psi's recent activity

  1. Comment on What's something you think more people should know about/be aware of? in ~talk

    psi
    Link Parent
    Could you elaborate? The wiki article starts so: But it seems too technical to be insightful (what are Bond Cycles, the Quaternary, methane clathrate, etc?)

    The Clathrate Gun. This is horrifying and more people should be aware.

    Could you elaborate? The wiki article starts so:

    The clathrate gun hypothesis refers to a proposed explanation for the periods of rapid warming during the Quaternary. The idea is that changes in fluxes in upper intermediate waters in the ocean caused temperature fluctuations that alternately accumulated and occasionally released methane clathrate on upper continental slopes, these events would have caused the Bond Cycles and individual interstadial events, such as the Dansgaard–Oeschger interstadials.[2]

    The hypothesis was supported for the Bølling-Allerød and Preboreal period, but not for Dansgaard–Oeschger interstadials,[3] although there are still debates on the topic.[4]

    But it seems too technical to be insightful (what are Bond Cycles, the Quaternary, methane clathrate, etc?)

    3 votes
  2. Comment on President Trump's lawyers said the President and his administration won't cooperate in an ongoing impeachment inquiry in ~news

    psi
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    The White House's letter is worth a read, as chilling as it is. Frankly, it's amazing that lawyers wrote this letter, given the tenuous relation between its contents and actual facts. Take this...

    The White House's letter is worth a read, as chilling as it is. Frankly, it's amazing that lawyers wrote this letter, given the tenuous relation between its contents and actual facts. Take this paragraph on page 2, for example.

    For his part, President Trump took the unprecedented step of providing the public transparency by declassifying and releasing the record of his call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. The record clearly established that the call was completely appropriate and that there is no basis for your inquiry. The fact that there was nothing wrong with the call was also powerfully confirmed by Chairman Schiff’s decision to create a false version of the call and read it to the American people at a congressional hearing, without disclosing that he was simply making it all up.

    It's as though Trump wrote it himself.

    Some particularly egregious claims I've noticed:

    Not surprisingly, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice has made clear on multiple occasions that employees of the Executive Branch who have been instructed not to appear or not to provide particular testimony before Congress based on privileges or immunities of the Executive Branch cannot be punished for following such instructions. (pg 4)

    • The Office of Legal Counsel works for the executive branch and in some sense for the President. It is not the final arbiter of legislative-executive disputes.

    The real problem, as we are now learning, is that Chairman Schiff’s office, and perhaps others — despite initial denials — were involved in advising the whistleblower before the complaint was filed. (pg 7)

    • Apparently illegally circumventing the Whistleblower Protection Act is fine when the executive branch does it (ie, not forwarding the complaint as required by statute), but it's not okay when the legislative branch does it (despite there being no evidence the legislature actually did something illegal).

    When Trump is inevitably impeached, expect Trump to continue to argue in the Senate trial that his rights are being infringed upon, while saliently omitting that he's talking about the rights of those criminally charged. Expect the GOP to argue that, though the evidence appears incriminating , it does not prove his guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt".

    But bear in mind that the constitution requires no such standard of evidence for impeachment. A civil trial only requires a preponderance of the evidence (ie, 51% or more), a threshold more appropriate here. After all, if Trump is convicted, that conviction would come with no loss of rights. Instead, he would simply lose the privilege of being President.

    9 votes
  3. Comment on Quantum Darwinism, an Idea to Explain Objective Reality, Passes First Tests in ~science

    psi
    Link
    Here's a (perhap unfairly harsh) rebuttal (warning: stray into their other blogposts at your own peril). To summarize, Motl's critique is that the experiment doesn't really show anything that...

    Here's a (perhap unfairly harsh) rebuttal (warning: stray into their other blogposts at your own peril). To summarize, Motl's critique is that the experiment doesn't really show anything that can't be explained by ordinary quantum mechanics (I'm not familiar enough with the experiment to verify Motl's claim).

    However, that's not really the point I'd like to make. I want to highlight the following apocryphal story attributed to Wittgenstein (roughly transcribed from this talk).

    A friend sees Ludwig Wittgenstein on a street corner, lost in thought, and says "What's bothering you, Ludwig?"

    "I was just wondering why people said it was natural to believe the sun went around the center of the earth rather than the other way around."

    "Well, that's because it looks like the sun goes around the earth."

    Wittgenstein thinks for a moment, then responds: "Tell me, what would it have looked like if it'd been the other way around?"

