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Small-Scale Question Sunday for October 23, 2022

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

With all that progress in machine learning, WHEN will be we able to upscale frame rate of old animes from effective 5-8 fps to 60 fps?

Early pre-neural network attempt (SVP) is about as effective as nil, older DAIN still leaves a lot to be desired.

I believe the worst case predictions from it have been disproven and that there’s been enough CO2 emissions cuts to prevent a scenario of maximum warming as well.

It's been a while, but the last time I looked at the models, all of the worst-case predictions for the next hundred years were manageable with currently existing first-world technology. If you can't buy an air conditioner or hurricane-proof your buildings, then you're in trouble. Similarly, wildlife and ecosystems (but not agriculture) are also in trouble.

A lot of the apocalyptic predictions came from war sparked by the sudden changes in every country's fortunes.

@ZorbaTHut @naraburns I just tried to send a message to the admins inquiring about the status of my recent post to the CW thread, but when I clicked the submit button I received a 405 error. I tried to send another message about the 405 error and received another 405 error.

Heads up, modmail feature may be broken.

Alright that should be fixed now, I think, maybe. Give it another try if you would?

Just submitted another message. System said message was sent.

Worked fine, thanks for the test assistance!

I've upvoted your post from "?" to "NaN" apparently. If it's not just on my end, several things may be broken rn

Also fixed :)

(we just rolled out hiding vote scores for the first 24 hours)

Anybody else concerned about the amount of downvotes people are throwing around on the site? I started commenting about Georgism and got downvoted to hell on multiple comments.

Seemed like on the sub only irrational or low effort comments got downvoted - not people trying to argue something intelligently. Idk, maybe I have a higher estimation of my own comments but I see posts that seem very civil and well-written getting downvoted, which makes me concerned.

Anybody else concerned about the amount of downvotes people are throwing around on the site?

Yeah, I don't know what's going on. If I didn't know better, I'd think we gained lurkers changing ships... could it be rdrama? Are they even interested in huge textwalls? Or does the visibility of downvotes encourage spite voting? Or is there a hostile actor with alts? Has JuliusBranson somehow returned?

I made it a personal policy a year or so ago to never downvote anything that doesn't break the rules. Even if I absolutely hate it. It's a good, Motteian kind of policy to have. I think it's possible that there any many here, potentially newcomers, who just don't understand what etiquette is appropriate for the site. I wonder if there is an effective way to orient new users to the mores of the community? I'm not sure how it would be done, other then people generally making it known that downvoting someone is an ill-mannered faux pas in this community.

Well they just made votes invisible for the first day so I think that will help!

And in the 25 minutes since you posted this, you already got two (gross, not net) downvotes. You were civil and well-written here still, you're asking an important question in an intelligent manner ... and although "don't whine about being downvoted" is generally a good rule in the topical threads where the downvoting occurs, you're not there now, you're starting a separate thread in the right forum for "meta" questions.

I'm unpleasantly surprised. "Moderate based on quality, not opinion" (more commonly phrased as "The downvote button is not a disagree button") was perhaps the most famously ignored aspect of Reddiquette, but it was one that TheMotte at least partially lived up to; I wasn't expecting it to get even worse after the move.

Yeah there seems to be a much more conflict-oriented / Straussian focus of many of the new posters, or at least the ones I'm noticing. I wonder if that has something to do with it?

Anyway, thanks for the sanity check.

Is there a good open source software option for drafting/architecture/engineering design? I'm not an engineer by trade, but I would like to fiddle with plans like one, just to make sketches of ideas to give to a real engineer, but I don't want to invest in serious autocad software or anything like that. Just enough to play with resizing a square or measuring a parking lot out, something like that.

I've heard good things about freecad, but I've never actually used it. Might be worth looking over the documentation to see if it fits your needs.

Is there any theory for why sophisticated European societies all developed alongside opulently wealthy families? It seems counterintuitive as you’d expect the society that opted for less “vanity waste” would dominate any with a family that owned huge estates and castles etc. is there some reason for why, in history, the countries with opulent royal families performed better? Does “place enormous abundant wealth into this one avaricious family” counterintuitively promote something that helps the whole society?

Orson Welles knows

This the small scale question thread, so I'll just give an outline of my favored theory: it is all downstream of dominant military technologies necessary for the state to survive and the cost to produce those technologies economically.

Chariot warfare depended on "heroes" who could afford chariots, time to train in the immense skill required to fight with sword and bow, and multiple horses and slaves to care for it all. It gave us the heroic eras, the Mahabharata and the Iliad and the Achaemenid empire, which had dominant and tiny nobilities (relatively speaking of course). The Greeks developed the phalanx, which privileged having large numbers of disciplined and physically fit but not necessarily all that individually skilled troops, but requires a relatively large middle class of free landowners who can afford the equipment of a hoplite and the physical fitness necessary to fight, this lead us to the Polis and democracy in various forms, and then to the Roman development of the related maniple system, which leads to the Marian reforms and the "great generals" period of the fall of the Roman Republic, then to the imperial period when keeping a large standing army in the field with no conquests required certain taxation policies, eventually to the great estates becoming as autarkic as possible to avoid taxes, then to feudalism. Feudalism relied on the plate armored knight, who as military units are big and require a lot of training and skill and equipment. They can only be produced by a system that takes a great deal of surplus from small serfs and gives it to knightly families. Gunpowder, and the sudden renewed usefulness of mass peasant armies trained in a few weeks, delivers democracy, nationalism, communism, and ideological warfare more generally.

So when we talk about developed European countries having grand families, it is mostly downstream of the feudal military model of the knight drawing wealth for his plate armor and horses from the peasantry, because no one in continental Europe could organize a peasant army that could stop a knightly charge outside that one time that got really famous; the rest is just the leveling function of the firearm slowly grinding down that advantage over the centuries.

I would naively expect the correlation to run the other way; only a society as wealthy as France can build Versailles.

contactless pickup economics

Just got back from doing my monthly shopping. Still impressed by the automated pickup boxes and curbside delivery, which made everything so much more efficient (for the customer at least).

Does anyone know if this stuff is actually cost effective for companies? It must suck up a tremendous number of man-hours compared to just sticking stuff on a shelf, which they still have to do anyway; some poor guy spent a good 15 minutes rolling carts of stuff out to my truck and even helping me load. It never took off before wuflu, but was that just inertia or because it didn't make financial sense?

Some well-managed companies like Costco didn't do it at all, but that might reflect their "lure people into the store with loss leaders" business strategy more than any direct cost-benefit analysis. Others like Home Depot went all-in on no-limits free shipping which must be costing them a fortune; I recently bought several breakers and conduit fittings, and each showed up separately in individual Christmas present-size boxes.

Was there just a bunch of panicked malinvestment in 2020 on the assumption that "the future is contactless, Do Something or Amazon will eat you"?

I don't know if it's economical, but I find the whole thing (delivery and pickup) to be frustrating and unappealing.

The first time I tried delivery for groceries, they didn't deliver several of the items I ordered and (a much worse sin in my books) they replaced several of my items with similar ones. This angered me: I didn't want those ones, I wanted the ones I ordered! I don't like that brand! I don't like trying new things! I don't like paying for items I did not select!

I learned that you have to manually un-select the option to replace items with similar ones if the ones I ordered aren't available. The next few times I did delivery I made sure to turn that off, and inevitably on every order 1-4 items would be missing because they weren't available. Which made it impossible to plan meals, since I couldn't be sure I'd have all the ingredients. I'd much rather go to the store, pick out the ones I want, and adapt to shortages while I'm there and can change meal plans.

I recognize that my feelings on this are a bit "Old Man Yells at Cloud", but I liked things better the old way! When people had fewer options!

I remember stores offering curbside pick-up for roughly $5 prior to the pandemic (in Canada). I think Loblaws and Walmart were rolling it out. They took out some handicap parking spots and replaced them with pickup spots, lol.

I'd imagine the cost of an employee picking items is going to be less than that for most orders. The costs of bagging/checking out are already baked in. So I don't think it's uneconomical.

