Giving Tuesday 2020 2020-11-30T22:30:06.330Z
DIY Beaterless Drum Pedals 2020-11-29T01:20:02.842Z
Thanksgiving and Covid 2020-11-20T04:30:05.666Z
Debug Headers with GET 2020-11-17T03:10:05.949Z
Brigaded Rounds 2020-11-16T01:50:05.191Z
Sharding the Brigade 2020-11-14T03:30:06.652Z
Yes to Feature Requests, No to Entitlement 2020-11-11T03:50:02.909Z
Somerville Mask Usage II 2020-11-07T17:00:02.552Z
Teach People to Recognize the Sound of Covid? 2020-11-06T14:30:17.177Z
Bucket Brigade Singing 2020-11-03T15:40:03.051Z
Waffle Crepes 2020-11-02T15:30:02.843Z
Trick-or-treating in Covid Times 2020-10-31T00:30:05.643Z
Increasing Isolation Again 2020-10-25T13:10:26.731Z
Why Huntington-Hill? 2020-10-25T00:50:33.884Z
Local Solar Time 2020-10-23T19:40:06.406Z
Changing the size of Congress 2020-10-22T20:50:05.879Z
Election Preparation 2020-10-15T20:30:03.278Z
Why Boston? 2020-10-11T02:40:03.116Z
Dancing With Covid 2020-10-10T02:10:02.539Z
Muting on Group Calls 2020-10-02T20:30:11.280Z
Three car seats? 2020-10-01T14:30:06.216Z
I'm Voting For Ranked Choice, But I Don't Like It 2020-09-20T18:40:04.410Z
EA Relationship Status 2020-09-19T01:50:02.731Z
Escalation Outside the System 2020-09-08T18:20:09.275Z
Shed Wall Plans 2020-09-06T22:20:05.048Z
Estimating the ROI of Insulation 2020-09-03T20:30:08.886Z
WebBundles and URL Randomization 2020-08-26T17:50:05.692Z
The Best Toy In The Park 2020-08-25T14:30:06.615Z
How to set up foot pedals 2020-08-23T16:40:06.052Z
Exposure or Contacts? 2020-08-22T13:00:06.215Z
Coronavirus and Rents II 2020-08-21T02:30:08.289Z
The US Already Has A Wealth Tax 2020-08-19T14:50:07.808Z
Spending Update 2020 2020-08-18T01:40:05.390Z
Setting Up a Green Screen 2020-08-14T20:00:08.048Z
Effect of Numpy 2020-08-10T01:00:09.373Z
Evaluating Opus 2020-08-08T16:40:05.679Z
Burley Bee kids bike trailer review 2020-08-02T17:20:07.601Z
Food Spending During Covid 2020-08-01T17:10:07.739Z
Jam is obsolete 2020-07-26T14:00:07.179Z
Photos Before Drywall 2020-07-25T01:40:07.143Z
Restocking 2020-07-23T13:40:05.833Z
Pulse and Glide Cycling 2020-07-19T19:02:24.070Z
Maximal Ventilation 2020-07-11T01:20:02.171Z
Partially Stepping Down Isolation 2020-07-08T11:40:02.776Z
Poly Domestic Partnerships 2020-07-03T14:10:02.763Z
Second Wave Covid Deaths? 2020-07-01T20:40:01.823Z
Somerville Mask Usage 2020-06-30T14:50:10.238Z
Preview On Hover 2020-06-24T22:20:02.980Z
Coronavirus and Rents 2020-06-20T16:20:03.133Z
Second Wave? 2020-06-14T14:00:02.786Z


Comment by jkaufman on Bucket Brigade Singing · 2020-11-03T22:56:29.516Z · LW · GW

Video would make it a lot more work, though I do think it would be nice.

Often when musicians want to do this they are a smaller number of people and they want the option of multiple takes, so each one will fully record their piece to their satisfaction before sending it on to the next to "overdub".

