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Who else is watching Eurovision?

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Today's Eurovision Song Contest finale has a high promise to cause furore, so posting my explainer from the previous year in advance. https://alakasa.substack.com/p/eurovision-song-contest-a-9-point

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Thanks this was very helpful for at least one confused American. Make that two, my wife is enjoying it too.

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In an unintentionally hilarious but somewhat revealing temper tantrum [0], the sore loser with defective emotional regulation and bad English Gilad Erdan, Israel's representative in the UN, tears the UN charter with a shredder from behind the podium, supposedly in a metaphorical act implying that the UN states who voted "Yes" to granting Palestine more rights (but still short of full UN membership and voting rights) are the ones who invalidate the UN charter.

It's often attributed to Voltaire that he said [1]: "I have made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous'. God granted it.". In this sense, Erdan's hilarious stunts in the UN are threatening to make me second-guess my atheism.

This comes amidst a wider general hysteria among the Netanyahu admin. Spain and Ireland are going to unilaterally recognize Palestine on the 21st of May, expected to be followed by at least Belgium and Slovenia, possibly others. Smotrich is reported in Haaretz and Times of Israel to be ringing the alarm bells and calling for urgent action, and Saudi Arabia - mainly desperate for hanky panky with USA due to Iran - is still at least nominally conditioning its Abraham Accords normalization on Palestinian statehood.

Allah: If you exist, please make Israeli politicians and diplomats more pathetic and ridiculous, I might reconsider the Problem of Evil.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GCVFs-0Uio

[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Voltaire

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While I have nothing against making the abominable Netanyahu and his posse of miscreants look ridiculous, consider what exactly would UN recognition do for ordinary Palestinians. Nothing, I think is the answer? These are exactly the kinds of actions that drive home the irrelevance of the UN as it exists today, all optics and hot air, and no substance. But it will provide a few more cushy sinecures (is this the word?) for corrupt Palestinian leadership. NYC is nice. Far away from Hamas rockets and IDF bombs. I can only imagine the size of the bribes involved…

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Huh, never heard of "sinecures" before. How come I spoke and wrote English from before puberty and I still learn new words? not fair.

I don't disagree that the UN is a pathetic shadow of the old internationalist pipe dream of something binding states by force like state law binds its citizens by force. I don't disagree that this particular vote is **probably** hot air, the only noteworthy right that Palestine seems to have gained is that it can now advance proposals, which the USA and Israel can just as easily shutdown in the Security Council as they can to those proposals by Algeria and South Africa and countless others. There is no silver bullet, and the UN - useless or not - is not the "One Weird Trick for Achieving Peace.. War Hawks HATE it", nothing is. Only tough and thankless advocating for humanity in the face of genocidal plans and daily massacres.

What I want to specifically call out with my post is:

(1) The insanity and moral bankruptcy of the "Reward for Hamas" idea, this popular way of thinking common among a certain breed of Pro-Israel supporters. According to this way of thinking, **anything** coming to Palestinians except utter and abject misery for the next 25-100 years is antisemitism and an encouragement for Hamas. Unless you resolve "Palestinians" as just another alias for "Hamas", this is an incoherent way of thinking (but that's ok, as it's not thinking that it demands out of its followers). I want to signal-boost the fact that the representatives of 143 countries, a crushing majority, do not think like this.

(2) I really just want to make fun of Gilad Erdan. I can't imagine the level of immaturity and sheer dumbassery that would make someone representing 10 million people in front of the whole world to behave like this. When he says things like "I want to hold a mirror to all of you **grumbles to himself while looking for the shredder** a mirror eh", I almost want to explode out of the sheer absurdity and sitcom-like nature of the situation.

Maybe (1) is irrelevant because the UN is so hopelessly corrupt and out of touch that the opinions of the state representatives aren't indicative of any kind of moral or common or geopolitical sense? Maybe (2) is less about Israel and more about how Israel looks at the UN, that it despises the UN so much that it deliberately assigns clowns as their representatives? Very good points, it's still funny as hell.

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You can never know all the words! The journey is the goal.

I'm going to push back just a bit: Put yourself in poor Gilad's shoes.

The ashes of burnt Israelis haven't even cooled when a large number of people around the world started chanting "FTRTTS PWBF", posting pics of paraglides, and denying any civilians were harmed, and they deserved it anyway. And then on and on and on, we can rehash it ad infinitum, but I want to point out two relevant things:

From Gilad's POV, a large part of the word seems to think that whatever hurts Israelis is good for Palestinians (note that this is a conjugal function of the "**anything** coming to Palestinians except utter and abject misery for the next 25-100 years is antisemitism and an encouragement for Hamas" batshittery).

From Gilad's POV, given the above, seeing the 14 - 41 - 143 - whatever# countries vote "against Israel" only confirms the long-held conviction that the rest of the world would be super-relieved if all the jews... just kind of... disappeared. Not necessarily hacked to death or burnt alive, too messy, just pufff! and gone would be nice.

And so the cycle of misery continues, much to the benefit of Netanyahu and Smotrich and whatever the names of senior Hamas leaders enjoying their Deglet Noor for breaking fast in Qatar, while Gaza kids are being maimed and Israeli hostages tortured.

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Glad the idea of yet another Iranian puppet terror state gaining diplomatic recognition is entertaining to you. It's not going to work out well for the citizens of that Iranian puppet terror state, of course, but it's been made very clear their only purpose is to act as human shields so I guess everything is going according to plan.

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Who will collaborate with me to gather a bunch of Scott-style "scissor statements" and write something about both warring perspectives and how the scissor statement memes seize human attention and direct it toward unproductive ends?

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Sounds interesting, I like reading both perspectives even if I'm firmly on one of them and not the other.

Do you have ready examples or will data gathering be one of the first phases of the collab? What is the posting strategy/policy?

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OC ACXLW Sat May 11 Crafting Religion and Handling genAI in Organizations

Hello Folks!

We are excited to announce the 65th 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

Date: Saturday, May 11 2024

Time 2 pm

Conversation Starters:

1. Pragmatists Guide to Crafting Religion Review - Preamble and Chapter 1 by Eneasz Brodski: In this two-part series, the author explores the need for deep community and religion in human life, and discusses the potential for creating new "cultivars" (a mix of religion and culture) to address the challenges posed by declining birth rates and demographic changes.

TLDR Preamble: The author argues that humans need deep community and religion, and that rationalism serves some of these needs but lacks a structural framework. The book "The Pragmatist's Guide To Crafting Religion" is introduced as a potential resource for understanding how to create a new religion or community structure.

TLDR Chapter 1: The chapter discusses the role of culture as an evolutionary tool and its relationship with biology. It highlights the potential consequences of failing to adapt culture to changing circumstances and emphasizes the importance of creating new, diverse "cultivars" to ensure the survival and flourishing of human civilization.

Text and audio link:

https://open.substack.com/.../pragmatists-guide-to...

https://api.substack.com/.../3145bb3dae8bd7065b995591106d...

https://open.substack.com/.../pragmatists-guide-to...

https://api.substack.com/.../a0c83589111bf511837d0e594073...

Questions for discussion:

a) The author suggests that humans have evolved to function within a strict cultural/religious framework and that operating without one can lead to psychological distress. What evidence supports this claim, and how might it inform efforts to create new community structures?

b) The chapter emphasizes the importance of cultural diversity and warns against the fragility of ethnically and culturally homogeneous societies. How can we balance the benefits of diversity with the need for shared values and cohesion within a community?

c) The authors introduce the concept of the "Index," a cultural reactor that catalogs and monitors the outcomes of intentionally constructed family cultures. What potential benefits and challenges do you foresee in implementing such a system, and how might the data it generates be used to inform the development of new cultivars?

2. How to handle genAI in organizations, according to science by Matt Beane: This article critiques common organizational approaches to dealing with generative AI (ignoring, banning, or "all hands") and proposes a science-backed framework for effective implementation, drawing on research in innovation, technology, and organizational change.

TLDR: The author argues that the three default organizational strategies for handling genAI (ignore, ban, and "all hands") are insufficient and not backed by science. Instead, he proposes a 2x2 framework of tactics, both internal and external to the organization, at the individual and collective levels, to help organizations adapt to disruptive technologies like genAI.

Text and audio link:

https://www.wildworldofwork.org/.../how-to-handle-genai...

https://api.substack.com/.../67c439211421415041950be8afcc...

Questions for discussion:

a) The article suggests that ignoring or banning genAI may be the best approach for some organizations, at least initially. Under what circumstances might this be true, and how can organizations determine when it's time to engage more actively with the technology?

b) The 2x2 framework presents a range of tactics for adapting to disruptive technologies, both within and outside the organization. Which of these tactics seem most promising for leveraging genAI, and how might they be combined into an effective implementation plan?

c) The author notes that genAI itself may change how the traditional playbook of tactics is implemented and lead to surprising new ways of working. How can organizations foster a culture of experimentation and learning to identify and capitalize on these emerging opportunities?

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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TIL: In Georgian, "father" is "mama" and "mother" is "deda". Talk about confusing! Sure you wouldn't expect an isolated language family to happen to have the same words, but what are the odds that they'd be an exact reversal of English?

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You might be interested in reading this (or its sources):

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

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Interesting link. Thanks!

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I would bet on consonant repetition being load-bearing here, and probably some consonants are preferable to others, so… maybe 1:20?

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Does anyone know of any articles that challenge the masking theory of autism on psychological grounds? I’m interested in seeing nuances on the idea that hiding parts of oneself to fit certain social situations is not always pathological.

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I think that a reasonable discussion on "autistic masking" would start with the older concept of "persona" (which literally means "mask" in Latin) and explain how the autistic version is similar or different from that. Because otherwise it sounds like the autists are the only ones who pretend in order to fit in their social environment, which couldn't be further from truth. Neurotypicals probably pretend *more*... it's just that they often do it by instinct, so it may be less of a conscious burden from them. (But maybe it is even more difficult for them to find out what is actually under the mask.)

When I look at the "Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q)", my first reaction is that these are basically the opposite of the things I do. Copying someone's body language and facial expressions? I had to be told explicitly that this is a useful thing to do, and I still keep forgetting it. Monitoring and adjusting my body language and facial expressions? Most of the time I am not even aware that I have any. A script to follow in social situations? Nope, I am mostly clueless. Using behaviors that I learned from watching other people interacting? My problem is that I can't learn things by merely watching other people do them; I need to be explained explicitly what happens and how that works. Thinking about the impression I make on other people? Haha no, I fully focus on the topic that we talk about. Basically, the questionnaire is about things that people sometimes tell me that I should do, and they probably make a good point, but I usually don't do it because I forget or because it would feel too unnatural.

Then maybe this is exactly the point. I am a wild aspie from the jungle, undiagnosed and untouched by the horrors of ABA and similar. And the questionnaire is focused on the domesticated aspies, and checks the strength of their (attempted) domestication. So it seems like a valid thing. The danger is in misinterpreting its results, as if they imply something they don't. There are two possible wrong conclusion that I imagine many people would naturally make.

First, I suspect that many people will use it as a test of autism, assuming that the higher your score, the more autistic you are. (If you do a lot of "autistic masking", then you obviously must be an autist, right? And if you don't, then you are not as autistic as those who do.) But I would expect the undomesticated autists to score quite low, autists exposed to various therapies to score high, and neurotypicals probably somewhere in the middle. Because it basically measures how much you pretend to be neurotypical: some autists do, some autists don't, and the neurotypicals do those things on instinct. I would also expect neurotypical actors or salesmen or pick-up artists to score high, because they learn those behaviors on purpose, and it's the "doing this on purpose" part that the test measures.

