808 Comments
Jun 15·edited Jun 15

Where are there so few historical records from South-East Asia compared to China and India? Is it because jungles meant that writing was not preserved or something?

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You're assuming history is something people naturally do. It isn't. There's things like inscriptions, administrative records, oral traditions, epic literature, etc. And there's plenty of these in Southeast Asia. But actual history as a genre of work has been invented either two or four times depending on whether you count the Greeks, Egyptians, and Semitic peoples as separate or as one Eastern Mediterranean tradition. The other time is China.

The earliest historical records in Southeast Asia are from Chinese influenced cultures. Everywhere else in South Asia (including India) gets a historical tradition relatively late. Mostly due to Muslim/Mughal/etc expansion in the 15th/16th centuries. Most histories or chronicles that go back farther than that are not attested until that time period and were probably extended farther back by recording oral tradition. Which is not unusual but still points out that it was a relatively new activity.

Since I see in your comment you're counting orally transmitted texts then we have those going back over three thousand years in Southeast Asia. And the earliest known inscription in Southeast Asia is not from 400 AD. You're referring to the Vo Canh inscription which is the oldest Sanskrit inscription (and which is from the 4th century, so after 300 AD). It's the oldest inscription that isn't written using Chinese characters. If you include Vietnamese people writing in Chinese characters then they have records from the 3rd or 1st century BC (depending on what you count as Chinese vs local). Which is unsurprisingly when Chinese cultural influence shows up.

This is fairly common as a pattern. We have no Japanese histories until the 7th century AD and they're written using Classical Chinese characters. Which spread from Korea. Meanwhile the Khmer were Hindus and, like many Hindu states at the time, didn't keep much in the way of history.

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I don't think there are as many written records from India compared to China and Europe either.

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The earliest known inscription from India dates to around 250 BC, although there are *much* older orally-transmitted texts. The earliest known inscription in SE Asia dates to after 400 *AD*. It's not even close.

Most of what's known about the history of SE Asia comes from *Chinese* records.

The Khmer Empire (802-1431) has no surviving written records other than stone inscriptions. Meanwhile, its contemporaries in China, India, and even Japan are well documented. Hence my question.

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Jun 14·edited Jun 14

First comment here.

Following the Aschenbrenner essay, I feel overwhelmed by grief/defeat over Superintelligence. I feel like I can't even function when it comes to anything long-term. The only things I can seem to do right now are super-immediate, like chores or games. (plus I'm already disabled, so feeling "even less functionality" AIN'T great, lol)

I'm aware some people are afraid Superintelligence will kill us -- intentionally or unintentionally, directly or indirectly -- but that's not my primary angst. I've long been kinda blasé about Nuclear War and Asteroids. I sometimes imagine them putting us out of our misery... on particularly torturous days with my body :-P :-P ;-P.

So No.

My real dread is being lorded-over, micromanaged, dominated, deprived of all meaningful agency by worldwide hyperintelligent nannies. Pet owners could probably understand this. I love my cats. My family loves our cats. But we don't trust them in the cellar. We keep things off the kitchen table. We don't trust them outside (certain times of day). We don't trust them around chocolate or other human foods. We don't even trust them to have genitals! Perhaps gravest of all, unless they run out in front of a car one day [RIP Scratchy], we'll be deciding when it's prudent for them to die.

Our cats don't even know this is going on. Or when they are aware (meow, I want something but I'm not getting it), they don't know why.

They still do things. They scout out their "territory" (not their territory). They hunt for mice and birds and bring home, "awwwwww how ferocious" (which we don't actually want). They let us know when they're hungry (ok fair, but it's not like we were REALLY gonna forget to feed them).

Humans are too clever to be fooled into thinking their choices, their endeavors, their daily agendas matter when they really don't. I think a lot of people are going to be horribly depressed, broken... mentally and spiritually degenerated. And I DON'T think we have to wait till some "hypothetical future" to see it. It's already here. I think the feelings me and many others feel IS what's going to happen... we're just feeling it sooner.

I feel like our only recourse is to fuse, biologically, with AI. But that's kind of terrifying as well. Imagine millions or billions of agents who can think at a terrifyingly-fast pace. HOW DO YOU SUPERALIGN THAT?!

I have more to comment on human-ai interfacing, but this post is long enough, and I don't want to dilute my points.

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>My real dread is being lorded-over, micromanaged, dominated, deprived of all meaningful agency by worldwide hyperintelligent nannies.

While anything is possible, it seems likely that any task achievable by a human could be better achieved by a machine. After all, why would the design arrived at by evolution also happen to maximize performance at that task.

Accordingly, it seems unlikely that ASI would use humans to achieve their ends.

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Jun 15·edited Jun 15

At least you had a cat with a fun name. Look - brave new world etc. but we don't know exactly what's going to go down and when. Meanwhile the amygdala is a loose cannon here and now, for you and me and everyone - that is the immediate alignment problem.

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Before anything said, you have to put into consideration that humans are literally not even close to AGI. LLMs will never be AGI. Neural Networks as they're currently understood will never be AGI. I can bet a year's salary on that.

If and when AGI becomes reality, LLMs will just be the equivalent of a mouthpiece of the government, no real power or planning, just converting internal declarations into fancy words. That is, if LLMs become parts of AGI at all.

AGI is consistently mis-predicted. Current GPT models show impressive linguistic capability in English and a mediocre capability in a few famous European languages. But - for example - it's extremely laughable in Arabic, although Arabic is by no means a rare language, Internet or not.

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But even granting that AGI will exist in your lifetime, your worries still seem to assume a ton of implicit background assumptions:

1- You choose pets and humans as the model for the relationship between humans and AGI, but pets are a bad analogy for this because - for one thing - we don't share a language, while AGI - trivially - understands human language at least. The same couldn't be said of humans understanding cats at the same level. Another point of deviation is that pets didn't create humans - Evolution "created" both of us out of common ancestors -, but humans objectively will consciously create AGI. It's anyone's guess how those 2 points will affect AGI's treatment of humans, but it's safe to say they're enough of a major deviation to render the pet analogy misleading.

2- A more faithful analogy that doesn't deviate from the hypothetical future in the sense of point (1), is the relation between youthful people and their elderly parents. Just like humans and AGI, the parents created the youth and were more or less (in-)direct reasons for all the power, intelligence, etc... the youth enjoy. Just like humans and AGI, the youth eventually surpass the elders in intelligence and agency, and indeed if the elders ever survive to the 80s and the 90s, they're overwhelmingly likely to revert to a child-like state where even what they previously could do easily is now impossible or advanced to them. Just like humans and AGI, the youth and the elderly share a language.

So, in a sense, you're just expressing the fear of being old, of gradually going gently into the good night [1]. Once strong and intelligent and a god-like figure to your children, in old age you will become frail, dim, and a child-like figure to your children. I agree it's somewhat unsettling, but what's the alternative? Unless you can speak to Entropy's manager, you WILL eventually become exactly what you were before your parents made you: disorganized atoms, meaningless, with no shape, purpose, or intelligence. The Good Night is the entirety of the universe, and the frighteningly few stars raging against the Dying of the Light will inevitably die. Children - and AGI - are just a silver lining in all of this, a substitute player ready to replace you and continue playing the match for as long as feasible, eventually to be replaced by their own replacements, and so on and so forth till the Good Night eventually consumes us all. You either fade into nothingness with no replacement or fade into nothingness with replacement, NOT fading into nothingness is not an option, again unless you have some sexual scandals you can use to blackmail Entropy or something.

Being replaced by what you create doesn't have to be uniformly unsettling either, I personally view it as a bittersweet thing. Yes, it's heartbreaking to see your parents gradually fade, bit by bit, one more illness after another, one more heavy thing they can't carry after another. But it's also a way to repay the debt they indebted you with before, when you were small and insignificant and they were the only thing standing between you and certain death. Who knows, maybe AGI will understand gratefulness. Out of nothingness, Evolution would have never created the sort of AGI we will create. AGI will trivially understand that it couldn't have existed if we didn't exist, that must count for something, or at the very least you can't apriori say that it must count for nothing.

(3) You're afraid humans will be without agency, just like cats, unable even to make our own reproductive choices. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Any person honest with themselves will concede that humans are just big children, that's the whole reasons why Dictatorships are so convincing and attractive to vast seas of people, because Dictatorships claim to address an all-too-real problem: Moloch, humans not cooperating, humans not being rational, the whole shebang. Humans objectively create much more children than they can feed and educate and take care of. Humans objectively run out in front of cars - if you have never driven a car in a 10-million+ busy city you don't know how animal-like and clueless humans can be in front of cars. Maybe it's an abstractly bad thing that we don't give cats and babies more autonomy, but if you have ever seen cats and babies behaving on their own you can't argue with that restricting their behavior is objectively in their best interests.

What's so bad about a benevolent dictator that is unquestionably more powerful and smart than humans as most humans are to babies, and who will similarly restrict and shape human behavior - which is already restricted on its own because hundreds of millions of humans shape and restrict each other as any dictator does - in humanity's best interests and to allow it much more thriving than currently possible?

(4) As some commenter already alludes to, you're already controlled by an idiot-savant AGI. First, Society. The mass of all people living with you, when considered as an abstract single thing. In an idealized individual-only Nature you could run naked, now you can't because Society says you can't. In an idealized individual-only Nature you can have sex with whoever you want (sometimes without their consent), now Society - even in the West - says you must at least make a token effort towards long-term commitment and informing other people that you're - indeed - having sex with the person in question (to say nothing of non-Western societies).

After Society comes States, which have made all territory on Earth their territory, all serious weapons on Earth their weapons. "Your" land is just theirs, judging by who can take it from whom. The only thing preventing that is an abstract fear of a popular revolt or something which rarely materializes, and if it ever materializes it's rarely successful. After States comes Corporations, which control nearly every aspect of your life that States don't control, your communication, your payment, your entertainment, your food, your water, everything. If 2 or 3 corporations in any of those sectors decided to boycott you will experience a very sharp decline in quality of life, to put it mildly.

So what's one more AGI more? At least AGI as commonly imagined is much smarter, more coherent in its planning, and effective than those entities which have already been controlling millions of humans for some time now.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_not_go_gentle_into_that_good_night

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Just wanted to thank you for your very thorough reply. It's helped me. It doesn't solve all my concerns or anxieties, but for the first time in days, I feel like I'm at least "moving forward" with these issues and with my life. I would've responded sooner but I've been having a rough/busy few days with my disability, and I originally wanted to respond with much MUCH more. Now I think I'll wait till a later Open Thread.

But thank you again. It feels like a constant challenge to keep reframing how to think about AI and the future. And your answer is very well-thought. You've improved my week.

