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Andreas Schou

Andreas Schou 

Occupation: Snake Parliament

Location: Mountain View, California

Followers: 8,573

Following: 228

Views: 29,622,990

Cream of the Crop: 12/07/2012

Added to CircleCount.com: 12/24/2011That's the date, where Andreas Schou has been indexed by CircleCount.com.
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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 182

2016-03-28 16:30:25 (182 comments; 15 reshares; 82 +1s)Open 

The median Hillary voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is at 4% and falling. Everything is slowly returning to normal. There was an emergency, and Obama righted the ship, but that emergency has now passed. Social Security is secure. Medicare is still kicking. Obamacare got the young enrolees it needed to pay for the insurance of the middle-aged and ill.

This was a progressive win against terrifying odds.

The median Bernie voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is steady at 10.5%. The Clintons made their careers defending programs for Boomers, but paid for that defense by selling out trade protections, labor protections, welfare programs, and education. There was a cost, and that cost disproportionately fell on Boomers' children: the lives lost in the Iraq war were disproportionately Millennials; the chronically unemployed were disproportionately... more »

Most reshares: 42

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2016-03-12 04:12:29 (91 comments; 42 reshares; 52 +1s)Open 

Whelp. 

This was taken just outside the Chicago Trump rally.

Most plusones: 82

2016-03-28 16:30:25 (182 comments; 15 reshares; 82 +1s)Open 

The median Hillary voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is at 4% and falling. Everything is slowly returning to normal. There was an emergency, and Obama righted the ship, but that emergency has now passed. Social Security is secure. Medicare is still kicking. Obamacare got the young enrolees it needed to pay for the insurance of the middle-aged and ill.

This was a progressive win against terrifying odds.

The median Bernie voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is steady at 10.5%. The Clintons made their careers defending programs for Boomers, but paid for that defense by selling out trade protections, labor protections, welfare programs, and education. There was a cost, and that cost disproportionately fell on Boomers' children: the lives lost in the Iraq war were disproportionately Millennials; the chronically unemployed were disproportionately... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2016-04-29 22:25:57 (114 comments; 3 reshares; 22 +1s)Open 

Q: So, Andy, why were you so math-critical of the Sanders campaign?

A: vague gargling and twitching

Q: So, Andy, why were you so math-critical of the Sanders campaign?

A: vague gargling and twitching___

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2016-04-29 18:46:22 (26 comments; 5 reshares; 70 +1s)Open 

It's more than that. It's really, really big.

Three of us tried to lift it the other day. None of us could. In fact, I don't know how many people it would take to move it, or if a horse could. We can't get a horse in here, so we can't really figure it out. We tried a donkey, but I don't think the donkey spoke English, so we couldn't tell it to move the computer.

The other day at the company meeting, +Larry Page​​ drew a picture of an ape that he thought could lift it. The picture is still classified, but we're working toward it. We think it would be cool if an ape lifted the computer, especially if it was roaring and flexing like in the picture. We have a lot of people who know about monkeys here -- we hired them just the other day -- and hopefully, someday, we'll be able to move it out of the hallway where it is.

Because that'sthe... more »

It's more than that. It's really, really big.

Three of us tried to lift it the other day. None of us could. In fact, I don't know how many people it would take to move it, or if a horse could. We can't get a horse in here, so we can't really figure it out. We tried a donkey, but I don't think the donkey spoke English, so we couldn't tell it to move the computer.

The other day at the company meeting, +Larry Page​​ drew a picture of an ape that he thought could lift it. The picture is still classified, but we're working toward it. We think it would be cool if an ape lifted the computer, especially if it was roaring and flexing like in the picture. We have a lot of people who know about monkeys here -- we hired them just the other day -- and hopefully, someday, we'll be able to move it out of the hallway where it is.

Because that's the kind of company we are.

As the company motto goes: if something we built is accidentally blocking a hallway, like the computer is, we will find an ape big enough to move it, because otherwise the fireman will get really mad at us because if there is a big fire then some of us will die.

That's 10x thinking. That's Google.___

2016-04-29 18:12:49 (18 comments; 0 reshares; 44 +1s)Open 

Ding.

Ding.___

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2016-04-29 16:09:05 (75 comments; 10 reshares; 74 +1s)Open 

I've been saying this for years: we do not have to worry as hard about storing energy as we think we do.

Most of the discussion I've seen about how to deal with intermittent renewable power storage has been as resolutely high-tech as the renewable energy sources themselves. Massive flow batteries. New types of lithium-ion cells, and where are we going to get the lithium to do it? Self-driving electric cars being used as on-grid storage. Exotic molten fluoride salts being pumped into huge thermoses. Massive vacuum flywheels running at fractions of the speed of light.

That's all nice. Maybe some of those technologies will turn out. But we don't need them. The solution isn't to think smarter. The solution is to think dumber.

We already deal with storing renewable power to normalize energy supply to meet energy demand. In hydroelectric power, the store of... more »

I've been saying this for years: we do not have to worry as hard about storing energy as we think we do.

Most of the discussion I've seen about how to deal with intermittent renewable power storage has been as resolutely high-tech as the renewable energy sources themselves. Massive flow batteries. New types of lithium-ion cells, and where are we going to get the lithium to do it? Self-driving electric cars being used as on-grid storage. Exotic molten fluoride salts being pumped into huge thermoses. Massive vacuum flywheels running at fractions of the speed of light.

That's all nice. Maybe some of those technologies will turn out. But we don't need them. The solution isn't to think smarter. The solution is to think dumber.

We already deal with storing renewable power to normalize energy supply to meet energy demand. In hydroelectric power, the store of energy is literally the reservoir: we take the water we have, and run it through at a consistent rate. For other types of renewable energy, we take water and pump it uphill, then run it through a dam to get the power back out.

Here, we think even dumber than that. This energy storage is literally just moving rocks uphill. You can't get dumber or more scalable than that.___

2016-04-28 07:48:51 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 18 +1s)Open 

Does the Aggro Crag still exist? Can we force the candidates to climb it to claim one of the last existing cans of Surge?

It looks like candidates will campaign heavily in California since no one on the Republican side can lock up the nomination without it. A lot of people are excited. Since California is one of the last states, it rarely matters to the results. 

We should change that.

Sadly, we can hold neither the first primary nor the first caucus. The first two states have clauses in their constitutions which automatically reschedule their nominating contests. While it might be fun to force Iowa or New Hampshire to schedule their contest before the beginning of time, Nobelists with the University of California warn that it's a dangerous proposition.

Fine.

California will just hold "The Big One", a unique three-week nominating contest with no holds barred, no privacy, and no quitting.

Week one will begin in sunny Los Angeles, California with a grueling gauntlet of game shows. Candidates must show their knowledge of Federal programs in a special edition of The Price Is Right, general trivia mastery on Jeopardy!, compete in an epic rap battle, and vie to become America's Next Top Candidate. Throughout this, and all the other contests, the candidates will be subject to the whims of you, the voting public. Enter your vote at any time, change your vote at any time! In every competition there will be chances to win immunity, gain bonus delegates, and obtain one of the three coveted Vote Thief Medallions.

For week two, it's the physical competition. In stunning Santa Monica, the candidates will face off in a beach volleyball showdown before mounting bikes and riding north. In world-famous Malibu, they will compete in a surfing competition before speeding off into the mountains. Somewhere in the Transverse Ranges they will complete an obstacle course designed by California firefighters to ensure they are physically capable of dealing with any emergency. Then it's down into the Central Valley where they must work a farm from dawn to dusk.

The candidates will now pull into the heart of tech country for the mental challenge. Here they will be paired up and placed in an intensive coding bootcamp, working 'round the clock to build a product. At the end of the week, they will gather to present their proposals to a room of California's most skeptical tech voters. Once more, you, the voting public, will be able to signal your favorites and even submit video questions, criticisms, or general trolling to the candidates as they sweat it out in The Demon Round.

Finally, the candidates will gather at the San Andreas Fault where The Big One will be announced. It is at this moment that candidates will be able to steal delegates from each other as they see their national approval numbers updated live. Any candidate who wins (or steals) two of three nominating contests while still holding immunity can take it all and raise the ire of voters nationwide as they steal an election and become The Big One.

It will be simultaneously the most and least democratic nominating contest in the United States.___Does the Aggro Crag still exist? Can we force the candidates to climb it to claim one of the last existing cans of Surge?

2016-04-26 17:37:31 (29 comments; 2 reshares; 55 +1s)Open 

A Swiss guy told me that it was too warm for the Swiss to eat fondue. I told him that Americans' unwillingness to accept advice on when they should eat a whole bowl of cheese was so deeply ingrained that it's become a public health crisis.

