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Perspectivist Connections  v3.0


...apparently, I can't even process ordinary 'karmic' assumptions!

shocks me. My personal answer for all 3 questions is $0...because they're situational. Certainly very low threshholds in most situations.

Even taking each question in a spirit of, "How much $ if you otherwise truly don't feel like doing it in the imaginary situation?" my answer is surely less than a hundred in each case.

The article (interesting in itself, for a skim) adds some explanatory notes on the survey -- which if anything make popular answers more shocking. Hypothetical questions are 98% about (self-)signaling, but still.

People are crazy, the world is mad!

AB  2010     5 further

in which everyone else leaves the cities to the biggest liberals

Oh, wow, just realized this works toward a real explanation of why folks who live in walkable big cities (like SF, NYC) are so liberal.

Walking a big city is wildly noisy. It presents streams of "threatening visual images."

I learned this week that even a very confident, multitasking, neurotypical-in-good-ways ;) friend had quit a job in the core city in large part because she didn't like how she felt the buildup of high-alert commute walks changing her.

More sensitive people (like me) feel the most pressured to leave. If we are also less liberal, the city gets left as an evaporatively cooling group, viz.:
In the classic "When Prophecy Fails", one of the cult members walked out the door immediately after the flying saucer failed to land. Who gets fed up and leaves first? An average cult member? Or a relatively more skeptical member, who previously might have been acting as a voice of moderation, a brake on the more fanatic members?

After the members with the highest kinetic energy escape, the remaining discussions will be between the extreme fanatics on one end and the slightly less extreme fanatics on the other end, with the group consensus somewhere in the "middle".

AB  2010     3 further

"politics of fear"

Why do we accept our own personal fears and hates, even as we suggest that others’ fears and hates are bad signs about them?

Relative to low status folks, high status folks have less occasion to fear or hate. Complaining that your opponents have a “politics of fear” or hate is really just complaining about their low status [ :) ]

AB  2010     4 further

Sympathy + resources create "the Laffer curve of redistribution where if you suffer a bizarre..."

Sympathy is for the historically disadvantaged, the poor, and people aligned with such groups.

On the other hand, when everyone is a victim, by definition you can't give yourselves a boatload of money, because it has to come from somewhere else.

Currently, the homeowners are changing the mortgage contract ex post because lawyers and politicians find them useful muckraking props for their power and profit grabs. Prior default curves for mortgage cohorts are now totally irrelevant because there is now little stigma for defaulting on a mortgage--rather the opposite--and you get to live rent free for a longer time if you stop paying.
- Falkenstein

AB  2010     0 further

Tension: signaling your attractive health vs political sanity

High openness-to-experience liberals are more physiologically confident.

At least for 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs (would love to see that screening process!, like an opposite of jury selection??), a team of EIGHT psychologists (what a ratio for a primary study!) famously found in 2008:
Views may have a biological basis. Individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images (LOLWTF can you imagine the testing room?) were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control. The degree to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appears to indicate the degree to which they advocate policies that protect the existing social structure from both external (outgroup) and internal (norm-violator) threats. - cite
Reactionaries, paleolibertarians and even mainstream conservatives take social hits in part because our views signal physical weaknesses -- oversensitivities. I know I am insanely sensitive to noises -- both sudden and continuing -- compared to roughly anyone else, and to what feels like danger, so this all especially rings true for me despite the total lameness of the actual study.

AB  2010     6 further

The Weather Duo

This chamber music (a cello and an upright bass) is simply wonderful to write to, read to, think to, focus on for its own sake. I heard them live this month in a sparse small space, and wow.

AB  2010     0 further

Luxurious forager instincts

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but Robin Hanson is right way more than that because he's an overclocked wild spinner. He laps the truth at least twice an hour.

On foraging vs farming lifeways, I think he's on to more than he realizes:
This transition [ from foraging to farming (= digging + herding) ] meant huge changes in attitudes and behaviors, supported by modest still-slowly-continuing genetic changes and huge cultural changes. I hypothesize that the cultural pressures which long ago pushed folks from more natural forager ways into then-more-functional farming ways work better on poor people, so that rich folk less feel their pressure. If so, as folks get rich they would tend to revert back to the natural-feeling forager ways.

