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Small-Scale Question Sunday for February 12, 2023

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.

Anyone ever run an upright fridge with a broken condenser fan? I can't get a replacement shipped for a few days. In theory it should still work, just with much higher deltaT?

Did you get an answer to this?

This question is mostly aimed at @wlxd based on this comment but maybe someone else also knows the history. What was Margaret Hamilton's actual contribution to the Apollo guidance computer code?

She's famous now for being the "lead software engineer of the Apollo project," which seems like a stretch based on most biographical summaries available on the web. Nasa credits her as "leader of the team that developed the flight software for the agency's Apollo missions" which is consistent with "lead software engineer for the Apollo project" but could be disingenuous depending on her tenure and contributions on the team. But @wxld made a strong claim: "What is less commonly known is that she joined that team as the most junior member, and only became a lead after the code had already been written, and the actual leads (whose names, ironically, basically nobody knows today) have moved on to more important projects."

Thank you for asking this question, it forced me to compile the sources for easy future reference, but, more importantly, also caused me to learn a new fact about the history of Hamilton's involvement in the project, which fundamentally changed, for the second time, my understanding of her role (stay tuned until the end).

In any case, I cannot answer it as stated, because there is too little easily accessible data to say accurately what was her "actual" contribution, and in any case I'm not so interested in this topic to spend months digging through primary sources. From the more easily accessible ones you can, however, glean some of her actual contribution. These were certainly not trivial, given that you can find some sources from way before the recent craze that refer to her by her name. For example this report published in 1982, on the history of AGC by David Hoag, who was the head of the entire thing, names Hamilton as the lead of "a team of specialists", which has written "much of the detailed code of these programs". This seems to imply that she did led the software team, but other evidence makes it rather clear that while it is true that she did, in fact, lead that team, she did not lead it as it was actually writing the detailed code of these programs.

In short, I thus very much stand behind the statement in my quoted comment. I think the clearest evidence is coming from the horse's mouth:

I was a young kid, and I was hired by Dan Lickly over here (pointing to Dan).


Then, because I was still a beginner, I was assigned responsibility for what was thought to be the least important software to be developed for the next mission. I was the most of the beginners; I mean, I was the first junior person, on this next unmanned mission.


And I learned an awful lot from Dan [Lickly], who was a real guru in all of these areas. I was trying very hard to learn from him all of the things that he knew that I needed to use in order to be more successful at doing my job.


We began to grow, and eventually Dan [Lickly] put me in charge of the command module software. He had the courage to put me over that whole area, and I got very interested in management of software; again, integrating all of the glue. And when Dan [Lickly] left, Fred [Martin] then even had more courage and gave me the responsibility for the LM too, in addition to the command module flight software and now I was in charge of all of the on board flight software.

She was put in charge of the command module software after Apollo 8, which flew in December 1968, just six months before the moon landing. I'm not sure exactly when she was put in charge of LM, whether it was before or after moon landing. In any case, I think it is safe to assume that between December 1968 and March 1969, which is when Hamilton submitted the final Apollo 11 software, no new software has been written for either CSM or LM.

To me, the above paints rather clear picture: the actual software lead was the aforementioned Dan Lickly, who, when the project was complete, moved on, and gave up the position to his mentee, whose growth he guided, from the most junior team member to a senior lead. Indeed, Dan Lickly is described in these proceeding of the conference on the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer exactly as someone who "was in charge of a larger group of programmers that did programming for the AGC on the CSM and LEM". The whole program was led by Frederick Martin, whom Hamilton also mentions as the person making the decision to promote her. It is he whom Hoag describes, in the article linked above, among "the notable names", as the lead of COLOSSUS (CSM) software program.

Now, here comes the best part, which I only now realized as I was redoing this research, trying to find again the sources that originally prompted my comment you linked: Hamilton married Dan Lickly in 1969 before Apollo 11 (which flew in July). Think about it: Lickly literally promoted his own fiancee to the position he was leaving behind, and half a century later, not only we never hear about Dan Lickly (say his name to not forget), but we get fed the story of the leader of the team that wrote the software that sent the man to the moon, without ever hearing that she only received this position when the whole thing was already done from the guy she was sleeping with.

Wow, that is surprising!

Lickly literally promoted his own fiancee to the position he was leaving behind, and half a century later, not only we never hear about Dan Lickly (say his name to not forget)

Indeed, her Wikipedia article doesn't mention Lickly at all except as her spouse.

Thanks for such an informative post.

Are there any studies that explain why children prefer cartoons to live-action TV, even programming designed for children?

I've been thinking about this question a bit as well. My intuition (backed by no physical evidence) is that it comes down to something like:

  • cartoons characters are more aesthetically pleasing than even attractive humans on a visceral level

    I don't mean to rehash the 2D vs 3D girl meme or say something like "people are generally sexually attracted to cartoons." I mean that characters depicted in cartoons are a kind of superstimulus in the same way that no real life Big Mac has ever compared to the Big Mac you see in McDonalds commercials. Some cartoons are drawn with "ugly" art styles and some characters are intentionally made to appear ugly in-universe, but for the most part characters in cartoons have qualities like flawless skin, big eyes (more exaggerated in East Asia but still present in the West), and perfect facial symmetry--the kinds of health markers people are intrinsically drawn to, especially at an early age. They're also a lot simpler information-wise than pictures of real humans, which is probably significant (maybe it makes them easier to process or something?).

