"Press reports that US air drops resulted in civilian casualties on the ground are false, as we've confirmed that all of our aid bundles landed safely on the ground,” Ryder said during a press briefing.

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This whole war just makes me so sad. All of the propaganda that "Jews are white and Palestinians are brown" is ridiculous, Jews and Palestinians are cousins. Whenever I see pictures of Palestinian children, they look just like many Jewish children I've met. And when I read stories about the Israeli hostages in Gaza, they mention Palestinians thinking the hostages are just one of them.

I hate that Iran can so easily pay for cousins to kill each other as part of its proxy war.

I hope in the long term we can achieve some kind of peace settlement that looks like the EU, two states with freedom of movement, and the ability to become a citizen of the other state if you live there a while, learn some Arabic/Hebrew and pass a cultural knowledge test.

I just don't know what the path to that looks like when there is so much animosity. Deprogramming everyone from hating the other side is so difficult. And every civilian killed makes it harder.

But we are cousins. And when our cousins bleed, we bleed too. We must never forget that.

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I appreciate this and yeah awful for the families.

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While two-three units of foreign aid

Crashed five Gazan souls

Many more of them, I'm afraid

Reached their aimed goals

But what if those goals were indeed

Some members of Hamas,

Who, now they able themselves to feed

Can launch rockets en masse?

How can we calculate

All utils, pro and con?

Perhaps instead of articulate

We have to admit we've conned?

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I hope you don't mind me sharing the AI-voiced version of this work.


I've been experimenting with AI music recently and I have a hunch that music generators like this one would be better at poetry reading than your typical AI voice generator.

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America's very best: five months of throwing coins into the despot's jar.

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In a fair world, this would win the noble prize. But it is not a fair world, for in a fair world, this wouldn't exist.

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Excellent though I was hoping for a trolley problem reference.

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In any largish project, the trolley lurks unseen

(For all attempts to look at it will make us feel unclean)

The unintended consequences multiply like rats -

To continue the analogy, the safety rules are cats.

But safety rules are writ in blood, and real life is complex,

And each new project we attempt will find new ways to vex.

Some mishaps may be humorous, some others may be tragic,

We can't foretell which ones are which, our foresight isn't magic.

The snake, the stone, the paladin, the harmless loving dad,

They all can have their good points, philosophers be glad! -

Yet all in their diverging styles can bring their bad points too

And random tragic mishaps, no matter what they do.

If God had wanted us to act without a risk to life,

The world would have been different, and not with pitfalls rife.

At every moment we direct the trolley down the tracks,

Not knowing where the victims are, and there are no take-backs.

Philosophy or poetry may help us find a voice

According to our nature, as we justify our choice

To act, or stay inactive (which is still a moral act),

To balance risky bets we take with safeguards that we lacked.

We mostly try to do our best, to act with competence,

But sometimes fail,, and do great harm - the irony's intense.

We ought to be responsible, to try for greatest good...

But in the end, we shrug and say, "I did the best I could."

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I am worried that Kipling is just in there for rhyming purposes but would be glad to be told otherwise.

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Just excellent. Now do it in Alexandrine.

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And if a Palestinian cause a blemish to an Israeli, so shall it be done to him;

10,000 blows for each blow, 10,000 eyes for each eye, 10,000 teeth for each tooth. This spake Netanyahu and his kind.

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Really beautiful

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Made a music version of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_XSa2O_4Q

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Four useful bullet points. And Scott is a man of many talents, no doubt about that.

Perhaps there is a fifth bullet point also, becoming clearer as you age further:

• To realize that although the world may need to be saved, it does not want to be saved. At least, it does not want to be saved by you.

The best you can do, if you live outside Israel, might be to follow the advice of Wilhelm of Baskerville, the Franciscan scholar in Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose: Rather than to jump in with answers or advice, perhaps we should just look as closely as we can on what is going on. Not because it helps speed up change, but so we at least know why change is slow, or if it is unlikely to happen at all.

Related to that, Jacobin has a long and learned interview with Shaul Magid on the innumerable ins and outs of Zionism all the way from Leo Pinsker’s Auto-Emancipation pamphlet (1882) till the present day. Very learned, very well-informed, very detailed. A vast mountain of intellectual knowledge leading to a very small predictive-applied mouse:

"When all is said and done, when the smoke clears, when people start to rebuild their lives, the same problems that existed before October 7 are going to exist after October 7. I don’t think structurally the country will have changed in any significant way.

…we’re just going around the carousel, and we’re going to come back to this moment again."

Ok, there’s a little more, but not much more. But definitely worth reading:


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Thank you.

