Re: Priorities

1

I'm not sure I can justify why I think this (although presumably I'll have to in this thread or else I'll be ignored) but this kind of argument really carries no weight with me. I mean, yeah, okay, there are advances that are helpful and advances that are pointless, but I'm not at all sure that it's so easy a priori to disambiguate them, let alone solve the resource allocation issues necessary to have people specifically working on the useful ones.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
2

I can kind of buy that. There are lots of things that I think are stupid or pointless to work on. But I don't think there's some kind of conservation-of-brilliance thing going on, and if the people working on building better click-ads, or more privacy-invasive social media tools weren't working on this, they'd be curing cancer.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:39 AM
horizontal rule
3

I mean, the bionic pancreas, that's cool and seems super handy, but it seems like it would evidently be the case that Type I diabetics would have to keep on top of their blood sugar regardless, in case something goes wrong with the machine, so it's really sort of an incremental benefit.

On the other hand, it definitely seems to be the case that real-time feedback and logging can help people improve their diet, so I could imagine that the Vessyl (maybe not in its current form, but something like it) could be a super useful tool for people who are trying to reduce sugar intake because they're at risk of Type II diabetes, for instance.

Okay, that seems like a little bit of a stretch, but nonetheless.

Clickbaity ads are obviously terrible to justify but at least from an infrastructural perspective some of that energy has gone into making the web more of a robust applications platform, which is at least plausibly a good thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
4

Also, of course, the idea that the best minds of that twenty-something Harvard twit's generation are all working at ad-supported tech companies is not particularly true. And even if it was true, Facebook and Google are pretty big drivers of some fields (specifically machine learning and "big data", if you call that a field) that might be evil or might be good, but definitely aren't banal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
5

3: I wouldn't call it an incremental benefit even if it required just as much effort on the part of the person with diabetes. Even if, say for some licensing reasons, you still had to stick yourself with needles just as often as before. Because it is continually monitoring and adjusting, it will be doing a better job at keeping blood sugar in the proper levels. That's a huge gain for health and avoiding the negative consequences of diabetes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
6

Only tangentially related, I played soccer with a friend who more-or-less committed suicide-by-negligence over how badly she mismanaged her diabetes. She was one hell of a soccer player, though.

I played with her for about five years. It was pretty common for someone else on the team to force her to eat something sugary, and by that point she was having seizures pretty regularly and had to move back in with her parents. I asked her how the seizures wrap up if she's on her own, and she said that they don't - someone has to find her and give her some sugar. She told me that when she was 16, she'd had a seizure that lasted for something like eight hours and left her with brain damage, which was sort of detectible in conversation.

The whole thing was sad and strange, but jesus she was a monster on the field.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
7

5: that's reasonable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:49 AM
horizontal rule
8

I have no idea if it will work as advertized, of course. But it sounds like something that might. They already have insulin pumps, but I'm not aware of any of those that monitor and adjust.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 6:54 AM
horizontal rule
9

Damn, I'm off to swim, but I just can't agree with you, Tweety. Yes, it's hard to know what will lead to what, but that doesn't mean we just ignore the issue of incentives and priorities. It's still ok to think that incentives for making ads will lead to more ads and less stuff that isn't ads. This discussion happened around finance a few years ago, too.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:02 AM
horizontal rule
10

I mean... I don't think we should ignore incentives and priorities either. I would much prefer vast, general funding for science to inordinately rich nerds working in the finance/facebook nexus. But all things considered the tech boom is probably better than, say, the housing boom as far as directing capitalist energies in a possibly-maybe-sometime useful direction. When was the era when big business (or little business, or rich capitalists, or whatever) was oriented toward the greater benefit of the people? Don't say "Bell Labs".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
11

If lots of research is going into making luxury techno-gadgets, that seems like a waste. The 20th century model, where luxury techno-gadgets didn't actually work, and therefore Brookstone, The Sharper Image and Hammacher Schlemmer didn't need to put a lot of effort into R&D, worked fine.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
12

Say FONTANA Labs!

Is this just handwringing, o-face, or is there some resource shifting mechanism that's non-terrible?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
13

12.last is essentially my question.

I mean, yes, one of the things we should spend our confiscatory wealth tax on is robust funding of scientific research. But short of that, same as it ever was, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
14

I mean, really, the prior model we're all dancing around is the cold war, where you could get money for space lasers and then get the peace dividend of drinking glasses with included space lasers. Would it really be better for the best minds of whatever generation to figure out how to get people to (not) click on missile launch sequence initiate buttons?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
15

I mean a lot of things. I have meanings.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
16

That cup is going to change people's lives!

I'm only .6 kidding. Some grad student spends six years making a magic cup, who am I to judge? What did I do?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
17

COMMUNISM 2 POINT OH.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
18

Obviously, somebody needs to get two girls and see just how discerning the cup is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
19

Bell Labs.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
20

I mean!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
21

Could we incentivize some Harvard twits to figure out a better way of allocating capital to socially beneficial innovation?


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
22

21: Isn't that what sausagely is doing?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
23

Anyway, soon we'll reach Peak Attention Mining, when every visible surface is covered with context-sensitive ads and KandyKrush, and a bunch of Millenials™ will go back to creating financial derivatives, or will just be unemployed.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
24

essyl's greatest potential lies in its Pryme display. What person wouldn't appreciate a simple indicator of how much water they should drink every day?

Me? If I'm thirsty, I drink something. This sentiment baffles me. I mean, I can think of some useful applications for this device (and many more for the underlying tech), especially sugar intake measurement, but assessing hydration level wouldn't even be on the list. Not least because it will in practice be dependent on things it can't measure.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
25

I bet 24 is pretty universal here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
26

In honor of Kevin Drum, may peace and healthy lungs be upon him, I will mention that people being dehydrated but not knowing it is not the most common or pressing problem we face.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
27

If I had to rank based on a not-very thought out system, I'd say the following incentive structures seem to have worked best in the 19th and 20th century for driving technological innovation, in this order:

1) intense military spending directed by a government
2) (big gap) spending by large regulated utility or gigantic monopolist
3) social spending by governments for non-military use
4) (big gap) small start-ups financed by venture capital hoping for liquidity events

It's not really clear in the abstract why (4) shouldn't be better than 1-3, but I'd say "spending time on figuring out how ads work" and "liquidity event" probably get you most of the way there.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
28

Sounds kind of silly, but sounds kind of neat, too. I'm crap at counting calories, although it's usually easier to do with liquid. Hydration level is interesting because, while I do drink when I'm thirsty, I suspect I'm under- hydrating. There's space between "I feel thirsty" and "I'm sufficiently hydrated", most of it occupied by mildly grumpy people.