  • the constraints of live action television tend to make it slower and less exciting

    The most noticeable aspect of this is the cost of showing vs telling. In live action shows, this cost is very asymmetric--it's much cheaper to film a couple of guys talking for 10 minutes than to choreograph, record, and edit even a short scene where stuff actually happens. There are ways to make dialogue exciting or show instead of tell without breaking the bank in live action, but this kind of thing takes skill and creativity so a lot of live action shows end up being full of boring talking. It's also more expensive to do action than dialogue in cartoons, but my understanding is that the difference is a lot smaller, which biases cartoons toward action/showing and live action toward dialogue/telling. I'm past my prime cartoon-watching years, but I notice that my prior on "will this show be at least good enough to keep me engaged for 30 minutes" is still a lot higher for a randomly chosen cartoon than a randomly chosen live action series targeted at the same demographic.

the constraints of live action television tend to make it slower and less exciting

Right, and even the setting is much more limited by the budget. If you shoot your movie in Louisiana, the cheapest movie you can shoot is a movie set in modern-day Louisiana. The further away you get from this setting, the more expensive your movie gets. Computer graphics help a lot to equalize the costs these days, but that's basically what animation has been doing for the last hundred years: you can release feature films set in Wonderland in 1951, Neverland in 1953, early 20th century all-American town in 1955 (with dogs that are way smarter than any Lassie or Rin-tin-tin).

And even the graphics don't help that much. The Rings of Power reportedly cost $58.1 million per episode, while Arcane cost $10 to $15 million per episode.

I'm not sure how much of that cost difference is due to animation vs live action, and how much is paying guild prices for an American product which was seen as a billionaire's bribe money to the Hollywood set. vs a tiny French animation company who from what I can tell farms out work to Korea and Indonesia the same way anime studios do now.

There's been some domestic American animations with stupidly high budgets for abysmal quality recently, but would have to check my notes for numbers.

Half joking but can you really push a real person through a mouse hole and they come out hotdog shaped? Or have the washing machine explode and they come out unharmed but with torn clothes and a layer of soot over them?

No, but not every cartoon is a slapstick comedy.

I think I might have a last minute v-day date soon (or one tomorrow night). Pretty Argentinian girl, I live in America. Unfortunately, she’s a huge sports fan and I am not. What should I know about the World Cup Finale or the Super Bowl? I didn’t watch either of them. Aside from who played/won ofc. This is a first date.

So? how did the date go?

She stopped responding. But I had an ice cream date with a med school student last night that went well and boba with a real estate agent tomorrow so I’ll brush it off.

good for you man! happy for you.

None. Actively play up your ignorance in a good natured way, make fun of her for being manlier than you because she loves football.

I've rarely dated a woman who was more into sports than I was, but I've dated several who played more video games than I did. Good natured ribbing about her masculine hobbies, or self deprecating jokes about your own feminine ones (hopefully you present sufficiently masculine to handle that).

Much better than telling her the problem with arsenal is they always try to walk it in.

Though if she seems likely to get it, actually telling her the problem with arsenal seems like a pretty good tactic. :)

the problem with arsenal

is that you can't spell it without "arse"?

I'm not all that much of a Casanova, but trying to impress a woman with your knowledge of something you're not into doesn't seem likely to get you very far. If she likes talking about it, just find a way to ask questions, so she keeps talking, and feels like an interesting person. I've found it to be a good approach for any kind of relationship, people love feeling like they're interesting.

I’m not really trying to floor her with any encyclopedic knowledge on it but I’d like to not come off as a total noob. I consider myself an otherwise good conversationalist.

How often do you vape?

I use a 5W Uwell G2 vape and 50mg/ml salt nic juice. I catch myself taking a hit or two every 10-15 minutes and this is clearly too much. My throat is always drying up, I can feel the effects of too much nicotine (similar to how it used to feel when I smoked 1.5-2 packs a day) such as headaches and nausea.

I am planning to cut back to 1 hit/hour.

Advice from former avid vaper: Just quit, it's easier than moderating. Also cheaper!

It's going to be quite an uphill battle for me. Vaping works quite well at moderating stress (and probably adding some on a neurochemical level) for me.

I am straight-up fucking addicted.


Question: Is it possible to raise wages high enough in U.S. Government to once again attract high caliber talent, without making jealous/discouraging the current batch of "lower quality" talent occupying the roles currently? I'm thinking of attracting young, top generalist talent of the type that otherwise would work on wall street or tech startups.

Full context of my thought experiment:

I've been very mildly sad lately thinking about the low quality of talent within the U.S. government. I don't remember the last time that one of my smarter friends decided to work for the bureaucracy. In particular I'm convinced that the wages are so obscenely low relative to the private sector, that unless you are already independently wealth or expect to benefit from the revolving door, there is not sufficient incentive at all to join the government other than favoring laziness/ work life balance.

Take public school teachers for example. A school district like Scarsdale NY, can afford to pay $150k+ for each high school teacher, its a chicken and egg thing though because the taxpayers there highly value education and would rather have a good public school with high taxes rather than paying comprable or more money to send them to private schools if their local public schools were shitty. This is an extreme anomaly like 3+ standard deviations above the average US teacher salary.

However, even if we decided nationally to pay teachers nationally as much as Scarsdale. 1) you would probably strains the budgets & bankrupt every local & state government 2) you would be grossly overpaying for the existing, less talented talent currently in the roles.

In theory you could gate new hires with a much higher salary and a much higher bar. But my suspicion is this breeds resentment amongst folks already in your workforce who are lower quality and lower paid. In its initial, smaller batch, more prestigious incarnations Teach for America did something like this where it got the 2nd rate students from Ivy Leagues to try it out for a few years. However, it seems like this barely made a dent and over time it seems to have gotten less prestigious as well. My 5000 ft view largely unresearched interpretation is it was "dragged down" to closer to the average of the teaching profession as opposed to "dragging up" the teachers at the schools they were dispatched to.

This problem isn't public sector specific, there are plenty of bloated legacy business model companies in the world that face the exact same problem as they scale and grow to the lowest common denominator. But at least in theory market competition should be a healthy force of creative destruction and prune out the truly unproductive companies. However, in the public sector there is no such mechanism and we in the U.S. seem to be okay with the government being a walk out the office after 35 hours and go fishing type workplace, with the tradeoff being secure employment albeit with low pay and hence unable to attract the best and brightest. Yes you do have subcontractors like the Anduril's or Mckinsey's of the world hired by government to go solve things, but that doesn't feel efficient to me.

