All of Alex N's Comments + Replies

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 mis... (read more)

9jefftk2moI don't think this is a very good model for subscription services. Consider Netflix: they don't do ads at all, subscription only. But they still optimize for watch time and other engagement metrics, because they're very good proxies for retention.
5G Gordon Worley III2moIf subscriptions don't have to be evil, why must ads be? You seem to be assuming advertising here means display advertising and are forgetting about things like cost-per conversion advertising where there's not necessarily any value in keeping you looking at things, only at rarely getting you to look at the right thing that results in you buying something, which is not much different than getting you to pay to look at things via a subscription.
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?


2CellBioGuy7moDeaths are highly correlated with cases 21 days earlier. When cases are rising precipitously, it temporarily decreases the naive CFR. When you take into account that lag, the apparent CFR of documented cases has been a remarkably flat about 2-3% since the summer.
2Zvi7moTo clarity I meant in the near term rather than comparing to March - if you want to look at the week over week death change this week look at the case over case change 2-3 weeks before that. Didn't mean death rates didn't fall since April. If others think that was unclear I will edit to clarify.
4Bucky7moCFR will inevitably be much higher when you don’t have enough tests available.If memory serves NYC had 40-50% positive tests in the early peak. It is now running at 2.9%.
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.

3AnthonyC7moI think you are pointing at this same thing with your final sentence's "in 2020," but calling second hand smoke a moot subject is only true because government has already done so much to protect individuals from it. I'm in my 30s and I remember restaurants with smoking and nonsmoking tables next to each other in the same room. My mother was perfectly able as a kid to go buy cigarettes, just by claiming they were for someone else, and had no idea why she shouldn't, because the relevant public health campaigns hadn't yet happened. My neighbor, now in her 80s, remembers as a kid not wanting to be around smokers and breathe in smoke; her family doctor basically told her she was crazy to worry about it and to get over it/get used to it - all while smoking during their appointment. I've read that most smokers start while in middle or high school, not exactly an age where we generally expect people to behave sanely with appropriate consideration of long term consequences. To whatever degree smoking is addictive and hard to quit later in life, that's the key timeframe for intervention, and kids do need authority figures to keep them from starting, one way or another. That doesn't have to be (in whole or in part) government, but I have no argument I find convincing as to why it shouldn't be.
1rockthecasbah7moNumber 7 is a popular one!
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. 


2jefftk8moSee []