onyxleopard's recent activity

  1. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    The fact that Google’s free services are so convenient is part of why I don’t like them. Google is able to offer a good service for free because they are exploiting users of their customers. If...

    The fact that Google’s free services are so convenient is part of why I don’t like them. Google is able to offer a good service for free because they are exploiting users of their customers. If it’s not free manual annotation of text or images to fuel their machine learning models, it’s getting you to stay logged into your Google account so they can track your use of the web and gather data on you. This is normalization of exploitation.

    7 votes
  2. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    Putting a gate on sequential posts from one source is fine. I don’t see how this effectively prevents a bot net, though, which is exactly what any serious spam operation is going to use.

    Putting a gate on sequential posts from one source is fine. I don’t see how this effectively prevents a bot net, though, which is exactly what any serious spam operation is going to use.

    4 votes
  3. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    I’m sorry if I’m not catching what you’re throwing, but are you saying a block chain will solve this problem? How?

    I’m sorry if I’m not catching what you’re throwing, but are you saying a block chain will solve this problem? How?

    2 votes
  4. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    No, the immoral aspects of Google’s service are: Lack of recourse for false positives (I.e., being falsely classified as a bot when you’re human) Increased pressure to create a Google account to...

    No, the immoral aspects of Google’s service are:

    1. Lack of recourse for false positives (I.e., being falsely classified as a bot when you’re human)
    2. Increased pressure to create a Google account to reduce the likelihood of being falsely identified as a bot

    I’m not saying I have a better solution—reCaptchas seem like a necessary evil, and the more bits Google has as input to their classifier, the more accurate they can be. But, the idea that Google is possibly using their position to pressure people into creating Google accounts in order to prove they are humans is problematic.

    6 votes
  5. Comment on You (Probably) Don't Need ReCAPTCHA in ~tech

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    It’s not wrong from a technical point of view. It’s wrong from an ethical point of view. If the notion of personhood ends up conflated with whether you have a personal Google account (and are...

    It’s not wrong from a technical point of view. It’s wrong from an ethical point of view. If the notion of personhood ends up conflated with whether you have a personal Google account (and are logged into it), I think that is wrong (in the moral sense).

    23 votes
  6. Comment on Diminishing differentiation: Are all our gadgets making each other redundant? in ~tech

    onyxleopard (edited ) Link
    It’s interesting how this piece drags in a lot of the history of Apple’s touch-screen computing devices but doesn’t inform the reader of some of the history of their development. Jobs noted at one...

    It’s interesting how this piece drags in a lot of the history of Apple’s touch-screen computing devices but doesn’t inform the reader of some of the history of their development. Jobs noted at one of the All Things Digital conferences that Apple’s R&D had been working on a touchscreen tablet in the mid 2000s before it started working on a phone handset. It ended up releasing the iPhone before the iPad because driving a high resolution, color touchscreen display at a reasonable frame rate in 2007 was infeasible. If you ever used one of the first gen iPads, I think you’ll agree that even in 2010, Apple was just barely hitting the mark for acceptable performance.

    Today is a different story, and I have to say that the 2018 iPad Pro has convinced me that the tablet form factor is going to have legs. I have owned several Mac laptops, starting with the Aluminum Powerbook G4 through to a 2018 Touch Bar MacBook Pro (issued from work) and my personal laptop which is a 2017 MacBook (yes, one of those ones running an Intel Core M). In the past I’ve used previous iterations of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines.

    The thing about laptops is that I’ve never been confident enough with them to do sustained compute tasks. If you try to do anything intensive with them, they begin to throttle. It is abundantly clear that even with active fan cooling and passive aluminum enclosures, portable computers are hampered by the physics of heat dissipation.