The "this is what our best and brightest are working on" is a strange argument to me. For ads, okay, sure--but this seems like it could have been a fun passion project (read the entire article? hardly.). Seconding 16.2--what the hell have I done?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
29

venture capital hoping for liquidity events

Exactly what this device solves.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
30

There's space between "I feel thirsty" and "I'm sufficiently hydrated", most of it occupied by mildly grumpy people.

No, there really isn't. Your thirst is an amazingly accurate indicator of your dehydration. Studies show!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
31

NMM Tony Gwynn???? Noooooooo!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
32

I'm not so sure this isn't vaporware. Nutritional devices tend to be very popular for crowdfunding, like this almost-certainly-scam, or this likely one. How does something the size of a cup that costs $200 or less measure nutritional content? And why will the developer give no details about how it works?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
33

32: I was wondering about that myself -- I have no technical sense of how this should work, but 'able to identify the nutritional makeup of your homemade smoothie' sounds pretty damn impressive, to the point of implausibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
34

1) intense military spending directed by a government
2) (big gap) spending by large regulated utility or gigantic monopolist

Essentially the same thing in practice, since the large regulated utility/gigantic monopolist actors owed their freedom to experiment on their perceived strategic role.

4) (big gap) small start-ups financed by venture capital hoping for liquidity events

Are you basing this just on the dotcom boom or do you lump the prior few decades of venture-funded startups in here as well? Because, I dunno, I think personal computers (among other things) are pretty neat.

Which is to say I don't think your ranking is per se ridiculous (and I know it was essentially the concluding premise of the Bell Labs book) but I think it's very easy to underestimate the innovations produced by venture-funded enterprises, particularly if the exemplars you have available are, like, Facebook.

Also it's impossible to disambiguate the four in many cases; a huge number of venture-funded startups began as government-funded research projects, just to point out one link between the four.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
35

I don't think a 13 ounce cup can keep you effectively hydrated.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
36

Also, specifically when it comes to software, it really is not the case that incentives structures (1) and (2) (and certainly not (3)) have done a better job than (4), even in cases like large scale, fault-tolerant data distribution and management where they would seem to have an edge. In cases like consumer-facing software for accomplishing business tasks, needless to say, they hardly rate. (Although again disambiguation is hard, and presumably Walt or somebody will want to say "Xerox PARC!")


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
37

35: Not without something in it, at least.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
38

Xerox PARC


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
39

... it occurs to me that I fell for Halford's trap and excluding what's probably the single most productive avenue for innovation, which is fucking around with something as a hobby. The reason that 1-4 actually work is that they are able to enable people to hopefully continue to eat while messing around with whatever side project they aren't actually supposed to be working on.

Never underestimate the power of somebody with access to resources they're supposed to be using for something else taking a flyer on something goofy that nobody seems likely to pay for!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
40

38: I mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
41

30: the science of sport blogger guys have written a bit about it. Turns out, as you say, thirst is generally a very good indicator that you need water; "if you wait till you're thirsty it's too late" seems to be 99% marketing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
42

39: Melvyn Bragg points out sometimes on science episodes how much was achieved by people just working on their own, for its own sake, without expecting any commercial applications. Of course now with all the expensive equipment required that might not be as feasible, even if we had a minimum income (which was my first thought).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
43

Of course now with all the expensive equipment required that might not be as feasible

I'm sure this is true in some fields but it is obviously not the case in software (which maybe is why working on things just to work on them is so productive in software).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
44

I dunno, that cup would be pretty useful if you forgot whether the pellet with the poison was in the vessel with the pestle, and that the flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
45

Maybe cheaper 3-D printing has move robotics into something where a hobbyist can make a real advance. Or maybe the plastic-printed bits are too weak to make even a useful prototype part. I don't know, but I want a 3-D printer and I can't imagine what I would use it for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
46

44: Would have ruined the iocane power scene in "The Princess Bride."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
47

30/41: Huh! Now I'm trying to find real research on that, but there doesn't seem to be much space between incomprehensibly dense papers about blah blah ion uptake blah blah intercellular pressure and Huffington Post articles on this.

How does this hold with regard to caffeine consumption? If I don't balance out my coffee drinking with water, I do tend to feel grumpier--is there some other cause to that besides dehydration? Perhaps when I drink water I'm slowing down my coffee consumption, but I haven't measured that so I can't really say one way or another. (If only I had some sort of device to make this easy.)

42: One can only hope for a glorious future where we'll have a guaranteed minimum income and a guaranteed minimum lab time.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
48

34 last -- I was thinking mostly of the relative rate of technological progress since, say, 1980, when the startup/VC model started to dominate over the others. And, the decline in that rate may have to do more with hitting technogical frontiers than incentive systems per se.

I do think (based only on profoundly simplified second or third hand reading, but still) that the declining rate of innovation is a real thing. And it's not like the VC model has done nothing; the personal computer is indeed pretty goddamn great, I use Facebook, I might use that cup if I ever drank anything other than water coffee wine and bourbon, etc., it's not nothing. Just that it pales in relative terms to the kinds of things governments militaries and gigantic private monopolies and near-monopolies were financing and developing between say 1875 and 1980.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
49

44: Let's not forget the chalice from the palace.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
50

45.last: likewise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
51

46: Enh, cell phones have already ruined every other plot device. I guess in the future the switch-the-cups or poision-the-bottle trick will have to be replaced with a hack-the-vessyl scene.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
52

I want a 3-D printer and I can't imagine what I would use it for.

Mine's good for collecting dust. Most temperamental machine I ever had to deal with. Also, the outputs aren't particularly useful, unless you have a thing for somewhat warped brick-bats made from weakly adhering plastic. I should have gotten a CNC router instead.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
53

45: You could print dildos.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
54

My cow-orker is obsessed with finding some way that 3D printing is a solution to one of our problems. It simply is not, but that does not prevent him from trying.

