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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 February 2014 08:09:35PM 2 points [-]

CPAP (auto-adjusting pressure) didn't work on me. What else is there?

Comment author: michaelcurzi 10 March 2014 09:23:02AM 0 points [-]

I have two relatives that had apnea - one got rid of it by losing weight, the other by having her tonsils removed.

Comment author: lukeprog 02 July 2012 04:52:06PM 0 points [-]


Comment author: michaelcurzi 23 September 2013 08:18:01PM 1 point [-]

Was this a good purchase?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 16 July 2013 07:13:48AM 14 points [-]

One of the most salient differences between groups that succeed and groups that fail is the group members' ability to work well with one another.

A corollary: If you want a group to fail, undermine its members' ability to work with each other. This was observed and practiced by intelligence agencies in Turing's day, and well before then.

Better yet: Get them to undermine it themselves.

By using the zero-sum conversion trick, we can ask ourselves: What ideas do I possess that the Devil¹ approves of me possessing because they undermine my ability to accomplish my goals?

¹ "The Devil" is shorthand for a purely notional opponent whose values are the opposite of mine.

Comment author: michaelcurzi 21 July 2013 12:49:46AM 1 point [-]

This was observed and practiced by intelligence agencies in Turing's day, and well before then.


Comment author: Zaine 04 May 2013 04:41:19AM *  40 points [-]

I will quote at length here.

3. The Argument
1. Most sweatshop workers choose to accept the conditions of their employ ment, even if their choice is made from among a severely constrained set of options.18
2. The fact that they choose the conditions of their employment from within a constrained set of options is strong evidence that they view it as their most-preferred option (within that set).
3. The fact that they view it as their most-preferred option is strong evidence that we will harm them by taking that option away. 4. It is also plausible that sweatshop workers' choice to accept the condi tions of their employment is sufficiently autonomous that taking the option of sweatshop labor away from them would be a violation of their autonomy. 5. All else being equal, it is wrong to harm people or to violate their autonomy.
6. Therefore, all else being equal, it is wrong to take away the option of sweat shop labor from workers who would otherwise choose to engage in it.

5. Challenges to The Argument
I will discuss three potential vulnerabilities in The Argument. One potential vulnerability centers on premises 1, 2, and 4, and stems from possible failures of rationality and/or freedom (which I will group together as failures of voluntariness) in sweatshop workers' consent. The second is located in premise 3, and derives from a possibly unwarranted assumption regarding the independence of a potential worker's antecedent choice-set and the offer of employment by a sweatshop. A final criticism of The Argument is centered on the conclusion (6) and holds that even if everything in premises 1-5 is true, it nevertheless ignores a crucial moral consideration. That consideration is the wrongfulness of exploitation?for one can wrongfully exploit an individual even while one provides them with options better than any of their other available alternatives.
a. Failures of Voluntariness
The first premise states that sweatshop workers choose the conditions of their employment, even if that choice is made from among a severely constrained set of options. And undoubtedly, the set of options available to potential sweatshop workers is severely constrained indeed. Sweatshop workers are usually extremely poor and seeking employment to provide for the necessities of life, so prolonged unemploy ment is not an option. They lack the education necessary to obtain higher-paying jobs, and very often lack the resources to relocate to where better low-skill jobs are available. Given these dire economic circumstances, do sweatshop workers really make a "choice" in the relevant sense at all? Should we not say instead, with John Miller, that whatever "choice" sweatshop workers make is made only under the "coercion of economic necessity" (Miller, 2003: 97)? And would not such coercion undermine the morally transformative power of workers' choices?
I do not think so.38 The mugging case discussed in section two shows that while coercion may undermine some sorts of moral transformation effected by choice, it does not undermine all sorts.39 Specifically, the presence of coercion does not license third parties to disregard the stated preferences of the coerced party by interfering with their activity. After all, one of the main reasons that coercion is bad is because it reduces our options. The mugger in the case above, for instance, takes away our option of continuing our life and keeping our money, and limits our choices to two — give up the money or die. Poverty can be regarded as coercive because it, too, reduces our options. Poverty reduces the options of many sweatshop workers, for instance, to a small list of poor options — prostitution, theft, sweatshop labor, or starvation. This is bad. But removing one option from that short list — indeed, removing the most preferred option — does not make things any better for the worker. The coercion of poverty reduces a worker's options, but so long as he is still free to choose from among the set of options available to him, we will do him no favors by reducing his options still further. Indeed, to do so would be a further form of coercion, not a cure for the coercion of poverty.40

[C]40. See Radcliffe Richards, 1996: 382.
[Radcliffe Richards, Janet (1996). Nepharious goings on: Kidney sales and moral arguments. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 21 (4):375--416.]