    This is actually what piqued my interest in the 2017 MacBook, which has no active cooling. I picked it up at launch with the intent to use it as 'dumb' terminal to ssh into my iMac. This works very well, and I don’t have to worry about any fans wearing out. Fans and spinning HDD platters are the first thing to fail on any laptop I’ve used. Some people don’t like the 'butterfly' keyboard switches, but it works well enough for me. But, the extent to which I taxed that machine was at most streaming some HD video over WiFi. Intel’s integrated GPU is able to handle that perfectly fine. I like that machine, and can easily hack away at some Python on it, check email etc. If I need more oomph, I can access it over a network.

    This brings me to the 2018 iPad Pro. However serviceable the Intel Core M in my MacBook is, the SoC in the iPad Pro is on another level. The iPad Pro feels like it’s not even breaking a sweat. Granted, iOS isn’t exactly primed to do hardcore compute tasks like transcoding big, high res video, or compiling a large software project. But, I think the day will come when Apple unleashes their SoCs to do that (or maybe puts them in a MacBook). What I have to say is that if I pair the iPad with a bluetooth keyboard and enter a remote desktop session to my iMac, I wonder if it would be more efficient if Apple would just let the iPad run macOS itself. Synthetic benchmarks have their flaws, but if I run GeekBench 4 on my late 2017 5k iMac and 2018 11" iPad Pro, here are the results:

    GeekBench Version OS Version Hardware Model CPU Single-Core CPU Score Multi-Core CPU Score Compute Score (Metal)
    4.3.4 macOS 10.14.5 iMac17,1 Intel Core i7-6700K 4,943 16,257 84,433
    4.3.2 iOS 12.3.1 iPad8,3 Apple A12X Bionic 5,006 18,020 42,805

    My iMac is actually significantly more compute than I really need. And it’s already 'old' by technology standards, draws massively more power and requires a lot of active cooling if I give it a decent workload. My takeaway here is that a fanless, battery-powered Apple tablet, either today, or in the near future, is going to be such a capable computer that the notion that it would be inferior to other devices at anything would only be the fault of the software. The hardware is already approaching more compute than I will regularly take advantage of. I realize that some use-cases such as heavy media production, simulation, and bleeding edge video games will still be hungry for more, esp. on the GPU front, but I’m basically satisfied. If Apple puts more effort in making iOS capable, I could potentially see myself using an iPad for most of my computing needs. That is something I would never have thought I’d say even a year ago.

    I was highly skeptical of the iPad as a platform and tablets as a general device archetype in the past. I had been exposed to Apple eMates back in elementary school. I had played with my mom’s Palm organizer in the late 90s/early 00s. I went and tried the demo units of each iPad when they released. These things were barely passable as something that felt like a responsive computer. And, the styluses were on these things felt like gimmicks.

    When I tried the 2018 iPad Pro, something was different. These things are finally getting to the point where I think there’s a credible case that a tablet computer can be a viable and legitimate form factor as a laptop replacement for some people. I don’t think most people who have to type more than 10 words at a time will ever be comfortable with a mobile handset as their only computer that they take with them, but I think that if you’re willing to throw a tablet and a bluetooth keyboard in your bag, an iPad may be a workable alternative at this point for some. That’s really unexpected to me—it really feels like living in the future.

    3 votes
  7. Comment on YouTube without all the crap? in ~tech

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    This has some kind of built-in content classifier that will not show all content. E.g., I tried to watch the latest episode of Contrapoints and am told that:

    This has some kind of built-in content classifier that will not show all content.

    E.g., I tried to watch the latest episode of Contrapoints and am told that:

    We're sorry, but the requested video cannot be shown.
    It has been deemed inappropriate for families under our Watchkin Smart Mode policy.
    If you think this is a mistake, please let us know.

    1 vote
  8. Comment on A dictionary with expressive definitions unlike those anywhere else in ~humanities

    onyxleopard Link
    I thought this was a good read. I’ll point out that thesauruses and dictionaries needn’t be conflated. If you’re looking to learn more about words and their semantic relations to one another, I...

