Comment by stuart-anderson on The silence is deafening – Devon Zuegel · 2020-07-04T06:41:01.443Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

People only receive feedback from people that are engaged enough to give it. Unsurprisingly, a mouse click is typically a very low effort of caring. It isn't quality feedback.

Internet comment voting is a skinner box, and giving people clicky buttons that literally dispense dopamine isn't going to do anything but turn them into button clicking addicts. Showing them click counters just makes that worse.

If you are going to reward behaviour to encourage it then ignore negative feedback entirely. Give people a limited number of medals that they can award to a few comments a day. Force people to think about it and slow down. If you can't be anything but positive (because you don't have the option of anything else) then you're going be forced to make a positive act by default. You will ignore the low value and negative comments because you're looking for positive ones to give reward to.

If you must have a 'negative' button then that button could be a personal block button. You can tally blocks on a given comment and if it hits thresholds you can move it to the bottom and collapse it. A huge problem with downvotes is that regardless of what is said they're for, they always turn into an agree/disagree binary rather than a metric of quality.

Whatever you reward is what you end up getting more of. Reward design is far from trivial, and people routinely hand out rewards that make the behaviour they're trying to manage even worse. That's before we get to dark patterns like you see on social media that exploit discord and the lack of IRL feedback to amplify engagement. Gossipy and angry people welded to their phones are a common sight these days because that's what makes social media companies money. It isn't of net benefit to the users thereof, but it's digital crack so the majority of people don't care even if they're aware of it.

Comment by stuart-anderson on How to decide to get a nosejob or not? · 2020-07-03T01:53:48.468Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The advantage of beauty isn't even remotely subtle. The difficulty is that most people lack direct experience of moving up or down quickly, so they don't notice it.

The level of effect of increasing your attractiveness is non-linear and variant between domains. Understanding what you're trying to achieve in detail is important to ensure you will be happy with the results.

You buy cheap surgery and that's exactly what you get. Think very carefully before you commit to that. A botched surgery (or one perceived as such) is very much something you may need to repeat. The surgery isn't difficult, the trick is finding someone that understands the fundamental aesthetics of beauty (or alternatively, you understanding it and them doing exactly as you tell them).

Taking a knife to a 'feature' nose is one of the most common aesthetic mistakes you can make. It is generally imperfections that make your looks notable. You want to look like a better version of you, not somebody else. That being said, some people hate their own looks so much that not looking like themselves is the whole point.

I read somewhere that men that get nosejobs that involve reduction can feel emasculated by that. Barring deformity (ie. you're getting so much work that your entire face will change) I can believe it.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-07-01T19:32:55.549Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unless some wish to defect from the NYT in a tactically useful manner then they are enemy infrastructure and a valid target.

All of the NYT materially benefits from this ambulance chasing behaviour, whether or not they admit it. You cannot willingly be part of an organisation that profits from wrongs and be shocked when you get painted with the same brush. You don't want to get caught in the crossfire? Quit, just like anyone with a backbone would.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-07-01T19:27:24.604Z · score: -1 (4 votes) · LW · GW
in order to ruin him, you'd have to convince the NYT to fire him.

No, as stated before, all you have to do is make his actions costly. Ratcheting up the stress levels is the aim here. That could include going after income, but that lacks imagination and certainly wouldn't be my first attack vector. That is an expected attack, and it will be a defended attack accordingly.

If you want to fight and win, stop playing by the rules. The easiest way of getting your brain into the habit of thinking up novel solutions is to take the 'right' way off the table and then come up with methods of still achieving your goal. Then 10x that, so that you can either drag the hell out over a long period or dump it all on them at once for synergistic effect.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-06-28T20:46:23.018Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am in favour of justice, the most foundational element of civilisation. Without enforced laws it will all fall apart. If evil goes unpunished it will flourish. It's that simple.

I have no interest in lies. I like the truth exactly because it is a far more deadly weapon. When you absolutely nail someone with a truth they don't want to hear it's like stabbing them right in the heart.

I can't hurt anyone who doesn't lie and acts honourably, nor would I have any desire to. Conversely, the evil and wicked almost seem to beg me to ruin them with the truth. Good people have nothing to fear from the likes of me.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-06-28T19:33:22.843Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Fomenting discord amongst your enemies is a feature, not a bug.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-06-28T19:31:40.040Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would argue that NYT as an org is not a pure capitalist venture in the same way that almost no political mouthpiece is. They exist to push a viewpoint, and financial viability is the means to ensure they're around to be able to do that.

Also, as a political mouthpiece they have direct funding from people with a view to push that is independent of ad and customer revenue. As long as there are enough eyeballs to justify it there will be outside money available to fund the messaging.

I believe that the NYT is untouchable for the ordinary person. Individuals within the NYT are touchable and if you can associate the choice of the individual to participate in gutter journalism with personal ruin then that will act as a disincentive outside of the control of the NYT.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-06-28T19:30:49.297Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You don't get to work at the NYT and use that excuse. This story has passed through multiple hands.

