What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? 2021-03-11T21:27:15.535Z
Are UFOs just drones? 2021-01-08T20:51:26.068Z
[Link] Faster than Light in Our Model of Physics: Some Preliminary Thoughts—Stephen Wolfram Writings 2020-10-04T20:26:51.611Z
[Link] Where did you get that idea in the first place? | Meaningness 2020-09-25T15:38:00.092Z
Link: Vitamin D Can Likely End the COVID-19 Pandemic - Rootclaim Blog 2020-09-18T17:07:22.953Z
The Peter Attia Drive podcast episode #102: Michael Osterholm, Ph.D.: COVID-19—Lessons learned, challenges ahead, and reasons for optimism and concern 2020-04-04T05:19:38.304Z
"Preparing for a Pandemic: Stage 3: Grow Food if You Can [COVID-19, hort, US, Patreon]" 2020-04-03T17:57:58.826Z
How much do we know about how brains learn? 2020-01-24T14:46:47.185Z
[Link] "Doing being rational: polymerase chain reaction" by David Chapman 2019-12-13T23:54:45.189Z
Link: An exercise: meta-rational phenomena | Meaningness 2019-10-21T16:56:24.443Z
Paper on qualitative types or degrees of knowledge, with examples from medicine? 2019-06-15T00:31:56.912Z
Flagging/reporting spam *posts*? 2018-05-23T16:14:11.515Z


Comment by Kenny on What are some good resources on workflow or productivity for mathematicians? · 2021-04-19T21:04:57.469Z · LW · GW

What kinds of advice or ideas do you think would be helpful that's specific to mathematicians? Any (hypothetical) examples? Are there things that are currently 'painful' or that you expect to be, that you don't think your (hypothetical) workflow/productivity system addresses?

Possibly helpful: I use GitLab for all of my projects; not just software. I find GitLab issues work very well for all but the biggest/longest projects (and even then it's easy enough to split up a project into 'sub-projects' with separate GitLab issues). One reason I like GitLab is that it has a very nice Markdown dialect and it includes pretty good (for me) 'math' support. (My favorite part of it's Markdown is todo lists, i.e. checklists. I find that very useful for, first, outlining what I want to do, and then, later, recording that I've done all of those things.)

Comment by Kenny on Strong Evidence is Common · 2021-04-13T16:34:21.815Z · LW · GW

This comment is insightful!

The areas where strong evidence is common are largely those areas we don't intuitively think of as governed by probability theory and where classic logic performs well.

I'm pretty sure that statistics (as mathematics) all assume 'logic' (first-order logic at least), so I think this is also technically correct!

Gathering enough evidence sometimes allows reasoning to be performed using propositional logic with acceptable results.

Yes! Being able to use logic can be a fantastic super-power (when it works). Sometimes the universe really is like a Sudoku puzzle!

Being able to use both probabilities and logical statements, and appropriately, is a significant part of what I think David Chapman is gesturing at with what he calls 'meta-rationality'. And beyond both of those formal rational systems, there's an entire Platonic universe of alternative ontologies that can also be useful in some contexts (and for some purposes).

Comment by Kenny on Strong Evidence is Common · 2021-04-13T16:24:27.806Z · LW · GW

This a really nice 'sharpening' of 'fishy'!

Comment by Kenny on Strong Evidence is Common · 2021-04-13T16:20:42.510Z · LW · GW

Well, yes, if you interpret a lot of thought experiments literally, the proper response is more like "I think I'm having a stroke or that I overdosed on potent psychoactive substances or am asphyxiating." than anything 'in the spirit' of the experiments.

But it gets old fast to describe (yet again) how you'd answer any question posed to you by Omega with "You're a figment of my imagination." or whatever.

Comment by Kenny on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-04-07T16:03:10.818Z · LW · GW

I'm glad you thought so!

Your criticism is very fair too. And I'm generally curious about why people 'bounce off' the "rationalist community". I'm also mostly a lurker, particularly IRL. And I think a big part of that is the kind of thing you described. But I do want to do better at being open to really trying weird ideas (and in real life too!). (I'm pretty weird to my acquaintances, friends, and family already.)

