Re: 8 Billion Dollars

1

Don't you (doesn't one) get different answers for "as much good as possible" and "as much good AND as little harm as possible"?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:06 AM
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8 billion dollars is far enough from my experience that it doesn't feel like a firm dollar amount.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:06 AM
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Give 7.5 billion dollars to Oxfam and Partners in Health and let them figure it out?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:07 AM
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I'm keeping 500 mil because I don't want O to have to go to college.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:08 AM
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I am not good at these kinds of exercises. Am I the only one with $8 billion or can I count on the rest of you having $8 billion to spare? How much would it cost to create a wire mother who can rock children back to sleep and administer feedings without waking the live-body parents? Most of the stuff I'd want to do is more about changing systems than spending money directly, but the thought of throwing money into lobbying is sort of nauseating. That wasn't a question, but maybe that's the main question. I quit!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:08 AM
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6

I stole that joke from Tracy Jordan.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:08 AM
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7

1: Only if you distinguish between the harms caused by action and the harms caused by inaction.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:09 AM
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8

How much does an effective, untraceable hit man cost?


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:13 AM
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9

Would they really need to be untraceable? It seems like donating the money to a (newly created by... who knows!) "Global Right Wing Think Tank Member Assassination Fund" would work well enough, with maybe a few hundred million set aside in case the law comes after you.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:14 AM
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9 -- the problem with being a wealthy fugitive from justice, at least in a case like that, is that you'd end up on someplace like Nauru where you'd be safe but it'd be depressing as fuck and you'd end up drinking yourself to death and walking around the island in circles. I want libertarian luminaries to mysteriously disappear while I'm feted as a philanthropist and humble humanitarian in world capitals, thus requiring the hit man to be untraceable.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:18 AM
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I would build a rodent love emporium/sex grotto on a scale that few before have even dared to imagine. We're talking billions of mouse orgasms, day in and day out, in perpetuity.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:18 AM
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I think the existence of lots of smart, politically active right-wing billionaires who have not (yet) donated any money to a campaign of assassinations against prominent leftists is sufficient to demonstrate the badness of the assassination idea.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:20 AM
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11: Have you heard the good news about wild animal suffering? You could do so much more by funding research into safe habitat destruction!


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:21 AM
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14

I don't understand 13, and the link isn't working.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:22 AM
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Budgeting is hard. But that'd be enough to make a sincere, focused attempt to flip every state legislature progressive. Find and fund or develop a nationwide system for identifying progressive local political candidates, and contribute/cause to be contributed to them what was legally possible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:23 AM
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14: The basic argument is that life is terrible for wild animals, there are very many of them, so you can prevent a huge amount of suffering by killing them off.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:27 AM
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15 sounds like it could work. OTOH if it starts to work, it seems like the sort of thing that would call into existence an equal and opposite right-wing effort, though maybe there's not really $8 billion available for that. Seems worth trying next time you have a spare $8bn.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:28 AM
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I don't understand 7. I was mentally debating whether it would be pathetic to turn this into a trolley problem, but now I'm warming to the idea. I'm not sure how many forms of beneficent destruction would specifically require a lot of cash as offset, though.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:28 AM
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12: I think it's evidence of the dearth of effective, prominent leftists.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:29 AM
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it seems like the sort of thing that would call into existence an equal and opposite right-wing effort,

The rightwing version already exists (not precisely, but there's a lot of rightwing money and organization along those lines) -- I'm thinking about matching it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:30 AM
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16: this strikes me as some Schopenhauer-level shit.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:31 AM
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And I guess I'd spend most of the rest on climate change lobbying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:31 AM
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21: I'd pay you maybe $8 to see your full list of philosopher-shitful levels.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:32 AM
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Maybe I should have said something like "Schopenhauer-style shit".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:33 AM
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That's fine. I only meant I'd pay $8 if I had $8 billion, and I should have clarified that too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:35 AM
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climate change lobbying

"Come on climate, change!"

But, actually, this seems like the right answer; $8bn is kind of a drop in the bucket to the oil and gas industry, but still enough for some effective counter-lobbying.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:35 AM
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I'm on board with #15. Either that, or I'd just give everyone a dollar.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:40 AM
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20: To the extent that that's true, my objection is withdrawn.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:40 AM
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29

If you are going to go the route of trying to fund the political transformation of society (rather than charities that directly provide services or goods to needy people), my bias would be to fund institutions that effectively organize and empower low-wage workers and poor communities (rather than finance campaigns). I have in mind worker centers in particular.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:41 AM
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The OP link is really something. I have no idea what the best use of $8 billion would be, but I'm pretty confident that preventing a hypothetical AI from turning the universe into paper clips is not it. This is where "substantial empirical research" leads these people? (Anyway everyone knows that trying to prevent Skynet is exactly how you end up bringing Skynet about.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:45 AM
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16: big cats as utility monsters? And we love them so. Except for keeping them alive in the wild.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:46 AM
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I'm warming to the "give everyone a dollar" idea. I'd want to hand the dollar to each one personally, of course.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:46 AM
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29: Oh, good call. I'd edit my initial state-legislatures plan to affirmatively coordinate with labor organizations and foreground labor issues.

