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The Apprentice Thread

The writing offer sounds like exactly what i need. I'm in

[I'll write you directly; also posting here as evidence that The System Works]

Covid 6/17: One Last Scare

What do we know about the nature of infection of vaccinated people, or re-infection of people who have recovered from Covid? It seems to me, this will have a big impact on Covid epidemiology in a mostly-vaccinated country. 

I have three mental models:

  1. Immunocompromise: some people will never build up Covid resistance, no matter how much they get vaccinated or infected
  2. Exposure: a person has resistance, but is exposed to Covid in a way that overwhelms them. High viral load, maybe, or their immune system is somehow having a bad day
  3. Vaccination failure: for some reason the vaccination doesn't 'take'. If the sufferer catches Covid, they will build up more resistance and be better protected next time round

[I'm leaving out the impact of variants and the decline of immunity over time]

(1) means that we'll permanently have some segment of the population where Covid circulates, but could conceivably identify and protect those people

(2) is the same, but with less we can do in reaction.

(3) would imply things getting gradually better over time, as those people are exposed to endemic covid. Booster shots might help speed this along

Does anybody have a sense of which of these models (or something else) is closer to reality?

MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion

The legal situation around immigration makes the UK much less viable, IMO.

Of course, any location will exclude the majority of the world who aren't allowed to live there. But the US has much of the existing community, and other options (EU, Canada) benefit from either a big population of a liberal migration policy.

Covid 4/29: Vaccination Slowdown

Are we living in the timeline where the Bayesian Conspiracy becomes an actual underground movement?

Covid 4/15: Are We Seriously Doing This Again

There's another big reason for the jump in vaccinations in Germany (and the rest of the EU): We've just started a new quarter.
Yes, really. 

The discussion on manufacturers vaccine production schedules have largely been on numbers per quarter. Given that the EU is scapegoating them for delays, the manufacturers really really want to avoid missing their targets. And that leads to weirdness at the boundaries of the quarters.

Here's the data on deliveries in Germany

At Biontech, production is going well, and they are comfortably meeting their Q1 commitment (~12m doses). But they have promised to almost quadruple that in Q2. So through March they delivered a steady 1m doses per week. Then in April, when we start counting against their Q2 target, the deliveries jump to 2.7 million per week.

AstraZeneca are the opposite. They are behind schedule. So they squeezed in a huge delivery at the end of Q1 (actually a couple of days later, but it's being counted as Q1), like maybe 5x what they usually deliver in a week.

It's rational behaviour from both companies. When you're dealing with a short-tempered and annoying customer, you CYA by fulfilling the letter of your contracts, even at the cost of a worse outcome for the customer. And that's the position the EU have put Biontech and AZ into

[EDIT: I should add that this is entirely speculation, but I do think it fits the facts and the (non-altruistic parts of the) motivations of everybody involved]

Animal faces

Dogs have supposedly evolved more control over their eye muscles, in comparison to wolves. The suggestion is that this is part of their symbiotic relationship with humans, since we are more likely to look after animals that look cute.

Takeaways from one year of lockdown

Absolutely this. Thank you mingyuan!

Also on the retrospective conversation. "Truth and reconciliation" feels like a useful framing, if a bit dramatic (it's more commonly used in the aftermath of war or genocide).

i.e. we want to understand what we did, and how we could have acted better. But we also need to work out how to (re-)build relations with each other and the wider world, when lots of people have behaved selfishly, or suboptimally, or harmfully.

Covid 2/25: Holding Pattern

Though becoming less uncomfortable. Regulation/manufacture is belatedly catching up to the idea that you can take a swab from the front of the nose, which is MUCH more bearable.

Things a Katja-society might try (Part 2)

Much of architecture is a trade-off between price and interestingness. And on that frontier, we largely prioritise cheap over interesting.

I do wonder, though, if we are stuck in a local maximum around rectangular floor-plans. If you start from first principles, you easily find cost- or space-efficient options with irregular room shapes. Think of geodesic domes, or this school layout.

But our world assumes straight walls meeting at right angles. Architects I've talked to say they wouldn't consider anything else, because it would be so risky and expensive to go so far outside normal practice. How do you install plumbing in a curved wall? What would it take to get building permits? Do you need different furniture?

These are mostly coordination issues, not fundamental problems. If oval rooms became common then the plumbers and surveyors and the interior designers would adapt, and a great many more building styles would become practical. And where there are fundamental problems (e.g. geodesic domes are famously leaky), sufficient practice would lead to us at least finding workarounds.

So if  to encourage more interesting accommodation, I would try to jolt us into a world where more diverse floorplans are possible. Maybe start in a setting where it is already conceivable (perhaps some industrial context?) and try to expand non-rectangular norms into the mainstream

The art of caring what people think

‘people’ doesn’t mean all people, and that it is tractable and common to change who falls into this category or who in it is salient and taken to represent ‘people’.


The default for this, of course, is 'people I spend time with'. Which is why it makes sense for parents to worry so much about their kids hanging out with the wrong crowd.

IMO it is very hard to spend time with people without coming to care what they think. That's why spies go rogue, diplomats go native, and earn-to-give EAs are at high risk of starting to think like their non-altruistic colleagues.

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