Software Eng. Co-Founder of an all-ages Learning Community in Portland, OR: Alder Commons


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Some thoughts on vegetarianism and veganism

On the general point, as a recently-turned vegan (~1 yr), my spending is roughly the same. Money saved on not buying meat/milk/cheese was basically directly replaced by splurging on expensive stuff like avocados, cashews, faux-cheeses, and fancy salads. All of those are non-essential, but budget wasn't ever my primary motive in choosing foods.

The following thoughts are mostly in response to your last claim around market dynamics and the foods people choose.

A big part of the observed frequency of meat eating is explained by cultural inertia, esp. with the historical signaling function of meat-eating. For a long long time (and still in rural/poor places) owning animals was a primary store of wealth, and killing them to eat them was a very costly display of your fitness. That kind of signal can be culturally baked-in to various food traditions. Fancy restaurants still play this game, with most of the fanciest and most expensive foods being unusual preparations of hard to acquire or raise meat.

Another enormous factor here is subsidies (something like $40b annually in the US subsidize meat & dairy). Meat is sometimes cheaper or comparable in price to replacement vegan foods, but that's not a market outcome. Without those subsidies you'd see a bigger price differential.

It's also note-worthy that, proportionally, many meals with meat have mostly vegan ingredients. Things like steak are outliers, and many meals that contain meat aren't mostly meat.

For Happiness, Keep a Gratitude Journal

This site doesn't exist anymore but the described functionality sounded great to me, so I'm building a thing that has the same functionality called Email Notebook.

Emails from your Gratitude Journal

I originally built it with gratitude journaling in mind, but pre-launch feedback from folks suggested that this tool would be useful for people that wanted to maintain some other kind of journal. There were also some folks that wanted e.g. short story prompts, so I architected this thing to (eventually) support a variety of prompt types. I'll try to make the homepage copy more clear!

What questions should we ask ourselves when trying to improve something?

There's a trade-off to be weary of here in trying to improve the list only by adding. Making it complete might also make it too long to actually get much use.

Can you optimize the list to keep the most valuable bits while also keeping it nice and short to increase the chance someone will go through the effort of answering the questions?

I noticed in your own use of the template, you only included a few of the sub-questions.

What questions should we ask ourselves when trying to improve something?

Not OP, but I read their comment about related problems as something more like this:

The system in question likely already has feedback or correction mechanisms that respond to other potential problems - asking about those mechanisms might reveal strengths of the system that can be easily adapted for your purposes. I'm not sure how easy it will be to find these, though, as the best-functioning ones might be invisible if they actually eliminate the other problems completely.

That might not be their intent, but I think it's also a useful consideration so even if my interpretation isn't matched I hope this comment is still useful :)

Enabling Children

Is this substantially different from "cohousing"?

There are a huge number of existing projects like this, with a huge variation in the degree of "codependence" from one community to another. https://www.cohousing.org/directory/wpbdp_category/comm/

(USA) N95 masks are available on Amazon

There are a few people in my social network experiencing "long covid" who were otherwise healthy and young. I think some of the unknowns there provide more than enough reason to take low-cost precautions like getting and wearing masks.

The long term symptoms aren't being talked about much because lots of people are still dying, but also because most of the infections are still really recent so we don't have much data on the long-term.

Predictions for 2021 (+ a template for yours)

https://predictionbook.com/ has a skeleton that could be extended with prompts for belief updates. It already has prompts for adjudication of your previous predictions.

Babble challenge: 50 ways of hiding Einstein's pen for fifty years

#20 reminded me of a bizarre experience where I attempted to pass a hacky-sack through the open windows of a car to a friend of mine, and it disappeared. We looked inside and outside the car for a full 15 minutes before realizing it had landed, balanced, on the narrow handle above the window. We never looked up!

What was your behavioral response to covid-19 ?

In March-May I didn't interact with anyone in-person outside of my housemates, who were doing the same. One of us went shopping, about once a month, and we made an effort to get most things delivered. We quarantined the mail for 3 days before opening it, etc. We were pretty intense.

Now, we don't quarantine the mail at all (not really worried about surface transmission in general), and we do "go into work" but in our case it's a huge building and 90% of the time we're only in the same room as people in our germ pod. We also frequently host some small gatherings now but it's always outdoors, with some rare exceptions for like a 10-minute tour of our building for just a few people. We shop every 10 days or so, and have added a few "frivolous" trips to the hardware store.

We get burritos several times a week from our favorite food cart, but otherwise prepare all of our own meals now - we used to eat at restaurants 6 or 7 times a week, but indoor and patio dining are still a no-go for us.

I don't expect we'll revert to normal-ish behavior until we have a widespread vaccine, treatment improves significantly, or some other unforeseen turn of events...

Covid has turned out to be something like 5x less severe IFR than many of us were worried about in March, but it still seems bad enough to take a lot of precaution. My personal risk of dying is super low - I'm healthy and 31. However, I'm still being really cautious because of the not-well-understood long-term effects. SARS was really nasty on that front. What evidence convinced you that's not a big deal? If you don't already have evidence for that, then rationality isn't the reason you changed your behavior.

A third explanation for your behavior (besides monkeying and being rational) is that you and others grew tired of bearing the costs of lockdown at similar times. Lockdown got significantly harder for us, psychologically, after about 4 months - it wouldn't surprise me if there's a bell curve in the population for "lockdown tolerance".

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