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Should I self-variolate to COVID-19

According to Harvard //www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/if-youve-been-exposed-to-the-coronavirus

We also don't yet know at what point during the course of illness a test becomes positive... you will get a false negative test result [on a swab test] 100% of the time on the day you are exposed to the virus. (There are so few viral particles in your nose or saliva so soon after infection that the test cannot detect them.)... About 40% of the time if you are tested four days after exposure to the virus

So this sounds like, with a smear or swab or saliva test, you’d want to wait up to 4 days after potential exposure, and a false negative remains possible.

I believe I’ve seen elsewhere that the saliva test is comparable to a swab in accuracy, but is more foolproof (because you don’t have to take a sample from your throat).

Better name for "Heavy-tailedness of the world?"

I think he calls them ”Mediocristan” and “Extremistan” respectively

CO2 Stripper Postmortem Thoughts

Verifying that the thing scrubs CO2 at the expected rate is definitely a good idea. Verifying the behavioural effects is much harder - you’d need to avoid unblinding, and ideally have several different people with varying levels of age, fitness etc, and then you’d get affected by weather, unless your house is very well sealed...

How portable can this scrubber be? If you’re somewhere cold and not getting enough air at night and it’s your house, you could install a heat recovery ventilator. There is evidently a big market for portable air conditioners, despite their inefficiency; the description of this thing (water, air, pumps out sludge) sounds a lot like a washing machine.

Elon Musk is wrong: Robotaxis are stupid. We need standardized rented autonomous tugs to move customized owned unpowered wagons.

It's possible that autonomy changes everything, but things somewhat like this have existed or been talked about:

  • "Modular cars" have been attempted
  • There have been various attempts at swapping the *battery* of an electric vehicle, including by Tesla. (As I understand it, obstacles include: the design advantages of making the battery a structural part of the car chassis; sophisticated battery management that involves "plumbing" the battery into the car's HVAC system). Swapping the battery seems a major move in this direction because the battery is a large amount of the *value* of an electric vehicle. (Conversely: while the vehicle is parked, connect the battery to the electrical grid, and the battery can earn money by arbitraging Watt-hours over time)
  • Obviously, such things as RVs and Winnebagos and caravans exist
  • Cargo containers (and truck/tractors/semitrailers) are something a bit like this, but for cargo

In my view, one big disadvantage of a privately-owned car is that that car's shape has to work for journeys in town, long road trips, vacations, etc, where actually you might prefer something small or shared in town (like a microcar, bicycle, or transit bus) and something roomier for a long journey (or bigger still if you're travelling with friends & family).

Elon Musk is wrong: Robotaxis are stupid. We need standardized rented autonomous tugs to move customized owned unpowered wagons.

Well, here are some ways robotaxis *could* contribute to solving urban mobility:

  • One limiting factor of cars? Congestion. Robot cars, communicating with each other, don't need the safe headways for slow human reaction times, and can - potentially - co-ordinate themselves around gridlock.
  • Trying to travel around on a bicycle? Dumb meatbag drivers may run into you; will robots be better at that? We certainly *hope* so. Same for walking. Also...
  • Parking space! Robotaxis don't have to park right next to the destination - so robotaxis are at least somewhat compatible with high density development, more so than private cars
  • If single-occupant cars aren't providing adequate density, there's nothing to stop the use of adequate-sized buses - something between the size of a minibus and a transit bus - at least out of downtown to "railheads" (the "last mile" concept alluded to).

How feasible is any of this? Hard to tell, too many hypotheticals. The "radical urbanist" article is only interested in scenarios in which robotaxis are completely ineffective (don't work, too expensive) or completely disastrous (cause ultimate gridlock, which no government is capable of doing anything about).

How to Improve Your Sleep

My common-sense understanding: if you have sex and then aren’t sleepy, get up.

I assume “beds are for sexual activity and sleep”, rather than just for sleep, is a concession to practicality and comfort. Similarly, prohibiting masturbation in bed would seem counterproductive.

(I’d imagine some people would be unhappy to forego reading in bed, also, but that’s different)

Specificity: Your Brain's Superpower

The ladder of abstraction goes up as well as down.

We spend a lot of time trying to descend it, being more specific (especially if we’re Paul Graham), but at times its better to be more abstract! Canonical example: Newton. The apple falling from the tree, and the Earth orbiting the sun, are specific examples, but the genius is identifying that the same forces are manipulating them on vastly different scales. (It’s also vital not to get stuck believing that the apple is flat, but that’s not important right now).

Dan Dennett has the idea of “greedy reductionism”. Dennett claims, more or less, that people have souls but the souls are made of tiny robots, ie. “neurons” and “souls” are both legitimate concepts. “Souls are JUST tiny robots and don’t really exist” he calls greedy reductionism: proverbially, not seeing the forest for the trees.

Trying to argue better, as in “ladder of inference” or double crux, is very likely to involve moving up and down the ladder of abstraction, between general concepts and specific observations.

The Power to Solve Climate Change

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe” — H. G. Wells

The Power to Solve Climate Change

cultural norm shift -> ... meeting Paris Agreement target

I don’t think this chain of causes and effect can be ruled out a priori.

Before the Copenhagen agreement banned CFCs, there were activists boycotting aerosol cans! Tesla (and, before them, Toyota, makers of the Prius) benefitted greatly from buyers’ guilty consciences! (And that’s a good thing!) Wind energy was expensive and countercultural in the 70s; hippies did early R&D!

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