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Small-Scale Question Sunday for February 19, 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.

Is there any data on genders of Vtubers? I suppose male authors with female avatar are much more common than female authors with male avatar.

I don't know of anyone who's done any sort of research on this. Even counting the Vtubers would be difficult, since I'd wager that the vast majority of them stream to an audience of 5 or fewer, which makes them hard to discover to count - if they should be counted at all. But anecdotally, I don't see how it could possibly not be the case that there are far more male authors with female avatars than vice versa. There's simply no benefit to having a male avatar, since the vast majority of the audience of any stream - and likely even moreso for Vtuber streams - are straight males.

Nijisanji seems to have broken into yaoi girl and straight girl audience with their all-male and half-male generations. Have you seen the simping around Vox Akuma?

Hm, I didn't consider the fujoshi market. That's certainly a powerful force to consider, though my intuition says that among Vtubers, it'd be similar to the otaku market in general where the typical straight male fan is far more common than the fujoshi.

What kind of stocks are Motte people buying these days? I have a few sheckels I want to throw at something promising.

tech + payment processing mix

Uber, Tesla, MSFT, V, MA, META, etc...

Vanguard Target Retirement Funds

Each fund in this category is entirely composed of passive index funds, but follows the "glide path" appropriate for your expected retirement date (2030, 2035, 2040, etc.). Despite technically being active funds, these funds recently had their fees reduced, so that they cost essentially the same as their underlying passive funds.

If you prefer to keep more control over your money, you can just buy the underlying funds, and manually adjust your holdings to match the appropriate Target Fund on a per-month or per-paycheck basis.

$PBR-A. Trades at an extremely low valuation due to perceived political risk. $PBR-A shares trade at a discount to $PBR, and are first in line to receive dividends, which are mandated by Brazilian law. People are worried about Lula being a socialist, but $PBR stock thrived under his previous presidency. Also the government owns half the company and relies on the dividends to pay for education.

So there are two scenarios.

Base case: Business as usual. A $10 investment in $PBR-A will earn perhaps $3 in dividends per year from now until oil stops being a thing (aka post 2050).

Bear case: Brazil ignores its laws and constitution and penalizes foreign investors somehow, in which case $PBR is probably fairly valued (10% odds)

But yeah, index fund or treasuries paying 5% will be better for most people.

I bought some Nvidia. Doesn't seem like demand for GPUs is going down.

I'm not sure there is anything promising at the moment. I shifted a bunch over to treasuries recently.

The answer is always a low cost index fund, vanguard offers the ones with the lowest fees. Picking stocks (or paying someone to do so for you) is a losing game

I mean yeah, most of my portfolio is in that. But I like to throw a few thousand at some fun stuff every now and then.

Would a survey of the dietary habits of top-performing students at top institutions be the most conclusive answer to “what / how should we eat to maximize / optimize cognitive performance”?

It dawned on me that (1) cognitive performance tests in a lab may be too dissimilar to the “continuous” mental stress of an intense pre-med or engineering course load, and (2) there may be longterm benefits and detriments to diets that do not come out for many months. Also, (3) as academic performance in top departments are society’s largest competition, it’s likely that if there are students with a noteworthy performance benefit from nutrition that they will find their way to the top.

You'd just pick up on whatever contingent cultural ways of eating they had culturally absorbed. Because the biggest causes of intelligence or performance in the population aren't eating, and those causes are highly correlated with all sorts of behaviors, like what kind of food you eat. "Detailed study of New York's 1900s cognitive elite finds lox, bagels, and deli meat key for intellect"

I’m thinking that the competition for selection to eg Columbia, and then Columbia engineering / pre-med, would be so competitive that everyone already has 130iq. The small difference that diet makes would then be more significant than otherwise, because everyone already has intelligence and good habits.

If there is a signal, it'll still be swamped by correlations. The affirmative action students and asians will have different diets. The richer students will eat higher class food, and do better. And there are so many different ways diets can vary, and so many ways to group different foods into potential groups with effects (meat? red meat? lean meat? beef? processed meat? grass fed? organic? non-gmo? all-natural? free-range?) - and all of those groups and foods will ahve their own idiosyncratic correlations with all sorts of other factors - that it'll be impossible to sort signal from noise.