Comment by stuart-anderson on - A Petition · 2020-06-25T14:56:00.790Z · score: -8 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I can respect the sentiment, but this less than pointless.

The NYT are bad actors that did this for attention. More attention isn't the answer. They are bullies. Begging bullies for mercy never works, it merely emboldens them.

You'd think that people would take five seconds to look around them and see this MO repeated a million times, and the weak responses to it failing again and again, but there's a *particular* kind of person that is either agnostic or pro inquisition until it happens to them. Everyone's heard the poem ( ), almost nobody takes it onboard. Being weak doesn't save you, and it damns you and everyone around you.

As far as I can see there are two options:

1. Go to ground until this blows over. Go on a 2 month holiday. The appetite of the inquisition will never be sated, but they can only really eat you once.

2. Counterattack by targeting the "journalist" directly to demonstrate that bullying has a tangible cost. That isn't difficult to do, and the "journalist" in question has already given the template for that: self, family, friends, profession. All that is required is to pursue them along the same lines. Even if they are a paragon of virtue (obviously not in this case) there will be someone they either care about or are afraid of that won't be, and crushing that person will make the "journalist's" life far more difficult. And before anyone objects, no war was ever won by turning the other cheek.

The NYT as an org isn't an easy target. You are only going to be able to fight an asymmetric battle with them. Right now, thanks to BLM psychopathy, round 2 of metoo hysteria, and baizuo self mortification, claims of sexism and racism could probably be weaponised against them. I'm willing to bet that the NYT is very white, straight, and male enough to be a juicy target for the SJW identity grifters. Get some blood in the water and let them do the rest for you.

Comment by stuart-anderson on [META] Building a rationalist communication system to avoid censorship · 2020-06-24T11:10:02.734Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Security point 1: The site becomes the target. As has been proven many times hosting and DNS are vulnerable. If they can't get you then they'll get all the roads to you. They don't care about collateral damage.

Comment by stuart-anderson on $1,000 Bounty for Pro-BLM Policy Analysis · 2020-06-18T04:16:13.530Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Just to clarify: When you say pro-BLM policy, what exactly does that mean?

BLM as an organisation has some subjective and some objective demands. BLM as a broader movement obviously has an even greater scope. Which areas are considered as problems is also variant, as is the priorities one would place on them.

How to do you feel about heretics replying to your offer? I like money, capitalism, and arguing, but I'm also not on the same page ideologically here. Where is this bounty on the spectrum of saying the right things with the right language (obviously not my forte) versus achieving concrete goals by efficacious means?

Some of the stated positions are likely to be a very hard sell. Given that is so, what's your acceptable time frame for implementation? If I start talking generationally is that too long? In the same vein, are smaller or limited returns acceptable outcomes?

I'm not American, does this disqualify me? BLM is very much leaking out of America, and issues of race and policing exist everywhere there's racial difference and police. I am of the opinion that a lot of opinion is transposable in and out of America, but I'm not one setting the judging criteria here.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Self-Predicting Markets · 2020-06-12T01:54:42.500Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
They have intangible assets: organization and brand name recognition.

This is super important when talking about value decided by markets independently of the asset that backs it.

People will pay lots of money for objectively near worthless purchases because they choose to value them.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Is a near-term, self-sustaining Mars colony impossible? · 2020-06-04T03:05:05.391Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Never mind the stuff, what about the people?

As far as I can tell, reduced gravity is very deleterious to people's health. I'm sure it would be really deleterious to a developing fetus.

If you have to ship people in and out to keep things running, and you cannot reproduce there, then it's not a colony.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What was your reasoning for deciding whether to raise children? · 2020-05-17T02:53:36.787Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Your identity is indivisible from your body. Ergo, anything that influences your body significantly will change who you are.

As a good example, most people don't even think about what ageing does to their identity. You're not the same person you were a year ago, ten years ago, etc. Is that destruction or merely transformation?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Dishwasher Filter · 2020-05-16T15:36:06.791Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Based on my experience of dealing with other people: if it isn't nailed to the fucking floor you can expect it to be moved at the very least, if not simply stolen outright.

If something can be removed to be cleaned as this can then the most likely scenario is that it was, and it wasn't ever put back together correctly.

The real question is why doesn't the machine have sufficient sensors to indicate what's wrong at the very least? I don't see why an important removable part such as this filter couldn't have some sort of sensor attached to make sure it's actually there (magnet and hall effect sensor?).

Comment by stuart-anderson on What was your reasoning for deciding whether to raise children? · 2020-05-15T05:04:43.938Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That's easy: they were there.

You didn't ask about having children, you asked about raising them. I have dumped so much time and money into my nieces and nephews that I should be listed somewhere on the birth certificates.

I will never have biological children of my own for many good reasons, foremost being I have significant mental illness. I'm not about to pass that biological curse onto anyone else.

Comment by stuart-anderson on How likely is the COVID-19 apocalyptic scenario? · 2020-04-22T15:17:07.702Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The human race has survived diseases for far longer than we've had antibiotic or other modern medical interventions. We used to get by with a 50% child mortality rate, a significant maternal death rate, dropping dead from a scratch, etc.

