dredmorbius's recent activity

  1. Comment on Would the West actually be happier with less? The world downscaled (2003) in ~enviro

    dredmorbius
    Link Parent
    Cohousing can resemble this. Generally units have their own cooking/bathing facilities, but there are larger community kitchens for group events. Depending on the facility/community, these may be...

    Cohousing can resemble this. Generally units have their own cooking/bathing facilities, but there are larger community kitchens for group events. Depending on the facility/community, these may be frequent, even daily, occurrences.

    3 votes
  2. BOTI Science: Best of interval compilations, suggestions? Supporting trends identification

    Discussions of progress or collapse often get mired in the question of significant discoveries and inventions. After wrestling with several organisational cencepts for various catalogues, and...

    Discussions of progress or collapse often get mired in the question of significant discoveries and inventions. After wrestling with several organisational cencepts for various catalogues, and running into the Ever Growing List dilemma, I hit on what I call BOTI, or Best of the Interval (day, week, month, year, decade, century, etc.). It's similar to the tickler file 43 folder perpetual filing system of GTD. For technical types, a round-robin database or circular buffer.

    (As with my bullet journal experiments, the effort is uneven but recoverable, which is its core strength.)

    By setting up a cascade of buffers --- day of month, (optionally week or weekdays), month of year, year of decade, decade of century, century of millennium, millennium of 10kyr, a progressively larger scale record (roughly order-of-magnitude based), with a resolution of day but a maximum retention of (here) 10,000 years but only 83 record bins. How much you choose to put in each bin is up to you, but the idea is that only to most significant information is carried forward. Yes, some information is lost but total data storage requirements are known once the bin size and count are established.

    Another problem BOTI addresses is finite attention. If you limit yourself to a finite set of items per year, say ten to one hundred (about what a moderately motivated individual could be aware of), BOTI is a form of noise-filtering. Items which seemed urgent or captivating in the moment often fade in significance with time, and often overlooked element rise in significance with time and context. 'Let it settle with time" is a good cure to FOMO.

    There's the question of revisiting context. I'd argue that significance might be substantially revised years, decades, possibly centuries after a discovery or inventiion. So an end-of-period purge of all but the top items isn't what we're looking for. Gut a gradual forgetting / pruning seems the general idea.

    Back to science and technology: It's hard to assess significance in the moment, and day-to-day reports of science and technology advances are noisy. I've been looking for possible sources to use and am finding little that's satisfactory. I'd like suggestions.

    There is a goal here: trends over time. I've a few senses of directions of research and progress, possibly also of biases in awards. Looking at, for example, Nobels in physics, chemistry, and medicine from, say, 1901--1960 vs. 1961--2020, there seems to be a marked shift, though categorising that might be difficult. The breakpoint isn't necessarily 1960 either --- 1950 or 1940 might be argued for.

    There is the question of how to measure significance of scientific discoveries or technological inventions. I'm not going to get into that though several standard measures (e.g., counting patents issued) strike me as highly problematic, despite being common in research. Discussion might be interesting.

    Mostly, though, I'm looking for data sources.

    5 votes
  3. Comment on Could "fuzzing" voting, election, and judicial process improve decisionmaking and democratic outcomes? in ~misc

    dredmorbius
    Link Parent
    Fuzzed votes need not be anonymised. The anonymous vote has value for the electorate, to avoid vote buying or selling. Though fuzzing itself is at least a partial protection against this. For...

    Fuzzed votes need not be anonymised.

    The anonymous vote has value for the electorate, to avoid vote buying or selling. Though fuzzing itself is at least a partial protection against this.

    For representatives or judges, selectively dropping votes is one method already practiced, in Olympic figure skating, for example:

    12 judges evaluated each skater, but only nine of those votes, selected at random, actually counted towards the final tally (the ancient Athenians judged drama competitions in a similar way). Figure skating is a notoriously corrupt sport, with judges sometimes forming blocs that support each other’s favoured skaters. In theory, a randomised process makes it harder to form such alliances. A tit-for-tat arrangement, after all, doesn’t work as well if it’s unclear whether your partners will be able to reciprocate.