[C]74. For instance, in 1992, the United States congress was considering legislation known as the "Child Labor Deterrence Act." The purpose of this act was to prevent child labor by preventing the importation into the United States of any goods made, in whole or in part, by children under the age of 15. The Act never received enough support to pass, but while it was being debated, employers in several countries where child labor was widespread took preemptive action in order to maintain their ability to export to the lucrative U.S. market. One of these employers was the garment industry in Bangladesh. According to UNICEF's 1997 "State of the World's Children" report, approximately 50,000 children were laid off in 1993 in anticipation of the bill's passage. Most of these children had little education, and few other opportunities to acquire one or to obtain alternative legal employment. As a result, many of these children turned to street hustling, stone crushing, and prostitution — all of which, the report notes, are much more hazardous and exploitative than garment production (UNICEF, 1997: 60).
["Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploitation"
Matt Zwolinski
Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Oct., 2007), pp. 689-727
Published by: Philosophy Documentation Center
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27673206]

From the UNICEF report:

An Agreement In Bangledesh
An important initiative to protect child workers is unfolding in Bangladesh. The country’s powerful garment industry is committing itself to some dramatic new measures by an agreement signed in 1995. The country is one of the world’s major garment exporters, and the industry, which employs over a million workers, most of them women, also employed child labour. In 1992, between 50,000 and 75,000 of its workforce were children under 14, mainly girls. The children were illegally employed according to national law, but the situation captured little attention, in Bangladesh or elsewhere, until the garment factories began to hide the children from United States buyers or lay off the children, following the introduction of the Child Labor Deterrence Act in 1992 by US Senator Tom Harkin. The Bill would have prohibited the importation into the US of goods made using child labour. Then, when Senator Harkin reintroduced the Bill the following year, the impact was far more devastating:garment employers dismissed an estimated 50,000 children from their factories, approximately 75 per cent of all children in the industry. The consequences for the dismissedchildren and their parents were not anticipated. The children may have been freed, but at the same time they were trapped in a harsh environment with no skills, little or no education, and precious few alternatives. Schools were either inaccessible, useless or costly. A series of follow-up visits by UNICEF, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) discovered that children went looking for new sources of income, and found them in work such as stone-crushing, street hustling and prostitution — all of them more hazardous and exploitative than garment production. In several cases, the mothers of dismissed children had to leave their jobs in order to look after their children. Out of this unhappy situation and after two years of difficult negotiations, a formal Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July 1995 by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and the UNICEF and ILO offices in Bangladesh. The resulting programme was to be funded by these three organizations. BGMEA alone has committed about $1 million towards the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding. Under the terms of the agreement, four key provisions were formulated:
• the removal of all under-age workers — those below 14 — within a period of four months;
• no further hiring of under-age children;
• the placement of those children removed from the garment factories in appropriate educational programmes with a monthly stipend;
• the offer of the children’s jobs to qualified adult family members.
The Memorandum of Understanding explicitly directed factory owners, in the best interests of these children, not to dismiss any child workers until a factory survey was completed and alternative arrangements could be made for the freed children....
[http://origin-www.unicef.org/spanish/publications/files/pub_sowc97_en.pdf. Panel 12; pg.60.]

The argument that closing sweatshops leads to prostitution appears a valid one, as according to a 1997 report by UNICEF, it happened once in Bangladesh. According to that same report, provisions were established to prevent it from happening again (in Bangladesh).
(Personal opinion: There's too little evidence to determine whether the argument is actually sound. It happened once, though, and I find little reason to assume conditions in other countries are so different than they were in Bangladesh. However, thus concluding that sweatshops are good would be a misstep. One should rather conclude that if one is to close a sweatshop, provide alternative employment or enable and equip the workers to find their own alternative employment.)

