Posts

Are there good classes (or just articles) on blog writing? 2021-04-19T01:10:21.368Z
Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Mechanics Wrong This Whole Time? 2017-05-23T16:38:35.338Z
Building Safe A.I. - A Tutorial for Encrypted Deep Learning 2017-03-21T15:17:54.971Z
Headlines, meet sparklines: news in context 2017-02-18T16:00:46.212Z

Comments

Comment by korin43 on Self-Responsibility · 2021-06-21T21:07:31.013Z · LW · GW

I disagree with the Paul Graham quote, since most adults don't take responsibility for themselves either. :(

Comment by korin43 on AI-Based Code Generation Using GPT-J-6B · 2021-06-16T18:12:25.087Z · LW · GW

These responses look to me more like the AI is really good at searching StackOverflow and returning the code from a random answer, not really writing code itself. I guess being able to replace programmers who Google stuff and copy the first answer from StackOverflow without understanding it will save some time, but it doesn't really feel transformational to me.

Comment by korin43 on Experiments with a random clock · 2021-06-13T17:34:42.164Z · LW · GW

Why would I arrive ten minutes early to the Skrillex-as-a-cure-for-dengue talk, when I could spend ten more minutes reading about exorcism under fMRI?

The way I solved this was with a smart phone with an RSS reader, Instapaper, and an ebook app. Why not arrive ten minutes early and read about exorcism under fMRI at the location of the talk instead of reading at home?

(I'm considering getting a phone with an e-ink screen to make this nicer, since I usually don't feel like carrying a Kindle around.)

Comment by korin43 on Electric heat pumps (Mini-Splits) vs Natural gas boilers · 2021-05-30T17:13:50.228Z · LW · GW

For some people, another consideration is that you could use both. Thermostats frequently have a way to connect multiple heat sources, and there's presumably one fancy enough that you could decide between them based on the outdoor air temperature. I plan to do this whenever the one-way heat pump ("air conditioner") that came with my house breaks.

For that to be worth, you would need several things to be true though:

  • You want a heat pump for other reasons (air conditioning)
  • There are some days when the heat pump is better than the boiler despite electricity costs
  • The upfront cost of the slightly more expensive heat pump is made up for by the lower energy cost on the days you use it
Comment by korin43 on Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things · 2021-05-24T15:35:22.486Z · LW · GW

If it helps, I know how to scale web systems and basically never do it because you can run almost anything on one server unless you're Google.

Comment by korin43 on Is driving worth the risk? · 2021-05-14T17:38:35.223Z · LW · GW

I don't have an answer regarding how you should value your life, but some things to consider are:

  • I suspect the gulf between actual-good-drivers and normal drivers in deaths is massive. Most people think they're better drivers than average, but they do stupid things like speeding and driving aggressively. As a rationalist, I would expect that you can learn to actually be a good driver and your risk will be much lower.
  • If you're not driving, what's your alternative? You mention flying instead, but how do you get to the airport? Given the point above, I suspect it's much safer for you to drive yourself than to be in a car driven by the average taxi/Uber driver. My experience is that taxi drivers drive even more dangerously than the average person.
  • Having a car and living close enough to things that you don't needing aren't mutually exclusive. I live close enough to stores and gyms that I can walk to them (and work remotely), but I also have a car and use it a few times per week (going to Costco, hanging out with friends).

Assuming it makes sense for you financially, my recommendation would be to learn how to drive (safely), but continue to optimize your location so you don't have to use it constantly.

Comment by korin43 on MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion · 2021-05-09T18:32:20.891Z · LW · GW

I live in Fort Collins, and I'd love for you to move here, but I doubt you'll find the property you want. I doubt there's any 20+ acre campuses for sale, and even if you found one it would be incredibly expensive (although, maybe cheaper than you expect if you're starting with SF prices as your baseline). You might be able to find a ranch or something for sale up in the mountains though? Although, I'm not sure if the amenities would work (hope you're signed up for Starlink).