Second, I suspect that many people will take the high score as evidence of something bad. But what the test actually measures is basically learning some social skills. If autists are typically taught those skills in an abusive way (ABA, etc.), then yes, the number of lessons will positively correlate with the amount of abuse. But there is nothing inherently abusive about teaching social skills; it's just that some assholes and quacks prefer to do it that way, and parents of autistic children are often frustrated and try to push them further than they can handle at the moment. But I can imagine e.g. an adult aspie to voluntarily take some training of social skills, and as a result increase their score in the test. (As a thought experiment, imagine a parallel universe where most math teachers are abusive but people take different amounts of math education, so someone designs a questionnaire of math skills, and concludes that the more math concepts you know the more horrible was your childhood.)

tl;dr -- putting on a mask is something that most people do in most situations; the bad part is when children are trained to do this in an abusive way

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But isn't following social instincts apparent in high functioning autism as well? The definition of instinct doesn't change, no matter if you're autistic or not. It's simply following a hunch!

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I mean the hunch that something you are doing or saying is leading to some meaningful connection or identification with the other you are communicating with.

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What specifically do you mean by "following social instincts"?

Humans in general behave less instinctively than other species, because we also have a lot of learning and culture. There is the usual interpersonal variance, and there are also conditions such as autism. Some instincts are simple, some are more complicated and therefore more fragile. Sometimes the reaction is a combination of an instinct and learned behavior...

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Thanks for sharing! What do you mean by domesticated aspies?

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Those who were successfully trained to behave like normies. (Don't move your hands, look people in the eyes, don't talk about interesting topics, etc.)

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Breaking news: just a few hours ago Biden announced that under no circumstances will Israel be permitted to win the war. So that's it, it's all over but the shouting. Unlike Ukraine which has operated under the same constraints for years this isn't existential for Israel, so they'll likely give up and withdraw in a few months rather than continue a now hopeless drain on their resources, the hostages will continue to be a Gilad Shalit x 100 bargaining chip for the foreseeable future, and Iran and Hamas will collect their winnings -- the only thing they had to give up was ten thousand disposable goons, twenty thousand civilians they don't give a shit about, and a bunch of infrastructure which the West will rebuild for them -- and start arming up for the next 10/7. On the plus side Netanyahu's incompetent government will probably fall and he'll be gone once and for all, but the price that was paid for that was a little too much.

In retrospect Israel lost the war on day three when they let themselves get pressured into turning the power and Internet back on to Gaza, thus accepting the ridiculous frame that they are solely responsible for the welfare of a hostile nation that has just invaded them. Israel's Achilles heel has always been its desperation to be loved, to be accepted; they believe, and even under Netanyahu and his far-right coalition still believe, that if they present enough evidence and send enough aid and bow and scrape and grovel and dance the world will magnanimously permit them to continue existing. Unfortunately, that doesn't get you shit in a world where human rights organizations are controlled by Qatar and China. The only thing that wins today is strength and the willingness to tell other people to fuck off instead of playing their games. Maybe someday Israel will recognize that, though I personally doubt it.

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I think one should be suspicious of narratives that go: "People only dislike me because I am too good and too noble for this world. I need to become more ruthless." Especially if you already followed that narrative for years. Chances are, others actually perceive you as too ruthless, rather than too good.

Ultimately, it's your choice how to behave. And who knows, maybe being ruthless is the right choice in your situation. It's just that the endless whining about being "too pure for this world" gets annoying, especially when there is little evidence for that. ("We haven't exterminated all our enemies yet" is a very low bar.)

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I'm on the fence here (in general principle, putting this example aside). Sometimes accepting criticism legitimizes it more than dismissing it would.

Trump is an interesting case in point - he did much better by doing this than competing republicans who mostly accepted frameworks criticizing them would have, although it also had the effect of making him more hated by people already disposed to hate him.

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"Too pure for this world" is not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that it's Israel's desperation for acceptance and eagerness to jump through hoops that has failed them. Shucking and jiving for the approval of people who would secretly be pleased if they all just fell over dead, insisting desperately that they are obeying laws and principles that are violated daily by the people presuming to sit in judgment over them.

And the idea that they've been as ruthless as it's possible to be when the Syrian civil war has been going on for a decade little next door is laughable and you know it. If they were that ruthless, why are they supplying continuing to supply power, water, and food to the enemy? Wouldn't that be kinda the first thing you don't do?

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founding

I haven't gone line-by-line through Biden's speach, but I do think you are mischaracterizing it substantially. Biden has effectively announced that if Israel wants to win the war in the particular manner it is presently planning, then it will have to do so using no more American weapons than it already has. Israel already has enough American weapons to win the war in approximately the way it is currently planning, and Biden isn't going to do anything to stop them.

I think the way Israel has been fighting and is planning to win this war is about as good as it gets under these circumstances, and I think Biden is being quite naive in thinking there is a better way. The only thing this will do is degrade US-Israeli relations and make the war a bit messier than it needs to be. But Israel can still win if they want.

Also, there aren't a hundred living hostages in Hamas hands to make for "Gilad Shalit x100". There probably aren't even 20. And they'll probably all be releaased, rescued, or killed by the end of the year.

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I don't mind Biden pushing behind the scenes (in general, mixed feelings about this specific decision), but doing it in the open seems likely to make the war worse since Hamas and their various supporters see what they're doing as achieving some goal.

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I have faith in the ability of the current Israeli government to make the damage from hostages a hundred times that of Gilad Shalit. And to be honest, I'm not confident that said government -- which has already been slow-rolling the war for almost half a year -- is going to step on the gas now that the always-chimeric international support has completely evaporated and Biden is positioning himself to actually make good on a threat for the first time in his entire Presidency.

I'll be happy to be proven wrong, but "_this_ time Israel is going to finally take care of ____ no matter what anybody says" is a football that's been getting pulled away my entire adult life.

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> just a few hours ago Biden announced that under no circumstances will Israel be permitted to win the war.

No he didn't, he said other things which you interpreted to mean this. The Rationalist Way (^TM) is to post whatever made you feel or think like X, then write that this made you feel or think X, then post the exact chain of feeling/reasoning (as much as you can reconstruct it from your conscious backseat) that made you infer X from the actual object-level.

As for how I know that Biden didn't announce this, I check Haaretz at least 10 to 15 times a day and this would have taken their front page for 5 days if true. You can prove me wrong by posting a video of him saying that or a close paraphrase, or a reputable news network quoting him as saying that.

> So that's it, it's all over but the shouting. [...] they'll likely give up and withdraw in a few months rather than continue a now hopeless drain on their resources, the hostages will continue to be a Gilad Shalit x 100 bargaining chip for the foreseeable future, and Iran and Hamas will collect their winnings

This much is true since at least late December of 2023.

And don't forget the ~100K Israelis or so that they evacuated and the lands they abandoned because of Hezbollah's bullseye on them, which they don't know how to bring back as of now, Haaretz recently reported they pushed the deadline on the return from June to September. Also the ships that the Houthis sank and/or captured.

> in retrospect Israel lost the war on day three

Good start, but how about that it lost the war since it colonized 5.5 million people and X times its own size right in the midst of the Era of Decolonization, all the way back in 1967? Do you know that Israel - for instance - has no established border? there is not a single formal document more binding than a bi-national treaty delineating Israel's borders. The true Nomadic Way: wherever the army is, that's where Israel is. The only 2 documents delineating borders are a peace treaty with Egypt (which Israel just violated by authorizing tanks into Rafah, 2.5 kilos from Egyptian land, whereas the Camp David accords [1] allow only at most 4 infantry-only battalions within 3 kilos of either side of the borders), and a peace treaty with Jordan which establishes the river as the natural border between Jordan and not-Jordan.

In retrospect, it was one hell of a mistake to base your entire national self-identity on being a victim, THEN go around and victimize countless millions and commit so many massacres, all on camera, all on fucking titktok. "Ohhh but but but how about Syria and North Korea and the Mongols and the Romans", doesn't matter, none of them do, none of them based their entire propaganda machine on weaponizing suffering. The Syrians don't have an ADL, the Syrians don't weaponize anti-Syrianism as a cudgel against naughty politicians who vote "No" to billions of dollars in ammo and Boeing Christmas presents to the "oNlY SyRiAn StaTe".

Whenever you grip a weapon, make sure you can handle the recoil. Whenever you ride a car, make sure you know which pedal the brakes are. Israel used the Holocaust as a weapon and a ride, it's totally on them to realize that this means certain commitments to self-image that they were never ready to take.

> Israel's Achilles heel has always been its desperation to be loved, to be accepted

I knew psychology has a replication crisis and is a pseudo-pseudoscience, but come on, waxing psychoanalytical on the deep psyche of an alien entity that is a modern state is a bit too much, even for an Israel supporter.

"""In the troubled and deep desperation of Israel to be loved and supported, Israel does such desperate and vulnerable things such as **Checks teleprompt** announcing their intentions to nuke Gaza, making ads for beach real estate on the shores of Gaza, casually declaring they want to slash Gaza's population by 10X, and sing for turning Gaza into a parking lot.""" By the fucking Islamic God, how do you guys maintain a straight face? What comedic genius is this and how do I cultivate one like it?

> that doesn't get you shit in a world where human rights organizations are controlled by Qatar and China

Ah yes, the big scary Chinese Qataris, the Elders of Z... I mean Qatar. They have **tentacles** everywhere, unimaginably massive influence: *everyone* who sees an image of the Palestinian children starving or under the rubble starts saying that maybe the war doing this to them isn't justified, so the Qataris truly have the power to brainwash remotely and on massive scale. They pay handsomely too, let me tell you that. "Palestinians have human rights" is $100 an hour, talking about West Bank massacres is an additional $50, every time you talk about Israeli suffering is a -$75 per Hamas rocket. Flexible hours. All in all, a pretty damn good deal.

> The only thing that wins today is strength and the willingness to tell other people to fuck off instead of playing their games.

You **kind of** do have to play other people's game when you keep begging them for anti-rocket and air defense missiles and F-35s on the cheap, as well as calling their aircraft carries in 2 different seas on short notice. Every teenage boy knows that independence is - first and foremost - when you don't need money or favors from anybody, and Israel is free at any given time to say a Jolly Good Bye to the West along with all its banks and corporations and tech startups and aircraft carries and the scum in Boeing's C-suite, just so long as they don't ask for anything from all of those after they do this. Don't want to feed the cow? Stop asking for milk.

[1] https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/campdav.asp

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I should add that it takes some nerve to quote the minutae of the Camp David treaty at Israel when fifty yards away an Iranian terror militia is using civilians as cover to fire rockets at other civilians and has been doing so for decades without any consequences. If the law is furious at one and shrugs at the other then the law is an ass.

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Having a spine comes with a lot of nerves, yes.

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Kinda sounds like you don't have a response to that.

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I did have a response, it involves pointing out that peace treaties aren't the kind of things that you violate on a whim and justify it with "Iranian terror militia 50 yards away", and that if you want to have any credibility at all, then you as a state need to respect treaties no matter what.

Then I remembered you're kinda not interested in all that, you're interested only in pointing out how much nerve I have for holding your beloved "Only Jewish State" accountable by the exact same standards any state is held to, and which all but the most dysfunctional of dictatorships can usually pass. So I didn't bother to write the reply I have in mind, and instead reminded you that having nerves isn't a bad thing. It's kinda what being human is all about.

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When Israel is criticized a hundred times as much for sins a hundred times lower than a hundred other countries, you have the gall to say that those are the "exact same standards"?

