Make Putanumonit Great (for the first time)

Take a quick survey to help me improve the blog, or join “In Cahoots with Putanumonit”.

Good news: 2016 is coming to a close.

Bad news: “2016” is an arbitrary construct without causal agency. The decline of civilization is not the calendar’s fault, and it’s unlikely to get any better in 2017. Only one thing is guaranteed to get better in 2017 – this blog. Because you will make it better.

At the bottom of the post is a short, multiple choice, anonymous survey, designed to give me feedback on improving Putanumonit. I have very little information on what my readers like and dislike. When 1,000 people read my post and 5 of them leave comments, I have no clue what the other 995 thought of it. Please answer as many questions as you can whether you’re a dedicated reader or just discovered Putanumonit for the first time.

If you are an enthusiastic reader and want to be involved in Putanumonit beyond just seeing the finalized posts, you can check out In Cahoots with Putanumonit but please come back afterwards and fill out the survey. The more honest your responses are, the more you’ll like this blog in 2017.


2017 Reader Survey

Each question is a separate poll, so don’t forget to hit Vote after answering each one.

How much of Putanumonit have you read? I write about 4 posts a month, and 53 total so far.

Many of my posts (but not all of them) fall into 3 broad categories:

  1. “Lifestyle” posts are about applying math to your own life, like dating, shopping or playing the lottery.
  2. “Research” posts are about sports, science and other issues that don’t directly affect your life.
  3. “Political rationality” posts are about staying sane on questions of politics, policy and Trump.



My longer posts are in the 3000-5000 word range, which takes 10-15 minutes to read.

I often write about contrarian and speculative ideas that I’m not fully confident in and have not thoroughly researched.

I often get into complex explanations of math and statistics, with equations and charts.

Please think of what affects your decision to share any post (on Reddit, Facebook etc.) besides simply whether you enjoyed reading it.

What other suggestions you have for improving Putanumonit? You can write them in anonymously in the poll below, email me or (preferably) leave a comment.

See y’all in 2017,

Jacob.

 

Search, and ye shall find

Answering the weirdest search queries that have brought readers to Putanumonit.

Hey, reader, how did you get here? Are you subscribed to Putanumonit? Clicked on a tweet or a status or a post? Followed a trail from SlateStarCodex or LessWrong? Either way, you probably know what to expect here. And, you deserve what’s coming to you.

But some people took a more interesting path to this blog. According to WordPress Stats, back in January someone googled ‘nextpart and hack’ and the 7th page of the results took them to my post on water charities. Others arrived on Putanumonit after googling ‘gern’, ‘sci-put’, ‘utrgv “wewillfail”‘ and ‘ya fat njie’. I have no clue what any of these people were looking for , but I doubt they found it on Putanumonit. And if there’s anything I really hate is leaving a client unsatisfied.

I decided to go through the list of search terms that brought people to the blog, and help them out with their unanswered queries. At the end, I’ll share my absolute favorite link to Putanumonit, one that by itself would have made the hundreds of hours I spend on this site worthwhile.


There but for the grace of Google go I

Original search terms in blockquotes.

messi before growth hormones

messi b4 when messi was a dwarf

He was actually a hobbit.

messi_of_the_shire_by_tiobolasdoro
Credit: tiobolasdoro, via cheeksoftheweek

lotto king

That’s what my LinkedIn profile says.

“intelligent life economist”

That’s what my Tinder profile says.

second option to keep 3galloping horse in tge living room of narth facing house

I don’t know what the first option was, but I would go with that one.

tribalism in the old testament

How about Samuel 15:3 – “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.

March 2016: is an ugly guy doomed as a pua

June 2016: dry spell pua

I guess you got your answer. Maybe you should try a more considerate and respectful approach to dating?

August 2016: a dramatic poem u’r intelligent girl

August 2016: pua date wait next week

There ya go!

penny’s size bell curve

penny-size

85% single

Does the guy you see once a week know that you consider yourself “85% single”?

which number is used for happiness

1-800-SHROOMS

waiting for ur text

Sorry mom.

girlfriend boyfriend love percentage

I’d say 60% girlfriend, 40% boyfriend.

dark arts  manually to hurt someone

“Manually hurting someone” is called punching. “Dark arts” is called necromancy, aka consuming the blood of the young in a gamble to escape death.

football player shifted in porn industry

I imagine you get completely different results if you change the “i” in shifted” to an “a”.

if you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil and you will be judged for it. you should always vote for the best possible candidate, whether they have a chance of winning or not, and then, even if the worst possible candidate wins, the lord will bless our country more because more people were willing to stand up for what is right.

