All of philh's Comments + Replies

Bad names make you open the box

The other thing about filterPromotedPosts is that it kind of sounds like the input is promoted posts and the output is some unspecified subset of them. filterPostsForPromoted avoids that but starts to feel unwieldy to me. (But maybe I should just be more okay with unwieldy names.)

Even in an impure language I think filter sounds to me like it would return a new list rather than editing in place. That's how the python filter function works for example, and Perl's grep (which is basically a synonym for me), and I had to look this up but JavaScript's filter too.

2adamzerner6dI have the exact same feelings here. It's funny how hard this is to name! Although these issues go away if you think about the name as only one part [] of the boxes label, and the signature + docstring as the others. Sorta. I think it'd still be nice if the name did as much of the job as possible by itself without having to consult the signature or docstring. In my experience the ideas of functional programming are things that a lot of people just aren't aware of at all. I know that for me it was about seven years into my journey as a programmer before I started learning about them. Thinking about the people I have and do work with, I could very well see them using filterPromotedPosts to mutate a list of posts. So in that environment, it seems like it'd be nice to make it extra clear that "this function isn't actually mutating anything". (Then again, I could also see them mutating stuff in getPromotedPosts too.) But in a different environment where the convention of "filter" being pure is strong enough, I agree with you. And I think that it'd often make sense to aspire towards this sort of environment. It's interesting how much the right name depends on this sort of context.
We need a standard set of community advice for how to financially prepare for AGI

I'd worry that if we're looking at a potentially civilization-ending pandemic, a would-be warlord with a handful of followers decides that north sentinel island seems a kind of attractive place to go all of a sudden.

What to optimize for in life?

I'm not following why a larger Pareto frontier would mean fewer tradeoffs on the frontier, could you elaborate on that?

Search-in-Territory vs Search-in-Map

I'm not sure if these are examples of the thing you're talking about or something else, but:

Consider a missile that's guided by GPS until it reaches its rough target location, then uses sensors to locate the target precisely. (Though arguably this is simply "SIM followed by SIT".)

Or consider when I do something similar myself. I use the map on my phone screen to guide me to roughly where I want to be, and then I use my eyes to guide me to exactly where I want to be. And I don't just switch from SIM to SIT; I keep checking with both, in case e.g. I miss it and go too far.

4AllAmericanBreakfast9dThose are nice examples/test cases! Here's what I think is the right way to understand what's going on in the phone case. Let's say you're looking for an ice cream stand in a park. Your brain takes input from the phone and your eyeballs. It synthesizes them, along with memories and other sense data, into a prediction about where you should walk and what you should look at in order to find the ice cream stand. Based on that mental synthesis, it sends outputs to your body, causing you to walk/read/look around. In this conception, there's ultimately only "search in map," where the map is in your brain. "Search in territory" is just a fancy label we give to a certain subset of sense impressions that aren't focusing on what we conventionally call a "map." I think that John is interested here in this distinction from a more practical, engineering perspective. When is it efficient for some instrumental goal to create or consult what we'd conventionally call a "map?" Here, the important thing seems to be the distinction between accumulating and storing information in a legible format, versus acquiring data anew each time. I'm just pointing out that ultimately, there has to be some abstract synthesis of signals. The idea of transducing signals from one form into another might be more helpful for understanding this side of things. Here, the important thing is tracing the transduction of information from one processing mechanism to another. To me, these seem importantly different, so I'm advocating that they be split apart rather than lumped together.
Search-in-Territory vs Search-in-Map

We're want the rock that's closest but not higher, and that's what we get. We don't necessarily get the closest rock, but we do get the best one, which is what John said.

1TheSimplestExplanation7dUps, missed that. Thanks.
Why has no one compared Covid-19 and Vaccine Risks?

Apart from the things Jonathan mentions, the Pandemrix vaccine used for swine flu seems to have caused narcolepsy in rare cases.

Note that Fauci in that video is talking about delayed effects, not long-term effects.

An Intuitive Guide to Garrabrant Induction

The logical induction criterion requires that, in the limit, all logical inductors assign probability 0 to Fermat’s last theorem being false. Conditioning on an event with probability 0 is ill-defined, so we have no formal guarantee that these conditional probabilities are well-behaved.

From what I understand, an LI need not assign probability 0 to Fermat's last theorem at any finite time. She might give it price on day . In practice I don't know if the LI constructed according to the paper will ever assign price to it. For all I know that would d... (read more)

Anatomy, diseases and aging damage

I took a screenshot from my anatomy atlas app, hopefully it's a bit helpful.

