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Small-Scale Question Sunday for September 18, 2022

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

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

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

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What’s the deal with in-state vs. out-of-state tuition fees for US universities? I’m looking into getting my Master’s in… something STEMmy, possibly in the states, and I keep seeing these different rates. Why would an American not change their residence to whatever state the college is in, though? You could save tens, possibly over a hundred thousand dollars. What am I missing?

(It’s Sunday but the new thread isn’t up yet. I might post this question again in the new one if there’s no traction)

Example from the University of Pittsburgh:

Students who have lived in PA for at least 12 consecutive months immediately prior to enrollment at any institution of higher education in PA meet the 12 Month Requirement. For U.S. Citizens, this is all that is required for classification as a PA Resident. Students who are Non-U.S. Citizens must also meet the immigration requirements described in Subsection B below in order to be eligible for reclassification to PA Resident. Students under the age of 22 are considered minors for purposes of residency determination and are classified based on the residency information of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

Students who do not meet the 12 Month Requirement are classified as Non-Residents. Those who wish to challenge their classification can file a petition with their campus PA Residency Coordinator. Instructions are provided below in Section VI. Petitioning to Overcome the 12 Month Requirement.

 

Students whose initial residency classification is Non-Resident because they do not meet the 12 Month Requirement may complete the University’s petition form and file it, together with supporting documentation, to the PA Residency Coordinator at their campus. Through the Petition Process and supporting documentation, the student must demonstrate that they:

1. Came to PA for reasons other than enrollment in an institution of higher education; and/or

2. Intend and are able to live in PA permanently or indefinitely upon completion of their academic studies.

Ah, I see. Looks like they have their bases covered. Thank you!

Do you know of any writer who has advanced the idea that aesthetics are the primary driver of human behavior?

a meta topic: are Bare Links tolerated or not? I recall the big discussion over this some months back, hell I was one of the few arguing for that ban. But I see that same behavior coming back here and wanted clarification on if that is okay or not. My preference is no, don't bring any of that stuff back.

Non-culture-war main thread posts don't require anything further, culture-war posts do require something more than a bare link (check the sidebar for details). Report it if you see it happening please :)

How do you all check new comments on the CW post? Can we follow top level posts?

For follwing ALL new comments you can use https://www.themotte.org/comments but I am not sure if it is possible to somehow filter to specific post. It is probably a feature that does not exist. I just use the highlighitng new comments feature to visually check if I see something new in the threads I was interested in. But that requires quite a bit of scrolling by the end of the week.

If anyone here plays board games regularly, what's your opinion on kingmaking? I'm aware there are a range of opinions on this, and this is a point of contention for many players out there.

Kingmaking, for the uninitiated, is basically a behaviour players can engage in during board games where after you fall behind the other players to the extent that you're effectively out of the game, you can throw the game in favour of the player you want to win. This is usually based on in-game grudges (someone absolutely screwed you over, so you'd rather they not win) and it regularly rears its head in social board games, one of the most common games I see it in being Settlers of Catan.

Personally, I am not against kingmaking. I think kingmaking, teaming, and all other related behaviours are inherent in social board games with more than two players and can't really be avoided (nor should it). A big part of any social game is about judging your adversaries' personalities and playing the players accordingly, and if you engage in aggressive behaviour early on and make enemies, there's clearly a risk that comes with it. You can't make it difficult for a player to win then expect them not to take their revenge. Additionally, strategically employing kingmaking and threats thereof can set a meta-rule for future games - if you screw me, I'll screw you back - which might make a player think twice about taking their chances to screw you in the future. The humans you're playing with are part of the game, and the relational dynamics are what make a lot of social games interesting in the first place.

It goes without saying that if the player still has a good chance of winning kingmaking would probably be a poor strategy, but I don't inherently have a problem with pursuing revenge in and of itself.

I'm generally of the opinion that games, and players within games, should almost always be as un-meta as possible. Each player should act according to the best strategy they can deduce that maximizes their own probability of winning. In some cases, you might choose strategies that you find more fun even if they have a lower probability of winning, but even then I consider that to be a flaw in the game: the best strategies ought to be the most fun. Or there might be actions which are technically legal in the rules but are unsportsmanlike, so it's probably fine to play nicely in that way (though again, this is a flaw in the game design).

Your relationships to other players shouldn't matter, the actual human person you're playing against should barely matter except in-so-far as it allows you insight into their tendencies and biases and intelligence that helps you predict their behavior. At least with regards to the actual decisions you make within the game, obviously you can like talk to them outside of the game while the game is happening. But you shouldn't modulate your in-game behavior based on out of game information, because the actual best strategy in the game doesn't depend on out of game stuff.

On the other hand, I also find over-optimizing out of game to be kind of unfun and cringe. The best example would be people studying chess strategies and memorizing positions and moves and stuff. Because then you're not getting better by playing the game, you're just studying for an interactive exam. The fun part of the game is deducing strategies and figuring stuff out and encountering new situations for yourself, not memorizing strategies that someone smarter than you figured out.

When you're playing the game, you should be playing the game properly. And when you're not playing the game, you should not be playing the game. Kingmaking is not playing the game properly, because it strictly reduces your position in the game, and provides no in-game benefit. The only purpose it has is meta, and thus is bad.

I do not consider repeated game strategy to be "out of game". It's a basic element of game theory - ever heard of repeated prisoner's dilemma?

I agree that kingmaking for someone just because they're your friend is not fun for anyone else at the table. Kingmaking for game theory purposes, especially if warned beforehand, is valid strategy. Introducing strategic spite into the game makes the table rethink how they build alliances and gives players more agency.

It's "out of game" in that it is strategizing one level up. It's not playing the current instance as the game, but instead the full set. If that's the level you want to analyze, fine, but I think it's fair to say it is tainting single-game strategy with meta strategy.

I also sign on to @MathWizard's game ethics here and have always had the feeling that caching chess opening strategy is distasteful - sort of against the spirit of the game - yes.. even in the face of hundreds of years of the top players doing just that.

Playing against wincon (e.g. in a single-winner game, Vichy-allying with somebody to help him win when you'd have a better chance of winning in a grand coalition to defeat said somebody) I consider to be dishonour*. Kingmaking when you actually can't win is hard to adjudicate because playing to wincon is not well-defined; that's more akin to bad game design.

