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Multidimensional Radical Centrist

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joined 2022 September 04 18:24:54 UTC


User ID: 64


Multidimensional Radical Centrist

1 follower   follows 0 users   joined 2022 September 04 18:24:54 UTC


No bio...


User ID: 64

Possibly. I think you might be able to track net cash outflows, rather than purchases directly, to cover most of it, but that admittedly only works for people that use banks and would have trouble with people who get paid and pay in primarily cash. But the existing income tax system has those problems too.

And then gets hits by sales taxes anyway when he spends his money in the future.

I have occasionally mused that a truly-progressive sales tax could be interesting: tax total expenditures up to, say, the median cost of living at one rate, and marginal expenditures above at a higher rate. This would probably need some allowance for amortization on bigger purchases. The idea being to tax the wealth when it's spent, and intentionally incentivising capital investments rather than conspicuous expenditures.

But it's a very wonkish policy proposal that would be hard to sell to the broader public, I think. And probably has quite a few details that would need ironing out.

The volume and scale of ammunition required to keep the guns firing with an overmatch to make very slow gains over relatively basic trench systems created a tension of how much is needed versus how vulnerable you are moving that much ammo forward.

I think this statement also vindicates decades and billions of dollars of American research and deployment of precision guided weapons: the logistical tail is greatly reduced when you can just, not fire the huge fraction of dumb rounds that would miss anyway.

In a rather similar vein, I really enjoyed the narrative and dialog in Firewatch (2016), even if, in some ways, it's more of an interactive novel. It's probably not for everyone, but the menu option to play with only a map and compass is an interesting vibe, too.

To be clear, it didn't really upset me much: I still liked the show quite a bit overall. But now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I've seen a WWII movie written from a British perspective. The war has a very prominent place in American (and Russian) culture, but I'm not sure if I've seen a purely British take on it.

You know, I can acknowledge that the pattern you're seeing exists, but I've never taken that much umbrage at it, probably because I mostly limit my content to older, or really highly reviewed stuff. Similar, to the question of whether the demographics of the cast need to match the source material. But I did come across an instance of it recently that bothered me a little, and felt notable.

I really enjoyed Masters of the Air: it was really excellent on most of the axes I care about -- screenwriting, visuals, acting, and such. But at one point, during an ensemble shot of the American air crews, I thought to myself "those guys all look British," so I looked into it on IMDB -- most of the main cast are British or Irish. Even the Tuskegee Airmen weren't played by African-American actors. Some of that might have been due to pandemic restrictions, or using local actors for logistical reasons, but it felt off. Not that there aren't lots of Americans of such descent, but a group of (white, 1940s) Americans should look more diverse than that: I had a [redacted] whose family had recently immigrated from [Europe, not Britain] that served and died in a B-24 over Germany.

Maybe it's that it's intended as a historical account, but it feels like it cheapens the narrative ("heroic American airmen bring the fight to Nazi Germany"), and it's not as if the British weren't there and similarly heroic at the time. A similar series portraying RAF Bomber Command would probably be pretty interesting!

That said, I would recommend the series overall as a worthy followup to Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

which is why they unfroze billions of Iranian funds and reduced sanctions (in what now looks to be a serious blunder).

It continues to surprise me how many of these blunders date back to the first weeks of the administration. I'm not a huge fan of the previous president, but many of Biden's first actions included repealing the "remain in Mexico" policy (which seems linked to ongoing trouble with immigration), making nice with Iran (which didn't prevent October 7th, and seems hotter now than before), and passing the final round of pandemic stimulus (which we were told wouldn't cause inflation).

It doesn't exactly inspire the most confidence in me.

It's bonkers how much you pay for plywood smaller than 4'x8'. Basically a "Hah hah, you don't have a truck" tax. It's fully double per square foot for a 2'x4' sheet versus a 4'x8' sheet.

At least my local Orange Box store has a couple of saws they will use to rough cut things like this. There isn't always someone on hand to operate it (I've had to wait either in line or while they paged the guy in the store) but they don't charge for a simple "make it fit in my car." I will admit I have to spend more time planning my cuts on the panels as a result.

For long boards, I've usually just waited, but I have considered bringing a handsaw to make it work for small jobs. If I ever need a lot, they do rent trucks by the hour, but I've never tried that.

The death toll seems to have come to a grand total of zero.

