MikkW

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A Reason to Expect Republics to Perform Better than Absolute Monarchies in the Long-Term

Most nominal monarchies that are around today (in the post-American-Constitution era) are only still around because they became effectively republics (I know, the usual definition of 'republic' is a country that doesn't have a monarch, but in this post I was, confusingly, and as I mentioned elsewhere, using an implicit definition of 'republic' as "indirect democracy")

MikkW's Shortform

Just saw this. I used approximately 5 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, mixed with warm water. No sweetener, no sugar, or anything else. It's bitter, but I do prefer the taste over coffee.

MikkW's Shortform

The lethal dose of caffeine in adult humans is approximately 10 grams, while the lethal dose of theobromine (the main psychoactive chemical in chocolate, nearly identical structurally to caffeine, with similar effects) in humans is 75 grams (this is much lower in most animals, which is why you should never give chocolate to your pets). This can motivate a rough heuristic of 7.5 mg theobromine is roughly equal to 1 mg caffeine, and 750 mg theobromine is equivalent to one cup of coffee.

Therefore, to replace coffee with cocoa or chocolate, 6 spoons of unsweetened cocoa powder should replace a cup of coffee. 11 cups of hot chocolate (that's a lot) or 2 bars of dark chocolate should also work.

MikkW's Shortform

I've long been aware of the concept of a "standard drink", a unit for measuring how much alcohol a person has had, regardless of what they are drinking, so one "drink" of wine contains less liquid than one "drink" of beer, but more than one drink of vodka. When I started experimenting with chemicals other than ethanol, I intuitively wanted to extend this notion to other chemicals. For example, in my mind, I roughly equate 10 mg of Tetrahydracannabinol with one drink of ethanol. While the effects of these two chemicals are quite different, and work in different ways, they both have relaxing and depressant (not "depressing") effects, so there is some meaningful comparison - if I want to incapacitate myself to a certain extent, I can use the concept of an "depressant unit" to calculate a dose of either THC or ethanol, or similarly with diphenhydramine (ZZZQuil) or Nyquil.

Clearly, in most cases, I would not want to compare the strength of an alcoholic beverage with the strength of a caffeinated beverage. But I would want to be able to use a "stimulating unit" to compare, say, amounts of caffeine to amounts of theobromine (cocoa) or to other stimulating chemicals (for example, Adderall).

Another unit that would be worth using would be an "entheogenic unit", which would allow one to compare doses of LSD, Psilocybin, THC (regarding its quasi-psychedelic, not depressant qualities), and so on, in terms of their ability to change the way one thinks.

Owain_Evans's Shortform

How would this be different from movie music? There are some examples of music dynamically adapting according to what happens, but most games don't go very deep into that. Stylistically, of course, due to the historical separation between the mediums, video game music often sounds different from movie music. But practically I suspect there's not much difference.

Visualizing in 5 dimensions

In the "Warmup" section, I would make the first paragraph (dealing with visualizing S2 in R2 (space) x R (time)) not a paranthetical, and remove the "If the following paragraph is too hard" part. I expect most people who may read this (at least those who will benefit the most from it) will find the exercise of visualizing an object they are already familiar with a good intuition pump for using the technique to explore a less familiar conceptual space, so that section should be treated as a main part of the text.

I'm glad you wrote about this topic, since it is something that people often incorrectly think is not possible to do, and I may share more thoughts once I have finished reading this.

MikkW's Shortform

Question: Is it possible to incorporate Caffeine into DNA? Caffeine is structurally similar to Adenine, one of the four DNA nucleobases (and the A in ATCG). But looking at the structure, the hexagonal ring (which is the part of the DNA that bonds A to T and C to G) doesn't look very promising - there are two oxygen atoms that can bond, but they are a bit too far apart, and there are no hydrogens, and since DNA is held together by hydrogen bonds, the hydrogen will have to be provided by whatever it is paired to. Theobromine looks more promising, since a CH3 group is replaced by an H (otherwise it is identical to Caffeine), which provides a continuous run of bondable groups, and the H can be used for hydrogen bonding.

