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Calling all Lurkers: Share your Dreams of Effortposting

It’s been pointed out recently that the topics discussed in the Culture War thread have gotten a bit repetitive. While I do think the Motte has a good spread on intellectual discussion, I’m always pushing for a wider range (dare I say diversity?) of viewpoints and topics in the CW thread.

I was a lurker for years, and I know that the barrier between having a thought and writing a top level comment in the CW thread can loom large indeed. Luckily I’m fresh out of inspiration, and would love to hear thoughts from folks about effortposts they want to write but haven’t gotten around to.

This of course applies to regulars who post frequently as well - share any and all topics you wish were discussed in the CW thread!

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Yes.

Morality and Effectiveness - basically I feel like regardless of morals, people should be more concerned with instrumental values. Whether you desire a communist revolution or a Christian revival, work will help that goal along, so laziness should be (more of) a terrible vice in both ideologies. I think a lot of people argue about the ideal end result without putting in even a miniscule amount of work required to get there.

Rationality and Religion - Given many very common rationalist theories such as Many Worlds, the Fermi Paradox (and its rebuttals), and AI, I think it should stand to reason that God or something which would appear to us indistinguishable from God definitely exists. Any alien civilization or AI which has been around for billions of years will be as god to us unless you have utterly absurd projections for the diminishing returns of technological progress. I consider much of the discourse surrounding this (such as Outside View analyses of the Fermi Paradox, which I've already posted about) to be essentially cope around this fact.

Insanely Sane - Given how easy it is to make biological weapons, conduct one-man false flag operations, etc. it's shocking to me how rare those sorts of things are. Is there truly nobody who wants to discredit X cause by joining it, rising through the ranks, then doing utterly repugnant things? Nobody who will give their life to be the worst proponent of a cause they secretly hate? Doing so would be far easier and likely more effective than advocating for the cause that they like, if requiring much more dedication. The point would just be to talk about how strongly tied together logic and conviction seem to be, to the extent that there doesn't seem to be a single person alive both insane enough to cause a tragedy and sane enough to pull it off.

Moral Relativism - Even people (such as I) who claim not to believe it generally seem to act as if it's true. Also, it seems inherently self-defeating. I think a post about its use as a tool to maintain peace, and how that's evolved into seemingly a very dominant ideology, would be pretty interesting. Generally people seem to have mostly given up on finding and spreading objective truth.

Insanely Sane

That one reminds me of Gwern's "On the Absence of True Fanatics". As well as his "Terrorism Is Not About Terror", wich concludes that "terror⁣ism is a form of so⁣cial⁣iza⁣tion or status-seeking"; if that theory is true, then conducting a one-man false-flag operation, like the one you describe, would be precisely the opposite of that, and thus is unappealing to people who might otherwise have a terrorist mindset.

My vote is for Insanely Sane. That seems like an interesting thought.

My first thoughts on it is that the sane have a lot to lose and are being served by the system; the insane have little in the way of personal resources and capital. Sometimes, there are exceptions, but not often.

Two from my endless pile. Both labor intensive so who knows when, if ever, I'll get around to them:

Globalization, Fragility, and Monoculture - Basically, an exploration of the idea that modern economic conditions facilitate economies of scale in which commodity production and distribution is highly centralized, for reasons of cost i.e. the huge percentage of the worlds semiconducturs traditionally manufactured in Taiwan. This also facilitates standardization of design in these products. The analogy in the natural world would be the ability of certain species, hyper-optimized to fill a certain ecological niche, to flourish and crowd out potential competitors. This is well and good until something happens to disrupt the status quo; the product or organism that was perfectly adapted to one set of conditions is often too specialized to adapt when those conditions change. None of these ideas are terribly new of course. Since Covid, lots of people have been thinking about the idea that globalization is pretty fragile. Both John Robb in the security sphere and Nicholas Nassim Taleb have arguably been preaching similar ideas long before they started to enter mainstream currency. The issue, I think, is that the mono-cultural model tends to be very profitable in the short-to-medium term. Hyper-specialization is what allows for explosive growth, which is what hordes of slavering venture capitalists and would-be venture capitalists are always seeking. Not sure anyone has addressed the explicit tradeoff between growth and security/systemic diversity and the compromises that we may be forced to make on that front in a generation or two.

A tale of two elites - Arguably since the end of the civil war, the United States has largely been run by people associated with political and financial centers of power in the Northeast of the country. Broadly speaking, they tend to have similar educational (Ivy League) and professional backgrounds (often lawyers, academics, or some other wordcel-esque job), and place a great deal of emphasis on technocratic credentialism. The emergence of silicon valley as a possible rival center of power, with its own culture, norms, and ideals could set conditions for a major change. Again, hardly an original idea, but not one I've seen explored in depth to my own satisfaction

Neat ideas. Your first post is complementary to one I have been kicking around on the consolidation cycle. Most of us have lived to see the consolidation of social media/internet forums and all the CW- topics that spawns but the general process happens in many areas (manufacturing, farming, urbanization, etc. )

the post would be examine how technology changes the dynamics of the consolidation cycle. The idea is that the distribution of entities (as a function of size) generally follows a power law and that when a technology comes around that reduces transaction costs between entities two things happen. First, the time it takes to reach the "consolidated" part of the cycle goes down and second the exponent on the power law gets more negative i.e. in the consolidated state the first x% of the domain is controlled by a smaller number of larger entities.

One result of this is the impact on "matching" processes like trying to find a contractor, or Google searching anything. Paradoxically, having a greater "reach" on your search (enabled by lower search costs like internet search engines) at first increases your options, but ultimately reduces your options due to the market response/consolidation dynamics.

I think this dynamic underlies a lot of a host of cathedral vs bazaar type CW adjacent topics-- social media landscape, regulatory capture, dating, urbanization, globalization, the "bowling alone" phenomenon, and others

Been a minute since I logged in here, but I wanted to respond that I'd be interested to read that. What technologies exemplify this trend?

Any technology that improves the pace or efficiency (reduces transaction costs) of the movement of goods or ideas would be at play here: cars, airplanes, television, Internet, (and before that the printing press, trains and the ur-example, the horse). But also certain economic innovations, like standardized weights and measures and private property.

I'd definitely read the piece if you ever get around to it.

I have wanted to write (but probably won’t since it is gradually becoming a more popular position and I’m too lazy) a post making fun of the many Motizens who seriously believe that AI is more dangerous than nuclear weapons or that nuclear weapons are less dangerous now because of the test ban treaty. I’d maybe even go further and argue that it’s (AI) is less dangerous than either biological or chemical weapons as well.

It would also be nice to throw in a little discussion about how stupid analogies that compare AI with nuclear weapons (I addressed this a little bit here https://www.themotte.org/post/454/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/88276?context=8#context ) and how unsuitable an arms control treaty would be for regulating AI

The case for Open Individualism (there's only one consciousness in the universe), Analytic Idealism (consciousness is the fundamental "substance" of reality), why I think these ideas will go somewhat mainstream within a generation or so (maybe 10% of intellectuals will accept them) and how this could affect the world for better or worse.

Just a counterpoint to “consciousness is everything” being rare; this ideology is a major part of most esoteric movements. New Age, Gnostics, some forms of Wicca and noe-paganism all suggest that consciousness is the ultimate reality. On the more philosophical side, Pantheists would believe much the same thing.

I’m familiar with all these movements, pretty much all mystic traditions believe this. I identify as a panentheist myself. It’s quite mainstream in Hinduism too. But I believe even Western intellectuals will come around to a particular version of it (which ofc has plenty of overlap with many world traditions).

An overview of statistical inference inspired by the seeming statistical illiteracy of most of this community as seen in discussions of Aella. It was pretty hard to read, and made me doubt if the crowd here is equally clueless about other things where I'm less knowledgeable.

I'd be very interested in this!

On my list: A review of the book/anime series Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

Well spoilers for the book series (as opposed to the anime): the translation sucks. The translation for the first two books was decent, but they changed translators starting with book three and everything was much harder to follow or make sense of. And I had watched the entire original anime before reading the books, and even with my knowledge of the characters and story it was tough.

I have a few effort post ideas but I really don't have time to sit down and write them right now.

  1. How the arts are reacting and could potentially react to AI advancements, how performative arts will change verses recorded arts.

  2. How the internet causes radicalization because there is too much information, causing tribalism as an easy and ineffective method to filter information.

2a) Why cultural elitism has shifted from having excess goods to limiting 'rare' goods - gluten free, extreme diets, superfoods, organics, etc.

  1. While patriarchal hierarchies and organization have noted and codified negatives, matriarchal organizations have less outwardly and clear-cut outgroups but are even more stifling and cause potentially worse negative externalities.

  2. How modern gender roles, trans-humanism, and lgbt rhetoric does the exact opposite of what it intends to do - it doesn't break down gender roles but enforces and codifies them.

  3. The 'normie' vs 'conspiracy' - the statistically average viewpoint of any given event frequently fails to hold up upon closer examination vs the people who closely follow an event/thing (for example, low information atheist vs high information atheist vs Cafeteria Catholic vs studied Catholic.

