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Small-Scale Question Sunday for September 25, 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.

Posted because I didn't see Zorba post one today. Feel free to delete if that's an issue.

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Whoops, this is the old Sunday thread. Reposted in the new one.

Is there anyone who could provide, arrange, or just recommend hosting for Bean's Navalgazing blog? It's currently provided by "nearlyfreespeech", which is pretty awful.

For anyone who doesn't remember, it started in the latter days of the old SSC open threads before launching as a separate site (older posts still have a separate SSC comments section). There's been a consistent bug where loading the front page takes up to a minute, but recently the captcha system has started breaking as well, and the whole site is currently down.

Independent blogging is hard enough these days, and it's doubly hard to drive traffic to a buggy site.

Do charging systems have a limit in how much they can charge certain devices?

I have a weak charger and I left it charging a phone over night and it is still only at 66%. I vaguely remember seeing some solar panels that claimed the same thing -- they could only charge a device to X percent full.

I figured it would just take a long time but eventually get full, but is there some equivalent to "water pressure" where it takes more work to get that last 10% in?

A phone drawing max power uses more than a low power charger can provide, so perhaps your phone was drawing almost exactly as much as the charger. Another possibility is that if the battery in the phone is old, it might never get to full charge. But in general I'd expect to get to 100% eventually on most phones even with a minimum power charger. The technical details of battery charging are really complicated and vary by battery chemistry, but unless you're building a project with bare li-ion cells, the rechargeable batteries in things like your phone are paired with a charge controller whose job it is to do the right thing given a steady 5 volts from the USB port.

I figured it would just take a long time but eventually get full, but is there some equivalent to "water pressure" where it takes more work to get that last 10% in?

This is basically correct. Same reason that quick charge batteries in phones can charge the 1st 60% in like 15 minutes but the remaining 40% take hours. To charge the battery, you need a voltage difference between the charge source and the battery, and that difference gets smaller the more the battery gets charged.

Is there any update about the Canadian teacher with the giant prosthetics breasts? I’ve seen a bunch of 4chan screenshots claiming that the teacher is actually a right-winger and was intentionally trying to cause a media storm, but those are just unsourced rumors. Wondering if there has been any updates

"The stories and information posted here are artistic works of fiction and falsehood.

Only a fool would take anything posted here as fact."

Have not seen any definitive new info; this short article is about as clear a checkpoint as I've seen for the current(ish) info with relevant links and decent commentary. I expect it to fizzle from here unless there's some sort of shocking admission by the teacher.

What's the use of the follow function?

It comes from the rdrama codebase, which is more reddit-like in that people often make posts. It gives you a notification (like replies) whenever someone you follow posts. Here, at least in the current format, people rarely make explicit posts, so it doesn't do much. We could move to 'toplevel comments' just being posts (why not? frontpage can be new sort by default), i guess, or make follow use toplevel replies to culture war post

How do I copy link formatting in a post?

I'm not quite sure what you mean—but, if you're trying to copy a link from somebody else's comment and put it into your own comment, then you can (1) right-click and copy the link address, or (2) click the "View source" button and copy the Markdown whole-cloth.

Is there a way to do this from reddit to themotte? I have it copied with working links to a word file, but when I copy it to themotte it loses the links, and it's a link heavy post

edit: nvm, I think reddit enhancement suite fixed this

How long before car prices return to normal?

I’ll go against the grain and say sooner rather than later. The dynamics of the car market are actually quite similar to GFC housing market. Shit loans leading to cascading forced selling is something that could certainly happen

New cars: one more year, maybe. Production is already ramping up

Used cars: two more years of hell-market, at least. The worst is yet to come.

Why do you think it would take so much longer for the used car market to normalize?

Used car supply is always 3 years behind the new car supply. Since there are very few new cars being created in 2020-2022, the used car supply will not begin to recover until 2022 cars start being sold back.

As it is now, even the yellowest of lemons (PT Cruisers) are being sold at exorbitant prices because of lack of supply, so outlook is most certainly bleak for the near future.

Perhaps this is the new normal

How do I build a business around writing code for other people and also build up intellectual property for the company? Tips?

From the (US-focused) IP side:

  • You have an automatic copyright in any code you write, but practically you’ll need to register it with the Copyright Office to effectively enforce it against potential copiers;

  • When you develop code for a client, you retain the copyright unless the contract expressly assigns the copyright to the client in a “work made for hire clause” in the contract. Some companies want to own the copyright, but most are fine with a license. Likewise, you’ll want a license to retain the ability to use your code for other projects if you assign the copyright to the client.

