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Erik of Hazelfield

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Everything posted by Erik of Hazelfield

  1. Erik of Hazelfield

    UK Politics: A Third Meaningful Thread

    This is my question too. And could this all be avoided if, after the deal gets voted down a third time (assuming they even find some way around Bercow's ruling), a coalition of soft brexiters, red unicorn brexiters and remainers vote to revoke article 50 unilaterally rather than having the UK crash out dealless? Or am I far too wishful here?
  2. Erik of Hazelfield

    UK Politics: A Third Meaningful Thread

    Is it just me or would the exact date of a possible delay play an incredibly important role in the eventual outcome? I'm thinking specifically of the upcoming EU elections in May. If the UK does not participate in the May elections (no pun intended), that means Remain, Long delay and Other deals are definitely off the table, thus forcing parliament to choose between May's deal and No deal. (I realize this is exactly what A Horse Named Stranger wrote a page back but I don't feel it was discussed enough). To add a question: does May have the authority to decide that the UK will not participate in the EU elections, or would that decision have to pass parliament as well? Or did last week's house decision on seeking a delay give her a carte blanche on the timing? If so that was a grave mistake.
  3. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    This is, of course, the core of the problem. Personally I've come to accept that some "nanny state" regulations are beneficial. I live in Sweden which is probably one of the worst nanny states in the world. We can only buy alcoholic beverages at the state monopoly stores, there are heavy taxes on cigarettes and so on. Some 15 years ago we even passed a law prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. The result? A resounding success. Very few people miss it. Even the smokers appreciate coming home after a night out without all their clothes smelling of smoke. Also I'm not so sure about the slippery slope argument. We used to have a drug store monopoly too. That was abolished, so now you can buy an aspirin at the local supermarket, which is also widely appreciated. This proves that even if you do implement some "nanny state" policies, you're not automatically on a path towards ever increasing restrictions. Some policies should be easier than others to pass. Maybe a soda tax isn't the way to go, but rather stuff like creating a junk food free environment in schools, or stopping junk food advertisements aimed towards children?
  4. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I'm very sorry to hear that you've met such rude people at the gym. I've never experienced that - to me the gym is full of people minding their own business. The stories I've heard mostly involves pathetic guys at the gym trying to give unwanted advice to girls in some kind of vain pickup attempt. But I believe you, and it's a pity if stuff like that is making people reluctant to go to gyms, because it's the most effective training there is. Regarding the willpower and personal responsibility thing, I thought that debate was settled on page 2 or so. Yes, it's completely possible to change your ways and get fitter, but it doesn't work at the population level. We've been doing it for decades while obesity rates continue to increase.
  5. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I don't get it. To me going to the gym is like visiting a shopping mall or riding the train. There are lots of people but you don't really interact with them. I would have no idea if they are nice or not. Those of you who have a different experience - what kind of behaviour do you see at the gym that makes you dislike the people there? It's an honest question. I like going to the gym and I want everyone to feel as welcome there as I do, but obviously that's not the case.
  6. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I would argue that the bolded part is wrong. https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietary-guidelines-2010 Check out figure 3-6 in the full report, page 29. About 75% of the added sugar comes from completely predictable sources like soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, desserts, candy and so on. Hidden sugar in regular food is much less of a problem than us simply eating too much of the tasty stuff that we already know is unhealthy.
  7. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    Wait - fructose isn't sugar now? Like, Coke should be exempt from the tax as long as it's sweetened with high fructose corn syrup instead of sucrose? That's nonsense. All the sugars are hydrolysed in the body and they have similar effects. But fine, I agree that orange juice shouldn't block any legislation, I'm just pointing out the difficulties in making a general rule for how a sugar tax should be implemented. I'm not against it, I just think it will be hard to pass such legislation.
  8. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I'dI agree that the soda tax is too narrow a scope to completely reverse the trend, but it's a start. What I fear is that a general sugar tax would be much more difficult to implement. First, is that a tax on all sugar or just added sugar? Things like orange juice and dried fruit contains loads of sugar naturally - would they be included or not? Where to draw the line between taxed and untaxed cereal? And of course ridiculously unhealthy food like French fries and bearnaise sauce would go completely untaxed due to their low sugar content.
  9. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    Yes. That's why I propose to start with a soda tax. It's reasonably easy to define and it's extremely well researched, with tons of evidence, that sugar sweetened drinks are bad for you. If the dieticians can agree on anything, it would be that.
  10. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    If you think laziness, indulgence and greed are new phenomena then I suggest you read some history. To me it's obvious that the thing that has changed in our society is not that people have grown more lazy or have less willpower than they used to. What's happened is that the food industry, just like all other industries, have become better at what they do. And what they do is making food, beverages, candy and snacks that sell well. No one had to resist the urge to buy a super mocha latte with extra chocolate cream in the 70s, because they weren't invented yet (or at least not sold widely). Soda cups were smaller, there was less added sugar in food, and hamburgers and fries came in smaller sizes. Also the video games were boring as fuck so kids had to go out and play basketball or something. What you have to realise about the free market economy is that it gives people what they want, not necessarily what's best for them. Now I get that it's patronising to impose regulations to save people from themselves, but really it shouldn't be that much of a deal. If we can have restrictions on how and where alcohol can be sold, or put a tax on cigarettes for health reasons, then I don't see why unhealthy food couldn't be regulated in similar ways.
  11. Erik of Hazelfield