I've already found this 'trick' pretty useful. I haven't had anyone offer a (radically) honest answer to my asking them for a cheerful price. I suspect that the people I've asked don't fully understand that the question is sincere and shouldn't be answered in the context of 'standard' social norms. And that's too bad! I've asked because I'm serious and sincere about wanting to remove any obstacles (or as many as possible) to us making a particular exchange.

Comment by Kenny on Covid: CDC Issues New Guidance on Opening Schools · 2021-03-18T00:57:09.055Z · LW · GW

From my personal perspective, there is absolutely no Slack in the schools; they're struggling to do whatever it is they're trying to do now.

Asking anyone to retrofit all the HVAC systems in schools just ... doesn't seem like something that's possible for these organizations to do.

Comment by Kenny on What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? · 2021-03-18T00:54:38.029Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Of course you would know :)

Comment by Kenny on What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? · 2021-03-17T22:26:53.578Z · LW · GW

The whole paper was great – I'm sold on property testing!

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-17T22:18:57.553Z · LW · GW

Similarly, "money makes people better off" isn't a direct effect of giving them money - it's mediated by the fact that people can use that money to buy things.

And even that's not quite completely true. I'm pretty sure people are generally happier immediately after you give them money, even before they spend it! (They correctly anticipate being able to use that money as you describe, i.e. buying or paying for things.)

But I also worry that "this is the immediate effect" is trying to justify them on grounds that don't work?

Yes, that's my 'concern' as well. Even when 'direct' effects aren't explicitly stated, it doesn't seem like that's always, or even mostly, because those effects are being ignored as much as that (implicitly) they shouldn't be the dominant consideration. That's a harder thing to disentangle generally.

Comment by Kenny on What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? · 2021-03-17T22:12:18.773Z · LW · GW

Someone suggested these resources:

They specifically suggested "ALE/DMLab for DRL" but I couldn't find an obvious result for "ALE" when I searched for it. (It's a common acronym!)

Comment by Kenny on What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? · 2021-03-17T22:10:17.304Z · LW · GW

Your paper is excellent so far – very readable! Thanks again!

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-16T21:42:12.901Z · LW · GW

Yes, that's a good point – and it's probably, at least partly, a 'selection effect' too, i.e. parents that actively seek advice are probably those that are (overly) worried about medium and long term effects/consequences. And it's certainly the case that some parents, or all parents some of the time, neglect important the medium and long term.

But there is parenting advice along the lines of what I endorse – and it's great! And I think many people do support a lot of things along those lines, if only tacitly, e.g. 'free range' kids kinds of things.

(And of course I'm incredibly sympathetic to parents that are terrified of harming their children in any way, especially inadvertently. It really is an awesome responsibility!)

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-16T21:36:22.808Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the clarification! I think your "mod note" comment serves as an effective and eminently sensible 'warning' anyways.

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-15T22:32:54.841Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you mean by "this is comment is fine". I don't think it's a good comment, but I don't have strong feelings about it, e.g. being deleted.

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-15T22:31:32.658Z · LW · GW

There are some pragmatic considerations to this, e.g. 'harshing their high'. I wouldn't think people that drink alcohol are unaware of the health risks (and other complications), so bringing it up would pretty reasonably be interpreted as criticism, or your trying to convince or persuade them to give up something they enjoy and choose to do despite the risks.

But I've had interesting discussions with stoners about the possible psychiatric issues of marijuana, and drinkers about their health issues due to drinking, so I'm not sure that it's 'unacceptable' – at all anyways. I can certainly appreciate why anyone wouldn't want to be 'badgered' about the risks of something they still choose to do! (I find it annoying when people do it to me.)

I also wouldn't think it unreasonable that, ex. parents watching their children play American football wouldn't also want to, at that time, talk about the attendant risks of head injuries. At least in that case, I'd presume they were already aware of the claims about those risks and had made a decision to let their kid(s) play anyways.

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-15T22:23:48.768Z · LW · GW

I very much, personally, disagree with the parenting philosophy you've outlined! (I'm NOT also claiming that you share that philosophy. I hope you don't!)

Children – and everyone is one! – only have one life! There is no 'long-term' – when does that start? At 30? 40? 50?

The long-term includes now! It started in the past actually. And the point really is (or should be) to 'maximize the integral' of 'living a good life', not preparing for some 'future' that never arrives.