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May 9·edited May 9

That's a lot of words, dude, and all I'm actually learning from them is that it's a mistake for a small country to outsource its defense planning to an imperial power halfway across the globe that cares more about 50,000 votes in Michigan than any kind of coherent foreign policy; you can be a client state as hard as you can and yet when the chips are down the metropole will always discover it has an important appointment elsewhere. Ukraine is learning the same lesson and no doubt so will Taiwan very shortly.

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> That's a lot of words

ACX is not Twitter.

> it's a mistake for a small country to outsource its defense planning to an imperial power halfway across the globe that cares more about 50,000 votes in Michigan

Oh, definitely say what you will about the "Imperial Power" that made you more angry than 15K Palestinian women and children dead, get it out of your system, but remember: at the end of the day it's the same Imperial Power that gave to the "small country" a new air force when that country's air force was lying in shambles like broken pottery on a certain 6th of October many decades ago, the same imperial power that mobilized for it its 2 aircraft carriers and gave it free missiles and satellite surveillance and so so much more free ammo than the "Small Country" knows what to do with (dropping them on children gets old after a while).

The ingratitude of Israel and Pro-Israel supporters is actually astonishing, a beautiful sight. It's like that familiar sugar daddy dynamic where the sugar daddy refuses the sugar baby **one** request and now suddenly all hell breaks loose, and the sugar daddy's things are flying at him from the sugar baby's hands. Cringe metaphor, but that's exactly why it's so apt.

NOT that I'm complaining, I **adore** every moment of this, I just think it's hella funny how this particular manifestation of "No Honor Among Thieves" is playing out. Popcorn and Soda.

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There is no world where the continued entrenchment of yet another IRGC terror army in the eastern Med is good for America, Israel, Egypt, or for that matter even Gazan civilians. But hey, I'm glad teeing up an inevitable next war, because it would be meeeeean to win this one, at least entertains you.

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And there is no world in which 25K+ innocents dying and still counting is ever good for Americans, Jews everywhere, Arabs (who are the ones primarily doing the dying), or for that matter even the delusional settlers who think their Yahweh sky daddy is the one protecting them from an Iranian massacre and not the US-supplied weapons, the same US they like to bitch and moan about so much.

> because it would be meeeeean to win this one

It's a new low to trivialize a proto-genocide being investigated by the highest authority on what's a genocide, but you keep winning.

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founding

Somewhere between one and three million innocents died in Germany from 1939-1945. This is generally regarded as having been a necessary part of a good thing for Americans, Europeans, Jews everywhere, and Germans. Is Arab life more sacred than German?

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You seem to be stuck in this utilitarian mindset where the numbers are the only thing that matters. The people of Gaza have made it clear that they don't have any desire to coexist with the people of Israel. They cheerfully condone kidnapping/torture/rape/murder to that end. Even before Oct 7th there was a constant low-level insurgency of rocket and terror attacks by Hamas.

It's easy for people outside of the situation to be frustrated by the conflict. To look at Israel and wonder how the killing of thousands of Gazans is justified. The calculus is different when your security is at risk. I wouldn't shrug after an attack 10x worse than 9/11 and say what can we do, retaliation will cause too much damage? I don't blame the Israelis for not shrugging either.

The Gazan people want the destruction of Israel. Israel is going to keep killing Gazans until their capability to hurt Israel is broken. I wish everyone could get along peacefully and have lollipops and sunshine too. That isn't the world we live in. Gaza started a war and saying "that's not fair!" when they are the ones being killed is at best hopelessly naïve.

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Lots more than 25+ thousand innocents died in Germany in World War 2. Therefore, the Nazis were the good guys.

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May 9·edited May 9

Was there a prestige hierarchy among the types of engineering at the college you attended? I was at Waterloo 1988-93, and at the time, the hierarchy seemed to be Computer > {Electrical, Systems} > {Chemical, Mechanical} > Civil > Geological.

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There was, but it was/is in constant flux depending on what you measure. The Mechanical engineers and Civil engineers were looked down upon due to high failure rate (a running joke: A Mechanical engineer walks into an exam room... with his wife and 2 kids), **they** in turn look down upon others, and especially Computer, because the perceived "soft" and "feminine" nature of their work, unlike the rough manly work of Civil and Mechanical engineering. Computer people (including me) constantly made fun of Electronics and Communication people because the latter suck so much at programming and write such shitty Matlab/C code that you want to bleach your eye every time you read their artistic pieces of code, etc...

It's mostly friendly and light-hearted teasing that everyone involved know to be half-wrong and half-irrelevant, but some are immature enough to let it get to their head.

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Is there an endgame in Gaza that makes Israel win? I’d be interested to hear suggestions.

Israel ist trying to break Hamas in Gaza. Rafah is the only area left that Hamas firmly controls.

If Israel is doing what I think they are doing (and what I would do if I were in their shoes), they have started to transfer the Rafah population piecemeal – 100.000 at a time – to the tent camp in Khan Younis. In the process, they will detain young people suspected of being Hamas (plus unarm those stupid enough to bring arms with them to Khan Younis). Then they will destroy the weapon depots, tunnels and the like that might be in Rafah. Plus do the same (if they have not finished the job already) in the rest of Gaza. Plus, probably solidifying the road cutting Gaza in two, and keeping that under Israeli control.

Let us for the sake of argument assume that Israel succeeds in all this, with or without a lot of bloodshed.

The question is: then what can Israel do?

In political science there is something called the pottery law: “If you break it, you own it”

Which means: Someone must keep the people fed, see to it that rebuilding takes place, that children can go to school, that toilets flush, and the thousands of other tasks that must be taken care of in order for a society to function.

How is Israel going to find a sufficient number of Gazans to do this? Tens of thousands will be necessary.

In 1945, the Allies did it right by “looking through the fingers” on administrators with a former Nazi past, since most of those with a minimum of talent and ambition has joined the Nazi party, or were fellow travellers. That worked quite well (same in Japan). In Iraq, the Coalition of the Willing did the opposite: not employing anyone belonging to the Baath party after the takeover. Which is arguably the main reason why Iraq turned into a mess – most of the ones who were “clean” ideologically were the zealots and the incompetent.

---in Gaza the Israelis are unlikely to find anyone who is competent and non-Hamas willing to administer the place, at higher as well as lower levels (unless they are suicidal). And the problem with accepting competent people with a Hamas past is that they (unlike the Nazis, who accepted they had lost) cannot be trusted to stay defeated.

I hope I am overlooking something, so that Israel has an endgame after the dust has settled. That is, an endgame with some real probability of succeeding rebuilding and administering Gaza without making “owning Gaza” a forever-money drain on the Israeli economy.

Anybody has a bright idea on how?

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founding

"Owning Gaza" is going to be a money drain on the Israeli economy for the next generation. That's still a huge win when the alternative is the annual Al-Aqsa Flood. And if it's *just* the Israeli economy, the Gazans are going to be living in abject poverty for a decade. Better get used to those tents. Or, we can see whether all the people outside Israel who claim to care so very, very much about the Gazans, will still care next year. I expect at least some of them will; the prospects for Gaza will scale with their numbers and commitment.

Other than that, yes, as you say, go through Rafa and the population hiding there, arrange for every Hamas member to be dead, in prison, or trying very hard to convince people that they were never part of Hamas. And keep enough of an IDF presence to suppress any backsliders in the latter group. It seems to me that Israel ought to be able to keep Gaza about as peaceful as the West Bank, and more so at less cost if they're smart enough not to allow the settlers back in. That sounds like it would be a win to me.

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>In political science there is something called the pottery law: “If you break it, you own it”

That law should of course be rejected. Following it is what killed the US in Iraq and Afghanistan; if we'd just kicked over Saddam, put some other general in charge, and then left, things would have gone a lot better for us. Of course, as you say that "other general" is thin on the ground in Gaza; Hamas may be shit at fighting Israeli soldiers but they're very good at murdering political opponents.

I expect in the end Israel will just leave in a generally unsatisfying way and just hope that things will work out somehow. Given that the Sunni Arab states are far more interested in normalization with Israel than they are in helping out the Palestinians, maybe over time the cause will get marginalized enough that the Pals will stop being a factor. I wouldn't bet on that one, though -- they may not have allies in the region, but they have plenty of allies in the West who'll happily join with Iran and Russia in keeping the pot boiling.

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I don't think there are any good solutions.

A. Deportation. Israel relocates the entire population of Gaza somewhere else so they don't have to deal with them. The problem is no one else wants to deal with Palestinians either. The Arab world regards them as a bunch of whiny losers, and past refugees have been very politically destabilizing. So Israel would have to forcibly deport hundreds of thousands of people who don't want to leave and forcibly deposit them on people who don't want to take them in. Plus the whole world would decry this as basically genocide.

B. Occupation. Like you say, Israel would have to commit its own resources to the occupation government. This would be a huge resource pit for Israel and make their people much more vulnerable to attack. Israel has specifically avoided direct occupation of Gaza in the past for these very reasons. The joint PNA-Israel governance of the West Bank is probably the absolute best outcome for Gaza, which isn't saying much. The comparisons to post-WWII nations are not really applicable. The Axis powers and their interests were totally destroyed; the surrounding Arab nations, especially Iran, would still be around. They hate Israel and have no problem using the Palestinians as a stick to beat Israel with. So there would be no cultural reset like there was with the Nazis or Imperial Japan.

C. Political Compromise. A single state is laughable. Neither side would ever possibly accept this. Multiple states (possibly separating Gaza and the West Bank into separate states) more or less goes back to the way things were before Oct 7th. Hamas is democratic in the sense that the will of people in Gaza is the destruction of Israel. Even if Hamas is totally destroyed and replaced by PLO 2 or something, PLO 2 will just launch more terror attacks on Israel like Hamas did. See point B for why the Gazans will keep hating Israel into perpetuity.

The Palestinians hate Israel and I don't think this can ever realistically be changed given the influence of the hostile Arab states bordering Israel. Any attempts to give the the Palestinians self-governance will just lead to more Oct 7th type atrocities in the future. Any attempts to remove the Palestinian people would face enormous international condemnation and there probably isn't the political will to do this even among Israelis.

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I think the best case scenario in Gaza is something like the west bank after operation defensive shield - local civilian rule but gradual degrading of terrorism capabilities similar to the west bank (ending up with bringing Gaza to west bank levels of unease except without the settlements k

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> A single state is laughable. Neither side would ever possibly accept this.

As far as I can tell, a single state is the one thing that Israel and Hamas agree on.

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That's kind of like the CCP and the KMT both agreeing on "One China".

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Taiwan actually believes One China should be larger than China does. Here is a map of Taiwan's territorial claims: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROC_Administrative_and_Claims.svg

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Yeah, I suppose that's what happens when the CCP has to do actual diplomacy for the better part of a century.

Every so often my inner troll is tempted to create maps of China with no Tibet, no Xinjiang, no Taiwan, no Inner Mongolia or Manchuria, and little dashed lines carving out Hong Kong and Macau and Shanghai.

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I by and large agree with this reasoning.

The next question then becomes if it is really necessary to occupy also Rafah. Rather than to strike some kind of deal with Hamas, or alternatively de facto silently accept that Hamas will still be there. Since Hamas - or something very similar to Hamas - is going to resurface when all is said and done anyhow. (Given the animosity people in Gaza will feel toward Israel in the foreseeable future. All the deaths have solidified this, if nothing else.)

I tilt in the direction that occupying Rafah still makes sense from an Israeli point of view (even more so from Netanyahu's chance of personal political survival, but put a parenthesis around that). Since it at least creates some uncertainty about who among the Gazans that will emerge as leaders and top-level administrators in Gaza when things stabilizes and are brought back to some sort of normal (which will have to happen in the not-so-distant future). Then again, there are equally or even more extreme political factions in Gaza. So it is not clear-cut what is the rational/sensible next move for Israel (given the cards that have already been played - perhaps it would have been better to just build a more solid wall or to go lighter on the destruction of Gaza, but that is water under the bridge).