The coolest thing I've seen 3D printed is a 50 lb thrust regeneratively cooled rocket engine made by a guy I know through a mailing list. It's done in a copper alloy using selective laser sintering and only runs about $1000 per piece. With easy access to CAD software it's quite plausible to design complex parts and have them printed and shipped to your door. I think that's much more practical than having a printer yourself.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
55

48: yeah, that's reasonable. My instinct is that we're too close to it to really be able to know; I feel like maybe people in the '70s thought the same thing about declining rates of innovation. But who knows.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
56

it occurs to me that I fell for Halford's trap and excluding what's probably the single most productive avenue for innovation, which is fucking around with something as a hobby.

My general objection to the "the best minds of my generation . . ." complaint is that it considers incentives but not feedback loops, by which I mean this -- people want a variety of things in their life; money, social status, feeling of accomplishment (and getting to have their name on something cool), being able to work with interesting co-workers, being able to take time off and do interesting vacations, hobbies, etc . . . Any time a particular field becomes identified as the best way to pursue one of those goals, it's going to become crowded with people who value that goal above all others, and it's going to change the field.

If everyone thinks that finance is the best field for people who want a reliable way to make lots of money, then everybody who wants a reliable way to make lots of money will go into finance and that's just going to intensify the "we only care about making money" part of the culture.

If everybody thinks that government jobs are the best way to find a job which is boring but has great job security then the people who most care about boring jobs with good security will go into government work and it will make the culture even more risk averse and conservative.

Etc . . .

I don't think you're ever going to get away from having some (major) part of the economy be identified with self-serving greedheads, because there are always going to be greedheads, they have to go somewhere, and odds are that they will end up congregating in some sector.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
57

Which is just to say that the challenge is to make it easier for people to do research, not to make it more difficult for people from Stanford to go work for banal start-ups.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
58

Totally unrelated, but I want all of the it-feels-like-there-are-1-billion-of-them people from Pittsburgh to take this test. I scored "Tom Corbett" which seems pretty high since I only lived in the Pittsburgh area for six months 20 years ago.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
59

With easy access to CAD software it's quite plausible to design complex parts and have them printed and shipped to your door.

This is part of the problem with the expectation that desktop 3D printing has a future.... CAD software is freaking expensive and the freely available options suck. You would think the makers of 3D printers would catch on to this and recognize that high quality, free design software is crucial to their ecosystem and its development needs to be subsidized if they want to have a viable market for their gizmos. But, so far, nothing.

Also, its true that the print and ship model is just better in terms of providing a useful end product. Glorified ink jet printers that spew plastic just don't compare in terms of print-quality and consistency.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
60

58: I got "Tom Corbett" also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
61

30: the science of sport blogger guys have written a bit about it. Turns out, as you say, thirst is generally a very good indicator that you need water; "if you wait till you're thirsty it's too late" seems to be 99% marketing.

Since we inherently can only detect it in ourselves, I wonder if different people have different notions of the word "thirst". I often realize that the reason why I feel uncomfortable and sleepy is that I haven't been drinking enough water. Generally this is after I spend the last couple hours at work in a dreamlike state, and then go home and drink two glasses of water and feel much better. Maybe this is a feeling that some call "thirst", whereas to me it's just "Oh, I was dehydrated". My notion of "thirst" is something that only appears after an afternoon doing work in the hot sun.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
62

51 - Au contraire.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
63

59: Agreed. I've tried to make decent models in Google SketchUp but found it pales in comparison to something like SolidWorks.

Also 61 is me. I spend way too much time dehydrated just due to not recognizing thirst. I blame caffeine abuse.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
64

Thirsty is when you have a headache and star seeing stars, right?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
65

Do all you people work in offices without watercoolers? I mean, I drink water all day because it's an excuse to stand up and go get something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 9:59 AM
horizontal rule
66

Yeah, I've banged my head against SketchUp (which I believe is no longer a Google product) for far too long, only to have it produce output that is basically incompatible with the slicer software for my printer. Apparently there are some crazy plugins that you can use to change the output format to whatever the 3D printing standard is, but I couldn't get them to work and I shouldn't have to.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
67

The water cooler in this place is a good 40 feet away.

Also its in the kitchen, where people hang out, and I'd rather not be around people if I don't have to.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
68

39 is an excellent point. Doing what I do, I'm pretty limited to knowledge of software. But Linux, which now dominates Internet-facing machines and has a large and growing share of embedded device market, was an itch to scratch. FreeBSD and relatives thereof originally came from the Bell Labs code, but is now almost entirely unlike it. (It is true that the bulk of code submitted to both come from companies now.)

Large chunks of infrastructure software (SQL and noSQL databases, server daemons, version control, integration/change management/testing, configuration management, etc.) were built by individuals or small groups because they wanted a fix to a given problem. Of course, there is a life cycle to them; the ones that beat commercial competitors end up going at least optionally commercial, and I fear the world will never be rid of Oracle.

It is also true that there are limited domains wherein this works. I suspect a garage-biochem hacker is more likely to go to prison than go public, and amateur hacking on personal electronics currently seems to be in a bit of a count-footsteps/calories/turn on my lights pit.


Posted by: grumbles | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
69

58: 48/100, also Corbett, sadly. (And really, the stress in "Carnegie" is on the second syllable.)

61: Yeah...I was kind of wondering that. I don't know if "thirst" means "parched" or "meh i guess i feel like drinking water" or what; I often have that dreamlike state issue you mention.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
70

and I fear the world will never be rid of Oracle.

As long as there are islands for a man to own there will be an Oracle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
71

I'd call myself thirsty if I'd drink water if there was a glass in front of me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
72

64: Thirsty is when you have a headache and star seeing stars, right?

Or that you've wandered into an old Warner Bros. cartoon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
73

65: We have a fridge with water in the door. I probably drink a glass of water every hour or so.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
74

This is more generally about priorities because I don't have anywhere else to rant, but I had no idea McDonald's required 70 questions of "Does THIS or THIS describe you better?" in addition to your work history and supervisors' names for the last four years to be able to apply to be a cashier. I spent three-plus hours letting Rowan dictate to me so I could get him through some online applications and it would have taken him unbelievably greater amounts of time if his literacy was even up to being able to puzzle it all out. All this to work the cash register maybe someday!