If a chain were to be completely curbside pickup, it would be extremely economical, though. We're talking a much smaller footprint, tiny parking lot. So the costs to set up and maintain the business will be a lot smaller. You can optimize the layout for picking. You get to do first in, first out. You'd be saving a lot on spoilage. You'd be saving a lot from theft.

Right now, in a regular store, it probably takes 5 minutes for a worker to fill a simple order, especially if you have products at opposite ends of the store. Many stores are laid out in a fashion to get the customer to have to go through it, and spend longer, hoping they'll buy more stuff. Items are placed in certain areas to influence what you grab (name brands and new products at eye level).

With a store optimized for picking, you'd have multiple people filling a single order, just different parts of it (frozen/refrigerated/bulk/produce/dry goods/etc). Popular items would be grouped together. You could get the picking time to a total half a minute for a simple order. A half dozen employees should be able to run a high traffic outlet with little issue. The labour cost (in Canada, with a ~$15/hr wage) would be $90/hr, then all the other costs (payroll taxes, benefits, insurance and such). You're looking at a max of $150/hr in labour to have a capacity to fill roughly 500 orders each hour (though it largely depends on the average order size; if all orders are small, you'll be able to do over 700 per hour; if all orders had hundreds of items, you're looking at <100). So maybe an average of 30 cents per order, in labour costs. And you could probably get that down even more with some automation, conveyors, etc. But it's going to get more and more expensive, at least upfront, to get the per order picking time down much further.

Worst case scenario would be taking each employee 1 minute to fill their part of an order, for a total of 6 man-minutes per hour. You're getting 60 orders done an hour. You're coming in at $2.50/order. This is likely close to the cost grocery stores are paying right now for offering curbside pick-up.

Your labour costs in other areas would remain the same or drop. For stocking shelves, you'd just be stocking the picking area. No time wasted on product presentation, rotating product, price labeling, price checking, etc. Nobody in the checkout line holding up other customers. Don't have to worry about a lack of cashiers becoming a bottleneck. No need to train cashiers. Every employee can be trained to pick, and if things get exceptionally busy, you can pull people from one job and toss them on another. If it's Christmas and everyone is buying a turkey, you can throw an extra person in the fridge.

Your labour costs should easily be less than the average grocery store, while having the capacity to serve more people per hour, and those customers not being frustrated by crowds, lines, things being out of stock (since hopefully the system would prevent out-of-stock items from being ordered). You'll save a ton of money on utilities, as you're not battling with keeping food cold and customers warm. You'll save a ton on the cost of the property, as you won't need substantial parking (half your lot will probably be employee parking), and you can have a drive-thru to help get customers through faster (with a couple employees that just load vehicles up? This could be the more expensive part, but likely less than cashiers). Smaller building (easily less than half the size).

With those Amazon cashless store, you're really only eliminating the cashier. And that's coming at the high cost of the system required to monitor a customer's shopping. If some tech has to step foot in that store once a week, that's likely wiping out the savings from not having a cashier. And the stores I've seen (from photos/videos online) are pretty small, more akin to a convenience store, with a small selection of products. High volume isn't going to happen.

With a store that only does curbside, assuming they have enough volume, it may be possible to do free delivery and still be competitive with other stores. Especially if it's scheduled rather than on-demand. It seems most delivery gig jobs are doing 1 delivery per trip, which is horribly inefficient. But I think the delivery side comes with far more headaches; people not answering their door and claiming an order never came, drivers having to deal with long driveways, gates, and other shit that increases their time. Apartment buildings, too, with needing to get buzzed in and take an order up. An order delivered to the top floor of a building would easily wipe out any profit. The points where employees interact with customers are almost always a bottleneck, and reducing those as much as possible will save a ton of money.

We need to bring back milk doors. It would decrease delivery times significantly, making it cheaper for customers and businesses.

New business idea; Mr Venture Capitalist, what we'll do is use billions of your money to begin offering free installation of 'drop boxes' in high and middle income communities. In exchange, we control access to this box (we'll sell it as a safety feature, so people can't shove unwanted shit in there, or steal stuff). We'll make deals with various companies (UberEats, Amazon, FedEx etc) to pay us to access these boxes for delivery. When something is put in it, the homeowner is notified on their phone. Hell, we'll even put some cameras on it so they can see. For companies like Amazon/FedEx, they wouldn't have to charge less for delivery, as the selling point is that the customer's package is safely delivered and can't be stolen; FedEx and Amazon will save money on the time spent delivering (especially FedEx from having far less 'delivery attempts') but also on 'lost/stolen/damaged' packages that they might have to fork out for. For companies like UberEats, they may be able to pass some of the savings to their customers, increasing the frequency of ordering.

And there's big savings in not having their customer service deal with as many complaints (especially from scammers). We can simply share video with Uber/FedEx/Amazon when a claim of lost/stolen/damaged delivery is made.

The next step would be to get into lower/working class neighbourhoods. These won't be as profitable, so we'll need to conjure up a media campaign claiming that it is discriminatory that there aren't boxes like ours in low income BIPOC communities. Then we angle for the government to give us subsidies/grants to fund the roll out of these to low-income BIPOC communities. We won't include all the fancy tech that the middle/upper class gets, though. This is because we're moving away from providing value for other businesses, since our 'drop boxes' are now becoming the norm. They can't not use it.

We're also going to need to do some regulatory capture. We'll push for regulations on our boxes, that just happen to conform with the exact specifications of our boxes. This will make any up-and-coming competitors have to toss out all their shit and start over. We'll also push for increased liability for box providers, and then have a department that will focus solely on finding cases where our competitors have failed to comply with regulations, so they get hit with fines or lawsuits. Feed some stories to the lesser press about babies being killed in 'unsecure' boxes of our competitors or something.

Anyways, once regulatory capture is complete, we're going to need to turn our boxes into a permanent piggy bank. What we'll do is convince the government that our 'drop boxes' are actually a 'public utility', and that every company should have access to them. We'll now just collect a fee that goes to 'maintaining' the box network, while 'retailers' (which are companies we'll start on the side, primarily in upper and middle class areas) sell access to the network. This will further destroy any competition we may have had.

Then we convince Elon Musk to buy the business for $694.20/share. Then get our press buddies to say how that's fascism. Our buddies in government will then nationalize our boxes, paying us a premium to keep it out of the hands of literal Nazis.

This increased efficiency of delivery will allow our curbside grocery outlets to offer free delivery. We'll be able to take this customer facing businesses (and as I said before, interactions with customers are a bottleneck) and turn it into a business that has absolutely no customer interaction (other than our social media team, who will mostly just make fun of customers for being stupid, which will somehow make the average customer feel smarter and want to use our business).

Oh right, and one detail I forgot; our proprietary 'drop boxes' will be the ideal size the fit 'grocery boxes' we use at our store to put groceries in. We'll own the company making these boxes, out of some 'bio-friendly' material, and we'll get politicians to pass a low making these particular boxes the standard for delivery (or boxes that are certain fractions of the size), forcing all companies to buy these boxes for delivery, except in the cases of oversized packaged (which we'll push the government to punitively tax the living shit out of, to encourage more companies to think inside the box). We'll also collect fees for picking up these boxes, cleaning them, maintaining them, replacing them. Maybe a deposit program. Or we can convince people to put recyclables in them, then convince the government to give

I feel like I just witnessed the origin story of a supervillain.

Can anyone here recommend a specific translation of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics? I read it in college and want to reread it, but when I look at the different editions, I don't know how to pick. Any suggestions from someone with a more extensive philosophy background?


In a given phil department you're likely to be assigned Terence Irwin's translation (lots of notes, leans to comprehensibility) or Roger Crisp's (better with a little familiarity, adheres closer to original text).

Thank you!

What do you think motivates Elon Musk to do some of the weird things he does? He has a lot of tweets that feel like /r/iamverysmart material, like saying chess is a simple game and now that we have computers games like Polytopia are way better. Or how he tried to buy twitter, then back out of it after already signing a contract saying he would leading twitter to sue him to force him to buy. Or offering his analysis of the Ukraine-Russian war on twitter, which even if you would agree the broad strokes of his suggestion were good, Twitter's really not a good platform to share nuanced geopolitical analysis to try to encourage peace.

