The Intellectual Wilderness There is nothing more useless than doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

2020.05.22 10:20

Economy: How to Spark the American Recovery

Sparking an economic boom in the United States is quite easy. American economic booms are based on two things:

  • Opportunity
  • Excitement

The necessary talent, geography, resources and hustle for success are basic to the American composition — by far the greatest strategic assets of the nation.

The necessary ingredient to for opportunity is merely the permission to try new things. This means one thing: Deregulation.

Deregulate! Opportunity is inherently exciting to the most aggressive Americans. Be explicit and loud about removing regulations. Remove from their minds the idea that “I have a good idea, but it’s probably too expensive to even hire a lawyer to find out if it’s legal to try. Or if I even start my business will probably just get banned and be left in the hole.” As a trivial example, stop issuing citations for kids trying to run lemonade stands (that’s a real thing — I’m not joking). It is an off-the-wall example and sometimes people might laugh about it, but it plants a poisonous seed in the minds of adults who become more fearful about even attempting to run even a simple business.

Deregulate deeply! Most of what passes for labor and safety law are anti-competitive barriers masquerading as public service. It is telling that most business regulations are and were lobbied for by the big, established players in the industries they regulate. Of course they aren’t looking to make their own business more difficult, they are instead looking to make the cost of entering into competition so high that small, aggressive players won’t even go to the trouble.

Deregulate SMBs! Let the SMB boom naturally come back. SMBs are the fastest to start up, fastest to pivot, fastest to hire, and lowest systemic risk to “the system” (no fears of “too big to fail”), and by far the most willing to innovate. This is even true in Africa — an entire continent that has hamstrung its SMBs and startups as an outcome of decades of chasing globalist Marxist rhetoric (it is easy to push such rhetoric there because it masquerades as “anti-colonialist”). No place can survive African style SMB regulations.

Deregulation, not bailouts, is what will allow Americans to save themselves from prior mistakes. Nothing else will. You have to spark activity or else the numbers on the dollar bills won’t mean anything to begin with. If the meaning of money changes (and there is a strong risk this may happen) no bailout will matter because the price of any random product could easily become “none to be had at any price“.

2020.04.30 22:38

Weirdly suppressed COVID-19 brief

Filed under: Society — Tags: , , , , — zxq9 @ 22:38

A few days ago a few doctors from California gave a brief on their analysis of both comparisons of COVID-19 historical data to prior predictions that prompted the “lockdown” trend, and side effects within the healthcare industry overall (focusing on the United States, specifically).

This brief has been uploaded and removed from YouTube and other video sharing sites a number of times, but I think it is an important part of the discussion and find censorship of it to be absolutely ridiculous.

A torrent file for the video is here: Dr_Erickson_COVID-19_Brief.torrent

The torrent’s magnet link:

2020.04.7 21:07

Emotional Investment and Statistics: A Thought Experiment

Consider how the public discourse over COVID-19 tends to evolve.

Let’s imagine we were to set up an online debate someplace known for civility and good faith arguments (you know, like Facebook or Twitter) between the “It’s all Trump’s fault and we are all going to die if we don’t mothball the world for a year” people and the “It’s just the flu, brah” people. What kind of statistics would we see thrown around to support their arguments (whenever numbers are involved at all, that is)? What sort of mortality rate would both sides argue?

The “mothball world” people will claim the worst possible estimates are true: “It’s like over 10% some days in Italy!”. The “just the flu” people will claim the best possible estimates are true: “Dude, it’s like less than 0.1% in Germany and New York and Iceland some days”.

Both sides will have extremely different talking points and both sides will be fully invested in believing their own version of reality so strongly that they will always find a way to dismiss the other side’s numbers, sources and ultimately arguments.

The thing we are certain to not see is a discussion between the two sides about establishing rules for what statistics and sources are permissible, what the rules of cause-of-death accounting should be, and how to reasonably interpret the vast difference between rates derived from transmission projections VS confirmed cases.