Comment author: michaelcurzi 04 May 2013 06:00:11PM 3 points [-]

Nice! Thanks a lot, that is just what I was looking for.

Comment author: gwern 04 May 2013 03:35:33AM 3 points [-]

I looked for a paper or something by Maskus but came up empty.

Note that the book is clear that Maskus is telling this directly to the author of the book, so you should not be expecting to find this quote in any papers.

Comment author: michaelcurzi 04 May 2013 04:19:16AM 0 points [-]

That's right - I was hoping to find other relevant work by the guy, in case this was an area of expertise.

Seeking reliable evidence - claim that closing sweatshops leads to child prostitution

11 michaelcurzi 04 May 2013 02:51AM

I've been looking for reliable evidence of a claim I've heard a few times. The claim is that the closing of sweatshops (by anti-globalization activists) has resulted in many of the child workers becoming prostitutes. The idea is frequently proffered as an example of do-gooder foolishness ignoring basic economics and screwing people over.

However, despite searching for a while, I can't find anything to indicate that this actually happened.

Some guy at the Library of Economics and Liberty mentions it here:

In one famous 1993 case U.S. senator Tom Harkin proposed banning imports from countries that employed children in sweatshops. In response a factory in Bangladesh laid off 50,000 children. What was their next best alternative? According to the British charity Oxfam a large number of them became prostitutes.

But in the article, Paul Krugman mentions the Oxfam study without citation:

In 1993, child workers in Bangladesh were found to be producing clothing for Wal-Mart, and Senator Tom Harkin proposed legislation banning imports from countries employing underage workers. The direct result was that Bangladeshi textile factories stopped employing children. But did the children go back to school? Did they return to happy homes? Not according to Oxfam, which found that the displaced child workers ended up in even worse jobs, or on the streets -- and that a significant number were forced into prostitution.

I looked at some Oxfam stuff, but couldn't find the study.

A similar claim is made in The Race to the Top: The Real Story of Globalization by Tomas Larsson (go here and use the search tool for the word 'prostitution'), but doesn't mention the Oxfam study:

Keith E. Maskus, an economist at the University of Colorado, has studied the issue... He concludes that... "The celebrated French ban of soccer balls sewn in Pakistan for the World Cup in 1998 resulted in significant dislocation of children from employment. Those who tracked them found that a large proportion ended up begging and/or in prostitution,"

I looked for a paper or something by Maskus but came up empty.

I was taught this fact at a Poli Sci class in college, but I'm starting to think it's more likely to be an information cascade. Can anyone do a better job than me?

Thanks in advance.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 09 January 2013 09:02:17AM 0 points [-]

Holy crap, I never thought of that. Considering replaying Uncharted 3...

In what language?

Comment author: michaelcurzi 09 January 2013 06:20:35PM 0 points [-]

I'd play in Spanish. I studied for several years but could use a refresher.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 08 January 2013 08:03:18AM *  1 point [-]

I've been playing the Uncharted series for PS3 to help me learn Spanish. So far, it seems ideal for this purpose. The speaking is very clear, the (foreign language) subtitles reflect what is actually being said (almost always), and the gameplay and story are quite good (imagine Indiana Jones, but with a lot more parkour). There are also many other language options besides Spanish (including French and Portuguese).

Note: My PSN ID is 'Thomas_Bayes'.

Comment author: michaelcurzi 09 January 2013 07:17:04AM 0 points [-]

Holy crap, I never thought of that. Considering replaying Uncharted 3...

In response to My workflow
Comment author: michaelcurzi 10 December 2012 08:28:53AM 4 points [-]

Amusingly, I use every single one of these, except Beeminder. I think I should try Beeminder.

Comment author: Despard 03 December 2012 09:13:02PM 8 points [-]

I actually know one of the guys working on it - I could ask him to come over here if you like.

Comment author: michaelcurzi 04 December 2012 06:47:10PM 0 points [-]

It looks like we only have one question - still I think a lot of people (me included) would like to see it answered. Would you mind contacting your friend?

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