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burgle burgle

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.25.15

I told someone that I was having the post office hold our mail while we were out of town, and they responded that it is an occasional thing to have a burglary ring using the post office or newspaper hold list of who is currently out of town.

Burglaries are down to almost zero for non-drug dealers, is my current understanding. Is this fear of having your mail held totally outdated? Or do we still try to mask when we're out of town for two weeks?


 

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A worthy project

Posted by Ben
on 07.25.15

Maciej Cegłowski wants your money.


 

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Justice Going On Down There

Posted by Ogged
on 07.24.15

Here you go.

One of the women in the cell across from Sandra Bland says that she was "distraught" in the days before she was found dead.

"She was crying and I could barely understand her, and I was like, 'It'll be OK, don't cry, it'll be alright, you can't be in here forever,'" fellow inmate Alexandra Pyle said of Bland to ABC station KTRK in Houston.
Pyle, who was in the Waller County Jail because of unpaid parking tickets

Awesome country, bro.

This is a very sensible analysis of her arrest, and what was lawful versus what was good policing. But what's lawful is the problem.


 

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Sneaky

Posted by Ogged
on 07.24.15

I really liked this 25 Ways To Dress Like A Tech Employee. Subtle and genuinely just a little bit subversive.


 

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Sometimes Things Do Change

Posted by Ogged
on 07.24.15

 

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Poor dolts.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.24.15

Poor oblivious guys. These are really hilarious, although some of them veer into make-you-squirm territory. (My other thought was to wonder if any of them were posted by gay guys.)


 

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The Catch

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.24.15

Of kids from impoverished backgrounds, if you look at the kids who did best - the resilient ones who steadily exert unusual self-discipline, and manage to break out of the cycles of poverty and so on? It turns out it takes a big toll on their health, and prematurely ages them. How depressing is that?

The opposite holds for people from advantaged backgrounds - if you are resilient and capitalize on your good fortune, you have better health outcomes than your lazy-advantaged peers. This makes sense, and seems to be just an entirely different mechanism than the phenomenon with disadvantaged kids, but it kind of pours salt in the wound.

Assorted sources, here, here, and part I heard on the radio.


 

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Stars and Bars

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.15

Someone tweeted this in meme form from the [one of our very own commenter's school's] financial aid office. Whoops and holy shit.

At times like this I am so fucking glad I teach math.


 

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Guest Post - Cognots

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.15

Natilo writes: Not a huge amount of content, but fun.


 

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Emotional Labor

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.15

LB's at work, so I'm posting this on her behalf:

LB writes: This MeFi thread on emotional labor would make a good post. I found it fascinating from the point of view of someone who's kind of terrible (for a woman) at the sort of social-relationship-maintenance work that's a big part of what's under discussion, who's married to someone who's not better at it than I am -- we don't really build up resentment about the division of labor being unfair between the two of us, but as a social unit we're kind of terrible at keeping up social bonds in a depressing and uncivilized kind of way. We'd both be better off if someone in the relationship was getting that sort of thing done.

Heebie's take: The thread is more interesting than the original article, but the article gets referenced a fair bit.

I love emotional labor - I love doling out advice and generally listening to problems, as long as it doesn't get too repetitive. I did say recently that I have no patience for ruminating, but there's a difference between dealing with and working through an emotional thing, versus ruminating and avoiding dealing with the underlying problem.

I think I would enjoy being a therapist, except you have to be patient with those people who would prefer to ruminate forever rather than confront the actual hard, scary stuff.

My comments aren't really connected to the actual point, which is that providing emotional labor for other people to sort through their shit is systematically undervalued and assigned to women.


 

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One Simple Question

Posted by Ogged
on 07.22.15

What are the best iOS games where you play in real time against other people?


 

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Guest Post - No pictures to the flickr pool

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.22.15

Nworb WerdnA sends in: (yes. I have no shame. I found it on the Mail website)

Heebie's take: You'll click through for the premise, but you'll stay for the pictures. Don't worry, it is actually an academic paper, SFW.


