Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (June 2018)


Comic: xkcd | Rock — "It traveled so far to reach me. I owed it my best."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Are asylum rights misguided? — "To be clear, I do not wish to revoke or limit asylum rights today. That would lead to less humane outcomes with no offsetting advantage. But say we were designing an ideal immigration policy from scratch. Would you not want to pare back asylum rights in return for allowing more legal immigration from very needy countries? ... Asylum rights still could be kept for situations of special humanitarian, cultural, or political importance, such as the Holocaust, Soviet Jews, or the current situation in Syria. But ask yourself a simple question: when the genocide was going on in Rwanda, how many Rwandans did the U.S. grant asylum rights to? Does that not indicate something is broken about the current system?"


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Trade War Costs in a Supply Chain World — "When Americans buy a car from Mexico, half of what they buy was earlier imported from the United States... In a world with deep supply chains a trade war will be much more expensive than in a conventional world. In a conventional world, a tariff only reduces efficiency at the margin as it relocates production from foreign to domestic firms who in the initial equilibrium have equal costs. But in a deep supply chain world a tariff isn’t just a tax on imports it also raises the costs of production of domestic firms. In a deep supply chain world, for example, a tariff on car imports from Mexico raises the cost of US auto production."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | What are the best analyses of small, innovative, productive groups? — "If you are seeking to understand a person you meet, or might be hiring, ask what was the dominant small group that shaped the thinking and ideas of that person, typically (but not always) at a young age. Step #1 is often 'what kind of regional thinker is he/she?' and step #2 is this..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Solve for the “not a detention center” equilibrium

Comic: xkcd | Newton's Trajectories


Blog: Slate Star Codex | Book Review: Capital In The Twenty-First Centurycf. Slate Star Codex | List of Passages I Highlighted in my Copy of Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Slate Star Codex | Highlights From The Comments On Piketty.

Blog: Overcoming Bias | Signaling Gains From Transparency — "Yes, we say to want to keep such info private, but the big efforts most of us go through to show off our smarts, health, and wealth suggests that we doth protest too much there. And as usual, it is less that we don’t know what policies would make us better off, and more than we don’t much care about that when we choose our political efforts."

Blog: MISinformation | Why it's Exhausting to be a Woman in Tech/CS


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Which technological advances have improved the working of autocracy? — "The big innovation in authoritarian governance has been this: subsequent autocratic leaders, most of all in China, have found ways of both liberalizing and staying in power."

Blog: The Unit of Caring | How can a bad person doing good things be good? — "The good they do is tainted from the source, and those who benefit from them must be punished for allowing them to escape justice. To me, it is better to have a barren waste than a garden of tainted fruit. That's why I don't deserve to get better: I deserve to suffer for all eternity, because that is just. (Your suggestions are in line with my idea of atonement: it's lifelong and is the only thing that makes you worthy of being treated as a human.)"

Blog: Schneier on Security | Free Societies are at a Disadvantage in National Cybersecurity — "I do worry that these disadvantages will someday become intolerable. Dan Geer often said that "the price of freedom is the probability of crime." We are willing to pay this price because it isn't that high. As technology makes individual and small-group actors more powerful, this price will get higher. Will there be a point in the future where free and open societies will no longer be able to survive? I honestly don't know."


Blog: Popehat | The Southern Poverty Law Center Surrenders Unconditionally To Maajid Nawaz. We Should Be Concerned.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Why consume the most recent news?


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Be A Dad

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Economists in the Media

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Technology in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Raj Chetty is returning to Harvard


Blog: The Unit of Caring | I don't get the thing you said about people being able to grow beyond the terrible things they've done.) — "How? A murderer doing good things won't bring his victims back to life. And if no one is obliged to forgive people, then how can revenge be wrong? How can it be wrong for these people to bear crushing guilt all their lives? (For instance, I used to believe in some very fascist things and once said to a girl I found ugly that she needed plastic surgery. Surely MY crimes are beyond forgiveness!"

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Which system should be redesigned from scratch?


