessing a lot of the time, at least everybody I know who took the test. I only missed 2, and I was astounded that it was only 2, because I'd felt reasonably confident on at most 1/3 of them. If you feel that way on the SAT or a multiple choice test in a course you can be sure you're going to get a bad score, you know? I find this test fascinating because almost everybody feels very uncertain, yet most of those uncertain people I've given it to come out average or above.

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Apr 18·edited Apr 18

13 out of 36. Many of them were just wild-ass guesses on my part. Actually, I've taken a similar test before and I scored less than random (go figure!).

Recently, some friends set me up with a nice lady. We went out a couple of times, and I was attracted to her. On our second date, I told her that I was on the spectrum and if she were interested in me she'd just have to outright tell me because I was crappy at reading signals. And I didn't say this, but I didn't want any #metoo misunderstandings (I've made a few embarrassing unwanted passes in my day — not because I was a predator but because I misunderstood the signals — and I have too much self-respect to cause women to be uncomfortable). Anyway, she didn't believe me, "but you're so sociable and funny!" That seemed encouraging, so I asked her out on a third date.

When I was younger, I'd go out on three dates with women I was interested in, and if it didn't click physically, I'd just stop calling them (because I figured further attentions from me would be unwelcome). We went out on a third date, but no kiss goodnight — but she talked about a restaurant that she wanted to try. Okay, I thought. I'd try a fourth date with her. Nothing happened on the fourth date. I dropped her off at her house. She didn't invite me in for a coffee. I figured, "Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained," and I wrote her off. Then she called me a couple of times and asked when we'd get together again. And she said, "I love you." Because I've learned to be cautious with my emotions, I've trained myself to dampen my feelings if I'm not getting anything back from women. Though I found her attractive early in our dating cycle, by the fourth date I figured it wasn't going anywhere, so I had fallen out of limerence with her. For some stupid reason, I went out on a fifth date with her! She was all very snuggly in the Uber to and from the restaurant, and she was very touchy-feely all through the evening. But I no longer had the spark. I was uncomfortable the whole evening. I didn't even make a token effort to kiss her good night. I didn't call her again. I'm sure she may have been puzzled and possibly hurt, but now I felt that I was being pushed into a relationship that I no longer was comfortable with. Normies are frigging crazy.

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Wow, Beowulf, I don't know what to make of that. You do come across sociable and funny. And if you were that deep into Aspie-land I'd expect your sociability and humor to both be a little off, sort of overdone or underdone or, wait, how does that joke work? But none of that is the case. And I can't think of times when your responses to people here have seemed odd -- and they would if you were bad at reading people's affect and intention, unless you're better at reading people when you have their thoughts in writing, and can read between the lines. And if you're performing *below*( chance on tests like this one, that suggests that you know more than you think you know, right? Like you know the right answers some of the time, but refuse to go with them. (Though on here you performed better than chance.). Or could it be that you have prosopagnosia, and difficulty reading faces comes along for the ride with that?

Anyway, it's fine. There's something quite odd about me too. Not every oddity has a name, you know? Was wondering today what my oddity was. Looked up schizoid -- close, but no cigar.

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founding

"unless you're better at reading people when you have their thoughts in writing, and can read between the lines."

I would have thought that was obvious. Words are designed to facilitate clear and unambiguous communication, because often "Darmok and Jelad at Tanagra" has to give way to "Hand me the spanner, please - no, not the crescent wrench, the 9/16th inch spanner". And sometimes we, the normies in particular, *want* ambiguity, so we've got ways to use language for that. But ultimately, the speaker is trying to be understood and they're using a tool that's designed to facilitate clear and unambiguous communication, in a language that both parties are fluent in.

That limits the scope for misunderstanding, in a way that "communication" where 70% of the information is conveyed by intonation and microexpression and body language doesn't. Particularly when one party isn't fluent in body language.

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BTW, that test was very helpful in that it gave me immediate feedback about which were the correct emotions. The other tests I've taken were paper tests, and they didn't give me any real-time feedback. Although there were some eye-expressions that I had no frigging clue about, a significant number of my mistakes were due to overthinking. If I had gone with my first choice, I would have scored significantly higher. This is an important clue to understand what's going on in my brain. Thanks!

