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Comment by agc on There’s no such thing as a tree (phylogenetically) · 2021-05-06T10:21:15.554Z · LW · GW

I got a feel of this growing sunflowers last year. They got quite big, significantly taller than me. They died in autumn as herbaceous plants do, but as I cut them down I noticed the part where the stem meets the root was seriously woody. Like, I could have cut out a small piece and convinced someone it was a piece of wood.

Comment by agc on Covid 4/29: Vaccination Slowdown · 2021-04-29T16:51:45.318Z · LW · GW

I think it's worth throwing some shade on Joe Rogan, despite the overlapping ingroups.

Comment by agc on Covid 4/15: Are We Seriously Doing This Again · 2021-04-15T15:33:52.161Z · LW · GW

Things i have wondered about this week:

  • The UK has vaccinated a larger share than the US, although America is catching up. Still, US states seem to be opening up to all adults very soon, while the UK is only going to 45+. Why is that? My current theory is that the UK has much higher vaccine take up among older people.
  • Why is Japan doing so few vaccinations? They could afford afford it and surely have the organizational capacity. Are they so confident that they can control the virus that they don't bother? Are kindly letting the west have the vaccine first since we clearly need it?
  • Are there factories out there that could be making COVID vaccine but aren't? In theory there shouldn't be because Pfizer, AstraZeneca, J&J and others should rationally be subcontracting to others to manufacture for them. Worldwide demand should be easily big enough to justify it. Yet I'm not sure. 
Comment by agc on Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots · 2021-03-18T17:45:30.129Z · LW · GW

Do they think ‘oh the six foot thing was all a lie?’

I think everyone understood that six foot was not a magic line but a rule of thumb, and it can be relaxed now that things are better.

I didn't get the point about Walid Gellad's tweet. Is he someone I should recognize?

Comment by agc on Sharing a Car · 2021-03-17T14:37:28.387Z · LW · GW

This looks sensible and will probably save you money compared to buying a car, as long as neither of you use the car very often. One option to consider is to have them keep full ownership of the car and you pay a per-mile rate. Employers pay a standard rate of $0.56 per mile when an employee uses a private car for work. This is probably a bit higher than true cost, but they are taking the risks of unexpected repairs and such. That arrangement would be easier to get out of if needed: You just stop driving it.

Comment by agc on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously · 2021-03-17T14:24:45.030Z · LW · GW

Since this popped up on the front page Recommendations today, did we ever get any clarity? My general feeling is that initial viral dose is not all that important.

Comment by agc on Clubhouse · 2021-03-16T23:58:33.350Z · LW · GW

I've gotten to the point where I think something is technically wrong with my account. I literally cannot find a single interesting room.

Comment by agc on Clubhouse · 2021-03-16T17:24:16.093Z · LW · GW

I have now spent about 3x15 min in the Clubhouse app after getting an invite from Azatris in this thread (thanks!) So far I haven't found anything interesting. I guess I need to go in with a good idea of what I'm looking for.

At the moment the start view is just rooms in languages I don't speak. There are long lists of people I never heard of, and some Silicon Valley people I have heard of but not interested in. "Upcoming for You" is marketing NFTs and "Boss Talk".

I'm not trying to talk down Clubhouse. It's clearly very appealing to a lot of people. What am I missing?

Comment by agc on Covid 2/25: Holding Pattern · 2021-02-26T16:55:29.314Z · LW · GW

The UK is rolling out twice weekly lateral flow tests quite widely:

  • Anyone who wants it (mainly for those who work outside the home)
  • All Secondary school children
  • All school staff
  • Parents of primary and secondary school children

That seems like a really good thing. My worry is that a lot of parents will skip it because nose swabs are uncomfortable.

Comment by agc on We got what's needed for COVID-19 vaccination completely wrong · 2021-02-11T17:58:59.977Z · LW · GW

I should probably know this, but are any of the mass produced COVID vaccines peptide vaccines?

Comment by agc on Everything Okay · 2021-01-29T09:45:44.232Z · LW · GW

This is completely on the side, but I find your analogy "dreaded stress ball of uncertainty" strange. A stress ball is a small soft ball and squeezing it with you hands is supposed to be relaxing and make you less stressed.

