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wasoxygen  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Billionaire Who Wanted To Die Broke ... Is Now Officially Broke

    Where did $8 billion go? Feeney gave $3.7 billion to education, including nearly $1 billion to his alma mater, Cornell, which he attended on the G.I. Bill.

That always seems a bit self-serving, to have your name permanently engraved over the entrance to a fancy new sports complex or dormatory. But I can't find Feeney Hall at cornell.edu. Where did the billion go?

It costs over $69,000 a year to go to Cornell—but this is how much students actually pay

    At Cornell University, many students end up paying less than the published tuition price — some significantly so. For the 2019-2020 academic year, undergraduate tuition for New York residents studying agriculture and life sciences, human ecology or industrial and labor relations is $37,880 per year, while tuition for students from other states and studying other subjects is $56,500.

    Cornell's financial aid website guarantees that families with total incomes under $60,000 and total assets less than $100,000 (including home equity) are not expected to contribute toward the cost of attending Cornell, and students are not expected to take on loans.

Philanthropic billionaires who are not also attention hounds make it hard to follow the money, but one grant from the foundation established the Frank H.T. Rhodes Fund supporting community service (named for a president with no obvious relationship to the De Beers diamond magnate who founded the Rhodes Scholarship).

wasoxygen  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Do not get arrested challenge 2020

    Why are these shit companies allowed our most sensitive data?

    “why can you get a passport number from a boarding pass, but not from a bus ticket?”

Airlines are required by law to collect the information.

    Thirteen years after the first Kindle was sold, printed books have more than ten times the market share of ebooks

This is surprising. The source reveals that

    Publishers of books in all formats made almost $26 billion in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6 billion and e-books taking $2.04 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. Those figures include trade and educational books, as well as fiction.

“Educational” books is probably code for textbooks. I wonder if printed books would still lead if required school books were omitted.

wasoxygen  ·  9 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 9, 2020

My main point is that blaming the corporations is a cop-out. The corporations do what they do because of customer demand. As long as people offer money for gasoline, there is a strong incentive to produce gasoline, even if Exxon is persecuted. We are the ones burning the fuels and releasing the carbon.

A carbon tax would be a more efficient way to reduce carbon emissions, but people don't want to pay the price to achieve the goal, they want someone else to pay.

There are familiar ways to reduce consumption, whatever the composition of the energy source. Good old Energy Star is a starting point. You can combine trips, make your next car a more efficient model, eat less meat.

    Having government support for zero emission, dispatchable energy sources can change that, but I as a user cannot.

But do you have a way to change government? It's easy to imagine the way things should be, just as we can imagine a world running on solar power. I think you have a better chance of changing a few people's minds here than changing government behavior.

    Further, we're talking about this and aware our actions and usages have impacts. But most people don't. How do we get them to do better? I argue it's again government to educate and provide means to have them change without even knowing (such as cleaner electricity, cleaner supply chain, and EVs as convenient as gas).

You may have heard of the National Energy Education Development Project; I hadn't. How about energy.gov or the Center for Energy Education or The Fourth Generation. The information is out there, but it's hard to get people to pay attention. A carbon tax would get people's attention and provide incentive aligned with the goal.

    Arresting drug users has little effect on stopping drug use.

Do you have evidence for this claim? "In the United States, legalization has been associated with increased use by adults, but not by youth." one source

I have a strong presumption that when something costs more, people buy less of it. A carbon tax isn't ideal, but in my view it has fewer disadvantages than alternatives, and has the advantage of probably working if the goal is to reduce carbon.

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

Caplan is 49 years old and in apparent good health. There is little risk* that COVID-19 will affect his personal health, whatever his behavior. *EDIT: little risk, relative to other risks that he already accepts, such as driving a car or drinking sugary soda.

How is it rational for him to buy and use gloves for grocery shopping, if not to reduce the risk of spreading disease to others?

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by generalizing. His behavior is to become informed about the risks and make carefully calculated, emotionally neutral decisions that balance the positive and negative consequences of his choices. I would like to see that pattern generalized. His specific choices (on restaurants, or gloves) are tailored to his individual situation and preferences, and should not be generalized.

Note that Caplan does not pretend to have all the answers. Admitting to confusion, he points out the value in relaxing behavior and restrictions to measure the risk that comes with a more open posture. A more effective and ethical approach might be paid voluntary human experimentation to improve our understanding of the risks.