The muscle Christian is talking about is highlighted in blue, and the tendon sheath is the blue tube at the bottom. My read is that that sheath had moved to the side a bit, closer to the others?

4ChristianKl16dAnatomy atlases like that often include the tendon of the muscle in the marked muscle, so I'm talking roughly about the end of the thing that's marked in blue on the image. From the view of that image, the blue muscle is the thing that's most left at that point. In my case, it was moved right from that and so that you would still see it when looking at the hand from that perspective instead it being hidden on the other side of the hand.
Update 2021-05-31

For others confused like me: this is an update to a longer post. AGI in context is Adjusted Gross Income.

For Better Commenting, Take an Oath of Reply.

So, this seems like a fine policy. But calling it an "oath of reply" feels like it waters down the word "oath" in a way I dislike. (cf. the people who've taken the GWWC pledge, and said that if in future they think it's not a good idea, they'll just stop doing it.) Especially when the stuff you've said should be a universal understanding (around self care, rudeness, circumstances changing) is left implicit. That stuff won't be universally understood.

As a simple change that I personally would consider an improvement, I'd call it a "reply policy". A few word... (read more)

2AllAmericanBreakfast16dThat's a good point. I picked the word "oath" intuitively, and I can try to articulate why. First, "policy" feels more detached and state-ish than I wanted. I wanted a word that conveyed some emotional depth and a spark of human connection. Also, "policy" has the implication of being explicit in its details, like a law. By contrast, an oath is about building credibility without being specific about what actions to take. Here's a sample from the Hippocratic Oath: * "I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow." Policies can also have statements like that occasionally, but they are also often extremely detailed and voluminous: * "Employees accrue 2.15 hours of emergency personal time per pay period. On an annual basis, this is the equivalent of 56 hours. Employees may use emergency personal time up to 56 hours." But if you want to call yours a policy, more power to you!
Merry Newtonmas LW. Have some rationalist music.

Dunno if anyone from the band still reads LW, but I just wanted to say thanks; I've been enjoying this album for, I guess, coming up on ten years now. I think "Carry On" and "Keeping Me Away" are my favorites.

philh's Shortform

99% Invisible: Matters of Time

A few short stories on the subject of time.

Standardized time across a whole country came into existence with train networks. It was important for these because people needed to know when the train would be there to catch it, and also being a few minutes off could cause crashes. They'd get someone with a good watch to sync it up in London, then travel around the network and have station operators sync their clocks from the watch. A clock on the side of the Bristol Corn Exchange still has both London and Bristol time, 12 minute... (read more)

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Planet Money: Bad Credit Bureau

Credit ratings agencies started in the late 19th century in Brooklyn. For a while if you wanted to buy from a shop on credit, that was fine, the shopowner knew you. Then more people started moving in, and owners wouldn't know who to trust.

The Sells brothers went around to all the shops, asked to look at their books, and compiled a list of people with simple categorizations: do they pay on time, do they pay cash, is there something you should talk to us about first? Then owners could have a copy of the book and look up an unk... (read more)

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Planet Money: the Benefits of Bankruptcy

Rerun of a 2015 episode.

Queen City Appliances was founded ~1950, at some point the founder's son Ronny took over as CEO. It was doing well, and borrowing money to make money. Then 2008 happened, and in 2009 the business was doing badly, no one buying new refrigerators. So Ronny filed for bankruptcy. He had to sign the papers along with his 80something-year-old mother, who had helped to build the business from the ground up and still did accounts four days a week. It was one of the worst days of his life. These paper... (read more)

Finite Factored Sets

Imagine that I had a bit, and it’s either a 0 or a 1, and it’s either blue or green. And these two facts are primitive and independently generated. And I also have this other concept that’s like, “Is it grue or bleen?”, which is the XOR of blue/​green and 0⁄1.

There’s a sense in which we’re inferring X is before Y, and in that case, we can infer that blueness is before grueness. And that’s pointing at the fact that blueness is more primitive, and grueness is a derived property.

I found it helpful to work through this example. Let's say is "is the bit 0 ... (read more)

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Planet Money: Flood Money

Bill's house has flooded three times since he's lived there, and by now he's getting used to it. Why not move? Insurance!