Is he just doing stuff for attention? Does he think he's genuinely making a world a better place with those actions? Does he have some sort of social media manager planning this stuff to keep his name in the news and stock price high? Is he just bored and tweeting/making impulse purchases to pass the time, like what everyone else does just on a much larger scale? For the life of me I don't know why he does what he does.

Or offering his analysis of the Ukraine-Russian war on twitter, which even if you would agree the broad strokes of his suggestion were good, Twitter's really not a good platform to share nuanced geopolitical analysis to try to encourage peace.

I don’t think he is in position to significantly influence the Russia-Ukraine war in any case, but that way, at least, when the dust settles he can point at his tweets and present himself as a benevolent figure who tried to save lives.

He's was already influencing things more than almost anyone else who's not a major politician or military figure with Starlink. And I'm sure he has the leverage to get in the room to talk to people who can make direct decisions, if nothing else but because he was providing that Starlink to Ukraine. Or even if he didn't, he could've written a more nuanced blog post on a substack instead of a couple short tweets.

Thinking history will prove him right and he just wants to get his prediction in early and publicly is certainly possible. I don't know if it sounds likely to me though.

He has a lot of tweets that feel like /r/iamverysmart material, like saying chess is a simple game and now that we have computers games like Polytopia are way better

A lot of his twitter posts read like a combination of normie humor and the internet-meme style of acting quirky / dumb in a wholesome way for laughs. Maybe he posts them because people like it and he gets attention (and this helps in other ways - tesla meme stock etc), maybe he genuinely finds the memes funny and his wacky observations to be true (and overstates them for effect, like everyone else on twitter does). das baby!

For the russia/ukraine thing - "Twitter's really not a good platform to share nuanced geopolitical analysis to try to encourage peace" - he probably does think he's being useful in that specific case, and that's just him being wrong, but 'person smart in one area is less smart in other area' is pretty universal.

So I'll just offer my response on Musk's points...

Chess isn't a simple game. But it is a solved game at the lower levels. The winner of an amateur match is going to be whoever spent more time studying chess books.

Musk has better things to spend his time on, but doesn't want a bunch of mediocre people running around bragging that they beat him at chess.

So he tweets that to avoid the whole situation.

His Twitter purchase is an interesting topic, and there's a lot of speculation. But keep in mind that there were left wing groups planning to go to court to stop the purchase, and around that time tech stocks took a big hit.

So it was probably a mix of trying to get a lower price, replacing funding that had backed out, and waiting to see if the DOJ anti trust division was going to come after him.

As for Ukraine, this is pretty straightforward. Western governments have committed over $100 billion dollars to help Ukraine, and lots of groups have gotten in on the grift. Weapons developers are getting money to fund new systems to "help Ukraine" that won't be ready for years. If you dig, I'm sure you'll find a bunch of lefty groups getting big bucks for dubious services.

No one expects any of them to work for free.

But Starlink was providing critical communications services for free and it's clear that everyone was happy to leave them holding the bag. Musk just wanted to get paid for services or for the war to end.

So it's not for attention. He's just trying to advance his interests in various ways.

But it is a solved game at the lower levels. The winner of an amateur match is going to be whoever spent more time studying chess books.

There's a lot more to chess than memorizing openings and specific tactical patterns, practicing and being able to see moves into the future matters a lot too. Also, Polytopia's not different in that the person with the knowledge/practice advantage will probably win.

Musk has better things to spend his time on, but doesn't want a bunch of mediocre people running around bragging that they beat him at chess.

Has that been happening?

Chess is a lot less in a sense that very crude algorithm which evaluates trees is enough to beat an average human, because of low branching quotient and it's a perfect information game. Games with incomplete information require more complex AI.

Has that been happening?

I'm just guessing.

He's a dude who guessed right three times and who's early/mid/late career fuckups were either prevented by his partners or bailed out by the government, and now he thinks every one of his ideas is gold.

Dude looks at his track record of having the biggest social credit score and thinks he is jobs/gates/ford/carnegie; not realizing that he really, really isn't.

Steve Jobs delivered inconsequential slick electronics mostly now notable as vectors for addictive apps and weird egregores and destructive social networks, Musk staked his personal wealth at saving space launch business and somehow did not fail at that, and wasn't "bailed out" by government.

If you win a contract for launches for the government at a competitive price, that's not a bailout.

They are really not comparable at all.

SpaceX has never and probably will never make a profit without government contracts; and it is also the thing I love most that musk has ever spearheaded. It is a frankly stupid business idea though, and if he stopped making decisions about his fucking moronic dick extension heavy lifters the company would probably be much more functional. Him being in charge of space X instead of just writing the checks almost certainly has made the company worse, not better.

Basically, I really really REALLY hope that crewed starship only exists in rendering software and isn't eating up attention and capital.

He (IMO) has three meaningful contributions to human progress; with every other action he has taken of neutral or negative value: He has succefully marketed EVs as sexy instead of lame, he has plowed a big pile of money into decreasing dollars/ozs to orbit, and he has made some long bets on innovative manufacturing techniques re. casting large structural members that I think will pay off long term.

Everything else he has done ranges from boondogle ->scam -> half-baked->purely exists to siphon public money.

He has succefully marketed EVs as sexy instead of lame

This one is interesting because of how little it actually took. A large part of it was just making a regular ass sedan at a time when other manufacturers were making their EVs conspicuously ugly (so you can show everyone how much you care about the environment).

So little, but apparently impossible for those existing manufacturers.

SpaceX has never and probably will never make a profit without government contracts;

You have some good write-up on why their business model with Starlink is inherently unprofitable ? It does seem somewhat preposterous.

Also, I don't think you are right, they have something like 2/3rds of the commercial launch market.

his fucking moronic dick extension heavy lifters the company would probably be much more functional.

Why? The engines work, are vastly better than anything else on account of the physical properties of methane. Amazing lsp too.

If the system works, it's going to be possible to put 100 tons of cargo, on the moon, for cca 60 million dollars (you have to refuel in high orbit like 4 times), so something like 1% of the cost of a Saturn V launch.

Him being in charge of space X instead of just writing the checks almost certainly has made the company worse, not better.

HOW!! He founded the company, it's his baby. That company now launches the most into orbit, more than the United Launch Alliance (founded by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, known for their reliance on govt contracts). At some points he's been launching more or less than the entire Chinese space industry.

People use the argument 'oh the engineers do the work and Musk took credit' - well who hired the engineers? Who set the standards and made the big decisions? Who created the culture? Musk did. I won't say he's a paragon of virtue but he clearly knows how to found and run a rocket company. He personally interviewed the first few hundred employees.

SpaceX has never and probably will never make a profit without government contracts

Yeah, it's the government who funds the space industry, they're the biggest costumer. If he got the contracts out of corruption I get criticizing him for this, but he just offered the best product to the buyer. The buyer just happens to be the government.

Him being in charge of space X instead of just writing the checks almost certainly has made the company worse, not better.

There are lots of groups working on space projects, but SpaceX stands out. I don't actually know what exactly his role is, but it could just be finding talented people and putting them in important roles to make decisions for him, and that'd still be a very valuable contribution.

To be honest that comment about chess is way more amusing and meaningful in the context. He was just firing back at Gary Kasparov who called Musk an idiot. Kasparov is a bit of a clownish autist figure (soviet chess hero spends his later years trying and failing to gain political prominence) and an easy target to bully. I chuckled when I saw that tweet.

I think Kasparov deserves some respect, taking a stand against Putin isn't clownish.

He is quite a bit more than a generic Putin opposition figure. Kasparov was one of the prominent cheerleaders of Yeltsin in his 1996 oligarch campaign.

For about a decade now he has been totally dependent on western establishment sponsors as well as some old timey oligarchs and just a mouthpiece for unlimited confrontation. Two quotes from Wikipedia:

About Sochi

Kasparov called upon politicians to refuse to attend the games and the public to pressure sponsors and the media, such that Coca-Cola, for example, could put "a rainbow flag on each Coca-Cola can" and NBC could "do interviews with Russian gay activists or with Russian political activists"

And current day

He said that Russia should be "thrown back into the Stone Age to make sure that the oil and gas industry and any other sensitive industries that are vital for survival of the regime cannot function without Western technological support."