Another downside is that the nearest (and only) big city is around an hour drive south, and Denver is a pretty lame city. And if you're in the mountains, Denver would probably be > 2 hours away.

Being near CSU might be useful for hiring new people, since we have a decent CS department and a complete lack of interesting jobs (pretty much everyone works for HP or various boring hardware companies). The city is nice enough that most people don't want to move, so "do something that actually matters without having to leave" would be very attractive. Also the incredibly number of mountain trails would probaby be good for thinking.

Comment by korin43 on Could MMRPGs be used to test economic theories? · 2021-05-08T17:58:39.450Z · LW · GW

This answer is really good. One thing I want to add is that "players destroying value" doesn't have to be quite as literal as it is in EVE Online to be useful.

In World of Warcraft, players destroy value every time they equip a "soulbound" item (these items can only be used by one player and can't be given away or sold once they're used for the first time).

There's also levels of accuracy in the simulation. You can probably test economic theories in World of Warcraft's auction house, but you'd have to keep in mind that the economy in that game isn't like the economy of any real countries (but maybe some parts are similar enough to generalize?).

Comment by korin43 on Taking the outside view on code quality · 2021-05-07T19:03:29.313Z · LW · GW

This is only tangentially related, but in cases like this, the strategy of improving variable names when you're working on a piece of code is significantly more valuable than searching for code to refactor and improve.

It's true that improving a random variable name in your code base is not a big win, but:

  • Since you're already looking at this piece of code and presumably making a change, the cost of changing the variable name is lower than if you were changing a random part of the code.

  • The fact that you're looking at this piece of code and not a different one is evidence that this is something people are more likely to look at than usual, so the benefit of improving it is higher than improving a randomly chose variable name.

Because of these two things, the procedure "improve code you're working on" is signifantly more valuable than you'd expect if you think the procedure you're following is "improve all the code".

Comment by korin43 on Could MMRPGs be used to test economic theories? · 2021-05-06T14:46:06.821Z · LW · GW

The plot of my economic MMRPG would be humans in the far-future mining resources to build spaceships that they use to mine more resources and/or attack each other.

You might find it interesting that EVE Online hires economists to keep their in-game economy healthy, which among other things includes setting transaction taxes at a level that keeps inflation under control. You can see their March 2021 economic report here.

I'm having trouble finding a good article about this, but here's one.

Comment by korin43 on Is sitting in the sun much better than sitting in the shade? · 2021-04-28T20:37:57.078Z · LW · GW

Note: If you don't mind spotlights, 10,000 lux isn't that hard. Just buy one of these and point it directly at your face.

Comment by korin43 on Is sitting in the sun much better than sitting in the shade? · 2021-04-28T20:33:17.045Z · LW · GW

Answering this as someone with 1,000-2,000 lux in my office depending on which direction I'm looking.

If 1,000 lux is enough to keep a human alert and non-SAD, then it seems like shade is no worse than sun

I can't speak to SAD or health benefits, but 1,000 lux indoors subjectively feels pretty bright. Now that I'm used to it, I wouldn't mind it being maybe 5x brighter, but whenever anyone else walks into my office they start acting out the "it burns us" Gollum scene from the Lord of the Rings.

Or, maybe people installing lumenators in their homes just stop at 1,000 lux because it's impractical to get an order of magnitude more lux than that.

I have 8 4-ft 1,800 lumen (18 W) LED tubes plus a 3,600 lumen (36 W) corn bulb. They cover the entire ceiling parimeter of the room, and use 180 W of power. Using 10x more would be impractical.

Although, my lumen-to-lux ratio is low because I didn't want to feel like I'm sitting in a spotlight. I suspect I could get close to 10,000 lux with my current setup if I put all of the lights together, but I think it would be pleasant. I've been tempted to keep my current setup and add a "high bay UFO light" but haven't felt like doing the wiring.