As an engineering student... defense money is great. Salaries in excess of $200k are common, there's lots of job openings, and I view the whole field as a (morally defunct) money fountain. Of course, this goes hand in hand with the fact that defense spending is a number one source of cost overruns for the government. I don't think that I would want every government agency to be like that.

I'm not sure teaching is the best example.

There's been a lot of historic success from getting brilliant tutors for up and coming brilliant students. Finding someone impressive to tutor John von Neumann or lecture at Harvard is great, but not really a government employment problem, and basically solved.

Luring someone away from finance to teach in a euphemistically challenging inner city school... this does happen. You mention Teach for America. But... why, though? What are they going to teach? Phonics? Remedial high school algebra? Fractions, attempt 5. Basically college AP classes at a well off high school?

Largely hispanic and working class high schools often like to get people to teach things like culinary arts and shop classes. Sometimes they have trouble with this, because it pays less than being a chef or a mechanic, and they have to pass background checks, and do a bunch of certification nonsense. It would probably make sense to pay these positions more, to the extent that they're difficult to fill. Some states accept some years of industry experience instead of a bachelor's degree for these positions, and that makes sense.

The economy as a whole is, in some sense, a zero sum game, and if you're luring people away from lucrative, high prestige positions working with people like them, to go teach children or teens not much like them, you need to consider why.

Maybe a better case to consider is the military. It used to offer (maybe somewhat still does) 18 year olds camaraderie, structure, a paid college education if suitable, and a chance to attain a higher rank where they were lives are literally at stake. That works, but they seem to be actively trying to alienate their base lately.

I think your focus on teaching muddles the wider dynamic in government hiring: a significant portion of upper caliber talent isn't strongly financially motivated (this probably applies to teaching as well). In this light, all they can do is offer interesting problems (JPL/Nasa/NSA/arguably a lot of defense contractors) and/or good working conditions. Why should they try and pay 1MM salaries when Wall Street can always outbid them?

As far as schools, you're probably better off creating solutions that scale than paying teachers better. Even something simple like developing a free version of Saxon Math would be amazing. Eureka Math is free, and for this reason many schools use it, despite it being utterly terrible and (according to teachers I've talked to, as well as common sense given what I know of the curriculum) very quickly leading to obvious decreases in test scores.

I'm sure paying teachers more would help too, but a far more efficient solution is just to make their jobs easier and make their path of least resistance an effective one.

Real question: does the kind of ‘teacher quality’ that tends to be rewarded with extra pay actually come with better teaching? My priors are very much not that a masters in education actually makes you better at teaching.

This is my impression as well. I attended a well-funded public high school in the US where teachers made roughly what OP is quoting (100k-180k depending on seniority IIRC). A minority (maybe 20%?) of the teachers I encountered stood out noticeably from the kind of teaching quality I'd encountered before that point, i.e. "you would probably have trouble attracting this level of human capital with e.g. a 60k salary, all else being equal," and at least some of them were clearly not in it for the money. A lot of the others were phoning it in or actively bad in ways you would expect to encounter at schools with more normal salaries. I think most of them were coasting on the median quality of the students, which was pretty high. It's really hard for me to confidently say that attending that school (vs one closer to the median) had a significant positive impact on my education or the direction of my life. I definitely wouldn't use my experience to justify the claim "paying teachers 120k instead of 60k is usually worth it on the margin."

That's why I want to see more charter schools and school vouchers. Their existence demonstrates that you can make a better school than a public school using the same amount of funding.

Don't know how to apply this to other government services.

The same or less amount of funding, but more parent buy-in. There are limits to how selective a charter school is allowed to be, but "the parents cared enough and were middle class enough to navigate application red tape for a slot in an admissions lottery and a chance to drive their kid to a more distant school" is already adding non-trivial selection bias.

I'm greatly in favor of charter schools and school vouchers, and even if there were no effects besides selection bias, I think that level of unintentional tracking is probably better for both the selected kids (who can learn more things, if higher average class ability lets them go faster past core material) and the unselected kids (who can learn things more, if lower average class ability encourages the teacher to spend more time reviewing core material more intensely) ... but I wouldn't necessarily expect exceptional charter school results to generalize to full unselected populations.

What happens to human tribes or primate populations in the wild when the average age of the populations become too high? What kinds of social dysfunctions emerge in these societies? Do the young start to neglect or abuse the old? Do they get outcompeted by rival tribes? Is it simply something that never happens in the wild?

Wild guess: a hunter-gatherer’s life expectancy is severely constrained by dental health and a shortage of food that doesn’t require chewing, so the issue never arises.

I think in primate populations, older individuals both male and female can hold onto alpha even past when they're physically the most fit because of alliances and momentum. But eventually a younger fit individual will try challenging them and become a new alpha once the old individuals get sufficiently past their prime. I think in some primates, an alpha female won't always be physically challenged before she dies of natural causes and instead her alpha status will be passed to her daughter if she arranged her social alliances right.

I don't think that's a good metaphor for modern human society, since leadership and power comes basically entirely social alliances, not a combination of personal fitness and social alliances.

Can the Chiefs come back down 14? Or is the Eagles?

To those that didn't watch- the Kansas City Chiefs did in fact come back from being down 14 points to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl- the championship game of the NFL. This means they are the best team in the sport of American gridiron football.

Fans of the sport will argue about two particular calls that the referees made that seem to have strongly changed the game.

I am more interested in the gameclock management that the Chiefs used in the final 2 minutes of the game while things were still tied. It was a very undramatic way of winning at the very end- while quite close to being able to get a touchdown, the Chiefs decided to burn almost all of the time up by kneeling the ball 3 times, then kicking the field goal. There were 11 seconds remaining, and receiving the ball took 3 seconds. This left 8 seconds for Jalen Hurts of the Eagles to throw a single "Hail Mary"- extremely long and accurate pass, which didn't happen.

