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Can You Keep A Secret?

Posted by Ogged
on 10.15.16

I want to use Signal, just on general principles, but say nothing of import to anyone, and don't want to force my correspondents to use it. Meanwhile, people who advise future presidents think Runner4567 is a real password, and send it via email. For the love of god, if you even sorta kinda know someone important, at the very least, turn on two-factor authentication. Russian hackers are getting bored to death with hacking you.


 

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ATM: Jersey Unions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.14.16

LBJ wants to know: suppose one's brother lived in New Jersey, and was visiting over Thanksgiving. Suppose further that he is a Democrat out of vague loyalty but finds himself sympathetic to neoliberal and conservative positions uncomfortably often. A frequent hobbyhorse is that the unions in New Jersey are too strong, and pensions will break the New Jersey budget, and that all the schoolteachers manage to land cush principal gigs for their last two years of service, and so they get 70K pensions, based on their highest-paid year. And other pensioners only had to work 20 years to qualify, so they pick up a second career and collect two pensions.

What pre-reading ought LBJ do about politics and budgets in New Jersey, in order to be well-prepared to untangle these claims on the fly?


 

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Guest Post - I am bored to tears, here is a link

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.13.16

Lurid Keyaki writes: It's the Times so semi-paywalled, but the author has written a book here as well: NPR interview highlights here. I'm no expert, but I got the impression (maybe just from reading comments etc.) that she's taken a good explanation of her own addiction and turned it into a pretty inaccurate explanation of all addictions. I'm curious about the pathology of addiction and to what extent it's a predisposition looking for something to latch onto, as opposed to an emergent thing that explodes when you drink alcohol. I'm receptive to holistic accounts like this. I'm pretty willing to believe that they get loads of false positives and miss the trees for the forest. (Also my kid is trying to break a long-standing finger-sucking habit, and I've been amazed by its strength and tenacity.) What do you all think?

Heebie's take: the four traits that supposedly predispose you to addiction are:

They focus on four risky traits: sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness.

From the Times link, it sounds like they're not really talking about addiction at all, they're talking about unhappy kids who are likely to self-medicate. They then trick those kids into getting a crash course in therapy, and it nudges a lot of them towards better outcomes.

I think in general, it would be helpful if we disentangled self-medicating one's misery using drugs and alcohol from actually being chemically dependent on the drugs or alcohol.


 

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If God ever decided to destroy Silicon Valley unless one intelligent tech billionaire could be found there, it wouldn't stand a chance

Posted by Ben
on 10.13.16

I mean what in the world is it with this shit?

The picture shows someone (a putative scientist, I guess, I didn't read the whole article, and not a tech billionaire, but) in the Guardian saying that "reasons to believe that the universe is a simulation include the fact that it behaves mathematically and is broken up into pieces (subatomic particles) like a pixelated video game", which must have all the physicists groaning. It suggests that the person putting forward that opinion believes (why?) that in the real world everything would be continuous all the way down, and also that it would not be mathematically tractable, which sort of leads one to wonder how a simulation could ever be constructed in it, unless indeed by a deity. I am not saying that all rich persons and scientists should be required to read The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (I mean, I haven't read it), but it might be nice if a little subtlety could be put into the inference from "mathematics is effective in the sciences" to "so it's all FAKE!".

(It's hardly worth pointing out, I assume, because it dignifies the whole thing far too much, that just as one can write visualizations of fractals that permit one to zoom in arbitrarily deeply, up to the limits of the computational power and memory of the system, there's no reason why a simulation couldn't, in fact, allow it to appear, within the simulation, as if particles etc. had arbitrary levels of procedurally-generated sub-particles and sub-sub-particles etc.; while that might be more resource-intensive, if we're imagining the creation of a simulation in the first place, we should probably credit it with a lot of resources. So it's really unclear why this is thought to tell in any particular direction.)

Anyway, Elijah Millgram's typically creative "Refuting Skepticism with Style" is a fun/bats read on this subject.


 

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Bobby Effin Dylan, Nobelist

Posted by Ogged
on 10.13.16

Hell yeah.