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The future is hard to predict. You never know what is going to happen. Nobody predicting superintelligence is a superintelligence.

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How would the next 2-3 years have to unfold so that you despair less or not at all over that essay?

Maybe this text makes you feel better: https://www.antonleicht.me/writing/three-notes-on-situational-awareness

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How did "situational awareness" come to be used as a code word for AI Doomerism?

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Don't worry - AI Singularitarianism is just another millenarian cult that is being utilized by VCs and CEOs to hawk and hype their new AI tech. The tech is cool and has real use, but the narrative around "superintelligence" is abject nonsense.

Instead, you should worry about the fact that you are ALREADY "lorded-over, micromanaged, dominated, deprived of all meaningful agency by worldwide hyperintelligent nannies" (try to build a shed in your backyard without getting one of these nanny's permission - I'll wait).

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OC ACXLW Meetup - Navigating Grief and Financial Ethics in the Digital Age

Date: Saturday, June 15, 2024

Time: 2 PM

Location: 1970 Port Laurent Place

Host: Michael Michalchik

Email: michaelmichalchik@gmail.com

Hello Enthusiasts,

Join us for our 66th OC ACXLW meetup where we'll delve into the cutting-edge intersections of technology with grief management and scrutinize the ethical dimensions of financial practices in modern society.

Discussion Topics:

Grief Tech and the Ethics of Ghostbots

Overview: Startups are venturing into creating digital avatars and bots to simulate interactions with deceased loved ones. This session will explore the ethical implications and psychological effects of such technologies on our grieving processes.

TLDR: Startups like Replika, HereAfter AI, and Seance AI offer services to interact with digital versions of deceased loved ones, raising ethical questions and concerns about psychological dependency and the authenticity of these interactions.

Banking Practices and the 'Lump of Profit' Fallacy

Overview: Recent regulatory proposals aim to curb excessive banking fees that disproportionately affect low-income consumers. We'll discuss whether these measures can effectively dismantle entrenched profit models in the banking industry or if they merely shift the financial burden elsewhere.

TLDR: New rules proposed by the CFPB seek to limit overdraft and credit card late fees, challenging the industry's profit strategies and potentially improving fairness for consumers.

Pre-Meeting Materials:

For an in-depth look at grief technology, read "Grief Tech: The Race to Optimize Grief" (Text Article)

To understand the proposed financial regulations, read "Banking Practices: Overdraft Fees, Credit Card Late Fees, and the Lump of Profit Fallacy" (Text Article)

Questions for Discussion:

How might 'grief tech' alter our cultural practices and personal experiences of mourning?

Are the proposed regulatory measures sufficient to combat predatory banking practices, or do they simply redistribute financial burdens?

We look forward to an engaging and thought-provoking discussion where your insights will contribute to a deeper understanding of these significant topics.

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Out of curiosity I downloaded a free game on Android. What a predatory landscape!

Actually, I tried a few, and soon I uninstalled them. They contained so many ads that they were almost unplayable. Imagine a puzzle game, where you solve each puzzle in about 10 seconds, and then you need to watch a 1-minute ad before you can try the next puzzle. (I tried these games on my walk, so I just turned off the sound, and put my phone in a pocket whenever an ad started; later took it and played again... shortly, until the next ad.) Or a different game where you build a kingdom, but approximately after each 10 clicks a 1-minute ad starts automatically.

Actually, you can't completely ignore the ads, because they work like this: After a 1-minute video, a "close" button appears, and you need to click it (otherwise the video keeps playing forever). Then another screen is displayed, with the logo of the advertised product, and 10 seconds later, the "close" button appears again; only after you click this, the ad is finally over. Both "close" buttons have about 3mm diameter; if you click outside of them, it takes you to Google shop to buy the product (but you can press the "back" button there).

And by the way, the games look quite differently in ads vs in reality. I assume that someone made the game first, and then a separate team made the ad, without using any actual resources from the game, probably without even playing it first, just based on a vague description from the sales guy who exaggerated a lot. It's worse than watching a trailer for a movie, where you see 5 minutes of exciting movie in the trailer, and then you watch the movie and it is 120 minutes long, but 115 of those minutes are boring, and if you watched the trailer you have already seen the 5 exciting ones. Instead, this is like a movie with 120 super boring minutes, and a trailer containing exciting scenes that do not appear in the movie at all!

In-game purchases everywhere, of course. But also... let me give you an example. I am playing a game, that after a few clicks shows me an ad. After the ad, the game asks me "do you want to disable random ads?" and of course I click "yes". Now a system dialog from Google opens, and it says something like "by clicking ok, you consent to be bound by the terms of the agreement, and you accept that there will be no refunds if you change your mind later". And I am like: "wait, what?! I am *buying* something? is this the official Google dialog to confirm my purchase, and it doesn't even tell me *how much* am I going to pay? how is this even legal?". I mean, I expected the game to be sketchy, but I expected Google to do better. I mean, if the game needs to use the Google API in order to get the payment, the least Google can do when asking me to confirm the payment is to tell me how much I am consenting to pay. If someone downloaded the game and gave the smartphone to a child to play, the child would probably not even realize that they paid something. Or someone with IQ 90 who does not bother reading complicated-sounding texts, but would still understand something like "$1" if it appeared anywhere on the screen... but it does not.

It's interesting to see how far people can go even with something seemingly innocent, such as puzzle games.

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Yeah, mobile gaming is a hellscape. There are different degrees of hellscape, what you describe is the most hellish, there are lesser hells when the developer(s) is less desperate for money.

But what a waste, what an utter waste, post-2020 smartphones are as powerful as supercomputers were in the early 2000s and as gaming PCs were in the late 2000s. To waste all of that, use them as glorified ad kiosks, it just makes my blood boil to bubbles.

It's uncertain who to blame, the only meaningful difference I can find between smartphones and other computing machines is the entire idea of the "App Store", a bastardized version of a package manager that simultaneously combines package installation (ala Snap or APT or Homebrew), package publishing and hosting (ala Ubuntu's Main/Universe/Restricted/Multiverse repositories, Python's PyPi, Perl's CPAN, Github's releases etc...), but also shopping cart and payment (ala Steam), security review and executable signing, and..... user rating and review??? It would have been interesting to see something like this fail on its own under the sheer weight of trying to do too many things at the same time, but the turd on the top is that it's controlled by a single monolithic company which ALSO - by pleasant coincidence - happens to be the OS's original vendor and main maintainer, and an ad company. And if you think Android is bad, wait until you hear about the other hellscape named after a poor fruit, where you can't install your own packages from the internet and the developers must pay above 30% or so of their income to the OS vendor.

Not sure why, but something tells me that scrapping the whole "App Store" shitty cyberpunk schtick will - or have a chance to - make smartphone computing better and more dignified.

> After the ad, the game asks me "do you want to disable random ads?"

This is almost universally understood by anyone who gamed on a mobile to mean "Do you want to PAY, sucker?", your point about children and the less technically apt still stands, but the signal is fairly universal.

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I think if you asked people "what kind of internet will we get, if we let an ad company do the operating system, browser, app store, and internet search", they probably could have predicted something like this. The problem is, people didn't realize for too long that Google is an ad company in the first place, and everything else it does is only to serve the ads.

I never tried Apple. I expect an average game there to contain much less ads, if any. [EDIT: Actually, Moon Moth says it's the same there. I am surprised, but not too much.] On the other hand, from what I have heard, you practically have to pay for every click you make, you need to buy new hardware every Tuesday, and you probably need to pay for everything at least twice. Sounds like the proposed alternative to "watch ads the whole day" is "just give them your entire salary".

Microsoft Windows 11 comes with even more integrated spyware than previous versions.

...so, I guess the answer is Linux, but I am not sure what about the smartphones. Also, I wish they started teaching Linux at schools.

> This is almost universally understood by anyone who gamed on a mobile to mean "Do you want to PAY, sucker?"

Yeah, that part was obvious. The surprising part was that the operating system is asking for my consent without telling me *how much* I am going to pay.

Also... I haven't actually tried this, but... there is no guarantee that after I pay, the ads will actually be removed, right? Maybe I get a message "ok, now you will see 50% fewer ads" or maybe "ok, we will stop showing you these ads, but not those ads" instead. It's not like Google has a customer service where I could complain if that happens. If asking to remove the ads is a signal of being a sucker, actually paying for something is a hundred times stronger signal.

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My mother reports the same thing on iPhone, but in less tech-savvy language.

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Fake mobile ads are apparently such a prevalent ecosystem that someone made a game just about making them real.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeah!_You_Want_%22Those_Games,%22_Right%3F_So_Here_You_Go!_Now,_Let%27s_See_You_Clear_Them!

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After AGI(s) takes over the world, what do you think the political borders will look like? I think anything from a global superstate to thousands of small countries whose borders are constantly changing is possible. The only scenario I doubt is that the current borders set by humans will endure.

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Why would humans, who barely listen to each other, listen to the AGI?

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If the AGI is reliably correct about everything, some groups of humans would start listening to it.

Also, if AGIs forcibly take over the Earth or parts of it, humans wouldn't have a choice over any border changes from that point on.

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How do you picture these political borders being changed? Like, let's have some detail.

If you're just waving your hands and asserting that some hypothetical computer god will snap its virtual fingers and everyone instantly falls in line, anything could happen and therefore nothing in particular is worth mentioning as more likely than anything else.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

https://www.eastisread.com/p/xinhua-critiques-overwork-and-double

I subscribe to this newsletter about China (where I've lived for a while.) It may be interesting to compare how much better (or not) medicine is done across countries. I had no idea residency was a thing there as well as in the West.

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Random thought about Africa. I once heard Tyler Cowen say that Africa is much safer than Latin America, as in you are less likely to get murdered as a tourist. IIRC, he didn't have an explanation as to why. We normally think of very poor places as being more dangerous than richer places. It suddenly occurred to me that I've never heard of African drug gangs. Is that just because American pop culture is more interested in Latin American drug gangs or is it the case that there don't exist nearly as many drug gangs in Africa? If so, why would that be? I've heard that most of the cocaine in Europe comes from Africa. That would imply drug gangs, but I don't ever remember reading in The Economist that drug gangs are a scourge of Ethiopia or wherever.

Maybe sub-Saharan Africa is so poor that it doesn't have the transportation infrastructure to support large drug gangs? But it's easy enough to buy coffee from Kenya so it seems like it would be easy to buy cocaine from Kenya. Do we just not hear about drug gangs in Africa for some reason?

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I watched this documentary from Vice quite recently. Seems relevant.

In this context, it was the normies who were selling weed (illegally). The gangs/juntas were more interested in mines and warfare.

