March 2016 Media Thread

post by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:22:45.431Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 38 comments

This is the monthly thread for posting media of various types that you've found that you enjoy. Post what you're reading, listening to, watching, and your opinion of it. Post recommendations to blogs. Post whatever media you feel like discussing! To see previous recommendations, check out the older threads.

Rules:

38 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:37.764Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Short Online Texts Thread

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:25:06.148Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everything is heritable:

Politics/religion:

Statistics/AI/meta-science:

Psychology/biology:

Technology:

Economics:

Philosophy:

comment by ahbwramc · 2016-03-02T04:46:38.611Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just wanted to say that I really appreciate your link roundups and look forward to them every month.

comment by closeness · 2016-03-04T00:01:36.083Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I gave you a thumbs up in agreement but didn't give one to Gwern for his links. Pointing-something-out bias?

comment by Viliam · 2016-03-02T08:29:15.136Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

some organisms are amazingly specialized. Perhaps the narrowest ecologic niche of all is that of a species of the fungus family Laboulbeniaceae, which grows exclusively on the rear portion of the elytra of the beetle Aphenops cronei, which is found only in some limestone caves in southern France. Larvae of the fly Psilopa petrolei develop in seepages of crude oil in California oilfields; as far as is known they occur nowhere else. This is the only insect able to live and feed in oil, and its adult can walk on the surface of the oil only as long as no body part other than the tarsi are in contact with the oil. Larvae of the fly Drosophila carciniphila develop only in the nephric grooves beneath the flaps of the third maxilliped of the land crab Geocarcinus ruricola, which is restricted to certain islands in the Caribbean.

-- Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-03-04T08:35:39.259Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of elections", Robert Epstein

Popular writeup here

Our results were strong and consistent, but our experiments all involved a foreign election – that 2010 election in Australia. Could voting preferences be shifted with real voters in the middle of a real campaign? We were skeptical. In real elections, people are bombarded with multiple sources of information, and they also know a lot about the candidates. It seemed unlikely that a single experience on a search engine would have much impact on their voting preferences.

To find out, in early 2014, we went to India just before voting began in the largest democratic election in the world – the Lok Sabha election for prime minister. The three main candidates were Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, and Narendra Modi. Making use of online subject pools and both online and print advertisements, we recruited 2,150 people from 27 of India’s 35 states and territories to participate in our experiment. To take part, they had to be registered voters who had not yet voted and who were still undecided about how they would vote.

Participants were randomly assigned to three search-engine groups, favouring, respectively, Gandhi, Kejriwal or Modi. As one might expect, familiarity levels with the candidates was high – between 7.7 and 8.5 on a scale of 10. We predicted that our manipulation would produce a very small effect, if any, but that’s not what we found. On average, we were able to shift the proportion of people favouring any given candidate by more than 20 per cent overall and more than 60 per cent in some demographic groups. Even more disturbing, 99.5 per cent of our participants showed no awareness that they were viewing biased search rankings – in other words, that they were being manipulated.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-03-03T15:31:59.735Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Conservation of computation, conservation of distress and conservation of mental effort are higher order values than the empirical truth in humans

An interesting Wikipedia article: Arguments for and against drug prohibition. Very well organised but poor standard of evidence (expert testimony).

you cannot afford to continue your life insurance when you need it the most even if you can get it.. Get US life insurance or pay directly if you're interested in Aussie cyroncics.

Fair enough actually has negative and judgemental connotations. It's not equivelant to 'okay'

List of quotes by Zig Ziglar. Such wisdom!

A simple technique called “anxious reappraisal” might help people channel nervous jitters into improved performance.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:33.869Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Online Videos Thread

comment by [deleted] · 2016-03-05T03:45:08.541Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lake - no wonder

I watched this without sound and found it unbelievably funny

Hope you like that Cutes: 'you'll find love' video with Kiki's delivery service. Here is something in a similar vain, although I think it's actually from the movie: A Town With An Ocean View - Kiki's Delivery Service among other nice Kiki songs

Charisma on Command

Titan - Motivational Video

Look on the Bright Sidea

Ethical Egoism

any youtube video of 'Itsumo Nando Demo '

LightFM, thank you for the positivity. Josh Wilson - That Was Then, This Is Now (Lyric Video)

evidence based chaplaincy

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:29.723Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fanfiction Thread

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:25:19.179Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Chanson de Geste (Narnia fanfiction: realpolitik-Chthulian romance. Game mechanic reminds me of The Player of Games.)
comment by Nornagest · 2016-03-03T23:21:35.164Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was pretty good.