(He also had me leave some food out for him to pick up last night and then texted to ask what it was. I just confirmed that nothing needed a fridge or stove/microwave since I know those aren't options, but I thought were were going to get into an ogged-like cheese placement request in which I'd have to explain that the thing about beggars and choosers does in fact apply, but he just got the food and left and I assume lived with it.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
75

I often have both water and coffee in front of me, as I do now. I usually drink the coffee, whose fluid-like properties might be tricking me.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
76

wevs to studies show. Are all those studies done when people are distracted from the sensation of thirst by doing something else? I can easily get tired and depressed in a way that is always rectified by getting up and drinking some water (or, when appropriate, like if I've done more than an hour of sweaty exercise that day and then spend a lot of time sitting in the sun, some kind of electrolyte-containing drink).

I didn't post this and then was pwned by everyone else. So I guess I'm joining the chorus.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
77

I'd rather have a glass in front of me than a frontal colostomy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
78

48: I do think (based only on profoundly simplified second or third hand reading, but still) that the declining rate of innovation is a real thing

This so massively triggers my "hey you kids who say 'hey you kids get off my lawn' get off my lawn" instinct that I don't even have words.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
79

I wonder if different people have different notions of the word "thirst". I often realize that the reason why I feel uncomfortable and sleepy is that I haven't been drinking enough water. Generally this is after I spend the last couple hours at work in a dreamlike state, and then go home and drink two glasses of water and feel much better.

No, that's "boredom".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
80

I used to drink from the fountain every time I got up to go to the restroom which would occasionally result in a feedback loop, but now they've installed these water conserving fountains and I have to wait with my mouth open for a minute before it's worth swallowing so I'm less well-hydrated these days.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
81

I think the Renaissance showed that having massively corrupt city-states attacking their neighbors leads to the bestest innovation of all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
82

80: So it takes about a minute to filter out the bad parts of the pee?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
83

78: well, it is true that we don't know, right. We'll only be sure that we've been continuing to innovate when the Singularity hits.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
84

which would occasionally result in a feedback loop

Am I hallucinating, or did neB once post that he had contemplated the question of whether it was possible to drink continuously at such a rate so that one could also pee continuously?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
85

I often realize that the reason why I feel uncomfortable and sleepy is that I haven't been drinking enough water. Generally this is after I spend the last couple hours at work in a dreamlike state, and then go home and drink two glasses of water and feel much better. Maybe this is a feeling that some call "thirst", whereas to me it's just "Oh, I was dehydrated". My notion of "thirst" is something that only appears after an afternoon doing work in the hot sun.

This seems backwards to me. If you realise you haven't been drinking enough water because you're having a physiological reaction, you are thirsty by definition (assuming, I suppose, this does actually make you want to drink water). There's no such thing as "I'm not thirsty, I'm just feeling dehydrated"*. Dehydrated is more severe than thirsty. Drinking is what you do when you're thirsty to avoid becoming dehydrated (and to assuage the feeling of thirst, obviously).

* Unless, I guess, you have some weird synaesthesia thing going on where you mistake thirst for something else like hunger.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
86

* Unless, I guess, you have some weird synaesthesia thing going on where you mistake thirst for something else like hunger.

I know I'm thirsty when it feels like my ear is covered in ants.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
87

85: At least for me, deciding I should drink water is often an after-the-fact thing. I don't have much desire to drink water, but I don't feel great. If I happen to drink water, because I eventually remember that this is something water sometimes fixes, I feel better, but it might not be for a very long time of being in that state (despite having water available). Is that thirst?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
88

85 is what I was going to say. Aside from thirst-induced depression, 76 is how it's supposed to work.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
89

85: I think people are talking about having a physiological response to being mildly dehydrated that for some reason doesn't motivate them to drink water -- the 'this set of sensations means I should drink something' response doesn't kick in until they're really, really dehydrated. I find this sort of peculiar, but people work how they do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
90

87 pwned by 85, and yes, that's thirst, you're just bad at it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
91

I got only slightly higher (55/100) but it was enough to tip me into the "Smithfield Street Bridge" category. It was pretty stupid. (Shockingly, why can't we innovate better online quizzes?)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
92

If you get a headache because you haven't had enough to drink but don't feel parched-throat thirsty, I don't think most people would call that headache thirst.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
93

People talk about 'low blood sugar' as distinct from hunger in the same way -- a malaise that's fixed by food, but doesn't make you spontaneously want to eat. I find that one mystifying too.

(The only response I have that's like this is caffeine craving. I drink coffee as a habit, and because it's pleasant, but if I don't get my morning coffee on schedule I'm hostile and headachy by eleven, and I have to deduce/remember that coffee is the problem. But the idea that real physiological needs would act that is strange to me.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
94

+way


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
95

I must be pretty dense (like liquid water) to be pwned by what I was responding to. The "this actually does make you want to drink water" criterion isn't fulfilled.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
96

As I recall from previous discussions, heebie is objectively anti-water.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
97

I meant 89 pwned by 87. I was hypothesizing that you existed, and then you announced yourself before I commented on you as a possibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
98

97: Ah, yeah. I haven't had much water, so reading between the lines is hard for me right now. Maybe I should go drink some.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
99

97: Some people's thirst for rapid commenting is insatiable.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
100

92: That's exactly my perspective. And it might not even be an absolute deficiency of water, but a relative deficiency of water in the presence of caffeine (or some other state change due to caffeine.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
101

96: It's kind of true! My vanity at not peeing myself while exercising exceeded my fear of dehydration, while doing ostensibly very dehydrating things in very hot weather, which then made me suspect the whole thing was a house of cards.

