skybrian's recent activity

  1. Comment on Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good? in ~tildes

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I'm optimistic that arguing in favor of uncertainty might have better results than getting tolerance for strong opposing views. (Around here, anyway.)

    I'm optimistic that arguing in favor of uncertainty might have better results than getting tolerance for strong opposing views. (Around here, anyway.)

    2 votes
  2. Comment on Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good? in ~tildes

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    Another possibility would be to have a cap on comment voting. Suppose the cap was 5 votes. Would be that good enough validation to make commenting feel worthwhile?

    Another possibility would be to have a cap on comment voting. Suppose the cap was 5 votes. Would be that good enough validation to make commenting feel worthwhile?

    2 votes
  3. Comment on U.S. Federal Reserve treads cautiously into municipal market with loan lifeline in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link
    From the article: [...] [...]

    From the article:

    The [US] central bank announced on Thursday that it would lend as much as $500 billion to states and the biggest local governments to cover massive tax shortfalls brought on by the swift slowdown in the economy, preventing a wave of short-term debt sales from hitting the public markets. But it stopped short of swooping in to buy long-term debt to head off another sell-off like the one that erupted last month, as it is doing with corporate bonds, collateralized loans and commercial mortgage-backed securities.

    [...]

    The step will ensure that states and the most-populous cities can raise money to keep operating as tax collections dry up while their economies grind to a virtual halt and annual filing deadlines are pushed back.

    [...]

    The lending program is somewhat limited in scope, however, since it is open to states and the 10 cities and 16 counties that are big enough to meet the minimum population requirements, according to Census figures. While states would be allowed to borrow money for smaller governments that don’t qualify on their own, it’s not clear how willing they would be to do so on behalf of financially struggling municipalities.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on Cloudflare moves from reCAPTCHA to hCaptcha in ~tech

    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I think it's more likely to be a side-effect of Firefox ramping up privacy controls. There is less signal, so the algorithm can't easily tell you're not a bot and has to start from scratch. You...

    I think it's more likely to be a side-effect of Firefox ramping up privacy controls. There is less signal, so the algorithm can't easily tell you're not a bot and has to start from scratch. You might take it as a sign that the privacy controls are working.

    It seems like there will need to be some trusted service that gathers information only to vouch that the user is still not a bot? Google can do it if they recognize your browser somehow, but that's not acceptable to many users.

    It's sort of like having a good credit rating. If nobody knows who you are, you don't have one.

    3 votes
  5. Comment on Why this is unlike the Great Depression (better & worse) in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link
    From the article:

    From the article:

    In the coming years, the United States will be effectively printing money to fund large fiscal deficits, while also having a large current account deficit and negative net international investment position. This is one of the main variables for my view that the dollar will likely decrease in value relative to a basket of foreign currencies in the coming years, which may then help the U.S. close the investment gap.

    2 votes
  6. Comment on BlackBerry says Chinese government hackers stole world's sensitive data for 10 years in ~tech

    skybrian
    Link
    The report seems to be here (PDF). I skimmed it but I couldn't really tell what the impact is.

    The report seems to be here (PDF). I skimmed it but I couldn't really tell what the impact is.

    1 vote
  7. Comment on Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good? in ~tildes

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I think rate-limiting would help somewhat. Often, heated discussions don't continue more than a day.

    I think rate-limiting would help somewhat. Often, heated discussions don't continue more than a day.

    9 votes
  8. Comment on Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good? in ~tildes

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    This seems mostly a matter of having cultural norms for politeness, and we will probably need to do a better job of that as Tildes grows. I don't think a norm of sending the source privately would...

    This seems mostly a matter of having cultural norms for politeness, and we will probably need to do a better job of that as Tildes grows.

    I don't think a norm of sending the source privately would be a good idea, because then other people reading along wouldn't have it. Also, we aren't talking in real time so it's fine to take a while to respond, or even to drop the conversation if real life intrudes. Unlike in a professional relationship, nobody is required to continue any discussion any longer than they want to.

