Sunday assorted links


1. Questions that are rarely asked.

Why does anyone use twitter?


I have given a lot of serious answers, and I haven't run out. Here's a variation on one recent answer:

I believe the evolutionary psychology (or whatever) that humans are prepared to interact in approximately 100 person groups.

Twitter "works" because even though it has millions of users, it can feel like you're interacting with a manageable group. It can feel like your friends, plus their friends. If you choose the right friends, you'll get the experience you want.

Now obviously Twitter is vulnerable to all the breakdowns of mass social media, because it is not really just your 100 closest friends. All sorts of weird things happen when you engage with millions as if they were.

It's a serious topic, but I don't think the serious answer is that everybody will just give it up.

In the big picture, in the course of life on Earth, humans will adapt to social media in the blink of an eye. But we are obviously not done adapting yet.

so it's basically a discussion forum with limited membership. fair enough.

for long-form essays, it's ridiculous.

Most active users "follow" a few people, and don't venture out to see the full fire hose of content. You can be "private" but that's less common.

"Threads" are interesting, because sometimes they are substitute for long reads, and sometimes paired with them. A writer might publish something long, and then tweet the high points. I guess in theory this attracts readers. Or it informs the less interested.

Hi! I’m a Australian Internet Marketer living in Detroit, I found your article to be soooo Usefull!

Here is an example of a paired thread:

It’s called Dunbar’s Number.

I could add that sometimes it's just fun.

Sweet Meteor o’Death is funny.

Titania McGrath, hilarious because oh so close to the truth.

1. Questions (plural) that are rarely asked.
why do we like Ben Carson M.D. and prefer him to slice up
our brains?

Killer point! Carson is an idiot! We need more outrage in our society not less! Post more often or stick a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger... choice is yours

carsons got about 30 IQ points on you

Of course, the actual "experiment" was shutting down campuses to begin with. Campuses have been open for centuries. The real question is what would happen if non-pharmaceutical interventions (lockdowns) had to pass the same tests for safety and efficacy as pharmaceutical interventions (drugs/vaccines) do before being implemented?

Twitter is for idiots. It really is their perfect medium because it is so useful for the following net negative social utility activities

1) to signal ingroup loyalty
1A) by attacking members of the near outgroup
1B) by attacking ingroup members that do not demonstrate sufficient ingroup ideological zeal

2) to “define the boundaries” by personally attacking anyone who strays into rationality - see Matt Yglesias needing to delete all of his tweets a few times a year

3) eliminating any space for rational discussion - the medium is the message. The format is only conducive to attack and irrational partisan framing

The Twitterization of all discourse (see the deterioration of this blog’s comments section over the last 5 years) is the name of the game. The purpose is to destroy any space for rational discussion.

But of course that’s what you get in a low trust society.

Is that why the president speaks like a toddler?

Does he speak like a toddler because of Twitter? That doesn’t make any sense.

He speaks like a toddler because he’s a Boomer and thus is suffering mental decline and senility.

Just like the Boomers commenting here. And his election opponent, senile Joe

Five years ago, people here were smart enough to scorn such walls of self-indulgent text.

I don’t know about that, prior_approval was around back then

And prior gets plenty of scorn for his wall of text responses. Enough so that he has mostly stopped doing it.

obligatory link to slate star codex's IRB horror story, a humorous Kafkaesque reflection on his attempt to do a study.

"I'm tired of everybody. Please forgive me." Ernest Hemingway

Wondering why ! for 2 considering how well China has dealt with controlling the pandemic and reopening, there was no way to get an answer considering the link was clearly wrong.

Yes, Wuhan came out of lockdown over 2 months ago. Perhaps the (!) is an expression of why it has taken so long to send an envoy back.

The exclamation mark is clearly because the link has nothing to do with envoys or Wuhan.

One hopes that the primary reason for staff to return to Wuhan is for espionage purposes to counter the CCP's malevolence.


From the abstract :

“ While shutdown measures have been necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, ... However, heedlessly reopening the economy could lead not only to drastic increases in COVID- 19 cases”

Citation needed for both claims. Also “drastic:” nice use of precise language. .