AB  2010     2 further

Explaining mindfulness meditation as Less Wrong

Vipassana aims to break the habit of blindly making affective judgments about mental states, and reverse the damage done by doing so in the past. This habit may be at the root of many problems described on LessWrong, and is likely involved in other mental issues.

Four [simultaneous] aspects to the process:

1. Slowing the flood of affective judgments so one can distinctly observe them.
2. Learning to not compulsively make affective judgments.
3. Smoothing one's previously formed emotional gradients.
4. No longer forming strong emotional gradients.

AB  2010     3 further

PThiel re: FBook

[...]believes the right company "won" the social media wars: Its great rival, MySpace, founded in Los Angeles, "is about being someone fake on the Internet; everyone could be a movie star," he says. He considers it "very healthy," he adds, "that the real people have won out over the fake people."
Technology=Salvation, A+++ headline!

AB  2010     5 further

Thiel exposes our decade-plus First World growth slowdown

Numerous emperors, no clothes.

Very rich content in the current WSJ profile of Peter Thiel:
Our technocratic elite told us to expect an ever-wealthier future, and science hasn't delivered. Except for computers and the Internet, the idea that we're experiencing rapid technological progress is a myth.

"People don't want to believe that technology is broken. . . . Pharmaceuticals, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology—all these areas where the progress has been a lot more limited than people think. And the question is why."

Mr. Thiel delivers his views with an extraordinary, almost physical effort to put his thoughts in order and phrase them pithily. Somewhere in his 42 years, he obviously discovered the improbability of getting a bold, unusual argument translated successfully into popular journalism.

"All sorts of things are possible in a world where you have massive progress in technology and related gains in productivity," he says. "In a world where wealth is growing, you can get away with printing money. Doubling the debt over the next 20 years is not a problem."

And President Obama? "I'm not sure I'd describe him as a socialist. I might even say he has a naive and touching faith in capitalism. He believes you can impose all sorts of burdens on the system and it will still work."

The system is telling him otherwise. Mankind, says Mr. Thiel, has no inalienable right to the progress that has characterized the last 200 years. Today's heightened political acrimony is but a foretaste of the "grim Malthusian" politics ahead, with politicians increasingly trying to redistribute the fruits of a stagnant economy, loosing even more forces of stagnation.

Question: How can anyone know science and technology are under-performing compared to potential? It's hard, he admits. Those who know—"university professors, the entrepreneurs, the venture capitalists"—are "biased" in favor of the idea that rapid progress is happening, he says, because they're raising money. "The other 98%"—he means you and me, who in this age of specialization treat science and technology as akin to magic—"don't know anything."

But look, he says, at the future we once portrayed for ourselves in "The Jetsons." We don't have flying cars. Space exploration is stalled. There are no undersea cities. Household robots do not cater to our needs. Nuclear power "we should be building like crazy," he says, but we're sitting on our hands. Or look at today's science fiction compared to the optimistic vision of the original "Star Trek": Contemporary science fiction has become uniformly "dystopian," he says. "It's about technology that doesn't work or that is bad."

The great exception is information technology, whose rapid advance is no fluke: "So far computers and the Internet have been the one sector immune from excessive regulation."

A "higher education bubble":

"University administrators are the equivalent of subprime mortgage brokers," he says, "selling you a story that you should go into debt massively, that it's not a consumption decision, it's an investment decision. Actually, no, it's a bad consumption decision. Most colleges are four-year parties."

"If the universities are dominated by politicians instead of scientists, if there are ways the government is too inefficient to work, and we're just throwing good money after bad, you end up with a nearly revolutionary situation. That's why the idea that technology is broken is taboo. Really taboo. You probably have to get rid of the welfare state. You have to throw out Keynesian economics. All these things would not work in a world where technology is broken," he says.