Comment by agc on Unpopularity of efficiency · 2021-01-28T17:58:07.799Z · LW · GW

Yes, this feels related to slack. No-one has really figured out how to get both slack and efficiency.

Comment by agc on Simulacrum 3 As Stag-Hunt Strategy · 2021-01-27T18:15:38.596Z · LW · GW

Ok sure, at that point it's basically a synonym for network effects.

Comment by agc on Simulacrum 3 As Stag-Hunt Strategy · 2021-01-27T09:53:47.790Z · LW · GW

I haven't seen a strong argument that "stag hunt" is a good model for reality. If you need seven people to hunt stag the answer isn't to have seven totally committed people, who never get ill, have other things to do, or just don't feel like it. I'd rather have ten people who who are 90% committed, and be ready to switch to rabbit the few days when only six show up.

Comment by agc on Tentative covid surface risk estimates · 2021-01-26T17:10:54.109Z · LW · GW

I thought fomites was though to have been a significant vector with SARS-1. (i.e. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5519164/)

Comment by agc on Covid 1/21: Turning the Corner · 2021-01-21T23:39:13.637Z · LW · GW

The White House has released a "National Strategy for COVID-19" (pdf) that should be worth critiquing along with the day 1 priorities. I will take it as a good sign that the tweet has "aggressive, coordinated" before "equitable".

On an other note, I wonder what your current best estimate for the increase in R with the new strain is. Has the UK managed to get R below one because the different is smaller than the 0.7 we thought, or just because the control system / lockdown is so powerful?

Comment by agc on Covid 1/21: Turning the Corner · 2021-01-21T18:00:55.195Z · LW · GW

For why new strains now, the English strain was first detected in September but nobody cared much until Christmas. Now that strains are a hot topic they get reported more. I'm not sure that explains the whole explosion in new strains, but maybe part of it.

I wonder if there was a new and more infectious strain in Europe last spring. They could explain part of why it spread so much faster in Europe and the Americas than in East Asia. Although in that case I would have expected the European strain to have reached Asia eventually.

I feel like restaurants suing so they can have indoor dining says something bad about America. European restaurants just don't do that, so restrictions don't need to be lawsuit-proof. That said the UK had the very inadvisable "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme in August, so maybe different countries just decide that boosting restaurants outweighs everything else at different times.

I think you're being unfair on the smokers thing. It's the kind of thing that happens when you take a general principle (vaccinate people with chronic conditions) and don't add a bunch of exceptions. We don't have time for exceptions. Just going by age would still be better, but getting shots into arms is more important, so let's not get outraged about some undeserving smokers getting vaccinated.

Just as a side note, the word "scheme" doesn't have a negative connotation in the UK.

Comment by agc on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-13T18:13:08.178Z · LW · GW

I'm looking forward to tomorrows edition. Especially:

  • UK cases have flattened out, although at a high daily level. The "control system" is very powerful.
  • New York seems to be doing ok in vaccinations relative to other states, despite Cuomo's ideas.
Comment by agc on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-08T17:20:38.471Z · LW · GW

The actions would have made (some) sense if we were supply constrained on vaccines. If supply is severely limited, you want to incentivize ordering only what you will definitely use, and you want to be very careful about using each dose in the most effective way.

It seems everyone assumed we'd be supply constraint and then never updated when it turned out distribution is the bottleneck. Actually, do we have strong evidence that vaccine supply is not currently limited in the US?

One reason I'm asking is that the UK seems to be doing much better in theory: Simpler rules, mostly based on age, no silly fights between governors and mayors, not a lot of scandals. Still, in shots per capita they are only slightly ahead. Is UK vaccine use slow in a less publicly embarrassing way, or are they supply limited while the US is not?

Comment by agc on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-08T10:56:31.921Z · LW · GW

Minor nitpick, but it's RNA vaccines in English (or mRNA). I take it ARN is the French word order.