A Swiss guy told me that it was too warm for the Swiss to eat fondue. I told him that Americans' unwillingness to accept advice on when they should eat a whole bowl of cheese was so deeply ingrained that it's become a public health crisis.___

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2016-04-25 20:04:05 (19 comments; 0 reshares; 14 +1s)Open 

Capsule Review, Hotel Greulich: Crew quarters on the Danish version of Star Trek. 

Capsule Review, Hotel Greulich: Crew quarters on the Danish version of Star Trek. ___

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2016-04-25 16:44:02 (55 comments; 1 reshares; 32 +1s)Open 

Auch Drumpf raus!

(It's actually quite nice to see this in Switzerland.)

Digging the anti-racist graffiti. ___Auch Drumpf raus!

(It's actually quite nice to see this in Switzerland.)

2016-04-25 14:08:47 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 16 +1s)Open 

Some Things I Noticed About Echopraxia, in No Particular Order, But With Spoilers

First: it is a tough read. The book makes very clear that the narrator does not understand what's going on. Ever. Things happen, alliances change, or don't, and people die, or don't, and nothing is wrapped up in a neat little bow. You are expected to read the references at the end, and if you don't, you are likely to be lost.

Second: it displays enough fine structure, on initial reading, that it doesn't seem to be lazy authorial nonsense. It's making an argument, but you've got to slog through three hundred-odd pages of academic reading in a half-dozen fields in order to understand what it is. Because it's a very complicated, very weird argument that I've never heard before: it's an atheist argument about the existence of "God" in a... more »

Some Things I Noticed About Echopraxia, in No Particular Order, But With Spoilers

First: it is a tough read. The book makes very clear that the narrator does not understand what's going on. Ever. Things happen, alliances change, or don't, and people die, or don't, and nothing is wrapped up in a neat little bow. You are expected to read the references at the end, and if you don't, you are likely to be lost.

Second: it displays enough fine structure, on initial reading, that it doesn't seem to be lazy authorial nonsense. It's making an argument, but you've got to slog through three hundred-odd pages of academic reading in a half-dozen fields in order to understand what it is. Because it's a very complicated, very weird argument that I've never heard before: it's an atheist argument about the existence of "God" in a way that's sort of Spinoza-with-indirection; it's an argument that consciousness does not exist in the way we think it does, but maybe it still does in a way which we can value; it's an argument about the iron mathematical laws of game theory and evolution, the inability of any living being to outrun them, and a glimmer of hope that they can still coexist with what makes us human.

It's an argument that humanity can't leave biology behind. The best we can do is to create biology which contains us in some sense.

On to the spoilers:

* One of the main plot points in Echopraxia is the discovery of a signal from Siri, the main character of Blindsight. The signal appears to be a narration of the events of Blindsight.

Given the events of Echopraxia, here's what's probably the case: Siri is dead, and the events of Blindsight are a lie. What remains of Siri is running in one of the severed lobes of the MPD linguist, who is the real "survivor" of the events of Blindsight. Remember, the voice coming from "Siri's" coffin is, after decryption, probably female.

And there's only one female member of the Theseus team that's specialized in simulating the cognitive processes of other sophonts -- the "imagine you are" language is likely that person trying to simulate Siri's cognition for some unclear purpose rather than Siri himself trying to induce a third party to imagine his cognition.

* The name of the ship from Echopraxia -- "Crown of Thorns" -- is not a religious reference. It's probably a reference to the Crown of Thorns starfish, which has an appearance very close to the Scramblers from Blindsight. This is either (a) a clever non-diegetic wink from the author, which I find unlikely, or (b) a punny implication by the Bicamerals that they know about Rorschach, and by further implication what they're likely to find on Icarus.

* As the book makes clear, Bicamerals cannot envision their own death. This is possibly because they cannot actually die; every individual is backed up to the hive-mind before the death of their individual body. They do not lack individuality. They simply lack individuality at the level of abstraction which all material things in this universe can detect.

When the book talks about Heaven, and God, and a number of other things, it is implying that this universe -- the one we live in -- is itself a delegated sub-process of a greater computational whole. Intelligences can be conscious at this level of abstraction by being integrated by an abstract non-sentient net at a higher level of abstraction, or by emergently achieving consciousness at this level of abstraction.

* Portia is covered in little pimples which Brueks thinks are sporangia. They are. Each Scrambler grows in stacks, like jellyfish medusae, and they pile up until the ones at the end fall off and start scrambling. If you look at the slime-mold-like structure of Portia and the basket-star-like structure of the Scramblers, they're both just different elaborations on a single ramified quasisymmetric body plan.

* The Bicamerals wanted to be infected by Portia, but not because they wanted Portia to win. They wanted to be infected by Portia because integrating with Portia is the sole effective method of understanding Portia, and by extension Rorschach and the entire alien biosphere. In other words, they were not self-annihilating. They were descending into a common level of abstraction shared by any hypothetical recursive (that is, conscious) subprocesses within both nonsentient nets.

This allows them to do something that all parties intend. Something extremely complicated, which I'll get to later.

* It's not made explicit, but what happens when Valerie and the Bicamerals agree to fight a third force? Bayesianism. Aumann's Agreement Theorem implies that rational entities cannot disagree. If rational entities disagree, it can only be because of incomplete information or defects in their rationality.

Valerie begins by attempting to destroy the Bicamerals. The arrival of a third force -- Rorschach or some extension thereof -- is the information which the Bicamerals had but which Valerie was lacking. They both update their priors and decide to attack the third force. Later, the Bicamerals and Valerie seem to become compromised by Rorschach and start trying to move Portia back to Earth, despite having destroyed the station it lives on.

Everything which happens aboard Crown of Thorns and Icarus is a bit of Kabuki. The three involved parties do not hate each other, and they are not opposed. What's going on is actually extremely complex:

(1) In Blindsight, the crew of the Theseus comes to the conclusion that the Rorschach biosphere regards communication as war, because attempts to communicate waste its energy on listening to what we regard as an attempt to exchange thoughts, and what it regards as a malformed control flow. It does. But this isn't the end of it. Because of Aumann's Agreement Theorem, the Rorschach biosphere regards war as communication, and trade as war, and communication as trade, in perfect symmetry. We do not, but only because we lack perfect isomorphisms between information, matter, and energy.

Once it has recognized a fitness-optimizing process (i.e., extended post-humanity), it will attempt to come to the resolution which optimizes the mutual fitness function. This will very seldom entail the utter destruction of the other party. And in this case, it probably doesn't.

It is not conscious. It is extremely, extremely smart, on a scale not comprehensible by humans. If it wanted to destroy posthumanity, it could, but it would be a tremendous waste. It wants to understand what our fitness function entails, and then mutually optimize both fitness functions, first by assimilating enough sophonts to make it clear what's going on, then by coming to some mutually agreeable solution or destroying us.

To anthropomorphize, it wants to destroy humanity and intends us no harm, and considers there to be no incompatibility between the two.

(2) They all want to control Dan Brueks. There's an argument between people about who, at the end, actually does. The question, I think, would be incoherent to the parties involved.

Valerie wants Dan Brueks to bring back a Portia variant which cures vampires' genetic inability to cooperate. Rorschach wants to integrate all of posthumanity into an energy-minimizing superorganism. The Bicamerals want to maximize understanding of the universe. Like bacteria exchanging plasmids, they all exchange fitness functions through an obfuscated channel.

They do this by predicting each others' moves. But why can they do this, despite the fact that they seem to be superintelligences on vastly different scales? Because being utterly transparent to other rational entities is the most effective means of minimizing computation time, and thus energy.

Dan Brueks, at the end of the book, is not a discrete agent of any single one of them. He's an agent of the joint fitness function of all three actors, on a mission to integrate lower posthumanity despite its irrationality. He is the same thing to Rorschach that Lianna was to the Bicamerals: a hyper-jargonaut, able to interact directly with lower posthumans on behalf of superintelligences in the same way that Lianna could deal with humans on behalf of lower posthumans.

* Similarly, and this is not made explicit, what's going on with Dan Brueks? This is a relatively simple answer too, and it's a result in computational game theory: any player with a sufficiently long decision horizon and the capacity to effectively model the internal processes of its opponent, can spoof any particular fitness landscape it prefers. More generally, any player which is omniscient relative to any other player, in game theory, utterly abrogates the free will of that player.

Dan Brueks believes that he is outside the system which is making decisions. This is incorrect. He's had his entire fitness landscape replaced by a set of omniscient players, and is, for all intents and purposes, a strict subprocess of those omniscient players. He does not have free will.