Many of us dying, even in close succession, isn't the same as all of us dying.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Don't Use Facebook Blocking · 2020-04-22T15:10:54.081Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Considering that facebook is designed around facilitating gossip then it could be that this is entirely intentional rather than a broken implementation.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Why don't we tape surgical masks to the face to seal them airtight? · 2020-04-14T13:49:39.819Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Surgical masks aren't of the same grade of filtering material that N95 is, so taping them up is probably pointless.

My understanding is surgical masks are primarily about protecting the patient/others from one's own germs, not the other way around. All the covid wards I've seen are using N95 masks plus face shields and other PPE. There are plenty of photos of clinicians with marks and wounds on their faces from their PPE, so I assume that they can do a near airtight fit when used correctly.

The question I have is can we make a hood that has an N95 filter and is run at positive pressure with a pump? That's going to be the reverse of a surgical mask (ie. it will spray your germs everywhere but prevent other people's germs getting to you).

Comment by stuart-anderson on Ethernet Is Worth It For Video Calls · 2020-04-12T00:48:02.870Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

+1 for asynch. +1 for not having to talk to a person at all.

The copper network may or may not be maintained depending on which country and where you are. Here in AU, the copper has been rolled into the NBN (which is a big part of why the NBN is so shit for lots of people).

Copper is crap for redundancy. Wireless is a better option because you can get one tower working in a disaster and service an entire cell with it. My fantasy scenario would be IP6 over spread spectrum with proper QOS to manage congestion and implement graceful failure. We have limited bandwidth so squeezing every bit of utility from the entire spectrum is just good stewardship. That being said, giving that much power to anyone is always a mistake.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Ethernet Is Worth It For Video Calls · 2020-04-12T00:30:23.992Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
not every device needs to be wired

If it doesn't move then unless you have a very good reason not to just wire it.

That being said, the vast majority of people won't notice or care, so YMMV.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Discussion about COVID-19 non-scientific origins considered harmful · 2020-04-12T00:15:48.618Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Which is why I used the word some and not the word all.

I think there is far more evidence to support the idea of open communication than censorship or secrecy as a general good. The ability to communicate freely is a net positive despite any individual failures.

This entire subject is predicated on the idea of harmful knowledge. I'm not convinced that's a real thing.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Discussion about COVID-19 non-scientific origins considered harmful · 2020-04-08T21:42:09.637Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If that thesis is true then OP's suggestion for censorship is redundant.

Clearly speech can persuade, and proofs are a subset of that persuasion. If something can be shown to be true then some will change their views based on that.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Discussion about COVID-19 non-scientific origins considered harmful · 2020-04-06T02:59:17.351Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

People you neither like nor agree with must be allowed their voice. The answer to that isn't to try to silence them but to answer with your own speech. If something is wrong then it can be demonstrably proven so, if something is without evidence that can be highlighted, if the problem here is really the fear of war then that must be discussed clearly in daylight.

Speech isn't the problem, speech is the solution.

As for your main concern of nuclear war, it's unlikely but possible. That's probably bigger than all of us, in the same way that covid has been. If you cannot control something then you're not responsible for it either. You still have to live with it, and that's the part you need to focus on.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What will happen to supply chains in the era of COVID-19? · 2020-04-01T19:05:39.427Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The UK had rationing, and the criminal corollary to that isn't looting it's the black market. Of which there was an awful lot of.

Criminals have their own social hierarchy, inclusive of their own conduct policing. If you transgress within criminal circles you are going to have a very bad time. Criminals are no different to other people when it comes to being susceptible to patriotism, etc.

Ignoring any moral factors, allowing your criminal subordinates to act contrary to war efforts and bring unnecessary scrutiny is going to be bad for business. It's also clearly a case that otherwise competing criminal enterprises would have an incentive to work together to ensure that nobody breaks the rules.

It is important to note that looting in a time of war is stealing from the government. They have both the authority and incentive to shoot you dead on sight for that.

The issue with free market supply now versus rationed supply in wartime is that they are two different supply chain structures. It takes time and effort to switch from one to another, and that's something that is often ignored because history is time compressed. You don't hear detailed real time accounts of people busting their asses to solve the million different problems involved in retooling their supply chains. The documentation of history is always a summary. Year long logistical nightmares get reduced to one or two paragraphs.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Openness Norms in AGI Development · 2020-03-31T07:55:51.857Z · score: -3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I wanted to throw it out of a helicopter the second I read the title. This has to be the worst nomenclature possible.

The communist norm is a norm to share all ‘substantive findings’ with the scientific community.

AGI is a weapons technology where the payoff is winning the entire world. It doesn't matter how much researchers openly cooperate because there's a military/intelligence/covert incentive to both retain information and acquire it from other parties doing the same. Private researchers and research will be acquired via secondment on that basis also.