It's not that it's impossible to figure this kind of thing out. There's a lot in econometrics on causal inference with limited kinds of data, and that sometimes works, even if it works less often than economists think imo. But I can't think of anything that'd really work here.

also, the really-effective diets might just not be present in the dataset. let's say you find that vegetarian diets are better than meat diets because the vegetarians are mostly health nuts. but nobody was eating biodynamic pasture-raised bison, goat cheese, sunchokes, and mangos, which is actually the optimal IQ diet, or anything close to that.

Would a survey of the dietary habits of top-performing students at top institutions be the most conclusive answer to “what / how should we eat to maximize / optimize cognitive performance”?

No, it will mostly reveal what's fashionable among top performers. A preference for macarons over macaroons probably isn't performance enhancing, but you can safely bet that it will show up in the dietary choices of the upper class.

I’m going to guess no, because students are completely unhinged. You don’t have the same sleep habits or sex drive or social life ten years later; I’d expect the optimal diet to change, too.

There’s also the selection effect of getting into such schools in the first place. Integrating 18 years of top-1-percent behaviors, either from parents or from the students, is going to dominate the habits from a couple rapidly changing years on their own.

because students are completely unhinged. You don’t have the same sleep habits or sex drive or social life ten years later

College was actually almost exactly ten years later for me and ain't that the truth.

I used to think I was "nocturnal" due to how I could function with a horrible and insufficient sleep schedule. No, turns out I was just young. Horrible set of habits to take into adult life.

It's possible but I think dietary habits would have too small an impact over the short term to be measurable over a small sample size like that. I expect a 135 IQ student on a diet of pizza pockets to outperform a 130 IQ student on fresh Italian pizza with the best ingredients, all else equal. In some ways it might even be inversely correlated, if the student who has pizza pockets spends the hour they save browsing the grocery for good ingredients, cooking the food, and cleaning up on studying instead.

I use midnight theme and can't see whether I upvoted posts/ comments since the color toggles from white to white. Did anybody already created some custom CSS for it or is a fix in the pipeline?

Indentation bars to indicate comment reply level also don't show on dark theme but I consider this low priority

How come the mod log has so many instances of stickying this week’s CW thread?

The pinning (and/or unpinning) function broke for some reason. Zorba is working on it.

Does anyone have a reputable source where one can read analysis of the Equality Act bill which Congress has in the works? I could always read the text I imagine, but as a non-lawyer it would be nice to get a decent explanation from a lawyer about what is going on.

I hadn't heard about it until I visited my dad's church this weekend, and the pastor spent a solid 10 minutes (inappropriately) going on about it during his sermon. I don't trust what this guy says any more than I can throw it, but given the CW nature of the bill I know that I can't trust the mainstream media to give me accurate information either. So I'm not exactly sure where to look.

Can you guys recommend some really good, wholesome, non-CW children’s books?

I’ve been reading “the giant jam sandwich” every night and loving it, and would love more like that. Thanks!

I'd recommend Pancakes for Findus. It has beautiful art, a fun story and it's been hugely popular among kids in Sweden (and some other parts of Europe I think) for decades. It seems to be temporarily out of stock at Amazon at the moment, but other stores seem to have it, but check out the excerpt at Amazon to get a feel for it.

Corgiville Fair is a treasure!

One of the best children’s books I’ve encountered. Warning: lots of poop.

How old are your kids? We've been loving Oliver Jeffers' books lately, especially Once Upon an Alphabet.

The Brownstone Mythical Collection and Fan Brothers books are really beautiful too.

Oh, I almost forgot a book that still makes me laugh whenever I think about it: Still Stuck.

Maybe I'm too far out of the loop, but what are examples of CW books?

Flipping through my memories of childhood books, I'm getting

-- EDIT: Wow... A cursory search suggests 3/4 of these have been banned somewhere at some point in time (annotated below) so maybe I'm cruelly out of touch on this.

