Macil's recent activity

  1. Comment on Is anyone here involved with Stack Exchange/Stack Overflow? How do you feel about the new moderator agreement? in ~talk

    Macil
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    I've found it hard to sympathize with the drama around the Monica firing since it had to do with her trying to play word games to avoid following the spirit of a rule about respecting trans...

    I've found it hard to sympathize with the drama around the Monica firing since it had to do with her trying to play word games to avoid following the spirit of a rule about respecting trans people's pronouns. I don't think it's too much for a site to select for moderators that will enthusiastically enforce and support their rules, and from the way you describe the new mod agreement, it sounds like they're looking for moderators that agree with that.

    I feel like there's some aspect I'm missing (is there a lack of precedent of SE introducing rules or actually enforcing them?), but even then, I still question people that choose to die on a hill against a rule about referring to a marginalized group how they want to be referred to.

    5 votes
  2. Comment on Fortnite: It's not coming back - The game of the generation in ~games

    Macil
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    I started reading, and I'm loving this article. It captures so much of what I love from the kind of multiplayer game that Fortnite is. I feel like I usually only see this kind of writing about...

    I started reading, and I'm loving this article. It captures so much of what I love from the kind of multiplayer game that Fortnite is. I feel like I usually only see this kind of writing about cinematic or quirky single-player games. Multiplayer games, especially anything containing in-app purchases, seem to always be written off as immature or fake experiences for children or mindless consumers that aren't worth examining. I previously watched the Folding Ideas video on Fortnite, and while it had neat parts, I had some quiet annoyance at its refusal to engage with the game. I realize I shared the author's criticisms of the video:

    Amidst these very real problems, a slew of less real ones infected talk of Fortnite. Typical among them was Folding Ideas’ video about Fortnite’s ‘manufactured discontent’. It begins with bad jokes and Tencent Chinese scaremongering and ends by calling Fortnite “a weaponized product targeted at kids”. Of course the children. Always the children.

    Dan Olson’s main claim is that Fortnite isn’t really a game; it’s a storefront. Which initially sounds smart, in that facile, thinkpiecey sort of way. And which just so happens to suit his form of distanced analysis that doesn’t require deep engagement with the actual game everyone is playing. It’s not even clear that he played the main battle royale game much during his month-long tour, given his arguments. Or given that all his video footage is taken from Team Rumble, a side game mode which is just a large scale deathmatch, not a battle royale.

    Like I find it interesting to see a video talking about the store aspects of the game, but personally I never really engaged with that aspect of the game, and it's tiring to see that as the aspect almost exclusively discussed of any game containing a storefront.


    Each of these scenes I come upon vibrates with occurrence, with incident. They feel different than the environmental storytelling of so many other videogames, the kind that Fortnite also excels at. No, here you follow the tracks of other players on the fly, without the aid of videogame vapor trails. You read the signs and try to imagine what must have gone down not days or years but minutes before. Yet in the end it usually proves too messy to fully reconstruct. It’s less carefully arranged dioramas and hamfisted graffiti and more crime scenes that cannot be solved. You look around and think: something definitely happened here. But you can’t be sure exactly what.

    For a while I found all the makeshift structures, the titular forts of Fortnite, ugly. They looked like mistakes out there on the field, plain goofs. Each prefab annex marred the rolling hills I wished to lose myself in. I held to my old taste for landscape, for its private meadows and illusion of permanence. My years in the open world trenches had taught me: even virtual landscapes can make you feel a little immortal.

    But over time, these awkward towers became more beautiful to me. They were not built to be beautiful, or even functional, really. They were built desperately. Without meticulous planning, in some space before conscious design, almost natural in their way. These elaborate vertical shanties that popped up all over Fortnite island were fossils of desperation, rickety monuments to our brief gaming lives. This was what happened when present needs dominated, when there was no real future to consider. This was the architecture of survival.

    I feel this a lot while playing Rust lately. Rust has some vague similarities to Fortnite in that there's building and constant danger from other players, though it has the difference that the world generally lasts for a week instead of a single ~30 minute match. People build bases to live in rather than build temporary structures for battles, so there's a lot more purpose and interaction to the structures. There's something really neat to encountering the structures and trying to guess whether they're still actively used or abandoned, whether they pose a threat or may provide cover, what intent the creator had, whether they can be broken into and stolen from or repurposed, and wondering what battles and stories once defined the structure.

