a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
b_b's profile
b_b

x 485

stats
following: 116
followed tags: 12
followed domains: 3
badges given: 84 of 116
hubskier for: 4244 days

When not in real life, I spend my time here.

recent comments, posts, and shares:
b_b  ·  20 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Lawyer: Trump indicted; 1st ex-president charged with crime

He can’t out Trump Trump though, so I guess his play is to assume Trump is going to have to drop out of the election so some point and he’ll be the logical next choice? Otherwise he’ll have to murder the king at some point, and there’s no better time than now.

b_b  ·  22 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Lawyer: Trump indicted; 1st ex-president charged with crime

I’m actually surprised he’s leaning so heavy into maga right now. You’d think it’d be the perfect opportunity to stab trump in the back. Now he just looks like a toady.

b_b  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What NFT mania can tell us about market bubbles

Is there really an analogy here to other market bubbles? If we take a couple of the most recent bubbles as an example, the tech bubble and the housing bubble, pump and dump schemes are pretty hard in the former case and basically impossible in the latter. What the three may have in common is that each was caused by an excess of easy money injected into the market.

We never saw CPI inflation in the run up to the housing bubble nor in the aftermath during the tech bubble. But we sure saw asset inflation. And obviously the NFT craze was probably a special edge case of asset inflation that was driven in part by free money that was put into crypto that in turn was parlayed into NFTs. But in a new, distributed, unregulated space like NFTs, pump and dump was not just unsurprising but probably inevitable.

Question is did anyone actually ever pay like a million dollars for an NFT or was it a million crypto-equivalent dollars that the buyer probably paid some relatively small amount for years earlier? Part of me thinks that there has never been a better case of a fool and his money being parted than a million dollar gif.

b_b  ·  2 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 29, 2023

That’s too much.

Google says that 1-3 per 1000 flights have a go around, which is higher than I imagined. I probably fly about 50 segments per year, so I suppose I was close to due for the experience.

b_b  ·  2 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 29, 2023

As if flying into lga doesn’t suck bad enough already in the best of circumstances!

b_b  ·  2 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Stephen Wolfram: What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?

Finally got around to reading this, though it's been on my list since it was posted here. One nit I have to pick with it, is the assertion that GPT is on the same order of magnitude of efficiency as the human brain. It is not. It is not actually close. The brain has an estimated 100,000,000,000 neurons, sure (that's a SWAG actually, but that's another topic--we'll stipulate it here, since it's an oft-quoted number), and GPT has 175,000,000,000 "neurons", but all of GPTs ersatz neurons are focused on language, while only a tiny fraction of a human's are. In fact, like half of your neurons are in the cerebellum, which you can literally live without, though you'll have some problems (albeit not with language, per se). A giant part of the cortex and an even bigger proportion of the mid-brain, brain stem, and spinal cord deal almost exclusively with motor/sensorimotor function. So while I have no idea what the strict proportion of neurons that can be said to be doing language processing is, I'm sure it's more than an order of magnitude lower than GPT. That isn't to say that GPT isn't impressive...it's just to say that the difference in power is so strikingly obvious that it suggests that whatever GPT is doing is qualitatively different that what a brain is doing.

I enjoyed the read immensely, however. Great primer for a total noob like myself.

b_b  ·  2 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 29, 2023

Had a fun experience with a go-around on a flight today. Kind of unsettling when the wheels touch down the the pilot hits the gas instead of the brake.

b_b  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: You Are Not a Parrot

Glad to see Bender cite Wittgenstein, because he already settled this debate 100 years ago while fighting against the descriptivists whose basic argument was that you can understand anything if you describe it in sufficient detail, and that our lack of understanding of any topic derives from our not having enough facts about the subject (as an aside I see a very strong analogy to the descriptivists and those who think AI is "alive"). Wittgenstein made a lot of good counterarguments, but the one that turned out to be most famous and most illustrative was where he said that the way we learn what the color red is is by someone else pointing to a red object and saying "this is red." He was trying to argue that meaning derives from agreement about meaning and nothing more.