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This is beautiful.

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Is there a deliberate Hogwarts houses reference or is this a natural attractor when classifying people or strategies into four categories?


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Very nicely done. And a pretty good tongue-in-cheek defence of utilitarianism, even demonstrating self-deprecation and the ability to laugh at yourself, which is all too rare in these debates.

But of course I wouldn’t be doing my job as Some Asshole On The Internet if I didn’t point out that the creeping accountants, in their serpent cunning, sometimes come to the conclusion that any atrocity, any suffering, any diminishment of human potential in the present day can be justified if it makes the sci-fi apocalypse 1% less likely to happen 3000 years from now, or it it results in a 1% increase in the likelihood that humanity will travel to the stars one golden day after becoming gods.

So perhaps an addendum to option 4 is in order.

The premises of Bentham’s way

Can lead you to a trap:

Accountants, snakes and bankers

Don’t read much sci-fi crap.

(I tried to get ChatGPT to write that for me and it was absolutely awful. It doesn’t know what free verse is, or even syllables or iambs. I ended up having to write it myself. Perhaps AI is bad after all.)

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Or, instead of symbolic gestures of trying to feed the starving Palestinians, the US could stop feeding the arms to Israel until they allow the aid in.

I don't see this option offered. The four listed ones seem to imply the US is an innocent bystander with no connection to either side.


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Ahh, so very very nice

I read it twice

Please don't think any less of me

As I kiss my kids and pet the dog.

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I'm confused at the inclusion of Kipling in that particular sublist, as he seems to have nothing in common, intellectually or spiritually, with the other four. As for Midgley, is that Mary Midgley the philosopher, and if so, was there any reason for putting her with Marx and Mao beyond simple alliteration? I'm not seeing that any coherent proposition is being advanced in those stanzas.

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> So Midgley

I tried to look up who that was, but there are too many with that name


None of them seem obviously similar to Marx & Mao

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Ah, OK. Not a bit of history I was familiar with. I was looking for some sort of political ideologue, to fit with the other two . . .

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While poetry inspires

And rhyme schemes can't be beat-er

Unless you want your words to sound like screeching highway tires

Try learning feet and meter

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Considering the verses and the poet’s practical conclusion, namely, that dropping food, despite its risks, is likely to do more good by alleviating hunger than not dropping it at all, one might view the situation from another perspective. Reports from Gaza indicate that a significant portion of the food, especially that delivered by convoys, is seized by Hamas. It seems no organization on the ground can realistically ensure a fairer distribution. This, in turn, prolongs Hamas’s resistance, leading to further deaths and destruction. Few would dispute that Hamas’s surrender would immediately halt the cycle of death and starvation. Therefore, could a complete blockade be the “optimal” solution in terms of reducing overall suffering? Assuming that starved fighters are more likely to surrender than those who are well-fed, how much more likely is this? To what extent would it shorten the war? What is the median number of lives saved across 10,000 computer-generated scenarios that vary the intensity and duration of the conflict, among other factors? Political decisions are seldom made based on such calculations, as the immediate pressures are overwhelming, but isn’t this the essence of what the “poem” is discussing?

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I like the 4 categories, but if the only argument against is 5 accidental deaths, I think we did the math differently.

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aid packages is already the cautious, apolitical, fabian, "accountant" like option, as opposed to the US reigning Israel in by threatening to withhold aid, weapons, carrier groups

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Sadly beautiful. It reminded me a lot of my favorite poem, "Hymn of Breaking Strain" (Kipling). I think he'd have thought it unfair to be listed alongside much of his company in the verses here, but he'd at least have admitted "to fail and know we fail".

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We estimate, and round things up,

And round things down, and guess.

We get the best intelligence

On what is still a mess.

We know we cannot get things right;

We hope to be less wrong;

While one by one our worries come

To whisper in sing-song:

Our principled are buttressed

By impassive stats and charts,

But doggerel must supplement

To salve our troubled hearts.

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Love this. Nice job, Scott.

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Why Galton?

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1+2 are the same option in outcome, only difference is in the headspace of the actor.

3+4 are the same option in outcome, only difference is in the headspace of the actor.

Cool headspace though. Pretty sure Mao would have placed himself in 4 as well, different utils aside.

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The problem with altruistic efforts, especially those like foreign aid, is *not* weird, unpredictable side effects on the analogy of people being killed by falling packages. Those are flukes, and it's quite fair to discount them.

The problem is regularly occurring and therefore predictable negative effects, however unintended. For example, the problem of aid being captured and diverted by local leaders is so common that it makes no sense to think of it as a "side effect." No, it's a predictable pattern, and you the donor are responsible if you don't understand it.

