psi's recent activity

  1. Comment on Assume the Sapir-Whorf Linguistic Theory is accurate: What languages would be best to learn, to improve one's cognitive functions and/or worldview? in ~humanities.languages

    psi
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    I think the problem with the question is that it's inherently unanswerable as phrased. Suppose the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is true. Then what? Knowing the hypothesis is true doesn't tell you how or...

    I think the problem with the question is that it's inherently unanswerable as phrased. Suppose the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is true. Then what? Knowing the hypothesis is true doesn't tell you how or why your perception of the world is different, only that it is. It's similar to how a proof that there exist solutions to some class of partial differential equations doesn't tell you what those solutions are.

    6 votes
  2. Comment on Neutrinos: The inscrutable “ghost particles” driving scientists crazy in ~science

    psi
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    There's no contradiction; you just need to look back at even earlier experiments. Beta decay had been a known phenomenon since 1897 [1], and for over a decade people had been content with...

    There's no contradiction; you just need to look back at even earlier experiments. Beta decay had been a known phenomenon since 1897 [1], and for over a decade people had been content with believing that, in addition to the nuclei, only one additional particle was needed to explain the decay process (an electron for charge conservation).

    However, by 1914 James Chadwick had confirmed that the momentum of the outgoing electron obeyed a continuous distribution, which would violate energy conservation if there were only three particles involved in the decay. Two decades later Pauli hypothesized the neutrino, and some two decades after that the Cowan–Reines neutrino experiment verified their existence [2].


    1. "Beta decay." Wikipedia.
    2. "Cowan–Reines neutrino experiment." Wikipedia.
    1 vote
  3. Comment on Powerful climate change deniers knowingly committed heinous crimes, and they should be put on Nuremberg style trials in ~enviro

    psi
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    I think this is more or less the story of asbestos (minus the criminal proceedings). After asbestos was discovered to be hazardous, many asbestos manufacturers were found liable for damages and...

    Oh yeah. I think that these companies should be dissolved and sold off in small pieces with the proceeds going towards things that will correct the problems they caused, and any executive involved should be tried as the criminals they are. The fact that we do not do this kind of thing to corporations is a crime against the public.

    I think this is more or less the story of asbestos (minus the criminal proceedings). After asbestos was discovered to be hazardous, many asbestos manufacturers were found liable for damages and forced into bankruptcy, at which point those companies essentially became trusts tasked with paying out personal inury claims.

    7 votes
  4. Comment on Texas secessionists win GOP backing for independence vote: 'Major step' in ~news

    psi
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    It's not impossible, however, since anything is possible through constitutional amendment. And sure, the barriers for amending the Constitution are high, but for something as consequential as...

    It's not impossible, however, since anything is possible through constitutional amendment. And sure, the barriers for amending the Constitution are high, but for something as consequential as secession, wouldn't you want the process to be difficult?

    And honestly, I don't find this hypothetical to be that far-fetched. I can conceive of the possibility that, if Republicans were to succeed in calling a constitutional convention, they could include an Amendment guaranteeing the right to secede whenever some conservative grievance is not duly addressed.

    6 votes
  5. Comment on Hunter Biden is convicted of all three felonies in federal gun trial in ~news

    psi
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    I think the problem with the current title ("Hunter Biden, one of sixteen million drug users in America who own firearms...") is that this article doesn't actually address how many Americans...

    I think the problem with the current title ("Hunter Biden, one of sixteen million drug users in America who own firearms...") is that this article doesn't actually address how many Americans simultaneously use drugs and own a firearm.

    I mean, it's a good point and I'd like to see the reference, but this title suggests that the AP is a reference for this claim, and that's simply not the case.

    10 votes
  6. Comment on Discussing AI music - examples and some thoughts in ~tech

    psi
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    As someone who dabbles in a few instruments, I find this to be a curious way to think about music composition. I mean, sometimes the process works as you described: I'll have a vibe in mind ahead...

    If [writers] know what to say to make a song that is as connected to them, as expressive of what they mean to convey, [...] is what the writer produced "lesser"?

    As someone who dabbles in a few instruments, I find this to be a curious way to think about music composition. I mean, sometimes the process works as you described: I'll have a vibe in mind ahead of time, and then I'll hammer away at the piano until I find something that sounds right.

