Ongoing free money at PredictIt 2020-11-11T04:06:26.347Z
Current guidance for COVID-19 self-care? 2020-08-23T02:10:55.998Z
Which COVID-19 serology (antibody) test is best? 2020-08-05T18:54:41.583Z
Maximizing impact at startup with high EA potential? 2020-06-10T06:25:00.521Z


Comment by knite on 2020 Election: Prediction Markets versus Polling/Modeling Assessment and Postmortem · 2020-11-21T00:33:29.626Z · LW · GW

What were (or are now) the best places for US persons interested in betting significant crypto sums?

Comment by knite on 2020 Election: Prediction Markets versus Polling/Modeling Assessment and Postmortem · 2020-11-21T00:31:37.224Z · LW · GW

Would love to hear more about your specific bets, as well as your "multiple six figure wins" friends! Personally, after maxing several PredictIt markets for a total of low thousands bet, I didn't feel like there was a good market place to bet larger size (tens of thousands USD or higher in crypto).

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-12T02:04:39.742Z · LW · GW

Entry fees count as "losses".

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-11T20:06:09.105Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the link, it looks like you're right about being taxed on the $100/98.50/93.57. However, the initial $85 can be deducted from your taxable income (if less than your winnings).

So if you're in, let's say the 25% tax bracket, you have saved 25% * $85 = $21.25 in taxes, and have still made money on your bet. This becomes a bit murkier when considering standard deductions vs itemizing. Perhaps a more experienced bettor can chime in to step through the implications?

Comment by knite on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2020-11-11T04:38:15.666Z · LW · GW

I am not a tax professional and have not yet filed taxes for my PredictIt gains. With that said, I am assuming that taxable gains are $93.57 - $85 = $8.75, not the $100 withdrawn.

Comment by knite on What are good election betting opportunities? · 2020-10-30T05:41:38.560Z · LW · GW

I can confirm that this arbitrage opportunity exists and works as described. At the time of this writing, the sum of all Nos for the EC market is $14.70, and running the loop up to 850 shares turned $1000 into $1078. Depending on which contract actually resolves Yes, there's an additional payout of a few bucks.

The way PredictIt calculates risk and payouts for multi-contract markets seems very confusing and is making my head hurt a bit. My Max Payout for the market is $850, but I have no idea how this number was calculated, and it doesn't make any sense - my understanding is that the real max payout is the largest potential payout across the market's contracts, which is a much smaller $13.

If anyone can explain how these multi-contract markets actually work, I'm all ears!

Comment by knite on Launching Forecast, a community for crowdsourced predictions from Facebook · 2020-10-21T00:31:11.060Z · LW · GW

I've been using Forecast since the beta and enjoy it! A few thoughts:

  • There isn't enough incentive to bet on questions with long time horizons.
  • The 1K points/day are rather inflationary overall, which leads to...
  • A question's market can be moved rather significantly for just a few thousand points
  • Why is there a max of 10 shares per bet? Especially with the 1K daily point increase, any user who sticks around will have tens of thousands of points, and have a harder time allocating them
  • The leaderboard is opaque and varies wildly: I'm sometimes in the top 10, sometimes in the middle hundreds, and sometimes unranked, despite a consistent upward trajectory.
Comment by knite on Babble challenge: 50 ways of hiding Einstein's pen for fifty years · 2020-10-17T01:49:40.302Z · LW · GW

Phew, this was hard! 50 is pretty hard, there's a lot of value in pushing yourself to do even 30. Another option for next time is to time limit instead: "you have 15 minutes, how many ways can you think of?"

Here are my 50:

Dig a hole and bury it

Disassemble it and give each piece to a trusted family

Place it into a lockbox at a reputable bank

Store it in a drawer and include detailed instructions in my will

Find Einstein's parents and give them the pen

Place it in a drawer with a sealed letter describing what should be done if found

Put it in a tree's branches

Carve a hole in a tree trunk and place it in the hole

Seal it in a chest and drop it in a lake with an anchor

Glue it to one of those tortoises that lives a long time

Photograph or draw it, make a replica in 50 years

Keep it in an important document like my passport, moving it each time I renew

Convince the Pope the pen is holy and must be preserved

Convince a museum the pen is fine art and should be displayed

Carry it everywhere I go

Give it to a stranger with a promise to pay them if they return it in a year. Repeat 50 times

Become a head of state and pass a law to protect the pen

Start a pen manufacturing company and produce millions of copies of the pen

Start a pen-worshipping cult

Negotiate with the evil forces to return the pen to me later

Convince the evil forces to give the pen to Einstein

Place it in a sewer

Start a family and teach my kids to protect the pen

Join the evil forces, work my way to power, and change the organization's objective