    On multiple occasions in Rust, I've found a partially decayed base, rebuilt it to use as my own base, placing my own lockable doors on all the empty door frames, but found a pre-existing locked door from the previous owner that I was never able to open. There's something weird about inhabiting a player-made structure, half-made by you and filled with all of your stuff, defending it from others as your property, and yet still having a locked door in your home that you don't know what it leads to. It's like the common dream of finding a room in your house that you didn't know about.

    Still, I think of all the game worlds I’ve inhabited over the years and wonder why Fortnite feels so different. How does its world achieve such a powerful thereness? Why do I feel so attached to its landscapes? [...] Fortnite’s main battle royale competitors, Apex Legends and PUBG, do not have living worlds. [...]

    PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds at least has size and emptiness and awkward mechanics on its side for world feeling. But its world is dead. Whatever happened here, it happened in the unplayed past. It is, like so many videogames, fundamentally post. Not just post-apocalyptic or post-war but post-world. There is little evidence of life, of movement, of anyone passing. Time itself has been frozen, lost. The battle royale is the only present left.

    I've thought about this sort of thing a lot. In most games, the game map is something fixed, that was created through processes entirely separate from the gameplay sandbox sometime before the player ever arrives, and then is immutable. Literally, the game world is usually made long before you got the game by devs in a map editor, a thing that doesn't exist in gameplay to players. Canonically, the game world is created by people making buildings or even breaking things, sometime before the player arrived, and the player can never view that process in the act or contribute to it.

    Minecraft is interesting because it mostly removes that division. Almost any structure you find already placed in the world can be unmade, remade, or added on by you. There's no sense that the world mysteriously became immutable immediately prior to your arrival.

    Fortnite also avoids this feeling of the world suddenly becoming immutable prior to your arrival, not by letting you completely freely edit it with persistence like Minecraft, but by having constant updates changing the world. This technique seems uncommon outside of maybe some active MMOs.

    But I cannot return to Wailing Woods. It doesn’t matter what I do. The loss is permanent. Fortnite is remarkable not only in how giddily it adds to the island, but in how ruthlessly it subtracts. The game takes a radical attitude towards continuity and loss. One that embraces not the usual videogame smorgasbord, not player choice, not availability, but rather: finitude. These limits create a striking sense of lived history. Not only that what happened happened, but that some things are no longer happening. Some things are just plain gone.

    It wears on you. The more you play, the more you feel attached to some corner of the world, the more you have to lose when the end finally comes. If in Minecraft you domesticate space, block by block, then in Fortnite, loss by loss, time domesticates you. And part of me wants to be domesticated. I relish the loss of Wailing Woods. It’s so rare for a game to mark me this way, wound me, make me actually ache. I get so tired of exerting my vain will on a virtual world. I want to feel it work its will on me.

    This reminds me of playing Minecraft in hardcore difficulty, where dying once wipes your save file, or playing Rust and losing a base to an end-of-the-week level wipe or to raiders who steal it. It's an interesting feeling. It's stressful in the moment of course, but having that finality as a risk adds so much to the experience while playing. It's strange how rare the feeling still is in games.


    I've finished reading it now. I've really only touched on the first half of the essay. It starts talking about the structure of games overall, games criticism's failure to look beyond that, politics, philosophy of life... I thought I was just getting into an article delving into the fun of online games. A little melodramatic at parts (is Fortnite really all that different now that the island doesn't change in the same way?), but it's deeply invigorating. I see myself returning to this article often in the future, especially as I try to brainstorm about what games can be.

    A section I liked about "clockwork" vs "contingency"

    We forget, in part, because of how profoundly limited contingency is in actual games. Chance is not deeply felt. Consequences barely cascade. [...] Our brief gaming lives simply do not play out in multiple ways that matter. We win or we lose. We get one or two or three endings. We arrive at single prescribed conclusions ‘our way’, which generally amounts to what flair we pinned to our avatar. The vast ‘possibility space’ of videogames turns out to be a sham. It’s a space the size of a pencil box. So little is possible in the end. So little actually depends. [...]

    Except that Outer Wilds is also a clockwork world. Which is to say: it plays out the same way every time. Its solar system is an elaborate limited-solution puzzle box, and the only thing that changes is your understanding of how it works. It is in this way both solipsistic and hopeless. Not only can you affect nothing, nothing else can affect anything either. Its world is thus not simply dying — it’s already dead.