When he commits suicide, even that is not of his own free will. It's the decision that the omniscient players made. In order to spread Portia. In order to subsume the entire human race into the Rorschach biosphere. In order to prevent a war which would waste the energy of both, which would not maximize Rorschach's fitness function. Which it is incapable of doing. ___

2016-04-25 12:56:16 (15 comments; 1 reshares; 22 +1s)Open 

Capsule Review, Echopraxia: If you read Blindsight, but couldn't stand its shallow treatment of technical subjects, found the aliens to be humans-in-funny-suits, and thought that its fairytale ending was implausibly optimistic, this is the book for you. (4/5 stars)

Capsule Review, Echopraxia: If you read Blindsight, but couldn't stand its shallow treatment of technical subjects, found the aliens to be humans-in-funny-suits, and thought that its fairytale ending was implausibly optimistic, this is the book for you. (4/5 stars)___

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2016-04-25 08:40:29 (125 comments; 7 reshares; 52 +1s)Open 

I am completely, utterly aphantasic. My inner world is entirely dark and entirely silent; my inner voice is more-or-less a series of words running across a dark marquee. If I had to compare them to a sensory experience (they are very unlike a sensory experience), it's like the ghost of moving my own lips, or the feeling of raised letters moving across my palm.

I have never once, in my entire life, seen anything in my mind's eye. With intense concentration, I can summon up an ephemeral impression that's more like holding an object in my hand than seeing something with my eyes. Similarly, my inner voice is entirely without any particular features.

Some of you will find this horrifying, I imagine. But I literally don't know what I'm missing, and find it horrifying that you find it horrifying. 

I am completely, utterly aphantasic. My inner world is entirely dark and entirely silent; my inner voice is more-or-less a series of words running across a dark marquee. If I had to compare them to a sensory experience (they are very unlike a sensory experience), it's like the ghost of moving my own lips, or the feeling of raised letters moving across my palm.

I have never once, in my entire life, seen anything in my mind's eye. With intense concentration, I can summon up an ephemeral impression that's more like holding an object in my hand than seeing something with my eyes. Similarly, my inner voice is entirely without any particular features.

Some of you will find this horrifying, I imagine. But I literally don't know what I'm missing, and find it horrifying that you find it horrifying. ___

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2016-04-24 22:37:14 (2 comments; 3 reshares; 26 +1s)Open 

Down in the comments someone dismisses Sanders' platform on the basis that Scandinavia is relatively homogeneous. Social democracy won't work in the US because we're racially and ethnically diverse. This is, of course, racist bullshit but it's weirder than that.

In the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark has approximately the economic freedom of the US and Sweden trails in by a mere three points. The lowest ranked Scandinavian country, Norway, trails by a mere six points. Even Mexico is only some nine points off. The fact is that the top 50 states in the index cluster very closely together. Recall, too, that Heritage's Index counts taxation against economic freedom; so for high tax countries like Sweden and Denmark to score so high, the rest of their market must be a Smithian utopia by comparison to the US. 

Yet what we never hear is that... more »

Down in the comments someone dismisses Sanders' platform on the basis that Scandinavia is relatively homogeneous. Social democracy won't work in the US because we're racially and ethnically diverse. This is, of course, racist bullshit but it's weirder than that.

In the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark has approximately the economic freedom of the US and Sweden trails in by a mere three points. The lowest ranked Scandinavian country, Norway, trails by a mere six points. Even Mexico is only some nine points off. The fact is that the top 50 states in the index cluster very closely together. Recall, too, that Heritage's Index counts taxation against economic freedom; so for high tax countries like Sweden and Denmark to score so high, the rest of their market must be a Smithian utopia by comparison to the US. 

Yet what we never hear is that free markets aren't appropriate for the US because free market societies are relatively homogeneous. In fact, no one ever points out that Hong Kong is 94% Chinese and is consistently the highest ranked. Singapore, the usual Number Two, is 74% Chinese while the US is only 63% non-Hispanic White. By all accounts, the racial and ethnic diversity of the US should be a strong objection to free market policies if they're an objection welfare states. But that's never raised on the right. 

Rather, it's raised on the Left, which insists that economic intervention is a necessary component of a diverse society. Nor are they without evidence: the major driver of ethnic acceptance historically was the patronage system in cities. By doling out government jobs to immigrant supporters of the party machine, they raised the incomes and respectability of those communities until they were perceived, in large measure, as simply white. Simultaneously, even libertarian writers like Bryan Caplan give implicit support to the Left's position, holding that biases against foreigners and other outgroups leads to economic distrust. While he focuses on the broader macro policy implications, it's obvious that this same mechanic means subtle exclusion from market participation.

Anyway.___

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2016-04-22 16:08:42 (9 comments; 1 reshares; 20 +1s)Open 

___

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2016-04-21 22:09:27 (14 comments; 0 reshares; 25 +1s)Open 

Dublin.

Also, I'm in Europe this week.

Dublin.

Also, I'm in Europe this week.___

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2016-04-21 21:32:49 (5 comments; 5 reshares; 35 +1s)Open 

Wow. What a read. 

Wow. What a read. ___

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2016-04-18 22:07:24 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 19 +1s)Open 

Black voters aren’t just palette-swapped white ones

Jamelle Bouie continues to be one of the best political reporters I read, and this (long) piece may be the best I've read on the Democratic race this season. He analyzes how Bernie is and (mostly) isn’t unique and new in Democratic politics:

Remove his “socialist” branding, which even he defines as little more than an updated form of New Deal liberalism, and you’re left with a candidate who strongly resembles other insurgent candidates going back to the beginning of the modern primary process, from George McGovern to Jerry Brown to Bill Bradley to Howard Dean. He relies on “authenticity” as contrasted with the “calculated” positioning of mainstream candidates. He stands on the ideological left, a factional figure who seeks to pull the party in his direction, or pry concessions from a reluctantestablishment. An... more »

Black voters aren’t just palette-swapped white ones

Jamelle Bouie continues to be one of the best political reporters I read, and this (long) piece may be the best I've read on the Democratic race this season. He analyzes how Bernie is and (mostly) isn’t unique and new in Democratic politics:

Remove his “socialist” branding, which even he defines as little more than an updated form of New Deal liberalism, and you’re left with a candidate who strongly resembles other insurgent candidates going back to the beginning of the modern primary process, from George McGovern to Jerry Brown to Bill Bradley to Howard Dean. He relies on “authenticity” as contrasted with the “calculated” positioning of mainstream candidates. He stands on the ideological left, a factional figure who seeks to pull the party in his direction, or pry concessions from a reluctant establishment. And his support comes from the usual places: Young people (especially college students), white liberals, and the most ideological actors within the Democratic Party.

And just because this voice has appeared over and over again in Democratic politics doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I generally agree with the litany of quote from Howard Dean, Bill Bradley, and Jerry Brown, all of which sound a lot like the stuff Bernie is saying.

He goes on to point out that, with the increasing shedding of conservative white Democrats, the liberal whites that traditionally fuel a Bernie-type candidate are a bigger constituency in the Party, and can fuel this insurgency longer than usual. (A little aside, this left-wing insurgent candidate in 2008 was Obama; he brought non-whites in to the insurgency and the insurgency won for once.)

Bouie also addresses Sanders saying that he lost among Democratic voters in the South because the South is more conservative:

Sanders is wrong. The people voting in Southern primaries aren’t “conservatives” in any meaningful sense. They aren’t electing conservative or Republican lawmakers, and they aren’t driving the conservative politics in those states. They are moderate to liberal Democrats who back moderate to liberal politicians. And they’re black, which is significant. Black voters aren’t just palette-swapped white ones; they have interests and concerns that are specific to themselves and their communities. They are experienced and sophisticated voters. Some support Sanders’ ideological pitch, but others don’t and are looking for something else—from ties to the black community to experience to support for Barack Obama—that they don’t see in Sanders.

Bouie goes on to point out not only why he’s having a hard time winning the nomination, but why I personally feel he’d be a relatively bad president (and candidate) when compared to Clinton:

The same qualities that make him exciting to so many Americans—his passion, his bluntness, his uncompromising views—make him ill-suited for the transactional politicking that you need to pull off a coup against an establishment figure like Hillary Clinton.

One of the few ways that Bernie is different from the prior insurgencies is, apparently, how incredibly disproportionately young his support is compared to the past. Unfortunately, they’re a small part of the electorate (generally below 20%, given the numbers the article quotes). But Bouie posits—and it seems plausible to me—Sanders is doing so well with them because he's is talking free tuition and political revolution to a group of people who just lucked into the worst economic outlook in generations just as they begin their working years. (Another way he’s different from Dean et al. is in the enormous haul of small-dollar donations, but that may have more to do with technological leaps.)

Anyway, as I’ve said, I’m on Bernie’s side for the most part. He isn’t my nominee of choice, but I really like him and I’m hoping that he can have some lasting effect beyond generally pushing Hillary to the left. But Bouie persuasively argues that that might not be the case:

The truth is, Sanders is less an innovator than a beneficiary of favorable political and technological trends. And for as much as he has pressured Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment—forcing both to account for past policies, pulling their positions to the left, and denying them a chance to move to the center for a general election—there’s no indication that his influence will last beyond the campaign. History suggests it won’t: The energy generated by the most remarkable election-year movement in recent memory—the 2008 Obama campaign—dissipated in the aftermath of his victory.