  4. Financial debt - how the government leverages people in significant financial debt to consolidate power.

How the internet causes radicalization because there is too much information, causing tribalism as an easy and ineffective method to filter information.

Ironic, I wanted to write an effortpost about how the internet causes radicalization because there is too much information, causing tribalism because you are finally seeing your opposing ideology's true, grassroots, mask-off arguments, not the laundered-for-public-consumption ones you get from their more tactful, tactical, official mouthpieces, and the truth is worse than most suspected. The radicalisation comes from less biased information on the other tribe, not a self-imposed more bias due to sloppy filtration.

What a shame that we can't fight about it because we're both too lazy.

It's not really a laziness thing for me, it's more of a time thing. I have a lot I'm doing right now so it's hard to find the time to really organize thoughts into anything substantial.

I have a few rattling in my brain

1). Silencing adversaries and enemies by hagiography. It’s kind of a weird one, but it seems like a lot of the actual ideas of people get totally lost by the process of turning them into either a Saint or a Demon.

2). On the process of rising and falling civilizations and what changes happen to create the problems that ultimately destroy them

3). On therapeutic culture, self-esteem and mental stability.

4). On memorization as an aide to critical thinking.

I do comment quite often, but I rarely make a top level post.

I have a few I'd like to make, but haven't had the time to realize fully.

  • The essence of comedy - language is a crutch. Inspiration: 2, 3, 1

  • Self-defeating cycles of resentment. eg: The exact things that make you an Incel, make it harder to stop being an Incel, and lead to standard advice making you even more of an Incel.

  • Your diet lacks in Macros - why Biden is a bad president and plotting the fall of the American empire

    • Micros = low impact local issues with immediate impact

    • Macros = strategic issues that define the fate of a country over generations

    • Western media and political leadership have polarized populations on micros. Trans bathrooms and police accountability are QOL changes with local impact that merely address symptoms prompted by Macro changes.

  • You don't get it, words dilute

  • The criminal justice system needs purgatory

  • Life is reinforcement learning

  • Why gamergate is the most underrated moment in the formation of the alt-right and new internet culture.

  • Modi. No one gets India. Least of all, people who claim to get India.

  • Man in a matriarchal world.

  • Why is everyone in leftist video-essay-youtube suddenly trans ?

  • You don't get it, words dilute

This is like one of the cryptic notes I scribble down and then can't remember what it was supposed to mean. Then when I go back and try and flesh it out, I'm probably getting the thought subtly wrong. Words diluting indeed.

I am infamous for speaking in metaphors and getting unjustifiably annoyed when the person asks for me to 'explain it better'. It ties into the old 'blind men and the elephant' story. I HAVE to explain an elephant in metaphors as long as sight does not exist yet. You then get someone asking for a phrase to capture the animal, and I am forced to call it a 'trunk nosed rhino' in resignation. It's the 'real world concepts' version of that.

I'm interested in India effortpost.

Seconded

That's honestly the hardest one.

No one gets India

Because that "no one" includes me. But it is also the one I am most likely to finish.

I've been wanting to write an essay tentatively titled "Following Godwin's law: In Defense Of Nazi Comparisons". The core thesis being that an example used to illustrate your position should be as uncontroversial as possible to avoid debate about the example. Everyone agrees Nazis are bad, so an example involving Nazis leaves everyone on the same page.

There is this idea of "everyone who invokes Godwin's Law automatically loses the discussion" that I believe is worth pushing back against, but this needs a lot of in-depth discussion which I don't feel prepared for and am not sure I have enouh content for.

Also, it might end up too similar to Scott's High Energy Ethics.

Meta: I hope these effortposts are realized, and I hope they're not posted in the main CW thread.

Why do you hope they’re not in the CW thread?

I think CW thread posts get more engagement, and kinda prefer when non-CW related posts go in there, but idk.

The CW thread is fast-moving and a top-level post can sometimes fall off the bottom of the page once the post above attracts enough replies. These effortposts look like they're going to add a lot of intellectual variety to the discussion here, and I hope they'd attract enough discussion that we'd be sad to see them disappear before their time.

Interesting point. I'm moving my CW effortpost into a new thread, we'll see if it takes.

Kind of a waste to even have the ability to submit new threads in the first place if 99% of discussion takes place in the weekly stickies. It would be good to encourage people to submit more original threads to encourage more experimental types of posts, and topics that don’t necessarily fit under the umbrella of the CW.

I'm glad you asked. Here's a few ideas, let me know if any of these are interesting to you and I'll think about writing something out.

  • Cultures often seem to develop in ways that echo or react to the cultures right next to them. For example many French cultural traits seem to be resolutely anti-British and many Japanese cultural traits seem to be purposely anti-Chinese.

  • "Late capitalism"- I used to roll my eyes at this term but lately it seems extremely apt. Broadly speaking, the powerhouses of the 21st century seem to be on some kind of steep decline while China is ascendant. I don't think China has the demographics or goodwill of the rest of the globe to rival US hegemony so I envision the next few decades will be a steep global decline driven by America's flailing performance in the next 10 years or so, dragging the global economy along with it. The rise of AI will make the situation more uneven and unpredictable, gains will be huge in some sectors and rapid decay will plague other fields. The current condition of Japan was quite shocking to see as someone who first visited about 18 years ago and I see its rapid decline as a canary in the coalmine for a handful of other nations.

  • What I learned about power from being gay and single for over three decades while also traveling in different cultures, shoehorning in some vague beliefs about reality and perception and also narcissism and selfishness and being spoiled and privileged and having the luxury of believing an incoherent and untrue version of the world. This is a lot but basically boils down to something like: we are all driven to seek power, but are born powerless and are told not to seek it. Power is given to those who either earn it or steal it from others. Good rulers earn their power through respect and bad rulers earn their power through toxic power games. If we can't be powerful we want to be under the rule of someone we respect. It's degrading to be ruled by those we disrespect. Present day American culture is in such a state of disarray because we have little respect for institutions and each other.

  • Something about how we seem to be constantly ruled by a monkey brain view of the world. People are constantly overcomplicating things when the monkey brain understanding of what's going on is usually so much more illuminating than the over-analytical concepts that people are constantly throwing out. This segues into something about the physical underlying material reality of populations and how they are always running the game at the end of the day, even while the media and internet (often using "woke" ideology or otherwise concepts of the ruling class) are doing their best to run interference on the monkey brain.

  • Speaking of the above, the material physical differences between population groups and how this affects their interactions and how divorced from this reality we've become in our current age. For example when I am in East Asia, as a large white man I'm often perceived as more threatening than everyone around me. I responded by being deferent and submissive in most situations to respect the people around me. In the Middle East, I'm perceived as more docile and less aggressive than others around me so I respond by being less reserved about my physicality and presence than when I'm in Asia. I think in the US, people have become completely divorced from the reality of group dynamics and people with more dominant/aggressive natures are told by the media that they have no power or money structurally and they don't realize that they have physically literally more power leading to aggression toward weaker populations that is basically an incoherent situation if you took away the messaging of critical theory and the advantages of money and power that afford weak people to be strong in the face of danger.

  • The aesthetics of rulers and how it can lead to revolution. Weimar Germany and the Ancient Regime France basically just got too effete and homosexual and led to their being overthrown. Also something something 2010s America.

  • Noblesse oblige and mutual respect and the lack of both in American culture

  • Why the culture of the rich used to look appealing but increasingly repulses me (Boils down to late 20th century creatives coopting underclass style for decades and then immediately protecting their wealth by disavowing any actual underclass movements that actually emerged ie Trump)

  • Men use the physical to protect the ego/mind. Women use the mind to protect the physical. Can also be extrapolated onto most power dynamics? needs to be thought through

Edit to add:

  • The cost of labor in rich countries is so high that it makes everything awful. Cost of labor in places like Thailand is so low that food is incredible due to labor intensive practices being used everywhere. I also suspect that less government regulation leads to more competition and innovation in poor countries vs rich ones. I am not an economist so I don't have the skills to address this more broadly but that's my working theory on why Thailand has better food and Turkey has better shopping than many rich countries.

This is a lot but basically boils down to something like: we are all driven to seek power, but are born powerless and are told not to seek it. Power is given to those who either earn it or steal it from others. Good rulers earn their power through respect and bad rulers earn their power through toxic power games. If we can't be powerful we want to be under the rule of someone we respect. It's degrading to be ruled by those we disrespect. Present day American culture is in such a state of disarray because we have little respect for institutions and each other.

This seems to strike to the heart of a lot of the issues I have with current US society. I'd love to see a more fleshed out version. Obvious parallels to Neitzsche's Will to Power and the Hobbesian struggle against nature.

I'd also argue that, going with your late capitalism post, it's degrading to have fundamental parts of meaning in our life reduced to transactions with money. Not sure why but something about the numerical aspect of transactions takes away something ineffable when it comes to relationships, social circles, etc. Having most people's primary social interaction or hierarchy be a corporate structure is destroying purpose and self-respect.