As a parent myself, I want my child to live a great life, including today, tomorrow, both short-term, and long. I don't want to reward them only because of a practical "you can only push so hard" limitation on the amount of unpleasantness they can bear.

I also want to push back on this being "100% clear ... in the eyes of society". There are others that disagree with this as I do. And I'd expect most people do too, to at least some extent. People's 'revealed preferences' certainly don't seem to match these supposed prescriptions – not generally and definitely not "100%".

Comment by Kenny on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-15T22:15:28.366Z · LW · GW

I've been thinking about this – thanks!

One problem is that 'direct' or 'first-order' is ultimately nebulous. There is no unique direct effect or first-order consequence to anything, i.e. it depends crucially on context, scale, scope, etc..

Consider the direct effects or first-order consequences of a heroin overdose. Restricting ourselves to the macroscopic, i.e. human-scale, I'd imagine that a heroin overdose is initially very positive! It does seem a little ... insensitive? besides the point? to emphasize "Heroin overdoses are really great until you start to die shortly thereafter!".

A part of not emphasizing the direct effects or first-order consequences is an implicit claim that, whatever they are, they are swamped (or maybe simply just outweighed) by subsequent effects or consequences.

Hence the long-term focus of a lot of your examples, e.g. unemployment insurance, basic income.

Similarly, consider rent control – it really is awesome and amazing! At least it is for the people that 'win the lottery' and get to live in a rent controlled unit. And yet, overall, it's a terrible deal for everyone.

But I'm not against including all of the effects and consequences, including the 'direct' or 'first-order' ones – we should shut up and multiply (or add, or whatever).

Comment by Kenny on What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? · 2021-03-14T19:29:01.709Z · LW · GW

I started working on re-implementing my Octave code for the course I took previously and it's going pretty well!

Comment by Kenny on What's a good way to test basic machine learning code? · 2021-03-14T19:26:30.123Z · LW · GW

I see now that my question title could be better. I'm more looking for test cases, than testing tools.

I've added your paper to my reading queue! Thanks!

Comment by Kenny on Magical Categories · 2021-03-14T18:32:37.285Z · LW · GW

Yes; good points! Do note that my original comment was made eight years ago! (At least – it was probably migrated from Overcoming Bias if this post is as early as it seems to be.)

So I have had some time to think along these lines a little more :)

But I don't think intelligence itself can lead one to conclude as you have:

If it is intelligent, it will make the distinction.

It's not obvious to me now that any particular distinction will be made by any particular intelligence. There's maybe not literally infinite, but still a VAST number of possible ontologies with which to make distinctions. The general class of 'intelligent systems' is almost certainly WAY more alien than we can reasonably imagine. I don't assume that even a 'super-intelligence' would definitely ever "differentiate between smiley-faces and happy people".

But I don't remember this post that well, and I was going to re-read before I remembered that I didn't even know what I was originally replying to (as it didn't seem to be the post itself), and re-constructing the entire context to write a better reply which my temporal margin "is too narrow to contain" at the moment.

But I think I still disagree with whatever Shane wrote!

Comment by Kenny on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-03-11T21:33:05.991Z · LW · GW

I'm sorry – I'm pretty familiar with all of that, and I was (implicitly) including all of the costs you mentioned, and your time and 'cognitive ops' too, when I asked:

Have you considered explicitly including those costs in your prices?

I admit it might be more pragmatic to just decline the work than explain that your price needs to cover having an accountant for each client's country prepare your taxes.

But anyone willing to pay you money for something should be receptive to you refusing because of the costs of you doing business with them. So I think offering your cheerful price of 10.000€ (or €10,000), and a brief explanation of the accountant costs, would be pretty sensible actually.

Comment by Kenny on KAnon · 2021-03-05T22:54:12.818Z · LW · GW

This is both funny and sad; thanks!

Comment by Kenny on some random parenting ideas · 2021-03-04T05:46:01.699Z · LW · GW

These are pretty good but I think you're over-weighting waiting to have kids. I think that's generally a mistake, but especially for the people that are inclined to follow your advice anyways!

I like Bryan Caplan's parenting advice too.

Comment by Kenny on some random parenting ideas · 2021-03-04T05:38:19.395Z · LW · GW

Would you be open to numbering the ideas, purely for easier reference in comments?

