Partially Stepping Down Isolation 2020-07-08T11:40:02.776Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Poly Domestic Partnerships 2020-07-03T14:10:02.763Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Second Wave Covid Deaths? 2020-07-01T20:40:01.823Z · score: 35 (11 votes)
Somerville Mask Usage 2020-06-30T14:50:10.238Z · score: 17 (5 votes)
Preview On Hover 2020-06-24T22:20:02.980Z · score: 20 (8 votes)
Coronavirus and Rents 2020-06-20T16:20:03.133Z · score: 17 (7 votes)
Second Wave? 2020-06-14T14:00:02.786Z · score: 25 (13 votes)
Keep: Move checked items to bottom 2020-06-11T00:30:02.566Z · score: 10 (2 votes)
Growing Independence 2020-06-07T20:20:02.805Z · score: 138 (53 votes)
Pantry Staples for DIY 2020-06-04T18:10:02.955Z · score: 16 (7 votes)
Air Conditioning 2020-06-02T17:20:02.901Z · score: 11 (4 votes)
Simplifying Board Games 2020-05-31T14:10:02.578Z · score: 28 (13 votes)
Shutting Down RegularlyScheduled 2020-05-29T22:50:04.573Z · score: 8 (1 votes)
Wrist Issues 2020-05-28T16:50:03.189Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Wikipedia Edit War Update 2020-05-22T11:30:02.800Z · score: 51 (18 votes)
Wrapping and Centering 2020-05-21T14:30:02.911Z · score: 11 (4 votes)
Race for the Galaxy: 9 Choose 6 2020-05-20T12:10:02.444Z · score: 12 (5 votes)
Bag-Drying Clips 2020-05-19T14:00:02.481Z · score: 12 (4 votes)
English Bread Regulations 2020-05-18T13:20:02.672Z · score: 18 (7 votes)
Outbuilding Thoughts 2020-05-17T12:10:02.533Z · score: 12 (2 votes)
Learning Rhythms 2020-05-16T11:00:02.361Z · score: 9 (4 votes)
Dishwasher Filter 2020-05-15T20:30:02.779Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Adding a Housemate Under Covid 2020-05-14T21:30:02.518Z · score: 16 (2 votes)
Running Wired Ethernet 2020-05-13T17:20:02.643Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
Kids and Time 2020-05-12T11:40:02.644Z · score: 30 (9 votes)
Setting up a new Mac 2020-05-11T11:50:02.712Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
Really Fresh Baking 2020-05-10T11:40:02.836Z · score: 27 (7 votes)
Shared House Setup 2020-05-09T11:30:02.425Z · score: 26 (12 votes)
Kids and Moral Agency 2020-05-08T12:50:02.684Z · score: 31 (14 votes)
AudioWorklet Latency: Firefox vs Chrome 2020-05-06T13:50:02.634Z · score: 8 (1 votes)
Hate Crime Statistics 2020-05-03T22:30:03.706Z · score: 21 (9 votes)
Reopen Protest Sign Survey 2020-05-01T03:40:02.370Z · score: 35 (13 votes)
Emergency Central Planning 2020-04-28T00:50:02.586Z · score: 16 (6 votes)
Helping Lily Make Dinner 2020-04-27T02:10:07.550Z · score: 13 (6 votes)
The Chilling Effect of Confiscation 2020-04-25T02:50:03.564Z · score: 39 (20 votes)
Retracting on Facebook 2020-04-24T01:50:02.580Z · score: 27 (5 votes)
Wired Headsets for Video Calls 2020-04-21T22:10:02.343Z · score: 22 (11 votes)
Bass Whistle in the Browser 2020-04-20T02:10:02.864Z · score: 8 (1 votes)
Web Audio Echo? 2020-04-19T02:30:02.144Z · score: 8 (1 votes)
Helping the kids post 2020-04-17T21:40:03.774Z · score: 78 (25 votes)
Two-player Catan 2020-04-17T00:50:03.239Z · score: 10 (2 votes)
Just Top Post 2020-04-15T01:00:17.122Z · score: 4 (4 votes)
The Typing Game 2020-04-13T15:30:02.387Z · score: 13 (4 votes)
Leaving Things For Others 2020-04-12T11:50:02.324Z · score: 16 (6 votes)
Ethernet Is Worth It For Video Calls 2020-04-11T12:10:02.409Z · score: 53 (22 votes)
Organizing a Group Buy of Flour 2020-04-10T14:00:02.550Z · score: 25 (11 votes)
Why I'm Not Vegan 2020-04-09T13:00:02.444Z · score: 36 (21 votes)
Mosh 2020-04-07T17:40:02.588Z · score: 17 (5 votes)
Kids Ear Protection 2020-04-07T01:40:02.645Z · score: 12 (5 votes)
Rhythm Stage Setup v3 2020-04-06T00:30:02.958Z · score: 1 (3 votes)


Comment by jkaufman on Partially Stepping Down Isolation · 2020-07-08T19:49:22.708Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How big is your household, and what risk bands do you consider yourselves in?