    You play in the already-over world of Outer Wilds and a coldness creeps in. No amount of campfires or wistful songs can warm a space so emotionally inert. The game speaks to an engineering mindset resigned to deterministic inevitability and tries to provide a kind of comfort in the flat melancholy of its mechanism. [...] It’s all just-for-you, this single-minded puzzle world. The only time it really comes alive is when your rickety ship overshoots or crashlands or is carried away by the tides. When something unexpected happens. When intention is accidentally refused its expected end.

    A clockwork world is the exact opposite of a contingent world. It is the rejection of possibility, the submission to certainty. And yet it’s completely common in games. Outer Wilds is just one of the purest, most deliberately crafted examples of a mentality that runs through so much of gaming. Videogames are filled with clockwork comforts, whether you play as a cog, a god, a kink, or a hero of time. Some can still be wonderful, but the limits are clear. There are only fixed roles to play and systemic destinies to fulfill.

    6 votes
  3. Comment on Does the ISS have any procedures in place for alien contact? in ~space

    Macil
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    Besides that it would be basically too improbable to worry about, I don't think there's much we could do that would really matter. Any civilization that meets us is going to be much more advanced...

    Besides that it would be basically too improbable to worry about, I don't think there's much we could do that would really matter. Any civilization that meets us is going to be much more advanced than us. For one thing, they must have developed interstellar space travel, but also, there's little reason to expect that their civilization is anywhere near as young as ours. We're a couple hundred years since the industrial revolution. It would be the world's biggest coincidence if they were also within hundreds or even thousands of years of the equivalent point in their history; they could be millions of years past that point! If they spent even a fraction of that improving and remaking themselves, then the difference between us could be like the difference between us and monkeys or ants. Whatever they want from the world might be utterly alien to us too; maybe if we're crazy lucky, they'd find us cute and harmless enough to let us keep going in a way we'd want to.

    I really like the short story Three Worlds Collide and the book Blindsight for their examples of how different alien life could be and how disruptive meeting it could be.

    3 votes
  4. Comment on Reddit releases their new content policy along with banning hundreds of subreddits, including /r/The_Donald and /r/ChapoTrapHouse in ~tech

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    I think it should be allowed for underrepresented groups to make limited spaces online explicitly for themselves depending on the circumstances. Excluding others is an extreme move, but it can be...

    I think it should be allowed for underrepresented groups to make limited spaces online explicitly for themselves depending on the circumstances. Excluding others is an extreme move, but it can be hard for underrepresented groups to find spaces of themselves to discuss their issues or culture, and it's important for groups to be able to have that. It can be hard for minority groups online to find spaces to discuss their perspectives on predominantly-white sites like Reddit without being absolutely overrun by well-meaning numbers of majority groups or even actively pushed back or subverted by hateful people. Majority groups like straight white men largely do not have that issue online, so the extreme move of exclusion would serve more as a statement about excluding for exclusion's sake rather than that benefit.

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that it's either okay for everyone, or it's not okay to do.

    I'm not operating from some absolute principle of "either exclusion is absolutely right or wrong in all circumstances" here, and I think it's harmful to do so. Whenever there's large negatives to exclusion, like especially if political power, influence, or networking opportunities were overwhelmingly concentrated in the exclusive space, then I don't think the space should be allowed to be exclusive.

    6 votes
  5. Comment on Reddit releases their new content policy along with banning hundreds of subreddits, including /r/The_Donald and /r/ChapoTrapHouse in ~tech

    Macil
    Link Parent
    It seems like they're reacting to the problems and criticism they faced specifically. It's not obvious to me that those are the same exact problems the US had when it listed out protected groups....

    Reddit clearly hasn't considered countries where people can be vulnerable and persecuted because of other beliefs, even if that belief is simply the belief in science-based medicine. [...] If the admins had just listed out US protected groups, they'd have veteran status in the mix.

    It seems like they're reacting to the problems and criticism they faced specifically. It's not obvious to me that those are the same exact problems the US had when it listed out protected groups. I haven't seen or heard the case of anti-veteran biases being a large problem on Reddit, so the lack of a rule about them isn't surprising.

    3 votes
  6. Comment on Reddit releases their new content policy along with banning hundreds of subreddits, including /r/The_Donald and /r/ChapoTrapHouse in ~tech

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    I imagine this is about weird ironic anti-white quips. Only a false equivalence exists between anti-black slurs and whatever passes as an anti-white slur. Stuff like anti-white comments largely...

    "the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority". So you can be as abusive as you like to people in a majority. Great!