Comment by korin43 on A Crackpot Physics: Issues · 2021-04-20T20:13:44.737Z · LW · GW

I feel like this needs some context. You discuss problems with your theory but don't discuss what the theory is?

Comment by korin43 on Are there good classes (or just articles) on blog writing? · 2021-04-20T19:26:31.160Z · LW · GW

Thanks, this is a great idea!

Comment by korin43 on [Letter] Advice for High School · 2021-04-20T19:25:50.397Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I definitely recommend reading the given list of books if you're interested in the education system, but I would frame it that way. If you don't really care about the education system, you shouldn't feel like you need to read them.

Comment by korin43 on [Letter] Advice for High School · 2021-04-20T15:01:17.727Z · LW · GW
  • It's not clear to me that reading about the problems with education is a good use of your time in high school. It might be interesting, but it's not really useful unless you plan to go into education-related politics.

  • I don't think graduating with minimum debt is good advice for college students. The ROI for engineering degrees is ridiculously high. The important thing is to not waste money (i.e. don't go to a tiny private school or get a Music Theory degree). Also, work while you're in school since work experience + school experience >> just school experience.

Comment by korin43 on Are there good classes (or just articles) on blog writing? · 2021-04-19T15:51:23.642Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the in-depth feedback! Your points make sense to me, and I think you're right that I probably need to join a workshopping group or hire someone. Publishing and reading comments would probably work (seems like the way most people do it) but the feedback loop is just too long.

Something I'm realizing from your comments is that I need to decide what type of article I'm writing and then structure it based on that. I think I've avoided the "list of n things" because it feels Buzzfeed-y, but I should probably embrace it when that's the kind of article I'm writing.

I think I'll try going over these articles again and probably contact you via DM to see about hiring you to give me pre-publishing feedback in the future.

Comment by korin43 on Are there good classes (or just articles) on blog writing? · 2021-04-19T15:28:36.633Z · LW · GW

Can you go into more detail about this? I'm not sure what you mean.

Comment by korin43 on Rising rents and appropriate responses · 2021-04-19T00:26:36.686Z · LW · GW

Rent control on 20+ year old houses not affecting new construction seems like a [citation needed] sort of thing. I'm not sure how large the effects are, but rent control on old houses would reduce the value of new houses because you're signalling that new construction is very likely to come under similar regulations in the near future.

It's possible this is only "limited upside", but limiting the upside to investments isn't something that obviously has no effect. I assume the effect on limiting upside for construction would be much smaller than i.e. startups, but I'm not convinced it would be literally zero.

Comment by korin43 on Think like an educator about code quality · 2021-04-18T19:49:08.992Z · LW · GW

I really like the idea of an editor plugin to display images from URL's inline. It seems like one of those 80/20 ideas where you could probably think of something fancier but just having the simple thing would be a major improvement.

Comment by korin43 on Convict Conditioning Book Review · 2021-04-18T17:23:47.653Z · LW · GW

Regarding the "why is this so popular in prison and not outside", I think calisthenics are great if you have lots of free time and limited access to specialized equipment, but outside of prison, people are mostly looking for aesthetics with minimum time needed. At least in my experience, getting big muscles is much faster and easier with weights, probably for exactly the reasons this person doesn't like them (for example, you can specifically target your pecs without having to strengthen every other muscle in your body first).

Comment by korin43 on Rising rents and appropriate responses · 2021-04-18T14:51:23.324Z · LW · GW

When building new hubs, it's also important for the new hub to be close to the old one, since people who have the choice prefer not to move. For example, nothing is preventing everyone in SF from moving somewhere cheap in Texas, but the rich people fueling SF don't live there (or anywhere nearby).

Also when talking about planned cities, it's important to notice the many failures and consider what will make this one different.

Comment by korin43 on How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J? · 2021-04-12T19:24:15.589Z · LW · GW

For the sake of argument, let's assume that the effectiveness of j&j and moderna/pfizer are 66% vs 95%, respectively, and this effectiveness comes in at the same time.