You can't really get private insurance for floods, because it's too correlated. When the company has to pay out for one person, it has to pay out for everyone, and it goes bankrupt. So this insurance is backed by the government. He pays something like $4k/year for a house that cost him under $500k, and its paid out over $800k so far. That's not counting the most recent flood, after which it'll be over $1m. (I do... (read more)

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Planet Money (13 May 2021): Hot Cheetos

Attention conservation notice: the LA Times says this story is untrue. (I've only skimmed that article but it has some more details and corrections, both wrt reality and wrt what PM reported. For example, his name was Richard, not Robert. h/t Money Stuff, when I listened to the episode I remembered seeing it link to this.)

Robert? grew up in a family of farm workers. He was bussed into a previously all white school, sat with the other Latin Americans, and all the white kids were like wtf at his lunch burrito. He asked... (read more)

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Planet Money (Rerun 21 May 2021): Big Government Cheese

In the 70s, Carter wanted to increase the retail price of milk by 6¢/gal, a decent amount. The point being that if the USA isn't self-sufficient for food that's a national security thing, so it's worth overpaying to keep your farmers local. Then congress outdid him and wanted the price to raise every six months?

But you can't just say "the price will be this now", you have to do something concrete which will have that effect, either lower supply or raise demand. Lowering supply means telling people not... (read more)

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Planet Money (20 May 2021): Get The Vaccine, Lose The Skinny Jeans

Two thematically related stories.

Once the Covid vaccine is available, there's a question of "how do we convince people to get it?" We speak to someone in this area. Her group tried a bunch of things.

  • A joke, "did you hear the one about the flu? Don't spread it!": not effective.
  • "Wealthy educated people are getting the vaccine!": not effective.
  • "Lots of people are getting the vaccine!": effective.
  • Ohio's million dollar lottery: effective.

In other news: Skinny jeans became popular in the e... (read more)

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Planet Money (14 May 2021): Blood Money

America lets you sell blood plasma for money. The centers will call it a donation, but you get money for it, so. You can come in a couple of times a week and especially for low income people it can be a significant addition to their income. There are referral bonuses, and you get paid more if you come in more often. (Seems weird?) These centers are mostly located in low-income areas.

There's a history here involving Nicaragua. Under a dictator there was a center doing this, and a journalist was writing about concerns,... (read more)

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99% Invisible #442 (11 May 2021): Tanz Tanz Revolution

Berlin is known for its club scene, and this comes from the Berlin wall. No one really wanted to live in West Berlin, it was cut off from the rest of West Germany, so the government offered incentives: subsidized rent and food, exemption from mandatory military service.

(I'm surprised post-war Germany was allowed to have mandatory military service.)

This leads I guess to a bunch of musicians coming in, and they start defining a music scene. There's I think mutual influence between them and Detroit? They ... (read more)

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Planet Money (7 May 2021): Emission Impossible

Microsoft's CEO has announced that the company will be carbon negative by (2030 or 2050 or something). What does this mean?

(Explanation of carbon offsetting.)

One person selling carbon offsets is an Indonesian guy. He and a buddy bought up a load of Indonesian forest and now they charge money not to cut it down.

(Would cutting it down be a problem? Seems to me as long as you replant, and use the timber for construction, or store it, or otherwise make sure the carbon doesn't get released back in the atmosphere - ... (read more)

How to compute the probability you are flipping a trick coin

So I was thinking of this paper (pdf), which I misremembered somewhat - you can't make a coin biased for "toss and catch", but you can make it biased for "toss and let it bounce". (And for "spin on a table".) Given that, "can't bias a coin" is probably too strong, though it's in the title of the paper.

Props for suggesting an actual experiment! I didn't feel like doing it though :p

How to compute the probability you are flipping a trick coin

I've read that it's not possible to bias a coin - you can bias a coin toss if you know which way up it starts, but the coin itself will always be fair. But I confess that I don't know what assumptions they were making, so for all I know you could make something that would be recognizably a coin but that analysis wouldn't apply.

3Ericf1moIf one side is heavier, it will land that side down more often. You can see this with a household experiment of gluing a quarter to a circle of cardboard the same thickness, and then flipping it.
Can Bitcoin transition from PoW to PoS?

As long as the price of bitcoin is higher than the expense of mining it then PoW is not a waste in economic terms.

But only if the expense of mining it is considered to include externalities. If you include those, then this is perhaps true, but it means we can't reject the premise "PoW is a massive waste of resources" offhand. To reject that we'd need to further establish that the miners' surplus is larger than the externalities. And I note that if the miners' surplus is large, more miners can join, though there are complications in this argument.

