Avoid Contentious Terms 2021-02-24T03:10:05.216Z
Failed Vegan Choux Experiments 2021-02-20T20:10:05.990Z
Shortcuts With Chained Probabilities 2021-02-18T02:00:05.283Z
Weirdly Long DNS Switchover? 2021-02-16T20:00:05.905Z
KAnon 2021-02-15T20:50:08.144Z
Bucket Brigade Updates 2021-02-14T03:30:05.919Z
Watching themselves 2021-02-12T22:20:06.159Z
We Need Browsers as Platforms 2021-02-09T15:40:09.452Z
History of the Public Suffix List 2021-02-07T22:20:06.229Z
Bring Back Free-Flow Valves 2021-02-07T03:50:05.645Z
Looking at RSS User-Agents 2021-02-05T02:10:06.551Z
Introduction to Heel-Toe Drumming 2021-02-04T02:00:05.915Z
Browser Audio Latency 2021-02-03T02:40:05.922Z
Vaccinated Socializing 2021-02-02T03:20:06.275Z
New Empty Units 2021-01-26T03:00:03.153Z
You can send people KN95s 2021-01-24T23:40:15.806Z
Lifelong investments 2021-01-23T03:40:16.398Z
Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners 2021-01-03T21:20:03.563Z
Bucket Brigade: Video 2021-01-03T02:50:03.370Z
Simultaneous Randomized Chess 2020-12-27T03:30:06.937Z
New Bucket Brigade UI 2020-12-23T20:30:03.185Z
Secular Solstice 2020 2020-12-20T23:20:03.863Z
Adapting to Means Testing 2020-12-18T03:30:05.793Z
Heel-and-toe drumming 2020-12-11T02:20:02.784Z
Switching to Google Calendar 2020-12-09T20:10:04.972Z
Velocity-sensitive electronic drum pedals 2020-12-08T20:20:04.762Z
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


Comment by jkaufman on Avoid Contentious Terms · 2021-02-24T14:53:04.785Z · LW · GW

normalizing using 'consent' to refer to mundane, non-sexual, non-violent situations

The term is already used outside of sexual/violent situations, especially in law and medicine. The way the term is used, however, differs substantially by context, and in several contexts there are charged disagreements over where lines should be. The post I referenced was specifically about how to handle mixed signals, which is one of those areas of controversy.

Comment by jkaufman on Shortcuts With Chained Probabilities · 2021-02-18T19:35:45.652Z · LW · GW

With such a high chance of death I'm not using any approximations!

>>> (1-1/20)**20
>>> (1-1/2)**2
Comment by jkaufman on We Need Browsers as Platforms · 2021-02-09T19:27:28.913Z · LW · GW

(your IPFS link is wrong)

Comment by jkaufman on We Need Browsers as Platforms · 2021-02-09T17:25:37.245Z · LW · GW

Android does allow sideloading APKs and installing third-party app stores (ex:, though iOS does not. An unvetted mobile app is less risky than an unvetted traditional program (with full user-level access), but still more risky than a web app.

If Android and iOS (and Windows, Linux, macOS...) put in the effort to where loading a program was a safe as visiting a webpage, that would essentially be fine. I would prefer a world in which you could write for a single platform and then run on any device with a browser, but it's the gatekeeping I'm most concerned about.

On the other hand, I can't see iOS doing this when they don't even allow custom browsers.

Comment by jkaufman on History of the Public Suffix List · 2021-02-07T23:32:25.878Z · LW · GW

Since first-party cookies are used to track login state, you do want someway to opt into sharing them site wide for sites where and have the same concept of a user.

For this, a list of TLDs which it would be invalid to specify as the domain would cover most cases.

That is what the public suffix list is?

some additional DNS property they set which makes it invalid to have a cookie at that domain level

The problem with his approach is that registries would need to opt in, but in some cases registries can't be bothered and, since it's a security matter, the PSL maintainers (Mozilla) do it for them.

Comment by jkaufman on Looking at RSS User-Agents · 2021-02-05T17:27:25.456Z · LW · GW

Masquerading as Chrome is a mildly inconsiderate choice for an RSS reader to make, especially in not including a token for their own site. User Agent strings for visiting websites are a mess because of a history of people coding only to the dominant browser, but RSS does not have that history.

You do see things like Feedly using Feedly/1.0 (+; 452 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google), where they include the FeedFetcher-Google token, but there's really no reason to pretend to be a browser.