It may depend on how it is done, including if it can be done without chaos.

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I agree with how you characterize these alternatives, but one minor nit - I don't think the hostility of the other Arab states is a factor. It's gotten pretty clear lately that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, and perhaps others are not interested in the Palestinians any more, and only are making pro forma statements right now to keep a lid on public unrest. If your choice is between Israel, which will leave you alone if you leave it alone, and Iran, which has been running proxy wars against the Sunni world for decades... that choice is pretty clear.

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The governments of the Arab states may be ready to normalize relations with Israel, but I'm not sure the population of those states is on board. Even oppressive dictatorships sometimes have to compromise with public sentiment, and a situation like this can be a great way to increase domestic stability.

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I agree that the Arab nations are no longer in a position like the '40s-'70s where they are considering aggression against Israel. Still, they sponsor so many resolutions against Israel in the U.N. that Israel has more anti-resolutions than every single other country in the world combined. They also fund Palestine to the tune of millions of dollars every year through U.N. refugee programs. How much of this is so the governments can show the populace "See, we're doing something to oppose the Jews" and how much is genuine opposition to Israel I'm not sure.

It's true that heretics are often more despised than infidels. While the Sunni majority would probably take Israel over Iran, I'm far from convinced they would ever take Israel over Palestine.

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Maybe in the abstract they would pick "Palestine" over "Israel," even today. But that option is not available -- the "Palestine" you'd get today isn't another Sunni Arab state, it's another Iranian colony run by the IRGC. Israel is for sure preferable to _that_.

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I recently had an idea to improve acceptance of self-driving cars on the road: they should have always-on lights (while driving) that clearly identify them as self-driving, such as blue LEDs at each corner. People afraid of self-driving cars can avoid them, and everyone can see any stupid things they do.

I bet people will get used to them, and find they do far fewer stupid things than the other idiots on the road.

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founding
May 10·edited May 10

I think you greatly overestimate the ability of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to avoid a self-driving car even if they do recognize it as such. Cars are much faster than pedestrians, and other cars have only limited options for maneuvering in traffic.

there's some level of avoidance that can be achieved by "always yield even if you have the right of way" and "pull to the side and let it pass as if it were an emergency vehicle", but I hope you can see why those are not acceptable solutions. So, I'm a bicyclist stopped at an intersection with a four-way stop sign. There's a car coming on my left, hasn't reached the intersection yet, I have right of way and should be able to cross right now. But the car is a toaster, and toasters sometimes fail to recognize stop signs and bicycles. For the sake of argument, I'm one of the people who considers this risk significantly higher than with human drivers, i.e. I am one of the people your proposal is aimed at.

A: How do I avoid the risk of being hit broadside and overrun while I cross the road like I am allowed to?

B: Will your answer to question A cause me to look favorably on the Butlerian Jihad?

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A: How do you avoid the risk of being hit broadside and overrun by cars driven by humans? If you rely on the rules of the road, which I don't, you're foolhardy. People don't use turn signals when they ought to, and do when they ought not to. People become distracted. And, of course, cars of all sorts can simply break, such as brakes failing. You may think self-driving cars are more likely to hit pedestrians, but unless you think they are more likely to TARGET pedestrians, they shouldn't hit pedestrians more often than human-driven cars.

B: I had to look up what a Butlerian Jihad was, and am still confused by the question. But hopefully this will answer: technology in general is better to advance than be retarded, despite problems on the wayside. I believe self-driving vehicles will cause fewer accidents and fatalities even now, and fewer yet as time goes on.

I think a lot of the distrust in self-driving cars is what people THINK they will do, without actual proof of what they actually do. My proposal will help people see what they actually do. If you witness a pedestrian doing something stupid and a self-driving car gives up its right of way to avoid them, would that help convince you?

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Mercedes has included lavender lights in at least one of their models to indicated when it is in an assisted driving mode.

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That's good to know. Googling about it I couldn't determine, however, whether they were interior or exterior lights. Possibly both?

In any case, I certainly haven't seen them. I hope to see more soon. They seem to have come out last year.

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I only saw it in a video review of the car (which i can't find right now). I think they were exterior lights with the same intent as your suggestion. Its possible the feature got removed from the production version of the car or, because the car was >$100k, we just aren't likely to see one let alone see one in that mode.

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>People afraid of self-driving cars can avoid them,

How?

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Either hang back, or (more likely) pass them.

What do people think self-driving cars would do to endanger them?

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Glitch out and drive straight into things because something flipped the "brake" and "accelerate" signals.

Why are you trying to form a solution to a problem you don't understand in the first place?

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The problem is that self-driving cars at this point are safer, in general, than human drivers, by accidents and fatalities. People need to see the roads getting safer, and to note that the accident they see on the road is almost never caused by a self-driving car. Which drivers do not observe and judge the driving ability of everyone else on the road with them?

A car confusing the "brake" and "accelerate" signals is as likely as Excel incorrectly calculating a sum of numbers. If things like that are the concern, then they need a massive PR campaign to change people's attitudes.

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>A car confusing the "brake" and "accelerate" signals is as likely as Excel incorrectly calculating a sum of numbers.

My car, currently, will turn the volume up if you turn the volume knob down. It also doesn't like to let the key out of the ignition because it doesn't register the Park gear half the time. Any argument that goes "these things can't malfunction" is dead on arrival.

If you give Excel wrong numbers, it will use those wrong numbers in perpetuity. You need a human to sanity-check the thing and course-correct.

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Why aren't we seeing a music video golden age? It seems like everyone has a phone and they're using it to consume video and audio in smaller and smaller bites. The obvious losers should be film and television, which are meant for bigger screens. The clear winner should be music videos - the smallest and shortest kind of audiovisual content that was consumed, say, 30 years ago.

But it looks to me like music videos peaked 5-10 years ago and haven't generated any big hits since. Is it just because of the decline of the music industry generally? Something else that I'm missing?

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Are you talking about Tiktok or something else?

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I don't know if music videos get released on TikTok. I thought they were too long for that. So consider Michael Jackson's Thriller - that's got a pretty good music video that lots of people are familiar with.

It seems easier than ever to put that music video in front of someone's face. Everyone has a phone and it's not like you really need a giant movie screen to watch a music video.

But we aren't seeing lots of music videos get big like Thriller. Instead, music videos seem to be getting fewer and fewer views, at least from the data I stumbled across yesterday.

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I've seen plenty of good new music videos on YouTube. Is it possible there just isn't an axis for music videos to become a "big hit"? The days of MTV are long in the past.

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I was looking at a list of music videos with the most views. It's possible that time has allowed them to gain an edge over newer videos, but it seems to meet that there's a pretty steep drop off around 2019-2020.

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My off-the-cuff zero-expertise over-generalized theory is to blame always-on interconnected Internet culture. There aren't a bunch of small isolated micro-cultures that can develop their own cool things and then feed them into the mainstream. Instead, as soon as someone does something cool, there's pressure to get exposure and monetize it by exposing it to the giant single market, and those market incentives warp everything to sound "current". Also, the micro-cultures forced people to interact inside the micro-culture, allowing for artistic development and trends to evolve. But now, everyone's plugged into all sorts of stuff, and so any new sound is going to get influences from everywhere, and although there are some differences, they all smooth out in the end.

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Underrated point. Someone once said that subcultures are like plants, they have to grow underground by themselves for a little while before revealing themselves. If you plant something and then dig it up a day later to take a look its not going to do what you want.

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Were music videos actually peaking 5-10 years ago? I would have guessed 20-25 years ago.

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You're probably correct - my interpretation is skewed by the data I have access to. I was looking at the wikipedia for most watched music videos on YouTube.

I had naively thought that those numbers would just be going up over time, but to my surprise it seems like they peaked around 2019. But the data aren't going to include anything pre-YouTube and I'm not sure how I'd get that data.

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My default opinion on art is that good art flourishes under constraints. We seem to shy under that conclusion and believe art only requires that you maximise creativity. But creativity is an immensely complex emergent property. Not something you can mass produce. Unless you’re Andy Warhol of course.

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More generally it's disappointing we're not getting a music golden age. The possibilities for the sort of music you can create using an ordinary computer are endless, you'd think that putting this power into everyone's hands should have resulted in a groundswell of creativity, but instead music has stalled. So many new musical genres were born between 1950 and 2000ish, and then zeroish (does "mashup" count as a genre?) since 2000ish.

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does mumblerap count?

futurebass?

webcore?

hyperpop?

phonk?

djent?

(edit: this came out harsher than intended. I wouldn't be surprised if innovation has slowed. but i also feel obliged to point out that the innovation hasn't dropped to exactly zero, either.)

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Wikipedia tells me:

>Phonk is a subgenre of hip hop and trap music directly inspired by 1990s Memphis rap. The style is characterized by vocals from old Memphis rap tapes and samples from early 1990s hip hop, especially cowbell samples resembling that of the Roland TR-808 drum machine

If "literally old 1990s Memphis rap tapes but with more cowbell from one specific 1980s drum machine" is what passes for a new genre these days I feel like my point is well supported. There's nothing wrong with that specific combination as a basis for a song, but for a whole genre, or even subgenre?

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to drill the point home that a sample alone does not determine the genre, let's consider the relationship between

One For the trouble (by A.D.O.R.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tY68S1p1d4

WildChild - Renegade Master

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oi4imsHrqA

Renegade Master was a pretty popular song that's been remixed by other artists a number of times. It's widely regarded as a house track, despite looping a sample from a hip-hop track.

Also, I feel that in hindsight, Requiem doesn't really capture the feeling of "vocals are scuffed to the point of unintelligibility" that a lot of phonk tracks feature. so feel free to check out

ENEMY AND REVENGE (by Mista Playa)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcKiZeCnA3E

KORDHELL - ZEP TEPI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYzGDmaWF74

there's also a more latino strain of phonk that leans more into (what i can only describe as) a moombahton-esque identity, rather than a memphis rap identity.

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Sampling is when you isolate a piece of a song and use it in another musical context. The sample itself may or may not be modified in some way. a well-known example is when DJ's scratch vinyls on turntables. e.g.

DJ ANGELO - Funky Turntablism

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr3ftsCVXhc

now, if you compare and contrast actual examples of memphis rap and phonk, I think you'll find that there's a little more to it than just overlaying cowbells on rap tracks. e.g.

BigBankRob - Memphis Flow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng9cEhzux8Q

ROMANTICA - REQUIEM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQVrq5oaC-4

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The problem isn’t creating good music. There’s plenty of that. The problem is getting a given piece of good music connected to the listeners. It costs next to nothing to release music on Spotify et.al. I’ve done it. And then it just sits there - without a massive promotional campaign, how would anyone find it in this massive ocean?

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Madeon and Ichika Nito were both nobodies who went viral over youtube overnight. Meanwhile, Twitch streamers who are trying to "make it big" are constantly shilling themselves on any social media platform they can find. Be it tiktok, instagram, youtube, facebook, twitter, etc. "Wait, it's about gaming the algorithm?" Always has been. Mash'algorithm.

So yes, you need a promotional campaign. but no, the campaign doesn't needed to be funded by a hoity toity record label.

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Oh, no argument here - the old system is dead, long live the new system. The game is completely different - in 1984 your goal was to be signed by a big label, and then the label promoted you. Now it’s a free-for-all, but this means you can’t just be good at music; never mind, that part is almost irrelevant, you have to figure out the promotion game, and then it’s still a lottery.