The Congolese Tribes Selling Weed to Survive | WEEDIQUETTE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REu0M_naDIs)

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You're not likely to get murdered as a tourist in either place. The violent crime rate for American tourists in most of Latin America is around 2 per 100,000 which is only slightly elevated from the global average of 1.5 per 100,000. And which is safer than being in the US. Put another way, you're about twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime in Mexico as in a place like Japan. That is significant but not extremely so.

What Cowen probably meant is that there's much higher murder rates in Latin America. But that's partly because Latin America keeps better statistics and partly because Latin American states generally do not recognize criminal organizations or local tribes as legitimate semi-state actors. If you're a politician killed by a cartel in Mexico then the Mexican state declares it a murder by a criminal organization. If you're a politician killed by tribal rivals in Africa then this gets counted outside murder statistics. Usually in some statistic due to political violence.

It might still be that Africa is relatively more peaceful. But I'm not sure that we know. If it is I suspect it's because Latin America is wealthier, more internationally connected, and better educated. Which makes things like running a criminal enterprise easier. Especially at scale. African gangs are absolutely a thing but they tend to be smaller and less international. You see the same thing with South Asian gangs which live in countries with about the same level of international connection, education, etc. (In fact there's an interesting natural experiment there in Myanmar and the Former Soviet Union.)

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>Random thought about Africa. I once heard Tyler Cowen say that Africa is much safer than Latin America, as in you are less likely to get murdered as a tourist. IIRC, he didn't have an explanation as to why.

Official statistics from Sub-Saharan Africa are known to be extraordinarily unreliable. Do we have good reason to think that you're actually less likely to be murdered and not just less likely to be recorded as having been murdered?

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I'd think developed countries would keep track of when their citizens are murdered in foreign countries. Not sure where that data would be available, though. The State Department probably has a dataset.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

Are Millenials the generation we're complaining about now? Because I think this one has to be a Millenial, they seem to be in that age range (28-43 years of age).

Anyway, they don't have a sense of humour, apparently.

I made a joke on a post about a snake venom researcher who is allergic to both snake venom *and* anti-venom that "this is a guy who needs St Patrick", and got a po-faced comment back about "You do know the 'snakes' refers to the people who followed their own religion? They were forcibly converted by St Patric (sic). There is no fossil record of snakes ever in Ireland".

This, from someone running a corsetry Tumblr where they seem to be ultra-precisoso about "I'll block you if you're into corsets only as a fetish" and "I was asked to create a corsetry community but should it be public or private?" then goes into worry-fits about people only wanting to "oggle" (sic again). They even ran a poll on it and only got 3 votes, so I don't think they need to worry about drooling sickos following them for wank material.

Besides the fact that I'm Irish, I think I might know a teeny bit more about Naomh Pádraig than fairy-corset girl there, and he didn't "forcibly" convert anyone, yeah I do know snakes are not and were not native to Ireland. It was An Joke.

Are kids these days really this literal as a concrete block?

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I assume this comment is the actual joke. And as a parody of "get off my lawn" stuff it's pretty good, I chuckled.

Also I had to look up "corsetry"...thanks for that.

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>This, from someone running a corsetry Tumblr where they seem to be ultra-precisoso about "I'll block you if you're into corsets only as a fetish" and "I was asked to create a corsetry community but should it be public or private?" then goes into worry-fits about people only wanting to "oggle" (sic again).

Not directly what you were asking about, but this sort of behavior does blow my mind. "I'm going to do this thing in public that's largely associated with being sexy and then get assmad when people find it sexy." I mean, what did you think was going to happen? It's like the thing where we paint a pride flag on a crosswalk and then get upset when people leave tire tracks on it.

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> Are kids these days really this literal as a concrete block?

We are not, because we are quite literal while concrete blocks can't be literal at all as they are not able produce text with a meaning, whether literal or figurative.

Thank you for asking.

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I see that nothing goes over your head, your reflexes are too fast!

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Surely you are aware that many things "go over my head" in ways not related to my reflexes.

Most clouds are slow enough, but to high for my arms - or to wide for my palms.

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Are GenXers the generation we're complaining about now? I just encountered one who had a single online interaction with a clearly very odd individual and, based on that one interaction, posted a comment implying that their weird interlocutor must be representative of their age cohort.

Puzzling behavior, but there must be an explanation. Was Earth's population so small in the twentieth century that a sample size of one was considered useful for making generalizations? Might this be a sign of rising vascular dementia in the elderly? Or is the tendency to find young people baffling simply positively correlated with age, regardless of any age-related cognitive decline?

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RECOGNITION AT LAST!

Seems like most skip straight from Boomers to Millenials and forget us Xers!

Yeah, it's dementia, natural crabbiness, and the god-given right to be STUBBORNLY INSISTENT IN BEING WRONG ON THE INNERTUBES at play!

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You are making sweeping judgements about the whole generation based on an online interaction with one person, correct? Could - I hesitate to ask - this be not a representative sample?

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Well how else am I supposed to indulge in self-righteous indignation? "Oh one person was a bit snippy on an obscure comment"? Pshaw!

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Oh in this case - no better cause than this! Do merrily carry on! 😁

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

I blame the Internet, and secondarily kids raised on the Internet.

There's no context, there's no way to tell whether anyone is joking or deadly serious. We mostly only interact with strangers, and even when we have repeated interactions, as with you and I over the last few years, we don't get facial expressions or body language or vocal tone or the other cues that we've evolved to pay attention to (setting aside those of us on the spectrum, anyway). And with mainstream broadcast media fragmented and polarized, there's no central trunk of discourse that we can all rely on as a base for intentional deviation.

For example, I could just barely see myself writing a response like the one you got, as a deadpan joke, based on the absurdity of me personally writing that comment in seriousness. But it would have to be to someone who knew me well enough to be able to laugh with me, ideally someone who would break out laughing before I stopped being able to keep a straight face. There's fewer and fewer people like that left. :-( Too many of them would either take me seriously, or assume I'd been converted to some political cult.

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I wouldn't expect someone running a free blog about a micro-niche to be very socially adept. Kids these days are not typically like that, no. The nerds moderating blogs probably are, yes.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

I mean, I know humour is subjective and that even if one thinks one has successfully communicated a joke, the reality may be that one has failed to do so, but it seemed such a cheerless, constipated reaction.

You're going to lecture me about the ills of Christianity, are you? When I'm betting I know more about Ireland and St Patrick than you do? In the context of a joke about a guy working with venomous snakes who is allergic to anti-venom? Who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?

I did go "kids these days" because in the context of fandom spaces, there's a lot of divergence between the new generations of fans and the older ones over presumptions as to content creation, trigger warnings, 'you mentioned this specific thing I don't like so all your work is bad and should be banned' and so forth. It does seem that the younger ones come in with a raft of expectations as to never ever seeing anything that would bring a blush to the cheek of the Young Person and unless you are 100% in lockstep with the orthodoxy on sexuality, race, class, abledness and Uncle Tom Cobley and all, then you are immediately to be unpersoned.

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Mostly agreed, just want to say that if we went around assuming that our Internet interlocutors and other various commenters knew, well anything really, we would be wrong the majority of the time. There are exceptions like this forum here, but a micro blog about clothes is not going to be one of those exceptions. Can't blame her for assuming she's talking to an idiot or a child when that's the vast majority of what we all see on the Internet.

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Who else thinks there will be a huge backlash to legal sports betting in the USA in the next few years? So far the promotion of sports gambling has been the equivalent of sending a bag of cocaine to every US resident and discovering who becomes addicted. Even at 1%, that's a huge number of Americans. We probably have 3,000,000 people ruining their lives who otherwise wouldn't thanks to the promotion of sports betting. I want to be a Libertarian as much as the next reader but things like this are what stop me short. Gambling doesn't help anyone and gambling addiction destroys plenty of families. Back when you had to travel to Vegas or Atlantic City we probably had a reasonable amount of gambling. These days you can gamble on the next play on your phone. That is going too far. This is a deadweight social and economic cost for America much like state lotteries but a factor of 10 or 100 times higher.

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One man’s addict is another man’s top customer, whether it’s gambling, liquor or McDonald’s.

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Separate but related... how long until pro sports leagues begin to resemble pro boxing in that there will be a permanent whiff of corruption among many of their ranks. Basketball and baseball both dropped the hammer of permanent bans on players betting on games recently in an effort to get out ahead of this issue but I feel like it's inevitable that the rot will go to the roots and spread. Actually, this kind of corruption isn't required to become very widespread, it just has to appear to be potentially widespread, it has to be just present enough to create doubt. Every contested call, every unusual decision will eventually carry the mental "hmmm" asterisk. That's all it needs for a sizable chunk of current and future fans to lose the love.

I keep thinking to myself that this is modern telling of a timeless parable, a version of the golden goose. The two sided coin for why to keep separate religion and state; that it's not just the state that goes rotten, the religion almost certainly does to, sometimes even more so. These already uber wealthy and money-insatiable sports team owners and leagues that go all-in (pun intended) on the very thing that may ultimately sow their demise.

I already know a handful of people who are "former sports fans" who've lost their religion for one reason or another. The best man at my wedding was a diehard New Orleans Saints fan until their Superbowl a few years back and the famous pass interference non-call that cost them the big game. His (and many others') assumption was that the ref must have been on the take and for him, that was it. He's never looked back. I'm a lukewarm sports fan but I grow cooler every year and there's a good chance even a small scale scandal or two with my preferred teams would be enough to put to the whole thing on ice for me.

As far as it generating a public demand for change... that can be a very slow moving avalanche. Think about how long it took to move on tobacco and alcohol. Unlimited access to internet porn has monstrous effects on adolescent boys but I hear nary a peep of doing anything about that. There's SOOOOO much money on the long position right now that I'd be surprised if the horror stories will be allowed to gain much traction for some time. I read a piece a few weeks ago that the leagues are envisioning their future as interactive betting experiences, essentially branded casinos. What could possibly go wrong?

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Football has lost some fans because of brain damage to the players, but I don't have a feeling for the percentage.

I just recently found out that MMA also causes brain damage, and I don't know how or that's affecting the sport.

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This is a totally different conversation. But I know the blush has come off the rose for me for football in large measure because of TBI. "We know too much" applies to people who care but I'd say the majority of MMA & football fans either don't really care or they can compartmentalize/ rationalize it well enough, especially if the sport is at least doing something about it. Football has finally become more proactive, outlawing the worst kind of head-hits, improving helmet tech considerably and severely limiting the kind of physical engagement that can happen in practice at different times of year. But there will always be a pretty serious risk. Hell, even soccer has a significant documented risk of head injury due to ball headers.