I wonder if this kind of clock management is defecting in a game theory sense. The Chiefs won the biggest game, but it was in a manner that probably damages interest in the sport and will increase general usage of the tactic.

I could just be salty because I like both Jalen (I'm an Alabama fan) and Mahomes (I have won the past 2 seasons of fantasy football with him as my keeper) and wanted a more dramatic fun end for either.

EDIT: Also the question probably should have been fun thread, but it makes sense you'd put it in daily thread when people might have actually answered before the answer was known.

I think it becomes the optimal strategy the more the rules favor the receiver and the passing game. The best way to stop an offense for teams whose defense is anything short of the Legion of Boom is to deny their offense any time with the ball after you pull ahead. I don't think the NFL is willing to shift rules to favor defenses yet. Games like the 2009 AFC championship where defenses dominate don't usually post the best ratings.

I don’t watch American football. I di watch rugby though, and „soccer“. I would expect any team I support to engage in time management. That said, a drop goal would have been more exciting

Is that not already a common tactic?

I’ve been to a lot of games that ended with running down the clock. Mostly in college football, which is generally more chaotic than pro. It’s usually done to defend a lead, rather than technically before getting one, just because teams aren’t usually down by 0-2 points in the last minutes.

And going for a field goal over an unsure TD is definitely normal.

Point is, if the practice is already common, it’s not going to change perceptions of the sport.

Point is, if the practice is already common, it’s not going to change perceptions of the sport.

I agree with this. When @DoctorMonarch was describing what happened I was thinking "this is just normal clock management in the NFL, I don't think there's anything to really write home about here". I can agree that it makes the game less exciting to watch to some extent, but for better or for worse it's accepted as standard practice.

I'm not a diehard NFL fan, I've seen a lot of games end with winding down the clock but it's the first time I remember seeing someone intentionally dive in front of the open end-zone to avoid a touchdown.

It’s become pretty common practice but it requires a smart head coach and a disciplined player. There are many examples where the player was told to go down before the end zone but instinct took him in.

Ohhhhhhh. I missed that detail (and didn't watch the game cause no Packers = I sleep). I thought that the issue was with running out the clock and then kicking a field goal, not that someone intentionally avoided scoring to run the clock out more. I agree that's pretty suspect - I would guess that if it becomes common the league will crack down on it.

As someone who watches a lot of cfb and almost no nfl, kneeling to run down the clock before a field goal instead of running the ball for more yards, better position, slow plays, and low fumble odds isn’t very common at all. I want to say it doesn’t even happen except once to stop the clock, and that’s usually a spike. Maybe it’s a difference in the rules and how nfl’s late game clock works.

Overall, game clock management is a huge part of the sport. I’d rather my team run the clock down before attempting a pat-level field goal than go for a td with too much time left ala Georgia in the championship this year. I will admit, that did make for a more exciting ending. Doesn’t mean Stenson Bennett didn’t know he goofed up.

I don't think defection is a meaningful concept in a scenario premised on pure competition where leveraging every (legal) advantage to the hilt is the expected behavior. If KC scores to maximize entertainment value their fans would be furious and Andy Reid's game management would be roasted in the media. Usage of that tactic was already expected, in 2011 (I think) the giants tried to do a similar maneuver but their running back couldn't stop in time and awkwardly fell over into the end zone instead of at the 1.

The only optimal unsportsmanlike tactic that is still stigmatized in football is that lineman are expected to not really try in kneel down situations. Greg Schiano got everybody mad at him a few years back because he coached his player's to go all out even in kneel down scenarios because there was a tiny chance the QB might fumble the snap and they could get it. He is part of the larger trend of College Coaches failing in the NFL because 20 year olds on a scholarship will do whatever you tell them but 30 year old lineman being paid millions don't want to take unnecessary injury risks on the miniscule chance the QB fumbles.

The game was pretty clearly over once the Chiefs got that automatic first down from the defensive holding while the eagles had no time outs.

I'm more surprised that the near historic front 4 of the Eagles were unable to significantly pressure Mahomes, seems pretty odd.

Resident Eagles fan: I'm profoundly NOT salty about that game. It was very much a good Super Bowl, the Eagles proved they are the second best team in the league, and Hurts proved he's a real QB at that level playing Mahomes to a 4th quarter field goal. No one can walk out of this game saying the Eagles were frauds, which concerned me way more than them losing in the Super Bowl.

At the end of the day, the Eagles win if it weren't for that Fumble Recovery TD given up to the Chiefs. The tendency is to focus on the mistakes in the 4th quarter, but any 3 expected points swing from any play is equally culpable.

The thing about the NFL and "defecting" against making it an entertaining game is that the NFL has the power to change the rules. It's likely that the Hurts QB Push is going to be made illegal next year, for example, because it's such a wild cheat code for the Eagles all season. At most you can defect for one season, and if it becomes an issue the collective will act to limit it. It wouldn't be hard for the NFL to institute a penalty for, eg, "Non Competitive Play" where Pacheco would have been required to run into the endzone on that play or something like that.

It's likely that the Hurts QB Push is going to be made illegal next year, for example, because it's such a wild cheat code for the Eagles all season.

CFB pleb here. What’s wrong with the QB push? Is this different from a sneak? Getting rid of that in cfb would seem wild to me. So many 4th and goals would turn into kicks without it.

The Eagles, through a mix of having essentially the pro-bowl offensive line, a QB who squats 600lbs and will do anything to win, and tremendous full team buy-in, call a QB sneak and get 2-3 guys behind Hurts who push him into the line scrum style. Hurts is the ball carrier, but in a very real sense he just curls up and becomes the ball, with 2-3 guys behind and 2-3 guys in front doing the actual moving.