I’m not even complaining, it is what it is, my point is mainly that there’s all kinds of music out there, more than there ever was, and it’s really hard to find what you like in the roiling seas of sound.

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oh, so maybe you're complaining about the threshing, rather than the marketing. yeah, that's a tough one, isn't it.

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> The possibilities for the sort of music you can create using an ordinary computer are endless

But the possibilities for *good* music are incredibly limited, and all of those possibilities have rapidly been exhausted due to composition and performance being made far more accessible. New music genres aren't going to magically form unless new technology allows for it, and unfortunately audio technology has already peaked.

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I dunno, it's possible that the full space of possible musical styles that sound good has already been exhausted, but it seems more likely that something else has gone wrong. We were inventing several new genres of music per decade in the 20th century, was dubstep really the last possible point in musical space that sounded tolerable to someone?

I think it's more likely that something has just gone wrong with the pipeline that lets new sounds become popular. A young musician who comes up with something new no longer has a pipeline of people interested in putting him in front of an audience.

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There are only 7 notes (12 if you go full atonal route, but I’d struggle to hum an atonal melody…). While I do think music as sound canvas will keep evolving, there are no new good-sounding harmonies or melodies to be found.

The pipeline is definitely just a directionless flood now, the old model of signing a contract with EMI who then invests into the artist is as good as dead.

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It’s not a problem of audio tech. It’s a problem of a flood. There’s so much new music being released it’s impossible to even know how to look for something you’d like.

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People discovered formulas for successful song creation, and stick to them. Using something non-formula is taking the risk that it won't be as good, and it indeed usually isn't, but sometimes might be. If you're in it for the money, why take the risk?

I find the same is true of restaurants nowadays. They are mostly the same within their target audience.

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Good music videos were entirely manufactured by the music industry for people who sat and browsed television. Nearly all of the views you see on youtube are people who put it on for background music and don't watch the video. Music videos don't have a purpose anymore, they're not profitable, and all the amateur ones are on tiktok. There are millions of them, they're just not good. There is no money in making good ones.

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It used to be a stepping stone to film making. I think Michael Bay and Spike Jonze used to be music video directors before making it to the big screen.

Maybe now the film director pipeline is shifting to social media content production instead of music videos?

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Consider tiktok dances and the profileration of short-form artists like Carter Vail and Value Select. I think we're seeing exactly what you predict...but there are also a billion more of every other kind of video media, so it's hard to detect.

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I can believe that music videos are the most vulnerable to competition from TikTok and such. So instead of TikTok (et al.) replacing film, it replaces the closest thing - music videos.

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Pretty random: anyone here based in Taiwan, or the UAE, and have an interest in semiconductor matters?

Me and a colleague are currently on a little "AI, AGI and compute" tour, to understand how different parts of the supply chain are orienting to the current AI situation, and are trying to find folks to talk to along the way

Feel free to DM me!

(brief bio: I was part of founding Lightcone Infrastructure, the org that runs LessWrong, amont other things)

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Photos of musicians' ecstasy. https://imgur.com/a/JQi8N1q

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Why hasn't anyone told me about the Vehmic courts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehmic_court

>The Vehmic courts were the regional courts of Westphalia which, in turn, were based on the county courts of Franconia. They received their jurisdiction from the Holy Roman Emperor, from whom they also received the capacity to pronounce capital punishment (German: Blutgericht) which they exercised in his name. Everywhere else the power of life and death, originally reserved to the Emperor alone, had been usurped by the territorial nobles; only in Westphalia, called "the Red Earth" because here the imperial Blutbann (jurisdiction over life and death) was still valid, were capital sentences passed and executed by the Vehmic courts in the Emperor's name alone.

> The sessions were often held in secret, whence the names of "secret court"... Attendance of secret sessions was forbidden to the uninitiated, on pain of death... A chairman (German: Stuhlherr) presided over the court, and lay judges (German: Freischöffen) passed judgment. The court also constituted a Holy Order.

> Any free man "of pure bred German stock" and of good character could become a judge. The new candidate was given secret information and identification symbols. The "knowing one" (German: Wissende) had to keep his knowledge secret, even from his closest family ("vor Weib und Kind, vor Sand und Wind"). Lay judges had to give formal warnings to known troublemakers, issue warrants, and take part in executions.

The more I learn about German history the more "romantic" and alien it seems.

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Wow, thanks for sharing! I suppose this is another thing I'm glad the founders of American didn't copy from the HRE.

> It has been claimed ... that, in some cases, the condemned would be set free, given several hours' head start and then hunted down and put to death. So fearsome was the reputation of the Fehme and its reach that many thus released committed suicide rather than prolonging the inevitable.

> In an 1856 lecture, philosopher Karl Marx used the Vehmic courts as a metaphor to describe his predictions of the working-class revolution that would sweep Europe.

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>It has been claimed ... that, in some cases, the condemned would be set free, given several hours' head start and then hunted down and put to death.

That seems a bit too much like the Wild Hunt to be true IMO. But then again it's Germany, where similar things have happened not that long ago (TW: Nazis being cruel): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BChlviertler_Hasenjagd

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That does appear to be one of the few parts not directly cribbed from the 1911 Britannica. (I wondered why the tone of the article was a bit archaic.)

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For a moment there I was hoping that the name referred to an attempt to recapture this amazing guy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._F._E._Yeo-Thomas

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The recent comment "What is the "free" in "Palestine should be free"" by Bo Rothstein at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden contains some points worth sharing about the ongoing Gaza war:

"regardless of whether the slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free’ is anti-Semitic or not, there is a further question: how likely is it that a ‘free Palestine’ would genuinely be ‘free’, in the sense of issuing in a democratic society that respects human rights? What type of society can we expect if the Palestinians create their own state? ...What we already know is that the principle of democratic elections has been abrogated not only by Hamas in Gaza but also by the Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the west bank. Neither has subjected itself to the ballot box since the second legislative elections in 2006 to the Palestine National Council—deriving from the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO—which Hamas won, subsequently wresting Gaza from the PA’s control.

Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have reported numerous violations of human rights by Hamas and the PA. In a report before the murderous October 7th Hamas attack on Israel and the disproportionate Israeli reprisal, AI wrote: ‘The authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to unnecessarily restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly, often using excessive violence to disperse peaceful assemblies.’

Link to the whole comment here:

https://www.socialeurope.eu/what-is-the-free-in-palestine-should-be-free

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May 10·edited May 10

Maybe if the Palestinians didn't have to deal with the ill effects of the military occupation, attacks from Israeli settlers, and other problems caused by their poor coexistence with the Jews, their character as a people would change and they would no longer want governments like Hamas or Fatah.

The best guidepost would be to look at how other Arab countries are governed. At best, there is Lebanon, which is tolerant and democratic, though also badly corrupt; Jordan which gets stability from its monarchy and good relations with the U.S.; and Iraq, which is also democratic and less corrupt than Lebanon. At worst, there are the military dictatorships of Egypt and Syria, and the hardline Islamic theocracy of Saudi Arabia. The benevolent dictatorships present in the other Gulf States are only made possible by massive oil wealth and small populations. Israel has no oil.

If Palestine becomes "free from the river to the sea," then it means something very bad has happened to the Jewish population of Israel and probably also to the Christians, which rules out good relations with and support from America. The Palestinians also don't have any monarchy, so they can't copy Jordan.

My guess is, after taking over what is currently Israel and defeating their longtime enemies, the Palestinians would have a civil war with each other over who was in charge. They might fight to the point of mutual exhaustion and after getting it out of their system as Lebanon and Iraq did, form a somewhat functional democratic government, or maybe one faction will defeat all the others and the winning general will make himself dictator. The economy would suck due to mismanagement and corruption regardless of the outcome, though they'd be richer than they were under Israeli control.

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founding

Governments like Hamas don't care what the people they allegedly represent, want for themselves. If the people of Gaza don't want a government like Hamas, Hamas will still rule Gaza with the stereotypical iron fist and use it as a base and a resource for attacks on Israel. Unless a whole lot of people with guns and with a willingness to kill Hamas or die trying, go in and clear them out.

There would be somewhat fewer civilian casualties if it were the Palestinians rather than the IDF who took on that task. Do you think that is a realistic proposition? Do you think it would happen organically if the "occupation" and "attacks from Israeli settlers" stopped, or would something else be required and if so what? Keep in mind that the problem du jour is in Gaza, which hasn't been occupied or settled in almost twenty years.

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Even if it were still a dictatorship, having an actual sovereign country would still be a huge improvement for Palestinians.

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My primary worry with this scenario is that, if it were not a highly repressive dictatorship, it would immediately go to war with Israel. And having no greater military strength than today, it would find itself losing and facing a similar invasion to what we see today.

But at least, history tells us that dictatorships like uniforms. The shiny, spiffy, "glittering tinsel of neo-fascism". That one change would improve the situation immensely.

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Agreed. If we could find a competent Palestinian dictator who would accept peaceful coexistence with Israel and *effectively* crack down on Palestinians who want to break that peace, putting that dictator in charge of Gaza and most of the West Bank would probably be an improvement for all concerned.

A democracy would be better still. But the point is probably moot on account of neither a Palestinian dictator or a Palestinian democracy would be effective at cracking down on Palestinians who want to break the peace in the near future.

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That's all true, but waking humanity up to the fact that we don't need governments at all would be better.

https://ydydy.substack.com/p/a-government-should-do-no-more-than

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A Lee Kuan Yew? The world seems to get one perhaps once a millennium :-( Other than him, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and George Washington, are there other examples of competent and benign dictators (or, in Washington's case, people who could have held power indefinitely if he had wanted to).

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I agree with you on this one, John. The only trouble with democracy is they actually elected Hamas as their leadership (but I don't think Hamas had held free elections since they came to power). Of course, we've got democracy in Israel, which gives us a dangerous clown like Netanyahu. It's clear that neither side really wants a cease-fire right now.

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I suspect Hamas really wants a cease-fire right now, but they don't have much to offer in exchange and they're (understandably) asking for too high a price for what they can offer.

But yeah, in terms of a cease fire with terms both sides would be willing to accept, that makes as little sense in 2024 Gaza as it would have in 1944 Europe.

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May 8·edited May 8

Back when Israel was just revving up their incursion into Gaza, a senior Hamas leader said in an interview that they expected a massive response from Netanyahu. That leads me to believe either they were overconfident or coldly calculating. I suspect the latter because when you look at it in a coldly calculating way it's a win-win for Hamas. Either Israel gets bogged down in a long drawn-out war of street-to-street fighting, or they'll create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In the former scenario, Israel is weakened militarily. In the latter scenario, Israel will garner world condemnation and (in the Hamas calculation) get boycotted like South Africa did under the Afrikaner government. Either way, Israel will create a lot of angry Palestinian kids who will grow up committed to their cause. Meanwhile, senior Hamas political leaders get to watch safely from a distance in Dubai.

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founding

That only helps Hamas if Hamas is still present in Gaza to take advantage of it. Or some successor organization that Hamas is willing to yield its place to while they all go off to enjoy the 72 daily virgins or whatever. Israel has the ability to make Hamas in Gaza as extinct as the NSDAP in 1946 Berlin, in about the same way, and they seem to be heading in that direction.

In which case, yeah, Hamas in Qatar is still a thing, and they'll have lots of support from the Arab Street and the Elite US Colleges. But without a presence in Qatar to turn that into organized action where it matters, it won't much matter, Note that Hamas in Qatar has been unable to stir up more than minor trouble in the West Bank, where the IDF maintains a reasonably effective "No Hamas!" policy.