    There is a natural tendency to assume that the classical realm is real, and the quantum realm only applies at small distances. But that's silly: in terms of sheer predictive power, quantum mechanics is actually a much better theory than classical mechanics. And according to quantum mechanics, when quantum objects interact with other quantum objects, they don't become less entangled -- they become more entangled!

    So how do we explain the seemingly classical world we live in? Well, one proposition is Many Worlds. Those carefully prepared quantum states quickly decohere with the environment, entangling the lab with the experiment (this is true regardless of interpretation). In Many Worlds, if one could somehow "see" outside the environment (ie, outside the universe), there would be multiple "worlds", all in superposition; in other interpretations of QM (but not every other), the wave function somehow "collapses" instead (quantum darwinism is in the latter category).

    (Perhaps surprisingly, Many Worlds actually makes the fewest assumptions: there is the wave function, and that's it; the existence of multiple worlds is just a consequence. Collapse-based interpretations need to tack on extra machinery to explain the collapse.)

    To be clear, I don't mean to denigrate the authors of the paper for their work. Frankly, I support any amount of work on the foundations of quantum mechanics (in my mind, the ontology of quantum mechanics is one the Big Questions). But ultimately, when we want to understand what's truly fundamental, it's either turtles all the way down -- particle and subparticles and subsubparticles -- or it's information. Embracing the classical world won't help us here, but embracing the quantum world might.

    4 votes
  4. Comment on Apple Keynote Discussion Thread [September 10, 2019 @ 10:00 am PDT] in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    I actually had an opportunity to try out the smart keyboard at an Apple store (on an iPad Pro), but I found it rather annoying to use with the Pencil. Basically, when the case is folded back, it...

    I actually had an opportunity to try out the smart keyboard at an Apple store (on an iPad Pro), but I found it rather annoying to use with the Pencil. Basically, when the case is folded back, it isn't entirely level (at least, as far as I could manage) which causes the iPad to wiggle when you're writing on it. I'm sure if you planned on doing any amount of typing the case would be worth it, but it's seem like it would just get in the way for me.

    But then again, maybe I just didn't fold it back correctly?

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Apple Keynote Discussion Thread [September 10, 2019 @ 10:00 am PDT] in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    Maybe somebody can help me out: I'm considering purchasing an iPad purely for the purpose of note taking (I have no other Apple products, for what it's worth). How well does the iPad work for this...

    Maybe somebody can help me out: I'm considering purchasing an iPad purely for the purpose of note taking (I have no other Apple products, for what it's worth). How well does the iPad work for this purpose versus other tablets/devices? Also, are there any significant differences between the new iPad and the current model (which can be had for ~$250 on Amazon)?

    1 vote
  6. Comment on Would it be bad to mount a macbook pro upside down on a VESA tray? in ~comp

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

    psi
    Link Parent
    Honestly, I'm glad they chose not to implement this. If they had, I'd probably just end up constantly cutting people off, which would be less immersive in the other direction. But if ME2 & ME3...

    Not just skip their dialogue but the actual action of interrupting the NPC mid-sentence!

    Honestly, I'm glad they chose not to implement this. If they had, I'd probably just end up constantly cutting people off, which would be less immersive in the other direction.

    But if ME2 & ME3 have this feature as you say, then I guess I'll see if my prediction holds true.

    1 vote
  8. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    psi
    (edited )
    Link
    There are a few games I've been cycling through in the last ~1 week (all available through xbox game pass ultimate). Moonlighter For those who don't know, Moonlighter is a rogue-lite. And like any...

    There are a few games I've been cycling through in the last ~1 week (all available through xbox game pass ultimate).

    Moonlighter
    For those who don't know, Moonlighter is a rogue-lite. And like any rouge-lite, it has a twist: rather than being a heroic adventurer, you play as a heroic merchant! Honestly, though, it amounts to the same thing, except there's an additional merchant mini-game you play each day in which you sell relics collected from the dungeon.

    I found the gameplay loop appealing to a rather reptilian part of me: do [activity] for [bigger number]. And since the game only saves at certain times, you're constantly vacillating between setting up shop one last time (so you can buy that upgrade) or one more dungeon run (since it's only a few minutes) -- it's a real cheese and nachos situation.

    It took me less than 10 hr to complete it, which was probably just the right amount of length. Had it been any longer, it probably would've outstayed its welcome.

    Also, the music is great.

    Outer Wilds
    Maybe it's because I play at night (or maybe it's just agoraphobia), but this game spooks the bejebus out of me. I do enjoy slowly piecing the story together, but because I know I'll have to return to some place that that stresses me out, I doubt I'll finish this game.

    Tomb Raider (2013)
    While I never played the original, after ~5 hr of playing, I decided to switch to something else. I might return to this game later, but it has yet to hook me.