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-25T16:33:00.505Z · LW · GW


Comment by jkaufman on Local Solar Time · 2020-10-24T12:45:52.394Z · LW · GW

Why? If I'm using Google calendar or something, it can show me everything in my own local time and it can show me the different attendees working hours and prior commitments, just as it does today.

Comment by jkaufman on Changing the size of Congress · 2020-10-23T18:16:17.866Z · LW · GW

The main effect of increasing the size of the house is changing how things look for presidential elections, since there is one electoral vote for each house seat.

If you look at my "GOP Advantage by Congress Size" chart, you can see that the partisan lean of the house doesn't change much as you increase it.

Comment by jkaufman on Election Preparation · 2020-10-15T21:44:06.996Z · LW · GW

Earlier less wrong discussion:

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-15T21:39:32.840Z · LW · GW

That's a pretty good summary!

I'm not actually trying to make the case for moving the main rationalist hub; I actually think it's pretty likely that the hub cannot be moved, at least not intentionally. Instead, I'm trying to describe why people might consider moving here as individuals.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-13T16:00:53.225Z · LW · GW

You do not check to see if the cars are capable of stopping for you - you assume that the cars will keep going straight at their current speed.

Hmm, I feel like there are actually two different modes? In one of them, yes, you assume the car will continue on at its current speed, and you start walking expecting to pass ahead or behind it. On the other hand, when there's enough traffic that you would have to wait indefinitely with that method (and there's no light etc) there's a mode where you stare at the car and start walking out, and then they slow down to let you cross. You do this with enough leeway that if they don't see you (or are a jerk) you still have time to stop before you would get run down?

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-13T12:27:16.290Z · LW · GW

terrifying pedestrian dynamics, where the accepted way to cross in a crosswalk is to look carefully for speeding cars and if none of them look like they're speeding too much to be capable of stopping for you, walk out into the crosswalk and dare them to blink first.

On the other hand, when I've been in the Bay Area walking around with friends, if we get to an intersection where the light is against us and you can clearly see there are no cars, I'll be halfway across the street before I realize that my friends are still waiting for the light to change.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-13T12:23:22.392Z · LW · GW

In undergrad the dorm that, in my opinion, had the best culture was the run-down dorm that was far from campus.

This was my experience at Swarthmore as well. But I think a lot of that came from this being a dorm that essentially, any student who wanted to live there would be able to get a room. The analogy would push toward choosing a place that has much cheaper housing costs!

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-11T17:59:39.572Z · LW · GW

When I say good governance, I'm comparing to the US as a whole. I agree that many countries did better with the pandemic. Comparing a state to a country, though, is kind of silly when the country can shut its borders but the state cannot. Additionally, you've picked two island countries to compare to, which have additional advantages in securing their borders.

Still, within the US Massachusetts has one of the highest death rates. The other similar states are NY, NJ, and CT, and these deaths primarily came from poor control of the outbreak at the very beginning. My understanding is that this was primarily a failing at the national level, where the US had incredibly limited testing capacity due to a combination of poor choices at the CDC and counterproductive pressure from the White House. The coronavirus got ahead of us, and the whole Northeast corridor was pretty hard hit. Where I am giving the Boston area credit, and especially Cambridge/Somerville, is in the level of local response. The state and these municipalities weren't going to be able to fix the testing problem and it took longer than I would have liked for them to realize that the CDC was not going to be filling it's role, but once they did their response was very good.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2020-10-11T17:42:41.583Z · LW · GW

There's a local LW group, and before we had kids my wife and I would go most weeks. We also host (in non-pandemic times) a monthly EA dinner.

Comment by jkaufman on The rationalist community's location problem · 2020-10-11T02:27:00.308Z · LW · GW

dealing with Massachusetts taxes

MA taxes are not that different from MI? In Ann Arbor you would be paying 4.25% income tax and 6% sales tax, compared to 5% and 6.25% in MA.

Comment by jkaufman on Dancing With Covid · 2020-10-11T00:39:28.104Z · LW · GW

I am very curious what the results would have been with enforced mask-wearing.