  • If you come up with a truly unique way of solving a problem, you can attempt to apply for a utility patent, but expect to pay at least $20,000 to get it.

  • If you have a coding technique or know-how that you don’t want other people copying, you can take reasonable measures to stop other people from finding out about it, such as NDAs, for it to qualify as a trade secret under federal law.

  • Finally, you can apply for a federal trademark registration to protect your businesses name, logo, or marketing slogans.

Most software consultants that I (vaguely) am aware of don't do this, and seem to do fine despite that, building up IP isn't necessary or the usual way to be successful there.

I think the paradigm you're looking for is "productized services." Here is a blog post about this concept (ignore all the calls to action, this guy sells SEO stuff but the blog posts are generally decent).

Thanks for the link

I've read several times here that the climate forecast often described by news articles as "business as usual" (RCP8.5) is based on outdated assumptions and that actual emissions are already well below that forecast.

The explanations seem reasonable, but when I've tried to look for data to confirm / quantify it I havent had any luck.

Does anyone have a good source with numbers for forecast emissions from RCP8.5 (and possibly other forecast models) directly compared against actual emissions since the forecast was made?

I've been DIYing this for some years; I don't have the links handy but the CMIP5 model results and the HADCRUT global temperatures are publically available.

There is indeed significant divergence; https://imgur.com/a/krYXyKu.

IIRC RCP4.5 was a better match -- but if you look at the modelling assumptions actual emissions have been more in line with the RCP8.5 assumptions. Which makes me think that we don't actually have a great idea of what we are modelling.

This doesn't prevent climate activists from using the RCP8.5 assumptions as a bailey ("we are on track for +4 degrees C by 2100") while still retreating to the motte ("nonono, you can't just pick the worst-case scenario just because gross carbon emissions keep going up") when presented with graphs like the above.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3 comes from a quick google (duckduckgo actually but its the first google result too) (no idea anything about the topic myself) -

RCP8.5 was intended to explore an unlikely high-risk future2. But it has been widely used by some experts, policymakers and the media as something else entirely: as a likely ‘business as usual’ outcome. A sizeable portion of the literature on climate impacts refers to RCP8.5 as business as usual, implying that it is probable in the absence of stringent climate mitigation. The media then often amplifies this message, sometimes without communicating the nuances. This results in further confusion regarding probable emissions outcomes, because many climate researchers are not familiar with the details of these scenarios in the energy-modelling literature.

Sorry for snapping at you but that was one of the examples I was thinking about when I wrote the post. It makes a lot of assertions but is very short on actual numbers. There's a chart but it's on a 100 year scale and far too zoomed out to read off the emissions numbers for any given year. And maybe I'm just not reading the references properly but I looked up a few of them and couldn't find anything in there that directly says how many gigatonnes of CO2 were emitted vs how many were forecast by RCP8.5.

How much influence should public sector employees on policies of their employer? Kim Davis wasn't permitted to, but what of state media journalists.

Do latter have the right to determine the editorial line and ideological slant of articles they are paid to write by taxpayers?

It's a tricky question.

Overall, I'd say state media probably benefits from a diversity of perspectives, so I'd generally be in favour of journalists' right to expression but against a supposed editors' right to co-ordinate an ideological slant opposing the government. Generally I'd prefer relatively-little ideological thinkpieces from a government media outlet in general, although "relatively-little" isn't quite "zero".

This is a problem that I don't think has a good solution. For example, consider the principle of academic freedom. On the one hand, there are major benefits to academics having the ability to conduct research without being constrained by the government. On the other hand, this can also go horribly wrong, as in the current situation where we have entire fields that have flushed rigor down the toilet and are just churning out straight-up propaganda. It's not clear to me that there's a way to have the benefits of academic freedom without the pitfalls.

I sometimes see people ask here for some old blogpost or comments they have read and cannot find - and someone usually answers. There is obviously a certain advantage of asking a group of people - only one needs to remember and it seems that the group remembers. But I feel like some organization and order would help me personally to find stuff I already "know". Does anyone here have some good system/workflow for saving great content from here or some blogs?