Six adults in our 20s-30s, two young children, no one at especially elevated risk.

Comment by jkaufman on Partially Stepping Down Isolation · 2020-07-08T14:01:23.941Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At this point, you can place an Instacart order here and have it arrive in a few hours; Instacart seems to have gotten over their scaling issues.

Earlier we were organizing group buys from a restaurant supplier (our first one:

Comment by jkaufman on Poly Domestic Partnerships · 2020-07-03T16:28:33.487Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He has a blog with a few posts on it, but it looks like he forgot to pay for hosting:

Comment by jkaufman on Second Wave Covid Deaths? · 2020-07-02T00:32:03.233Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Capacity is definitely higher, since this is much less concentrated than the first round.

Even if protocols have improved, deaths staying essentially flat since mid April while cases have grown ~5x is very strange.

Comment by jkaufman on Second Wave Covid Deaths? · 2020-07-02T00:30:33.932Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

More sunshine in that these are sunnier places and also sunnier times of year, so you get it two ways.

Comment by jkaufman on Second Wave Covid Deaths? · 2020-07-01T21:22:23.410Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Have it, it's fun! git clone and look at time_series_covid19_confirmed_US.csv

When I looked a couple weeks ago it seemed that it was worst around LA, but I haven't checked when it's done since.

Comment by jkaufman on Somerville Mask Usage · 2020-06-30T19:20:35.107Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When we're looking back on this and trying to figure out what the effect of masks was, it's going to be really hard to separate the norm-building effects of wearing masks from their actual protective effects outdoors.

Comment by jkaufman on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-25T12:44:33.622Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It looks like there used to be a plugin for this? ? But visiting the demo page it doesn't seem to work anymore.

Comment by jkaufman on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-25T12:41:21.004Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the preview should be where your attention is when you're engaging with that feature

I don't want to force users to engage with the feature if they don't want to, or keep their cursors in any particular place.

Comment by jkaufman on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-25T00:40:50.662Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by jkaufman on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-24T23:54:01.456Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do find that the hovers are... too far off to the side. I'd prefer them if they were basically just to the right of the main column.

You're right, that's where they should go. I'll go mess with the CSS.

Comment by jkaufman on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-24T23:45:00.045Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Weirdly, this isn't permanent: it goes away on refresh. So this isn't actually adding entries to your visited list?

Comment by jkaufman on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-24T23:41:19.666Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I set mine up so that the pop-ups wouldn't cover content, putting them in the right margin. Does that fix the UX for you?

Comment by jkaufman on Coronavirus and Rents · 2020-06-22T10:54:47.430Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm writing from a bit of a Boston perspective, and it's lease renewal season around here, so I was thinking mostly in terms of people renewing or moving. If your lease isn't up yet, then unless what you're paying has dramatically diverged from the local market or you're just not able to pay the full amount, I'd expect negotiating for lower rent not to work all that well right now?

Comment by jkaufman on Growing Independence · 2020-06-10T01:12:08.332Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your children are young and thus have had a very limited time to gain knowledge of language and of the world and are thus incredibly inarticulate with respect to you.

I'm actually quite lucky here, in that I happened to have two kids who are very articulate. They're really very good at explaining why they want to do things.

Because they are so inarticulate it is easy to default to a patronizing response when they ask for help. When Lily adamantly desires a haircut, perhaps consider why rather than discarding it as the nonsensical whims of a child.

I'm confused why you're saying this? As I wrote in the post, when she wanted a haircut I didn't stop her, because it's her hair. Letting kids do what they want, as long as they're not going to get hurt, do something they'd really regret, or cause problems for others, works well here. They don't have to convince you why they should be allowed to do the thing if the default is "yes".

We wear shoes so our feet can't sense what is below us, we have homes where we decide the temperature so we're never too hot or too cold and, but point taken ;)

Scraped knees are a good thing.