Even private researchers will only cooperate to the degree that it is in their self interest. For an individual or company even modest success has the potential to bring fame and fortune. Few people are altruistic enough to give that up.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Why do we have offices? · 2020-03-31T07:42:59.642Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The office is a paradigm that is understood and established, remote work often isn't. It's not just about your own workers, you also have to interface with other industries.

If I am an employer then how to I find talent that understands or can learn a remote paradigm and works well within that? How do I train inexperienced staff into that paradigm? What are the common problems and common solutions for them?

How do you integrate remote workers with on site workers? This raises issues of communication, tracking work, people, assets, etc. The infrastructure required to serve desktops to people isn't cheap or pain free either.

What are the hidden costs of doing this? I had to have some remote workers 20 years ago and it came with problems that weren't present in the office. Nobody was 100% remote because it just wasn't possible at that point.

This is also the classic problem of the 'paperless office', which whilst easier to do today is still incredibly difficult to pull off. I don't know about other legislative domains, but here a copy of a document is only proof of its existence and not legally equivalent to the actual document itself. Lots of stuff *has* to be on paper for legal reasons. Plenty of original documents (especially financial records) have to be retained for years or even permanently.

What about confidentiality and chain of custody? I can put access control and surveillance in an office.

If I worked today and covid had happened then I would have set up an emergency NOC and moved into work. I wouldn't have been able to run the infrastructure and send everyone else home otherwise. It would have sucked. Plenty of staff wouldn't have been able to go home because their jobs weren't portable. Even if I could send people home I couldn't send infrastructure home. Half a million dollars of PBX and 500kg of battery backup wasn't going anywhere.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What will happen to supply chains in the era of COVID-19? · 2020-03-31T07:10:30.893Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Re 1:

I am in Australia. We still have panic buying after weeks of this. Even with voluntary rationing by shops.

Prices have gone up, supply has gone down, and this is before we get to the supply losses from a lack of workers in the agricultural sector (imported labour that is unavailable).

Re 3:

Here, the economic situation is so bad that drivers will work. They are considered essential workers, so they have both work and job security (for now).

We've just dropped $200B into immediate bailouts(1) and that will only get us so far. The problem won't be labour availability, it will be bankruptcies eliminating jobs. Airlines, hospitality, food service, etc. are toast right now, and that's only the first wave of it. If you aren't in an essential sector then you're either out of a job or on track for that.

Re War time scenario:

As a counterpoint we are already seeing looting in Italy, and civil unrest elsewhere. There have been many examples of non-compliance with authorities, simple idiocy, and outright antisocial conduct. I don't think it is safe to hope for a British stiff upper lip here.

A group can only survive a given percentage of defection before altruism becomes a maladaptive strategy. If people don't have confidence that 'we are all in this together' then they'll act in their own interests first.

I think it is relevant to consider what makes a group a group. Does your nation or community have a strong unifying identity? Mine's has been so devalued and eroded that I don't have confidence that I can rely on others (ergo, I have low incentive to provide aid back). I don't have a good answer for that, other than to cover myself and mine.


1) This is in a country with a GDP of $1.3T in good economic times. We are screwed.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-28T22:53:49.208Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You are correct in stating that nobody can predict the future, but as the entire thread is speculation I don't think that's as much of an issue here as suggested. This is nothing more than my guess, in a thread full of guesses.

A recession is going to happen because it is already happening. The global economy has been on a slide for a while now. Quantitative easing was already happening in a bunch of countries before covid turned up. Now we have mass unemployment, unprecedented financial measures like individual stimulus payments for entire populations, etc. that put us into uncharted, but grim, territory. Exchange rates and the stock market are both going bonkers. The tourism industry will collapse. Multiple airlines will collapse. I'm sure other industries are done for as well. Entire sectors collapsing is an economic disaster at the best of times, multiple sectors collapsing globally at once is going to be a mess.

Female employment is likely to go up for the same reasons it did in the Depression: women will settle for less money and put up with more bullshit than men will. When you're trying to run your business on the smell of an oily rag shaving even a tenth of a percent off operating costs could be the difference between staying open another day or not.

Employment as a whole will go down, but the gender balance will change.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-24T10:26:27.219Z · score: -2 (11 votes) · LW · GW

This is going to be the initiating event for a number of economic disasters.

We were headed for a big recession anyway, this has brought it forward and amplified the damage. It could easily become a full blown depression. Nothing good comes out of a depression.

How business gets done will have to alter radically. Everything will be geared around not being present or limiting the numbers there. This will obviously decimate certain industries.

There will be many business closures and increased unemployment. We are already seeing that happening and it's been all of five minutes. The longer those industries are shut down the higher the losses will be.

A few business sectors are recession proof, and some benefit from hard times. All forms of vice will benefit. Desperation will drop the bar for worker's scruples.

Female employment will go up, male employment will go down. Wages will plunge, conditions will plunge, and people will just be grateful to have a job.

Individual actors, businesses, governments, and unions will all take this opportunity to exploit strategic power shifts. Whilst this could be mostly economic the possibility of crime or war is not off the table. You only have to look at the US where some states have essentially declared a moratorium on policing anything but the most serious crime to see how this could play out at the individual level. War is a massive economic stimulus in itself (provided you win).