He is play acting as member of some sort of cabinet in exile right now, controlled by Khodorkovsky. Probably the worst of the oligarchs that raped and destroyed Russia for incredibly shameless quick profiteering and ended any prospects of liberal democracy in Russia. So yeah, he is a clown and there is a reason nobody takes the guy seriously.

What do you think motivates Elon Musk to do some of the weird things he does? He has a lot of tweets that feel like /r/iamverysmart material, like saying chess is a simple game and now that we have computers games like Polytopia are way better.

Give a guy unlimited money , a lot of free time, and the biggest platform in the world. It's like the plot of an Adam Sandler movie but real life sorta.

Give a guy unlimited money , a lot of free time, and the biggest platform in the world. It's like the plot of an Adam Sandler movie but real life sorta.

The only other billionaires who act remotely like this that I know are Kanye and Trump, who I think are both in very different mental states from Elon. I would guess Elon's closer to Bezos and Gates. The others do stuff like philanthropy or partying on yachts, which both seem like much better decisions to do with billions of dollars than tweet dumb stuff.

a lot of free time

This is the exact opposite of everything that gets reported about his work schedule. And in this context, you can't even count all his free time as "thinking up shit to say on Twitter" time, you have to subtract his social life too, after which point it's easy to see why his Twitter feed is a mess; there's barely enough time left for the "say on Twitter" and sadly not enough time for the "thinking".

A normal person would notice this and stop saying crazy shit, though, so the question "why doesn't Musk?" remains. I'd guess it's some combination of a manic personality (natural? seems like it's been going on too long to be drug-fueled?), foolish induction from extreme data (if everything you touch has been turning to gold, wouldn't you want to believe that's all because you have a Magic Touch, ignoring the power of dumb luck + vagaries of the market?), and ... well, not-so-foolish strategy. A guy who was just like Musk but did stop himself from doing crazy shit would have retired after cashing in on PayPal, he wouldn't have tried to revolutionize the auto industry and make the existing space industry obsolete, and then we'd never have even learned his name. The amount of suffering Musk incurs from crazy shit that backfires seems to be well outweighed by the benefit he's gotten from crazy shit that didn't, so it's not entirely unreasonable that he never learned to stop.

A normal person would notice this and stop saying crazy shit

You seem to be conflating the senses of normal that are "average person", "sensible person who is correct", and "person who follows social mores". But ... normal people in the first sense constantly say very dumb things on twitter (who do you think is liking and retweeting all the "culture war" stuff), smart correct people are often wrong and also sometimes go against the mainstream and are right, and should publicize that.

after which point it's easy to see why his Twitter feed is a mess; there's barely enough time left for the "say on Twitter" and sadly not enough time for the "thinking".

Musk's twitter rants aren't that much less coherent than the opinions of plenty of professional political commentators, thinkers, etc. Extremely intelligent people, mathematicians, physicists, artists - even those who spend a lot of time on politics - still usually have some variety of standard-ish political beliefs, whether that be republican, democrat, socialist, including many of the dumb parts. It's not obvious Musk's claims are any dumber than most peoples', or even many pundits' (though they are dumb) - when @TrumpJew2 says the same thing about ukraine, they just get 5k likes, instead of everyone dogpiling it for being dumb.

There's a "Drunken Boxer" Style that works very well for prominent businessmen and celebrities... Think Trump, Kanye, and Elon...

Th "Drunken Boxer" either isn't drunk, or is a martial artist who's vastly less drunk than he looks, but he feigns drunkenness to the point of almost falling over to get his opponents to lower their guard, or taunt, and create openings...

You have and/or feign instability, have a crack team backing you up, and then you wind up coming out of situations with way more than you should have ever been able to realistically negotiate out of it... because none of your adversaries could actually gauge what your intentions where, couldn't assess what were the points where they should have pushed or played hardball... and then you get insane openings where none of the republican frontrunners will challenge Trump (the main frontrunner) because they all assume its a publicity stunt and won't waste ammunitition on a guy who won't be there in a month, or Hillary directing all her media allies to pump him because she thinks he's a joke and is worried she might have to debate Rand Paul on policy.

Insane openings no other businessman or candidate would get, but that is just handed to him because he's both thought a fool, and those smart enough to realize he's not a complete fool still have no idea what he actually wants and whether or not they should be trying to deny it to him.


Now of course you can attribute too much 4d chess to this... how much is trump just being boisterous and good at playing the media + dumb luck... might Kanye actually just be bipolar... etc. But these people have teams behind them who aren't insane even if the front man might be, and you'll get this dynamic just out of that...

Elon is by far the most likely of these figures to do it consciously. He's the most successful businessman of them, has been a successful businessman for decades, and pours tons into his media game, despite being the one with the least need for media presence... he isn't a politician or celebrity. He's a tech/car CEO. Can you even name the CEO of Toyota from memory? How about Salesforce or Raytheon?

And yet he's out their playing crazy on TV when he could be relaxing with his money and taking a break from the office.


You notice you don't know if he even wants to own twitter? None of us do. That's a very powerful negotiating position.

The way I see it there's 2 -3 possibilities.

Elon put himself in this position with billions of his dollars on the line, that's a calculated move... all of this was almost certainly gone over by teams of people before he announced and was likewise poured over for weeks and months before even the preliminary stuff was signed.

So there's 3 possibilities:

A) He wants Twitter and is trying to avoid having the purchase blocked. B) He doesn't want twitter but wanted to create a "mask off" political story where he could play victim of censorship and institutional corruption C) Either outcome is agreeable to him, and he's oscillating back and forth to see how much damage/profit he can get out of it.

Whenever he gets close to getting twitter suddenly a major institution Twitter itself, the media, SEC, Biden security state make an announcement to try and block it... but when he signals he doesn't want twitter all those same institutions try to force the sale out of anger/recognition of an enemy, to try and punish him/extract resources out of him... Well if he's had his ducks in a row from the start and they're just being reactive, (which is likely since he's initiated the whole affair and had the best lawyers looking at it the whole time (whereas the people discussing a security review, or the twitter team are at most reacting within weeks)

Then its very likely every time he 180s and all these institutions shift 180 as well to try to make him pay, punish him, set an example... There's a very good chance his negotiating power increases on both ends.

For example the security review would probably give him an off-ramp if the market shifts and he doesn't want to buy, but doesn't want to pay the 1 billion damages he didn't back out, state department blocked him (how scandalous) or every legal trick the twitter team uses to try and hurt him in the trial for backing out ... '"Your honour we're even willing to assist him with the loan a 500 million value we don't have to"' Oh really!?

Its very likely his negotiating position is improving every twist this takes if he's done it right and planned it out well... which given he and his lawyers initiated it and his budget exceeds almost every other actor... probably.

Sometimes rich guys are dumb and impulsive, like a lot of people.

The drunken boxer stuff… I worked in the M&A industry for a decade. Watching Musk sign away his right to due diligence, then try and worm out of the deal, citing concerns that would have normally been addressed during due diligence, watching the share price drop with the rest of the market while Musk is locked in at the top, and now a judge (most-likely) dragging the sale across the finish line, has been some lovely schadenfreude. A-plus, chef’s kiss stuff.

Also, your info on the Feds blocking the deal is wrong. Musk is on the hook to resolve any objections, while Twitter can continue to demand their bag. Musk wanted to be Billy Big Balls and come in with a big, big offer containing terms Twitter’s board couldn’t refuse. And, they didn’t.

Large Twitter shareholders right now:

Yeah this is what gets me. The "drunken boxer" strategy sounds the most likely and elegant, except for the fact that as far as I understand business deals, there's no actual possible advantage to actually be gained here from Musk's behaviour.

I think seeing someone do some enormously talented and exceptionally dumb things makes people try to collapse them down into someone whose stupid moves are all 4D chess maneuvers or whose smart moves are all dumb luck. The reality is probably just that someone can be very intelligent in some areas and inept in others.

For the life of me I don't know why he does what he does.

I can understand it very easily.

"I made it, I am the richest man in the world! I am universal genius, I understand it all, I can do everything, I can solve all problems of the world!"

