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Small-Scale Question Sunday for March 17, 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.

In the US, men kill themselves about 4 times more often than women. Why? One can argue that men have it harder in life than women (although I'm not sure that's true), but my anecdotal experience of observing people certainly does not suggest that women are 4 times more happy than men on average.

Men have lower inhibition, higher time preference and take more risks than women. Suicidal ideation is therefore more likely to be followed through by men.

That is interesting. If men have higher time preference than women, why do men make up the majority of successful investors? Is it because the lower inhibition and higher risk-taking somehow make up for the higher time preference? Or something to do with more men being on the high tail of the intelligence bell curve?

Men are higher variance, fewer women are interested in finance, and success in the markets often involves an element of risk-taking where women might be by nature more conservative.

In general, men do save more than women even though research has repeatedly demonstrated men have generally higher time preference. There are several potential evo-psych explanations for this interesting observation, but little real evidence for any.

Got it, thanks for the explanation. Given that you are a woman in finance, whether it is rational for me to do so or not I take your opinion on this matter more seriously than I would the average person's.

There has been some research conducted on portfolio management, afaik on average female fund managers don’t do much worse than the men, and indeed do better in some years. Extreme outliers who see the highest returns or implode in a year are almost all men, so I think a greater range of male performance is a good explanation.

Is this data on attempts or on successes? The data may suggest a much smaller gap once the different success rates of typical gendered methods are considered. Few women blow their brains out, many men do.

Even in countries with very few firearms men more commonly commit suicide than women:

South Korea: men 29.9, women 13.4

Japan: men 17.5 women 6.9

Men are also more likely to be passionate about their pursuits, including suicide, so they are more likely to search for more effective methods of ending one's life rather than going with the one which first comes to mind.

Sure and I would bet in those cultures men are more likely to use mechanical methods than eg pills relative to women. Hanging yourself is a good method too.


The proper comparison isn't between the happiness of the average man and the average woman, but of those truly miserable how many are men.

If happiness of men and happiness of women both follow the normal distribution with average happiness of men and women being equal, but happiness of women having a smaller variance, the number of men below any value smaller than the mean, will be greater than the number of women below the same value.

Good point!

Is this a new argument people are making, or just new to me: that the Christian Right needs to support Israel because, to quote a YouTube comment, “there is nothing atheists would want more than for the priceless biblical archaeology to be iconoclast-ed by the muhammedan”? Because the idea that 'the Left supports the Palestinians because they want them to destroy proof of the Bible's historicity' is certainly a take I haven’t seen before.

This article asserts that the figures provided by the Gaza Health Ministry on civilian deaths since Israel's invasion cannot be trusted. It links to this article, which argues that the figures provided are obviously fabricated given how they violate statistical expectations.

I am not very good at stats, so can someone tell me if these arguments are credible?

almost metronomical linearity

is what you would expect if the total number of daily deaths exceed what can be confirmed by a finite number of personnel in a given day. If a week-long heavy wind wipes out 3000 poles a day, and I only have the personnel to confirm 2000 a day, then we should expect almost metronomical linearity in the reporting of fixed poles. The article states that “the daily reported casualty count over this period averages 270 plus or minus about 15%”, and that’s enough variability to align with the above.

on the days when just a few women are reported to have been killed, just a few children should be reported”

This only make sense if boys those under 18 are not sent by their mother to obtain goods. In fact, these boys are much more likely to be targeted by Israel when they are gathered in a group without women present. Additionally, per the above, there may be separate areas for corpses based on age — usually they try to keep the children alive as much as possible, or rescue them first, etc

Another red flag, raised by Salo Aizenberg and written about extensively, is that if 70% of the casualties are women and children and 25% of the population is adult male, then either Israel is not successfully eliminating Hamas fighters or adult male casualty counts are extremely low

There has never been any evidence that Israel is targeting Hamas fighters. They may very well be targeting the extended families of those who they believe could possibly be Hamas fighters. Israel has dropped 30,000 bombs just by December, whereas there are only 20,000 Hamas fighters. They could literally be targeting whoever they think are the smartest Gazan residents and we would have no idea because there is no evidence or verification of their attacks’ successes.

If a week-long heavy wind wipes out 3000 poles a day, and I only have the personnel to confirm 2000 a day, then we should expect almost metronomical linearity in the reporting of fixed poles.

What incentive does Hamas have to undercount the civilian death toll of the Israeli invasion? The only times governments do this is when the preservation of domestic civilian morale outweighs the need for international support / condemnation of the enemy. This is clearly not the case for Hamas, whose only hope of maintaining control of Gaza is that third parties pressure Israel into withdrawal, and which is strongly incentivized to hugely overcount civilian casualties as a result. We saw this early in the invasion with the Shifa bombing hoax where Hamas claimed a death toll of 500+ in an Israeli strike that never actually materialized and that appeared to actually be a comparatively small explosion in a parking lot. We see it regularly with the repurposing of historic footage of previous bombing casualties as current. This does not suggest any reason why they’d undercount instead of just ‘estimating’ strike casualties even if they couldn’t verify corpses on the ground.