*The computer game Stars! has a bad case of this in its player community; alliances tend to ossify, so that even if Player X is running away with the game, his allies will just keep helping him and go "yay team" at the end rather than switching sides. I am aware of how strong a term "dishonour" is; I use it deliberately, because of how it makes the game much less fun.

I think it's quite inevitable that when taken seriously games with more than 2 sides end up being more about politics than what the game is explicitly about (unless it is explicitly about politics). Even without throwing the game, any action or inaction can affect the balance between the top players.

The options are finding a gaming group that won't make casual games about politics, one that enjoys the politics, or playing games with 2 sides.

Pretty much the only games I can think of that people play seriously (read: professionally) with more than 2 sides are gambling games like poker and mahjong. And I'm fairly sure they are rife with collusion scandals.

There are natural and unnatural game politics. Example: SSBU (online). It's a fighting game that is most often matched as a 1v1, but occasionally puts players in 3-way 1v1v1s.

Now, the natural politics that happen in a 3-way (IMO) is that all participants begin by attacking each other equally. If player A gets too far ahead, B and C focus attacks more on them to pull A back down to their level. If player C drops too far behind, A and B avoid trying to "finish them off", since either A or B spending time attacking C leave themselves open for the other to attack them in return and take the lead. As a result, 3 evenly matched players usually end up with a close finish where anyone could win. Exciting!

... except this rarely happens. In actual play, A and B immediately begin the match by signaling that they want to form an alliance against C. A and B then easily double-team C until C is eliminated, then finish the match as a 1v1. I consider this much less exciting than the alternative, but dynamics demand that players play this way, because if they refuse to ally and the other player does ally, they become C, and lose.

I consider the first situation to be natural, because the politics are dictated by the flow of the game. The second is unnatural because players are plotting on a social level with each other before the game begins.

While I sympathize with this making the game worse, I don't see how you come to the conclusion that the platonic ideal of competitiveness is the natural one, and the one that actual humans consistently gravitate to without verbal communication is the unnatural one.

Games generally have win conditions. To me kingmaking depends on the nature of the win condition. In Catan, for example, there's nothing inherently that great about getting 10 victory points; you're just a little more advanced than your competitors. In that case I'm against kingmaking because why should another settlement throw away their own development. In some other game though, kingmaking might be fine, depending on the premise of the game.

The win condition in Catan is just about getting 10 victory points, yes, but the benefit of winning is something more inherent - it's about getting the status of "winner", which is what drives everyone in the first place. A perspective that views winning in Catan as "nothing inherently that great" kind of also allows one to argue that kingmaking in Catan really isn't a big deal in the first place. Since winning in and of itself isn't valuable, the one on the receiving end of kingmaking shouldn't care too much.

Anyway, let's consider this hypothetical scenario. I have a three-player Catan game. Sat clockwise around the board are Player A, Player B, and Player C. Player A has 9 points and possesses Longest Road, Player B has 8 points, and Player C has 5 points. C is pretty much out of the game, and A is clearly about to take the win with a massive deck of resource cards. However, A blocked a road of C's earlier in the game which meant C couldn't build a settlement in an important place, and/or they repeatedly moved the robber onto hexes of C's at an early stage, meaning they couldn't progress. Now, it's currently B's turn and C has enough brick and lumber to grant B Longest Road, granting them 10 victory points.

I can't make a coherent argument as to why C shouldn't kingmake, in this scenario, outside of "You might make A feel bad". Making people feel bad is also what you do when you block people earlier in the game (even when it's done for your own benefit), and games like Catan are all about stepping on people's toes. I see no reason why policing or punishing early aggressive behaviour with sabotage in the late-game should be prohibited.

What I'm gesturing towards is the question of whether kingmaking defies the spirit of the game. I think the "spirit of the game" is inherently much more important than we think. Most games are able to get away with relatively short rulebooks because players naturally gravitate towards actions that make sense. For example, most games have no rules regarding how long a turn can take, because turn duration can be governed by social restrictions players impose upon each other. To me, kingmaking is in the same boat. Sure, there are very rarely rules against kingmaking, nor should there be, but sometimes it's permissible and sometimes it's not, and some of that permissibility depends upon the spirit of the game.

I agree that it makes sense to punish early behavior with late-game sabotage, I just think that it really depends upon the game and how bad the early behavior really was. It's also perfectly in-line with the rules to spend your game sabotaging another player for a real-life grudge you have against them, but I think that that also should be discouraged.

Kingmaking based on in-game grudges is fine.

Kingmaking based on out-of-game status seeking is not and always what I think of.

Tricky line to cross because people who take games seriously and aren't able to compartmentalize can end up turning in-game grudges into real ones.

But yeah, if the person who is about to win actively screwed you over in-game on their route to victory then I don't see how they can complain if you, in-game, decline to assist in the final stages and end up hampering them enough that someone else snatches victory.

In my view though even if you're losing the game badly enough that you have no real chance of winning, the 'sporting' thing to do is to keep playing your best to prevent any other particular person from winning. That is you just make it harder for anyone to meet the win condition to the best of your ability. Even better if the game has conditions that allow you to 'force' a draw.

If this requires you to hold out in some position that basically just blocks the game from advancing very quickly, so be it.

Of course that can run into the different constraint, when it starts getting late and people are getting tired and cranky and just want to finish up and if you're the guy dragging things out they may just want you to pick a winner and get it over with.

This is my position too - kingmaking based on factors that are external to the game itself is definitely crossing a line, but there seems to be a substantial amount of people I see who are clearly just very opposed to any form of kingmaking. I happen to think this set of restrictions is not implementable in practice.

I definitely agree with this. I've played games with couples who refuse to attack each other, and it is pretty much the most annoying thing ever.

When I run into those positions I like to play my own metagame based on engineering the circumstances to 'force' the to attack each other.

Problem is some people are just so forgiving that one will sacrifice their position and not even be angry at the other for it.

Really depends on your player group and the tone of the game. We have a gaming friend who is far better than most of us at any game that doesn't have a high chance component, and it's common to mess with him if you're not winning, or pick someone you don't want to win. Nobody cares that much. Longer games tend to get more serious, but there's still a bit of that going on.

Best gaming advice I ever got was during a game of Diplomacy, "You can't betray your friends until you have some." In the meta game of all the games you play together you should act in a generally honourable fashion, but you can (and in my opinion, should) be a dick sometimes, if only for the lolz. Kinda like life.