It amounted to a cheat code for a lot of the season to get 1-2 yards automatically. Where that might get banned:

  1. Physical toll, or a public perception of the physical toll. It's actually relatively unlikely to result in injury, it is the big open field hits that do the worst damage, but it looks brutal and the NFL might not like that. QBs who aren't physical specimens might or might not use the NFLPA to bring this up.

  2. Changing strategy. The Eagles had a LOT of boring wins, part of which was that they could run the ball for 3 yards on 1st-3rd downs, and then push on 4th. I think 4 down football makes the game more exciting personally, but I could see teams complaining that it allowed the Eagles to just sit on 7-14 point leads and smother the game rather than play aggressively or give the ball back to the other team.

  3. Aesthetics. Some NFL magnates might not like how it looks. Just flat out think it is ugly, unentertaining, bad for the TV brand.

Its a maul rather than a scrum, probably (maul has a player with the ball being shoved forward by his pack, scrum has the ball at the feet of the players while the packs try to push each other back). I think the current rules for mauls are once forward momentum is arrested you have 5 seconds to make another push or work the ball free or they call the ball dead.

A ruck would be interesting in American Football (player goes to ground, ball behind him and your forwards push over the top, basically), and maybe legal? You can choose to fumble the ball gently behind you while your offensive line push over and you recover the controlled fumble from behind them? You'd have to drop the ball before you went down, unlike in rugby where you can place it behind you, generally.

Changing strategy. The Eagles had a LOT of boring wins, part of which was that they could run the ball for 3 yards on 1st-3rd downs, and then push on 4th. I think 4 down football makes the game more exciting personally, but I could see teams complaining that it allowed the Eagles to just sit on 7-14 point leads and smother the game rather than play aggressively or give the ball back to the other team.

One could argue that this is just because 4 downs make football boring...

No one can walk out of this game saying the Eagles were frauds, which concerned me way more than them losing in the Super Bowl.

Going a step further, I watched this game through the eyes of a Bills fan and texted friends that the silver lining is that this Eagles team would have absolutely annihilated the Bills if they'd made it there.

It's likely that the Hurts QB Push is going to be made illegal next year, for example, because it's such a wild cheat code for the Eagles all season.

This, on the other hand, Bills fans watch and say, "why the fuck are we not doing that with our giant quarterback?".

It wouldn't be hard for the NFL to institute a penalty for, eg, "Non Competitive Play" where Pacheco would have been required to run into the endzone on that play or something like that.

You could potentially come up with a ruleset that would stop the clock when a player gave himself up. You'd have to tune it to situation to avoid it being used for advantageous clock-stopping, but that seems potentially feasible. This wouldn't be entirely novel, we already have the opposite of it at the boundary - if an offensive player goes out of bounds backwards, the clock doesn't stop, you have to be advancing the ball to get the clock stoppage.

I don't think this is likely to be considered though, the only commentary I ever see on a play like the Pacheco play is everyone in the room agreeing that it's a smart play. It doesn't feel like an unfair exploit, it's just less exciting than the alternative.

You could potentially come up with a ruleset that would stop the clock when a player gave himself up. You'd have to tune it to situation to avoid it being used for advantageous clock-stopping, but that seems potentially feasible. This wouldn't be entirely novel, we already have the opposite of it at the boundary - if an offensive player goes out of bounds backwards, the clock doesn't stop, you have to be advancing the ball to get the clock stoppage.

In all sports, I'm in favor of more aggressive and crazy rules to eliminate situations where the game becomes completely different during the last 2-5 minutes. For example, I think in Basketball during the last 4-5 minutes the rule should be that every penalty committed by the losing team drops 25 seconds off the clock. Because I hate watching the Hack-a-thons at the end of playoff games, I'd rather just watch Basketball.

I don't know how you make penalties sufficient to prevent time wasting plays at the end of an nfl game, but there's got to be a way.

The Elam Ending is just an objectively better way to end basketball games than the current rules. There's nothing worse than watching refs stare at a replay screen in between marches to the free throw line.

At one point the Arena League had a rule where the clock would stop in the last minute if the ball didn't cross the line of scrimmage, to eliminate end game kneel downs.

"For most of the league's history, any play that did not advance the ball across the line of scrimmage also stopped the clock; this prevented teams from kneeling to run out the clock. (This rule was repealed in 2018.) It also rewards defensive play, as a tackle for loss automatically stops the clock."

Obviously wouldn't have affected the play last night as the runner was past the line of scrimmage (but I guess would have affected Mahomes subsequent kneel downs).

Yeah, that at least forces a QB sneak and creates a non-trivial turnover risk. I can't really think of any serious downside to that rule, there isn't an obvious exploit that could be done with it (intentionally stopping the clock that way is no different than spiking it).

I don't think the push from behind will get banned until someone gets injured doing it. Just seems too easy for someone to get their leg tangled up and pushed forward the wrong way. Also it basically forces the defense to try to leap the pile. The whole thing adds a lot of injury risks and the NFL is trying to reduce that.

I don't think leaping the pile is the way to stop that play.

Chris Jones did that last night, had Hurt behind the line of scrimmage, then got pushed over the first down.

You don't have any power once you've left your feet.

I think you need to meet force with force, I would line your two biggest defensive tackle over the ball, then your next two biggest tackles behind them to push on their back. And try to get your 4 biggest guys trying to push the center back into Hurts' lap. (I would put an Offensive Lineman out there if I thought they were 1 of my top 4 force generators)

Maybe put 2 more guys behind them, but at some point you have to guard against them pitching the ball wide.

To beat it you need similar coordination, talent, and full team buy in. It wasn't just about being big and strong, the whole Eagles team really bought into it. Kelce and Hurts were the offensive team leaders, and they were always putting it all out there on every sneak.

Otoh, letting Pacheco (or whoever the RB was) waltz into the EZ unmolested is also a non competitive play done solely for preserving time. So what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I like the clock management — it goes ti strategy even if it saps some drama.