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

Fair, given the alternatives of isolating kids at home and letting them socialize, the latter plausibly has the consequence of increasing risk of spreading disease. Isolating kids at home for months has negative consequences as well.

Socializing has always entailed the risk of spreading disease, and we had to find a balance. The risk has graver consequences this year, so we should make adjustments.

There are different ways of letting kids socialize. You can take them to an amusement park and let them run around with strangers, or you can try podding, allowing your kids to play with kids from selected families you trust. Cost-benefit analysis is a way to decide which of these alternatives is the best balance.

Dining in a restaurant might increase risk of spreading disease more than getting take out, at the cost of less enjoyment of life and less employment for restaurant staff. In my few recent experiences, the extraordinary precautions taken in restaurants make me doubt the risk is very high: disposable utensils, seating spread out, all staff wearing masks and maintaining distance, surfaces sanitized between seatings rather than the usual wipedown with a germ rag.

Plenty of restaurant workers are out of a job now. That's a definite risk to their life quality and health. Perhaps the best solution is a stimulus check. That entails a non-zero risk of hastening an economic meltdown caused by unsustainable debt.

These trade-offs are all around, and we have to find balances.

    In the case of a pandemic, the effective response is a a swift an uniform one.

Swift and uniform sounds great if you are doing the right thing. How do you figure that out, if not by carefully weighing the evidence and considering all the pros and cons? Telling everyone to leave the masks to the professionals was a bad call, no matter how swiftly and uniformly the advice was followed.

If there is a shortage of PPE, we should prioritize protecting elderly people. That's not a uniform response, it's tailored to the risk. Cost-effectiveness should be the standard (where costs are not financial, but overall benefit and harm).

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

The same if conditions apply; the specific answer depends on circumstances. Is your friend elderly? Do they socialize a lot? Do you embrace, or maintain distance? Do you spend a lot of time close together talking? In the kitchen or on a breezy porch?

It is rational to do things that benefit the public good (at reasonable cost). How could this not be the case, if someone is not a predator or parasite? We are the public, we benefit from a healthy public.

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

If wearing the mask reduces risk of disease spread (such as at the grocery store) it does not look irrational.

If wearing the mask does not reduce the risk of disease spread (such as in your bedroom), it does not benefit the public good.

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

    Your one vote is arguably not worth the effort, yet if everyone decides that, it has great consequence.

If everyone decides to do what, to specifically refrain from voting, or to do a sober cost-benefit analysis of voting?

If people voted rationally, they would put far more value on participating in a civic rite and feeling like their voice is heard, and very little value on the prospect of changing election outcomes. Perhaps many people already think this way, explaining why about half of eligible voters don't bother.

If no one cared about rites and signaling, far fewer people would vote, and at some point an individual vote would have enough potential power to make it worthwhile to do the research and make the effort to vote, so the system would not collapse.

    Doing something for the public good often looks irrational on an individual basis.

Can you give an example of this outside of voting?

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

    If his behavior was generalized, even to healthy low-risk people, it would result in a significantly higher risk for him and vulnerable people.

Which behavior, the decisions he makes based on his individual situation, or his behavior of reacting to risk quantitatively rather than qualitatively, approaching the uncertainty analytically rather than emotionally?

His specific behavior, based on his individual circumstances, is to wear a mask and gloves when he goes to a grocery store, which is more precaution than most stores require.

He has postponed a social event in his home that draws scores of people, suggesting that he would discourage events like the Sturgis rally.

He is pleased to accommodate nervous friends by socializing outdoors and otherwise putting them at ease.

He has Socrates say that a traveler should take different precautions from someone who stays at home, to avoid being a conduit of disease.

It seems unfortunate to me that doing a sober cost-benefit analysis incorporating the best available evidence about risk, and being prepared to update conclusions as the evidence changes, is seen as contrarian (though I agree, it is highly atypical).

Isn't it more important that the response be "effective" rather than "swift and uniform"? Swift and uniform adherence to bad practices won't help.

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

The evidence is not conclusive, yet we must draw conclusions about how to live.

What might Socrates say, if Socrates were an economics professor?

Caplan is one of the few people I have seen explain what he is doing and why using quantitative risk analysis, the way we should decide how much junk food to eat, how often we see the doctor, or when to spend more for a safer car. Everything is a trade-off.

wasoxygen  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 9, 2020

    actual, abnormal, non-cyclical climate change

List of Weather Records Record extreme temperature differences

Various current records have been standing since 1943, 1972, 1911, 1885, 1892 and 2020. When we measure so many things, we should not be surprised to observe new extremes, like the record 11-year hurricane drought.