I haven't read the rest yet, but in regard to your first idea, I stumbled on a similar one – someone needs to be 'the dictator'. (I like that term better as, historically, there were benevolent dictators, but I believe 'tyrants' were always terrible!) This is definitely true, at least sometimes, for children, particularly those younger than teenagers. But it turned out to also be a good rule/framing for nearly any group project – who is both 'ultimately' responsible and thus endowed with final executive decision-making abilities? (And also, who should be expected to follow-up with everyone else in the group about their progress on delegated tasks or sub-projects?)

Comment by Kenny on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-03-04T03:55:14.685Z · LW · GW

This is a great post – thanks!

I was also very pleasantly surprised to see who had written it! Does this mean you've returned from the wasteland (Facebook)?

Comment by Kenny on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-03-04T03:50:26.351Z · LW · GW

I'd add that, if you want to obey the law, tax laws in particular, then anything you do for a price is going to be freelancing at least, to need to be declared to the tax authority, requires paperwork, potential tax service check, social security, retirement contribution... depending on the country.

Oof – I'm not sure this is even generally true, but that's a really depressing point!

I think there are in fact, in the U.S. anyways, exceptions to literally being required to file a 1099 for every thing that you pay money for someone to do for you. I don't think, e.g. paying an allowance to your children based on their performance of chores, requires it. And there's usually exceptions for tax reporting/filing for small sums too.

I know for a fact I sometime rejected job I would have been able to do and was offered a correct price just because I need to do tax declaration in three or four countries and the few hundreds euros I could have made were not worth the added complexity.

That seems like a contradiction in terms. It doesn't seem right to consider something a 'correct price' if it didn't in fact cover real costs you would have incurred to provide the service or sell someone a product. Have you considered explicitly including those costs in your prices?

Comment by Kenny on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-03-04T03:44:12.243Z · LW · GW

I think it's important to keep in mind a few things about this (or any other 'weird' social rule/trick/technology/norm/etc.):

  1. It doesn't have to be used all the time, let alone frequently, often, or even at all!
  2. It doesn't have to replace any other form of trading favors (i.e. exchanging social/friendship capital)!

It seems like you're imagining a world, or even just a single relationship/friendship, where each person is frequently, or always, using cheerful pricing instead of all of the existing social/friendship favor trading forms.

But I'd be surprised if you couldn't think of any examples where this would work better than the 'social norms' you'd otherwise use.

Have you never asked a friend for a favor that involved their professional expertise? That seems like an excellent scenario for this kind of thing – to me anyways. Whereas, under 'social norms', this might require considerable exchanges of social/friendship capital, even with the 'professional' friend offering a 'friend discount', asking them to name a cheerful price signals that you value your friend's expertise and their time, and at a significant premium too. And more too that you're willing solicit a price from them that's higher than they're willing to pay. Regular favors also have the problem of being hard to reject sometimes.

I'd expect this to be even more useful when the favor directly requires some kind of financial cost to the friend as well. I've often found that, even when there seems like there might be some kind of mutually beneficial exchange possible, the 'transaction costs' of not having a norm for simply paying for things with money can swamp the (potential) positive gains to both parties.

When you pay someone to do things, you briefly become their employer, and that’s not a good kind of relationship to have with a friend.

I find a similar dynamic to be at work even when a friend agrees to do a favor 'for free' (i.e. for $0) – their commitment to do the thing is also something like you being their employer, e.g. you can reasonably be upset if they fail to do what they agreed to do.

I also don't get the sense often that any two friends are perfectly on "even footing".

But I also pay many people to do things for me where I don't feel like their employer, e.g. plumbers, delivery people, consultants, contractors. There are lots of trades where even a 'failure' in the transaction or exchange being completed doesn't give me significant latitude to punish the other party.

It also seems important to keep in mind that this whole 'trick' only even works if both parties are generally okay with it at all, i.e. asking each other for their cheerful prices and respecting each other's answers as honest.

Comment by Kenny on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-03-04T02:49:32.458Z · LW · GW

All advice is bad advice for someone (generally)!

But I wonder if maybe part of this is due to overly focusing on the specific trade being proposed? Everything you wrote seems absolutely germane to answering someone's question to you about your cheerful price! And, or so I'd suspect, anyone that would ask you for your cheerful price for something would very much want to know all of this info – so that, for one, they'd no not to ever ask you for a cheerful price again.