  • Where the Wild Things Are; hard to imagine anything controversial here -- banned in 1963 (immediately after publication) for promoting witchcraft and supernatural events

  • The Giving Tree; religious and secular interpretations and adoptions abound, nothing political -- banned in a public library in Colorado 1988 for sexism

  • The Little Prince; maybe vaguely cynical, reflecting de Saint-Exupéry's disenchantment at the time of writing

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; a classic written over a century and a half ago, little to be controversial here, surely? -- banned in New Hampshire for allegories of sexual fantasies

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; a classic written over a century and a half ago, little to be controversial here, surely? -- banned in New Hampshire for allegories of sexual fantasies

I read this for the first time a couple years ago, and I'd describe it as more bizarre and surreal than anything else. I tried to think of what could have been allegorical of sexual fantasies in what I read, but I couldn't come up with any, and it does look like, if this link is correct, this had entirely to do with the author rather than the text itself:

In the early 1900s the state of New Hampshire banned the book from all public schools because the novel was accused of promoting sexual fantasies and masturbation. This accusation most likely refers to the questionable sexual activities of the author, not the novel’s content.

Everything old is new again, I suppose.

Perhaps not the text, nor the author, but the audience.

I used to read Garth's poetic translation of Ovid's metamorphoses and Dutt's translation of the Mahabharata and Ramayana when my niece and nephew were too young to actually understand it. I enjoyed it, and they were lulled by the beauty of the language.

Is Chronicles of Narnia too CW?

I loved Encyclopedia Brown as a kid. They're short mysteries where you're supposed to find the clues and solve the mystery. They have new versions but I haven't read those.

Where the Red Fern Grows was one of my favorites, it's maybe not for everyone. Similarly Bridge to Tarabithia.

Other good ones include: Tom Sawyer, Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book and Just So Stories. Treasure Island and Iron Will (or Call of the Wild), Secret of NIMN with a good Don Bluth animated version.

Older Golden Books and Berenstain Bears are pretty CW free or favor the other side.

I always hated the Little Prince and Phantom Tollbooth but they're both classics for good reason.

Well it was written by a filthy Protestant…

(Just kidding)

If you're going quite young, The Wolf's Chicken stew has excellent illustrations, a moral about friendship, and no culture warring. My family read it to me a lot growing up.

It depends on the age -- I like basically nothing aimed at toddlers. As a toddler, I liked The Little Fur Family because it had a furry cover, but the new edition no longer does, so I haven't bought it. My three year old daughter likes Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstock, and books with flaps and hidden doors.

Favorites that hold up for both children and adults:

  • The Wind in the Willows

  • The Princess and the Goblins & The Golden Key

  • The Little Prince

  • The Hobbit (obviously)

I remember liking Little House on the Prairie, or at least my father liked reading it to me, but didn't feel any interest in revisiting it afterwards, so am not sure if it would hold up or not.

I backpack as a hobby. My packing list is a spreadsheet broken down into sections such as "worn clothing", "packed clothing", "shelter system", etc. Each line gets a function (shelter), a description (tent, tarp, bivy sack, etc), and a quantity (1x tent, 2x pairs of socks, etc). I think it would be neat to let the spreadsheet estimate a pack weight as well so I added another column for weight calculations. It also a little pie chart so I can see what sections of my pack are adding the most weight (food, clothing, whatever).

I have a second spreadsheet with the weights of various items I use but it's a little tedious to copy/paste the weight every time I want to generate a new packing list, especially since I like to swap out different pieces of kit to dial my pack in for various environments and seasons. I'm not much of a programmer so I'm wondering what the easiest way around this is. My first thought was to figure out how to create a drop-down menu for each cell with the item choices pre-loaded and have the spreadsheet call the appropriate weight. For example, for my "shelter" cell, I would create a drop-down that had my winter tent, my hammock, my bivy, etc and then the "weight" cell would auto-populated based on my selection. This seems like an inelegant solution that's going to require a lot of upkeep so I'm wondering if a simple data-base in something like OpenOffice Base or MS Access might be be more appropriate. From my amateur viewpoint it seems like the database might be more work upfront but would be less maintenance in terms of upkeep every time I add/remove a piece of kit from my stockpile. (I'm a bit of a gear-do, I'll admit). Or is it six of one, half-dozen of the other?

I think LighterPack has most of the functionality you mentioned. I'm not sure how stable it is, since it's been in beta for at least several years.

It used to be very popular for sharing load-outs in the ultra light and thru-hiking communities.Looks like the community around it is possibly not as active as a couple of years ago.

You can try it without registering, and it's open source if you really want to roll your own solution. Disclaimer, I have no affiliation with the people who run the site, and for all I know they could be stealing all your data. I've never gotten any spam from them though.