I think I disagree there. Letting kids do things where they might scrape their knees is important, but if we could magically have knees that were more resistant to abrasions that would be a good thing!

your daughter falling and hurting herself may be a positive in the long run

Again I disagree; I think she was much to young to get anything out of it. And even if it had happened today instead of years ago I still would think it wouldn't have been worth it.

Comment by jkaufman on Growing Independence · 2020-06-08T12:56:09.928Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One thing the book emphasises more than OP is letting children make their own decisions wherever possible. This encourages them to take responsibility for their own outcomes and massively helps them to learn. It is important - and empowering - to allow them to experience the consequences of their decisions.

I don't know how much my view differs from the book here, but practice making decisions and seeing how they turn out is definitely really important, and features in I think the majority of the examples above. It also is a natural part of doing things independently, since doing anything involves making lots of decisions!

Our daughter picked her own clothes from the age of 8, for example.

Our kids pick which clothes to wear that day, but Julia picks what clothes are available in their drawers. As they get older buying clothes will move to be their responsibility.

Picking what clothes to wear goes back to before they could dress themselves ("papa, I want you to put my bow dress on me")

Comment by jkaufman on Growing Independence · 2020-06-08T02:30:13.450Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Those two examples actually feel very different to me!

In climbing, they have a desire to be up high that, if I don't get in the way, they'll use to learn how to climb up and down. If I step in, either by prohibiting climbing or by letting them get the benefits without putting in the work, that keeps this from working.

With the trike, if she chooses to bring the trike away from the house it's her job to bring it back again. I wouldn't want to get into a pattern where we leave the house with all her stuff and then she expects me to pack it back home again, especially if both kids might expect me to carry their things (trike + bike could be a lot for me!) If she had decided to leave the trike, and I'd brought it home, I hadn't thought about what I'd do next. I probably would have put it in the basement. At some point she would probably ask for it back, and then maybe I would have offered to sell it back to her for a few weeks worth of her allowance? This sounds a bit weird and maybe mean, but compare it to the alternatives of (a) the child can at any point abandon their things and expect the parent will handle it or (b) the parent forces the child to bring their stuff home.

As for what it would mean for it to be "my trike", the idea that some things in the house belong to different people is pretty normal to them: they know I'd be grumpy if they used my toothbrush, they each have some toys that are theirs (along with a lot of others that are communal).

I think it's important for people to learn how interpersonal boundaries work. Anna could ask me to bring the trike back, and I might decide to say yes to be nice, but I'm not obligated to say yes. I would like to raise my kids to be nice and help people out, but also to know when they're asking for a favor and know what sort of requests they can say no to.

Comment by jkaufman on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-03T14:40:36.858Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another potentially important difference is that when I play piano my hands move side to side as I play (the keyboard is very wide) which might spread things out some? Since I work standing up I could try typing while stepping left and right...

Comment by jkaufman on Wrist Issues · 2020-06-03T11:07:53.418Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I taught myself to both type and play piano and my technique isn't actually all that different. In both cases I'm careful to keep my wrist totally straight.

My best guess is that when I play piano I find it very relaxing, and this has some sort of effect on how tense my wrists are?

Comment by jkaufman on English Bread Regulations · 2020-05-29T19:08:10.313Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

These actually seem pretty different to me. In the case of mandating stale bread during the famine, they still wanted consumption, but they wanted to make it less attractive. In the case of the lake, they're trying to make it unattractive enough to stop "consumption".

(Reading more, it looks like the quarry was also died black in 2013 and 2016, and they're dying it because the water is caustic:

Comment by jkaufman on Wrist Issues · 2020-05-29T00:02:58.258Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've tried each of those, and I don't feel like any of them helped though it's hard to tell. I think maybe stretches made it worse?

Comment by jkaufman on Baking is Not a Ritual · 2020-05-28T16:53:45.552Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did use an acid to stabilize the aquafaba the most recent time I did it, and while I got a better foam it still collapsed in the oven.

That recipe looks similar to what I tried but isn't exactly the same, so I may try it at some point, thanks!

Comment by jkaufman on Baking is Not a Ritual · 2020-05-26T00:57:57.984Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In general this is also how I think about baking. One thing I struggle with, though, is understanding the role of ingredients. For example, I've been trying to figure out how to make vegan Choux pastry. When I replaced the eggs with aquafaba, I can get a great foam and it pipes out great. But the eggs also seem to have some kind of structural role, and my dough collapses to a flat sheet on the baking tray. How would you go about figuring out what role eggs play in the recipe?

