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Interlude with the Confessor (4/8)

One of my favorite stories.  I am rereading it after reading many of the sequences, and am getting a lot more out of it.

I also read the comments, and wanted to add to the non-consensual sex discussion.  (Obvious but necessary disclaimer, I am opposed to rape in any form)

I think I understand the purpose, i.e. show how future societies might accept things we find repulsive.  I think the example the author chose is problematic.

Many things we do now that were offensive to past generations seem to fall in the category of allowing more rights for individuals.  Freedom for certain races or classes, voting rights, broadening political power, allowing more sexual preferences, right to choose abortion, freedom of speech for unpopular causes, etc.  All of these involve sharing of power or opportunity with groups previously considered inferior or undeserving.

But while allowing individuals to rape is a freedom, it comes at the expense of someone else's most fundamental freedom - control of their own body.  It's like forcing someone to eat food they don't want to eat, or wear a perfume they find repulsive.  Once you think about it, it seems to contradict so many basic principles that it doesn't make sense.

Having said that, I can't really think of a new freedom that would be offensive enough to achieve the purpose without seeming contradictory in a similar way, so I am not really in a position to criticize.

Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over

There is a lot of good information here, but unfortunately a lot of hyperbole, and a lack of sources to allow us to check your numbers.

First, the headline, which conveys emphatic certainty. Contrast that with the body, which says 

"all signs point to it being about 65% more infectious than the old one, albeit with large uncertainty and error bars around that. " 

 "I give it a 70% chance that these reports are largely correct." 

(Bolding mine)


The media told us it was nothing to worry about, right up until hospitals got overwhelmed and enough people started dying. 

This is a gross generalization, similar to those made by people set out to demonize the media regardless of the facts.  A quick google shows dozens of warnings from CNN from January to late March.

The first US death was mid February.  We reached 1000 deaths ("enough" is a very broad term) around March 26.

Back to the first quote above - it mentions "all signs" pointing to something.  Best I can tell, it was one study. Please correct me if I am wrong.

What evidence went into the 70% chance estimate?

Under "The Numbers/Predictions" heading- where did the predictions come from? What assumptions were made in creating the predictions?  We have no idea.

Under "Deaths" through "Test Counts" - where did the tabular data come from?   There is a source for one chart, but that is it.  Your comment on the chart seems dubious.

the increased cases in the deep South are mostly [due to] increased testing.

but you only show testing data for NY and USA. Furthermore, if the increased cases are only due to increased testing, positivity should be flat.  Your data show it is rising in the South, which supports the premise that the cases are increasing independent of testing.

More hyperbole here:

This definitely does qualify under “hot damn, look at this chart.” This is a huge, dramatic increase in infections happening very quickly. A doubling in one week.

Here is the graph as presented.

Here is the same data in a larger context.

The new variation was detected first in the UK in September.  Cases went from about 20 on September 1 to 370 in  mid November.  Then they *dropped* to 213 before jumping up to 500.

This does not seem to be caused by something in September. If it were, the exponential growth rate we see in December would have started back then.

France had a higher rate of increase, probably not due to this new strain, and nonetheless brought it under some control. 

The rate of increase in the UK since Dec 6 is about the same as the US in November.

So while it is possible the new strain is causing the recent surge, it is quite likely that other things have a larger influence.

And finally

Multiple sources confirm that there is no reason to expect a six-months-later second dose to be any less effective a booster.  

So why not link to those multiple sources?  The nearby link to the does mention the possibility of a 6 month later dose being an option, but provides no data to back that up, other than a single example of a vaccine for a completely different disease.

The Treacherous Path to Rationality

I'll b honest, I almost stopped reading when the you said "Throughout March, the CDC was telling people not to wear masks and not to get tested unless displaying symptoms." as an example of how they got it wrong.

The reality is they did not encourage people to buy masks initially, because the very credible concern was that the public would hoard masks that were in short supply for people who absolutely needed them immediately. As soon as supplies were available, they recommended getting them for the public.