 

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Weddings

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.22.15

This is just a very charming piece by Lindy West about being a fat bride.

Months later, I asked him why he [proposed] that way - such a big spectacle, such an event, not precisely our style - and I expected something cliched but sweet, like, "I wanted to make sure our community was a part of our marriage," or, "I wanted everyone to know how much I love you." Instead, his response cracked me up: "One time when you were drunk you told me, 'If you ever propose to me, don't do it in the bullshit way that dudes usually treat fat girls. Like it's a secret, or you're just trying to keep me from leaving you. Thin girls get public proposals, like those dudes are winning a fucking prize. Fat chicks deserve that, too.'" I probably would have finessed it a bit if I'd been sober, but way to lean in, bossy, drunk past-Lindy!

Also obviously I think she has great taste.


 

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Truthiness

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.22.15

This seems very powerful:

Google could launch an effort to keep trolls and bad information at bay, with a program that would rank websites according to veracity, and sort results according to those rankings. Currently, the search engine ranks pages according to popularity, which means that pages containing unsubstantiated celebrity gossip or conspiracy theories, for example, show up very high....Google has recently implemented a kind of Knowledge-Based Truth score lite with its medical search results. Now, doctors and real medical experts vet search results about health conditions, meaning anti-vaxx propaganda will not appear in the top results for a "measles" search, for instance.

It is way more plausible to me that this would actually affect the beliefs of people on the fence, rather than letting them listen to violently opposed people argue.


 

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The Enlightened West

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.22.15

The most racist places in America, according to volume of google searches for the N-word. It correlates with higher mortality for black people, so there's reason to believe this is actually measuring racist beliefs. I wouldn't say you all in the Northeast should feel trolled by this, but maybe yes a little bit.

Two thoughts:
1. It would be nice to see this paired with a map of percent of black people living in the area, or different racist pejoratives search with map of where the corresponding minority live. It's easy not to search for the N-word if black people never, ever cross your mind because you live in Whitey-whitesville. But the map in the link, taken together with integrated places with low search-rates would actually distinguish where people are co-existing semi-successfully.

2. We all know that the south votes counter-productively on every last matter possible, and certainly racism is a common factor, but there are other factors at play, like contempt and suspicion of federal government and desire to screw over the poor. (Obviously the contempt for the feds is rooted in the Civil War and reconstruction, but it got a life of its own that leads to paranoia like Jade Helm, which is not exactly racist itself.)

It is worth it to not over-link racism and the south. Racism is virulent beyond, and what makes the South act stupid is not confined to racism.


 

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Posts That Should Have Been An Email To LizSpigot, Probably.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.21.15

I'm not a bird person, really, but I thought I was familiar with all the birds one would ordinarily see wandering around easily accessible bits of NYC -- pigeons, sparrows, chickadees, the occasional cardinal or blue jay. But this spring and summer, I've been repeatedly seeing a small bird I swear I've never seen before, and it's driving me nuts.

Small: a little bigger than a sparrow, but smaller than a robin. Soft uniform charcoal grey: solid, not speckled at all, on the breast and wings. Little black cap on top of the head, and black tail feathers. There are enough of them around this year that they have to be something common, but I haven't had any luck on the bird identification sites I've tried, and they're totally unfamiliar.

Anyone know what they are? And have they always been common in NYC, and I've just missed them for four decades, or am I looking at a lost flock of something that's not usually around here?


 

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Guest Post: Expect a seriously scary car crash

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.21.15

Sifu writes: So here's something neat to chat about: security researchers have developed, essentially, a rootkit for late-model GM cars. In at least some of them, they can disable the accelerator and the brakes, disable the transmisison, turn off the engine, reprogram the operation of the pedals, take control of the steering, etc. They get access to the cars by scanning the sprint cellular network, so in theory they could DDOS America's highways remotely by simultaneously disabling all the cars they find, or whatever. They're releasing the rootkit (mildly disabled) at Black Hat in a few weeks. Chrysler has released a patch for Jeeps specifically (the researchers have been working with them for nine months to get them to do so) but it can't be installed remotely (it requires a trip to the dealer or mild technical chops) and, of course, that only applies to the one model where the researchers have tested that it's working. All the other car models where it PROBABLY works are as yet unpatched.