I do dislike the Hurts play. There was one or two plays where Hurts was stuffed, and then pushed forward. If while stationery Hurts fumbled, the refs would undoubtedly say forward progress stopped. Yet they will give Hurts the additional yard if pushed from behind after being stuffed.

Also, the NFL should simplify that a catch is when you have two feet and possession. This element of time is awfully qualitative.

The most fascinating difference between European Football and NFL play is the difference in approach to rules. FIFA approaches all rules as vague visual guidelines, the ball is out of bounds when you can see it is out of bounds so they throw it in and keep playing, a foul is when he, ya know, fouls the other guy, the clock just kinda runs for 90 minutes and they throw on a little extra at the end. The NFL approaches rules with Talmudic discernment. What really constitutes a catch? The clock stops at the precise moment when a pass is incomplete or a player goes out of bounds, we will take a 45 second timeout to determine the incorrect presence or absence of 2 seconds from gameplay. How many pass-interference calls can occur between Angels playing a game on the head of a pin?

Also, the NFL should simplify that a catch is when you have two feet and possession.

In my dream world, the rule would basically amount to, "would everyone agree that it was a catch in a backyard football game?". This would be a much more liberal interpretation of whether a ball is fully possessed - I think a player can legitimately possess the ball even if it shifts a quarter inch in his hands as he gathers it.

Apparently they can.

Death is bad for those who die because death deprives them of good things they would otherwise have. That's a classic Nagel's deprivation account, but I feel like it's imprecise? Death deprives us of many opportunities: work, relationships, family. But as we get older and weaker, those opportunities become fewer and fewer. We feel more sorry for the dead young girl than for the old woman. The result is that the badness of death diminishes rapidly with age. But aging isn't just the cause of diminishing ability; it's also the main cause of death itself. The result is a vicious circle: that which reduces our capacities kills us and at the same time justifies death. We need to show that death itself is bad at any age.

We feel more sorry for the dead young girl than for the old woman.

I think this is more due to loss of potential lifespan than it is the younger state of her body.

What’s going on with all the objects getting shot down over the US this weekend?

Best theory I've seen is that normally radar filters out slow-moving objects to avoid false positives. After the large balloon last week, NORAD recalibrated and went looking for slow-moving objects and found several that were real.

I put the chance of alien responsibility at 0%. America and China UFO-ing around the globe to flex their muscles about 50%, Israel/Germany/Russia UFOing for surveillance at 49%. What other states would have the intelligence for an object like that? Lastly, Nazis in the Arctic coming back for WW4 I put at 1% just for fun.

I personally like the idea that the UFOs are piloted by inner earth übertech, I think that's more fun than aliens.

I find Nazis in the Arctic more likely than Germany doing anything of the sort. Are you serious about Germany? If so, why?

They used to have the aerospace chops. West Germany was making their own, vaguely superior F117 stealth fighter, only for the US to pressure them to cancel it. That's basically a UFO.

During 1987, the existence of the Lampyridae project and its design was revealed to the United States in the form of a group of United States Air Force (USAF) officers, who were shown the piloted model, which was kept in a closed-off section of MBB's manufacturing facility at Ottobrunn, Bavaria, Germany. That same year, the Lampyridae project was terminated for unspecified reasons; diplomatic pressure on the part of the US has been attributed.

Of course, the Germany of the 80's is not the same as the Germany of today.

Whichever state has unlocked UFO-like technology must be wealthy and intelligent. I just wouldn’t be surprised if Germany had a black budget projects.

I do hope you're right and our state is indeed that intelligent.

India, Japan, the Koreas, France, Britain, Italy, Australia, and maybe Iran could, although only the Koreas and Japan are in the right neighborhood.

Not just the US: China and Uruguay report very similar UFO's.

I don't have a contribution as to what they are, but I want to chime in with an objection I haven't seen answered from the aliens crowd- if they're from space, why are they showing up over the arctic and staying in relatively northern locales? AIUI the way de-orbiting works you generally want to do it over the equator, and ways around that are the kind of horrendous energy inefficiency that such small craft would require reactionless drives to overcome(which in turn is a far more fundamental violation of physical laws than "mere" interstellar travel would be). I don't see a way to square that circle into "told you so" memes featuring that guy from the history channel with a perpetual bad hair day unless you go full schizo.

If the objects showing up are aliens, they are certainly not using conventional fusion drives. We would notice the gigantic plumes of plasma from the other side of the solar system. Most reports seem to agree on anomalous propulsion, extremely sudden and violent acceleration. That could just be an optical illusion or error of course.

Alien technology is probably overwhelmingly beyond us, such that we don't understand the principles involved. Maybe once we have stellar-scale particle accelerators and planetary scale computers, a theory of everything, understand dark matter/energy and the origin of the universe, then we can be confident of these things.

Obviously a star decelerating into our solar system would’ve been immediately noticeable since at least the late 19th century, but solar sails or their magnetic equivalent could also be used to decelerate, and this is probably much less noticeable.

Going into (a low-inclination) orbit is somewhat easier near the equator, but deorbiting is just about equally easy (hard!) anywhere. The earth's spin only wants to accelerate you in one direction, but the Earth's atmosphere will happily decelerate you however.

(It's still not aliens.)

Ok, good to know.

What subreddits do you think have the most intelligent commenters? It's hard to explain, but some subreddits just give me a vibe that their commenters are more intelligent, with stuff like word choice and how they structure their comments. I'm not talking about their actual beliefs being insightful or correct, there are a lot of very smart people who believe very dumb things and some subreddits pretty much select for that, and I'm not just talking about essay writing ability either. AskHistorians top level commenters, often being actual historians, are very intelligent. I think this site has a lot of intelligent people but it also has more than a few people who aren't that bright. /r/slatestarcodex is very intelligent. /r/neoconNWO doesn't have many people writing long comments, their discussion thread is mostly people joking around with some serious commentary on politics, but they always come off as very intelligent to me. /r/neoliberal used to be like /r/neoconNWO, but as they've vastly grown the past few years they've become basically identical to an average politics subreddit. /r/sneerclub whenever I browse it makes me incredibly frustrated with how close minded and biased they are, but they also clearly are very intelligent and are the same type of people as this site or /r/slatestarcodex, just that they have absolute confidence in the prior that leftism is correct. Occasional comments in /r/programmerhumour seem to come from people who are very intelligent and absolutely know what they're talking about, but the majority aren't anything special.