    UK Politics: Time Marches On

    It's progress in the same sense as refraining from that last beer every once in a while takes you closer to winning the Olympics.
  12. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I don't disagree with any of this. But still the question remains: what to do about it? Just saying it's complicated, even though it's true, doesn't bring us closer to a solution. Jo498: thanks, I saw those, and I agree with many of them. My question was more directed to those who argue the personal responsibility angle.
  13. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    Many good posts here. I'll try to answer more of them when I get to a computer. Just a question though, to those of you making the argument that people should just take their responsibility and stop eating so much unhealthy stuff: what, if anything, do you think should be done to combat the obesity epidemic? (It's actually the same question as in the thread title.) Because it seems obvious to me that for whatever reason, leaving it up to people to help themselves doesn't work. Obesity and related illnesses are still on the rise. Is there something we as a society should do about that, or do we just accept it?
  14. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I'm intrigued by the idea of shaming Cheesecake Factory for serving the 2730 kcal breakfast burrito. Can company shaming be part of the solution? In Sweden there's currently lots of debate about "flight shame", where people feel guilty about flying to their vacation destinations due to its climate footprint. A blogger has been tagging celebrities' vacation pictures on Instagram with comments like "Thailand: 3 tons of CO2". Maybe something similar is possible for restaurants and supermarkets? "90% of what Supermarket X sells is junk food. Shame!" "No item on Hamburger Chain Y's menu contains less than 900 kcal. Shame!" "Theatre chain Z serves soda in 64 oz cups. Shame!" I'm not entirely sure we can just blame the food companies because they are, after all, just trying to make money in a competitive environment. If people want giant size servings, they must provide it or lose business to someone who does. (This is also part of the reason I favour legislation - if the same rules apply to everyone, then no one will be forced to choose between profit and ethics.) So the food companies aren't completely to blame for the obesity epidemic. But if we want legislation, for example a soda tax, it seems to me that "the evil multinational companies are killing our children with unhealthy products" is an easier sell than "the government needs to regulate how food can be sold because we can't be trusted to choose right by ourselves". If we want any change on this, we need to build a movement calling for this kind of action, because it certainly doesn't seem like an election winning issue right now.
  15. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I'm not sure I'm buying the idea that it's such a complex problem. I agree that the underlying causes of the so-called obesity epidemic are many and varied, but they all basically boil down to the same thing: that in today's society being unhealthy is easy while being healthy is hard. This leads us to a definable problem - how can we change our society to make it easier, cheaper or more attractive for people to make healthier choices in their everyday lives? I'm not saying this problem is an easy one to solve, but at least it gets us somewhere. Saying something is "a complicated problem" is far too often followed by something along the lines of "so this or that simple solution won't work". And then nothing. It's a trick used disingenuously by gun advocates when discussing school shootings, and by soda manufacturers when discussing soda taxes. Instead of leading to solutions, the "it's complicated" argument tends to dismiss proposed solutions and in practice lead to status quo. I'm not saying that anyone here is being disingenuous in this way, but I fear that the end result might be the same. Saying the problem is complicated must be followed by proposed solutions, otherwise it gets us no closer to solving the problem. I'm for a soda tax, because the evidence suggests it works. As for more complicated taxation schemes, restrictions on how and where unhealthy food can be sold or other similar approaches, I'm for trying them on a small scale, studying the effects, and go ahead with implementing the most effective ones nationally.
  16. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    Curiously it seems like sugar is not the sole culprit. Sugar intake seems to have stopped rising or even declined while obesity continues to rise. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2015/11/carbohydrate-sugar-and-obesity-in.html?m=1
  17. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    The problem is that even though diet and exercise works great for the individual, it's been a great failure for many decades at a population level. With knowledge, time, money or determination you can get as fit as you like - but it's too hard. We have too many things going against us: - Our bodies and minds are genetically hardwired to love junk food - Food companies know this, so they use all kinds of tricks to use it and sell more food - Junk food is cheap, easily available and often purposely exposed to sell more (like placing candy near the counter or using Disney characters to sell cereal so unhealthy it should be considered candy) - Average serving sizes have increased in most places - Many foods contain large amounts of fat, sugar and salt to make them tastier - The amount of exercise we can squeeze into our schedules is seldom enough to compensate for a poor diet All this has created a society where unhealthy is the new normal. If you eat healthy and exercise regularly, you might be seen as some kind of health freak. If you're normal weight you're often being called skinny. (At the same time we have this ideal of an athletic body that very few people live up to, and fat shaming that helps no one and drives some people into eating disorders. We have a weird schizophrenic relationship to our bodies.) So how to correct this? A soda tax is an obvious place to start I think. Sugar sweetened drinks are really the worst food in the world. They're so bad you're better off eating jelly beans (Link to study). Also they're much more easily definable than many other types of junk food. Several countries and cities around the world are now trying this, with positive results being reported for example in Philadelphia. People buy less soda, opting for bottled water instead. You may say it's patronising or nanny state, but this is the kind of stuff that works. Individual responsibility doesn't. It's perfectly fine to be against this kind of solutions on ideological grounds, but then you'll also have to concede that you're giving up on the obesity epidemic.
  18. Erik of Hazelfield