    I imagine this is about weird ironic anti-white quips. Only a false equivalence exists between anti-black slurs and whatever passes as an anti-white slur. Stuff like anti-white comments largely doesn't reflect a systematic oppression of white people, so as a white person, I don't feel particularly offended at that sort of thing. I imagine attacks against your background impact a lot more when they correlate to bigoted positions held by society that have kept people of that specific background down for generations.

    This rule doesn't counteract other general rules about harassment that apply more universally.

    11 votes
  7. Comment on Create No-JavaScript friendly sites in ~comp

    Macil
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    I think it's useful to really emphasize that "no-javascript friendly sites" doesn't need to mean "no javascript". It just means your site needs to have its baseline functionality work without...

    I think it's useful to really emphasize that "no-javascript friendly sites" doesn't need to mean "no javascript". It just means your site needs to have its baseline functionality work without javascript running in the user's browser; it's fine to use javascript to provide extra functionality, or to make the functionality present in the HTML/CSS better. This is the principle of progressive enhancement.

    The principle of progressive enhancement isn't just about supporting the few users with javascript disabled. The principle means your site will also work before the javascript is loaded, and will continue to work if anything goes wrong with the javascript. Your site will become readable faster to users on slow or spotty connections, and if there are any problems with your javascript (like you accidentally relied on a very new feature that's not commonly supported in browsers, you didn't use a polyfill, and you only tested in one browser, and then a user visits with an incompatible browser), then things still mostly work.

    If you make a site built using React, you should do server-side rendering so that the each page's HTML contains the initial render of the page. The easiest way to do this is to use Next.js or Gatsby. You make your pages out of normal React components. The gotcha is that your React components won't ever have their useEffect/componentDidMount callbacks or any of their event handlers fire for users who don't load the page javascript. As long as your React components put out useful HTML in their initial render, as is good practice anyway, you should be fine.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on Microsoft to permanently close all of its retail stores, with locations in NYC, London, Sydney, and Redmond being converted to "experience centers" in ~tech

    Macil
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    Man I really liked swinging by the Microsoft store at the mall in SF, which is one of the ones closing. I brought my old xbox one there for repair once which was pretty convenient, and got my xbox...

    Man I really liked swinging by the Microsoft store at the mall in SF, which is one of the ones closing. I brought my old xbox one there for repair once which was pretty convenient, and got my xbox one x there. Admittedly I mostly just viewed the stuff there on my visits. Something about seeing all the different kinds of laptop and tablet demo units and everything else is fun.

    Not that I've been to the mall in months. Remember going to places? I guess I'll just watch a vaporwave mix video with mall footage again.

    3 votes
  9. Comment on Minecraft update 1.16 has been released in ~games

    Macil
    Link Parent
    Bedrock lets you buy custom skin packs and texture/asset packs in the main menu. Bedrock is pretty similar otherwise to the Java edition, besides that there isn't the same sort of rich multiplayer...

    Bedrock lets you buy custom skin packs and texture/asset packs in the main menu.

    Bedrock is pretty similar otherwise to the Java edition, besides that there isn't the same sort of rich multiplayer server ecosystem as the Java edition has, and the console versions of bedrock can't connect to arbitrary servers by address.

    9 votes
  10. Comment on Scott Alexander has deleted his Slate Star Codex blog due to the New York Times planning to reveal his real name in an article in ~misc

    Macil
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    Honestly I found those specific qualities about the protagonist in HPMOR inspiring. I've seen plenty of token "smart" characters in fiction that were just endlessly curious about everything to a...

    Honestly I found those specific qualities about the protagonist in HPMOR inspiring. I've seen plenty of token "smart" characters in fiction that were just endlessly curious about everything to a complete fault, that don't seem to have any end-goals besides reading, that don't have any revealing interactions with other characters about this, and have their main function be to deliver timely bits of conveniently relevant exposition through story contrivance. Most stories portray learning as something you're born interested in or not, and the interest in it is fundamentally mysterious and non-communicable to others. I loved the concept of a character flipping that stereotype and emphasizing learning as a pragmatic tool toward solving the world's problems, and seeing the decision process and discussions as they try to get there.

    Part of it is a similar sort of draw as hacker characters in media. They aren't just random information sponges, but they're doing very directed learning about systems so they can use those systems for their goals. It's not a plot hole if the story doesn't explain how exactly computers and hacking work; it's a plot hole if the character accomplishes things without the story emphasizing or explaining that they've put work into learning the skills.