Perhaps it really does fall to some dystopian science fiction writer to tell us what such a world will be like—when nations are unraveling even as a cyber-nation called "Facebook" is becoming the most populous on the planet.
Most of these dangerous ideas, and way more, were prereleased as his supercalifragilistic December TEDx talk -- entitled "All We Need is a Singularity." If you haven't looked at it, you're crazy not to!

AB  2010     5 further

impressive levels of self-questioning

An unsmiling Katherine Heigl, at work on a new movie in this Pittsburgh suburb in August, stepped out of a chauffeured black S.U.V. and strode onto the set. She briskly filmed her scene and decamped to her air-conditioned trailer. “I admit that I’m particular about the way I work,” she said, stopping to stare at a stuffed rabbit on the floor. She continued her thought, but not before giving the bunny a swift kick.

True? Yes. But the morning could also be accurately described like this: Relaxing in her trailer between scenes, Katherine Heigl apologized for the mess — her daughter, Naleigh, had been playing with stuffed animals. Gracious and funny, Ms. Heigl talked about her struggle to balance work with family. “I guess everything in life requires some kind of compromising,” she said.

So which is it? Cold diva or likable mom?

As Ms. Heigl has learned the hard way, Hollywood and the news media aren’t big on nuance. Stars are supposed to come packaged with neat captions: bubbly (Julia Roberts), charming (George Clooney), quirky (Johnny Depp). When they step outside those assigned boxes, either in a film role or in real life, the machinery starts pushing them back.

Ms. Heigl, 31, has been assigned the diva box. Reporters are supposed to look for the smallest signal of imperiousness. (Bunny, kicked — scribble that down.) Forget that she’s warm and genuine in person.
Huh!, somehow I clicked on that story!?!

AB  2010     1 further


Heinlein imagined wild headlines for the Crazy Years (his speculative ridiculous future timeline)...but he didn't imagine all the times nowadays when it's just the journalists by their own clueless credulity making the world that ridiculous.

These leapt out at me re: discovery of an exciting new planet 20+ light years away:
Odds of Life on Nearby Planet '100 Percent,' Astronomer Says (Fox News)
UN 'to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors' (Telegraph UK)
Neither story turns out to be even newsworthy apart from its hilarity...much less supporting such big headlines!! And, neither full story suggests any notable news on their more-than-teasingly (clumsily-fumbling-for?) implied central topic of whether any alien life in fact is out there (much less whether any particular imagined First Contact can ever happen!).

AB  2010     1 further

(...but obv Buddhists "laughing about it" know most of ALL)

Apparently, Mormons are the atheists of current national politics. This must be why I still love Big Love!

AB  2010     0 further balance...and stay in touch!

This is my most appreciated (& reread!) reminder piece of 2010. Thank you to all who posted it. Subject line is my 3 second summary of the whole thing. A litany against regrets.

"I've made a huge mistake."

AB  2010     0 further

open tabs

This summer (back when it was summer!), I started a temporary nasty habit of reading the news. I justify this habit as "mixing it up." Seeing news means breaking decades of peaceful ignorance, of going out of my way to avoid what passes for current events...and especially to avoid something far more horrifying than the events themselves: current events reporting.

A select few stories are so especially ridiculous that I can't seem to close the tabs on them before sharing...somewhere...and it's time...and, believe it or not, LJ is still my chosen forum!

AB  2010     0 further

Time magazine illustrates how to prove a negative

'Cougars' apparently don't openly go hunting on major online dating sites. Therefore they don't exist! At all!!

AB  2010     0 further

alternate world status

There’s an alternative universe pretty close to ours where things went subtly different in 1975 or so...and the rednecks starting watching action/adventure/SF movies featuring airships and steampunkish trumpetguns, while the hipsters got more into Boris Valejo paintings with their massive barbarian swords.

…and in that world, someone just posted that the trumpetgun is “trying too hard” and the shark knife is “wonderful, whimsical, retrocool”.
(heavily edited for clarity)

AB  2010     7 further

"depressed-person reasoning"

Reading this certainly won't suck! (just start at the "* * *" if you wanna skip the personal story)

AB  2008     31 further

Headline of the day

Clinching the election,
Obama Says He Would Agree to Some Drilling (NYT)
It's a new era. JFK & WJC always had to leave these things implicit, with a twinkle in the eye or at most a wink.

