Category Archives: Adages

Another de Boerism that should be a yard sign

From this post on feeling valid

I don’t mean to be a bummer here. But it’s important to point out that we’re born in terror, we exist for no reason, we experience confusion and shame as children, we busily prepare ourselves for lives we don’t want or can’t have, we are forced to take on the burdens of adult responsibility, we compromise relentlessly on what life we’ll pursue, we settle and settle and settle, we fear death and ponder our meaninglessness, we experience the horrors of aging, and when we die the only comfort we have is that we aren’t conscious to learn that there was never any heaven or God to give it all meaning. This is the inevitable reality of human life and it can never change.

Quote of the day from Freeman Dyson

I might have posted this before – but it stands true –

Progress in science is often built on wrong theories that are later corrected. It is better to be wrong than to be vague.

The logic being that if wrong you’ve at least eliminated one possibility in the process of figuring things out – if you’re vague you haven’t.

Grandma’s Lamp

From a slack conversation

Say you have a grandmother, who has lived in her house for sixty years and you accidentally break a lamp of hers – you go to replace it run into the following problem: The lamp itself is 60 years old and they don’t make it anymore.
No problem you say the world of lamps is diverse and varied – however her house has evolved over the past sixty years as things have worn out and been replaced. Nothing is in any way “Standard” (like it would be for a 19 year old’s first apartment where anything is fine). You find that they don’t really make a lamp that “goes” anywhere near as well as the original lamp. The varieties of lamp have increased arithmetically, whereas the complexities of Grandma’s house have increased exponentially – and finding a replacement is more tied to that – so, therefore

Time Spent Finding Perfect Lamp = 1/Number of Lamps Available * Complexity of Grandmas’s house,
where complexity of grandma’s house is a function of age (cognitive decline), wealth, and time spent in house

The comparisons would be existing interest groups, the perception of Pareto optimality as “fair”, all of the existing public and private programs, etc

You need some degree of Pareto optimality since everyone has some degree of veto power, “log rolling” used to be the solution to these sorts of things. That becomes less possible with more complex interest group relations