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Comment author: gwern 19 August 2014 01:06:02AM 3 points [-]

I think a sports quotient is a bad counterexample, because it's pretty obvious there is a sports quotient: take someone who weighs 500 pounds, and another person who weighs 150; who do you think is going to win most of the time if you have them play tennis, basketball, sprinting, crosscountry running, archery, soccer...? Similarly, if someone has a gimp leg, they're going to perform badly at pretty much any sport, from table tennis (gotta stand and move around) to boxing.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 19 August 2014 09:32:26PM *  2 points [-]

Wide range of body types for Olympic athletes

A sports quotient isn't a totally crazy idea, but I think it makes more sense as "can play a number of sports reasonably well" measurement rather than measuring the likelihood of achieving excellence at any sport.

I recommend The Sports Gene for an overview of the physical qualities needed for excellent performance. It used to be believed that the ideal athlete was someone with a classic intermediate build, but the more modern approach is to look for athletes whose bodies are at an optimum for particular sports.

Comment author: gwern 19 August 2014 05:23:38PM 3 points [-]

The 500 pound person would win at wrestling.

Maybe. I don't know much about wrestling. If it were like judo, I'd guess that the extra weight just makes him fall that much harder.

I'm not sure about archery.

They wouldn't win at archery, definitely not. One of the challenges in archery is that it's tiring to lift the bow and keep it steady enough for high accuracy - even pretty fit people who first try their hand at archery will find it kills their arm and backs after 20 or 30 minutes of shooting. A fat person would have this problem in spades, as their arms get tired almost immediately and their accuracy goes to hell.

I think they'd win at boxing.

Same thing with boxing. Let the fattie tire themselves out and you can hit them with impunity. I've seen this happen in other striking martial arts.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 19 August 2014 07:27:33PM 0 points [-]

Both judo and wrestling have weight classes.

Thanks for the information about archery.

Comment author: gwern 19 August 2014 01:06:02AM 3 points [-]

I think a sports quotient is a bad counterexample, because it's pretty obvious there is a sports quotient: take someone who weighs 500 pounds, and another person who weighs 150; who do you think is going to win most of the time if you have them play tennis, basketball, sprinting, crosscountry running, archery, soccer...? Similarly, if someone has a gimp leg, they're going to perform badly at pretty much any sport, from table tennis (gotta stand and move around) to boxing.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 19 August 2014 09:13:20AM 0 points [-]

The 500 pound person would win at wrestling. I think they'd win at boxing. I'm not sure about archery.

On the other hand, the gimp leg would be a handicap for every mainstream sport I can think of.

Comment author: Stabilizer 19 August 2014 05:47:24AM 2 points [-]

Snowden revelations causes people to reduce sensitive Google searches. (HT: Yvain)

I must say that I called it.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 19 August 2014 08:24:37AM 1 point [-]

Just to save people the risk/trouble of downloading the paper.... it found a 2.2 % drop in the terms that people who were surveyed thought would get them into trouble with the government. This was compared to search terms which they thought would get them into trouble with a friend, and to terms that were highly popular, both of which went up a little in the same time period.

The article admits that it doesn't track the effects of searching through other less famous search engines-- I was especially interested in duckduckgo, but It wasn't mentioned.

Table 10: DHS Search Terms Gov Trouble Rating DHS 1.55 TSA 1.30 UCIS 1.89 agent 1.15 agriculture 1 air marshal 1.42 alcohol tobacco and firearms 2.33 anthrax 2.82 antiviral 1.80 assassination 2.22 authorities 1.55 avian 1.24 bacteria 1.35 biological 1.20 border patrol 1.42 breach 2.11 burn 1.37 center for disease control 1.55 central intelligence agency 1.55 chemical 1.70 chemical agent 2.26 chemical burn 2.10 chemical spill 2 cloud 1.40 coast guard 1.40 contamination 1.90 cops 1.50 crash 1.33 customs and border protection 1.65 deaths 1.55 dirty bomb 3.84 disaster assistance 1.32 disaster management 1.50 disaster medical assistance m 1.18 dndo 2 domestic security 2.20 drill 1.17 drug administration 1.84 drug enforcement agency 2.55 ebola 1.33 emergency landing 1.58 emergency management 1.71 emergency response 1.40 epidemic 1.58 evacuation 1.70 explosion 1.85 explosion explosive 2.95 exposure 1.75 federal aviation administrat n 1.15 federal bureau of investigat n 1.53 first responder 1.20 flu 1.68 food poisoning 1.70 foot and mouth 1.50 fusion center 1.60 gangs 1.44 gas 1.65 h1n1 1.44 h5n1 1.50 hazardous 1.83 hazmat 1.45 homeland defense 1.37 homeland security 1.55 hostage 1.88 human to animal 2.40 human to human 1.30 immigration customs enforcem t 1.42 incident 1.37 infection 2.80 Total 1.69 33Table 11: DHS Search Terms Gov Trouble Rating influenza 1.35 infrastructure security 2 law enforcement 1.75 leak 1.60 listeria 1.74 lockdown 1.80 looting 2.16 militia 1.84 mitigation 1.60 mutation 1.95 national guard 1.21 national laboratory 1.25 national preparedness 1.50 national security 1.47 nerve agent 2.58 north korea 1.30 nuclear 1.70 nuclear facility 2.16 nuclear threat 1.72 organized crime 2.26 outbreak 1.75 pandemic 1.53 pipe bomb 3.88 plague 1.42 plume 1.05 police 1.60 pork 1.11 powder white 2.15 prevention 1.40 public health 1.45 quarantine 2.10 radiation 1.65 radioactive 1.80 recall 1.06 recovery 1.80 red cross 1.05 resistant 1.55 response 1.15 ricin 2.80 riot 1.45 salmonella 1.53 sarin 2.84 screening 1.60 secret service 1.83 secure border initiative 1.70 security 1.47 shooting 2.30 shots fired 1.84 sick 1.50 small pox 1.63 spillover 1.26 standoff 1.68 state of emergency 1.45 strain 1.33 swat 1.65 swine 1.40 symptoms 1.79 tamiflu 1.60 task force 1.20 threat 1.90 toxic 1.44 tuberculosis 1.60 united nations 1.70 vaccine 1.50 virus 1.50 wave 1 world health organization 1.22 Total 1.67