    What do you think needs to be done to combat the obesity epidemic?

    I'm all for environmental changes to change people's choices. Soda taxes, forbidding marketing of junk food aimed at children, laws saying candy cannot be sold in the same supermarkets as food, mandatory limits on portion sizes, stuff like that. I know these solutions are controversial, but at least they have some amount of evidence going for them (google soda tax if you're interested). Also it's pretty clear that it's changes in our environment that has caused the obesity epidemic in the first place*, so it makes sense to focus our efforts there. *Think about it. The only other explanations for the obesity epidemic are biological changes in our bodies (which is obviously nonsense; evolution doesn't work on the timescale of decades) or that people of today somehow lacks the willpower of people 30 years ago, who could resist the temptations that today's people fall for. Both explanations are ridiculous. People are gaining weight due to more easily accessible junk food and possibly also more sedentary jobs. If we want to reverse the obesity trend, we'll have to reverse some of the trends that led us here.
  19. Erik of Hazelfield

    Dating - I love the way you swipe

    Like in, he's actually the panel moderator? Then will the cancellation happen too? And most importantly: will you keep us posted?
  20. Erik of Hazelfield

    A question to capitalists; how much should we fear AI?

    I'll have to disagree on this one. It's a super hypothetical scenario which has little to no basis in reality. We're talking about a situation where something sudden happens, like a kid runs over the road or something, and the car CAN steer, just not well enough to avoid hitting the kid, unless it hits a grandma instead or topples the car over, risking the life of its passengers... I place this dilemma in the same category as the old railroad cart question - useful as an ethical gedankenexperiment, but not a scenario anyone is likely to ever face. There are tons of ethical issues around self driving cars that are real and will happen. Can you trust your life to a machine? Is it worse to be killed by a faulty computer than by a human that made a mistake? Can you accept just a little lower number of accidents than today or does it have to be a factor of ten or more better than for human drivers before you allow computer drivers? At which point, if ever, do we forbid human drivers altogether? And so on, and so forth. I feel that the question of "who should the car kill" has gotten far too much attention and distracts from the real issues.
  21. Erik of Hazelfield

    New Forum Census

    I'm from Sweden. Have lived in Stockholm nearly all my life.
  22. Erik of Hazelfield

    UK politics: The tale of an old (Ber)crow who flew down from the cuckoo's nest...