    ... I don't mean for this to be a fully-general argument about the goodness of HPMOR. I loved it, but it's a real particular kind of story, and the protagonist starts out as a specific kind of smart-aleck brat that I think you need to have memories of being like as a kid to completely sympathize with. I think the worst quality of the story is that it waits so long before it starts showing bad consequences from some of his attitudes toward other people, but it does try to course-correct for that later on.

    I still have no idea how they could come up with Roko's basilisk and not see it as just a re-interpretation of Pascal's wager.

    I think that was eventually the popular opinion on it. I think the initial discussions of it were predictable if you viewed it through the lens of a community that was spending a ton of time dedicated to thinking about Newcomb-like problems, which are an interesting test case for possible decision theories.


    This is zooming in on a lot of old LessWrong stuff, but I wonder how much overlap there even is today between that and the modern SSC culture. I used to think SSC picked up most of its userbase from LW, but then I was surprised later on when I saw that a lot of people in SSC communities came from elsewhere. I think it might be reading too much into LW's flaws to blame them all for the current state of SSC's communities.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on Scott Alexander has deleted his Slate Star Codex blog due to the New York Times planning to reveal his real name in an article in ~misc

    Macil
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    It's super frustrating because exactly this was a huge part of the message that LessWrong (and its precursor OvercomingBias) focused on especially in the 2005-2010 period. But then post-2010, the...

    It's super frustrating because exactly this was a huge part of the message that LessWrong (and its precursor OvercomingBias) focused on especially in the 2005-2010 period. But then post-2010, the "rationalist sphere" outgrew LessWrong, and the ideas didn't take hold so much in the newer communities of later places like Slate Star Codex.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on Scott Alexander has deleted his Slate Star Codex blog due to the New York Times planning to reveal his real name in an article in ~misc

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    Are you talking about people using SneerClub? I imagine there's a couple main drives: people who were already obsessed with SSC content and had been posting on the main subreddit, but eventually...

    I'm wondering how anyone can keep up all that?

    Are you talking about people using SneerClub? I imagine there's a couple main drives: people who were already obsessed with SSC content and had been posting on the main subreddit, but eventually felt it was too hostile to left/progressive-leaning arguments and instead of entirely leaving just moved over to one that was more receptive to that. And then people like that, but who are burned out on the SSC sphere and are venting about that. And people who just love the idea of having agreed fair-game designated targets, not unlike cringe subreddits. I'm not confident what to make of it all.

    1 vote
  13. Comment on Scott Alexander has deleted his Slate Star Codex blog due to the New York Times planning to reveal his real name in an article in ~misc

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    I think there's a lot of content from the rationalist sphere that was great and worth holding onto (I've got some favorite SSC stuff, though I was more into the pre-SSC LessWrong; I'm a sucker for...

    I think there's a lot of content from the rationalist sphere that was great and worth holding onto (I've got some favorite SSC stuff, though I was more into the pre-SSC LessWrong; I'm a sucker for the old LessWrong sequences and still really recommend them, though it's probably only going to hook someone who is already really into thinking about AI). I think the sphere as a social sphere was poisoned in a way not too specific to it by people and some big figures following the anti-SJW spiral.

    I think I see the shift as similar to what the atheism/skeptic communities and a lot of gaming communities went through. Maybe the common feature between the groups was that they were all focused on some subject and generally learned the most from in-group people. Any random member probably knows more about the subject than any outsider, so an outsider that thinks they have something to teach you is seen as a delusional attacker. So when the internet increasingly went through a "we should pay attention to social justice issues because they exist online too" revolution, these groups treated it as attacks and doubled-down on whatever people in their in-group countered with. I imagine this could be prevented in a community that still focuses on the same subject by encouraging general political awareness at the same time instead of making the community be exclusively about the subject. I'm optimistic about the number of programming communities that decided to raise attention for BLM; I think establishing that groups can and should involve themselves with outside topics like that too may be an antidote for subject-focused groups' natural tendency of treating outside interference just as attacks.


    I've previously peeked at /r/SneerClub a couple times when I was seeking out the solace of knowing there were other people with criticisms like mine, and I did find a couple people making good criticisms along the same lines of my post... but wow a lot of the rest of that subreddit skips past that and goes into bullying like each public figure of the rationalist sphere over about every post they make including just random ones. I really worry that the volume of bad-faith attacks from that place trains people in the SSC sphere to expect that all criticism is similarly in bad-faith. I can't say I'm a fan. (EDIT: I've checked it out again, and honestly I am finding some really good stuff too. ... I dunno, there's a lot of old LW stuff that was fine and interesting, and I guess my criticism of RW goes for SneerClub too. There's a lot of strong criticism along the way, mixed with people just trying to spin anything related to it as uncool.)

