psi's recent activity

  1. Comment on Whole Foods employees are staging a nationwide "sick-out" in ~finance

    psi
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    My girlfriend works retail. When the schools around us closed, she and her coworkers started getting antsy -- they aren't paid sick leave and they have no PPE. When her coworkers started asking...

    My girlfriend works retail. When the schools around us closed, she and her coworkers started getting antsy -- they aren't paid sick leave and they have no PPE. When her coworkers started asking the owner about paid sick leave, he responded by boasting about how great this pandemic has been for his business; minimizing the danger (he compared the pandemic to a stint with a bad landlord); telling coworkers they should be extra-diligent with cleaning (but only if there's leftover time after restocking items/helping customers); and ultimately, whining that now was not the appropriate time to ask about sick leave.

    But should they get sick, he would require them to take two unpaid weeks off.

    Given the number of customers she interacts with and the owner's minimal interest in ensuring their safety, her getting sick became an inevitability. Meanwhile, her boss was making historic profits. Now her employer wasn't Whole Foods, but ultimately so much of the situation carries over: people are being forced to risk their health -- and quite literally, their lives -- while shareholders makes record profits with no risk to themselves. Retail workers aren't working out of the kindness of their hearts or for extra beer money; they're working because the other option is homelessness.

    Healthcare workers take an oath to help people. They're also in danger, but the risk of sickness comes with the job. Retail workers did not sign up for this. They should not be expected to work; if they feel the risk is too great, they should receive unemployment insurance. Those who do continue to work should be duly compensated.

    As an epilogue, I convinced my girlfriend to leave her job and told her I'd cover her expenses, despite the meager pay I make as a grad student. Ironically enough, she only took that job for the health insurance, but what good is health insurance if your job is guaranteeing you'll get sick anyway? My landlord -- a public health professor -- reached out to us, asked about our circumstances, and offered us a discount on our rent. Our landlord, whom I've only met once, was more generous than her employer, whom she'd work with for years.

    9 votes
  2. Comment on Whole Foods employees are staging a nationwide "sick-out" in ~finance

    psi
    Link Parent
    That's a strange redefinition of "hazard pay". Hazard pay means exactly that -- extra pay for hazardous work. Or as the Department of Labor writes: Certainly the hazard to healthcare workers is...

    First Responders, Medical Works, etc, get big hazard pay because they are essential as a person.

    That's a strange redefinition of "hazard pay". Hazard pay means exactly that -- extra pay for hazardous work. Or as the Department of Labor writes:

    Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship.

    Certainly the hazard to healthcare workers is greater, but that has nothing to do with them being replaceable. Healthcare workers will be exposed to infected individuals more often and through actions have a greater chance of exposure. That said, their protection is also greater (despite rationing).

    Every Wholefoods cashier could quit tomorrow and they could have most their jobs filled by the end of the day.

    Could they though?

    3 votes
  3. Comment on 3.3 million Americans file for unemployment claims, shattering records in ~health.coronavirus

    psi
    (edited )
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    In my opinion, /r/keep_track has the most comprehensive list I've seen of how the Trump Admin has bungled its response to the pandemic. As former Justice Department official Carrie Cordero wrote:...

    In my opinion, /r/keep_track has the most comprehensive list I've seen of how the Trump Admin has bungled its response to the pandemic.

    As former Justice Department official Carrie Cordero wrote:

    [T]he Trump administration #COVID19 response might be characterized as incompetence exacerbated by malevolence.

    (See also this article in The Atlantic.)

    7 votes
  4. Comment on Alternatives to desktop speakers in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    On the off-chance that you missed it, the WH-1000XM3's do have an ambient sound mode, but the ambient sounds are still rather muddled. Good luck with your hunt!

    On the off-chance that you missed it, the WH-1000XM3's do have an ambient sound mode, but the ambient sounds are still rather muddled. Good luck with your hunt!

    2 votes
  5. Comment on Alternatives to desktop speakers in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    If you already have a pair of WH-1000XM3's, why not just get a Bluetooth adapter for your PC that supports aptX/LDAC codecs ? Obviously there will be a bit of latency introduced, but this should...

    If you already have a pair of WH-1000XM3's, why not just get a Bluetooth adapter for your PC that supports aptX/LDAC codecs ? Obviously there will be a bit of latency introduced, but this should be perfectly fine for casual gaming -- I can personally attest to that.