Israel has dropped 30,000 bombs just by December, whereas there are only 20,000 Hamas fighters.

Prewar estimates of the number of Hamas fighters was 30-40,000, not 20,000. Given the scale of some of the destroyed tunnels so far (many detonations on /r/combatfootage) it’s widely believed that many thousands of fighters remain in the tunnels. The military strategy is to secure the surface so that these tunnels can be detonated with minimal IDF casualties.

In no previous conflict has the Gazan Ministry of Health overcounted mortality figures — they have proven reliable in their counting based on history. You need to prove that Hamas has taken control of the ministry of health when we know that the leadership of the ministry is more affiliated with other groups like Fatah and Palestinian Authority. If the ministry has a finite number of trained officials to verify deaths, which is probable, then the number of verifications has a ceiling. They would not be pulling random Hamas fighters in tunnels and putting a white coat on them and telling them to verify deaths.

the Shifa bombing hoax

Run a google search of my comments on that if you want. Did you forget that a month after this hospital bombing, the NYT put reporters in another hospital and were able to verify Israel bombed that one? Or did you forget that the hospital administrators — a hodgepodge of anglosphere Christians — confirmed that Shifa was attacked by Israel days before and warned of an impending attack? Israel and US claim it is a hoax, there has been no evidence that it was a hoax.

appeared to actually be a comparatively small explosion in a parking lot

The parking lot which we know, from tweets made before the event, hosted sleeping refugees. I made an archive of that tweet and you can find it in my original comments on the event.


DNI disagrees with you

Run a google search of my comments on that if you want. Did you forget that a month after this hospital bombing, the NYT put reporters in another hospital and were able to verify Israel bombed that one? Or did you forget that the hospital administrators — a hodgepodge of anglosphere Christians — confirmed that Shifa was attacked by Israel days before and warned of an impending attack? Israel and US claim it is a hoax, there has been no evidence that it was a hoax.

The hoax wasn’t that there was never a strike (although the jury seems to be out as to whether it was Israel or a failed Hamas rocket launch), but that 550+ died in it.

They would not be pulling random Hamas fighters in tunnels and putting a white coat on them and telling them to verify deaths.

Perhaps not, but again, they have every incentive to overcount deaths and absolutely zero incentive to undercount them, which is highly meaningful in this kind of invasion scenario. Again, I’m not arguing that total deaths are vastly lower than recorded, just that they’re unlikely to be much higher.

DNI disagrees

That data is old. Reuters’ sources inside Hamas reported their strength was 40,000 fighters pre-war, and they tend to be pretty reputable. Israel thought it was 30,000, but they were caught off guard. And of course many young men will have been drafted in or volunteered as fighters since the invasion began.

DNI disagrees with you

Is it possible this website is out of date? I note that its list of "Notable Attacks" committed by Hamas stops at April 2022 and doesn't mention October 7th.

2022 is recent enough, though. It’s unlikely they can recruit 10,000 fighters in just one year, one third of their entire force. But they could still just be wrong about the numbers.

Unfortunately I think being good at stats doesn't help much here, it's more about what is normal for a war, which is hard for us peace-cels.

That said the total really looks downright bizarre. It's almost perfectly linear, war almost definitely doesn't kill exactly the same amount of people every day without fail.

The point about the lack of correlation between women and children makes sense if you consider children as < 10 yrs or so, but if we assume that a lot of teenagers, possibly even soldiers, below 18 are counted as children it's not unsurprising to be uncorrelated. I guess that would just be damning in a different way, though.

The absurdly strong negative correlation between men and women also primarily makes sense if we consider most men to be Hamas fighters, but not if we consider them as civilians.

Do you think there will be a change in forum viewership after that screenshot was viewed three million times on Twitter?

You can't post something like this without providing a link.

In any case, I suppose we don't have to worry so much about losing the Reddit pipeline.

Do we even have a Mr. Vitalist?

Can’t even tell if we discussed that post other than here.

Screenshots without links, or even a URL in the screenshot itself? We'll be lucky to get 10 new users from that.

It's something of a pet peeve of mine with the posters that struck out on their own, and are now acting like they're to cool to admit to ever hanging out with us. Though in Trace's case he might be trying to protect us from being flooded.

I freely admit association with the Motte as appropriate. This place was a big part of my own intellectual journey and I have nothing to hide about it. In this case, Twitter throttles Substack links as if they're ads, so I couldn't link the Vitalist's blog without my posts getting throttled into oblivion. I even mention my connection in the replies to that post.

In the thread there’s the tweet:

dude is The Vitalist on the site that must not be named

And I think this phrase alone will bring a few thousand to the forum

acting like they're too cool

I think it’s totally reasonable to deny association with the forum given the content that is sometimes posted

And I think this phrase alone will bring a few thousand to the forum

He's talking about Substack. Substack is the site that can't be named on twitter, not here.

Trace had massive reservations about the state of The Motte even in 2020, and we're further down the rabbithole now. Besides, Substack and even X have improved as platforms for mottelike effortposts.