The other commenters have the right of it.

Excel/google have VLOOKUP(). You give it a sorted list and a value to compare. Then it tells you what was next to that in the table. So if you have a column for gear names and a column for weights, then you can look up weights by name.

I’ll break down an example based on @bleep. Say you have a single sheet with your packing list (column A), gear names (C), and gear weights (D).

To fill column B with packed weights, instead of putting in values, use something like

=VLOOKUP(A2, C$2:D$50, 2, false)

In space B2. Then it will look for something matching A2 in the cells from C2 to C50. It’ll take the 2nd value from whatever row it matched, and since we told it C2:D50, that means it’ll give a value from column D. Copy it to the rest of B. You can then sum and pie chart column B just as you do now.

Bleep’s example lets you move the gear info to different sheets and split up the list. That’s a matter of preference.

I think you could easily accomplish this with most spreadsheet programs with little upkeep. Have your data sheet with the list of all your items, have your "packing" sheet with drop downs, and then have a sum cell with a formula which sums added vlookups. The vlookups will use the drop down cell to find the weight in the data sheet and then add all the weights together, e.g., "=(vlookup(A1, Shelter!A1:D14, 4, false))+(vlookup(A1, Clothing!A10:D20, 4, false))" and repeat for however many categories with A being the item list and D being the weight. For quantities you could add another column with that number in between the dropdown boxes and then include that in sum formula cell.

The dropdown cells can autopopulate choices from your datasheet if you designate the list range. If you do it this way, the only "upkeep" would be to fill out the item and the weight in the appropriate range for that category of equipment and the dropdown selection should autopopulate from that sheet or list. You could use different sheets for each category and have that sheet be the designated range.

Excel (and most other sheet programs) has lookup functions (which require the lookup data be alpha sorted) and matchwhich do not. As long as your labels are the same you can pull the weights in with those.

Otherwise yes, that is the purpose of relational databases (letting you keep gear lists and combine them in different ways.

Why was I given a one day ban and 20 downvotes for posting a meme in the weekly fun thread? 🤔

Was it a reference to Keffals?

Sorry dude, but your meme was not funny at all. I have a sometimes very dark and weird sense of humor, and in an appropriate company I can joke about basically anything, and appreciate some boundary-breaking humor, but it has to have some spark in it. That one didn't feel like it had any. Maybe it was missing context, or something, but for me it was just "wtf?!" and not fun.

Ans yes, this is not a good platform to just drop a context-free meme and expect it to be appreciated.

I’m at a loss as to how one manages to end up on a culture war longpost website that is in itself an offshoot of a subforum on another site entirely and somehow be unaware of the whole hogleg debacle.

My online social milieu is filled with people who couldn't seem to stop talking about Hogwarts Legacy last week and the literal murder of trans people that were being enabled by daring to even watch someone else playing this game, and this is the 1st time I've seen it referred to as "hogleg." A pretty good abbreviation IMHO, much better than "The Wizard Game," and somewhat reminiscent of how they tend to abbreviate terms in Korea and Japan by taking the 1st syllable(s) of each word (e.g. "air conditioner" becoming "aircon" or "remote controller" becoming "remocon").

Knowing the context isn't the issue, though, since even knowing the context, I didn't find the meme at all funny or interesting or offensive. It just... was.

Was aware of hubbub and recognized the reference. I still found it rather dull and combined with your flair still think it was probably a failed attempt to bait the quokkas into liking hate.

Liking hate, what are you on about?

  1. Sneerclubber posts evil image on quokka site

  2. Quokkas updoot/reply positively.

  3. Sneer clubber reports to admin/advertisers/host/cloudflare/NYTimes look at these hateful people

  4. Quokkas declines in status and maybe site faces various issues

What evil image? I'm really confused about all this. He posted a random out of context meme pic that people downvoted because it was a random out of context meme pic, even though it was mildly funny.

It would have been way funnier mixed in with an actual post, tbf.

OP's meme that prompted the current post was a pair of visual jokes about christening a newly discovered life form with a slur and spitting on lower races in the context of the new Harry Potter game.

It could be because people have different areas of interest, which may not always match yours.

And yes, I know about the wokes feeling offended over a game linked to an unperson. But still fail to see what makes that meme funny.

hogleg debacle

The what

@netstack hogwarts legacy.