 

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You may find this distasteful in any number of ways

Posted by Ben
on 10.12.16

But I really enjoy this cover:


 

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Really exciting tea leaves

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.12.16

Check out Republican absentee voting numbers in North Carolina...

via


 

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Enhanced Interrogation

Posted by Ogged
on 10.11.16

I thought in 2004 that that election was basically a referendum on torture, and therefore, decency; decency lost and the right realized that they didn't need to be constrained by any of the norms that we'd all thought obtained. It's worth remembering, along with the fact that Trumpists will support a hell of a lot more horrible things than what Trump has proposed, that Trump hasn't actually proposed anything new that's as bad as what we're already doing.

"Mr. Hawsawi was tortured in the black sites. He was sodomized," Ruiz told reporters Monday evening, advising them to "shy away from terms like rectal penetration or rectal rehydration because the reality is it was sodomy," he said. Since then, he said, he has had "to manually reinsert parts of his anal cavity" to defecate.


 

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Meaning well.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.11.16

Here's a thing I remember from being a student: if a teacher is returning graded tests, and the teacher says, "The class did really well on this test!" it can only make you feel worse. If you did well on the test, it sort of takes the wind out of your sails. If you did not do well on the test, it makes you feel even worse.

(As a teacher, it's really hard not to say it, because you feel pleased with your class, and pleased with yourself, and you want to crow about it.)

It's sort of a general phenomenon, which must have some general name, about situations where you lock in your fate and then hear about the mean. When the mean does well, everyone feels a little worse about themselves.


 

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Guest post - trigger warnings

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.11.16

Mossy writes: Post about safe spaces. This:

If you intend to interact with the world outside your door, you do not get emotional safe spaces, because the world is not even a remotely physical safe space, and demanding that it provide an emotional safe space is a form of extremist privilege. At best, it is denial and avoidance; at worst, it is political chicanery, trying to shut down the discussion before it's begun.

sounds right to me.

Heebie's take: that dude is pretty incoherent and I'm not sure he knows what a "trigger warning" is in real life.


 

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Get a blog!

Posted by Ben
on 10.10.16

This is a reasonably good blog post whose author has for some reason decided to dribble out in innumerable tweets, because that format is, I guess, significantly more readable or something? Get a blog!


 

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Insomnia

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.10.16

Today's entry for "what's taped to the inside of the bathroom stall door?" is particularly annoying, because I know a thing or two about insomnia. Namely, that treatment 1, 2, and 4 are all virtually free and highly effective for me, and treatment 3 is expensive and unlikely to help me.

(They're not actually talking about insomnia, they're talking about having insomnia as a symptom of general anxiety. But even so, that's a dumb way to treat the anxiety AND a dumb way to treat the insomnia.)

Which is the most effective treatment for insomnia?


 

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Guest Post - O God(s)

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.10.16

E. Messily writes: Next up: scheming villain absconds with a vial of smallpox from the CDC; vial breaks; smallpox is back, baby.

What with one thing and another, I'm having a real hard time stamping down my inner Montanan prepper* self. "End Days is Nigh! Call in the dogs, stoke up the fire and bolt up the big door! Everybody gets a bag of trail mix** a week til the smoke clears!"

*Also, I couldn't remember the word 'prepper' and my search brought me to this bizarre, terrifying, and very interesting Wikipedia page.

**My parents used to hand out a bag of trail mix (with m&ms) to each person, on long camping/hiking/river trips. If you could control yourself early on, you would always be able to barter away your camp duties during the inevitable chocolate shortage at the end of the week. I don't necessarily endorse this program; tempers ran high, and everyone did not always manage to be their best self in the fallout.

Heebie's take: that deer is grody.


 

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We're All Gutter-Dwellers Now

Posted by Ogged
on 10.09.16

It's almost too bad Trump isn't going to win*, because it would have been a lot of fun to say, "These goddamn immigrants came here and destroyed our freedom-loving ways" but while referring to the Germans who came here 150 years ago.

*On the one hand, I think this is basically true:


But I've seen reports that he seems to have lost about ten percent of his supporters, which ain't much, but is fatal electorally.

And tonight's debate promises to be some gruesome theater, made more complicated by the fact that the Juanita Broaddrick story is itself pretty complicated.


 

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