    I thought this was a good read. I’ll point out that thesauruses and dictionaries needn’t be conflated. If you’re looking to learn more about words and their semantic relations to one another, I find the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus is a good resource (as the article indicates, they looked in the macOS Dictionary.app, and it includes this resource which can be installed from Apple alongside the OED, as well as resources for many other natural languages besides English, but not Webster’s, unfortunately). I learned recently (independently from this post) that Apple’s Dictionary.app is actually user-extensible (you’re not limited to the dictionaries that Apple bundles and offers for download from it’s preferences)!

    Some resources I’ve come across relating to people adding custom dictionary resources include:

    1. This Language Log post.
    2. This Stack Exchange post which references a Python utility that supports converting between several machine-readable dictionary formats including ones supported by Dictionary.app.

    If anyone knows of other such resources that would be fantastic to know about. Dictionaries are such precious lexical resources that I think organizing them and standardizing their formats to be both machine and human readable, putting them under version control etc. is something that would be cool to get more involved with, but I’m not sure what kinds of projects are already underway nor how to get involved without devoting too much time I don’t have at the moment.

    6 votes
  9. Comment on Spotted: A Swarm Of Ladybugs So Huge, It Showed Up On National Weather Service Radar in ~news

    onyxleopard Link
    Reminds me of the curious proliferation and equally curious apparent extinction of the Rocky Mountain Locust. It’s scary when ecologists tell us we’re loving through a mass extinction. But, nature...

    Reminds me of the curious proliferation and equally curious apparent extinction of the Rocky Mountain Locust. It’s scary when ecologists tell us we’re loving through a mass extinction. But, nature is also just strange in so many ways, and we really don’t know enough about ecosystems and anthropogenic effects on them. It’s possible this is just ‘natural’.

    3 votes
  10. Comment on What is your favourite programming language? in ~comp

    onyxleopard Link
    'Python' * 10 ** 3
    'Python' * 10 ** 3
    
    3 votes
  11. Comment on Epistemic Learned Helplessness in ~misc

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    Yes! (Well more precisely if arguments are sound.) You can scoff and call me a pedant if you like, but it’s an important distinction. I addressed this, but I’ll reiterate. If you can’t determine...

    So what, the author should have discussed whether "conclusions were sound" instead of whether "arguments were true"?

    Yes! (Well more precisely if arguments are sound.) You can scoff and call me a pedant if you like, but it’s an important distinction.

    I feel like in all your time spent nitpicking the author's vocabulary, you're missing the author's big point that it's often hard to tell whether an argument is sound. No one is perfectly rational and always capable of judging the soundness of arguments perfectly.

    I addressed this, but I’ll reiterate. If you can’t determine if an argument is sound, it’s not rational to believe its conclusion based merely on that argument in a vacuum. You may still believe or disbelieve the conclusion based on other arguments, though. I don’t think this is as profound as the author makes it out to be. This is very basically rational skepticism, and they could have coherently advocated this position if they had bothered not to bloviate and use logical terminology correctly.

    In regular life, arguments don't come with a label that tells you whether it's valid or sound.

    That’s the whole point of reasoning about arguments! To try to determine their validity and soundness! If you don’t agree with someone’s conclusion, the rational response is to determine (for yourself if no one else), what the flaw in their argument is. If it’s not an important issue, maybe you will just ignore it. That’s fine! As long as you’re aware that you’re you’re ignoring an argument, there’s no problem. However, if it’s an important argument to you, the rational response is to identify either a logical error (point out the argument as invalid), or identify the premises you don’t believe.

    This is actually related to a strategy that bad-faith actors will try to employ: they will offer many, many unsound arguments for a position and then claim ‘victory’ if you don’t point out the flaws in all their logic or premises. This is a sort of ‘denial of service’ attack on the rational mind. The thing to keep in mind is that it is not rational to accept an argument on its face. As you said it may not always be clear if an argument is sound. The simple response is to not accept every argument you come across on its face.

