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In response to comment by RichardKennaway on On Caring
Comment author: Dentin 17 October 2014 04:12:56PM 0 points [-]

The biggest problem I have with 'dead baby' arguments is that I value them significantly below the value of a high functioning adult. Given the opportunity to save one or the other, I would pick the adult, and I don't find that babies have a whole lot of intrinsic value until they're properly programmed.

In response to comment by Dentin on On Caring
Comment author: NancyLebovitz 21 October 2014 03:08:49AM *  0 points [-]

If you don't take care of babies, you'll eventually run out of adults. If you don't have adults, the babies won't be taken care of.

I don't know what a balanced approach to the problem would look like.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 20 October 2014 11:18:29AM 5 points [-]

May I suggest talking to scifi/fantasy author community (they know quite a bit about this, and often struggle to publish). Like piloting and academia, demand for these sorts of jobs far outstrips supply, so most people will struggle and make a poor living.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 October 2014 03:29:47PM *  1 point [-]

There isn't a single author community, but Making Light has both editors and authors as hosts and commenters.

If you want to make some personal connections, it's a good place if your personality is a good fit for the community. (Translation: I'd call the community informally rationalist, with a high tolerance for religion. Courtesy is highly valued.)

I looked at the beginning of your novel, and the prose is engaging-- I think it would appeal to people who like Heinlein.

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 18 October 2014 02:08:12PM 2 points [-]

Same thing here from around 2003 to 2006. I did not see the oil shale boom coming. I found plausible all of the peak oil pundits who argued that oil shale would barely, if at all, have an energy return on energy invested (EROEI) greater than 1, and thus it wouldn't matter how high the price went - the costs would keep pace with the revenue, and it would not be economical to develop it. Of course, those pundits turned out to be wrong.

I remember the day when I really started to doubt peak oil. It was when I saw a TOD article on Toe-to-Heel-Air-Injection for heavy oil and I thought, "By golly, maybe they'll be able to use all of that heavy oil after all...." If I had had any money at the time, rather than being a high school student, I would have put money on heavy oil and oil shale from that point on, and I'd probably be doing pretty well by now...

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 October 2014 02:22:26PM 3 points [-]

I wonder whether the failure of Peak Oil should lead to mistrust of fairly abstract arguments, perhaps especially those which lead to desired outcomes.

Comment author: bramflakes 17 October 2014 05:53:35PM *  5 points [-]

Home politics in Rome were incredibly fragile. The ruling elites were never really safe from the next angry uprising, which led to all kinds of economic and political appeasement - this is where we get the phrase "bread and circuses" because that's what the Emperor literally had to hand out for free. Whoever proposed heavy conscription would not long keep his job (or head). Italia was essentially a black hole that sucked in resources from the outer provinces - troops from Germania, bread from Aegyptius, taxes from everywhere else.

As for the Malthusian trap, for Italia at least the answer is simple: they emigrated. Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies goes into great detail on Rome's perverse economic/demographic situation.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 October 2014 07:41:41AM *  3 points [-]

I'm listening to his 90 minute video about his ideas-- he says that the Romans hit an era where their taxes were so high that people couldn't afford to have enough children to replace themselves. Since things weren't working, the taxes were raised higher.

Comment author: Jiro 17 October 2014 08:20:21PM *  3 points [-]

I don't think this is true. Gun violence is not just correlated with poverty, it's also correlated with race. And while it may be disadvantageous to Republicans to emphasize how poverty is bad, it may be advantageous to Republicans to emphasize how blacks and Hispanics are bad.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 October 2014 09:56:43PM 2 points [-]

I've heard a theory that violence in the US is correlated being Southern, not with race. Anyone know whether there's anything to this?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 October 2014 07:06:34AM *  8 points [-]

I used to believe that no one would loot a large organization (especially in the first world) from the top. It took me a while to realize anyone could want that much money.

The comment has five karma points, so I may not be the only person who had that blind spot. I suspect in my case that having grown up slightly upper middle class contributed to my false belief-- it was a combination of comfort/security with limited ambition.

Comment author: hyporational 16 October 2014 02:57:34PM *  1 point [-]

I don't think it's crazy to believe that America doesn't have the institutional conscientiousness to stop it here.

Can you expand on that?

And just as a side issue, I'm none too pleased to have a disease that's more likely to hit helpful people.

I wonder how this should impact the decision of being helpful under a consequentialist moral system, if at all.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 October 2014 03:33:45PM 4 points [-]

There was enough sloppiness at that hospital in Texas that I'm worried ebola will spread through incompetence. The knowledge and resources might be theoretically available, but they aren't being used adequately.

Comment author: Vulture 15 October 2014 07:09:04PM 2 points [-]

Well, if they're roughly comparable in terms of moment-to-moment intensity of suffering, then obviously we (utilitarian consequentialists of any sane kind) would rather that a smaller number of people experience it for a brief period (and then die) than that a larger group of people experience it for a long time (and then die). It's not even a Repugnant Conclusion issue, since it's hard to argue that chronically malnourished lives have positive value on the margin.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 October 2014 02:40:45PM 4 points [-]

since it's hard to argue that chronically malnourished lives have positive value on the margin.

It's rather easy to argue-- they don't kill themselves, so they presumably think their lives are worth living.

Comment author: hyporational 15 October 2014 01:12:16PM *  3 points [-]

ETA: CellBioGuy gave an excellent response here.

There are also black swan risks in which Ebola spreads to the entire Third World (eg India) and kills tens of millions of people there.

Not meaning to start fear mongering, but since we're talking about highly improbable events, I wonder how probable a mutation is that makes it spread much more effectively via aerosol.

A Finnish official covered this question on the news and her answer was that such a mutation has never been observed, and Ebola is already transmitted effectively enough so that there's no selection pressure for more infectivity.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 October 2014 02:32:23PM 4 points [-]

I'm not worrying about aerosol. That's low probability.

I think it's high probability that ebola will become endemic, at least in Africa. I don't think it's crazy to believe that America doesn't have the institutional conscientiousness to stop it here.

The mildly good news is that I expect a vaccine to be developed.

And just as a side issue, I'm none too pleased to have a disease that's more likely to hit helpful people.

In response to Fighting Mosquitos
Comment author: NancyLebovitz 16 October 2014 02:27:46PM 5 points [-]

You might be able to crowdsource the money.

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