Reading Feed (March 2017)
A collection of things that I was happy I read. Views expressed by linked authors are chosen because I think they're interesting, not because I think they're correct, unless indicated otherwise.
Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | On Automoderation -- Zvi concretizes much the the vague disease I was feeling around Automoderation, despite it being an eminently plausible approach to its design specification.
Blog: JeffTK | Slack tool: predict -- Note that Jeff's implementation is of a market mechanism that's not budget-balanced, and rewards marginal improvements of the "last price", rather than marginal improvements of the "current best price". I suspect that these design decisions have the net effect of denoising the signal of predicter quality.
Blog: Schneier on Security | New Gmail Phishing Scam -- "The article is right; this is frighteningly good."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Baffling Politics of Paid Maternity Leave in India -- "When I gave a lecture at a local university, for example, I apparently shocked the students when I said matter-of-factly: 'India would be a better country if it were richer and more unequal.' I think India’s extreme poverty makes this obviously true in a utilitarian sense, i.e. better for Indians, but it wasn’t so obvious to the students some-of-whom discussed inequality in terms that could easily have been duplicated at Berkeley. The inequality conversation has jumped the pond in ways that seem to me to be completely inappropriate." cf. Marginal Revolution | India is a much more Entrepreneurial Society than the United States (and that’s a problem)
Blog: Marginal Revolution | Cyber plus nuclear equals Uh-Oh -- deeper than you think: "[O]ne state has penetrated the other state’s launch system, so that it could stop a nuclear counter attack. The state that has penetrated the launch system knows that it has a military advantage. However, if it reveals the advantage to the target state, the target state will be able to patch its system, destroying the advantage. The target state does not know that it is at a disadvantage, and it cannot be told by the attacker..."
Comic: xkcd | Onboarding -- Some day, prints of original Munroes will adorn the living rooms of the rich and conspicuously-consuming. Our children will deride them as being "bad art" and "pointless" and "a thing that people only pretend to like to look smart", but they'll be wrong.
Blog: Slate Star Codex | Book Review: Seeing Like a State -- This review caused me to insert Seeing Like a State near the top of my to-read stack.
Blog: Agenty Duck | Automoderation -- The weirdest part of reading this post is that, when Brienne attempted to communicate the feeling of 'not being able to filter out conversational threads', I completely missed that she was doing it on first read. Something something illusion of transparency, I suppose.
Blog: Marginal Revolution | Does knowing the price lower your enjoyment of goods and services? -- It's my pleasure to introduce Tyler Cowen, master of the blog post needing nothing more than a title.
Blog: [Shtetl-Optimized | Insert D-Wave Post Here] (http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3192) -- Contrary to the title, there's actually enough D-Wave skepticism to make classic Aaronson fans like me content with the world.
Blog: Bits and Pieces | I know it's a dumb question, but -- "...what does it mean when it says that USGSOs seeking to be recognized are expected to maintain 'in both policy and practice ... Publication of the demographic breakdown of the organization’s membership'?" (One day, internecine Harvard politics will no longer occupy pride of place on Faults. But, owing to the weakness of your author, today is not that day.)
Comic: ZenPencils | Weapon of Choice -- "No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy."
Blog: Schneier on Security | France Abandons Plans for Internet Voting -- This makes the civic optimist in me sad, though I will defer to Bruce's expertise in opposing internet voting on the security demerits.
Comic: SMBC | Free Will
Comic: xkcd | Best-Tasting Colors
Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Two Irelands Have Ties Brexit Can't Destroy -- "I’m seeing a world where the past is emerging as stronger than we had thought, and where nationalism has arguably been the most influential idea since the 17th century. That probably means the two Irelands still have some surprises in store for us."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | How Emotions are Made -- "I can say this book is very well-written, it covers material not found in other popular science books, and it comes strongly recommended by Daniel Gilbert. I asked a friend of mine who researches directly in this area, and she reports that Barrett’s view is in fact taken seriously by other researchers, it has been very influential, and it is has been gaining in popularity. Make of that what you will."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | General complaints about economic inequality do not seem to spur action -- "'Be careful how complain' is one of the overarching points here, and it is a point which is not heeded so very often."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | Scholarly Publishing and its Discontents -- "This is an ideal book of sorts. He writes it clearly, says what he wants to, ends it, and then gives it away for free." (link)
Blog: Overcoming Bias | The Robot Protocol -- "Such public robots may vary enormously in their mental and physical capacities, but if they are to mix smoothly with humans in public they then we will probably expect them to maintain a minimal set of common social capacities... It seems feasible to start now to think about the design of such a robot protocol."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | Robert E. Kelly on the German-Korean unification parallel -- "Internationally: today’s external patron (the United States) of the free Korean half is weakening, while the external patron (China) of the communist half is strengthening. The opposite was true of the United States and West Germany, and the Soviet Union and East Germany, in 1989..."