I would like to use it as some form of "extended memory". Essentially I want something where I have link to the original, its title and a few words through which I can find it (for example ctrl+f) - could be a short description and/or some tags. And some excerpt (or ideally archive of the content). It should hopefully also last for a long time (and thus be sufficiently scalable)

Previously I have used browser bookmarks, Obsidian (basically a few markdown files) and just pasting the links in private discord channel. Bookmarks are not quite scalable and not that well searchable. Obsidian is probably closest to what I am looking for but only searching tens of files is timeconsuming.

Right now I am thinking of using some kind of txt file. Longevity guaranteed, ctrl+f for searchability. With some simple version of csv so it can be navigated by scripts. Do you have some cool strategy for keeping you reading list? Or do you just rely on your memory?

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Most of which I had not thought of. But I found out I am too busy IRL to try the cool sounding suggestions like custom sqlite database or perosnal wiki. I will try Mendeley/Zotero/Pocket to see if like it. Also good point on browser history being quite useful. But I do not have it synchronised acroos mutliple devices. I should at least try to back it up.

Have you considered searching your browser history?

Another option would be just a full text searchable (instant search, like the google searchbox or https://hn.algolia.com) archive of every article you've ever read. Technologically very doable, and there are implementations on github but idk how well done or useful they are

It's definitely not worth the time to manually maintain a list, you don't really know beforehand when yo'll need an article in the future, and it'd take a solid minute or two to copy that all in, which would really add up if you read tens of thousands of articles. (and if you only save the "most important ones", you probably aren't gonna save the one you need in a few months)

If I read something and really like it, I save it to Pocket. Works well for finding it back.

At some point is it worth simply running your own sqlite database? You could make a lightweight front-end if you wanted and customize it to your exact specs.

I feel like reference managers, such as Mendeley or Zotero, work well for this type of purpose. They are built to be a small database and thus search fast for reasonable sizes you are not likely to surpass. They have good browser integrations that make it about as easy as bookmarking to save things. They have tags / non-tree "file" structure interface. They can search within most text / pdf documents, and they have fields for annotations, comments etc. A neat feature is that you can add "related items" to any item, making it easy to store explicit connections for later. They also have cloud-based backup / storage, and If I recall correctly at lest with Zotero you can set up your own server if you want.

The only thing they wouldn't fulfill from your desiderata are being CSV-like, I guess, though I think they have some way of exporting everything into text format. (And I don't think this would be needed in any case, built in search and features are pretty good.)

You could use a memoranda email box for this. Free cloud mailbox providers like Google or Microsoft will let you create a free mailbox with at least a couple of gigabytes of storage, to which address you can send or share things to remember. You can create automatic sorting rules or filter views to process based on keywords or search terms, file attachments are supported (and often indexed), and they are designed to be quickly and easily searched, and you can easily forward things to others as needed.

I use bookmarks sequestered down into different bookmark folders. I don't really save so much that I would need a keyword search system for it, given that I am generally of the philosophy that the internet should be searched, not indexed, but the death of the search machine with all competitors becoming worse in a race to the bottom certainly makes some degree of archival more attractive.

A private wiki would be the nonplusultra for that, but the work required to build one never exceeded the use I would get from it for me yet.

but the work required to build one

surely there's a website somewhere you can just pay $5/mo to do this for you? If you don't mind it being public, miraheze is free iirc

Is there a good mainstream (i.e., NYTimes-like) San Francisco / Bay Area newspaper that has an RSS feed? It seems the Chronicle should be the SF equivalent of a NY Times, yet I can't seem to find a feed for it. Is there any other comparable option?

(Yes, I know mainstream news sucks... But I like to keep an eye on it anyway)

Interesting. I guess the SF Chronicle is indeed the closest it gets to that in the Bay Area and it doesn't have a feed. From what you've said it's unlikely there will be anything else that even comes close to that

So, what are you reading?

I'm picking up Benda's The Treason of the Intellectuals. It seems like one of those books that people who know things reference at some point or the other.

  • Eros and Magic in the Renaissance by Couliano, no e-book available, had to order an actual physical copy from Amazon, which turned out to be print on demand. It discusses the relationship between Renaissance magic and advertising/propaganda via psychology and sociology.

  • The Revolt of the Elite by Lind, a class analysis of the path to America's current situation.

  • Just finished Shards of Earth by Tchaikovsky. It was ... OK. The first book of a clearly Banks Culture influenced space opera series, it hits all the woke checklist items, not too gratingly, but quite obviously. I guess that's what it takes to get published now. I'll probably read the rest of the books when they come out.