Looks like QuiteRSS has pretended to be a browser for years: Opera/9.80 (Windows NT 6.1; U; YB/3.5.1; ru) Presto/2.10.229 Version/11.62

Comment by jkaufman on New Empty Units · 2021-02-05T00:34:05.599Z · LW · GW

I think the problem is, at least in the US, income tax is paid to the state and federal governments, while a vacancy tax would be paid to the local government? And while you have to declare rental income, (I think) you don't have to say what property it comes from unless you're audited.

It would be possible to change this, but I think if you want to institute a vacancy tax you just define vacant and leave it at that.

Comment by jkaufman on New Empty Units · 2021-02-04T13:27:18.991Z · LW · GW

Why are you introducing a tax for renting? Are you trying to add a further subsidy for home ownership?

Comment by jkaufman on Vaccinated Socializing · 2021-02-02T21:09:13.904Z · LW · GW

10-14d after the first shot you're still not very protected. Protected enough that I think a strategy of focusing on first doses probably makes more sense, but not protected enough for most of this post to apply.

Comment by jkaufman on Vaccinated Socializing · 2021-02-02T14:08:25.753Z · LW · GW

Oh and the other hand, once the people more at risk have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, then even if the vaccines didn't appreciably prevent transmission you should still be able to have public health messaging that says people who are least at risk can resume some amount of socializing/working/etc.

Comment by jkaufman on Vaccinated Socializing · 2021-02-02T14:05:26.097Z · LW · GW

Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge the protection from the vaccines takes a bit of time (10 days? 14 days?) to kick in after the vaccination.

FDA is using 7d for Pfizer ( and 14d for Moderna ( I'm using "two weeks after the second shot" in the post to be on the safe side.

Comment by jkaufman on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-30T22:08:36.826Z · LW · GW

I think my kids got at least a basic idea of money by the time they were ~4, from watching adults in their lives pay for things or talk about it. We also started them on allowance, $1/wk, on their 4th birthdays.

I agree that paying them to do things that they're supposed to do anyway is not a good plan.

Lily, at 6y, has been interested in finding other ways of earning money. She's tried selling homemade jewelry online, without much success ( I've paid her a bit to help me work on the house, spackling holes and things, but I don't usually have things I need doing that the kids can do.

I asked Lily, and she said "you should start by getting some money and then putting it on the table and then you can tell them all about the money and have them repeat what you just said and I think that should work pretty good. Also take a piece of paper and put a marker on the table too, so that you can show them some things that you can do with money, like how you add money." This sounds to me like it might be a bit too talky? Mostly I've focused on trying to give them experience with it, in safe ways.

Comment by jkaufman on New Empty Units · 2021-01-27T15:20:45.441Z · LW · GW

This doesn't seem that hard compared to most lawmaking? Something like, the unit is empty if it is unoccupied more than 40% of days?

Comment by jkaufman on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-27T15:18:40.602Z · LW · GW

They understand that they can buy things with money, and they have lots of things they want to buy. I don't think I did any explicit teaching here?

Comment by jkaufman on Bucket Brigade: Video · 2021-01-24T22:06:39.345Z · LW · GW

It sounds like on some devices maybe only one program can be using the camera at once? If so, I should figure out where exactly that fails and add some sort of "continue without camera" logic.

Comment by jkaufman on Bucket Brigade: Video · 2021-01-23T20:55:25.104Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the update! I'll try to reproduce the problem with the blank boxes. Do you know what browser(s) they were using?

Wide white boxes is what is expected if someone chooses not to show video. Squarish white boxes is not supposed to happen.,

Do you happen to have a screenshot or the text of the error talking about the video being used in unsafe ways? Or any more information that would help me debug that? That's very strange.

Comment by jkaufman on Bucket Brigade: Video · 2021-01-18T21:38:17.987Z · LW · GW

Ok, added lyrics support:

Comment by jkaufman on Bucket Brigade: Video · 2021-01-18T03:10:27.292Z · LW · GW

Long-term I think the way to do this is to support the leader copy pasting lyrics in, which can be ephemeral, just for the current song. I haven't written that, though.

Another possibility would be to add screenshare support, which I think the video call API I'm using (Twilio) includes.

If I don't get to that between now and Saturday, I guess have a concurrent zoom session that just stays muted? At least then the call support in bucket brigade means you don't need people to be muting and unmuting all the time.

Comment by jkaufman on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-13T15:02:37.962Z · LW · GW

Thanks! More in this direction: Growing Independence

Comment by jkaufman on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-04T19:36:59.769Z · LW · GW

I'm confused which lesson you think they might be erroneously learning from me? When I offer them bets they do usually lose.