    From TFA.

    For elected reepresentatives, all votes could be recorded but only a subset selected. Again, at random.

    1 vote
  4. Comment on Can you write ad-blocker rules to essentially blacklist mention of certain people? in ~comp

    dredmorbius
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    Yes, generally, though how and with what effect depends on the site, content, markup, and tools used. If an attribute referencing an author is included, you can block that element and all children...

    Yes, generally, though how and with what effect depends on the site, content, markup, and tools used.

    If an attribute referencing an author is included, you can block that element and all children using a simple CSS stylesheet rule. Say (assuming these properties are defined):

    div.dredmorbius, [author~="dredmorbius"] { display: none !important; }
    

    CSS doesn't (presently) allow for referencing containing elements, so if the author-defining attributes were within the content you wanted to obscure, you're out of luck.

    CSS also doesn't enable display manipulation based on the actual non-attribute content of a Web page, so you couldn't, say, block any mention of blockword within a text, or all pages referencing same.

    Some "content controls" tools provide this capability. They're usually aimed at parents, schools, or workplaces blocking or modifying (rewriting) websites based on domain, contents, keywords, or other inicia. Increased use of HTTPS (encrypted) transports makes this harder.

    Custom Javascript can change virtually any element of a webpage (a reason cross-site javascript is so dangerous), though I'm not a practitioner.

    All methods will tend to be highly site-specific.

    4 votes
  5. Comment on In 1978, a photographer at a Birmingham lab fell ill with smallpox, prompting a race against time to prevent an epidemic. Does the outbreak carry lessons for Covid-19? in ~health

  6. Comment on This is Neoliberalism in ~humanities

    dredmorbius
    Link Parent
    Thanks for posting this --- long and dry, perhaps, but fact-filled, relevant, and accurate based on my prior knowledge. The introduction led me to suspect the piece would be highly slanted. It's...

    Thanks for posting this --- long and dry, perhaps, but fact-filled, relevant, and accurate based on my prior knowledge.

    The introduction led me to suspect the piece would be highly slanted. It's critical, but reasonably so.

    11 votes
  7. Comment on Could "fuzzing" voting, election, and judicial process improve decisionmaking and democratic outcomes? in ~misc

    dredmorbius
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    There are a few points at play, and as I dive into Schulson's sources and revisit the court-reform proposals several are addressed there: Fuzzed voting means that any given majority is not itself...

    There are a few points at play, and as I dive into Schulson's sources and revisit the court-reform proposals several are addressed there:

    • Fuzzed voting means that any given majority is not itself absolute. Odds for "leakages" to the minority exist. This is a feature.
    • Because any one vote's significance is reduced, the benefits of motivated vote-gaming, whether within a given body or within a public electorate at large, is reduced. Put inversely: the cost of vote manipulation is increased by the fraction of votes sampled. If only 1 in 2 votes are counted, costs of vote-manipulation double. If 1:10, they increase tenfold.
    • Because control is more likely to switch among factions, the appeal to any one faction of instituting structural or rules changes which disadvantage or neutralise the minority is reduced: they will very likely be the minority themselves on occasion. This argument is strongly similar to John Rawls's "Veil of Ignorance".
    • The value of "stacking" institutions (notably the judiciary) would have reduced appeal. Presently, an appointment, especially to the Supreme Court, affects its structure for 5--10 years, and can result in individual tenures of 20--30 years. The wins make selections highly significant. Reducing the stakes, through enlargement, random selection of panels to individual cases, and other mechanisms, would preserve the capabilities and functions of the court while reducing is partisan utility. Again, manipulation costs are strongly increased while effects are reduced.
    • Institutionally, the power of extreme outlier factions is reduced relative to the median. If, say, 1:10 votes are sampled, the odds that a 10% fringe vote is selected at all is only 1:10. The result might be an impact on individual votes, but not a persistent and reliable influence on a given body or electorate.
    • Institutionally, dynamics amplifying partisanship themselves should, I hope, be reduced. Currently, such dynamics tend to be self-feeding. Under a sortition system, median voices should be more prominent, the returns to extremism less positive, and stability more attractive.