We use language, at least in part, to give others access to our inner thoughts, and without agreement on words' meanings, then others completely lack access to our inner selves. Where I think that the Mannings of the world completely lose me is in statements of this sort:

    he allowed, humans do express emotions with their faces and communicate through things like head tilts, but the added information is “marginal.”

Um, what? What if I said in response, "Fuck you." It would probably taken as being pretty hostile, right? But I can think of a at least three other use cases that lack any hostility. Say, gentle ribbing; an expression of disbelief; and an expression of desire. One could think of almost any phrase, but especially any idiomatic phrase, for which there are many, many meanings, and the only way to disambiguate the meaning is by the "marginal" information.

I think this point has been made explicit in the age of text-based communication. How easy is it to interpret an email or a statement on social media as crass or aggressive, when the author was trying to be lighthearted? There's a famous experiment in neuroscience where you apply a force to a transducer, and that exact force is then applied to another person sitting across from you by another transducer. Then the person to whom the force was applied is asked to replicate exactly what they felt, which is in turn felt by person 1, who does the same, and so on. It spirals. Every time. Because we're hard wired to perceive things to be worse than they are when they're done to us and we respond in kind. The marginal information is the only thing that keeps us from not killing each other.

I literally can't even wrap my head around someone believing that non-verbal context around verbal information doesn't just inform but in many cases defines the meaning of the verbal information. It's like not agreeing on the color red. What kind of world will we live in where we can't agree on the meaning of words, because the speaker (i.e. the robot) doesn't have an inner self to try to give access to?

Edit: Just to add, I've recently begun using ChatGPT. I like it. It does some wonderful things. It helped me to design an experiment by cutting my overall search time from probably 5-10 hours on PubMed and Google to like 15-20 minutes of chat. I'm not against GPT specifically or AI generally. I'm against calling it conscious or anything other than really powerful computer code. It's the moral equivalent of MS Word to me, which also boosts my productivity immensely relative to pen and paper.

b_b  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Our New Promethean Moment

I think Clinton was really bad at foreign policy and Kennan was really good at it. I also think it’s easy to point to Kennan and say “he’s right!” That doesn’t make Friedman less of a blowhard to me.

b_b  ·  9 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Credit Suisse Bond-Wipeout Threatens $250 Billion Market

Right. Bill Barr is a Catholic Papist and a capital c Conservative long before he's a small c conservative. He cares fuckall about republicanism and a lot about the Pope (or Unitary Executive as his people like to cloak it as).

b_b  ·  9 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Credit Suisse Bond-Wipeout Threatens $250 Billion Market

Not sure what the hell is up with Europe, but here it's all about the executive order. Even since we gave Bush the blank check he wanted with the AUMF that started the war on terror, every president just keeps pushing the envelope of what an executive order can be used to get away with. Spirit or even letter of the law be damned. I know this is a small c conservative position, so it rubs a lot of liberal leaning types the wrong way, but every time we celebrate a policy we like that was enacted via executive action, we're inviting the next muslim ban. This just isn't how it's all supposed to work. With banking specifically the argument is always that they have to move at a speed that Congress (or the European Commission or whoever) can't move at but that's bullshit. TARP was passed with amazing speed because that's what we deemed necessary at the time. Sure the Tea Baggers formed partly in response, but that's democracy for you. At some point in the future these motherfuckers have to suffer for their sins. Now would be a good time.