And the model used in the paper, so much mental masturbation. I look forward to taking down the data site, or modifying their results over time.

I might believe your comment if you had read the paper.

The whole point of public libraries is to circumvent copyright laws at public expense. But the government is also the institution that sets copyright rules to begin with! This is like paying farmers to destroy their crops to prop up the price, then also give out subsidies to buyers because the price is too high. Insanity. The solution is simple: stop interfering in food markets, and also abolish copyright.

You'd have a very hard problem abolishing copyright in the United States, due to this part of the constitution: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

Of course, "limited Times" has been stretched absurdly far in copyright, thanks to Sonny Bono.

I agree!

One of the first times someone changed my mind on the internet was when Jerry Pournelle politely explained that writers either work very hard or give up a lot to take the time to write, and if a writer does his best work in her early 20s, as if often the case, it seems a little unfair to tell the writer that, when they are in their 70s, their creations will be taken from them or their children in a mere 20 more years.

Well, it made a lot of sense when I read it, and it changed my mind.

"Taken from" is doing a lot of the work in that argument. Successful writers can make millions of dollars in royalties over the course of a lifetime. If a writer does her best work at age 25, she has 50 years to figure out how to save and invest all of that money and maybe even write more books that will generate income streams that last longer. I don't think it is government's job to promise the children of successful artists a lifetime of wealth. Someone who is responsible and consults with a financial adviser and an estate planning attorney can surely pull it off anyway, though.

6. Panditharatne is referring to the New Zealand PM. By the way, the best-run places during the pandemic are run by, you guessed it, women (including the PM in New Zealand). If women were in charge everywhere, the coronavirus would have been a quickly passing nuisance not a deadly pandemic.

Speaking of the damage done by the male ego, I've yet to decide whether the current and popular economic theory is critical of the male ego or in praise of the male ego. What economic theory? The one that says male predictions of economic performance are self-fulfilling; thus, male prediction for slow growth is contractionary while male prediction for rapid growth is expansionary. Does size make a difference? I mean the size of the male ego not the size of the little member.

Prime Minister Abe is a man. About the same per capita deaths as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

She was pregnant in the photo, I presume.

Which was better the Ozzie or Kiwi run lockdown? The Oz one was cheaper and by some measures more effective. Actually, I just think we were both pretty lucky. Where would you rank Vietnam?

Hong King is run by a woman, isnt it?

I'd be careful about comparing Xi to a woman, he didn't take it to well about Winnie the Pooh.

Link #2 points to a financial profile ( for a "Blueprint Holding" in Nashville, TN. Unless you know something we don't, I think the link is wrong...

1. File under “Questions that are rarely asked.”
If Pluto was a dog then what was Goofy?

i will have sleepless night, tormented by this inexplicable quandary

That was maybe a hard question a few years ago, but subsequently Hello Kitty came onto the scene with her pet cat Charmie Kitty, and Bayesians the world over recognized, at long last, that fictional cartoon animal characters live not in our universe but the next universe over, where, due to a trivial change in certain logical parameters, dogs have pet dogs and cats have pet kittens.

#5. What's the incubation period for this indiscriminate killer freight-train of a virus again? We can probably give up this charade in another week or two, when we learn after two weeks of open-air riots and shoulder-to-shoulder marching that the virus doesn't spread outdoors and working-age people aren't at any significant risk.

"that the virus doesn't spread outdoors and working-age people aren't at any significant risk."
Well, I guess that those who died are beyond all risk now. To be far, the same is true about the victims of Pol Por, Hitler and Stalin.

Hilarious and absurd conflation. You're an emotional wreck.

You are a freak willing to murder innocent people for political expediency. Just like the mentioned dictators.

I bet you're real fun at these Marchin-Lootin-King events.

No, he's pointing out the obvious. This virus is a danger to those over 60 and those over 50 with a high body mass index. It is not a danger to younger people except in odd circumstances. What's regrettable is that we did not have adequate protective equipment stockpiled last march and we did not concentrate on isolating the vulnerable population. We can see retrospectively that business closures should have been exceedingly selective and the thing to have done more than any other was to furlough elderly employees and provide partial stipends for them.