  6. Comment on What if Andrew Yang was right? Mitt Romney has joined the chorus of voices calling for all Americans to receive free money directly from the government in ~news

  7. Comment on 'Herd immunity': Why Britain is actually letting the coronavirus spread in ~health.coronavirus

    psi
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    I've posted about this elsewhere and there's a decent enough discussion at HN. Having said that, I think this is an absolutely horrible idea. Let me start by quoting a particular comment on HN...

    I've posted about this elsewhere and there's a decent enough discussion at HN.

    Having said that, I think this is an absolutely horrible idea. Let me start by quoting a particular comment on HN which resonated with me:

    Here is a rule of thumb that will be familiar to many who manage risk in a professional capacity:
    The time to get creative is when you face a capped downside on the one hand, and an uncapped upside on the other. The time to get conservative is when you face the opposite condition.

    The reason for this rule is that creative policies almost never work; but when they work, they have a much higher chance of working extraordinarily well than conservative policies do.

    The UK is facing a capped upside and a huge potential downside. The UK is choosing to handle this situation with a creative experiment. This experiment will, in all likelihood, not succeed. And unfortunately most values of "not succeed", in this context, map to catastrophic outcomes.

    Time, as always, will tell.

    Obviously a maxim is not proof. But let's consider some of the possible catastrophes that could eventuate:

    1. The NHS is overrun with coronavirus. With an unmitigated spread, most cases will peak around the same time. Many young people will not be able to receive the treatment they need to survive; doctors will be forced to triage, choosing who gets access to necessary care and, therefore, who lives. Frankly, calling this a "possible catastrophe" is an understatement. In my mind, this is almost certain if the UK proceeds with their plan.

    2. Vulnerable people get sick anyway. How can you reasonably expect to limit the risk of infection if most people are infected? How would that even work? Do you ship all the healthy young people to England, the rest to Scotland, and build a great, hulking wall between them? The idea that you can cleanly separate the vulnerable from interacting with the young and healthy is laughable. Again, in my mind this would almost certainly be inevitable.

    3. The virus mutates. Right now the disease the virus causes, covid-19, has a case fatality rate (CFR) estimated somewhere between 0.1% and 4%. This is rightfully terrifying, but not nearly as bad as it could be (compare with SARS and MERS which have CFRs of 9.6% and 34.4%, respectively). Currently what makes the novel coronavirus so potent is its transmissibility. Were it to mutate and become more deadly, the UK would become the epicenter of an even more dangerous epidemic.

    4. Reinfection occurs. If so, this would preclude herd immunity from ever forming. The only means to fight the virus, in this case, would be to either quarantine everybody, or wait it out until a vaccine is created (if possible). Fortunately, evidence so far suggests that reinfection is unlikely.

    Now let's consider some potential upsides of the UK's plan:

    1. The blow to the GDP is lessened. Perhaps a tanking GDP would indirectly lead to deaths. But now we're trading a known threat (coronavirus) with a nebulous, questionably quantified one.

    2. People can pretend things are normal. Well, they won't be. See (1) and (2) in the previous list.

    In conclusion, the plan's fucked.

    9 votes
  8. Comment on How outbreaks spread exponentially: comparing social distancing, quarantining, and unmitigated spread of the virus in ~health.coronavirus

    psi
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    I editorialized the title a bit here; the article really sells itself short. Since eradicating the virus is currently impossible, the only way of ameliorating the potential fallout is by slowing...

    I editorialized the title a bit here; the article really sells itself short.

    Since eradicating the virus is currently impossible, the only way of ameliorating the potential fallout is by slowing the spread of the virus. As the outbreak wears on, expect to see hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus patients [1, 2], which will limit who receives access to care. Most countries are implementing social distancing protocols; the UK, notably, is not [3]. Instead, the government believes that by exposing young people now, the resulting herd immunity will protect the most vulnerable (presumably, this measure will also lessen the economic fallout [4]). Hopefully this article will illustrate why the UK's approach is so dangerous: allowing an unmitigated spread of coronavirus will burden healthcare workers to a much greater extent than an abated spread.


    [1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/14/hospital-doctors-patients-coronavirus/
    [2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/14/coronavirus-nhs-private-hospitals-join-forces-academics-warn-over-strategy
    [3] https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-51632801
    [4] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/mar/13/coronavirus-school-closures-uk-gdp-ministers-warned

    3 votes
  9. Comment on Many young voters sat out Super Tuesday, contributing to Bernie Sanders' losses in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    Young voters become older voters; they don't stay young forever. Therefore every election different young voters must be encouraged to vote, whereas older voters already know to.