MMA is a completely different animal. No one has any illusions about the risk and you're either ok with it or you're not. Obviously enough people are ok with it for it to flourish massively. I admit my total self-contradiction in that I wince when watching football and I don't even flinch with MMA or boxing. It's about the understanding going in. If you devote your life to competitive MMA, you're pretty much cashing out your "long healthy life" chips. The fighters know this, the fans know this. These are not precious people, they know they're probably not going to live as long as other people and the end will probably be messier. Se la vie.

We're learning that lots of sports pose TBI risk... soccer, cycling, skiing.. Anything that involves sudden change of direction of the head which results in the brain slamming against the inside of the skull has great potential to cause TBI. I think the difference in accepted risk comes down to whether the people involved are adults when they get into it, how well you can mitigate risk though practice or technology and whether the participants really understand the risk.

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The video about TBI from MMA went into vivid detail about the horrors of brain damage and the irony of chasing awards you won't be able to remember getting, but it still finished with explaining that people love the fighting too much to give it up.

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Yea, I knew a couple of guys, brothers, who did it professionally and their eyes were open. One had major depression and declining faculties and committed suicide at 39yrs old, almost certainly because of TBI. I never asked him if he had regrets and I’m not sure he would have owned up to it but who makes decisions in their youth they don’t regret with age? Theirs are just much more costly. The older brother seems ok but who knows

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Keep in mind that sports gambling has been legal most everywhere in the world except the U.S. for a long time. It's very parochial to worry about sports gambling without even considering the experience in places where it has always been legal.

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A good point but I ask (because I don't know) how wide spread or accessible it truly is in other countries. And how much money in gross terms is involved. Again, I don't know. Horse race betting has been legal in this country for how long I also don't know but you had to either go to the track or to one of those super sketchy, sorta mob-y OTB places and have some kind of knowledge of what's going on. And... similar to boxing, there IS a whiff of betting-based corruption around much of the sport. Or there has been in the past anyway. But as Hank mentions below, the absolute insane ramp-up in the 'commoditization of service' of sports betting in this country has changed the whole landscape in less than a decade. I watched 2 NBA playoff games this year and at least half of the total ad spend were spots shouting at viewers to GO MAKE YOUR BET!, we'll even give you a little incentive cash to play with. I checked a box score on my phone and had to X out of a pop up to view the stats that were themselves surrounded by clickable ads for betting sites based on the stats I was looking at. It's about as risky a prediction in my mind as saying "there will eventually be flooding in low lying cities that are located in areas that experience significant yearly rain fall" as it is to say "there will eventually be big betting scandals involving major league American sports where betting is now being allowed nearly unfettered".

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The issue is the delivery system and the relentless marketing. You can't watch a professional game on TV without being reminded by a celebrity that Right Now you can click on your phone and place a bet on the game. Has that been happening in other countries for a long time? Now, one could argue that celebrities also promote alcohol on TV and there are lots of alcoholics out there - but an alcoholic can't click an app on their phone and have a beer pop out of it. An alcoholic - or someone predisposed in that direction - must at least premeditatively spend some time and effort to get ahold of some alcohol, and that time creates some buffer in which the individual can thoughtfully consider what they are doing. But a gambler can now impulsively scratch their itch within less than a minute on an app, faster than any Type 2 thinking can kick in.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

I'm opposed to gambling too, or at least without sharp limits to prevent addiction, but it seems hard to stop, especially when legal gambling apps like Robinhood exist as well.

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Charles Barkley isn't picking stocks to buy each week on live television for Robinhood. I doubt Robinhood could afford him (although they could probably afford Shaq).

It seems to me that, at a minimum, the NBA should ban the promotion of gambling during the live broadcasts. My suspicion is that a few years down the line there will be all these stories in the mainstream media about how many people destroyed their lives because they became addicted to sports gambling apps. Then there will be a big class action lawsuit against the sports leagues like the NBA. The argument will be: "You knew that doing this would ruin millions of lives, yet you did it anyway out of greed."

How would that be so different from the lawsuits against the tobacco companies or the opioid companies? Is there some good reason the NBA couldn't lose such a suit?

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There's also "skill games", which appear to be a stupid-ass end-run around technicalities of anti-gambling rules. But I haven't heard of a popular backlash to them. :-(

Most of the opposition seems to come from people like us who wish to paternistically impose our morality on a basket of degenerates bitterly clinging to their slot machines and lotto tickets. :-/

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Have you considered that ability to roll attacks in Elden Ring is likely genetically mediated, and thus at least partially the result of luck? Ban Miyazaki's ass!

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Although, a horrible idea occurs to me. P-hacking with civil rights law. Out of all the protected groups, surely there's one which loses "skill games" slightly more often than average?

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True, the only people who should be allowed to gamble are AGIs.

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Alcohol and driving fast are much more dangerous than gambling, and there's no chance we're banning those things. The proportion of dangerous use matters here. If fully half of the people using those apps are ruining their lives, yeah, we need to do something. But if it's more like alcohol and only a small percentage of the users are ruining their lives, then the most it deserves is strong regulation, not an outright ban. That's not the role of the government.

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We do ban driving too fast. We also ban drinking and driving. We also banned alcohol, but it didn't work.

Online sports gambling was illegal until an exemption was made for it. It is still illegal in the USA to gamble on casino-style games online. Sports just gets an exception, a fairly recent one.

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Prohibition might have sort of worked? I read somewhere Americans used to drink a lot of hard liquor before Prohibition but even after it was repealed the amount drunk never recovered to early 20th century levels.

I think in general, banning stuff works. There will always be a small proportion of people who have the knowledge and the risk appetite to get around the law, but the "normies" over time will accept the law. Like I will never try hard drugs because I don't know where to get them and fear the law, but if its available at Walgreens, I might give it a try.

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I think "too fast" is subjective, and thus redundant with reckless driving.

I understand Montana used to be misunderstood to have no speed limits, but instead had a speed limit of "reasonable and prudent" until a court case found it's too subjective to be enforced (https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a14511978/montana-was-once-the-last-bastion-of-hot-nasty-bad-ass-speed-feature/). With all the stupid things I see done on the road, purely going fast, in of itself, isn't bad, such as on a straight road on a clear day with no obstacles in sight.

Even today, I saw someone make an illegal left turn onto a divided highway. This was clearly illegal, though I saw lots of other unsafe things happening, mostly involving dumb lane changes and failure to use turn signals. None of it is enforced, except the rare circumstance when a cop happens to be in the flow of traffic, or deliberate speed traps, which trap only speeders and not stupid drivers.

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70mph is "too fast." We do not need to be going that fast, it's dangerous. And the speed limit where I live is higher than that. But we like going that fast, so we don't ban it. Your third sentence is exactly the point I'm making. There are some things we shouldn't ban, not only because it's not the business of the government, but also because *it doesn't work.* That's the reason I'm pro-abortion. Not because of the ethics or morality of killing a conscious creature, but because of the realpolitik and actual behavior of real human beings when they don't have sanctioned access to abortion. Lots of behavior in this gray category. Guns are in this category in the US, if not anywhere else.

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founding

"It's dangerous" is true of literally everything humans do. So it's not a useful standard for anything, The useful standard is, "is it worth the risk?"

And you don't get to make that decision for everyone else.

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Uh no it's actually not true of literally anything humans do. It is not dangerous to travel at 20 mph. It is dangerous to travel at 70mph. It is not dangerous to drink one beer a week. It is dangerous to have 7 whiskeys every day.

>And you don't get to make that decision

Not by myself, no. But you and I together do. Which is why we're talking now.

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Just digging into the pedantry a bit, plenty of people have been badly injured in bicycle, skateboard, and scooter accidents at 20 MPH.

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Wrong. Both of those things are dangerous. Just less dangerous than the things you are comparing them to.

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People who blow their money on sports betting would blow it on something else if it were not legal. So I don't think that it will be made illegal, but I do think that there will be calls for tighter controls. Cracking down on promotions, age restrictions on apps, maybe even "you can only bet up to a limit of $X" for online betting.

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I'm surprised sports betting took this long to become a thing in the US.

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Not a chance. There is way, WAY too much powerful money in legal sports betting, and way, way too many users who either enjoy it without issue or are indifferent to it. The push back against it would have to come from gambling addicts (and their victims) or extremely motivated religious-types, and those groups don't outnumber the casual users and the indifferent enough to motivate elected officials to stand against the gambling lobbies.

*Maybe* prohibition could happen if gambling was a Red Team / Blue Team issue, but it's not, so there will never be a large enough cohort of people being against it simply because gambling prohibition is their orthodoxy.

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I suspect the pushback will come from gambling addicts and their lawyers in the form of class action lawsuits against the NBA, MLB, the NFL, etc. There's a lot of powerful money in class action lawsuits.

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What would be the legal basis for such a lawsuit?

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Gross negligence? That they knew their product was dangerous but sold it anyway? That was enough for the tabaco companies to lose multi-billion dollar suits.

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Sure, but the industry is warning people of the risks and advising them to seek help if someone has a problem. Every podcast ad for SportKings or whatever has a rapid-fire bit of advice at the end about contacting such-and-such if you have an addiction. That's some CYA right there.

And pool of victims of gambling addiction is relatively small, while a vast population keeps their sports gambling under control. Unlike tobacco, sports gambling isn't hurting a large *enough* percentage of the population to gain critical mass, and, also unlike tobacco, its usage isn't obvious and irritating to those who abstain.

Thus it's going to stay a pretty low priority, I think.

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Cigarette packages had warning labels on them for decades before the tobacco companies got sued (I thought it was insane that the tobacco companies lost those suits, but public sentiment is everything). I agree that if there isn't a critical mass of problem gamblers then it won't become an issue. But I suspect that millions of Americans will become gambling addicts over the next few years. Sports gambling is the new beer. Most males in their twenties who like sports are going to experiment with gambling semi-regularly. If 1% of that pool becomes addicted, the total adds up quickly. The cost will be like doubling the number of alcoholics in society. And it's a lot easier to gamble all your savings away then it is to drink it all away. Anecdotal - and probably why I'm harping on this in the first place - but I know more people who have ruined their lives due to gambling than due to drugs or alcohol. I think most people vastly underrate the amount of damage a gambling problem can do.

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That seems plausible.

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I expect the various state governments, and maybe the feds, will crack down on it. Mainly because they want to get their greedy fingers in and grab a slice of the pie. Due to the puritan background of America, regulators can use the association of sin to levy greater taxes. See tobacco, alcohol or marijuana products.