Long: Meet the Companies Literally Dropping ‘Irish’ Pubs in Cities Across the World -- h/t Tyler Cowen, "the globalization of Irish pub design"
Blog: Schneier on Security | The CIA's "Development Tradecraft DOs and DON'Ts" -- "DO NOT use US-centric timestamp formats such as MM-DD-YYYY. YYYYMMDD is generally preferred. / Rationale: Maintains consistency across tools, and avoids associations with the United States."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | My favorite things Ireland -- "Poetry: I pick Joyce’s Ulysses, then Yeats and also Seamus Heaney, especially if the word 'bog' appears in the poem..."
Blog: Marginal Revolution | South Sudan sentences to ponder -- "Late last month, famine was declared in two counties of the civil-war torn East African country of South Sudan... A few days later the South Sudanese government hiked the fee for work permits for foreign aid workers from $100 to $10,000..."
Blog: Bits and Pieces | How it would probably work in practice -- "Now what will happen when two students are vying for the role as captain of the softball team, and one is in a sorority? Probably depends on a lot of variables--who else on the team is in a similar organization, the degree of consensus about whether the policy is appropriate, etc. Same thing if two students are competing for Rhodes endorsements, etc. Their peers will have to decide whether to turn them in..."
Blog: Slate Star Codex | Links 3/17 -- Come for "modern activism, and possibly the entire modern left, is shaped by what techniques are optimized to succeed on a college campus with a moderately friendly administration.", stay for Wikipedia | Postpositive adjectives in Modern English.
Blog: Schneier on Security | Google Discloses Details of an Unpatched Microsoft Vulnerability -- ...ninety days after they gave Microsoft ninety days to patch it, just like last time. Next!
Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Devil is in the Details -- "...although the piece does not feel dramatic at first it is one of my favorite articles of the year."
Blog: NYU | What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Had Swapped Genders? -- This is really one of those things you have to see to understand: A re-staging of the Trump/Clinton debates played by actors with genders reversed. There's a two-minute clip at the link, and that alone sheds some light on how we got here... h/t Tyler Cowen
Blog: Overcoming Bias | The Great Cycle Rule -- In which Robin Hanson performs pseudo-Fourier Analysis on all of human history.
Blog: Marginal Revolution | Immigrant Doctors -- "According to the Immigrant Doctors Project, those 7000 physicians [from the six countries targeted in Donald Trump’s new Executive Order] provide 14 million doctors’ appointments each year and many of them are located in the poorer, whiter, and rural parts of the country..."
Editorial: Tyler Cowen @ The American Interest | America’s Placebo President? -- far broader than the title implies; excerpt: "It is hard for many Trump critics to understand that many of Trump’s supporters are, so far, getting what they wanted. If you think that Trump can’t possibly restore those manufacturing jobs and bring 4 percent growth, you’re right—but you’re also missing the point. Trump supporters see their leader as planting some very visible flags in the culture wars..."
Comic: SMBC | Requiem for a Dilbert -- cw: post-modern, existential angst
Blog: Marginal Revolution | Should we tax robots? -- "Presumably the claim is that there is either a distributional or an “externalities from a happy human being” reason to slow the rate at which capital is substituted for labor. But if we accept that assumption, should we tax robots or subsidize wage labor?" Tyler sketches a model, but leaves the (important!) parameters to the empiricists...
Blog: Schneier on Security | Uber Uses Ubiquitous Surveillance to Identify and Block Regulators -- "One discussion we need to have is whether or not this behavior is legal. But another, more important, discussion is whether or not it is ethical. Do we want to live in a society where corporations wield this sort of power against government? Against individuals? Because if we don't align government against this kind of behavior, it'll become the norm."
Blog: Slate Star Codex | Anitdepressant Pharmacogenomics: Much More than You Wanted to Know -- exactly what it says on the tin.
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