I am too, but I think the kind of group where people would reliably wear masks is not the kind of group that puts on a dance event right now, so we're unlikely to find out.

at what point in the pandemic to we start accepting that to some people, risks similar to this may be worth it and should be their choice?

There are roughly two approaches that seem to make sense with covid:

  • A thorough lockdown where you get cases low enough to be held in check through testing and contact tracing. Famously described as hammer and dance. Continue until vaccine, better treatments, better understanding, etc./

  • Accept that everyone is going to get it at some point, keep things closed only enough that cases don't overwhelm the medical system, go for herd immunity.

The US is trying for the first approach, but we are doing very poorly. On the other hand, if we were to switch to the second approach we would probably see about 2M dead instead of 200k. The problem is, we can't be picking an individual level which of these two approaches to take or else the first approach will work even less well.

I do think we will not still be in the situation at the two-year mark. We'll have a vaccine, better treatments, or we will have decided to take (or defaulted into) the second approach.

Comment by jkaufman on The rationalist community's location problem · 2020-10-10T00:17:08.489Z · LW · GW

Things I like about the Boston area: many different industries, good tech jobs, good public transit for the US, don't need a car, many walkable/bikable areas, good air quality, not very disaster prone, decent governance, queer friendly, poly friendly, many multifamilies and other large houses that can be group houses, seasons, many universities including several very strong ones, nearby international airport, good schools, good traditional dance and music scene, not as expensive as the Bay or New York.

The biggest downside by far is housing costs. Other downsides include darkness in winter, winter in general if you don't like that, and that for many industries it is near the top but not the top.

EDIT: expanded this into a post:

Comment by jkaufman on [deleted post] 2020-10-08T15:25:01.064Z

The core problem is that RSS doesn't have a standard way to indicate updates to already published posts. In I have this as <link></link>, and this works fine in a standard feed reader, but because lesswrong is copying things over it doesn't work.

One option would be to create and have that exclude updates...

Comment by jkaufman on "Zero Sum" is a misnomer. · 2020-10-03T15:31:46.597Z · LW · GW

The colloquial usage of zero / negative / positive sum games as people apply it to daily life seems like it captures something pretty useful to me. Roughly, they're statements about whether we're neutral / worse off / better off as a result of playing the game. Playing a positive sum game makes the world better, a negative sum game makes it worse.

This conception is Utilitarian, but I think for enough people this is close enough to correct that even if they don't consider themselves Utilitarians it's still a good model for thinking about interactions?

Comment by jkaufman on Comment, Don't Message · 2020-10-02T16:49:19.752Z · LW · GW

Hi Démian,

Could you post your comment on instead?


Comment by jkaufman on Three car seats? · 2020-10-02T11:59:29.874Z · LW · GW

The 17-in seat I linked is for kids who aren't ready for a booster seat yet. Once they outgrow the car seat they have many narrow options. For example, this booster seat is 14.5":

Using the anchors requires the seat to go in a very specific location, which is often not what you want. You can use the seat belt instead. If you want to use a car seat with a heavier child, you're generally required to use the seat belt anyway because it's stronger.

In my experience the limiting factor is not the space at the back of the seat, because all of the seats are smaller there. The Honda Fit, for example, only has 45-in of hip room, but does fit our three 17-in car seats.

Comment by jkaufman on Three car seats? · 2020-10-01T21:52:02.835Z · LW · GW

No, I agree, it's only useful in pretty niche situations. Mostly I was excited to see a counterexample to as strong a claim as "no matter what you do"

Comment by jkaufman on Three car seats? · 2020-10-01T16:53:39.533Z · LW · GW

They did at least try to control for wealth: "We find that the estimated effects are driven entirely by households with access to a car, consistent with car usage mattering directly. The effect is also concentrated in households where there is an adult male in the household, increasing the likelihood that both front seats are occupied by adults. Somewhat surprisingly, the effects are larger among households with higher income levels. This suggests that the pressures leading to reduced birthrates may not be entirely financial, or that these groups bear a greater burden through higher compliance rates."