    I do spend some time on /r/SubredditDrama, which is unrelated to the rationalist sphere, but I think it shares some common qualities with the few good parts of SneerClub: there's a lot of progressive arguments about the bad politics and atmospheres of various internet communities, but it mostly does it without persistently singling out specific people. It's got a few contrarian hivemind takes on a few subjects that drive me a little crazy, but it's generally on stuff of little consequence and doesn't devolve into person-obsessed bullying so it's not too bad.

    5 votes
  14. Comment on Scott Alexander has deleted his Slate Star Codex blog due to the New York Times planning to reveal his real name in an article in ~misc

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    Yeah, I think it's good for anyone reading RationalWiki to know that they tend to laser focus on specific things. It's not good if you're trying to get a feel for why someone is popular or who...

    Yeah, I think it's good for anyone reading RationalWiki to know that they tend to laser focus on specific things. It's not good if you're trying to get a feel for why someone is popular or who they are to their fans; it's more like a listing of the weird issues that someone has doubled-down on. It can be useful for finding quick references to terrible political positions someone has doubled-down onto and may be pushing onto others, but beyond that I feel like RW tries too hard to spin things into a connected narrative of "this is a bad and weird person, and their badness and weirdness are linked". (For one thing, RW specifically seems to have a hate-boner for the field of AI risk, including on his page. I don't mind and actually find it useful the way they break down the bad politics of some people involved in the field, but then RW presents the field itself in an extremely slanted way to get another point in against them.) I feel like RW is much more concerned with painting people as uncool rather than making more weighty political arguments, though it may have good bits of political arguments along the way.


    I'm someone who has followed Slate Star Codex and has been critical of Scott and the community he fosters before, so I guess I'll give my take here as a way of contextualizing the RW article for others. I don't think Scott's posts directly try to push terrible things -- the main content of his posts are often great (his article on The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind is a recent favorite of mine) -- but he has a grating habit of doing things like occasionally slipping in anti-SJW digs, and treating arguments against HBD (race science; think The Bell Curve, which he's positively brought up on many occasions; I feel obligated to link this video debunking it which I posted a partial summary of) as coming from regressive anti-science leftist ideology that shouldn't even be considered (I think this is a double-whammy, because not only is it ignoring the very shaky ground of HBD science, but even if it were valid, he resists making any effort to contextualize it in a socially responsible way). These things repeated enough mean that his own communities have long since either self-selected or adapted to be in agreement, and the points being made regularly as small details make it seem like a distraction if you try to argue against them.

    Consider this random bit at the end of an article:

    Here is a story I heard from a friend, which I will alter slightly to protect the innocent. A prestigious psychology professor signed an open letter in which psychologists condemned belief in innate sex differences. My friend knew that this professor believed such differences existed, and asked him why he signed the letter. He said that he expected everyone else in his department would sign it, so it would look really bad if he didn’t. My friend asked why he expected everyone else in his department to sign it, and he said “Probably for the same reason I did”.

    This example isn't trying to strongly make the case that there are innate sex differences or what their importance to society is or ought to be, but it leaves you with the idea that people arguing against innate sex differences (either existing or being important to society) are doing it for ideological or otherwise bad reasons that should be ignored. I feel like this is representative of how he usually engages with these issues.

    In another article, he more directly goes on about how "regressive leftism" is getting in the way of pure supposedly-unbiased science. The cross-section of social issues and science in his articles is practically always that the non-scientist SJWs are going out of their lane and trying to get in the way of pure scientific progress. He doesn't spend much time talking about problems with the science or the social context that makes it more consequential. I want to bring up another quote just to show how casually he reaches for this angle:

    After college I went about a decade without thinking about it. Then people started making fun of Alex Jones’ CHEMICALZ R TURNING TEH FROGZ GAY!!! shtick. I innocently said that this was definitely happening and definitely deserved our concern, and discovered that this was no longer an acceptable thing to talk about in the Year Of Our Lord Two Thousand And Whatever. Okay. Lesson learned.

    Of course he skips by the whole idea that Alex Jones' shtick is ridiculous because Alex Jones frames it as intentional and yet another part of the gay agenda. That part is worth laughing off. If you bring up the issue in context of and bundled with Alex Jones, then you're just being obtuse if you don't unambiguously separate out the issues. I feel like he's being obtuse about it here just to score another example of "the regressive left" ignoring science, and that this is par for the course for him.