This happens a lot, however it can become an ugly thing - I have seen partners getting into arguments over games. And vice versa, ruining the game just because a player wants something from somebody in real life. It is even more unhealthy in RPG style of boardgames like D&D or VtM as it is hard to play certain role if real-world social considerations interfere constantly. So if greedy wizard screws over stupid naive barbarian, it breaks suspension of disbelief if pissed barbarian player invents some elaborate revenge scheme. Just embrace the role with knowledge that it is a game and have fun. Plus in context of CW where one has to always be on alert in every context, it would be more healthy to immerse oneself in the game world leaving real life at the door.

There are other "games" more suited to real-life bonding, go camping or on roadtrip with your buddies to find out what they are about.

Is there a name for the genre of "man wakes up heavily medicated in hospital and is told he had an accident/breakdown, but clues he sees in the mirror and his alphabet soup tell him he's being held prisoner and needs to stop taking his meds and escape"? (And is it totally overused?)

Obviously there were like 20+ star trek episodes with that concept, but have there been any stories that leave the protagonist's sanity ambiguous because the audience doesn't know who he really is?

Seems like it would make a great point and click adventure game/walking simulator; let the scenery change subtly as you go off your meds, revealing further clues. Your doctors' and family's skinsuits start looking more and more frayed and insectoid as you get closer to the truth...

The TvTropes term is Cuckoo Nest, although it technically doesn't require the schizophrenic 'clues' bit. Leaving the resolution ambiguous isn't universal, but it is fairly common: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Normal Again" is probably the archetype, but Deep Space 9's "Shadows and Symbols" is a stronger work.

I'd completely forgotten about that whole arc except for the moment Nicole de Boer first walked in and introduced herself :sob-emoji:

Yes, it’s an Ontological Mystery, although TV Tropes describes the subcategory as Escape From The Crazy Place. You’ll find examples you’re looking for there.

obligatory warning: TV Tropes will ruin your life.

Ontological Mysteries:

The characters are locked in a strange room, have no idea how they got there, why they're there, or how to get out, nor do they know exactly who is behind their predicament, if anyone.

The simpler versions are You Wake Up in a Room. Often spawns an Escape from the Crazy Place. Some are examples of Beautiful Void. Some fans may want the various mysteries to be Left Hanging. See also Send in the Search Team, when the characters do know how they got there, and now they need to find out what happened. May have an Amnesiac Hero.

ABC’s Lost, and later ABC’s Once Upon A Time, are examples of not waking up in a hospital, but Lost does start with a man waking up in a daze in possibly the greatest single-shot TV open of all time.

Man, TV tropes is hell for Simpsons Did It syndrome... They have a page for that too, don't they.

But somehow they don't have anything specific for "guy wakes up and everyone tries to convince him he was crazy"

Should be called The Truman Asylum.

I have no answer for you but I feel like plugging that Unsong has such a scene.

Great book, edited wrong. It evens out.

I bounced after the first few chapters, should I go back and finish it this winter? Seems like mandatory reading.

UNSONG becomes absolutely magnificent somewhere around either Interlude ז: Man On The Sphere (which follows chapter 16, also "oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo") or more likely Interlude י: The Broadcast (which follows chapter 25), of which said chapter's trigger warning had to be an intentional ploy to further terrify the reader, because I refuse to believe that any man could be that obliviously nice.

Have you ever seen Shutter Island?

Could you help me out by referencing a particular Star Trek episode that used the plot?

Hang on, let me find a "top 10 times the voyager crew were kidnapped and given amnesia by aliens on the holodeck" listicle lol. IIRC TNG did it a few times too, but VGR was the main offender I remember. "Workforce" and "The Killing Game" are the two that come to mind first.

Edit: Future Imperfect and Frame of Mind from TNG. Possibly the first TV sci-fi instances of "we're still in the goddamn burp simulation Morty! I can tell from some of the pixels and from having been trapped in burp quite a few simulations in my day!"

I love Jerry in the simulation episode. He's just living his best live there. I wish he could have stayed.

I'm not good at remembering titles, but there was a TNG one where it happens to Riker, he was practicing for some play (it might be actually existing one, but it's title also escapes me) set in some dystopia, where he's a prisoner, who is having his sanity ground down. Then the "wake up in the hospital" thing happens to him, and he has trouble telling which part is real and which is a dream.

Then there were a few DS9 ones, which may have been a sign of things to come for us. Sisko wakes up in Racist America. But it was all just a dream... or was it? Maybe DS9 is the dream? At least two episodes like that, I think one of them was in a hospital.

Frame of Mind is the TNG episode, and Far Beyond The Stars is the DS9 episode you recall. In that one, Sisko is getting a vision from the Prophets, though to what end I can't recall.

Nah, arjin_ferman's right; there are two DS9 ones. FBTS is the first; the second is Shadows and Symbols and indeed is a followup to FBTS in a mental hospital.

Far Beyond The Stars is a message from the Prophets amounting to "cheer up". Shadows and Symbols is the Pah-Wraiths attempting to mind-control Sisko and stop him opening the Orb that's got the Rapist Prophet* in it.

*By which I mean "the Prophet that possessed Sarah and forced her to seduce Joseph Sisko in order to conceive Benjamin Sisko". DS9 seemingly doesn't notice that she's a rapist, since she's pretty much portrayed as a pure good character, but, well, DS9 glosses over a lot of horrifying things the Prophets do.

Frame of Mind is the exact non-voyager one I'd been thinking of, thank you!

IMO Far Beyond The Stars is the pinnacle of all Star Trek.

That's hard for me to understand. To me, it's Star Trek: Picard level of "I'm gonna take the thing you like, and hamfist my politics up it's arse". It wouldn't be hard to argue that's literally Anti-Trek.

Didn't really care about the politics one way or the other. Sharp writing and a culmination of everything that Sisko was puts it far above any other episode to me. I suppose it wouldn't be as interesting to people who aren't as fascinated by Sisko's visionary nature.

Well, I might be missing something big, but my entire point is that it's not a culmination of everything Sisko was, but a sudden pulling out of the story, and making it something it wasn't.

As for the writing, this is where it's a bit hard to ignore the politics, because I can see how someone can see it as good, but only the same way God Is Not Dead was good.

