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Small-Scale Question Sunday for March 3, 2024

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

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

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

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

I see ads pretty regularly for small cheap emulators which come pre-loaded with classic video games for PS1, SNES, Gameboy Advance, etc. Anyone know of an actually good one?

Would a Steam Deck fit the bill? People dump those all the time on the used market because they want the OLED version (emulation can't take advantage of a refresh rate over 60Hz so the base version isn't a negative) and even the base-est of the base models with a 20-dollar 512GB SD card can store more or less every console game that even can be emulated (with the possible exception of every Switch game; you'd need a 1 TB card for that).

The officially licensed ones (I think there are NES, SNES, and PS1 at this point?) are neat from a collectors standpoint, but these all are just low power embedded SoCs with emulators. I don’t have a turn-key recommendation - there are just too many afaik. Just buy one with a good YouTube review, or ask on chinkshit general.

I’d recommend you pirate the small-by-todays-standard romsets and emulate on any PC you have. An Intel n100 would do it and that’s $125 for enough power to be an AV1-decoding HTPC alongside, includes windows license.

Seeking general high-level and low-level career advice.

Ultimate goal: Make boatloads of money, and leave the shithole country I am in (more on this later).


  • If not counting college internships, I've been working for a year. So 1 "YOE".
  • I work as a Data Scientist / Machine Learning Engineer.

My day-to-day work involves/ My strengths:

  • Writing backend code. I'm fairly decent at it (for not wanting to do it at all!), I'd say Junior/Mid-level backend engineer level. My companies codebase is a monolith built on a popular MVC framework.
  • Some frontend code. Very minimal, mostly internal tool stuff.
  • Writing complex SQL queries for analytics. Pretty fucking easy, I'm a SQL god. Also I'm the only person in my company who actually knows how to use pandas, so for the finicky analytics stuff, I'm the guy.
  • Deploying sk-learn models. Not really rocket science.
  • Prompt engineering. Company uses gpt4 to classify stuff. I have a testing set and am usually on the lookout for better prompts. Consider myself quite lucky to be able to work with LLM's in production, so early on.
  • Lots of text embeddings and vector DB stuff. Super useful for text classification tasks. I'm getting them in everywhere I can.
  • I work at a good customer facing company. Most people here know the companies name and used its product before.
  • I work 12+ hours a day and on weekends, don't see myself burning out anytime soon, I want to progress fast, and I will do what it takes.


  • I don't see too much position or salary growth in my current company. There isn't any ML based project I can think of that I can't do. There isn't much for me to grow into. I might be able to get a promotion or two, but that's it.
  • I think I am significantly stronger than other people in my same position with the same years of experience. I completed 7 greenfield projects by myself. All the other recent college grads and early career people I know are still twiddling their thumbs. However, I'm not a rockstar engineer who will be noticed and headhunted. I am just a good engineer. This means I won't get noticed at all without a couple of years of experience.
  • I live in Dubai, not exactly the hottest or most cutting-edge of tech markets. In other words, it's dogshit. It's genuinely fucking shit, I hate living here. I WANT OUT NOW!

My plan

  • Get more ops and infrastructure experience. The idea of writing yaml files for a living horrifies me. But I'm sure we're going to keep LLM's from deciding to turn the lights off later than we let them write our code.
  • Milk the ever-loving shit out of the fact that I work with LLM's in production. I don't make LLM's but at least I use them, must be worth something right?
  • Profit?

What would you do if you were in my spot given my ultimate goals (and shitty tech market and AI automation)? I know I can probably grind into some large MNC after 3-5 (YOE) and use that as a potential jumping-off point out of this shithole, but I want growth(or escape) NOW!

I'm not sure what boatloads of money means to you.

This probably wouldn't be enough to regularly fly out Instathots to do what thots do in Dubai, but given your SQL Godliness: entry-level/junior data scientists at FAANG-adjacent companies and more senior data scientist roles at tech and fintech start-ups/companies can make ~150K USD or the local equivalent (not necessarily all cash), give or take a few thousands to tens of thousands depending on the exact role, how they value your skillset, and your ability to negotiate. This would be more along the lines of data analytics rather than machine learning roles, which can be very different roles within a given company. There are also generally a lot more data analytics roles than machine learning roles, much less machine learning research.

Such data analytics roles typically heavily value SQL (rather than sklearn, TensorFlow, or something), thus this is where your skill-set comes in. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide as to how you weigh location, compensation, growth, personal interest, and exit opportunities, and may depend on your citizenship/residency.

  1. Echoing my question buried deep in the thread: can anyone recommend a good historical source to read up on the AIDS crisis, that's less opinionated than the Salo forum?

  2. Has anyone here ever had an experience with hiring a private detective? Is they way they are portrayed in the movies or books pure fiction?

My firm has contracted private detectives semi-regularly to do background checks on key figures in legal matters, including our clients and their associates. On occasion, we've also contracted them to "dig for dirt" on parties on the other side of the case (usually financial malfeasance and things of that nature), but this isn't a common thing. It only comes up in obvious cases when we already have strong reason to suspect there's been malfeasance.

Whether the portrayals are accurate depends on the kinds of fiction you're consuming. The NYPD and Scotland Yard don't work with "consulting detectives" to solve murders, so that part is complete fiction. I suppose it's possible that private clients may hire private detectives to investigate murders if they're unsatisfied with the police resolution or handling of the matter, but I've never personally come across something like that. My experience with private detectives as an attorney is that they're either doing corporate investigations that we can't be bothered to do ourselves, or they're snooping on wives and husbands for things to use in custody battles ("she has a drinking problem she's been hiding from the court", "his best friend is a convict on parole", etc).

I've hired several, always to retrieve items from courthouses that were too far for me to go to myself. They can search for records reasonably well, but I wouldn't trust any of them to solve a murder or anything.

  1. And The Band Played On is probably the most famous mainstream account of the early HIV/AIDS crisis and was written by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter who later died of AIDS himself. Interestingly he does lay some of the blame at the feet of promiscuity in the gay subculture of the time, which actually drew increasing criticism through the ‘90s, much of it posthumous as he died in 1994. Iirc the Salo account uses it as a source, though I don’t remember and it’s been years since I read either of them.

  2. I think in real life private detectives are more specialized than in the movies and almost never investigate homicides - certainly not during the initial police investigation - which seems to be the big difference. As I understand there tend to be a few types: the private eye firms who do divorces, infidelity, background checks on daughters-in-law commissioned by overbearing mothers, attorneys during an active case against their client, that kind of thing. Then there are big corporate investigations firms like Kroll and others who do more complete private investigation, find witnesses, work internationally to track laundered money, do government work, that kind of thing. Then lastly there are a bunch of retired detectives for hire who attorneys, families and individuals hire when they’re unsatisfied with a police investigation / cold case stuff, where the aim is to find new evidence to reopen an investigation, bring an appeal etc.

How do I get in touch with individuals that have the computational capabilities to find hash collisions for a monetary compensation? I've forgotten the password to a 7-zip archive, and my single 1080 Ti is currently cosplaying as a shop vac under the watchful eye of hashcat, but I doubt it can exhaust the search space alone.

If you're just bruteforcing it, it's not an efficient use of compute. Even modern graphics cards will struggle. Do you at least have the format of the password you might have used? Are you a Capital-letter word number kind of person? Do you have special characters in your life? That's the kind of thing you want to know for mask attacks. For example: ?u?l?l?l?l?l?l?d?d? for Upsala35. You can make a masklist for trying many different lengths (don't go too long, each character multiplies difficulty).

Alternately, just download a bunch of passphrases and rulesets and see how they go. OneruleotoRuleThemAll is OK, there are loads more out there. Try -O too, that can speed things up for shorter passwords.

If you figure this out please let me know - similar situation with a file that has sentimental value and I have some idea of what the passphrase might be

I have a 7800 XT I can point at it I guess. I could do with a tldr on how to use hashcat though.

I have a 4090 I’ll offer like /u/f3zinker.