This is basically the debate that is raging on social media right now and it isn’t going anywhere or providing any new insights.

Now let’s imagine that we set up an online betting site where people are both making bets on what the general mortality rate estimate will be by the end of the year. On our imaginary betting site we can open the books for additional odds on what the mortality rate estimate will be by the end of the year within various age, gender, and medical category demographics and locales.

The community of people focused around this kind of betting site would be driven by a very different agenda, and the very most important thing they would all be seeking to establish is truth in reporting and rules for how statistics are kept. They must feel absolutely certain they aren’t throwing their money at phantoms and false data lest they be tossing their money straight down the drain. Their investment is in themselves, not any particular social or political “side”.

Considering how shocking the N-order effects of the ongoing economic shutdowns and social lockdowns are likely to be for generations of people whose hardest problem in life to date has been deciding between Android and iPhone, it is quite remarkable that the actual debate we see raging online looks like the first instead of the second example.

2020.04.5 14:44

For Data Reporting, Keep Reliable URLs

Filed under: Science & Tech,Society — Tags: , , , , , , , , — zxq9 @ 14:44

It would be really nice if governments that are trying to be transparent by reporting stats publicly on a website would stop changing their entire URL scheme every week. It is hard to track things down and even the search engines aren’t keeping up very well.

2020.02.3 15:19

X-Y Problems

Filed under: Computing,Science & Tech,Society — Tags: , , , , , — zxq9 @ 15:19

People obsess about their X-Y problems to the point of ignoring accepted wisdom, plugging their ears to the deafening silence of the solution’s instructive whisper, picking themselves up as hard as they can by their own knees and wondering why they can’t fly.

They then run off and formalize their wrong solution as a PR into a core project.

If core maintainers aren’t mindful they’ll incorporate these disturbances into a previously still space, and if they are indelicate they will piss off the misguided (but industrious) boob who made the PR who is already by this point fanatically dedicated to his wrong solution and the idea that nobody “gets it” but him.

Ah, another day at the Bazaar.

2020.01.29 10:20

People who can do, people who can’t…

Filed under: Computing,Society — Tags: , , , — zxq9 @ 10:20

I get these weird solicitations. “Want to write for the ____ code blog?” and so on. I’m sure that would probably be a good career move if I was looking to get hired away by someone else (the main problem there being that I can’t relocate — hahaa!). But what kills me is that people have so much time to write things other than code.

A: “Want to write [prose] for ____?”
B: “No thanks, I’m too busy writing code for [system].”

That’s the exchange I would expect is most common — except that it is 2020 and it seems that over the last several years people write more lines about writing lines than they write actual code these days (and I don’t mean they are making an effort at impeccable documentation).

2019.06.26 09:40

Before the Fall

Filed under: Society — Tags: , , , , — zxq9 @ 09:40

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE)

2019.06.22 23:20

Social Prophecy

If you want to feel creeped out in 2019…

Backstory setting for the Cyberpunk 2020 game rulebook Neo Tribes: The Nomads of North America, published in 1994.
Sagan nailed it in The Demon Haunted World.


Filed under: Society — Tags: , , , , — zxq9 @ 04:37

My site has been under sustained attack for the last week.
I don’t really care, I just think it is silly.

The main question that has been floating through my mind is, strangely, “When did ‘pwned’ revert back to ‘owned’ for the sake of normies?”

2019.06.20 15:28

Ad Saturation

Filed under: Computing,Society — Tags: , , , , — zxq9 @ 15:28

The greatest benefit of sharing an IP address with a large number of other people all browsing the same hundred or so websites at the same time is ad saturation. Adsearch auctions still have no idea how to account for a large number of hits that are clearly human, but also trigger frequency protections — so you just see no ads after a while. Nice. (Incidentally, nobody in the world has any clear idea how to distinguish robots from humans, so… have fun with that if your business model depends on any aspect of this.)

A second benefit is a super fast, constantly refreshed, broadly populated DNS cache on the local network.

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