Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (February 2019)


Blog: Unreal @ LessWrong | Policy-Based vs Willpower-Based Intentions

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Toward a theory of random, concentrated breakthroughs


Blog: Otium | The Tale of Alice Almost: Strategies for Dealing With Pretty Good People — "Suppose Alice Almost is much more V-virtuous than the average person — say, she’s in the top one percent of the population at the practice of V. But she’s still exhibited some clear-cut failures of V. She’s almost V-virtuous, but not quite. How should you engage with Alice in discourse, and how should you talk about Alice, if your goal is to get people to be more V-virtuous?"

Blog: Diffractor @ LessWrong | So You Want to Colonize The Universe — "Once a civilization or agent grows up enough to set it sights on colonizing realms beyond its host planet as its first priority (instead of averting existential risks), there is a very strong convergent instrumental goal which kicks in. Namely, going as close to lightspeed as possible."

Blog: Slate Star Codex | In Mod We Trust

Blog: Marginal Revolution | My Conversation with Sam Altman

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | De-sneering my life

Blog: SMBC | Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Laser

Comic: xkcd | Differentiation and Integration


Blog: EFF | ETS Isn't TLS and You Shouldn't Use It

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Rule Thinkers In, Not Out

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Classic Style Intellectual Worlds

Blog: Marginal Revolution | IBM: The Rise and Fall and Reinvention of a Global Icon

Blog: Schneier on Security | Gen. Nakasone on US Cyber Command


Blog: Otium | Humans Who Are Not Concentrating Are Not General Intelligences — "I also noticed, upon reading GPT2 samples, just how often my brain slides from focused attention to just skimming. I read the paper’s sample about Spanish history with interest, and the GPT2-generated text was obviously absurd. My eyes glazed over during the sample about video games, since I don’t care about video games, and the machine-generated text looked totally unobjectionable to me. My brain is constantly making evaluations about what’s worth the trouble to focus on, and what’s ok to tune out. GPT2 is actually really useful as a test of one’s level of attention."

Blog: Otium | Humans Who Are Not Concentrating Are Not General Intelligences

Blog: Marginal Revolution | What is the real problem with social media? And how should we respond?

Blog: Ghost | Curated news for independent publishing

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero


Blog: Marginal Revolution | NY State Budget Director on Amazon


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Patent Trolls in Texas Take Another Hit — "In May of 2017, however, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods [pdf] that plaintiffs can’t forum shop to find a friendly court. Instead patent plaintiffs must file in districts where the company being sued is incorporated or where it has an established place of business."

Blog: Popular Mechanics | When Kodak Accidentally Discovered A-Bomb Testing — h/t Tyler Cowen.

Blog: Volatile and Decentralized | Thoughts on running successful software teams at Google

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Law and Macroeconomics: Legal Remedies for Recessions


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Liu Cixin on American vs. Chinese science fiction — "But to look at it in another way, sci-fi literature is by its very nature immature — because it shows humanity in its childhood, filled with curiosity and fear for the vast and profound universe, as well as the urge to explore it. In the face of such a universe, human science and philosophy are very immature, and sci-fi is the only literary form available to express our scientific and philosophical immaturities; so it’s no surprise that sci-fi is filled with immaturity. When human science is developed to the furthest extent and everything in the universe is discovered down to its minutia, that will be the day sci-fi dies."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Georgist equilibrium comes to Greece? — "Does a culture of renters bring a bohemian, non-complacent dynamic urban core? Or a bunch of whiners who oppose economic progress? Or both?"

Blog: Slate Star Codex | RIP Culture War Thread

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Why Weakly Enforced Rules? — I'm confused why Robin doesn't see the advantage of weakly-enforced rules as a non-total tax.

Blog: Thing of Things | Bounty: Guide To Switching From Farmed Fish To Wild-Caught Fish

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Abiy Ahmed in a nutshell

Comic: xkcd | Plutonium — "It's like someone briefly joined the team running the universe, introduced their idea for a cool mechanic, then left, and now everyone is stuck pretending that this wildly unbalanced dynamic makes sense."


Blog: ozziegooen @ LessWrong | Predictive Reasoning Systems

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Are the New York subsidies to Amazon really so outrageous?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | How to travel to India


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Venezuela is in large part the fault of socialism

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Peremptory Challenges

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Wandering Earth (big spoilers here, but not suspenseful in any case)

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Enforce Common Norms On Elites

Blog: SMBC | Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Fed


Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Blackmail

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Tuesday assorted links — especially: "Ender's Game in China"; “We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges,” he said. “A passion for developing new weapons is a must … and they must also be patriots.”

