psi's recent activity

  1. Comment on Cheap, easy, and not-too-unhealthy homemade snacks? in ~food

    psi
    Link Parent
    The Washington Post had an article [1] on this subject a couple days ago (well, ultra-processed foods, but I assume that's what you mean anyway). I'll extract a few of the highlights. [1] "What...

    The Washington Post had an article [1] on this subject a couple days ago (well, ultra-processed foods, but I assume that's what you mean anyway). I'll extract a few of the highlights.

    Then there are ultra-processed foods. At their core, they are industrial concoctions containing a multitude of additives: salt, sugar and oils combined with artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, stabilizers and preservatives. Typically they’re subjected to multiple processing methods that transform their taste, texture and appearance into something not found in nature. Think Frosted Flakes, Hot Pockets, doughnuts, hot dogs, cheese crackers and boxed macaroni & cheese.

    [...]

    On the diet of ultra-processed foods, the participants [of a study carried out by the National Institutes of Health] quickly gained weight and body fat. But on the unprocessed, homemade diet, the reverse happened: They lost weight, and they had reductions in cholesterol and an increase in their levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone called PYY. They experienced a drop in their levels of ghrelin, what is known as the hunger hormone. It’s not clear why the unprocessed and ultra-processed foods had such differing effects.

    Some experts argue that ultra-processed foods hook our brains and overwhelm our biology because they contain unnatural combinations of fat and carbs along with sodium and other flavor enhancers.

    Some nutrition scientists point to the texture of ultra-processed foods: They often contain little or no fiber and are easy to chew and digest rapidly despite being high in calories. Think of how easy it is to scarf down fast-food chicken nuggets or a moist blueberry muffin packed with sugar, flour and vegetable oils. These foods are quickly absorbed when they leave the stomach and enter the small intestine, which causes a spike in blood sugar, insulin and other hormones.


    [1] "What are ultra-processed foods? What should I eat instead?" Washington Post, September 27, 2022.

    3 votes
  2. Comment on Defective altruism - the repugnant philosophy of “Effective Altruism” offers nothing to movements for global justice in ~humanities

    psi
    Link Parent
    I don't think it's quite the same thing as specialization. My understanding is that, given a choice between becoming a soup kitchen manager and a Wall Street banker, under an effective altruist...

    I don't think it's quite the same thing as specialization. My understanding is that, given a choice between becoming a soup kitchen manager and a Wall Street banker, under an effective altruist framework the more ethical choice is to become a Wall Street banker, as you are able to more greatly reduce human suffering through your charitable donations (even if that means, for example, you "only" donate a few million dollars per year and keep hundreds of millions for yourself). It's a rather convenient conclusion that discourages someone from a profession involving greater sacrifice.

    (Again, I don't want to denigrate donating to charity -- obviously that's great! But when we evaluate how "moral" someone's behavior is, we should also consider the cost to themselves. Biden calling out Trump for Jan 6 is well-deserved, but Liz Cheney's condemnation is far more honorable.)

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Defective altruism - the repugnant philosophy of “Effective Altruism” offers nothing to movements for global justice in ~humanities

    psi
    Link Parent
    I think you have a fair point, as I did write that in a way that was uncharitably vague. So instead of parsing "software developers/techbros/Silicon Valley/HN-types" as a list, parse it as a fuzzy...

    I think that “software developers/techbros/Silicon Valley/HN-types” is so vague that it isn’t even an ad hominem attack. You’re lumping together a lot of people who don’t agree on anything or have any common characteristics.

    I think you have a fair point, as I did write that in a way that was uncharitably vague. So instead of parsing "software developers/techbros/Silicon Valley/HN-types" as a list, parse it as a fuzzy diagram -- someone who could roughly be described as possessing all those quantities.

    So let me be more specific and choose one of those descriptors: Hacker News-types (with the caveat that I also use HN). I don't think anyone would consider Tildes and HN comparable in terms of inclusivity. I've seen HN users downplay a black person's experience because it doesn't conform with their meritocratic world view. I've been told that if my advisor ever demanded anything unreasonable (not that she would have -- she was great!), I would only have myself to blame, as I always have the option of restarting my graduate career (yeah, right). Hell, just today I saw someone advocating for eugenics with respect to type 1 diabetics (without even understanding why eugenics wouldn't prevent type 1 diabetes anyway).