(I can skim off enough of the $8bn to fund a really sweet sailboat? Something I could go cruising around the fjords of Norway in? Because that'd count for at least several mouse orgasms.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:46 AM
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34

Sail around in your sailboat handing out crisp, clean one-dollar bills.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:47 AM
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35

AIHSHB, I have a solid plan for foxing several world problems that only needs Skynet, so I guess I put a billion into figuring out how to make AI kindly.

I've always found it odd that so many people assume our robots, ai, golems would seek to destroy us. Displace, maybe; "no man can love his heir" they said in the idle classes.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:49 AM
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36

Eliminating land mines.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:50 AM
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37

I would definitely pay clew to fox problems. I like being fake super rich!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:50 AM
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38

21. Nah - Schopenhauer thought life was a miserable struggle of pain and loneliness ending only in death for plants too.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:53 AM
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35: Displacement would imply destruction, I think. The point of the paperclips hypothetical is that it's a vivid example of an AI that doesn't hate us at all; it just wants to do something unrelated to us, with resources we're currently using.

Much like the history of European settlers in the US, although the power differential was somewhat less and the process was pretty slow.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:56 AM
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16: I'm not talking about wild mice. I'm talking about a goddamn gigantic, state-of-the-art mouse pleasure emporium.

The fundamental theorem of utilitarianism is that, for any act or occurrence x, there is a number n of mouse orgasms such that |x|-n=0.

Of course, this utilitarian calculus works on paper but not always in practice, given various constraints imposed by the physical world. We don't have infinite mice, nor infinite time to sexually stimulate them. (Given average human lifespans, for example, it seems doubtful that Hitler could ever have built a rodent sex grotto with a scale sufficient to morally offset the holocaust, not even with $8 billion at his disposal. But the utilitarian will tell you that Hitler's greatest crime may have been that he didn't even try.)

My $8 billion pleasure emporium would help push out those real-world constraints, dramatically expanding the total supply of available mouse orgasms. And billions of additional mouse orgasms occurring every day would increase aggregate global utility immeasurably.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:58 AM
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41

I'm keeping 500 mil because I don't want O to have to take out loans to go to college.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:02 PM
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42

40.2-last is the start of a monolog that will get any vacuum salesman to run from your house without even pausing for breath.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:06 PM
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43

a) The popular version of this for European aristocrats is to become a media tycoon/politician hybrid. So: subsidize free cable that does not include Fox and which substitutes English-dubbed telenovelas for action revenge movies from Hollywood, maybe only for Red states if the money doesn't go far enough.

b) Remove Mugabe.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:07 PM
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44

Good call on 43b.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:08 PM
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40: The guy who wrote the essay linked in 13 is a negative utilitarian - which means he believes that reducing suffering is much more important than increasing happiness.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:09 PM
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46

As it happens, for no good reason, I've given this a lot of thought. I'd do this: buy big chunks of ad time during the most-watched programs (superbowl, oscars, nba finals, etc.) for spots that spelled out very clearly to the audience that they've been screwed by society, with a heavy emphasis on making any young men watching feel angry and humiliated. At the end of each ad, people would be directed to classwarfare.org for more information. The people behind the ad would remain shadowy and as secret as we could keep it. After several months of that, assuming they got any traction, the spots would start introducing demands (ubi, or something like it; free ed through college, etc.) along with reminders that general strikes (and threats of violence) are very effective negotiating tactics. The proletariat would have to take it from there.

I'd also build a big private pool and mount machine gun turrets on it to keep the riff-raff out.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:10 PM
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47

43 b) It sounds nice, but how you would do it? Bribe him to go? Arm the opposition?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:10 PM
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48

I was going to say eliminating Malaria, but it turns out this is an order of magnitude too small for that. I'd be tempted to take some small poor country and try to see if you can make it much more rich and prosperous in the long term.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:11 PM
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49

40.2-last is the start of a monolog that will get any vacuum salesman to run from your house without even pausing for breath.

No, the truly enterprising salesman will jump at the opportunity to tell you about the attachment that allows a single vacuum cleaner to pleasure thirty mice at the same time.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:11 PM
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50

Bribe his body guards?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:13 PM
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Body guards aren't usually very good a pleasing mice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:16 PM
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48: You could probably fund R&D for one or two really good antimalarials with that kind of money.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:17 PM
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53

He's 91 years old. Bad as he is, removing him simpliciter doesn't avoid much in the way of future years of Mugabe government. Without a clear transition plan to a better government, I doubt it's worth much. (That is, if he were younger, he's bad enough that it'd be worth a fair amount to get rid of him in favor of whatever might happen next -- while it'd probably be bad, most things are, it would be unlikely to be as bad as he is. At his current age, we're getting 'whatever might happen next' for free real soon now, though, and to make intervention worthwhile you'd need to do something to make that better.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:19 PM
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54

I've had in mind for a while some expensive endeavors that would be intended to show feasibility so that the government or other big actors then take them up more broadly. First, set up a bunch of community land trusts (individual home ownership but taking speculation out of it). Second, the new and improved model of public housing, pushing our big urban centers in the direction of Singapore/Hong Kong (i.e., make private housing in expensive areas the playground of the rich only). Third, an institution offering humane no-/low-interest loans - not making money or breaking even, but aiming to get most of its money back - presaging a public option to drive payday lenders out of business.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:19 PM
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eliminating Malaria, but it turns out this is an order of magnitude too small for that