In the long term some people are going to win very big. The vast majority will lose. Some will lose so severely that they will never recover. The gap between the wealthy and the poor will expand and the middle class will contract further.

The only coordinated method of correction I can think of outside of war is massive infrastructure spending. Governments will have to drop insane amounts of money into employment creating ventures. Just giving cash to citizens or businesses won't be enough.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Should I buy a gun for home defense in response to COVID-19? · 2020-03-24T08:48:39.788Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

2 & 3: I was functioning off the assumption that if guns are trivially available then you can reasonably expect assailants to be armed with them. Ergo, you need to be able to match that force and/or mitigate it.

There's nothing inherently wrong with less lethal weaponry but there's obviously a force imbalance between them and guns (or even knives).

Comment by stuart-anderson on My Bet Log · 2020-03-23T07:54:38.483Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I consider this off-topic and I'd prefer it not to be discussed in this thread.

I've exercised my right of reply and I'm happy enough to leave it at that.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Should I buy a gun for home defense in response to COVID-19? · 2020-03-23T07:01:57.210Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not American, so bear that in mind.

1. Does the lack of skill issue apply to shotguns?

2. If not a gun, then what alternatives to that?

3. With or without a gun, what's the viability of body armour?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Even if your Voice Shakes · 2020-03-20T10:07:16.271Z · score: -6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As I never made that suggestion I fail to see how it applies.

Furthermore, I would argue that this community is not as homogeneous as you assume. That is a feature, not a bug, at least when it comes to the possibility of evolving your thinking.

OP worked basic retail. This was a starter job and everyone who has worked for more than five minutes has had one. Universal experiences exist. That's why narratives and archetypes work so well. Neither I nor you needed to be the one passing them the olives to understand exactly what happened here and why it turned out the way it did.

Comment by stuart-anderson on My Bet Log · 2020-03-20T09:24:47.685Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW
YES on someone contracting Covid-19.

Is now a good time to point out that this bet can be thrown?

Hubei has had just over 0.1% of its population confirmed as having had the disease at one point, and Italy just over 0.05%.

When your first sample is from known liars and your second from people that fucked everything else up that doesn't inspire confidence. Covid stats have made me far more wary of the source of stats. Plenty of these numbers are obvious baloney.

Covid-19 seems to play very nicely into Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-globalist narrative.

Well, there's a very good reason for that, isn't there? Right now is a object lesson in why borders matter, both pragmatically and politically. Russia has basically no infections because it closed its borders, whilst the EU countries are drowning in disease for the opposite reason.

A global JIT supply chain based almost exclusively in China is an existential, financial, and strategic risk to pretty much the entire world right now. Business as usual is off the table for the foreseeable future.

Bringing back domestic production is a wise strategy here not just because of Chinese unreliability but because the global financial situation is dire. Being able to give your population a shitload of employment will likely benefit everyone. Nations are going to have to pull all sorts of financial shenanigans to avert a full blown meltdown, so ending up with tangible employment and manufacturing capabilities in exchange for that seems like a win.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Importing masks from China · 2020-03-19T07:10:19.780Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

By all means use the cheap Chinese crap vendors, but understand the limits of them. The first and largest in this instance is that shipping will be slow. It's nothing to wait 4-6 weeks for your stuff to turn up. Or go missing. Or arrive not being what you ordered. Or broken.

Understand that these are the outward facing English language sites for Chinese business. You pay a Westerner tax, and you are getting Chinese business standards. If you have access to someone that knows the language then you can use taobao instead, it's exactly the same market as aliexpress (and alibaba for that matter. Same ownership), just in Mandarin, and cheaper.

Nothing on these sites is of quality, and fakes are common. If you buy PPE off Chinese vendors then that's a gamble. For plenty of stuff the fact it's fake, a cheap copy, or just crappy in general isn't that much of an issue. If you wouldn't be prepared to buy it from a dollar store then don't buy it off Chinese web vendors. They're exactly the same thing.

I wouldn't buy PPE from aliexpress but I've bought hundreds of other things (sort by number of orders is your best friend on aliexpress. It forces the cheapest and most genuine vendors to the top of the results). As I said, understand where you are shopping and modulate your expectations accordingly.

Comment by stuart-anderson on How can we protect economies during massive public health crises? · 2020-03-19T04:12:38.598Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The individual's ability to support themselves is a problem. The answer to that, both in personal or societal crisis in the short term is personal savings and stockpiling of emergency supplies. These are both measures that are currently elective and either ignored or scorned by the majority.

If you say to people "You need 3 months of wages in an emergency account" then most will baulk at that, cite financial incapacity, and go straight back to wasting their money on shit. If you talk about prepping, even right now in the middle of a pandemic, people treat you like you're literally insane. Clearly there are attitudinal issues that are discouraging prudent behaviour.

People's ability to work, shop, etc. remotely is clearly important here. If you can do what you need to do without stepping out of your house for a month then executing a full and compulsory quarantine becomes a non-issue.