Viewing the conference, more than half of BHO's "likely voters" slid from Moderately/Strongly Approving to Curiously/Thoroughly Titillated.

A New Camelot!

AB  2008     5 further

The essential story on huge economic fallacies...

These 4 perfect paragraphs should inform every conversation. Undoubtedly, they'll inform many. Unfortunately, I'd bet barrels to dollars they won't inform the main public conversation this decade...

AB  2008     2 further

Alternative News

This is lovely modern fantasy!

AB  2008     3 further

"Fairness, idealism and other atrocities"

Enjoy the clearest P.J. O'Rourke here! (via Marginal Revolution)

It's a beautiful contradistinction to the "Altruistic Singles" Meetup today accidentally witnessed by me. Randomly, they were at the Peet's 608. ("They" = both of them. A gal and a gay man, AFAICT. With a Meetup sign in case more showed!)

AB  2008     2 further

The FLDS Raid

How can people not be freaked out by all this? Seeing a whole town of strangely dressed women crying because an "investigation" took all their babies away?

I get the theoretical possibility that the whole town was just eeeevil...but shouldn't reasonable outsiders be more curious and less bloodthirsty?

Texas took all of a neighborhood's 416 children into "custody" for at least weeks...and took away their phones "to prevent evidence tampering" and...incidentally...prevent any natural social support.

Standard procedure, I guess...for criminals. Not for communities.

All "normal" people apparently want to take these women's kids away & force them into the public schools! Or maybe design special reeducation camps to dispel their particular religious delusions and familial bonds! (I'd love to sculpt curricula to dispel ALL religious delusions...but I'm equal-opportunity like that.)

Where's the empathy? "Normal" people just can't imagine this happening to the innocent? They feel it's somehow justified? (To selectively enforce an anti-polygamist cartel, sometimes you gotta break a few eggs?)

The single best comment I found, in my quick quest to find anyone with sane reactions:

Some background of teenage pregnancies in Texas:

The non-Hispanic white rate is 60 per 1,000, the black rate is 130 per 1,000 and the Hispanic rate is 145 per 1,000.

The rate at YFZ seems to be 45 per 1,000. Twenty[-five] percent lower than the rate for other Texas girls in the polygamous girls’ demographic cohort and more than [68%] lower than among Hispanic girls in Texas.

That indicates that underage girls at YFZ are 20 percent less likely to have sex than other white girls across the state and 60 percent less likely to have sex than Hispanic girls across the state.

The rate of teen pregnancy at YFZ is lower than the rate of teen pregnancy in more than three-quarters of Texas counties.

The best thing the state can do now is apologize. If they are sincere in wanting to protect teenaged women from getting pregnant, they ought to take lessons from YFZ, because they are doing a better job of it than the state as a whole.

In the majority of these cases the male was only a few years older than the female (i.e. the male partner was also a teenager).

This Denver woman apparently played Mrs. O'Leary's cow in all this -- because she just so happens to enjoy repeatedly calling 911, pretending to be abuse victims in different invented scenarios!

And, I love that this is an international "law" argued to prohibit polygamy:

Polygamous marriage contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men, and can have such serious emotional and financial consequences for her and her dependents that such marriages ought to be discouraged and prohibited. The Committee notes with concern that some States parties, whose constitutions guarantee equal rights, permit polygamous marriage in accordance with personal or customary law. This violates the constitutional rights of women… (qtd. in ACLRC, 2004: 9). (Canadian blogger)

...when everyone who's anyone sees that enforced monogamy is actually a cartel among 90% of men to create peaceful stability at the immediate expense of 100% of women and 10% of men.

AB  2008     13 further

punctuated equilibria

Tonight, apparently I give enough fcuk about an Oxford learn...

Use of the serial comma can sometimes remove ambiguity. Consider an apocryphal book dedication: To my parents, Ayn Rand and God. *


The Times once published this description of a documentary: : "...highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector."

[via , sorta]

AB  2008     5 further

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