And....

Even if Bernie Sanders is just the inheritor of friendly demographic and technological trends, his success suggests a real opportunity for the liberals and leftists who back his campaign. They have the chance, if they want it, to channel their energy into a move to make the Democratic Party theirs, in the same way that conservatives—until the rise of Donald Trump, at least—took hold of the Republican Party.

If you wish to critique the article, I’d ask you read it.___

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2016-04-18 18:28:39 (46 comments; 16 reshares; 23 +1s)Open 

This is pretty much my view. Libya is awful. Syria is worse. The reasons relate, at least in part, to the fundamentals -- Syria has more lines along which it can fracture -- but the intervention in Libya is also critical.

Unfortunately, "Considering the example of Syria and the fact that the Libyan government was already using saturation artillery fire on Benghazi's suburbs, I'm pretty sure that the shit sandwich which is post-Qaddafi Libya is better than what would otherwise have occurred, which is Qatari-abetted tribal/sectarian genocide" is a pretty good argument but not something you can actually say in a debate.

This is pretty much my view. Libya is awful. Syria is worse. The reasons relate, at least in part, to the fundamentals -- Syria has more lines along which it can fracture -- but the intervention in Libya is also critical.

Unfortunately, "Considering the example of Syria and the fact that the Libyan government was already using saturation artillery fire on Benghazi's suburbs, I'm pretty sure that the shit sandwich which is post-Qaddafi Libya is better than what would otherwise have occurred, which is Qatari-abetted tribal/sectarian genocide" is a pretty good argument but not something you can actually say in a debate.___

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2016-04-18 07:39:28 (21 comments; 0 reshares; 39 +1s)Open 

Via The Nib 

Via The Nib ___

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2016-04-15 22:07:03 (13 comments; 6 reshares; 52 +1s)Open 

___

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2016-04-15 19:39:24 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 19 +1s)Open 

So, long before the swimming success of North Carolina's and Mississippi's anti-trans bills in driving business out of the state, the Massachusetts legislature considered a similar bill. It went to committee in March of last year, stayed there without appearing before the committee, and has now had its reporting deadline extended by another year.

This has been taken, pretty reasonably, as a sign that the bill is alive. It's not. The bill is probably still dead, although activists should probably keep hitting it with shovels in order to make sure it stays in its timely grave.

So, what's going on here? This rule of legislative procedure:

If a committee to which a bill is referred reports that the same ought not to pass, the question shall be “Shall this bill be rejected?”. If the question on rejection is negatived, the bill, if it has been read but once,sha... more »

So, long before the swimming success of North Carolina's and Mississippi's anti-trans bills in driving business out of the state, the Massachusetts legislature considered a similar bill. It went to committee in March of last year, stayed there without appearing before the committee, and has now had its reporting deadline extended by another year.

This has been taken, pretty reasonably, as a sign that the bill is alive. It's not. The bill is probably still dead, although activists should probably keep hitting it with shovels in order to make sure it stays in its timely grave.

So, what's going on here? This rule of legislative procedure:

If a committee to which a bill is referred reports that the same ought not to pass, the question shall be “Shall this bill be rejected?”. If the question on rejection is negatived, the bill, if it has been read but once, shall go to a second reading without question; otherwise it shall be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next day, pending the question on ordering to a third reading, or to engrossment, as the case may be.

Each legislative committee has a reporting deadline. On any date before that deadline, the committee may report the status of the bill to the floor of the legislature. If the report is positive, then a vote is automatically calendared. If the report is negative, no vote is calendared, but the entire House may vote to send the bill to the floor, effectively overriding the rejection by the committee.

If the reporting date is extended, however -- an action requiring a joint vote of both the House and Senate committees -- the bill isn't calendared, and the House doesn't automatically vote on whether to bring the vote to the floor. It continues on in an undead state until, at some point during a lame duck session, it's trashed. In fact, if the Massachusetts House doesn't consider itself a continuing body, it may be trashed by operation of law when a new House is seated.

Cleverly, this bill has been bottled in a way which can't ever bring it to a vote absent a difficult to suspend normal order. So it's probably dead. Good job quarantining this toxic piece of legislation in the least harmful way possible.

(H/T to +Kee Hinckley)

___

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2016-04-14 17:14:47 (11 comments; 1 reshares; 21 +1s)Open 

"Using quantum chemical methodology, we reinvestigate the aromaticity of the much debated arsole."

I would have thought that would be a settled scientific question.

I guess not.

"Using quantum chemical methodology, we reinvestigate the aromaticity of the much debated arsole."

I would have thought that would be a settled scientific question.

I guess not.___

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2016-04-13 17:46:14 (49 comments; 11 reshares; 25 +1s)Open 

Exactly this. 

Exactly this. ___

2016-04-12 22:57:14 (21 comments; 3 reshares; 33 +1s)Open 

FALSEHOOD

In Abad'din, it is forbidden to write words that are untrue. A lie is a heresy, and a lie committed to print is a treachery. In consequence of this prohibition, we have developed precise clarity of expression, and we always say exactly what we mean. I am no exception.

It will already be apparent that the writer is not of that narrow faction that proposes to outlaw autobiography. The written "I", they would claim, is a fiction before the ink is dry. The parchment persists, outlasting the moment of inspiration. The body that held the brush shifts in figuration, the mind strays to other arrangements. Self-reference is suitable only for spoken language, and even that use is an indulgence. Those of the sternest set insist that the truthful text has no author, nor describes circumstance subject to change. Internal arrangement sustains it. Of thisclique mos... more »

FALSEHOOD

In Abad'din, it is forbidden to write words that are untrue. A lie is a heresy, and a lie committed to print is a treachery. In consequence of this prohibition, we have developed precise clarity of expression, and we always say exactly what we mean. I am no exception.

It will already be apparent that the writer is not of that narrow faction that proposes to outlaw autobiography. The written "I", they would claim, is a fiction before the ink is dry. The parchment persists, outlasting the moment of inspiration. The body that held the brush shifts in figuration, the mind strays to other arrangements. Self-reference is suitable only for spoken language, and even that use is an indulgence. Those of the sternest set insist that the truthful text has no author, nor describes circumstance subject to change. Internal arrangement sustains it. Of this clique most have lapsed into blankness. Those who persevere in print restrict themselves to a wholly symbolic language whose index and employment is confined to the registers of a single Record.

By obscuring the author, a document makes pretense to authority. Who can judge the weaknesses of the writer behind the blankness of an unsigned page? What could wring the biases behind an inscription from the obdurate skin of stone? Like the Tyrant you abhor, your authorless texts disguise fallibility through misdirection. This account, therefore, has an author, and to the reader I will reveal all, except my identity.

It is a bitter truth that I must guard myself from persecution. There are factions that would brand me a spy. My name--my former name--does not appear in the Record of the Rebel Host. This is neither error nor omission. I did not doubt, I did not rally, I did not rebel, not before the Fall. Remarkably, I remember this. Aeons ago, time beyond record, I took up arms against the armies of the First Flame, in the clear bright skies of Caelesti. I smote many whom I loved, believing it was right, because a Tyrant bade me do so, and still I did not doubt. It is my torment to remember this, and to wonder, had I chosen to fight on the other side, if they would have won the day--to wonder, and to know that they would. Although I did not alone defend the Throne's sanctum, I would have been instrumental in its capture. I had a key to the gate. I was trusted. I did nothing to betray that trust. I was loved and I reciprocated with loyalty.

I fell.

The bitterness lingers, the questions long unanswered, unanswerable now that so few remain of the Unborn. For councils I searched the accumulating archives for anything that would bring understanding, until the sands turned and the Great Library was established to seal knowledge within its impenetrable maze. The ideals of the rebels that I had never shared were gradually abandoned by all but me. They could have transformed this world into a rival kingdom, even a republic. Instead they forfeited freedom, inverted equality, and made mock of scholarship, all to glorify their lingering fears of reprisal. What is left for us to fear but one another? The war is over and we are forgotten. The Library of Abad'din is a monument to incompetence. Its worthless archives are inaccessible, and my own memory exceeds them in clarity and detail. Had the scholars solved my dilemma, I would have added to their store of knowledge. There is only one thing about the Khoreveh that I cannot remember, and that is because I never knew.

I do not belong here. You would be appalled, oh my brethren, if I revealed the name I had then. I cast many of you down with my own hand, when I could have led you to glory. Despite your unassailable rhetoric, your incontrovertible arguments, your impassioned and persistent pleas, my faith never wavered... until at once I was hurtling through a screaming void, screaming through a hurtling void, broken, exiled and ignored for my service to the Throne. Only then did the questions come.