I have a RTX 3080, I don't know that's enough, but if you can send me instructions on what to run, I will run my gpu for as long as it takes if you compensate

Thanks, but based on what I've learned today doubling or tripling my raw power won't cut it. I need someone who actually has a clever hashcat masklist or wordlist that doesn't try every combination like "hD$Pe4y!oO".

John the ripper has some modes that use mangling plus a word list. I don't know if hashcat supports that.

Let me know if you find one.

Have you considered renting a GPU instance or two from Amazon Web Sevices?

I would have to use the local equivalent of it due to sanctions, but I think a competent human intermediary should be able to reduce the search space a few orders of magnitude, since I think I used a passphrase for it. I definitely didn't generate a random string as a password.

Was it worth it to password protect that archive in the first place?

No, not really. But the contents have a lot of sentimental value to me.

A close friend (Bob) is considering proposing to his girlfriend (Alice). Alice is an ex-prostitute. I am trying to talk him out of it.

By Bob's account (which I presume in turn is him parroting Alice's account), Alice's stint in the oldest profession was a regretted youthful indiscression perpetrated in her teens, for a couple of months. She wasn't groomed, she wasn't coerced, she wasn't doing what she had to do to feed her starving family: she was just horny and kinky and thought it would be hot. After it proved less hot than she anticipated, Alice got out of there and never did it again, and since had the 'normie' sex life of a 21st century young woman: (uncompensated) app hookups interspersed with long term monogamous relationships, most lately Bob.

My gut-level revulsion at the prospect of wife-ing a ho makes my effort to talk Bob out of it difficult, as my churning viscera limits my rhetorical strategy from being much more sophisticated than, in so many words, just yelling "CUCK CUCK CUCK" at him. Perhaps with a side of "If you're not part of the solution for deterring teen whorishness by making it's practitioners persona non grata in polite society, then that's how you get more teen whores".

I am wondering if the astute minds of The Motte can help me think up any more coherent arguments to deploy.

I'm sorry you're in this situation, but if it's any comfort there are stone tablets from guys who had the exact same problem 7,000 years ago. "My best friend got promoted to Captain Save-a-Hoe" is just as universal as "my best friend's bf is a scumbag."
And in this case she really (to me) doesn't sound like an outright gold-digger, or that it's likely to have any more impact on their relationship than the usual carousel antics.

I almost never tell people not to worry about things, and always suspect that most people who do are just pro-the-thing-they're-telling-you-not-to-worry-about. So hopefully you'll trust me when I say this woman isn't worth worrying about any more than usual.
That said, stopping guys from walking into stupid shit is a problem in any marriage. But that should be your focus rather than trying to undermine the whole relationship.

Convincing in matters of the heart is always hard. I might recommend posing some pointed (read: leading) questions:

  1. "If Alice was so nonchalant with her sexual autonomy/privacy/choose-your-word when she was younger, what made her change?" You're looking for a discrete response with a very concrete experience-evaluation-decision-value update cycle. If Bob gives a wishy-washy "oh, she got more mature. She grew up" Press the issue.

  2. You say "After it proved less hot than she anticipated." Assuming this is faithful reporting (I have no reason to believe it isn't, I'm just highlighting that this is an assumption) ask Bob, "How important is 'hot sex' to Alice? Pretty much every study on long term relationships shows that passionate love declines rather steeply, especially after marriage, and couples make-or-break based on companionship and shared values. What's the risk of Alice losing interest?"

  3. This would get deeper and open up a larger can of worms and would, frankly, risk your relationship on the spot with Bob. However - "Bob, we can both agree that teenage self-prostitution isn't a normal thing. What do you think caused this, and what other less-than-common behaviors is Alice prone to?" You can see where this leads ... it's asking if Alice has a history of bad decision making, potentially some mental health issues, maybe even SA trauma from childhood (caveat, of course, those are all generalized "maybes" I am not saying or even forecasting that this is the case with Alice, but that would be part of the discussion).

Suffice it to say, both you and your buddy in deep waters. The best thing you can do is remain honest yet compassionate. Avoid "I told you so" if it comes to that in a few years. Avoid "Fine man, whatever" in the next couple of months. Be there for your Bro, Bro.

  1. It's cool that you care enough about your buddy to ask, I hope my buddies also care about me this much

  2. You've gotten 19 responses already and none of them have given you the right advice. My priors are updated (again) against asking about human being stuff here. Inanimate stuff is still the best place around, no doubt

  3. Presumably your buddy is going to someday have a child, which has a good chance of being a girl. If he does not marry a hooker, his daughter's mother will not be a hooker.

I'm actually surprised by how strong themotte's negativity toward the prostitution is here. It's not a good thing, don't get me wrong. But if the app dating/hookups are of a normal quantity, and she's great otherwise, I don't think it has to be a dealbreaker. Teenagers are stupid and horny, shit happens. At least we know she's honest. (Or, more honest than she had to be. I guess she could have been a hooker for years, who knows.)

I also have some question as to what "a couple of months" means. That could be a single digit number of johns, and prostitutes aren't in general indiscriminate in selecting them. Really, "prostitute" is perhaps an unnecessary term; if, a few times, you tutor math or fuck a goat, are you a math tutor or a goat fucker; or are you just someone who tutored math or fucked a goat?

Being that young, she probably had enough sway to pick attractive men. So it's entirely possible that the only difference in Alice and the modal woman is that she got paid explicitly. Is that really so different from if she had casual sex, which not infrequently entails the man paying for drinks/dinner/a hotel anyway?

I'm actually surprised by how strong themotte's negativity toward the prostitution is here.

I think the people who would post a semi-thoughtful response are too busy enjoying the delicious irony that is men who [claim to] sleep around a lot complaining about their "visceral revulsion" to whores (alongside the traditionalists talking about "violation of duty to her future husband" as if that was a real thing in any post-dowry society). I think I'd rather have someone who both drinks and already knows alcoholism isn't going to be for them than someone so scared of any risk whatsoever that they don't trust themselves to reject it, something something Parable of the Talents.

Anyway, that's the end of the reasonable part of this post.

Or, more honest than she had to be.

imagine marrying someone who doesn't want to be overly honest with you even when it's real bad (and its mirror image, "imagine marrying someone who's psychologically incapable of not going full Madonna-Whore on you").

Is that really so different from if she had casual sex, which not infrequently entails the man paying for drinks/dinner/a hotel anyway?

technically speaking, marriage is just really expensive prostitution that costs half your income and comes with an exclusive supply agreement

The goats that people fuck live after them; the math is oft interred with their bones.

You're basically buying into the whole Cancel Culture idea here. Someone made a series of youthful indiscretions and now you're demanding that they be permanently barred from polite society as a consequence. Would you feel the same about someone who made racist tweets at the same age?

The wiseness of marrying her or not is going to depend on who she is now and in the future, the past is useful in-so-far as it informs those.

Having promiscuous sex is a sign that someone

  1. Does not treat sex as special or sacred or important, at least not to the extent that a chaste person does.

  2. Does not have a proactive loyalty or consideration towards their future partner. A chaste person who saves themselves shows respect and loyalty to the person who they will eventually end up with, before they've even met them. This means that once they do and that person fills that role they are irreplaceable.

  3. Does not think about long-term consequences of their actions, or highly value things like reputation and honorable behavior. A lot of people are going to find this behavior icky, which both severely narrows down the promiscuous person's future partners, and leaves a permanent regret in the heart of partners who decide to forgive their past but still have to know about it.

All of this together means such people are more likely to cheat, and more likely to divorce when they get bored and find someone new. Their current partner may be special, but they are unlikely to be the same level of special that a purely monogamous person would have. However, this is correlational, not guaranteed. And people can change. I don't know Alice, I don't know how much she's changed since then, how loyal she is, how devoted she is to Bob, how much she does or does not regret her past. All I know is that however many years ago she thought that sleeping with however many guys was an acceptable thing to inflict on Bob before she ever met him. But ultimately, the decision is up to Bob. He has to figure out whether he's willing to be guy #537 to Alice, whether he can accept that without it bothering him for the rest of his life. And decide how much he trusts her, whether he's actually truly special to her or just another notch in her belt. And he's allowed to choose to marry her. And it might even be the right decision, I don't know her, I don't know how much her past speaks to her current character, whether she's still the same kind of person or whether she's truly changed.

