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A theory

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.16.19

Help me flesh out this theory.

The impetus: a friend describes a panel in which two panelists squabbled a bit. Both want to appear smart in front of the audience. The older panelist is asking the younger one if she knows certain vocabulary words, and is explaining concepts. Possibly accidentally condescending, possibly on purpose. The younger panelist is asking questions which make the older panelist appear dumb/shallow/rigid, sometimes just to the audience and sometimes evident to the older panelist herself.

My theory goes that these are two different methods of signaling intelligence, and they correspond to different life stages, but there maybe is something generational layered on top of it. Method 1 is the older panelist: use big vocabulary words, possibly talk a bit too vaguely or fast for the other person to completely understand you. It's the bluster method. Method 2 is the younger panelist: ask questions, maybe faux-innocently but maybe transmitting prosecutor vibes, that reveal the other person's shortcomings. It's the "my kid is going to be a lawyer, I just know it" parent gripe.

(There are many other ways to signal intelligence! These are just quick moves that these two yahoos pulled.)

It's connected to life stages as so:

Method 2, the baby lawyer, lends itself well for younger people because you can be overly literal if you don't have much context, and you can use it if something smells funny but you don't have all the facts on hand.

People get out of the habit of being a baby lawyer when they start having to relate and connect with people younger than themselves. Being prosecutorial and asking "gotcha" questions to someone who has less life experience to draw on is just being a royal ass. That's when most of us switch to gently explaining the world, instead of aggressively questioning people who have holes in their knowledge. But then, if your ego is on the line and you want to place yourself as the authority figure, it's a small step from a habit of gentle explaining to fullblown bullshit bluster.

The more conjectural part of the theory:
In the course of conversation, sweeping generalizations were made that boomers are subject to the Bullshit Bluster Method of signaling smarts, and millenials are inclined to the Baby Lawyer Method of signaling. Is there anything specific to these generations besides their relative ages that would attract them to these methods? Or will millenials age out of Baby Lawyer and into Bullshit Bluster right on schedule, as their parents before them, and their parents' parents before that?


 

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Hong Kong

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.15.19

Someone else should say interesting things about the protests?

Also I gather a yield-curve inverted and people have opinions?


 

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Job Update

Posted by Ogged
on 08.14.19

I think it was almost exactly a year ago that I asked for career advice. For various reasons, I didn't have much of a chance to learn new tech over the past year, but it turned out not to matter, because I just took an interesting consultancy job that's fully remote. I think remote work for front-end/full-stack developers is just becoming more common. Some people mention feeling socially isolated by not going to an office and I have to pretend to understand their weird human need for corporeal interaction.


 

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Guest Post - Hope

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.14.19

Mossy Chassy writes: This kind of thing sounds a whole lot more doable than getting emissions under control in good time.

We think that geoengineering of glaciers on a similar scale could delay much of Greenland and Antarctica's grounded ice from reaching the sea for centuries, buying time to address global warming.
[...]
A 100-metre-high wall with sloping sides of 15-45° could be built across the 5-kilometre fjord in front of Jakobshavn glacier by dredging around 0.1 cubic kilometres of gravel and sand from Greenland's continental shelf [...] Hong Kong's airport required around 0.3 cubic kilometres of landfill. The Three Gorges Dam used 0.028 cubic kilometres of cast concrete.
[...]
The impacts of construction would be dwarfed locally by the effects of the ice sheet's collapse, and globally by rapid sea-level rise.
It also shares with other geoengineering projects the benefits of intrinsic coolness, without the drawbacks of irreversibility and utter bugfuck craziness.

Heebie's take: Let's do it! But what about the sand shortage??