I don't really follow the Narnia fandom, but whenever I run into it I'm usually impressed by its quality. Especially considering that the movies behind it (it seems primarily to be a movie fandom, though everyone's read the books) were second-rate as popularity goes and not particularly deep or creative.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-03-03T01:23:00.442Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The (male protagonist) parts were rather good, but I ended up skimming through the (female protagonist) parts, probably because it's been decades since I'd read the books she was in.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:24.155Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nonfiction Books Thread

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:25:59.229Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
comment by [deleted] · 2016-03-09T23:33:12.609Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Causal Inference in Statistics: A Primer by Judea Pearl et al.

I've always enjoyed reading about causality, ever since EY turned us on to Pearl back in The Fabric of Real Things. Perhaps I'm inclined to enjoy this small (136 page) primer on a purely romantic, intellectual basis alone. I've read Causality four or five times now and I must confess: outside of a few toy examples, I really have no concept of how to apply this field to an actual problem. It seems probable to me, after a cursory reading of the primer, that it is more likely to teach a person this applied skill.

Part of the reason that I've never picked up causal analysis from the far more encyclopedic Causality is that I've never had a legitimate use case. There surely must be some deep, irrevocable link between the extra-statistical concept of causality and the structure of certain Lorentzian manifolds, which are the setting of the mathematical study of general relativity. That link, however tenuous, seems remote and philosophical, far removed from the endless examples of lawns made wet by either rain or sprinklers. And yes, all the usual suspects, including the wet lawn example, return in abbreviated form in the primer, but thankfully there are a few additional examples proposed, I assume, by coauthors and attendant grad students.

The authors do a much better job injecting intuition into their exposition. In my opinion, the largest obstruction to causal education, aside from the field being an unlikely combination of directed graph theory and probability, is the large number of technical terms with varying degrees of clarity. The three building blocks of a directed acyclic graph (chains, forks, and colliders) are each given substantial room and multiple examples, which is more than I've ever seen Pearl put into a single text. It is unfortunate then that d-separation (a complicated inductive definition on paths between subsets of nodes) gets only one page of abstract discussion and no concrete example. On the other hand, I know full well that I could never motivate that particular concept myself, so perhaps my criticism is unfair.

The section on interventions is more visually compelling than I recall it being in earlier books and papers, practically showing a cartoon of someone severing the edges connecting an intervention with its node's ancestors. The "adjustment formula", which updates a graphical probabilistic model in the wake of an intervention, is presented first in a general way and then specialized to intervention. The discussion of the back-door and front-door criteria is again too short, in my opinion, but I appreciated the connection to Lord's paradox.

Sadly, the chapter on counterfactuals does not appear to be substantially new, save a prolonged example and some study questions toward the end.

Generally speaking I found the exposition to be a step above the typical undergrad math textbook; I assume "advanced statistics undergraduate or first-year graduate student" is their target demographic. (The extravagant price also points in this direction.) The historical notes and errata and the end of each section are interesting, including some links to computational resources (though I cringe at URLs printed in dead tree books). If, unlike me, you're able to read and apply the results from Causality directly, you have no need for this book. I found the frequently interspersed "study questions" nauseating but perhaps they're helpful to the less mathematically inclined. I am frankly confused at Wiley's pairing the book with a "companion website" that appears to be nothing more than a placeholder.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-03-02T17:35:34.764Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oaxaca Journal and Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks.

comment by username2 · 2016-03-05T12:55:48.090Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and liked it a lot. Sacks wrote fascinating books.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:19.742Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fiction Books Thread

comment by g_pepper · 2016-03-02T05:17:14.957Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Jacques the Fatalist and His Master (Denis Diderot ~1796) - Relevant to the interesting free will discussion currently in lisper's spirituality post. Jacques the valet and his (unnamed) master travel together and tell each other stories along the way to kill the time. The novel is quite humorous and engaging and contains meta humor (e.g. discussions within the novel about the novel itself, discussions between the author and the reader, etc.). Its relevance to the free will question comes from the fact that Jacques frequently discusses his firmly-held belief in determinism with his skeptical master.

I doubt that many people will change their minds regarding the free will question after reading the novel, but even so, it is a clever and entertaining treatment of the subject.

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:25:52.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:14.911Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

comment by Viliam · 2016-03-01T22:33:09.738Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Night on the Galactic Railroad -- a nice, slow-paced, sad story with humanoid cats.

comment by Viliam · 2016-03-03T08:56:49.277Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A Boy And His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie -- a movie animated literally atom by atom

comment by Viliam · 2016-03-03T08:57:15.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A Boy And His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie -- a movie animated literally atom by atom

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2016-03-02T08:43:39.177Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This season's ERASED (Boku dake ga Inai Machi) is a good mystery/thriller/time-travel-lite with cinematic presentation and a strong emotional resonance (I've teared up several times so far). You'll probably like it if you liked the thriller aspects of Stein's;Gate, but it lacks truly original ideas or deep philosophical meaning so far.