    If that was the author’s point (I interpreted a slightly more subtle one about subjective qualities of arguments that make them appealing), it’s pretty obvious to most people. There’s also a distinction between arguments and mere propositions. You also shouldn’t accept non-obvious propositions on their face without supporting evidence. This is the common sense notion of “don’t believe everything you hear”. This is also related to rational skepticism. Since the author explicitly introduced the term ‘argument’, which has a specific meaning, I interpreted them as not intending to make that much more trivial point.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on Epistemic Learned Helplessness in ~misc

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    Yes, I think there is a metaphor of 'argument as contest' that many naively adopt that leads to this kind of unproductive exchange. I find productive argumentation enlightening because I assume...

    Yes, I think there is a metaphor of 'argument as contest' that many naively adopt that leads to this kind of unproductive exchange. I find productive argumentation enlightening because I assume that I don’t know everything. If you come from a position where you don’t want to be enlightened, but rather remain entrenched in your current beliefs, arguing is probably exhausting.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Epistemic Learned Helplessness in ~misc

    onyxleopard (edited ) Link
    This is an absurd level of confidence coming from someone who doesn’t even seem to have a basic grasp of logic. I found this piece so problematic that I felt motivated to methodically dissect it....

    I don’t think I’m overselling myself too much to expect that I could argue circles around the average uneducated person. Like I mean that on most topics, I could demolish their position and make them look like an idiot. Reduce them to some form of “Look, everything you say fits together and I can’t explain why you’re wrong, I just know you are!” Or, more plausibly, “Shut up I don’t want to talk about this!”

    This is an absurd level of confidence coming from someone who doesn’t even seem to have a basic grasp of logic. I found this piece so problematic that I felt motivated to methodically dissect it.

    I'll preface by saying that if you found this piece off-putting, but did not feel equipped to rationally pick it apart, I recommend starting with Reason and Argument. I linked to Amazon only because of convenience—you can probably find it at your local library or used book store as it’s a commonly used textbook for undergraduate philosophy courses.

    Terminology of Logical Argumentation

    Let’s begin with a primer on logical argumentation terminology because the author of this post doesn’t understand the terms they are bandying around, and they are essential to providing clarity on the matters that are discussed:

    Premise: A statement or proposition that is used in an argument to justify a conclusion. Premises have a truth value: true or false.

    Conclusion: The part of an argument that is intended to be proven by the argument’s premises. A conclusion also has a truth value: true or false.

    Argument: A series of premises and a conclusion. The premises are understood to be intended to justify the conclusion.

    Validity: An argument is valid if, and only if, it is impossible for the argument’s premises to all be true, but the conclusion be false. That is, the conclusion in a valid argument is entailed by its premises.

    Soundness: An argument is sound if, and only if, it is valid, and all its premises are true.

    Belief

    A friend recently complained about how many people lack the basic skill of believing arguments. That is, if you have a valid argument for something, then you should accept the conclusion. Even if the conclusion is unpopular, or inconvenient, or you don’t like it. He envisioned an art of rationality that would make people believe something after it had been proven to them.

    We have an issue with terminology here: an argument is not the type of thing that one might believe or disbelieve. Let's introduce some more terminology:

    Belief: The attitude of regarding something to be true.

    Disbelief: The attitude of regarding something to be false.

    As such, belief and disbelief are really epistemic relationships between individuals and propositions. As we've previously established, arguments are not the types of things that are true or false, thus, they also are not the types of things that we can believe or disbelieve. I think the author may be confusing argument with conclusion here. In any case, they are confused.

    Logical Possibilities

    Equipped with these definitions, let's consider some possibilities:

    Sound

    Premises:
    1. All dogs are animals
    2. Fido is a dog
    
    Conclusion:
    Fido is an animal
    

    This argument is valid because if both premises are true, then it logically follows that the conclusion must be true. And, importantly, it is also sound, because this argument is valid, and it so happens that its premises are also both true.