    There are some possible negatives:

    • Large-scale change or rapid adaptation might be reduced. If a minority group is considered one example of a "fringe" its ability to influence policy through coalition politics might be reduced. Likewise adaptation to a rapidly-evolving period of change. Neither seem especially well-supported by the status quo.
    • Minority "third parties" --- typically Greens or Libertarians in the US --- wouldn't see any particular benefit. Some thing like @nacho's "leveling seats" proposal would be required for them to see representation.
    • Antidemocratic natures of institutions such as the Electoral College would still largely remain, though might be somewwhat blunted.

    Unlike vote-levelling, though, vote fuzzing achieves reduced partisanship through a procedural rather than structural change. I see fuzzing as a more generalised solution.

    I've been vague about just how "fuzzed" votes should be. I'm not sure, and possibilities range from drawing a single ballot from a cast set (this resembles the original Greek method -- counting all votes was far more difficult), to drawing a sample of cast votes. With a true random sample the accuracy of an estimator is almost entirely independent of sample size. For a fuzzing operation, smaller samples would be preferable in the sense of increasing randomness. Generally, "large sample" statistics begin at a sample size of 30, or n=30. With a history of votes, it's possible to model possible alternative outcomes through Monte Carlo modeling: repeatedly re-running the election by selecting different subsets of the reported cast vote. The number of times subsets of given votes differ from the total count shows the level of random fuzzing.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on Could "fuzzing" voting, election, and judicial process improve decisionmaking and democratic outcomes? in ~misc

    dredmorbius
    Link Parent
    How are the two non-balloted at-large seats chosen?

    How are the two non-balloted at-large seats chosen?

  9. Could "fuzzing" voting, election, and judicial process improve decisionmaking and democratic outcomes?

    Voting is determinative, especially where the constituency is precisely known, as with a legislature, executive council, panel of judges, gerrymandered electoral district, defined organisational...

    Voting is determinative, especially where the constituency is precisely known, as with a legislature, executive council, panel of judges, gerrymandered electoral district, defined organisational membership. If you know, with high precision, who is voting, then you can determine or influence how they vote, or what the outcome will be. Which lends a certain amount of predictability (often considered as good), but also of a tyranny of the majority. This is especially true where long-standing majorities can be assured: legislatures, boards of directors, courts, ethnic or cultural majorities.

    The result is a very high-stakes game in establishing majorities, influencing critical constituencies, packing courts, and gaming parliamentary and organisational procedures. But is this the best method --- both in terms of representational eqquity and of decision and goverrnance quality?

    Hands down the most fascinating article I've read over the past decade is Michael Schulson's "How to choose? When your reasons are worse than useless, sometimes the most rational choice is a random stab in the dark", in Aeon. The essay, drawing heavily on Peter Stone, The Luck of the Draw: The Role of Lotteries in Decision Making (2011), which I've not read, mostly concerns decisions under uncertainty and of the risk of bad decisions. It seems to me that it also applies to periods of extreme political partisanship and division. An unlikely but possible circumstance, I'm sure....

    Under many political systems, control is binary and discrete. A party with a majority in a legislature or judiciary, or control of the executive, has absolute control, barring procedural exceptions. Moreover, what results is a politics of veto power, where the bloc defining a controlling share of votes effectively controls the entire organisation. It may not be able to get its way, but it can determine which of two pluralities can reach a majority. Often in favour of its own considerations, overtly or covertly --- this is an obvious engine of corruption.

    (This is why "political flexibility" often translates to more effective power than a hardline orthodoxy.)

    One inspiration is a suggestion for US Supreme Court reform: greatly expand the court, hear more cases, but randomly assign a subset of judges to each case.[1] A litigant cannot know what specific magistrates will hear a case, and even a highly-packed court could produce minority-majority panels.