Did you know you are cited in a RAND paper on internet extremism? They cite a post you made about Ruqqus

I'm curious how you even picked up on this.

The name, meme and pronoun bios made me confused (or suspicious), so I googled the username and found a lot of drama. I googled to include only PDFs just to see how far the drama extends.

I actually used this handle precisely because it’s so common. I think the first iteration I ever saw was in +blackmetal+ on SLSK in the early 00s. The ruqqus instance of it was me, though.

Very fun find!

That’s interesting if true. What is RAND? And do you have a link to the paper?

NEVERMIND, found it.


Source? Or is this a joke?

Well your meme was dumb for one thing. If it was a good meme maybe you would've gotten somewhere. But also, the culture here isn't really into posting memes and other low effort content. Even a genuinely funny meme would most likely be only tolerated, not celebrated. This is a text posting community, not an image posting community. So honestly, what did you expect? If I went to rdrama and posted some long essay hoping for serious engagement, I would be mocked. That's why I don't do that. You basically did the equivalent of that kind of faux pas, and are wondering why people didn't like it.

If I went to rdrama and posted some long essay hoping for serious engagement, I would be mocked.

Now this is just patently false. For example

No it isn't. I've lurked on rdrama and seen plenty of threads where someone posting a long, serious essay gets mocked by people.

Every longpost will get mocked in good spirit, but if it's good, jannies will occasionally pin them and it will also get serious engagement by the by the 5 other users who are into this format (but btf, they're also all on here)

People didn't think it was fun. Be more, you know, fun next time.

The weekly fun thread isn't for posting rdrama memes. Let rdrama be its own thing.

So, what are you reading?

Still on Freinacht's 12 Commandments. It's sparking some curiosity about what post-metamodernism might look like, though I'm still not sure that I have a clue as to what metamodernism looks like.

Just finished Dawn of the Void by Phil Tucker. It's a pretty competent apocalyptic litRPG, definitely hit the right notes for me.

I've been listening to the audiobooks of the Stormlight Archives. They're alright, but honestly a bit too generic fantasy to really make me love them like some people do. Lately I've found I want my fantasy to either get very realistic in how people and nations act, or get very weird and not even really pretend to be like real life people and nations.

I've also started reading Mad Investor Chaos by Elizier Yudowsky and it definitely falls into the category of "Weird fantasy". The first bit of it almost turned me off because the two characters having an introductory conversation were very odd and I wasn't sure what parts of their personalities were supposed to be exemplars the author thought people should try to be like, and which parts were supposed to be laughably absurd. I'm glad I got through though, it got much better once a few more minor characters were introduced.

Reading Tales of the Ketty Jay and loving it so far. It’s an unapologetic romp of some dastardly freebooters in a steampunk world with airships. Quite fun.

Wallerstein's World-Systems Analysis (on ebook). Picked mainly because it was the shortest book on my international politics reading list and cause it was the one Marxian-themed book on it. Actually enjoyed it (it is a concise intro to many concepts I often hear from socialists) and want to see more from Wallerstein's vantage point.

Mearsheimer's Tragedy of Great Power Politics on audiobook. A reread, which allows me to speed through it at 2x speed without bothering to take notes.

Just finished Tom Bower's Revenge: Meghan, Harry, and the War Between the Windsors on audiobook yesterday. Every once in a while I just need something to decompress, and non-fiction gossip seems to be working better than fiction right now.

My interest in royal gossip was renewed after seeing the absurdity of Harry's book tour and, well, this was more interesting than I thought reading Spare - which by all accounts seems to be a whine-fest and a cautionary tale about associating with narcissists who use therapyspeak to justify covert aggression- would be. And it was fun, though how much you can trust Bower is debatable. I've certainly hardened my opinions on Markle and Prince Harry based on what he reminded me of/I can verify.

Just started Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962.

It's an account of China's Great Leap Forward. Needless to say, it is incredibly depressing.

Just started The Tunnels of Cu Chi after seeing it mentioned in the Reddit comments when somebody posted the classic viet cong tunnels infographic.

Using firsthand accounts from men and women on both sides who fought and killed in these underground battles, authors Tom Mangold and John Penycate provide a gripping inside look at this fearsome combat. The Tunnels of Cu Chi is a war classic of unbearable tension and unforgettable heroes.