Exactly how many people more should die to help Trump's campaign? We already are the country that killed more of its citizens in this crisis. Is it
not enough?

I have a suggestion. If you would like to remain at home for the next 18 months and can afford to forego productive activity, you do that.

Those "odd" circumstances are not odd at all within a large population such as the United States. Suppose the risk of dying if you are between 25 and 55 is 1 in 2000: there are approximately 120 million people in this age range in the U.S. and so deaths will be 60,000 if everyone gets infected.

As for age segregation, it only works if you have a world with no adults who live with their parents. One of the highest infection risks for most people is the risk that someone else in their household will catch the virus first and then spread it at home.

E"Everyone" isn't going to get it (20-70% depending on who you believe) and therapies will improve with time so I would wager on the "under" did of your number. It's just a flu.

I agree with the first point but that is precisely the argument for curve flattening.

On the flu comparison, you can see my comment below to understand why the comparison is wrong and represents motivated reasoning.

You also probably think that the heat of Arizona will prevent any viral infections and resulting hospitalizations.

I'm willing to reserve judgment until the results are in from two weeks of lockdown violations.

Are we going to do this every flu season? I'm going to start shorting commercial RE.

Early summer has never been considered flu season.

But you are certainly intelligent enough to have learned that coronavirus is not influenza, so there must be some other explanation for why you talk about flu season while cases and hospitalizations in a number of U.S. states are currently rising,

I know flu season doesn't start in early summer. I'm asking if we are going to have lockdowns (with exceptions for protests and looting every flu season), given that Influenza A likewise kills tens of thousands of people every year?

*(with exceptions for protests and looting) every flu season,

A truly bad flu U.S. season, like the one of 2017-2018, kills over 60,000 people. Covid19 has killed twice that number in 5 months, and shows no current signs of abating in the U.S.

Clearly, whatever the U.S. is doing to even slow the spread of the disease is not working.

Covid 19 has been killing Americans in large numbers for since the end of March so not quite 3 months.

The number of U.S. deaths per day:

May 16 to May 22: 1,300
May 30 to Jun 5: 890
Jun 6 to Jun 11: 780

Yes, we are going to do this every single flu season....until a Dem manages to vote-fraud his way into the White House, of course. Then, it will instantly become unnecessary.

These flu comparisons are motivated reasoning.

How do we know that the flu kills tens of thousands of people every year? Because CDC scientists theorize that flu deaths are grossly undercounted in the U.S. and have developed models and statistical methods to estimate the true number and have posted those numbers on their website. Again, we see people who regularly question and impugn the integrity of government experts all of the sudden express unquestioning faith in those same experts when it gives them an opportunity to score a rhetorical point. Data on actual cause of death as recorded on death certificates shows that flu deaths per year are routinely less than 10,000.

I would say:

1) Are we sure CDC's estimates of flu deaths are accurate? I am not alone in having been unaware of the theory that flu kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. until this year, and do not think I am alone. A medical doctor writing for Scientific American also said in his own experience and that of his colleagues, flu deaths are exceedingly rare and CDC's models should be investigated:

2) If they are, flu is unlike SARS-CoV-2 because we have vaccines and treatments for it. We could also do things like mandate paid sick leave and try to move toward Japanese-style social norms in which everyone washes their hands more and sick people wear masks.
3) As already pointed out, covid-19 has killed more people than flu in most years even according to CDC's inflated estimates and the year isn't even half over yet.

et tu thiago
we heard brazilian generals are plotting a coup

Not at all. Those are hoaxes. Brazil's democracy is as solid as oak and President Captain Bolsonaro's leadership is as good as gold. The situation is under control. There is no plotting ongoing.

6. "MIT makes a stand for open science, by ending negotiations with the rent-seeking journal Elsevier. The replication crisis and the failure of “““experts””” to respond to coronavirus have shown just how important it is to get rid of groups who are blocking scientific inquiry. "

Pro-innovation, pro-science libertarians completely missed this one. Probably blinded by the obsequious mentality of rent-seeking and private-property-above-all that lurks in their hindbrains.

You’ve successfully signaled your fealty to your ideological ingroup.