The progressive convictions combined with the overwhelming longing for expression were quintessential Sisko. Sometimes people take the scaffold they were given and turn it into something remarkable, and in this case the politics were just a springboard for Sisko's vision.

More comments

There was a discussion on pets replacing children sometime recently, and someone posted a relevant Plutarch (I think?) quote which I was trying to recall...I can't seem to find the thread, but if anyone remembers it or just the quote I'd appreciate it.

Here is the Plutarch quote you are looking for.

How do you insert hyperlinks into words on here?

Just do it the same way you would on Reddit. [Text goes here](Link goes here).

Thanks.

(I don't have a Reddit account. Joined after the move.)

Much obliged. It was more recent than I remembered.

What is the health benefit of a sauna? When I go to the gym, I always finish with swimming a few laps, then jacuzzi, then sauna. It's part of my ritual. But is there any actual health benefit to sitting around sweating for five minutes at the end of a work out?

Heat shock proteins bro

This episode had a lot of details on sauna and recovery: https://www.strongerbyscience.com/podcast-episode-93/

It's probably good for your skin if you're prone to clogged pores.

Sure. You'll be more relaxed and less stressed, at least if you go to a proper sauna and not one of those abominations that don't allow throwing water on the rocks. Also better make it longer than 5 minutes since having to hurry negates the whole point of it being relaxing.

What is "price gouging"?

I hear it a lot lately, specifically as something that grocery stores are doing with food prices.

My instinct is that if retailers raises prices, even if only because they think customers will pay more, and then customers do pay more, then that is the new market price. As such, there can't really be "gouging" by definition, no matter what price retailers set.

As others said, in general price gouging is using supply shock or other emergency to increase prices dramatically. Especially if the supply shock is manufactured. One example in history is that of ultrarich Roman patrician Lucius Licinius Crassus, who got monopoly with his slave fire brigade and if building was on fire he offered the owner to buy it for low price and only if the owner sold did the firefighters extinguish the fire. This was the main source of his immense wealth. Of course Rome being what it was, Crassus's monopoly was enforced with underhanded tactics. Another example from modern times would be taking unconscious person to expensive hospital.

In my old extremely "free market" phase I was against any price gouging legislature with classic "better to have something for high price than nothing in crisis" , however now I think that threat of price controls may prevent creating artificial supply shock or monopolization of the market if one thinks of it as repeated game. Also monopolization of the market actually may result in monopolists selling less goods and keeping some in his storage, in order to maximize profit thus creating deadweight loss. Setting price controls for such a situation can actually result in monopolist still being profitable simultaneously with larger supply and consumer surplus. Incentivizing monopolization is even more destructive if you have more monopolies especially in essential intermediary goods such as electricity or basic infrastructure, which can lead to serious economic problem of Double Marginalization.

I don't understand how 'price gouging' could apply to grocery store food prices in the context of inflation, at all. If all prices are increasing, so food prices increase, how is that "price gouging"? And - if it's increasing much faster than inflation, how does inflation give them an opportunity to do so when they couldn't before

You use the motivation of inflation to raise prices across the board regardless of whether the price of an individual product increased or not.

Customers are largely locked in so they pay what they must as the oligopolistic market moves in uncoordinated unison.

I think, the real debate is about how much of a cap is justified.

From a narrow, short-term efficiency perspective, raising price above the marginal cost of production is suboptimal (and therefore "bad") only if you want to maximize total welfare (which most people probably don't). Market price is merely an aggregation (like average) of prices at which transactions actually occur. But some people implicitly imbue it with a sacred meaning of being unconditionally "efficient" and "welfare maximizing" - just by virtue of resulting from any market interactions whatsoever. From a narrow view, that's incorrect, as markets often fail to arrive at a short-term efficient price, if they try at all.

In the narrow view it's also irrelevant that consumers reveal their preference by choosing monopoly suppliers. True, in this exact moment monopoly supplier is their optimal choice. But when a robber offers you to choose between your life and money, you would also optimally choose your life. Robber imposes on you the choice (market structure), by force (market power), which pushes you toward inefficient allocation.

From a broader, more reasonable but complicated macro perspective, there must be a profit margin big enough for investment, risk premium and so on. If all producers would maximize welfare in the short term, they wouldn't grow and therefore underperform in the long run.

rom a narrow, short-term efficiency perspective, raising price above the marginal cost of production is suboptimal (and therefore "bad") only if you want to maximize total welfare (which most people probably don't).

this isn't right, because 'cost of production' in the theoretical sense includes all costs of the "good" of "the thing you buy at the store, including store service". The cost of transportation, logistics to actually have the stuff there, paying people to be at the store, etc has significantly increased in cases where people criticize price gouging (disasters, for instance), so the price needs to increase for the market to provide all the goods people demand at some price. So - if suddenly everyone wants to buy 100lb of rice, the store probably doesn't have enough rice to give all of them because they predict demand and stock enough to satisfy it, so immediately the price can go up so those who want it most get it, and then the price can stay up a bit to provide an incentive for the store to quickly satisfy the need (say, delivering a thousand bags of rice now instead of during the scheduled delivery a month from now). Or if there's just been a tornado, providing rice or other supplies is just harder than usual, and higher prices mean that within normal market mechanisms it is provided, and people have incentives to provide it in ways that require more resources.

Somewhat contrived example.

Could you elaborate on what exactly isn't right in that sentence? I don't see how your example contradicts what I said. When the marginal cost or demand increases, producer would adjust its price up, naturally. But when producer compensated all his expenses and still raises price -- it benefits producer at a cost of consumers (this raise is not a Pareto improvement).

My criticism is that in basically all IRL cases called 'price gouging', what economics tries to capture in marginal cost or demand has increased in some way, and people are just claiming it isn't.

What is "price gouging"?

You could try looking at the definitions that legislatures have chosen to implement. For example, here's New Jersey (Statutes title 56 §§ 8-107, 108, and 109):

The Legislature finds and declares that during emergencies and major disasters, including, but not limited to, earthquakes, fires, floods or civil disturbances, some merchants have taken unfair advantage of consumers by greatly increasing prices for certain merchandise. While the pricing of merchandise is generally best left to the marketplace under ordinary conditions, when a declared state of emergency results in abnormal disruptions of the market, the public interest requires that excessive and unjustified price increases in the sale of certain merchandise be prohibited. It is the intention of the Legislature to prohibit excessive and unjustified price increases in the sale of certain merchandise during declared states of emergency in New Jersey.