Are you sure? Some folks have a plan to release genetically modified mosquitos into the malarial mosquito population and render succeeding generations infertile, but they wait for government approval and shit like that. I bet you could fuck up your own mosquitos with 8 billion dollars.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:20 PM
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54: Payday lenders are vile.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:21 PM
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Those would be pet projects, though - not the big stuff like climate change and caging capitalism.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:24 PM
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58

Basic math tells us that with $8bn we could pay 800,000 hookers $10,000 each. I don't know that it would be the BEST use of the money, and there would be logistical issues, but sleeping with 800,000 high-end, generously compensated hookers would be an art project and inspiration that would live through time.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:25 PM
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59

Man, that's a lot of conversations about how your wife doesn't appreciate you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:26 PM
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8 billion to spend? How about finding 80,000 homeless families and buying each of them an $80k house and giving them an additional $20k to use however they see fit.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:29 PM
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58: It sure would. That's 44 a day every day for 50 years.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:30 PM
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One thing I'm definitely going to do is take a full year to think hard about the best use of these funds, while in the interim they are sitting in my bank account earning interest. At a paltry 1%, that's $80,000,000. I think I'll feel more confident giving the rest away at that point. Planning is important.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:33 PM
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54.last: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grameen_America

Also, LendingClub allows individual lenders to choose individual borrowers (sort by FICO, browse to see gross income, work history and so on). You don't have to be a billionaire to lend to people in the US who have low income and are now paying a lot to borrow. Anyone with extra money can do this today.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:34 PM
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42 - I've always thought that would be an interesting game to play with salesmen and telemarketers. Just break into their spiel and start talking about something and (with occasional "right?" or "I mean, you know what I'm saying interjections to keep them involved) don't stop until they just hang up on you or leave your house while you're talking.

"So the vacuum cleans carpets and hardwood floors? That's kind of neat that it has two functions like that. It reminds me of the two aspects of Kant's categorical imperative, sort of. Well, the categorical imperative actually has four different aspects, although some people say it's three so I guess that's maybe kind of a controversial thing to say. See, there's the universal law formula and the formula of humanity, and the kingdom of ends and the formula of autonomy and they're all - wait, wait I'm getting ahead of myself. So, Kant actually starts out the Groundwork by talking about basic moral intuitions like..." (and so on for as many hours as it takes).


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:37 PM
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63: Broader than microlending - helping people through crises, not just financing small businesses or education or whatever. Also modeling for the government how adequate emergency assistance would work.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:53 PM
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66

I'd buy everyone a new onion for their belt.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:07 PM
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Maybe the key is to invest in artificial intelligence. I used to doubt, but I just noticed that my calendar on my phone added a little icon of scissors and a comb when I put on my haircut appointment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:09 PM
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47 and 53 remind me of something Sudanese telcom billionaire Mo Ibrahim is actually doing, which is basically bribing African heads of state to leave office peacefully.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:18 PM
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I'd dump it all on shitty schools. I'd figure out how much it'd cost to pay for, like, some extra social workers and psychologists and reading specialist and library books and librarian and computers and food, for like 15 or 20 years, and then see how many schools that would cover, and then pick some terrible schools and give them money (tied up in specific ways, but they could do the hiring buying and whatnot).


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:25 PM
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Archaeology! Bribe the Italians to start excavating Herculaneum seriously, bribe the museums to unroll their mummies and see what's on the papyrus, set Indiana Jones loose on the world -- or at any rate threaten the relevant governments with... aggressive freelance informal excavation if they don't get their rears in gear.

It wouldn't take 8 billion to double our corpus of classical texts, I'm guessing, and unlike the responsible well-intentioned stuff it would certainly make the world a happier place. And who knows what the hell might now be findable in the jungles of Central America? (Not that I haven't been complaining for years about the lack of an 'Assassinate Mugabe' Kickstarter campaign.)


Posted by: edna k. | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:26 PM
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39: that's an understandable caution. Seems to me there are a lot of stories assuming animus. Perhaps that soothes our vanity.

Maybe the otherwise baffling "humans as power sources" trope was from intentionally making humans necessary to the robots.

48: the man who would be a really nice king.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:28 PM
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According to F Salmon, guest posting for K Drum, some portion would be well spent breaking the all-male lock on bitcoin. I assume he has elsewhere articulated a case for bitcoin solving a horrendous suite of ills that boil down to rent seeking by financial intermediaries and corrupt governments, but am mystified why he would think creating a parallel, private currency is an inherently better fix than tackling the issues directly.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:38 PM
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According to F Salmon, guest posting for K Drum, some portion would be well spent breaking the all-male lock on bitcoin.

I read that differently. I don't think he says that expanding bitcoin is crucially important, only that if the bitcoin community remains all male it is less likely to be relevent (and therefore less likely to succeed). In other words, I believe that FS thinks that gender parity should be important to the bitcoin community, not necessarily a priority for everyone.