Are there cookbooks that look at the world this way?

Comment by jkaufman on Bag-Drying Clips · 2020-05-19T21:26:31.025Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I remember having bad experiences with that, not sure why. Maybe it was that the wet surface would stick to things and the shared surface wouldn't dry?

Comment by jkaufman on English Bread Regulations · 2020-05-19T13:57:38.261Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand either!

They did import rice:'s_importation_of_rice_from_Bengal_(1800–1802)

Comment by jkaufman on English Bread Regulations · 2020-05-19T13:56:03.964Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They're the same regulation. It has the form "when wheat costs X, farthing bread should weigh Y" for many values of X

Comment by jkaufman on What work of fiction explore increased transparency in the world? · 2020-05-17T03:08:40.554Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

David Brin's "Kiln People" is set in a highly transparent world, and I think it started me thinking about how I shouldn't trust the future to keep anything private

Comment by jkaufman on Learning Rhythms · 2020-05-17T00:04:12.452Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's the code:

Sorry for how messy it is! Keep in mind that it's essentially research/prototype code, and I'm the only person I'm expecting to use it.

Comment by jkaufman on Adding a Housemate Under Covid · 2020-05-16T17:35:29.734Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The housemate and previous household were being careful, but not as careful as we are. We're not going in any buildings, sanitizing groceries, always masking off our property, not coming within 6ft of anyone we don't live with. Their house was grocery shopping in person and I think generally being slightly less cautious about most of these?

One of our housemates has had respiratory issues and is especially worried about catching it. I think if not for that I might have been ok with just having the new housemate move in? Though we did (by chance) happen to have a floor plan that's very well suited to this kind of thing, so the cost wasn't as high as if the only way to isolate would have involved someone staying in a single room for a week with no going out.

Comment by jkaufman on Running Wired Ethernet · 2020-05-14T01:10:01.014Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The key thing for me is that it's consistently low latency in a way congested wifi isn't going to be able to compete with.

I don't need that much bandwidth, so it was really only when I started doing a lot of calls from home wifi that I changed my mind.

Comment by jkaufman on Running Wired Ethernet · 2020-05-14T01:03:59.584Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We go barefoot a lot, and have pretty tough feet. My previous times I've been in there I've also been barefoot, and its just dirt.

Comment by jkaufman on Setting up a new Mac · 2020-05-12T18:00:30.909Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well... I work on ads at Google, and I gave up on privacy a decade ago. So I don't think we're going to be thinking about this the same way, but some thoughts:

  • I wouldn't use an ad blocker. Sites are offering a trade: you can see our stuff if you also see our ads. If I don't want that trade I can go somewhere else.

  • I especially wouldn't use Brave, because it removes the ads sites have chosen to display, and asks advertisers to pay the browser to display their ads instead.

  • I'm happy for my information to go to Google, because they do useful things with it. My location history is automatically uploaded, and being able to figure out where I was on a specific date has been useful several times. Gmail scans my emails and turns flights into reminders. Ad tracking means better ad targeting, which means my visits to pages make more money for the site owners. Google's handling of user information is very good, and I'm frustrated that regulatory changes mean I'll likely see many fewer helpful new features connecting the pieces of information I've given them. None of this hurts me, and in return I get a lot of useful free things.

  • JS is very well sandboxed, and I'm fine running JS even on sites I don't trust at all. JS exploits in Chrome are rare enough to be newsworthy when they happen.

(Speaking only for myself)

Comment by jkaufman on Really Fresh Baking · 2020-05-11T18:32:33.163Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bread takes around 1-1.5 hours to cool enough to serve

I think we're talking past each other a bit. I'm talking about serving bread that's had ~10min to cool, and is just cool enough not to burn you

Comment by jkaufman on Really Fresh Baking · 2020-05-11T11:57:14.321Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When I worked at a summer camp with a reputation for good food, one of the meals they would make involved two baguettes per table, still warm from the oven, and it was super popular.

Cafeterias seem like they would be a good candidate for this with a lot of people and predictable demand, though they're often trying to feed people as cheaply as possible, and with a captive audience they don't have much incentive to improve. Fancy tech office cafeterias seem like they could do this if they wanted to?