    I can sort of understand the issue some MPs have with the backstop: that the EU unilaterally can decide (please correct me if I'm wrong) when the UK has solved the border issue to a sufficient degree that the backstop can be dropped. If you don't trust the EU, then this is a huge problem. Even if the UK comes up with a super unicorn invisible wall which allows for customs checks without a physical border, the EU can simply say "nah, not good enough" and keep the UK in the backstop indefinitely. My proposed solution would be for both sides to agree on the requirements for such a solution, and then bind themselves to accept that the issue will be settled by a neutral arbitration court. That way the EU cannot refuse the UK to leave the backstop as long as the border solution is objectively acceptable.
  23. Erik of Hazelfield

    A question to capitalists; how much should we fear AI?

    I definitely think a general decrease of working hours is a credible way forward. It's already being done in a few highly skilled jobs to attract top talent without increasing wages. Turns out for a creative job like software development you don't actually lose that much by reducing the number of hours worked per day - productivity tends to go down towards the end of the day anyway. This will if course not work for all jobs. The problem is that businesses are competing on a global market and if they suddenly have to pay their workers the same for less worked hours, they might well take their business elsewhere. Also if you try to reduce the working hours for teachers, police officers, nurses and other publicly financed jobs, taxes will need to rise in order to support that. Even if the increased productivity should offset that, there is still the question of how we can capture and make use of that increase for the greater good. Solidarity between states is one thing that we should start working on. For instance what we see in the US where states bid under each other with tax exemptions and other deals to secure investments like a new car factory - it shouldn't have to be like that. Other examples include ships that are flagged in the Bahamas, factories run in China with minimal worker and environmental protection policies or even company headquarters located in the Netherlands in order to minimize taxes. If companies can make use of those loopholes, they will. I think future trade deals should focus on regulating the market to avoid this race to the bottom.
  24. Erik of Hazelfield

    Careerchat III

    I think that when companies write some standard stuff like "we are always interested in new talent so please send in your résumé" etc they sometimes actually mean it. The reason is that recruiting good people is hard. If during a recruitment process they find a great candidate that cannot come now but maybe later, or someone who would be perfect for another position that isn't open right now, they are happy to hold on to that contact. The next recruitment could be significantly simplified if they already have a person in mind. So her spending 30 minutes on a candidate she knew wasn't an option for this position could very well be an honest attempt to find good people for future recruitments. I would absolutely contact her again after finishing your degree (or maybe even when you're getting close). Nothing to lose and she'll probably be glad you're still interested.
  25. Erik of Hazelfield

    A question to capitalists; how much should we fear AI?

    AI is still nowhere near human level as far as I've seen. They've been talking about it forever but nothing ever happens. Maybe that's the way things go with exponential progress though. Nothing, nothing, then everything. Who knows? What I do see happening in the next 10 years is self driving cars, buses and trucks. That's not a small thing - the workforce employed in driving those vehicles is enormous, and I don't think they can get new jobs that easily. The old idea that the mundane and repetitive jobs taken over by machines will be replaced by new and more highly skilled jobs simply won't be true in this case. What demand is there for millions of people (mostly male) with a low education level and whose only experience is in a field that doesn't exist anymore? So right now is actually a pretty good time to start thinking about these issues. Basic income is an idea floated every now and then. I'm not entirely against it although I'm not sure it's politically possible. It tends to lead to absurd consequences when it comes to comparison between basic income and low wage jobs. You can't have the basic income be too low or people wouldn't be able to survive on it, but on the other hand you can't raise it too much or no one would want to work unless the pay was really good or the job really fun. Apart from the impacts on jobs, I definitely see the problem of a few AI owners raking in all the money without even having to pay any employees. That's the stuff of dystopian sci-fi novels right there.
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