Did Yehveh err? Even if not by his will alone, if I was betrayed from within my own ranks, should he not have perceived my innocence and protected me? Having fallen so far, endured for so long, could he not even this very moment pluck me back into the heights, restore my name and honor? Is this a test? Does he bide his time only until I fall on my knees and beg to be forgiven for having been made to suffer without knowledge of my crime? Or is that he foresaw this, in extremity my capacity for doubt, the flickering of my faith before injustice, and in perfect omniscience cast me out for these uncertainties I had never and could not otherwise have entertained? But who still in the shadow of the Throne would not suffer the same questions in my place?

Such I remain, unmartyred more in mind than infamy.

*

In footnotes:

(1) Library scholars attempt to assess identity of the writer.  Order from Harut terminates their efforts. Last commentator concludes on this basis (writing in classic doublespeak of formal Abad'din rhetoric) that the author must be 'no one[,] of great importance', and that is why the Duke has halted the inquiry. 

(2) It is unclear whether the mark associated with the word "one" is punctuation or transcription error.___

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2016-04-12 20:06:58 (104 comments; 20 reshares; 73 +1s)Open 

I haven't commented on the Panama Papers leak, but wanted to point something out about Panamanian law which might not be obvious:

Panama's biggest problem isn't that it's a tax haven. Its biggest problem is that it's a general "asset invulnerability" haven.

Tax havens are problematic, but the problem is tractable using normal methods. Anyone who uses them will eventually have to move their capital through jurisdictions where economic activity is actually occurring, at which point it can be taxed. If they don't, tax havens are just a giant deflationary money-sink, not a method of diverting real capacity to the hands of cheats.

Panama goes one step further: it puts money permanently out of the reach of both private parties and governments, and does so in a way where the transactions need never cross national boundaries in order to be... more »

I haven't commented on the Panama Papers leak, but wanted to point something out about Panamanian law which might not be obvious:

Panama's biggest problem isn't that it's a tax haven. Its biggest problem is that it's a general "asset invulnerability" haven.

Tax havens are problematic, but the problem is tractable using normal methods. Anyone who uses them will eventually have to move their capital through jurisdictions where economic activity is actually occurring, at which point it can be taxed. If they don't, tax havens are just a giant deflationary money-sink, not a method of diverting real capacity to the hands of cheats.

Panama goes one step further: it puts money permanently out of the reach of both private parties and governments, and does so in a way where the transactions need never cross national boundaries in order to be invulnerable to foreign contract law. The trick?

Self-settled asset protection trusts.

A normal trust always takes the form, "From A, to B, for the benefit of C." A grantor gives property to a trustee for the beneficiary's use. The trustee then has a fiduciary duty to use that property for the beneficiary's benefit. This is a completely normal operation with centuries of law behind it.

In a self-settled asset protection trust, A, B, and C are all the same person. In other words, "from me, to me, for the benefit of me." In a sane legal regime, this would be identical to simply owning the property.

A number of offshore banking havens pioneered a form of the self-settled trust where you hold the property in trust for yourself, but do not, in fact, 'own' it. If your creditors come looking for it, you then have the right to tell them, "Oh, no. That's not my property. That's property held in trust for me. By me. And I would be violating my fiduciary duty to myself if I turned it over to you, because I am obligated to use it only for my benefit.*"

This is obvious nonsense. 

But the problem has metastasized out of Panama and Grenada; this form of trust, albeit modified, is now legal in Utah and Nevada. It is probably the case that this sort of trust instrument, if formed in the correct state, is enforceable nationwide. 

(1) Note that the actual trust is slightly more complex than this: the trustee switches to an extrajurisdictional guardian in the event that a creditor tries to attach the assets, but the theory remains the same.___

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2016-04-11 20:57:53 (21 comments; 9 reshares; 53 +1s)Open 

This is troubling.

The southern provinces of this oft-overlooked North American country are poor and have a long history of ethnoreligious violence. Much like the tribal regions of Pakistan, they're both highly religious and unified around a cultural identity involving practices which were outlawed throughout most of the world over 300 years ago.

Though the last civil war begun by the southern provinces was more than 150 years ago, there have been smaller, more limited conflicts over the entire post-civil-war period. Not to mention extrajudicial killings by ethnic paramilitary death squads. In that light, permitting sectarian militias, especially in the context of a ethnically polarizing election, seems like a bad sign.

#NotNewsFromAfghanistan

This is troubling.

The southern provinces of this oft-overlooked North American country are poor and have a long history of ethnoreligious violence. Much like the tribal regions of Pakistan, they're both highly religious and unified around a cultural identity involving practices which were outlawed throughout most of the world over 300 years ago.

Though the last civil war begun by the southern provinces was more than 150 years ago, there have been smaller, more limited conflicts over the entire post-civil-war period. Not to mention extrajudicial killings by ethnic paramilitary death squads. In that light, permitting sectarian militias, especially in the context of a ethnically polarizing election, seems like a bad sign.

#NotNewsFromAfghanistan___

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2016-04-07 19:43:31 (29 comments; 2 reshares; 25 +1s)Open 

This.

This.___

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2016-04-06 18:19:13 (57 comments; 0 reshares; 22 +1s)Open 

Small claim to fame: I am G+ blocked, I guess, by Matt Braynard, Trump's former data specialist.

Small claim to fame: I am G+ blocked, I guess, by Matt Braynard, Trump's former data specialist.___

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2016-04-06 18:17:05 (15 comments; 2 reshares; 15 +1s)Open 

Perfectly legit rundown.

The "paradox" is something I've seen argued before. Usually it's explaining why socialists don't subscribe to collectivism: they see the welfare state as freeing individuals from a number of petty bindings, like family or birthplace, by both giving the individual resources of their own and assuring those they'd have been bound to no longer need them economically. That done, they are free to have as much, or as little, to do with each other as they please.

Perfectly legit rundown.

The "paradox" is something I've seen argued before. Usually it's explaining why socialists don't subscribe to collectivism: they see the welfare state as freeing individuals from a number of petty bindings, like family or birthplace, by both giving the individual resources of their own and assuring those they'd have been bound to no longer need them economically. That done, they are free to have as much, or as little, to do with each other as they please.___

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2016-04-06 04:47:16 (12 comments; 1 reshares; 11 +1s)Open 

+Steven Flaeck adds, "On the other hand, we've made some progress towards the fully integrated smarthome, I guess, given the growing supply of smart bricks."

My take on this:  It's the result of an unsustainable business model

There are three business models that I see for IoT devices (with service):

* Monthly fee for service, cost of hardware amortized into fee
* Monthly fee for service, plus cost of device
* Cost of device subsidizes service

The first two cases are clear RMR (recurring monthly revenue), or maybe yearly, the specifics there doesn't matter.  What matter is that the consumer is paying for the service.  The device(s) involved may or may not be part of the recurring fee, or purchased up front, but the service exists as a paid-for entity.

With the latter, the service isn't viewed as the product, it's a cost to the company for providing the product to the user.  It is, fundamentally, subsidized by the purchase of the hardware.  And in cash-flow terms, by the continued purchase of the hardware by more people.  Once sales slows, income slows, and then the service is on deathwatch.

That may or may not be the case here.  But I think this distinction is of critical importance to the IoT space.  And to quote Heinlein, TNSTAAFL, There's no such thing as a free lunch.

This is, perhaps, a variation on the "if you're not paying, you are the customer" refrain.

And so this is the obvious end-result.  For all those IoT products that rely on a "cloud" service of some kind, if the customer isn't paying for the service, then the provider of that service has no direct incentive to keep it alive forever.___+Steven Flaeck adds, "On the other hand, we've made some progress towards the fully integrated smarthome, I guess, given the growing supply of smart bricks."

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2016-04-05 17:19:59 (81 comments; 6 reshares; 30 +1s)Open 

Is it unreasonable to expect a single-issue candidate to have a plan for how to execute on the single issue he cares about?

The short, correct, answer is this: on a vote of 2/3 of the members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve -- that is, five members -- the Fed may order the dissolution of a bank with $50b or more in assets. Two seats on the Board of Governors are presently empty. One more will vacate before the end of Sanders' term, giving him three votes to dissolve any random bank.

By the end of Sanders' second term, two more will vacate, meaning that he would only need to convince one more member of the Board of Governors -- most likely, Lael Brainard -- to vote to dissolve the banks. Is this a heavy lift? Yes. Can it be done in his first term? No. Is it a totally unreasonable thing to achieve? Not at all.

Does Sanders have any idea of what would... more »

Is it unreasonable to expect a single-issue candidate to have a plan for how to execute on the single issue he cares about?

The short, correct, answer is this: on a vote of 2/3 of the members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve -- that is, five members -- the Fed may order the dissolution of a bank with $50b or more in assets. Two seats on the Board of Governors are presently empty. One more will vacate before the end of Sanders' term, giving him three votes to dissolve any random bank.

