Jan 312021

OMG I have a year to catch up on?? What have I done to myself?

from last SSC – quoting a critic speaking derisively of EA/rats
> Until recently, much of the analysis and funding emerging from the [Effective Altruism] community has pointed towards a focus on extremely unlikely but potentially catastrophic risks, such as alien, asteroid or biological catastrophes.
Scott replies —
Weyl wrote this essay a few months before COVID, so his pooh-poohing of the idea that there might be a biological catastrophe is an unfortunate anachronism. But I think it’s important to note that we got this right (and he got it wrong) precisely because we “privilege rationalist approaches over all other forms of knowledge-making”. People like Toby Ord tried to calculate the risk of every kind of disaster and how bad it would be – and at the same time Weyl was making fun of us for caring about biological catastrophes, Ord was writing about how the numbers suggested zoonotic diseases from bats could cause catastrophic pandemics. This kind of work ultimately led to EA flagship group Open Philanthropy Project spending almost $50 million on its Biosecurity And Pandemic Preparedness Program between 2014 and 2019; if other people had taken a few minutes to read our arguments instead of chiding us for how naive it is to prioritize things based on rational methods, maybe the world would have been more prepared


Schwarzenegger 2024.


Footage from inside the capital building as it was being stormed.


“Bets and bonds are tools for handling different epistemic states and levels of trust. Which makes them a great fit for negotiating with small children!
Over time, they’ve learned that my being willing to bet, especially at large odds, is pretty informative, and often all I need to do is offer.”

At the level of true mastery, duels between Force-users are fought primarily inside Force Vision, in recursive precognition, in futures that both parties foresee including the effects of the other party’s foresight […] Obi-Wan mostly makes small movements of his lightsaber, to which Darth Vader responds with other small movements. […]  At the end, when it’s clear that Darth Vader wins in every visible path through the future, Obi-Wan raises his lightsaber, closes his eyes, and lets Darth Vader strike him down, accepting his loss with dignity.
This looks exactly like a duel between precognitives should look, and nothing like how a life-or-death duel should look otherwise.


“hospital and public officials in Riverside, Calif., have been forced to figure out how best to allocate unused doses after an estimated 50% of frontline workers in the county refused the vaccine.
55 percent of surveyed New York Fire Department firefighters said they would not get the coronavirus vaccine
approximately 60% of [Ohio’s] nursing home staff declined the shot
Frontline workers in the United States are disproportionately Black and Hispanic…the fact that [President] Trump is in charge of accelerating the process bothers” those individuals who refuse to be immunized, adding “they all think it’s meant to harm specific sectors of the population.
“I’ve heard Tuskegee more times than I can count in the past month — and, you know, it’s a valid, valid concern,” said Dr. Juvvadi.
less than 3 million Americans have received the first dose of the vaccine”



I’m agender, in that when I google ‘agender’ everything that’s said about it sounds right to me. I have no sense of internal gender, womanness feels like a suit I got put into. But the concept of telling people I’m “not cis” feels so bizarre. […] if I used they/them pronouns that wouldn’t *mean* anything. I’d still look and act like I do, and nothing else would change, and nothing about the way they viewed me would change. She/her pronouns are part of my woman suit, and like sure, whatever man.


The Haunted Vagina is a book that exists, and apparently it’s actually pretty interesting.


A fantastic short, extremely good Halloween fare. No gore, no jump scares, just existential dread.


Oh gosh this song is good. Billie Eilish – my future


Car Seats as Contraception
“Since 1977, U.S. states have passed laws steadily raising the age for which a child must ride in a car safety seat. These laws significantly raise the cost of having a third child, as many regular-sized cars cannot fit three child seats in the back. Using census data and state-year variation in laws, we estimate that when women have two children of ages requiring mandated car seats, they have a lower annual probability of giving birth by 0.73 percentage points. Consistent with a causal channel, this effect is limited to third child births, is concentrated in households with access to a car, and is larger when a male is present (when both front seats are likely to be occupied). We estimate that these laws prevented only 57 car crash fatalities of children nationwide in 2017. Simultaneously, they led to a permanent reduction of approximately 8,000 births in the same year, and 145,000 fewer births since 1980, with 90% of this decline being since 2000.”


The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority – “The Kosher population represents less than three tenth of a percent of the residents of the United States. Yet, it appears that almost all drinks are Kosher. Why?

Someone with a peanut allergy will not eat products that touch peanuts but a person without such allergy can eat items without peanut traces in them.
Which explains why it is so hard to find peanuts on airplanes and why schools are peanut-free

you think that because some extreme right or left wing party has, say, the support of ten percent of the population that their candidate would get ten percent of the votes. No: these baseline voters should be classified as “inflexible” and will always vote for their faction. But some of the flexible voters can also vote for that extreme faction, just as nonKosher people can eat Kosher, and these people are the ones to watch out for as they may swell the numbers of votes for the extreme party.”


An interesting thread, “Woke anti-racism is child abuse.” It’s the story of a Mistake Theorist married to someone coming out as a Conflict Theorist. I find it relatable and heartbreaking. My main complaint is the use of the term “child abuse.” That’s bad hyperbole, and I hate it, tho I guess it’ll generate more clicks. 😕 All parents fuck up their children emotionally some how, and some ways are much worse than others. We usually reserve the term “child abuse” for the extreme end of that fucking up. (original tweet has since been deleted)


Coco’s Feel-Good Oppression. Good throughout, and it really ramps up in part 3.


Those who like government least govern worst. “When you don’t respect, or even like, the institution you lead, you lead it poorly. When that institution is incredibly, globally important — as the US government is — leading it poorly can invite global catastrophe. And sure enough, under the last two Republican administrations, it has.”