    I think the way he avoids talking about the kinds of social issues around stuff like race science and discrimination leads to his communities treating it as the domain of the other tribe, the terrible SJWs. He'll reference neoreactionary people and politics casually, even if just to disagree with them, but in a way that establishes that he practically expects his readers to be familiar with it and that it's an acceptable subject in SSC spaces, but he'll stay far away from spending time on issues that are too progressive-coded and instead litter his posts with digs at SJWs. With all this, it's not surprising that his subreddits find it tremendously uncool to argue for left-leaning ideas but find ethnonationalists cool (ugh, I really wish I was kidding).

    24 votes
  15. Comment on Reddit starts an Ethereum scalability competition in order to launch Community Points (monetization of karma) site-wide in ~tech

    Macil
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    That's why they're doing this competition to find a layer 2 scaling strategy, so the token transfers aren't all regular on-chain transactions. The point of this is to not copy what Cryptokitties...

    That's why they're doing this competition to find a layer 2 scaling strategy, so the token transfers aren't all regular on-chain transactions. The point of this is to not copy what Cryptokitties did. Cryptokitties was bad for the network because it caused an absolute ton of regular on-chain transactions.

    Layer 2 scaling systems let you do transactions off-chain, but still with most of the important guarantees of on-chain transactions. A really simple layer 2 system to understand is payment channels: if you have two people sending money back and forth between each other regularly, then instead of making on-chain transactions, they could set things up so they can sign transactions and send the transactions directly to each other instead of to the blockchain. It works like an open tab at a bar: they tally up a running total, and then eventually close the tab as a single on-chain transaction that acts as the sum of all the off-chain transactions. If either tries to cheat the system by omitting some off-chain transactions, then the smart contract allows the other person to submit the missing off-chain transactions for a limited time, and the contract can right it and even penalize the cheater. Some layer 2 systems are an extension of this to multiple people, though some others work very differently.

    (It's also interesting to note that on-chain layer 1 transactions are going to get a huge scaling improvement with Ethereum 2.0 which introduces sharding, but that may be a few years away.)

    I'm happy that this event might cause layer 2 scaling systems to get some development and popularity, though I'm not really sure how much if at all the actual Reddit tokens make sense.

    9 votes
  16. Comment on Sam Harris - Can we pull back from the brink? in ~life

    Macil
    (edited )
    Link
    I haven't listened. I liked some of his stuff years and years ago, though more recently I've been disappointed by him on social issues and I don't think he engages with them effectively in good...

    I haven't listened. I liked some of his stuff years and years ago, though more recently I've been disappointed by him on social issues and I don't think he engages with them effectively in good faith.

    context

    Everything from him in his arguments with Ezra Klein about him platforming Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, was just nails on chalkboard. In every argument, Sam acts like the only social issue that matters is an academic like himself being criticized, and attacks a strawman as if the only reason you would disagree with him was because you didn't believe in the value of objective reality and you were biased by identity politics, unlike himself. I really can't get over that every time that Ezra says Sam is also being tribalistic, Sam just rebukes it with basically a plain "no I'm not, that's something only your tribe does. I don't do it with a guy I've explained I see similar to myself in how he faces criticism". The icing on the cake is that TBC was pretty bad science, which isn't that surprising given Murray's biases that Ezra pointed out and Harris ignored while explaining how Ezra's biases disqualified his position.

    In the context of those past issues, I found myself agreeing with Ezra here about Sam Harris:

    I think you're very sensitive to the possible cost of a backlash framed around what you would call political correctness and a lot less sensitive — which is what I keep coming back to — to the cost this idea has actually had for African Americans in this country throughout American history.

    If that still describes Sam Harris, I don't expect I have much to learn from him about the protests. I feel like I already have a good mental model of the centrist and anti-sjw takes on the protests. Maybe I'm not being very charitable here, but I wouldn't be surprised if he admits the high profile incidents are problems that should be dealt with individually, but says that the bigger problems are the tribalism of the people making this point, people throwing around accusations of racism, and people believing that these are systemic issues that could be solved generally. Maybe he'll bring up some good points along the way, but I expect he's going to have a very lopsided view of their importance relative to other things. I hope I'm off the mark here a bit, but I don't consider him to have a good track record in this area, and I'm leaning towards letting others evaluate this specific podcast.

    Also, I coincidentally saw this Twitter thread about the podcast in my timeline that seems to confirm some of my suspicions and bring up good criticisms.