Caliban's War. It's entertaining.

I have two going. First, Brian Jacques' Castaways of the Flying Dutchmen. I really enjoyed his Redwall tales as a child and wanted to see how this one stands up. The second is John Pomfret's The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present. Exactly as the title indicates, it traces US-Chinese relations from the founding of the US up to about 2016.

Just finished Bowman's The Mormon People. The book filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about how the Mormon religion operates and the history of Utah, which is helpful. But I'm still left with that feeling of "why do people believe this?"

This is not unique to my relationship with the Mormon religion. I grew up Methodist, loved it, and wish I could continue to be part of a religious community. I just couldn't get over the hump of having to believe things that quite clearly seemed not to be true (or didn't have any convincing evidence for me to think them true). The LDS church seems to turn that up to 11, requiring members to believe that this guy (who had a career as a treasure hunter) found golden tablets in NY that only he could translate and which then disappeared. And that afterward he continued to have divine revelations about the nature of the universe that would dictate how they live their lives.

I know we have practicing Mormons in our community here, and I'm so curious if they actually believe these things or just find that the religion provides a useful guide to living and a foundation for a well-functioning community.

Yep, it's an actual, earnest belief; I don't see the Book of Mormon as a wise fable or well-intentioned story but as historical record.

The treasure hunter thing is very stupid, and Smith himself later confessed that it was nonsense he had been fooled into believing was real. The plates are less of an issue with me due to the witnesses backing them up. At the end of the day though my own belief in the church is based on my personal experiences with God rather than historical details. Not to deny the importance of the latter but they are pretty tough to evaluate one way or another relative to evaluating firsthand experience.

The Corner by David Simon. I thought Homicide was one of the best books I’ve read in some time. This book is better.

I'm still mad that there's no unabridged audiobook of Homicide . Really want to reread it.

Is a strong central authority necessary to deter the catastrophe of health and fertility?

Consider that if America wanted to reduce its obesity epidemic it would likely have to implement draconian actions like high taxation or outright bans on certain food types, reduced workplace stress conditions, incentivizing longer breastfeeding times and reducing female employment to reduce stressed mothers. If it wanted to maintain or increase its fertility rate it would need to deter or ban women from higher education, teach pro-motherhood material in public school, possibly ban certain types of media…

Any action that has a real effect on the ever-increasing problems of obesity and fertility would be essentially off the table. Our capitalism worship and our political climate forbids it. It is unlikely that there will be a magic bullet for fertility that does not include reducing female education/employment and producing natal propaganda. A state like China, however, can snap their finger and introduce policies that will certainly reduce obesity and increase fertility.

Is a strong central authority necessary to deter the catastrophe of health and fertility?

No, but some kind of positive governance is required, rather than an incompetent or malicious one.

Take obesity, for example. People get fat when they ingest more calories than they burn - this isn't rocket science. Having cheap, calorie-dense food everywhere makes it nearly impossible to keep a good calorie balance without going hungry, or without planning and measuring your food (which most people don't and won't do). So a good place to start would be to not subsidize corn, and thus high-fructose corn syrup. Instead, incentivize the cultivation of tasty vegetables (as opposed to good-looking ones, e.g. sherry tomatoes vs. the large ones at the supermarket) and low-calorie fruit, like strawberries.

For fertility, notice that you can't have TFR > 2.1 if families don't have more than 2 kids on average. So, what are the barriers? High housing prices are the first to tackle, in the places that people actually want to live. This is also not rocket science - build more. It doesn't even matter how or what, if housing stock will increase then the prices will decrease. Couples detached from their family will have almost no spare time - so young kids should be in some kind of schooling for 6 days a week (or 5-and-a-half, like here in Israel) to give parents time to make more kids.

Giving birth should not cost the parents money - cost is a very obvious disincentive. Instead, compensate the hospital directly for each birth and charge the parents nothing (again, this is what we do in Israel. The result is that the maternity ward is one of the nicest places in the hospital, as hospitals compete to get as many mothers as they can. Sort of a voucher system). Car seat laws in Europe and the US are just insane, creating a hard barrier at 2 kids per family with a normal car, or spacing the kids out too much so that at least 1 doesn't need a safety seat.

Most of this requires less government restrictions, some of it is just moving things around, but you don't really need to get big-brother on your populace.