    Where voting can be fuzzed, the majority's power is made less absolute, more uncertain, and considerations which presume that such a majority cannot be assured, one hopes, would lead to a more inclusive decisionmaking process. Some specific mechanisms;

    • All members vote, but a subset of votes are considered at random. The larger the subset, the more reliably the true majority wins.
    • A subset of members votes. As in the court example above.
    • An executive role (presidency, leader, chairmanship) is rotated over time.
    • For ranged decisions (quantitative, rather than yes/no), a value is selected randomly based on weighted support.

    Concensus/majority decisionmaking tends to locked and unrepresentitive states. Fuzzing might better unlock these and increase representation.


    Notes

    1. A selection of articles on Supreme Court reforms and expansion, from an earlier G+ post: https://web.archive.org/web/20190117114110/https://plus.google.com/104092656004159577193/posts/9btDjFcNhg1 Also, notably, court restructuring or resizing has been practiced: "Republicans Oppose Court Packing (Except When They Support It)".
    14 votes
  10. Comment on Can economic growth last? in ~enviro

    dredmorbius
    (edited )
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    No, it cannot. Tom Murphy is an excellent source. Those interested in further reading may want to look at: Meadows et al, Limits to Growth, and its follow-ups. The beginning of the modern limits...
    • Exemplary

    No, it cannot.

    Tom Murphy is an excellent source.

    Those interested in further reading may want to look at:

    Meadows et al, Limits to Growth, and its follow-ups. The beginning of the modern limits discussion. Online copy.

    William Ophuls, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity. The first part is an elegant and concise argument and explanation of the Limits to Growth thesis, the second an exploratiion of the political implications. Written in the 1970s, many of its projections have been born out quite accurately. Includes an excellent bibliography.

    William R. Catton, Jr., Overshoot.

    Catton suggests that we cannot stop the tidal wave of growth - for we have already overshot the Earth's capacity to support so huge a load. He contradicts those scientists, engineers, and technocrats who continue to write optimistically about energy alternatives. Catton asserts that the technological panaceas proposed by those who would harvest from the seas, harness the winds, and farm the deserts are ignoring the fundamental premise that "the principals of ecology apply to all living things." These principles tell us that, within a finite system, economic expansion is not irreversible and population growth cannot continue indefinitely. If we disregard these facts, our sagging American Dream will soon shatter completely. UIP.

    Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies.

    [S]ocieties become more complex as they try to solve problems. Social complexity can be recognized by numerous differentiated and specialised social and economic roles and many mechanisms through which they are coordinated, and by reliance on symbolic and abstract communication, and the existence of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production. Such complexity requires a substantial "energy" subsidy (meaning the consumption of resources, or other forms of wealth). Wikipedia.

    Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

    This book employs the comparative method to understand societal collapses to which environmental problems contribute. ... I compare many past and present societies that differed with respect to environmental fragility, relations with neighbors, political institutions, and other "input" variables postulated to influence a society's stability. The "output" variables that I examine are collapse or survival, and form of the collapse if collapse does occur. Prologue, via Wikipedia.

    Daniel Yergin, The Prize. A masterwork history of oil by a true believer, but one which also conveys just how transformative peetroleum was in making the moderrn world.

    Vaclav Smil, Energy In World History History told through the lens of energy.

    David Christian, Big History.

    Big History is an academic discipline which examines history from the Big Bang to the present. Big History resists specialization, and searches for universal patterns or trends. It examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities, and explores human existence in the context of this bigger picture. It integrates studies of the cosmos, Earth, life, and humanity using empirical evidence to explore cause-and-effect relations. Wikipedia

    5 votes
  11. Comment on Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of November 16 in ~health.coronavirus

    dredmorbius
    (edited )
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    More evidence that Covid Winter will be extraordinarily bad: The National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) National Trends shows the past two years' history of four...

    More evidence that Covid Winter will be extraordinarily bad: The National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) National Trends shows the past two years' history of four non-COVID-19 coronaviruses. These start to appear in testing around mid-October, peak from late December to April, and fade by late-May to June.

    This suggests that the January-April emergence of COVID-19 actually occurred about halfway through the peak season, attenuating spread compared to a full-length outbreak.