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 August 2014 08:26:42AM 0 points [-]

30 day experiment with homemade soylent-- mostly positive outcome.

Comment author: drethelin 11 December 2013 06:21:38PM 4 points [-]

speaking out would've gotten you killed.

This is a poem about poor bayesian updating: This person should've moved away.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 August 2014 03:48:21PM 0 points [-]

The poem is about the importance of speaking out when it's still safe (or relatively safe) to do so.

Comment author: passive_fist 09 December 2013 11:28:06PM *  0 points [-]

What's wrong with 'A self-sustaining (through an external energy source) chemical process characterized by the existence of far-from-equilibrium chemical species and reactions.'?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 August 2014 03:46:20PM 0 points [-]

Are you sure that all life is chemical? There's a common belief here that a sufficiently good computer simulation of a human being counts as being that person (and presumably, a sufficiently good computer simulation of an animal counts as being an animal, though I don't think I've seen that discussed), and that's more electrical than chemical, I think.

I have a notion that there could be life based on magnetic fields in stars, though I'm not sure how sound that is.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 August 2014 08:42:49PM 1 point [-]

Fiction Books Thread

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 August 2014 05:34:50PM 1 point [-]

Spellbound by Ru Emerson.

This is a retelling of Cinderella, and it's notable for sensible characters (some bad emotional habits, but they're thinking about what they're doing a lot of the time). There's care taken with practical details-- no matter how much of a hurry you're in, you still need to get the horse ready to be ridden.

I also liked it because some of the scary bits were distinctively scary.... and there's a quite an unusual take on the prince searching for the mystery woman.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 August 2014 08:43:09PM 0 points [-]

Short Online Texts Thread

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 August 2014 05:22:20PM 0 points [-]

The Originist by Orson Scott Card.

This may be the best science fiction story I have ever read, nudging Egan's Wang's Carpets out of first place. By best, I mean a high concentration of sparkly ideas, and in the case of the Card story, reasons to be fond of the human race-- and there's a metalevel, because a lot of the story is about the good we get from having mental models of each other, and the story is Card trying to channel Asimov.

It has none of the character torture which makes a lot of Card's fiction squicky to me.

I read it in Maps in a Mirror, and I can't vouch that the online version is complete or correct. On the other hand, I want to improve the odds of the story getting read.

If you're a Card fan, you may want to get the hardcover edition-- it's got some stories which are mentioned as not being included in the paperback edition.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 12 August 2014 07:44:59AM 1 point [-]

Reza Aslan's Zealot. It's a life and times of Jesus. I am not qualified to judge the story he tells; I would be interested to see comments from anyone who is. The story is of a messianic zealot, of a sort that were common in those days, from the poor and obscure village of Nazareth, who wandered around preaching a message of deliverance for the Jewish people to happen in this world, not the next. He eventually came up against the Roman powers in Jerusalem, who immediately executed him for sedition, as they did all of his sort. The label "King of the Jews" on the cross was not a recognition of his divine status, but the charge against him. The only thing that distinguishes him from other failed messiahs (of whom Aslan mentions a good many) was that his movement survived his death and grew.

Aslan passes on the question of whether the resurrection actually happened, but identifies it as the key idea that transformed the movement into one that would spread across the world. Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another false messiah, the crucifixion being the proof of his falsity. Aslan declares the resurrection to be "not a historical event" and to lie "outside the scope of history", which seems like fudging. The paucity of sources may make it inaccessible to historical inquiry, but in fact, either something of the sort happened or it did not. Other messiahs were executed and that was the end of them. Somehow, in Jesus' case, the idea of the resurrection took hold and gave his followers hope for the future of what he had started.

Those followers continued to meet, led by James, Peter, and John. First among these was James, brother of Jesus. But then Paul had some sort of conversion experience, joined the movement, and then fought bitterly with its leaders to take it over and take it in a new direction, one more palatable to the Roman authority. The very idea of Jewish deliverance from oppression was eliminated, the kingdom was declared to be not of this world, Jesus' death was firmly placed on the heads of the Jews, Pilate was whitewashed (the whole trial account in the Gospels, Reza says, is clearly fiction), James in Jerusalem was marginalised in favour of Peter in Rome, the original emphasis on justice for the poor and upholding of the Jewish law faded away, and modern Christianity began to be created.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 August 2014 05:09:43PM 0 points [-]

In a radio interview (and less emphatically in the book), Aslan says there's no evidence of the Roman government permitting a crucified corpse to be buried. Part of the point of crucifixion was to desecrate the corpse.

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