I think it's important to also point out that this assumption is not true. All of these vaccines seem to have similar effectiveness for the first 3 weeks after the first dose and the major divergence happens after the second dose (and I suspect there would be a smaller divergence if we did two doses of J&J, but of course we have "no evidence" of that).

From a wanting-to-end-the-pandemic-faster perspective, my preferred solution is to get one dose of J&J now and a second dose of something else* once we inevitably "discover" that vaccine boosters work in cases that weren't specifically studied too.

  • I suspect a second dose of a non-adenovirus vaccine would be more effective than a second dose of an adenovirus-based vaccine due to the risk of adenovirus immunity.
Comment by korin43 on How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J? · 2021-04-12T19:17:14.301Z · LW · GW

I think "100%" in this context means "close enough to 100% than we can't detect the difference".

Comment by korin43 on Compounding Incumbent Advantage · 2021-04-08T14:39:07.833Z · LW · GW

College sort-of does this. It's worse than just paying a company to train you but it's a socially-acceptable way to do something resembling working in that field.

Comment by korin43 on A dashboard for progress · 2021-03-22T17:48:52.623Z · LW · GW

I was actually coming to the comment section to say that I think energy usage isn't necessarily a good metric to track progress, since we really care about "amount of stuff we can get done", not energy usage (or even efficiency).

For example, energy usage by computers would be much higher if we had similarly powerful and useful computers that used tons of power. But what we care about expanding the number of things we can do with computers. Energy usage is sort of correlated, but if one aspect of progress is portability, including battery-life of portable computers, then energy usage may be inversely correlated with progress.

There's similar problems with transportation, where progress is something like "ability to get things where we want them with minimal effort (including the effort involved in working to get money to pay for cars and gas)". Since energy usage directly causes higher prices, energy usage is plausibly inversely correlated with progress. To a certain extent we expect there to be a feedback loop (if the cost goes down, people will drive more), but there's a limit to how much people want to drive, and there's an anti-feedback cycle, where the things that become worth it to do when the price gets cheap enough are things that are less tempting to do (people don't want to do them as much or they would have already been doing it at the higher price).

It's possible this all averages out and we should still see a straight line of progress, but I feel like it's a really big assumption and depends on exactly what people's goals are. To take an extreme case, the graph where energy usage levels off is directly and unambiguously a sign of progress for a subset of environmental activists because reducing energy usage is part of their definition of progress.

Comment by korin43 on The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence · 2021-03-18T20:32:04.822Z · LW · GW

Hm it definitely does seem like there's money sitting on the table on Polymarket. For example, will there be a recall election triggered for Governor Newsom is 90/10 even though 2.1 million out of the 1.5 million required signatures were submitted yesterday. It's possible that some sort of shenanigans will prevent the recall election, but a 10% chance of that seems excessive. Someone wanting to make a big bet on this should probably lookup for the 179 historical recall attempts, what was the signature margin for successful recall attempts vs unsuccessful (in particular, what's the largest signature margin that recallers claimed to have and then failed to actually qualify?).

I'll look into this more, but the fact that it costs $120 in Etherium fees to try this out is just annoying enough to make me continue putting it off. Is Etherium likely to become useable again in the near future?

Comment by korin43 on Can an economy keep on growing? · 2021-03-18T15:45:45.762Z · LW · GW

I think you might be making a different argument than the original article. I was reading the article as talking about market-based economies, not violence-based economies. I agree that people use whatever sources of power they have to extract wealth from other people, but if we're concerned about that we'd need to look at power in-general and not just power-from-money. This matters because the most frequent argument I see in this vein is that rich people have the potential to turn their wealth into political power which they could use to choose winners and losers and benefit their tribe, but the solution is to.. preemptively increase the power of politicians to choose winners and losers and benefit their tribe.