 

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Mushrooms

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.13.19

Ask Polly:

I have a very severe allergy to mushrooms. I carry an EpiPen, and I have been hospitalized multiple times because of exposure to this food. One time, I began convulsing in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. My husband politely explained this to his parents when we started dating, and I was invited to family meals.
Since then, most meals we have shared at my in-laws' house have had very limited options for me. Somehow, they manage to find a way to add mushrooms to almost everything. One time, they made a point to make a special plate of mushrooms and pass it around. My mother-in-law said, very rudely, "I would've liked to add mushrooms directly to the salad, but SOMEBODY has problems with it!" They even added mushroom powder to the mashed potatoes at one holiday dinner. My mother-in-law claimed it was a new recipe she'd found.

Mushroom powder! It gets worse from there. The in-laws never ate mushrooms much before she showed up, and they think the whole thing is made up and ridiculous.

Anyway, Polly's answer (Heather Havrilesky) is what really shines (although it's a bit rambly)

Your in-laws are next-level, off-the-charts batshit.
Every now and then, a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths. Maybe one person in the group completely and permanently lost their doughnuts several decades prior, and slowly, each member of the group learns that playing along with this singular menace is the only way to survive. Eventually, the members of the group are so utterly confused and gaslit by each other that they enforce the will of the group and nod along with bizarre opinions until they can't even remember what it means to think logically or have free will or behave like other regular human beings on the face of the planet.

...

But who even cares? The important thing to know about your in-laws is that they're literally trying to kill you. I mean, mushroom powder? Who's even heard of such a thing? How is it possible that they're all engaged in this charade of loving the ever-living hell out of mushrooms out of nowhere, in spite of the fact that they know you could die if you eat one? What on God's green Earth is going on with these people?
I don't think I've ever felt more shocked by the awfulness of anyone described in an "Ask Polly" letter before.

Enjoy!

(Wouldn't it be a delicious plot twist if the mushroom allergy is wholesale made-up, and the letter-writer is delusional, and the in-laws have seen her eat mushrooms of her own accord many times but then level these accusations when they try to serve them, and they happen to be passionate mushroom farmers who just are doing their best to accommodate her? "What if we use the powder instead of the real deal? Maybe that would help?" Imagine their jaws dropping when she sends them this column, and they realize the depth of her depravity.)(I don't actually think that's the case. I believe the letter writer and I always err on the side of believing victims, because I am a good person.)

Via Lurid Keyaki


 

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Theranos

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.12.19

Jammies and I just finished listening to the Theranos book, Bad Blood. It's written by the WaPo WaStreJo writer who originally broke the story. It's a fascinating story, especially the second half. The first half is mostly a lot of disillusioned workers quitting on the regular.

My takeaway is that this should be viewed as a silent, epic battle waged between federal bureaucracy on the good side, and a weaponized legal system functioning as institutionalized thuggery on the bad side. The biggest protection that kept the whole sham running for 12 years (with their reputation intact) was their reputation for ruthlessly suing anyone and everyone into financial oblivion. Probably hundreds of employees would have said something if they felt safe from legal bills.

On the other side, the one thing that kept many more people from dying is the fact that they could never widely deploy their phony technology, because they kept getting snagged by FDA approval and a lack of a publishing record. In other words, when you restrict yourself to what can be put down on paper, the cult of personality evaporates. (Near the end, the scam does start to affect actual patients' prognoses and treatment, but there are many instances when it's staved off due to regular workers doing their due diligence to vet the science before, say, opening up the US Army under Mattis to this bullshit.)

Lastly, a sociopathic woman fifty years ago would not have been able to cultivate this kind of scam, so advances against sexism play a role. On the other hand, her success is largely driven by dumb older white men with too much power who are just totally smitten heart-eyes over Holmes. Old white men still hold a vast amount of power in the story. Her right hand man/boyfriend is almost equally culpable, but such a dull figure that it's hard to find much to say about him. He's just relentlessly abusive towards his employees, matched only by how dumb he is about science.

Finally, my favorite detail is probably that when she was reading the biography of Steve Jobs, workers could tell what chapter she was on, based on what leadership techniques she was adopting. What a dumbass.


 

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Paranoia

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.11.19

So what's your degree of conspiracy theory around Epstein's death? You think anyone colluded to get him off suicide watch? (You could convince me either way.)


 

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