I assume he has elsewhere articulated a case for bitcoin solving a horrendous suite of ills that boil down to rent seeking by financial intermediaries

The last thing I remember reading by him about remittences was this which was interesting and would seem to point in the opposite direction -- that having a good payment system is not merely a technical problem but, explicitly, a customer service problem.

Here's a theory: when the cost of remittances is high, the providers of those remittances have every incentive to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to remit as much money as possible back home. And when the cost of remittances falls, those incentives weaken, and it's easier to sever ties to merchants and generally discourage the use of services which you formally pushed aggressively. Maybe remittance services are sold, just as much as they are simply purchased. As a result, when they're cheaper, and not sold as hard, the migrants end up spending more money where it's earned, and sending less back home.

It's possible that he's changed his mind since then, and the article now links to a (good) contrary essay, but one which also doesn't present the problem as one which bitcoin would solve.

... If remittances to Mexico are falling we should begin looking at what migrants are earning, not the behavior of large providers of financial services. ...

First, there is good evidence that suggests that migrants are at least somewhat price sensitive. When the cost of remitting falls, they remit more. See this 2010 paper from Aycinenaet al. examining the US to El Salvador corridor, and this from Dean Yang on Filipino remittance response to exchange rate shocks. If we don't see a positive response to falling remittances prices among Mexican migrants, this evidence suggests that their ability to remit is constrained, not their interest in doing so.

Second, migrants do appear to be close to sending as much home as they can. In both of the studies looking at price senstivity, migrants react but don't fully take advantage of falling prices. That's consistent with survey evidence that migrants are sending home a large portion of the earnings and have limited ability to send more. Another piece of evidence is from the MILK project which in work with Kenyan households found that migrants who were not already remitting responded very weakly to health shocks experienced by the origin household. It's hard to imagine any bank marketing campaign being more powerful in generating remittances than word that someone at home needs urgent medical care.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:54 PM
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To 53: Zimbabwe was a fairly well-organized, functioning poor country 15 years ago, in contrast to say Somalia which has nothing good in its recent past. Mugabe personally and a small number of people invested in him are actually the problem. So I see time value to making that change sooner rather than later; he's not just one more shitty dictator in a shitty place.

If there were some specific way to use money to make effective changes in Congo or Somalia or Libya, I would love to spend this fantasy money in that way. Equally nice would be a mode of effective intervention on behalf of the oceans, especially of coral reefs.

Recalling Benquo's penchant for moral reasoning, maybe the interesting corner case for this particular post would pit humanity against nature-- villagers against tigers in the Sundarbans, or considering whether anti-sushi propaganda is effective intervention for the oceans.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:58 PM
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make private housing in expensive areas the playground of the rich only

So San Francisco, then?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:28 PM
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Bitcoin remittances could cut remittance costs somehat - but only somewhat. There is going to be value lost on either end of the Bitcoin-to-fiat exchange, especially as exchanges face various costs associated with regulatory compliance. Bitcoin people like to think they don't need no regulation so those costs will be zero, but they will be disappointed.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:38 PM
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Aren't they all assholes anyway?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:40 PM
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Anyway, if I had that kind of money, I'd buy every homeless person a puppy. Who doesn't love puppies?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:40 PM
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Somebody asked me for bus fare to Century III mall after first asking me how to walk there. I figured it was a scam since no one I know goes to that mall anyway. Plus, I don't think it's a plausible walk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:43 PM
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Aren't they all assholes anyway?

What, you aren't affected by there clear and deep concern for the plight of poor Mexican migrant workers, just trying to get a better deal on sending money home to the family?

They are true humanitarians, every last one of them.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:46 PM
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Mind you, I would love it if the remittance thing was true, because I find moving money internationally to be a GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS, and its something I do with some frequency. If Bitcoin could actually solve that problem, I would use it. But I've checked and, no, as of now, Bitcoin can not actually solve that problem, because nobody down here wants to accept magic digital beans in lieu of cash.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:50 PM
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This discussion isn't making 8 billion dollars feel like a firmer number to me. Maybe if someone handed me a free sample...


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:52 PM
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Think of $8 billion as a pile of scratch-off lottery tickets the height of Mount Everest. Is it firmer no?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:57 PM
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$8 billion is enough to do ONE of the following:
* Pay for research and development of 3 new drugs in the US
* Buy 20 Boeing 747s
* Pay every American $25
* Pay everyone in the world $1
* Build three miles of Manhattan subway
* Build one airport


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:08 PM
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8 billions buys a metric fuckton of pitchforks, molotov cocktails, guillotines, newspapers, websites, bail and lawyers.

Consider it seed money or venture capital.

70.2: All we'd get is the mediocre stuff, devaluing what we have already. Could be a tough post there, does Fanny Burney make Austen (just a better part of a crowd) look worse or better? Does Cymbeline detract from Hamlet?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:16 PM
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74 - As bad as Mugabe is the British Gov't played a pretty significant role in the factors leading up to the collapse (mostly by virtue of negotiating one deal and then Thatcher showed up and the stuff they'd been counting on never happened).

