AlexShpilkin

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LessWrong FAQ

By the way, what’s the motivation for the moral rights clause? That is, why do I have to waive the right to be acknowledged as the author of things I post when I post them? (The fact that it’s legally impossible for me to do so in either Russia or the EU aside.) I’m aware that are, apparently, weird places that treat just about any modification of a work as an assault on the author’s character and therefore a moral rights issue (Japan, per Creative Commons), but is waiving any and all exclusive rights to claim authorship really the best way to go about this (again, Creative Commons seems to use a different workaround)? I’m nowhere near qualified enough to argue meaningfully here, but I do roughly understand what these words mean, and in this particular combination they just look unbelievably dodgy.

The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order

A couple of nits regarding the illustrations in the sample:

(They are very small nits that I wouldn’t normally bother people with, but you obviously put a lot of effort and taste into making this beautiful and mostly succeeded—I especially love how the line on the GDP graph goes into the space of the ordinate ticks. And while small annoyances might not be that important from an economic viewpoint—though see 2010s Apple—they just provoke an intense feeling of sadness from a craftsman’s viewpoint.)

  1. The dismal state of plotting software (and the laziness / greed of scientific publishers) make us accept this in scientific papers, but still, the Xe±Y notation just looks unpolished in print. It is a good solution for ASCII- and keyboard-bound source code (though I’m still a bit sad that the Algol ⏨, U+23E8 DECIMAL EXPONENT SYMBOL, didn’t make it into ASCII and onto the PC keyboard), but not much else. It is especially disappointing to see, as in the sample, axis labels with 1e±Y (no other mantissas!) instead of just 10ʸ: I’ll admit X × 10ʸ can look awkward sometimes, but when X = 1 everywhere, even that excuse doesn’t work.

  2. Even if you end up ignoring the previous point, I implore you, please at least change the character for negative exponents from the hyphen (centered roughly in the middle of a lowercase letter, short, thick, U+002D or U+2010) to the minus (like the plus, centered exactly in the middle of a lining figure, as long as a tabular figure, thin, U+2212). It shouldn’t change the layout in any significant way, but you can’t unsee this problem when you know it’s there (much easier than the XKCD-promoted bad kerning).

  3. I wouldn’t notice this if I hadn’t fought with it on my own plots, but zoom in on the origin of the last plot (IQ to destroy the world), and you’ll see that the vertex of the right angle between the axes isn’t one: there’s what looks like a small white cutout (which might disappear in low-resolution printing). This is because the axes were specified to the drawing software as two separate lines, and it isn’t smart enough to (or trusts the artist enough not to) infer that it should join them, even though they (almost?) share an endpoint.

  4. Finally, more of a wat than even a nit, but if you look very closely at the ordinate tick labels on the GDP graph, you’ll see that their right zeros don’t line up a really tiny teensy bit. Not really a problem, but I’m frankly stumped as to how that could ever happen (and would be disturbed if my plotting code did it).

The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order

Both the FAQ in this post and the email you sent out recently seem inconsistent in referring to the product as “the books / book set / book collection” vs “the [singular] book”, and the result is somewhat jarring.

(Sadly, I’m rather unlikely to buy this, both because you don’t ship to Russia—and I don’t blame you, our postal service sucks—and because it costs a US equivalent of $85 for me—the factors are 3.0 from the 2020 Big Mac index and 2.9 from the 2019 OECD PPP and today’s official exchange rate. I hope this comment can still be helpful.)

The LessWrong 2018 Book is Available for Pre-order

I was once stupefied when I saw that the (official, Microsoft Press) Russian translation of “Introducing Microsoft .NET” called itself “Itroducing [...]” in huge type literally on the page facing the title page (it’s kind of traditional for Russian translations of nonfiction books to place a copy of the original title page there). A very informal and unauthoritative discussion at the time revealed that this is not actually uncommon: as the text (not the overall design) of the cover, title page, and to a lesser extent internal sectioning demand much less effort to prepare, they tend to get proportionally less attention from everybody in the pipeline who is concerned with text, including proofreaders, whereas the embarrassment of printing these parts wrong is of course much higher than for the bulk of the book.

So it might be a good idea in general to subject these (editing-wise, almost comically simple) parts to (what feels like) more checking than the rest of the copy.

Sneaking in Connotations

I'm not sure how aware dictionary editors are of what they really do.

I can only offer a retelling of a retelling of a course on the subject, but the answer seems to be “somewhat”. They are taught to list hyperonyms and hyponyms of whatever it is they are trying to define, and then isolate the most typical ones. Of course, a perfect implementation of this idea alone is not the OED, it’s WordNet.

Apparently, the authors of the NIST Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures were quite aware of this approach as well.