Somewhere in me I have an effortpost on why crypto, including cryptocurrency is bad for rule of law and that a sane society would have banned both. We've been pretty fortunate that everyone that has built DNMs so far are not competent or visionary enough to produce something high quality. The potential black market has not come anywhere close to being fully actualized.

The maximally dystopian horror example case is: onlyfans for live streamed child rape / snuff films with tens of thousands of men watching from behind Guy Fawkes masks beating off and tipping tens of thousands of dollars an hour. Everyone involved, the viewers and performers, completely anonymous and untraceable.

Yes, I am very familiar with the usual cipherpunk arguments for why crypto is an important tool for protecting people's security/privacy from criminals, and that also you can't trust police to protect backdoors in crypto systems and to also not abuse them. I'm not convinced the endgame world of maximally "useful" DNMs that could be produced wouldn't be a net worse world overall.

Seems like cryptocurrency is waning a bit so this future may be delayed for now.

Dark net operations can be taken down without backdoors. We know this because it happens regularly. Granted, it often relies on a stupid mistake on the part of the people running the show, but humans are a very reliable source of stupid mistakes.

Cryptography can't protect cryptocurrency. At some point, the magic internet money has to interface with the real world. Hasn't China banned cryptocurrency? I haven't really been following the news. Has it been effective?

I think you may not realize how widely used cryptography is. With HTTPS, every time you browse the web, you are using state-of-the-art encryption algorithms. Without encryption, if you logged in somewhere on a public Wi-Fi network, everyone sharing the network would see your password, as would your ISP and anyone in the long chain between you and the website's servers. The modern internet wouldn't work at all without cryptography, and if you make it available for general internet use, you can't prevent it from being used by the bad guys.

The maximally dystopian horror example case is: onlyfans for live streamed child rape / snuff films with tens of thousands of men watching from behind Guy Fawkes masks beating off and tipping tens of thousands of dollars an hour. Everyone involved, the viewers and performers, completely anonymous and untraceable.

This is a ridiculously unrealistic scenario. It sounds like it was dreamt up by a paranoid, technologically-illiterate boomer who falls for chain email hoaxes that show up on Snopes. For one, only a handful of the most popular Twitch streamers manage to get a viewership in the tens of thousands, and the demand for people saying funny things while playing video games is many orders of magnitude higher than the demand for child rape and snuff. I also recall reading (I think it was in a Reddit AMA with a paedophile, it may have even been on /r/themotte) that money isn't a major motivator for the "industry" and that the people who produce those kinds of videos are mostly enthusiasts who make it and share it to raise their status or because they just genuinely enjoy it. (How heartwarming.)

I think you may not realize how widely used cryptography is. With HTTPS, every time you browse the web, you

Everyone assumes I must be technically illiterate to not be repeating the standard cipherpunk talking points on this issue.

I've implemented ciphers and hash libraries and protocols. I've bought drugs on darknets. I've run cryptocurrency trading companies. I've worked at Google (most boring job of my career).

Let’s say that it is quite interesting that Tor relays seem to be located in Western, industrialized countries…and not Russia or China. It’s also true that Tor data can be deanonymized through certain types of attacks. The NSA and their counterparts in countries like France or Australia don’t bother catching puny small-fry dudes buying weed or something on the black market, just like the FBI doesn’t arrest these kinds of guys.

However, they can and do bust the owners and operators of large-scale darknet markets. You can go and buy weed (or even things like heroin or fentanyl) on the dark web fairly easily, but things like hiring competent reliable hitmen are considerably more difficult and may get you in trouble with law enforcement.

A site that ran a lucrative child-porn business would have a lot of motivated enemies. You’ve got to produce that shit somewhere. So too, consider the technical savvy of your average Joe. He’s no Satoshi Nakamoto; if there’s thousands of these sacks of shit a few will fuck up and become compromised by the alphabet soup gang.

Fighting out of the Red Corner: a bunch of dedicated hobbyists who are into evil things.

Fighting out of the Blue Corner: an agency full of competent professionals who make it their business to catch things like this, supported by the American people (at least here; I’d bet the average Joe on the street doesn’t give a fuck about illegal wiretapping if it’s being used to catch evil pedos sitting on piles of ill-gotten cash cryptocurrency)

I suppose this might work if it was all done overseas, in a country with lax laws and politicians that were amenable to bribery. Might. They’d still have issues with needing to produce this material and not get fucking killed.

Why is it interesting that Tor relays are mostly in "large, developed countries" and not the country with strict internet censorship, i.e. the great firewall, that presumably blocks Tor ... or Russia, a single country with less population than half the US? That's what you'd expect.

Not to say US intelligence hasn't tried to deanonymaize tor users, of course they have, and there are accounts of attacks on Tor where large percentages of new nodes are potentially malicious.

That is another explanation. That being said, these countries are more or less allies of America and the French or German or Australian versions of the NSA are cooperating with us. Hell, even famously neutral Switzerland helped us during the Cold War. If these dudes found out about a gigantic, well-funded pedophile murderer website…the guys running it, and a lot of their customers, would have law enforcement knocking at their doors.

You still have a bunch of dedicated hobbyists going up against large, powerful national governments with lots of resources and the backing of the general public…people would be literally calling for these guys’ heads.

The only way this would be possible, I think, is if these people had powerful patrons protecting them. I don’t know if that would mix well with just any evil shitbag with a laptop and a few hundred bucks’ worth of crypto being able to log onto these sites…I don’t think it would. Mr. Evil Pedo gets busted by law enforcement. There’s a good chance he sings like a canary…and if he doesn’t, there’s the next guy, and the next…someone’s going to spill the beans in hopes of a lighter sentence. Feds use that dude to go after bigger fish, with the cooperation of the NSA and the other alphabet soup boys.

There’d have to be a fairly large conspiracy and powerful people protecting something like this…if peasants (that means us) found out about this shit we’d be pissed. Could be a reasonably plausible way to get the American people to give up a lot of our civil liberties and accept an NSA headquarters at every police station or something, to be honest.

To sum up: you’ve still got like 100 militia dudes, who are decent at fighting but not professional grade, going up against hundreds of high quality professional soldiers. These guys are dog meat without a hell of a lot of help.

Somewhere in me I have an effortpost on why crypto, including cryptocurrency is bad for rule of law and that a sane society would have banned both

This would definitely be contrarian here, curious to get a discussion going.

Looking forward to this! Some thoughts for your consideration:

Landowners in outer ring suburbs being losers-- would this be the case? If first ring suburbs are allowed to densify, there might be a net migration from outer rings to inner rings (I suspect this is a good thing from the perspective of outer-ring/bordering rural inhabitants). Or maybe you mean they'd be losers from a property value perspective as a result of this migration.

People who want to retain a suburban lifestyle in short driving distance of urban cores being losers -- again would this be true on net. I think to a certain extent this archetype of "dense urban core where all the commercial stuff happens surrounded by low density residential" is an artifact of existing land use restrictions, and may not be true in an alternative world. For example, before the widespread application of more or less "modern" land use, town centers spring up wherever there is a natural Schelling point to meet the economic needs of those in reasonable-travelling distance. So even granting they would lose out on access to the "big" city center they also gain the opportunity create localized pockets of commercial activity that are both closer to them and also more responsive to local needs.

I've been thinking a little bit about some of the dynamics of left/right wing politics as a continuation of high school social dynamics into old age. It's a half formed thought that I have not fully explored internally but the vague idea is; popular kids stop getting things for free when they enter the adult world and find it unfair they've lost influence, so engage more with 'people should just be good to each other' type ideas. Unpopular kids who became successful are still resentful and engage more with a 'fuck you, why would I share my money/power/influence with the people who hate me' worldview. Both are pushing to maximize the type of influence that benefits them the most, popular kids obviously do better with social dynamics and the ones who succeed economically or in the workplace might(?) do better where influence is measured in tangible things or actions.

A second thought kicking around in my head is a little weirder and harder to pin down. The human brain seems to compulsively project personalities onto ... stuff. Things, ideas, ideals. I suspect (but don't know how to go about researching or confirming) that most religions spring from a desire to understand things beyond our control. Thunder is scary, you can't control it, but you can project a personality onto it and then 'understand' that in a social sense. From this perspective a religion like Shinto displays a kind of raw form of this, in that any random inanimate object can be inhabited(?) by Kami, and thereby have personality projected onto it. It is enough for an object to have been interacted with by humans, and for an emotional bond to be formed, for it to be divine.

Non-religious people do this as well, their cars, computers, plants, tools; they all have 'personality'. I think if you take this to its logical conclusion, we are simply projecting a personality onto ourselves, and others as well. People are more convinced by being described as the type of person who would do something than by trying to convince them to take a specific action in the first place. There might be some way to fit this into existing conversations about whether machine-learning type intelligence is qualitatively different to meat based intelligence.