As it mentions in the article, the researchers are taking the step of actually releasing the (again, somewhat crippled) rootkit because they're been trying to get carmakers to pay attention to this for like five years, and the carmakers have basically been hoping ignoring them is the right solution, all the while insecurely connecting more cars to the internet.

Heebie's take: First things first:

A rootkit is a stealthy type of software, typically malicious, designed to hide the existence of certain processes or programs from normal methods of detection and enable continued privileged access to a computer.

Sure do hope only well-intentioned hackers know about this. What's a nice, obscure model of a minivan?


 

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Guest Post: Expect a seriously spicy experience

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.21.15

E. Messily writes: I love it when Guardian writers pretend they work for the Onion.

Heebie's take: I really couldn't decide which quote to pull.


 

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#HowIQuitSpin

Posted by Ogged
on 07.21.15

Many moons ago, I read Joshua Clover's Madonna Anno Domini and really liked some of the poems in it. Then I read him at Spin for a while, decided he was way too cool for me, and haven't followed him since, but his series of #HowIQuitSpin tweets is wonderful and maybe the first great twitter novel?


 

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Bonny Don

Posted by Ogged
on 07.20.15

Is a Trump thread in order, or is a Trump thread never in order? A few points.

--If you go after John McCain, the press will come after you.

--As long as he isn't polling at 27%, there are crazies left to convince.

--It's always amazing how much race trumps class (heh; double heh) in America. The Tea Partiers are right: people are struggling to get by because of decisions made by corrupt politicians working in a rigged system. But they think the bad decision is to give all "their" money to the blacks and Mexicans.

--A Hispanic worker responds to Trump.

What else?


 

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Rage

Posted by Ogged
on 07.20.15

I like this video for many reasons. First, it answers the question of what happened to Gollum after the books (he moved to Yuma and bought an Accord). Second, bystanders see an old dude on the ground and help him out with blankets, which is both sweet and hilariously inapposite, given the context. And because it's the best example I've ever seen of someone being a genuine grown-up and using precisely as much force as required, and not a bit more. Helmets off to you, motorcycle man.


 

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Honest question

Posted by Ben
on 07.20.15

What percentage of Ashley Madison's non-bot userbase was actually using the site to conduct illicit extramarital affairs?


 

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Transformative Experience ch. 3

Posted by Ben
on 07.20.15

Introduced by Heebie! I have appended some niggling whatnots.

This week we read the chapter on Life Decisions, a series of in depth examples of transformative decisions. Some of them worked for me, some didn't. In the beginning of the chapter, Paul make it very clear that the point is not theoretical decision-making, but actual situations that the reader can relate to. To be a transformative decision, it must be both personally transformative and epistemically transformative. The point is to exhaustively discuss why these decisions can't be satisfactorily resolved by computing expected values (the normative method), but not yet to offer up an alternative method.

The first example is a short one about a recruit deciding whether or not to enlist in the military. This example was mostly intended to see how one can make a decision about the unknowable - ie decide not to enlist - without having direct experience.


The second is how a hearing or Deaf parent would weigh the decision of whether to have a cochlear implant put in their infant. A hearing parent would lack full understanding of Deaf culture, and a Deaf parent would lack full knowledge of life as a hearing person. This one goes on for a really long and didn't really work for me. First, the transformation is not happening to the decision-maker. Second, this is a hard decision because both options have compelling pros and cons, not because the future is a mystery. (The future is a mystery! But that's not quite what makes this tough.) A transformative decision is supposed to be one where your future preferences are unknowable and can't be accounted for. The parent can most likely say that their future self prefers the outcome that gives their kid a rich, fulfilling life, but that they are concerned about cutting off communication either with the outside world, with themselves as parents, or with the Deaf community, accordingly. There's nothing mysterious about what makes the decision so hard. Even if a parent did have perfect knowledge of what it was like to get a cochlear implant and what Deaf culture was like, the decision would be riddled with trade-offs. It's just a plain old hard decision. (Occasionally she does mention a Deaf adult deciding about a cochlear implant for themselves, but clearly they would not face the same trade-off of missing out on Deaf culture if they get the implant. A difficult decision, nonetheless.)