Comment by agc on COVID-19: home stretch and fourth wave Q&A · 2021-01-07T14:52:26.008Z · LW · GW

Any advice for those of us in southern England? :-/

Everyone seems surprisingly relaxed here, although we're in a pretty hard lockdown. Schools are closed, etc.

Comment by agc on Motive Ambiguity · 2020-12-16T11:52:11.934Z · LW · GW

I wonder if these things happen more in cultures with a tradition of religious sacrifice.

Comment by agc on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-11T14:39:34.964Z · LW · GW

A few questions:

When are these likely to pay out? Will I have to wait until January 20 or even later?

For the Secretary of State and Attorney General, what happens if Biden becomes president but the senate refuses to confirm his nominees?

Finally, why does PredictIt ask for so much personal information, and can I get away with entering fake info?

Comment by agc on Covid 10/15: Playtime is Over · 2020-10-16T16:51:48.014Z · LW · GW

As someone who has not been following this threads and only read the last two, can I throw in some criticism? Do stop me if I am violating norms here.

The style seems to assume that the reader has read many previous threads and agree with you on every aspect of covid. I'm not sure I disagree with you on anything, but I would like some motivations. Combining this with a lot of sarcasm actually makes it hard to understand what positions you are arguing for sometimes.

On the topic itself, I am hopeful that the public discussion will get less partisan after the election. Unfortunately, a virus can spread far in three weeks.

Comment by agc on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-23T13:25:46.417Z · LW · GW

How could an outside observer tell the difference between this, and a cult trying to stifle criticism?

Comment by agc on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T15:45:22.941Z · LW · GW

Put them on a table at work or school with a sign saying "fee - take one".

Comment by agc on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T15:43:18.186Z · LW · GW

I wonder if China will direct the masks to politically friendly countries, or let the free marker decide.

Comment by agc on What the Haters Hate · 2018-10-02T16:31:38.007Z · LW · GW

This post starts with so much snark that it's difficult to engage with. I can say that I have only ever heard of Dave Rubin in Right wing contexts, so I'm pretty sure he's a right winger.

Comment by agc on Advances in Baby Formula · 2018-09-11T08:28:19.185Z · LW · GW

I'm confused. Here is a quote from a UK website: "Infant formula is usually based on processed, skimmed cow’s milk. Added ingredients include vitamins, fatty acids and prebiotics (carbohydrates that can stimulate the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive system)." Are things very different in the US?

Comment by agc on Debt is an Anti-investment · 2018-07-06T10:31:13.338Z · LW · GW

All good points, but you are missing one consideration. Paying off debt is a perfectly risk-free investment, but also an investment that is difficult to withdraw. I have a couple of months salary in a bank account earning ~0% interest, while paying a couple percent interest on a mortgage. In theory, I am throwing money away and should pay off as much as I can. The difference is that the money in the bank account is easily available if I need it.

You are absolutely right that anyone paying 20% interest on credit card debt should pay it off before thinking about investments.

Comment by agc on Shared interests vs. collective interests · 2018-05-29T14:40:42.458Z · LW · GW

I feels like you have some specific examples in mind, but are deliberately not sharing them. That makes me reluctant to comment, as I want to know what I am discussing.

Initially I have two issues: a) I think you are using two different meanings of the word interest: things you find interesting, and things you gain utility from. b) Groups only rarely enforce strict rules for joining, so there are hardly any true collective interests by your definition.

Comment by agc on Inefficient Doesn’t Mean Indifferent · 2018-05-02T14:55:49.080Z · LW · GW

Maybe this is a good example.

If we were willing to admit the students who would benefit most by objective criteria like income or career success, we could use prediction markets. The complete lack of interest in this suggests that isn’t really the agenda.

Robin is saying that lack of interest in using prediction markets for student admissions shows that universities don't actually want the best students. I can think of many other possible explanations:

  • They have never heard of prediction markets. It's a fairly obscure concept.
  • They don't believe it would work.
  • They have moral issues with letting strangers bets decide if someone gets admitted, or they think it could be manipulated.
  • There are dozens of other strange methods that someone thinks would solve all their problems.