Comment by korin43 on AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine and blood clots · 2021-03-17T16:31:36.419Z · LW · GW

There's a Twitter thread claiming that there is statistical evidence that blood clots are unusually common in Germany after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine:

The PEI ran an "observed-versus-expected analysis", comparing the # of such cases expected without vaccination in a 14-day period with the # of cases reported in those vaccinated with #AstraZeneca (1.6 million) in Germany. About 1 case would be expected, 7 were observed

I still think stopping vaccination is insane for several reasons:

  • According to this source, approximate 200 people are dying of COVID per day in Germany. Even if we assume that 6 out of every 1.6 million people who get the AZ vaccine get blood clots and die, that would be 365 deaths total in Germany or 2 days worth of COVID deaths.

  • According to this source, the survival rate of cerebral venous-sinus thrombosis is ~95%, and taking that into account, even if the 6 / 1.6 million number is correct, we would expect only 1/20th of those people to die of it, leading to approximately 20 people in Germany dying of this (again, vs ~200 people per day dying of COVID).

  • I'm still very skeptical that this 6 / 1.6 million number is actually correct since it's a very small number and small numbers are possible to get by chance, especially if you're doing multiple comparisons: Why are we only looking at the number for Germany? Wouldn't this be reported if it had happened in France, or the UK, or...?

Comment by korin43 on Can an economy keep on growing? · 2021-03-16T16:50:29.459Z · LW · GW

5/ The answer to this question informs our moral choices and policies because if the economic growth engine stops and we have a fixed pie of useful stuff (i.e. GDP) to go around, the relatively less wealthy will not have any shot at becoming richer.

Under this zero-sum economy scenario, perhaps we should put an upper limit on how much wealth can any single individual claim ownership of.

I think you're missing a step here. How do you get from "the total amount of value stops increasing" to "the less wealthy will not have any ability to get more of that value"?

I would expect that if we actually reached a point where growth stalled, income inequality would go down (since high income in a market-based economy mostly comes from creating more value than other people). Wealth inequality would lag that, but you can't maintain wealth inequality long-term without income inequality.

Comment by korin43 on Nitric Oxide Spray... a cure for COVID19?? · 2021-03-16T16:03:00.595Z · LW · GW

I don't know how plausible the mechanism of action is here, but it's interesting that Scott mentioned nitric oxide being generated from sunlight as a potential confounder with Vitamin D effects in his COVID/Vitamin D post:

The loose ends that bother me the most are the seasonal pattern, the latitude data, plus the increased risk of hospitalization and death in Asians. I don't have a great explanation for those. One possibility is that sunlight does help prevent coronavirus, it just isn't Vitamin D mediated. I suspect that the "anything involving sunlight is Vitamin D" assumption a lot of epidemiologists have isn't going to hold up very well - this seems especially true for cancer, where sunlight matters a lot but study after study has shown Vitamin D doesn't help at all. It may also be true for schizophrenia, although I'm going off one really pathetic study there and it could very well turn out to be Vitamin D after all. Some people are doing a little bit of work to clear up what the sunlight-related-Vitamin-D-independent pathways might be; I think nitric oxide has come up a few times.

This would explain the failed RCT and Mendelian randomization. But if it were true, we would expect to see more of a correlation in observational data - the people with more nitric oxide (or whatever) would be the people who get the most sunlight would be the people who have the most Vitamin D.

I've been taking l-arginine (gets converted to nitric oxide in the body) for various reasons including this.

Comment by korin43 on AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine and blood clots · 2021-03-15T16:02:54.482Z · LW · GW

This comes from an AstraZeneca press release, but it sounds like there's strong evidence that the AZ vaccine doesn't cause blood clots and this is a typical case of "if anything bad happens after you take a drug, it gets reported as a side-effect", which is why one of the possible adverse effects of the Moderna vaccine is getting struck by lightning:

A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union (EU) and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country.

So far across the EU and UK, there have been 15 events of DVT and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among those given the vaccine, based on the number of cases the Company has received as of 8 March. This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines.

(Emphasis added)

Comment by korin43 on How to use hypnagogic hallucinations as biofeedback to relieve insomnia · 2021-03-14T19:32:24.892Z · LW · GW

And after the tl;dr summary, skip to the guidepost section which is actually fairly short.