"Excessive price increase" means a price that is excessive as compared to the price at which the consumer good or service was sold or offered for sale by the seller in the usual course of business immediately prior to the state of emergency. A price shall be deemed excessive if:

(1) The price exceeds by more than 10 percent the price at which the good or service was sold or offered for sale by the seller in the usual course of business immediately prior to the state of emergency, unless the price charged by the seller is attributable to additional costs imposed by the seller's supplier or other costs of providing the good or service during the state of emergency;

(2) In those situations where the increase in price is attributable to additional costs imposed by the seller's supplier or additional costs of providing the good or service during the state of emergency, the price represents an increase of more than 10 percent in the amount of markup from cost, compared to the markup customarily applied by the seller in the usual course of business immediately prior to the state of emergency.

"State of emergency" means a natural or man-made disaster or emergency for which a state of emergency has been declared by the President of the United States or the Governor, or for which a state of emergency has been declared by a municipal emergency management coordinator.

It shall be an unlawful practice for any person to sell or offer to sell within 30 days after the declaration of a state of emergency, or for such other period of time as the Governor may specify in the declaration of a state of emergency, in the area for which the state of emergency has been declared, any merchandise which is consumed or used as a direct result of an emergency or which is consumed or used to preserve, protect, or sustain the life, health, safety or comfort of persons or their property for a price that constitutes an excessive price increase. The Governor may by executive order extend the period during which this prohibition remains in force.

Interesting. So the obvious workaround would be for existing retailers to close during declared emergencies and reopen as (or sell their stock to) a new company "Emergency-Mart!" that has never previously sold that merchandise, who can then freely sell it at the higher price customers are willing to pay.

Does that happen in New Jersey?

They usually go after independent sellers running an unorganized "emergency store" the hardest.

It shall be an unlawful practice for any person to sell or offer to sell within 30 days after the declaration of a state of emergency, or for such other period of time as the Governor may specify in the declaration of a state of emergency, in the area for which the state of emergency has been declared, any merchandise which is consumed or used as a direct result of an emergency or which is consumed or used to preserve, protect, or sustain the life, health, safety or comfort of persons or their property for a price that constitutes an excessive price increase.

The most basic rules of economics go completely out the window after an emergency, because it doesn't feel fair to people, even if it would result in more emergency supplies being available.

The problem with price-gouging in emergencies is that the combination of "people desperate", "local authorities off-balance", and "apparently-hostile behaviour" very frequently results in the consumer shooting the would-be price-gouger and taking the goods for free.

There are economic costs of price-fixing, certainly, but it has the social benefit of appearing honourable and staying within norms, thus discouraging ballistic discount. In terms of reasons to be coercive about it rather than let the market sort it out, part of it is the price-gougers not thinking that far ahead since emergencies are rare, and part of it is the externalities to society i.e. having people get mugged is bad for social cohesion and economic throughput above and beyond the detriment to the mugged person.

"Your prices are too high! They're charging half as much across the street!"

"So why don't you buy from across the street?"

"They're out of stock."

"Ah; then when I run out of stock, I promise to start charging a third as much!"

It's generally agreed that the guy out of stock, with an effective price of infinity, is a good guy, while the guy "price gouging" is a bad guy, and the only sense I can make of that is to interpret it under the Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics. How else could it make sense that, if I drive a truck full of generators into a hurricane zone to resell at a markup, they might just be confiscated when I'm arrested for being so awful, while if I sit on my butt refusing to sell generators to blackout victims at any price somehow I'm still a good guy? I fear human ethics only evolved to deal with around a Dunbar number's worth of tribe mates, a situation where basically everybody's family, everybody you give and receive with has an obligation to sacrifice for you if you fall under hard times and vice-versa, and rationing can be done by explicitly considering every single individual's need for a particular good ... which means our ethics don't work out so well in cases where there are orders of magnitude more people to potentially trade with, trying to enforce charity or insurance based on implicit cultural understandings without contracts or at least government programs can backfire horribly, and our only scaleable rationing mechanism is pricing.

Something can be immediately beneficial, but produce incentives that make people worse off.

The argument "what else would induce me to drive into a hurricane zone to seel the generators" implies that we should accept some level of price increase, but it may not be true that the level of price increase you actually get is equal to the level that you must accept in order to encourage the sales.

I think price gouging refers to suddenly raising prices in the wake of a supply shock, or to otherwise take advantage of customers who can’t go elsewhere, and it’s bad because it’s essentially a localized monopoly. For example, excessively pricing prison phone calls is price gouging, and it’s basically using county level corruption to establish a small-scale monopoly. Or suddenly raising the price on necessities in the wake of a natural disaster(eg bottled water after a hurricane).

Yeah, but this is only if you pretend that the larger market has ceased to exist.

In a world where price gouging is 'allowed' and suppliers know they can sell a particularly useful or important good for 2x the normal price after a natural disaster, then they'll be much more likely to start sending additional supplies of that good into the disaster zone, without any additional prompting. This will increase the supply of available goods so that there are fewer shortages and should equalize the price to some more agreeable level.

So allowing price increases in the short term ensures ample supply of important goods in the longer term, which is rather important in the wake of a disaster/supply shock.

And this makes imminent sense because moving goods into an emergency/disaster zone tends to carry additional risks and difficulty so higher prices would make sense in this instance. If you aren't allowed to increase the price, then why would you send your goods into the disaster area vs. sending them anywhere else where you can get the same price?

Perhaps the most ridiculous thing is when price gouging laws are 'augmented' with other restrictions, usually caps on how many of [item] can be purchased at one time, so basically, they make the natural method of limiting overuse of scarce goods illegal, and replace it with an unnatural and arbitrary method.

Perhaps the ultimate in unseen benefits would be legal price gouging would encourage someone to keep stockpiles of useful goods in or near possible disaster areas on the expectation that they can profit by selling at a premium if disaster actually strikes.

Otherwise, there's very little incentive to stockpile and thus you're all but ensuring that a shortage occurs.