2Stuart Anderson1mo-
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History of English #40 (21 Mar 2014): Learning Latin and Latin Learning

Previously the Roman Catholic traditions officially won over Irish Celtic, but Irish Celtic stayed alive, especially in Northumbria. And a king shortly after some of the previous kings built a particularly important monastary in that tradition. It had a lot of books, that was a thing for important monastaries. A child (~4yrs) named Beade went to stay there, no one knows why: "orphan" and "noble child" are possibilities, with some evidence for the latter being that the name meant "praye... (read more)

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99% Invisible #441 (5 May 2021): Abandoned Ships

There are a handful of cargo ships - officially 50, likely more - waiting around in or near a port but not allowed to dock, and the crew isn't allowed to leave. We hear mostly from Mehmed (?). He was third in command on his ship, which arrived in Egypt with a lot of cement or maybe it was concrete. By the time they arrived, their salaries hadn't been paid in months, and the owner said it would be even longer until they did get paid. They refused to unload until they saw the money. The owner resisted and thre... (read more)

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99% Invisible #308 (Rerun 28 Apr 2021): Curb Cuts

Rerun of a 2018 episode.

Dan Roberts (?) got polio as an adolescent. It left him mostly paralyzed, needing an iron lung to breathe. Though he did learn to "frog breathe" so he could escape his wheelchair for a bit at a time. (Maybe he wasn't as paralyzed as I remember them saying?)

When he wanted to go to UC Berkeley, at first they said no, he was too disabled, his wheelchair wouldn't even fit through a dorm room door. Then someone suggested he live in what used to be a hospital wing, and the college agreed. ... (read more)

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Planet Money (1 May 2021): A Superhero Goes to Hollywood

More superhero licensing, this time adaptations. The holy grail they want is a movie. Turns out NPR already has a deal with a studio, the same one producing the Hamilton movie. They paid (censored) to get right of first refusal on anything NPR produces for (censored) number of days, so PM can't shop around for that.

But they can go after other adaptations, and sign three deals. One is with a radio play group (I guess non-profit). Another is a choral music person, this one is more complicated because i... (read more)

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Planet Money (28 Apr 2021): The $100 Million Deli

There's a deli that's publicly traded and has a market cap of just over $100 million. This is crazy. Such a thing would normally be worth more like $100 thousand.

It came to public attention when someone mentioned it in a speech or something as an example of how there seems to be no prosecution of fraud, or something. Someone from CNBC looked into the filings, the CEO is the local high school team's wrestling coach, and another important figure is a Chinese businessman with ties to Macau. Other large shareho... (read more)

2philh25dPLANET MONEY (13 MAY 2021): HOT CHEETOS Attention conservation notice: the LA Times says this story is untrue [] . (I've only skimmed that article but it has some more details and corrections, both wrt reality and wrt what PM reported. For example, his name was Richard, not Robert. h/t Money Stuff, when I listened to the episode I remembered seeing it link to this.) Robert? grew up in a family of farm workers. He was bussed into a previously all white school, sat with the other Latin Americans, and all the white kids were like wtf at his lunch burrito. He asked his mum to make him a sandwich next time. She made him two burritos, one to share, and soon he was selling burritos at school. He joined a gang for a bit but sucked at it, kept getting arrested. When he turned 18 his girlfriend said it was time to get a real job. She wrote him a fabricated resume and he got work as a janitor in a chip factory. This was the early 80s? He thought he was doing great, then someone called him in and said they'd have to let him go, he had no initiative. He blustered his way through, got them to give him another chance. Went home, then went to the library with his girlfriend and they looked up the word in a dictionary. Oh, that thing? I can do that. So he started learning to do like everything. He'd sit in on sales meetings, and take over for people on the factory floor when they went on breaks, and was still being a janitor. At some point the company instituted a "give us an idea, we'll give you a dollar" policy, a dollar was decent compared to his wage, so he submitted loads. (Not clear if the idea had to be adopted?) At some point he and his girlfriend decided to make hot chips. Decided for whatever reason that cheetos would be the kind of chip. He took a bunch home with him one day and they experimented, eventually getting something good, sharing it with friends. He went back to work, looke
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Planet Money (23 Apr 2021): A Superhero Sells Out

Previously Planet Money found and resurrected the superhero Micro-Face, who had been created long ago and lapsed into public domain. Now they're trying to make money from him, through licensing.