    But other times I'll have nothing in mind at all, and I'll just play until I find something I think sounds nice. Or maybe I'll already have a motif stuck in my head, and then I'll just sit at the piano filling it out. Here's an example of me doing exactly that. You could describe this piece however you'd like, but the piece came first and the description came second.

    But in my opinion, the primary creative work in music production comes from composing the melody (followed by composing the harmony, and then from doing any processing work). If you're merely describing instead of composing, then I see your role more analogous to a film director referencing a temp track. The composer gets the credit for the artistic output, not the director.

    So to return to your question: I would say that the writer did not "produce" the song, as they didn't do any of the creative work involved in writing music. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the song itself is lesser; that's a matter of whether one thinks an AI model can be artistic.

    4 votes
  7. Comment on Digital note-taking system? in ~books

    psi
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    Regarding Obsidian: as @drannex said, Remotely Save works flawlessly if you're already paying for backup somewhere else (e.g., dropbox, backblaze, or your own self-hosted solution). It's just a...

    Regarding Obsidian: as @drannex said, Remotely Save works flawlessly if you're already paying for backup somewhere else (e.g., dropbox, backblaze, or your own self-hosted solution). It's just a bit painful to set-up.

    Otherwise the official solution (Obsidian Sync) starts at "only" $4/mo, though it doesn't offer much (1 GB storage, 5 MB max file size).

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Former US President Donald Trump has been found guilty of thirty-four counts of falsifying business records to influence the outcome of the 2016 election in ~news

    psi
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    The Democrats were in the majority (50+VP) when the second impeachment was tried, despite the House voted for the articles of impeachment a few weeks earlier while the Republicans were still in...
    • Exemplary

    The Democrats were in the majority (50+VP) when the second impeachment was tried, despite the House voted for the articles of impeachment a few weeks earlier while the Republicans were still in the majority and Trump was still President. McConnell then refused to bring the Senate back into session, forcing the House impeachment managers to deliver the charges to the newly-elected Senate.

    I'm only clarifying this point to highlight the ridiculousness of the Republican counterargument to impeachment. After refusing to try Trump while Trump was President, the Republicans then argued that they lacked the authority to convict a non-sitting President. (This assertion was then abbreviate into something like "you can't impeach an ex-President", which as you point out would be an irrelevant rebuttal: Trump already had been impeached.)

    And just to emphasize the unprincipled mendacity of it all: despite Trump insisting during the impeachment trial that a President couldn't be impeached and convicted by Congress unless they were first convicted by the criminal justice system, Trump now asserts that a President can't be tried by the criminal justice system unless they were first impeached and convicted by Congress.

    29 votes
  9. Comment on Former US President Donald Trump has been found guilty of thirty-four counts of falsifying business records to influence the outcome of the 2016 election in ~news

    psi
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    On the contrary. Unless he's literally in prison on election day, he'll be able to cast a vote in Florida.

    On the contrary. Unless he's literally in prison on election day, he'll be able to cast a vote in Florida.

    7 votes
  10. Comment on Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of May 27 in ~news

    psi
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    "Jamie Raskin: How to Force Justices Alito and Thomas to Recuse Themselves in the Jan. 6 Cases." The New York Times. (gift link) Representative Jamie Raskin responds, arguing that Alito and Thomas...

    Representative Jamie Raskin responds, arguing that Alito and Thomas must recuse themselves as a matter of law, and that if they continue to refuse to do so, the other Justices could (and should) force their recusals.

    7 votes
  11. Comment on Would you walk further to a bus stop that had faster service? in ~transport

    psi
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    No doubt Luxembourg does -- it's a European country, after all. But I would point out that it's incorrect to say that fares are the only thing preventing "homeless drug addicts" from loitering on...

    No doubt Luxembourg does -- it's a European country, after all. But I would point out that it's incorrect to say that fares are the only thing preventing "homeless drug addicts" from loitering on public transport. Solving that problem doesn't require adding fares; one could alternatively allocate more resources towards addressing homelessness and addiction, as you said.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on Would you walk further to a bus stop that had faster service? in ~transport

    psi
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    Not necessarily -- or at least, not often! For example, Germany offers the Deutschlandticket, which allows unlimited travel on regional trains, trams, and buses. However, instead of scanning the...