The third example is choosing to have a biological child. This example seemed better to me than the cochlear implant one, at least. Restrict our attention to those people who actually have a choice (either way) about child-bearing, and then further restrict our attention to those who are actually on the fence about childbearing, and I could see how the decision is plagued by lack of information about who you will become as a result of your decision. (But also, I wonder "is this just transformational because we're constantly reading shlock like this . Maybe it wouldn't be so darned transformational in a culture that rolled its eyes at this sort of blathering.)

The last example is the category of temporally extended selves - making decisions for your future self, like the decision to marry your significant other. (I don't see how all the examples haven't been temporally extended examples, but whatever.) These example seemed pretty apt to me. Deciding to marry is a leap of faith, and it's pretty common for people to wish they'd decided differently. Deciding to adopt. Career planning decisions - she discusses deciding to become a doctor vs a musician.


It is set up as though there will be an improved method to evaluate these decisions presented later on in the book. Right now, though, the quandary seems insurmountable - yes, you don't know what the future brings. It's hard for me to imagine there's a way to get around the fundamental lack of a crystal ball.


Criticism, with a caveat - had Paul addressed the following things in each example, the chapter would have been dry and tedious, whereas as strict descriptions of scenarios, it was a pretty quick, light read. Don't know how she could have it both ways! Anyway, I find a bunch of things to be muddled together:

1. People who find the decision hard vs. people who find the decision deceptively easy (because of imperfect knowledge and transformation. In hindsight they realize it was a harder choice than it seemed.) The book claims to be discussing the former - if you're in the latter camp, why would you think this book applies at the time of the decision - but often slides into the latter.

There are really two splits here - finding the choice easy vs. finding the choice hard, and being aware of the full scope of outcomes vs being naïve about the full scope of possible outcomes. (For example, if you're considering getting married, the full scope of possibilities includes "we may grow apart and divorce in 10 years" and "my spouse may die unexpectedly when the kids are little" and that kind of thing. A naïve person might be utterly confident that the only possible outcome is that you'll die at age 80, together in love. A kind of willful ignorance of common outcomes.) So for a given decision, we could say there are four categories of people. 1) Easy choice, eyes wide open, 2) Hard choice, eyes wide open, 3) Easy choice, naïve and 4) Hard choice, naïve. The book does not deal with the first category, and switches back and forth between the other three. But presumably the improved decision-making method would need to distinguish between people in categories (2), (3), and (4). Maybe it does!

2. Decisions that are just plain hard decisions because both options sides are compelling and have difficult drawbacks, where all these intricacies are well-understood, vs. decisions that have hidden information that will only be revealed with time. The cochlear implant seemed to be very much the former kind, whereas "will I still be compatible with this potential spouse in ten years?" seems like the latter. "If I get pregnant, I could either miscarry or have an unhealthy baby or have a healthy baby" are well-understood scenarios, and the only knowledge you lack is which one of those will come to pass. "What will be the temperament of my child?" is hidden information that will only be revealed with time. And yes, you never know exactly how you'll react to a new thing, but let's not get paralyzed with indecision here.

3. This isn't exactly a criticism, but something I kept dwelling on during the chapter: people who have a choice vs. people who don't have a choice. Both can have a similar transformation, both can regret the crossroads. Transformation and regret are unavoidable parts of life - I can understand wanting to optimize decisions when they come up, but acceptance of imperfect outcomes and actively transforming them into something that contributes positively to who you are is also a meaningful part of the game.