You know, for all the frequent concerns about AI killbots, modern smart weapons have, in practice driven what is, to use your term, kayfabe. I could point to how concerns about nuclear mutual destruction, while technically a valid concern, have thus seem to have caused a (fragile) truce on Great Power conflict. It seems that one outcome of true "smart weapons" would be the establishment of this sort of kayfabe, like in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon," but with no actual deaths, just our robots going at each other with the owners of the losing bots ceding the conflict, because of the implication.

Now that I think about it, the post-WWII era already has quite a few conflicts that are settled not by outright conquest, but by leveraging power into situations where one nation-state could clearly squish the other like a bug, and the loser taps out like a wrestling match, rather than a mano a mano fight to the death. It seems that some of the more enduring conflicts that exist (Israel/Palestine, for example) continue because the "losing" side refuses to tap out, and the rules of the international arena don't really consider such cases.

But it leads us to weird things like today's events, where one clearly-outgunned side is clearly and deliberately firing live ammunition at the other, and the fired-at parties seem to be left batting down the ammunition, and wondering whether it's worth the trouble to flatten the other side.

I'd bet you have to be more careful with what ends up in "trash": no amount of combustion is going to remove lead or mercury from the waste stream. And I'd bet it's at least possible for combustion to do gnarly things like oxidize chromium into biologically hazardous states. But I'm certainly not an expert on waste processing, although machine learning for single-stream waste sorting does seem like a potentially useful use case.

Have you looked at the numbers for pumped storage? A kilo of gasoline stores enough energy to raise a similar kilo of water more than four thousand kilometers. The sheer volumes you'd need to lift to match the energy density of a single floating roof tank (or oil tanker) would be absurd, and you'd need to scatter pumped lakes the size of Lake Mead all over the country, and even then probably couldn't handle seasonal variation. Not to mention that reservoirs are themselves not that environmentally friendly or that there aren't many good sites to start from that aren't already used.

IMO generating hydrocarbons is the most viable storage technology (plus it works with existing supplied energy infrastructure), but even there robust, scalable chemical processes are lacking. Hydrogen is easier chemically but harder to store.

Wasn't Snowden on record as trying to go somewhere else (Ecuador?), but ended up at the Moscow airport when the lawfare began?

I've long thought the jurisdictional arguments would make it difficult: to my knowledge, Assange is not a US citizen, nor has he set foot in the US. I can accept that the actions happened as-published, but it seems, well, inconsistent to allow nation-states to extradite people with such a limited claim to jurisdiction. If such a principle were evenly applied, would the US seriously consider, say, a Russian demand to extradite OSINT twitter accounts? Or is it just a principal that applies to citizens of close allies (Australia in this instance)? Would it even be considered if the roles were reversed?

It seems we'd be better served writing it out explicitly and reciprocally: "it is against [local country] law to actively spy on [allied country] outside of the national intelligence apparatus" doesn't sound completely crazy, but I don't think it is written anywhere.

Destruction of the Rafah Ghetto

Why is the obvious World War II comparison of Rafah to the Warsaw Ghetto? I can think of a number of other plausible comparisons that are probably worth considering. This is, admittedly, a rather hot take, but why not compare Rafah to Berlin in 1945? After the Third Reich invaded most of Eastern Europe, including rampant raping and pillaging across the countryside, and that entire campaign of deliberate ethnic cleansing and genocide, nobody looks at the Allied decision to demand complete, unconditional surrender as unreasonable, or that they kept fighting all the way to Berlin. Nobody argues that Stalin was deliberately unprepared at the start of the war to justify flattening Germany and running parts of it as a puppet state for Soviet gain. Nobody of import says "countless German civilians died because Roosevelt and Stalin were unwilling to enact a unilateral ceasefire at the Rhine and the Oder." Nobody serious mourns the Volkssturm civilians (frequently children) that were handed primitive weapons for futile resistance, without also recognizing the broader context of the tragedy of the entire war. And I'm not even going to even try to deny that the Red Army was infamous for its war crimes against civilians in the East, or the decades of subsequent political repression the Soviets brought to Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

The Axis powers entered the war in the late 1930s even though almost all modern historians consider their possibility of overall victory bleak. Maybe they could have bargained for an advantageous quick peace, but even Yamamoto has (possibly-apocryphal) quotes about expecting to lose a longer war. Hamas had even lower chances of winning in October. I'm not convinced that this merits assuming that either power, as the "underdog," merits obvious sympathy, although that seems to be in vogue these days in certain circles. Heck, if you look at ratios of civilian casualties -- as I've seen some argue makes Israel's actions unjustified -- America had almost none (generally counted as a few thousand if you include territories and civilian ship crews). The British claim 70,000. More civilians than that died in the Battle of Berlin alone, and Allied bombing campaigns killed hundreds of thousands. Not to mention the nuclear weapons.