    Mass Effect
    Somehow I managed to avoid playing this in high school. Well, that was a mistake. After 4.5 hr of playing, I am finally the commander of my very own starship!

    A subtle yet appreciated feature I'm noticing is that the dialogue options actually show up slightly before the end of dialogue, which means the flow of conversation isn't constantly interrupted by unnatural pauses. If Bioware figured this out more than ten years ago, why haven't other developers adopted this feature?

    4 votes
  9. Comment on Twitch Suspends Popular Leftist Streamer After Controversial 9/11 Comments in ~misc

    psi
    Link Parent
    For the convenience of others:

    For the convenience of others:

    Crenshaw went on to argue against the idea that the United States’ destabilizing foreign policies had sowed the seeds of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In response to Rogan’s comments that people in other countries now dislike us because they’ve watched civilians die en masse to U.S. drone strikes and other military ventures, Crenshaw suggested that “millions” of people in countries like Yemen and Iraq are actually “begging” for the U.S. to establish a bigger military presence and restore order. Ultimately, he concluded that if the U.S. was to pull out of many of the 100-plus countries it is currently occupying in various forms, worse actors would “100 percent” fill the power vacuum.

    “We fucking totally brought it on ourselves, dude,” he then said. “We fucking did. Holy shit. Look at the way that this dipshit is running his fucking mouth, justifying genocide right now.”

    Piker’s Twitch chat did not react well to this statement. Responding to the sentiment in the chat he brought up the fact that the U.S. sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, which had likely helped fund 9/11. “How is anything I’m saying controversial?” he said. “We fucking fund the people who did 9/11—still, to this day. Donald Trump literally went on national television and said, ‘They bought $10 billion worth of weapons,’ so if they chop-chop-chop an American legal permanent resident, it’s OK.” (It was actually $8 billion worth of weapons split between Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.)

    17 votes
  10. Comment on What have you been watching / reading this week? (Anime/Manga) in ~anime

    psi
    Link
    Besides catching up with Vinland Saga, I decided to give Legend of the Galactic Heroes a shot per the recommendation of @Corin in this thread. The first episode was confusing, to say the least....

    Besides catching up with Vinland Saga, I decided to give Legend of the Galactic Heroes a shot per the recommendation of @Corin in this thread.

    The first episode was confusing, to say the least. Frankly there were just way too many places/names dropped for a pilot episode, though maybe that's my fault for not starting with the movies. Coupled with unusually fast subtitles and the tendency to keep jumping from one character to another, while simultaneously referencing characters that didn't even have screen time, I found it basically impossible to follow what was happening. That said, I certainly was impressed with the scope of the anime, and I figured this was an exercise in perseverance. Surely by keeping with it for long enough, I though, I'll get a feeling for the different characters and settings.

    Well, that's what I figured until I watched the after-credits preview for the next episode: Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Episode 102, Braving Danger to Bear Arms. Turns out my plex agent was confused by the naming scheme, interpreted show_101 as show_s01e01, and decided to start me on one of the final episodes of the show. So while I may have inadvertently spoiled some chunk of the series, at least I can take solace in the fact that nothing made sense. Needless to say, I think I'll give the show another shot.

    3 votes
  11. Comment on A cozy alliance between insurance companies and law enforcement has turned the justice system into the industry’s hired gun and left innocent customers facing prison in ~misc

    psi
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    To me, this is the most pernicious part of this entire arrangement. Here you had an industry which literally specializes in risk management, and you allow them an asymmetrical benefit. Obviously...

    [T]he Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a group composed of insurance companies, consumer groups, and other stakeholders, helped craft model legislation that guaranteed companies broad immunity from any customer who wished to sue for being wrongly accused of fraud.

    [...]

    To successfully sue over false fraud accusations, a consumer has to prove the insurer acted with malice or bad faith — a high bar that typically requires expensive litigation to obtain internal company records.

    “They’re saying, ‘We have a right to be wrong, and if we’re wrong you can’t sue us,’” said Amy Bach, the executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer group that advocates for insurance policyholders. “You know how you have fishing nets for tuna and it also catches dolphins in the same net? If the system is too aggressively or too broadly applied, it hurts people who did not commit fraud but can’t muster the resources to defend themselves against the juggernaut of a big corporation.”

    To me, this is the most pernicious part of this entire arrangement. Here you had an industry which literally specializes in risk management, and you allow them an asymmetrical benefit. Obviously they're going to abuse it. It's like that one oft-quoted Fight Club scene, except now we're comparing the likelihood of a person taking a plea deal to the likelihood of an insurance company losing a lawsuit (or more realistically, settling).