I've bookmarked the link. I'll wait a week or so (to let the memory of the faces blur) and retake it again — but I'll go with my first choices. I bet I'll score a lot better. But damn! I wish I had this test back when I was an adolescent. If this is really all about not going with my gut feelings, I could have trained myself to be more sensitive to them, and I think I would have had an easier life (because a lot of the stress and failures in my life were due to my not having a good theory of mind when dealing with my professors, thesis advisor, bosses, and girlfriends). I'm tearing up now and it's getting hard to see what I'm typing! Shit.

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Sent you an email.

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I hate that sort of back and forth. It's like sine and cosine, never quite in sync.

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My thing in dating situations is that I can tell when they like me, and I would like them too except that I have a bad bad feeling that it's not me they like but some construction in their mind, which they built using some parts of me as legos. And I distrust and resent them for having done that, so I don't really like them, but I maybe act like I do because I know my doubts about their view of me are sort of silly so it seems unfair to let them rule my behavior. Good luck finding a way out of that one.

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I did notice sometimes where romantic interests had an idea of me in their head, which only loosely corresponded to reality. I never really managed to put that together with how I felt when infatuated, in any way that gave me anything useful to work with. It more felt like something where we all had to push through it, from both directions, over time, and eventually our models of each other would converge on reality.

Or not. :-(

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So you're bad at something. Is it better to conceptualise this as a disease, or just as a skill you happen to be bad at?

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If my vibe is that I'm behind a wall, is that something I'm bad at? What about all the other stuff? But sticking to the wall, I mean, I don't feel like I'm holding anything back in my interactions with this guy, so what am I supposed to do about that?

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Maybe there's not anything in particular you can do, and that's fine. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

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Not autistic myself, but have many psychotherapy patients who are. Two have partners who are also autistic, and those relationships seem to be solid and long-lasting. In both cases the people found each other not on dating apps but in college. Downside of having an autistic partner is that both parties are inclined to be avoidant of the new, and of socializing, so there's a danger of their lives contracting to hanging out indoors with the simpatico other.

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Request for content: I originally found this "AI Parable" when someone asked for the same thing quite some time ago in the ACX, no idea if the same people still frequent but thought I would give it a shot.

There was some short story on some blog(?) somewhere where the premise was "everything is completely crazy and makes no sense, lots of random chaos in a world similar to ours but somewhat cyberpunk/dystopian". The closing line was something to the effect of "The machine had been talking, and I was the first to hear it speak." Or something like that. The premise was that the insanity and chaos was the work of an AI that was intentionally causing it in order to confuse people so that it could break human pattern matching and assume control/demoralize them or something similar.

I thought it was really well done, and there have been several times I'd liked to have shared it but of course I didn't bother to bookmark it and now it is lost to me. Figured I'd throw out a line just in case anyone has an idea what the heck I'm talking about!

Thanks!

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Can someone link to some well-written piece that argues that yes, AI WILL take our jobs? Like doctors, lawyers, programmers and so on. From what I see most people argue to the contrary.

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I think the question is not whether AI will take our job, but which one. ChatGPT-4 will not. If you ask people, most of them will assume that the currently most advance AI is as good as it ever gets, so of course they will say no. They will keep saying so, until one day they get replaced.

Important things that AI currently cannot do:

* read your company intranet

* participate in meetings, communicate with colleagues

* be legally responsible for screwing up

Connecting the AI to company internet and making sure that sensitive information will not leak is a technical problem that will be solved at one moment. Afterwards, as a software developer, I expect that soon most of my job will consist of sitting at meetings and checking what the AI did. I will be the person to yell at in the 1% of cases when the AI screws up.

Note that "taking our jobs" does not necessarily have to mean that companies will fire their existing employees. (Though yes, in the extreme case, it would mean exactly that.) It can also mean that companies stop hiring new people, especially ones freshly out of college. And what previously did 3 people, now will do 1 person supervising 3 AI agents. The salaries may even slightly increase temporarily, especially for people who can juggle more AI agents at the same time than the others. (In other words, out of 3 people, 2 may lose their jobs, and the remaining 1 may get a 50% raise.) So the reports may be inconsistent even as the loss of jobs happens.

Rich people may be willing to pay extra for human service, just because it feels instinctively better to be communicate with a human, or to be served by a human. This applies to doctors more than it does to programmers. The AI is unlikely to replace e.g. a homeopath.

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Fwiw, connecting AI to company intranet is already possible (Copilot for Microsoft 365). Whether you trust Microsoft's promises that data won't leak is another matter.