This explains most of Hellection 2016.

your beloved is dating

She’s probably dating the guy writing dramatic poetry about her intelligence.


Source of pride

There’s a subreddit called r/getdisciplined with a variety of tips to beat procrastination and such. You’d think the only relevant tip would be “get off Reddit and get back to work, you lazy bum”, but apparently there’s more to it. A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a collection of tips that included power posing. This led to the following exchange, which I have printed out and framed on my wall:

power-posing-source

Let me spell out what happened. The first link is famous psychologist Dana Carney, the lead investigator in the original power posing study, disowning the totality of power posing research and listing a dozen methodological errors contributing to the original false result. This is dismissed by the reader as mere “opinion”.

The second link is my grumbling about Amy Cuddy. This is accepted by the forum as ironclad factual evidence settling the dispute on power posing forever.

Putanumonit: probabilistic prescriptions protecting people from poverty, Powerballs, perfidious plotspolitical polarization and power posing.

Year 1 Redux – Friends and Rationalists

Welcome to day 14 of Putanumonit’s birthday week celebration! It’s time to wrap up the year-in-review and get ready for a couple of serious writing projects.

cake

 


In Zero Agents and Plastic Men I tried to conjure up some new jargon, and it turned out kind of lame and confusing. My buddy Ryan and I came up with a better term for what I was talking about: the skunk whistle.

dog whistle is a phrase that sounds innocuous to the broad public but communicates a “secret” message to the intended audience, a message that outsiders would find objectionable . When Ted Cruz tells rural Texans he’s against “New York values” and they hear him saying “I hate Jews”, that’s a dog whistle. Of course, the people who assume that Cruz means “I hate Jews” when he talk about “New York” are mostly Jews from New York and not actual rural Texans. I guess “Ted Cruz uses anti-Semitic dog whistles” is a dog whistle for “I think all Republicans and their voters are bigots”. Everyone can play the dog whistle game!

A skunk  whistle is the parallel opposite: it’s a statement that sounds much worse to the broad public than the actual message it conveys to listeners “in the know”. Staying on the theme: when my Syrian acquaintance writes “I hate Jews” in the context of Assad being a Mossad spy it could be a skunk whistle for “I hate Bashar Assad” or simply “I am loyal to my country”.

The Trump example I gave, “Mexican immigrants are lazy and criminal”, could be either whistle:  it could be a skunk whistle for “I respect working class whites” or a dog whistle for “urban blacks are lazy and criminal”.

Point is: if you’re not the target audience for the secret message, don’t assume you know what the secret message is. And if you don’t know, give people the benefit of the doubt.


My calculation of how long it will take to catch each Pokemon didn’t address the four location specific Pokemon, like Mr. Mime in Europe and Farfetch’d in Japan. Last month, my girlfriend and I walked 120 miles on foot in Japan over 9 days. We saw a few robots, several cats, lots of monkeys, a throng of deer, and zero Farfetch’ds. So, overall, the trip was a disappointment.

kyoto monkey.jpg
Arashiyama Park, Kyoto

No one writes a blog for no reason, who are we doing this versus?

Despite being an arrogant, competitive, stubborn and tactless person, throughout my life I have mostly managed to avoid making enemies. When I criticize really abhorrent ideas I try to avoid mentioning people by name. When I do call out someone, it is always with the reasonable hope that they will redeem themselves. Some do, and some don’t.

And sometimes I get worked up in a blog post about the LessWrong Sequences and people think that David Chapman is my enemy.

First of all, I’m in-endorsing the “Postrationality” section of that post. A lot of it is not true (e.g. about Tim Urban), a lot of it is unnecessary, and it is definitely unkind and uncharitable – most of all to David.

I singled out David because he’s a friend of the rationalist community, and I was hoping that everyone will realize the harm that friendly fire does to a community’s credibility. My prediction of David’s possible reactions was as follows: 70% that he will never hear of Putanumonit, 20% that he’ll get annoyed and ignore me, 10% that he’ll comment on that post and we could have a discussion. I thought that 10% was worth it. Instead, David followed Putanumonit without commenting and likes a lot of my post. So, maybe it was OK to be mean and our shared community norms prevented a critical post from turning into a beef? I hope that’s the case.