Today's record levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide aren't random variation, though. I think it's fair to look at commercial activity.

Here are the top ten "Carbon Majors" and the percent contributions to cumulative emissions from 1988 to 2015.

  14.3% China (Coal) 

4.5% Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco)

3.9% Gazprom OAO

2.3% National Iranian Oil Co

2.0% ExxonMobil Corp

1.9% Coal India

1.9% Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex)

1.9% Russia (Coal)

1.7% Royal Dutch Shell PLC

1.6% China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC)

Source PDF: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017

If you have ever bought products manufactured in China, or purchased gasoline, you do have some responsibility for carbon emissions. ExxonMobil doesn't profit by releasing carbon dioxide, they profit by selling you gas. The report distinguishes "Scope 1" direct operational emissions and "Scope 3" emissions from the use of sold products:

    Scope 3 emissions account for 90% of total company emissions and result from the downstream combustion of coal, oil, and gas for energy purposes.

But of course Scope 1 wouldn't exist if we were not buying the products. The best explanation for corporate behavior is customer demand.

WanderingEng suggests voting; I was going to say that a single individual voting to mitigate carbon emissions is in fact meaningless. I think it's likely, in fact nearly certain, that after an election you can look back and conclude that your vote did not change the outcome. "Civic duty" and "making my voice heard" and "being part of something bigger than myself" are valid considerations, but my goal in voting would be to get the best candidate in office, and it seems clear that my vote won't in fact make that happen. I also don't have a reliable way to know which candidate will actually perform best, since campaign promises are often abandoned.

On the other hand, your purchasing behavior does make a difference. You are a miniscule amount of ExxonMobil's total demand, but you control 100% of the demand that you are responsible for. Any time you walk instead of drive, you are reducing your contribution, and every step counts, every decision moves the needle. You don't have to be perfect, either. If you are concerned about animal welfare and reduce your consumption of animal products by half, which is pretty easy, you create half as much benefit as eliminating all use of animal products, which is very difficult. Be the change!

TL/DR: If you're going to abdicate personal responsibility, skip voting, and no one will notice. Your behavior as a customer counts, and small choices over a lifetime add up to a significant part of your total personal contribution, which is all you should be held responsible for anyway.

wasoxygen  ·  13 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

Here’s the interview with the crazy claim:

The ellipsis in the quote covers about a minute and a half (around 3:00 to 4:30). After saying it’s good for young people to get infected, he rhetorically asks “Why?” and explains that young exposed people will develop immunity with little risk of complications, thereby breaking up the network pathways of infection, leading to herd immunity.

Doesn’t sound so crazy that way. The evidence is still more limited than one would like, but what I have seen doesn’t support the Atlantic narrative.

wasoxygen  ·  13 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

The third source on the bird feed is to an unreviewed preprint, which is fine. It describes ten asymptomatic patients.

“We reviewed the initial chest CT images and radiographies taken on admission for each patient.”

GGO was observed in all ten.

“Among the 139 patients with COVID-19 who were hospitalized, 10 (7.2%) were asymptomatic. Their mean age was 65 ± 12.8 years (age range: 52-95 years) and the sex ratio was 6:4 (male:female)(Table 1).”

100% of sources used by The Atlantic to support the idea that young people should worry about COVID-19 hurting their lungs describe old people (N=3).

wasoxygen  ·  13 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

A quick glance at the second Lancet link shows a youngest subject age of 40.

The ground glass condition appears in a table under “Radiographical findings on admission” suggesting that the condition could have preceded infection. (Evidence of GGO appearing while infected and under observation would be more convincing.)

I may be mistaken. This is five minutes of investigation while walking with a phone. Surely The Atlantic tries a little harder...

wasoxygen  ·  13 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19

Fact-checking is tricky, and I made a mistake. If I am reading the right table, and reading it correctly, only six of the nine patients were asymptomatic, and three of them are noted for ground glass changes (the first three in my list).

So Twitter says

    There are now 3 series of lung CT scans in people who were asymptomatic. More than half of these patients show distinct GGO abnormalities consistent w/ #COVID19

and the first source shows three out of six, which is not "more than half" to nit-pick, but mainly the sample size is ridiculous. I think the worse crime is The Atlantic using this to imply harm to young people, when the youngest case in the study was 56 years old.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

I agree, the Amazon data dump was just a curiosity. I was surprised at how little personal information it contained.