Protocols for rationing clearly need to be put in place. Everyone has to be guaranteed a minimum survival ration, and if the state isn't prepared/or shouldn't (economic rationales) stockpile for that then they will have to ensure that private enterprise picks up the slack.

If an activity is critical and cannot be performed remotely then it must be segmented, physically and/or by labour force. Sites and shifts must limit or preclude interaction.

Another serious problem is supply lines and Just In Time business practices. Supply and JIT issues mean you either have to keep your borders open for goods, or you have to sit on a significant stockpile of them. Panic buying and JIT have caused utter chaos here.

At the level of government it has become starkly apparent that domestic manufacturing and stockpiling of essential supplies has been neglected. Chinese supply has been demonstrated to be both an economic and strategic risk. Every country will have to significantly diversity supply and to ensure domestic production and stockpiling after this.

I would argue that at the very least protocols and best practices are something that could be formulated for individuals, businesses, and government. It is clear that many have never considered this particular situation, and had no idea what to do, when to do it, etc. IME, when it comes to dealing with people being able to say "Do this" is superior for 80-90% of them in preference to expecting them to show any independent thought or initiative (even in a situation like this, which has the potential for ruin for themselves and their families on a number fronts. People just stand there like deer in the headlights).

Ultimately the solution here is inculcating personal responsibility and capability. The best armour against any crisis would be to inculcate a responsible and capable mindset in as many of the population as possible. Frankly, this entire situation is beginning to scream instructional game to me. Make a fun game and you won't need to coerce people into learning how to take prudent action off their own bat.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Even if your Voice Shakes · 2020-03-19T03:14:54.184Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would concur that personal motivation does matter, but that it doesn't protect one from consequences of action. Go ahead and do what you consider right, and then have the courage of your convictions.

We can debate personal ethics 'til the cows come home. One only need look to the Roma to see an entire culture that treats crime as laudable or to Islam to find murder of the out-group touted as the highest holy virtue to see examples of how variant ethics can be. My argument is that within our culture, particularly the work culture, is that breaking ranks is potentially an ethical misstep, and most certainly a pragmatic mistake.

Stealing and giving are exactly the same inasmuch as chocolate and mint are both flavours. Class and instance aren't equivalent. That all right thinking people find mint to be disgusting is irrelevant to the fact that they are both clearly flavours.

Comment by stuart-anderson on How useful are masks during an epidemic? · 2020-03-11T08:11:03.520Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can someone tell me how to DIY a full hood positive pressure respirator?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Even if your Voice Shakes · 2020-03-10T11:25:26.552Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The belief held doesn't matter, what matters is the authority to act on behalf of an entity. That's why these two situations are identical: both employees acting contrary to instruction for personal reasons in the assumption that they knew better than everyone else. This isn't about the conviction, it's about the act it caused.

Here's how I see things: The olive bar serves olives to the public. Olives generally come served in olive oil, and vinegar, both acids, both utterly hostile to all kinds of bugs. If the olive bar can stay open in a world with e.coli health regulations (ie. people literally having shit on their hands) and not be making people sick, then it can get by with covid-19 too. The company already has multiple members of staff devoted to both food and public safety, internal and external legal counsel, and CEO's and management that are on a first name basis with people in authority and have already had a dozen conversations specifically about covid-19 with various private and government parties. You do not end up running a big company by being a schmuck that cannot deal with complicated business risks. There's always at least one or two business killing grade problems at this level, covid-19 is just the latest one. If things go wrong here, it won't be OP in the firing line, it will be dozens of people way above OP's pay grade. This is not OP's responsibility, and them going off script just makes it that much harder for the people who are responsible here.

People are making a lot of assumptions here based solely on OP's viewpoint. I can tell you that from five minutes of considering this situation and from vocational experience and simple old age that there's more than one side to this. OP's heart is absolutely in the right place, their actions weren't. Likewise, there's at lot more that goes into the company's/managements motivations than simply the profit motive at all cost. That would be a naive interpretation.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Even if your Voice Shakes · 2020-03-08T18:16:39.768Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a situation where you can (probably) have your cake and eat it to, it just depends on how you approach things. If you do it like they did then you get sacked and your ability to affect change in that situation ends then and there. So there's a discussion to be had in regards to ethics and pragmatism.

People here are happy to rally behind this person for something that is ethically identical to what Kim Davis did when she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Somehow I get the feeling that her action inline with her personal convictions but in contravention to official policy and direct instruction wouldn't be so enthusiastically supported by those here, would it? So there's the idea of insubordination in support of personal conviction to be discussed here.

OP's actions had consequences for more than just them. That matters. OP acted without authority, and whenever authority is executed without corresponding responsibility it causes problems. OP got sacked, but their manager had to clean up the mess they made (see my other comment for that line of thought). Ethics are never one sided, and there's more to this than just the situation from OP's perspective.