    Young voters become older voters; they don't stay young forever. Therefore every election different young voters must be encouraged to vote, whereas older voters already know to.

    6 votes
  10. Comment on Bloomberg drops out of presidential race, endorses Biden in ~news

    psi
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    Imagine spending half a billion dollars to win American Samoa.

    Imagine spending half a billion dollars to win American Samoa.

    11 votes
  11. Comment on Healthcare rant thread in ~health

    psi
    (edited )
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    Over the winter I developed a pain in my right flank with no obvious cause. Despite my attempts to ignore it, after a week the pain became so immense that I could hardly drive. I decided to see a...

    Over the winter I developed a pain in my right flank with no obvious cause. Despite my attempts to ignore it, after a week the pain became so immense that I could hardly drive. I decided to see a doctor (well, nurse practitioner) for the first time in years, who told me that my pain probably stemmed from a kidney infection (rare for males) despite experiencing no urinary discomfort. I'm given a prescription for antibiotics and sent home. My pain subsides over the next couple weeks.

    About two weeks later, I get a call that the test was negative -- no kidney infection. Two weeks after that, I get a bill for about $350, of which my insurance covered less than half. So... what the hell is it? And why did I even bother to see a doctor? I realize my medical bill is much smaller than the horror stories you read about in the news, but the nearly $200 I'm responsible for is a lot for a grad student like me. And worse, the expenditure feels pointless. The office called to ask if I'd like to make another appointment to figure out what was bothering me, but why should I gamble my money again for the possibility of a correct diagnosis? If the pain flares up again, maybe I'll see a different doctor. Until then, I'm just going to ignore it.

    10 votes
  12. Comment on How do I combat the "women need safe spaces" argument? in ~lgbt

    psi
    Link Parent
    To build on this point, if you're going to argue, you should argue against the root cause of their objection. Imagine their bigotry as a tree, with one of the outermost branches the claim that...

    To build on this point, if you're going to argue, you should argue against the root cause of their objection.

    Imagine their bigotry as a tree, with one of the outermost branches the claim that "women need safe spaces because transwomen rape women." You can swat this branch away, breaking through with a "ciswomen rape women too" counter. But when you strike that branch, another one is just going to fill the void. You need to chop at the trunk if you want to cut through their bigotry. Don't assert that ciswomen are just as dangerous as transwomen; assert that transwomen are women.

    16 votes
  13. Comment on Confessions of a slaughterhouse worker in ~life

    psi
    Link Parent
    I find this comparison of slaughterhouses to the Holocaust to be a frustrating distraction. Sure, we could argue about which is more horrific. The scale of factory farming is certainly greater,...

    I find this comparison of slaughterhouses to the Holocaust to be a frustrating distraction. Sure, we could argue about which is more horrific. The scale of factory farming is certainly greater, but human beings are probably capable of experiencing greater suffering than other animals. Is the justification for the Holocaust worse than that for slaughtering animals? How much worse? Just how many cow lives is one human life worth, anyway? A hundred cows? A million? And we could continue on in this manner ad infinitum.

    Ultimately though, this moral calculus is unnecessary. At some point we should be able to discern that regardless of which is worse, both are awful; that after some threshold -- certainly well before we get to either factory farming or the Holocaust -- we should find the activity morally repugnant. Since we're capable of caring about multiple things at once, we should care about both.

    9 votes
  14. Comment on An unsettling new theory: there is no "swing voter" in ~misc

    psi
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    This meshes well with my belief that galvanizing your core voters matters more than roping-in moderates (or alternatively, that charisma, as perceived by your ideological peers, is the only thing...

    This meshes well with my belief that galvanizing your core voters matters more than roping-in moderates (or alternatively, that charisma, as perceived by your ideological peers, is the only thing that matters).

    Consider the 2016 election. When we look at the Pew Research Center poll breaking down votes by ideological lean, we see that voters split roughly evenly about conservative, liberal, and mixed ideology. At first glance, this poll seems to be a strong rebuttal to Bitecofer’s thesis -- after all, the mixed ideology bloc was just as large as the other two -- but when we dissect that bloc, we see that mixed ideology voters still split roughly evenly along Trump/Clinton lines (and in fact, actually preferred Trump). (This raises a tangential question: was Trump truly perceived as close to the center as Clinton, or did people just recalibrate their idea of the center such that it lay exactly equidistance from the two candidates by definition?) Regardless, Clinton's attempt to cajole the moderate vote failed spectacularly.