That said, I'm a very thirsty person and always go through several cups of water while I'm eating, so it's probably that I'm one with my super-zen-nonlinear-knowledge.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:40 AM
horizontal rule
102

that's thirst, you're just bad at it

I love alt.unfogged.lifehacker.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:40 AM
horizontal rule
103

Getting to a somewhat dehydrated state before everyone-would-call-it thirst kicks in seems fairly common with cold-conditions sports, at least judging by the advice I heard back when my response to cold weather was something other than sitting indoors doing nothing.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
104

96: See this post and thread for instance. She can get real grumpy about it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
105

I guess what Dalriata, Tia, Togolosh and the rest of us view as "thirsty" is actually what professional athletes like Heebie would call "incredibly extremely thirsty".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
106

The advice being to keep drinking even when you don't feel thirsty at all.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
107

Anecdata, but my experience from a few backpacking/hiking trips where water availability was limited is that water is essential to life.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
108

yes, that's thirst, you're just bad at it

Thirst describes for me the feeling of wanting or feeling like I need to ingest liquid. The state of dehydration people are talking about, where you identify the need for water from other symptoms, is a step removed from what I'd call "thirst." In that state I wouldn't say I drink water to quench my thirst, I drink water to stop being sleepy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
109

I'd call myself thirsty if I'd drink water if there was a glass in front of me.

By this definition, I'm not sure I've ever not been thirsty. I will always drink water if there is a glass in front of me, no matter how many I've already had to drink.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
110

As one of the superior life-forms here who successfully gets mildly thirsty and drinks water because of it, have any of the rest of you desiccated piles of dust tried to purposefully interpret the physiological signals that you need to drink something as thirst, in the hope that your body will rebuild that connection? I mean, if you're sitting there feeling headachy, and the concept of a glass of water crosses your mind, does it sound good to you, or would you have to choke it down?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
111

In conclusion, the greatest minds in tech should work on the what is thirst? problem.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
112

Finally we learn urple's weakness, in case he ever goes rogue.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
113

As a follow on to 109, I don't drink much (because glasses of water aren't often sitting in front of me), and am usually a bit dehydrated (if urine color is a reliable indicator of that).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:53 AM
horizontal rule
114

109: Always thirsty! A man to my own heart!


Posted by: The World's Most Interesting Man | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
115

110: Yes, I have tried. I would probably need to choke that glass of water down. At best I've been able to make a bit of a habit of it, but even that has been inconsistent.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
116

I will always drink water if there is a glass in front of me, no matter how many I've already had to drink


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
117

Have you tried adding ice?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
118

Anyhow, I'm like the weirdos in that I have to semi-intentionally note that feeling sleepy or otherwise bad might be because I haven't had anything to eat or drink, but I am unlike the weirdos in that I tend to consume vast quantities of whatever, so I have generally had plenty of water and food at any given time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
119

So, for instance, my water cup here next to me is I think 32oz and I generally fill it up and immediately chug it a few times a day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
120

110: speaking only for myself, I love to drink water when it's available, but I can't reliably keep it available in sufficient quantities. If I could moderate my drinking, maybe it would work, but instead I just quickly drink whatever is in front of me and then I'm out again. I just drank 44 ounces (prompted by this thread, which made me think: huh, I haven't had anything to drink today, maybe I should go get a drink). When I'm done typing this comment I'll go drink 44 more ounces. Ibises have a secretary bring water, but getting up myself to get it is too hard to remember to do.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
121

117: It's not unpleasant, it's just something I have to make myself do.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
122

117: It's not unpleasant, it's just something I have to make myself do.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
123

Ibises have a secretary bring water

Do they now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
124

120.last: They spend most of their time standing in water! How lazy can they be?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
125

Stupid autocorrect.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
126

Is this breaking along gender lines? Count me among those who only has a very hazy sense of what "thirst" feels like. My water consumption is event and time-driven. Just exercised? Drink water. Been two hours since drinking water? Drink water. I mean, I can vaguely explain what hunger feels like: your stomach might growl, and it feels like acid is building in your stomach, or like your stomach is constricting around nothing, and it might be accompanied by fatigue, or a headache, or, more likely, frequent homicidal urges. Thirst? Yeah, sluggish, maybe headachy, but it's not an urge in the way hunger is.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
127

Count me among those who only has a very hazy sense of what "thirst" feels like.

Has no one here been hungover?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
128

Back sort of on topic, or at least on a topic discussed upthread, this book which discusses the IP issues relevant to the development of the torpedo is interesting and on point.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
129

Look. Right here. This thing that I am pointing at. Bring me some.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
130

127: If you eat enough grain products while drinking you don't get hungover. Didn't you know that?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
131

I wonder if I'm incredibly in tune with my body (in that wanting water seems to me to be a reliable signal of when I need to drink something), or incredibly out of tune with it (in that I'm just failing to perceive the sluggishness and headaches that the rest of you interpret as signs of pre-thirst dehydration).

Doesn't matter, I suppose. Either way, I'm better than the rest of you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
132

hungover

This is a good point. I mean, I haven't been hungover in probably twenty years, but I do remember the feeling of being desperate for water. So maybe we're just so well hydrated that we've forgotten what thirst feels like. That's kind of amazing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
133

It turns out back-to-back refills of my water bottle, which I don't usually do, actually did make me not want to go back and fill it up a third time. (Although: I bet if it were filled up again and put down in front of me, I would still drink it.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
134

(Although: I bet if it were filled up again and put down in front of me, I would still drink it.)

One way to find out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
135

Just tell the Ibis's secretary to keep 'em coming.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
136

One of the reasons I drink diet soda is that it's sweet and fizzy, so it's enough of a treat to motivate me to get up and obtain liquid. Water is not a treat. If I could get my act together I would make lemon cucumber water, which is a treat. In general, at work I drink enough soda/coffee/snapple/tea that I don't get dehydrated and depressed (in part because getting up and fetching it is a pleasant distraction). But if I'm in a place with no diet soda around, and I don't want to be distracted from what I'm doing, I can very easily get to the point where I'm then depressed enough that I'm too unmotivated to get up, and too addled and possibly feeling too bleak to rationally connect my feelings that I am sad about everything to the fact that I just need water. Eventually I remember, but I might have started crying before I do.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
137

For extra motivation, maybe drop a hamburger in there.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
138

137: it's a water bottle, not a fish tank.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
139

136: Since artificial flavors seem to be what I crave the most, I've taken to using Mio* to spruce up my water.

*Five different flavors in my collection here at my desk!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
140

Is this breaking along gender lines?