While I maintain my reservations, I also generally enjoy the company of the people here and have nothing to hide in terms of associations. In this case, I was referring to his original posts and to Substack, as @FirmWeird accurately noted. I'm mostly just too distractable to post to multiple platforms simultaneously with any regularity, and yeah, Twitter is in a bit of a golden age for Mottelike effortposts atm, so I've been enjoying my time there.

Trace had massive reservations about the state of The Motte even in 2020, and we're further down the rabbithole now.

Our local progressives will have to speak for themselves, but I'm somehow getting the feeling that the reservations have decreased despite the skew of this place increasing.

As a whole the community has become more polite offsite, I think because the leakage from/to various places with lower standards was reduced. Even if you’re a shitposter or troll elsewhere, coming here, to a separate site, kind of has a calming or separating effect on one’s internet persona.

dude is The Vitalist on the site that must not be named

And I think this phrase alone will bring a few thousand to the forum

Except on Twitter that phrase means "Substack". Actually, now that I look at it, the screenshots aren't even from the post on The Motte, they're from the guy's Substack.

I think it’s totally reasonable to deny association with the forum given the content that is sometimes posted

"I don't want my niche hangout to be overrun by normies" is a perfectly fine sentiment and I'm not going to hold it against anyone who made it big, but "I'm going to cash in on a post from my niche hangout, and not give credit, because I'm afraid I'll get cancelled" is very, very low.

Isn't that really from his substack originally though?

I forgot he posted on substack originally, you’re right.

Yeah, it’s not a Motte screenshot, I think we’ll be fine. In general I think Twitter aficionados would find this place pretty slow, wordy and with much less regular like/retweet/reply dopamine injection than Twitter. There’s a reason users like Kulak largely moved on to Twitter, after all. This is more of a social club than a discussion board.

It seems that most of the work that real estate agents do is finding clients. How does that work? If I want to sell my house, it's not hard to find a real estate agent. I can contact one in two minutes. For real estate agents to be spending so much effort finding clients, there has to be a large pool of people who want to sell their houses but for some reason don't have real estate agents yet. How can that be? What are real estate agents actually doing?

A real estate agent’s main job is finding clients by convincing people in the regular world to use them and not somebody else- you can google ‘real estate agencies near me’ and cal them and they’ll assign you one, but most people would prefer to hire an agent from their church/country club/PTA at their kid’s school/whatever. In other words the job is networking, finding clients instead of having them find you on google.

They work their personal networks, chat with friends of friends and let people know they are available. They tend to specialize in certain neighbourhoods so they can join social groups in that area. People are a lot more comfortable if they have some social connection to the agent, or if they get a referral from someone. Some of them actually are also Uber drivers so they can chat with locals and find out who may be interested in selling.

There are also some very underhanded tactics. Back in the day there were real estate agents who paid black women to push strollers around neighbourhoods to convince people it was time to sell. Also things like talking to lonely seniors and convincing them to sell.

Why do people prefer real estate agents in their network? Is this rational? Why don't real estate agents compete on price instead?

They've banded together and declared standard commissions, so they can't compete on price.

Given how commissions are structured they are incentivized to close deals fast instead of holding out for the best price.

Basically people want real estate agents in their network because they believe they are less likely to screw them.

They've banded together and declared standard commissions

Source? This article says that any explicit attempt to "declare standard commissions" would fall afoul of antitrust laws.

Do you have a source on said underhanded tactics?

from the link,

The tactics included:

  • hiring black women to be seen pushing baby carriages in white neighborhoods to encourage white fear of devalued property
  • hiring black men to drive through white neighborhoods with their radios blasting
  • hiring black youth to stage street brawls in front of white homes to generate feelings of an unsafe atmosphere
  • selling a house to a black family in a middle-class white neighborhood to provoke white flight, before the community's property values decline considerably
  • saturating the neighborhood area with fliers offering quick cash for houses developers buying houses and buildings, leaving them unoccupied to make the neighborhood appear abandoned – like a ghetto or a slum

I just ate at a nice restaurant here with a tribal seafood theme.

This alone is eyebrow raising. The north eastern tribes in India live as far from the sea as it gets, given their iodine deficiency rates, and the other miscellaneous tribes don't sea-fare either. And they had wall art of random Native American tribals and even one panel showing a giraffe. Very mixed messaging.

Even more concerning was that they had Mongolian fish as a menu option.




"Ah yes, I will order a preparation of fish nominally based on the techniques of a pastoralist landlocked nation" - - - - > Clueless

Anyway, the food was great, though my absolute distaste for all seafood has made even squid hard to stomach. They've got biryani cooked in bamboo, served so hot you'd swear someone had fired a disposable rocket launcher like the RPG-26 and left it to cool.

What's the most questionable dish you guys have seen on a menu?

There are increasingly large (I mean not large large, but large enough) numbers of Mexicans in Europe, but for a long time it was hilarious to see what passed for Mexican food in Scandinavia, Germany and so on.

While British Indian food was mostly great, I died a little inside at what passed for biryani.

Surely there are lakes in Mongolia.