    Valid but Unsound

    Premises:
    1. All dogs are robots
    2. Fido is a dog
    
    Conclusion:
    Fido is a robot
    

    This argument is valid because if both premises are true, then it follows that the conclusion must be true. But, importantly, it is not sound, because the first premise is not true. As such, note that validity is a logical property of an argument, and it is independent of the truth/falsity of the premises or conclusion of the argument.

    Invalid and Unsound

    Premises:
    1. All dogs are animals
    2. Fido is a dog
    
    Conclusion:
    Fido is a robot
    

    This argument is invalid because even if both premises are true, the conclusion does not necessarily follow. It is important to note that just because a given argument is invalid, that does not mean that the conclusion is false. The validity of an argument has no bearing on the truth of particular propositions. It may very well be that Fido is a robot is a true statement about the world. It's just that this argument is not a valid way to arrive at that conclusion. In fact, it may even be true that the premises are all true as well. This is an important point to take home and is highly relevant to the fundamental issues with the article.

    So, what kinds of conclusions should we believe? Well, our belief with respect to the conclusion of an argument depends precisely on the argument's soundness:

    Valid Sound Should we believe the conclusion?
    True True Yes
    True False No
    False False No
    False True* N/A

    * Note that this is an impossible situation because a sound argument is necessarily valid.

    So, in the case of a sound argument, we should believe it, i.e., we should be convinced by it. If we are being rational, and are not convinced, then, the argument must not be sound. In case of a valid, but unsound argument, we should not be convinced by it. In this scenario we find no logical flaw with the argument, we merely do not believe all the premises to be true. In the case of an invalid, unsound argument, we should not be convinced for multiple reasons: the premises do not lead the conclusion, and moreover, we believe at least one of the premises is false. And the last combination of validity and soundness is impossible, so we cannot encounter an argument that is both sound but invalid.

    So, we've introduced a rational framework under which our belief of the conclusions of arguments is not subjective—it is objective. Regardless of who is making the argument, if we determine it is sound, it is irrational to consider its conclusion false. And, unintuitively, if we do not know of a sound argument to justify a given conclusion, we may still decide to believe it is true. But, if we later encounter a sound argument that conflicts with our unjustified belief, the rational thing to do is to change our belief. This is what I think the author's friend was aiming at in saying "many people lack the basic skill of believing arguments". If someone fails to adjust their beliefs based on sound arguments, then they are irrational. And, yes, it's no stretch of the imagination to entertain the idea that many people act irrationally.

    What can be True or False?

    Without delving into formal logic, let’s tackle the fundamental issue with the article.

    (This is the correct Bayesian action: if I know that a false argument sounds just as convincing as a true argument, argument convincingness provides no evidence either way. I should ignore it and stick with my prior.)

    Arguments are, as we've established, a series of premises and a conclusion and are not the type of thing that can be true or false. I think the author intended to use the term valid here instead of true. Or, maybe, they intended to say conclusion instead of argument? Assuming either interpretation, there is still a fundamental issue, though. And that is some notion of an argument having a property of convincingness that is not defined. You will not find the term convincing in any textbook on logic because it is not a term of art. The quality of an argument being convincing is outside the realm of formal logic. In formal logic, arguments are either valid or invalid, sound or unsound. As such, convincingness is only meaningful with respect to soundness and validity. Whatever other connotations that come along with the term convincing, they do not relate to logical reasoning.

    So, there can be no such situation where "a false argument sounds just as convincing as a true argument". It's impossible. When the author says that "I should ignore it and stick with my prior.", well, that is an option, but it is not rational—it's not logically justifiable.

    So far, we've operated under a framework where we've considered premises and conclusions either true or false. This is sometimes called the "law of the excluded middle", i.e., propositions are considered as Boolean variables. We might introduce another possibility, where we consider that we may not be able to determine a truth value for some premises or conclusions. That, however, does not change the properties of soundness nor validity. As such, if we cannot determine if an argument is valid (because we cannot discern if its conclusion logically follows from its premises), then we must withhold our belief about its conclusion. Similarly, even if we find an argument to be valid, but we do not have a way to determine the truth of its premises, we cannot rationally believe its conclusion because we cannot determine if it's sound.