Israel losing US aid is a long shot, but Israel can survive without US aid. And they are not going to be voting themselves out of existence like the Afrikaner regime did, not under any plausible boycott.

The only way this turns into a win is if Israel is stopped short of de-Hamasifying Gaza. Which is probably what Hamas was hoping for, and it's not entirely out of the question now, but I don't think so.

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> I suspect the latter because when you look at it in a coldly calculating way it's a win-win for Hamas.

There are reports, apparently by an independent Arab journalist, that some of the shootings of Gazans waving white flags were by Hamas. Because Hamas doesn't want non-combatant Gazans to leave the war zone, because Hamas wants to use the non-combatants as human shields, so that their martyrdom will turn public opinion against Israel.

I have no idea how much trust to put into this. Virtually everything emanating from that epistemic hellhole seems designed to manipulate the opinion of outsiders at the cost of Gazan suffering.

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May 8·edited May 8

> senior Hamas political leaders get to watch safely from a distance in Dubai

Isn't that Qatar?

My very brief impression is that Qatar is much more miserable and autocratic place than the Emirates.

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Of course, the question is if Israel even has to care about what the world thinks of them. The US will keep supporting Israel as long as it keeps furthering its interests in the Middle East. All Hamas is doing by alienating Israel is just giving the US more control over them.

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Good post. At first I rolled my eyes and braced myself for yet another bad faith "Just Asking Questions" concern trolling that tries to distract from the most salient and fundamental point - which is that Palestine is militarily occupied by an authoritarian government that pretends it's a democracy and acts with impunity in flagrant violation of international norms reminiscent of US-proclaimed "naughty" states like Iran and Russia - by using angels-on-pinhead argumentation about hypotheticals, but then the author actually acknowledges all of that upfront and explicitly declares his IFF transponder to be Pro-Palestinian at the start of the article, so the questioning appears to be sincere.

It's not an easy question. Would it have been better to wait for Vietnam (or rather, North Vietnam) to become a liberal LGBTQ-friendly democracy **first** before marching in protest of the American bombing? Wars and occupation harden dictatorships if they don't defeat it outright, ask Syria's Al Assad, the senior, who despite being defeated in 1973 and not reclaiming The Golans from Israel, still coasted on the legitimacy of "Resistance" for decades, eventually passing on his little French-created fiefdom to his criminal genocidal scum of a son.

On other hand, victory over the occupier **is** the ultimate PR coup for the dictator, one which can and almost certainly will feed into the myth and continue to perpetuate the kingdom.

Intertwined with this question is the question of how much do people "deserve" freedoms of a certain kind if they don't give other freedoms of other kinds to other people. Do the Palestinians "deserve" self-determination and humane treatment if they don't give them to the LGBT and atheists among them? Well, difficult question, I freely admit, but I will notice that neither the Americans nor the Europeans, self-proclaimed Free World, gave those freedoms to the same categories among them until very recently, vast gulfs of 80, 100, and sometimes 150+ years separate the introduction of constitutional innovations and political concepts of freedoms and the much later exploration of wider concepts of personal and social freedoms that guarantees survival of LGBT people and atheists and those like them.

At the end of the day, you can't do much thinking when there are starving children. We can debate till the cows come home about Palestinians and their social and political habits, but that's is solely conditional on ensuring there **remains** such a thing as Palestinians, only philosophers and theologians argue about dead people.

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exactly. Was reading a history of the vietnam war and while the author is liberal leaning and condemns the U.S involvement overall, he could never resist little digs at antiwar protestors along the lines of 'of course, antiwar protestors in north vietnam would have been arrested'. As though the U.S would have been so permissive if north Vietnamese bombers were overflying washington! Can think of very few examples of countries that have remained good liberal democracies while facing the adversity experienced by north vietnam or palestine

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>neither the Americans nor the Europeans, self-proclaimed Free World, gave those freedoms to the same categories among them until very recently

And it should be noted that wide swaths of the electorate and of the legislatures of the US and the Europeans nations openly wish to, if not reverse, certainly stop the progress in granting those freedoms.

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Thanks for the question - I have written about this decision in the past, but let me lay it out for you. It was never my intention to ferment the apple juice. This requires a huge capital investment and a lot of experience and knowledge I don't have. Making alcohol, as I'm sure you know, is a tiresome bureaucratic mess as well. So I thought that I would grow and press the apples, but then when a local cidery opened a huge facility that had capacity for pressing my apples too, I was on it! They charge me on a per gallon basis, of course, just as I charge my customer. They pump the juice into a 300 gallon food grade plastic totes and I deliver to the local breweries who ferment on their time and equipment. To build a processing plant would be another huge investment. I'm happy to work on the farm, that's my favorite part anyway, and let the processing to the processors. By the way, last year I sold 600 gallons from about 200 trees that are 6 years old or less. It takes about 10 years to get a fully mature tree that produces a good crop. I have a total of 750 trees. Each year I double production, so far!

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I'm unsure what to make of this but I have a suggestion for your marketing department. There's a lively song that never made it to any charts and you might use it. https://youtube.com/watch?v=F2sF9LiVj0I&si=l8U9-qACPOc1jqJ8

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Love it, thanks! I need to figure out all the lyrics...

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This may be a stupid question, but as the man says, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. So with that...

A problem with the most sophisticated, highest-parameter LLMs is that consumer hardware is incapable of running them. This means they have to run on cloud services run by large corporate providers, which in turn creates single points of failure for censorship and regulation that are already limiting their utility. How plausible is the idea of dedicated hardware accelerators that would allow, say, hundred-billion-parameter models to run on high-end consumer PCs?

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Depends on throughput and cost! You could do it RN with some of the more esoteric compression methods and two 3090s. 3bit compression exists and its passable.

There is a history of inference hardware accelerators, but the problem is that due to some minutia you are pretty "locked in" to a certain architecture scale if you want to optimize operations other than big matrix multiplies. Your accelerator needs a lot of HBM as a baseline, which costs a lot, and if you get the size the market demands wrong by one OOM you are screwed. So yeah a pretty big risk but if you locked in a size very doable

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Not exactly what you're asking for, but thought I'd tell you about Jeremy Howard, an Australian AI guy, who's interested in AI training that can be done on a home computer, and has a bunch of methods for squeezing more learning out of less data. Offers courses in what he calls Fast AI. Won Kaggle 2 years in a row, so he's no slouch.

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People have already built proof of concept systems called “data vending machines”, where someone operates an LLM for pay, charging over the bitcoin lightning network so that transaction fees and latency aren’t an issue. This is what I think is more likely than individuals running their model models: a marketplace where technically knowledgeable vendors compete on price and quality.

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But that's just the cloud model again with a different protocol.

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Yes, but if there are multiple "data vending machines" run by competing companies (even if the _training_ is done by just a few companies), that gets around a large part (though not all) of having a single point of failure for censorship etc.

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Until they all get bought up into a couple of monopolies with full staffs of trust and safety commissars. Or just regulated into oblivion, if you live in Europe or California or under Biden's second term.

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Many Thanks! Yes, that could happen. The "regulated into oblivion" could happen even with consumer-level hardware able to run LLMs, if e.g. the Federal government starts requiring ISPs to detect and report the LLM models themselves being downloaded.

Still, at least _starting_ with a dozen LLM-execution-providers in separate companies would mean that some _further_ failure has to happen, while, _today_, if a handful of companies decide to censor more than they currently do, this isn't _anything_ to stop them.

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It's going to be a lot harder to regulate LLMs if they're sitting on people's own computers. Stopping people from downloading things is hard, certainly a lot harder than casually leaning on Amazon-Microsoft-Google Megacorporation Inc. and telling them their AI had better say men can become pregnant if they know what's good for them.

That said, I'm not saying that people shouldn't create "data vending machines," absolutely, let a hundred flowers bloom. And in certain circumstances it might help by at least creating more alternatives to the big boys that aren't (yet) censored. But it still doesn't deliver the security of having your own LLM on your own computer; you're still at the mercy of some corporate provider who might censor you or cut you off at their whim or the whim of some pressure group or government.

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It's like anything else - right now you can do it with 6-7k worth of hardware, either a Mac Pro or a bunch of GPU's and an octominer box to run them in.

Moore's law means that'll get cheaper and easier with time, so it all depends when you want to run a 100B parameter model, and model-overhang-and-optimization-wise how good those 100B models will be by then.

But 6k is already cheap to most businesses, and some people. I can't imagine it would take more than 2 years to halve that price, too.

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My cursory search engine digging looks like you can run a 120B parameter model locally for $5,000 - $10,000. This gets you to ~ 1 token/s. How the ability of a pruned model like this compares to say ChatGPT, I have no idea.

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Lots of people here are very good with language. I'm a late bloomer with language but my favorite use of LLMs is asking them about word etymologies. I trust them to be correct on that subject. But still, I'm so ignorant with regard to word etymologies in general I wonder where I stand compared to the average reader of this blog.

What percent of words you regularly encounter do you more or less know the etymology of?

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I like to look them up if I’m not familiar with the etymology. But the OED lists 171,476 headwords in current use.

As Rainman said about the face cards left in the deck, “There’s lots of them. Lots and lots of them.”

https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/d35fe578-2f74-4805-ad3e-e585e30cfd30

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Enough to have recognized and deciphered "Uncleftish Beholding" blind on the first read-through. Which means I could at least make educated guesses for much of English vocabulary w/re the knowledge of tiny indivisible things. https://msburkeenglish.wordpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/uncleftish-beholding-aka-atomic-theory.pdf

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May 7·edited May 7

For English etymologies I use etymonline.com. I don't know how to use an LLM, but I wouldn't trust them anyway. I'd be afraid it'd just repeat some folk etymology, or invent one.

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Thank you and others for the link and the point that I shouldn't trust LLMs. I hope to test at least 100 words on an LLM to see if it makes any mistakes on etymologies. (Someone mentioned I should ask for sources, but my understanding is that LLMs are mostly likely to hallucinate when you ask for a citation or source.)

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I can't say that I do know the etymology, but I could make a guess about where the word comes from. But I wouldn't trust LLMs as they have been demonstrated to just make stuff up, so always check whatever answer they give you against something else like a good dictionary.

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Based on the 77 words in your post, I have some idea of the etymology (as in "that seems like a cognate of that Scandinavian and that German word, so it must be from a similar word in proto-Germanic" or whatever) of around three quarters of the words I encounter, but I know the full etymology (back to PIE or whatever) of 0% of those.

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etymonline.com is a good resource for looking up etymologies, and probably just as quick and easy as asking an LLM.

As another commenter has said, I wouldn't trust LLMs very much on this.

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It's a bit of a weird question, to be honest. Once you know a word, who cares about where it came from?

I know some of the common ones, anything Greek or Latin is likely to stand out, especially Greek ones, I know some of the Arabic-descended etymologies because Arabic is my native language (Zero and Alcohol are well-known, but did you know "Syrup" comes from the Arabic word for "Drink"?). Where it gets hazy for me is distinguishing between Celtic-borrowed words, the words coming from the original Germanic Old English, and the French-borrowed words coming from the Normans and later influences.

> my favorite use of LLMs is asking them about word etymologies.

LLMs can act as a good search engines with one condition: Ask them to always cite a reputable source, and follow that source. It can be as simple as an online link, or you can ask them to cite a book and download that book from Libgen or Anna's Archive (OpenAI is known to train their models on the so-called "pirate" libraries, but hush hush, we have to pretend "PiRaCy" is a scary crime when individuals do it), or track down a review to source the likely-famous assertion. Never under any circumstances take a factual assertion from an LLM at face value.