"Bad" gouging is about raising prices beyond compensation for (1) risk and delivery costs, and (2) demand increase. Legality of price gouging increases incentive for profit seekers, yes. But if they are profit seekers, why not cooperate and arrange high cartel prices for this short period of time?

only if you pretend that the larger market has ceased to exist

Why pretend that market never fail? Especially during disruption and uncertainty of a disaster, when there might be not so many arbitragers rushing to close all price differentials.

natural method of limiting overuse of scarce goods

Could you provide a brief example of this method?

why not cooperate and arrange high cartel prices for this short period of time?

You could, but it's still a strong signal that will draw outsiders to the local market in order to capture the profits. And what coordination method do you use to ensure compliance amongst your cartel? All it takes is one defector to undercut the rest.

Why pretend that market never fail?

Don't have to. Just have to assume their failures are less frequent and less egregious than government failures, and are certainly corrected faster, since some government failures just never get solved.

You can convince me there's a specific market failure in certain conditions. You probably can't convince me that a governmental solution will actually work out better!

Could you provide a brief example of this method?

Have you noticed how Gas prices went up abruptly earlier this year?

A Steelman of Anti-Gouging-ism

Market-based allocation, in emergencies, denies the poorest access to $RESOURCE1 in any quantity, no matter how dire their need; meanwhile, the wealthiest have no requirement to consume less $RESOURCE1, as even 100x inflated prices are, to them, couch change.

Under direct allocation, however, the emergency has the same effect on everyone: they can get essential quantities of $RESOURCE1, but cannot consume as much as they might desire.

If it is possible, but expensive, to maintain reserve capacity of $RESOURCE1, such that, even in an emergency, supply will be sufficient to meet even non-essential demand, then the outcomes for a rich person are as follows:

  • Market-based allocation/build stockpile: plentiful $RESOURCE1 in emergency for self and others, higher expenses in other times.

  • Market-based allocation/no stockpile: plentiful $RESOURCE1 in emergency for self but none for others, lower expenses in other times.

  • Result: Rich person has no incentive to maintain reserve capacity.

  • Direct allocation/build stockpile: plentiful $RESOURCE1 in emergency for self and others, higher expenses in other times.

  • Direct allocation/no stockpile: limited $RESOURCE1 in emergency for self and others, lower expenses in other times.

  • Result: rich person has more incentive to maintain reserve capacity, as they can only continue their normal consumption habits in emergencies to the same degree as their impecunious neighbours.

Thus, prohibition of price-gouging falls under the umbrella of "ways to align the incentives of the powerful with the public good".

Even given the progressive 'love the poor give them everything', this is an argument for state intervention to buy the good at the market price and give it to poor people, not an argument to ban selling it at a higher-than-usual market price. If poor people can't buy it at $5000, a lot probably can't at $500 either, but some being able to at $5000 is better than nothing (and, if it's $5k, that - sort of, if you assume basic economics generalizes everywhere - means that there aren't means to bring the good to everyone who wants it, at least who can pay $500, so giving it to those who can pay $5k vs giving it to ... nobody, is the issue)

This is a good response, but my instinct is still that market forces should still be in effect. If prison phone prices are too high, few prisoners will make calls and the provider should be incentivized to lower prices to maximize total profits. Likewise with bottled water.

There's nothing wrong with that position, but other people's instinct says otherwise. That's really all there is to it: price gouging doesn't feel fair to people regardless of what economists may say on the topic.

There is something I don't understand about the theory that exposure to bright light early in the morning keeps our circadian rhythm on schedule. Supposedly, our natural circadian rhythm would have a period of slightly more than 24 hours if we were kept in a dark room, but exposure to light in the morning keeps it on a 24 hour schedule. The problem with this theory is that, in a world where the sun were rising a little later, we would still be exposed to lots of sunlight early in the morning. It would just be delayed slightly. So how does waking up in the morning and exposing oneself to bright light tell the body what the sun's schedule is? Wouldn't our bodies have to know exactly when the sun was rising and then make the appropriate adjustments based on the time of year and weather? Isn't the only way to do this to be outside all morning for an entire year? How does the unreliable signal of early morning sun exposure contain enough information to make slight adjustments to our circadian rhythm?

I think it's pretty plausible that the body sees bright sunlight and says "Aha, the sun is up! Nice! Next time we go to bed, we should definitely wake up about 22 hours from now." And that would keep it well-aligned to be awake just before sunrise.

It doesn't have to know when the sun will rise, just when the sun did rise yesterday, and then it's close enough.

So, it needs to know almost exactly when the sun rose. That doesn't work with variable weather. If your brain is basing it on brightness, it's going to take a lot longer to reach a given brightness on an overcast day than on a clear day.

You also need to be outside where you can see that change in brightness. Following the common advice of getting some light exposure within the first few hours of waking is not going to be able to fine tune a circadian rhythm that is off by half an hour.

It's entirely plausible that your brain kinda groks light angle. And it's entirely possible that your brain kinda groks the overall change in brightness in a day, so if it gets bright suddenly, it thinks "ah, this is the real brightness, the previous one was overcast or whatever".

Also, again, remember that the change is slow. Even if it gets only one good anchor every week or so, maybe that's enough to keep it aligned with the sunrise, everything else just keeps it vaguely on-track.

The human brain is complicated enough that I'm willing to give it a lot of slack in terms of what it may be capable of.

Could use some advice about fiber and networking

I'm taking an opportunity to finally wire my house with Ethernet while there's some opportune holes punched in the drywall (can even reuse most of the floor plate holes from the old phone line, and apparently a coax I have no memory of installing).

It's mostly simple, with just a patch plate on the wall in my networking corner, but I'm considering fiber for a 600' run to an outbuilding. Upcoming changes to that circuit will make the powerline I've been very satisfied with no longer work, and I can't make the ritual sacrifices needed for PtP wifi to function (my neighbor is already suspicious about his chickens, and the local orphanage built a fence. Also there are trees).

What's the best option here? Outdoor-rated 2 or 4 strand single-mode fiber shoved in the electrical conduit? Media converter with a basic bitch $7 gigabit SFP at one end, and something like a Mikrotik hAP ac as the router on the far end?

Fiber cable prices seem all over the place. Are there any good options for a discount? Was thinking about asking my ISP to sell & terminate me some of their offcuts, since they buy the stuff in huge reels.