This is in contrast to subs like /r/purplepilldebate, which go on lengthy debates about sex and gender and dating in a similar vein to many discussions on this site, but they don't have the same vibes of intelligence. As far as I know pretty much every incel subreddit is now banned, but when they weren't the commenters always came off as very dumb to me.

/r/weightroom has the smartest commenters of any subreddit, because they mercilessly prune anyone who doesn't. You have to prove that you actually ARE big and strong, or it ain't happening for you. They gatekeep mercilessly.

So the question is, how do you gatekeep intelligence on an open forum? The only way outside of such objective tools as "What's your powerlifting total?" is to put something offensive to normies in the forum. Like long boring effortposts, or constant efforts to redefine everything, or whatever.

What subreddits do you think have the most intelligent commenters?

Intelligent commenters on reddit who most of the time know what they are talking about?

Try any subreddit dedicated to practical skills, advice or help, one strongly moderated where political shit slinging and off topic content are not tolerated.

For example, financial or legal advice

(lots of links to other subreddits in sidebars)

I like /r/stupidpol, even though the commenters there tend to be pretty far gone on the Covid doomerism train (even today, three years after March 2020).

My understanding is that one specific /r/stupidpol powerjanny basically went hardcore zerocovidist and brought the rest of the sub to the same line through usual moderation stuff (strategic bans and thread removals etc.)

Yes, but that person is gone now and the new mod team is more sensible.

I'm actually going to argue against slatestarcodex, despite it being the genesis of this place. /r/SSC was very intelligent, but I think a number of factors have drastically dragged down the level of discussion there.

One is just size, with the subreddit having grown rapidly as Scott's following has grown, and that will always bring down an average. And there is the problem of the motte itself: a lot of good commentators might have started at /r/ssc, but ended up migrating most of their comments to here, or to DSL, or even to lesswrong or the ACX open threads.

The somewhat directionless nature of the subreddit is another problem, since the early selection effects of the subreddit have now faded away, bringing in a lot of random commentators.

I'll still go there regularly, but nowadays it seems like only 1 in 10 comments is worth bothering with, compared to a much higher proportion before.

Relatedly, I've noticed a lot more inane and just plain stupid comments on ACX posts these days. (example, another).

Maybe I'm looking at the past through rose coloured glasses, but I can't remember this sort of thing back on SSC. After wading through enough emoji reacts and "lol so true!!", I get annoyed and close the tab. It's frustrating that a growing percentage readership feels this is meaningful participation.

Can those sorts of comments not be jannied?

On rsp/drama, I know people say that but I am yet to come across an example. And Im not conflating intelligence with having the right opinions or conclusions.

Neoliberal also banned all non approved debate. They banished anyone from the Milton Friedmon school. Initially it was just the annoyance of dealing with downvotes. Then 2 years later mass purges.

I always thought that sub should have been banned or remoderated. It never seemed right to me that a group could co-opt a name that was obviously very conservative. Felt like cultural appropriation.

Neoliberal also banned all non approved debate. They banished anyone from the Milton Friedmon school. Initially it was just the annoyance of dealing with downvotes. Then 2 years later mass purges.

This describes almost all subs. They start out tolerant of many viewpoints and then past a certain threshold of popularity, began to censor hard.

What subreddits do you think have the most intelligent commenters? It's hard to explain, but some subreddits just give me a vibe that their commenters are more intelligent

If you are going by raw IQ, it would be subs pertaining to coding/programing, physics, math, machine learning, etc. Below that it would be philosophy, ask historians, rationality, and fitness subs

politics subs would be near the bottom , along with mainstream enterintemnt and sports.

Hmm but this is relative to the rest of reddit. Maybe math and physics are at the top and then programming, finance subs are second?

I don’t know if I’d go with less intelligent so much as less experienced and mature. And in a sub like cscareerquestions, also non intellectual.

I don't actually get the impression that the people on /r/sneerclub are that smart. /r/badeconomics is OK.

I think they are above average but their tone is off-putting, hence the name

they are part of the 'bad network' of subs that shit on everyone to the right of the far-left.

It's not just the tone. Their criticisms often don't make any sense and you can tell they don't really understand what they're reacting to.

That strikes me as more of an intelligence vs good judgement kind of thing. Or put in other terms, they seem to have an amazing, state-of-the-art engine driven by a drunk driver.

That's the exact vibe I get from them, your metaphor captures it perfectly.

Cities speak saith Paul Graham.

What does your city say? I'm interested in more articles that try and convey the vibe of a place.

Houston says "do whatever the fuck you want." No zoning, no gun control, no real enforcement of drug or traffic laws. Sort of an anarcho-libertarian paradise and hellscape rolled into the same package.

Houston says that, Dallas says ‘make lots of money’.

Yeah I feel like in Houston money is a means to the end of doing whatever the fuck you want, whereas in Dallas money is an end unto itself.

I'm interested in the topic, but unwilling to doxx myself hah.

So, what are you reading?

I'm going through Freinacht's 12 Commandments for extraordinary people to master ordinary life, which came out recently. I think it suffers from the gimmick of being a response to Peterson's 12 Rules, because it doesn't put the effort into that aspect. In any case, so far it's the usual combination of saturated nice-guy sentiments underpinned by a deep materialism, and it is as interesting as ever to see how the two are reconciled in Hanzi's persona. The writing could use more restraint, but it seems to be improving.

I haven't been on this site since they moved off Reddit but I used to love these threads every Friday. I'm glad they're still happening.

