jan's stuff

Alles wat Jan bezig houdt, interesseert en irriteert... en ook een beetje onzin...

maandag, februari 12, 2024

Bitcoin Energy Use and Externalities


There is a lot of nonsense going around about the amount of energy and the kind of energy that Bitcoin mining is using. 

So see the energy usage as wasteful. Others see it as an opportunity to pay for energy projects in very poor locations and an opportunity to make money on methane reduction. 

To have a healthy discussion all sides need to be aware of the facts. This website is a helpful resource for some of those hard needed datapoints. 

dinsdag, oktober 24, 2023

EA’s reasons not to have kids.



Although the latest Michael Lewis book "Going Infinite" seems to me to be his least well written one, it does give several good quotes. As per "the Zvi":

"A lot of EAs chose not to have kids," said George. "It's because of the impact on their own lives. They believe that having kids takes away from their ability to have impact on the world." After all, in the time it took to raise a child to become an effective altruist, you could persuade some unknowably large number of people who were not your children to become effective altruists. "It feels selfish to have a kid. The EA argument for having a kid is that kid equals happiness and happiness equals increased productivity. If they can get there in their head, then maybe they have a kid." (2,261)

So people who practice Effective Altruism (basically a religion for non-believers) have a very weak reason not to have children. 

I can personally think of some much better reasons not to procreate (in no particular order):

What is your favorite reason not to have kids before Armageddon






What was going on in SBF’s mind?



If you've always wanted to know how somebody who thinks himself the best wicked smart but can't feel much empathy thinks, then reading up on SBF might be interesting. 


What surprised Sam, once he himself had unlimited sums of money, was how slowly rich people and corporations had adapted to their new political environment. The US government exerted massive influence on virtually everything under the sun and maybe even a few things over it. In a single four-year term, a president, working with Congress, directed roughly $15 trillion in spending. And yet in 2016, the sum total of spending by all candidates on races for the presidency and Congress came to a mere $6.5 billion. "It just seems like there isn't enough money in politics," said Sam. "People are underdoing it. The weird thing is that Warren Buffett isn't giving two billion dollars a year." 

donderdag, oktober 19, 2023

Political Disinformation and AI



This is the first time in human history that LLM's (rightly or wrongly called "AI's") like ChatGPT and Claude will be used to create realistic sounding and looking content for social media platforms with an eye to influencing elections. 

Seventy-one percent of people living in democracies will vote in a national election between now and the end of next year. Among them: Argentina and Poland in October, Taiwan in January, Indonesia in February, India in April, the European Union and Mexico in June, and the US in November. Nine African democracies, including South Africa, will have elections in 2024. Australia and the UK don't have fixed dates, but elections are likely to occur in 2024.


I know that much the exact sciences is in the middle of a "replication crisis", meaning that long held believes simply cannot be proven when a new experimenter does the same test under the same circumstances. The reasons are very simple, I think. More scientists need to produce more papers because that is how they achieve tenure. Any measurement that is used to grade someone will be malformed until it becomes meaningless. 

Political powers like to undermine their adversaries by influencing their voters. This is also a simply to understand drive. 

Personally I think I'm insulated from most of the direct effects (but not the resulting harm) of these voter-steering-propaganda-channels because I don't watch or ready much on social medias and I also never vote. I've voted once, and that is quite enough, thank you. 

It seems that every new year brings new craziness. Who would have believed that free countries would mandate curfews, QR codes for entry and implement other stringent emergency laws? 

Who knows that 2024 will bring 🤔? 


woensdag, oktober 11, 2023

The Slightly Complicated Theory of Obesity


The science of weight loss hasn't escaped the "sacrifice a goat at full moon and hope for the best phase yet". 



In a sense, nutrition science has maneuvered itself into a corner here. Due to the religious insistence on randomized controlled trials and using a large number of people for studies, it's pretty much impossible to find any solutions unless they apply to everybody.


If we insisted on the same methods as car mechanics, we would have to declare that there is no solution for cars stranded on the side of the road.

After all, we did a large study: we took a sample of 10,000 cars stranded on the side of the road, and we attempted all popular ways of fixing them. We put gas into them, we pumped up their tires, we topped off the oil, and we checked for any engine errors.