Does the coaxial cable run to the outhouse? You can get a copper ethernet to 75 ohm coaxial adapter on either end. This one claims a 2.4 km range and 1gbps throughput but is not cheap. Another option would be ethernet over copper cable (VDSL) or even a two port switch halfway acting as a range extender, so you get two ~90m cables, which is within the cat5/6 spec. Perle makes the latter two, though I can't say how true their claims are.

How would you pull the fiber through the electrical conduit? If I understand correctly it runs the full 600 feet. I struggled a bit pushing cables under 2 or 3 m of floor. Is there some special technique to minimize friction?

What grammatical device to I use to differentiate literal quotations and text written as quotations for stylistic/artistic reasons?

Sometimes an idea is best conveyed as if it were a snippet of a conversation.

I'm personally not a fan of stylistic quotations, outside of pieces that are wholly and explicitly fictional. There's a lot of opportunity to mislead, even without intent to do so.

But if you absolutely must:

  • Use clearly fake names. In cryptography situations, Alice and Bob and Charlie and Dick have been used historically, but your context may have other preferred solutions. Writers sometimes go with Tom, especially when making puns.

  • The same piece must use a genuine quote, from a genuine person, which is relevant, and which uses the conventions for your dialect (eg, "This is an American real quote," said gattsuru, while 'This is a British real quote,' said gattsuru later.)

  • If in a piece for general-purpose consumption, or which you reasonably expect to be referenced in the longer-term, explicitly state that the conversation is hypothetical or a satire.

  • In AP/American environments, use single quotes (eg: 'This is a fake statement,' said Alice).

  • In UK/Britpack environments, use a non-standard character (eg: /This is a fake statement,/ said Bob.).

Unfortunately, there are few non-standard characters on the standard keyboard which do not have overloaded meanings, especially in Markdown contexts.

I’ve seen curly single quotes (the right one is also the «good» apostrophe) used for nested quotes (I'd have preferred „…“, but alas) and also for ‘paraphrases’ or sarcasm. So that may be a legible mark for quote-like pieces of text with extra features.

In general, I recommend looking into stylistic guides and picking an approach to use consistently. Best of all to go with something ubiquitous, i.e. suggestions common for Chicago and AP style, because people are already primed for it by experience of reading posh outlets with professional editors, so they have both the skill for parsing it on the fly and the subconscious association of such style with a respectable source.

Or you could go the opposite way, using less common quotation marks like «» or something for paraphrases.

In some dialects, "$NAME1 was like, '$TEXT2'" is used this way, while "$NAME1 said, '$TEXT2'" is used for direct quotes.

Can you provide an example of a paragraph when you would want to use “stylistic quotation” ?

Well, then Jezebel says you are “a lonely dickwad who believes in a perverse social/sexual contract that promises access to women’s bodies”. XOJane says you are “an adult baby” who will “go into a school or a gym or another space heavily populated by women and open fire”. Feminspire just says you are “an arrogant, egotistical, selfish douche bag”.

And the manosphere says: “Excellent question, we’ve actually been wondering that ourselves, why don’t you come over here and sit down with us and hear some of our convincing-sounding answers, which, incidentally, will also help solve your personal problems?”

The above text is from 'Radicalizing the Romanceless'. Some of the quoted text in the first paragraph are real quotes. The quoted text in the second paragraph is obviously not real.

The context generally solves the problem -- here, the manosphere is not a single entity, so it can't possibly be an actual quote -- but why not explicitly indicate that it is a paraphrase, such as by saying, "the manosphere says, in essence, 'Excellent question . . .'"? Or, a trailing indicator, kind of the opposite of [sic], such as [paraphrased]?

Second paragraph would work just as well without quotations — you can simply leave them out.

I would probably try italics for the made up quotes.

I guess then if you obviously make it not real, why not just use the same quotes?

Because I think that leaving it up to the reader leaves too much room for misinterpretation. But I think just a differently styled (perhaps italicized) quotation mark should be enough to indicated that they are being used for different things.

Also think of it this way, Scott is not taking care to differentiate real and fake quotes, is the above text not confusing? I want to know what are things people said explicitly vs implicitly.

Less ambiguity, especially when writing about contentious topics wouldn't be a bad thing.

Also think of it this way, Scott is not taking care to differentiate real and fake quotes, is the above text not confusing?

No, not at all. I am inclined to agree with other posters that it seems like you may be trying to solve a non-issue here.

Calling it a "non-issue" is a bit strong. Like OP, I am slightly annoyed by the ambiguity of quotation marks in English. In my own casual HTML scribbling, I have bothered to differentiate between <q>quote</q>, <span class="scare">scare quote</span>, and <span class="literal">literal</span> for quite a while. Similarly, the Text Encoding Initiative's XML specification has <said> (in-work dialog), <quote> (quoted from other person), <cit> (quoted from other work, with citation), <mentioned> (literal), and <soCalled> (scare quotes) in addition to the generic <q>.

The fake quotations could be italicized.

In HTML, you could differentiate between <q>inline quotation</q> and <span class="fake-q">fake inline quotation</span>, and between <blockquote><p>block</p><p>quotation</p></blockquote> and <div class="fake-bq"><p>fake</p><p>block</p><p>quotation</p></div>. Accompanying CSS could include .fake-q,.fake-bq{font-style:italic;}:is(.fake-q,.fake-bq) :is(em,cite){font-weight:bold;}, .fake-q::before{content:open-quote;}.fake-q::after{content:open-quote;}, .fake-bq{margin-block:1em;margin-inline:2.5em;}, etc.

Anyone have the archived post about parentheses that the reddit admins removed and that was apparently the wake-up call for making this website? I looked for it but couldn't find it

Here

Nazis do (((this)))

But « thiis » is just a different type of quotation mark used in French, German, Russian and so on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillemet

EDIT: also, the move was coming long before that one post was removed. As far as I can tell, it is more of an illustrative example than a reason.

Yeah, I've been using it because it's just an unambiguously ridiculous removal, but we've had plenty of removals before that with various levels of ridiculousness.

Bari Weiss had a podcast with Dr Casey Means about Means new "Levels" diet.

https://www.honestlypod.com/podcast/episode/d0186220/eating-ourselves-to-death

(Bari Weiss does not really interview, in the sense of pushing back on her subject and making them take tough positions. I guess that is podcasting world.)