I'm unfortunately too busy with work to flesh out either of these thoughts fully, and most of the time too distracted reading the entertaining conversations others are having to make an effort post!

My practical experience in local youth politics basically indicates that almost everyone drawn towards politics is a bit "special" in some way, but generally speaking more popular one was, more likely they're simply to be drawn towards mainstream centrist politics, not any of the extremes.

My experience in the US is that any youths with political interests are a bit nerdy, but at least for boys the more popular, the more likely to be on the right, with a major confound that artsy needs are usually to the left of math nerds.

I think it depends how you’re interested. The nerdy types tend to (and this seems to generalize across most domains, actually) be the deep divers. A political nerd can talk endlessly about policies, the contents of various bills or laws or Supreme Court decisions. They can Also usually handicap a political race using polling data.

Most people, regardless of political opinions, cannot actually do that. The normies might have various opinions on abortion, but they don’t understand the laws, or that the supreme court’s decision didn’t actually ban anything. They remanded it to the states and the legislature. I heard the wrong takes on that one from people who want abortions legal and from abortion abolitionists.

I'd say that "politics nerds" and other special types turn up in numbers in all parties I've encountered, but in the mainstream centrist parties they'd be more than offset by normie types who got into politics because they wanted, for instance, to fix some particular local issue (of course local-issue stalwarts can also go pretty weird and feral over their particular issue), or who just "felt the need to serve" or whatever. Often the mechanism for latter seems to be that they participate in one of the youth councils set up in municipalities to "give the youth a voice" and then gravitate to the party that rules their municipality (or where they have a family background, or which simply annoys them the least), which almost always tends to be a milquetoast centre-right-to-centre-left party.

Rambling half-formed notes that never get posted are basically all I write. Example of a fun thread one whining about pokemon:

(Pokemon games are poorly designed by their own stated principles)

  • games constantly tell you to bond with pokemon, not only use them as tools, but then make you use them as tools, sometimes literally

  • and the stats/moves/types are unbalanced, encouraging you to only use the overpowered ones

  • the game doesn't teach the real game - doesn't play like a human trainer would, switching based on type matchups, having inter-pokemon synergy, having strategies.

  • (later pkmn games): raids .. - this is a terrible thing to put in as a game mechanic in pokemon. It makes sense in fantasy because coming together to take down the giant/dragon is sort of the thing. Pokemon is absolutely NOT that. It's .. cute cockfighting. It's low-level. It's gym training. It's person vs person, poke vs poke at their normal power levels. No super saiyan, no magic. definitely not supposed to be fighting some giant pokemon inflated like a balloon

    • can just imagine some lazy game designer coming up with this. "players like raids in MMOs right? very social, much enjoyment. let's just copy that!" instead of coming up with something more creative that fits the world & game they actually had

I have a rly good effortpost chambered but I appear to be shadowbanned, so 🤷‍♀️

please post it <3

You Carp? I am beyond shocked.

Make them let me post! I have things to say!

No, you're just still caught in the new user filter and your posts have to be manually approved.

How does that work? My account is older than yours!

The new-user filter is based partially on post quantity and quality.

So it’s exactly like Reddit’s system where if you haven’t been sufficiently upvoted by the entrenched users, you’re invisible without moderator approval, just with a sneaky name and without the automod message letting you know that no one can see your stuff 🤔

Yeah, it was literally a clone of that because we were under time pressure to get this up and running and didn't have a better solution.

I actually do have a better solution upcoming, just, y'know, "up".

Also, the better solution will still be based on post quantity and quality.

  • Furries as a result of reduced environmental enrichment and maternal bonding. Furries associate with a dog foremost because (1) dogs receives abundant physical affection and (2) dogs primarily engage in the environment in a sense-rich way.

  • How the New Testament is a truly great central text for a culture. It tracks a humble individual who persuades his followers with plain truth and moral insight, it criticizes both legal authority and the very idea of moral authority, it shows us the universal propensity toward social sins, it repudiates power and wealth and distraction, and it possesses a better understanding of happiness than pop culture today (the hedonic treadmill, growth mindset, and so on are efficiently fleshed out in the Gospel). It’s truly remarkable that this became the central text, let alone in the Roman Empire. I fear the consequences of a society which no longer sees it as a high level of truth. You don’t have to “believe in God” (I increasingly find belief or unbelief to be missing the point). The idea that such a text could actually become sacred is proof of the importance of religion, because only fervent individuals could hoist it up against the Pagan stories and worldly books. I can’t imagine any solitary book as useful for guiding a society than the New Testament.

I’d be curious about the second one, as I’ve been kinda deep diving the history of the whole thing and I’ve sort of come around to the idea that Jesus actually founded the Ebionite movement and that Paul co-opted it and later the Romans turned it into a politically useful mystery religion.

Which kinda goes back to my thoughts about effort posting— the most effective way to shut up Yesua the Jew was to turn him into the second person of the trinity.

hedonic treadmill

Where does it address that, out of curiosity?

I agree with you on the furries one now that I think about it, but I think the other factor is that dogs these days are pampered pets from whom nothing is expected. I admittedly don’t know much about the demographics of furries but I’d always assumed this was a perpetual adolescence phenomenon for whom ‘everyone likes you and you don’t have to do anything productive’ is pretty close to an ultimate fantasy- you’ll notice very few furries are farmers.

Furries as a result of reduced environmental enrichment and maternal bonding.

FWIW, one of my earliest memories (like from age 3) is of me telling another child that I had a strong desire to be a dog. And I had no shortage of maternal bonding either.

If I had to attribute the phenomenon to anything, I would just attribute it to the prevalence of dogs in children's media.

Furries as a result of reduced environmental enrichment and maternal bonding. Furries associate with a dog foremost because (1) dogs receives abundant physical affection and (2) dogs primarily engage in the environment in a sense-rich way.

Furries are result of ancient call of blood - Germanic blood waking up and yearning to retvrn to old Teutonic forests.

This explanation is as scientific as yours, but much cooler.

Write the furries one, it sounds wild.

Not exactly a lurker but stuff that's been sitting in my "i really ought the finish one of these and post it" folder

  • Inferential distance: permissive vs contested enviroments (it's not paranoia if people are actually out to get you)

  • Inferential distance: choosing life, love, and civilization over rationality

  • Inferential distance: internal vs external loci of control (even with a gun to your head there is always a choice)

  • Understanding the Appeal: why certain adaptations of a work are successful

  • On legacy sequels and nostalgia bait: Original Top Gun vs Top Gun Maverick, ST TNG vs ST Picard, Karate Kid vs Cobra Kai etc...

  • a commentary on/review of Barry Lyndon

  • a commentary on/review of Paths of Glory

  • a commentary on/review of Hoosiers

  • discipline vs technology, and internet culture war vs meat-space shoot-you-in-the-face war

  • a compilation of/expansion upon my old east Africa posts from /r/Themotte and SSC

  • a compilation of/expansion upon my old Iraq posts from /r/Themotte and SSC

I'm interested in the first three. Especially the third. I abhor the postmodern assertion that free will is an illusion on a visceral level and would love to read some discussion here about that.

Imo we could definitely use more firsthand Africa posts. Or at least I like to read them.

I’d love to read your inferential distance posts. I often find myself wishing I could go back to the days before utilitarianism, determinism, and other non-values based belief systems convinced me of their logic. While those sorts of beliefs may be more true in some cosmos sense, they certainly have far less utility on a personal basis. Ironic.

Here are some drafts I have, though not particularly CW.

  • Acetylcysteine as the first treatment for a cold/mucus in Spain but not in Britain

  • Ze Dreadful German In Ze Writings of Curtis Yarvin. I would respect the guy if he was a gentleman and a scholar, actually knew German and used it to better capture the Zeitgeist and express his Weltanschauung, but instead we get a Blitzkrieg of stilted phrases which annoy me.

  • Comparison of The Driver (1978), Driver (2011), Baby Driver (2017). Same plot, different decades.

  • Base rates of success dating docs.

  • Tetlock forecasting approach vs Subjective Bayesianism

  • My ideal prediction market playbook

  • Optimize hard or GTFO

  • A retelling of El Mio Cid, an Spanish epic poem where a recurring theme is that the hero would be a good and loyal knight if only he had a good king as lord.

  • A lot of shit on OpenPhilanthropy, FTX and EA.

  • Utilitarianism for Democrats

  • Utilitarianism for Republicans

  • Why are we not better, harder, faster, stronger

  • Updating in the face of anthropic effects is possible

  • Betting and consent

  • How to host an autarkic/uncensorable site.

  • Tetlock vs subjective bayesianism

  • Something on the limits of Bayesianism

  • I want to nerd out a bit on infrabayesianism / what one should do if one expects that one's hypothesis may not be able to represent future events.

  • Bounties, things I would pay for

  • My consulting rates

  • Criticism as a demand side problem

  • My preferred deviations from common English

  • Some observations on the speed of qalia

  • People's choices determine a pseudo ordering over people's desirability

This is more than what I would have though, typing this out.

