In my experience (Zagreb), you have this same organic development which leads to very crowded buildings with drastically different styles (like massive apartment buildings "boxing in" houses), very little pedestrian space, few parks and green areas... Some pretty messy and inhospitable neighborhoods.
Also some really good ones, so I'm wondering if the main factor is "some person in charge of a building wants to ensure that it fits the neighborhood".
For me, probably 2. I read "How to become a hacker" several years ago and it shaped many of my career-related choices. The writing/reasoning style is very similar to the ratsphere, so I was not too surprised that I would also find you here.
I totally get the frustration, that's why I felt the disclaimer in the beginning was necessary!
As for the question of many students - yes, absolutely. Promoting EA is a smart and valuable goal, and will definitely produce more effect ("or you raise awareness in town, and try to explain to others that there are children drowning in some ponds nearby"). And, as you say, it's precisely what Singer is doing.
Regarding systemic change: I think that's a conversation stopper in many cases. People say "X is cool and everything, but what we REALLY need is systemic change". But that's, like, a really big task, and it seems to me that it just breeds inaction, as opposed to interventions. I wasn't going for an applause light, only a very narrow criticism of one specific analogy/argument.
I'm sorry you don't find it valuable. It's an argument that bugged me - I first heard it only a couple of years ago on a podcast completely unrelated to EA, accepted is as valid, but felt that something was off. I worked through my confusion and this is the result. Maybe everyone who hears it immediately thinks of all the criticism you listed, but I doubt it.
Who benefits from the last sentence? I guess people like me, or whoever hears the analogy and accepts it without first analyzing it a bit.
It's not criticism of Singer in general either. Chris says that this analogy is only the beginning of his argument, and I totally agree (and I happen to agree with almost all of Singer's conclusions, at least those that I've read afterwards).
That is true, rarely do you get someone who intentionally wants to make you miserable. They usually just make you miserable as a side-effect of not caring enough, but as soon as you're sufficiently annoying, they do one of those two things.
Added to reading list, thanks!
Going outside of the world of house buying, I find that 50% of interactions I had with repair people were like that as well. So that definitely makes sense.
Other explanations are that people are afraid of trying things out, don't have time, or insist on a reality that simply isn't there (that when you pay someone to do something, they should reliably do it).
"Embracing the Extended Mind" is my short film (8 min) about the importance of embracing things outside of your head so that things inside of your head can work better.
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWDp4IzjrQ8
Excellent! I've also been cryocrastinating for far too long, this might be the impetus I need to finally start.
I want to share one of the most useful articles I read: You Might as Well Be a Great Copy Editor.
Most writing is MUCH better if it goes through at least one editing pass, with diminishing returns the more editing you do. The trick is not to mix writing with editing - write first, let it be ugly, let your stream of consciousness take you away. And when you're done, then become the critic and the editor.