Comment by jkaufman on Three car seats? · 2020-10-01T16:52:46.625Z · LW · GW

you can no longer fit four young children in a sedan no matter what you do

Comment by jkaufman on EA Relationship Status · 2020-09-22T11:18:56.116Z · LW · GW

While we don't have controlled studies, married people do tend to be happier. Overall, many married people find the companionship of having another person to spend their life with fulfilling, rewarding, comforting, and generally very positive.

There is a risk of an unhappy marriage, but there is also a risk of missing out on what could be a really important relationship.

You could consider talking to people a few decades older than you who seem like the kind of people you might be in a few decades time, and asking whether they're married and how they feel about it?

Comment by jkaufman on I'm Voting For Ranked Choice, But I Don't Like It · 2020-09-21T14:36:43.308Z · LW · GW

What matters is not how well your ballot reflects your preferences, but how well the outcome matches the preferences of the electorate. IRV can have very strange results where when a candidate starts to get more support it actually hurts them ( and if voters/campaigns are strategic you can get worse outcomes than first past the post (

Comment by jkaufman on I'm Voting For Ranked Choice, But I Don't Like It · 2020-09-21T14:31:33.903Z · LW · GW

A "Yes on 2" board member posted a response on the FB side of this discussion:


  • IRV has more of a track record which is useful for convincing people to support it

  • "later-no-harm" matches real preferences well

Comment by jkaufman on I'm Voting For Ranked Choice, But I Don't Like It · 2020-09-20T22:23:49.401Z · LW · GW

I like Ping's simulations a lot! The two main problems with it are that by representing voter preferences as a plane there will always be a condorcet winner (when a lot of the weirdness and voting systems comes down to how they handle the cases when there isn't one) and that assumes voters always vote their true preferences (when a lot of the weirdness in voting systems comes from strategic voting).

Comment by jkaufman on EA Relationship Status · 2020-09-20T12:43:28.517Z · LW · GW

Was number of children ever asked on an EA survey?

Comment by jkaufman on Covid 9/17: It’s Worse · 2020-09-19T16:15:51.394Z · LW · GW

I think it's the other way around: If your forest is burning every 20 years then the fire is relatively minor. There's much less accumulated fuel so it won't burn as hot or be as destructive as we see now.

Comment by jkaufman on EA Relationship Status · 2020-09-19T15:21:13.066Z · LW · GW

On the other hand, talking to a friend in the Bay area rationality scene, it sounds like maybe even with the gender imbalance there are more women looking to settle down than men? In which case the gender imbalance is actually likely making marriage more common?

Comment by jkaufman on Escalation Outside the System · 2020-09-09T15:15:56.599Z · LW · GW

I was curious what tone changes NPR made between the archived version you linked and the current version. I ran a quick diff:

  • hand-wringing about looting. -> condemnation of looting
  • bemoaned the property damage -> denounced the property damage
  • "" -> Osterweil is a self-described writer, editor and agitator who has been writing about and participating in protests for years. And her book arrives as the continued protests have emerged as a bitter dividing point in the presidential race.
  • I spoke with Osterweil about this summer's riots, the common narratives surrounding looting, and why "nonviolence" can be a misleading term. -> I spoke with Osterweil
  • Now, as protests and riots continue to grip cities, she argues that looting is a powerful tool -> Now, as protests and riots continue to grip cities, she stakes out a provocative position: that that looting is a powerful tool
  • The rioters who smash windows and take items from stores, she says, are engaging in a powerful tactic -> The rioters who smash windows and take items from stores, she claims, are engaging in a powerful tactic* new Black and Brown nations -> new Black and brown nations
  • the Civil Rights bill -> the civil rights bill
  • You know, one of the causes of the L.A. riots was a Korean small-business owner murdering 15-year-old Latasha Harlins -> You know, one of the causes of the L.A. riots was a Korean small-business owner [killing] 15-year-old Latasha Harlins
Comment by jkaufman on Escalation Outside the System · 2020-09-09T01:52:01.721Z · LW · GW

Excellent post; thanks for the link!