    An unlimited transit pass still needs to be scanned in some way.

    Not necessarily -- or at least, not often! For example, Germany offers the Deutschlandticket, which allows unlimited travel on regional trains, trams, and buses. However, instead of scanning the ticket when boarding, Germany employs a sort of "honor system" where tickets are (infrequently) checked by ticket inspectors. (Emphasis on infrequently: I have literally gone months at a time without having a ticket checked.)

    Also, progressive yuppies won't talk about it, but fares are often the only thing keeping homeless drug addicts from living full-time in transit systems, which the transit agency cannot support and which is harmful to safety (both for those people themselves and for other riders) and ridership metrics in general.

    Again, not necessarily! Public transportation is entirely free in Luxembourg except for first class upgrades. I didn't encounter any "homeless drug addicts" when I took the public transport, though of course I can't speak for all cases.

    6 votes
  13. Comment on Wisconsin lawsuit settlement makes new emails public regarding pro Donald Trump fake electors scheme in 2020 in ~misc

    psi
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    Since the title buries the lede a bit:

    Since the title buries the lede a bit:

    [T]hese documents make clear that the scheme was not—as now alleged by Trump’s defenders—a contingency plan in case courts overturned election results. On the contrary, this was a premeditated effort to use fraudulent slates of electors to introduce uncertainty and chaos into the Joint Session, no matter what the courts ruled. To put it simply, the new information obtained as a result of the Penebaker litigation shows that the false electors scheme was not just a lawyerly subplot to a haphazard coup attempt; rather, it was the centerpiece of Trump’s well-orchestrated pressure campaign to dismantle democracy.

    16 votes
  14. Comment on I gave up meat and gained so much more | A tale of one person's life, culture, and growing up in ~life

    psi
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    Whenever we consider how we ought to interact with other creatures (whether they be human or non-human), it's useful to have some sort of framework in mind. So let me offer a simple framework, a...

    Whenever we consider how we ought to interact with other creatures (whether they be human or non-human), it's useful to have some sort of framework in mind. So let me offer a simple framework, a small twist on the golden rule sometimes called the "platinum rule": we should strive to treat others as they want to be treated. If you choose to employ this guiding principle, you will still need to balance other groups's interests (yours included -- the platinum rule can be very greedy!), but I believe this rule to be a much better starting point when considering how we ought to treat animals. @RoyalHenOil made this point well already, so I won't rehash it here.

    It's a task easier said than done. We've only ever been humans -- how could we know what an animal wants? In general, we can't. But we can at least know what animals want sometimes. I can tell by my cat's meows whether she wants to play or to eat or to simply be noticed.

    But you don't need to be an animal behaviorist to understand that all animals share at least one universal desire, a desire hardwired into their genes since the dawn of life itself: the desire to live.

    So let us return to our guiding principle: we want to balance our innate human desire to eat meat with an animal's innate desire to survive and frolic and do animal things. Is there something we can do to balance our wants? I mean, the answer is obviously yes -- we can either choose to eat meat substitutes instead, or if we do continue to eat meat, we can at least make sure that it's worth it.

    And if there's one thing I could impress upon you, it's this: it's not worth eating mediocrely prepared meat. A cow has to suffer from birth to become a half-eaten microwave burrito (as I've written about before). I have a hard time understanding any framework under which that could be justified, unless that framework involves animals having infinitesimal intrinsic worth.

    I was raised in an environment that nurtured my propensity for all-or-nothing black-and-white thinking regarding what's right and wrong, so I don't think this is necessarily something that would effect most other people who decide to go vegan. But the echoes of that thought process I see in arguments for all-or-nothing veganism make me uncomfortable as a result.

    Ironically, I think you're still engaging in some level of black-and-white thinking here. Just because an action is immoral doesn't mean the correction rises to the level of being actionable. For instance, I would consider piracy wrong, but that doesn't prevent me from occasionally making the (selfish) calculation that my gain outweighs their lost. Similarly, I think it's possible to acknowledge that eating meat is selfish without necessarily giving it up entirely.

