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Everything posted by Altherion

  1. It might already be too late to save it in its current form. Twitter had a set of agreements regarding moderation with the European Union and the firings and resignations have effectively removed the people who were responsible for complying with these agreements. If offensive content comes up, the EU will almost certainly sue and they don't play around (i.e. it will not be a token fine). Similarly, the advertisers are already leaving for pretty much the same reason. And even if the leadership changes, nobody is going to work for Twitter after this unless they're desperate or they're given amazingly high short term incentives. There just isn't enough money to deal with everything.
  2. I feel bad for the ordinary people who put money into cryptocurrency. This is why it is important to study at least some history: the crypto world is effectively reproducing the scams of ages gone by with the only difference being these online "currencies" (which are actually more commodities than currencies). On a different note, what do people think about investing in funds that have dual purposes: to make money and also to move the world in a specific direction? Most of the big investment platforms have these now (here's an environmental one from Vanguard as an example). The good part of this is that if it works as intended, the investors would make the world a better. The bad parts is that these funds have much higher fees (because they need active management) and they're also riskier than an ordinary broad index fund (because they invest in a specific sector rather than in the economy as a whole and possibly not even the whole sector). Does anyone have an opinion on this sort of investment?
  3. I guess the thing I am questioning is this definition of effectiveness. Yes, they got international media attention, but what does that actually do for their cause? Did the protest result in anyone in power acting differently with respect to climate change? I very much doubt it. Similarly, I don't think it caused the masses to change their behavior -- the reaction of most people was to inquire about the state of the painting, not to buy an electric car or insulate their house or any of the things individuals can do to slow greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. I wonder if instead of the silly and mildly destructive stunts they could do something constructive like cleaning up a polluted area or planting trees or something of the sort. I think the main problem is not even so much that it's a lot more work, but way fewer people would pay attention than do to spilling soup on a famous painting or whatever.
  5. I also recently finished The Golden Enclaves. I liked it better than the second book and about as much as the first. I reread all three and it's very clear that the author had the central plot of the story that goes through all three books before the first book was finished -- there are subtle hints and references to what is learned at the end scattered throughout.
  6. The GPB/USD ratio is currently around 1.087. As far as I can tell, it was only less than that in 1985 when it hit a low of 1.054. It'll be interesting to see if the pound can fall another 3% or so and beat the all-time low. Also, I must thank the government of the UK government for reminding me that things can always be worse. I thought what the US government is currently doing is not ideal, but the UK is on another level.
  7. My comment was based on keeping old reactors around and bringing the ones in Germany back online. This does not take 20 years or even 5 years -- everything is already built and paid for; it's just that a combination of Fukushima and certain gas interests combined to take the nuclear plants offline a decade ago and replacing them with Russian gas. There will be some cost to extended maintenance and to bring them back online, but it should be relatively small. There is and it is necessary, but it's unlikely to be sufficient worldwide. There are countries which can probably use this to become fully carbon neutral (the most likely example being Iceland), but if you look at the energy usage of China and the US, storing the necessary fraction of it in any form is going to be very difficult.
  8. You need plentiful clean energy before carbon capture becomes realistic. On the bright side, better late than never:
  9. The issue is not knowing it cannot work in the long run, it's how to replace it without widespread devastation (which is what one would need to not allow it to continue any longer). More specifically, one would need to have something to replace it with and also some way to do it in the face of resistance from the people who would be worse off under the new system (or at least think that they would be worse off). I have not read any of any plausible replacement of this nature. The people who try (for example, the above-mentioned Robinson in The Ministry for the Future) typically rely on magical technology and/or implausible politics and/or economics (Robinson has all three).
  10. When I read it, I thought that it might be related to Children of Ruin. That is,
  11. It's interesting how Ding and Nakamura had completely opposite strategies from a very similar position. Based on his recap, Nakamura thought about how to beat Nepo and realized that playing for a victory with black against an opponent who only needs to draw with white is usually a recipe for disaster. Thus, he decided to go for the Berlin draw and play for second place. On the other hand, Ding was not trying to play conservatively and lost. The result is that Nakamura and Ding are currently tied for second with Caruana and Radjabov half a point behind and Nepo a full 2 points (!) ahead with two games left to play. It is mathematically possible for either Nakamura or Ding to catch Nepo, but it would mean that Nepo loses both games and one of them wins both (they play the last game against each other so there is no chance of a three-way tie). I think this scenario is extremely unlikely and Nepo will almost certainly take first. On the other hand, the race for second is alive and well. Nakamura is ahead on tiebreaks, but Ding controls his own fate as he plays white against Nakamura. Caruana and Radjabov also have a game against each other (Radjabov plays white) and it's by no means impossible that one of them can equal or surpass Nakamura or Ding.
  12. That's unfortunate. The vaccines are not great at preventing infection with the latest variants, but they're far from useless. The NYC tracker page currently has an interesting set of rates showing this. First, here is the number of cases by vaccination status: 7-day averages as of June 11 Cases of COVID-19 per 100k vaccinated people 22.4 Cases of COVID-19 per 100k unvaccinated people 149.4 In and of itself, this is not particularly impressive as far as the vaccine is concerned because the people who are unvaccinated are also less likely to take other covid precautions (i.e. some of this difference is behavioral). However, the really interesting part are the hospitalization numbers: 7-day averages as of June 11 Hospitalizations per 100k vaccinated people 0.9 Hospitalizations per 100k unvaccinated people 137 The first thing this says is that the 149.4 number of cases per 100k above should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt because the unvaccinated pretty much don't test -- the only way we find out they have covid is if they are hospitalized. The second thing it says is that despite the fact that most of the unvaccinated have probably already had covid at this point, the protection against hospitalization offered by the vaccine is considerably better.
