Alex N


Sorted by New


Why I Work on Ads

"if I'm causing harm through my work I would like to know about it". Here is: sites that earn from ads effectively fight not for your attention, but your screen time. And your screen time is limited to 24h a day, minus such unwanted distractions as sleep, eating, etc. 

And that's the whole pie, it's not extendable. When Facebook wins an hour of your screen time, Twitter looses it. There is no win-win.

So the sites use every and all tech to keep you glued to the screen (and to their site). That's why we have video previews now. That's why catchy (and misleading) titles. That's why we're fed outrage. That's why news are negative. That's why a lot of things that are bad on the Net.

And the problem is, once one site figures up something, others have to adopt it, too, because the pie is limited. Or they'll lose. 

Subscription based services, on the other hand, don't have to care how much time you spend with them - as long as you keep the subscription. They don't have to be evil to survive.

The Ultimatum Game

"The mathematical analysis is simple: Player 2 should always accept" - that is incorrect. As the game is defined, players are equal. Player Two wields the obvious veto power by not accepting a proposal he doesn't like. Player One has a no less effective veto power by not advancing a proposal he doesn't like in the first place. Players communicate about the proposals before the match, which effectively turns it into a infinitely repeated game. 

Asymmetry only arises if there is no prior communication. Only in that case Player One has an advantage, even if we ignore any "feelings", play rationally, and not allow taking future rounds into consideration (i.e. only play once). 

Covid 11/19: Don’t Do Stupid Things

"Deaths lag tests, but are on track to rise proportionally to the rise in tests".

At the height of the first wave we had 32,787 cases and 2,231 deaths (all 7-day averaged). That's CFR=0.068

Now (11/19/20) we have 164,996 cases and 1,266 deaths (same averaging). That's CFR=0.007.

Notice a whole extra "0" in CFR. Yes, x10 reduction.

Technically - very technically - deaths are indeed rising proportionally. But that's a technicality that is not relevant to anyone.

MA did strict lockdowns. MA is 3rd in the nation - still - on deaths per million. Maybe we should stop confusing how bitter a pill is with how effective the medicine is?


Comparing Covid and Tobacco

Smoking is a direct individual choice (unless talking about second-hand smoking, which is a moot subject). Getting infected with a virus is not a choice. An individual doesn't need a government to protect him from smoking. He may need it to help protect him from a virus (all overblown/ineffective/politicized issues and measures aside).

There is a trend to blame poor individual choices on the society. That may be in some part true, but for smoking in 2020 it is not.

Why Boston?

The bitterness of the pill does not prove the effectiveness of the medicine in it.

MA is third worst state for COVID death in the US. Third, after NY and NJ - and unlike NY and NJ, MA does not have an excuse of having NYC in it. Against that background, the claim that MA has good governance (re: COVID) requires extraordinary proof.