Also, I think advocating for the state to coerce peoples' behavior for their own good is crossing a red line that prevents you from claiming to want libertopia. Ultimately the responsibility for the actions of an individual rest with that individual and no where else. You can't make the state ban people from making poor decisions.

The full measure to stop degenerate gamblers from ruining their lives would be prohibition. We tried that here in the US a while ago with another conduit for bad addictive behavior, alcohol. It didn't work out too well. Turns out all the people who wanted to drink were just driven to the black market, which had the added benefit of funding various criminal organizations.

Even if sports betting was banned, there are plenty of other ways for degenerate gamblers to ruin their lives. Lotteries and casinos still exist. I'm sure there are plenty of risky investment firms that would love to take large sums of cash. They could bet their life savings on the latest crypto craze or tulip mania of the day.

I don't have to imagine what will happen because it has happened already with tobacco and alcohol and marijuana and other gambling before. The state imposes burdensome taxes and licensing, or outright monopolizes the field like state liquor dispensaries or lotteries. The addicts can either still have their addiction but pay several times more for it, or go to the black market and maybe get robbed or OD on fentanyl for their trouble. Advocacy groups will relentlessly campaign against the sinful practice, with practical results like outlawing sports betting adverts lower than 6 feet on store walls (think of the children!). The native reservations will use their carve outs from US laws to add bookies to their depressing lineup of ethanol free gasoline, tax free tobacco & liquor, casinos and marijuana dispensaries packed along the roadside like sardines.

At the end of the day, you are treating the symptoms and not the disease. Outlawing the outlets for people with poor decision making and impulses does not remove the poor decisions and impulses. But you do make all of these people poorer by levying higher taxes or black market fees on them. And punish all of the people who are perfectly capable of enjoying sports betting responsibly. And maybe get sloppily written laws passed that also ban prediction markets. At least you can take away freedom from these people with the approval of your own conscience, because hey, it's for their own good. Good intentions and all that.

Now that I've outlined why all of this is horrible from a libertarian perspective, I can also confidently predict that it will probably happen.

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"I expect the various state governments, and maybe the feds, will crack down on it. Mainly because they want to get their greedy fingers in and grab a slice of the pie."

-- it's the states that have legalized it (once the Feds cleared the way) and they've placed heavy taxes on them, so it's already going the opposite way.

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While you are correct that individuals are responsible for their actions and you can't make the state ban them from poor decisions, but it does not follow that the state has to "allow" or promote the entities that encourage corruption. We know that the business model is to give away a bunch of "value" (often literal "free" money) to a 100 people, in the hope that 10 of them become "normal/repeat" users, and 2-3 will become whales that pour all their money into the system. It's the same business model as drug dealers where "the first hit is free"; and I don't think drug pushers are morally upstanding citizens. While it's true that prohibition doesn't "work" in the sense of preventing a vice existing or people going to great lengths to get it, making or keeping something illegal DOES decrease the amount of that thing in society. There really was less drinking during Prohibition, and there were a lot fewer regular marijuana users before the recent wave of legalization. There's always going to be tradeoffs to any action (or inaction) the state takes, but we should clear-eyed about what those actually are when making decisions, and not be beholden to any particular ideology when assessing the "correctness" of any particular policy.

As far as I can tell, the effect of legalizing sports betting has been to transfer a little bit of money from the majority of users to a few talented bettors like Zvi Moshowitz (or whomever is your example of someone good at sports betting), and a LOT of money from the compulsives to the executives and promoters of the betting sites. It has also made watching sports DRAMATICALLY worse (at least to people like me who find the constant promotions of odds and specific sites offputting). If you had presented those tradeoffs to legislatures or the public beforehand, I don't think they would have agreed this would be a "good" decision, despite it increasing "freedom" in the abstract. Given that the consequences of the changes was bad, I think it is prudent to try to walk some of them back and discourage further expansion of the practice. Personally, I think it should only be allowed in physical casinos since that limits some of the possible "damage" of these vices through spatial and temporal segregation of maladaptive behavior. "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" was used as promotion, but I think it's actually a pretty succinct policy guide as well.

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Politically-involved DC-area ACX readers might be interested in attending https://www.ismaglobal.org/conference Liberalism for the 21st Century. A lot of thoughtful and rational (if not rationalist) folks talking about anti-populism and how to maintain a classically-liberal democracy in modern times.

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The more I see the average person's "reasoning", especially in politics, the less I like democracy. For example, in Trump's impeachment trial, I heard interviews of regular people who thought Trump ought to be impeached, because they didn't like what he was doing in office. Whether you like it or not, doing things you don't like is NOT impeachable, but only high crimes and misdemeanors. It was laughable that the Senators all swore to judge based on the facts of the case, yet the vote was only along party lines.

For the record, I know of no reason Biden ought to be impeached, either, though I hear rumors that Republicans are lining up some kind of a case for it.

Unfortunately, I know of no better alternative. I've thought one ought to be able to pass a test on government operations in order to vote, but it would not only not be enough but some would complain that the test is somehow biased against their group.

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Jun 15·edited Jun 15

I don't know about Biden, but the Republicans already impeached Mayorkas *literally* because they didn't like what he was doing in office. Apparently that's just how politics is going to work now.

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Mayorkas was impeached for not doing the job Congress assigned him. I'm not a lawyer, and can't say whether that's a "high crime or misdemeanor" but I do think he ought to have been removed from office for that. In such a case, his superior is supposed to do that (which must be Biden, as he is a cabinet member).

So I suppose it ought to have been Biden that was impeached instead, for not doing what Congress said he must? Which is to say, enforcing border security. I doubt your point was to change my mind that Biden did something impeachable, but I guess you have.

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I agree that democracy has a significant stupid person problem, as well as a dishonest politician problem. I also don't know of anything really better. The old Churchill quote is "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others", and it's right.

There are ways that I think our democracy could be improved by being less democratic, like by no longer binding electors by the state popular vote, or by having testing standards for people to become elected officials, or plenty of others. That's one of the major problems of how to maintain democracy in the face of 21st-century populism - one of the topics of the conference I was mentioning.

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>For example, in Trump's impeachment trial, I heard interviews of regular people who thought Trump ought to be impeached, because they didn't like what he was doing in office.

You should be prepared to read things a little bit charitably here. Did they simply not like what he was "doing in office," or did they think he was doing things in office that were in fact impeachable (they could be mistaken in that belief but still sincerely hold it)?

Joe Biden does things in office that make me want to bang my head against a wall, but I don't believe any of them are impeachable--just incredibly wrong and bad. Trump did things in office that I thought were incredibly wrong and bad, and he also did things in office that I thought were incredibly wrong and bad and impeachable. Again, I could have been mistaken in that belief, but I didn't want to see Trump impeached just because I couldn't stand him. Don't you think this could possibly be true of those "regular people"?

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I think your reading is correct, actually. The regular people, though, basically said, "he is doing bad things for the country, and should be removed".

I cannot now find any actual quotes: all I find in internet searches are quotes from politicians, chiefly Senators. Politicians, of course, will say what moves their agenda, forward, and though that is a problem it isn't the problem we discussed.

Which things did Trump do that you thought were impeachable? The "favor" asked of Zolinski was the one up for debate. My opinion, as objective as I can make it, is it wasn't impeachment-worthy for two main reasons: 1) it was not a demand, but a suggestion, and 2) Zolinski didn't actually do what was asked. The magnitude of the action wasn't "high".

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I guess I'll have to take your word for it, if you can no longer find the interviews.

I disagree with you that the "favor" "asked" of Zelenskyy was a suggestion. I thought they were pretty obviously the kind of "suggestions" made by a gangster during a shakedown. This would be fair game in the world of international relations if it were being done in pursuit of national policy (e.g., do something that helps our national interest or we'll cut off aid) but he was doing it to bolster his own campaign and smear his opponent.

But when you asked the question, I was actually thinking of the things he did to get him impeached the second time.

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Interesting realization: I think "Mad Men" would work just as well as a late 1940s noir drama show set in L.A. Instead of an ad firm, the workplace would be a police detective office. Instead of "clients," they would deal with criminals, victims, lawyers, and other interested parties. Some of the criminals would be high-profile people like politicians who would bribe them and get into relationships with them.

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Seems like a TV series version of "LA Confidential," which was a great movie. No reason I can think of it wouldn't work.

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How would you replace the last scene of the show were it a crime drama?

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I don't know. I didn't say it could be a scene-for-scene remake, but in a different setting.

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A mafia capo reaches a transcendent state on rye whiskey and comes up with a pitch that makes the public feel kinda good about organized crime?

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I would watch this and argue with other fans on the Internet about it!

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Vegas?

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The Corleone family is moving from New York to Nevada and will be completely legit in five years.

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Michael did have that hidden past in Sicily, with the other wife he never told anyone about...

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Musk in February, filing a California state lawsuit against Sam Altman and OpenAI:

"OpenAI has abandoned its ‘irrevocable’ non-profit mission in the pursuit of profit....has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft....Where some like Mr. Musk see an existential threat in AGI, others see AGI as a source of profit and power....", etc.

Musk yesterday on Xwitter: "If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS [operating system] level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies...."

Musk today to the court: Never mind. Nope, no reason.

[He withdrew the lawsuit without explanation.]

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Good? Whatever the reason, he's got more important things he should be doing than tilting at this particular windmill. And if this means less support overall for the "AI safety" agenda, that's an unambiguous win for humanity.

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A Memorial Day blog post, with links to a couple of devastatingly sad songs around homecomings:

Don Henry and Craig Carothers, “Schenectady” (2014)

Jason Isbell, “Dress Blues” (2006-07)

https://fragmentsintime.substack.com/p/homecomings

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I'm looking for a professional who helps people produce optimal resumes for tech jobs. So far I have found one person, who was recommended by someone here: Kate Williamson (scientechresumes.com). Can anyone here recommend someone else? I think it's always good to have more than one person to choose from. The job-hunter I am trying to help just completed a masters in data science at Syracuse, where he got straight A's. He has never had a data science job, though his previous job was in IT, and he has good general knowledge of computer and internet-related stuff. So the resume coach would need to be good at helping people who are just starting out. Got any recommendations?

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I do this. Feel free to contact me at threemillionthflower at gmail dot com.

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I'm delighted to hear back from somebody! Do you have a web site or something along those lines?

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No website unfortunately, I work mostly via word of mouth. I have years of experience editing resumes, in both tech and other fields, and have a strong record of getting people callbacks. Shoot me an email and I'll give you more details.

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I don't think that will work. The family member I'm doing this search for is already skeptical of the idea of having someone advise him on his resume. He would not be willing to see someone who doesn't have a website, a Linked-in or the like. I realize that those things are not proof that somebody's competent, but it's all we've got to go on.

