Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (August 2015)


Blog: What the Dunning-Kruger Effect is and isn't

Humor: Wired | The Robot Car of the Future May Just be Programmed to Hit You


Blog: Slate Star Codex | Links 8/15: Linkering Doubts -- private island for $5M, yam status systems, Uber for MDs, MD status systems, Japanese urban zoning, AI art, STEM pipeline, Russian flags, and more. Also, holy shit dolphins are scarily smart.


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Why Have Opinions?


Quora: Robert Frost's answer to: How does Cassini change orbits?

Long: How to Ask Questions the Smart Way


Short: Business owners try to remove all voters from business district, but they forgot one college student


Blog: Volatile and Decentralized | What I learned about mobile usage in Indonesia -- Highlight: "Nobody can update anything, because their storage is full."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Is the FDA Too Conservative or Too Aggressive? -- Alex Tabarrok thinks so; see also Slate Star Codex | Nefarious Nefazodone and Flashy Rare Side Effects

Short: Why do so many Hot New Restaurants have Names that Sound the Same? -- h/t Marginal Revolution. See also: Uber for Goats

Short: NYT | Burger King to McDonald's: Let's Make a 'McWhopper' -- h/t Marginal Revolution again.


Blog: Minding Our Way | Self compassion

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The difficulty of cross-theoretical aggregation -- "Overall [Will] MacAskill is on to one of the most important developments in consequentialist ethics over the last few decades.", which I first read as "Overall MacAskill is one of the most important developments in consequentialist ethics." For once, do read the comments; plenty of readers take swings at MacAskill, and Tyler Cowen, an intelligent and frighteningly well-read man, goes to bat for him time after time. It's really quite beautiful.

Blog: Popehat | Lawyer Threatens Yelp Reviewer with Lawsuit, is Wrong

Short: Nigeria Just Went a Year Without Polio for the First Time

Humor: First Faculty Meeting of the Year Bingo

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | Round and round the trigger warning maypole


Blog: Bloomberg View | Some Good Things About Crashes

Blog: Popehat | Lawsplainer: How Did the Fifth Circuit Narrow Student Free Speech Rights?

Blog: Luke Muehlhauser | Yudkowsky on science and programming

Short: Should Cops Be Allowed to Take Control of Self-Driving Cars? -- h/t Marginal Revolution.


Long: Text of J. K. Rowling's [Harvard Commencement] speech: The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination


Short: Goodwill goes upscale with new boutiques -- Four specialty Goodwill stores in Orange County stock used designer brands, h/t Marginal Revolution

Blog: Yasmin Nair | Your Sex is Not Radical -- h/t Freddie deBoer.

Blog: Designing And Building Stockfighter, Our Programming Game

Short: Why the UN doesn't pay its interns -- Depending on who you trust, it's either a 1997 resolution, or for budget reasons. Either way, "scores of UN interns in Geneva walked off the job on August 14th to protest".

Blog: Ninth Circuit Harshly Scrutinizes Law Enforcement Leak, Threatens Sanctions Against Department of Justice


Important: 2015 US Trans Survey -- what will probably be the largest statistical survey ever about trans people in the US, open to all trans-identified individuals residing in the US. h/t Ozy Frantz; more at Thing of Things

Blog: Nameless Virtue | 'But' Considered Harmful

Interesting: Beloit College 2019 List -- Apparently, incoming college freshmen have, for the most part, never licked a postage stamp. Of course, I've never licked a postage stamp, so...

Long: Parents sue South Carolina for performing gender-reassignment surgery -- GOOD.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | What is China's Unemployment Rate? -- 4.1%. China's unemployment has been between 3.9% and 4.3% since 2002. And Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | 6-photon BosonSampling -- For the nontechnically-inclined among you, BosonSampling is a simplified subclass of quantum computation which can solve some, but not all, problems in a quantum paradigm. Aaronson: "Well, the new result has major implications for what I’ve always regarded as the central goal of quantum computing research, much more important than breaking RSA or Grover search or even quantum simulation: namely, getting Gil Kalai to admit he was wrong [that quantum computing is, fundamentally, impossible]."

Paper: Figlio, Schapiro, Soter: Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers? -- h/t Marginal Revolution.

Comic: xkcd | Board Game -- see also: Dylan Matthews reviews Trump: The Board Game.

Short: Notes on Ashley Madison -- h/t Marginal Revolution; also, AM apparently "didn't validate email addresses for most users", including (I hope) "tblair@labour.gov.uk". Hm.


Blog: The Inspection Paradox is Everywhere

Long: How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars -- h/t Marginal Revolution

Blog: JeffTK | Single-Level Nesting -- I agree with Jeff; it's at least a (non-Pareto) improvement over infinity levels of nesting.