As an owner of car seats I can tell you with certainty that they're a non-trivial factor in stopping my reproduction at 2.

Are these things actually way better than something that fits in the space for a seat?

Edit - Some googled stats:

For the most part, these laws have worked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that child deaths from car crashes dropped 43% between 2002 and 2011 — which was also the period in which the scope of car seat laws was expanding. And the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration found that child restraints sa

found that child deaths from car crashes dropped 43% between 2002 and 2011

Seems impressive in a vacuum... until you consider that in that time period total crash fatalities decreased by 21% (27% per 100 million miles).

The average car in 2002 had an age of 9.6 years, so it was made in 1993. That means no ABS, passenger airbags wouldn't be mandatory for another 5 years (and even when mandated, they had 2 modes- "off" or "stop an average weight unbelted male passenger be ejected", which could and did kill kids), rollover protection was minimal and crumple zones were still developing.

By contrast, the average car in 2011 had an age of 11.1 years, so it was made in 2000. At that time, airbags were mandatory, ABS was almost mandatory (2001), cars produced in 2004 and later had the kind of airbags that were significantly safer if you were belted in or small/light, and rollover protection was significantly increased (at the cost of visibility).

Of course, relying on these specific statistics to say these things might be a bad idea, since they also imply that the average car of 2022 (made in 2010) is less safe than those that came before it- an increase of 20% per mile- so safety features probably aren't the full story. But then again, I'd say the same for the car seats...

As an owner of car seats I can tell you with certainty that they're a non-trivial factor in stopping my reproduction at 2.

I always thought sex in the car is rather uncomfortable, but damn, that must have been a serious injury.

but you don't really need to get big-brother on your populace.

To take this one step further, why don't we see all big-brother actions under the lens of just another tax?

They have financial and non-financial costs based on how people respond to them; so it should be possible to put a price on them.

When the tax on children is too high, people stop having them.

When the tax on an industry is too high, no innovation occurs.

When the tax on men is too high, they lie flat.

All of these choices have consequences imposing real financial costs.

It's almost like there's a moral hazard when creating these taxes or something, where the people imposing them because "it sounds like a good idea, safety is everyone's responsibility" either don't get (or can't be) resisted effectively enough to stop them. And when the full effects of hollowing out the country's labor class take effect, you're either retired (thus insulated from the problems you caused) or dead from old age. Unfortunately, we can't fine the dead and the populace has sovereign immunity when voting.

reduced workplace stress conditions

How confident are you that this is an important predictor of obesity? From previous looks I've done at the data, it looks like the fattest populations barely work at all. It turns out that giving low IQ, low time preference people access to heavily subsidized food and earmarked money to buy it is a bad idea. Before trying anything draconian, we could just stop subsidizing sugar and stop spending $100 billion per year on food stamps and see where that lands us. It won't be a complete fix, but it's at least not racking up debt to poison people that lack the impulse control to put down the chips.

I think it has a significant effect on maternal stress which has a significant on obesity. The idea that women should be as stressed as men is not well thought on for humanity’s progress. And circadian changes from shift hour work will have an influence on obesity and fertility generally

The recent success of semaglutide bodes well for a long-term resolution of the obesity crisis, and fertility rates in developed nations are also in the process of restoring themselves through natural selection. While heavy-handed state intervention (e.g. Romania's ban on abortion under Ceaușescu) may offer some temporary reprieve, such solutions appear in practice to be brittle, vulnerable to changing political currents, and easily overwhelmed by the broader incentive structure of modern societies.

Yes, as much as it's fun to feel morally superior to the obese, the solution is going to be medical and - because nobody wants to be ugly - once it exists adoption will be near-instant and universal.

once [an obesity cure] exists adoption will be near-instant and universal

How can you think that to the case when we have existing obesity cures that don't see broad adoption? Nicotine works. Cocaine works. Stimulants in general reduce BMI. You can claim that an obesity cure would be near-instantly and universally adopted, but public policy reveals a preference for things other than thinness. I think that's a shame, personally.

I sometimes wonder what would be different if Nicotine had been separated from the tobacco plant early in its use (if there were nicotine patches or infusions or some other delivery system that isn't smoking). Is Nicotine harmful by itself? Would it be low status or would it be more like caffeine (in a socially accepted beverage, and also added to all sorts of other products for the addictive properties).