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I suppose in future we will expect this, and maybe have two company wikis, one that the AI can read and one that it can not.

The company source code in my experience would be mostly useless for a competitor, except as a general learning resource for software developers. A lot of code is handling company-specific processes and integrated with other software the company uses; a competitor would have to rewrite all of that, so it would probably be less work to make their own solution from scratch. A possible danger could be asking the AI to find possible exploits.

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I'd like to read one too. Just googled around, mostly found clickbait and spokesman for various high-status professions saying Naw, AI will be our bitch. You know where there probably is something? One of the good Substack blogs about AI and society. But I don't think google searches return the titles of individual Substack posts. Maybe somebody here can suggest one. Actually, I can suggest a blog I like, though nobody here but me seems to follow it or take it seriously: Garbage Day, by Ryan Broderick. He's a young guy who sort of grew up on the internet, and knows all about memes and other internet phenoms that don't mean anything to me. But he's also quite smart and knows how to do all kinds of search inside of social media. Had a post a while ago where he traced the sources of some new and weird fad on Facebook - - I think it was photos of gross food, things like a plate of frozen raw egg -- and was able to tell who most of came from, and what the benefit to them was of posting this stuff. His overall view of AI is that we're fucked. Oh, remembered something else he said that I thought was smart, that I hadn't seen elsewhere. He was talking about how it's looking like search engines may soon yield AI summaries, rather than sites the content appears on, and pointed out that many people and businesses that post useful content do it as a way to advertise, or to increase their public visibility. For instance today looked at some text posts and videos explaining how to do a certain thing in Photoshop. Most of them were on sites selling related services -- become a paying member of our site, and you'll have access to our entire library of Photoshop how-tos, that sort of thing. If Photoshop queries do not drive people to their site, but instead bring an AI who sucks up their content along with that of other sites and summarizes it for the searcher, why would these sites continue to put up free useful content? The internet will come to contain fewer sources of direct info. Maybe in the future AI's will be summarizing whatever they cherry pick from summaries by earlier AI's. Reminds me of what I read about dust mites: they prefer fresh food, such as human skin flakes, but on the absence of that can eat their own feces and extract some nourishment for up to 3 cycles of feces consumption.

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Apr 16·edited Apr 16

Well, the arguements to the contrary are not always about practical capabilities of AI. Here's Zvi arguing that AI should be replacing jobs, but it won't because those jobs will just be replaced with bullshit ones. https://thezvi.substack.com/p/escape-velocity-from-bullshit-jobs

Edit: Oh, and he has a follow-up post about cases where AIs are actually taking people's jobs, but it's not even the employers doing it, it's the workers themselves. https://thezvi.substack.com/p/the-overemployed-via-chatgpt

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Who among us doesn't believe, or know in their bones, that our government at all levels, local, state and federal, fails on a regular basis. Overpromised and underdelivered. Big idea and great promises, the consequences of which they bury as they carry on. We pay a price for this, even for their small blunders. Also, don't ride a motorcycle in Michigan, or most other states for that matter. Among the dead in deer and vehicle accidents, the cyclist is over represented better than 2 to 1. Here's my writeup: https://falsechoices.substack.com/p/my-attempt-at-fairmindedness-soundly

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founding

"Who among us doesn't believe, or know in their bones, that our government at all levels, local, state and federal, fails on a regular basis."

I know this. I've known this for forty years or so, and I've been thinking about it off and on for forty years or so, and I've been talking to and reading the works of a lot of very smart people who have been thinking about it for longer still. At this point, almost every insight just downstream of "our government, at all levels, fails on a regular basis", and every proposed solution to the problem, is something I have heard many times before and dealt with as best I reasonably can.

Sometimes someone comes up with something new. But rarely is it going to be someone who thinks "Hey, did you notice that our government keeps failing us? I've got a substack where I talk about that!", is adequate reason for anyone like me to read their substack. You're going to need something more specific, and you should probably let people know what that is in your pitch.

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My good fortune justfor thispost answered your comment below. This person apparently believes that more government is always the correct solution, for reasons I don't completely understand, but be that as it may. I understand I am not changing the world in any dramatic way, but I still think it's important to help people understand the government entity that created the deer problem is the one asked to manage the deer problem. There must be a connection there? 60,000 vehicle and deer accidents a year is unbelievable. And almost nothing is done about it because it would mean admitting that there management has created the problem.