And similarly, the shortage of testing drove the very temporary discouragement of symptom-free people running out and getting tests.

Are you aware of these valid explanations?

Then I saw this: "When the article was written, prepping for COVID was associated with low-status China-hating reactionaries. The social role of progressive academics writing in progressive media was to mock them, and the good professor obliged. In February people like Sunstein mocked people for worrying about COVID in general, in March they mocked them for buying masks,"

If you have specific evidence of the claim about "progressive academics", please let me know.

Absent that evidence, this seems like a gross generalization.  The point could have been made without your politically motivated mocking.  I ought not let this sort of thing prevent me from gleaning any insight from the rest of the article, but I just can't stomach it, so I stopped there.

Why haven't we celebrated any major achievements lately?

One reason for the lack of celebration may be our increased awareness of negative effects. When the railroad was completed, or the bridge built, nobody worried about the environmental costs.

Another reason is "low-hanging fruit". Speeding up the time to get from New York to San Francisco from 6 months to 6 days required a steam engine and a lot of steel. Speeding it up to 6 hours took heavier-than-air flight and jet engines. Going from 6 hours to 6 minutes will take a lot more work.

The internet is a big deal, but as mentioned elsewhere, it is not a singular event. Nobody had a ticker-tape parade when libraries were invented, or when they reached a certain percentage of towns.

Why haven't we celebrated any major achievements lately?

Do you have sources for that? From what I can tell, China had 1000 executions to 22 in the US in 2019. Also life expectancy and suicide rate seems to be worse in China, not better. I didn't check the others.

Covid-19: My Current Model
The WHO has lied repeatedly, to our face, about facts vital to our safeguarding our health and the health of those around us. They continue to do so. It’s not different from their normal procedures.
The FDA has interfered constantly with our ability to have medical equipment, to test for the virus, and to create a vaccine.
Almost all government officials in America, and most other countries (I won’t get into which ones are the exceptions) have done the same. They’ve joined in lying about everything.

Would you be willing to provide examples (and ideally sources) for these claims? They seem extraordinary, at least to me.

With regards to the FDA, I stipulate that they interfere constantly. I disagree that the effect of the interference is a net negative. I personally welcome interference in attempts to provide faulty or dangerous medical equipment, tests and vaccines.

Moloch Hasn’t Won

It seems like the stability point of a lot of systems is Moloch-like. (Monopolies, race to the bottom, tragedy of the commons, dictatorships, etc.) It requires energy to keep the systems out of those stability points.

Lots of people need to make lots of sacrifices to keep us out of Moloch states. It is not accidents. It is revolutions, and voter registration, and volunteering and standing up to bullies. It is paying extra for fair trade coffee and protesting for democracy in Hong Kong.

Moloch has a huge advantage. If we do nothing, it will always win. We need to remember that.

Chapter 39: Pretending to be Wise, Pt 1

I really love this story, and what you are doing, but I have a few disagreements with what is presented.
Maybe this is just Harry, and not what you are trying to convey, but I do want to counter some of the points made.

Death, right now, is inevitable.

Until we conquer it, we should not fear it. As with all things inevitable, there is value, and wisdom, in trying to derive meaning from it. Right now, simply opposing death, fearing it, and hating it will make our lives worse, not better.

Should we strive for immortality? Maybe. Is it irrational to think that immortality may cause some unintended consequences? Nope. Might sane, rational people decide at some point that they are ready to go, and stop living? I don't think you can definitively say no, as Harry seems to be saying.

"Love is more important than wisdom," . This is not a trite cliche.

Love is a consequence of wisdom. Wisdom in the service of evil is still wisdom. Love sets the goals, wisdom helps obtain them.

Chapter 16: Lateral Thinking

The killer instinct reminds me a bit of Ender.

Chapter 16: Lateral Thinking

I was binge-reading for a bit, just realized the "enemy's gate" header was for this chapter. Nice reference.

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