My point is that it's basically impossible to not expend friendship capital when asking someone to name any price at all.

I would think that asking for anything, even if you're cheerfully willing to do it when asked (i.e. not obviously more than once) for 'free' ($0), 'friendship capital' is still being spent/exchanged. More generally, is it possible to even interact with a friend at all without (constantly) exchanging friendship capital? (I'm not sure! But I'm leaning towards 'no'.)

I might also be biased because the most salient related example that's most fresh in my mind is someone that would try to 'overpay' (i.e. pay me something like my cheerful price) for something I'd done for them – because they had effectively imposed it upon me (and definitely without my knowledge, let alone consent). Were that person to have asked me for my cheerful price for my 'service', I could have told them what it was, especially if it was higher than what they would have been willing to pay (and it would have been almost always).

Comment by Kenny on History of the Public Suffix List · 2021-03-03T02:01:20.406Z · LW · GW

This is a nice little work of history!

Comment by Kenny on Why I Am Not in Charge · 2021-03-01T19:24:46.790Z · LW · GW

I've been interpreting 'utility function' along the lines of 'coherent extrapolated volition', i.e. something like 'the most similar utility function' that's both coherent and consistent and best approximates 'preferences'.

The intuition is that there is, in some sense, an adjacent or nearby utility function, even if human behavior isn't (perfectly) consistent or coherent.

Comment by Kenny on Why I Am Not in Charge · 2021-03-01T19:21:01.789Z · LW · GW

This was an important 'discovery' I made after I started reading news mostly thru a feed reader – there is a huge variance in quality among reports/journalists and there's basically no information in terms of reputation of outlets.

Comment by Kenny on New Empty Units · 2021-02-04T16:41:10.393Z · LW · GW

I think "government running" housing construction and rental management could work – see Singapore for an example in that direction.

But generally, no, I would expect governments to generally lack strong incentives to do as good of a job as private enterprises.

I also am aware of the 'Tokyo model' and support something similar (or even mostly the same) in other places (e.g. the U.S.).

Practically tho, it seems like the areas in, e.g. the U.S., where housing is most expensive are stuck in 'inadequate equilibriums'. Basically, everyone is 'trapped' in the status quo. Any significant change is likely to hurt large numbers of people, e.g. repealing or rolling-back rent control and rent stabilization.

I also suspect that it's a victim of a more general problem whereby it's extremely useful for political coalitions to 'covertly' sustain the problems they're nominally against and loudly proclaim to want to solve. Were they to actually and effectively solve those problems, they'd suffer politically, because of the loss of a strong plank in their platform. (Charitably, I don't think anyone believes that about their own causes.)

Comment by Kenny on New Empty Units · 2021-01-27T19:34:53.258Z · LW · GW

I'm sympathetic to the real plight of people being evicted, or even just priced-out of their long-term unit or neighborhood (or city), but I don't think it's reasonable to claim that it "is always going to be traumatic". That's hyperbole.

And just because this is Sad doesn't mean there's any practical way to fix it. It's not obviously terrible that anyone is ever evicted or priced-out of their apartments or homes.

Do you think it would be ideal if everyone could stay in their current apartment or home forever? Who should be responsible for maintaining the apartment, the apartment building, or the home? Are there any reasonable limits to any of this?

I think of the effective overall form of all the ways that this has attempted to be fixed as basically giving the privileged tenants pretty strong quasi-property rights – while saddling someone else with most of the costs and responsibilities. The big tension is the fairly tight gap between the status quo and the inevitable end game – public housing.

Public housing is pretty terrible; maybe a little better in some cases than the worst 'private' rental housing. (I could be very wrong. I can't think of any particular evidence for this belief.) There doesn't seem to be sufficiently strong incentives for the relevant authorities to actually do a good job managing their properties. Or perhaps moral hazard is sufficiently significant that better management is just too expensive. I'm skeptical of the net value of public housing, but I still think it's sad that it's not better.