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founding

"Have you considered that perhaps more government is not the answer?", does not lead me to believe that you are offering any insight that is at all novel here.

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novelty? I have no novelty to offer. Just to raise awareness of the issue is my point.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

I think your statement is absurd. It sounds like libertarian cant to me — so, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be suckered into reading your substack. Government as a bureaucratic entity can be tremendously successful. Look at how successful China is at taming the anarchistic Chinese social order through their social credit system. ;-)

As for functional benefits of governments, depending on the bureaucracy, government orgs can function as well or better than corporate bureaucracies — and I've worked for some very effed up corporate bureaucracies in my day! — but also I've worked for a few excellent ones. For instance, I just got involuntarily retired from a very effed-up bureaucratic corporation. It was a nightmare just to get them to direct-deposit my severance check (even though they had been direct depositing my other paychecks for the past five years). And I needed 2 months of COBRA to hold me over before I turned 65. That was all sorts of hassle (mostly because I couldn't find anyone who could answer my questions). But the month before I turned 65, I signed up for Medicare — no fuss or bother. They warned me it may take as long as 30 days to process my application. I signed up on Friday. Got my Medicare card the following Wednesday (!). Medicare Part D was a different story, though. Because private insurance companies handle that, they're competing for your business. Sales people outright lied to me. Getting the formularies was next to impossible from some of the providers. What a pain in the ass! The government part was efficient and painless though.

OTOH, do you really want governments to be too efficient? If you're a libertarian, I bet in your heart of hearts you don't. But I'm OK with the US government when it's been efficient. For instance, they've done a bang-up job rounding up and charging the January 6 coup rioters. More than 1,250 people have been charged with federal crimes. And more than half have either had their trial or pleaded out. Last I heard, the FBI is only still looking for 80 of the bastards. Damn! That's efficiency!

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Absurd, eh? 60,000 deer and vehicle accidents in 2023, last year I could find the stats. This after millions of man hours 'managing' the deer herd. All the numbers in the article are real. And it's not a question of efficiency. You are hired to manage the deer herd, so the bigger the herd the greater the job security, the greater are the career prospects. I spent many years not believing that people respond to perverse incentives, but I can't argue against the idea any more. Glad you have your health care setup, at any rate.

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Apr 17·edited Apr 17

Back when I lived in New England (35 years ago) hoof rats were becoming a real nuisance. My state's wildlife department hired professional hunters to cull the herds. Popular outrage was so intense that they dropped the plan. So the conflicting wills o' the people prevented anything from being done ("stop the deer from eating my garden, but don't kill them!") AFAIK, Uncle Malthus is still providing herd control and they're starving every winter. But I hear that cougars, bears, and possibly wolves have been spotted in my old neighborhood. Now its "OMG there was a cougar in my backyard! Please get rid of it, but don't kill it!"

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(Tangentially, I remember a few decades ago when I was laughing at a story about people in some town (or suburb?) in the Rockies-area who were complaining about wolf sightings. I was laughing because the town was called "Wolf Creek".)

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founding

I do, but I struggle to come up with alternatives.

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We can't ask government to run everything, to solve every problem, to manage every detail. We just open up the door to a never ending cascade of rules and regulations that have made life ridiculous. The administrative state is the issue, it's first and foremost goal is to enlarge the administrative state.

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As opposed to what, the non administrative state? go back to feudal relationships?

Some fucked up form of corporatism, where you replicate all the problems of the state 1000 times inside 1000 little states that compete in markets externally but operate as dictatorships internally?

Face it; the reason the state is everywhere and everything to everyone is that all the competitors have been killed and eaten. Fitness is fitness.

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Big changes coming to manifold. Probably at the end of this month, full details not yet announced. What we do know is they're trying to reduce the availability of mana, in particular by removing the loan system. This just confirms what I've been saying for a while now: giving out loans doesn't work. It's extremely expensive for them, and doesn't really increase the prediction accuracy of long-run questions, as people on both sides just keep shoveling mana into popular questions.

The only thing loans achieve are to overleverage everyone, with no risk-of-ruin for the users: If my predictions don't pan out, I can just walk away from my account. I don't owe manifold anything for having a negative balance, since mana isn't a real currency. And I do think we'll see more and more such bankruptcies as some of the larger markets start resolving.

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