Lakes, rivers? They definitely exist. I wouldn't expect much of them.

In Ottawa, 20 years ago. A local pub near Parliament Hill had a special. For $200 you could get a bottle of Dom Pérignon and 12 chicken wings. It showed up on the receipt as "wing special" so customers could expense it as food.

The Mongolian fish might just be fish that is prepared similarly to Mongolian beef, which despite the name has nothing to do with Mongolia.

Given that Mongolian beef was invented in Taiwan in the 1950s, though, that would not explain why it* would be served at a tribal seafood restaurant.

Edit: *a fish prepared in the same manner.

I appreciate the answers, though you've substituted utter confusion with only mild confusion in this case haha.

Mongolian beef is popular in the US, I don't know if it's popular in India or the various other countries you've spent significant time in. At a regular restaurant, I would thus expect a dish called "Mongolian fish" to probably be fish prepared after the fashion of Mongolian beef. However yeah, it is confusing why a "tribal" restaurant would serve something like this.

When it comes to at least some so-called "Mongolian" dishes, it seems to be a case of "politics strikes yet again". According to Wikipedia:

Mongolian barbecue was created by Taiwanese comedian and restaurateur Wu Zhaonan. A native of Beijing, Wu fled to Taiwan after the outbreak of the Chinese Civil War, and opened a street food stall in Yingqiao [zh], Taipei in 1951.[1][2] While he initially wished to name the dish "Beijing barbecue", due to political sensitivity associated with the city which had been recently designated as the capital of the People's Republic of China, the name "Mongolian barbecue" was chosen despite the lack of connection to Mongolia.[5]

Mongolian barbecue is from Taiwan? I can't believe Ghengis Grill lied to me!

The Vietnamese who run all asian fast food here never told me! I feel betrayed!

Vegan gravy, a loose burger(literally just ground beef scooped out of a hot pan and spooned onto a hamburger bun), insert-not-Mexican-style tacos(especially the Asian ones). And there’s something that I can’t remember at the moment but it was a Jewish dish being cast as Italian?

a loose burger(literally just ground beef scooped out of a hot pan and spooned onto a hamburger bun)

Is this a questionable Dish? Just sounds like an incomplete sloppy joe. You were supposed to put condiments on it!

It's called a loose meat sandwich. They were very popular in the period after ground beef became commonly available but before canned tomato sauce appeared in stores.

And there’s something that I can’t remember at the moment but it was a Jewish dish being cast as Italian?

I am told that New Jersey makes this distinction hard to make at times, but what do I know?

This was a WASPy section of Dallas…

Ah, Bishop Arts. No wait.

Preston hollow…

I threw out 75% of my wardrobe. The mental peace of finding the clothes I want at an arm's reach at a moments notice is worth whatever couple of hundreds I'll have to spend replacing a few shirts and pants.

It's not mental peace exactly, it's not having to think, saving bandwidth. I've been lately optimizing my life towards using as little bandwidth as I can, to save it for the important things.

What are your unconventional mental bandwidth saving hacks? (I understand minimalism isn't rocket science, but that's my most recent example)

Thirty second rule. If I notice it, and it’ll take less than 30 seconds to fix, it should be done immediately. Helps keep the general pressure of tidying at bay.

I have been absolutely terrible at following this lately. Not sure if that’s cause or effect of my stress levels.

A slightly less practical one but a good mindset to aspire to nonetheless is the "touch it once" principle.

I generally bundle this and the thirty second rule into just mentally taking the piss out of myself that "I'll do it later, there'll be a better time" is a stupid lazy lie when I'm standing right in front of a task that already has my attention.

Sounds like you independently discovered Mari Kondo minimalism. Read her book since she's a nut for throwing things away to increase mental bandwidth.

What are your unconventional mental bandwidth saving hacks?

This is more common than unconventional, since it's the GTD method, but be sure to transfer the noisiness of your brain into a coppermind. For every thought that you anticipate will touch your mind more than once: put tasks in a todo app, high-priority facts like face-name pairs in a flashcard app, notes and writings in a searchable reference app. (I'm use Todoist, Anki, and Obsidian atm.)

For those with anxiety, there's a fourth category I use called recurring worries. Thoughts like 'am I on the right path?' 'why am I wasting time on this?' 'what will people think about this?' etc. I put these in an evergreen note called 'The Worry Bucket' and allocate one hour on Sundays for them. This makes them easier to dismiss and focus for the rest of the week.

I am confused how throwing out 75% of clothes helped given that you now need to buy more to replace it.

I had far too many that I never wore. Now I have only the ones I wear. And these I can wash, iron and maintain well because there's like a dozen left.

Oh, then it makes sense! Situation where half of clothes is never used is silly and makes sense to give them away.

This is wild to me, I get a certain mental comfort from knowing that raggedy t shirt is still in my drawer in case tomorrow is the day I want to wear it again. I would like to throw out all my socks and buy only one style of perfectly matching socks so I don't have to match a sock again.

I would like to throw out all my socks and buy only one style of perfectly matching socks so I don't have to match a sock again.