Paul is limiting the discussion to decisions where most readers would find all outcomes plausibly satisfactory, and so she does not take on scenarios like whether or not to keep a fetus with severe abnormalities or disabilities, whether or not to divorce, or anything where you're deciding between two bad options. I assume this is because those scenarios would turn off some readers from seeing it as a choice.

In conclusion,the unknowns mostly boil down to this: first, there are several possible outcomes, of which we know the rough shape, and second, one's reaction is inherently unknowable. I confess to having a "Calm down, tweaker" reaction to the hyper-ruminating that Paul envisions. In real life, I also have a finite attention span for ruminating, so there you have it.


I suppose I'm temperamentally in the psychology/therapy camp for those who tend to ruminate, and not the more algorithmic camp of improved decision making strategies. If hard decisions are becoming a chronic problem, then there's something about you that needs looking at. Otherwise most of us struggle with hard decisions because the decision itself is just hard.

All the above was heebie! The below is me, ben! It is the result of hasty reading and hastier typing!

Confession: I did not see the point of much of this chapter. Is it meant to be the previous chapter, applied? The section on cochlear implants and the beginning half of the section on having a child seemed not to advance anything, really; when we get to p 82 and "I conclude that having your first child, in many ways, is like becoming a vampire", one might reasonably wonder why we went through it all once more.

The cochlear implant case seemed especially odd for me, since it's a decision made on behalf of another person (when we're concerned both before and after with first-personal deliberation (in a non-trivial sense) and subjective assignations of value where one is oneself the subject in question), and another person who's very, very young—young enough that I wasn't sure how different the decision-making could be (as regards any relevant aspect) from the decision to abort or proceed with the pregnancy of a deaf/hearing child. (Obviously it differs at least in that once the child is born one can more easily think about what it would mean for this to be deaf/hearing, since there is a "this child", but if the child is young enough then it and its future seem to be so indeterminate that it's foolish to think about changing its life path from one to another by any single decision, as if it were already on some particular one.) (Tangentially, since most of the discussion seems to focus on being a member of the Deaf community (I'm following Paul's orthographic convention), it seems quite undermined by her concession (62n14) that a hearing person can belong to it.) That's what happened in the case she mentions on 57n8: the couple didn't by chance have a deaf child to whom they did not give cochlear implants (nor did they have a hearing child whom they deprived of audition), they deliberately arranged to have a child that would be deaf. In that case, though, while there remains the epistemic issue of not knowing what it would be like to be hearing bzw. deaf, which might affect one's ability to decide in either direction, there's no transformation involved. The hypothetical children would in each case be as they are from the get-go. And perhaps I am being unduly hard-hearted or something here, but even given an actually existing child of few enough years, the attempt to "project[] forward into the imagined future lived experience of the child" (67), if this is supposed to be anything other than idle hoping or fantsizing, strikes me as risible far before the question of adding or removing a sensory modality enters the picture. I mean, sure, I believe that I cannot know what it is like to be blind, particularly not by closing my eyes (if I opened them I could stop it all, and when I did I would behold an environment very much built for the sighted), but this seems to be a point that could be brought out in a paragraph.

Tangent: the explanation for why there are experiential differences between those who have and those who lack a sensory capacity (and I would have thought the thesis that there are such differences not one in need of much defense, especially when the explanation for the existence of the difference doesn't seem to do any subsequent work) was very :(-inducing for me. It seemed to be either (admittedly uncharitably) "because brains" or (admittedly also uncharitably, maybe more so) founded on fallacies of composition ("experiences of seeing and hearing are not entirely separate, because the sensory processing of them is not separate" (68)—perhaps there is a valid chain of reasoning (or, like, empirical study, blech) to the first clause from the second, but as it stands it looks like "because these two phenomena share a physical substrate, they are experientially linked", which I am disinclined to buy). And anyway the existence of and possibility of membership in a particular community (the Deaf community!) is probably not to be explained by looking at sensory processing in individual brains.

