Brian Slesinsky


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A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics

I'm wondering who, if anyone, keeps track of throughput at a port? Ideally there would be some kind of graph of containers shipped per day and we could see long-term shipping trends.

(This is making a bad assumption that containers are fungible, but we would at least have a rough idea of how bad the problem is.)

Transcript: "You Should Read HPMOR"

Could you say anything more specific or concrete about how reading HPMOR changed your life?

A Better Web is Coming

While improvements to moderation are welcome, I suspect it’s even more important to have a common, well-understood goal for the large group of strangers to organize around. For example, Wikipedia did well because the strangers who gathered there already knew what an encyclopedia was.

Tag curation seems a bit like a solution in search of a problem. If we knew what the tags were for, maybe we would be more likely to adopt a tag and try to make a complete collection of things associated with that tag?

Maybe tags (collections of useful articles with something in common) should be created by the researchers who need them? They can be bootstrapped with search. Compare with playlists on YouTube and Spotify.

A Better Web is Coming

It seems like a genuinely collaborative project, where articles are intended to be useful and somewhat more evergreen, would probably end up looking something like Wikipedia or perhaps an open source project.

There needs to be some concept of shared goals, a sense of organization and incompleteness, of at least a rough plan with obvious gaps to be filled in. Furthermore, attempts to fill the gaps need to be welcomed.

Wikipedia had the great advantage of previous examples to follow. People already knew what an encyclopedia was supposed to be.

I suspect that attempts at a “better discussion board” are too generic to inspire anyone. Someone needs to come up with a more specific and more appealing idea of what the thing will look like when it’s built out enough to actually be useful. How will you read it? what would you learn?

Seven Years of Spaced Repetition Software in the Classroom

I’ve played around with Anki a bit, but never used it seriously because I was never sure what I wanted to memorize, versus look up when needed.

I wonder if it might be better to look at it a different way, using a note-taking tool to leverage forgetting rather than remembering? That is, you could use it to take notes and start reviewing cards more seriously when you’re going to take a test. Afterwards, you might slack off and forget things, but you still have your notes.

After all, we write things down so we don’t have to remember them.

Such a tool would be unopinionated about remembering things. You could start out taking notes, optimize some of them for memorization, take more notes, and so on. The important thing is persistence. Is this really a note-taking system you’ll keep using?

Teaching people to use such a tool would fall under “learning how to learn.” Ideally you would want them to take their own notes, see how useful it is for studying for a test, and get in the habit of using them for other classes. If not, at least they would know that such tools exist.

Back when I was in school, I remember that there was a teacher that had us keep a journal, probably for similar reasons. Maybe that got some people to start keeping a diary, who knows? For myself, I got in the habit of taking notes in class, but I found that I rarely went back to them; it was write-only. I kept doing it because I thought taking the notes helped a bit to remember the material, though.

Wrist Issues

You talked about rest but have you looked into stretches, putting your wrists in hot and cold water in tubs, ice packs, and so on? I had a different problem (tendonitis) and these helped.

Make more land

This isn't my area of expertise, but I found this quote in an article about anticipating climate change in the Netherlands to be food for thought:

If we turn the Netherlands into a fort, we will need to build gigantic dikes, but also, and perhaps more importantly, gigantic pumping stations. This is essential, because at some point we will need to pump all of the water from the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt and Ems – which by that time will be lower than sea level – over those enormous dikes. The energy costs will be higher – but that is not the only problem, because when the enormous pumping stations pump out the fresh water, the heavier salt water will seep in under the ground. You can get rid of the water, but not the salt, which is disastrous for agriculture in its current form. Instead of a fort, it may make more sense to talk about a semi-porous bath tub.


The South Bay infill wouldn't be the same - much smaller, creeks instead of rivers (though flooding is still a concern), and probably no agriculture. But I wonder what other engineering problems are swept under the rug by assuming that "modern engineering is well up to the task?" Thinking about such questions from a very high-level view often misses important details.

This is just spitballing, but it seems like it would be prudent to build up the new land higher than the new anticipated sea level. And the very expensive land around the infill might actually end up downhill, below sea level. Which might make drainage interesting.

Mini-review: The Book of Why

Here's an earlier paper by Judea Pearl:

Bayesianism and Causality, or, Why I am Only a Half-Bayesian

Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information

Hmm. I don't know anything about Galleani, but wanting to inspire the masses to action via "propaganda of the deed" seems incompatible with directly terrorizing the masses? (Excuses about "collateral damage" aside.)

It seems like this might have something to do with tribalism: who do the terrorists consider "us" versus "them"?

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