    That's the sort of thing I take issue with -- these high-in-the-sky ideals that don't match people's lived experiences. Specifically, it's a lack of epistemic modesty, i.e. an unwillingness to acknowledge the limits of one's knowledge. That's why I roll my eyes when someone lists AI as the foremost existential threat: it demonstrates an intellectual blind spot.

    6 votes
  4. Comment on Defective altruism - the repugnant philosophy of “Effective Altruism” offers nothing to movements for global justice in ~humanities

    psi
    Link Parent
    Well... maybe? I'm going to paint a wide brush here, which is admittedly a bit unfair, but in my experience techbros/Silicon Valley/HN-types overestimate the value of their judgements; and since...
    • Exemplary

    So what exactly is the evil that EA is doing? Donating too much to AI safety research and malaria nets?

    Well... maybe? I'm going to paint a wide brush here, which is admittedly a bit unfair, but in my experience techbros/Silicon Valley/HN-types overestimate the value of their judgements; and since effective altruism is a utilitarian-based philosophy, I don't think my criticism is an ad hominem. Indeed, if someone is to practice effective altruism, they must necessarily be effective at casting good judgement.

    So let me elaborate on the point because I think software developers/techbros/Silicon Valley/HN-types too often fall into the trap of xkcd/793. (Of course, not all effective altruists are software developers, but I'm concentrating on these folk since they're overrepresented in the effective altruist movement.)

    1. Software developers, on the whole, are compensated extraordinarily well compared to most other professions. Since we live in a society, this additional compensation affords them additional class privileges, and their opinions are often elevated over "lower class" individuals. However, that doesn't mean that a software developer is more qualified to discuss existential risks than a barista -- it's just appeal to authority.

    2. Software development rarely has "wrong" answers, at least in the sense that there are infinitely many different ways to approach a problem. A developer can argue with a coworker about how to best implement some feature, but likely either person's implementation would ultimately work; it's simply a matter of managing drawbacks. I think this leads to a sort of intellectual complacency -- if you are never wrong, how can you recognize your own philosophical shortcomings?

    As an example of poor judgement, let's consider AI safety, which I think is a classic example of people overemphasizing a problem because it lies within their domain of expertise. Sure, a runaway AI could lead to apocalypse, but it's hedged on so many assumptions that it's impossible to quantify the likelihood of it actually happening (an effective altruist in the article supposes it could be 2% -- but frankly we don't even know whether it's 20% or 0.02%). On the other hand, there are real, cognizable threats that exist right now: namely climate change and nuclear war. (And worse yet, these issues aren't even uncorrelated! As climate catastrophe approaches, resource shortages will effect armed conflicts, raising the probability of nuclear confrontation.)

    • To be more specific, the concern over AI safety is an abuse of expectation values. When we're talking about existential threats, we don't live in the limit of large numbers -- either the existential threat will happen, or it won't, which means that we either need to treat the threat as inevitable or impossible. Meanwhile, actual human suffering does exist in the limit of large numbers -- the amount of reduction is directly proportional to the donation. So yea to malaria nets, nay to AI safety.

    However, my largest reservation against effective altruism is that it feels like a post-hoc rationalization for doing the bare minimum. Why should you be a public defender when you could be a Wall Street banker and donate some portion of your salary? (Has anyone considered that Wall Street bankers might, in fact, be part of the problem?) Frankly, it's an excuse to be complacent with one's own moral shortcomings, as any act of immorality is permissible, so long as you're willing to offset your "moral footprint".

    10 votes
  5. Comment on Polish venue cancels Pink Floyd co-founder's shows after Roger Waters showed support for Russia in ~music

    psi
    Link Parent
    It would be incorrect to characterize Rogers as a conservative given the political positions he's staked out (his opposition to Brexit; his support for Palestine; his opposition to Trump's wall,...

    It would be incorrect to characterize Rogers as a conservative given the political positions he's staked out (his opposition to Brexit; his support for Palestine; his opposition to Trump's wall, which he aptly compared to his metaphorical Wall; the content of his music; etc). It's more like (but not quite like), tankie leans so far left that he sees Russia as the victim.

    10 votes
  6. Comment on Inside a highly lucrative, ethically questionable essay-writing service in ~humanities

    psi
    Link
    I guess I'll take the bait -- is this business "ethically questionable", or it just plain unethical?

    I guess I'll take the bait -- is this business "ethically questionable", or it just plain unethical?

    5 votes
  7. Comment on Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of September 19 in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    Since we're speculating, I'm guessing the reason's much more mundane. To give an example, I wouldn't be surprised if he kept the "nuclear codes", so to speak, just to show them off. The...