I like the first section as well, especially the "war is not the instrument he thought it was" perspective.

(I grew up Quaker, and while at this point I am not 100% pacifist I am generally extremely skeptical about the ability of violence to improve situations)

Comment by jkaufman on Shed Wall Plans · 2020-09-07T20:20:20.305Z · LW · GW

Ability to mount things on the wall

Nice to have, but not critical?

Bring additional utilities (water, sewer, networking) into the space?

Not planning on water/sewer. I should decide about ethernet and do it at this stage if I'm going to. Probably yes ethernet?

what's the climate like where you're building?

Northeast US. Primarily heating. Climate details: Not planning for AC, though the window will be able to take a window unit if need be.

Comment by jkaufman on Exposure or Contacts? · 2020-08-22T16:53:28.210Z · LW · GW

This is a great point: it looks like peak infectiousness is quite short-lived (~2d?), so even if someone does have a contacts model they should be counting person A this week and person A last week as separate contacts.

Comment by jkaufman on Food Spending During Covid · 2020-08-21T19:40:23.898Z · LW · GW

I don't think we're stocking up more now than we were before: we already had an approach of stocking up non-perishables pretty substantially, and while we ran our stocks down a bit in the first couple months of the lockdown we've since replenished back to approximately where we were.

I'm quite surprised that you've found making bread and ginger beer at home to be more expensive than buying them. Bread, for example, is essentially flour, water, yeast, and salt. That should come to 30¢-70¢/lb, depending on how cheaply you can get flour, while commercially produced bread is typically twice that.

Comment by jkaufman on The US Already Has A Wealth Tax · 2020-08-21T19:35:28.304Z · LW · GW

If everyone knew that this was how things worked, then in raising money from investors the startup founders would put aside a small amount of the investment round to pay wealth taxes. VCs would not object, because unlike a startup founder pulling a massive salary, this isn't any sort of bad sign.

Comment by jkaufman on The US Already Has A Wealth Tax · 2020-08-20T11:52:54.932Z · LW · GW

The situation is not that inflation makes your savings less valuable, it is that your non-dollar assets become nominally more valuable partly due to inflation, and that nominal-only gain is taxed.

Say you bought a famous painting for $10 million in 1990 money, and sold it for $20 million in 2020 money. The IRS sees (and taxes) a gain of $10 million, but actually your painting didn't gain at all: dollars just became less valuable.

Comment by jkaufman on Spending Update 2020 · 2020-08-18T12:22:08.692Z · LW · GW

Two: about 1/5 partner, 4/5 me.

I'm reasonably happy with how we're spending our money, though probably my biggest goal is to allocate our donations better.

Comment by jkaufman on Covid 8/13: Same As It Ever Was · 2020-08-16T13:58:57.589Z · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, the risk of Covid-19 for a college student is trivial compared to the risks of playing football normally.

I would find that more persuasive if I didn't think that "the risks of playing football normally" were already much too high

Comment by jkaufman on Effect of Numpy · 2020-08-15T17:31:33.671Z · LW · GW

The amount of latency, even in an extremely efficient implementation, will be high enough to keep that approach from working. Unless everyone has a very low latency audio setup (roughly the default on macs, somewhat difficult elsewhere, impossible on Android), a wired internet connection, and relatively low physical distance, you just can't get low enough latency to keep everything feeling simultaneous. A good target there is about 30ms.

The goal with this project is to make something feel like group singing, even though people are not actually singing at the exact same time as each other.

Comment by jkaufman on Negative "eeny meeny miny moe" · 2020-08-15T00:05:55.365Z · LW · GW

As much as I would like to claim to be very insightful, I was mostly just thinking about how the children's game works. Sorry!