A couple of questions from the pregnancy section, most pressingly, what in the world is "the normative standard for rational decision-making" aka "the normative rational standard" and henceforth occasionally NRS? We know from p 33 that Paul thinks one can decide rationally about the topics she's discussing. So one would think that the normative rational standard would be one that licenses this possibility, one that we should adhere to in deciding about these topics. Someone who thought that, who was also me, would be quite confused by pp 83–4, where first we read that "you cannot make your decision in the way we've been describing it, at least, not if you want to meet the normative standard for rationality" (83; emphasis added), and then (on 84) "if you are not and never have been deaf, you can't follow the normative standard for rational decision-making if you choose to give your child a cochlear implant based on the belief that what it is like to hear is better than what it is like to be deaf". Between these two bits we read (back on 83) that "the lesson here is not that the decision to have a child can never be made rationally" but only that "it is impossible to make an informed, rational decision by imagining outcomes … assigning subjective values to these outcomes, and then modeling your preferences on this basis" (emphasis in original), which, again, we've actually heard before.

So this seems to suggest that you can't meet the NRS if among the inputs to your weighings of values and probabilities are the subjective values of imagined outcomes, but you can meet it if your inputs are free of such things, which suggests further that either the NRS is agnostic as to what you actually consider and it's purely a formal thing that says something like "scale the values by the probabilities of their being realized and pick the largest one" or the NRS is substantive enough to say things like "do consider things of this type but don't consider things of that type" and in particular it says not to consider the subjective values of future experiences. The latter is suggested by statements like "For instance, you might choose to have a child because you desire to have some of your DNA transmitted to future generations. But the value of satisfying this desire must [sc., I assume, if you are to be rational] be weighed against the subjective value of other outcomes" (75), except apparently weighing against subjective values is precisely not what one must do to be rational, so on review who knows what the force of that "must" is. Anyway, apparently one must do that, and that's one reason to think there's something substantive about NRS here. But look, here's what follows immediately on 75–76:

When choosing, as always, we want to try to meet the normative standard. To choose rationally, you determine the approximate [? Wouldn't it be still rationaler to be exact?] value of each relevant outcome, you determine the weighted value of each outcome given the probability of the world being such that the relevant state would occur, and then use this information to estimate the expected value of each act, choosing the act with the highest expected value.

So, in this scenario, when you deliberate about whether to have your first child, you are supposed to (at least approximately) assess your subjective values for the outcomes stemming from choosing to have a child or choosing to remain childless, determine any relevant probabilities, identify the act that maximizes your expected subjective value, and then act in accordance with your preferences, that is, choose the act wit the highest expected subjective value. (emphasis added)

I mean, maybe the "you are supposed to" in the second paragraph there means something like "it is a supposition of many that you should" or "according to the vulgar understanding of NRS, you are supposed to", or something like that, but this sure reads like a description of what NRS demands. Clearly, however, NRS cannot actually demand that we do that, since that is not a procedure we can actually follow, and Paul doesn't think that NRS does demand that we do that. The first paragraph quoted does suggest that it's formal insofar as no mention is made of how we determine the value, only what we do with the value once determined, and the discussion beginning on 85 also suggests it's formal in this way.

That discussion seems to have the form "we need to find a way we can determine a value, and here's a way we could determine value: just look at surveys!". The proposal is deemed "disastrous" (87), but if all we're trying to do is decide rationally, and this way meets the standard of rationality, as indeed it is said to do, what's the problem? What's the new desideratum aside from choosing rationally that's here being introduced? Let's grant that it's nice not to choose disastrously, but I would have thought that as long as we're talking about choosing rationally as something we desire to do, one of the explanations for the desire would be that in choosing rationally we are going some way to avoiding disastrous decisions. (There is a whole literature on this kind of thing ("why be rational") with which I am only minimally acquainted and no doubt there are particular cases in which choosing rationally leads to a bad end—the subject in fact of the paper about piacularity from which the deodand stuff came; I liked it and it's even not irrelevant though the relevant dimensions aren't thematized—but I think that if following a putatively rational procedure in fact systematically led to disaster that would be good reason to revise the judgment of its rationality.) Is it perhaps that NRS is actually substantive enough to have something to say about how we determine value? (Beyond further formal demands pertaining to the relations of determinations to each other, I guess.) That would be nice because there are likely utterly bats ways of doing that and it would be perplexing if one could follow a bats method of determining value and yet be rational.