But when making an argument, it should be focused on Bob, his future, and what's right for him. Her past only matters in-so-far as it affects those.

If anything, it sounds like potentially a good thing. Someone who tried whoring but didn't like it seems less likely to try it again than someone who never tried it and might think it's what they want.

Moreover, it doesn't seem like cucking. If anything, it's the hundreds of men who came (lol) before him who are being cucked, because in the end, she chose Bob. They might have came, but he conquered.

My gut-level revulsion at the prospect of wife-ing a ho makes my effort to talk Bob out of it difficult, as my churning viscera limits my rhetorical strategy from being much more sophisticated than, in so many words, just yelling "CUCK CUCK CUCK" at him.

Point of order: if she doesn't have her own kids (and isn't demanding to be able to make more kids with other men), he's not a cuckold. A cuckold is one who raises kids not his own.

Perhaps with a side of "If you're not part of the solution for deterring teen whorishness by making it's practitioners persona non grata in polite society, then that's how you get more teen whores".

I think that you're going to have a bit of a problem doing deterrence this way without systemic change, because with SJ control of the education system and the teen-girl social life, information about this punishment will not actually reach teen girls except when packaged with a "these people are terrible and you must defy their deterrence".

What kind of misogynistic incel prompt is this?

The past is the past. Just because a woman is sexually experienced or has been a sex worker doesn’t make her any less deserving of a proper engagement ring, a wedding of her dreams in front of all their friends and family, a lifetime of love, devotion and commitment. Her experiences of being a sex worker, her experiences with random app hook-ups, only contributed to her growth and maturation as a woman, and made her a more fulfilling partner for your friend. A journey that led her to meeting him. After all of her experiences being a sex worker and having casual sex, she still chose your friend to spend the rest of her life with, so he’s the winner here. The men of her past are missing out on her company, her partnership, her actualization as a woman.

Joking, of course.

It’s somewhat of a fiduciary duty to voice any concerns to friends and family if they’re about to make life-changing decisions. If Alice were a child molester or false rape accuser, or someone deep in dept, surely many would agree that you should have a “Come to Jesus” moment with your friend Bob. Why not her historical hoetry? Especially since it triggers the male ick, an ick that generally increases with the length of a woman's sexuality (much less prostitution), especially for commitment.

If you’ve already voiced your objections once or twice, then you’ve already done your part. It’s tough talking a man out of being pussy-whipped or cunt-struck, talking him out of one-itis. Additional reminders may only result in the messenger (you) being metaphorically shot, as it could be perceived as nagging. And few people like naggers.

Women wouldn’t be nearly as cautious, charitable, or merciful if the script were flipped. If your friend had used prostitutes before, done some sexual experimentation with other men, done some SEA-maxxing, a hypothetical normie (non-prostitute) fiancée’s friends would hardly grant him any charity. Or if he gave them any other ick, for that matter, such as being short or poor. They might find more subtle ways to express this ick to the girlfriend, though, such as undercutting sayings like “if you two have a son he’d be so cute and fun-sized like your boyfriend” or “aww, it’s so charming how your fiancé likes cozy houses and modest cars.”

The female ick is far more transmittable than the male ick given preselection and female male-choice copying, the general susceptibility of women to social influences. A woman is much more likely to acquire a sense of ick for her boyfriend from her female friends’ feedback than a man is for his girlfriend from his male friends’ feedback.

You should also consider whether you want to be friends with him going forward. Couples are basically a package. If you continue your friendship with him, this woman will likely spend time in your house, spend time with your wife/girlfriend, spend time with any children that you have now or in the future (especially daughters). Is this something you’d be comfortable with? I’d personally prefer not to have former prostitutes in my house, much less interacting with a wife/girlfriend or children (as mentioned, especially daughters).

This seems so normalize today I don’t even see why it would be an issue.

And prostitute does feel to need to be a little clarified. Did she just create a sugar baby account and bang a few guys or was she renting a hotel room seeing 10 guys a day? The difference between the former and just a girl who ran around in her 20’s etc doesn’t even seem like a big difference.

So leaving aside the arguments about whether you should do this, here's how I think one would approach doing it. (I always enjoy @Walterodim 's opinions on personal matters, and think you should seriously consider what he said)

You aren't going to rationally argue him out of this decision. You're at a distinct disadvantage: she is sleeping with him, you presumably aren't. And hey, even if you were, my buddy quit cooking because the hours for a chef were terrible, but he's still a hell of a lot better in the kitchen than I am. Marriage is an extremely serious and sobering choice for any male. If he's taking this seriously, he's already thought about all this. If he isn't taking it seriously, well, what are you really protecting Bob from anyway? He'll just get got anyway, a fool and his money etc.

I've never seen anyone successfully argue someone out of a relationship rationally. Women tried it on me some years ago, it didn't work. I've tried it on friends. Didn't work. But what did occasionally work is slipping a meme into one's conversations about the partner, that slowly eats away at the relationship. Create a conflict and feed it until it goes.

My buddy has bad taste in women, historically. He dated a truly crazy woman, she was five years older than him, picked him up at a bar, had been arrested twice for domestic violence (it wasn't her fault it was her BF's, yeah sure, the cops definitely showed up and arrested the 5' blonde girl over the puerto rican guy...), her ex bf still had all his bills mailed to her house, got in trouble at her sales job for showing everyone photos of her labiaplasty, etc. Just a real peach. The capper of it all was when she accused us of being gay together the first time I met her. I told him she was nuts, he didn't listen, they went on a resort vacation together and he wound up wandering the resort in his underwear after getting into yet another drunken argument in the middle of the night. All my rational arguments achieved nothing.

On the other hand, he once dated a girl, I didn't really like her when I met her. He asked me my opinion of her. I said she was like pound cake. Tasty but just fine, you'll eat it if it is there, but nobody's favorite food, nobody LOVES pound cake, they just eat it because it's around. This ruined their relationship. We started calling her "pound cake" in our conversations, he started thinking about her like that, the relationship was dead. Reread everything Scott Adams wrote about Donald Trump in 2015-2016 (he's since gotten even weirder, but his early stuff was interesting); read about Trump's application of OODA loops here.

What you need to do is drive a wedge between them, throw an Apple of Discord into their relationship, create a bone of contention between them regarding the marriage. How you do this is up to you, I know nothing about either Alice or Bob, so I realize I'm kinda riffing off my own relationships and social circles in this example, but here's what I'm thinking:

Talk to Bob about his impending proposal, and talk to him about a Pre-Nup, and about structuring his assets to protect them from Alice in the event of divorce or in the event of Alice facing major liability. Idk how bright Bob is, if you think you can pull it off try to tie the past in and persuade him that Alice could face some kind of legal liability for things she did, and that he needs to make sure that their assets are separate for that purpose, to protect them both. Provide examples of spouses losing their assets after one spouse gets busted, and bring up, ever so gently, that even though you absolutely love Alice she does have a criminal past, and you wouldn't want to see either of them run that kind of risk, after all if she were to face that kind of civil or criminal liability it would be better for both of them if he had assets to use to protect himself and her, so even though you adore Alice it's so important that he protect himself from the possibility of her past dredging itself back up.

If he won't fall for that, or in addition, try to tie in the past by bringing it up as an example of how Alice can be impulsive and mercurial, you love Alice of course and hope this never comes up!, but you are first and foremost Bob's friend and it's your job to give him advice, and part of that is making sure he's making clear eyed decisions and you won't let his or your judgment be clouded by how much you both love Alice. You want to emphasize that you have nothing against Alice, you just want to be realistic about the many possibilities in a long future together.