The tl:dr is to not eat anything processed at all. There is some kind of biofeedback which shows you getting better by not eating processed food. The episode's arguments about why there is no support for this range from extremely reasonable to conspiracy theory stuff.

Is there any follow-up research on how well her diet works?

(I do not want "her ideal diet is wrong, follow my ideal diet instead." I just get this sinking feeling whenever I ask questions about a specific diet that people see it as a chance to talk about their own, and that the proponents of the diet in question will say that any problems with it are from not following it closely enough.)

Unprocessed foods produce a lower glycemic spike, generally but not always have greater nutritional content, and contain fibers that promote a healthy microbiome which may in turn lead to greater satiety.

Wouldn't a glycemic spike have to do with the carbohydrate/sugar load? If you look at a glycemic index chart you see plenty of unprocessed foods at the very top which will spike your blood sugar - such as white rice.

Absolutely, but I think that’s what processed codes for in America.

I think any type of diet like this ends up being effective just like any other diet - calorie restriction. Processed foods are frequently high calorie. Replacing them with other similar foods will frequently be less calorie dense, therefore healthier.

Another factor is costs. Speciality foods cost more, so people will buy less to follow a particular diet, causing them to eat less and lose weight. Gluten fanatics eat less carbs which tend to be calorie dense. Etc.

Basically if any diet replaces high calorie low nutrition foods with low calorie high nutrition foods its probably going to be effective. If someone wants to do that with eating no processed foods and it works I think they should be empowered to follow the diet, even if they misunderstand how the diet is benifitting them.

I think any type of diet like this ends up being effective just like any other diet - calorie restriction.

This is my main issue when people start talking about healthy diets. I've never had a problem with eating the correct amount of calories, so my main interest in comparing the health of diets is wrt increasing longevity through non-weight related factors. Obviously weight has a huge impact on health but if that's not something one struggles with then a lot of talk about what diets are healthy becomes useless because often the main thing people use to compare the health of a diet is wrt how effective it is at helping people lose weight. So some diets termed unhealthy may become healthy when removing the weight factor, and vice versa. I'm not sure how often this happens or what other factors i should be looking at in order to evaluate what is the healthiest diet with weight factor removed though. Probably at the minimum diets with less burnt stuff and maybe less glycemic spikes? I don't know. Are processed foods statistically unhealthy because of calories or other reasons? How big of a difference do non weight related factors even make? Is worrying about them worth the cost of worrying about them or is it pretty resonable to eat what you want so long as weight is managed?

Like /u/EfficientSyllabus below, I am not at all surprised if the diet "works" for people who try it, for whatever reason, because they are at least thinking about their food for more than a few seconds.

I would still like to know what kind of follow-ups this stuff gets, though.

The quality of a diet, in terms of only weight loss, is a tripod of calorie deficit, satiation, and motivation. The calories are what actually make it work, the satiation and motivation aspects help people follow it.

The "twinkie diet" is a low-satiation low-motivation diet. It totally works, thermodynamically speaking — just eat TDEE - 500 calories worth of twinkies and you'll reliably lose one pound per week — but no human being is going to stick with it.

The keto diet is a high-satiation high-motivation diet. "Meat-based" diets like this have enjoyed wide popularity because people love eating chicken and steak, they're filling, and as a result most dieters stict to it.

This Levels diet seems like a high-satiation low-motivation diet. It will work very well for a few weeks, since unprocessed foods are filling and stop you from pigging out, but eventually people will (a) rebel against preparing and flavoring all their food from scratch (b) actually want to eat some dopamine-triggering processed foods, at least in moderation.

at least in moderation.

That is my instinct on exactly where it might go off the rails. If you have to be 100%, then it does not matter, you will never achieve that. Like never ever drinking unfiltered water, sooner or later you are at a restaurant or friend's house for some reason.

sooner or later you are at a restaurant or friend's house for some reason.

That's what sticking with it looks like. Never being at a restaurant or a friend's house. Or roll like peak A-Rod and just bring your own food to the restaurant.

At some point you have to ask if life is worth it if you have to avoid hanging out with friends or ever eating anything made by someone else.

If your entire career is being a performance athlete like A-Rod, yes. Otherwise I am quite skeptical.

My working theory on diets is that the default unconscious diet is so shit that the sheer fact that you do any diet will bring improvements because you pay attention to what you eat and you probably won't mindlessly eat the junkiest junk. The rest is window dressing to make it stick, by making it personal, important, moral, emotional, identity-forming, you-are-a-good-person-for-doing-this stuff.

This doesn't mean there are no biological differences between diets, but when a normal person picks up any diet, it will probably be an improvement. Just like there can be differences among the effectiveness of different exercises, aerobic, anaerobic, different workout programmes with flame wars between their fans, but all of them are an improvement over the default sedentary lifestyle.

Here's a competing theory:

Various branches of humanity evolved to survive quite effectively off whatever the local diet was. The Mediterranean diet is great for the Mediterranean genome, the medieval-times British diet works great for the medieval-times British genome, and so forth.

This suggests that most of us probably have a diet that works well for us - we just might not know what it is.

When "a new diet" becomes popular, a bunch of people try it, and a bunch of people discover that they've finally found the diet That Works For Them. This isn't a perception deal, this isn't a matter of paying attention, the diet really does work for them, so they talk about how it's been a miracle and try to spread it.

But it doesn't work for everyone, because no diet works for everyone.

I've seriously thought about trying to put together a Diet Book that just collects every cuisine that seems to work nutritionally for a significant set of people, then puts them all in one place, with the note "go through this book, stick to each diet for a month or two or three; if you find one that works, keep doing it".

I have considered this before, but there are two problems I ran into. What is the relevant period? Should one base his diet on what his ancestors ate 500 years ago, 5,000 years ago, or 50,000 years ago? We now know that a lot of natural selection due to changes in diet occurred during the neolithic, so maybe that is the relevant period, but my understanding is that most people had terrible diets and terrible health as a consequence. Didn't Europeans mostly just eat bread and milk and weren't they consistently malnourished? We must have some adaptations to this diet, but it is probably still not an optimal diet for us. We clearly never adapted perfectly to this diet, so maybe we should go back further and eat mostly fish, like they did in the paleolithic, or maybe we should supplement the neolithic diet with the fruit, vegetables, and meat that I understand only the rich ate large quantities of.