I don't think you noticed that Marginal Revolution University is offered on a Creative Commons License.

Actually I agree that it's something libertarians don't talk about too much, but there is a fair amount of voting with the feet.

6 "When I visited Hong Kong back in 2018, it seemed like the locals mostly worked in finance and tourism, and even though the conditions existed for a thriving high-tech economy, it just hadn’t happened yet."

Hong Kong completely failed to build a thriving tech industry that went across the bay to Shenzhen instead. More proof that high finance is a false prosperity that rewards an elite, well-connected few while actual industry like tech builds prosperity for anybody willing to do the work. The political fate of HK should be on the minds of all democratic peoples.

I think it's easy to think of tech as just "1's and 0's" in a computer, but even Silicon Valley was built on the back of a bleeding-edge manufacturing industry. If you need hardware, you definitely want to be in Shenzhen, not HK.

#3 Thats how doctors live?? And Putins goons throw them out windows if they complain. Nice.

6. "During the coronavirus, the German can industry accelerates its modernization plans towards building an electric car. Cars like the BMW or Porsche are great, because German engineering management works really well for creating polished mechanical designs. When most of the car is powered by a battery and run on software, it’s unclear how useful that expertise will be, so German car companies need to begin reinventing themselves starting now."

This take, which I see time and again in different forms, doesn't impress me. Going from ICE to EV means you lose the engine, fuel system, and exhaust system, you generally drop to a simpler transmission, powertrain cooling, and lubrication system. You do this at the cost of a mountain of batteries and some relatively complex power electronics. Everything else (seats, carpets, window mechanisms, doors, the body, the electrical system that runs the rest of the car, mechanical brakes, etc.) stays almost exactly the same.

Clearly modern electronics and connected vehicle are important (touch screens, bluetooth, etc.), but that's not impacted by going EV - that tech is already being developed for modern ICE vehicles.

The last time I looked - a decade ago- a high end ICE powered BMW already had about a hundred computers in it. They have been doing software for a long time.

"German engineering management works really well for creating polished mechanical designs"

The published reliability data imply that you get a better engineered car by buying Korean or Japanese. I suspect German cars sell on snob appeal.

Reliability data is often as much about the customer, and the customer's expectation and perception of the vehicle, as it is about the absolute reliability of the product. There are dogs out there hailed as paragons, and vice versa.

Plus, a lot of recent reliability data is heavily weighted towards customer understanding of infotainment, which is fair on one hand - there's been some horrific infotainment, and somewhat silly on the other - a hard to understand touchscreen way outweighs a transmission blowout.

German cars and German industrial equipment has a reputation for high performance but requiring a rigorous and expensive maintenance cycle. Ergo, reliability is probably the wrong metric. Toyota's are better cars than BMW's by most reliability metrics.

Thanks for the post on re-opening the libraries. It is sad that almost all the problems come from the lonely, marginal folks who need to use the library for its computers. Not everyone can afford a smart phone or a laptop.

I am baffled by rhe library patrons who are concerned that the library might not be disinfecting all the books. I do not think that anyone gets the virus from a book, unless an infected person coughs on the book and hands it over to you right away.

"Capitalism is killing us" - LibrariAnne. What a twit.

#9 - Like all politicians, she's an egregious piece of work.

Sorry meant #6 of course

"3. Paranoia in Russia’s"

Akin to pointing out the snow in Antarctica.

#1/#4 Why does the US have so many (any?) active opponents of low cost social distancing like masks, indoor proximity?

What role for
a) failure to understand that these measures are more about protecting others than about protecting oneself? How did this misunderstanding arise?
b) conflation of opposition to low cost NPsI with opposition to high-cost NPIs because the perceived source of the recommendations is the same?

"Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach. There is no reason why pride in advertising your abilities should lure you into publicity, so that you should desire to recite or harangue before the general public." -Seneca, who would have hated Twitter

6) "Defund the police!" Haha jk here's a 5-page explainer of what we REALLY mean

"ACAB!" Haha jk we don't mean all cops as individuals, here's a 5-page explainer of what we really mean.

Maybe hire someone new to come up with your slogans?

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