Probably for either Theobromine or Caffeine, they would have to be paired with another base that is not one of the usual ATCG bases, which is specially chosen to complement the shape of the molecules.

Raemon's Shortform

From Wikipedia: George Washington, which cites Korzi, Michael J. (2011). Presidential Term Limits in American History: Power, Principles, and Politics page 43, -and- Peabody, Bruce G. (September 1, 2001). "George Washington, Presidential Term Limits, and the Problem of Reluctant Political Leadership". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 31 (3): 439–453:

At the end of his second term, Washington retired for personal and political reasons, dismayed with personal attacks, and to ensure that a truly contested presidential election could be held. He did not feel bound to a two-term limit, but his retirement set a significant precedent. Washington is often credited with setting the principle of a two-term presidency, but it was Thomas Jefferson who first refused to run for a third term on political grounds.

A note on the part that says "to ensure that a truly contested presidential election could be held": at this time, Washington's health was failing, and he indeed died during what would have been his 3rd term if he had run for a 3rd term. If he had died in office, he would have been immediately succeeded by the Vice President, which would set an unfortunate precedent of presidents serving until they die, then being followed by an appointed heir until that heir dies, blurring the distinction between the republic and a monarchy.

A Reason to Expect Republics to Perform Better than Absolute Monarchies in the Long-Term

An idea that builds on the ideas presented in this post: While I am personally in favor of democracy for reasons that I would describe as pertaining to "The Soothhood" (roughly, ethics), the argument I lay out does not require a democratic, or even election-based, mechanism to hold. One may wonder if there are other forms of governance that take advantage of this effect.

My mind wonders about a government where only people who reach a certain skill level at Go or Chess can serve in the government, perhaps with a particular nerfed version of AlphaGo that runs on particular hardware, that is calibrated to be equivalent to a certain dan level, which someone must be able to beat in a standardized test match in order to hold office.

I imagine even a cross between a meritocracy and a republic, where a person must reach a certain level of skill at Go in order to be a candidate in a democratic election. Perhaps one must be at least 1st dan to stand for election to the lower house, at least 5th dan to stand for the upper house or to serve as a minister in the executive, and at least 9th dan to be a candidate for the head of government.

MikkW's Shortform

The Kingdom was overthrown; the last kings were not particularly well-loved by the people, and when King Tarquin raped Lucretia, the wife of an important general, the people deposed him and established the Republic, in particular creating the rule that any man who tried to make himself king could be killed on the spot without reprecussions.

The Roman Republic gave way to the Empire not all at once, but over the course of several different periods of leadership (since the consuls, the main leaders of the Republic, were elected for 1 year terms that couldn't be immediately repeated, there's a long list of leaders for any era). Julius Caesar did not start the end of the Republic, but he put the final nails in the coffin, having led an army in insurrection against the government, and becoming a king in all but name by the end of his life. The assassination of Caesar led to a series of civil wars, which ended with his nephew Augustus becoming Emperor of Rome. Needless to say, Julius Caesar and Augustus were both very competent men, in addition to many of the men who rivaled them for power, and all involved (with the exception of Augustus, who inherited his influence from Caesar) owed their influence to having been elected by the people of Rome.

As for the fall of the Empire, really the history of the fall of the Empire is just the history of the Empire, period. Sure, there were good Emperors who ruled well and competently, and the fullest extent of the reach of the Empire was after the Republic had already been overthrown, but for every good Emperor, there's another bad Emperor who treats his populace in the cruelest ways imaginable, and blunders away influence and soft power, to mirror him. Already as soon as the first Emperor Augustus died, we get Tiberius, who wasn't exactly great, then Caligula, whose name has justly become synonymous with overflowing sadism and needless excess.

Rome grew to become the great power that it was during the Republic, and the story of the Empire is the story of that great power slowly crumbling and declining under the rule of cruel and incompetent leaders, punctuated by the occasional enlightened ruler who would slow that decline for another 20 or 30 years.

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