I've been posting a stream of similar ideas on my blog (https://nunosempere.com/blog/), with an eye to those that I think could be more valuable. But if this community is particularly interested in any of these, I'll probably be happy to re-prioritize.

As a capitalist, I want to know what you'd pay for and your consulting rates. Criticism as a demand side problem sounds interesting too. Also hosting an uncensorable site.

My consulting rates are now here: https://nunosempere.com/consulting/. I'll put up a list of bounties in a while; if you are particularly interested, I have an RSS endpoint here: https://nunosempere.com/blog/index.rss (or you could sign up per email, if you are a wimp: https://nunosempere.com/.subscribe/)

I'd be interested in any or all of these, and would pay for some of them if not for my desire to be anonymous. No strong preferences on topic though, which might be surprising, but the content of a post matters more than the topic - I've enjoyed review articles about something as trivial as the chemistry of paint drying before, while the average post on any topic is dull due to lack of inspiration and competence.

would pay for some of them if not for my desire to be anonymous

Happy to be paid in monero. You can reach out to me at nuno.semperelh@protonmail.com with a burner account.

Tons of great ideas.

Optimize hard or GTFO

A lot of shit on OpenPhilanthropy, FTX and EA.

How to host an autarkic/uncensorable site.

Why are we not better, harder, faster, stronger

Updating in the face of anthropic effects is possible

Seems more useful though cultural stuff is probably more interesting.

Why are we not better, harder, faster, stronger

Now here: https://nunosempere.com/blog/2023/07/19/better-harder-faster-stronger/ (on the motte here: https://www.themotte.org/post/593/why-are-we-not-harder-better). I'm curious to get your perspective.

Updating in the face of anthropic effects is possible

Now here: https://nunosempere.com/blog/2023/05/11/updating-under-anthropic-effects/. Pasting the content to save you a link:

Status: Simple point worth writting up clearly.

Motivating example

You are a dinosaur astronomer about to encounter a sequence of big and small meteorites. If you see a big meteorite, you and your whole kin die. So far you have seen n small meteorites. What is your best guess as to the probability that you will next see a big meteorite?

In this example, there is an anthropic effect going on. Your attempt to estimate the frequency of big meteorites is made difficult by the fact that when you see a big meteorite, you immediately die. Or, in other words, no matter what the frequency of big meteorites is, conditional on you still being alive, you'd expect to only have seen small meteorites so far. For instance, if you had reason to believe that around 90% of meteorites are big, you'd still expect to only have seen small meteorites so far.

This makes it difficult to update in the face of historical observations.

Updating after observing latent variables

Now you go to outer space, and you observe the mechanism that is causing these meteorites. You see that they are produced by Dinosaur Extinction Simulation Society Inc., that the manual mentions that it will next produce a big asteroid and hurl it at you, and that there is a big crowd gathered to see a meteorite hit your Earth. Then your probability of getting hit rises, regardless of the historical frequency of small meteorites and the lack of any big ones.

Or conversely, you observe that most meteorites come from some cloud of debris in space that is made of small asteroids, and through observation of other solar systems you conclude that large meteorites almost never happen. And for good measure you build a giant space laser to incercept anything that comes your way. Then your probability of of getting hit with a large meteorite lowers, regardless of the anthropic effects.

The core point is that in the presence of anthropic effects, you can still reason and receive evidence about the latent variables and mechanistic factors which affect those anthropic effects.

What latent variables might look like in practice

Here are some examples of "latent variables" in the real world:

  • Institutional competence

  • The degree of epistemic competence and virtue which people who warn of existential risk display

  • The degree of plausibility of the various steps towards existential risk

  • The robustness of the preventative measures in place

  • etc.

In conclusion

In conclusion, you can still update in the face of anthropic effects by observing latent variables and mechanistic effects. As a result, it's not the case that you can't have forecasting questions or bets that are informative about existential risk, because you can make those questions and bets about the latent variables and early steps in the mechanistic chance. I think that this point is both in-hindsight-obvious, and also pretty key to thinking clearly about anthropic effects.

I'm curious which ones you (or other motte people) think would be most interesting for you in particular, rather than "useful in general".

This one isn't even in the oven yet, but I've been thinking on and off about the prepping and bug out communities. Frankly, I'm disgusted and think they're rotten to the core, so full of snake-oil salesmen and LARPers that it's better to reinvent the wheel on your own. Every wannabe has a loadout video, nobody actually walks the literal walk the pack is intended for. Somehow, this is acceptable despite the hiking club being right next door.

There's a survival show called Alone, where 10 people are assigned their own plot of wilderness to survive the coming winter until only one remains. Contestants are allowed 10 items from a list of pre-approved gear, and as you might imagine, there has been a lot of improvement on the understanding of the meta-game over 10 seasons. I'd love to see a similar show simulating emergency, expose the /k/ommandos dreaming of rucking 50lbs and urban fighting and sleeping in a mylar bivy in the midwest, while another simply zips home on a kick scooter within a few hours.

But I don't have much of a thesis, everyone's needs will be different, and no one can really be certain what will work before shtf. It's more of a mental exercise and excuse to practice DIY skills at this point.

For my own drafts and areas of interest:

For things that I can't write, but wish someone with familiarity or sufficient nerdness would:

  • Does it make sense to take gwern's url archiving to its radical conclusion and start automatically saving-to-disk webvideo and random forums and every version of every executable I ever download? Would you get away with it for long before Google slammed you (I don't think youtube-dl is detectable?)? The tools for automatic categorization and identification exist (among others), but has anyone actually put them into a moderately user-friendly format to actually find stuff once you have archived it?
  • What the fuck is wrong with web tooling, aka updating Eevee's excellent rant (or maybe crossreferencing Zorba's Unity rant to a broader field? Not sure if that's related or just smells similar, given this seems to point the exact opposite direction).
  • The economics for small-scale production, and what's going on. A little on the logistics side -- how and why is Etsy pulling 6% of sales fees and eBay 13% compared to PayPal's (already high) 3% -- but more seriously what's going on for the producers. I've got competing models where there's either a) a small industry of people creating cool bespoke stuff for a small but livable be-your-own-boss, b) an ecosystem where the only people actually making a real income are selling shovels and a tiny number of superstars, while most are second-'income'-less-than-min-wage a la writing, or c) both. This might seem trite, but the whole patrons of the arts has been one of the few plausible answers to automating all the things away... but a lot of the plausibility depends on actual existence proofs.
  • How much do and should we trust a lot of User Design stuff as reflecting what is measured, rather than what it studied? For web stuff, people are supposed to be hugely responsive to tiny changes in web page latency or to small user interface changes, but in addition to my general skepticism of nudges, so much residential internet or screen size is (and during the study time especially was) high-variance enough it seems like these should have been swamped by noise. Are people really as price-conscious as Amazon thinks, or is this downstream of other design decisions Amazon (and other dropshifters) have made?
  • Things that suck.
  • Cable (standardization orgs) that suck. Is there some Chesterton's Fence thing, here, or do these people just not know how to count?
  • Is there a (non-violent) solution to the problem of scam spamming, especially of the elderly, even if only a partial mitigation? Is anyone doing anything on the forefront of this field? Book fraud?
  • Relatedly, is there anyone coming up with (non-violent) solutions to the failures of class-action (context) or conventional lawsuits as a way to discourage bad corporate behavior?
  • The Three-Plate Method requires little more than three rocks, a decent dye, and a lot of patience; it has obvious applications from art to engineering to design, and is the core and fundamental of true standardization in parts... and was invented in the 1800s. Is there some obvious reason it wasn't invented so long ago we couldn't name the inventor (eg, prussian blue is magic)? Was it just reinvented and dropped over and over again? If neither, is it unique in how long it lay fallow or are there other similar spaces that could have been invented much earlier, and would have been useful, but weren't?
  • I'd love to see what someone with actual taste in music could see this, or if it's just me.
  • Are there any One Tricks for documentation? Not just in a code context; I hate javaDocs, but they do seem a genuine tool, and weird that they're such single examples.
  • What about group drama mediation?

@gattsuru, you recently edited this post. I happened to have it open at the time of the great crash (retaining links and formatting). I've messaged you about getting a copy of it to you.

Thanks you. Trying to decide if it's worth reposting mediated group hallucinated reality, but have readded the other links and updates.

The Three-Plate Method requires little more than three rocks, a decent dye, and a lot of patience; it has obvious applications from art to engineering to design, and is the core and fundamental of true standardization in parts... and was invented in the 1800s. Is there some obvious reason it wasn't invented so long ago we couldn't name the inventor (eg, prussian blue is magic)? Was it just reinvented and dropped over and over again? If neither, is it unique in how long it lay fallow or are there other similar spaces that could have been invented much earlier, and would have been useful, but weren't?

