Pinned toot

I know a decent amount about

Existential risks
Passive cybersecurity
Data science careers
Insurance
Python, SciPy, Spark
ML
Numerical methods
Development economics
Nietzsche, Frege, Wittgenstein
Economic history
History of computing
History of philosophy
The replication crisis and social science
Quantified self
Biochemistry (esp. veganism & nootropics)
Analytic philosophy (esp. science, ethics)
Contemporary scifi
UK poetry
Scotland
Punk, jazz, ambient music

and I like answering questions, AMA.

"The notions that tuition fees are an accounting trick, a public relations exercise or a self-commitment device don’t seem to feature much in the debate. If they did, we might be more likely to draw parallels with the private finance initiative, which seemed like a clever way to fund investment without increasing public spending, but whose circuity led to inefficiency."
socialproblemsarelikemaths.wor

Boring but wonderful: last year the ONS increased the British deficit by £12bn in one day, by counting student loan writeoffs as public spending. (Which it obvs is.)

This removes one benefit (to the Cabinet, not to us) of student loans, which was hiding their common expensive lapses from the balance sheet. Everyone loves an accounting loophole.

blog.ons.gov.uk/2018/12/17/acc

Someone on Hacker News up on their high horse about the black humour of medics:

news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1

This is perfectly backwards. I would much prefer a doctor with a nasty sense of humour: it suggests emotional detachment, so they're more likely to think clearly; and it has a cathartic and bonding role, improving health and teamwork. This idiotic first-order model of psychology (as if people were programmable!) is everywhere, for instance all discourse on fake news, porn, violent games.

"Ah but see the REAL reason you find it rude and boring is..."

Is there anything more boring or rude than unsolicited psychoanalysis?

"Perhaps no human activity has as big a gap between private and public texture as "research". Research in private is a an endless stream of sketches, vague ideas, random experiments, jokes, nerdy OCD behaviors etc. Research in public is unreadable bureaucratic papers."

- Venkatesh Rao

There's a noble truth in there - that in reason the speaker is unimportant, that primacy is not a scientific or philosophical matter - but the problem is that the rest of us are not as original or honest as him. We need citations to weigh us down.

Wittgenstein on plagiarism

"How far my efforts agree with those of other philosophers I will not decide. Indeed what I have herewritten makes no claim to novelty in points of detail; and therefore I give no sources, because it is indifferent to me whether what I have thought has already been thought before me by another."

"I’m sure Socrates would have been widely blocked on social media"

Weird - the Sinatra version of "Impossible Dream" cuts the best line, the only reason I listen to it.

"TO BE WILLING TO MARCH INTO HELL FOR A HEAVENLY CAUSE"

Guess I have to start viewing Andy Williams as the hardcore one.

youtube.com/watch?v=JjI7VeIA7Z

Finally cracked and got a smartphone. Things I couldn't do (easily) with a laptop:

* Mobile maps
* 2FA without SMS
* Clever GPS taxi apps
* Increasing number of group chats
* Some bits of quantified self (e.g. this ridiculous shiny thing ouraring.com )
* The UK's train ticket discount is app-only. (Should save me £400 a year.)
26-30railcard.co.uk

I hope to avoid becoming a tickleslab slave by turning off all push notifications, having a data-only SIM and leaving it in my bag.

I don't much mind being sorted - lord knows there are many more deserving people - I mind being stratified.

e.g. professions with two disjoint populations by income or status creep me out
slatestarcodex.com/2015/07/28/

Sociologists seem to misuse 'sorting' to mean stratifying / partitioning though.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_s

It is easier to be relaxed about these movements when you see them as essentially social (intellectually nonsensical and corrosive). My grandmother converted to them late in life, and they were very kind to her, far better care than her family gave her.

The musical is obviously critical of Mormonism, but in the most tenable and sensible way - just show the audience what it says, what it is.

Beneath its lovely surface, the thing to love about "Book of Mormon" is its implicit recursion over memes:

The Book of Arnold is patent nonsense made up in response to unaddressed social conditions. And so was the last one, and...

What, it quietly asks, made Mormonism an ur-socialist, high-fertility, racist rehash of Catholicism? What about post-civil-war New York demanded such a thing?

This sounds miserable but if it's right I'll be a very serene old man.

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