It's important he protects himself, it's standard for men like him, and one can never know how people might change over time, you adore everything you know about Alice but people do change... Bring up examples of people who made sudden life changes, and how it shredded their spouses. I'm thinking of my neighbor, a doctor, who got some kind of brain tumor that pressed on his prefrontal cortex that caused him to suddenly abandon his family and knock up a nurse two years older than his son. The new girl sent his son a letter, at the father's urging, offering to abort the baby if the son didn't approve. That fucked with the poor kid's head so bad that he wound up dropping out of undergrad. I'm sure you have someone like that in your mutual circles with Bob. Bring that up: you never really know who you're marrying because the person you'll be married to ten years from now will be different than the person they are now. Hell, look how different we are than how we were ten years ago! Which will lead his mind naturally to thinking how different Alice was some years back...

Emphasize that as long as there's no divorce or liability problem, it doesn't matter anyway, so if she isn't intending to divorce Bob it won't matter anyway, she's only harmed if she leaves him! Try to portray the prenup as a standard thing for men like him, just a normal thing to do, and contesting it as the odd and notable thing. Implicit is that if she balks, she is plotting to divorce him. You want to plant that thought as deeply as you can, without ever under any circumstances saying it out loud in a way that he could attribute to you. You're trying to do Inception here.

Best case scenario, she balks, and in the ensuing argument over "Why would you need this protection when we're never getting divorced, Bob!" Bob drops the "Look, I love you, but you used to be a hooker, you've changed before you could change again..." bomb, and they never recover. She attacks you for putting this in his head, but because you have emphasized how much you love her it makes her look petty and antagonistic, like she's trying to separate him from his friends, a classic tactic by manipulative abusers. He talks to you about it and you say, hey, I love Alice and I'm sure she's not scheming and evil, but you have to stand your ground, brother!, or you'll be in for forty years of this. Alice is great, but that doesn't mean she can walk all over you dude! You have to stand up for yourself!

Risk of a worst case scenario, she calls his bluff and signs it right away, cementing her position in good faith, and making you look petty and antagonistic, certainly painting a target on your back for Alice. But still a lower risk than if you tell him that he shouldn't marry Alice to punish her for her past sins.

It doesn't have to be the prenup thing, maybe it's moving to Bob's hometown, or it's career questions, or it's differences in childrearing or politics or religion. But you need to start a fight, where Bob is absolutely certain he is right and just doing what needs to be done, without directly attacking Alice because you will lose to the girl who is sucking his cock.

Great post, it's like Sir Humphrey but for relationships: you have to get behind someone before you can stab him (or her) in the back.

It's a George Costanza move for sure.

I think you'd do better to emphasise personal risk to him. In the vein of 'she clearly has a high libido and seeks sexual novelty, how do you think she'll react when she gets tired with her married sex life?'

Appealing to (your) revulsion or asking him to not marry the woman he loves because of abstract second order effects isn't going to help.

If I were Bob, I would want to know that you feel this way so that I could excise you from my life. Who wants to be friends with a guy that has contempt for your wife and thinks you're a cuck for marrying her? Even if your instincts about her turn out to be correct, nothing about this sounds like it's coming from a place of genuine care, it all sounds like playacting as the most toxic strains of the online right.

Who wants to be friends with a guy that has contempt for your wife and thinks you're a cuck for marrying her?

I think this might be going down a dangerous path. The road from this to "build yourself a bubble and shun all unbelievers" is shorter than it looks, and the latter universalises as civil war.

I don't buy it. The slope would have to be pretty slippery to go from, "I don't want to be friends with people that despise my wife" to "I refuse to be friends with people I disagree with".

Given how many people have slid down it, I'd say it's pretty slippery. Even then, I did say "might".

If Butlerian were actively acting against her outside of his advice to Bob, that's a legit reason, but if mere disapproval is enough then you're edging toward "friendship is transitive" which sorts people into bubbles (proof: assume by contradiction that a connected subgraph contains a prude and a prostitute. Then the prude and prostitute must be friends because friendship is transitive and (because there are finitely many people) there is a finite-length path between them. But they're not. -><-). Like I said, shorter than it looks.

If you think you can avoid sliding down, fine, whatever, it's your life. Just pointing out the pitfall.

You’re smuggling in the assumption that it’s symmetric in the first place. Model as a directed graph imo.

Just to make sure that we have some shared experience that we're drawing from, are you married? Where I'm coming from is that if I knew that someone expressed the degree of contempt for my wife that OP is expressing towards Alice, I wouldn't just want to defriend them, I would want to beat the shit out of them in the process. This isn't anything like a disagreement about policies or even religion, it really is just about the mostly deeply insulting thing you can say to man. Seriously, is there anything more negative you can say about a guy than, "I despise his whore wife and he's a cuck for marrying her"? Trying to bridge interpersonal gaps can certainly be a good thing, but being friends with a guy that has contempt for you because you're worried that doing otherwise might lead to harshly judging others is just going full quokka.

if I knew that someone expressed the degree of contempt for my wife that OP is expressing towards Alice, I wouldn't just want to defriend them, I would want to beat the shit out of them in the process.

"I would respond to someone's principled, albeit harsh, verbal condemnation with physical violence." I'm really not sure that's the kind of argument you want to advocate.

Trying to bridge interpersonal gaps can certainly be a good thing, but being friends with a guy that has contempt for you is just going full quokka.

I don't read OP's comment as having contempt for Bob. He has a sincerely held belief that marrying Alice is a bad move based on his sincerely held values regarding prostitution and promiscuity. He's try his best to articulate that to his friend, Bob. This seems, in fact, like the opposite of contempt. Contempt would probably take the form of a quiet chuckle followed by, "You do you, man" on the part of OP.

Slippery slopes are greased by the shrugging nonchalance of the agnostic and conformist.

"I would respond to someone's principled, albeit harsh, verbal condemnation with physical violence."

LOL + YesChad.jpg -- honestly the responses here are brutal, you guys seem to be all about the traditional values without wanting to accept the traditional consequenses.

There not one thing in the world more trad than beating the shit out of a guy who runs down your woman, regardless of whether he thinks he's being 'principled' about it -- you must run in some awfully rarified circles if you don't know this.

OP is talking about his friend and about his (OP's) intention to relate his own reservations about a potential mate.

This isn't a random guy drunk at a bar smacking your lady's butt or making lewd comments.

Context is important and I think it's important you've decided, on purpose, to de-contextualize in order to make an "omg look at these dorks argument," Chad.

There not one thing in the world more trad than beating the shit out of a guy who runs down your must run in some awfully rarified circles if you don't know this.

I am willing to bet all of my Confederate script you have never beat the shit out a guy who "r[a]n down your woman."

More comments

"I would respond to someone's principled, albeit harsh, verbal condemnation with physical violence." I'm really not sure that's the kind of argument you want to advocate.

I wrote that this is what I would want to do. Personally, I have pretty strong impulse control, so it's unlikely that I would actually react that way. I wouldn't think less of someone that replied to OP's "advice" with a physical challenge though.

I don't read OP's comment as having contempt for Bob.

This is not consistent with, "as my churning viscera limits my rhetorical strategy from being much more sophisticated than, in so many words, just yelling "CUCK CUCK CUCK" at him".

Slippery slopes are greased by the shrugging nonchalance of the agnostic and conformist.

Yeah, that's why I think the correct response to your putative friend expressing how much they despise your wife and calling you a cuck is feeling an impulse towards violence. I'd be a lot more concerned about the slippery slope of thinking, "well, my wife is a bit of a whore and might deserve to be lonely and miserable forever" than the one where your first impulse is to defend her.

I really don't know how you can read that post and think it's about sincere concern, respect, and values.

Unless Bob shares your morals (which given he is considering marrying this woman, he probably isn't), I doubt that an argument that he should punish ex-whores by shunning his girlfriend will be a winning one.

I also doubt calling him a cuck or spewing disgust will deter him. Maybe, if he values his relationship with you more than he values his relationship with his girlfriend. But otherwise you're just likely to be cut out of his life.