Comment by jkaufman on Kids and Moral Agency · 2020-05-08T14:57:07.233Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What you're calling a "moral target" is more commonly called a "moral patient" or an "entity of moral concern"

Comment by jkaufman on Why do you (not) use a pseudonym on LessWrong? · 2020-05-08T01:31:55.325Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't use a pseudonym, here or anywhere [1], but even though you're not asking I'll answer anyway to give some of the ideas that point in the other direction.

Overall, I feel like there are a lot more advantages to a unified identity than disadvantages, and using a single identity has gone pretty well for me.

  • I'm in multiple communities that are mostly separate but still have a lot of overlap. And people in that overlap are often the people I most want to talk to about intersections (ex: automating a piece of being a contra dance musician) If I used different identities for LW, EA, contra dance, tech, etc then I would miss out on these connections.

  • Actually successfully keeping your identity private is hard. It's especially hard because technological advance makes things retroactively and unpredictably no longer private. So I generally act as if I don't have privacy, and get the advantages of making things public.

  • I'm not very worried about this making things hard for me in employment, but I'm also pretty established in my career as an engineer at this point. I put all my side-project code on github, even things that I would absolutely not write in a work context. Though if I wanted to move into something EA-ish as my primary career, I think these years of public writing would really be very helpful.

  • In general I am really pro-transparency, to the point that things like "never associate anything with your real name unless it makes you look good and you can take it down later when the cultural tides change and that stops being true" are not at all a way I would like to live. If I do good things I want people to know that about me, but if I do bad things I want people to hold that against me. That keeps me honest. And history is really important: I have old blog posts that I definitely wouldn't write now, but the strongest I'll do is add a note at the top retracting them -- I would not try to hide something I'd written just because it turned out to reflect poorly on me.

[1] I'm cbr on reddit because this predates deciding to use my name or a simple variant of it everywhere. But I also don't use reddit much anymore.

Comment by jkaufman on AudioWorklet Latency: Firefox vs Chrome · 2020-05-07T13:52:16.314Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Awesome, thanks! I've now updated the post with more recordings based on turning off echoCancellation (and some other things) and it's much faster now.

Comment by jkaufman on Hate Crime Statistics · 2020-05-06T14:22:35.817Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does the number of "hate crimes" increase or remain the same, if all 4 types of slurs are employed in a single case?

Yes. If only one type of slur were used it would be categorized as a "Single-Bias Incident" and included in the breakdowns, while if more than one were used it would be a "Multiple-Bias Incident" and not included in the breakdowns. So for the total number of incidents I'm using the Multiple-Bias count, while for the breakdowns I'm using the Single-Bias ones. The number of incidents categorized as Multiple-Bias has gone up over the years, from initially ~0 to about ~1%, but it's still pretty small compared to the total.

one of which isn't in the graphs in the post

Anti-male isn't in the graph because I'm only graphing the five most common. Looking at the my cleaned data I see 22 anti-male incidents, compared to 1,943 anti-Black, 726 anti-gay, and 485 anti-Hispanic ones.

Comment by jkaufman on Hate Crime Statistics · 2020-05-05T11:41:15.530Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They're categorized by bias, not by the identity of the victim. Consider someone harassing Black Hispanic gay man with anti-Black vs anti-Hispanic vs anti-gay vs anti-male slurs.

Comment by jkaufman on Hate Crime Statistics · 2020-05-04T19:35:36.590Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does this control for any changes in reporting?

No, this is the stats directly from the FBI reports

In the UK we have seen a recent spike, but this is because police are now required to check for any hate crime elements

I think this hasn't changed in the US over this period, but I don't know. If there has been a substantial change it would mean comparing across years wouldn't be very meaningful.

I think it's possible that the initial years in the US saw some increase because getting the system of passing information from the police to the federal government took some time?

Comment by jkaufman on Emergency Central Planning · 2020-04-30T14:21:03.031Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're suggesting that the costs instead come from lenders?

But then production will be limited by the point where the marginal cost of a unit exceeds the price before the emergency (assuming financing is free), instead of the point where the marginal cost exceeds the value during the emergency. That is, you've unnecessarily limited production.

Comment by jkaufman on Emergency Central Planning · 2020-04-29T21:52:15.903Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you build a bigger plant you generally spend more up front but less per unit, while if you take your existing plant and pay workers to go on 24hr shifts your costs may go up a lot. And if you pay for rush handling when things break (couriers for broken parts to minimize downtime) and rush shipping of incoming materials (since slow cheap shipping takes a long time to catch up with your increased production) that's another increase. When you push hard to maximum production you should expect diseconomies of scale.