ROFL. Could American Evangelicals Spot the Antichrist?


A great interview (in audio) with Stuart Stevens – “one of the most influential operatives in Republican politics. He was Mitt Romney’s top strategist in 2012, served in key roles on both of George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns”


Jesus this song is intense and awesome. Nick Cave – The Mercy Seat 

The vicious cycle. Thanks youtube recomendations for this random horseshit. XD


My GPT-3 Blog Got 26 Thousand Visitors in 2 Weeks – “I would write the title and introduction, add a photo, and let GPT-3 do the rest. The blog has had over 26 thousand visitors, and we now have about 60 loyal subscribers…
And only ONE PERSON has noticed it was written by GPT-3.
People talk about how GPT-3 often writes incoherently and irrationally. But, that doesn’t keep people from reading it… and liking it.
In fact, the very first post made it to the number one spot on Hacker News. ”


Burger King addresses climate change by changing cows’ diets, reducing cow farts. “The chain has rebalanced the diet of some of the cows by adding lemon grass in a bid to limit bovine contributions to climate change. By tweaking their diet, Burger King said Tuesday that it believes it can reduce a cow’s daily methane emissions by about 33%.”


On White Fragility – “White Fragility is based upon the idea that human beings are incapable of judging each other by the content of their character, and if people of different races think they are getting along or even loving one another, they probably need immediate antiracism training. This is an important passage because rejection of King’s “dream” of racial harmony — not even as a description of the obviously flawed present, but as the aspirational goal of a better future — has become a central tenet of this brand of antiracist doctrine mainstream press outlets are rushing to embrace.”
“DiAngelo isn’t the first person to make a buck pushing tricked-up pseudo-intellectual horseshit as corporate wisdom, but she might be the first to do it selling Hitlerian race theory. White Fragility has a simple message: there is no such thing as a universal human experience, and we are defined not by our individual personalities or moral choices, but only by our racial category.


Fuck yes. Colorado governor signs police accountability bill, ending qualified immunity defense in the state.


Scott Alexander shows that literary criticism has very little to do with the literature, and is mostly about making the critic interesting/impressive and entertaining the reader. It’s absolutely fantastic and funny as hell.
“After spending way too long investigating this, I find strong evidence [that] My Immortal is a description of the Great Work of alchemy. Its otherwise-inscrutable symbolism is a combination of three traditions: the medieval opus, the 17th century Rosicrucians, and the native German traditions encoded in Goethe’s Faust. We’ll start by going over these traditions, then delve into the text to unveil the hidden meaning.”


Can you own the minor scale? Why the Katy Perry/Flame lawsuit makes no sense. This answers the question “Should Todd Decker have his tongue cut out?” (Spoiler: yes.)

Best part? This video then got a take-down notice *by Warner* (the party being sued) for “infringing” on their copyrighted material. Thus implictly asserting that someone CAN own the minor scale, and they are correctly being sued for basic music-making activity. Mind-blown. This is some “sell the capitalists rope, they will use it to hang themselves” bullshit. Nuke ’em all.


A video
>Trump: “I think mail-in voting is horrible, it’s corrupt.”
>Reporter: “You voted by mail in Florida’s election last month, didn’t you?”
>Trump: “Sure. I can vote by mail”
>Reporter: “How do you reconcile with that?”
>Trump: “Because I’m allowed to.”


A great Batman retrospective (starting at 40sec)


On “armchair epidemiology”
“A viral article implores us to “flatten the curve of armchair epidemiology”—that is, to listen only to authoritive sources like the CDC, not random people spouting on social media. This was notable to me for being the diametric opposite of the actual lesson of the past two months.

My faith in official pronouncements from health authorities, and in institutions like the CDC and the FDA, was clearly catastrophically misplaced—and if that doesn’t force significant revisions to my worldview, then I’m beyond hope.



This a basic encapsulation of everything wrong with sequel/spin-off culture. No one cares about art. 🙁


“bringing the economic system of Denmark, Sweden and Norway to the United States would mean embracing more flexible labor markets, light regulations and a deeper commitment to free trade. It would mean a more generous set of social benefits — to be paid for by taxes on the middle class and poor. If Sanders embraced all that, it would be radical indeed.”


“In 1985, the typical male worker could cover a family of four’s major expenditures (housing, health care, transportation, education) on 30 weeks of salary. By 2018 it took 53 weeks.”

Can a 6 year old write better poetry than William Blake? Yes. (follow link for extra commentary)


Aella, again. Awesome stuff. “if you’re an extremely masculine woman (like me!), this doesn’t make you less of a woman. In the nonbinary gender framework, it seems like this *does* actually make you less of a woman. This is totally foreign to me. My conception of gender has a lot to do with common knowledge appearance – how do you read in the world, and how does the world treat you based on how you read? This mostly equals your ‘gender’. In this perspective, your gender doesn’t belong to you, but to your society. […] the word ‘gender’ is really confusing things for me. I think when I overlay the word nonbinary onto the base gender, like “nonbinary woman”, THEN it makes total sense to me.”


Principles for the Application of Human Intelligence – “the replacement of algorithms with a powerful technology in the form of the human brain is not without risks. Before humans become the standard way in which we make decisions, we need to consider the risks and ensure implementation of human decision-making systems does not cause widespread harm. […] Various techniques have been developed to reduce human bias. Unfortunately, these techniques have limited demonstrated success at scale and may even backfire. Until these human debiasing techniques reach the efficiency of our regular auditing, review, and modification of algorithms, we should not implement these human decision systems.” (much more at link)

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