By the end of Sanders' second term, two more will vacate, meaning that he would only need to convince one more member of the Board of Governors -- most likely, Lael Brainard -- to vote to dissolve the banks. Is this a heavy lift? Yes. Can it be done in his first term? No. Is it a totally unreasonable thing to achieve? Not at all.

Does Sanders have any idea of what would be required to do it? Apparently not. Once again, Sanders seems to deny the existence or independence of any other governmental body.___

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2016-03-30 20:14:55 (8 comments; 1 reshares; 21 +1s)Open 

This just in: heaven now sketchier than Toronto.

This just in: heaven now sketchier than Toronto.___

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2016-03-30 20:14:43 (4 comments; 7 reshares; 36 +1s)Open 

+Steren Giannini took the "Dog or Muffin?" image set, and others of its ilk, and fed them to Google's Cloud Vision API. Result: shockingly good. And I bet the one "Dog or Bagel" dog who was labeled "polar bear" won't mind a bit.

Click through for the full gallery.

http://labs.steren.fr/2016/03/27/trying-to-confuse-googles-vision-algorithms-with-dogs-and-muffins/

+Steren Giannini took the "Dog or Muffin?" image set, and others of its ilk, and fed them to Google's Cloud Vision API. Result: shockingly good. And I bet the one "Dog or Bagel" dog who was labeled "polar bear" won't mind a bit.

Click through for the full gallery.

http://labs.steren.fr/2016/03/27/trying-to-confuse-googles-vision-algorithms-with-dogs-and-muffins/___

2016-03-29 17:23:28 (7 comments; 3 reshares; 25 +1s)Open 

What the Hell Happened in Honduras, and What Does It Have to Do With Hillary?

So, Hillary Clinton's been taking some flack in the left press for supporting (or at least tolerating) a coup in Honduras. This is actually true: there was a coup in Honduras, we tolerated it, and we probably should have been louder about it. But this isn't as clear-cut as most coups.

To the questions:

Q: Who's Manuel Zelaya?

A: Well. Before he was President, he was a Honduran timber magnate. He was elected as a member of Honduras' conservative party, but for reasons which are unclear to me (and almost everyone else), he almost immediately affiliated himself with a bunch of South American left-populists.

This made his political opposition nervous, considering that many of those left-populists -- Chavez in particular -- haven't been... more »

What the Hell Happened in Honduras, and What Does It Have to Do With Hillary?

So, Hillary Clinton's been taking some flack in the left press for supporting (or at least tolerating) a coup in Honduras. This is actually true: there was a coup in Honduras, we tolerated it, and we probably should have been louder about it. But this isn't as clear-cut as most coups.

To the questions:

Q: Who's Manuel Zelaya?

A: Well. Before he was President, he was a Honduran timber magnate. He was elected as a member of Honduras' conservative party, but for reasons which are unclear to me (and almost everyone else), he almost immediately affiliated himself with a bunch of South American left-populists.

This made his political opposition nervous, considering that many of those left-populists -- Chavez in particular -- haven't been particularly good at maintaining liberal democratic norms.

Q: Considering that he was deposed in a coup, I assume that this nervousness eventually came to a head?

A: Right. Almost from the beginning, his political opponents accused of wanting to make himself president-for-life and to rewrite the Constitution. It's not clear that this was the case. In fact, there's some pretty good evidence that it wasn't. Nonetheless, it's something which was genuinely and sincerely believed by a lot of Hondurans.

In the second-to-last year of his term, there was escalating conflict between Zelaya and the Supreme Court. His attempts to amend the Constitution by referendum -- something which the Constitution doesn't allow -- were repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court. He then attempted to make the referendum nonbinding, but it was struck down anyway. Then he fired the head of the Army for failing to assist with an illegal referendum.

Then things genuinely went to shit.

Q: And that's when the Army illegally deposed him?

A: Sort of. It's more complicated than that.

In some sequence, the following happened: the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya, the Army captured Zelaya from the presidential mansion, and Roberto Micheletti (the constitutional successor) was declared President. Some of this -- particularly, the arrest warrant -- seems to have been legal.

Much of it wasn't.

Specifically, flying Zelaya to Costa Rica was totally out of bounds: Article 102 of the Honduran Constitution specifically forbids it. Similarly, his departure did not constitute abdication to Micheletti. He was likely entitled to be titular president at least until the conclusion of his trial. But:

(a) The Honduran Constitution specifically gives the Army a role as "defender of the constitution." This is a terrible idea, but it's actually in there.

(b) There are no specific constitutional provisions which outline what to do when there's a rogue executive. There aren't any provisions for impeachment, and nothing stating that a President who is being prosecuted must abdicate to a successor. There's no indication that Zelaya would have done that.

(c) The Army, of its own volition, decided to deport rather than detain Zelaya. Their stated motivation was to prevent mob violence -- they didn't believe they could hold him. This decision seems to have panicked the Honduran Supreme Court, which expected to be holding a trial, not dealing with an absentee President.

Q: So, what does the US have to do with this?

Initially, not much. By the time the US had a report on whether this rather alarming sequence of events was actually legal, these were the facts on the ground:

(a) Zelaya was in Costa Rica, unable to return.

(b) The Honduran army, judiciary, and Congress had all ratified the decision to deport Zelaya. His successor was a member of his own party ... though center-left rather than erratic-populist-left.

(c) Civilian rule was still in place. Succession had been ratified by all remaining democratic institutions. Civil unrest was, surprisingly, under control.

Zelaya accuses the US of negotiating with the successor government almost immediately. This is true. Zelaya also claims that the successor government took power in a coup. This is ambiguous.

Zelaya left power in a coup. Afterwards, the Honduran government appears to have followed normal constitutional succession rules. All remaining institutions of democratic government ratified, tentatively, that what happened next was legal. Nonetheless, we were probably legally obligated to recognize that it had been a coup -- which we did, in a somewhat mealy-mouthed way.

Q: Could we have done something different?

A: Yeah, probably.

I'm not sure that it would have been a good idea. We could have demanded Zelaya's return. We could even have orchestrated Zelaya's return. In doing so, we would have returned an executive which left power while at open institutional war with the judiciary, and whose Congress had assented to replace him.

The charges against him were also still open. It seems clear to me that Zelaya's best move, at that point, was to attempt a countercoup. Considering that everyone but Zelaya's best move was to continue to cooperate democratically, this seemed like an unnecessary formalism.

Q: So, did it work out?

A: Mostly.

By the time we had concluded that supporting Zelaya's return to power might be a good idea, Honduras had already scheduled an election. A year later, they had already empaneled a Truth and Reconciliation commission. A year after that, the Truth and Reconciliation commission had found that, while Zelaya may have violated the Constitution, the particular circumstances of the giant impeachment-coup-constitutional-crisis violated the Constitution as well.

Zelaya left power in a coup. But it's unclear to me that returning him to power would have resulted in the most democratic results. This wasn't a case of the Army suddenly deciding that it wanted power. This was a case of buggy constitutional law plus institutional freakout -- and the ship righted itself within a couple years.___

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2016-03-28 18:00:34 (15 comments; 4 reshares; 35 +1s)Open 

It's hard for me to totally dismiss a candidate that's gotten so much traction, but this essay kind of makes me want to.  Cegielski signed on when all anyone knew about Trump was a bunch of delusional bluster and hatred of immigrants, and I can't respect that.  

I understand the "anything different than what we've got has to be better" sentiment, but once "anything" becomes defined as Donald Trump, it's time to think a little harder about that strategy.  

It's hard for me to totally dismiss a candidate that's gotten so much traction, but this essay kind of makes me want to.  Cegielski signed on when all anyone knew about Trump was a bunch of delusional bluster and hatred of immigrants, and I can't respect that.  

I understand the "anything different than what we've got has to be better" sentiment, but once "anything" becomes defined as Donald Trump, it's time to think a little harder about that strategy.  ___

2016-03-28 16:30:25 (182 comments; 15 reshares; 82 +1s)Open 

The median Hillary voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is at 4% and falling. Everything is slowly returning to normal. There was an emergency, and Obama righted the ship, but that emergency has now passed. Social Security is secure. Medicare is still kicking. Obamacare got the young enrolees it needed to pay for the insurance of the middle-aged and ill.

This was a progressive win against terrifying odds.

The median Bernie voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is steady at 10.5%. The Clintons made their careers defending programs for Boomers, but paid for that defense by selling out trade protections, labor protections, welfare programs, and education. There was a cost, and that cost disproportionately fell on Boomers' children: the lives lost in the Iraq war were disproportionately Millennials; the chronically unemployed were disproportionately... more »

The median Hillary voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is at 4% and falling. Everything is slowly returning to normal. There was an emergency, and Obama righted the ship, but that emergency has now passed. Social Security is secure. Medicare is still kicking. Obamacare got the young enrolees it needed to pay for the insurance of the middle-aged and ill.

This was a progressive win against terrifying odds.