David also keeps banging out great articles on Meaningness.com at a blistering pace. Instead of making fun of Julia Galef, who’s in my in-group, these articles make fun of Baby Boomer hippies and Evangelicals, which are totally my out-group. I thus endorse them with no reservations 😉

But seriously: y’all should read the Sequences so y’all could join our awesome community with its epistemology-promoting norms.


Speaking of the community, now that LessWrong.com is frozen in time a lot of really cool rationalists are group-blogging over at Map and Territory. They even invited me to the party! My first post will be a re-edit of the call against relying on empathy. I want to add a deeper exploration of the evolutionary psychology of empathy, tribalism and reciprocity based on reading Jonathan Haidt and some others.

My second writing project is a bit scary because of the subject. I wrote about subverting democracy, setting fire to the FDA, racial differences, gender wars, and God without Putanumonit erupting into flames. I’m going to push my luck and write about the one subject you’re really not allowed to write rationally about online. I’m going to take the time to make sure it’s good, and I reserve the right to chicken out on this post in the middle.

See y’all in year 2.

Year 1 Redux – Trump

Putanumonit’s birthday week continues, this is the second of my year 1 review posts.

Smart students, stupid charts

I stand behind everything I wrote in I Smell a Chart, at least until someone shares it with FiveThirtyEight’s Leah Libresco who will politely explain why I’m an idiot. My post focused on the abuses of data and statistics in the article, but I neglected an important point: if your data shows that affirmative action doesn’t help Hispanic students at all, but you still claim that it does, you’re doing actual harm to Hispanic students.

Affirmative action by definition evaluates people based on factors other than academic qualification, so employers who only care about qualification will try to counteract the effect of affirmative action. Let’s say that a university will accept a person named Leigh if their SAT is above 600, but they’ll only take Li if he scores 650, while Luis needs a mere 550 score. When an employer receives job application from all three students, they can conclude that Li was likelier to have a higher SAT score than Luis, which will influence their hiring decision. Even if they don’t aim to discriminate, companies in a competitive market have a huge incentive to hire the most qualified people they can.

I don’t know how large this effect is, but it’s not zero. It also depends on the perception by employers of affirmative action, not the actual effect of AA. If some people face severely limited educational opportunities and AA helps them get to college, AA may well have a positive effect even when rational employer discrimination is accounted for. But if AA doesn’t help Hispanics get into college, and the perception of AA hurts them coming out of college, it causes them net harm. Articles that increase the perception of AA while doing nothing to actually make it more effective exacerbate the harm even further.

Trump in the cockpit, journalists in the seats: story of a plane crash

With all that said, the AA article is an outlier on FiveThirtyEight. On the whole, the site is consistently smart, informative, and more or less objective.

To wit, FiveThirtyEight is practically the only mainstream (i.e. left-leaning) outlet that I can stomach following election coverage on (right-wing sources are no better). A lot of mainstream media companies chose to self-immolate in a Trumpnado of journalism malpractice. I was a loyal reader of Slate for years, until August 1st. On that day, they devoted 10 of the 12 articles on their homepage to attacking Trump, including “Trump Eats Fried Chicken Like a Sociopath”. I deleted the slate.com bookmark in disgust.

People have argued that it’s OK for journalists to follow their conscience and sacrifice their hard-earned credibility for a political goal they think is important. Fair enough, but guess what? Now these journalists are fresh out of credibility. The “fried chicken” guy writes almost exclusively about Trump, but who’s going to trust him on the topic now?

The worst part is, I really believe that Slate and NY Times and the rest of them are helping Trump, not hurting him. Contra the Donald, it says nowhere in the election rules that the media owes him fair coverage. If you’re unfit to be president, people will report that you’re unfit to be president. If you’ve assaulted women, the media will probably mention that. But when an outlet devotes a week to “Trump kicked crying babies out of a rally” (which didn’t actually happen), who’s going to take their word or even notice when they try to report serious news?

I have nothing but contempt for people who spit on truth-seeking the moment the truth becomes the slightest hindrance to the pursuit of their political goals. This goes both for presidential candidates and for journalists.

Bowling alone

Speaking of Trump, do you remember when I encouraged everyone not to vote?

My recommendation was based on four premises:

  1. Mathematically, your vote is really unlikely to swing an election.
  2. People judge candidates on personality more than on policy, and personality shouldn’t matter.
  3. The actual policies enacted are unpredictable and will (on expectation) be very similar no matter who gets elected.
  4. Being engaged in politics will turn you against friends and family, the miniscule chance of a positive public impact not worth the personal cost.