Comment by jkaufman on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-04T19:35:16.067Z · LW · GW

whether you'd shared your explanation for why there wouldn't be any bees with her before you offered to bet?

I had. When she still didn't believe me I offered the bet.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2021-01-03T21:20:15.053Z · LW · GW

The problems have not retained their natural relative difficulty, which is why the introduction and falling costs of Air Conditioning have led to large migration to the Sunbelt.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2021-01-03T02:45:42.814Z · LW · GW

If we knew very little about the level of technology in a society or how expensive things work, sort of reasoning might make sense. Fireplaces are simple, heat pumps are not, so we might expect that dealing with excessive cold might be easier than dealing with excessive heat.

This is not at all the situation in which we are having this discussion. The actual mechanisms that people use for heating and cooling are much more complex than the simplest devices capable of the job, and the cost and convenience of cooling relative to heating has changed massively as technology has improved. If you're trying to figure out whether Boston is a good fit for you, I still maintain fireplaces are irrelevant.

Comment by jkaufman on Make more land · 2021-01-02T02:12:48.744Z · LW · GW

It looks to me like you're comparing the cost of constructing a unit to the price of renting a bedroom?

I don't think you're counting the cost of infrastructure construction?

Bulk fill is massively cheaper than the quantities you would use for pool removal.

Since this is a seismic area you can't just use bulk fill: you need to do some amount of reinforcement/stabilization.

You're talking about this as if the government would pay for all construction and then own all units and rent them out? I agree that governments are not typically interested in that kind of financing, especially in the US. If you sell the units, or the buildings, however, there is a thriving real estate market that does operate on these time scales.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2021-01-02T02:09:25.997Z · LW · GW

Okay, a few months later, and I was wrong. I do think we have decent governance, but our handling of the pandemic has been crummy even in situations where we should have been able to do better.

Comment by jkaufman on Why Boston? · 2021-01-02T02:07:36.080Z · LW · GW

For comparing potential cities and climates, the simplicity of the mechanism of adjusting the conditions to human preferences is essentially not a consideration. Cost matters, convenience matters, and I could be convinced that the simplicity of the methods people actually use matters. But fireplaces are irrelevant since essentially no one in Boston is using one as their primary method of heat.

Comment by jkaufman on [Meta?] Using the LessWrong codebase for a blog · 2020-12-20T19:24:03.936Z · LW · GW

Our current AWS balance runs into about $600 a month for the main site, or something like $6k-$8k annually. This is of course fine for us to pay, given that our staff costs are much higher, but I would of course be a bit hesitant to pay this much for hosting a blog. My guess is to hit your targets, you could maybe pay half of that, so about $3-$5k annually.

To give some perspective on what someone might expect to need for a personal blog, a minimum virtual private server (VPS) runs about five dollars a month, and can easily handle 20k qph / 2k qpm if you bake your site. That's how my site is configured, and I have no problem when one of my posts hits the front page of HN.

(To be fair, my blog is far simpler than LW, entirely a hobby project, and being light on resource usage is an explicit goal)

Comment by jkaufman on [Meta?] Using the LessWrong codebase for a blog · 2020-12-20T19:17:28.556Z · LW · GW

It is possible to have the LW comment section while hosting your own blog; that's what I do.

For example, the comments shown on are the comments on the LW crosspost (

I present mine in a deliberately minimalist way, though you could choose to style them identically to on LW. The main downside to this approach is that people have to click through to LW to vote or comment.

Comment by jkaufman on [Meta?] Using the LessWrong codebase for a blog · 2020-12-20T13:51:46.503Z · LW · GW

I believe the only other [EDIT: fully independent] deployment of the LW codebase today is the EA forum:

My guess is that it is massively overkill for an individual blog, and that both the level of complexity and the level of churn is not what you would want to deal with.

Have you considered either (a) blogging directly on LW or (b) modifying a simpler blogging engine to look like LW?

Comment by jkaufman on Heel-and-toe drumming · 2020-12-12T03:39:46.940Z · LW · GW

I really like the feel of playing in a small group, where you can be in very tight coordination with someone else. I currently play, or at least I do when there's no pandemic on, in a duo and a trio. In either of these, adding another person to be a drummer would radically change the feeling of the group.

Additionally, everyone you add to the group makes the logistics of booking more difficult, and makes organizers less interested in booking you since you become more expensive.

Comment by jkaufman on Heel-and-toe drumming · 2020-12-12T03:37:32.373Z · LW · GW

If you look at the video where I'm playing piano I'm using electronic drum sounds, though I still want to play around and figure out ones I like better.

Here's what this is eventually going to fit with:

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"