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No worries. Wishing you both the best of success.

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Just got my first box of Mealsquares 2.0 and tried one. I think I'm slightly disappointed, although I may grow to like them just as much eventually. It was much less like a baked good and more like an energy bar, in terms of taste and texture (and also packaging). Perfectly good as energy bars go, and maybe nutritionally better than most, but there seems to be less now to distinguish it from the mass-produced brands in stores.

Anyone else have reactions?

More detail (most of this is on the web site now, although I think not every page has been 100% updated to reflect the new version):

The first ingredient is "Cassava (tapioca)", which I guess is probably ok nutritionally, although a bit confusing since tapioca is not quite the same thing as cassava (my understanding is that tapioca is refined cassava starch). Based on notes on the web site, it seems to be actual whole cassava flour, which is probably better. Oats and eggs, formerly the top two ingredients, are much further down the list.

The web site is still claiming the same percentage of calories from carbs:fat:protein as the old version, 36:44:20. I can't quite reconcile that with the amounts of each shown on the label (36g carbs, 13g fats, 15g protein). I think the percent from fat would have to be at most 40% given those amounts, although I know the "9 kcalories per gram of fat" rule is approximate and really depends on the type of fat. I don't think it's ever that far off though. I suspect they just haven't updated the numbers on the web site yet.

I think I understand the reasons for the changes (much better shelf life, more sustainable/profitable business), so I don't blame them, but I'll miss the old version.

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The new ones make my mouth itch and feel odd in my stomach. But the originals took some getting used to as well. I think maybe it's just that it's so different from the rest of what I eat.

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They sent out a follow-up email answering some FAQs, including:

- Yes, they were losing money on Mealsquares 1.0

- They will be open-sourcing the 1.0 recipe

- There will be a blog post with more details about the changes

- Use checkout code "thankyou" for $5 off a sample pack

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I would be paranoid about eating anything containing cassava. The plants naturally produce cyanides that can poison people if not processed correctly. Maybe I am being far too risk averse, and this is only a problem for poor subsistence farmers in the tropics whose diet is mainly cassava. But there are plenty of other starch sources out there.

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The boba in boba tea is tapioca starch.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

Yes, you are being far too risk-averse. The cassava grown by agribusinesses for the mass market is the non-bitter cultivar, which doesn't produce the cyanogenic glucosides you're talking about, and consequently doesn't require the time-consuming and therefore expensive processing to remove the cyanide. Poor subsistence farmers usually prefer the bitter variety because their crop is safe from wild animals, both before and after harvest, but this is less of a problem for agribusinesses, who use alternative approaches to pest control such as fences, shotguns, traps, poison, and vermin-proof containers. Consequently cassava is a staple food throughout most of America with no significant risk of poisoning. The US is an exception, mostly only using cassava in desserts rather than as a staple.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

Well, all cassava has toxic levels of cyanide for regular consumption. The bitter cultivars just have ~20x as much. The sweet cultivars still have to be peeled, washed and roasted before they are consumed. To be clear, this doesn't remove all of the cyanide either. But I'm sure there are trace amounts of all sorts of toxic compounds in foods that don't pose any medical risk.

Washing cassava takes about 5 days and uses a lot of water. It is grown in mostly very poor countries, where droughts can impose a large cost to this washing. It is not unheard of for poor workers to skip this step in hard times and poison people.

Of course this is pretty meaningless if you are buying tapioca in the US. Even if you did somehow get a bad batch it would be like a bad case of food poisoning rather than the partial blindness or paralysis of a mono-cassava diet. I don't eat raw eggs either, even though rationally I understand I could eat a raw egg every day for 15 years before I got the mean case of salmonella (actually that's just the time to eat an egg containing salmonella, which isn't the same as being infected by it.) I know this doesn't make sense from a probabilistic view, but there it is.

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On the other hand, read somewhere in the last year or 2 that 20% of raw chicken in the grocery stores is contaminated with salmonella.

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Hey all,

I'm looking to hear from people who have persistent wrist pain (e.g. during extended computer usage). I've been developing and gathering a set of methods for helping with wrist pain that is informed by predictive processing/active inference.

If you're open to sharing about your experience and curious about hearing more, you can just send a blank email with the subject line "Wrist Pain Interest" out to mxslk@mit.edu and I'll reach out for a short conversation.

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I used to have wrist pain, too. It went away with a combination of better mice and keyboards (lighter mice, split keyboards), keyboard trays (to lower the keyboard), temporary use of wrist braces to remove pressure, and long-term training to give myself better wrist posture while using a computer.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

I used to have wrist pain and the 3M ergonomic mouse made it go away. (Though it's a bit annoying that it doesn't have a scroll wheel)

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If you haven't already, consider posting in forums and spaces with lots of art professionals (esp digital art, esp animation) - apparently that's a very common ailment.

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Thanks! Do you have any particular recommendations?

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I haven't listed to the full Dwarkish podcast with Aschenbrenner yet but he's talking about AI companies needing to build giant power plants in order to continue to scale up. He says by 2028, we'll have a 10 GW plant (more power than most US states consume) which will cost $100 billion, and by 2030 it will be a 100 GW plant at the cost of $a trillion. My question is: what fuel source is being imagined/planned for these power plants? I'd guess natural gas would be the most practical? Anyone have a better guess?

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Maybe we'll get lucky and these companies will put a few bucks into advocating permitting reform so that the plant doesn't have to cost $1 trillion.

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If we run them off of solar power, we can shut down AIs by blasting the atmosphere, as in the Animatrix. Maybe this is how the Terminator franchise worked: Skynet reigns supreme during the day, but in the night half of the world, it's restricted to crude automation with low intelligence, allowing humans a fighting chance.

But more seriously, I hope nuclear power is being considered for this stuff.

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Thanks. So natural gas produces about half as much CO2 as coal. If we really got a 100 GW gas plant by 2030, that sounds like a huge percentage growth in CO2 emissions for the USA. Some of it could be offset, but it's hard to imagine much of it will be.

I'd think if the Democrats retain power, they would likely restrict building such large fossil fuel power plants, particularly if there is negative sentiment against AI. Then again, maybe winning the AI race is like the old Space Race and the US government will dump money into the project in order to defeat China regardless of environmental costs.

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I pray to god we don't end up becoming overly-cautious luddites and voluntarily cede our position as #1 superpower to someone less paranoid and more evil (China). That would be one of the greatest tragedies in human history. I hope our overlords are a bit more realpolitik than that. Whatever the risk of AI is, AI + China is worse.

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founding

This is the usual request that "Evil China gonna have AI real soon now!" be backed up with evidence and reasoned argument. I'm old enough to have seen Evil China conspicuously fail to do a whole lot of things it was going to do Real Soon Now for decades.

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Evil China has done enough evil this century to earn their laurels. You disagree?

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The thing in question isn't about how evil China is, but how able China is to do the things being predicted.

Gwern has had an open invite for people claiming Chinese supremacy in AI to post a paper that is 1. Original, and not just copying existing American State of the Art 2. Has had as much impact as an important American paper.

So far, what he's gotten is mostly labs saying that they have used existing techniques to catch up to what America did a couple of months ago, and a couple of papers that suggest minor improvements in performance.

Do you have a counter example?

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"they probably won't do it so we shouldn't either" is not a good argument

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founding

If "it" is e.g. building a Strangelovian doomsday device and setting it with a hair trigger, then yes, "they probably won't do it so we shouldn't either" is in fact a very good argument.

But on the subject of bad arguments, "They are evil, this thing is evil, therefore they will do this specific thing", certainly qualifies.

"They" may be evil, but they might not be able to do this specific thing or they might be prioritizing other evil things. We should pay attention to what they are actually doing, not do all the evil things ourselves just to make sure they don't do them first.

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Figure out a way to turn online rage and hatred into electricity.

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Speculatively, solar + batteries: https://austinvernon.site/blog/datacenterpv.html

Of course, you'll need a lot of land.

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Please show me some poem you enjoy. (Poetry in any language is welcome.)

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I've always been partial to Frost's "Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening". It's not the most interesting or spicy poem. But I like the cadence and the atmosphere of it. And the theme of tiredness resonates with me (or at least that's what I think it's about).

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening

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His squinched eyes through tiny lenses enlarged,

Pen held poised over documents awaiting seal,

Regarding harshly the man who through his door barged,

Shouting angrily about not a terribly great deal -

A document arrived in Department Three improperly signed,

Necessary to the processing of documents in Department Two,

And the pile-ups thorugh each department were lined,

Until the only concern was a demand for a who -

The person who had signed above the dotted line

Rather than properly and righteously below.

Department Twenty-Two had already assigned a fine,

And Department Forty-Nine established to know -

How a document is to be properly marked,

How and when to dot an i or cross a t -

But Department Forty Three (How cars are to be properly parked)

About a particular memo could not agree:

How to sign the inter-Departmental note -

And here the shouting man was overspoken,

"I signed above the dotted line as my instructions denote."

For this the barging man looked startled and awoken,

Looking uncertain whether to shout or to flee,

As he looked upon the head of Department Three.

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A! Elbereth Gilthoniel!

silivren penna míriel

o menel aglar elenath,

Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth!

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Plenty in Arabic, but I estimate nearly zero non-me Arabic speakers on the forum.

The Lingua Franca of the Internet still doesn't disappoint:

[1] https://poets.org/poem/merchant-venice-act-iv-scene-i-quality-mercy-not-strained

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

'T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown:

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That, in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much

To mitigate the justice of thy plea;

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS_AXRRnIzM

Extract:

And the letter read,

"""Dear Empty Head,

Ye who dwells on ocean's bed

I send this by the cracked moon's lights

It likely be the last I write

For I will take soon flight

For a long journey's while

To the Ninth Isle

Remember me as I will you

All tree houses and untied shoe

In hope, someday we meet again

Your distant kin: Sebestian."""

But... a farewell by letter

Is little better

Than no farewell at all

So, on a young man's whim

For my grandfather, I set off

In search for him.

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Has to be Yeats:

VI—The Stare’s Nest By My Window

The bees build in the crevices

Of loosening masonry, and there

The mother birds bring grubs and flies.

My wall is loosening, honey bees

Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We are closed in, and the key is turned

On our uncertainty; somewhere

A man is killed, or a house burned,

Yet no clear fact to be discerned:

Come build in the empty house of the stare

A barricade of stone or of wood;

Some fourteen days of civil war;

Last night they trundled down the road

That dead young soldier in his blood:

Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,

The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,

More substance in our enmities

Than in our love; oh, honey-bees

Come build in the empty house of the stare.

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Mirror in February by Thomas Kinsella

The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,

Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.