But – in the big expensive cities, like NYC, with which I'm most familiar – 'private' housing is extremely encumbered (e.g. as a form of 'property').. As Matt Yglesias points out in a related post, that's why real estate development is dominated by 'developers' – because navigating the legal and political environment is difficult, risky, and thus very expensive:

  1. No building is allowed in desirable inner-ring suburbs.
  2. No building is allowed in the most expensive parts of the city.
  3. Along a relatively tiny gentrification frontier, a handful of politically well-connected developers can get permits for projects.
  4. Because the permitting process is highly politicized, various activists, neighbors, and politicians try to shake the developer down for side-concessions.
  5. Prices go up and up because this is just way too little new housing to meet demand.

Narrowing the gap between 'private' housing and public housing will only exacerbate steps 3-5.

From a 2017 interview of Bill de Blasio (the then and current mayor of NYC):

Interviewer – In 2013, you ran on reducing income inequality. Where has it been hardest to make progress? Wages, housing, schools?

What’s been hardest is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property. I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be. I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development.

And that's certainly one way to 'solve' the problem of being evicted – the municipal government can monopolize evictions! (And also decide who can emigrate to the city and the rents of every unit in the city.)

Comment by Kenny on New Empty Units · 2021-01-27T19:04:30.919Z · LW · GW

Matt Yglesias on this very topic (broadly):

I really like this bit:

What YIMBY is

Last but by no means least, this entire conversation is based on a misconception about what the YIMBY proposal is.

The way high-cost metro areas currently work is this:

  1. No building is allowed in desirable inner-ring suburbs.
  2. No building is allowed in the most expensive parts of the city.
  3. Along a relatively tiny gentrification frontier, a handful of politically well-connected developers can get permits for projects.
  4. Because the permitting process is highly politicized, various activists, neighbors, and politicians try to shake the developer down for side-concessions.
  5. Prices go up and up because this is just way too little new housing to meet demand.

Because leftists like “activists” and don’t like profit-seeking business people, they focus on (4) and see the YIMBYs as siding with the bad capitalists against the virtuous activists.

The actual YIMBY proposal, however, is to change steps 1-3 of the process so that by-right construction is possible throughout the in-demand parts of the city. Actual developers do not lobby for this change, because even though the developers like to beat the activists in step (4), the whole market niche the developers occupy is built around their expertise in navigating the permitting process. You don’t need a “developer” to convert your garage into an ADU, you need a contractor. And if you drive out to a rural area, there’s no such thing as a “developer;” there are just housebuilders.

The YIMBY is anti-anti-developer in the sense that he does not think that obsessively harping on the bad thing that Developer X did with regard to Project Y is a constructive approach to the housing supply. But YIMBY is not about individual projects, neighborhood-level price impacts, or siding with developers. It’s about a systematic approach to making decisions about housing policy, regional housing abundance, and creating a construction boom that makes The Developer a much less relevant character to metropolitan housing supply.

And last but by no means least, while YIMBY is about housing costs to the extent that it addresses the absurdity that middle-class teachers in Silicon Valley can’t afford to live anywhere near their schools, it’s not a comprehensive solution to poverty.

Comment by Kenny on New Empty Units · 2021-01-26T20:10:04.419Z · LW · GW

Being evicted and needing housing 'immediately' is not a realistic problem that many people have in the big U.S. cities with which I'm familiar. In those cities, evicting tenants is very difficulty and takes months or even years. And that's true, tho to a lesser extent, even when a building is sold.

Comment by Kenny on Is there an academic consensus around Rent Control? · 2021-01-22T19:02:26.471Z · LW · GW

I think you're right about 'fairness' being the (most common) central argument. I'd want a (good) economist to evaluate those other domains tho! And not (primarily) to quantify the argument as much as evaluate the relevant tradeoffs at all.

Comment by Kenny on Public selves · 2021-01-19T20:41:24.094Z · LW · GW

That's not propaganda papering over a forgettable version of myself, it's just correct gameplay.

I very much think I understand this perspective but yet I also sometimes find that a specific "gameplay" to be, e.g. restrictive, 'degenerate' (in a gameplay sense), or some degree of un-fun/bad.

Just considering the 'gameplay mechanic' 'smalltalk' – I can and often do enjoy it, but it can also be a thankless chore (or worse).

The phrase "correct gameplay" makes me think of consequentialism and 'shutting-up-and-multiplying'. But beyond understanding that there is a best 'move', I can't perfectly escape thoughts about the possibility of playing different games.