    Since we're speculating, I'm guessing the reason's much more mundane. To give an example, I wouldn't be surprised if he kept the "nuclear codes", so to speak, just to show them off. The government's brief mentions that parts of the warrant were redacted to protect civilian sources, so it's entirely conceivable that Trump shared some highly classified information with a peer to impress them, only for that peer to report him to the FBI.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Russian parliament introduces mobilisation into law in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    Technically desertion is punishable by death, but Eddie Slovik was the last and only person to be executed for desertion since the Civil War. Also, since it's a little unclear from your comment,...

    Technically desertion is punishable by death, but Eddie Slovik was the last and only person to be executed for desertion since the Civil War. Also, since it's a little unclear from your comment, he served during WW2, not the Vietnam War.

    It's worth reading about Eddie Slovik, as his situation was rather tragic; Slovik was to be stationed in the front lines, so he told his commanding offices that he intended to desert, as he figured his chances were better in prison. Instead, staff officers decided to make an example out of him.

    4 votes
  9. Comment on Wikipedia Speedruns in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    path [ "Shot (ice hockey)", "Joe Sakic", "Ball Arena", "Arena", "Music", "Tribute act", "Elvis Presley", "Honorific nicknames in popular music", "Adele", "Billboard (magazine)", "Billboard 200" ]...

    "Shot (ice hockey)" to "Billboard 200"
    Time: 152.312 Seconds

    Number of links visited: 10

    path [ "Shot (ice hockey)", "Joe Sakic", "Ball Arena", "Arena", "Music", "Tribute act", "Elvis Presley", "Honorific nicknames in popular music", "Adele", "Billboard (magazine)", "Billboard 200" ]

    That one is tricky! I'm guessing my result is within 1 sigma of yours. I managed to get to Music pretty quickly ("zooming out", so to speak), but after that I struggled to find a path to Billboard 200 ("zooming in").

    2 votes
  10. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    psi
    Link
    I finished the campaign for Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition this week. To be honest, the game started feeling like a chore around midway through, and I'm not entirely sure why it didn't...

    I finished the campaign for Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition this week. To be honest, the game started feeling like a chore around midway through, and I'm not entirely sure why it didn't click with me given how much I enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles 2. When I first played the standard edition around a decade ago, I managed to get about a dozen hours in before dropping it; but I only dropped the game because of the inconvenience of playing it -- I played on an emulator, and Dolphin wasn't in the shape it is now -- but I do remember being enthralled by the vastness of the world and the MMORPG mechanics.

    I think the main problem is that the game became stale around the midpoint, since by then I had basically experienced everything the game had to offer: I had almost all my character arts, with the only remaining task being to optimize my gear/stats/skills.

    But the secondary problem is that, despite how vast the world is, there's just too little to do. When I went off the beaten path, I would often encounter "unique monsters" with piddling rewards. Sometimes I would find "secret areas", but these usually offered even less than the unique monsters. Notably missing were chests -- with only a few late-game exceptions, these just didn't exist.

    Finally, in a game with 400+ quests, almost all are filler fetch quests. It's unfortunate because the game does offer real quests, but you have to sort through the rubbish to find them. In fact, there are quests to unlock 14 extra skill trees (of 35 total). This is exactly the sort of injection this game needed to stay fresh, but unfortunately I only found a single extra skill tree quest in my playthrough -- they were just buried under all these crappy side quests.

    That said, even though my review is fairly negative, I did generally enjoy the game (especially the music). And I'm not quite done with it -- I still want to play the epilogue and unlock the extra skill trees for each character.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on What's a video game that you really want to exist? in ~games

    psi
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    I would like to see more FPS-Z games (think Tribes or, my personal favorite, Fallen Empire: Legions). There's a skill ceiling in this genre that you'll rarely find in an FPS since movement is now...

    I would like to see more FPS-Z games (think Tribes or, my personal favorite, Fallen Empire: Legions). There's a skill ceiling in this genre that you'll rarely find in an FPS since movement is now prioritized as much as accuracy. Furthermore, the game mode usually centers around capture the flag, not deathmatch.