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"We did what we had to do. If the good Lord disagrees with me, I will be happy to point out His tactical errors.”

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But, but, but, "food" doesn't rhyme with "good!"

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Mar 14·edited Mar 14

Well written!

<grisly humor>

Perhaps the god of aftershocks, known and feared by first responders in seismic zones, had a claw in this accident, with its twisted sense of humor, and its taste for combining aid with crush fatalities?

</grisly humor>

( I, personally, am (metaphorically) with the

>To pet your dog and kiss your kid

>And call your duty done

group )

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Mar 14·edited Mar 14

These verses are unpleasant to me in a way few things in this blog are. 5 deaths by falling aid are a rounding error on the number of people killed intentionally in an effort to kill their elected leaders, crush their institutions, and destroy any possibility of the kind of successful war of independence most of us have in our democracy's distant history and celebrate as a righteous and sacred achievement. I'm not sure if there's any affirmative obligation to see what's actually happening to Palestine and talk about it; my starting point is that everyone is free to see and talk about what they want. But it is hard for me personally to not read this as a dramatic misreading of the cause of Palestinians' suffering followed by an unkindly-lighthearted take based on that misreading.

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Great poem, agree 100%.

Also, I would propose that instead of hiring a new head of communications, the center for effective altruism should just keep Scott on retainer and let him write such a poem when they get bad press for their actions having unlikely bad consequences.

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For people wanting to make a tangible difference for Palestinians, this organization allows you to donate e-sims which have helped countless people keep contact with their loved ones and document the constant slew of war crimes they've faced.


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Scott, I’m impressed that you can write such a witty and thoughtful poem while sleep-deprived from caring for infant twins. Respect.

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To do the math is very good

accounting gives virtue

To say you did the math, I fear

does not make this claim true.

Where is the math for printing books

of Harry Potter tales?

If PowerPoints exist for clinch

of castles, give details!

"We think it would be difficult

to indicate our thought"

said Holden; then put $30 mil

in OpenAI's pot.

(Say what you will of grants like this --

and "doom," some say in wrath --

what you cannot say, facing God

is "hey, I just did math".)

EA, like HPMOR

says "experiments rock!"

but open up the book: you'll find

near none, despite much talk.

"Shut up and multiply" you cry,

but when we turn our backs

you give by vibes, with next to no

numbers behind your acts.

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I find it interesting how both sides agree that a country that didn't have election since 2006 is fairly represented by its elected government.

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It’s sings to me echos of Blake

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If the Isreali government has "genocidal intent", or too many people with real power in it have that intent, they're atrocious at it.


As everyone knows, people in an "open air prison" under the thumb of a "genocidal regime" regularly triple in population.

The world has really "abandoned" them, which is why they are richer on average than someone from India, home to 1.4 billion people who I guess are even more "abandoned". https://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/india/palestine

Does it ever make you wonder? Wonder what is really going on here?

Demographic warfare. A state that never intended for the aid to be used to better their people, only to better their war. A state run by a party who's stated goal is the extermination of their neighbors, who in the last election held there ran against another party whose goal was the same.

Life is a lot harder in this world. In the world where you "controlled all of their imports" yet somehow they built extensive tunnel systems and have massive weapons stockpiles and rockets. In a world where the Aid agencies supposedly helping the poor starving Gazan's are actively aiding and abetting people committing terrorist acts (literally data cables going down from HQ to the tunnels? Come on).

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Mar 16·edited Mar 16

Better to do the math

than throw up your hands and cry

but the path trod by the multiplier

leads cynics to question why


when the calculations are finished,

the mathematician and them on the side

both can register predictions,

Before the ink has chance to dry,


The mathematician might say,

"It's better to weigh these things carefully"

"A decision has to be made"

"And if we are gonna do something,

"It's better to give the best aid"


The cynic might give their reply,

"Why do you weigh and what are weighing?"

"I think you just go off the vibe"

"You know the result before asking,"

"You just need an excuse to decide"


And then both inscribe their predictions,

and they are different but restate the same case,

"Turns out it was what's best for the whole human race,"

"Turns out it was what's best for my tribe"


Who gives what prediction? Why are you asking me? Figure it out.

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Scott, your poem is incredible. Thanks.

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When Robespierre and his pals took power, they turned around the war France was losing. They saved France from the many vicious predators circling for the kill. That doesn't justify their cruelties, but it's a bit of context that is often left out. The Terror killed 15,000 and that was egregious, but it pales in comparison to the crimes of the ancien regime.p

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