    I know it's generally a faux pas to comment without reading the article, and especially rude for me to assert that it's okay for me to do that, but hopefully it helps that I did put some real effort into this comment that's relevant both to people who are or aren't listening to the podcast, and mine isn't the first comment made here so hopefully I haven't drowned out others who are more directly engaging with the material.

    7 votes
  17. Comment on Announcing sound null-safety for Dart in ~comp

    Macil
    Link Parent
    Lisp (or some dialects of it) seems to lean in to this, but it drives me crazy. It's weird that it pushes the convention of every function also working as a no-op. It works okay for simple...

    The other option, and one that I'm kind of surprised I haven't seen in more languages (or standard libraries, I guess), is accepting null as a perfectly valid input by default. Null goes in, null comes out - it doesn't cause exceptions because functions are expected to handle it gracefully.

    Lisp (or some dialects of it) seems to lean in to this, but it drives me crazy. It's weird that it pushes the convention of every function also working as a no-op. It works okay for simple functions that do nothing but use standard functions directly on their parameters, because then the function does nothing on receiving a null without any extra effort, but it's super awkward for functions that do some outside calls / side effects in addition to dealing with the parameters, because then you have to add explicit null-checks to make that function no-op on nulls too. I'd rather the system pushed a convention of failing fast (ideally at compile time, like what null-safety gets you) on unexpected nulls.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on Announcing sound null-safety for Dart in ~comp

    Macil
    Link
    Null-safety is killer. I consider null-safety a big part of type-safety, and I decided a few years ago to avoid picking up any new languages that don't consider it that way. I passed on Dart when...

    Null-safety is killer. I consider null-safety a big part of type-safety, and I decided a few years ago to avoid picking up any new languages that don't consider it that way. I passed on Dart when I saw it didn't have null-safety, but I could see myself happily choosing to pick it up now if I wanted to make a mobile app. Maybe I'll go read about Flutter.

    I've worked on a large (untyped) javascript codebase that was really sloppy with object types and nulls, and we eventually migrated it to Typescript (which has null-safety), which helped us fix and avoid tons of issues, especially around null-handling. At least for large codebases, I really swear by type-safe languages after that experience, but I found it disappointing that most other existing "type-safe" languages don't actually get you null-safety. A big part of the benefit in switching to Typescript was the null-safety. A typed language without null-safety just feels like a worst-of-both-worlds situation: you have to do the work of being explicit about types, but the system won't guarantee that any value is actually that type instead of null. A language with null-safety adds a tiny concept, and then the system fixes that guarantee and makes sure everyone is on the same page about where nulls can go.

    5 votes
  19. Comment on What programming/technical projects have you been working on? in ~comp

    Macil
    (edited )
    Link
    I saw a tweet thread with some silly UI ideas, so I decided to implement a few of them just for fun at https://macil.tech/lesser-hyperlinks/. I recently resurrected my old blog with a new tech...

    I saw a tweet thread with some silly UI ideas, so I decided to implement a few of them just for fun at https://macil.tech/lesser-hyperlinks/.

    I recently resurrected my old blog with a new tech stack, but until now, the actual content on it was just my boring ancient posts. I'm glad to get back into the habit of making little things and showing them off. Even just making that silly links page has already gotten me into the mindset of "what am I going to build next?". I feel thoroughly past the mental block of "even if I made something, where would I host it and how would I organize it in order to make it presentable?".

    Next I want to either make a simple multiplayer thing (maybe a toy chatroom or an online card game), or make a page where you can write and quickly test various prisoner's dilemma strategies against each other in a tournament (inspired by this LW post). I'm really obsessed with the idea of games where you can write code to control things in the world to help you, or create independent entities that go out in the world, and this PD tournament page would be small-scale project that works as good practice for the code-handling and UI parts.

    (Screeps is a game I love and find really interesting along these lines, though it's ironically more programmer-centric than my ideal game. I think my ideal game with code-writing abilities is a game with an economy, and maybe PvP aspects, like a Minecraft factions server / Rust / Eve, and players can trade or create objects with automation programmed into it by players. It would be fine for most players to never do any programming; to them, the benefit is that there's a wide-range of advanced player-programmed items that they can get, and the continual competition between the programmers selling items means a stream of new content and a continually-shifting meta. Player alliances might make bases/towns with standard automation kits, and larger alliances might have their own coder to customize the automation or make better automation than other alliances.)

    7 votes
  20. Comment on Tildes ReExtended is being taken down from the Chrome Web Store for supposedly breaking its policies in ~tildes