Comment by korin43 on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-12T16:03:08.326Z · LW · GW

Yes, but our universe is not in equilibrium or anywhere near equilibrium. We're in a very low entropy state right now and the state which is in equilibrium is extremely high entropy.

Comment by korin43 on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-12T04:11:40.978Z · LW · GW

Sorry I got the terminology backwards. Entropy generally increases, so your graph should be mostly at maximum entropy with very short (at this timescale) downward spikes to lower entropy states.

It's true that for entropy to increase you can't already be at the maximum entropy state, but I'm not saying it constantly increases, I'm saying it increases until it hits maximum entropy and then stays near there unless something extraordinarily unlikely happens (a major entropy reversal).

I think the only scale where your graph works is if we're looking at near-max-entropy for the entire time, which is nothing like the current state of the universe.

Comment by korin43 on Impact of delaying vaccinations on the total number of deaths · 2021-03-12T04:03:18.767Z · LW · GW

Thanks for working on this. I have the same question but wasn't willing to put much work into answering it.

Comment by korin43 on Defending the non-central fallacy · 2021-03-10T19:16:25.490Z · LW · GW

I think you can make a case that the non-central fallacy isn't exactly the problem here though. In the case of MLK, we usually don't refer to people who do things like protest without a license as "criminals", even if they have technically commited a crime. If MLK had committed serious crimes (i.e. he went around murdering people who disagreed with him), then "We shouldn't make statues of MLK becuase he's a criminal" would actually be a decent argument.

Comment by korin43 on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-07T19:22:22.938Z · LW · GW

I don't think your graph is accurate. In our universe, entropy can reverse, but it's unlikely, and an entropy reversal large enough to take us from heat-death to the current state of the universe is unimaginably unlikely. Given an infinite amount of time, that will eventually happen, but your graph should be entropy spikes surrounded by eternities at minimum entropy. Given that more-accurate graph, the probability that we're in a decreasing-entropy part of the graph is ~100%.

Comment by korin43 on Economic Class · 2021-03-02T17:32:37.137Z · LW · GW

mindless labor like farming

Consider being more specific, since produce-picking is arguably mindless labor but "farming" isn't necessarily. Farmers do things like deciding what to plant, knowing timings / how weather affects them, diagnosing and fixing problems, doing marketing and sales, and hiring and managing other people if the farm is big enough. In your hierarchy, I would put most farmers (as-in owner-operators of farms) somewhere between skilled labor and petit bourgeoisie.

Attempting to break into the middle class can be risky due to the sticker price of college plus the lost wages.

My experience has been that the myth of expensive college is a bigger problem than the actual cost of college. The difference between my yearly pre-college income and post-college income was enough to pay off my entire student loan the first year. Of course that depends on treating college like an investment (get the training and credentials you need at the lowest price) instead of following the bad "self-fulfillment" advice, but I think that's a different problem.

The problem with intellectual labor is it's hard to tell whether someone is doing it right. If there were clear criteria for success then the job would have been automated away by now.

This isn't necessarily true. You mention sales later, and I think that's a great example. I can trivially write a program that looks at your sales data and determines if the trend is positive, but I can't write a program that calls customers and convinces them to buy my product. The actual process and verification are frequently completely different processes.

Even with something much harder to verify like management, this still holds. It's true that it's hard for me to tell if someone is a good manager, but it's still much easier to check results (what does their team's turnover look like?) than to know exactly what steps they should follow to make that metric better.

Moreover, if you knew what the right thing to do was then you wouldn't need to hire someone else to do it.

I don't think this is true. It's common to know exactly what you want done but not have time to do it. For example, Sergei Brin knows how to program, but he still needed to hire thousands of additional software engineers.

When white collar workers collaborate in teams it is impossible to how how much each individual employee is worth.

It depends on how big the gap is, but I'd say this is difficult but not impossible.