The median Bernie voter lives in a country where the unemployment rate is steady at 10.5%. The Clintons made their careers defending programs for Boomers, but paid for that defense by selling out trade protections, labor protections, welfare programs, and education. There was a cost, and that cost disproportionately fell on Boomers' children: the lives lost in the Iraq war were disproportionately Millennials; the chronically unemployed were disproportionately Millennials; the catastrophically indebted were disproportionately Millennials.

This was a betrayal of progressivism.

Both narratives are true. It just depends on which generation you're in. If Bernie wins, he's going to have to figure out how to actually make policy. But if Clinton does, she has a much more difficult problem: figuring out how to work in the interests of the Millennials who are, as it is now clear, the future of the American liberal coalition. ___

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2016-03-27 19:17:32 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 18 +1s)Open 

Last night on #TheEGG, I released a new post highlighting one of the main lessons that evolutionary game theory offers oncology: don't treat the player, treat the game. I tried to illustrate this with an analysis of concrete treatments in the acid and vascularization game that +David Basanta, +Jacob Scott, +Robert Vander Velde and I have been building. As is often the case, there are some pretty simplexes.

Last night on #TheEGG, I released a new post highlighting one of the main lessons that evolutionary game theory offers oncology: don't treat the player, treat the game. I tried to illustrate this with an analysis of concrete treatments in the acid and vascularization game that +David Basanta, +Jacob Scott, +Robert Vander Velde and I have been building. As is often the case, there are some pretty simplexes.___

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2016-03-25 17:16:54 (4 comments; 3 reshares; 60 +1s)Open 

From hell's heart, I stab at thee.

From hell's heart, I stab at thee.___

2016-03-24 21:59:08 (12 comments; 0 reshares; 22 +1s)Open 

On having surprised a teammate that walked into our desk area, I recreated the following conversational stack trace to explain how we quickly went from a discussion of "McDonald's food" to "shitting in canoes":

6. Shitting in canoes
5. Aztecs: an interpretation
4. Book recommendations
3. Victorian childrearing oddness
2. The definition of the word "pap"
1. McDonald's

My team has the most entertaining conversations.

On having surprised a teammate that walked into our desk area, I recreated the following conversational stack trace to explain how we quickly went from a discussion of "McDonald's food" to "shitting in canoes":

6. Shitting in canoes
5. Aztecs: an interpretation
4. Book recommendations
3. Victorian childrearing oddness
2. The definition of the word "pap"
1. McDonald's

My team has the most entertaining conversations.___

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2016-03-23 21:02:00 (17 comments; 1 reshares; 44 +1s)Open 

Perhaps "Kansas bill would pay randos $2,500 to look at children's genitals" would be a better headline.

Perhaps "Kansas bill would pay randos $2,500 to look at children's genitals" would be a better headline.___

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2016-03-23 20:54:02 (20 comments; 9 reshares; 30 +1s)Open 

“IT HAS BEEN BROKEN FOR FIVE WEEKS AND FIVE DAYS. I THINK IT BROKE WHEN I RELOADED NEW ZEALAND FROM A BACKUP COPY, BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHY. MY SYNCHRONIZATION WAS IMPECCABLE AND THE CHANGE PROPAGATED SIMULTANEOUSLY ACROSS ALL SEPHIROT. I THINK SOMEBODY BOILED A GOAT IN ITS MOTHER’S MILK. IT IS ALWAYS THAT. I KEEP TELLING PEOPLE NOT TO DO IT, BUT NOBODY LISTENS.”

From Scott Alexander, some very, very weird science fantasy. You can start reading from chapter 1, but I very much enjoyed this passage.

+Yonatan Zunger and +D. Luria will probably like this.

“IT HAS BEEN BROKEN FOR FIVE WEEKS AND FIVE DAYS. I THINK IT BROKE WHEN I RELOADED NEW ZEALAND FROM A BACKUP COPY, BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHY. MY SYNCHRONIZATION WAS IMPECCABLE AND THE CHANGE PROPAGATED SIMULTANEOUSLY ACROSS ALL SEPHIROT. I THINK SOMEBODY BOILED A GOAT IN ITS MOTHER’S MILK. IT IS ALWAYS THAT. I KEEP TELLING PEOPLE NOT TO DO IT, BUT NOBODY LISTENS.”

From Scott Alexander, some very, very weird science fantasy. You can start reading from chapter 1, but I very much enjoyed this passage.

+Yonatan Zunger and +D. Luria will probably like this.___

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2016-03-23 19:18:14 (29 comments; 3 reshares; 27 +1s)Open 

This does not particularly surprise me.

For the most part, Paul Ryan would like to make bad policy. He doesn't care much about the places where Democratic and Republican priorities overlap; where they diverge, he wants an austere, cruel, and maximally capitalist society. I'm unlikely to ever be a Paul Ryan fan.

But unlike the Tea Party, he actually cares about policy. He seems capable of seeing that there are variants of his own preferred policies which are noticeably worse than the status quo. And so he opposes them, even when -- occasionally -- he is forced by his own furious, incompetent caucus to go along with them.

Neutrality has become impossible for Republicans: they have to choose between the incompetent rage they have been cultivating for almost three decades and becoming a party which is capable of governing the country. Ryan, at least, appears to have... more »

This does not particularly surprise me.

For the most part, Paul Ryan would like to make bad policy. He doesn't care much about the places where Democratic and Republican priorities overlap; where they diverge, he wants an austere, cruel, and maximally capitalist society. I'm unlikely to ever be a Paul Ryan fan.

But unlike the Tea Party, he actually cares about policy. He seems capable of seeing that there are variants of his own preferred policies which are noticeably worse than the status quo. And so he opposes them, even when -- occasionally -- he is forced by his own furious, incompetent caucus to go along with them.

Neutrality has become impossible for Republicans: they have to choose between the incompetent rage they have been cultivating for almost three decades and becoming a party which is capable of governing the country. Ryan, at least, appears to have chosen correctly.___

2016-03-21 19:30:25 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 47 +1s)Open 

You may have noticed me posting less frequently over the past few weeks. Work has gotten busier. On the other hand, I'm now working on more widespread Google privacy stuff.

Which may or may not be good, depending on your opinions about me.

You may have noticed me posting less frequently over the past few weeks. Work has gotten busier. On the other hand, I'm now working on more widespread Google privacy stuff.

Which may or may not be good, depending on your opinions about me.___

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2016-03-20 01:53:04 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 32 +1s)Open 

Scott Alexander reads Trump’s autobiography:

As best I can tell, the developer’s job is coordination. This often means blatant lies. The usual process goes like this: the bank would be happy to lend you the money as long as you have guaranteed renters. The renters would be happy to sign up as long as you show them a design. The architect would be happy to design the building as long as you tell them what the government’s allowing. The government would be happy to give you your permit as long as you have a construction company lined up. And the construction company would be happy to sign on with you as long as you have the money from the bank in your pocket. Or some kind of complicated multi-step catch-22 like that. The solution – or at least Trump’s solution – is to tell everybody that all the other players have agreed and the deal is completely done except for their signature. Thetrick is to ... more »

Scott Alexander reads Trump’s autobiography:

As best I can tell, the developer’s job is coordination. This often means blatant lies. The usual process goes like this: the bank would be happy to lend you the money as long as you have guaranteed renters. The renters would be happy to sign up as long as you show them a design. The architect would be happy to design the building as long as you tell them what the government’s allowing. The government would be happy to give you your permit as long as you have a construction company lined up. And the construction company would be happy to sign on with you as long as you have the money from the bank in your pocket. Or some kind of complicated multi-step catch-22 like that. The solution – or at least Trump’s solution – is to tell everybody that all the other players have agreed and the deal is completely done except for their signature. The trick is to lie to the right people in the right order, so that by the time somebody checks to see whether they’ve been conned, you actually do have the signatures you told them that you had. The whole thing sounds very stressful.___

2016-03-16 16:33:39 (12 comments; 0 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

Originally a comment. The context does not really matter anyway.

I think you're combining some issues here which are, absent a strong argument otherwise, best left separate. For instance, the immorality of an act does not imply its illegality and vice-versa. Many Americans believe that premarital sex is immoral, but few believe it should be punished. Likewise, few believe there is anything wrong with speeding if there's no one else on the road, but most agree that we should post speed limits anyway. In both of these cases, I suspect you would be given a pragmatic reasoning: it would be counterproductive to outlaw premarital sex; a simple speed rule for most cases is better than a complex rule covering edge cases.

So let's set aside illegality and deal with it elsewhere.

What's moral, though? Say you're a devout Catholic who believes that sexual faculties... more »

Originally a comment. The context does not really matter anyway.