Doesn't seem like it, for once. It might be breaking down on athleticism/activeness lines.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
141

Okay, in the name of science I filled it up again. I drank about half, but I'm not gulping the rest down; it's sitting on my desk and there's still water inside. I don't feel any more or less "thirsty" than usual; my stomach just feels uncomfortably full. I'm still taking sips mostly out of habit. I'm worried that I may make my self vomit if this continues much longer.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
142

136: Huh. I wonder if habitually drinking non-water confuses people's thirst response. I pretty much drink water, coffee, and alcohol -- seltzer sometimes, and I'll have a soda or fruit juice a few times a year, but literally probably not once a month (this is a combination of being lazy, cheap, and snobbish in some idiosyncratic and badly defined way. Water comes out of faucets for, essentially, free). Maybe associating the feeling you get of quenching mild thirst with an interesting flavor makes it harder to recognize in general, or something?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
143

136: If you don't get enough water, you break down crying? That's an addiction. You need to quit cold turkey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
144

Actually, if " thirst" is defined as a desire to drink water, then I do feel more thirsty than usual, but I'm feeling too full to drink much more, which is making me feel unhappy, like my thirst is unsatiated. I think I'm conditioned to feel thirsty in the presence of water and basically forget about it at other times.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
145

141: Don't throw up or urinate. If you do, you'll get dehydrated.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
146

142: I've always drunk a lot of plain ol' water, but recently this other crap has appealed to me over it. The diuretic portion of the BP medicine I've been taking since last Fall has led me to be bit more considered in continually slugging down the liquids. My BP may or may not be being effectively controlled but that part of it certainly seems to work as advertised.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
147

Count me among those who only has a very hazy sense of what "thirst" feels like.

And he calls himself a Persian!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
148

58: 68/100, Smithfield Street Bridge

2.5 things about water:

I drink water all day because I'm what AB calls a "recreational drinker"; when I'm at my desk or driving, I drink more or less constantly. Back in college, I drank at least 2 liters of soda a day, not for the caffeine, but to sort of pass the time. Now I strictly limit soda intake (I pay extra for those silly 100 calorie cans, because I can't stop at a single serving) and drink about a half gallon of water a day. As a result, I don't feel much in the way of thirst, and I almost never get hung over, because the baseline amount of hydration is ample to most any amount of drinking.

BUT, when I do drink a lot, that first sip - literally, just a sip - of water feels as if its instantly seeping into every dried-out cell of my body. By contrast, after, say, a long, hot bike ride, I want to guzzle some water (or sports drink), but it doesn't have that rehydrating feel. Therefore, I'd argue that the second feeling is what "thirst" means and the first is dehydration.

The other thing is that, according to this book I'm reading on the whaleship Essex, standard provisions for a sailor in the 19thC included 3 quarts of water... per week. Now, maybe these are quarts based on some other measure (the one that says pints are 20 oz?), but that's 96 oz. of water for 7 days' hard labor, mostly in the sun, and with salted meat as a major caloric source. That seems nothing less than insane (granting some amount of grog as well, but surely that was a few ounces a day at most). When I was a kid I probably drank at least a quart of liquids a day.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
149

71 I'd call myself thirsty if I'd drink water if there was a glass in front of me.

By this definition I'm not sure I'm ever not thirsty.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
150

urple-pwned. I should stop paying so much attention to writing a grant proposal and get more involved in this thread.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
151

That seems nothing less than insane (granting some amount of grog as well, but surely that was a few ounces a day at most).

Nope. According to Wikipedia (with citation problems, but other web sources too), the rum ration from 1740 was a half pint a day, mixed with a quart of water, served half at noon and half at night, reduced further to a quarter-pint in 1823 (not sure how much water - one book says by then they could keep water fresh much longer) with tea and cocoa added to rations.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
152

I know what it feels like to be thirsty, because I have travelled and lived in Europe where american standards of liquid intake are essentially impossible.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
153

148.last: I don't know about whaleships, but on the ships of the Royal Navy in around that time, there was also a massive beer ration. (Rum was not normally issued except on West Indian service, where you could get hold of it a lot more easily). In home waters, you got, per day:
1lb ship's biscuit
4 lb beef
2 lb pork
2 lb peas
1½ lb oatmeal
6 oz sugar
6 oz butter
1 gallon (yes, 1 gallon) of beer.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
154

No salad?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
155

4 pounds of beef and 2 pounds of pork per day?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
156

No wonder they conquered the world.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
157

The problem with headaches from being slightly dehydrated is they don't go away when you drink a big glass of water. I'm always mystified by people who say "oh, I don't take aspirin. I prefer to figure out what's giving me the headache" (no, seriously, lots of people say this.) Headaches go away under exactly one condition, which is taking a goddamn headache pill, in my experience as a slightly headachey person. I mean a person who gets headaches, though the other reading is possibly also true.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
158

Anyway, if I were going to wrap everything up in a grand explanation, I'd go with: for all sorts of socio-cultural reasons, we tend to be pretty disconnected from our bodies' needs, and so we don't do a great job of "hearing" what our bodies want, whether it's water or protein or some specific nutrient. Part of my evidence is the cravings of pregnant women, some of which (allegedly) tie pretty directly to things that are useful for pregnancy. I know there's a lot of EvPsych and What To Expect BS around this, but I think the underlying premise - that our bodies tell our brains to crave things they need - isn't a big stretch.

In a society of abundance, it's hard to correlate our desires (junky snack X sounds good right now) with our needs (maybe junky snack X contains the thing our body craves, or maybe it's just associated with that thing).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
159

152: Ugh, yes. I tend to go to convenience stores at least once a day to buy giant water bottles when traveling.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
160

In China it seemed like one was supposed to get a large fraction of one's hydration from soup consumed at meals.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
161

I had soup dumplings yesterday. They were delicious, but I still needed a drink with it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
162

151, 153: I went back and checked, and I misread the passage. It's a quote from an older book, and the phrasing is awkward:

The average allowance, in merchant vessels, is six pounds of bread a week, and three quarts of water, and one pound and a half of beef, or one and a quarter of pork, a day, to each man."
So the 3 quarts is daily, only the bread is weekly. Infinitely more sense.