If I were you, I'd think hard about whether you want to speak to him as a concerned friend, or as someone with a lot of feelings about punishing whores. Because the strategy for the first is to be tactful and express your honest concerns about whether she is really wife material. The strategy for the second is to talk to him like you're talking to us here. But don't fool yourself if you really just want to express your disgust. That's like the guy who calls fat people pigs and then says he's just trying to encourage them to lose weight for the sake of their health.

Because the strategy for the first is to be tactful and express your honest concerns about whether she is really wife material.

Which, obviously, can't really be heavily mediated by the fact that she was a hooker. This is already priced in! Bob isn't going to hear that line of argument and think, "wow, I failed to realize that there are some negatives to consider about the fact that she was a hooker". Bob either has different object-level beliefs about prostitution than the mainstream (possible, and if true, you probably won't convince him otherwise) or already knows the same things that everyone else does and decided that it was still an acceptable tradeoff for him. Maybe he'll be wrong, but it won't be because he has never thought about this before.

So, separate a couple things out.

  1. The fact that she was deviant and horney and naive enough to do this, is certainly a flag. "Youthful indiscression" is a bit of a euphemism or handwave or cope, because most youths don't make that kind of indiscression. I would be wary that this kind of outside-the-norm behavior is not some isolated trivia but representative of unreliable behavior traits that could be easily avoided in most other women. I'd be curious whether, aside from this she really is super normie now and what exactly that means. Sex norms and appetite vary widely with young women.

  2. What's exactly her disposition now? Does she find prostitution morally wrong? (does Bob)? is this a repentance situation or a "not for me" scenario? These are very different starting points. Has she done actually 'work' to change? Has she had a transformative epistemic outlook, or was it more like, whoops! that went to far, etc? Would she disapprove of her daughter doing the same? If she's "reformed" and frames her past perspective as a moral failing and a cautionary tale, I'd probably leave it alone with Bob. Sinners deserve forgiveness. If she's still open-minded and women's choicy about it, but it's just not for her... I'd really talk Bob out of this one.

  3. On a personal, disgust level, yeah I wouldn't personally be able to handle it. It's possibly worth mentioning that to 'normalize' the disgust reaction and give Bob an out to interrogate whether he's accurately evaluatoin his own. But I wouldn't take it to far.

In sum, the current nature of her today and her position on her past mistakes is super important to judge the context. Plenty of people are repentant of their past and it's good that they find people who can forgive them. Other people get fucked by overlooking severe lapses in discernment. Overall, I'd consider how she feels about prostitution in general today as more important than what's she's done in the past. Based on what you've written it's impossible to tell which is which here.

If forced to choose, I'd rather marry a hardcore born again trad-wife who stood firmly against sexual misconduct but had dabbled in the past and repented than a progressive minded virgin, who was outspoken about the right to sex work and rejected sexual prohibitions as patriarchical and unjust.

I will approach this in a utilitarian way for you.

By trying to intervene there is a good chance that Bob will cut you off as a friend and marry them anyway. I've experienced this with close friends trying to talk other close friends out of serious relationships/marriage before using 'they aren't right/good/healthy for you' as a justification. In one case they became friends again years later after the inevitable breakup. But they weren't ever as close.

This might be worth it to you, it might not. But interventions on this scale (eg interfering and trying to stop someone from marrying their partner when love/limerance is at it's highest) is a recipe for disaster dangerous game.

You have been warned.

Edit: some strikethrough and extra words.

Who is 'them' in this context? Bob isn't planning to marry twins, he's planning to marry an individual woman.

Sorry to call you out over a minor thing but the misuse of the gender neutral they is a terrible grammatical trend. Why withold information from your listener if that information is built into the grammar of the language you're using?

I definitely agree with this. If you have serious concerns about a friend marrying someone, you should mention it gently, once. It probably won't make an impact because well, people do stupid shit when they are in love. After you mention it once, your obligation as a friend is met, and the best thing is to hold your tongue. Badgering someone about "man that girl is bad for you, don't marry her" is only going to cause your friendship to end.

I've watched parent-child relationships (which are generally more durable than friendships) die over this sort of thing. It's just not worth making a big deal out of it, don't do it.

I never really figured out what you're meant to do after the fact though. I think it's 'acknowledge your friend is fallible and making a bad choice. Decide that you care about them enough to help them pick up the inevitable pieces.'

I think most people make this choice to a greater or lesser intensity every single day.

Yeah, that's what I've done in the past when I have had friends make bad decisions about romantic partners. I would say it worked out pretty well.

Yeah. Not just romantic partners; basically any life choice.

Moving somewhere else, taking a crazy job, dropping out of college/uni. Pick your poison.

I agree, beyond ‘think carefully, make sure you’re sure’ these things are best stayed out of. There’s a reason the best advice for parents who disapprove of a child’s spouse is usually ‘try to be nice about it’. You’re ‘competing’ with someone who is providing sex and companionship on a constant basis, that isn’t a fight most friends or even immediate family can win.


Is it cucking if you marry a woman who has had any type of sex with another man before?

I don’t see why prostitution is so much worse than other types of previous relationships.

I mean, prostitution is one of the more pronounced forms of gold-digging, so it's Bayesian evidence of more subtle forms of gold-digging (which you might be fine with, but which you definitely don't want to get into by accident), but not necessarily strong such evidence depending on time, on why she quit, on how honest she is about it. In this circumstance she seems to have a more recent record of not-gold-digging so that's much less of a concern.

my churning viscera limits my rhetorical strategy from being much more sophisticated than…

If all you have to go on is an internal sense of revulsion, I’m not sure you should be trying to convince him the first place.

The argument that you want to disincentive teens from becoming prostitutes seems weak to me, since it seems really inefficient — how many girls are you saving from a year of prostitution in return for condemning this woman to never have a family for the next 60 years?

I’m guessing very small — probably less than 0.1. Prostitutes are pretty rare in the US so it’s hard for interventions targeted at random people to actually hit their target, and even then, how many teens are going to know she’s single because she was a prostitute (the answer is zero), and finally, your targets are unlikely to have great impulse control anyway.

Or, to make it simpler: how often did you, as a teen, think about the life of an adult you knew when making a decision? The answer is: never, because you didn’t know anything about the personal lives of more than 6 adults, and you didn’t see their lives as relevant predictors of your own life anyway.

Arguments? Spew your disgust at him. Chances are that'll have more weight than any attempt to reason him out of something he didn't reason himself into.

That is definitely the way to speedrun the end of the friendship. It won't make a positive impact, unfortunately.

Of course not, but what the hell will? He's disgusted by his friend.

This astute mind of the Motte is going to suggest that your revulsion is misguided. If you so desire to talk him out of it, you should focus on the (presumably) larger amount of NSA sex she had for free. Feels more befitting of the "CUCK CUCK CUCK" screaming.

Alternatively, it's perfectly acceptable to feel that revulsion, I have no desire to talk someone out of it, but would bet a lot that you can't talk someone into feeling revulsion that they currently don't. Personally, I would never date a fat woman because I am disgusted by fat women. Nonetheless, people do date fat women and informing them that they shouldn't because obesity is bad, actually, probably won't move the needle much.

What woman would admit (edit: to her boyfriend) she had been a prostitute for a couple of months in her late teens? There’s almost no risk of anyone finding out and (obviously) nothing to gain. In general the only women who would admit to escorting / prostitution are pornstars, strippers etc whose reputation is undeniable and/or those like Aella who try to build some kind of commercial grift around it. But that’s again very rare. The concerning thing is less that she did it (although that is a problem) and more that he knows about it, since it suggests an astonishing lack of understanding / naïveté about men on her part that could be dangerous.

As far as arguments go, it’s practically tautology that people with low sexual inhibition are prone to infidelity.

Maybe she had some social media profiles or something for the purpose that didn’t get scrubbed, and he(or his mother- there is a certain kind of middle-aged to older woman who will cyberstalk her son’s girlfriend) found it?

I’m equally confused that the man told his friend. “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead”, indeed.

Honestly, that's probably most of the red flag right there.