Anyway even if he caused more or less singlehandedly the problems they now face removing him doesn't solve any of those problems. At best it would prevent him from causing any more but that seems like a much lower priority/much less impressive a return on investment because most of the damage he did was a while back anyway. It's not that he's a good leader, or anything, or that the world would be less for his absence. But this isn't a really obvious choice either. I mean, assassinating Dick Cheney in 2005 would have probably helped out with a lot of stuff, but not that much because the principle damage had already been done.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:27 PM
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Anyway, I think the obvious answer is to buy up as much fine art as possible, ideally within a certain category (e.g., paintings from the 14th through 17th century). Then take them out in public, put them in a big pile and set the whole thing on fire while laughing at the rest of humanity.

That's how you get remembered.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:29 PM
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87: Don Levy's Herotratus is a pretty good art movie, though very hard to find, and Helen Mirren's debut.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:40 PM
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86: Do you have another year in mind?


Posted by: OPINONATED TIME TRAVELING ASSASSIN | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:41 PM
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84: * 800,000 high-end hookers at $10,000 each


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:43 PM
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I will also accept free samples in the form of things $8 billion can buy.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:59 PM
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You might want to consider supply inelasticity when you price that out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:07 PM
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Flippanter's eliminating landmines is good.

I'd fund immediate search and rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean. Also medical assistance for their immediate needs and some kind of legal assistance for their asylum applications once they've landed safely. Then maybe move onto other refugee concerns. Maybe best to concentrate on leveraging my money by lobbying for action/embarrassing state actors into fucking acting.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:07 PM
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I think I would found a college and hire all those whiny sarcastic junior academics who tweet 500 times a day and give them tenure immediately. See how they do.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:26 PM
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I'm at a PTA carnival and apparently one of the booths is "wrap your arm in a pretend sling" and other pretend injuries.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:45 PM
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A public campaign needs to be launched to eliminate toll booths. Google "killed at toll booth" and you'll find plenty of stories. It's not fun digging into your arm rest looking for quarters while an 18 wheeler whizzes by, 3 feet from your head. Paying a tax should not be a dangerous activity (and it is a tax). And then another public campaign to promote daylight headlights. This is very common in Canada, for instance.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:45 PM
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"Daylight Headlights: The Turn Signal's Slutty Friend."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:02 PM
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96 -- Pay tolls in pennies. When they point to the sign that says No Pennies, just say "31 U.S.C. 5103."


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:03 PM
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You might want to consider supply inelasticity when you price that out.

I believe that you are in part paying a premium for a certain elasticity when you are patronizing an elite escort.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:07 PM
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Google "killed at toll booth" and you'll find plenty of stories.

Yeah, its terrible what they did to Sonny Corleone.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:32 PM
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Pay tolls in penises. When they point to the sign that says No Penises, just say "Halfordismo!"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:39 PM
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90: 800,000 is still a big number. To break that down a bit, if someone's adult life is 60 years, that's 30 $10,000 sex acts per day. Fewer if you permit simultaneity, but still seems a bit too much to give a real sense of scope.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:09 PM
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Better to consider what constitutes a $!00,000 sex act. That is much more reasonable.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:16 PM
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101 to 103?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:17 PM
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Well, $!00,000 sure seems like a lot, whatever it is.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:18 PM
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That's part of the point. Hiring one $10,000 hooker is lame, gross and depressing. But hiring 800,000 $10,000 hookers is amazing and beautiful. You'd have to have somewhere between 50 and 500 hookers in your home at any one time to make it feasible, milling through the halls, standing outside on the front porch, whatever, all day, every day of the week.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:18 PM
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Now I can't stop thinking about what the logarithmic scale of sex acts is.
$1: hold hands (grade school/middle school jokes)
$10: frottage (cost of a coctail in a dance club?)
$100: ?
$1000: overnight with a nice call girl? (The Secret Diary of a Call Girl)
$10000: take virginity of a hot person in their late teens? (those stories about virginity auctions)
$100000?
$1M?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:41 PM
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TJ, I think inflation has passed you by. Pretty sure your $1000 act is closer to $10000 these days (depending on what you mean by "nice" anyway). Also, let's take a moment to reflect on Charlie Sheen's profound observation: "You don't pay them for sex. You pay them to go away." So TRO's scenario is actually one of monastic quiet and solitude.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:44 PM
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Here's a story with some prices.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:48 PM
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Ogged, I cited my sources, you cite yours.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:48 PM
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Missed that b/c I didn't preview.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:49 PM
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But hiring 800,000 $10,000 hookers is amazing and beautiful.

I'll give you "project that would live through time", but it's less beautiful and amazing than you're making it out to be. My thoughts would be: "that's a staggeringly impressive amount of paid sex, but really, he couldn't think of anything better to do with the money?"

I mean, 40 a day every day for a year would still be record-shattering, and then you'd still have $7.85 billion left with which to try to do something more useful.

Plus, you're inevitably going to fail in your goal of completing a sex act that many times a day for that many consecutive days. (And that's true whether we're talking about 1 year or 50 years.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:49 PM
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Also, let's take a moment to reflect on Charlie Sheen's profound observation: "You don't pay them for sex. You pay them to go away."