Credentialing. It's hard to measure if someone is a good electrical engineer but it's easy to measure if someone has a degree in electrical engineering or used to work for Facebook.

For what it's worth, this is sort-of changing in the software field. It turns out credentials aren't good enough and it's more effective to directly measure how good someone is at writing software (either with tests or by looking at code samples). Unfortunately, most places seem to do this as a two-step gate (you need credentials and to pass the "can you do the job" test), but I think that's more of a path-dependence thing than direct usefulness (path dependent because historically the most competant people got software engineering degrees, so if you don't get one now it implies that you can't, even if in a world without that history, not having a software engineering degree wouldn't mean anything).

Comment by korin43 on Tap Water and Filtration · 2021-03-02T16:51:51.296Z · LW · GW

The Wirecutter recommends the Tap Score water quality test as being both accurate and with easy-to-understand results.

Where I live, the city also runs its own tests and sends the results to residents, although that would only tell you how good the water coming from the treatment plant is and not if you have problems with your own pipes.

It seems like lead pipes are uncommon after 1950, but if your city's test results are good and you just want to check lead, there are also cheap lead-only tests.

For effectiveness of filtering, it would probably depend on what you're trying to filter out. When I lived in Baltimore, a standard under-sink filter worked well enough to make drinkable tea but it still didn't taste a good as Colorado water.

Comment by korin43 on Why aren't we all using Taffix? · 2021-03-01T03:07:52.006Z · LW · GW

It's really frustrating that the paper has no control group and they inexplicably only had 52 people in the study. Maybe I'm crazy, but when I see an underpowered study design, it makes me assume the product doesn't work. Companies with working products don't need to run sketchy studies..

Comment by korin43 on How can I protect my bank account from large, surprise withdrawals? · 2021-02-24T04:23:41.343Z · LW · GW

In the US, "postpaid" mobile phone bills where you use your phone and then get charged for your usage are the most common, but if you're worried about surprise bills, you can do prepaid billing instead, in which case instead of being extended potentially-surprising amount of credit, the expensive thing you're trying to do just doesn't work. They also usually make it easy to add more money to your account in case you really do want to do something like expensive international roaming.

Comment by korin43 on How can I protect my bank account from large, surprise withdrawals? · 2021-02-22T20:39:03.726Z · LW · GW

I think there's two pieces of this that really deserve separate answers:

How can you set things up so that if you get hit with legitimate huge charges, you can handle it without all the money in your checking account disappearing?

Put everything on a credit card. This is US-specific since I don't know the details in other countries, but if you pay off your balance every month, this generally won't cost you anything. In some cases, companies will charge you a higher amount to pay with a credit card (since it costs them more). You can mitigate this in part by using a card that gives you cash back or points. Beyond that, I would just treat this as the cost of insurance.

The benefits of this are:

  1. You can pay the charge off over time (although you'll also have interest payments)
  2. If you declare bankruptcy, you might not have to pay the entire thing
  3. If the charge is actually fraudulent, it's trivial to reverse it

If you have the option, you can also turn off auto-pay. This will leave you the ability to put the charge on a credit card later, but you may also be able to negotate lower payment with the original company. For example, auto-pay for hospital bills would be a terrible idea because you can use the risk of bankruptcy as leverage to make the hospital either reduce your bill, or let you pay it over time without interest.

How do you avoid getting hit with legitimate huge charges?

I think the answer is:

  1. Choose fixed-cost contracts over variable-cost where possible (unlimited or subscription plans)
  2. If you make a variable-cost contract, ensure there's a limit to how high it can go (high deductable health insurance, anything with a maximum price)
  3. If you can't get a limit on the contract itself, try to limit risk some other way (buy third-party insurance, like with health insurance)

In the case of Griddy, the trigger to wonder if you're exposing yourself to more risk than you wanted it that they're passing on variable "wholesale rates". Similar things that should trigger your risk instinct are variable rate loans and overage fees.