There's also not just one 'game', as you and others have pointed out, but there's also not just one level of games either and an aspect of 'meta-gaming' is deciding whether or not to play specific games at all. In the expansive myriads-of-games-at-criss-crossing-levels-of-meta-gaming perspective, there isn't even any obvious "correct gameplay" at all, which is part of what I think this post was gesturing at.

Comment by Kenny on Public selves · 2021-01-18T22:30:02.609Z · LW · GW

Your considerations are all pretty reasonable but I think this post is mostly addressing higher-level considerations and it's specifically focused on something like 'indirect social considerations' and it most reminds me of explicit conscious reasoning about, e.g. whether to 'censor' oneself.

Is what you describe in [1] good generally? What's the cost-benefit analysis of maintaining less 'selves'?

[2] seems to assume that are no significant abstract higher-level considerations, i.e. 'of course it's all dependent of specific contextual details'. I don't disagree – pragmatically – but it does seem to me like a real and significant cost. Are there 'profitable' benefits to coordinating socially to lower those costs?

This idea of shaping your identity doesn't have to feel like hiding or stifling.

I agree somewhat but I'm not sure how useful it is to tell anyone that they don't have to feel some way that they report they do feel. Consciously 'censoring' oneself – or feeling like one is doing that – probably can't usefully also feel like "playing with your range of expression". And is it even possible to entirely avoid feeling like one is "hiding or stifling" if one believes that some (true) info would be damaging if revealed?

Comment by Kenny on Public selves · 2021-01-18T22:17:20.905Z · LW · GW

What seems like a principled intermediate option is to find or build a 'Bubble', i.e. a social environment in which one feels (and ideally is) safe to reveal more of one's self publicly.

Comment by Kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-18T21:59:03.524Z · LW · GW

Those are very good points about the reliability of the relevant equipment.

I totally agree that physics must apply.

There's a ton of weird electromagnetic atmospheric phenomena that we understand poorly. It is far more likely that the majority of ufos are actually this.

That's interesting that you think this!

Do you have a good sense of numbers, or even just the relative distribution, of various types of reported UFOs?

Off the top of my head, a good number of reliable reports, historically, seem to have been, e.g. experimental aircraft, weather balloons.

Reports of 'abductions' seem fairly unreliable – my prior is that these are likely 'modern reboots' of what were previously supernatural or divine events, e.g. what were previously 'devils' or 'demons' are now 'aliens'. There seems to be a significant background of hallucinations experienced by many people and it seems like this has been true basically forever.

I'd be surprised if 'drones' weren't ever reported as UFOs.

But maybe "weird electromagnetic atmospheric phenomena that we understand poorly" is a better explanation, particularly for what seems like pretty reliable and recent reports of 'objects' for which 'drones' isn't a good explanation.

Comment by Kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-15T17:12:06.379Z · LW · GW

I don't know enough about 'generic UFO sightings' to answer.

"actually aliens" seems very very unlikely – definitely not literally impossible tho.

My priors are that a lot of historical UFO sightings really were experimental aircraft. I'd expect some number were early drones too. Others seem to have definitely been, e.g. weather balloons.

Other sightings, particularly the relatively well-documented recent ones, seem very similar to 'ball lightning', which is also so little understood that it's not even clear that it's real. Assuming those observations are both accurate (e.g. the relevant 'equipment' was working correctly) and being interpreted accurately, they don't seem to be drones, unless the drones themselves include novel propulsion systems (which is very plausible assuming the existence of such novel systems).

(And, as a a kind of reference point, 'rogue waves' seem to have been similarly so hard to study, until very recently, that their existence wasn't entirely clear.)

Comment by Kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-15T17:00:59.942Z · LW · GW

Yes, I agree with everything you wrote, but the caveats are where I'd focus any investigation:

  1. Is the equipment functioning properly?
  2. Are there other plausible interpretations of the data gathered by that equipment?

Some of the best UFO sightings seem pretty similar to 'ball lightning' which also isn't either well-explained or particularly well observed. (I think there's one plausibly somewhat-detailed observation of it to-date.)

I don't know enough ufology to know what the deal is there.

I also don't know enough about specific events, the observations made, the raw data collected for those events, etc..