I don't think it's out of the ordinary to mention sexual histories, though certainly the timing/how it's brought up has something to do with it (the alternative being the standard? way of doing things where there actually aren't things you should ever trust your spouse with). Because clearly someone you can't trust is definitely someone who you should get married to, not that "someone you can trust" has ever been a rational basis for marriage before- naturally, the shrewd thing would be to just lie about it even if directly asked, but the tension's still there.

Of course, that also goes both ways- why's he talking to his friends about it (and this one in particular)? Is it because he has the "muh virginity for virginity's sake" pattern installed and legitimately needs help dealing with the tension that creates, or some other reason... either way, speaks to either potentially poor or otherwise purely self-gratifying judgment on his part when it comes to keeping things said in confidence, which is not a great outlook for that relationship for other reasons.

Right, surely the prudent thing to do if your partner tells you they’re a (hopefully former) whore is to privately make the decision to stay or go and then to do so. That said, clearly she must have known he might tell someone, given she did.

I'm going to do the opposite. Consider that he's getting for free what other people used to pay for. And to her defense, she didn't enjoy the experience.

I'm not wading into third-hand relationship drama other than to say that I for one believe in redemption, but I do have to point out that this:

he's getting for free what other people used to pay for

is weapons-grade copium. Paying for it is the easy way of getting sex, otherwise no one would buy it.

Whether it’s the easy way or merely the expensive way depends, presumably, on your own hotness.

I'm gonna take a wild guess and say people for who it's merely expensive tend to not bother with buying it, which is part of my point. They are the only ones who could plausibly say "I get for free what you have to pay for".

Ordinarily I'd post this in Wellness Wednesday, but it's Sunday, so...

Does anyone have any idea when someone should walk away from CBT therapy if they're not seeing any improvement?

I've been in therapy for 12 weeks now, and we're getting close the point where CBT normally ends. I like my therapist a lot and I think she's a good practitioner of the school of therapy, but my progress tracker looks like a straight, if squiggly, line -- I've seen no improvement. I'm doing the homework every week and trying to integrate the reality checking and cognitive flexibility portions of CBT into my life, while facing my fears and being more flexible.

The CBT skills have probably taken a little sliver off the top of my negative experiences. They don't control me quite as much. But they still control me a lot -- I feel like I'm staring down an angry bull every day. This much hasn't changed since starting therapy. I don't catastrophize as much, but I definitely shake, and struggle to sleep, and feel like my chest is going to explode. And, predictably, this has a real impact on my quality of life.

I feel like the approach I've been given for dealing with physical sensations has failed. That unit was just "let's try to simulate the negative physical sensations you struggle with so you can see them subside." We were unable to replicate the physical sensations of anxiety I struggle with the most, and essentially just moved on without it doing anything for me. I guess the point of that segment of therapy was "you must have cognitive distortions about the severity of your physical sensations, so let's confront that." But, um, I don't think my appraisal of my sensations is distorted -- I struggle with them every day. I know they subside, I've seen it happen. But that doesn't mean they don't affect my quality of life severely and recur. They are powerful until they subside -- and then, like clockwork, they seem to come back. I probably spend 80% of my life in some state of moderate anxiety, with occasional bouts of more severe distress.

I determined not to go through insurance so I could choose my own therapist, so these sessions are very expensive. And I feel like I'm getting little value out of them.

My medical doctor has also run out of things to do to help -- we've tried the various SSRIs and SNRIs, as well as buproprion, with little success, and he's unwilling to go any farther. He seems to be under the misapprehension that I need to make lifestyle changes (okay, doc, what ones?) and believes that "medication is not my problem." He also seems to believe most psychotherapeutic interventions take years, not months (try telling that to evidence-based psych researchers, they'll laugh at you). I don't like this doctor, and I think he's judgmental and ignorant while thinking himself helpful. And I don't know how to find a doctor who will be more understanding.

I feel, in some sense, like all the professionals in my life who are supposed to help me deal with this serious problem I struggle with, and that makes a major dent in my quality of life, have given up on me. Or, at the very least, that the tools they're trying to offer me to help with them aren't the right fit. I feel talked down to and misunderstood by a medical doctor who refuses to refer me to a psychiatrist, and I feel like the well-intentioned interventions of my therapist are failing. I believe the medical system has failed me.

And the worst part is, I'm going to have to enter a period of no insurance soon -- so even if I did find some medical intervention that worked, I'd have to quit it.

I just don't know what to do now. I worry that, in some sense, I'm a living demonstration of "HBD for mental illness" -- nothing helps because nothing can help. I felt very optimistic about the ability of the CBT intervention to help, but it hasn't.

If you struggle with anxiety, I strongly recommend lavender oil as a short-lived solution. Scott Alexander wrote about the potential calming effects of lavender. I just take one or two drops of lavender oil and inhale it using the simplest aromatherapy chimney. It is very potent and calms me significantly even for a longer periods of time. I am extremely neurotic, I was probably around 95th percentile and now maybe around 80th and it helped me significantly.

Hey man, just want to give you some solidarity. I also struggle with chronic anxiety that has awful physical symptoms. The medical world can be harsh, and frankly doesn't know what to do with patients like us. I've made improvements over time though, so I know it's possible. I wish you the best.

Happy to discuss further in a PM if you think it might help.

If you're most concerned with physical symptoms of anxiety, have you/your doctor considered beta blockers? Off label for anxiety, but very commonly prescribed, seem to work well for the somatic shaky-sweaty type symptoms.

Also great for hand tremor and general "body on overdrive" symptoms.

What are your unique date ideas? I keep a repository and am always looking for more. Here are a few of my top ideas:

Fake Sick Day

Call in sick to work and go spend a day on the town. Activities may include (shout out to LA for half of these):

  • Dress undercover and drive by offices for the thrill
  • Nature-y park for reading and charcuterie board
  • Dinner at a nice restaurant
  • Anything from Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Anything where it's normally super crowded on a weekend

Long Night Out

Book the cheapest round-trip flight you can find that leaves on Friday night and returns Saturday (or Saturday-Sunday). Go live up the destination city as hard as possible for those 24 hours. No sleep, no accommodations. Better bring a portable phone charger. Good city destinations include Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Atlanta. And yes, you'll be flying Frontier or Spirit.


  • Only fanny packs (men) or purses (women) allowed
  • You cannot book a hotel
  • Renting a car is fine

Fashion Week

Create your own [city you live in] fashion week outfit. There are three paths:

  • Find inspiration from New York or Paris fashion week outfits, then order online accordingly
  • Head to the nearest thrift store and make do with what they have there
  • Combination (preferred): Get inspiration, then go to the nearest thrift store

Imposing a spending limit is a good idea because it keeps pressure low and forces creativity. You can dress up similarly to your partner or completely different. Double date (or more) recommended.

Blind Dinner

Option 1 is to find a place intentionally serving a blind dinner where all guests are blinded. These generally cost a pretty penny.

Option 2 is to call ahead to a place and explain to them your intention, ask them to choose a few items for you, then show up and put the blindfolds on. This requires significant trust and ability to withstand social judgment.

Option 3 is unilateral: one partner makes the meal while the other is blindfolded.

Scavenger Hunt

  1. Choose a part within or walkable area of the city
  2. Hide a couple of fun things throughout: food (candy), drink (shooters, beers, small bottles of wine), toys (Chinese finger traps, water guns, Nerf guns)
  3. Create a poem, map, or list of hints for where to find the items:
  4. Go hunting!

Adult Prom

  1. Make dinner reservations at a nice restaurant, preferably Italian
  2. Get dressed up in prom attire. Women wear long dresses and men wear suits or tuxedos.
  3. Take pictures at scenic spot
  4. Take an Uber Black to the restaurant
  5. Eat, drink, and be merry
  6. Go dancing (bonus points for dancing in the restaurant)

Food Crawl Trying different offerings of the same dish is fun. Different restaurants offer different takes on the same entree and provide different atmospheres to enjoy them in.