Yet not a single one of these repairs made more than 15% of the cars run again!


Clearly, cars cannot be repaired. That's just science. Gasoline in, gasoline out!

On the importance of staring directly into the sun




Here's one of my favorite psychology studies of all time. You bring people into the lab, and you ask them, "Do you know how a toilet works?" And they say "Uhh yes, I'm not an idiot." And then you go "Okay, could you please write down, step by step, how a toilet works." And then you ask them to explain something that requires knowledge of toilets, like "How does pressing the lever on the side of the toilet cause the bowl to empty and then refill again to a certain level?"


What participants learn in this study is that, to their horror, they don't really know how a toilet works, at least not nearly as well as they thought they did. This isn't specific to toilets—you can get it with everything from spray bottles to helicopters.


woensdag, oktober 04, 2023

It’s better to pay then to get a “free” service 🤔



Kendric Tonn: Relatedly, I learned very quickly running my Airbnb to never, ever offer discounts. Guests shopping for discounts were, next-to-universally, disruptive, destructive, and generally the scum of the earth. I will never hit that "run a promotion!" button again.

This is, incidentally, independent of the actual price point. I might manually drop my price 10-20% if it looks like the BnB is likely to go empty, and that's fine: just as long as I don't show up in searches for discounted rooms.


Recently I've been scammed into a subscription by [company that I will not name nor link to because I don't want to give them more airtime than they already have] a satellite and over-the-internet TV provider. The way the scam works is:
  1. Offer a 3 months free trial 
  2. Sent an email that begs a trial user to stay on as paying customer. 
  3. In the background, continue the subscription anyway. 
  4. After one more month start sending threatening emails and texts that will ruin your consumer credit rating if they don't cough up the money (and charge extra for recuperation costs) 
  5. Profit 🤑🤑🤑
Now, they probably see themselves as a service provider and the victims of a non-paying "toxic" customer: me. 

Both they and I would have been happier if I had paid from the very beginning and simply canceled my plan after one disappointing month (the TV app works fine but there is just nothing with watching anymore). 






Keeping a conversation going with zero knowledge?


The old and mostly forgotten dark art of ✨keeping a conversation going✨ can experience a revival if we remember to show genuine interest. 

Don't know how to show interest? This party trick will mimic genuine interest: ask open but related questions. 

Link: https://twitter.com/visakanv/status/1702713502425887024

Veerasamy: one of my best 'party tricks' is that I can have an interesting conversation with any subject matter expert about anything for an hour despite me having 0 prior knowledge of the thing. core thing is to ask earnest "I'd love to learn more" questions

5 minutes? just ask the person how they got into the thing that they're into. when did you first get into astrology / neuroscience / norse mythology / mongolian throat singing? How did that happen? Wow, no way!! And then? You're kidding. What?? Yea I see it. Damn! How else?

What do newbies like me typically get wrong about X? Why do think that is? What's your favorite thing about X? Why? What's the biggest source of drama in the X community right now? are you on either side or do you see both merits? etc etc. 3 hours have gone by.


"X" here is not shorthand for "the bird app" but for "the topic under discussion". Just saying. 


maandag, oktober 02, 2023

Big Babies: When It Comes to Kids, Many Adults Need to Grow Up

Should babies be allowed to cry, even if it makes adults feel uncomfortable?

The transactional nature of modern life has led many adults to believe that if they are paying for a restaurant meal, an airline seat, or a house in a nice neighbourhood, they should be entitled to dictate the terms of their experience—and to exclude those who disrupt it. 

This is an impoverished and self-defeating perspective. We all begin our lives dependent on the tenderness of adults, and if we're very lucky, we'll grow old enough to rely on others' care again. At any point in between, we may become disabled or ill, or we may experience a mental health crisis, a serious injury, or just a really bad day. It's only temporary good fortune that prevents any of us from becoming the friction in someone else's existence. When we inevitably do, we should hope that others treat us with compassion. Enjoying a serene restaurant meal is nice, but it is in our collective self-interest to cultivate a more tolerant society