Hi. I'm Gareth McCaughan. I've been a consistent reader and occasional commenter since the Overcoming Bias days. My LW username is "gjm" (not "Gjm" despite the wiki software's preference for that capitalization). Elsewehere I generally go by one of "g", "gjm", or "gjm11". The URL listed here is for my website and blog, neither of which has been substantially updated in about the last four years. I live near Cambridge (UK) and work for a small technology company in Cambridge. My business cards say "mathematician" but in practice my work is a mixture of simulation, data analysis, algorithm design, software development, problem-solving, and whatever random engineering no one else is doing. I am married and have a daughter born in mid-2006. The best way to contact me is by email: firstname dot lastname at pobox dot com. I am happy to be emailed out of the blue by interesting people. If you are an LW regular you are probably an interesting person in the relevant sense even if you think you aren't.

If you're wondering why some of my old posts and comments are at surprisingly negative scores, it's because for some time I was the favourite target of old-LW's resident neoreactionary troll, sockpuppeteer and mass-downvoter.

gjm's Comments

2018 Review: Voting Results!

Ah, OK. I'm convinced :-).

2018 Review: Voting Results!

So one user spent 465 of their 500 available votes to downvote "Realism about Rationality".

I wonder whether that reflects exceptionally strong dislike of that post, or whether it means that they voted "No" on that and nothing on anything else, and then the -30 is just what the quadratic-vote-allocator turned that into.

I suspect the latter, and further suspect that whoever it was might not have wanted their vote interpreted quite that way. (Not with much confidence in either case.)

If a similar system is used on future occasions, it might be a good idea to limit how strong votes are made for users who don't cast many votes. Of course you should be able to spend your whole budget on downvoting one thing you really hate, but you should have to do it deliberately and consciously.

Whipped Cream vs Fancy Butter

Fair. (Apart from the bit about having them simultaneously.) I didn't think of that because I wouldn't generally eat toast with nothing on it but butter.

Whipped Cream vs Fancy Butter

I'm in the UK. Dairy products here are commonly pasteurized, but to me UHT means something much more extreme which spoils the flavour and I certainly wouldn't expect cream to be UHT-ed. Is cream really UHT by default in the US? Ewww.

Whipped Cream vs Fancy Butter

Hmm, interesting. When I buy cream (from a supermarket; I guess they are very cautious) the date they put on it is generally about one week in the future. I've taken their word for it and bought it not too long before I need to use it. I should do some experiments...

Whipped Cream vs Fancy Butter

Tastiness (for me) isn't a scalar thing. You want different tastes in different contexts. (In some sense chocolate is far tastier than butter, but there are many purposes for which I would use butter and would not consider using chocolate. The same is true of bacon. I'm not sure there's any purpose for which chocolate and bacon are both suitable replacements for butter.)

Whipped Cream vs Fancy Butter

You can keep butter in your fridge for weeks and it will stay fresh enough to use. (If you're fussy you can scrape off a thin layer of slightly-oxidized butter from the surface.) You can't do that with cream. That doesn't matter so much if you have shops where you can conveniently buy fresh cream every week, which is pretty common these days but maybe used not to be.

As others have said, cream contains a lot more water than butter does. If you spread whipped cream on your toast, I'm pretty sure you'll get soggy toast.

Butter keeps approximately its consistency for much longer than whipped cream does. If you make sandwiches with whipped cream and take them to work or school for lunch, I'm pretty sure you'll end up with not-at-all-whipped cream making your sandwiches soggy.

If you're specifically buying fancy butter, you may want the flavour of fancy butter. This is not the same as the flavour of whipped cream. (Just how different depends on exactly what sort of fancy butter.)

It's not so easy (I think) to whip up cream in very small quantities. That "serving" looks to me like a distinctly larger amount of cream-or-butter than I'd want in contexts where I'm using butter but not cooking with it.

Generally, I'm not very sure why you would use whipped cream instead of butter. I mean, OK, it's a bit cheaper (if you ignore wastage and effort and so forth), but so are many other things: water, flour, sawdust. And while clearly whipped cream is more like butter than water, flour and sawdust are, I don't see that it's so much like butter as to serve the same purposes. It doesn't have the same taste, the same consistency, the same balance of nutrients, the same anything.

Go F*** Someone

You're probably right. It would be 10x more useful if it offered some specifics as to what's bad about the post, though. As it is, it's just a differently-shaped downvote.

Go F*** Someone

I have no idea whether this is intended as a compliment or a criticism.

Research: Rescuers during the Holocaust

There's something odd about this:

The bad news is that, ignoring the minority of proactive rescuers, there were no moral supermen.

If you're looking for moral supermen, why would you ignore the minority of proactive rescuers? Aren't they exactly what you're looking for? The fact that they're a small minority isn't a reason to ignore them -- no one expects "supermen" to be common.

Given that the post starts out by framing the issue in terms of "moral supermen" and saying it would be good to understand who they are and how they got that way, it seems a bit odd that it ends by deciding to ignore the only candidates we have for moral supermen, and saying that if you ignore those then there are no moral supermen.

(It may well be that in fact to an excellent approximation there weren't any moral supermen, and that even those proactive morally-motivated rescuers were that way for some specific reason that doesn't have much to do with generally better morality on their part. But why not at least look?)

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