Maybe instead of excise tax, we should rather make cigarette producers also supply patches in same box as cigarettes.

Is Nicotine harmful by itself?

Kind of, yes, albeit is it very minor to total harm of smoking.

Nicotine also about 300x more toxic than caffeine.

Cocaine is extremely expensive and illegal, but is widely used by, say, runway models who have the money to afford and ability to access it. Nicotine has been made deliberately very expensive and the government has deliberately cracked down on even healthier ways of ingesting it (eg. vaping) out of fear that young people will start consuming more nicotine, plus nicotine is the subject of a 30 year campaign to associate it with the negative consequences of smoking cigarettes (which have very little to do with what is being smoked).

Nicotine works. Cocaine works.

It's pretty disingenuous to say "we have existing obesity cures that people don't use" and then bring those two up as your examples. You know damn well why people aren't using those things to fix obesity, and it isn't because they prefer things other than thinness.

You know damn well why people aren't using those things to fix obesity

Why not? "Smoke yourself thin" was an idea with real currency for a long time. And how many fat coke users do you know?

You know damn well why people aren't using those things to fix obesity

It's mostly because everything that cures obesity is either illegal or low status. Do you really think the harms of cigarette smoking outweighed the problems of widespread obesity? We made a terrible mistake by ostracizing smokers. I'm also not convinced that stimulant drugs are bad and that government bans on their sale and use are justified on utilitarian or public policy grounds. These drugs are ruinous to individuals only to the extent that state meddling increases prices and decreases safety.

Why not? "Smoke yourself thin" was an idea with real currency for a long time.

Lots of people have done lots of things in the past. That doesn't make them a good idea. It was a stupid idea, and remains so.

Do you really think the harms of cigarette smoking outweighed the problems of widespread obesity?

Yes, easily.

Again, I refuse to believe you don't know that nicotine and cocaine are horribly addictive, and that using those things will ruin your life far more than being fat ever will. This is common knowledge. So pretending like "oh we have these obesity cures and people don't use them because they prefer being fat" is completely disingenuous. You know damn well why people aren't using the "cures" you propose.

nicotine and cocaine are horribly addictive

So what if they're addictive? Caffeine is addictive too, and there's zero stigma associated with drinking coffee. Why is addiction to a plentiful and salutary substance a bad thing?

You know damn well why people aren't using the "cures" you propose.

I do: state meddling. The government should stop trying to regulate what people do with their own bodies. Various amphetamines and other stimulants ought to be 100% legal.

No, it's because people believe the "cures" you are proposing are addictive and more destructive than being fat. It has fuck all to do with state meddling.

I actually disagree on this one, depending on scale. I'd sooner smoke a pack a day with a normal BMI than be obese. And I think "objectively" the latter will reduce your quality of life more than the former. I'd sooner not smoke at all and have a small belly than smoke two packs a day and have defined abs or whatever.

I've never tried cocaine so I won't speak to it, but there are vastly more occasional users than addicts, historically, and the failure to realize this blinds our policy.

Sure, but casual cocaine users (the majority) who use it every so often at parties aren’t getting the skinniness benefits.

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Especially if you isolate nicotine from smoking specifically, I'm not sure how it reduces your quality of life much more than, say, a caffeine addiction.

Ok, so you disagree with the common consensus on smoking (and recognize that it may be wrong on cocaine use). Fair enough, that's your prerogative. But surely you would not disagree that the common consensus exists, no? And that it's because of that, not because they think obesity is tolerable, that people are not using these substances to "cure" themselves?

Like you could make the argument that we have effective cures for obesity but we don't use them because people are misinformed about the risks. But that isn't what was being claimed, rather it was that people apparently prefer to be fat. Which is totally disingenuous and ignores the actual reason people aren't flocking to those "cures".

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How’s that working out for China? Their fertility rate is extremely low despite the government’s desire to raise it and their obesity rate might be low, but realistically a middle income East Asian country was never going to have a high one anyways.

Chinese seem less predisposed to obesity. Other middle income countries like Malaysia have high and rising obesity rates.

We will see how it works. I have a feeling it will work well once they task psychologists and not economists with the problem. You have to change the younger generation’s education and social values and their vision of the future to increase fertility.