I have trouble embracing the progressive worldview on Gaza because those same principles, applied to WWII, would have me side with the Axis powers. And I am quite certain that the world is a better place because the (Western) Allies won the day. Not that they are perfect (ha!), but I'll certainly stan them over the major Axis players.

Not that I'd wholly endorse Israel to hit Rafah like Zhukov hit Berlin: I don't think the situation really warrants it, or that the situations are immediately similar. Heck, I won't even try to argue that Israel hasn't committed atrocities in this situation. But on the other, it seems about as reasonable as comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto, and I'd be pretty amused to see some Tankies argue that the Red Army was in the wrong.

It's worth mentioning the Dutch famine in the winter of '44-45, which was largely caused by the German occupation, and during which the Allies (and others) tried to get food into the area.

But that's really just an interesting relevant anecdote and doesn't really disprove your general point.

When progressives complain about straight white men, are they looking for a "scapegoat" for all their problems?

Sometimes there are reasonable facts behind the complaints, but have you seen the litany of things "white supremacy" and "patriarchy" are casually blamed for?

Unless I'm missing something, it seems like there is no good business reason for an email queue to be 3-4 days steady state.

Your question is reasonable. I've always assumed (without evidence) that "steady state" isn't perfectly steady, and overprovisioning to get to zero backlog constantly would be expensive. Both short-term day-to-day noise and seasonal effects (few warranty claims on snowblowers in July) could make volumes unpredictable, and a couple of days slack would let you schedule shifts based on volume.

Although as Oracle pointed out, it could be a contractual obligation. I've certainly had interactions with, say, insurance where I've been quoted 60 days to evaluate a claim, but gotten a response within a week.

You're not wrong. The self-selection process for the times I've seen it work is likely an essential part of it working at all. Self-actualization is something that requires internal motivation, and can't be forced. But it can be an aspirational picture.

There is something undeniably effective about just having very different people sit down and talk/interact with each other in a non-violent setting. Not that I really disliked either set of people before visiting them, but I felt I definitely understood them better afterwards.

When I was younger, I did a fair number of programs that involved getting grouped with other people you didn't know and having to work together. It was also an eye-opener for me. The rural/urban divide was certainly present, but not the only divide: having been raised in a straight-laced, middle-class, white collar household that I thought knew how to do physical labor, the blue collar work-hard-play-hard approach to life wasn't something I expected.

I have occasionally mused in the last few years that mandatory national service after high school would probably improve national cohesiveness. Not for militaristic reasons (although those aren't completely invalid), but also because being forced to meet and work together with very different Americans would be good for the country as a whole. And there are some useful life skills that some would never pick up otherwise. Even if it's just cutting trails in National Parks/Forests or whatever.

But I'm not sure how I could convince the median voter to go for it: probably half don't trust the country to be left in charge of their kids, and a similar portion think their kids are too good to spend months of their lives on something outside of their worldview.

In the states I have had lunch with literal army vehicles and national guard on the street corners.

Where are you seeing this? It's not at all common in the US, excepting major disasters where the National Guard gets called out. Admittedly, New York sees the state of the subway as such a disaster currently, but my American sensibilities are always thrown when I've come across gendarmerie in Europe: our cops mostly don't dress in camo or bring out long guns unless they're actively using them. But uniformed soldiers patrolling airports and tourist hotspots is common in other First World countries I've been to.

US should also try for the 'science->military' feedback loop.

I realize it's not hugely discussed, but isn't this (to some extent) still the case? The US has no shortage of scientists working on military(-ish) technology. Those National Labs all work for the Department of Energy, which, as Rick Perry found out, has surprisingly little to do with energy qua energy, and a lot more to do with nuclear power and defense research. There's also DARPA and similar programs that are more explicitly labeled "defense", and plenty of research grants from the intelligence community and the various services. Even NASA is distinctly defense-adjacent and their funding usually comes with security requirements. And "securing defense supply chains" has been a big reason for funding projects like the CHIPS Act.