For a more niche appeal this season, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu has a grown-up, literary sort of take on Rakugo (traditional Japanese storytelling/comedy) in the 40's and 70's, with a focus on friendship and rivalry.

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:26:18.667Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:11.300Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:26:10.822Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • The Black Cat 1934 (a horror film which falls straight into camp. I can forgive the poorer special effects like the 'embalmed corpses' who you can see breathing and moving slightly, or how the heroine faints at the drop of a hat but when carried remains rigid and posed instead of letting herself flop like an unconscious woman would, but the whole movie is so over the top: the house has no windows, we jump to the villain in bed reading a book literally titled "The Rites of Lucifer" and sleeping with his stepdaughter, it's difficult to accept Lugosi as a hero because his role as Dracula is so indelibly imprinted on him, and themes & Chekhov's guns are introduced recklessly and never followed up on - a long discussion of how the 'black cat' is immortal and the symbol of evil and may've infected the heroine is immediately dropped along with Lugosi's ailurophobia never to be mentioned again, the chess game with life & death wagered on it has no particular meaning other than to let the villain do as he planned all along, and the Satanic black mass is exactly as silly as expected. That said, Karloff and Lugosi make an extremely striking pair on-screen, and even if one is never surprised, much less horrified, one is never all that bored, and the recklessness of the plot at least means it's somewhat unpredictable.)
comment by cousin_it · 2016-03-03T02:11:31.876Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Deadpool is surprisingly good. If the trailers were your cup of tea, I can assure that the movie lives up to them.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:23:04.113Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Podcasts Thread

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:22:59.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other Media Thread

comment by gwern · 2016-03-02T02:25:40.595Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Thorsby's Transdimensional Brain Chip (Another Thorsby webcomic has finished. You know what you're getting: clever high-concept plot which keeps slowly building with occasional comedy of errors, semi-awkward writing, and MS Paint art that never improves. If you liked Accidental Space Spy, you'll like this. If not, not.)
  • Broforce is a 2D pixel-art scrolling 1-hit-death run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Metal Slug with a War on Terror/'Murica'/1980s-action-movie theme; it adds an almost-fully destructible environment and emphasizes vertical movement, so it's the campy offspring of Metal Slug & Minecraft. The homages to MS are particularly noticeable in the vehicles you can use to fight in and how the terrorist enemies give way to alien enemies with occasional three-way battles. I loved MS as a kid for its beautiful sprites, touches of humor (like sneaking up on Nazis while they chatted), and perfectly-balanced action gameplay, so when I saw BF come up on Steam during the 2016 Lunar sale for \$7.49, I bought it. I figured even as a single-player game, it looked fun.

    Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. The controls are slick & reactive, with the default mapping of the up d-key to 'jump' quickly coming to feel natural; the action is almost instantly addictive, especially as you start to figure out how to work around the limit that you can usually only shoot horizontally and you are often outranged so if you approach enemies the straightforward way, you will typically die immediately. There's a lot of fun in figuring out how to best dig beneath enemies and attack them from behind, panic or shoot the suicide bombers into exploding amid a group of enemies, shoot out the ground underneath a tricky opponent, or set up chain reactions of explosions; since you do not choose which character & weapons you use, you also must learn how to work with individual characters in different situations (the Man in Black has a powerful shot, but the recoil means it can be tricky to use without knocking yourself into a pit or dropping a boulder onto your head; the Terminator's minigun is fantastic for tunneling but also has steady recoil and takes a fraction of a second to spin up; MacGyver's bomb throwing is more useful than it initially seems because you can destroy parts of the environment far from you and create impromptu suicide bombers). It borders on a physics puzzle game at times. While somewhat repetitious, there's enough variety in level design to keep one interested: many levels are straightforward run-and-gun, but when encountering a mecha, it may be best to tunnel underneath it to kill it instead of hijacking it, and in a level with constant bombardment, tunneling is a necessity. The destructible environment may sound like a recipe for cheap deaths and the possibility of making a level impossible to complete when you've destroyed too much ground to progress, but while I had to make some tricky jumps and excavations after some particularly heated firefights, I don't think I ever totally cut myself off from the end of the level.