    However, the 2016 election offers another lesson. Of those eligible to vote, only 55% did (a turnout comparable to other presidential elections in recent history). If we assume that the remaining 45% of eligible voters can also be roughly broken down equally into liberal, conservative, and mixed ideology blocs, then we must conclude that 15% of a candidate's core voters are not voting for their preferred candidate! The solution to voter apathy shouldn't be for candidates to appeal to an indecisive center (of questionable neutrality) but to pander to their base -- and to pander as much as possible. Frankly, Trump's pandering to the far right is the reason I suspect he won in 2016. (And parenthetically, Bernie's pandering to progressives is why I believe he's best posed to beat Trump in 2020, even though he's not my preferred candidate.) Demagoguery resonates stronger than anything else.

    17 votes
  15. Comment on The Good Place - S04E13-14 "Whenever You're Ready" FINAL in ~tv

    psi
    Link Parent
    Sure, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are foils, so in some sense it doesn't make sense to talk about the one without talking about the other. That said, if you were to ask if the mindset of...

    Sure, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are foils, so in some sense it doesn't make sense to talk about the one without talking about the other. That said, if you were to ask if the mindset of someone walking through the door out of a sense of completeness is tantamount to someone killing themselves out of desperation, people would crook their heads and look at you funny. Intuitively, the two situations are different. To wit, the difference is their mindsets (being in a good place vs being in a bad place).

    But that kinda sidesteps the underlying issue here, which is whether the depiction of "suicide" in the Good Place is actually problematic. Plenty of people find assisted suicide in certain circumstances to be ethical, so it would seem rather extreme to suggest that any depiction of suicide is inherently problematic, for example. The question becomes, therefore, where do you draw the line? Or alternatively, to what degree is this particular depiction problematic?

    2 votes
  16. Comment on The Good Place - S04E13-14 "Whenever You're Ready" FINAL in ~tv

    psi
    Link Parent
    But that's pretty much exactly opposite of the door's purpose, right? People aren't walking through the door because they're dissatisfied with existing; they're walking through the door precisely...

    Suicide's motivation is usually some kind of dissatisfaction with identity/existence with the goal of escaping it. Beautiful or not, calm or not, going through the door is equivalent to suicide, which means that it is suicide. And The Good Place glorified it.

    But that's pretty much exactly opposite of the door's purpose, right? People aren't walking through the door because they're dissatisfied with existing; they're walking through the door precisely because they're satisfied.

    I agree with /u/sinyavitsa's assessment that the show's insistence that "death gives meaning to life" was a bit of a cop-out. Nevertheless, faced with eternity, it's perfectly conceivable that people might want to quit existing eventually, if not for any reason but sheer boredom. It's certainly debatable as to whether you should call that suicide, but the context here matters: infinity fundamentally changes the dynamics, especially the morality of the matter.

    3 votes
  17. Comment on Assessing the Trump team’s 6-point impeachment defense in ~news

    psi
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    To summarize, Trump’s lawyers argued before the Senate: “The transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security...

    To summarize, Trump’s lawyers argued before the Senate:

    1. “The transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call.”

    2. “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”

    3. “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know — did not even know the security assistance was paused until the end of August. Over a month after the July 25th call.”

    4. “Not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

    5. The security assistance flowed on Sept. 11, and a presidential meeting took place on Sept. 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.

    6. The Democrats’ blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor.

    Of course, the article pushes back against each of these points. However, the most complete rebuttal comes from a newly published (1/26) bombshell report in The New York Times. Evidently the Times has obtained a copy of Bolton’s upcoming book The Room Where It Happened (currently being delayed by the White House’s pre-publication clearance process), which alleges (among other things):

    1. Trump told Bolton [his national security advisor] to freeze the nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine until Ukraine agreed to investigate the Bidens.

    2. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believed that allegations of corruption against Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch were unfounded and that Giuliani was using her ouster to help his clients.

    The first point essentially undercuts the entirety of the President’s defense. The second point, perhaps unsurprisingly by this point, actually accuses Giuliani of doing exactly what he accused the Bidens of doing. But unlike the Bidens, recent indictments against Giuliani‘s associates suggest there is actually wrongdoing on his behalf.

    15 votes