To 155, the author elsewhere notes that, in the late 19C, sailors were estimated to burn 3800 calories/day.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
163

153 needs to be made into a fad diet. Or at least a Vice article.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
164

The problem with headaches from being slightly dehydrated is they don't go away when you drink a big glass of water.

Probably the best hangover cure is preventative: go to bed only after a big glass of water and some Advil. In theory you'll out sleep the effects of the Advil, but better safe than sorry.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
165

4 pounds of beef and 2 pounds of pork per day?

Ah. No, sorry. Per week.

Sample menu:
1 gallon beer and 1 lb biscuit per day, plus:

Sunday 1 pound pork, ½ pint peas
Monday 1 pint oatmeal, 2 ounces butter
Tuesday 2 pounds beef
Wednesday ½ pint peas, 1 pint oatmeal, 2 ounces butter, 4 ounces cheese [known as a banyan-day after the high-caste Hindus, who didn't eat meat]
Thursday 1 pound pork, ½ pint peas
Friday 1 pint oatmeal, 2 ounces butter
Saturday 2 pounds beef


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:17 PM
horizontal rule
166

162: so pretty much what the Royal Navy got, more or less, minus the beer.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
167

161 I had soup dumplings yesterday.

Wait, are there decent xiaolongbao in Pittsburgh? If so I might have to start an active "please hire essear and his girlfriend" campaign at the universities there.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
168

I don't know what xiaolongbao is, but there's this new place. Maybe it's not very new anymore, but Sunday was my first time there. It's BYOB. Anyway, it was great dumplings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
169

167: Everyday Noodles has a menu almost entirely comprised of freshly in-house made noodles and dumplings. You sit there and watch the noodle chefs stretch and cut them; it's awesome.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
170

When they make the noodles, they have to beat them against the counter. Your sitting there eating and all of a sudden, "Whap!".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
171

168: the first character for what they call "Pork Soup Dumplings" is definitely "xiao" (little). So I think so. They have four characters there so I'm not quite sure what it says but I think it must be the right thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
172

Is "xiaolongbao" Chinese for "whap"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
173

Anyway, about twice a year, something in my neighborhood closes and reopens as some type of Asian restaurant. I'm still waiting for one that does General Tso's Chicken with fries on top.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
174

171: Theirs is 小籠湯包 Xiǎo lóng tāng bāo, where tang means soup.

173: I'm curious to what Curry on Murray (Thai right now) will become next. Something I forget -> BBQ -> Israeli -> Thai. I would guess Vietnamese, given the general eastwards advance, but there's already a pho place across the street.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
175

Tang is a sweet, orange-flavored instant soup.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
176

Actually, that block has Chinese (two places), Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian of some sorts, and Burmese/pan-Asian. Korean's the next block up, and that place used to be Thai/Filipino fusion. Maritime Southeast Asia and Laos need to step up their game.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
177

161 well then why didn't you order the Ramos Gin Fizz dumplings, too?!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
178

They don't have those, probably because of not having a liquor license.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
179

176: And a used bookstore, as of last week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
180

179: Woah! I'll have to check that out, we've been bookstoreless (and particularly used-bookstoreless) for far too long.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
181

The bookstore keeps Orthodox hours. Don't go on a Saturday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:48 PM
horizontal rule
182

Seriously, I've been really pleasantly surprised by what little I've seen of Pittsburgh.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:49 PM
horizontal rule
183

That makes it sound like you're relieved that you've dodged the rest.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
184

If essear and essearetta got Pittsburgh jobs, I would be back in a heartbeat for a meetup. Hell, we could do a meetup at each of the places dalriata and Moby just mentioned and I'd be game. Possibly I'm hungry, but doing okay on the thirst front.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
185

Have you see the Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle? It's been featured in a Buzzfeed quiz.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
186

184: Not a BYOB place. I have standards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
187

183: Uber drivers don't take you there.

New drinking game for me: every time someone mentions thirst, drink. It's helping.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
188

186: Didn't you almost BYOArby's when I was there? I'm sure you do, though, and that they're reasonable ones.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
189

A meetup at a BYOB place would involve an impressive amount of BYO. "Where can I stash this case of bitters?"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
190

Oh, and what's the Burmese/pan-Asian place?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
191

Arby's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:59 PM
horizontal rule
192

Moby, congratulations for successfully making another thread about Pittsburgh. Up for taking on the World Cup thread tonight?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 12:59 PM
horizontal rule
193

It wasn't me. It was Halford.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
194

190: Zaw's. (I supposed I should have also mentioned that it's a greasy spoon and highly Americanised, but.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:01 PM
horizontal rule
195

My wife won't go in there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:05 PM
horizontal rule
196

Ah, I've never even considered going in Zaw's.

I think the Curry space was a high end Kosher bakery before the BBQ (separate from the subsequent Israeli place). But it's been a lot of turnover to keep track of.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
197

Zaw's is pretty good. Just have somebody else get carryout and bring it to you if you're the sort who get picky, aesthetically-speaking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
198

It's run by a Burmese family that I think has been in Pittsburgh for decades. Their coconut chicken curry is pretty good, and their regular Americanised Chinese food is good for that niche. But yeah, if you have more highfalutin tastes, makes sense to stay away. The inside is coated with a permanent layer of congealed wok smoke.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
199

It would be great food for when you're drunk, except that it closes before most people get drunk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
200

The best minds of your generation can't figure out if they are thirsty. Also can't decide where to go for dinner.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
201

136: Huh. I wonder if habitually drinking non-water confuses people's thirst response. I pretty much drink water, coffee, and alcohol -- seltzer sometimes, and I'll have a soda or fruit juice a few times a year, but literally probably not once a month (this is a combination of being lazy, cheap, and snobbish in some idiosyncratic and badly defined way. Water comes out of faucets for, essentially, free). Maybe associating the feeling you get of quenching mild thirst with an interesting flavor makes it harder to recognize in general, or something?