    Instead I think we should follow the lead of AskHistorians on Reddit. As I understand it, nobody is expected to provide a citation right away, but it is fine and totally normal to ask someone where they found some interesting bit of information, and it usually gets a good response.

  9. Comment on The global dollar short squeeze in ~finance

    skybrian
    Link
    From an article written in February 2020: [...] The currency chart from the article was discontinued at the beginning of the year, but here is the suggested replacement.

    From an article written in February 2020:

    The risky part of this system is that many foreign governments and corporations borrow in dollars, even though most of their revenue is in their local currencies. The lender of those dollars is often not even a U.S. institution; foreign lenders often lend to foreign borrowers in dollars.

    This creates currency risk for the borrower, a mismatch between their revenue currency and their debt currency. They do this because the borrower can get lower interest rates by borrowing in dollars rather than their local currency, thus taking on currency risk themselves instead of the lender taking on that risk. Sometimes, dollar-denominated bonds and loans are the only option for them.

    By doing this, the borrower is basically shorting the dollar, whether they want to or not. If the dollar strengthens, they get hurt, because their debts rise relative to their local-currency income. If the dollar weakens, they get a partial debt jubilee, because their debts fall relative to their local-currency income.

    [...]

    When the United States finished its third round of QE in late 2014 and shifted to tighter monetary policy, however, the dollar shot up and has remained elevated, in what has become the third dollar spike of modern financial history. A combination of looser fiscal policy and tighter monetary policy than the rest of the developed world from late 2014 to the present has been a recipe for a strong dollar, while it lasts.

    In 2018, the strong dollar broke Argentina and Turkey’s currencies and drove the countries into recession, which is similar to what happened to several emerging markets in the late 1990’s. Argentina and Turkey had (and have) a large amount of dollar-denominated debt relative to their GDP, and low foreign-exchange reserves. Argentina’s dollar debts are mainly sovereign (Argentina’s government), while Turkey’s dollar debts are mainly with Turkish corporations.

    The currency chart from the article was discontinued at the beginning of the year, but here is the suggested replacement.

  10. Comment on Cloudflare moves from reCAPTCHA to hCaptcha in ~tech

    skybrian
    Link
    From the blog post: [...]

    From the blog post:

    Earlier this year, Google informed us that they were going to begin charging for reCAPTCHA. That is entirely within their right. Cloudflare, given our volume, no doubt imposed significant costs on the reCAPTCHA service, even for Google.

    Again, this is entirely rational for Google. If the value of the image classification training did not exceed those costs, it makes perfect sense for Google to ask for payment for the service they provide. In our case, that would have added millions of dollars in annual costs just to continue to use reCAPTCHA for our free users. That was finally enough of an impetus for us to look for a better alternative.

    We evaluated a number of CAPTCHA vendors as well as building a system ourselves. In the end, hCaptcha emerged as the best alternative to reCAPTCHA. We liked a number of things about the hCaptcha solutions: 1) they don't sell personal data; they collect only minimum necessary personal data, they are transparent in describing the info they collect and how they use and/or disclose it, and they agreed to only use such data to provide the hCaptcha service to Cloudflare; 2) performance (both in speed and solve rates) was as good as or better than expected during our A/B testing; 3) it has a robust solution for visually impaired and other users with accessibility challenges; 4) it supported Privacy Pass to reduce the frequency of CAPTCHAs; 5) it worked in regions where Google was blocked; and 6) the hCaptcha team was nimble and responsive in a way that was refreshing.

    [...]

    We worked with hCaptcha in two ways. First, we are in the process of leveraging our Workers platform to bear much of the technical load of the CAPTCHAs and, in doing so, reduce their costs. And, second, we proposed that rather than them paying us we pay them. This ensured they had the resources to scale their service to meet our needs. While that has imposed some additional costs, those costs were a fraction of what reCAPTCHA would have. And, in exchange, we have a much more flexible CAPTCHA platform and a much more responsive team.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on Political discussion here seems to be really bad. Is it even possible for it to be good? in ~tildes

    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    To me it doesn't seem that bad. Although I do ignore some heated discussions (the one on Bernie Sanders was pretty bad), I'm more likely to say what I think here with a possibility of being heard,...