Not original to Sheen.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:09 PM
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I'm with 22 and 26, predictably. Also insert my predictable complaints re: talk of robots here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:17 PM
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That thread is somewhat less than dispositive, youngish neb. Sheen would have been six in 1971, the earliest he might plausibly have said this. We'll need to see a source predating that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:42 PM
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But seriously,

1. Set up a couple of permaculture demonstration farms in every (possible) country ~$100,000,000
2. Get a set of books and pamphlets on practical strategies of political and cultural resistance translated into every written language ~$10,000,000
3. Disseminate said set around the world ~$500,000,000
4. Create several institutes to research and develop low-tech, appropriate-tech, ecologically beneficial technologies for use by people in various countries and regions. ~$1,000,000,000
5. Create a decentralized data haven for collecting information about enemies ~$200,000,000
6. Create an international corps of assassins to make use of information so gathered ~$200,000,000
7. Create an international network of non-violent illegalist direct action groups ~$100,000,000
8. Create an international network of Radical Culture Festivals, showcasing a broad range of political and social projects and artistic endeavors ~$500,000,000
9. Create a number of shadowy think-tanks to introduce subversive memes into the discourse ~$500,000,000
10. With the remainder: Cobra Island


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:48 PM
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Over 100 comments and no one has yet used the word "ekranoplan". We're failing each other here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:02 PM
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Well of course my Mediterranean migrant search and rescue operation would have to be equipped with ekranoplans. Which would also go a long way to retaining news media interest in the refugee crisis.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:09 PM
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I always wonder if a rich, lonely version of myself would be seeking what the witnesses in Ogged's link call the "Girl Friend Experience" or GFE. No kink, just pretending to have a really nice date. The girls say it's sad, but what do they mean? That it ought to be available, more cheaply and easily, or that's it's so ordinary and mundane? Do they really think that?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:25 PM
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Yes, how do you think one gets to Cobra Island?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:25 PM
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119: Actually, per my friend who does GFE work, they mostly see it as fairly intensive customer service for people with extremely high standards.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:27 PM
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That it ought to be available, more cheaply and easily

That seems pretty unlikely.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:24 PM
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Huh, I was just thinking about the song in the OP the other day.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:39 PM
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Oh, also I'd pay to put a giant bronze equestrian statue of Joe Hill in front of the Utah State Capitol. That couldn't cost more than 20 or 30 million if you greased the right palms, could it?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:40 PM
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113-115: I always thought it was Al Goldstein, but google has only one lonely link to back me up.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:43 PM
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We should let Charlie have this one.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 2:02 AM
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I think 8 billion might just be enough to successfully lobby for a constitutional amendment limiting campaign contributions and fixing Citizens United. Presidential elections run about $1 billion per candidate these days IIRC. You'd need to play hardball politics at the congressional level to get people to sign on to a Grover Norquist style pledge, but if you were relentless about it you'd probably succeed.

Alternatively I'd fund a research institute like Xerox PARC where creative and smart people could make awesome things and then just give the IP away.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 4:20 AM
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127.1: The boyfriend's job in Science Heaven has an endowment of $18.6b. You could probably get a pretty nice little institute for $8b.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 6:09 AM
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Yes, just like Science Heaven but oriented towards gadgets instead of medicine. I say let the sick people suffer as long as I have terabit internet and hoverboards.

Actually I think in practice I'd invest a billion or so in spine-fixing research, as I could certainly use some fixing up in the spine department.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 6:15 AM
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On a scale a few orders of magnitude smaller, one person I know who had a windfall of a few million decided to fulfill his dream of building a nice home for wayward cats.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 6:43 AM
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So no one else would get earwormed by City High, if I'm reading you all right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 8:18 AM
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Even highly endowed research institutions rely on grant writing for most of their operating budget, which takes up a significant amount of the time they could be doing more research. I'd fund researchers somewhere for, say, 10 years on the condition they don't spend any time writing grants for more funding for the first 9 years.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 8:26 AM
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If I had eight billion dollars
We wouldn't have to walk to the store
If I had eight billion dollars
We'd take the ekranoplan 'cause it costs more


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 10:02 AM
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I still hate that song.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 10:40 AM
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Observed: (1) I have never seen so many black people in a Cracker Barrel before; and (2) I have never seen a Cracker Barrel with African-Americana so prominent among the bric-a-brac on the walls. I wonder which direction the causality runs.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:34 AM
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I've never been in a Cracker Barrel before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:35 AM
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I'm assuming this is not in PDBS.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:44 AM
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Ekranoplans for some, little American flags for others.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:44 AM
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Halford needs to know that I will not submit to his benevolent dictatorship without some enforceable reassurances on the continued legality of chicken fried steak and white gravy. Also, biscuits.

Maybe Halfordismo could maintain Cracker Barrels as a sort of vaguely disreputable speakeasy or methadone clinic for grain addicts.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:45 AM
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137: Obviously not. I said "black people".