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Jacob Bekenstein (1947--2015) -- I stopped taking Physics classes at Intro Mech&Rel, and Bekenstein is still a name I know.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Don't test drive a new car before buying it -- "Why should you? They want you to do it, which is already reason to be suspicious." Also, as I write this, I'm watching an ad for Buick, promoting their new "test-drive for 24 hours" program.

Blog: Schneier on Security | More on Mail Cover -- Basiclly, the USPS is pretty shoddy about the security surrounding the data it's read off every postcard you've ever sent to your grandmother.

Blog: Schneier on Security | Did Kaspersky Fake Malware?


Fiction: Slate Star Codex | The Goddess of Everything Else -- Now my second-favorite creation myth.

Comic: Dinosaur Comics | August 17

Blog: Minding Our Way | Where coulds go -- contra "Just do it." and friends; cf Minding Our Way | Not yet gods.

Vox: The real Amazon scandal has nothing to do with its white-collar workers -- also, Marginal Revolution with a separate critique.

Humor: Interfaces of the Word | Freddie’s simple rules for formatting your academic CV


Story: For my friend -- cw: death

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Common Knowledge and Aumann's Agreement Theorem

Blog: JeffTK | Pluralism in Effective Altruism -- a general worry, though specifically in response to Matthews re: AI risk.

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | The labor market will erode most academic freedom; academics will take care of the rest -- deBoer pens withering critique of the state of academia, news at 7.


Long: Why is Bitcoin forking?

Short: Pre-crime: DHS admits that it puts people on the no-fly list based on "predictive assessment" -- "The DHS uses your family's social media postings in combination with their travel patterns to assess whether you should be put on the lists." So...sorry about that, mom and dad.

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Links 8/15: Linkety-Split -- crime, medicine, and diets, oh my!

WSJ: A Simple Fix for Drunken Driving -- h/t Marginal Revolution

Long: I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels -- and they were shockingly offensive -- both things to agree with, and things to disagree with, here.

Blog: Slate Star Codex | My Id on Defensiveness -- also LessWrong: Eliezer Yudkowsky | Rationality: Common Interest of Many Causes


Pretty Things: Species in Pieces -- stunning artwork of endangered species rendered entirely in CSS.

Neat Things: Lovin' their elevator: why Germans are loopy about their revolving lifts -- When you cross an escalator and an elevator, you get a contraption which Germans literally nicknamed "our father"s, because, well, you guess. It's now illegal to build new ones, but ancient ones still in service are grandfathered through regulations. h/t Marginal Revolution

Short: Why 16:9? A Tale of Yore

Blog: Popehat | My Bad Use of Force Decision Shows You Shouldn't Second-Guess My Use of Force Decisions

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | I guess they deserve it, huh -- "There are political means that by their nature occlude and undermine political ends, and even if they didn’t, those ends can’t justify intentionally inflicting emotional pain. I think cruelty is one of the master’s tools, and our embrace of it has been a terrible mistake."


Blog: Unequally Yoked | Is "Kindness-Adjacent" a Useful Category? -- inspired My Faults My Own | Good-Adjaceny Examples

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | the campus politics conversation seems pretty much broken

Short: The guy who owns .xyz will only get $8 from Google every year -- and yet, there are (apparently) 20,000 new .xyz domains registered every day, each of which will also pay him $8 a year, so dishing out $185,000 to own the whole thing was probably a good business decision.

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | double-meta ironic machismo is no better than any other kind


Blog: A List Apart | The Language of Modular Design -- A fascinating read, especially as I'm currently waist-deep in a (hopefully to become open source) web design project.

Blog: Popehat | Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Long: Do You Trust Larry Page? -- I do...though perhaps not with more than a market-portfolio's worth of my money.


Blog: Interfaces of the Word | this is a primary season fight in a general election world


Blog: Minding Our Way | Not yet gods


NYT: Form for Drug Dealers to Snitch on Competition REsults in an Arrest -- I saw this thing a few weeks ago, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it worked, but still. Ha!


Long: 2015 is the year the old internet finally died -- I disagree in parts, but definitely worth thinking about.


Blog: Popehat | When Lightning Strikes an Utter Tool


Blog: Minding Our Way | Altruistic motivations


Images: Surveillance Cameras Decorated with Party Hats to Celebrate George Orwell's Birthday -- cute.

Blog: Minding Our Way | Be a new homunculus

Blog: Minding Our Way | Caring about something larger than yourself

Blog: Minding Our Way | Desire is the direction, rationality is the magnitude

Blog: Minding Our Way | The value of a life -- ...and just about everything else on Minding Our Way

Blog: Luke Muelhauser | Schlosser on nuclear security -- or "That time an armed nuclear bomb almost exploded over Faro, North Carolina, and other terrifying stories"

Long: George W. Bush was a much better president than liberals like to admit -- or, "This one weird trick saved more lives than the Iraq War killed!"