They put out a call for people who wanted to do a licensing deal, and then spent a day talking to them in turn, Dragon's Den style, either accept or reject. Speaking to an expert on licensing (she previously worked on Sesame Street and Beavis and Butthead) they decided to follow what they called the Elmo rule: don't ... (read more)

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99% Invisible #440 (20 Apr 2021): La Brega in Levittown

La Brega is another podcast, focused on Puerto Rico. It's produced with both Spanish and English versions. The name is an expression meaning something like "shit sucks but whatever". Roman interviews the author then runs episode 2.

Levittowns were deliberately built to be places where I think returning veterans from WWII could buy a place and become homeowners. In the American version of the concept they'd only sell to white people.

For a while America was happy to let PR be poor, but then there was the... (read more)

Why I Work on Ads

They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

I'm very suspicious of this line of reasoning, since I could also say: "those men kissing in public didn't ask for my permission to put themselves in front of me".

This isn't a knock-down rebuttal or anything, I just wanted to note this.

Minor, but: 5'11 is 71 inches and 6'5 is 77. And if Alice turns out to be 5'0 your friend would owe you $11, but if she's 6'0 you'd owe him $1.

philh's Shortform

99% Invisible #439 (14 Apr 2021): Welcome to Jurassic Art Redux

Rerun of a show from 2018. In the present-day into, Roman and someone talk about how even though we can recite that 90% of an iceberg is underwater, we tend to picture that stuff being mostly below the stuff above it, like an ice cream cone, when actually it's a lot more spread out. Drawings can make this sort of thing much more intuitive. They mention a website where you can draw a 2d iceberg shape, and it'll show you how it would orient itself.

For a long time people thought dinosaurs were sl... (read more)

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Corecursive (2 May 2021): Etherium Rescue

"Daryl" was an ETH user who fat-fingered a transaction. Went online for help, guest said sorry, nothing anyone can do. Then later guest went o shit maybe there is.

Daryl was playing with uniswap, a smart contract letting people provide liquidity for exchanging crypto, e.g. ETH for USDC. Normally when providing liquidity you'd do two things in one transaction, with something like a try/catch letting you do them atomically. I guess Daryl had only done one of them? Anyway, his money was just sitting there, and as soon ... (read more)

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History of English #39 (5 Mar 2014): Not Lost in Translation

Now that people are writing Christian poetry in (old) English, they need to come up with English words for Christian concepts. One thing was that they had a stock phrase "blank-guardian", and Cadmin's poetry called god "mankind-guardian". (Cadmin was the cowherd from last episode.)

The only history I remember from this episode was a cross called the Roothschild cross or something, which had a poem written on it that was also found in the Italy book from last episode. In the 17th Century the cross ... (read more)

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History of English #38 (17 Feb 2014): Nobles, Nuptials and a Cowherd Poet

After Edwin became king in Northumbria, he didn't want Ethelbert's son down in Kent to do aggro at him, so he married Ethelbert's daughter. She agreed on condition she could stay Christian and bring a priest, which is similar to how her grandmother had eventually converted Ethelbert's father when she married him. (Or how her mother had converted Ethelbert?) The priest tried to convert Edwin. One day one of his enemies sent an assassin, but someone jumped in front of the blade, and al... (read more)

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Planet Money (Rerun 21 Apr 2021): The Writer's Revolt

Rerun of a 2019 episode.

In theory, if you're a screenwriter for Hollywood, you have an agent who gets you the best deals because that's how they get money. But there's a practice called "bundling", where the agency puts together a collection of a writer, director, showrunner, and sells them to the studio as a package deal. (Agencies represent everyone. Not just Hollywood, e.g. pop stars, and one of them bought Miss America from Trump in 2016 or so.) Then the agency has less incentive to get the best dea... (read more)

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Rationally Speaking #223 (16 Dec 2018): Chris Fraser on "The Mohists, ancient China's philosopher warriors"

The Mohists were a group from early China, either the Qin dynasty or whoever preceded the Qin dynasty. Then in the following dynasty, they were mostly forgotten.