I'm not here to tell anyone what ethics to hold, or when or how to execute them. Clearly OP is surprised how this played out, I'm not because I've seen it before, and if we can have a conversation about that then maybe they won't get sacked the next time this sort of thing inevitably comes up in their life.

It's trivial to sacrifice for your principles, OP did, and is regretting it as we speak. What's hard is living to your principles without screwing up your's or anyone else's life. Ethics always come with costs. That doesn't mean you give up on ethics, it just means you need to understand the nature of the transaction you are making with the world so you don't end up with regrets and minimise the damage.

OP's situation is done and dusted but there's ample scope for a post mortem and for a more abstract conversation about the nature of the ethics in the situation. I'm not aiming to dump shit on OP for their choices, I'm aiming to expand the conversation beyond what it is at present. OP got sacked for insubordination (which I agree with) and that conversation is more complicated than whether you agree with OP's intent or not (which I also agree with, if not the translation of that intent into action).

Comment by stuart-anderson on Even if your Voice Shakes · 2020-03-08T17:07:17.690Z · score: 12 (8 votes) · LW · GW
Did I actually do the right thing here? I honestly couldn’t tell you.

You did the right thing by your principles, that isn't up for debate. The real question here isn't that, it's how you'd do things differently if you could do it over. This won't be the last time you face this kind of dilemma in life, so the question isn't academic.

There’s certainly an argument that could be made that I didn’t fully think through the consequences of my actions or what effect they would have on me.

You just sound young. Everyone makes these sort of mistakes as a product of lack of experience.

Everyone gets to make decisions that are costly. What ultimately matters is whether or not you regret a decision. You're going to cop negative outcomes from choices whether you like it or not, expected or not.

On a purely pragmatic front, you need an emergency fund. Principles or not, you can always lose a job or experience a financial setback. The more of a buffer you have the bigger the disaster you can tolerate.

There’s also an argument that could be made that my defiance was rather pointless since the olive bar is still open, and if I was going to do something that crazy, I should have saved it for when I knew it would make a difference.

When I read your account of this my first thought was "you need to rethink your strategy in terms of goal rather than principle". You don't have to stop being principled, you just need to be *smarter* about how you fulfil your principles.

If the point is to reduce potential risk that is not the same goal as close the olive bar come hell or high water. When you consider the risk of eating food from these sort of communal dishes I'd imagine it's already high. You haven't panicked over e.coli or any of the other common filth that must be swimming around there, so my first question would be is this as much of a risk as it intuitively seems?

The problem is that barring near-omniscience you can’t really know when that will be, all you can do is play your hand and let the cards fall where they may.

Again, this is a matter of experience. Your situation was entirely predictable to someone that has seen it countless times. You'll see others performing variations of exactly what you have here, and getting the same result, thousands of times in your life. Insubordination resulting in dismissal is common.

To understand the situation better all you have to do is switch your viewpoint from yourself to that of your manager. From the manager's perspective you were just one of a hundred problems that day, a problem that you dealt with, that then came back to bite you on the ass because the easily replaceable worker wasn't doing what you told them to and had gone completely off the reservation.

I've had that problem with people I've worked with. I don't live in a country with easy dismissal, so most of the time it involved me scolding people and ordering them to stop dicking around and do what they were paid to do. If I were your manager I'd have said "We haven't received specific instructions yet, either from corporate or the health department, so for now nothing changes. If and when we do receive that instruction I will want you to be ready to implement it. Can I rely on you for that?". What I wouldn't be saying to you is what I was thinking, which is that it isn't going to be the olive bar that gets shut down, it's going to be the entire store, hopefully before people decide riots and looting is a good idea. And it's America, so of course guns, because as if things aren't hard enough already.

Not because of the consequences to myself, but because it didn’t end up working. ... If it had resulted in the olive bar being closed, I think I would have done it despite the consequences.

Now that you know how important the ends are to you, you'll consider the means more carefully in future. That is a valuable lesson to have learned.

maybe I should have tried to outright sabotage the cooling mechanisms, maybe I should have called the local news, maybe I should have tried to convince my coworkers to go along with it to make it harder for them to get rid of the problem person

1. That is a crime. Don't ever commit a crime in a vocational context. The company will pursue you over it to the bitter end. And you'll get a criminal record into the bargain.

2. Becoming a whistle-blower is about a thousand times worse than committing a crime is from the perspective of personal consequences. Snitches aren't popular with anyone, but when you snitch against people with money and power you are opening yourself up to entirely new levels of punishment.

3. Few would stick their neck out for you, especially if they've seen this kind of thing before. The employer always has the power in these situations barring clear infractions. Employers have no problem putting a head on the pike as an object lesson to the rest of the employees (I've done this myself. Not to the degree of firing people, but the principle is sound). Peer enforcement is more effective than hands on micromanagement.