    To me it doesn't seem that bad. Although I do ignore some heated discussions (the one on Bernie Sanders was pretty bad), I'm more likely to say what I think here with a possibility of being heard, and with a chance that I'll talk to the same person again sometime. Without that chance, I probably wouldn't bother.

    Also, I've gotten into some back-and-forths where, even if we didn't agree, I think we still respected each other at the end, so that's better than usual.

    I think the discussions would improve a bit if we knew each other better. The UI could help with this. Sometimes it's hard to remember people by usernames alone.

    10 votes
  12. Comment on This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures in ~misc

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    While I do think Trump was a particularly poor leader and almost anyone else would have done somewhat better, I don't think we should conclude that, had anyone else been president, things would...

    While I do think Trump was a particularly poor leader and almost anyone else would have done somewhat better, I don't think we should conclude that, had anyone else been president, things would have been fine, so the only thing that went wrong was that we elected the wrong president.

    We should be looking for things that went wrong at every level.

    For example, I think we should be asking fundamental questions about how our health care system is organized. Even "Medicare for All" is not right, because Medicare is still pay-per-procedure. This is like funding the police by how many tickets they write, or funding the fire department based on how many fires they put out, or the military based on how many wars they fight.

    If we want our hospitals to be prepared when a crisis hits, they need stable funding based on the population they serve, along with better planning for surge capacity.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures in ~misc

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    We could also compare a lot of other things about how countries responded to the pandemic. Some reasons they have different responses include geography (being an island helps), population density,...

    We could also compare a lot of other things about how countries responded to the pandemic. Some reasons they have different responses include geography (being an island helps), population density, differences in health care systems, previous experience with SARS, previous cultural expectations about wearing masks, differences in culture like handshakes versus bowing, relative trust in government and in experts, wealth and inequality, legal traditions like federalism, cultural cohesiveness, and so on.

    The current leadership matters, but a lot of other differences matter too.

    I think there is a difference between having a focus and oversimplifying by being single-issue. I would have been satisfied if the author of the article had taken a couple of paragraphs putting this into context, before then going on to say, okay, putting that aside, now we're going to talk about the US federal response and what Trump did wrong.

  14. Comment on This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures in ~misc

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I agree with all of this except the whataboutism charge. We should be thoughtful enough to say that it is true that the Trump administration's response was mostly inept (there are many...

    I agree with all of this except the whataboutism charge. We should be thoughtful enough to say that it is true that the Trump administration's response was mostly inept (there are many well-documented examples), but there are also many things that went wrong outside the federal government.

    Classic whataboutism is an attempt to distract by bringing up an unrelated bad thing, but we are still talking about the pandemic.

    2 votes
  15. Comment on This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures in ~misc

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    It's just one example I remembered of something that could have been done differently. I agree that California's response was better than most, but we can still look at what we should have done...

    It's just one example I remembered of something that could have been done differently. I agree that California's response was better than most, but we can still look at what we should have done differently. Our state government still has agency, even with budget constraints.

    I am saying that when we look at how the US was caught unprepared and what to fix, we should look at all our failures. The author of the Atlantic article is pushing a partisan fantasy where only Republicans are to blame and no Democrats did anything wrong. Trump certainly made it worse, but many things were already wrong before Trump was elected.

    3 votes
  16. Comment on This Is Trump’s Fault: The president is failing, and Americans are paying for his failures in ~misc

    skybrian
    Link Parent
    I'm not sure there's a distinction in everyday English? Finding a single scapegoat to blame, to the exclusion of all others, is very common.

    I'm not sure there's a distinction in everyday English? Finding a single scapegoat to blame, to the exclusion of all others, is very common.

    1 vote