Comment by dave-lindbergh on The principle of no non-Apologies · 2020-05-29T01:13:49.060Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"I'm sorry" is often used as an expression of sympathy - no relation to any apology.

Them: "My mom got cancer"

You: "I'm so sorry!"

(sorry for them, not sorry for anything you did)

Comment by dave-lindbergh on Book Review: Narconomics · 2020-05-04T17:43:05.536Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To the degree that that cocaine business (like any honest business) creates value, there's some truth in that. But most of the value is in the high that the customers get when they consume it - it doesn't create much *economic* value. Except to whatever extent the cocaine makes users more productive (it's a stimulant, as is caffeine).

But the "subsidy" mostly comes from other inner-city residents - for the most part, they're the customers (obviously some outsiders come into town to buy, but I suspect that's a small fraction of the business). So it's a zero-sum transaction within the inner city, except (as said) for the hedons of pleasure experienced by the end-users.

I think the costs of the drug war (fear, crime, overdoses, toxic side-effects of adulterants, incarceration, destroyed families, etc. - all of which overwhelmingly fall on inner-city poor people) far exceed any "subsidy" to the inner city.

I suspect a stronger argument could be made that the drug war is a key element of the institutional structures that keep the underclass down. Supposedly (from those who were there) Nixon's War on Drugs was intended to make life harder for blacks:

Comment by dave-lindbergh on Book Review: Narconomics · 2020-05-03T16:46:06.400Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cocaine is a stimulant, so wouldn't that make users *more* productive?

And if it were legal, it would be cheap, so no "crimes to get their next hit". Despite heavy taxation, the (significant) social harm from alcohol and tobacco doesn't come from crime.

Comment by dave-lindbergh on COVID-19 - a good or bad time for extended travel? · 2020-02-29T16:36:51.075Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Life is risk. Go.

Just be prepared - financially and in terms of other commitments - to be delayed by quarantine, etc.

Comment by dave-lindbergh on Terms & literature for purposely lossy communication · 2020-01-23T17:09:31.407Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"partial information"

Comment by dave-lindbergh on If giving unsolicited feedback was a social norm, what feedback would you often give? · 2019-12-04T17:35:36.939Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"You are spending more money than you can afford.

This will result in unnecessary stress and misery in your life.

You will be happier in the long run if you reduce your standard of living to a level that's easily sustainable for you and put the remainder of your money into a substantial financial buffer for yourself."

Comment by dave-lindbergh on A letter on optimism about human progress · 2019-12-04T17:22:44.322Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW


a) Yes, it is, but that's the point of it. And the viewpoint seems self-justified to me.

b) The article makes no claim that "progress" is continuous or smooth or monotonically increasing, or that it doesn't suffer setbacks. The point is that *in spite* of setbacks, civilization has experienced net progress and there appears to be reason to expect that to continue - in the long run.

c) Yes, but there's a feedback loop at work. The more that problems create pain for people, the more people focus resources and attention on finding solutions for those problems.

d) Again, yes, we depend on cheap energy. There seem to be lots of other ways to obtain that other than burning fossil fuels - nuclear power is the most obvious solution, tho there are others. And, again, there's a feedback loop at work - as energy prices increase, that will create incentives to find cheaper sources.

e) "Rapid enough" is a function of attention, capital, and effort invested into solving problems. As we work harder to solve problems, our rate of progress at solving those problems increases.

Of course there are existential risks - most of them involve very short-term catastrophes that may happen too rapidly for people to adapt and respond to. It's urgent that we think about preventing them. The fact that we're here talking about it is a good sign.

But people - and civilization in general - aren't passive victims of vast historical forces. They act and influence outcomes.

In the words of Karl Popper, "Optimism is a duty. The future is open. It is not predetermined. No one can predict it, except by chance. We all contribute to determining it by what we do. We are all equally responsible for its success. "

Comment by dave-lindbergh on Doing things in a populated world · 2019-11-01T22:50:13.781Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You should read Richard Epstien's _Takings_

It's all about this. He makes a lot of insightful points - we could be improving things far more than we do now, if only we could pay the losers to stop opposing the changes.

Comment by dave-lindbergh on Rent Needs to Decrease · 2019-10-11T17:10:30.638Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'd think that at some point before now, the super-high profits to be made from renting apartments would create political pressure to allow building more housing - after all, developers want to get more of that lovely profit.

But, it seems, no.

Same thing (even worse) has happened in the Bay Area - insane rents, yet no political will to permit building more housing.

Seems strange.

Comment by dave-lindbergh on How to navigate through contradictory (health/fitness) advice? · 2019-08-05T23:25:13.403Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

We are evolved animals. Set your expectations reasonably. Don't expect miracle cures, esp. if you're past the usual age of reproduction. Be skeptical of those promising miracle cures.

Esp. as we get older, there are lots of things we need to learn to live with, and suffer with. Embrace mild ameliorations, like ibuprofen and (small doses of!!) opiates.

Our bodies are reasonably well adapted to the kinds of things our ancestors in the state of nature had to do on a daily basis. Try to do more of those (lots of mild exercises like walking, some occasional strenuous exercise, very exceptional extreme physical efforts) and less of the modern unnatural stuff we do a lot of (sitting and staring at computer screens, eating sugar).

Be skeptical of programmes that tell you to diverge too much from the ancestral behavior patterns.

Be skeptical of fads and "breakthrus".

Appreciate that if one approach were obviously and clearly better than the others, this would likely be pretty clear to everyone by now.

Since that isn't the case, don't expect too much. There is probably no one approach that is a whole lot better than the others (tho some may be far worse than the median).

Comment by dave-lindbergh on In physical eschatology, is Aestivation a sound strategy? · 2019-06-18T01:41:10.802Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

With all due respect to the first set of authors, I wouldn't argue with Charles Bennett on the subject of thermodynamics.

Comment by dave-lindbergh on Tales From the American Medical System · 2019-05-10T02:40:44.219Z · score: 25 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I've been thru this same thing with doctors.

One, after being pressed with "why?" repeatedly, fessed up.

They get paid for each office visit. The way they make money is to force patients to visit the office periodically, on pain of having necessary prescriptions cut off.

I'm not talking about narcotics or controlled substances here. (For those, the DEA really does force the MDs to see the patient in person for each prescription.)

You have a greedy doctor. He thinks he's only cheating the insurance company (cheating by demanding needless office visits) but of course everybody pays for that. And your time is worth something, surely.

My advice: Get another doctor.