    Of course, in the year 2022, pure FPS games are not in vogue. So I propose the following chimeras:

    • FPS-Z + Metrodvania. Thinking about this more carefully, I might have just reinvented Ori.
    • FPS-Z + JRPG. The fusion of my two favorite genres. Imagine Xenoblades Chronicles, except it didn't take you half an hour to navigate the map. Actually, I think this is also a game -- Star Ocean: The Divine Force. God, I hope this game doesn't suck.
    • FPS-Z + Visual Novel. It's possible. I just know it.
    3 votes
  12. Comment on What have you learned from being a parent? in ~talk

    psi
    Link Parent
    I'm not a parent, so feel free to weigh by critique with what it's worth (very little), but isn't this nearly double jeopardy? I mean, I'd certainly be concerned with my hypothetical teenager...

    And honestly, more than anything...it's going to because they were sneaking around and hiding/lying about it when confronted.

    I'm not a parent, so feel free to weigh by critique with what it's worth (very little), but isn't this nearly double jeopardy? I mean, I'd certainly be concerned with my hypothetical teenager driving under the influence, for example, since I don't high expectations for teenagers to accurately discern between rules that can sometimes be bent (e.g., drinking) and rules that should never be broken (e.g., drinking and driving). However, if you're going to punish the child anyway, what's the incentive for being honest? Or do you have a specific scenario in mind?

  13. Comment on Cloudflare blocks Kiwifarms in ~tech

    psi
    Link
    I was going to respond to @Akir, but I figured this response is long enough that it should be its own top-level comment. I know this is a common justification for banning speech -- "the first...

    I was going to respond to @Akir, but I figured this response is long enough that it should be its own top-level comment.

    With very few specific exemptions, you do not have the right to force people or corporations to provide you services. Every single one of these businesses can and should have the right to refuse to do business with whomever they want for whatever reason they want.

    I know this is a common justification for banning speech -- "the first amendment doesn't apply to private platforms," said somebody somewhere, probably -- but I don't think it's a very good justification. In my mind, it reads similarly to xkcd's comic on free speech. It's technically something a business is legally permitted to do, but that's hardly a moral justification.

    So let me give some examples where I think a business banning someone would be problematic.

    A spiteful CEO

    Suppose Disney hires a new CEO, and as a hiring condition he requires Disney ban from their parks a few people that he dislikes for personal (not political) reasons. For good measure (just to be extra spiteful), he bans their families, too.

    • The stakes here are relatively low, but the rule doesn't feel fair; in fact, it's arbitrary. Even though Disney has the right to deny entrance to anyone it would like, invoking that right is not a sufficient justification. There also needs to be a reasonable explanation.
    • But I also wouldn't want to extrapolate this thought experiment to small businesses. The reason this particular situation feels unfair is because the CEO is so far removed from park operations that his enemy's presence could hardly affect his well-being. But if Alice and Bob have a nasty divorce, maybe Alice is justified if she wants to ban Bob and Charlie from bringing their new family to Alice's diner.

    2. The Google CSAM debacle

    (As mentioned by @Adys and reported by the New York Times). For those who aren't familiar, Google banned a user from its services after it found two pieces of media it suspected of being CSAM. In fact, one was a picture of a rash on his son's genitalia taken per the request of his doctor, and the other was an "intimate" moment of his wife and son sleeping, in which they both happened to be nude. The police investigated both cases after being informed by Google, with investigators ultimately concluding that nothing criminal had occurred. Indeed, the police were willing to return all of the user's Google data (including the suspected media). Nevertheless, Google refused to reinstate the account.

    • Again, we see that Google has the right to ban this user; however, having the right to do something is not equivalent to having the moral high ground. In this case, the stakes are relatively high. If I were banned from Disney, I'd be annoyed, but I could basically go about my life completely unfazed. On the other hand, if my Google account were deleted, I would almost immediately feel the consequences.
    • There's a pretty obvious takeaway here: if the stakes are higher, the justification needs to be better.

    3. Discrimination by race

    Finally, I should mention the obvious: discrimination by race, gender, or another protected class is wrong. We are fortunate that the law forbids businesses from discriminating in this manner, but we should be cognizant of the fact that this is a relatively new legal invention.

    • But critically, we see that the right for a business to discriminate is not absolute. We all agree that there exists a line somewhere; the problem is drawing the line.

    So when is discrimination okay?

    I hope I've demonstrated that the right for a business to demonstrate is not by itself a good justification for discriminating. We also expect the explanation to be (1) fair and (2) proportionate.