To sum up, my take on this situation is that you need to learn when to discharge your own ethical responsibility. You going to your manager with your concerns should have been the end of your ethical burden here. You made him aware of the problem, he's the authority, so it's on his shoulders at that point. That is how a hierarchy is supposed to work, authority and responsibility are bound together. If you don't have the authority to choose to close the olive bar then you are also not responsible for anything that arises from failure to close it. Likewise, your choice to act outside your authority here has had consequences for your manager too. Ethical considerations are but one subjective concern. Your manager has had to clean up the mess of your actions and has to deal with all the crap attached with firing you into the bargain. Corporate doesn't give a fuck about the olive bar but I can guarantee they're pissed at the union involvement.

What happened has happened, and the only thing that matters at this point is to learn whatever can be learnt and move on. One of the most difficult lessons about ethics is that you have to accept that sometimes you can do nothing meaningful about an issue. There will certainly be occasions when it is worth it to dig in your heels, even when that's pragmatically counterproductive. There will be situations in your life when the only thing you can do is withdraw your consent whilst events proceed regardless. This wasn't one of those situations because you needed the job more than you needed to make an ethical stand.

None of this is the end of the world and it happens to everyone.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Even if your Voice Shakes · 2020-03-07T06:23:21.396Z · score: 1 (13 votes) · LW · GW

You made a decision you didn't have the authority to make, and exactly what you'd expect happened as a result.

What have you learned here? What do you still need to learn here?

Comment by stuart-anderson on What "Saving throws" does the world have against coronavirus? (And how plausible are they?) · 2020-03-05T02:52:18.699Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Quarantine works. Depending on culture that's something that can be primarily self enforced.

My own country (Australia) has already had the government raising social protocols and quarantines as possible measures despite the low number of cases at present. There will certainly be idiots, but I'm pretty confident that if it comes down to it we have the cultural factors to comply with measures (the entire country routinely floods, burns, or is in drought. Catastrophe is something we have experience dealing with). That being said, expectation is the seed of disappointment.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Is there a better way to define groups for COVID-19 impact? · 2020-03-05T02:38:10.498Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As a related question: How many patients and time passed do we need to be able to have statistics that we can reliably extrapolate from?

Or perhaps: What is the error rate for the statistics we have and the conclusions we make from those statistics?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Do 24-hour hand sanitizers actually work? · 2020-03-02T07:06:03.391Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Contact the manufacturer and ask for evidence of their claims. If they don't have any supporting studies then you can stop your bullshit investigations right there. When they hand you a single study they commissioned that gives them glowing praise you can stop your bullshit investigations. When they hand you ten studies by people that have nothing to do with them then you can start taking them a bit more seriously.

You can also just use something that works and doesn't have a fancy bottle and name and save yourself the trouble. Bleach and alcohol don't smell nice, but they're cheap, effective, and have a mountain of supporting literature.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What are the long-term outcomes of a catastrophic pandemic? · 2020-03-02T06:54:54.105Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  • Nationalism and a return to domestic production.
  • Increase in the speed of the rise in conservatism.
  • A bump in the birth rate. Not enough to matter, given the birth rate crisis.
  • Civil, military, and financial discord are all possible. Everyone's freaking out and there are an increasing number of power differentials and other options opening up. There'll be a mix of circling the wagons and people taking big risks to capitalise on discord.
  • Prepping suddenly won't seem so stupid after this. Want to make some money starting a business? Now you know where.
  • China is facing multiple internal and external threats, and a shaky economy. Expect Trump to turn the thumbscrews and make the most of that.
  • If the EU doesn't control its borders (something it doesn't want to do) then it is going to take a massive hit. It will be interesting to see what the NGO people smugglers will be directed to do by their owners when the shit hits the fan.
  • By the same token, it will be interesting to see what the UK will do at the Irish border.
Comment by stuart-anderson on How do you survive in the humanities? · 2020-02-28T04:10:17.549Z · score: -1 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have an opinion, it comes with no warranty or guarantee of any kind, take it or leave it. I'm not speaking to satisfy anyone but myself.

Comment by stuart-anderson on At what point should CFAR stop holding workshops due to COVID-19? · 2020-02-28T03:49:14.226Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
COVID-19 isn't actually killing children at elevated rates, but that's really weird

An issue at present is that trustworthy data is only just being gathered now. China has cultural and funerary practices that complicate reporting, and it has outright lied about the situation for political reasons. Their data is next to worthless. There are other places that I would also happily put in the bullshit data bin too. Realistically, I think this is going to take a while to shake out.

What I'm seeing is the start of a panic, and that is entirely uncalled for.

When is a panic called for? :)

There's no point panicking but everyone should have plans in place and supplies in reserve in case something happens. I had a blackout a couple of weeks before all the pandemic talk and I've been buying a few things every week to make my life easier the next time it (or something else) happens.

BTW, thank you for being the only person so far to comment instead of just downvoting without adding to the discussion.

I've got no idea why you copped that shellacking. It seems unwarranted.

Comment by stuart-anderson on At what point should CFAR stop holding workshops due to COVID-19? · 2020-02-27T07:57:44.131Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's an argument to be had for untethering a whole bunch of activities from physical presence for reasons other than contagion.

I have no involvement with CFAR but the question I would ask is "Do the bodies really need to be in the same room for this to work?".