    More evidence comes when looking at South American and African data. For much of the period June through September, South America performed conspicuously poorly for COVID spread. This increasingly looks like a wintertime peak.

    Africa as a whole has been relatively spared, and hasn't shown a strong seasonal trend. But Africa also spans both Northern and Southern hemispheres. Southern Africa generally, and the country that has seen the largest outbreak, South Africa, also seems to show a winter peak. Cases are now trending high in Morocco, in North Africa.

    The other southern region, Oceania, has fared well, though again Australia’s peak spans winter.

    European cases began rising notably in September. A friend teaching at university in the UK has been posting regular updats and as of early October was showing cases doubling every two days --- relatively low numbers, but it's the growth rate that matters. More broadly, cases started rising noticeably September--October. This was about 4--8 weeks ahead of the US rise, and in both cases more northerly regions seem first affected.

    If this is accurate, then we may well be on the cusp of an extraordinarily bad Covid Winter, with infection peaks occurring in February--March.

    Interventions, including lockdowns, masks, and vaccines (available likely March--June) should help, but this looks like it's going to be quite bad, with peak infection and death rates 4-8 times levels being seen possible.

    The good news is that European case growth has slowed, flattened, or declined in many countries, for now. Quarantine does in fact work. But there's six months between now and June.

    13 votes
  12. Comment on Social app Parler apparently receives funding from the conservative Mercer family in ~tech

    dredmorbius
    Link Parent
    Keep in mind that there is a wide range of reportable user and activity statistics. Ten million registered users is not active users (generally given by day, week, or month), or stronger metrics...

    Keep in mind that there is a wide range of reportable user and activity statistics. Ten million registered users is not active users (generally given by day, week, or month), or stronger metrics such as time-on-site. It turns out that most peoples' days have only 24 hours, and media patterns are both rivalrous and immensely prone to power curve / Zipf function usage distributions.

    Ten million registered users is roughly what Ello could claim (my back-of-the-envelope calculation, largely confirmed by Ello staff at the time). Growth rate matters, and Parler claims a near-weekly doubling, which could get large fast.

    And of registered users, the 90-9-1 rule tends to hold, if not more extremely: about 90% of members lurk, 9% post occasionally, 1% are highly active. (For Google+, the "1%'" were actually about 0.15%.) Ten million registered is at most 100k actives, likely far less.

    On the other hand, rapidly-growing social networks start experiencing severe hygiene and sanitation problems, likely the more so in current environments. Span, distraction, and attacks are highly likely, possibly from motivated parties.

    Parler might become the next 4chan / 8kun, a breeding ground for hate and fascist thought. Quite less likely the next Facebook or Twitter.

    7 votes
  13. Comment on Deutsche Bank suggests 5% tax on home workers to support those impacted by the pandemic in ~finance

    dredmorbius
    Link Parent
    Corporations are as real as any other human construct. People ... and corporations ... create corporations to shelter assets, income, payments, and other financial activities and properties. Where...

    Corporations are as real as any other human construct.

    People ... and corporations ... create corporations to shelter assets, income, payments, and other financial activities and properties. Where the underlying owners are obscure and the corporation itself more evident and taxable, tax the corp directly.

    3 votes
  14. Comment on Deutsche Bank suggests 5% tax on home workers to support those impacted by the pandemic in ~finance

    dredmorbius
    (edited )
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    DB, as with all banks, makes money via loans, which are enabled by assets. Real estate, to banks, is a major asset class, and among if not the largest. Any decrease in asset valuation, unanswered...

    DB, as with all banks, makes money via loans, which are enabled by assets.

    Real estate, to banks, is a major asset class, and among if not the largest. Any decrease in asset valuation, unanswered by Central Bank or policy response, reduces banks' loan-making capabilities.

    The Covid / Post-Covid work-from-home / remote-work revolution threatens office, commercial, and residential real estate investment values.

    A tax on home-workers would tend to reverse these impacts, and is transparently self-serving to DeutscheBank.

    This is a horrendous idea. Idle wealth and assets should be taxed, not productive activity.

    9 votes