  13. Nepo and Caruana both won so after 6 games, Nepo is at +3, Caruana is at +2 and the closest behind them are Nakamura and Rapport at 0. There are still 8 games to play so in theory, anyone can still win (even Firouzja who is currently at -2), but thus far, it does indeed look like a two horse race.
  14. These books are a lot of fun. My main complaint is that they are novellas priced as novels so I wound up just getting them from the library and will only buy when there is an omnibus edition. Also, the action does get a bit repetitive by the 4th one, but after that the author switches things up so it's still good. And yes, it doesn't really make sense to read them out of order.
  15. It appears OneWeb (a Starlink competitor) will need to look for alternative ways to reach orbit: The launch is already paid for so basically Roscosmos will keep both the money and the satellites. It's hard to see them getting commercial launches from Western countries after this, but that market was winding down anyway so they probably think it's worth the gesture.
  16. The problem is not the boycotting as such, it's the concentration of power that gives it such influence. It's one thing for one individual to boycott another or a group, but it's a different case when this is done by a massive institution that fills a social niche and does not have any equivalent alternatives. That is, there is only one Facebook, only one Twitter, only one Amazon and so on and so forth. Similarly, the old fashioned media are owned by a surprisingly small number of individuals and if you don't agree with any of them, you're out of luck. Also, it's not true that the "cancellation" is only done to those on the right. This is by far its most publicized usage, but try to start a union at Amazon or something of the sort and see what happens...
  17. This has been the problem from the very start of the pandemic: assorted health agencies (most notably the WHO, but also many national ones) have constantly cherry picked evidence and even outright lied to advance some agenda of theirs. Most of the conspiratorial ideas have backing from some agency statement issued somewhere at some time (and long since discarded... but much too late). Honestly, it's not clear that for this pandemic, the world as a whole would have been worse off without the WHO altogether. There must still be some decent teams there (e.g. for assisting poorer countries with specific diseases or something like that), but that organization obviously needs massive reforms -- it's not clear how it could have failed more thoroughly where Covid is concerned.
  18. To pretty much nobody's surprise, the absolute top of the wealth distribution has done quite well for themselves during the pandemic and associated money printing (of various forms): It's kind of amazing how tilted the system is towards such accumulation. Not only do the richest benefit from the policies of the Federal Reserve, but, less obviously, a large fraction of the money given directly to poor and middle class people in the form of stimulus checks, child tax credits and the like also ultimately ends up in the accounts of the super rich (it just takes a while because it circulates through the economy a few times before settling).
  19. I finished reading it yesterday. It was not the strongest entry in the series, but the ending to the series as a whole was quite good. I also liked the fact that they more or less offered an explanation for Duarte's actions from the previous books -- they make a lot more sense if he was influenced by the protomolecule from the time where he started his transformation. The one thing I did not quite like is the entities beyond the gates messing with physical constants. It's an interesting idea, but it's not clear how this would work over only a certain volume of space and interval of time. Also, I would have to double check, but I think disrupting chemistry is not actually that hard if you can mess with things like the speed of light or the mass of the electron.
  20. It's kind of amazing how even the Wall Street CEOs -- who are undoubtedly some of the most ruthless people on the planet -- have allowed people to work from home in the face of this outbreak whereas the state and city of New York (which are run by the supposedly compassionate Democrats) are clamoring for people to keep going to work. I don't know anyone working in NYC for a private company who is capable of working from home and is currently being told to go to work, but all of the public employees I know still have to come in. And we're certainly not going to close the schools -- at least not until the hospitals are well and truly overwhelmed. Given that the seven-day average of confirmed cases is currently well over 400 per 100000 and the test positivity rate is over 20% (i.e. the number of confirmed cases is limited by the number of available tests), the hospitalization should catch up in about two weeks or so.
  21. I think it's not so much the popularity as that he keeps winning the speed chess tournaments and to some extent also the rapid ones. He's competitive with anyone (including Carlsen and Firouzja) in the faster time controls so they wanted to see how well he can do in classical chess.
  22. Yes. In the 2020 Presidential election, the only state that went more Republican is Wyoming.
  23. Thank you for these updates. Obviously, it's extremely difficult to figure out what exactly is going on with the deal making and even people with some access can be wrong, but it's really interesting to have a perspective that is not operating entirely from public data.
  24. Unfortunately, that is a fairly low bar because a negative test is not, in and of itself, proof that the person being tested is not currently infected. The problem is that the tests we currently use are only able to reliably detect the virus about 5-7 days after infection. Thus, without a quarantine period prior to the test, the negative result indicates that the subject is either not infected or was infected less than about a week ago. Since the incubation period is shorter than that by at least a couple of days, it's entirely possible that someone tests negative and is nevertheless contagious.
  25. Thanks, that is probably at the root of the West Virginia data. They definitely have the suspicious 99.9% of seniors flag.
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