The 12th SSC Atlanta meetup

Last Week, Oct 12th, we met for the 12th time at Hodge Podge Coffee House in Atlanta.

The meeting was notable by the addition of lots and lots of new people (thank you SSC mention) – and a very long conversation – which ended with us getting kicked out after four hours (there was another event about to happen in our area).

Topics included

  • China – a long discussion of the current state of china and what is likely to happen to minorities and minority opinion (all bad things)
  • Obligations of corporations – where does silence equal consent/sanction, and what not
  • The Universal Basic Income – without Nathan to defend the notion we reached a negative opinion rather quickly
  • Wage subsidies in general (mixed opinions on this)
  • Health care
  • Voting – obligations to, group participation rites, etc. It sparked some interesting thoughts in me after the meeting on what people get out of voting – more or less and affirmation of self – I need to flesh that out more
  • Addition – specifically the Never Enough book by Judith Grisel – I need to reread the chapter on MDMA – there were several questions on how the recent psychiatric treatments work, or don’t work as the case may be

It was quite a good meeting – with lots of new people, including many who were not directly in the software field, which is sort of rare for us.

Well phrased – from the left on Social Media

From this article in a leftist journal against Andrew Yang and the UBI

Online has become an opiate of the lumpen. Similar to weed or alcohol, it is a harmless social pastime for the thriving and robust. For the miserable and economically insecure, however, the internet becomes a pathological social blight, a symptom of initial misery than swells to compound and exacerbate the cycle of antisocial disaffection. (If you don’t believe me, watch them doing literally everything they possibly can to self-sabotage getting laid over Tinder.)

It’s similar to Tyler Cowen’s thoughts on alcohol and guns – i.e. the high functioning can handle them very well – it’s the bottom 2% (probably higher with alcohol) that cause all of the problem.

  It’s worth reading throughout – particularly that the UBI is way the poor being “paid off and discarded”. That has more of an emotional resonance with me than I think is merited by the logic of the plan.

A good post on opiates

From the SSC subredit, here is a good point about opiates

In particular illicitly manufactured fentanyl. (The simple story is that fentanyl has revolutionized trans-national drug supply chains. It’s just much easier to smuggle a suitcase of cartefentanyl than a shipping container of heroin. The drug war’s incentive is to dilute the product as close to the end of the supply chain as possible, to minimize the bulk required for trafficking. The problem is that drug dealer trap houses are not equivalent pharmaceutical grade labs. Any error when homogenizing with the bulking agent, means some poor bastard dies if he gets the baggie with clump of unbroken fentanyl.)

and

All of this is a dog and pony show to distract from the fact that fentanyl has fundamentally eliminated any hope of drug enforcement working. The quantities are just too small to stop from being trafficked. The reality is that the only hope we have to control the death toll is to legalize and regulate heroin. But the more the drug warriors can distract people into poking their noses into physician’s prescription pads, the longer they can delay the inevitable change in policy that has to occur.

Nicely phrased insight

From Razib Khan

In contrast, struggling writers in New York City have less of a visceral feel for the reality that their existence as someone who graduated from a selective university and has some family resources to “jump-start” their career by doing things like put down a deposit on an apartment in an expensive area is not typical (writers from deprived backgrounds may not talk about it, especially with their colleagues who talk about their parents’ summer homes). Very atypical in fact. Intuition derives somewhat from experience. Without the experience the intuition is just off.

I guess the natural instinct is think of intuition as some sort of sense that is consistent across people – it’s interesting to think that intuition is inherently personal (and thus varied).

Long intricate arguments about economics are excellent preparation for the technical life

After the last SSC Meetup Nathan and I spent several hours debating the velocity of money and economic growth. Lots of theory and discussion.

Today I was debuggy this weird database process without source code or much visibility into what was actually happening, and very limited feedback.

They felt very similar, my initial thought was that all of time debating politics in my teens and twenties wasn’t wasted.

The 11th SSC Atlanta Meetup – the longest talk

We had the 11th SSC Atlanta meetup – and I think it was fair to say that it was one of our best. This will probably be a series of blog posts. Notable facts

  1. This was our longest ever meetup – clocking in at slightly over four hours
  2. We had two new people, both in the math field, which is quite weird and cool (not software! Diversity!)
  3. We had the most actual disagreement of any meetup so far (also yay!) – it was all quite civil – a surprising amount of it against Nathan – who was quite up to the task.
  4. No discussion of generational differences (rate for us)
  5. No discussion of guns at all (quite rare for us)
  6. Almost all topics were speculation on the future
  7. We beat the topic of UBI into the ground – it is a good proxy for views on human nature IMHO

Topics

  1. UBI – some talk of Andrew Yang, but mostly UBI
  2. Percentages of intolerance
  3. Global Warming/Climate Change
  4. Technological unemployment (not enough!)
  5. Transmitting DC power (more interesting than it might sound)
  6. Klamath county Oregon
  7. Occasionalism
  8. The velocity of money – and deeper meanings it might have

More posts to come out of this meeting – it was quite stimulating. And the only time I’ve written a blog post on the same day as the meetup.

Andrew Yang – and Yangvective

From an email exchange with a friend – here is how I categorized him

Yang reads as a hacker news comments section come to life – Well written, well intentioned writing by someone who is an expert in some other field…

He’s pleasantly free of identity politics, but seems to have no problems making decisions for other people in great detail. He is living proof of Bryan Caplan’s definition of a progressive of someone who has a hatred of anything that isn’t planned. He does not draw the anger of conservatives to any degree.

Random thoughts on scientism and economics

I enjoy the Econtalk podcast, and one of the concepts I’ve taken away from it is the notion of scientism – defined as the notion that whatever science is available about a topic explains the topic.

Some things are inherently difficult to study, like economics or medicine (complex systems) compared to traditional scientific topics like chemistry or metallurgy. It is harder to design studies to measure the impact of a minimum wage increase than it is to measure the impact of 55% humidity increase on exposed copper.

Seemingly our understanding increases in it’s certainty with the more complex the system.

At what point are you safer using a priori logic to make decisions than evidence? How many studies do you need to model complex behavior?