I wondered a similar thing when I encountered Primitive Technology's pot bellows. All it requires is a basic pottery vessel plus some sticks & twine and suddenly you have a method to smelt iron. Iron is extremely abundant but its high temperature requirement is why ancient civilizations settled for using bronze for so long, even though it's a pain in the ass to make. Almost all the bronze alloy recipes require combining metals that tend to not be naturally found near each other, so you need to trade or conquer your way across those distances. Bronze was the status quo for at least two thousand years, and the entire field of metallurgy could've started even earlier than that if only someone realized you could blow on fire to make it hotter.

The economics for small-scale production, and what's going on. A little on the logistics side -- how and why is Etsy pulling 6% of sales fees and eBay 13% compared to PayPal's (already high) 3% -- but more seriously what's going on for the producers. I've got competing models where there's either a) a small industry of people creating cool bespoke stuff for a small but livable be-your-own-boss, b) an ecosystem where the only people actually making a real income are selling shovels and a tiny number of superstars, while most are second-'income'-less-than-min-wage a la writing, or c) both. This might seem trite, but the whole patrons of the arts has been one of the few plausible answers to automating all the things away... but a lot of the plausibility depends on actual existence proofs.

I'm a seller on a handful of sites including Etsy. Etsy takes way more than 6%, it ends up being closer to ebay's 13%. Sellers still sell on these platforms (ebay, etsy) because buyers trust them and most of us don't want to invest the time and money into marketing and managing independent sites that no one will be able to find because google is optimized to give everybody links to ebay and etsy already.

C is correct. There are millions of people selling their products on these platforms who range from teen girls reselling thrift store clothes from their closet and making too little to even report to the IRS, to dudes selling thousands of mass produced products a day and making bank. And everything in between. Personally I abhor working with or for other people which is why I do the "livable be-your-own-boss" thing.

Cable (standardization orgs) that suck. Is there some Chesterton's Fence thing, here, or do these people just not know how to count?

USB naming is confusing on purpose. They need to inform highly technical users what the situation is, so there needs to be naming. However laptop manufacturers don't want the average user to notice that the ports haven't been updated to handle the highest speeds.

Is there a (non-violent) solution to the problem of scam spamming, especially of the elderly, even if only a partial mitigation? Is anyone doing anything on the forefront of this field? Book fraud?

Short answer, no one one is doing anything about elder fraud.

So at the dawn of wide spread telephone usage a social decision was made by the government. They'll train people to trust phone callers and to counterbalance that they'll introduce wire fraud laws and aggressively prosecute phone scammers. Long distance fees would prevent things from getting too out of hand. The scammers would likely be fairly close, international phone scams would be cost prohibitive.

However long distance fees came way down, which put a strain on the FBI. Then the telcos built up systems to allow internet calls to come in as local numbers. It made sense, it was the most straight forward way to do things.

But now American elders are vulnerable to scammers from around the world.

There are a lot of organizations who could do something.

Scammers operate companies openly in places like India. The State Department could come down hard on them in various ways. Make it difficult to get financing, block the employees and owners from ever entering the US, many other options. But DOS has a global empire to run and doesn't particularly care about the elderly in the US.

Telcos could do various things... Improve caller ID so that it's useful. Run a warning message before letting an internet originating call in.

But they aren't going to do anything unless the feds make them.

The biggest problem is due to the international nature of the problem. Cracking down on foreign scammers who go after old white people sounds vaguely racist to the modern liberal. Arresting a few as part of your job is probably OK, but anyone who dedicates their life to solving the problem is clearly a cryptonazi.

Does it make sense to take gwern's url archiving to its radical conclusion and start automatically saving-to-disk webvideo and random forums and every version of every executable I ever download? Would you get away with it for long before Google slammed you (I don't think youtube-dl is detectable?)? The tools for automatic categorization and identification exist (among others), but has anyone actually put them into a moderately user-friendly format to actually find stuff once you have archived it?

I could write this, I don't really do effortposts though.

Does it make sense? Yes, content disappears very rapidly. A lot of youtube videos I wanted to revisit have disappeared, a lot of random sites, a lot of tweets lost to suspensions or history-cleans, free PDFS that aren't free a year later, hosted images on discordapp.com or imgur, ...

If you mean "archiving every video you watch and website you visit", you'd get away with it easily. Youtube is botted, and videos have lots of bytes, so it has some bot protection - but iirc isn't that strong, and the yt-dlp maintainers have consistently gotten past it, so using that on every video you visit would work. So just [visit youtube.com/* url] -> [run yt-dlp to save video]. For every other website you visit, it's mostly just html, so (ignoring a ton of relatively boring things) you can just save the html, and the images and videos within, and view it later. For discord specifically, discord dump style tools work fine. I'm pretty sure google could kill yt-dlp if they wanted to (imagine they make a backlog of browser quirks, and every day they release a new youtube patch that modifies the JS challenge to depend on that quirk, requiring yt-dlp's JS emulator to be updated daily or run a full browser emulator), but they don't for some reason, even though they have stronger anti-bot protection in other areas.

If you're imagining something larger-scale, archiving everything on a forum or tens of thousands of youtube videos - also doable! Archive team, archive.org, has done that kind of thing for a long time. In the case of youtube videos specifically, it's so easy (and videos are so large, and most of youtube content is so useless) that archive.org actively asks people to not upload random scraped videos.

While big tech puts a lot of effort into defeating bots, it does cost money for dev time and is a maintenance burden, so they only do in areas it's worth preventing bots, e.g. account creation and posting of content. Most top 100 websites can be trivially scraped at within-10x-of-human-activity intensities, because they already have tens of millions of users doing that, so preventing read-only bots at that scale doesn't meaningfully affect load.

but has anyone actually put them into a moderately user-friendly format to actually find stuff once you have archived it

I imagine fast full-text search or embedding-based search would work fine here. I'm pretty sure there are open-source tools for both 'save every text you look at and search it' that are janky, as well as startups working on making a good UI for it.

what's wrong with web app deployment

This has improved a ton recently, with tons of commercial products and open source projects. Also, eevee was doing "See, I actually have a 64-bit kernel, but a 32-bit userspace", which ... it'd take a ton of effort to seamlessly support every quirky configuration people can come up with, so most devs don't, which is correctly prioritized imo. Again, with the database, they didn't use the supported configuration of 'give it root' and did some permission thing.

A little on the logistics side -- how and why is Etsy pulling 6% of sales fees and eBay 13% compared to PayPal's (already high) 3%

I know less here but ... 3% extra for etsy seems reasonable? Maybe not reasonable in the sense of 'how the economy should be', but reasonable in the sense that they have to address regulatory complexity, develop their software, deal with payments issues, prevent fraud... patio11's writing might be related

How much do and should we trust a lot of User Design stuff as reflecting what is measured, rather than what it studied?

Design is tightly coupled to revenue, which means companies and the people in them will be properly incentivized to care about it. If we imagine a psych lab doing experiments on college students, where ... any result is fine if you can publish it, and the pricing page of your SaaS, where your main source of revenue is people clicking and you really want them to click - if, in the former, you spew out a bunch of 2% uplift nudges that, when all implemented, add up to 0%, you can still publish, nobody's checking. If in the latter, you spew out a bunch of 2% uplift nudges that, when all implemented, add up to 0% ... you're not getting that bonus.

so much residential internet or screen size is (and during the study time especially was) high-variance enough it seems like these should have been swamped by noise

If it's actually per-user noise, sample sizes of 50M users x 100 interactions per day (adding together that many normals reduces your standard deviation by 70,000x!) are more than enough to wash it out for 'latency of every page load'. Even for 'converting to paid user', that's still a few million interactions total, which is more than enough. If there are ten groups of users with entirely separate behavior, that's still only 3x higher 'noise', which isn't that much.

In the particular case of latency - I definitely do notice latency and use sites less that take longer to load. Consumers being price-conscious in consumer goods, especially commonly purchased ones, is pretty well established, although idk the specifics of what you're referring to.

Suck thread was great.

Is there a (non-violent) solution to the problem of scam spamming, especially of the elderly, even if only a partial mitigation

I thought of "social media companies take it as seriously as they do racism", but they don't deal with that effectively either. Maybe as seriously as they do CP or ISIS (but even for CP they're not great).

Are there any One Tricks for documentation? Not just in a code context; I hate javaDocs, but they do seem a genuine tool, and weird that they're such single examples.

Not sure what you mean exactly. I also hate javadocs, /** @param1 int A Number @param2 int Another number @returns Two numbers added @desc Adds two numbers */ public int add(int param1, int param2)

While big tech puts a lot of effort into defeating bots, it does cost money for dev time and is a maintenance burden, so they only do in areas it's worth preventing bots, e.g. account creation and posting of content. Most top 100 websites can be trivially scraped at within-10x-of-human-activity intensities, because they already have tens of millions of users doing that, so preventing read-only bots at that scale doesn't meaningfully affect load.

That's fascinating to hear.

I imagine fast full-text search or embedding-based search would work fine here. I'm pretty sure there are open-source tools for both 'save every text you look at and search it' that are janky, as well as startups working on making a good UI for it.