    Taking Ideas Seriously

    Even the smartest people I know have a commendable tendency not to take certain ideas seriously. Bostrom’s simulation argument, the anthropic doomsday argument, Pascal’s Mugging – I’ve never heard anyone give a coherent argument against any of these, but I’ve also never met anyone who fully accepts them and lives life according to their implications.

    There is a rationally defensible position here, but the author mischaracterizes it. Considering an argument based on its validity, as I've explained, is separable from considering soundness. As such, one can believe that an argument is valid, but be unsure whether its conclusion is true or not (that is, be unconvinced about the argument's soundness). This is the position that is promoted by the adage "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."1

    1. This quote is often attributed to Aristotle, though it's not clear if it should be attributed directly to Aristotle.

    Skepticism

    I consider myself lucky in that my epistemic learned helplessness is circumscribed; there are still cases where I’ll trust the evidence of my own reason. In fact, I trust it in most cases other than infamously deceptive arguments in fields I know little about. But I think the average uneducated person doesn’t and shouldn’t. Anyone anywhere – politicians, scammy businessmen, smooth-talking romantic partners – would be able to argue them into anything. And so they take the obvious and correct defensive maneuver – they will never let anyone convince them of any belief that sounds “weird”.

    This gets into the realm of skepticism. A skeptic will err on the side of not believing a proposition without evidence. This is fine. But, the author is waffling here, indicating that they are a part-time skeptic. Inconsistency here is not inherently problematic, but now we've admitted a new term in our lexicon: weird. Again, I don't know what the author intended with this term, but I'm going to guess they meant something like an argument that has a surprising conclusion, despite being sound. A rational skeptic should accept a "weird" conclusion of a sound argument.

    Knowing

    This is starting to resemble ideas like compartmentalization and taking ideas seriously. The only difference between their presentation and mine is that I’m saying that for 99% of people, 99% of the time, taking ideas seriously is the wrong strategy. Or, at the very least, it should be the last skill you learn, after you’ve learned every other skill that allows you to know which ideas are or are not correct.

    Now we get into real epistemology. What is knowing? Well, that's really tough. Serious philosophers will admit that we haven't arrived at a universally serviceable definition of knowledge. Some will offer something like knowledge is "justified, true belief". But the "justified true belief" account of knowledge has faced criticism. So, what are these precious skills that our dear author references that allow one to "know which ideas are not correct"? Well, we clearly must be part of the 99% for not being able to intuit such lofty philosophical trappings.

    The people I know who are best at taking ideas seriously are those who are smartest and most rational. I think people are working off a model where these co-occur because you need to be very clever to resist your natural and detrimental tendency not to take ideas seriously. But I think they might instead co-occur because you have to be really smart in order for taking ideas seriously not to be immediately disastrous. You have to be really smart not to have been talked into enough terrible arguments to develop epistemic learned helplessness.

    I'm not sure that being "smart" (i.e., intelligence) has anything to do with being rational. If you are being rational, you won't be 'talked into' any position. You may entertain various positions, but in the framework I've provided, you will adjust your beliefs based only on sound arguments. Thus, these notions of seriousness, smartness, or the central notion, epistemic learned helplessness, shouldn't affect your rationale. The author's apparent self-sense of superior rationality seems to be coming from the position that they irrationally reject arguments based on subjective qualities of the arguments, or their prior beliefs.

    This is a crock of shit. They're essentially saying "I'm very rational because I'm irrational."

    "Good" Arguments

    But to these I’d add that a sufficiently smart engineer has never been burned by arguments above his skill level before, has never had any reason to develop epistemic learned helplessness. If Osama comes up to him with a really good argument for terrorism, he thinks “Oh, there’s a good argument for terrorism. I guess I should become a terrorist,” as opposed to “Arguments? You can prove anything with arguments. I’ll just stay right here and not blow myself up.”