Point #1 still stands. If you want to know your exact chance of tipping the election you can adjust the baseline 1-in-10-million chance using FiveThirtyEight’s Voter Power Index for each state.

On the other hand, points #2 and #3 were dispatched quite decisively in the 10 months since my post. Personality doesn’t matter when the choice of personalities comes from a pool of basically respectable people like Bush, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Obama and Romney. Trump is an extreme outlier, and it’s no coincidence that 0 of the 6 people mentioned in the previous sentence are on his side. On policy, I don’t know what’s scarier: that Trump, if elected, will actually enact his proposals on immigration, trade, taxes, NATO and abortion, or that he really has no ideology and will make shit up as he goes along. I’m with Sam Harris on this one: the important part of picking the lesser evil isn’t that it’s evil, what’s important is that it’s less evil.

But point #4 is the important one for each person to realize individually: that you pay the price for political engagement by letting hate into your heart and discord into your relationships.

I followed the 2012 election from a graduate program that was about evenly split between Obama and Romney voters. This caused many of my classmates to get angry at each other, but at least they sometimes talked. That’s why I recommended that people match up across party lines and go bowling on election day, they’d have the same impact on democracy but without losing half their friends.

In 2016, there’s no one to bowl with. It’s almost impossible to imagine a social or professional group that splits 50-50 between Trump and Hillary. The two sides have consolidated their bubbles, purged all thought enemies, and have nothing but disdain for each other. I’ll give a blue tribe example because that’s the tribe I live in, and a controversial example because it has to be controversial to make the point.

Four weeks ago, the blue tribe declared total war on Scott “Dilbert” Adams for predicting that Trump will win the election.

100,000,000 enemies

On 9/30, Slate (who else?) wrote a hit piece on Adams calling him a “horny narcissist” in the article’s title. The next week Adams was shadowbanned on Twitter, a company that seems to have abandoned its ideals at the first sign of financial hardship. In the weeks since, an avalanche of hate piled up on Adams from online mobs and the media.

By now, a month of unrelenting abuse has curved the trajectory of Adams’ posts towards the crazy end. But when I browsed his blog in early October, he seemed at worst like someone who came up with a half-true hedgehogian theory (the “Trump is a master persuader” hypothesis), and stuck with it too long through a combination of doubling down on a bet and plain old confirmation bias. If it’s a crime to have an ego and an online platform, let him without sin cast the first tweet. But Adams’ crime is triple: an ego, a platform, and an association to Donald Trump.

I don’t have any reason to sympathize with Adams besides empathy for a person targeted by a bullying mob. But this post isn’t for Adams, it’s for the 100,000th person who tweeted “you’re dumb and your comic sucks too” at him.

43% of Americans support Trump. That’s 137 million people. The vast majority of these hold more extreme political opinions than Adams did a month ago when he declared his main concerns to be Hillary’s health and her estate tax plan. If you declare Adams to be an unredeemable enemy, an evil alien whose psychology is incomprehensible to right-thinking folk, the same goes for at least 100,000,000 other Americans.

Unlike a political argument with your uncle or classmate in 2012, these 100 million in 2016 will never get the chance to convince you of their humanity. The tribes barely intersect as it, and now Trump supporters see that nothing comes from interacting liberals except derision and harassment. 100 million people now hate and fear the blue tribe. And what really sucks, most of them will also hate and fear people like me and Scott Aaronson, even though we write blogs in defense of Trump defenders’ right to defend him.

Scott and I are educated coastal Jewish liberals. Trump supporters don’t read our blogs, but they can tell we’re from the tribe of their enemies. And I really don’t want to live in a country with 100 million who see me that way. So that’s why I defend Scott Adams’ right to be an idiot online. Because those who attack him drown out the voices of reason and tolerance, the voices of actual liberalism. I’m a liberal, and I can’t stomach that.

 

Year 1 Redux – Serena and Ivan

A series revisiting year 1 of Putanumonit. Today: Serena Williams vs. Ivan the Terrible.

I blog whenever I’m excited by an idea, when I just read or though of something cool and I simply can’t keep it to myself. The ideas I’m excited by are new and a little precarious. Often, they’re gratuitously contrarian (*cough* burn the FDA *cough*).