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You might be amused by what ChatGPT(3.5) has to say about the etymology of "syrup":

ChatGPT:

The English word "syrup" traces its etymology through several languages:

Old French: The word entered English from Old French "sirop."

Latin: The Old French "sirop" itself was derived from the Medieval Latin "siropus," which had been borrowed from Arabic "šarāb" (meaning "beverage" or "syrup").

Greek: The Arabic term "šarāb" was borrowed from the Greek "σῦρον (sŷron)," which referred to a thick drink made from fruit juice.

Proto-Indo-European: Ultimately, the Greek "σῦρον (sŷron)" can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root seh₂u-, meaning "juice" or "sap."

So, the English word "syrup" has a long journey through Latin, Greek, Arabic, and Old French before settling into its current form.

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It was reasonable and agreeing with Wikipedia till the "Arabic 'Sharab' came from Greek" part. It's **extraordinarily** unlikely that this is remotely true:

(1) "Sharab" is just the Arabic construction for "That which is drinkable", it comes from the Arabic verb "Shareba" شرب. This verb is semitic, it has a 3-letter root ش ر ب. You can derive other things from it: (A) Shaareb شارب, Drinker; (B) Mashrba مشربة, either a tool to drink with or a place/time where drinking happens; (C) Mashroob مشروب, something which is drunk.

Outside of Arabic colloquial dialects, I have never seen a foreign word treated this way. Non-Semitic words can't be derived or derived from.

(2) Furthermore, "Drink" is a very basic human need, it's unheard of for a language to borrow words for "Eat", "Sleep", "Drink" and things like from other languages.

(3) According to Google, there is no such thing as σῦρον, the alleged word that ChatGPT cites as the origin for Sharab. The closest equivalent that Googling yields are https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CE%A3%E1%BF%A6%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%82 and https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g4951/kjv/tr/0-1/. One is the name of an island, the other is the verb "To Drag".

(4) Just like ChatGPT fabricates in Ancient Greek, it also fabricates in PIE: there is no such thing as a root seh₂u according to Google, the closest is seh₂ul https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/*Seh%E2%82%82ul_and_*Meh%E2%82%81not, the God of the Sun in Proto-Indo Euro culture, from which the Greek God "Sol" apparently descends. There is the seh₁ https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/seh%E2%82%81-, the verb "To Press" or "To Insert".

This is overwhelmingly likely to be a fabrication, those words probably don't exist, and Arabic can't have possibly borrowed a word as basic and as fundamental as "Drink", something which every 3 years old learn, from an obscure geographically distant language.

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Oh, absolutely. It's 100% wrong about the Greek and PIE roots. I just wanted to offer confirmation of your broader advice never to trust an LLM on factual matters.

(If you ask it for the Proto-Germanic root of "syrup," ChatGPT will also invent one — "sirupaz" — rather than point out that the word doesn't have a Proto-Germanic origin.)

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>Never under any circumstances take a factual assertion from an LLM at face value.

Very much agreed!

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> Once you know a word, who cares about where it came from?

Historical linguists!

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>It's a bit of a weird question, to be honest. Once you know a word, who cares about where it came from?

People who are intellectually curious?

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Some of them, but a lot are not.

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And?

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I would be cautious about trusting the LLMs on this subjects, there's a lot of urban legends and myths in etymology. The same advice applies to any source, but LLMs have an unfortunate tendency to regurgitate commonly held bullshit as fact.

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Exactly. Trusting an LLM here sounds insane.

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In my native language German, most of the exotic ones. Less percentage of the very common words, but those are also often less interesting. (For example, I have no ideas for the analogues of "to be", "to go", "to do".) But I am probably an outlier since I was interested in those things when I was younger. I still am, but there is only so much you can learn.

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May 7·edited May 7

If you mean which language the word comes from, Latin, French, Greek, etc, then the large majority of them. If you mean something more complicated then less.

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None, I Google Search all of them.

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Is there anyone here who's familiar with the standard "HBD / racial IQ disparities are largely genetic" arguments, and disagrees with them? If so, could you summarize your thoughts?

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It's hard to know what arguments make sense without knowing what you mean by HBD.

There is a large (somewhere between .67 and 1 standard deviation) difference in IQ scores between blacks and whites in the US, and pretty solid evidence that this reflects actual differences in intelligence, since IQ scores seem to be about as good at predicting school and work performance in blacks as in whites. This is also consistent with the stuff we see in the world--blacks have worse average SATs, grades, college graduation rates, STEM degrees, MCAT scores, etc. Some people will call any discussion of this difference "HBD" and nearly all mainstream outlets do not think it should be discussed in public. Good luck finding a newspaper article on the racial statistics of the local magnet school that mentions IQ statistics.

How much of the cause of this difference is genetic vs environmental? That seems like a hard research question. We know IQ is substantially heritable from adoption studies, but blacks and whites live in somewhat different average environments, have slightly different cultures, etc., so it is hard to untangle causality. I think making a strong claim to know the answer to this question is not warranted by the available evidence, and you should be equally skeptical of the guy who confidently tells you that the black/white IQ gap is totally environmental as of the guy who says it's totally genetic.

There is also a flat-earth style HBD that says blacks dumb, whites smart. It's easy to refute, but also doing that doesn't engage with any serious thinkers. In fact, there are a lot of very smart blacks and very dumb whites/Asians/Eastern European Jews. Most people don't have any statistics background at all, so they get wrapped around the axle trying to reason about this, but overlapping bell curves are a fact of life--men average taller than women even though I know some tall women and some short men.

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May 10·edited May 10

Usually, it's twin studies that are used to estimate heritability.

Also, people put up for adoption are inherently a biased sample, even without considering race.

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I think they often look at the correlation between adoptive siblings' IQ (the people raised in the same household with you) vs the correlation between biological siblings' IQ (the people who share genes with you).

Also, I believe there are now some studies where people have looked at how much genetic material two siblings share, and more shared genes goes with a higher positive correlation in IQ scores. (You share about half the genes of your siblings, but the way meiosis works means that you don't share exactly half, and that you share more genes with some siblings than with others. Similarly for grandparents and grandchildren--you get about 25% of your maternal grandma's DNA, but it's not exactly 25%, and your sister may get 29% while you get 22%.)

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The problem is there aren't that many adoptees and they're an extremely selected and biased sample.

The standard way to estimate heritability is to compare fraternal vs identical twins.

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Sure, but then you get potential confounding because other stuff may also be more similar for identical than fraternal twins. (How you interact with people depends a lot on your appearance, for example.)

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You have far more confounding and far smaller sample sizes if you look at adoptions. And that's even before considering the fact that you're restricting yourself to an unrepresentative subset of the population, making the conclusions near-meaningless anyway.

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"Largely" is overselling the current evidence; "may be non-trivially genetic" is potential supportable, but any nuance tends to get lost in the screeching.

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I usually hate self-replies, but wanted to keep my direct response to the initial question unmuddled.

The contrary assumption's corollary, that any population-level differences in life outcomes are prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination, is equally unfounded.

It wouldn't take much of a difference in the IQ distributions to have a measurable effect in selective situations. As a numerical example, imagine two equally-sized subpopulations with average IQs of 100 & 99, both with a SD of 15; members of the former subpopulation would be 54% of individuals with an IQ above 130.

Add in another characteristic across both subpopulations that affects the SD such that the segments with it have an SD of 16 and those without 14. Even starting from a 1:1:1:1 ratio of the four combinations, again selecting for an IQ above 130 you end up with the proportions:

- 100 & 15 : 1.41

- 100 & 14 : 0.75

- 99 & 15 : 1.22

- 99 & 14 : 0.62

N.B., the effect of both a lower mean and a lower SD is larger than the combined effects of each separately; intersectionality is real.

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HBD/racial IQ guys want to present their case like it's the heterodox truth that the establishment doesn't want you to think about. First off, this should make you suspicious because that's the same thing that anti-vaxxers, flat Earthers, creationists, etc, say. But secondly, you can go type "hereditarian hypothesis" into Google Scholar and see there's plenty of scientific discussion of the question. The actual answer appears to be "it is unclear to what extent, if any, the black-white IQ gap is due to genetic differences."

However, because HBD people are mostly just racists with the gloss of scientism, they then go waaay off what that evidence, and even just what common sense and general knowledge, allow. "A meaningful portion of black-white IQ gaps are due to genetics" is a defensible position. If black people - due entirely to genetic differences - had an average IQ of, say, 95, would you notice that in daily life? It would have substantial impacts on lots of things, but not necessarily be immediately noticeable in interactions or from a birds' eye view of the world. "All Sub-Saharan Africa is a civilizational wasteland because the average IQs of blacks there are sub-70 due entirely to genetics" is completely indefensible, but they absolutely jump there (I've seen it multiple times in the ACX comments section). If this were true, a) you should expect an obvious, huge element of African history, travelography, etc, to clearly demonstrate "and these guys are really stupid" in the same way that we note that the Twa are very short, and b) is contradicted by ANY successful governance by ANY large population of African descent anywhere (Botswana, Seychelles, and the Bahamas are three examples).

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Thanks for the reply. I agree that the existence of successful independent African countries is a strong counter to the "the problems of Africans are a byproduct of them being too genetically low IQ to succeed" argument. If you're willing to help me brainstorm here, can you think of any other good examples of African success that the "they are genetically low IQ" worldview can't explain?

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Nigerian-Americans are the most-educated single demographic in the USA. If you assume education level directly correlates to intelligence, and take the ~70 IQ number they give for Nigeria's IQ, then a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows there are about as many Nigerian-Americans with Master's degrees as there should be in the entire country of Nigeria. (There would be variation due to the relative age pyramids for Nigerian-Americans versus Nigerians, but this would disfavor the HBD crowd, since presumably Nigerians have proportionately more people <25.)

Here's the calculation:

Overall portion of the US population with Master's degrees or better in 2022: 14.4%.

Equivalent in IQ: ~116

Z-score for a 70 IQ base population: ~3.063.

p(Z>=3.063)= 0.10957%

Total population of Nigerian-Americans: 712,294

Percent of Nigerians with a Master's or better in 2015: 29%

Population of Nigerian-Americans with a Master's or better (ignoring age): ~206,565

Total population of Nigeria: 230,842,743

Total population of Nigerians who should have the intellectual capacity to get a Master's (again, ignoring age): 252,934

Chanda Chisala made a similar argument on Unz (pointing to the academic success of black Africans in Britain and the US both), and mostly I only saw floundering suggesting truly absurd levels of superselection, but I think these calculations suggest that the levels of superselection are not just absurd, but effectively impossible. 80% of all Nigerians with an IQ of 116 or better live in the United States? C'mon.

(This was also a recalculation on my part - the 29% number is from 2015 and the 14.4% number is from 2022, whereas the 2015 report compared the 29% number to an overall 11%, which would suggest that >100% of all Nigerians capable of getting a Master's live in the USA.)

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The "they are unsuccessful due to low IQ" argument also has real trouble with the natural experiments of East/West Germany and North/South Korea.

We already *know* that governance can have *massive* effects on prosperity, independent of genetics. With already known variance that large, it's pretty suspicious that people try to automatically assign African under-performance to some unseen third factor.

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founding

The relative success of African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants to the United States comes to mind. African-Canadians descended from runaway American slaves are I believe relatively more successful than their counterparts south of the border, and not consistent with the usual strong-HBD hypothesis. I might also argue the relative success of African-Americans in the armed forces as opposed to civilian life, though the counterargument there would be that the military screens out the really dumb ones (at least as long as we don't have a McNamara in charge).