I've been reading a lot of textbooks. Working through the problems in Gil Strang's Introduction to Applied Mathematics; this is the third textbook of his I've used; none have been for classes. I just love the man and his presentation of mathematics, it feels so relevant, useful, and meaty. I just finished reading Principles of Vibration by Benson Tongue and highly highly recommend it - very conversational style with fun and hilarious problems.

On the non-textbook side, I just started Moon Dust, an account of the Apollo astronauts after they came back from the Moon. I love the writing style.

Still Moby Dick. It's a big one, but not that big - I'm just being slow.

I like it. It's a good book. The author is very self-indulgent, but also very skilled, so I forgive him.

The Mormon People, by Matthew Bowman. I've been living in Utah for over a year now, and want to have a better understanding of the foundation of the culture here. There are concepts and vocabulary that come up often that I feel like I need to be more familiar with.

Bowman is a member of the church, so he probably doesn't go as hard as an outside observer might, but there is certainly some wild stuff around the formation and early history of the church. When I reflect on it, it's a little surprising that the LDS religion has become a (somewhat) mainstream faith.

Reading Masters and Mages by Christian Cameron. Amazing standard fantasy so far. He writes battles better than anyone I've ever seen.

Becoming Trader Joe. Much better than I expected, it's an interesting read.

I just binge read Dungeon Crawler Carl. It was a very entertaining litRPG.

Some network just bought the rights to that series.

I've succumbed to Defiance of the Fall, which is not as compelling as DCC, but has the powerful advantages of 8+ completed books and an addictive pace. Earlier this week, the 8th Thousand Li book came out, and I tore through that in a day.

Did the greeks/romans/ancients write about leadership and management? (surely they did) Any specific recommendations here? I have not read much at all from the classical world, other than Seneca's letters, which are mostly about personal matters.

Its a strictly military manual, but the Strategikon is pretty good.

It was attributed to Maurice but there isn't good evidence he wrote it, or even a single author did. While there are a lot of similar guides for military issues produced throughout the Roman period, the Strategikon comes from time and place of incredible pragmatism. Things weren't going great for the empire and they needed smart and effective, no bullshit professional officers. Its an interesting historical text as well as it is much concerned with educating future officers about the neighboring peoples they were mostly likely to fight, their dispositions and technological levels, the terrains of the empires, and economics.

He describes Persians as deviant but obedient and "persistent in work and fighting in the name of their homeland".

Scythians, Turks and Avarians and similar are nomad people; sinewy, superstitious, reckless, committed to a desire for abundance. They are good at horse riding and archery. Also, they own a lot of horses. They can stay on horseback for a very long time, but they are not skilful while they are walking, nor very hardy.

Francs, Lombards and their lookalikes value their freedom very much. They are fearless and bold in battle. They are dissolute in attack and disobedient to their leaders. They are greedy and bribable. They can't stand the heat as much as cold, they are easily ambushed, their camps are very unorganized.

Slavs, Ants and their lookalikes have the same customs and don't let be enslaved. Slavs act with slaves better than other nations; after certain period of time a slave will be released and he can go back home or stay and live as an equal member of the Slavic community. They easily bear extreme weather conditions and a shortage of food; they are good at crossing water, as well as hiding under the water (by using concave canes). They are friendly with foreigners and their hospitality is well known - revenge for the guest is considered a duty. They are easily bribed, they are discordant, and they cannot stand each other. Slavs are skilled with arms and nimble in tight and wooded areas, but unorganized in more open battles. The author praises Slavic women who are honorable after their husbands died"

My fellow Slav friend and myself, also a Slav, concur.

Plutarch was more or less writing for this exact purpose. Ditto Xenophon's Cyropaedia, which presented the education of an ideal leader. The Aeneid was largely also presenting an ideal hero/leader. Much of ancient history writing was pedagogic, meant to present ideal leaders to emulate, and mistakes to avoid.

Have any of my fellow early career programmers and programming adjacent professionals like Data Scientists gotten any success in the job search after making a personal website? Or a fancy personal website?

I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE writing HTML and CSS, like hate it with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Nonetheless, I sucked it up and finally created a personal website because some programmers swear by it so much, going as far as to say the website was the deciding factor of them getting hired or not because they claim that the hiring manager remarked "not everyone is putting in this much effort".

I'm assuming this is only an early career thing? How fancy does the website need to be really?

I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE writing HTML and CSS, like hate it with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

[/g/-tier response withheld due to the rules of this website]

All you need to do is come up with a simple set of HTML classes and stick to them in your CSS styles. You don't need a Javascript-laden or many-colored peacock monstrosity. A simple website is fine, as long as it makes sense under the hood.

The current iteration of my website is more styled than your examples. I was asking about style because certain ignorant hiring managers even for a role that would never require any front-end work might interpret a "too simple" website as signifier of lack of relevant skills.

Nope. All my jobs have come through LinkedIn (except for my first one). I like the idea of personal blogs being the thing that gets you a cool job, but I think it's probably very rare. Maybe it sets you apart in a job with lots of candidates, maybe it disqualifies you for a different position. Programmers like them because they like doing stuff like this and that's it. I would definitely recommend having at least a LinkedIn profile if you're in the US with your experience listed so recruiters can find you.

I'm suspicious at how much you hate HTML and CSS though. I'm not particularly enamored with them myself, but there's a certain immediacy when working with them that's satisfying, and I like knowing how to make a website. It's something people can understand when I talk about what I do.

I've taken my personal site off of Google, or it will be off of Google when they see the new "nofollow, noindex" meta tag, because I've decided that I'd rather use for strictly personal things like an actually personal blog (i.e., just for me), wiki, jellyfin server, temporary screenshot server, ftp, etc., and I'm really liking that so far.

The best personal website I can think of in, but what sets him apart is his output, not that his site is so great, or that he has one at all. He's just a really smart guy who any company would want to have on their team. So, instead of focusing on the design of your site, focus on becoming the kind of guy people want to work with.