These ideas are bit raw. Not fully baked, but not quite half-baked either. Maybe three quarter baked: arguments that are 75% correct, or models that are 75% complete, or advice that three out of four readers need to hear. I don’t always have the time or the patience to fully bake them on a 3-a-month schedule, but I have a bit of time now to retrospect. To wrap up the year, I’m publishing a series of short posts covering that missing 25% for some of my top articles from year 1. I have about 4-5 planned, and I’ll publish a new one every day or two to celebrate Putanumonit’s birthday week.


Tails of Great Soccer Players is the one that started it all. It did two wonderful things for my blog. It brought in readers who like scientific inquiry and numbers. More importantly, it scared away readers who like political correctness and were mortified by the idea that you can compare nationalities on innate ability, and declare that some people are better than others. Maybe it’s safe for a Jew to write about naitonal difference in athletic ability, ’cause we ain’t got none. Now I’m going to stick my neck out even further and be a man who writes about gender differences, because there’s a really important question we need to answer.

Can Serena Williams beat the man ranked 351st in world in tennis?

Professional tennis coaches talk about variations in wrist tendon strength or topspin RPM between men and women. These are all important topics that I know very little about. All I know are bell curves, you can scroll down in the original post for a refresher of the math.

It’s hard to estimate the number of tennis players in the world, with guesses ranging from 75 million to 1.2 billion. According to a survey, 18 million Americans played tennis in the past year and Americans make up 6% of ranked tennis pros, putting the global number of players at 300 million. Also, 65% of the world’s 13,000 professional players are men. Conservatively, let’s assume that there are 100 million people playing tennis somewhat seriously, 60 million men and 40 million women.

Of these 40 million, Serena Williams is the best. Assuming that tennis skill is normally distributed, she is roughly 5.5 standard deviations better at tennis than the average woman who plays.

In 1998, the Williams sisters bragged that they could defeat any male player outside the top 200. They were promptly beaten 6-1 and 6-2 by 203rd ranked Karsten Braasch after Braasch played a round of golf and had a few beers. Humbled and contrite, the Williams sisters revised their prediction to claim that they’d beat any male player outside the top 350. (Yes, Serena got better since 1998, but she made the 350 claim back then. Also, she is now also past her peak years). The 351st ranked male player should be about 4.4 SDs better at tennis than the average man. His name is Ivan. Since you have no idea what Ivan looks like, I’m going to use a picture of Ivan the Terrible instead.

serenaivan

According to the model, Serena can beat Ivan if men are on average less than 1.1 SDs (5.5 – 4.4) better at tennis than women. On the chart above, I made the difference exactly 1 SD for illustration: men are 0.4 SD better than the all-gender average and women are 0.6 SD worse).

A gap of 1.1 SDs means that the median tennis-playing man can beat 6 out 7 randomly selected women at tennis. On the chart, it shows as 6/7 of the area under the red curve being to the left of the dashed line in the blue curve’s median. At first glance, it’s not obvious if this is too high or to low. When I played tennis as a youth I ranked 72nd for boys in Israel. I could beat most girls practicing with me, but got my ass kicked both times I played girls in the national top 10. According to this rough estimate, Serena vs. Ivan would be a close match.

On the other hand, #351 is only 0.12 SD worse than a sober #203. That’s roughly the difference between #10 and #20, and the tenth ranked player doesn’t usually beat the twentieth as easily as 6-1-after-a-couple-of-beers. With that said, the score of a single set is very limited evidence, and comparing comparisons is really stretching this model beyond the point of its usefulness.

Bottom line: I would give Ivan the slightest of edges, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Serena [expletive] takes this [expletive] ball and shoves it down my [expletive] throat.

Image result for serena williams angry
Hey, Ivan, I bet you’re “terrible” at tennis!

 

A Year of Putting a Numonit

Happy birthday to Putanumonit!

Come celebrate with me next Friday (10/28) at Zach Weinersmith’s BAH Fest West. If you move fast you can grab one of the few remaining $10 tickets. I’m giving a talk on the dumbest idea ever to solve the global food crisis. For a taste, here’s my performance from last year’s BAH Fest in MIT where I talked about sleepwalking and made fun of Max Tegmark. If I win, drinks on me.

My initial plan for the blog was to quietly practice writing for a few years until I feel I can produce something that deserves to be read. Instead, Scott Alexander linked to the third post I ever wrote and brought 5,000 readers along. In late December I decided that making Scott’s blogroll would be my goal for 2016. It happened on 12/29/2015. In May, “Shopping for Happiness” was the post of the day on The Browser, one spot ahead of Scott.