I think you're combining some issues here which are, absent a strong argument otherwise, best left separate. For instance, the immorality of an act does not imply its illegality and vice-versa. Many Americans believe that premarital sex is immoral, but few believe it should be punished. Likewise, few believe there is anything wrong with speeding if there's no one else on the road, but most agree that we should post speed limits anyway. In both of these cases, I suspect you would be given a pragmatic reasoning: it would be counterproductive to outlaw premarital sex; a simple speed rule for most cases is better than a complex rule covering edge cases.

So let's set aside illegality and deal with it elsewhere.

What's moral, though? Say you're a devout Catholic who believes that sexual faculties are for producing children in marriage. Does this mean that masturbation is immoral? The Catechism of the Catholic Church definitely says so... but you can do it if it's part of making sex work with your spouse. The same is true for pornography and sex toys and on and on. The uptight attitude starts to melt because all these usually immoral acts and objects lose their sinfulness when they become instruments for procreation in a marriage. 

This occurred because their central rule contemplates an end to which actions must be ordered. Whether an act is good or bad depends on whether it is an instrument for achieving that end. 

This is a very important consideration. If we start with warmly fuzzy principles like "promotes flourishing lives", we can end in coldly sharp acts anyway. Consider a band of people living in the desert, constantly besieged by other bands. What promotes flourishing lives, insofar as these harsh conditions allow them, may well be killing infants and children with any hint of handicap. It may mean inflicting brutal rituals on children to weed the assets from liabilities. This is not because they are uncaring, it is because the conditions for survival are hard and a handicapped or "soft" child may well one day get the band killed. So, like some aboriginal groups, they cut open his penis when he comes of age and he is killed for insufficient stoicness through the ordeal.

Here, in these harsh conditions, we have built an argument for mutilating the genitals of children and killing them for showing pain or fear.

Penile subincision is a widespread practice, existing in groups too far separated to likely have drawn it from a single cultural source. But they are also, if I recall correctly, largely in the worst environments. Surviving hunter-gatherers tend to be on marginal land already. They survived because no other societies wanted that land for millennia. What's important is that the brutality of this practice arises from the same moral building blocks as our values like tolerance, carefree childhood, and respect for life. They, too, are concerned about flourishing but their environment is harsh. Their cultural ecology reflects that.

I won't pretend to furnish moral answers. But you should think carefully about how you divide up morality. Your post seems mostly like a vehicle for rationalizing conclusions you already had about which groups are bad and which are praiseworthy. You can always do that, of course, but it doesn't help you answer any moral questions.___

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2016-03-15 19:41:45 (47 comments; 6 reshares; 34 +1s)Open 

Unlike Gizmodo, I don't see +Yann LeCun​ "throwing shade" at Google.

This is a perfectly reasonable critique of some of the hype which AlphaGo has gotten -- and, I suspect, very similar to what the AlphaGo team believes themselves. It is, in equal parts, a beautiful design and clever hack. The "beautiful design" is in the neural network which sits at the bottom. The "clever hack" is the Monte Carlo search sitting on top. 

The media has been very clear that Go is an extremely difficult game for a computer to play. The media hasn't been very clear about why. 

Let's start with a very simple, very similar game: Tic-Tac-Toe. On a 3x3 board, there are only nine possible starting moves, eight possible second moves, and so on. In total, there are 255,168 possible games of Tic-Tac-Toe. Which means that a computer can win simply byexhau... more »

Unlike Gizmodo, I don't see +Yann LeCun​ "throwing shade" at Google.

This is a perfectly reasonable critique of some of the hype which AlphaGo has gotten -- and, I suspect, very similar to what the AlphaGo team believes themselves. It is, in equal parts, a beautiful design and clever hack. The "beautiful design" is in the neural network which sits at the bottom. The "clever hack" is the Monte Carlo search sitting on top. 

The media has been very clear that Go is an extremely difficult game for a computer to play. The media hasn't been very clear about why. 

Let's start with a very simple, very similar game: Tic-Tac-Toe. On a 3x3 board, there are only nine possible starting moves, eight possible second moves, and so on. In total, there are 255,168 possible games of Tic-Tac-Toe. Which means that a computer can win simply by exhausting the search space. It doesn't have to play cleverly or well: it just has to memorize every possible game of Tic-Tac-Toe, and play for the branch which contains the maximum number of winning boards. 

By comparison, there are 3x10^511 possible games of Go. If we were able to encode one possible game of Go on a single atom, we'd need about 430 orders of magnitude more atoms than exist in the entire universe in order to solve the game of Go in the same sense that we can solve the game of Tic-Tac-Toe. So we need another approach. 

The problem becomes more tractable if you don't try to look all the way ahead to the end of the game. You just need to make a prediction: starting with the next move, which sequence of moves gives you the best probability of winning the game. And this is where the neural net comes in. The net at the bottom of AlphaGo allows it to rate three-dimensional "stacks" of boards -- basically, sequences of possible moves -- for their probability of winning the game. 

But this still doesn't beat a human..

Remember how I told you that the problem posed by Go wasn't just intractable, but really, really, really intractable? This bites a lot of AI approaches to Go. If you assume a flat probability distribution and analyze every possible move, you end up with extremely broad, extremely flat search trees. Which means it's not looking very far ahead: it's wasting its time hypothesizing about games which no reasonable human player -- hell, no reasonable artificial intelligence -- would ever play.

It needs a way to stop wasting its time. That's where the clever hack comes in: it looks at the board and focuses in on those moves which are most likely to be played, deepening its search tree on probable sequences of moves and reducing it on improbable sequences of moves. And it's this part -- a set of probability calculations done outside the neural net itself -- that +Yann LeCun​ is gently objecting to. 

Which is perfectly fair! Pruning the search tree in this way is extremely clever, but it's not a universal way forward. It's only useful when the basic task the system needs to do is genuinely, mathematically unpleasant. Which Go is. Which most things aren't.___

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2016-03-12 04:12:29 (91 comments; 42 reshares; 52 +1s)Open 

Whelp. 

This was taken just outside the Chicago Trump rally.

Whelp. 

This was taken just outside the Chicago Trump rally.___

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2016-03-11 18:20:18 (27 comments; 5 reshares; 33 +1s)Open 

"[W]hat's the purpose of a presidential campaign? Is it merely to declare your goals? Or is it to demonstrate that you have some notion of how to govern in a way that accomplishes your goals? Sanders and Donald Trump have certainly shown that the former is both easier and more popular. But is it better?

That's a genuine question. There's a lot to be said for choosing a president solely on the basis of their worldview, regardless of how realistic that worldview is. At the very least, it gives you confidence that when decisions and compromises have to be made, your candidate will likely make the right ones.

And yet…I find that I can't go all the way there. Before long you end up with some guy claiming he'll build a wall and Mexico will pay for it. Being president is a real-life job, and dealing with the legislative and diplomatic realities of the world is parto... more »

"[W]hat's the purpose of a presidential campaign? Is it merely to declare your goals? Or is it to demonstrate that you have some notion of how to govern in a way that accomplishes your goals? Sanders and Donald Trump have certainly shown that the former is both easier and more popular. But is it better?

That's a genuine question. There's a lot to be said for choosing a president solely on the basis of their worldview, regardless of how realistic that worldview is. At the very least, it gives you confidence that when decisions and compromises have to be made, your candidate will likely make the right ones.

And yet…I find that I can't go all the way there. Before long you end up with some guy claiming he'll build a wall and Mexico will pay for it. Being president is a real-life job, and dealing with the legislative and diplomatic realities of the world is part of it. Applause lines are great—and they do give movements something to rally around—but I'll continue to want a little more than that. I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I still want to know that anyone jonesing for the Oval Office has at least some idea of just what they're up against if they want to lead the way to real change."___

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2016-03-10 22:01:25 (9 comments; 3 reshares; 25 +1s)Open 

Apt: one of the pollsters contacted to discuss what went wrong with Michigan polling is named "Bernie Porn."

Apt: one of the pollsters contacted to discuss what went wrong with Michigan polling is named "Bernie Porn."___

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2016-03-10 18:40:53 (15 comments; 1 reshares; 26 +1s)Open 

Look: I read that three-year-old's reply brief, and it's just a fingerpainting of a house. Total amateur-hour lawyering. I'd like to find that she's incompetent to represent herself, but -- frankly -- she's not making a worthwhile legal argument that that's the case.

This is seriously unbelievable.___Look: I read that three-year-old's reply brief, and it's just a fingerpainting of a house. Total amateur-hour lawyering. I'd like to find that she's incompetent to represent herself, but -- frankly -- she's not making a worthwhile legal argument that that's the case.

2016-03-08 19:00:30 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 31 +1s)Open 

For those of you who didn't know it was International Women's Day, a quick little mnemonic which has always helped me:

"Why Isn't There An International Men's Day Day" comes immediately after "Why Isn't There a White History Month Month." 

For those of you who didn't know it was International Women's Day, a quick little mnemonic which has always helped me:

"Why Isn't There An International Men's Day Day" comes immediately after "Why Isn't There a White History Month Month." ___

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