b_b  ·  9 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 22, 2023

I'm on the war path today. My wife works for General Motors. If you follow the financial news, you may be aware that GM is trying to reduce their white collar workforce by some unspecified amount, but probably around 10%. My wife's boss is a bone fide misogynist. Fortunately for him of the 200 or so people who work for him only 5 are women. It's a sausage fest. However, he's been pressuring certain people who he thinks are likely to be laid off to take a buyout that GM has offered. Somehow, he has pressured at least 3 and maybe 4 of the 5 women to take it, including my wife. She has until Friday to decide, but I've basically forbidden her from doing so. This is 2023. I tried to tell her that no matter how moronic and anachronistic her boss is, that the leadership of GM is aware that in this day and age a single tweet from a powerful person can tank your stock. How would it look, I asked, if they have to lay off 10%, they're 2% female overall (in design, which is where she works) and women comprise 15-20% of layoffs. Now isn't the time to make your company less diverse, and using attrition to achieve that end is doubly stupid. The whole thing is weird, because GM is led by arguably the most powerful female executive in all of American business. Anyway, I keep trying to reassure her that in a sane world, she's the last person to get axed (female, 20 years experience but not in management, all glowing yearly reviews), but my words have not been soothing to her. Her boss basically back benched her after she returned from maternity leave, so he has a bad track record. Sounds ripe for a lawsuit to me, though I'm admittedly no lawyer. As a last resort I have a powerful friend who can scare them, and probably would if I asked, but I've been asked not to resort to that, not yet anyway.

b_b  ·  9 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Credit Suisse Bond-Wipeout Threatens $250 Billion Market

They were wiped out mathematically, not legally, which IMO is different. You can make a fantastic technocratic argument that they did the right thing. I'm just increasingly uncomfortable with the lack of adherence to the rule of law in the West. That's supposed to be what separates us from the autocracies of the world.

b_b  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Credit Suisse Bond-Wipeout Threatens $250 Billion Market

I think the thing that no on saw coming is that by contract equities are supposed to be wiped out before bond holders. Apparently also the Saudis offered to buy CS for a higher price than than UBS but that was never really considered, and the Saudis are (were, actually) their biggest shareholder. So there's definitely some pissed off people right now, though can you really blame the gov't of Switzerland for not wanting the Kingdom to own their formerly great bank?

b_b  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Colorado River Is Running Dry, but Nobody Wants to Talk About the Mud

Going down that Watt wiki is a who's who of GOP horrors. Appearances from Gorsuch's mom and Tom Barrack. These people just never fuck off and die.

We'll have to agree to disagree on that point. The whole thing looks slimy to me. Why write laws if we can just disregard them when it produces outcomes we like better in the immediate term?

b_b  ·  15 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 15, 2023

Been there a number of times. Horrible feeling. Good that you guys have each other to grieve with.

No the actual realized losses on accounts above the 250k cap would have been in the 5-15% range. The bank still has lots and lots of assets and lots and lots of cash. So all those assets and all that cash get distributed to account holders before creditors, and if you had $1,000,000 there, then the best estimates I've read said you stood to lose about $75,000 (10% of the sum above $250k). Not chump change, but also not exactly Armageddon.

Just do a thought experiment where instead of being the bank of tech, this was the preferred bank of the Factory Farmers of America or Big Oil or whatever, and that they're all vocal Trump supporters. Do you think it would have played out differently? I do. We can't live in a world where laws don't matter. Ever since the AUMF each president has taken it upon himself to rule by decree, each more so than the last. This is just another example to me.

In what sense? It's not as if anyone was going to lose their ass. Most estimates have the likely losses of uninsured accounts at 5-15%. They could have easily extended short term low interest loan of some percentage of deposits so that depositors could have met cash payment needs without interruption.

b_b  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Insured Cash Sweep

Supposedly the lesson of 2007-09 was that risk is everywhere and low risk events are correlated. I guess the lesson of 2020-22 was that when in doubt, print money.

I would love to see a federal judge step in here and block FDIC's move on the grounds that only Congress can appropriate funds. I fucking hate Trump and DeSantis, but Sleepy Joe is inching ever closer to losing my vote. Maybe I'll write you in.

b_b  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Insured Cash Sweep

I think there’s very little chance that a sophisticated depositor let alone an average depositor can accurately judge a bank’s risk profile. However when someone is paying a point higher than everyone else, it maybe makes sense to ask some tough questions.

b_b  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Insured Cash Sweep

Guess their business model is fucked since all deposits everywhere are now de facto FDIC insured. Why not chase 10% returns if you’re a bank? There’s no downside anymore.

Edit: Obviously I'm being hyperbolic. I get that having your equity wiped out and your bondholders left holding the bag doesn't qualify as "no downside". I'm just salty about this whole thing. Wish me luck in not becoming a J6 Truther.

I do not. So many lols.