Full-text search has a lot of applicable tooling, if you aren't just willing to learn grep (which, tbf...). Embeddings... there's a lot of image archivers that can (try to) identify and tag people (eg nextcloud here), and general objects it's probably possible to replace them with yolo models, but I haven't found much that's a great way to actually find stuff. And other spaces like automated transcription's always a little tricky.

Also, eevee was doing "See, I actually have a 64-bit kernel, but a 32-bit userspace", which ... it'd take a ton of effort to seamlessly support every quirky configuration people can come up with, so most devs don't, which is correctly prioritized imo. Again, with the database, they didn't use the supported configuration of 'give it root' and did some permission thing.

That's somewhat fair, although more so for the mixed-bit size than for giving root to random software (and even for the mixed-bit-size problem, it's a little discouraging that "we don't support 32-bit" or "here's this vital extension" isn't in the documentation). And I can certainly understand and empathize the problems with end-users wanting support across ridiculous breadths of deployment environment: I've submitted code to fix one-off problems that likely only applied to small circumstances like mine, and I can understand when they were accepted or rejected.

But I don't think eevee's issues were, and my issues are generally not, about one piece of software having a problem in one environment. A sizable portion of eevee's problems were less about the specialized failure modes, and more that even the canonical install paths aren't really complete (or are Docker, or more recently flatpak has started showing up for no goddamn reason). At the time of writing, Discourse did not say install Docker or else. It had a pretty long installation guide! But it did not (even at the time of eevee's writing; it was deleted the day after that post) actually cover things like 'what are actually the dependencies', rather than the minimum number of apt-get calls to get it to build on the author's machine.

That's not just the fault of the Discourse designers. The problem's that development in general (nuGet and maven have encouraged the exact same bad habits!), but especially web development, no longer has and often does not expect anyone to have the ability to seriously inspect dependencies, even as dependency trees have expanded. If you are very careful, you might be able to get your application to list all of its immediate dependencies (no one did for Discourse, hence the sidekiq bit, so it's a little bit Discourse's fault), in terms of full application-level dependencies. But those will have their own dependencies (or extensions, or modules, or packages, yada yada), which you might be able to get a list of what's currently installed. And in increasing situations, you'd have to dance down another level from that.

Docker bypasses this by pulling from specific installation images in order and just not caring if something else gets pulled along by accident -- which, hey, I'd be fine with on small scales. But then it installs a copy for each container. Which does solve dependency hell, since there's now one dependency install per application... at the cost of making it increasingly easy to have dozens of (oft-outdated) versions of common dependencies.

This would be a little annoying if it were just a problem during install, but maintenance and updating tends to be where it goes really bad. I've had multiple GitLab instances -- even with the 'recommended' omnibus! -- where upgrading just exploded because one version somewhere was out of whack. NextCloud just had a (nontrivial!) bug related to php versioning support. Even with grav, which is supposed to about as simple as it gets, I've still seen it go tango uniform because of a dependency versioning problem the developer was unaware of.

3% extra for etsy seems reasonable? Maybe not reasonable in the sense of 'how the economy should be', but reasonable in the sense that they have to address regulatory complexity, develop their software, deal with payments issues, prevent fraud... patio11's writing might be related

Patio11's writing is fantastic, but Patio11 also works for Stripe, which offers (listed) sales cuts around ~3% total, and hasn't taken over the world. Part of that's because Stripe doesn't want to (or, rather, Stripe's banks don't want it to), but another part is that there's not a horde of startups breaking down Stripe's door to take Etsy's lunch and 'only' make a billion USD... nor to provide a valet service and to charge 20%.

I could definitely imagine a vendor that gave the average seller 3%ish worth (or even 10%+/30%+!) of sales in benefits. It's actually not that hard, and that's a pretty reasonable cut in some circumstances. Amazon itself has bizarrely tight economic tolerances -- which doesn't mean it's an efficient marketplace, but winks and nods that direction -- and much of its business-side income comes only from shaking down sellers advertising. It's weird that it's turned into the standard for online sales even as a lot of these groups are doing less and worse, while no competitors are coming up at the extreme low-end, nor that more reputable vendors charging a little more (or providing fewer sales-assist services) haven't come forward. Amazon-style drop-shipping comes across as from what seems like a narrow maxima for a fairly broad sphere, despite being incredibly janky, and I don't think the conventional explanation makes sense.

The punchline to this twitter thread is that the Menards replacement probably ranged from 10 bucks more to 60 bucks less, depending on what popular wheelbarrow eigenrobot was getting and what shipping he used. You can buy end mills on Aliexpress, Etsy, Amazon, and they'll be the exact same end mill from the exact same manufacturer, for radically different prices. Or if you end up having to do currency conversion, Paypal ends of breaking normal expectations there.

So you don't have a hugely price-conscious buyers, nor hugely convenience-based, nor is it obviously trickery (as bad as Amazon or Paypal dark arts get, they're not actually earned that much cash). Is it just being a first-mover? Internet-wide search gone fucky? Scale-and-size? Reputation (if so, how bad would Amazon or ali* have to get)? People just hate having multiple logins?

Design is tightly coupled to revenue, which means companies and the people in them will be properly incentivized to care about it.

Fair. I guess just post Pivot To Video I'm kinda nervous about highly-publicized 'studies' by a corporation with One Weird Trick and a lot of reasons that replication failures wouldn't 'count'.

Not sure what you mean exactly. I also hate javadocs...

I hate javadocs, too, but a) people write them, b) people update them, and c) external users can read them, even if most don't. But I'm more motioning about how they're a documentation technology, in a way that technologies-used-for-documenation (eg, wikis, technical writers) are not, even if they aren't particularly effective. It's weird that this isn't something more common or more widely exploited beyond bad puns about self-documenting code.

If I didn't recognize you as a reputable and prolific poster, the first draft idea you posted would have convinced me that you were clinically insane haha. I'm now very curious as to how they all link together..

I've been thinking about doing an effort post ethnography of /r/manga. I spend enough time there, and in other anime/manga communities, I think I've got some funny/interesting anecdotes and analysis about it. Does that sound interesting to anyone else or just me?

It'd be very interesting. There are a lot of mini-ethnographies of online communities on /r/hobbydrama, and a few on rdrama

Actually interesting to me, because I hate /r/manga and their shit 35 yo teenager taste in /popular but still go there sometimes to see something /new.

I mostly do just browse by popular. What stuff do you see in /new that you like? I rarely see anything particularly good there besides some occasional under rated yuri

I don't pride myself on taste in manga, nor keep a list. Some minor relatively unpopular things I've liked:

  • After god

  • Hero has returned

  • Ragna Crimson

  • Shinazu no Ryousen

  • Ryuuma no Gagou

  • Thank you Isekai

occasional under rated yuri

Ah, you mean Onee-sama to Watashi: Ojou-sama ga Isekai Tensei?

Ah, you mean Onee-sama to Watashi: Ojou-sama ga Isekai Tensei?

I didn't have anything in particular in mind, I just know I've sometimes seen yuri romances that would probably have 5-10x as many upvotes if the one of the characters was swapped with a generic male

It does sound interesting to me.

I’ve had an effort post on blue/red ethnogenesis floating around in my head for a while, but don’t know where to start. I’ve had another one on conspiracy theories that are simply false, but lead to meaningfully better outcomes, and their role in modern society that’s closer to getting off the ground but still unlikely to happen.

When the pope dies(he is in poor health) or is obviously on his last legs I will write an effort post on the current political situation in the RCC and it’s implications for the path forwards, but I don’t think it will necessarily be a top level comment.

Here’s something to chew on:

Dr. Sharon Megalethery’s RCCX theory.

TL;DR chronically ill formerly high achieving doctor theorizes that epigenetic changes are responsible for (or greatly increase risk of) high-functioning autism, ADHD, mood disorders, eating disorders, autoimmune disorders, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and queerness. Also these people are more intelligent than average.

A disproportionate number of autistic and ADHD people are queer; same with being hypermobile. You’ve got a phenotype that is neurodivergent, less straight than average, and worse at manual labor, or at least more likely to be crippled by it. And it runs in families.

So your Red Tribe rural guy that leaves town at 18 to head for the Big City might well have had a father or uncle who had weird things happening with his joints and who’s a bit more fucked up than most from a life of manual labor. Maybe he’s not straight, either. Maybe he’s always been a bit different, and thinks he can find acceptance in the city. Yes, it’s a cliche…but some of that is due to straight-up physiological differences that mean that he’s playing with loaded dice with respect to chronic pain if he becomes a construction worker or something.

Wow. I'm not sure if I completely agree with her perspective. However I am 100% that she is on to something regarding the hyper-mobility. Just going by people I've met at Universities, hyper-mobility seems to correlate a lot with, as the cool kids say, "being weird" and also often actually being smart.

Thank you very much for posting about it!

Yeah, that makes sense. I’m not sure if I completely agree with her perspective either, but “stretchy-skinned weird smart queer” seems like a cluster. So too, these people seem to have a higher rate of autoimmune diseases.

What did that hypermobility look like?