They were consequentialists, and the consequences they considered good were something like, material wealth, something I forget, and people acting in their assigned roles. (Fathers acting as fathers, administrators acting as administrators, that sort of thing.) They were also anti-war, and th... (read more)

Scott Alexander 2021 Predictions: Buy/Sell/Hold
  1. Vitamin D is generally recognized (eg NICE, UpToDate) as effective COVID treatment: 70%

Vitamin D is good and important, you should be taking it, but I’m skeptical that such sources will recognize this in the future if they haven’t done so by now. Conditional on (I haven’t checked) the sources that matter not having made this call yet, I’d sell it to 50%, while saying that I definitely would use it to treat Covid if I had the choice.

This was a typo on Scott's part, he's updated it to "not generally recognized". He's previously written about why he d... (read more)

Paper review: A Cryptographic Solution to a Game Theoretic Problem

Note: it seems the paper itself is linked from your original blog, but not on LW? So for the benefit of LW readers, it's: Dodis, Y., Halevi, S., & Rabin, T. (2000, August). A cryptographic solution to a game theoretic problem. In Annual International Cryptology Conference (pp. 112-130). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

By using the techniques mentioned above, two players can then execute the following protocol:

I had trouble following this, but I think I get it. To add some maybe-helpful clarifications:

  1. At the beginning of the protocol, the Preparer r
... (read more)
3victorsintnicolaas2moThanks for the additions, will note the original paper in future posts!
Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement"

Thinking in ways which systematically arrive at truth. Tie between rationality and metacognition.

Echoing what Rob said above: these labels apply in very different ways. "Rationality" applies in a definition-like way, which is how it's used on the page. Metacognition applies in an example-like way. You would never say "what we mean by metacognition is thinking in ways which systematically arrive at truth", because even if the practice has that result, that's not what the word means. (And I doubt the practice always does have that result.)

I really do th

... (read more)
Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement"

I think referencing Bayes in the name would be a mistake for the same reason as metacognition - it's a tool, and it's a law, but it's not an end and it's not The Thing.

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Planet Money #946 (23 Oct 2019): Fries of the Future

America doesn't eat a lot of potatoes in general, but it does eat a lot of French fries. Unfortunately, French fries only take a few minutes to go from crispy and great to soggy and shit. This is a problem for fast food.

The industry partially solved the problem once, when drive-through became a thing. Previously it was "drive-in", you'd stay there in your car and a waitress on roller-skates would take your order and deliver it with plates and cutlery. But then people would drive off with their plates and... (read more)

Two Designs

I would prefer if the pattern I’m talking about could be implemented with if statements

This has its own problems, but you could use inspect.signature, I think?

4SatvikBeri2moI didn't know about that, thanks!
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Planet Money #945 (19 Oct 2019): The Liberty City

Von Army (???, edit: it's Von Ormy) is a city in Texas. It used to be unincorporated, then some firefighters were grousing about how San Antonio was going to annex them and they'd get higher taxes but no representation. One of them was like "we should make our own city", the chief was all "go on then", and they did. That first one became mayor.

Wanted to be as cheap as possible. Initially had property taxes to get them going, but started reducing them every year. One thing they did: buy a squad car from a ne... (read more)

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99% Invisible #438 (7 Apr 2021): The Real Book

In the early days of jazz, musicians would be playing in a club and receive requests, Broadway hits were popular, and have to search through their mountain of sheet music for the song, which they'd then improvise on top of. Some people started making stripped-down versions of the sheet music, not enough to reproduce the original but enough to riff off. Those might have been legal in their original incarnation? And then people started collecting those in "fake books", which were much more convenient to carry ar... (read more)

Thiel on secrets and indefiniteness

I read it as

  • Biotech startups currently "experiment with things that just might work", which is [apparently?] incremental thinking.
  • Instead they should refine definite theories about how the body's systems operate [which sounds incremental to me, too].
2Rob Bensinger2moThe idea (AFAIK) is that both are incremental to a degree, but it's much more incremental to try things at random than to improve your theoretical understanding, because improved theoretical understanding is relatively likely to generalize to multiple future discoveries while random experiments are more likely to be one-and-done.
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Planet Money #753 (Rerun 16 Oct 2019): Blockchain Gang

Rerun of a show from 2017. Charlie Shrem found bitcoin early, got into it like other kids would get into Ayn Rand. Founded BitInstant, which helped people something something with bitcoin. Other people who liked bitcoin at the time were criminals, some of them used BitInstant, Charlie knew this. He got arrested, convicted of aiding and abetting something or other, and two years in prison.

Prisoners aren't allowed cash so they used tins of mackeral from commissary, which is not a great currency. You coul... (read more)

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