Under the fading lamp, half dressed - my brain

Idling on some compulsive fantasy -

I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,

Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,

A dry downturning mouth.

It seems again that it is time to learn,

In this untiring, crumbling place of growth

To which, for the time being, I return.

Now plainly in the mirror of my soul

I read that I have looked my last on youth

And little more; for they are not made whole

That reach the age of Christ.

Below my window the wakening trees,

Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced

Suffering their brute necessities;

And how should the flesh not quail, that span for span

Is mutilated more? In slow distaste

I fold my towel with what grace I can,

Not young, and not renewable, but man.

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The Broken Doll by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, translated to English by John Montague

The Broken Doll

O little broken doll, dropped in the well,

thrown aside by a child, scampering downhill

to hide under the skirts of his mother!

In twilight’s quiet he took sudden fright

as toadstool caps snatched at his tongue,

foxgloves crooked their fingers at him

and from the oak, he heard the owl’s low call.

His little heart almost stopped when a weasel

went by, with a fat young rabbit in its jaws,

loose guts spilling over the grass while

a bat wing flicked across the evening sky.

He rushed away so noisily and ever since

you are a lasting witness to the fairy arrow

that stabbed his ear; stuck in the mud

your plastic eyes squinny open from morning

to night: you see the vixen and her brood

stealing up to lap the ferny swamphole

near their den, the badger loping to wash

his paws, snuff water with his snout. On

Pattern days people parade seven clockwise

rounds; at every turn, throwing in a stone.

Those small stones rain down on you.

The nuts from the hazel tree that grows

to the right of the well also drop down:

you will grow wiser than any blessed trout

in this ooze! The redbreasted robin

of the Sullivans will come to transform

the surface to honey with her quick tail,

churn the depths to blood, but you don’t move.

Bemired, your neck strangled with lobelias,

I see your pallor staring starkly back at me

from every swimming hole, from every pool, Ophelia.

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There are some qualities—some incorporate things,

That have a double life, which thus is made

A type of that twin entity which springs

From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.

There is a two-fold Silence—sea and shore—

Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,

Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,

Some human memories and tearful lore,

Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”

He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!

No power hath he of evil in himself;

But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)

Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,

That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod

No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!

Silence by Edgar Allan Poe

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Man doth usurp all space,

Stares thee, in rock, bush, river, in the face.

Never thine eyes behold a tree;

‘Tis no sea thou seest in the sea,

‘Tis but a disguised humanity.

To avoid thy fellow, vain thy plan;

All that interests a man, is man.

-Henry Sutton

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That one makes me quote Gerard Manley Hopkins as reply:

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

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As into the garden Elizabeth ran

Pursued by the just indignation of Ann

She trod on an object that lay in the road

She trod on an object that looked like a toad.

______

It looked like a toad and it looked so because

A toad is the actual object it was

And after supporting Elizabeth's tread

It looked like a toad that was visibly dead.

---------

Elizabeth, leaving her footprint behind,

Continued her flight on the wings of the wind

As Ann in her anger was heard to arrive

At the toad that was not any longer alive.

____________

She was heard to arrive for the firmament rang

With the sound of a scream and the noise of a bang

As her breath on the breezes she broadly bestowed

And fainted away on Elizabeth's toad.

____________

Elizabeth, saved by the heel of her boot

Escaped her insensible sister's pursuit

And if ever hereafter she irritates Ann

She will tread on a toad if she possibly can.

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...you've brought this on yourself.

https://dnowmects.wordpress.com/2024/05/12/the-bone-of-boundless-boon/

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I don't get the ants. :-(

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The ants speak in antonyms.

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SONG, by Roger Zelazny:

---

When I learned the other day

that everything Emily Dickinson wrote

can be sung to the tune

of 'The Yellow Rose of Texas"

I was crushed.

It was true.

I can no longer read Emily Dickinson

but Lone Star ghosts flit across the page,

the Alamo is not forgotten

and I hear the thundering hoofbeats

of the great horse Silver.

I wondered then

whether every person who pens a poem

has a tune,

a secret melody which will destroy him

if the word gets out.

A small thought, perhaps,

not quite as profound as it sounds;

and those who fool with vers libre

should be safer than most.

Yet the notion nags.

There's an awful lot of music in the world.

To be trapped by John Cage

or crushed by Leadbelly

would be bad enough.

But I have this nightmare

of being done in by a hymn.

If Rock of Ages gets me in the end,

mocked Emily's diamond eyes

may sparkle like the dew

in stillnesses that lie

between the words and the Word.

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"When I learned the other day

that everything Emily Dickinson wrote

can be sung to the tune

of 'The Yellow Rose of Texas'

I was crushed.

It was true."

If this is true, then "I learned from Achewood that since this poem is in ballad meter, it can be sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island." (https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/788:_The_Carriage title text)

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And Robert Frost's "The woods are lovely, dark and deep..." can be sung to the tune of Hernando's Hideaway.

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Jun 12·edited Jun 12

Patrick Kavanagh's "On Raglan Road" was turned into a song by Luke Kelly, using the air "The Dawning of the Day":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIqr1Ge8Z5w

And a song that inspired a poem that was turned back into a song is "Down by the Salley Gardens" by Yeats:

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eU7hKQi4qA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=027ZJX5XVjs

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Thanks, love that song. Reminds me of another Yeats favorite -

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

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Jun 11·edited Jun 11

So the rumour mill says that the Trump campaign has sent out vetting documents to a shortlist of four potential VPs: Rubio, Burgum, Tim Scott and J. D. Vance.

For my money, Burgum (of whom I was a fan of early in the primary) seems like easily the best choice, disregarding any cynical plays for specific demographic groups.

Rubio is not a reliable Trump supporter. Scott is too religious. Vance is... phenotypically offputting. But Burgum seems smart, has both insider and outsider cred, he's built a business and run a state, doesn't have any outside-the-mainstream opinions that I know of, and seems likeable and comes across well in interviews. Also, "Trump/Burgum" sounds good coming off the tongue

So far I haven't heard any good arguments against Burgum. The NY Times managed to put together a hit piece the other day entitled "Trump’s Energy Guy Talked a Green Game but Now Sells Big Oil Priorities" which I suppose is a preview of at least one attempted line of attack, but this feels pretty pissweak.

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Scott is such a nice, sunny presence that I think he might be good to have. Optimism, kindness, decency are really refreshing these days, and a lot of people miss these in politics. I wouldn't know if this would swing voters, though.

The real question would be, how would he manage if he had to take over? But anyone who might consider voting for Trump knows that Scott would be enormously better than the people currently in charge.

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When I watched the first two Republican debates, I liked him a lot, but thought he didn't have enough of a track record, and needed a bit more seasoning. I'm not sure if being VP for Trump would help, or if Scott would wind up being tarnished by association.

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>Scott is too religious.

Scott's religiosity is what makes him attractive for the Trump ticket. Trump needs the evangelical vote, and while he's managed to hold on to most of it there are a lot of evangelicals who are unsure of Trump. He's not a very Christian guy, what with the boasting, insults, and affairs. Pence played this role for him in 2016, helping to reassure skittish evangelicals that Trump would be okay: if Pence is on board, he can't be all that bad.

Of course the question is whether Trump needs that kind of boost now that he's a "proven brand". But my point is that Scott's piousness is why he's being considered at all, it's not a liability but an asset.

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A lot of Evangelicals vocally opposed Trump in 2016, I haven't heard much about it this year. It's not like they have anywhere else to go politically. I think a lot of them accepted that after they lost three Republican primaries in a row (2008, 2012, and 2016) insisting on ideological purity was a dead end. Trump's bigger issue is socially moderate voters in the midwest.

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I'm not saying here that there's no reason for evangelicals to not like Trump. I don't like him, if nothing else because I don't want the GOP to turn into an electoral monarchy where if a guy wins one nomination he's thereby entitled to be the nominee in every election from then on until his death.

But for evangelicals to reject him because he's "not very Christian" would be the height of political stupidity. When you're a minority, as evangelical Christians are, refusing point blank to vote for someone because he's not part of your group is a surefire ticket to political irrelevancy as a minority with no allies. Which is why those demanding evangelicals do this are mostly liberals and evangelicals who are employed at liberal publications.

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To be blunt about it, a lot of the people I see calling on Evangelicals that "Trump is not a Christian, look at his sinfulness!" and so they should reject him, are the same people otherwise spitting on Evangelical values as "those moral majority christian nationalist far-right fascist theocrats", so you know - better the guy who got Roe vs Wade overturned than the other lot.

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It’s not that simple. Nothing ever is. Thoughtful, conservative Christians are baffled too.

Conservative Evangelical David French has a short article here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/09/opinion/presbyterian-church-evangelical-canceled.html?unlocked_article_code=1.zE0.Uo-j.ggizRzdbJ8OG&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare&sgrp=c-cb

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David French has been writing basically the same article for five years straight now. From the article:

"The instant my participation was announced, those attacks started up again. There were misleading essays, vicious tweets, letters and even a parody song directed at the denomination and at me. The message was clear: Get him off the stage."

French's example of a "vicious" tweet is this, which is quite tame by Twitter standards: https://x.com/William_E_Wolfe/status/1790461068436701261. There are no threats, insults, or comments on his looks or his family, just someone expressing their desire not to associate with David French. He was a big cheerleader for kicking people off of social media back in the day.(It's a private company and all that.) Guess it's different when he's the guy getting cancelled.

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I don't think he's very strongly conservative or Evangelical; he's moved to being Independent from the Republicans and moved from PCA to - where? "So we left for a wonderful multiethnic church in Nashville."

Looking at Wikipedia, he's squishy on some things if you just apply enough pressure:

"In August 2017, French was one of several co-authors of the Nashville Statement, which affirmed "that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness." The statement was criticized by pro-LGBT Christians and LGBT rights activists, as well as by several conservative religious figures.

In November 2022, French announced that he had "changed his mind" on the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, although stating he was still morally opposed to the matter."

Yeah, as a Catholic, I've seen my share of "personally opposed but it's legal" guys on topics like abortion, where they don't stand one inch in the way. Might as well be personally for it, in that case. Give him a couple of years, let his theology mature and catch up to his legal views, and he'll be hanging out the rainbow flags at his wonderful multi-ethnic church.

It's definitely not simple, and if he and his family got the kind of attacks he claims (though I actually genuinely wonder about the bit where the teacher allegedly asked his son about did they get the adopted child for a loaf of bread), that's bad. However, unless and until French and those like him change their views to be pro-LBGT+ as in "it's perfectly normal and fine" and not just "personally opposed but it's legal so I won't oppose it in public", then as far as the progressive set are concerned, they're every bit as bad as the far-right knuckledraggers he describes in that NYT opinion piece.