Look, here is Jon Elster with a falsehood: "To want to be motivated by long-term concerns is ipso facto to be motivated by long term concerns" (quoted 90n51; emphasis and inconsistent hyphenation in Paul and possibly Elster but I didn't check that). I am not sure what could lead one to believe this. The note is attached to this sentence: "Adopting some sort of higher-order preference to prefer the preferences of the later self might give you the result you want in this case, but it is not a rule that can be followed in a principled way" and it begins with something that actually seems to me to undermine the point: "if you are prepared to dispense with your current preferences in order to take on new preferences, in what sense are your current preferences really your preferences?". Quite so. If you genuinely value your career above all, perhaps you should think twice about having a child, since if you have one you might find yourself valuing it in ways incompatible with putting your career first. If, on the other hand, you think "I do value my career above all, but if I had a child and came to value it more, I don't think that would be the end of the world", then you would seem to be, in fact, ambivalent, and so you do not obviously need a preference to favor later preferences. Probably better to resolve your ambivalence (not that that's a simple task).

I am somewhat confused about this revelatory value jazz. "Becoming a parent and raising a child may have intrinsic subjective value, that is, revelatory value, even if it makes parents less happy and reduces their well-being on many of the usual measures" (93; it is explicitly not "based on happiness, pleasure, or pain"). Does it increase their well-being on an unusual measure? Why wouldn't it be reflected in surveys, given that the people taking the surveys are not apt to be concerned about whether what they've gotten out of parenthood is, strictly speaking, hedonic? Wittgenstein wanted people to know that he had a happy life, presumably not in a hedonic sense, but he still felt the word worth using; John Williams said of the main character of his novel Stoner, whose fictional life did not seem to me one filled with joyous events, "I think he had a very good life. He had a better life than most people do, certainly", and though it's characterized by many occasions of (hedonic) unhappiness one can imagine Stoner himself responding positively to questions regarding his lot. Why should we think that this additional value isn't accounted for by the answers parents give? It seems at the moment that the primary reason is that otherwise we wouldn't get the right result. (Paul has a different issue with it, namely that it's still inaccessible to the deliberator so doesn't help, but also says she thinks there's something right about it and apparently will treat of it further, so.)

"But of course, … you shouldn't become a doctor merely because it would make your parents happy and because you'd make a lot of money. And you shouldn't become a doctor merely because it is a way to help other people. All of these considerations carry weight, of course. But what also matters, in this case, is what you want." (100). There follows rhetoric about "who you are" and "being true to yourself". But also, "a modern conception of self-realization involves the notion that one achieves a kind of maximal self-fulfillment through making reflective, rational choices about the sort of life one wants to live … While such notions of personal fulfillment and self-realization through reflective choice might be apt for whether one chooses to grow one's own vegetables, … it [sic] is not apt for the choice to have a child" (84) or perhaps even the career one adopts, though I admit there's daylight between self-realization and "what you want". Nevertheless, I'm very suspicious of the idea that one should introspect and discover what one (already) wants in cases like these, and tend to think that the idea that one can and should do so stems from precisely the modern conception that Paul faults for being inapplicable to such choices. (Do even doctors know "what it is like for [them] to be a doctor" in the relevant way? Does this concern the experience of the day-to-day, the highest high, the lowest low? Ought we not call any doctor knowledgeable about what it's like to have his or her profession until retirement? Being a doctor is said in many ways, and you don't even know what it is that you don't have a first-person acquaintance with. It's not like "the taste of ripe durian" in that regard.)


 

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Border Migration

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.20.15

J, Robot sends in this piece about the deadly nature of the immigrant trip across the desert into the US. It is definitely one of those situations where there is a disorienting mismatch between the horror of the situation and the urgency felt by the mainstream American population and politicians.


 

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