For the longest time Amazon Canada would only sell packs of assorted socks, which was very annoying. Now they sell packs of Amazon Basics identical socks. The big downside is now I have exactly the same socks as some of my friends.

It varies by person. My wife loves the KonMari thing, I try it and just end up realizing how much I like all the things I own and get rid of very little.

My case is special, I haven't thrown out any clothes since High School (I'm 26 now). So it was a long time coming.

I’ve got you beat, boyo. I’m in my thirties and still wear t-shirts from when I was in middle school.

You didn't grow since middle school or wat

I’ve only grown a few inches since then, and most of that growth was in my limbs.

Same here, but not sure it's something to be loud about!

I'm an in-and-out, follow the list, know the layout, largely own-brand supermarket shopper who pays the minimum necessary attention to packaging. Years of internet content have made me selectively blind to anything less attention grabbing than literal naked women (and even then...). But I was lying in bed yesterday reminiscing on being a broke student and getting a "free" Bodum cafetiere by collecting something trivial like two empty coffee packets plus P+P, and some other similar giveaways that I still have in the kitchen cupboard.

Do retail suppliers still do those promotions, or was it a golden age of economic abundance and marketing largesse? What's the best thing you've got from a retail promotion? What do you still regularly use that came as a freebie?

The only one I can think of having seen lately is the tokens on branded yoghurt, which I ignored for years until I one day I caved in to curiosity and looked up the details of the offer. Turns out you basically need to be a commercial kitchen consuming gallons of yoghurt every day to make it remotely worthwhile, and IIRC the offers were split between consumable cross-marketing crap like a sample bottle of artisan moisturiser (which you still needed far too many tokens for) and then jumped up to a weekend in a fully catered holiday cottage, with very little in between.

There are still loyalty and "points" style programs at some retailers and chains but I also feel its become less common. What I see more of now is digital schemes where you reveal a great deal of personal information and allow yourself to be tracked somehow in exchange for discounts on merchandise. I signed up for one at my local big chain grocer and one of the employees claimed that installing the app allows them to follow your trip around the inside of their store to study your shopping habits. IDK they already know I'm there when I use my "shopper card" to get the listed discounts anyway. There have been some pretty good deals using it, probably a couple hundred dollars a year, especially on larger volume deals (Buy 10 6-packs of soda at full price and get 10 more free was the best on I remember, basically 50% off 20 6-packs).

As far as actual stuff like mugs or other household items like that? I've not seen much like this in years really. I remember Pepsi used to have something like this years ago. I can say that this sort of thing is still going strong in B2B sales though. If you have any discretion over some sort of organizational/institutional purchasing you can quickly be swimming in swag. A friend of the family is a buyer for the local mega hospital and their home is packed with all manner of housewares and other items branded by various drug makers or equipment manufacturers.

I've got a couple of things housemates who worked in similar sectors have left behind but honestly most B2B swag seems kind of shitty, although that might have been due to their entry level positions. Stationery. Toys. T-shirts. Nothing you'd really miss (so you leave it behind), and more like a grown up version of the stuff you would have found included directly inside every box of cereal. I suppose it's a different affair if you manage a multi-million dollar budget.

I refuse any loyalty points scheme more complex than "collect 10 stamps to claim a free coffee".

Are you talking about what's collectively known as green stamp promotions? Where purchase volume earns points that can be traded for rewards?

AFAIK those all migrated into various purchase appsapps, for far more thorough user tracking and individual promotional price targeting.

That's close, but I mean more along the lines of:

Packet of branded food item (coffee, cereal, yoghurt, soft drink, snack, etc)
"Collect X proofs of purchase and get a free Y!"

And the free Y is something durable and/or worthwhile, and the X proofs is realistic, not triple digits. Or if it's triple digits the Y has real monetary value like a games console. The branded items running the promotion were available in every shop, so it was designed to cultivate brand loyalty rather than loyalty to a chain of shops. Stamps were more agnostic about what you purchased and tend to be limited to one chain or a small consortium.

I suppose most marketing campaigns have transferred to apps, loyalty schemes and other sign up lists, but I get the impression those are focused on discounts and other volume sales promotions rather than straight up material freebies.

Sometimes there are grocery stores with marked down items that have slightly damaged or crushed packaging, but no seal is broken and the food is still good. Rarely has filling meals though.

I intentionally don't pay attention to pricing. I go to a store where everything is within my budget. And if me or my family are willing to eat it, then it is worth purchasing, because our common alternative is eating out which is universally more expensive.

My local grocery store sends out "Free [X] if you buy $5 worth of groceries" texts. Some of these wind up being pretty good. Since I can walk to the store easily, I pretty much always take them up on the offer if it's even mildly interesting since it's easy enough to grab a package of meat and a couple veggies to make the trip worth it. On a recent trip, I grabbed 10 cans of soup for $10 that also included a free carton of ice cream and cashed in on the aforementioned text message for two free bottles of Gatorlyte. Despite having sufficient cash to buy whatever groceries I want, I remain delighted by deals.