    A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on iamthemorning - Ghost of a Story (Live chamber recording) in ~music

    psi
    Link
    I love this band! Their first album (eponymously titled) is one of my favorite prog albums. Fun fact: the name of the band comes from an Oceansize song of the same name (that album, Effloresce, is...

    I love this band! Their first album (eponymously titled) is one of my favorite prog albums.

    Fun fact: the name of the band comes from an Oceansize song of the same name (that album, Effloresce, is another one of my favorite albums).

    Oceansize - I am the Morning

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Capsule - Jumper [J-pop] in ~music

    psi
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    Capsule has frequently (perhaps to cliche) been monikered as "Japanese Daft Punk". The electronic duo consists of vocalist Toshiko Koshijima and Producer Yasutaka Nakata, who himself is the...

    Capsule has frequently (perhaps to cliche) been monikered as "Japanese Daft Punk". The electronic duo consists of vocalist Toshiko Koshijima and Producer Yasutaka Nakata, who himself is the producer for several other projects:

    If you like Jumper, I'd recommend the entire album More! More! More! as a starting point.

    2 votes
  14. Comment on Justice Department Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders in ~news

    psi
    (edited )
    Link
    That is, the Trump Administration has reversed its reversal: it will try to add a citizenship question in a way "consistent with the Supreme Court's decision" (to quote Jody Hunt, assistant...

    That is, the Trump Administration has reversed its reversal: it will try to add a citizenship question in a way "consistent with the Supreme Court's decision" (to quote Jody Hunt, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the DOJ).

    The move is rather ridiculous. The Trump Administration argued that the question was needed to protect the voting rights of minority groups; however, Thomas Hofeller, a redistricting expert who worked for the GOP (and who is personally responsible for many states's gerrymandered maps), conducted a study concluding that such a question would actually suppress minority response rates. Moreover, he shared these results with Census Bureau employees, making his study the likely catalyst for including a citizenship question.

    The Administration's justification for adding the census question was clearly pretextual (which is the reason the attempt to add the question failed). Whatever arguments the Administration cooks up next won't suddenly become non-pretextual just because the DOJ invents a new justification.

    8 votes
  15. Comment on Friday haiku challenge in ~creative

    psi
    Link
    Yes! Huzzah! IT LIVES! Wait -- fuck. Scratch that, still broken. Better make some tea.

    Yes! Huzzah! IT LIVES!
    Wait -- fuck. Scratch that, still broken.
    Better make some tea.

    2 votes
  16. Comment on We Thought Our Prison Strike Was a Success. Then Came the Officers in Riot Gear in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    This is patently absurd. All systematic injustices are exactly that: an external will imposed by one population on another. I doubt you'd argue that feminism should be lead by men or that Black...

    Pressure to change systems like this, which are designed to impose an external will on an internal population, MUST come from outside those systems, not inside.

    This is patently absurd. All systematic injustices are exactly that: an external will imposed by one population on another. I doubt you'd argue that feminism should be lead by men or that Black Lives Matter should be lead by their white allies.

    In my opinion, the largest problem with the prison-industrial complex is the lack of advocates for those inside. Obviously prisoners need advocates on the outside (since those are the only ones with the power to do anything, particularly since most prisoners aren't permitted to vote), but prisoners should be able to advocate for themselves in some way. They're the ones directly impacted here.

    6 votes
  17. Comment on Supreme Court finds that courts can't rule on partisan gerrymandering cases in ~news

    psi
    Link Parent
    I believe mathematicians actually did submit amicus briefs offering algorithms to measure/counter gerrymandering. Unfortunately, it seems like the Court decided "impartiality" was more important...

    I believe mathematicians actually did submit amicus briefs offering algorithms to measure/counter gerrymandering. Unfortunately, it seems like the Court decided "impartiality" was more important than evidence-based solutions.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on Reddit has quarantined /r/The_Donald in ~tech

    psi
    Link Parent
    I wouldn't blame Ellen for either of those. In fact, here's the former reddit CEO (yishan) calling out spez for using Ellen as a scapegoat (emphasis added): And as a bonus instance of spez acting...

    I wouldn't blame Ellen for either of those. In fact, here's the former reddit CEO (yishan) calling out spez for using Ellen as a scapegoat (emphasis added):

    AYYYYYY LMAO

    How's everyone doing? This is AWESOME!

