Richard Hollerith, 15 miles north of San Francisco. hruvulum@gmail.com


Nuclear war is unlikely to cause human extinction

The estimates I trust the most said about 50% of Americans and 55% of Soviets would have died in the first 30 days if the Americans and Soviets hit each other with everything they've got. (The Soviets were more concentrated in cities; automobiles with which to flee the cities quickly with supplies were much scarcer in the USSR.)

Note that since 1983 the two sides have gotten rid of most of their nuclear weapons.

"30 days": most people who are going to die from radiation sickness will die within 30 days of the exposure.

How many would have starved in subsequent months and years because of lack of food is harder to estimate.

Why You Should Care About Goal-Directedness

One issue would be that it appears that the same argument can be used to argue for the troublesomeness of cyclic graphs.

Consider a graph that is mostly a tree, but one directed edge points to the root. What is the difference that makes your argument inapplicable to the graph, but applicable to a model of reality that contains a model of the model?

Two reasons to expect a peaceful change of power in the US

>We have never heard of a coup in a rich old democracy

There was a successful coup in France in 1958: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1958_crisis_in_France

At that point France had been a democracy or democratic republic for 88 years. (I'm not counting the First Republic because it was chaotic and included the Reign of Terror. I'm not counting the Second Republic because it lasted only 4 years and was sandwiched between longer-lasting intervals of dictatorship and monarchy. I am counting the Nazi occupation because I consider its cause to have been external to France and thus not a sign that French democracy was deficient. Also, it was sandwiched between much longer intervals of democracy.)

Then again 88 years is not 231 years, and there were much stronger signs (namely, the "recurrent cabinet crises" described by the Wikipedia article) in the years leading up to 1958 that the French system of government was unsatisfactory than there have been so far IMHO of the unsatisfactoriness of the US system (and one of the effects of the coup -- in addition to a new leader -- was a new French constitution).

(Also, IIUC the coup was basically bloodless.)

Nuclear war is unlikely to cause human extinction

Humankind has long known how to produce very large nukes: the largest bomb ever tested (Tsar Bomba, 50 megatons) was tested in 1961. Why then is the maximum yield of every nuke currently in the US inventory under about .5 megatons? Because explosions bigger than that do not produce more destruction on the ground: after about .5 megatons, as the size (energy) of the explosion increases, it just lifts more and more of the Earth's atmosphere into space (but not enough to cause any danger to life on Earth).

Sub-Sums and Sub-Tensors

How many more posts in this sequence till you define the extrapolated volition of the humans? :)

What are examples of simpler universes that have been described in order to explain a concept from our more complex universe?

Euclidean geometry (which is 2500 years old), Newtonian physics and the special theory of relativity immediately come to mind.

Maximal Ventilation

Certainly a breeze is better than no breeze, but, "a gentle 1mph breeze clears an 90-ft diameter circle in a minute," is probably not be even approximately true if the breeze is turbulent, which most breezes are.

Anyone reading this has probably experienced a non-turbulent (i.e., "laminar") breeze. One sign that a breeze is laminar is that the breeze makes you cold a lot faster than you would guess based on (your subjective impression of) the speed of the breeze. A breeze at dusk or at night is more likely to be laminar than a breeze when the sun is strong. A breeze on a beach is more likely to be laminar than a breeze inland.

Some enterprises intentionally create laminar breezes indoors: semiconductor fabs, surgical operating rooms, mushroom growers. The method universally used (squirrel-cage fans and HEPA filters) might also reliably filter coronavirus from the laminar breeze.

Here is a home-made laminar flow "wall" to be used to prepare mushrooms for growing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmnpdHM5Loc

When is it Wrong to Click on a Cow?

(I will avoiding any discussion of brain stimming because I prefer to keep the discussion as concrete as practical. Brain stimming lacks concreteness because our species has almost no experience with brain stimming of humans.)

A young man's spending his evenings clicking on cows is a sign that something is seriously wrong with him. You say as much when you write, "they’re not the kind of person you’d want your children to marry."

In your hypothetical you do not give any details to suggest what might be wrong. If you had hypothesized for example that a 70-year-old man in a wheelchair living alone on government handouts spends his evenings clicking on cows, my guess is that you would feel less repugnance because you have been socialized to be sympathetic towards the disabled and the poor.

But human lives go seriously wrong all the time in ways that cannot be catalogued in a straightforward way into a bin labelled chronic illness, chronic poverty, substance abuse or such.

It has only been a century or two since part of the world has learned *not* to react with repugnance and moral condemnation towards, e.g., a person who has obvious signs of chronic illness, and even in the populations most inclined to be sympathetic, most people will react with moral condemnation toward personal failure when there are no signs as to the cause of that failure.

I hope you don't mind my saying this, but you have given no indications in this post that you aren't having the natural human reaction to a strong sign of severe personal failure (namely, moral condemnation).

You write, "I think if stimming was cheap and easy, most people would do it". If most people would do it, then it is not a sign of a serious personal failure as much as a sign of a serious societal failure. In any case, I don't see how it sheds any useful light on the matter whether or not you feel moral repugnance.

Why Rationalists Shouldn't be Interested in Topos Theory

I like Girard. The Rust programming language's borrow checker probably wouldn't've been invented yet if it weren't for Girard's 1987 paper, "Linear logic". (The paper got sustained attention from numerous programming-languages researchers; I read many thousands of papers on programming-language design before the appearance of Girard 1987 and I can recall no exploration of the use of linear types, use-once variables or whatever you want to call them before Girard 1987.)

What happens in a recession anyway?

If I lose my job, but most of the other men in my workplace and in my social environment keep theirs, that tends to have a much worse effect on my self-esteem than if all the men in my workplace lose their job because the government closed the workplace by fiat or if half of the men in my social environment lose their jobs because of a lockdown, so I would expect this recession to cause fewer suicides in the US than a typical US recession did since a persistent sense of not measuring up to the other men in my social environment is according to my understanding a major cause of suicide.

The other major cause of suicide according to my understanding is a breakdown in society: in short people need to feel like they belong -- to know where they belong in the social structure, which doesn't happen during rapid social change (whether the change is "positive" or "negative" in the long term). That explains the huge increase in suicide (and addictive behavior) in Russia in 1991. Although the lockdowns in response to the virus are causing disruptions, men know the disruptions will end and that when they do, most social arrangement will go back to the way it they were -- in sharp contrast to the situation in Russia in 1991. Consequently I wouldn't expect the lockdowns to disrupt society enough to cause a large increase in suicides.

Clarification: I think most men know or will soon enough find out, e.g., through the media that the lockdowns won't persist past the end of next winter (Northern Hemisphere) at the latest.

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