"The world is ungrateful? The world does not want my advice? It only proves how stupid they are, and how smart I am!"

I am sure you met such people IRL, people who think genuine success and accomplishment in their work makes them universal authority on everything (and even more people who feel like it without any accomplishment whatsoever)

I don't think there's any deeper meaning, I think he's just a shit-poster at heart. Each of your examples (or him calling that one guy a pedo, or smoking weed on Rogan, and so on) can be explained simply if he just thought it was funny and figured there wouldn't be any meaningful consequence.

He is probably autistic. If you watch his interview with Joe Rogan its evident that his behaviors and mannerisms are reminiscent of that guy who used to talk about dinosaurs too much during 2nd grade and talked about soduku too much during 7th grade.

Some people have a hard time dealing with the fact that the richest man in the world is "that guy".

Can anyone who's beaten a tab addiction share their strategy?

I have something like 1900 tabs open on my PC browser (only a few hundred on phone!) Some of this is old research that I can't close yet, like the heat pump pages I'll be using for the wrap-up post on that project. A lot of it is old motte convos I opened "for future reference, just in case". Lots of them are articles I... really should get around to reading someday. And some of it is literally just crud like youtube music that stopped playing and got forgotten about, recipes I was looking up, or last month's weather forecast.

Things only got out of hand this summer when my PC use dropped to almost nothing, leaving me just enough time to get on, check updates, open a bunch of stuff to read, and then whoops gotta go.

The one big advantage is that I don't have any bookmarks to organize, and tab unloading means there's little/no memory cost.

Is there a saner way to organize this sort of thing? I never had to deal with urls in college, only notes and bibliography info in .txt files on my desktop. How can I save old forum conversations in an easily searchable way? (Help me gattsuru, you're my only hope)

Have you tried Tab Snooze browser extension?

It's one of these "do you stand up to wipe your butt?" questions, because I don't understand people who have thousands, hundreds or even dozens of tabs open. I just close every tab I don't need and don't use tabs to store pages that might come in handy later. My browser on this PC (work laptop) has just one permanently open tab for the teleconferencing website, and only because I have to go to the developer tools to get it to load. When I'm done reading this thread I'll just close the tab and open a new one later when I want to read the new comments.

I am mystified by the butt-wiping question, because I quite literally can't reach my butt while sitting on the toilet. I would assume that it's basically the same for anyone. So how on earth is anyone not standing up?

I am mystified that you can't reach your own butt! (I also don't keep tabs open)

The only thing to do is to get a comprehensive study of butt wiping going. And something about tabs I guess.

I think we have the makings of an Aella Twitter poll here.

What's your method for saving things for later? For example, for that upcoming post I have about 40 articles and forum posts to quote-mine, some PDFs to cite, and a couple of online tables/spreadsheets to generate examples with. How would you go about organizing a project like that?

I simply don't have an urge to save that many things for later, I don't like writing citation and reference-heavy prose (I doubt I would make a good PhD student). If it's something really useful, it goes into Telegram saved messages or Google Keep, and then I purge them a few times a year.

Yeah, I just have my browser set to start with a single tab open to a blank page on startup, so whenever I close it any open tabs are gone.

Tabs are way better than bookmarks, imho. Tabs have the advantage of keeping things stored in memory so it's always accessible

Lots of them are articles I... really should get around to reading someday.

read em or nuke em/ probably not missing out on much

I started splitting my tabs into different windows for different contexts, then I started just bookmarking all the tabs into a bookmark folder when I was done with the subject.

For example, I would sort all Blender related or specific university course related tabs in a single window. Or my EVE or Stellaris related searches. It's a lot easier to bookmark and close a window when it's all related to one topic, and you have some trigger to reopen the bookmark folder once you come back to the topic. Makes it feel less like it's lost to the void.

I also started separating my tabs based on type even if it's not strictly not one subject. Like separating forum posts from YouTube videos from Wikipedia rabbit holes. Every bit of organization also helps to spot things you plainly don't have interest in anymore. At some point I just give up on an old video essay and put it in the watch later folder because I never check the watch later YouTube page (I don't check the folder either). I also use Tree Style Tabs, which makes it easier to rip out some recursive new tab spree onto its own context.

I can't say I've fully beaten the tab addiction though. Now I've just got a lot of windows littering my taskbar as well. I started doing things like putting my video windows or language stuff on another monitor as well as putting my study related things to another desktop (as in Win + Tab). It's certainly more organized, and I've got the satisfaction of knowing I could close these windows if I really wanted to.

Thanks. That's similar to but better than some of my coping strategies. Tree style tabs was definitely the enabler for hundreds of tabs per window!

I was using per-project session backups at one point, but it got too annoying to have to open half a dozen saved windows just to find one particular tab.

Moving things to different windows does make it easier to say "right, everything here is crap." Last time I sat down at the PC with a coffee I managed to close 3 with several hundred tabs, so realistically a few hours of dedicated time should be enough to at least get rid of everything unimportant.

I use either bookmarks or the Google Keeps extension for websites I want to save. Bookmarks are good but can make a bit disorganized and crowded easily. If you don't like Google, I'm sure there are a billion other extensions out there that will save URLs with a click of a button.

Yeah, I used to use bookmarks, and ended up with thousands of them that never got clicked again. Eventually they all got lost when I copied the wrong Firefox profile over during a drive swap.

Half of them were probably dead of linkrot, but I still have this horrible missing limb sensation that I lost something important lol.

I've been meaning to write an article on this, but personally, I think the campaign to take it down has been a huge ethical disaster, besides just being a disaster in the practical sense of, you know, actually getting the site taken down. (I know it might be ironic to say that considering they're down at this very moment due to being dropped by Zayo, but I'm sure they'll come back up soon, like they always do, in no small part thanks to one insane stubborn person named Joshua Moon.)

For the sake of argument, we will ignore things like the questionable ethical character of many of the figures who lead (or led) the movement, documentation of which is on the very website they want to take down so much (which covers things like their child grooming or distributing HRT to minors behind their parents' backs); the dangerous precedent that it sets to have critical infrastructure companies simply turn off service if a harassment mob complains to them loudly enough; we'll even ignore the fact that many of the things people claim about the website are simply flat-out untrue and complete lies (such as the claim that it drove 3 transgender women to suicide--they don't even get right that one of them didn't identify as a woman and one of them wasn't transgender in the slightest!).

That is, even if Kiwi Farms is so reprehensible and beyond redemption that it deserves to be deplatformed immediately without any sort of due process, almost all action taken against it has been deeply unethical. I've already explained in my AAQC how the DDoSes against it has almost certainly inflicted harm on untold numbers of innocent bystanders. (After I posted that I also looked into ethical DDoSing such as the Low Orbit Ion Cannon and, well, I find it hard to believe that the DDoSes against KF were of the sort that didn't come with externalities.) But since then something else has came to light, namely that the hack that brought it down for a week most likely used a zero-day.

In mid-September, the forum was compromised by an unknown attacker, with user data attempting to be breached before the forum was deleted and brought offline. While it's unclear if user data was ever exfiltrated (and to this day no credible claims made by anyone to have user data have ever been confirmed), what has been made clear is that the attack used a vulnerability in XenForo relating to being able to inject arbitrary scripts into the page. I'm not too sure on the details but according to Null, the attacker uploaded an Opus file which was then loaded as an inline web document able to execute its own scripts.

So what's the issue, isn't this all still ethical? Well, on October 11th, Null announced in the Telegram that XenForo released a security patch that was already applied to the site. He's most likely referring to this security release, which fixes an issue that relates content injection. This heavily implies that the exploit used to hack the site was a zero-day, i.e. an exploit that the vendor (in this case, XenForo) didn't know about before it was used in the wild. As you can imagine, zero-days are quite powerful, to the point that knowledge of zero-days is actively bought and sold by either perfectly legal private companies (malware brokers such as Zerodium) or plain and simple black market criminal organizations. This YouTube video covers the subject pretty well.

Either way, hiding away knowledge of vulnerabilities is keeping them from being patched, which is not good for the security of the public at large, to say the least. The implication that the KF hacker funded a malware broker to exploit a XenForo zero-day hence carries negative ethical implications on their part.