    For example, if Peter Thiel were to buy Twitter tomorrow, we would be rightly horrified if he reinstated Trump's account and banned all of his critics. Clearly, that is not fair -- there exist an implied social contract that Twitter should be content neutral insofar that the content is not harmful per its own predetermined definitions, which we should a priori know. In fact, this is what made Twitter's tolerance of Trump so egregious -- Trump was given additional privileges not afforded to everyone else. If he hadn't been afforded those additional privileges, he would've been banned from the platform much sooner, not after inciting an insurrection during his lame duck period.

    Finally, we turn to the topic at hand: is Cloudflare justified in banning Kiwi Farms? The answer is, in my opinion, a resounding yes: Cloudfare has a service exception for harmful speech. The rule does not pretextually serve to specifically target Kiwi Farms. Rather, it discriminates against the kind of behavior that all of us (sans Kiwi Farms) find abhorrent. Finally, the consequences are not disproportionate: the "right" to harass someone is questionable at best, and at any rate the Kiwi Farms platform is still available, even if it might now experience temporary service disruptions.

    9 votes
  14. Comment on What’s something you’ve been mulling over recently? in ~talk

    psi
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Whenever I think about voter fraud, I'm reminded of the difference between systematic error and measurement error. Sure, you could design an electoral system such that voter fraud is technically...

    Whenever I think about voter fraud, I'm reminded of the difference between systematic error and measurement error. Sure, you could design an electoral system such that voter fraud is technically impossible, but what's the point of excluding maybe a few hundred fraudulent votes in a state election if that same system prevents tens of thousands of people from voting? It's like throwing our your cm-increment ruler for a mm-increment ruler attached to an inflatable tube man.

    5 votes
  15. Comment on Much ado about nothing – Sanna Marin and a very Finnish scandal in ~misc

    psi
    Link
    The best take I've found was buried at the end of a Washington Post article, which quoted a random twitter user. As they put it:

    The best take I've found was buried at the end of a Washington Post article, which quoted a random twitter user. As they put it:

    is Sanna Marin the only chief executive on earth to have documented friends

    4 votes
  16. Comment on Testing end-to-end encrypted backups and more on Messenger in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    I'm guessing the "user report" button just resends the previous N messages to Facebook. After all, it's unencrypted at the end; even E2E encryption can't stop someone from forwarding a screenshot....

    I'm guessing the "user report" button just resends the previous N messages to Facebook. After all, it's unencrypted at the end; even E2E encryption can't stop someone from forwarding a screenshot. I think this is how WhatsApp implements their report button.

    12 votes
  17. Comment on What's your unpopular food opinion or idiosyncrasy? in ~food

    psi
    Link Parent
    I rarely eat cereal, but when I do, I eat it without milk.

    I rarely eat cereal, but when I do, I eat it without milk.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on The Harry Potter fallacy in ~humanities

  19. Comment on Stop hoping for an Instagram replacement, diversify instead in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    I'm similar to @lou in this regard, so I'll give my perspective. I found my way here through Reddit, but I've since deleted that account. As for why I avoid social media: I don't have a...

    I'm similar to @lou in this regard, so I'll give my perspective. I found my way here through Reddit, but I've since deleted that account.

    As for why I avoid social media: I don't have a superiority complex, but I do have a fair amount of social anxiety. Frankly, the idea of using Instagram and Twitter just seems stressful, so I don't use them. The only real exception is Facebook -- I still rely on messenger to communicate with some people, especially now that I'm abroad. Still, I kinda hate how my timeline is essentially just people wishing me a happy birthday once per year.

    In contrast, Tildes is much slower paced, much more agreeable, and correspondingly, much less stressful.

    7 votes
  20. Comment on Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of July 18 in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    I read a similar article in the Washington Post. Evidently Bannon planned to inflict maximum pain on the Jan 6th committee (by subpoenaing Pelosi etc) in an attempt to force the prosecution to...

    I read a similar article in the Washington Post. Evidently Bannon planned to inflict maximum pain on the Jan 6th committee (by subpoenaing Pelosi etc) in an attempt to force the prosecution to drop the charges. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for sanity), the judge saw through his nonsense and greatly limited the arguments he could make at trial.

    At a recent hearing that left Bannon’s legal strategy in tatters, his lawyer David Schoen asked U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, “What’s the point of going to trial if there are no defenses?” The judge replied simply: “Agreed.”

    So yeah, the judge has implored Bannon to stop wasting the court's time and bargain for a plea deal (similar charges against past defendants were plead down and resulted in no jail time). If convicted -- which he certainly will be -- Bannon will face 30 days in jail minimum.

    8 votes