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Amazon and taxes: a simple primer

Blog: Giving Gladly | You have more than one goal, and that's fine


Blog: Making Magic | Other People's Shoes

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Do Neural Nets Dream Of Electric Hobbits?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Reducing Discrimination with More Information


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Do most Americans not want to live near tall buildings? — "...So it was not beyond imagining by a Seattle company that it was possible to build a tech campus in an outer borough. I don’t know how in the world NY’s city government would have imagined that such a thing was possible. Perhaps because De Blasio drives to work. A subway mayor like Bloomberg or Koch would have insisted on Hudson Yard. And New York would still have an HQ2.5. But that is another story for another email."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | How do you teach writing in a scalable manner to third- and fourth-graders?cf. the comments, that is.

Blog: Market Design | Refugees and asylum seekers, in three charts — The country that takes the most refugees takes as many as the next three combined. Can you guess what country it is?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Lint Barrage on climate change and capital taxation — "I show that decentralizing the optimal allocation requires not only high carbon prices but also fundamental changes to tax policy: If the government discounts the future less than households, implementing the optimal allocation requires an effective capital income subsidy (a negative intertemporal wedge), and, in a setting with distortionary taxation, an effective labor-consumption tax wedge that is decreasing over time. Second, if the government cannot subsidize capital income, the constrained-optimal carbon tax may be up to 50% below the present value of marginal damages (the social cost of carbon) due to the general equilibrium effects of climate policy on household savings..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Saturday assorted links

Blog: Ben.Kuhn | A checklist for stock option offers


Comic: xkcd | Night Shift


Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | New York Restaurants I Love: Breakfast

Blog: Marginal Revolution | AIs Quickly Learn to Collude

Blog: Bits and Pieces | The illogical attack on Dean Sullivan


Blog: Slate Star Codex | The Proverbial Murder Mystery

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Wednesday assorted links

Comic: xkcd | Opportunity Rover — "Thanks for bringing us along."

Blog: Market Design | Market design through machine learning: David Parkes

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Life without the Export-Import Bank


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What does a Twitter-driven politics look like?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Buy (or Rent) Coal! The Coasean Climate Change Policy

Blog: Gates Notes | We didn’t see this coming


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Conditional Harberger Tax Games

Blog: Making Magic | Nuts & Bolts: Art

Blog: Market Design | Computational and Experimental Economics Conference in Barcelona

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Strict ID Laws Don’t Stop Voters: Evidence from a U.S. Nationwide Panel


Blog: Marginal Revolution | The meaning of death, from an economist’s point of view — "We thus come to a truth that is both happy and sad: death and turnover are how relative prices imprint their impact on the world."

Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery


Blog: The Unit of Caring | “how do you treat kids” actually seems pretty fundamental to any philosophy of how you treat other...


Comic: xkcd | Invisible Formatting — As in a supermajority of all problems in this world, \(\TeX\) is the answer.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | If the gdp deflator is off, which financial investments should you make?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Further new results on the marginal rate of income taxation


Blog: GiveWell | How GiveWell’s research is evolving

Blog: Marginal Revolution | A new idea (really)

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Paul Romer’s advice for the World Bank


Blog: Ben.Kuhn | Why are gradual static types so great?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Mood affiliation in everything should America give up the nuclear first strike option?


Blog: What's New | Request for comments from the ICM Structure Committee


Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Sabineblogging


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Columbus Lowered World Temperature


Blog: Marginal Revolution | New Zealand facts of the day — "All of New Zealand’s major cities were rated as 'seriously' or 'severely' unaffordable, with a house in the least expensive city, Palmerston North, priced at five times the median income..."


Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | Resentment of the Wealthy Is Not a Policy — "Besides which — a fact that is getting too little notice — the U.S. already has what is in essence a wealth tax: Tax rates on capital gains are not indexed for inflation. With this nominal-based tax system in effect, it is harder to accumulate wealth over time, and the nominal-based tax erodes the real value of the asset base. Whether or not you think this capital-gains policy is a good idea (I do not), it is striking how few Americans understand that it serves as a wealth tax. It is not marketed or proclaimed as such. And I don’t expect Republicans or Democrats to counter Warren by saying, “Don’t worry, we already have a wealth tax.” Isn’t this a sign that voters simply are not yearning for a wealth tax?"

Blog: MISinformation | The Great Cat Migration of 2019 — "Mission: Transport three physical felines (which shall be multiplexed onto two virtual felines) from Boston to Vancouver." / "The side of the carriers have a tiny hand-sized opening through which you can pet the cat. Sushi didn't quite understand this -- she thought it was designed for the cat to stick her head out, then a paw, and then a second paw. About this time, Teagan and I got wise to her antics and proceeded to figure out how to shove half a cat back through a very small hole. This was sufficiently challenging that there is no documentary evidence that we succeeded."