  1. Choose a food that both people like and is easily shareable. Good options include:
  • Burgers
  • Sushi
  • Pizza
  • Tacos
  • Dessert (smaller portions required)
  1. Find a place within the city that is easily walkable
  2. Find multiple (two or three) restaurants that are within the area
  3. Make reservations (as needed and available) at each
  • One hour or slightly less per restaurant is good
  1. Eat at place1, walk to place2, eat at place2, etc.
  • Alternate who chooses the option at each place or agree together

Good picks!

  1. Messing with salesmen. Go to an open house for a mansion, or to a luxury car dealer. Lie your ass off about what you do, your income, etc.

  2. Fake proposal. Get a big fake ring and publicly propose to her, crowded restaurant or public square kind of thing. She rejects you, floridly. Cry. Scream. She fucked your brother and she loves him more. You can't believe she's doing this to you after you paid for all her plastic surgery! But we can't because your dad is actually her uncle but she didn't know how to tell you. Make a scene.

  3. My wife and I didn't really have any parties we wanted to go to for new years for a variety of reasons, so we booked an AirBnB in the woods an hour away, a little cabin with no one around. We brought some edibles, some speakers, and the books we wanted to read, along with a charcuterie board and a bottle of wine. All we did was play jazz, make love, and read. My wife raved about what a good time she had, and has repeatedly said since "Why don't we just do that again?"

I really want to try #2.

I mentioned one the other day. My girlfriend and I play this game where we go into a bookshop and we each pick out a book that we think the other would enjoy. Sometimes we set a time limit and/or budget, or impose other conditions (you can't buy the other person a book that you've read yourself). It's a fun way to kill an hour.

1 and 2 sound like a lot of fun!

A lot of these ideas are good, and Iappreciate you sharing them.

Let me offer an opposite but not opposing perspective here.

Short dates can be really good for the early part of a relationship. A lot of people still default to the dinner date framework; (maybe) drinks, followed by a full dinner with conversation that can range all over the place, and then either more drinks after (danger, Will Robinson!) or maybe some sort of planned not planned stroll. Your median western guy is going to try to get a kiss out of it to solidify physical attraction and setup a next date.

This isn't bad, per se, but it's the dating version of a multi-part SSC post. I can't read that shit on my phone while i'm taking a ... nevermind, you get it.

Short dates give more bang for your buck. One of the best discoveries I stumbled upon back in my gaming days was a lunch date on a weekend. Pressure on both parties is far reduced, you time bound it up front, single location, conversation is generally less deeply personal (you talk more about third part stuff, general observations, etc.) and more flirty-fun. If anything physical does happen, it's also similarly "breezy."

The outcome is a feeling of just pure fun. That's a big win early for a lot of folks, especially women, who are used to prepping for dates like they're depositions, and then doing an after action report with their girlfriends. Furthermore, if it's a totally no-match, you have Friday / Saturday night still open to do whatever you want to get that bad taste out of your mouth, instead of doing the awkward post-bad-date shuffle back to your place and watch shitty netflix while the frozen burrito reheats and rotates.

This reminds me of advice an older guy in my church gave me back in the day. He used to extol the virtues of the "Coke date", where you go do something low key that takes a half hour or less. Coffee, ice cream, whatever (or just getting a Coke I guess, though I think that's probably going to be seen as weird these days). He said basically what you said: by keeping the time and money investment low, it's no big deal even if it goes completely sideways. I think there's a lot of wisdom to this line of thinking.

Wow, thank you for the reminder that there are lots of different kinds of people in the world. Your ideas sound like good TV, but exhausting dates. I'm curious which one of us is more normal in this regard, relative to either themotte or in general.

I'm early 30s, so maybe I'm just older and boring now? My ideal date is doing nothing. Cook a simple meal together, walk around the neighborhood, hang out, and "hang out" - heck, the first two are optional. If we've been together for more than a few months, so is the last one.

Yeah, me and my girlfriend are in our early 30s. We like to go to Big Lots and buy various snacks, and then watch weird DVDs from the thrift store. This weekend we went to the local nature preserve and looked at turtles. I think we have as much fun as anyone does.

Participating in flow arts.

ETA: Some animal shelters have a program where you can borrow a dog for the day. You could do that and go around trying to find someone to adopt it.

Double Date: you get a dollar store notebook. You fill in each page of the notebook with one absurd item that doesn't exist in a store. Each couple then passes their notebook over. You go to a store and walk up to an associate, flip the page, and ask where to find "Daddy Butter" or "Snoop Dogg Goes Jewish Vol. 1", whatever it says. Basically Impractical Jokers style thing.

Taste test - go pick up different types of bottled water, french fries from different fast food places, apples, whatever and try to decide which one is best

Chopped - go get 3 random ingredients from the store for each person and challenge to make a dish. Requires reasonably stocked kitchen.

What do you guys think about the reddit IPO from an investor's perspective?

Not seeing any good analysis about it on Reddit, but I'm sure there's really a ton of analysis to be had. They're not currently profitable, and the path to profitability isn't entirely clear from what I've read. All the investing subs are generally pessimistic but their reasoning mostly boils down to "reddit bad". I'm sympathetic to that take, I would also agree that the quality of reddit on aggregate has been going down (exacerbated around 2016ish IMO), but that doesn't mean it can't be profitable. Plenty of unprofitable companies IPO and end up profitable down the road.

I'm a boring low-cost index fund kind of guy so I'm staying away from it either way. I just haven't seen any real justification for why someone should or shouldn't buy besides vibes.

From the perspective of a long-term investor, I wouldn't buy. Stocks are a claim on future profits of the company and I don't think their future looks better than other investment opportunities.

  • The user base isn't as sticky as other social media because it is based on interacting anonymously. Other social media has more of a moat due to the connections you have with people you know IRL.
  • Users could easily get similar content elsewhere on the internet
  • Since users can easily leave any attempts to increase profitably could drive users away (such as the API changes). Competitors can eventually capitalize on any errors Reddit makes while chasing profitability.
  • Advertisers continue to shift to more targeted advertising and Reddit has a lot less data that is useful for this type of targeting than other social media that has user's personal details.
  • The utility of the site is going down. It isn't good for truth-seeking. It is a good place for social confirmation but eventually people get bored with constantly seeing variants of the same content everyday.
  • The quality of the data is going down as people get better at gaming the system to push their ideologies or spam.
  • I think there is a general societal trend of getting sick of all the bullshit on social media and wanting to have more authentic connections. At a minimum people are shifting to things like invite-only discords or online communities that require some digging to find.

I'm generally bearish on almost all social media sites being able to be profitable. Google and Facebook make most of their money from being the people who control the ads, not just present the ads. Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, and all the other even more niche social platforms like Strava, Snapchat, Discord, etc. I don't think have a chance at earning much money.

If someone sends you unwanted messages asking you to invest, that's a red flag in and of itself. We're in a crypto and AI bullrun - why would anyone want to buy reddit given available choices?

Does anyone know what the current legal landscape looks like for MBE (or women owned or diverse ownership) requirements on public works? It (awarding city/state/federal money to minority owned firms who cannot win contracts on their own) seems plainly worse than even Affirmative Action in universities and yet I don't think I've heard of any groups working to dismantle this.

Also worth noting this is another element of US public works cost disease. Everyone is quick to point out ballooning consultant fees but loathes to acknowledge how 10+% of public spending by cities and the like ia often required to be given to MBEs as subcontractors (which generally suck).

What is the best evidence on prostate cancer screening? Should it be done? Is it worth getting a biopsy or treating prostate cancer?

I am not a medical doctor.

Prostate screening isn't a bad idea, especially if it will assuage worries or if one is experiencing pain or things like hematuria (blood in urine.. notably hematospermia is less of a concern) but there is debate, as you must know because you've asked this question.