    You seem to be caught-up on the assumption that embracing animal empathy would necessitate veganism, but I'd like to push back on this belief. One of the most empathetic people I ever met was a vegetarian. Her ethical convictions were so strong that she eschewed eating chocolate -- at that time, I didn't even know there could be ethical objections to chocolate. So I asked her rather pointedly: well, why aren't you a vegan then? And her answer was the same as yours: she didn't know whether she'd be able to fully commit, and she feared failing and backsliding on the principles she already held dear.

    So I would end this treaties with a platitude: don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Veganism is probably better than vegetarianism which is probably better than meat reduction, but all of those are better than doing nothing.

    4 votes
  15. Comment on Donald Trump hush money trial: What criminal charges does he face? in ~news

    psi
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    I'd like to emphasize that last paragraph. Of the three people involved in the unlawful hush money payments, Michael Cohen, David Pecker (head of the National Enquirer), and Donald Trump, Michael...

    I'd like to emphasize that last paragraph. Of the three people involved in the unlawful hush money payments, Michael Cohen, David Pecker (head of the National Enquirer), and Donald Trump,

    1. Michael Cohen plead guilty to campaign finance violations for precisely these hush money payments, and

    2. David Pecker entered into a non-prosecution agreement for the same underlying crimes.

    The only person who didn't face any consequences was Trump, despite being the beneficiary of the scheme. So I don't see this as unjust political persecution; on the contrary, it feels unjust that he managed to avoid facing any charges for so long when the evidence was so public, brazen, and unambiguous.

    10 votes
  16. Comment on I gave up meat and gained so much more | A tale of one person's life, culture, and growing up in ~life

    psi
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    No worries! It seems I could've worded my comment more clearly.

    No worries! It seems I could've worded my comment more clearly.

    2 votes
  17. Comment on I gave up meat and gained so much more | A tale of one person's life, culture, and growing up in ~life

    psi
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    No, I certainly didn't mean to imply that. I think you're making the mistake of affirming the consequent. Edit: @papasquat explained my point better.

    No, I certainly didn't mean to imply that. I think you're making the mistake of affirming the consequent.

    Edit: @papasquat explained my point better.

    5 votes
  18. Comment on I gave up meat and gained so much more | A tale of one person's life, culture, and growing up in ~life

    psi
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    We already do hold ourselves to completely separate standards. Animals behave in all sorts of ways that would be considered sociopathic if replicated by a human. Usually we excuse animal behavior...

    But I also simply am not convinced that it's inherently morally wrong to kill animals for the purpose of eating their meat or using their animal products -- not unless you hold humans to a standard that's utterly disconnected from the rest of the animal kingdom.

    We already do hold ourselves to completely separate standards. Animals behave in all sorts of ways that would be considered sociopathic if replicated by a human. Usually we excuse animal behavior by saying that animals lack morals, as most DND players already know. We don't usually excuse our immoral behavior by comparing ourselves to animals.

    Not that I'm trying to argue for militant/all-or-nothing veganism (I'm but a mere vegetarian). At its core, veganism is about minimizing harm "as far as is possible and practicable". It's an inherently subjective standard -- maybe what I consider practical is not what you would.

    8 votes
  19. Comment on The cycling revolution in Paris continues: Bicycle use now exceeds car use in ~transport

    psi
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    Ah, that makes much more sense!

    Ah, that makes much more sense!

  20. Comment on The cycling revolution in Paris continues: Bicycle use now exceeds car use in ~transport

    psi
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    A bit off topic. When I visited Paris I was generally surprised at how many activities required tickets, but I found the ticket for the Arc de Triomphe to be especially galling (16 € per adult!)....

    Arc de Triomphe is very unpleasant

    A bit off topic. When I visited Paris I was generally surprised at how many activities required tickets, but I found the ticket for the Arc de Triomphe to be especially galling (16 € per adult!). It just seemed like a weird thing to gatekeep access to, considering there's no actual barrier besides the five lanes of traffic on the roundabout. Not that the roundabout seemed to prevent trespassing -- I watched people run across the roundabout to access the Arc after the structure "closed" for the evening.

    So, uh, I guess my point is, less cars in Paris would translate to better health for its residents, better health for the environment, and easier trespass to the Arc de Triomphe.

    2 votes