It's not exactly a new example, but ARPANET was, for a long time, a defense project, and DARPA was funding a lot of the early self-driving car research. It's hard to see the current picture more clearly (I certainly don't claim to), but there's plenty of reason to hold results like this fairly quietly. I also won't claim that it's done optimally at a good scale, but the idea that science and military aren't linked currently is at least missing some of the forest for the trees.

This doesn't mean I think it's wrong. It's just that I think that the conclusions you'd have to draw from it being correct are just so awful for me.

I have always drawn a sharp distinction between technical questions and political ones. To me, "Is HBD true?" Is distinctly the former, while most any question about actually applying that knowledge is the latter.

I'm not a strict utilitarian: I think we can and should have guiding principles in how we approach political questions, regardless of the technical merits. I can think of plenty of likely true technical facts that, applied, lead to all kinds of evil: "Replacing retirement and social security with mandatory euthanasia centers increases paperclip production long-term GDP" might be true, but I find any attempt to enact such a policy morally abhorrent. But I also don't think we need to willfully blind ourselves to the idea as a whole to avoid enacting reprehensible policies: we simply make a moral choice not to do evil.

There will be disagreements about the morality of some cases, but I think there is a legitimate (near-)universal consensus that killing people at retirement is wrong. Much of the Culture War seems to revolve around the moral edge cases (abortion, for example) and largely binary views on morality.

In short, I don't think you should need to concern yourself with whether or not population-level statistics apply to you, and in return we as a society should agree to, in general, ignore those statistics (willfully, if necessary) when interacting with individuals on principle. Because that's the egalitarian society I would want to live in.

Plenty of bad behavior happens among the Silicon Valley elite.

As much as I find the statement itself reprehensible, I think there's a kernel of truth in an infamous quote from a former president:

And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

High status lets people (almost exclusively men, in this case) get away with a lot, in part because people are willing to put up with more to be with someone high status: Christian Grey's romance plays don't work for anyone who isn't a hot, young billionaire. The quid pro quo is implicit, and rarely spoken about, although I seem to recall a few blow-ups in recent memory where it seemed part of the drama involved (by deceit or misreading) mistakes about how high-status one party was.

And nobody really complains because it's hard to declare that behavior with "groupies" (for lack of a better word) is categorically non-consensual.

Everyone is free to build their own GNU/Linux distribution

If anything, GNU/Linux is, itself, an example of voting with feet. There's a reason we're not running GNU Hurd for a full GNU stack.

Visible-source seems to have helped track down the whole story, as did the development discussions that happened in public (though what about e-mail/discord?), but the initial discovery seems like it was entirely separate from any source-diving, and a lot of the attack never had its source available until people began decompiling it.

There isn't any evidence directly supporting this, but I saw a claim that this entire claim of discovery ("slow SSH connections") could easily enough be parallel construction prompted by The Powers That Be (tm) aware of this effort for other reasons -- which range from "we know our adversaries are trying to insert this code" to "we run our own audits but don't want to reveal their details directly". Even in such a situation it's a bit unclear who the parties would be (nation-state intelligence agencies, possibly certain large corporations independent of their respective governments). The obvious claim would be something like "NSA launders data to Microsoft to foil North Korean hacking attempts", but "China foils NSA backdoor attempts" isn't completely implausible either.

That said, I can only imagine that sneaking a backdoor like this into proprietary build systems would be even less likely to be detected: the pool of people inspecting the Windows build system is much smaller than those looking at (or at least able to look at) libxz and it's (arcane, but somewhat industry standard) autoconf scripts.

Also, this is the sort of thing that I have a vested interest in as a long-time personal and professional Linux user. I have the skills ("a very particular set of skills") to follow the details of issues like this, but there isn't yet any organized way to actually contribute them. I'd be willing to spend maybe a few hours a month auditing code and reviewing changes to "boring" system packages, but I'd never think to look at libxz specifically, or to get enough "street cred" for people to actually take any feedback I have seriously. And even then, this particular issue is underhanded enough to be hard to spot even when an expert is looking right at it. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting involved like this?