I'm trying to calculate the strength of solar radiation for a given latitude as a simple factor from 1 (equatorial) to 0 (polar), assuming no axial tilt or any other complications. My trigonometry is weak. How do I do this?

Arccos curve looks good. Is it arccos? Arccos(latitude / 90) * (2 / pi) looks pretty decent.

Edit: It was Cos all along!

Why arccos? Like ignoring diffuse horizontal irradiance, .......

The insolation is just proportional to the incident cross-section, or sin(90° - ϕ) = cos(ϕ), where ϕ is the latitude.

you can check for yourself though. The instantaneous insolation is given by

Q = S_0 * (d_bar / d)^2 * (sin ϕ sin δ + cos ϕ cos δ cos h)

In your case S_0, d_bar, and d are constant (the solar constant, mean distance, actual distance)

δ is the declination angle, 0 in your case, so sin δ -> 0, cos δ -> 1.

The hour angle h, or deviation from local solar noon you can consider for h = 0, since you can scale to the max if everyone has a 12 hour day. Or cos h -> 1

giving Q ∝ cos ϕ.

Edit: I see @JhanicManifold already answered and got the same thing. Obviously I mean like cos of degrees latitude and he was working in cos of radians and converting the degrees with the factor of 1/90 * pi/2

Thanks, that will come in handy when I decide to complicate matters.

arccos is gonna give you too sharp a result near the equator (i.e. predict that the last few degrees as you get closer matter the most). What you want is just cos(latitude/90 * pi/2).

edit: the way you visualise this is by holding a square piece of paper in front of you, and tilting it until you're looking at it edge-wise. The "visual area" of the piece of paper in your field-of-view is what will give you the proportionality factor.

Yep, that does the trick. Thanks!

I often come across events in a shallow way (like Musk's Grok AI) that I don't have the time/knowledge to write up, but I'm kind of hoping someone else will comment on.

What do people think about a 'Culture War Request Thread' where people without the time (or wordsmithing skills) can suggest current hot topics that others may be interested in investigating/developing?

Has this been considered or tried before? Would it drain energy from the main thread? Is the main thread fine in the sense of 'if no one has made a top level post, its probably not that interesting' sense?

I’d be fine with such requests in this thread.

Though I’ll echo Cjet—any sufficiently unusual topic will get attention if you feel like writing about it.

Yeah, I'm leaning towards posting if I end up doing it, I will post in this thread so as not to pollute the main thread.

What do people think about a 'Culture War Request Thread' where people without the time (or wordsmithing skills) can suggest current hot topics that others may be interested in investigating/developing?

Isn't that also sort-of the Small-Questions Sunday thread?

Somewhat? The Sunday thread isn't culture war focused, though.

The intro says

Culture war topics are accepted

so that suggests to me that simple requests for topics would fit here. I don't think it would drain energy from the main thread and, if it worked, would actually drive more discussion there, as long as the small scale questions didn't consistently spin off into a length discussion of the topic here in this thread before a big post was made.

as long as the small scale questions didn't consistently spin off into a length discussion of the topic here in this thread before a big post was made.

That's what I'm worried about. A request thread would mean to draw attention to developments, but not stunt discussion in the way the Bare Link Depository did. I think maybe you would be able to post items, but not discuss them here. If you wanted to discuss them, someone would need to main thread them.

It might be appropriate (or just tempting) to have some level of discussion, at least on the meta-level, regarding whether other people agree or disagree with the request or potential difficulties they anticipate arising from it or something.

Like, literally right now, you have in this post made a suggestion and we are having a meta level discussion about it, though it's about site content rather than a specific CW topic. As long as the discussions remained brief and meta level that would be fine, but when it comes to CW topics that's always a slippery slope.

Yeah, I feel the same way. Sometimes I just want to post a neat little fact or news story and I don't see the point in adding 20 lines of cultural war BS about why This is A Big Deal and People Need to Care About It.
LLMs can help add some random BS but they often post passive aggressive "wrongthink is bad, mkay" lectures when they're not happy.

I wish there was a forum for actual neutral news. Like what reddit used to be 10 years ago.

The standards aren't super high for posting yourself. Just write a bit about why you find it interesting and a question, more or less. I'd prefer a short but new post to another wall of text.

'if no one has made a top level post, its probably not that interesting' sense?

That is at least one good reason.

Another one I like is that it seems best when the people capable of producing the interesting discussions are the ones that get to choose where it goes and topics get covered.

Finally, you are asking for something and offering nothing. There is technically nothing stopping you from having this arrangement with another poster on themotte. 'I think of topics, you go out and do the research, and write something interesting'. Of course once you put it on the level of a one on one exchange it becomes obvious that the writer/researcher would ask "whats in this for me again?"

Finally, you are asking for something and offering nothing.

I can imagine some people who know a lot about something don't write about it because they don't think there will be any interest. Might be useful for both parties.

If its not a standard topic I can almost guarantee there is interest. Standard topics include: HBD, Immigration, Trans, Race issues, Trump, Jewish people, Ukraine, Gamergate, etc

Finally, you are asking for something and offering nothing.