I'm not sure if there's a general purpose way to avoid this, besides inspecting every contract you pay, but you could try to find general-purpose insurance. There's a thing called "umbrella insurance" which protects you from liability risk in general (assuming you're found liable for something but you didn't do it on purpose). There may be other financial products that insure against even more general risks. It's worth noting that the value of these depends on how much money you actually have though, since bankruptcy law caps your risk(at worst) at all of your money*, so it's umbrella insurance isn't worth it if you don't have very much money.

Comment by korin43 on Heliocentrism in the ancient era · 2021-02-22T19:52:39.928Z · LW · GW

extract the quadrupole term from a painful integral

I'm not math-y enough to understand what this means. What would an ancient Greek scientist see in the tides that they couldn't attribute to effects of the moon or sun (keeping in mind that they don't know the masses of either of those objects)?

Comment by korin43 on Heliocentrism in the ancient era · 2021-02-21T01:30:08.272Z · LW · GW

Wouldn't the tides work the same way if the Earth was stationary with the sun and moon orbitting it?

Comment by korin43 on The Glory System: A Model For Moral Currency And Distributed Self-Moderation · 2021-02-19T17:53:33.067Z · LW · GW

enforcing conformity is the entire precept underlying a system of law for punishment. In general, why would a more variable basis of punishment lead to more consistent outcomes?

This question makes me wonder what you think the benefits of a system of law are at all. If it's fine for any random person to punish you based on their personal opinion of good and bad, then why have standardized laws enforced by third-parties?

My answer is:

  • Having standardized laws lets people actually know what the rules are, instead of having to guess for each individual they interact
  • Having standardized laws ensures you have rules that are consistent (i.e. I don't have to worry about Group A punishing me for doing x and Group B punishing me for doing not-x)
  • Having the laws enforced by a third-party helps to avoid bias (i.e. it's bad for the alleged-victim and judge to be the same person)
  • Having standardized laws enforced by a third party seems to reduce cycles of violence (Group A hurts group B which hurts group A to get back at them..)

The proposed currency seems to lose these benefits by effectively importing violence into the currency. Note that you can already use any currency the way the OP proposes, by paying someone to break into your target's bank account and rob them), but that's illegal for good reason.

Comment by korin43 on How poor is US vaccine response by comparison to other countries? · 2021-02-17T03:56:35.390Z · LW · GW

Under evidence for #5, the US preordered a large portion of the world's supply of mRNA vaccines for the first half of this year. The EU isn't having trouble with approval or distribution of these vaccines because they can't get them anyway.

Also under probably-#5, the US is sitting on tens of millions of AZ vaccines and waiting for approval, but:

  • Most countries don't have tens of millions of doses of known-good vaccines sitting around
  • Most countries don't have a large supply of the even better mRNA vaccines

Basically, the US did so well on the planning ahead/throwing money at it phase (at least compared to the even worse planning in most countries) that we have a good supply of vaccines despite doing really badly on the "actually using everything available" part.

Comment by korin43 on Five examples · 2021-02-14T03:22:01.343Z · LW · GW

I really need to pay attention so I can give examples of why I like type checkers, but it's always hard to remember in the moment. I'm not sure how to remind myself to do it but I'll make a note to try to watch for this for a few days.

Comment by korin43 on The dangers of digital vaccines · 2021-02-14T01:23:04.477Z · LW · GW

Nothing about what I described would be illegal, per se. It's their vaccine, if they want small but specific change from batch to batch, i'm not sure that would be illegal.

It's illegal for Moderna to add slightly more vaccine than expected to a vial without permission from the FDA. I guarantee that changing the contents of the vaccine without telling anyone is illegal.

Comment by korin43 on The dangers of digital vaccines · 2021-02-12T17:42:50.266Z · LW · GW

We can't tell your age all that easily from a blood sample

Also I suspect it's easier and more accurate to directly get an age range from a blood sample by looking at things like NAD levels than to determine if the immune system reacts to a specific protein.