In this light, the only good actions done were when private companies turned off their service, but again, even that is only okay if you're willing to accept the dangerous precedent it sets that companies will deny service if harassment mobs complain loudly enough.

For obvious reasons I vigorously oppose the ongoing leftist censorship of the internet, and hope to see my side wield all social, legal, and economic weapons available to them in an effort to not only halt but reverse this control, so that we can silence leftists.

It seems the choke points on the internet, currently, are (1) companies like Cloudflare that protect sites from DoS attacks, (2) payment processors, and (3) ICANN registration. There are enough hosting companies that KF could have kept hopping around so long as they were a Cloudflare client. I haven’t seen too much controversy around ICANN. But we are seeing weird stuff around payment processors. Some of the conditions placed on porn sites are odd and arbitrary…

…as in, not full-stop anti-porn, but byzantine as to the specifics of what is allowed. And PayPal recently had to walk back a company policy where they could confiscate a set amount of money from users engaging in “disinformation”.

Taibbi's treatment of WikiLeaks as a one-off is bizarre, even for the age of the post. I could understand not hearing about AFRCOM, or not putting it in the same category, but Defense Distributed's One Last Bank was old news, and GiveSendGo losing Stripe and Discover was more recent. There's been a handful of other targets for similar deplatforming from finance outside of porn... if almost solely of right-leaning targets.

I haven’t seen too much controversy around ICANN.

ICANN directly, no (if only because they don't really televise policy changes); registrars themselves, yes. This is better-known for adult content, but non-porn materials have been booted around a lot -- worse, it's not unheard of for a registrar to take a name from a controversial enough target.

I'd also add hosts as a soft spot: you don't have to use someone like AWS, but you can get locked into them if you made sufficiently bad decisions, and they absolutely will can you, both for [porn reasons] and otherwise. And there's no such thing as a principled webhost, these days: I trust NearlyFreeSpeech enough to use them as a host, but there's reasons I keep a local backup even if I don't think I'm in the category this post is railing against [contrast], and that's because I've seen no small number of places with except-Nazi or except-Racist policies get into really expansive definitions of those terms.

This is more serious and immediate an issue in some sectors than others. Amazon's porn restrictions for its Kindle services are not unusually arbitrary, but they are still pretty arbitrary, and because so much of the market goes through that approach, even many of the few people who can build outside of its domain depend on it's tolerance; there's a handful of authors (cw: nsfw, furry, not an author I'd put on my top ten list) that prioritize Smashwords or similar more-kink-friendly places, but they're very far outliers.

…as in, not full-stop anti-porn, but byzantine as to the specifics of what is allowed.

There's a method to the madness: 'sleeping' is usually fantasy non-con or consensual non-con kink (even if a lot of real-world people don't treat it like such within established relationships), 'vampire fantasy' kink to bloodplay and abduction or hypnosis (and thus to non-con), 'alien' is largely about abduction fantasy (again, non-con), too many drops of red dye to a werewolf or gryphon dildo makes it look enough like a dog's genitals.

They're just a bad method, in the same way that the Australian censors trying to eyeball age from breast size is stupid. Not just that the goals range from the laudable to the marginal and back, sometimes within the same focus matter: they're operating on proxies for matters they're unwilling or unable to state outright, that themselves are yet still proxies for other more direct causes they can't even point to. But why would the censors care? They're not the ones that suffer from overaggressive censorship, and neither are the people appointing or paying them. They get a complaint and a front page news article by outraged feminist/moral majority/think-of-the-childreners if they don't go too far!

But we are seeing weird stuff around payment processors.

Operation Choke Point. The conspiracy fact that Democratic administrations secretly and illegally coordinate with banks to deny banking services to porn sites, gun accessory sellers and others. When they did it under Obama they made sure to not write anything down in order to frustrate investigations into their malfeasance.

edit - redacted to avoid doxxing threats.

edit - redacted to avoid doxxing threats.


I think it's the perfect exemplification on how muddled the rhetoric has become on First Amendment issues. Ten years ago most conservatives would have said that private entities were private entities and, except in extraordinary situations, the government should allow them to do what they want. This was exemplified by things such as the Citizens United decision and the various decisions about whether private companies have to provide birth control in accordance with Obamacare mandates. Even more recently is the debate on whether public accommodations laws can compel bakeries and such to write messages on cakes that would appear to endorse gay marriage. Again, we all know what side of the fence conservatives came down on.

Then when some companies started taking action against conservative viewpoints—and not just regular conservative viewpoints, but the more extreme end of the spectrum (and even then usually only if harassment or calls to violence were involved)—all of the sudden the state needed to intervene and force these companies to call off their dogs. Things got even more muddled with the net neutrality debate; one would expect that conservatives worries about cancel culture, etc. would have used the doctrine for their own purposes, but instead they all temporarily became principled advocates of corporate speech again. I don't mean to single out conservatives here, as progressives are just as bad for different reasons, but I see a lot more bad conservative takes here than bad progressive ones.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is an old and obvious one: Most people are only interested in principle to the extent that it effects their side. If the Twitter cancellations exclusively involved anti-corporate anarchists, and progressives were complaining, I doubt we'd here any of the arguments about Section 230 etc. from conservatives that we're hearing now. Instead, we'd hear the old line about how private companies have a right to do whatever they want with their platforms and it isn't the government's place to tell them otherwise.

Who is calling for state action against the ISP? All the arguments in the HN comments that mention legality are about whether what is on KiwiFarms counts as harassment or not. I can't find anyone advocating that the ISP be fined or arrested for not peering.

I see a lot of people, here and elsewhere, calling for Section 230 protections to be conditional upon enacting certain speech policies. I glossed over the HN discussion but didn't read it in detail, but OP was asking about what people here thought about it, so I was referring to arguments I've seen here in the past.

Ten years ago most conservatives would have said that private entities were private entities

And they lost that fight even further ago. Antidiscrimination laws abolished any idea of private companies being able to freely choose with whom they transact. Defending a principle that will only be used against you, and not neutrally, gains you points for being principled, if in the future your ideology manages to return to power, but it still hastens your demise.

If national groups were colluding to prevent any bakery that sold to a gay from buying flour, we would oppose that. It was literally in the arguments of the case that a lone bakery refusing to write a particular cake message wasn't making a coordinated attempt to prevent a customer from obtaining such a cake. And would, most importantly, not refuse to do business with the client as long as they themselves were not required to explicitly and actively participate in the client's behavior.

Whereas the leftist position just seems blatantly unprincipled: any powerless individual actor can be forced to do whatever is demanded of them by powerful groups ("wax my balls, bigot"), and those same groups can illegally collude at will on an industry level to silence anyone who says this is wrong. The only rule provided is explicitly who/whom, according to our lovely former contributor /u/Glittering-Roll-9432 on Reddit. You could call that a principle, but it'd take some nerve.

The equivalent would be kiwifarms maliciously suing a particular web host known for having leftist values just for the sadistic fun of forcing them to host content they find repulsive, and the case having to go all the way to the supreme court with the entire media supporting kiwifarms.

(Actually, a closer parallel would be forcing the host to list KF's url and site header message on their own company home page, which just so happened to be " only fags think Hitler was wrong, 13/50420691488")

You bringing up the principle selectively makes it seem like the principle itself only has value as a weapon to hurl at people when it's convenient, or as an excuse to always stay subservient to the most powerful side and safe from their retaliation. Which in fairness is probably true at this point.

When we first discussed it back on Reddit the usual people said "woah, this seems like a violation of speech norms, it must be some sort of mistake", and the usual accounts said "haha, you're next for opposing us". The standard story. Can post links if interested; I was saving some for future discussions.

They were up last time I checked, so something new happened? Going to have to start using Tor just on principle apparently.

They were up last time I checked, so something new happened?

The latest downtime is thanks to an employee at Zayo, their new ISP (or one of their new ISPs? Null doesn't make it clear), being friends with Liz-Fong Jones, who besides being one of the people behind #DropKiwifarms has also been trying to get the site taken down for 5 years now. Null has said he is working on something but has not given any further details. All this information is according to their Telegram channel.

Yeah, post your links please.