    Here we have the introduction of another subjective quality of arguments: "goodness". What is a "good" argument? Well, my position is quite clear by now—we rationally evaluate arguments based on soundness. Any other subjective notion of goodness is irrelevant when it comes time for rational evaluation. So, could there be such a "really good" argument for terrorism? Possibly, but, in the abstract, we cannot know what it is, and as such must give the benefit of the doubt to our supposedly "sufficiently smart engineer" and posit that she will accept this argument based on its soundness, and as such must remain comfortable with accepting the truly rational response. That addresses the reaction of "Oh, there’s a good argument for terrorism."

    However, we are beginning to reach beyond mere epistemology here and into the realm of ethics—how we should act, given our beliefs—when our engineer then concludes "I guess I should become a terrorist". That is beyond the scope of what I am prepared to critique, suffice to say, I do not sanction terrorism.

    Conclusion

    The author of this piece is very confused. My understanding of the introduced idea of "epistemic learned helplessness" is basically that if you are willing to be rational part-time, unsound arguments won't persuade you. I would make the counterpoint that if you merely adopt a rational framework for evaluating arguments, you will find yourself in the same position. So, why not simply adopt the rational framework full-time?

    10 votes
  14. Comment on The Retirement Gamble [~52 Minutes] in ~life

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    Was that always the case in the U.S.? What about government pensions? I have the impression that pensions, historically, were more common and safer than they are now.

    In another country, your corporate pension may be protected but in America, that is not the case.

    Was that always the case in the U.S.? What about government pensions? I have the impression that pensions, historically, were more common and safer than they are now.

  15. Comment on The Retirement Gamble [~52 Minutes] in ~life

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    Yeah, that’s a macroeconomic problems itself which is tied up in the same issues. I wouldn’t trust either a mutual fund management company nor a random company to necessarily last as long as a...

    Yeah, that’s a macroeconomic problems itself which is tied up in the same issues. I wouldn’t trust either a mutual fund management company nor a random company to necessarily last as long as a human lifetime. I’d assume that if a company with a pension fund dissolved at some point that those who contributed to it would get their equity paid out to them.

  16. Comment on The Retirement Gamble [~52 Minutes] in ~life

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    But as the documentary argues, there isn’t any evidence that they’ll do better than an index fund over the time you have your money with them. So, why pay fees to have it managed when you could...

    The bank does the research/thinking for you

    But as the documentary argues, there isn’t any evidence that they’ll do better than an index fund over the time you have your money with them. So, why pay fees to have it managed when you could not have fees and do the same or better? Also, this idea of companies doing 401k matching, I wonder how much of this is part of the “legal kickback” scheme mentioned? It always struck me as odd why companies would do 401k matching rather than use that capital to create a pension fund. It seems like the same end goal: provide financial security as an incentive for employees to stick with the company. But, instead of gifting business to the 401k providers, it would be the company and its employees would reap all the benefits.

  17. Comment on Shadow banks are back with another big bad credit bubble in ~misc

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    So we’re proper fucked then? If we can’t expect our government to act as adults on truly petty issues, how can anyone fathom that they’ll be responsible and act in the broader interest of the...

    It will be up to Congress to utilize fiscal policy (i.e. Keynesian deficit spending) and a co-ordinated Executive response to blunt the impact of the next downturn

    So we’re proper fucked then? If we can’t expect our government to act as adults on truly petty issues, how can anyone fathom that they’ll be responsible and act in the broader interest of the country in a crisis?

    3 votes
  18. Comment on The Retirement Gamble [~52 Minutes] in ~life

    onyxleopard Link
    The same year I became eligible to opt in to my current employer’s 401k plan they decided to stop making matching contributions. So, I looked at the options and decided that I could do better...