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This is purely anecdotal, but I've heard some very smart black people talk about a pattern where, when black immigrants come to America, the older children (roughly, high school senior or college-age at the time of immigration) turn out like their parents, but the younger children (roughly, high school junior and below) turn out like native American black people. In addition to being hearsay and anecdotal, this could be birth-order effects and regression to the mean. But it could also imply a cultural problem that can be transmitted by youth peer groups.

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That's the same pattern you see with accents--come to the US at 18, and you probably go through life with an accent--come to the US at 8, and you probably sound exactly like a native within a couple years.

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I expect so, yes.

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Do younger siblings tend to integrate/assimilate more into peer groups than older siblings? My anecdotal experiences would support this claim (n=very small), but I'd be interested to see a study.

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founding

Older siblings have less time to assimilate into their local peer group, before they go off to college or whatever and wind up in the "we're trying to be grownups and make something of our lives" peer group.

Well, OK, maybe not if they go to Columbia.

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Not assimilate more, but just be less driven and less high-achiever, at least from what I remember. It's one of those things where it seemed to me like the studies had a clear idea of what was "good" (in this case, academic success and financial achievement), and ordered people by that metric, but weren't interested in developing a clear picture of what trade-offs the "low achievement" people might have made, and what they would be trading off for. Does that make sense? (My siblings and I seem to fit this perfectly. #1 was very smart, #2 was very driven, but #3 was more laid-back and social, and so far happens to be the only one of us to successfully reproduce. Beyond replacement, even.)

The counterfactual is what would happen if the same family emigrated a few years earlier or later. If earlier, would the older siblings turn out like the younger ones (thus implicating social environment) or would they keep the same trajectory (thus implicating family environment, genetics, and birth order)?

Or again, is it just anecdotes that stuck in people's minds because they, like I, am attracted to theories that would disprove HBD because we simply don't want it to be true in any significant way?

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May 7·edited May 7

I don't want to get into depth since I've been through these debates dozens of times, but here are a few quick points to think about.

* Remember the replication crisis? Yeah. It affects basically everything, so you should already have a prior of uncertainty that strongly downweights arguments relying on old low-quality studies. And while in mainstream science, a lot of failed replications are now well known, noone in polite society touches HBD with a ten-foot pole, meaning that bad arguments easily persist unchallenged.

* Another reason to lower your prior is just the way that the HBD sphere is closed off and not subject to serious debate from outsiders. I think that if this ever changed, there's a good chance that "that which can be destroyed by the truth should be destroyed by the truth" would turn out to be the HBD side.

* HBDers also rely heavily on abuse of correlation in their arguments. E.g. they'll say "IQ is *correlated* with all good life outcomes, therefore it must be selected for" and "IQ is *correlated* with race", etc. However, correlation isn't necessarily even transitive! In fact, you can have situations where A and B are positively correlated and B and C are positively correlated by A and C are *negatively* correlated. They also completely fail to engage with all the usual problems of this sort of statistical inference. For example, correlations tend to break down at the extremes (see Scott's post about "the tails come apart" for example), or when you select for a confounding factor (Goodhearting).

* I have yet to see a good explanation for the Flynn Effect. Such a rapid rise in IQs faster than any possible evolution proves that there is *something* about IQ that is unknown, so you should treat all IQ arguments with a high uncertainty. It's also proof that IQs *can* change a lot for non-genetic reasons.

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I think it's a little too easy to use the replication crisis to just dismiss any results you don't want to believe. My impression (this isn't my field) is that the core findings of IQ have held up quite well, though I'd love to hear from a real expert. The core findings as I understand them: IQ scores from the same person are pretty stable, IQ is substantially heritable, IQ positively correlates with success in school and on the job, including in jobs you would not think of as mentally very demanding, there are average IQ differences across some racial groups, but don't seem to be across genders, etc.

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> you should already have a prior of uncertainty that strongly downweights arguments relying on old low-quality studies

I agree. But wanted to mention a study done by psychologist Sandra Scarr in I think the 1970's: Her subjects were black kids, using 2 measures for each: IQ, and an "African odds coefficient" calculated from blood test results. I don't know the details, but I gather there are characteristic differences in some blood group measures between people of African ancestry and people of European or Asian ancestry. So the African odds coefficient was used as a measure of how purely African someone's ancestry was. (In support of its validity: it correlated with skin color in the expected direction). Outcome: There was no correlation between a child's IQ and how genetically African they were.

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If you're already enmeshed in the HBD-sphere, I'd recommend checking out Chanda Chisala, as he is an HBDer who argues against black-white IQ gaps **from an HBD perspective**, which is pretty awkward for the HBDers, and I have yet to see a good counterargument.

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I'll give it a shot, I did a lot of genetics/phylogenetics at university so have a fair understanding of why this is hokum from the scientific standpoint. The one line summary is: No, it hasn't been long enough, it's unclear if there's any single factor that affects intelligence, and even if there were intelligence might not be a strong enough evolutionary factor to matter.

The first point is probably the easiest to conceptualize,. The Out of Africa theory has been shifted further and further back in timescale as we discover more archeological evidence, but the timescale remains somewhere around 70,000+ thousand years ago. While this is a long time on human scales, it's pretty minimal on evolutionary scales. Heck, lions and tigers can still interbreed and they separated millions of years ago. There simply hasn't been enough genetic drift between different human populations to allow for anything more than point changes in different population's genomes.

Some notable point examples do of this do exist, lactase persistence, sickle-cell anemia being well known, but overall humans are generically homogenous between populations. In fact, we're weirdly homogeneous suggesting an extremely narrow genetic bottleneck somewhere in our species' early life. There is more diversity in Africa, but even that's pushing plausibility. We pretty much all have the same genome, and that's only going to become more true as global travel further breaks genetic barriers.

That brings me on to my second point, intelligence is way too fuzzy a concept to be selected for genetically. Scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes smart people smart, and so far have found no 'killer-app' in our genome that controls this variable. It is doubtful any exists at this point. The majority of human traits have been found to be continuous, i.e. they are controlled by so many factors (including but not limited to genes) that no one factor can be considered causative. While there are broad trends within family lines, no human population has been identified as a significant enough outlier that they can be considered genetically superior to any other. And even the smartest families regress to the mean over a long enough period.

Which brings me to my final point, does nature even care we're smart? I'm not even going to touch whether IQ is even a valid measure of intelligence (it seems a better proxy for education to me but that's a different essay), but even if we can quantify intelligence how much does it matter? Being related to a billionaire, or king in ages past, seems a far stronger source of positive pressure. And that's not even considering how what makes for a successful person keeps changing as humanity goes through technological revolution after revolution. Is IQ even going to mater as a selective force in a hundred years? I don't know, and your genes certainly don't.

In conclusion, from the view of genetics there's very little to link IQ to racial groups. Humans are just too similar. There's no mechanism that could have driven the fixation of intelligence boosting genes in a population within the limited timeframe available. And furthermore, there don't actually seem to be any genes that could be candidates that consistently boost intelligence. If I were to look into why IQ differs between populations I'd look into diet, education and leaded gasoline long before genones.

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Okay, so why do we observe the IQ statistics we observe? Your argument would seem to say that these shouldn't exist, and yet they do. We also have evidence that those IQ scores do correlate with the stuff we actually care about, like performance at school and on the job. What's up with that?

Further, there is a lot of evidence that IQ is substantially heritable. This goes back to adoption studies using the statistics we all learned in our first stat class, but continues with modern genetic studies. (As I understand things, there are a whole lot of alleles which each have a small effect on IQ--not a gene for intelligence, but rather a bunch of stuff that sums up to allow some people to be smarter than others, and that can be inherited.)

Also, we observe other places where some groups (usually much smaller than a race) really dominate in some sporting events--I think most top marathon runners have ancestors from a particular part of Africa, for example. It's not like they were being selected for running marathons exactly, but whatever mix of selection, mutation, and drift happened there ended up producing a body type that is really good for marathon running, enough so that a subset of people from that region end up winning most marathons. It seems like you *could* have some parallel where the ancestral environment + random mutation and drift led to a brain type that is really good for a modern academic environment, say. You seem to be arguing that such a thing simply could not have happened, but I don't see why it is impossible.

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> This goes back to adoption studies

I think you mean twin studies, not adoption studies.

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founding

The best evidence for heritability of intelligence, I believe, comes from studies of twins who were (separately) adopted. That gives you identical genetics, but randomized environments. Whether you call these "twin studes" or "adoption studies", doesn't really matter very much.

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May 11·edited May 11

The problem is that "people who are adopted" and "people who adopt" are small and highly unrepresentative subsets of the population, so adoption studies will never be able to tell you much, just by their very nature. Even if you create a heritability estimate, it would just be an estimate of heritability *for that small, highly unrepresentative subset of the population*. Restricting to separately adopted twins just makes the problem exponentially worse, because now your sample is a tiny subset of a tiny subset.

The advantage of normal twin studies is that you can get a much larger and more representative sample (of course there's still bias, but nowhere near the bias that adoption imposes).

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May 8·edited May 8

Maybe I'm not understanding this, but your first point could just as easily be used to argue that all ethnicities must genetically have the same average height. There's no single gene for height.

Your second and third point seem to be general arguments against intelligence evolving at all. If nature can't select genes for intelligence and doesn't want to select for intelligence, then how did most animals evolve intelligence?

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Absolutely, and I think that kind of proves my point. Average height of a population is more strongly correlated to the wealth of a nation rather than any underlying genetic factors.

Intelligence evolving at all is a bit of a headscratcher, but there's some room for luck in genetics. My point was more that, given the extremely short timescale we're talking about, we'd need a very visible selective pressure (i.e malaria) to drive a population to be measurably different from it's cousins.

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Height can be correlated with many things, and wealth is certainly one of them (which I would guess is because poor nutrition can reduce height, but maybe there are other reasons). But that doesn't really explain why Japan has about the same average height as countries like Zimbabwe.

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>In fact, we're weirdly homogeneous suggesting an extremely narrow genetic bottleneck somewhere in our species' early life.

Does this make us the cheetahs of the great apes? :-)

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Thank you for representing the minority (I think) perspective. I will try to be gentle with my disagreement, but here it goes:

Interbreeding seems irrelevant. Different dog breeds can interbreed, and yet they have different character traits and skills. Perhaps in future, with more mobility, unless we run out of oil, people will interbreed so much that the entire concept of ethnic groups will disappear, but we are not there yet. Most people have children with someone living next to them (rich people living in modern developed societies are outliers here).

Some traits are controlled by a single gene, some traits (such as height) are controlled by many. No one respectable on the "intelligence is genetically determined" side expects to find the One True IQ Gene. A genetic engineering to increase IQ, if such thing will ever exist, will most likely consist of editing many genes, each adding a little bit, many of them probably coming with some statistical side effect.

I agree that different technological levels create different selection pressure on intelligence. That said, I assume that pressures on some level also existed in the past; you probably needed IQ 100 to handle some tools, even if until historically recently, there were no tools where having IQ 150 would give you a visible advantage. I assume that intelligence is positively correlated with social skills, and I think those have always been useful. (Nerds with computers are outliers. Imagine a woman smart enough to seduce a noble and make him marry her legally, or a man smart enough to destroy his competitors and get some important role, or basically anyone using their intelligence to more efficiently use whatever other advantages they had.) And the argument of "it depends on the tech level" actually works in favor of group differences, because different groups had or still have different tech levels, so if some tech creates stronger selection pressure on intelligence, we might expect that group to be more intelligent on average.

I agree about the diet and lead. With education, it's complicated. I don't think it has an impact on IQ. However, it allows existing IQ to translate to better study outcomes, and thus higher status, creating a positive selection pre