Comment by jkaufman on Effect of Numpy · 2020-08-14T20:21:34.359Z · LW · GW

sends everyone the results

I think that's where you're imagining this differently than I am. In the approach I am describing, everything is real time. The only time you hear some thing is when you were singing along to it. You never hear a version of the audio includes your own voice, and includes the voices of anyone after you in the chain. The goal is not to create something and everyone listen back to it, the goal is to sing together in the moment.

Comment by jkaufman on Effect of Numpy · 2020-08-14T00:00:52.657Z · LW · GW

Why are you putting your six singers into two groups of three? The ideal, from the perspective of everyone hearing as many people as possible, is to order your singers a, b, c, d, e, f. Each person hears the audio from those ahead of them. If you have really very large numbers of people, such that arranging them in a full chain gives an end to end latency that is too high, then you can use some sort of chain of groups, for example a, b + c, d + e, f + g.

If you have any sort of chain that is reasonably long, then you want to be resilient to losing a link. That's much easier to do when you have a server that everyone is sending and receiving audio from. Our current design can recover smoothly from someone having a network hiccup because all that happens is you lose a bit of audio data and then resume. Key to this is that people downstream from the one having a network problem don't have their audio interrupted, beyond losing audio from the person who is no longer connected.

In theory a peer to peer approach could offer slightly lower latency, but I expect the game there is minimal. Sending a packet from a to b, versus sending a packet from a to a high-connectivity well-placed central server to b, isn't actually that different.

With the FFT, I think you may be effectively reinventing lossy audio compression? I think we'll likely get much better results using opus or another modern codec.

Comment by jkaufman on Effect of Numpy · 2020-08-12T12:23:31.298Z · LW · GW

The goal here is for this to feel like group singing as much as possible. I think in your proposal there will be many users where a doesn't hear b and b also doesn't hear a? And not just because they're singing at the same wall time?

I also don't see why you're proposing the FFT? Yes, that lets you accumulate frequency information, but you lose timing information in the process. Since our goal is to transmit full audio, I'm not sure how you see the FFT fitting in.

Comment by jkaufman on Evaluating Opus · 2020-08-09T20:41:53.398Z · LW · GW

To support fully streaming operation in the browser, I think we would need to switch to using web sockets. Doable, but complicated and may not be worth it?

200ms of latency isn't ideal, but also isn't that bad. The design does not require minimizing latency, just keeping it reasonably small.

Comment by jkaufman on Evaluating Opus · 2020-08-09T00:47:02.762Z · LW · GW

You can do that, but then you need the server to retain per-client state. Everything stays much simpler if we don't!

Comment by jkaufman on Food Spending During Covid · 2020-08-02T22:24:26.587Z · LW · GW

Not trying to count things like when my work brought my team out for a celebratory lunch, on the company card. since the not eating at restaurants is mostly about us trying to save money.

Comment by jkaufman on Food Spending During Covid · 2020-08-02T21:39:11.955Z · LW · GW

In our case, some of our housemates were eating out reasonably often but our family wasn't. I think my wife and I ate at a restaurant we paid for maybe twice a year on average?

Comment by jkaufman on Jam is obsolete · 2020-08-02T21:37:12.278Z · LW · GW

I expect cough syrup is a small enough part of anyone's diet that trying to make it work without sugar is a pretty low priority?

I wasn't aware people had moved away from alcohol based mouthwash; looking at my store brand Listerine knockoff it seems to be 21.6% alcohol.

Comment by jkaufman on Jam is obsolete · 2020-08-02T18:22:36.237Z · LW · GW

What sort of drugs are you thinking of that we use sugar to preserve?

If they're drugs that people don't consume often or in large quantities then the sugar may not be all that relevant from the health perspective.

Comment by jkaufman on Jam is obsolete · 2020-08-02T16:12:13.609Z · LW · GW

You're completely right, but now that we have freezers we can preserve fruit without adding sugar.

Comment by jkaufman on Food Spending During Covid · 2020-08-02T01:39:46.312Z · LW · GW

Does your $387 ($194/person) include the costs of delivery?

Back of the envelope, I think the risk of getting covid via going into stores is high enough that delivery is worth it.