    The same year I became eligible to opt in to my current employer’s 401k plan they decided to stop making matching contributions. So, I looked at the options and decided that I could do better investing my money myself (with only broker fees). The idea that I would let an entity passively take a percent of what I earn with no guarantee on returns sounded like a bad idea. It’s encouraging to see that my gut reaction was not a bad one, but it’s also discouraging to think about how much is being stolen from working people. If you want to wonder why earnings are stagnating, it’s because more and more of those earnings are being funneled away by industries with no regulation. How can an honest worker plan to retire when there are huge institutions spending all their time figuring out how to skim as much as they can and fighting the Department of Labor from regulating them?

    3 votes
  19. Comment on Object Oriented Programming in Python in ~comp

    onyxleopard Link Parent
    Idioms are inherently part of a language, just like natural language. Just because you know English doesn’t mean you know all English idioms (esp. uncommon, archaic ones). E.g., Python’s dunder...

    Idioms are inherently part of a language, just like natural language. Just because you know English doesn’t mean you know all English idioms (esp. uncommon, archaic ones). E.g., Python’s dunder methods: I see a lot of beginner Python code from devs coming from other languages where classes have custom show, length, etc. methods when they should be using __repr__, __len__ etc.

    1 vote
  20. Comment on Object Oriented Programming in Python in ~comp

    onyxleopard (edited ) Link Parent
    It’s not possible to write totally side-effect free code in Python, but generally, I try to not use any mutable data types, and if I do, I try to write functions to encapsulate any mutation. I...

    It’s not possible to write totally side-effect free code in Python, but generally, I try to not use any mutable data types, and if I do, I try to write functions to encapsulate any mutation. I like to pass around functions as first-class objects when it makes sense, such as making use of the key argument for sort, min, and max:

    In [12]: words = ['foo', 'bar', 'baz', 'tildes']                                                                                             
    
    In [13]: max(words, key=len)                                                                                                                 
    Out[13]: 'tildes'
    
    In [14]: items = [{'foo': 1, 'bar': 2}, {'foo': 1, 'bar': -2}]                                                                              
    
    In [15]: from operator import itemgetter                                                                                                     
    
    In [16]: sorted(items, key=itemgetter('foo', 'bar'))                                                                                         
    Out[16]: [{'foo': 1, 'bar': -2}, {'foo': 1, 'bar': 2}]
    

    Here’s an example of a program I wrote to compute Krippendorff’s alpha coefficient, a measure of inter-annotator reliability. I only made one class in that program, and that class is just a convenient namespace for consuming code to inject new delta functions. I actually don’t like my implementation there, and I suppose I could break it out into a separate module, but point was really just that I didn’t want to pollute the global namespace with lots of function names. I could also use a decorator (I did the decorator thing in this program with the Format class). I’m not totally happy with either solution, but they work.

    E.g.,

    In [1]: from krippendorff import Difference                                                                                                  
    
    In [2]: class MyDifference(Difference): 
       ...:     def foo(self, v1, v2, *args): # v1 and v2 always differ by 1.0
       ...:         return 1.0 
       ...:     def bar(self, v1, v2, *args): # v1 and v2 never differ
       ...:         return 0.0 
       ...:                                                                                                                                      
    
    In [4]: diff = MyDifference(float)                                                                                                           
    
    In [5]: diff.nominal(None, None)                                                                                                             
    Out[5]: 0.0
    
    In [6]: diff.foo(None, None)                                                                                                                 
    Out[6]: 1.0
    
    In [7]: diff.bar(None, None)                                                                                                                 
    Out[7]: 0.0
    
    In [11]: Difference(float, method='ordinal')._delta(1.0, 3.0)                                                                                
    Out[11]: 16.0
    

    operator.methodcaller is really neat to allow stuff like Difference._delta which is very convenient for allowing a command line driver to specify which delta method to use by interpreting a string argument as a class method name. If you are interested in writing functional Python, I highly recommend checking out the operator, functools, and itertools modules from the standard library.

    4 votes