The tracking companies are free to complain, and Apple should do what is best for Apple. What the ad doesn’t show is how when your personal info is broadcast someone seizes the moment to shill some product and the presumed victim is instead delighted to buy the gizmo relevant to their personal situation.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

Targeted advertising is big business. Search terms alone don’t work if you want to target a location or demographic.

If buying and selling user data becomes illegal, the value of illegally-obtained user data will rise. There will be more incentive to geolocate IP addresses and parse user agent strings.

The vendor is going to say, we’re just trying to sell diapers and most people don’t want diapers. Why should we advertise indiscriminately when we have data showing targeted campaigns are welcomed by new parents? People posting baby photos on Facebook should expect the world to notice that they have a baby.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

What real-world privacy looks like.

For years I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number because usually it’s someone trying to sell me something I don’t want. Half the time I don’t even speak the language they leave in my voicemail.

If only there were an effective do-not-call list that would track my preference to not be bothered. Companies I have done business with could still reach me, but they are in my contacts list.

People knock on my door and ask me to donate to causes I oppose. They ask questions about my family demographics that are none of their business. Strangers approach me on the street and ask me to sign petitions or give money, with no idea whether I support their causes.

I don’t want my personal information in a database, but if it means more efficient marketing so I don’t get buried in solicitations I would never consider, it might be a price worth paying.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

True, tracking isn’t necessary for us to get those services.

I think the mistake is to believe that we can stop the tracking and the only consequence will be no more tracking, that the “multi-billion-dollar industry” will quietly vanish rather than adopting new techniques which might be more objectionable than the tracking, which I think most people don’t find sufficiently objectionable to take basic precautions.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

I think it’s easy for people sufficiently interested in this issue to write, or even read, an article like this to overestimate the interest that other people have in the subject.

Here’s the mockup of the feature:

How many people will click “Allow Tracking”?

Consider how often the first button is “OK” and muscle memory says it’s the one you click to make the thing you just requested happen.

Consider how many apps and services are already interlinked, and how hard it might be to figure out what might break if you opt out. See an address in Safari? Click on it to get directions from Google. See a phone number in Chrome? Tap it to dial your Apple device. Log in all over with your Facebook or Google account so you don’t need a million passwords.

Forced to choose between “personalized ads” and “random ads” how many people would choose random?

Surely at least 99% of ads are ignored. That means all businesses have to spend a lot more to reach their next customer. If targeting is improved, the whole disagreeable sector can be smaller and less wasteful. I would think people around here with businesses that have an online presence would be supportive of ad targeting.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

It sounds like you have found a good balance. You learned about the tech, you made an effort to install ad blocking, and now things are better.

That time and effort is a cost not everyone wants to make when they could be looking at more cat photos.

I asked around the house a week after Pi-Hole and nobody had noticed the change. I live with people who will watch a video with a banner covering the bottom quarter of the picture. Pity them if you will, but the bottom line is people who are tolerant of ads make CNN free for all of us.

It’s cool that Apple is experimenting with this feature, though they are also in the game. Usually the solution is to demand legislation to fix the problem, and we end up with the same internet but we have to accept cookies fifty times a day.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

    placing anything persistent on my computer without my knowledge or consent is a pretty clear and fair dividing line that one could argue shouldn’t be crossed

But that’s how HTTP works. You click a link, and a server that receives your request sends HTML and JavaScript and CSS and images and who knows what else right on your hard drive. It is persistent until you clear the cache.

wasoxygen  ·  17 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy

CNN is not a charity, to provide the service you demand they incur costs. Of course there are a variety of models but by far the most popular by Internet consensus is “free content” whatever the consequences.

It’s been interesting since I set up Pi-Hole. I used to think of ads as a kind of tax on browsing. Annoying and inevitable like junk mail, and at worst something that would make me spend less time online. But blocking ads made browsing much pleasanter. Everyone should do this ... but I hope they don’t so I can continue to be a free rider.

Some sites broke. I learned that family members actually click on the sponsored links in search results, even when the desired link appears just below.

Some sites detect the ad blocker and refuse to serve the content, with a polite explanation. Others request that I enable ads, but allow me to dismiss the request without complying.

I usually decline any kind of tracking, and would probably use the Apple feature, but I don’t assume I will have a better experience. I’ll just see more random ads and fewer targeted ads.