As an anecdatum, this definitely isn't true for me. I drink almost no water, qua water, but I drink a pint or two of milk a day, a pint of fruit juice, and three of four cups of coffee. And I drink when I get thirsty, well before any symptoms of dehydration kick in.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
202

I drink a pint or two of milk a day

And I just assumed that someone named Ginger Yellow had to be Asian.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
203

Whatevs, Mexican.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
204

Did you know that "Ogged" backwards is almost "Diego"?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
205

204: We all know that "Ogged" backwards is a dated slur for Italians.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
206

Unfogeid backwards is Diego Fnu. Which makes no sense, because "Fnu" means "first name unknown", not last name.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
207

Nosflow backwards is verboten.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
208

Alternative view; if someone is spending all day on click bait ads, then in all probability, click bait ads are likely to be their level. Even if they did get a fancy degree. It used to be investment banking where the missing cure for cancer or gravity wave detector was hiding and nope, not there either. People like Michael Lewis want you to believe that only the most godlike of geniuses can run a magic stock trading "algorithm" but actually no, they're generally reasonably competent telecoms programmers who happened to be in the right place at the right time and to be able to learn a set of stock exchange order matching conventions off by heart.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
209

If these assholes are such mediocre minds, why do they get paid so much money by the other assholes?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
210

Also, Wall Street is almost entirely staffed by Ivy Leaguers (IIRC this has always been somewhat true, but the effect really intensified during the '00s). Granted, not every Ivy Leaguer is a potential cancer curer, but is Wall Street so discerning that they only hired the worst and the dimmest? Should the bottom 10% of Harvard students* simply be set adrift on open rafts for the betterment of mankind?

*as determined by desirability to Wall Street recruiters, obvs


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
211

Present company excluded.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-14 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
212

Granted, not every Ivy Leaguer is a potential cancer curer, but is Wall Street so discerning that they only hired the worst and the dimmest?

I think it's perfectly feasible that almost none of the qualities of a good Wall Street banker are also qualities of a good cancer curer. Human intellects are multi-dimensional - there isn't a linear scale from godlike beings who can compose symphonies and cure cancer and understand the rules of cricket and engage in witty conversation at one end, right down to insanitary protoamphibians at the other.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
213

I would like to be a leaping frog or a powerful Komodo dragon, if we're ordering humanity that way.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
214

How about a lord a leaping? How would you feel about that?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
215

I don't know how to say this in terms of pet store metaphors, but Lee just accepted a job at the most prestigious university around us. She still hasn't settled her lawsuit, but this gives her the means and opportunity to do so. I've been carrying so much stress since she lost the job two years ago and suddenly I feel so much better.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
216

That's fantastic! Congrats to here and you!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
217

Wow! Congratulations.

I've been carrying so much stress since she lost the job two years ago and suddenly I feel so much better.

I can imagine. That's a rough situation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
218

215 is fantastic news. Must be a huge load off both your minds.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
219

Congratulations, Thorn.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
220

Woohoo, Lee! I'm bad with ranking your local universities by prestige, but is the difficulty with the pet-store metaphor that the relevant sports mascot is some kind of nightmare ursofelinoid horror?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
221

Great news. Glad to hear it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
222

220: It's the place that you'd think would be in FL but isn't, and we both correctly remembered their dull-but-no-longer-racist mascot.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
223

Congrats to you both!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
224

222: It was a university before that place was a state.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
225

Also to 220: There's a relatively cute(/uglycute) baby ursofelinid horror at the zoo, but I wouldn't want to spend time with a bigger one.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
226

Awesome news, Thorn!


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
227

Glad to hear 215.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
228

Congratulations, Lee! Congratulations, Thorn!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
229

Ooh! That uni's most famous alumnus is a famous football player/unindicted rapist! Also, a good colleague of mine went there, but I think he's less famous by most standards.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
230

222: Lee is working for Apostropher?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:53 AM
horizontal rule
231

230: I'm still racist where it counts.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
232

215: Great! Congrats to Lee.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
233

229: An actual president of the United States is an alum. Granted, not a very famous one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
234

233: Ohio presidents only count 30%.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
235

208: I never said they were mediocre minds; an average quality telecoms developer is a bloody clever guy. But it's not an industry that rewards creative geniuses. It rewards people with a capacity to absorb and process a huge amount of detail, quickly, and then reproduce and apply it, accurately. Which is why it recruits from top universities. The kind of people who do well in banking have exactly the skill set of people who are good at passing exams, plus the interpersonal skills of purple who are good at interviews. But creative geniuses at things like physics and chemistry do, by and large, physics and chemistry, because they don't have the tolerance for slog and grind that we do. The scientists you find in banks are the builders of experimental equipment and preparers of purified reagents, not the eureka types.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
236

Science has need of Igors.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
237

Re: 235

That almost exactly describes the skill set of the better academic devs, too. Except not as good, as the academic world pays (much) less, and the work is less challenging. But the basic description rings true.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
238

235: Fair enough. FWIW, I never really thought that Wall Street was stealing the Jonas Salks, but I still think it's likely that, given how little net value financial innovation has created for society, it's probably a suboptimal application of resources to have so many of the best and brightest in it. We've discussed the same thing in terms of corporate lawyers - brilliant minds, vast expertise, mostly engaged in a stalemate race against each other, and the only time they're not engaged in essentially positional competition* is when they're screwing over the little guy or the commonwealth.

Krugman always talks of the good old days when being a banker was boring; paid well, and you had to know your stuff, but it was basically a workaday kind of job. Is that a false ideal?

*that is, Apple v. Samsung could be argued by a bunch of mediocre lawyers, but once Apple hires better ones, Samsung has to as well, until they've bought the cream of the crop, none of which affects the underlying facts. I'm not arguing that any moron with a JD could litigate the case, but simply that hiring better lawyers is about keeping up with the competition, not with any absolute value added


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-14 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
239

creative geniuses at things like physics and chemistry do, by and large, physics and chemistry, because they don't have the tolerance for slog and grind that we do

It was all sounding really plausible right up to the point where you suggested that scientific research didn't involve years of painstaking effort. If anything, I would guess, you need more of an attention span and tolerance for grind in research; there aren't many bankers who spend years of their lives putting together a single deal.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 1:51 AM
horizontal rule
240

Sorry if this is already in the thread, which I haven't read...


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
241

What was the name of the bond from The Bonfire of the Vanities?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
242

YO


Posted by: YO | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
243

242 to 240


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
244

I understood, because context!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
245

242 to 242


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 12:50 PM
horizontal rule