One of the most common ways I've noticed it is that they sit in really odd ways despite never having stretched once in their lives. Also being double-jointed in the arm is something people love to showcase. Physical flexibility -> Mental flexibility? Haha.

LMAO - queer people not being able to sit straight is a meme.

I'd bet that physical flexibility at age 5 correlates with LGBT identification at age 20.

they sit in really odd ways despite never having stretched once in their lives

To add to this, women tend to be more flexible than men.

Given that, it's probably natural that men with that trait would find themselves preferring a posture that women use (since it could naturally be assumed that kind of posture accounts for both that flexibility and the inherent weakness it trades off with).

Maybe flexibility (sits like a girl) drives socialization (mocked for sitting like a girl) drives sexuality (with overclocked sense of pattern-matching, decides he'll just be a girl) more than we want to admit it does, but this is probably also only true for these men.

One thing I really want to write about is Fraternities, specifically German ones, and what role fraternal groups and societies play in the development of people and Culture.

It would probably be a series of posts, something like this:

  1. The role of Fraternities in the German culture war.

  2. Freemasons, Rugby clubs, voluntary fireman and other such groups.

  3. Personal development in fraternities, masculinity and Alcohol

  4. The slow extinction of fraternal societies.

It's baffling to me how little these organizations are talked about, given that its members dominate our politics. I think I can give an interesting inside scoop on this parallel society. Also, it would hopefully interest all the people here who frequently talk about the lack of male spaces and the self-isolation of the modern male.

Please ping me when you get around to it. I might be able to add something.

Dunno, I feel like they are talked about to exactly the appropriate degree. I'm a german and they are occasionally mentioned both by acquaintances & media, always in a sneering, disdainful way a la "who is even still joining them, must be a loser" or "guess he must be a fraternity member" after seeing a guy misbehave.

Frankly, I can't help but agree with them. At least at my university, nobody in power I know of has any affiliations with them, and their reputation as places of toxic masculinity means that their at odds with the current social norms, so being a member is if anything a hindrance to gaining power. I'm not even sure we have them locally here, they are just the kind of negative stereotype that people love talking about - especially those who claim to not be prejudiced. I guess they used to be relevant and so some of the old guards had some affiliations, but nowadays everyone is scrambling to make sure that everyone else knows how much you hate them.

Fraternities have definitely lost most influence in the 21. Century. As you said, the old guard have connections, but that's about it. But the stuff you learn about them tends to be factually incorrect. Current members are of course marginalized and completely powerless.

Your post is emblematic of the surrounding discourse, though. Fraternities are now so insular and small that they have become this bogeyman of student culture. Nobody actually has any idea what they do, just what rumours and journalists who know as much as their readers spread. Since 1968 there's been a real organized effort to discredit, marginalize and bully fraternities into dissolution. Things have calmed down in most cities only because they have essentially succeeded.

German Fraternities are an openly "conservative" thing. The members are usually not conservative, but what they get up to is, the entire point is to be conservative. They created a multipolarity in student cultural power, between left and right. Used to, at least, since such a thing can't be tolerated on the modern campus.

My future post will go into more depth. In the meantime, could you please stop hating on what are essentially, in their current form, Friend groups that take part in funny and entertaining traditions in their spare time haha.

– Have you heard anything about the Westphalian secret court?

Sasha was a little taken aback. Then he thought about it.

– I don't really remember German history, – he admitted. – I've heard something, but that... Some kind of secret society like the Freemasons.

– Freemasons are Freemasons. - Wietz made himself comfortable, obviously intending to speak at length, - I'm talking about the Westphalian, aka Free or Femean Court. The name comes from the Latin fama, «popular opinion». The secret courts arose in the thirteenth century, in a situation similar to what we have now in Russia. Power exists, justice does not. Imperial justice did not work and did not want to work. But the Germans, unlike the Russians... – here Witz was silent for a second, and Sasha thought about how unpleasant this word, "Russians", was – took matters into their own hands. The Feme system worked like this: any Christian could turn to the secret court, and it summoned the accused to its session. If he appeared, he was tried according to the ancient laws and sentenced. If he did not appear, he was considered guilty, and the assassins caught up with him.

– Could a Jew turn to it? – Tsypin asked for some reason.

– He could turn, – Witz said; as one could describe it, pointedly.

– Sounds like the Mafia, – remarked Sasha.

Vincent wrinkled his forehead, trying to find the exact wording.

– It's Mafia that's like a Femean court. That's what it was, but then the uomini d’onore tried to switch sides, lost everything, and turned into mediocre mascalzoni. Fema is a different matter.

<...>.

For two centuries the Fema courts acted in isolation. But then came the idea of uniting under a single will.

– The party is a hand of million fingers, clenched in one smashing fist, – Sasha couldn't resist another stilted quote. He became somewhat animated: the conversation became bookish, and bookish talk calmed him down.

– You guessed it again, – the guard looked at Sasha with approval. – Exactly a fist. Latin for faustus. The Fema Courts, as well as a number of Fereins and some other forces, created an organization by that name. Which subsequently assumed responsibility for the order and prosperity of Europe.

http://haritonov.wiki/Вечность

Also interested.

would definitely be very interested. even just spitballing the German fraternities part and then doing the modern day later would be fine.

Sounds interesting

Would definitely read this

Many obsolete abandoned drafts for substack based on stuff discussed around these parts.

  • The pessimistic bias in science fiction that makes it to screens. Banks estate refusal to allow adaptations of Culture, failed Chinese attempts to incentivize optimistic productions.

  • Stonetoss' dog breeds comic and its woke edits as a case study in epistemology and chilling effect of the default mode of school education.

  • Procautionary and Precautionary principles and shouting fire in a crowded market: the unreasonable absence of repercussions for incurring an opportunity cost via playing the adult in the room.

  • Why the french AI researchers are unambitious

  • Rationalist reversals: the notion of «Infohazard» is the most salient example of infohazard known, anthropic shadow as an anti-bayesian cognitive bias and reasoning yourself into a cult.

  • Traditional (especially Western Christian) morality as incompatible with effective altruism and privileging pet causes and projects as acts of cultivating a personal relationship with the transcendent.

  • LLM-based methods for discovering words that really express untranslatable concepts and supposedly define culture.

  • Psychedelics as the bane of mesa-optimizer; reflections on a bad AI take, bad psychoterapy take, the hedonic gradient and the fact that greatness is born of evolutionary failure.

  • cringe policing as a way to set the borders of allowable discourse, and its limits.

  • Steelmanning as a corrupt intellectual practice in rationalist discourse that amounts to clever logorrheic strawman; defeating golems made of steel, superficially formidable bosses with known weak points.

  • related, "puzzle assemblers and lego arguers": Scott Alexander and Bryan Kaplan on mental illness as examples of deductive vs. inventive approach to reality

  • On pruning science, or, the razor of Bayes: one of many thoughts of «what if Lesswrong weren't a LARP» the need to have a software framework, now probably LLM-powered, to excise known untruths and misstatements of fact, and in a well-weighed manner all contributions of their authors, from the graph of priors for next-iteration null hypotheses and other assumptions.

  • On atomization and connectivity; with more autonomy and commoditization, some assumptions about human nature become self-fulfilling.

  • in defense of Marx.

  • the empire fetish, nation as a purposeful project (MacIntyre), and what Westerners got wrong about Russian-German business.

  • Poshlost and what anti-AI artists get right. Reflections on watching Master and Commander and Black Adam in the same day

  • Russian societal attitudes and policies around minority crime prior to the war

  • Russian Death and death as conceptualized in Russian culture.

Many others.

As someone fluent in more than one language (grossly different ones to boot), I'm hard pressed to think of even a single word in all of them that I can't with enough time and effort get across to a reader only fluent in one.

I've always found myself leery of the concept, at least in terms of written/spoken words. It would be difficult to convey the qualia of redness vocally!

Steelmanning as a corrupt intellectual practice in rationalist discourse that amounts to clever logorrheic strawman; defeating golems made of steel, superficially formidable bosses with known weak points.

I would like to read this as it is counter to my intuition but that probably means I need to get my head around this perspective.

in defense of Marx.

I was not expecting this.

On pruning science, or, the razor of Bayes: one of many thoughts of «what if Lesswrong weren't a LARP» the need to have a software framework, now probably LLM-powered, to excise known untruths and misstatements of fact, and in a well-weighed manner all contributions of their authors, from the graph of priors for next-iteration null hypotheses and other assumptions.

Also interesting

Rationalist reversals: the notion of «Infohazard» is the most salient example of infohazard known, anthropic shadow as an anti-bayesian cognitive bias and reasoning yourself into a cult.

Curious about this.

Poshlost and what anti-AI artists get right.

Please write this one so I can reply to it.

Traditional (especially Western Christian) morality as incompatible with effective altruism and privileging pet causes and projects as acts of cultivating a personal relationship with the transcendent.

This one is just straightforwardly true (which is why I’m not an effective altruist).

Most of these are quite fascinating - I’d love to see your defense of Marx in particular. Communism is definitely a bugbear around here.