Will do when I get on pc and, uh, do some digging. Let's see if it gets dinged as "not leaving the rest of the internet at the door"

Do we stand for censorship of Kiwifarms? Or opposite it?

Please grammer and spall better.

We've discussed kiwifarms a bunch before. I don't think anyone spoke up for censorship.

I have 42 successfull comments and two additional comments that I made, but do not appear in my profile or in the thread. Lost to the ether. Not a big deal, but indicative of some sort of minor issue.

I'm using Firefox on android. I don't know if this is happening to others or just me. Maybe leaving the culture war roundup thread open for a few hours sometimes breaks my ability to comment? That's the only idea I can come up with.

I would re post this in the meta thread.

Done. But I thought it was basically dead now that it is not stickied.

Do we have any Catholic mottizens? I was raised Catholic for a time, but eventually my parents left for ye olde non-denominational Protestant church. For some reason though, I've found myself attracted to the idea of returning recently. I find a few things attractive about it:

  • I have found that I kind of prefer "high church" to "low church". Not that either is better than the other, but a more formal service kind of feels like a better fit for me personally.

  • I really appreciate the tradition and longevity behind the institution, and it appeals to me to be a part of that.

  • I like the unity of the Catholic church. Not that they don't have things that divide them, but they seem to be a lot more unified than the other Christian groups are. Related to this...

  • I used to think that all the rigid formalities were stupid and arbitrary, and I hated having to just follow along. But in hindsight, I think maybe I just didn't have the perspective at 13 to appreciate the importance of them (shocker, I know). Something that Scott wrote in one of his pieces (I think it was the reactionary FAQ) has stuck out to me, where he says that if everyone jumps on one foot during the solstice that is objectively pretty stupid. But if everyone does it, that is how communities are built, because we're now fellow solstice jumpers. I feel like some (maybe even all) of the rules and formality I chafed at as a teenager are things of that nature, and I do appreciate anything that builds community in these divided times.

So I guess my question is, am I just being insane here? Or maybe waxing nostalgic for my childhood in a weird religious way? I've been thinking maybe I should investigate rejoining the Catholic church (which as I understand it would entail going to some adult classes and getting confirmed, as well as getting my marriage recognized by the church), but I also can't shake the feeling that I'm just being silly. I do want to find a church home to call my own, but I'm not sure whether or not this is the right path for me.

I am Catholic and it is possible to be rationally convinced of the existence of God, the Gospel accounts, and the Catholic Church's claims. Many atheist philosophers of religion admit that it is possible to have a rational belief in God (even though they themselves do not.) Capturing Christianity is a Youtube channel from a non-Catholic Christian who has spent the last few years interviewing experts (theist and atheist) about topics of philosophy, history, biology, and apologetics. I would recommend watching any videos that stand out to you and starting from there. I like the interview format because it's less one sided, but you can then go on to read any books, articles, etc the experts have published to get more in depth on a topic.

Edward Feser and Peter Kereft have a good amount of books between them that provide a baseline understanding of the philosophy of religion. Feser's Aquinas is a good place to start, but both of them have a good selection of books on a large number of interesting topics.

Bishop Barron is also a good Catholic Apologist. He has his own channel, but I like this interview as a good summary/introduction to him.

It's normal to feel a little silly when you are doing something new or picking something up from your childhood and trying to approach it like an adult. My recommendation would be to call your nearby parish and tell them that you are considering returning to the Church but would first like to talk with a priest. Talk with the priest about what your experience is with the Church, what you're hoping to get out of returning, etc.

I will say that when I returned to the Church I discovered that a lot of what I thought was Catholicism was actually just my own parents' opinions. Likewise on the internet there are a lot of people willing to offer their personal theological speculation as if it was 100% Catholic dogma.

Thank you very much for the reading and listening recommendations! I am very interested in reading apologetics about Catholicism specifically (since I already am a believer), so I appreciate the nod towards Bishop Barron. He seems like he has some illuminating things to say, and I will definitely spend some more time perusing his content.

I will say that Capturing Christianity has a lot of resources on the Catholic/Protestant debate as well. I don't want you to feel like you're getting only one side of the story, below are some of the more recent videos:

The Case Against the Papacy

The Case For the Papacy

How Catholicism Can Be PROVEN FALSE

No, Catholicism Hasn't Been "Proven False"

Raised catholic here.

The molestation scandal was such an unprecedented breach of trust that went high up into the leadership of the church. To recover from that evil requires unprecedented repentance. And that has not happened.

I will never support the Catholic Church in its current form because of that. It is institutionally corrupt. Perhaps it always has been.

And perhaps the teaching have nothing to do with the leadership. In that case, I will not listen to sermons from the priests who prop up the evil institution. I'm perfectly able to read the Bible on my own.

I hear you. It is something I need to decide for myself as well - has the church truly repented of what happened, or did they just pay lip service and move on? I agree that, if one decides they didn't truly repent, one can't really follow them. I don't know what I think, but it is something I need to consider amidst everything else.

This page gives a basic starting point for what the Church has done in the US. As someone who has gone through safe environment training, I feel like Catholic institutions are among the safest places to leave your kids now.

Repentance is a difficult thing for a topic like this. Have abusers as individuals repented? Most haven't. Most went on to die in peace or sob in prison. Same with people involved in a cover up - most were abusers themselves. Is there repentance to be found there? I don't think so, but lack of repentance is the least of their crimes.

Has the Church as a whole repented? The Church as a whole feels like the sheep getting eaten by the wolves (and I don't mean how upset the rest of the world gets on the topic.) When members of the Church (priests, religious, laity) hear about abuse, they don't identify with the abuser, they identify with the victim. It's not, "I could have been that rapist," it's "I could have been that child, that vulnerable seminarian, that cloistered nun, that could have been me." So the Church as a whole responded like victims, and implemented protocols to protect themselves and their members from abuse.

As a whole, the US Conference of Bishops has apologized, "As bishops, we have acknowledged our mistakes and our roles in that suffering, and we apologize and take responsibility again for too often failing victims and the Catholic people in the past. From the depths of our hearts, we bishops express great sorrow and profound regret for what the Catholic people have endured." Individuals who have had specific failings have apologized (though not all, and it's not surprising to me that terrible human beings who rape children don't apologize.)

But apologies aren't repentance. What would repentance look like here? To a Catholic, repentance is an unexpected and undeserved (for the repenter, the victim deserves justice) act of grace that allows someone to feel true remorse for a personal fault they have committed. What do people mean when they ask for repentance from a group of 1.3 billion people? That is a question a lot of people have wrestled with and I don't think anyone has come up with any satisfactory answers.

I'm perfectly able to read the Bible on my own.

Woah there Martin Luther.


Thank you for all of this. The Bible recommendation in particular is something I appreciate, as I do love a nice annotated edition of dense books (like the Bible is). I am fairly familiar with the Bible due to being raised in a Christian household, going to church every week, etc - but I will definitely take the time to read it with a fresh new perspective.

As far as my own current situation goes, I have had a long and winding journey to get to where I am, but today I am a believer in Christ, and do my best to follow his example. I have had the need for a "church home" on my mind the last few years, though, as right now I go to church almost never, and I think I need to do better in that respect. So my question is really one of "I'm a Christian and I'm pondering if the Catholic church is the right home for me", not so much "I'm an atheist and pondering if Christianity is right for me". Which at least simplifies things somewhat. :)

Lastly, thank you for the kind words. I appreciate them very much, as I certainly never felt like I have been a poster who stands out in the crowd. I never resented that, because we just have some truly great writers here and the bar is quite high. But I am gratified to know that I have made a positive impression during my time here.

Something I’ve been mulling over, as a longtime Catholic apologist who doesn’t practice, which may be relevant ITT, is the nature of religious worship in a church, and why so many love high church ritualism and symbolism instinctually. There’s an element of dramatic imagination in worship. I think when you sit in a church and you say “I’m in a church”, and when you hear the psalm and you say “I’m hearing the psalm”, and when you see the crucifix and say “this is art of the crucifix”, you are doing it wrong. Instead, the church is the spatial representation of Heaven, and when you hear the psalm you should be transcended into the voice of the narrator with all your senses, and you should behold the crucifix as if it is the only true crucifix. You have to engage dramatically and allow the sensations to become the new reality of your mind, the new earth even, to get the most out of worship. In the Bible we read about the “spirit” of the word versus the “flesh”, and the spirit is the deepest meaning with the flesh being the surface referent to the meaning. And what we’re after is the deeper spiritual transfiguration that refreshes the soul.