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:47 AM
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I assume "Cracker Barrel" is also disqualifying.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 11:55 AM
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I always thought they were a sub-par Denny's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 12:02 PM
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There's a CB right by my house. I bet there aren't any black people in it right now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 12:42 PM
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131: I would!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 2:36 PM
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A friend of mine once almost inadvertently organised a jailbreak from a high security prison in Zimbabwe


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 1:34 AM
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Is that such a common occurrence for you that details seem unnecessary?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 5:39 AM
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Not that my life is totally dull. For example, just this week the regular coffee pot died and I'm now making coffee with a French press.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:07 AM
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Haha. He's an architect and was building a clinic out there. Mrs Mugabe was apparently the patron. When it came to landscaping the grounds, he was told to conscript some free labour from a nearby prison. So he drove a truck down there and explained the situation. Apparently the guard looked very sceptical but after a while 10 terrifying looking guys were brought out in shackles, with a couple of nervous guards with rifles. He described the prisoners as 'not the sort of people you would feel comfortable giving pickaxes to'. They all climbed in the back and when he got to the front gate he was feeling sufficiently spooked to double check that he was at the right place. The gate guard was struck by inspiration and told him that there were actually two prisons with the same name. He was at the maximum security one - might he possibly be wanting the other?


Posted by: Seeds | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:20 AM
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Life is often like a Benny Hill sketch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:29 AM
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Speaking of excitement, I think I have the same thought that every new user of a French press has. "Just how bad it is to throw coffee grounds down the sink?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 11:54 AM
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For the grounds? It's terrible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 12:18 PM
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150: I think it's pretty bad, actually. If you want to avoid a clogged sink.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 2:13 PM
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I do. I'm just having trouble figuring out why coffee grounds are going to clog my sink when carrot peelings or whatever won't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 2:51 PM
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I suppose I could try to give half a shit and compost.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 2:52 PM
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154: Composting with human manure is a wonderful way to spread dysentery and hepatitis.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 3:09 PM
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Grounds are supposed to be stupid good for compost. Lots of nitrogen. For a shortcut, you might just consider sprinkling the grounds directly around the base of your houseplants.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 3:31 PM
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You could just flush them down the toilet.


Posted by: Virgalicious | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 3:35 PM
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I'd need a greenhouse for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 3:35 PM
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To 156, probably.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 3:36 PM
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Maybe just dump them on your lawn.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 4:18 PM
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If I'm going to carry them outside, I may as well compost.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 4:19 PM
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As for grounds, it depends on your garbage disposal. The older ones, in my experience, handle grounds with no problem. I've been warned against putting them into the wimpy newer ones though.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 4:30 PM
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You can buy plenty powerful new disposals but apparently coffee grounds aren't bad for disposals anyway, they're bad for drains.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 5:05 PM
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If someone else is gonna do the malaria-stopping mosquitoes, I'll spend my $8b on genetically engineering mosquitoes that don't bite humans. Or mosquitoes that still bite humans, but it doesn't make people itch.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 5:33 PM
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The guinea worm eradication effort seems to be succeeding. There are some other diseases endemic in a limited area, which only infect humans, that have been suggested for eradication. Oroya fever, for example.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 5:38 PM
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It's not the right thing to do with it for lame utilitarian reasons, but it struck me this morning that the most truly honest and humble thing to do with it, particularly for the people described in the OP, would be to find a poor family at random, somewhere in the world, and say "here is 8 billion dollars. I didn't deserve it, and now it's yours." Now that would be a gesture I would admire.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:17 PM
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They would blow it all on food and water.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:24 PM
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You know, I'm maybe 3 months effort away from being a shitty programmer. Apparently, that's a step up from passable data analyst.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:35 PM
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You're not getting TRO's money, man.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 6:43 PM
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If I could figure out how to run sql, this code would probably look at less like it was made by a guy who was trying to find ways to accomplish something without having to learn sql.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:41 PM
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166 is a great suggestion, everyone who suddenly finds themselves with billions of dollars should go that route.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:57 AM
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SAS tears you down. SQL builds you up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 4:03 AM
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That's not been my experience.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 6:15 AM
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I am also three months away from being a shitty programmer. Technology moves too fast.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 6:40 AM
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I'm getting by on skills I learned during the Clinton administration.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 6:44 AM
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So am I. Fortunately, the HTML/JavaScript/CSS stack is still in demand. Its just the JavaScript bit that gets wackier every year.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 6:57 AM
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Java is the thing I tried to disable on my browser to see if I could make web pages load faster. This was not successful.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 6:59 AM
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Killing off mosquitoes by releasing sterile ones seems to me like the kind of thing that is going to have horrible backlash effects when all the animals that eat mosquitoes die off or switch to other sources of food.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 7:08 AM
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On the way in to work I was thinking about this and concluded I'd put together a low hanging fruit fund to go after easy fixes that have high payoff. The one that immediately springs to mind is switching organ donation on drivers licenses from opt-in to opt-out. That alone would save thousands of lives as more organs became available. It seems like a relatively modest lobbying effort could get most states to switch.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 7:12 AM
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The progression of Javascript is the most lunatic thing in the history of computers, culminating in asm.js.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 7:12 AM
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179: Repealing mandatory helmet laws for motorcycle riders might get even more organs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 7:14 AM
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Also, my idea for "DUI Hour*" would really get some organs available.

