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Comment author: SilasBarta 03 June 2010 03:28:32AM *  2 points [-]

Thanks for the links, I had missed those.

I agree with his broad points, but on many issues, I notice he often perceives a world that I don't seem to live in. For example, he says that people who can simply communicate in clear English and think clearly are in such short supply that he'd hire someone or take them on as a grad student simply for meeting that, while I haven't noticed the demand for my labor (as someone well above and beyond that) being like what that kind of shortage would imply.

Second, he seems to have this belief that the consumer credit scoring system can do no wrong. Back when I was unable to get a mortgage at prime rates due to lacking credit history despite being an ideal candidate [1], he claimed that the refusals were completely justified because I must have been irresponsible with credit (despite not having borrowed...), and he has no reason to believe my self-serving story ... even after I offered to send him my credit report and the refusals!

[1] I had no other debts, no dependents, no bad incidents on my credit report, stable work history from the largest private employer in the area, and the mortgage would be for less than 2x my income and have less than 1/6 of my gross in monthly payments. Yeah, real subprime borrower there...

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 03 June 2010 03:43:30AM 8 points [-]

For what it's worth, the credit score system makes a lot more sense when you realize it's not about evaluating "this person's ability to repay debt", but rather "expected profit for lending this person money at interest".

Someone who avoids carrying debt (e.g., paying interest) is not a good revenue source any more than someone who fails to pay entirely. The ideal lendee is someone who reliably and consistently makes payment with a maximal interest/principal ratio.

This is another one of those Hanson-esque "X is not about X-ing" things.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 June 2010 07:44:59AM 8 points [-]

There's a general rule in writing that if you don't know how many items to put in a list, you use three. So if you're giving examples and you don't know how many to use, use three. Don't know if that helps, but it's the main heuristic I know that's actually concrete.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 03 June 2010 03:17:04AM 7 points [-]

So if you're giving examples and you don't know how many to use, use three.

I'm not sure I follow. Could you give a couple more examples of when to use this heuristic?

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 29 May 2010 10:43:17PM 2 points [-]

Seems I'm late to the party, but if anyone is still looking at this, here's another color contrast illusion that made the rounds on the internet some time back.

For anyone who hasn't seen it before, knowing that it's a color contrast illusion, can you guess what's going on?

Major hint, in rot-13: Gurer ner bayl guerr pbybef va gur vzntr.

Full answer: Gur "oyhr" naq "terra" nernf ner gur fnzr funqr bs plna. Lrf, frevbhfyl.

The image was created by Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka, an incredibly prolific source of crazy visual perception illusions.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 14 May 2010 02:00:18AM 0 points [-]

Commenting in response to the edit...

I took the Wired quiz earlier but didn't actually fill in the poll at the time. Sorry about that. I've done so now.

Remarks: I scored a 27 on the quiz, but couldn't honestly check any of the four diagnostic criteria. I lack many distinctive autism-spectrum characteristics (possibly to the extent of being on the other side of baseline), but have a distinctly introverted/antisocial disposition.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 28 April 2010 03:44:08AM 3 points [-]

A minor note of amusement: Some of you may be familiar with John Baez, a relentlessly informative mathematical physicist. He produces, on a less-than-weekly basis, a column on sundry topics of interest called This Week's Finds. The most recent of such mentions topics such as using icosahedra to solve quintic equations, an isomorphism between processes in chemistry, electronics, thermodynamics, and other domains described in terms of category theory, and some speculation about applications of category theoretical constructs to physics.

Which is all well and good and worth reading, but largely off-topic. Rather, I'm mentioning this on LW because of the link and quotation Baez put at the end of the column, as it seemed like something people here would appreciate.

Go ahead and take a look, even if you don't follow the rest of the column!

Comment author: wnoise 28 March 2010 05:39:00PM *  4 points [-]

Keeping a shell positioned would be easy; just put an electric charge on both it and the black hole.

This won't work for spherical shells and uniformly distributed charge for the same reason that a spherical shell has no net gravitational force on anything inside it. You'll need active counterbalancing.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 28 March 2010 07:10:40PM 4 points [-]

Ah, true, I didn't think of that, or rather didn't think to generalize the gravitational case.

Amusingly, that makes a nice demonstration of the topic of the post, thus bringing us full circle.

Comment author: Jordan 28 March 2010 08:46:11AM 1 point [-]

My rough calculation says that the density would need to be about a million times greater than Earth's, around 10^10 kg/m^3. This is too low to be a neutron star, but too high to be anything else I think. It may very well be impossible in this universe.

That's assuming uniform density though. Of course you could just have a microblackhole with a hard 1-meter-diameter shell encasing it. How you keep the shell centered is ... trickier.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 28 March 2010 03:33:02PM *  2 points [-]

Similarly, my quick calculation, given an escape velocity high enough to walk and an object 10 meters in diameter, was about 7 * 10^9. That's roughly the density of electron-degenerate matter; I'm pretty sure nothing will hold together at that density without substantial outside pressure, and since we're excluding gravitational compression here I don't think that's likely.

Keeping a shell positioned would be easy; just put an electric charge on both it and the black hole. Spinning the shell fast enough might be awkward from an engineering standpoint, though.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 27 March 2010 06:35:19AM 0 points [-]

If the moon is small and spinning quickly, a space elevator only needs to be a few feet tall. In this admittedly contrived scenario, the boots will anchor the astronaut because they are going around it more slowly. The pen will float because it is actually in orbit.

To land on this moon you would achieve orbit, and then put your feet down.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 27 March 2010 11:19:11PM 2 points [-]

I don't think you'd be landing at all, in any meaningful sense. Any moon massive enough to make walking possible at all is going to be large enough that an extra meter or so at the surface will have a negligible difference in gravitational force, so we're talking about a body spinning so fast that its equatorial rotational velocity is approximately orbital velocity (and probably about 50% of escape velocity). So for most practical purposes, the boots would be in orbit as well, along with most of the moon's surface.

Of course, since the centrifugal force at the equator due to rotation would almost exactly counteract weight due to gravity, the only way the thing could hold itself together would be tensile strength; it wouldn't take much for it to slowly tear itself apart.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 26 March 2010 02:29:13PM 0 points [-]

It's an interesting idea, with some intuitive appeal. Also reminds me of a science fiction novel I read as a kid, the title of which currently escapes me, so the concept feels a bit mundane to me, in a way. The complexity argument is problematic, though--I guess one could assume some sort of per-universe Kolmogorov weighting of subjective experience, but that seems dubious without any other justification.

Comment author: RobinZ 25 March 2010 02:13:44AM 0 points [-]

I wish you'd used a different example, but your analysis looks good as far as it goes. Nothing groundbreaking, but correct execution of established theory in an interesting case study.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 25 March 2010 04:44:31AM 3 points [-]

The example being race/intelligence correlation? Assuming any genetic basis for intelligence whatsoever, for there to be absolutely no correlation at all with race (or any distinct subpopulation, rather) would be quite unexpected, and I note Yvain discussed the example only in terms as uselessly general as the trivial case.

Arguments involving the magnitude of differences, singling out specific subpopulations, or comparing genetic effects with other factors seem to quickly end up with people grinding various political axes, but Yvain didn't really go there.

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