    There's something I neglected to tell you all this time ("executive privilege", but hey I'm declassifying a lot of things these days). Back around the time of the /r/creepshots debacle, I wrote to /u/spez for advice. I had met him shortly after I had taken the job, and found him to be a great guy. Back in the day when reddit was small, the areas he oversaw were engineering, product, and the business aspects - those are the same things I tend to focus on in a company (each CEO has certain areas of natural focus, and hires others to oversee the rest). As a result, we were able to connect really well and have a lot of great conversations - talking to him was really valuable.

    Well, when things were heating around the /r/creepshots thing and people were calling for its banning, I wrote to him to ask for advice. The very interesting thing he wrote back was "back when I was running things, if there was anything racist, sexist, or homophobic I'd ban it right away. I don't think there's a place for such things on reddit. Of course, now that reddit is much bigger, I understand if maybe things are different."

    I've always remembered that email when I read the occasional posting here where people say "the founders of reddit intended this to be a place for free speech." Human minds love originalism, e.g. "we're in trouble, so surely if we go back to the original intentions, we can make things good again." Sorry to tell you guys but NO, that wasn't their intention at all ever. Sucks to be you, /r/coontown - I hope you enjoy voat!

    The free speech policy was something I formalized because it seemed like the wiser course at the time. It's worth stating that in that era, we were talking about whether it was ok for people to post creepy pictures of women taken legally in public. That's shitty, but it's a far cry from the extremes of hate that some parts of the site host today. It seemed that allowing creepers to post (anonymized) pictures of women taken in public, in a relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page, was a small price to pay for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse.

    Having made that decision - much of reddit's current condition is on me. I didn't anticipate what (some) redditors would decide to do with freedom. reddit has become a lot bigger - yes, a lot better - AND a lot worse. I have to take responsibility.

    But... the most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressed /u/ekjp to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow. Ellen isn't some "evil, manipulative, out-of-touch incompetent she-devil" as was often depicted. She was approved by the board and recommended by me because when I left, she was the only technology executive anywhere who had the chops and experience to manage a startup of this size, AND who understood what reddit was all about. As we can see from her post-resignation activity, she knows perfectly well how to fit in with the reddit community and is a normal, funny person - just like in real life - she simply didn't sit on reddit all day because she was busy with her day job.

    Ellen was more or less inclined to continue upholding my free-speech policies. /r/fatpeoplehate was banned for inciting off-site harassment, not discussing fat-shaming. What all the white-power racist-sexist neckbeards don't understand is that with her at the head of the company, the company would be immune to accusations of promoting sexism and racism: she is literally Silicon Valley's #1 Feminist Hero, so any "SJWs" would have a hard time attacking the company for intentionally creating a bastion (heh) of sexist/racist content. She probably would have tolerated your existence so long as you didn't cause any problems - I know that her long-term strategies were to find ways to surface and publicize reddit's good parts - allowing the bad parts to exist but keeping them out of the spotlight. It would have been very principled - the CEO of reddit, who once sued her previous employer for sexual discrimination, upholds free speech and tolerates the ugly side of humanity because it is so important to maintaining a platform for open discourse. It would have been unassailable.

    Well, now she's gone (you did it reddit!), and /u/spez has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules. Admittedly, I can't say I'm terribly upset.

    http://i.imgur.com/BBvdWuv.gif

    And as a bonus instance of spez acting shitty towards Ellen, there's this exchange (which was posted in the wake of spez getting caught editing other people's comments):

    [CaptInsane]

    How do you feel about ArsTechnica's David Kravets comparing you to Ellen Pao, and that despite all the hate she got she didn't stoop this low?

    [spez]

    It's fair. Ellen wasn't the first Reddit engineer, so she probably lacked the expertise to do it, and even if she did, she was smart enough to not.

    [ekjp]

    Yeah, there's no comparison. I would have immediately fired anyone who did that.

    23 votes
  19. Comment on Got any new electronics? Tell me about them! in ~talk

    psi
    Link Parent
    Psychonauts 2 and The Outer Worlds are definitely games I'm excited for. Maybe I'll skip Banjo Kazooie and go for Super Lucky's Tale instead; it seems like just the sort of casual platforming game...

    Psychonauts 2 and The Outer Worlds are definitely games I'm excited for. Maybe I'll skip Banjo Kazooie and go for Super Lucky's Tale instead; it seems like just the sort of casual platforming game I like to play (Banjo Kazooie is feeling a bit dated).

    Yeah, Sea of Thieves seems like a game that would shine with a group. But since it's PVP-everywhere (at least, as far as I'm aware), it doesn't seem like it'd be very accommodating to new players. And it looks like your brother confirmed my suspicions. I'll probably pass on it; tell your brother that I'm glad he suffered so I won't have to. :p