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Towards An International Court of Smart Contract Arbitration


Blog: Schneier on Security | New Data Privacy Regulations


Comic: xkcd | Attention Span


Comic: SMBC | Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Memory


Blog: JeffTK | Predictable Parenting

Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Simplified Poker Conclusionscf. Simplified Poker, Simplified Poker Strategy

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Saturday assorted links — "But as the years would go on, [Mister Rogers] would find things that had happened in old episodes that didn’t feel current, where maybe he used a pronoun 'he' instead of 'they' — or he met a woman and presumed that she was a housewife. So he would put on the same clothes and go back and shoot inserts and fix old episodes so that they felt as current as possible, so that he could stand by them 100 percent."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Income inequality has stabilized as of late

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Economic Limits of Bitcoin and the Blockchain

Self: My Faults My Own | Review: Ready Player One


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Why we still should be optimistic about free trade

Blog: The Unit of Caring | I typed: “developing a work ethic”, which I think cashes out to “teach your brain to trust you when...

Comic: xkcd | Sun and Earth


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Advice for possible and wanna-be book writers


Blog: Conversations with Tyler | David Brooks

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Interpersonal Sunk-Cost Effect

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Quantum computing for policymakers and philosopher-novelists — "[W]hile of course I’ve written many other popular-level quantum computing essays, with basically all of them, my goal was to get the reader to hear the music, so to speak. On reflection, though, I think there might also be some value in a piece for business and policy people (not to mention humanist intellectuals) that sets aside the harmony of the interfering amplitudes, and just tries to convey some of the words to the song without egregious howlers—which is what Rebecca’s question about 'political and security problems' forced me to do. This being quantum computing, of course, much of what one finds in the press doesn’t even get the lyrics right!"


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Age of Em Paperback — "Also, as this book did better than I had a right to expect, I wondered: will this be my best book ever? If so, why not make it the best it can be? The result is the book you now hold. It has over 42% more citations, and 18% more words, but it is only a bit easier to read. And now I must wonder: can my obsession stop now, pretty please?"

Neat: CSS-Tricks | 1 Element CSS Rainbow Gradient Infinity — ...and only slightly relatedly, Bleeping Computer | CSS Is So Overpowered It Can Deanonymize Facebook Users.


Blog: Overcoming Bias | Sloppy Interior Vs. Careful Border Travel — "Imagine that you are floating weightless in space, and holding on to one corner of a large cube-shaped structure. This cube has only corners and struts between adjacent corners; the interior and faces are empty. Now imagine that you want to travel to the opposite corner of this cube. The safe thing to do would be to pull yourself along a strut to an adjacent corner, always keeping at least one hand on a strut, and then repeat that process two more times. If you are in a hurry you might be tempted to just launch yourself through the middle of the cube. But if you don’t get the direction right, you risk sailing past the opposite corner on into open space. Now let’s make the problem harder. You are still weightless holding on to a cube of struts, but now you live in 1000 dimensional space, in a fog, and subject to random winds..."

Blog: Making Magic | What Is a Game? — "A game is a thing with a goal (or goals), restrictions, agency, and a lack of real-world relevance. Let me walk through each part of this definition..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Will Trumpian foreign policy prove permanent?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Vanilla is worth more than silver — ...though still a third as much as printer toner

Blog: GiveWell | Allocation of discretionary funds from Q1 2018

Blog: Ben.Kuhn | The real problem isn't privacy, it's our dystopian hellscape of Skinner boxes

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Blockchains and the Opportunity of the Commons

Blog: Schneier on Security | E-Mail Vulnerabilities and Disclosure


Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | The relativized BQP vs. PH problem (1993-2018)


Blog: Overcoming Bias | How Does Evolution Escape Local Maxima? — short answer: with Slack.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The ongoing experiment with bootstrap equilibria, also known as tokens — "Let’s say the market can support 4000 different monies, one public the others private. In equilibrium, which are the services that get tokenized? Is it?: 1. The services with high mark-ups? Low mark-ups? 2. Big consumer bases? 3. Well informed and well coordinated consumer bases? 4. “Influencer” consumer bases, in the Gladwellian sense? 5. “Trivial” consumer bases, that you don’t mind risking? 6. Some other properties?..."


Comic: xkcd | Clickbait-Corrected p-Value