    All of which made it even more frustrating when I ran into parts of BF which aren't quite polished yet: either not yet balanced appropriately, or an editor needs to tell the BF developers to kill their darlings. BF is proud of its large assortment of characters, but some of them plain suck and the game punishes you every time you rescue a prisoner and a random character swap is forced onto you and you get one of the sucky characters (random character swaps can be fun when it forces you out of your comfort zone, but not in those cases); I never figured out how to use melee characters like Neo or Blade successfully, and one character with a machine-gun leg (which only fires downwards) is so utterly useless that by the end of the game I was seriously considering just jumping into a pit anytime I got them and sparing myself the frustration of such a gimped character. BF would be much better if the worst 5 or 10 characters were simply deleted. (It would also be good if special attacks transferred. Nothing like saving up for a mecha only to lose it all when you free a prisoner... Fun like a kick in the teeth.) Another intense source of frustration was the lack of even the most vital hints. In the second covert mission, the start has a huge pit which must be jumped across and can only be jumped across if you are 'sprinting' by having double-tapped-and-held the directional key; nowhere are you told that 'sprinting' even exists and there is no reason you would have tried this double-tap or noticed the sprinting since, as mentioned before, flatout running is a guaranteed way to die. I died 20 or 30 times before I finally gave up and googled "Broforce impossible level"; there were several different levels which were the topic of discussion, and I finally learned about sprinting and beat the level a few deaths later. Another covert mission is still worse: the level begins with an enormous explosion, which you have been trained by dozens of previous enormous explosions to wait out; when you do so, the mission is unbeatable because half the level is gone. It turns out that unknown and unknowable to you, there was an long catwalk at the top of the level, and the solution to the level is to immediately begin running, get a powerup while running, invoke the time-slowing while running, climb a several-screen-high ladder at top speed while the rest of the level is slowed, and then run across the catwalk which is already exploding to the point where you are jumping from falling crate to crate. So just to know that that catwalk exists, much less what you have to do to finish the level you have to have started the level running and time-slow immediately to climb the ladder and get to see that there was a catwalk there! There is no hint whatsoever of any of this by BF. So if anyone was able to figure this level out on their own without checking the Internet & watching YouTube, I doff my chapeau to them. All it would have taken in these two levels is a short hint: 'double-tap the d-key to sprint'; 'reach the catwalk before the explosion!' I am not asking for those levels to be made easier, just that the player has some idea what they're supposed to do! This lack of hints extends to the characters themselves and their special attacks; what did Neo's special do? I had no idea - it made a little glowy circle which didn't seem to do anything. What did Robocop's special do? I had no idea - it created a green grid on the screen with a targeting reticule you could move, but pressing fire/special did nothing, and moving the reticule over enemies did nothing. How did Braveheart, the Professional etc? Towards the end I looked them up on the Broforce wikia, but I should not have had to; would it have killed BF to include a one-line summary of the special like "reflects most bullets" or "select each enemy to automatically attack"? A few of the levels trade too heavily on trial-and-error: one alien's level is unbeatable unless you simply memorize each location it attacks throughout the whole level, because it is invulnerable, and moves too fast to react to. The cave levels feature way too many boulders and rocks so you will constantly die of falling rocks no matter how careful you are. Two levels are so dark that you cannot see where your character is and will die many times from jumping into a wall to avoid an attack. On the giant-helicopter level, you can die and lose even after you've won during the animation of the helicopter exploding, which happened to me 3 times because the end of the level is so full of explosives. 'Fun'. The alien levels are substantially less enjoyable because the various acid explosions extend insta-death across the screen and the fast-moving aggressive melee aliens make certain characters almost useless (good luck using either bomb-thrower when you're busy being swarmed!). Perhaps partly due to the randomized character selection and total absence of documentation, there seems to be extreme variation in difficulty: I might die 5 times clearing a level, then 30 the next level, then 1 the following level! Certainly some variation in difficulty from level to level is normal and desirable, but that much variation suggests that some levels need some tweaking... Hopefully the developers will fix some of these issues in the future, and in the meantime, to those who play BF, I advise being less proud than myself and to look online for hints.

comment by cousin_it · 2016-03-03T01:41:36.142Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yay, bragging time! I've been playing Broforce since it was a free online prototype, and got pretty good at it. By now I can easily run through the game on hard mode, and on normal mode I can beat most levels without attacking anyone except the end guy. Didn't watch any youtube videos or wikis, just learned it all by myself :-)

The forced switching between characters is a big part of the fun for me, because it leads to more varied situations and lulz. Ironically, the three characters that you dislike (Neo, Blade, and the machinegun girl) are among the best due to their mobility - they can all skip huge parts of levels by flying! Neo is actually my favorite character, because his air dash lets him run circles around anything else in the game. In the pre-release versions there was a difficult test level that was impossible to beat with anyone except him, I used to spend hours on that level alone, just trolling the enemies.

My current drug of choice is Nuclear Throne, though. At high levels it feels quite a bit harder than Broforce, but you might find it easier if you've played a lot of Touhou.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-03-02T14:31:42.983Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Public speakers prepare a fresh pair of panties, Poll everywhere is the best live polling web app I've seen

Holly app best task and pomo tracker, and $144 a year cheaper than complice cause it's free

readability score

I paid $200 for a logo, and fiver seems to be able to do equal if not better quality ones for...5 dollars no conflict of interest to declare

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2016-03-01T20:22:52.874Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta Thread