Infiltrate the evil forces and assassinate their leadership

Give the evil forces a counterfeit pen

Change my name so the evil forces can't find me

Become a hermit living in a cave

Learn self-defense to protect the pen if attacked by evil forces

Hand the evil forces the pen and then take it back, as they "obtained" it

Give the evil forces the part of the pen they want and replace it

Invent time travel and send the pen to the future

Invent space travel and send the pen to space

Place the pen in a body to be buried

Place the pen in the foundation of a new building

Shoot the pen high into the atmosphere so that it circles the earth for 50 years before landing

Place at the bottom of a jar of pennies

Place at the bottom of a chewing tobacco spittoon

Disguise as a record player's needle

Just keep it on my desk amongst my regular pens

Hide it in a residential attic

Hide it in a mattress

Hire a private security team to guard the pen

Protect the pen in a secure facility with booby traps

Convince the evil forces they don't really want the pen

Hide the pen in the handle of a sword

Ass pen (

Start a foundation and place the pen in trust

Tag someone else "it", now they have to hide the pen

Forget about the pen, Einstein will probably write his papers anyway

Comment by knite on Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo · 2020-10-14T18:22:04.367Z · LW · GW

That's a great catch, thanks! With that correction as a final step, I feel much better about my initial estimate!

Comment by knite on Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo · 2020-10-13T04:28:30.456Z · LW · GW

How many miles of train tracks exist in the world?

Radius of Earth = ~3,000 miles

Surface area of earth = 4 x pi x r^2 = 1.13 × 10^8 = ~10^8

25% of the earth is land 

10% of the land "needs" tracks

.1% of that land actually is tracks

10^8 x .25 x .1 x .001 = 2,500 miles

This feels obviously wrong, so let's buff the numbers:

Radius = 5,000 miles, 30% of the surface is land, 25% "needs" track, .5% of the land is tracks

3.14 x 10^8 x .35 x .2 x .005 = ~110,000 miles

Let's round that off to 100,000 miles.


Edit: Thanks to the comment from @philh, I see that I calculated square miles rather than linear miles. Assuming the width of a track is 1/1000 of a mile:

2500 x 1000 = ~2.5 million miles

This feels reasonable, so if I had performed that step, I would not have done a second round of estimation.



How many metric tons of air freight cargo shipped globally in 2009, and in 2019 (either by commercial airlines or specialized freight companies)?

How much stuff did I order? Everything I use was shipped from somewhere.

Amount of stuff I ordered last year: 200 pounds

That feels low when I think about heavy food and drink containers, so let's bump to 1,000 pounds

My share of infrastructure "stuff" feels smaller than that, so no modifier.

Most of the world uses less stuff than I do (age, affluence), so nudge it down to 700 pounds.

A ton is 2,000 pounds

Population of the world: 7 billion

7 billion * 700 / 2,000 = ~2.5 billion

Let's assume 2% growth per year

1.02^10 = 1.22

2.5 billion / 1.22 = ~2 billion


2019: 2.5 billion tons

2009: 2 billion tons


After reading the answers from others, I've realized that I assumed all freight was by air. If I had considered that, I would apply a discount factor, revising significantly downward. Keeping my original answer in the spirit of the exercise.

Comment by knite on Covid 9/24: Until Morale Improves · 2020-09-25T00:33:51.371Z · LW · GW

Thanks for posting these updates regularly! One quick formatting note: region ordering in the Positive Tests section is different from the earlier sections.

Comment by knite on Objective Dog Ratings: An Introduction & Explanation · 2020-09-01T16:41:11.048Z · LW · GW

Have you seen ?

Comment by knite on Current guidance for COVID-19 self-care? · 2020-08-23T21:50:49.923Z · LW · GW

I purchased zinc lozenges, high dose Vitamin C, and HCQ many months ago. I am trying to decide for action now, or as a pre-commit for later, on what is most appropriate to take.

Comment by knite on Current guidance for COVID-19 self-care? · 2020-08-23T19:03:08.461Z · LW · GW

For shopping, the internet exists!

Comment by knite on Is Wirecutter still good? · 2020-08-08T02:23:17.964Z · LW · GW

I've loved Wirecutter's reviews for many years, but have occasionally been disappointed by their recommendations. It's hard to say whether their quality has actually gone down or if the success/miss ratio is constant.


External hard drive (pre-2016): no mention whatsoever of RPM, which is widely regarded as critical information when choosing a non-SSD hard drive. They didn't even include a blurb saying that RPM doesn't matter.