So (this isn’t Catholic), but if you’re hearing this hymn, with the lyrics:

Behold, I fall before thy face; My only refuge is thy grace; No outward form can make me clean; The leprosy lies deep within.

All attention should be on identification with the words as they mean deeply, ie the narrative. You imagine and feel deeply that you are prostate in front of the greatest Being imaginable. You feel the Being’s “grace”, or mercy and compassion, and you can simply visualize a King if that helps. You truly identify with the feeling of sickness and associate that with your sin.

Religious worship can (and I think should) be seen as a dramatic transformation because this is the way that it affects us most deeply and causes interior changes of the heart.



I've been an atheist since I was like 8 years old but recently (27 y/o) I've having a "lack-of-faith" crisis: I'm not confident enough in my ability to discern reality in itself. Lately I'm having very strong numinous feelings: I've always been extremely rational - physicist, programmer, classical musician all that - but I've often dabbled in the occult, but more like a quirky curiosity that in the belief in the supernatural.

Today for the first time I felt the need to pray: to ask God for help, to soothe my desperation, to give me strength and I did something similar to what you describe: stop concentrating on the act of praying but immerse myself in the words coming out of my mouth. Then just now (it's 2:17am here) I read your comment and listen to that hymn and cried, as I've never cried before, seemingly relieved of a part of my pain. Placebo? Delusion? God? I don't really know, I just know it was a sensation as wonderful as it was terrible.

I was raised as a watered down Catholic and maybe I should reevaluate the faith with more depth.

Sorry for the ranting, it has been a long horrible day.

Evangelical not-weird Pentecostal here. My sister, raised in the same church I was, wanted what you want, and ended up in an American Anglican church. She immediately loved it.

If you try it, make sure you find a church on the side of the gay schism you believe God is on (gay is A-OK vs. gay is sin).

Canadian Anglican is going to largely be gay is A-OK, USA Anglican is going to be overwhelmingly gay is sin, USA Episcopal (rectifying respect to Canterbury but not the crown) is going to be usually gay is A-OK.

US Anglicans do not see the King as the head of their church in particular, but of the specific Church of England and other Anglican countries where he is king.

I am Catholic, although not the best one, but I can comment and try to answer some of your questions.

I really appreciate the tradition and longevity behind the institution, and it appeals to me to be a part of that.

This was for me one of the biggest reasons to become Catholic. It was not just a church but the church, that has been around in different form for 2000ish years and comes with tons of work from expert theologians who have stood the test of time. I think it's important to know that you're not alone, it's not all on you, when you're unsure or have doubts or just want to learn something new this is a community to turn to that has seen it all before. Aquinas alone has an excessive number of works, enough to satisfy most people's curiosity. It extends beyond scholarship though, the community exists everywhere now. Nearly every city in Europe has centuries-old churches, we have christian-based holidays in most Western countries, the influence of the church is pervasive and deeply ingrained in western culture, and most of that is Catholic or based on it. I think Catholicism is still flat-out the largest religious group in the world (depending on how you dice things).

I've been thinking maybe I should investigate rejoining the Catholic church (which as I understand it would entail going to some adult classes and getting confirmed, as well as getting my marriage recognized by the church)

If you have not been confirmed you will have to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). This is how I joined the church, and I helped with later classes, so if you have any particular questions about it you can DM me.


Thank you for the input! If I have questions about RCIA I'll be sure to hit you up.


The first step is start going to Catholic services, praying the rosary, etc. See if practicing Catholicism is something you want to do before starting the process. I would also recommend going to a men's group(or women's bible study if female) put on by the Catholic church in an official capacity(church websites will probably have information about this) for more locally-specific advice; most of these do not require official membership in the Catholic church to attend.

You will probably have to locate the church you were baptized into and have the church you're planning on going to classes in contact them. Be prepared for a non-trivial amount of paperwork for this step and for getting your marriage recognized in the Catholic church(which they will refer to as regularizing). It behooves you to pick rather carefully the church you take classes, get your marriage regularized through, etc, as you will be stuck with them for a while(probably about a year) during the process. In general, more conservative parishes(a local church) will be more like what you're looking for, but they will also have more expectations of following the rules quite strictly which could slow down getting your marriage regularized, especially if either of you has a previous marriage, even a common law one.

You will need to join a parish and probably plan on going to that physical location more than once per week for a year or so, so keep that in mind. You also will probably not get a good idea of what a parish is like without physically visiting. Your local diocese's(in the US this is divided up by county; the rest of the world is more complicated) website should have a tool to find parishes near you, as well as to search by service times, language options, etc. It is of course a good idea to speak with a cleric regarding your specific situation as well; you might be able to skip a step or two.

Thank you for the input, you've really helped to give me a better idea of what to expect. I also think you have a good idea to do things like going to Mass, praying the rosary, and things of that nature. Something that sticks with me is something I recall reading in the Bible when I was younger, about being able to discern things by the fruits they bear in your life. I did go to Mass a couple of weeks ago, and have been thinking I will go in the future to see if I still feel that the Catholic church may be for me.

One thing I am wondering, from the reading I've done it seems like the Catholic church is pretty insistent that you need to go to Mass every week (makes sense I suppose). My wife, at this time, has no intention of joining the Catholic church and has asked if I'd be willing to alternate, sometimes going to Mass and sometimes to a Protestant service. I am amenable to that, but do you know if that would be a problem with whatever parish I (hypothetically) chose to join?

This would be an issue, yes. The expectation would be that you go to an early morning mass and then later go to whatever church your wife attends mid-morning.

Nobody is going to hassle you for not going to mass but if you're serious about it then the rule is that you have to attend mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation unless you have a good reason for missing (usually if you're sick or in a remote location). If you skip a week you would need to go to confession before taking communion. A protestant service can't be used as a substitute for mass.

You could go to mass on Saturday evening and then go with your wife on Sunday to a protestant service.

This is all self enforced, nobody takes attendance so it comes down to how seriously you want to take things.

If he’s in RCIA then attendance might be a requirement/condition of completing the process.

Well, there was Ame_Damnee, until she deleted her account a few months back. I miss having her around.

So, what are you reading?

I'm flipping through some book of The Irregular from Magic High School. The anime has been a favourite. Something about the focused protagonist, the overtones of knowledge-based conflict, and the steady pacing.

The Down Town by Tappan Wright King and Viido Polikarpus. It's a relatively straightforward "lost in the fairyworld" narrative and I suspect there will be a heavy-handed environmental message by the end. Still, it's enjoyable in that fairytale sort of way and worked great to pass the time while I was laid up sick the last few days.

The Crimean War: A History by Orlando Figes — good so far but it also puts me to sleep quickly so progress is slow. I'm still in the "context for the conflict" beginning section.

I just finished Status and Culture by W. David Marx. I read his previous book, Ametora, about how the Japanese became interested in American clothing, and then, for niche menswear enthusiasts in the States, eventually began selling Americana back across the Pacific.

His latest book was a quick, general interest read that was fun. It looks at how various fashion, artistic, social, and design trends evolve, and the different approaches groups of people utilize to gain local and/or broad status. The examples used to illustrate kept the book interesting, like blue Harvestore-brand silos being status-symbols for prosperous American farmers, despite having defects; how cher and chíc aspic led to the demand for Jell-O, and a horrorshow of now-discarded Jell-O mold cookbooks; the invention of the tuxedo; etc.

Currently working on Guns, Germs and Steel since it was a small part of the Donald McNeil internal-hissyfit at the New York Times. Curious to see what the fuss is about.

Also finished Hermione Lee’s Tom Stoppard biography. Wonderful if you’re a fan of Stoppard’s work. Might be a bit too heavy a tome for casual-interest. But did a fine job of placing Stoppard’s thoughts, interviews and plays in the social, intellectual, artistic and political contexts of their time(s).