Aristotle's The Nicomachean Ethics. Should have read it a long time ago really.

I’m reading The Three Languages of Politics, an erisology by economist and Libertarian Arnold Kling. Rather, I have the free audiobook from Cato on loop in my car.

It’s practically a guidebook for how to get along and have productive conversations on TheMotte and TheSchism. It has confirmed some of the things I’ve suspected philosophically, and startled me in places. Some of the things he covers are how to avoid failing your outgroup’s “ideological Turing test,” the possible evolutionary and definite historical roots of each perspective, and how arguments for policy are often used as a proxy for tribal power.

He starts with the three political moral axes:

  1. The liberty/coercion axis of libertarians

  2. The oppressed/oppressor axis of progressives

  3. The civilization/barbarism axis of conservatives

He demonstrates with 00’s/10’s news items how each tribe’s thought-leaders portray their axis’ moral bad as being enabled by the other two tribes’ moral goods. He points out that the rhetoric of the three tribes’ languages are used to acquire status among the tribe, not to change minds or win hearts from the other tribes’ members.

If we ever get a sidebar / wiki, the free ebook (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) on Cato should be a primer on how to avoid culture-warring on TheMotte. I haven’t yet found anything objectionable for mistake-theorists of any tribe.

I've been thinking a lot about successful dilettantes lately as I'm reading The Power Broker and watching some current pols in action. What are some other great Dilettantes in history? I'm defining successful dilettante-ism as:

  1. Someone who has independent personal or family wealth or means of support

  2. Who practices in and excels at a field of study, vocation, or skill that is normally pursued by professionals who do so for a living.

Obviously greater success makes them more interesting, as do particularly egregious examples of dilettantism like getting support from family to fail upward into a career or field that he is not qualified for but excels at. The definition of dilettante doesn't typically include competence, and I assume that incompetence is the norm in the grouping, I'm interested in the examples that beat the odds.

Pretty much every natural philosopher/scientist before the 20th century counts, they were pretty much all "amateurs" who conducted experiments as a hobby, and were largely independently wealthy gentlemen who could afford such esoteric pursuits.

Newton, Darwin, barring a few of the more entrepreneurial types in the US in the late 19th century, they should all be considered dilettantes by modern standards.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a business trip of about two weeks' duration. What are the main things I should really avoid forgetting to pack?

Take photos of all your documents and upload them onto some sort of image cloud.

Also, make sure you use a maps app that can download a given area's map, and download at least around airports and transit hubs where you are going to arrive at your lodgings.

This is a lifesaver.

Too personal to be answered by a group. What I've done is - write a list of everything you think you'll need, pack that stuff, then keep that list somewhere. If you find you're missing something you want on the trip, add it to the list. After a couple of trips, you should have a good list. Then any future trips, go through the list, make sure you have everything on it packed, and you're ready to go, confident that you haven't missed anything.

Limiting to things that I've known people to forget or not think of:

  • Chargers (this is the #1 forgotten item among people I know)

  • Plug adapters, if traveling somewhere with a different electrical system

  • Mouse (you CAN work on the trackpad for two weeks, but it's much less comfortable)

  • Work shoes, if traveling in comfortable shoes (somehow shoes are much easier to forget than shirts or trousers)

  • Download or print out your tickets and hotel reservations

  • Spare phone, if traveling somewhere where roaming is expensive (it's often much cheaper to buy a local sim card rather than paying roaming fees for data)

Obviously also ID, bank cards, phone, laptop, clothes etc as others have said - but those are obvious enough that you're not realistically going to forget them.

Really depends on what your destination is. If it's another city, then you can get practically everything on site, unless it's your prescription meds.

Earplugs. You never know what you're going to have to sleep near.

Socks, underwear, personal grooming kit/toiletries. If you're leaving the country, passport/other paperwork.

Also make sure you have the right charging cords or similar for all of the electronic devices you're taking with you.

Note to the charging cords: Countries have different wall sockets. So buy a new charger or a converter if necessary.

Official papers, passport etc.

Credit card or similar.

Whatever you need for your business.

Any medication you might need.

At least one set of spare clothes; you never know.

A little cash.

Probably your phone and a charger.

I regretted not bringing binoculars to my last trip, but depending on where you're going you might not benefit from those.