Comment by jkaufman on Emergency Central Planning · 2020-04-29T21:28:44.194Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the stuff you are short of did not suddenly become more expensive to produce

I think that's a major place we disagree? If producers know their products will sell for more, options to ramp up production start making more sense.

This would be different for a very short disaster, like a tornado, where all the supplies you will use are ones that have already been manufactured. But for something more sustained, like covid-19, we're still running production facilities, which can be scaled up in a range of ways. You can start running 24hr schedules, working weekends, bringing in extra people to run the line faster. You can pay people to work 12-hour shifts for a month straight without going home: More money can't solve everything, but it can solve a lot of things.

Comment by jkaufman on Emergency Central Planning · 2020-04-29T14:28:36.733Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

makes it sound like a dry, technocratic issue conotationally. In fact, the worst case scenario of such inequality is some people dying unnecessarily

It seems to me like you're trying to bring emotional color to one side of this tradeoff, but not considering that it cuts both ways? The deaths of healthcare workers exposed to massive viral loads without sufficient PPE are also unnecessary. Each of these scenarios has deep tragedies.

the taxpayer has to the foot the bill for what is basically an inability of the market to allocate according to need

Higher taxes seems like a very reasonable way to handle this, and not an example of the market failing to function properly? The cost to society of the lockdowns alone is enormous, and hits poorer folks harder.

competent emergency provision is a simpler problem, and a solved problem

I agree that it's simpler -- that's the whole point of this post! But seeing so many countries do poorly here doesn't make me think it's been solved?

Comment by jkaufman on Emergency Central Planning · 2020-04-28T17:56:46.005Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Everyone is the best expert on their wants, their desires, because wants are highly varied and individual and therefore hard to predict. Needs, on the other hand, are objective and basic. People need food, shelter, etc.

I don't think there's such a clear division. Do I need my bed to be comfortable, and not to hear loud noises at night? Do I need my food to be tasty? What range of temperatures do I need?

If you restrict "need" to be something as limited as "2500 calories, 50g protein, sufficient garments/blankets/climate to keep the surface of the body to ~85F, ...", then I agree most people have similar enough needs that "everyone is the best authority on what they need" stops being true, but you don't have to expand very far beyond that before people start having wide and varied preferences.

You can think of people's preferences along a continuum, and my claim is that in a disaster we all shift along the continuum in the more "basic" direction: we start worrying more about access to food and shelter etc, things that most of us previously had our lives set up in a way where we didn't have to worry about. Since, as I think we agree, things on the more basic end of the spectrum are more shared between people, centralized provision gets relatively more efficient.

The main objection to the free market approach is that allowing prices to rise prevents some people getting what they need.

I agree that's the main objection, and that's why I wrote that taking a market approach magnifies existing inequality. This is true in normal times as well: global inequality is enormous, and even within countries it's still very large.

On the other hand, stores running out of products and hospitals being unable to fill their mask orders also prevents people from getting what they need, just in a way that's less correlated with existing resources. The correlation between "willingness to pay" and "utility" isn't perfect, but it's still positive: hospitals would pay more for masks than construction companies. And you don't have the extra funding from rich people/organizations paying elevated prices to ramp up production.

Competent central provision outperforms both the options you have considered: the free market, and incompetent central provision.

Competent centralized economic planning probably also outperforms markets in general. But this is hard, and there are organizational and incentive problems that mean we shouldn't generally expect governments to be capable of high quality centralized planning. Central provision at a level of competence that it strongly outperforms markets doesn't look like a practical option, or one that's likely to become practical anytime soon.

Comment by jkaufman on Helping Lily Make Dinner · 2020-04-28T01:02:23.312Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We've worked in math with sweets:

Comment by jkaufman on Helping Lily Make Dinner · 2020-04-27T14:53:31.468Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We have one! But pretty much anything it can cut can also be cut with a butter knife

Comment by jkaufman on The Chilling Effect of Confiscation · 2020-04-26T12:40:55.240Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That comment doesn't address seizures and their incentive effects at all?

Comment by jkaufman on Retracting on Facebook · 2020-04-24T18:17:33.011Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I just realized you asked to comment on Facebook. I will x-post.

Sorry for the confusing tag! It's an artifact of the automated cross-posting, and is not asking you to go comment somewhere else.

Comment by jkaufman on Wired Headsets for Video Calls · 2020-04-22T12:30:51.084Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd expect this to be much better, yes!