The real issue is what to do if cancer is found, and not just the usual benign dys/hyperplasia that nearly all men will have eventually. If cancer is found, the annoying and counterintuitive best practice is currently watch and wait for most men. Watch for changes, wait for development. This depends on age, severity of symptoms, and the size of the tumor, and so on, of course. Prostate cancer in a man under 50 is more of a concern. Medical information online is almost always generalized to populations, not individuals. Young men shouldn't be getting prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer screening is typically done via DRE and, if abnormalities are detected, ultrasound (There is something called transurethral ultrasound where a tube is inserted) and ultimately biopsy if needed, . meaning part of the suspected tumor is lasered or otherwise cut out and examined for malignancy. But the first step is bending over and singing Moon River.

Treatment can include partial or complete 3 prostatectomy, which obviously isn't ideal and has several rather dramatic effects on the plumbing, up to and including ED and urinary incontinence. This is in addition to chemo and whatever else.

Having written this, I personally am for screening, which is really minimally invasive apart from the embarrassment and discomfort. The reason there's even discussion about it as far as I can tell is that for older men surgery and chemo may seriously hinder quality of life and not ultimately really buy much time. But concurrent with this, catching it early in younger men is better than finding out after it has metastasized.

Edit: Measuring urine PSA is actually step 1 and is no more painful than peeing in a cup.

Why is blood in the ejaculate less of a concern? Just curious.

If it's happening a lot, it's a concern. I wouldn't ignore it. Otherwise it's usually infection or some inflammation and doesn't recur (hematospermia I mean). Particularly if one has no other symptoms. It's apparently not uncommon.

Hematuria is more a predictor of larger or more systemic urinary tract issues or cancer. You'd think there would be a much more robust answer to bloody sperm than "Yeah don't worry about it." I suppose there is, but generally that's the line.

Again though, not a doctor. Part of my job is translating and explaining medical concepts from Japanese into English (and rarely vice versa) so I do more reading on medical issues than any sane non-doctor would.

I see. How does someone even notice hematuria, btw? Is it obvious?

You wouldn't unless you are aware of your usual urine color. Gross (visible) hematuria would be considerably different--brownish, cola colored, or reddish. But what's called occult hematuria or microscopic hematuria is probably more common and your urologist only detects that via microscope (3/4 red blood cells per High powered field is the standard).

Hematospermia is much more noticeable and is characterized by either bright red, brown, or even almost black ejaculate.

Thanks for the info!

So, what are you reading?

I'm finishing up a delightful little book by Étienne de la Boétie, The Politics of Obedience. It is a classic clarion call for individual liberty, eloquent and well-read in antiquity, remarkable in how much it makes one reflect on his own actions in life. I would not be surprised if it was an influence on 300.

I'm trying to finally get through the whole Quran. I highly recommend that anyone who attempts this reads it in revelation order. It is far more engaging like this if you're not reading for religious purposes.

Still working through McGilchrist and Monte Cristo.

In spite of my great fondness for Montaigne, I've not yet read his greatest (contemporary) muse, Boétie. What translation are you reading?

Working through I, Claudius at the moment. Very well written, although I cannot speak to the accuracy of the characters' depictions.

How’s I, Claudius? I almost bought a copy from eBay the other day.

Really quite good, I'm about halfway through and its a page turner. Even for those not particularly interested in historical fiction, I think this is just a intriguing novel in its own right. Lots of 'easter eggs' for Roman history aficionados as well I'm sure.

What translation are you reading?

Harry Kurz. It's a remarkable and short work, one of the best I've read.

Are you reading the Qur'an in Arabic?

I'm afraid not. I've wanted to learn Arabic for some time now but have never managed to persist in the required effort to learn the script and pronunciation.

I'm using M. A. S. Abdel Haleem's translation, as it seems suited to Western tastes and has useful introductions/footnotes for every Surah.

This evening I finished Ted Chiang's novella "The Lifecycle of Software Objects". Not my favourite entry in his collection Exhalation, but not the worst either. It managed the AI thing quite well of getting me to care about characters that I know aren't really "conscious" as such, and I cared about the human characters just as much.

When do you think a group of people are justified in seceding from their larger nation state? I generally lean towards that people generally should be allowed to have self-determination, but there are lots of complicating factors. Like imagine a county of Alphastan, majority Alphstani, which has one province which is 60% Betlish and 40% Alphstani. If that province wants to secede, when would that be permissible? What would be acceptable actions from the Betlish population if the Alphstani majority would doing things like oppressing their language in federal schools? What should the Alphstani reaction be if they had reason to believe that, if the province did secede, they'd start oppressing the Alphstani minority there? What if Alphstanis used to have a majority in that province, but then their hostile neighbor of Betland started sending settlers in as a preemptive move to try to annex that province?

All those scenarios aren't particularly important in and of themselves, I just want to have a better framework of when I should be supporting independence movements vs not. One area in particular that divides me in real life is Crimea- from what I understand, that area probably really would prefer to be part of Russia than Ukraine. But that's only after Russia has taken the region by force and increased the number of Russians living there.

If the secessionist group has a good chance of turning into some kind of functional government, and the current situation is one where unity with the larger doesn't offer anything to the smaller (or actively hinders them), and you aren't dooming your people to a hopeless and bloody end, then I think you can try your hand at seceding in good conscience. The last qualifier is up for debate as martyred heroes can inspire future generations, but as an uninvolved outsider it's probably a moral line you want to draw.

Never. If you can't be in the country you love, love the country you're in. It's great when it happened, historically, and we shouldn't go back on them; but it's always violent.

In addition to other examples /u/theory mentioned, Quebec almost seceded from Canada. I think it's entirely possible that Texas or California could secede if their populations actually wanted to, and do it peacefully.

@theory @Felagund

None of those examples really mean a lot. Slovakia and Czechia never really separated, they never instituted a hard border by which a citizen of one could not travel to or work in the other, and within just a few years of independence they both acceded to the EU and lost the most important points of sovereignty anyway. This is the Epcot Nationalism common in EU countries I've talked about before: once you take out the possibility of borders that prevent travel, the possibility of different regulatory regimes, the possibility of war, and smooth out most of the differences in values (ie both are subject to EU regulations and pressure on "Human Rights") well...what's the difference anyway other than linguistic choices in street signage?

The Baltic countries separated peacefully, perhaps, for now. Russia has repeatedly accused all the former USSR states of oppressing Russian speakers, which I'd qualify as state violence (being forced to abandon one's native language or accept second class status). And the story isn't written yet on the Baltics anyway: Ukraine and Georgia were countries that could be listed as separating peacefully, right up until they couldn't.

Norway and Sweden were never one country, they operated in a personal union as separate constitutional democracies with the same monarch.

The two states kept separate constitutions, laws, legislatures, administrations, state churches, armed forces, and currencies...

They were further apart than they will be as EU and NATO member states.

I'm not sure which examples we're talking about from the British Empire. India separated peacefully, but partition resulted in immense, tragic, and ongoing violence. Uganda and Rhodesia separated pretty peacefully, but would later engage in a great deal of violence against ethnic minorities perceived as colonizers, which would not have occurred without independence. I'd probably spot you Canada, New Zealand, Australia; but to a lesser extent they suffer from the EU problem: those countries remained in the Bretton Woods system and allied militarily with their former Colonial masters within the American alliance system. The process Moreover, those countries were never unitary parts of the British polity, they were colonies. They always had a separate legal existence as countries, who simply acknowledged the same monarch.

I continue to contend that separating states must result in violence. If not between the two states, then within the states against the people who don't "fit" the new border to forcibly alter or expel them. We should be seeking to achieve universal standards of human rights for minorities, not to properly sort them to avoid their existence as minorities.

Texas’s support for secession is either 1 or 2 thirds depending on how the question is written, which points to a large swing voter group that could swing hard behind secession in the right climate.

Independence of Slovakia from Czechia, Montenegro from Serbia, Norway from Sweden were all peaceful and caused no casualties.

And the Baltic states from the USSR, a whole lot of places from the British Empire, and more.

I don't have a good answer to your larger question, but in the case of Crimea the inhabitants never wanted to be part of Ukraine: they tried to become independent when the Soviet Union collapsed but the new Ukrainian government strong-armed them into amending their constitution to state that Crimea was sovereign "as a part of Ukraine."

I might've gotten it confused with other regions like the Donbass.