Thank you Scott! And thanks to everyone who shared, reddited, tweeted, The Browsered, Metafiltered and to everyone who told their mom. Thanks to everyone who commented, emailed me, and a huge thanks to wonderful people who joined me in donating to GiveDirectly.

Whenever a post of mine is shared there are discussions of it happening in 5 places at once (Reddit, LW, Facebook..) I do my best to engage with all of them, but I would love to consolidate most of the conversation here in the comments so it’s visible next to the post.

Two things to encourage this: first, I would like to remind everyone of my $5 reward policy for comments correcting major errors in my posts, like this one.

Second, here’s a rundown of the best comments of the year, with apologies to those I missed: scholar on male porn actors, blastmeister101 on national soccer success, my greatest fan on baby hatches, StrivingForConsistency on patterns in lottery tickets, Benjamin Arthur Schwab wrote an article on the game theory of dating in response to my article on the game theory of dating, Maggie taking first steps in LessWrongianism, BAS, entirelyuseless and JulianR on inequality, Chebky on thaumatology, Alexander Stanislaw pushing back on the GDA, Peter Gerdes disbelieves beliefs, best gamer mouse on the best gaming mouse.


One thing y’all aren’t helping me with is achieving my goal for this blog: becoming a better writer. You critique my ideas six ways to Sunday but never a grammar mistake, a poor turn of phrase, a post with a confusing structure, an incoherent explanation, or a badly constructed argument. I want my writing to be first – fun to read, second – educational, third – convincing, ultimately – inspiring. Most of the time I don’t achieve that, and I need your feedback to get better.

Please share (by comment or email) which parts of my posts worked or didn’t for you as a written essay, arguments aside. The more specific the better: it’s easier to learn from a bad paragraph than from a bad post, even easier to improve on a single bad sentence or logical argument. Rewrite a section of the post with better language and flow to demonstrate your skills, I may even include it in the post. I’m still committed to ensuring that Putanumonit is a money-losing venture. I pay to keep this ad-free and I am willing to pay for a writing coach that impresses me enough. Or, you can make this effort as a kindness to me.

My next post will the revisit the best articles I wrote this year and my follow up thoughts on them, the better to start year 2 with fresh writing and fresh ideas. My folder of draft ideas is bursting at the seams, but you are very much encouraged to post topic suggestions here or on the Full Archive page (finally updated). Feel free to also post shorter questions, I’d love to have enough to do a mailbag Q&A.

At the start of year 2 I am more committed than ever to keep writing, keep improving, and keep engaging with my readers. Thank you for sticking around.

Brain Rewiring in Process

Status update 5/25/2016

Do rich people deserve their riches? Do poor people deserve their poverty or criminals their punishment? Is inequality a problem that needs to be solved? Inequality of what, exactly?

For the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with the idea that we’re thinking about these things in an entirely wrong fashion. Not just that the judgments and solutions proposed by your Facebook newsfeed and your favorite presidential candidate are wrong, but that the entire way we think of these issues leads us away from being able to make them better.

For example, “is fatness a disease?” is the wrong question to ask if our goal is to help people who want to lose weight to be healthier and slimmer. Whether it’s a disease is a red herring, we should be asking things like “will shaming fat people make them eat less?” or “what if we had an ‘exercise pill’ that made everyone fit?”. This idea is so simple that it’s absolutely brilliant, it’s the top post with 100% approval rating on LessWrong. I want to dissolve desert and inequality like Scott dissolved disease in the link above. I’ve been cramming my head with economics from the left and the right, the top and the bottom, hoping that the picture in my head resolves into something that’s both utterly obvious to me and utterly different from most discourse on these subjects. I don’t know if it’s even within my ability to write, but I would rather take a month and try to write something good than force myself into the self imposed 4-a-month blog timeline and write something embarrassing.

(Needless to say, please comment below with your own best ideas on the subject so I can shamelessly steal them.)

I’ve (coincidentally or not) also decided to learn touch typing, aka changing the unconscious way I perform the mechanical act of blogging. If you’ve gone through it, you know that the four paragraphs so far have taken me approximately 27 hours to type. Basically, I’m trying to change how my brain thinks about equality of opportunity and also change which finger my brain sends to type the letter “c”. In the same week. It’s frustrating, confusing and difficult; I think that’s how rationality is supposed to feel like. In a couple of weeks I will either be spitting sharp truths at 60 words per minute or crying in frustration in the corner of my room, a beaten down shell of my former self.

Thank you for your patience.