Comment by Kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-15T16:53:31.189Z · LW · GW

You (or someone) could use a payment processor with a subscription feature, e.g. Stripe, and lose only 2.9+%.

Maybe the easiest/cheapest option would be to just create a new email address and accept direct payments via Zelle/Venmo/PayPal/etc., but some of those don't support recurring payments.

Comment by Kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-14T18:07:21.268Z · LW · GW

But how plausible is the evidence that the observations really (accurately) are of "a case of anomalous compared to matter"?

Like, what's the evidence that what's been observed – and among the best data, i.e. "footage and data released by military and other official channels" – really has been of solid objects?

I don't recall the newer (and better) evidence being of solid objects but of 'lights'.

(I'm genuinely curious about both questions. I read about, or even watched some, of the recentish U.S. Navy (?) pilots observing a UFO off the cost of California (?) but I don't remember any particular evidence about the object(s) being solid.)

Comment by Kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-14T18:06:22.091Z · LW · GW

This is kind of reasonable, but I think it should be rounded-off to ignored – in this case.

In general, language is 'merely reasonable' – it's always a bit Humpty-Dumpty.

I don't think the use of any phrase, historical or not, could be considered explicit reference of its "context".

Even words like 'family', historically, sometimes referred to the 'servants' (and slaves) of a household. But it seems reasonable to continue using 'family' – the common agreement of English speakers/listeners/writers/readers is that's perfectly okay and unobjectionable.

Or maybe you're right? 'delenda est' is very different from 'family'. There really aren't any other uses or interpretations beyond, at most, metaphorical violence. I certainly don't like (some) other violent words or phrases (sometimes), even when they're obviously metaphorical. And it's not obviously wrong to think that avoiding 'violent' language might be net-good anyways.

But this post was cross-posted from the author's personal blog and is a (mildly) contentious exception to the kinds of posts that are normally considered worth listing on the 'front page' of the site. Because of that, I'm still inclined to let this pass.

But I've definitely changed my mind about the phrase being entirely innocuous.

Comment by Kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-14T17:17:37.598Z · LW · GW

Aaron gave me the details on how best to pay you but it's not info I'd publicize without your explicit consent.

I'd like to pay you, others seem to want to do the same thing, but I don't want to create extra work for you for this.

Would you mind someone setting up a Patreon on your behalf and then paying you any money collected via it (i.e. via the method Aaron shared)?

Comment by Kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T22:25:19.684Z · LW · GW

That's good data – thanks!

I agree that "debate is war; arguments are soldiers" is probably a better rhetorical tactic than "politics is the mindkiller". The latter's much more of an 'insider' phrase.

Comment by Kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T22:22:41.655Z · LW · GW


This is a useful thing that's often done on Stack Overflow too – 'duplicate' questions are closed and linked to the 'original' question but not deleted. That allows multiple 'vectors' (e.g. via different web searches) to converge on canonical info.

What you pointed out is different – approaching "the same point from a different level of group development" – but seems broadly similar and, I'd guess, would be similarly useful.

Comment by Kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T22:19:45.132Z · LW · GW

Those are the reference category of counter-examples to the current system and some of us are uncomfortable with them as-is. (I'm mostly fine with them overall, all things considered.)

Calling for the "delenda" of the WHO, or the FDA, seem obviously different than the 'original' usage, e.g. "Carthago delenda est!". Zvi is calling for radical reform, or possibly (?) abolishment, of government organizations – not the literal destruction of their leaders or employees.

Referring to DeBlasio as a "worst person" is also pretty narrowly restricted to his pandemic-related actions.

On second thought – you're right that there's pretty overt politicization, but maybe not in the 'standard' (prototypical) U.S. left-versus-right – it's more a 'pandemic-emergency versus business-as-usual' pair of coalitions (as I understand it). This seems – to me – pretty orthogonal to the standard left-versus-right conflicts. But they are overtly political.

I'm still inclined to give those posts a pass on that kind of thing given the enormous value those posts otherwise have. (I also share the general 'delenda est' sentiment towards the referenced organizations and administrations – as organizations and administrations, not as groups of individual people. So I'm definitely biased.)

Comment by Kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-12T06:47:01.969Z · LW · GW

What was that lesson?

That's there's no widespread support for allocating scarce resources by price.