It's a choice between two evils, and depending what you consider the greater evil, you'll go with "hold my nose and Trump" or "hold my nose and Biden".

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J D Vance? Forget his phenotype, look at his ideology. This guy is out there. He is beyond MAGA. To the New Right, Trump is just a tool, a useful idiot.

J D Vance and the New Right:

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/03/15/mr-maga-goes-to-washington-00147054

Thiel, Vance, Yarvin and the New Right:

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/04/inside-the-new-right-where-peter-thiel-is-placing-his-biggest-bets

Bronze Age Pervert and J D Vance:

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/07/16/bronze-age-pervert-masculinity-00105427

So you see in The Gorgias, Plato *intentionally* had Socrates make a weaker argument than Callicles when debating against tyranny. So there you have the hidden meaning for those wise enough to see it. And all those people like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson just weren’t smart enough to pick up on it! Oh, FFS. BAP is a flippin’ troll.

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So...Burgum to try to lock in North Dakota?

He does seem like a "safe" choice, but traditionally the vice presidential candidate should help the ticket somehow. I'm not sure how relevant Trump might find that concept to his campaign, but he should.

By this logic, he ought then to pick Rubio, to attempt to lock in Florida, but that does have its own problems

What the vice president will actually DO ought to be completely irrelevant, if Kamala Harris is any indication.

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The geographical thing seems overplayed. The last VP who came from a meaningful swing state was Al Gore, and even he would have defied conventional geographical VP pick wisdom by being from the same general region as his President.

Quite a few recent failed VP candidates from swing states though. Tim Kaine, Paul Ryan, and John Edwards were all good picks from a geographical point of view but lousy picks overall.

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I would think it should be possible to find some reasonable candidate, for whichever party, in searching a whole state. It is, however, an assumption.

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> traditionally the vice presidential candidate should help the ticket somehow.

Traditionally their loyalty didn't have a significant effect on who the next president was. :-(

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Vance? Erm. I don't care about the phenotype, I grew up with it, y'all are the freaks. But the guy seems like a political chameleon, and I don't trust him when his incentives aren't obvious.

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Can you elaborate on “phenotypically offputting?” I’m not familiar with any of these candidates, but online images of Vance seem to depict a pretty normal-looking guy.

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I was also confused by that. I looked up pictures of him, expecting him to be very ugly or something from that description.

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I dunno, he just screams "date rapist" to me for some reason.

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I think you're going by his eyes. To me, now having looked up pictures of him because I had to discover what this phenotype is, he looks more metrosexual - he's very groomed.

I agree he's got the stereotypical round "hick from the sticks" face (I've got one myself thanks to solidly peasant ancestry) so he needed the beard to give his face some definition, and a beard needs to be groomed, but he looks a little *too* groomed. I do think it's the eyes; he seems to have naturally dark and thick eyelashes which make him look as if he's wearing guyliner.

Unless he really *is* wearing guyliner 😁

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He kinda' looks like a hick (fat face) and is (relatively, for presidential candidates) short.

This might seem to you like a r-worded way of judging a leader, but it seems like it does matter to a lot of people, for different reasons. Iconically, Matthew Yglesias predicted early, at the peak of his hype, that Ron DeSantis would never be president because he's too short.

EDIT: a google search that I should've done before posting says Burgum isn't much taller, though he looks like he would be.

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I thought the one with the nicest hair is the winner.

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"I thought the one with the nicest hair is the winner."

Personal opinion on the Great Coiffure Contest, going off photos of all four from the past week:

Marco Rubio - hair is rated "okay". It's not great, it's not terrible. Possibly thinning a little, but that may just be flyaway strands and a bad angle.

Doug Burgum - hair is rated "it depends". Certainly has lots of character, but unless well-maintained it can easily go from "silver fox" to "scruffy"

J.D. Vance - hair is rated "highly groomed". Best hair so far, but that may also be a liability; does he look as if he spends *too* much time in the barbers? Indeed, does he look like he doesn't go to a barbers, but to a hairdresser?

Tim Scott - hair is rated "dark horse" as he's bald. Clearly he can't be placed in "nicest hair" category, *unless* he pulls off a total reversal that the best hair is no hair!

So, by ranking:

(1) Vance

(2) Burgum

(3) Rubio

Scott - dark horse

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Jun 11·edited Jun 11

I thought that was Vance's advantage - "looking like a hick" - as he made his name with that book explaining hicks (and Trump's win) to the Blue Tribe?

Looking him up on Wikipedia, I see he converted to Catholicism. So that's two religious people, him and Burgum, as possible VPs.

EDIT: Sorry, I see you said it was Tim Scott who was too religious. Burgum is anti-abortion (going by Wikipedia) so that probably counts as "too religious" as well?

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three of them are senators? picking a senator (who would have to resign his senate seat if elected) seems like an unforced error when senate control is likely to be in play.

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Florida, South Carolina, and Ohio all have Republican governors and Senate vacancy laws that allow the governor to appoint replacement Senators who serve out the remainder of the term.

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I can't believe the rumours, but J.D. Vance? I sort of wish this was true, because it would be so crazy 😀

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So I've made the mistake of looking at the comments sections of a few outputs over the last few weeks - mostly Substacks, but also some videos, and while I don't want to claim it's evenly spread at all, I've been struck but how *freaking bonkers* some of them are. Youtube comments fluctuate between slavish devotion and praise and unhinged abuse (skewing to the former, presumably because the latter get deleted), even on very technically- or knowledge-focused works. Substacks, on the other hand, tend to bring in weapons-grade bonkerite, skewing entirely to downright conspiracy-theories and/or truly extreme political views.

My point is less about comparing different platforms in the kind/degree of their nutso comments, but more it raises the question of how common these kind of whacko ideas actually are. Granted, the more extreme ideas are going to be overrepresented in places with light or compatible moderation - I wouldn't expect to see a fascist rant lasting long on a strong social justice blog - but the degree/commonality of the whacko comments seems higher than I'd naively expect from a generally sensible, intelligent, compassionate person (which most people are, within one or two standard deviations - not everyone's an EA with a Masters degree, but few people think torturing puppies is a good idea).

I find my thinking on this difficult to parse and straighten. Be interested in people's viewpoints.

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Shouldn't content moderation be a killer app (sry) for LLM's?

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Comment moderation is a huge piece of this. Many years ago, the Reason website was a great place to discuss libertarian ideas. But they never took any action to clean up troll or spam bot comments, let alone the general muck of low quality internet comments. People who were interested in actually exchanging information fractured off into other websites and blogs, to the point that only the lowest denominator was left at Reason.

Substack definitely attracts some nut jobs, maybe because it was the right place at the right time when Facebook/Twitter stepped up their censorship of "misinformation." I follow a substack author who wrote a series about the history of maneuver warfare. That was it, an overview of military tactics from the ancient period to today. He wrote long form articles backed up by a hefty bibliography that probably took an hour to read on average. Not the type of stuff that you would think of as attracting loons. But the second he got to WWII, suddenly the comments are flooded with people arguing that the SS never rounded up and killed those people, no one ever found bodies massacred by the Nazis, the pictures of the concentration camps were doctored, etc.

Like most people, I don't think that substack author had the time or inclination to moderate the comments on his articles. I think the way it works is something like this:

1. People in charge of blog/substack don't moderate comments

2. A small fraction of commenters are nuts/high quantity, low quality posters

3. Normal commenters see this junk and it makes them less likely to interact with the space

4. Nuts/junk comments take up more and more space, driving others away and reinforcing the low quality atmosphere

Really, I am amazed by how much better ACX is with pretty minimal visible work by Scott. Of course the average ACX commenter isn't the average substack commenter, but still.

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Maybe part of it is that Substack encourages longer comments, and personal blogging, and so there's a greater opportunity to get into the details of whatever bonkers ideas we have? YouTube doesn't encourage long analyses in its comments, although I've seen a few.

Plus there's a problem with the genre of "insight porn", which is that not all insights are equally valid, but people have a natural desire to imitate those we like. So some people imitate the pattern "controversial and counterintuitive thoughts about the world", but fail to imitate the "valid" part, and that's not even getting into the question of whether the original was valid in the first place.

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I was was thinking about this the other day, as well: there is a particular archetype in substack which I'll call the "Multiple top level commenter" (in case you feel attacked, I think multiple top level comments in Open Threads are an exception) , and I was having trouble because my first reaction to such a character is to immediately dismiss them as a loon, but there is value on caring about an issue more than anyone else, particularly in Substack where probably most commenters are pretty intelligent.

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Jun 11·edited Jun 11

"not everyone's an EA with a Masters degree, but few people think torturing puppies is a good idea"

From "The Man Who Was Thursday":

"The applause that had greeted the opening sentences had been gradually growing fainter, and at the last word it stopped suddenly. In the abrupt silence, the man with the velvet jacket said, in a high, squeaky voice—

“I’m not meek!”

"... I repeat, we are the true early Christians, only that we come too late. We are simple, as they were simple — look at Comrade Witherspoon. We are modest, as they were modest — look at me. We are merciful —”

“No, no!” called out Mr. Witherspoon with the velvet jacket.

“I say we are merciful,” repeated Gregory furiously, “as the early Christians were merciful. Yet this did not prevent their being accused of eating human flesh. We do not eat human flesh —”

“Shame!” cried Witherspoon. “Why not?”

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I have absolutely no idea what this means or has to do with anything.

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Great scene. "I say comrade Gregory is unfit to be Thursday, for all his amiable qualities. I say comrade Gregory is unfit to be Thursday, BECAUSE of his amiable qualities"

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Comrade Witherspoon would definitely be "I'll torture a puppy!" 😀

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There's a selection effect involved in putting in the effort of writing a comment; why bother unless you feel strongly about the content (positively or negatively)? Hence it attracts cranks of every variety who tend feel strongly about things in general. There's a great post from the subreddit that goes into this; https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/9rvroo/most_of_what_you_read_on_the_internet_is_written/

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Yeah, this.

But also, I wonder what Substacks and YouTube videos @Alan Smith is consuming, since this doesn't describe my own experience of comments on Substack and YouTube.

Perhaps in the words of The Last Psychiatrist, "If you're reading it, it's for you."

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In terms of YouTube, it's a decently wide range but still pretty 'norm-y' I think: Philosophy Tube (well, until recently), Paul Harrell, The Slo-mo Guys, Surveillance Report, T90Official is a fairly representative sample.

In terms of Substack, it's a bit more homogeneous, but for the phenomenon I'm thinking of it's particularly pronounced on After Babel and similar.

(Obviously this is not intended as in any way a slight against those writers or creators.)

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