Bath towels (2019): Pasting my own comment: "I ordered a set of Frontgate towels based on this recommendation. After fewer than five washes (cold normal cycle with standard detergent, line dry), the towels aren't plush at all. The towels arrived feeling luxurious and spa-like, but after only a few uses they feel drab and normal." They updated their towel recommendations a week ago and Frontgate remains their top choice. I feel like I wasted several hundred dollars on an extensive set of pretty average towels. If I'm washing them wrong, it would have been nice for them to reply and update their care instructions.

Broom (2020): It's...fine. Maybe my expectations were set too high, but I thought it would be the Best Broom, not just a broom.

Comment by knite on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-08-05T18:48:22.899Z · LW · GW

I think pointing at anything you want better conveys the nature of L4. You could describe L0 as "I don't point".

Comment by knite on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-08-04T19:22:41.974Z · LW · GW

Thank you, Zvi, I've really enjoyed your simulacra posts and found them to be very insightful. As I read this post, I came up with my own formulation of the levels that feels useful:

L1: I point at something.

L2: I point at you.

L3: I point at myself.

L4: I point wherever I want.

Comment by knite on Tearing down the Chesterton's Fence principle · 2020-08-04T19:00:04.368Z · LW · GW

"Overall, Chesterton's Fence needs context."

This is literally the point of Chesterton's Fence.

Comment by knite on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-26T03:19:46.852Z · LW · GW
My real answer to what went wrong is that our civilization is profoundly inadequate. We have lost our ability to do things.

Civilization is made of people, and people aren't wired for scale. We haven't lost our ability to do things, we never had it. We have only ever done things at scale by accident, or for short periods of time (mostly wars and the Space Race).

When you live in a village of ~100 people, either you figure out norms for drought/famine/disease/etc quickly, or >90% of your community dies and the rest scatter.

In major cities, it's fundamentally an issue of everyone-for-themselves. You walk down the street and see a bunch of strangers. You may wish they were wearing masks, but there's no social norm. The norms are enforced at shops, waiting in line, entering with reduced capacity, wearing a mask (or not) in both cases.

If not enough people care on average, your friendly neighborhood megalopolis is doomed.

Comment by knite on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-18T18:50:08.456Z · LW · GW

If the market regularly reacts to public statements of inefficiency ("stocks systematically rise on the third Thursday of each month but only under a waxing moon") by eliminating it, then this is *refutation* of the efficient market hypothesis.

Inefficiencies are priced in when they are: obvious, easy, and safe,. A non-obvious inefficiency is a true hidden edge. A non-easy inefficiency has a high barrier (capital, technical, physical, etc) to entry. A non-safe inefficiency has a high social barrier to entry.

Because names have power, I dub this the Passive Market Hypothesis.

Comment by knite on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-13T17:21:28.734Z · LW · GW

Great review! Have you taken a look at Gwent? It's currently scratching the Hearthstone itch for me.

Comment by knite on Setting up a new Mac · 2020-05-11T21:42:30.315Z · LW · GW

For syncing dotfiles and config generally:

For managing programming languages:

Comment by knite on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-18T00:02:31.387Z · LW · GW

You may be undervaluing, or at least under-emphasizing, the idea of strategically ejecting from a maze. If your LinkedIn profile is accurate, you currently make a living as a trader. Your ability to execute on that is likely heavily influenced by your time in (firm's) maze, both in terms of knowledge capital and financial capital you extracted from the maze.

It is plausible that spending a few years in a maze is +EV for a relevant fraction of people, and that "know what you're signing up for and plan your exit strategy from day 0" is better advice than "avoid at all costs".

Comment by knite on If you had to pick one thing you've read that changed the course of your life, what would it be? · 2019-09-16T22:46:16.929Z · LW · GW

Significant Digits, the unofficial sequel to HPMOR. A certain section (alas, I don't recall which) singlehandedly leveled me up as human being.

The text immediately and irrevocably rewired my brain, to the degree that I stopped reading and thought to myself, "I don't know the full consequences yet, but whatever just happened in my head is staggeringly important to my personal development." I was right.

I've been trying to succinctly describe my insight for about three years. The best I have so far is this: people are the person who arrived at a moment, not the person in the moment. For the more mathematically inclined, individuals are the integral of their experiences, not the sum.

In practice, it was like suddenly developing empathy and a theory of mind in the span of 60 seconds. While reading fan fiction of fan faction.

Comment by knite on Boo votes, Yay NPS · 2019-05-14T22:56:36.272Z · LW · GW

What are your thoughts on *re-labeling* the voting UI so that it's more clear to voters what the site norms are for the meaning of up- and downvotes?