Yes, but there is a 'lead', a subject. There is a lower grade radar from members that can find interesting subjects that have not yet drawn the attention of higher grade posters. Is there a market for this, or not?

You seem to be simultaneously treating culture war topics as abundant (saying there are too many things for you to research), and scarce (it is a useful service to find a new culture war topic).

I'd say that you abundance take is correct. There are often too many culture war topics for everyone to follow.

In some ways finding new culture war topics is an anti-service and a form of culture warring. You'll see this via two common responses that popped up in the bare links repository:

"Oh great, now people are arguing over topic Y as well?" - the anti service

"This is ridiculous is nothing sacred to Group X, why do they have to ruin this thing too?" - the culture warring

You seem to be simultaneously treating culture war topics as abundant (saying there are too many things for you to research), and scarce (it is a useful service to find a new culture war topic).

Yes, basically. There are culture war topics we nudge against, but don't have enough time or interest to investigate. The chaff, the scum. There could be a diamond in the rough that others can see.

I agree that my suggestion is very close to a (rebranded) BLR. There was a reason why it was shut down. I was more proposing leads for others to investigate rather than drive by culture warring. Maybe if only top level posts were allowed? You couldn't low effort culture war that way because you couldn't comment on a bare link?

TheDag ran a thread like that ten months ago. Not sure how successful you might consider it, but I've been slowly working my way through some of the material I considered then, and appreciated curious_straight_ca's response.

I'm not sure how happy I am with the current state of main thread top-levels. The old Bare Links Repository subthreads did have its problems -- even the best-written stuff was still easy to read as boo-outgroup or yay-ingroup -- but the current longpost meta risks going self-referentially navel-gazey or reaching so far to connect disparate events that it feels a little Pepe Silvia.

That sounds like a rebranded Bare Links Repository, which The Motte tried out when it was still on Reddit. I liked that feature, but the mods shut it down after its trial period and haven’t seemed inclined to bring it back.

High-protein keto vs high-fat keto?

I want to lose weight and maintain muscle. I've previously tried a high-protein keto diet (~100g protein, 50g fat, <30g carbs) but at the time wasn't even aware that that's not really what's meant by keto. It worked well for me, are there any long-term health issues I need to be aware of?

One bonus to fat is that it's a much better fuel for low-intensity aerobic exercise, which is great for both general metabolic health and sustainable weight loss. At walking or very light cycling intensity, the majority of energy comes from fat oxidation, allowing something like coffee with a dollop of butter and/or cream to provide sufficient fuel for a long walk in the morning. Personally, if I were trying to drop weight, I would figure out what was enough protein to minimize catabolic activity and fill the rest of my calories with mostly fats.

This whole substack would probably be interesting for you, but this article in particular argues pretty hard for high fat/low muscle protein (but maybe more gelatin/collagen than normal.)

I've done high protein keto the last couple of times and its been really inefficient compared to high fat keto. Weight loss just kind of fizzled out early and I felt like I was torturing myself for nothing. This is just a subjective anecdote.

The risk of high protein is that you are eating enough protein to convert it to sugar, screwing over your ketosis. I'd suggest using ketostix to track whether your ketones are behaving correctly on the high protein before you try it.

Personally I capped my protein around 66g a day for that reason, but people vary.

High protein just... isn't keto. Better to call it low carb.

Yeah. That diet did work for me though so I think I might just give up on keto and go for a low-fat, low-calorie diet.

Don't be too afraid of fat. What screws me over is high carbs and sugar, that packs the pounds on. I'm not saying shove your face into a bucket of fried chicken every day, but natural fats (yes, butter) aren't the worst, and if you're eating a lot of fat but not a lot of sugar (as in whipped cream which is the double whammy of high fat and high sugar), you'll soon find you don't eat as much fatty foods.

It's the combination of fat and sugar/carbs that is the killer. I could eat my way through a half panloaf of toast and butter no bother. Dry toast on its own? No way. That much butter on its own? Absolutely not. Combine the two? Bad news.

High fat with lots of fiber too, if only for cleansing your intestines and making bathroom trips better. I can't speak to the overall health benefits of one vs. the other though.

New Years resolutions updates- we're a little over a quarter of the way through the year, how is everyone doing?

For myself, I have meaningfully reduced my intake of restaurant food in general by better planning/meal prep and an increased willingness to eat leftovers. This is cheaper but I haven't actually seen any health benefits; I'm not sure if this is because my health was already pretty good or because I need to do something or other else, maybe exercise.

Same resolution as every year - "more HEMA".

So far this year I made it to one mock tournament to fight, one real tournament to watch and help out a little, and zero training sessions. It's better than nothing, but still abysmal. Having been sick for over a month helped little, of course, but who cares about excuses. I did get a ticket for a big weekend event later this spring, and that one was always pretty great in the past. I hope it still holds up, now that I missed it for several years. It also contains a tournament that I'm signed up for, and that one will probably have better fencers from a wider area than the ones I made it to lately, so I expect to - pardon my Swabian - get my ass handed to me, given the absolute shit state I'm in. Still, I need to make it to regular practice/sparring somehow. Sparring, preferably. But all other obstacles nonwithstanding, all HEMA clubs nearby start at something like 20:00, and none is closer than an hour by car, and damn I hate nighttime driving ever since all the cars in the world decided that the only way to be safe was to blind everyone else.