* For the hour starting 1/2 hour before the bars close, you are allowed to drive drunk on streets with speed limits of 25 MPH or less provided that you don't wear a seat belt and disable the driver's air bag.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 7:22 AM
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181: I'm in favor of repealing mandatory helmet laws for organ donors. I figure the costs associated with getting them additional medical care in the event of an accident are outweighed by the benefits of having more organs to transplant. People who aren't willing to donate organs can either wear helmets or carry extra insurance to cover the costs associated with damaged heads.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 7:29 AM
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This better be real. Potentially NSFW due to walrus sex.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 8:36 AM
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They fire the female but the male has no consequences. Typical.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 8:41 AM
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I feel bad for her but I understand that her employer pretty much has to fire her. It's too bad they released her name. I'm pretty much OK with sexing animals large enough to kill you, which a walrus is. I don't get the desire to bang walruses but in the big picture it's mostly harmless.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 8:53 AM
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Can a walrus consent?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 9:15 AM
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The characterization in the article of what she did as "sleeping with" the walrus cracks me up. I picture the walrus tucked in under a down comforter, maybe they both have a nightcap, and then she dims the lights and puts on the Barry White...


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 9:18 AM
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O o sick!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 9:21 AM
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A walrus looks like the sort that would fall asleep as soon as he's done.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 9:26 AM
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||

Hey, is anyone else using HabitRPG (a productivity app/primitive roleplaying game someone linked a while back)? I've been using it (I'm finding it surprisingly motivating for getting stuff done at work, which embarrasses me, because it's really dumb), as has Minivet, and there are some game aspects that require teaming up. Anyone using it who's interested in teaming up in the game should email me.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:03 PM
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191 That looks interesting and potentially very useful for my ADDled brain. If you don't have anyone to team up with by the time I start my job in a few weeks I might be interested.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:08 PM
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I signed up and then left my avatar to fend for himself. On the other hand, my new phone has been very good at making me take 10,000 steps every day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:11 PM
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Minivet and I are teaming up as we speak, but additional members can be added whenever.

I'm really horrified at how my mind apparently works. Filing the giant piles of paper on my desk because I need to be able to find things to do my job? Not happening. Because it increases my chances of finding food for my pet crudely rendered picture of a wolf? My desk is clear. What is that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:11 PM
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I'm guessing commenting on blogs doesn't feed the wolf.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:17 PM
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Not that one, at any rate.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:19 PM
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I will note without comment that although I started in January, LB's character level is now 1.75 times mine.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:26 PM
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I tried HabitRPG long ago, back when it was still pretty early in development. It was useful for a couple months but in the long run increasing the cost of failure to do stuff turned me off. It's great until you slack or get all the interesting doodads (NB there might be more levels of doodads now), and then it's hard to get the motivation back. I think that'd be worse if I knew other people, besides who I live with, were depending upon me to get the dishes done in a timely fashion.

Since then, I've switched to using a very simple day tracker, the iOS program Habit List, that just increments a number for each day I do a task, and then resets it down to -1 if I fail. It still increases the cost of failure, but not so much that it bothers me.

Was it mentioned somewhere recently? A real life friend brought it up a week ago, also excited about the pets and collaborative aspect.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:27 PM
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Pretty sure that walrus story is a joke (as in, it didn't really happen).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:35 PM
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all the interesting doodads

I can see this might be a problem. You're supposed to set it up to use money earned in the game to reward yourself with real-world things (that is, you set up the game such that a real-world doughnut costs 10 game coins, you earn the 10 game coins, and then buy yourself a real doughnut, eat it, and subtract the game money from your online balance), but I haven't made that bit work for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:35 PM
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199: Looking at the other stories on the front page of the same website, you might be right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:37 PM
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Was it Rolling Stone?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:38 PM
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No linked in account for the PR person cited in the story, also googling around indicates that someone else does PR for GA Aquarium.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:43 PM
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200: Ahh, that's new. I remember there being another service where you gave them access to your bank account and they'd deduct money when you fail to meet your goals. That seems like a more tech-asshole version of the same solution.

The problem with a reward treadmill is that there always need to be new rewards, and they have to be interestingly different. Palette swaps will only get you so far. Using real life things is pretty cool, but if you're your own referee that can become mentally taxing.

Not to take from it--if this is working for you or anyone else, more power for you.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 1:44 PM
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Yeah, the mental effort is in thinking up a list of real life things to be given game values as rewards, that are rewarding and can be easily obtained, that are actually rewarding, but that I wouldn't get myself in the ordinary course of noticing I wanted something. I was thinking of making myself a list of books I wanted to get around to reading, and 'buying' them as game rewards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 2:09 PM
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199: come on, at least 40% of aquarium employees probably do that at some point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 3:33 PM
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I don't think so, and I'm something of an authority on this topic.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 3:56 PM
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156: pessimal geometry for particulate flow? Like sharp/builders sand vs beach sand? Wild-assing.

Perhaps if HabitRPG controlled my Kindle purchases. At the worst I'd read even more PGut instead.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 4:07 PM
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The Georgia Aquarium doesn't have a walrus and the chief vet is a man.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 4:13 PM
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That walrus story is obviously fake, but it did provide the setup for 189, which is excellent.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-27-15 8:56 PM
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Yeah, the mental effort is in thinking up a list of real life things to be given game values as rewards, that are rewarding and can be easily obtained, that are actually rewarding, but that I wouldn't get myself in the ordinary course of noticing I wanted something

Marshmallows?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-28-15 4:35 AM
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