Going okay but currently hampered by my lack of adequate tools and workspace. Slow but steady progress.

I've failed to make any progress on my fitness goals due to lack of gym attendance, but I've got a good enough baseline that this just means I'm continuing to slowly lose weight. Since I hit 1/2/3/4 in 2022 my lifting motivation has gone down a lot but I haven't found anything to replace it with.

Reading sort of, I've read a lot of books but they're not the history/philosophy ones I marked out as wanting to cover. My main excuse is that some of the latter are 1000 pages and it's taking a while to get through them.

Learning French I'm not sure, I feel like I'm making progress but random encounters with French speakers remind me of how bad it is.

I was doing ok on the book every two weeks, but picking up Tolstoy again means I'm running behind, but it'll be beach read season in another month and I'll catch back up that way.

I'm on track with the running and rowing goals.

My weight goals are running ahead of schedule, which is unexpected but good, though I suspect that the next five pounds will be tougher than the first eight. I was 207 and change the day before lent, I'm currently 200 on the button (weighing in the morning after toilet and before coffee). The goal was to average weigh in under 195 for a week straight with no illness or other unusual extenuating circumstances. I'm hoping to get to 197-198, then pause and reassess some lifting goals to make sure I'm not losing more strength than I'm comfortable with before continuing.

Lent itself is going great. I think my pick was too easy.

  1. Make 52 unique burgers - On track with 12 so far. No surprise, I like burgers. My favorite so far was the Oklahoma onion burger. My wife like the grilled poblano, bacon, and ranch burger best. The best patties so far were short-rib patties from a good local source.

  2. Play board games 52 times - I stopped tracking the number because we play so often that it didn't seem like it would be close. I could go back and count by looking at scoresheets, but I probably won't. Adding Brass: Birmingham has been great, although it definitely does fry the brain to do a full playthrough.

  3. Read 52 books - Not gonna happen. I just don't like reading books enough to knock this out. Better to acknowledge that and read when it strikes me than keep trying to be book-guy.

Running was about goals rather than resolutions, but it's been a mixed bag. January was my highest mileage month ever and I ran 5K and 5-mile personal bests. Unfortunately, I injured my calf and peroneal tendon in the week after the 5-mile race by overdoing it (ran 17 miles the day after the race, ran a 3x3K LT workout on Tuesday, then 14 miles on Wednesday, and it was just too much for me to handle) and have been slowly rehabbing that and working back to 100%. On the bright side, last week was back up over 50 miles and also included a couple good bike efforts on Zwift, so I'm feeling pretty on track even if I'm not where I wanted to be at this point.

Read 52 books - Not gonna happen. I just don't like reading books enough to knock this out. Better to acknowledge that and read when it strikes me than keep trying to be book-guy.

52 is a lot either way, but if you don't care about what books you read I've found you can definitely hit the 1 a week pace with audiobooks (I work with my hands so don't lose anything focusing on something else). Doesn't really work with dense nonfiction but old sci-fi/fantasy books are an easy listen.

For the 10th year running I've kept all three of my resolutions-

  1. Don't die
  2. Don't go to jail
  3. Don't walk on the moon

I fully expect to keep them again this year, or be in such a state as to not care if I didor not

From personal experience, going to jail for a very brief period was useful in confirming my edgy teen high school suspicions- "This place is bullshit, I bet jail is literally better than this."- jail was substantially better than a similar amount of time in high school. If you don't start shit with anyone and are vaguely polite to guards (don't be an ass kisser or snitch though), you can spend your time lying down on a shitty mat, read {Bible} or other provided material and just kinda chill.

P.S. Cumulative Uber/Lyft/Taxis over decades are almost certainly cheaper and easier to deal with than any given best-case first-time-offense DUI deferral/diversion program and eventual expungement. If you must be arrested, preferably do something cool or brave or sexy with near zero chance of harming innocents instead of something lame and stupid.

76 Days sober.

Jan 1 - present.

I didn't have a rock bottom moment or full on dependency, but I was undoubtedly drinking far too much and for not good reasons. My estimate is somewhere just north of 1,000 drinks for 2023.

Expected: Energy, mood, discipline, mental health all far,far better. Everyone says this and it is true.

Unexpected: Quitting was easier than I thought. After day 10, I felt genuinely confident I could maintain sobriety. After day 20, I started to feel proud. After day 30, I actively started thinking about how much it would suck to relapse. After day 50 .... I just don't think about drinking anymore. I've been to dinners, bars, and hangouts with friends where everyone else was drinking and have had to turn down offers multiple times in one night. It just hasn't been hard. This was very unexpected.

There have been zero downsides. Social life hasn't suffered. A (minor) additional unexpected - the number of people who genuinely give you a "Good for you" style response and mean it. Some of these people, I think, may be struggling themselves.