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AvatarComments by gabriel conroy

On “Thursday Throughput: Missing COVID Deaths Edition

Ahem, it's possible the volume is in the rare books collection. They should ask an archivist for more information :)

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ThTh2 [video about masks]: I liked that video, but there's one thing I'd like it to be clearer on and another thing is a misstep I see such public health efforts do a lot.

More information: At about 3:50, the presenter says masks can be too tight. He says a simple test is whether you can blow out a candle from about a foot away. So....if you can blow it out, is it too tight or not night enough?

Misstep: At 7:30, the presenter "answers" concerns about whether masks will deprive the wearer of oxygen, and he indulges the tried and frustrating "that's a myth." He assures us that several studies have been done on doctors who wear masks all day. Well, good for the doctors, but did none of them have problems? What about people with breathing problems generally? Have there been any studies with them, too? (Yes, some of the doctors probably have breathing conditions.) And even if studies have been done, there's an underlying concern that the presenter (and probably the studies) don't answer: Some people find it difficult to breathe with masks on even if theoretically they're getting enough oxygen.

I harp on that point not only because it's a piece of information I would like to have and the issue is underexplored (or underacknowledged int he video). I also harp on it because "that's a myth" functions as a way to silence what are often legitimate concerns. When you raise a concern and someone says, "that's a myth," that's a sign that someone is about to not listen to, acknowledge, or address your concern. In my experience (anecdotal, etc., etc.), much of the time, maybe even a majority of the time, there's at least a kernel of legitimate concern that the myth-busting proof doesn't address.

I'm not saying people do the "myth" trope with the INTENTION of silencing concerns. But I do suggest that's what the myth trope does.

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Could you elaborate on what cell memory is, if you have the time? (I spent four whole seconds trying to google it and came up with nothing.)

If you don't have time, that's fine. But I'm curious.

On “From Freddie deBoer: Ending the Charade

I tired to leave a comment on Freddie’s blog, but he has canceled all commenters by refusing to host their content. Which is weird, given his alleged horror at cancelation.

You're....using two different meanings of "cancel" and are suggesting, by implication, that they're not different meanings.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

I think I agree, but the weird thing is, I go through days, months, probably years at a time without thinking about the Redskins. I probably think about my objections to the name when someone writes a post about the controversy over the name. So it's kind of hard for me to honestly say "I'm offended" by it.

But I do find the name offensive. I suppose I believe my own reasons are based on some notion that "offensive" is objectively discernible, or at least discernible by principles I claim to have. At the same time, by calling the name offensive, my intent isn't to do what that comic suggests it does. Of course, just because it's not my intent doesn't mean that isn't the effect--and I think I agree that such can be the effect.

I do agree with your point that my reaction (or any one person's reaction) isn't necessarily the only appropriate reaction and that the consultation with a Native American probably counts as evidence to that end.

(I know I'm probably over-analyzing things.)

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That's a fair answer. And I do see your point. And to be honest, I'm not actually "outraged" by the Redskins name. I object, but that's about the extent of it.

On “Mini-Throughput: The Living Sun

Maybe we would have a shelter in place order to wait out the damage?

On “Do All Lives Matter?

Sometimes I think this could have been avoided if instead of "Black Lives Matter," the activists said "Black Lives Matter Too." But I'm probably mistaking a symptom for the underlying disease, and some sort of racist-but-facially-antiracist retort would have emerged.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

I know my comment was punchy, perhaps unnecessarily so. I do think a non-stakeholder can legitimately have an opinion and urge a certain outcome.

At the same time, I realize there is a difference between being a stakeholder, either as a fan or as an American Indian, and being someone like me, who has (as far as I know) no native ancestry and who is only a lukewarm fan of football (and not a Redskins fan anyway). I don't think the difference means my opinion doesn't count. But perhaps it means it can be discounted.

So....I think the name should be changed, but I'm not going to be on the front lines of the campaign to change it. I also think there are worse injustices (if one accepts the name is an injustice) that deserve my or others' attention first.

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This

There are hundreds of recognized tribes in the United States, all comprised of individuals. No one speaks for all of them.

with this

The Redskins logo was created in consultation with Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, and depicts Blackfeet Chief, John “Two Guns” White Calf. It’s an honorable symbol. Taking it away would erase something that was done right, not correct something that was done wrong.

To be clear, I don't believe I have any standing to be offended on behalf of someone else, but I don't believe my lack of a tribal-membership card means I therefore forfeit any and all prerogative to discern that something is offensive. And yes, I discern that "Redskins" is offensive and should be changed. (I'm not, however, about to expend any resources beyond a blog comment to bring about that outcome.)

On “DC Statehood: 68.34 Square Miles of Constitutional Conundrum

I hadn't thought about that point, but it's a good one.

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Speaking of my state of Sangamon, Big City and most of its suburbs (enough of them, enough of the time) trend blue so that the state is reliably blue. But downstate is reliably red, with some exceptions, of course. I wouldn't have thought of involving more than one state in the scheme.

I do think moving the residential sections is at least an interesting idea, though I haven't given it much thought.

On “Hollow Rights & Hollow Points

I don't know if it's garbage (granted that I've read only Will's summary), but the decline in gun ownership would have to be dramatic, not a gradual trend, in order for the argument to have a chance of working. And even then, it might prove wrong because, well, there are probably other reasons police shoot people.

On “DC Statehood: 68.34 Square Miles of Constitutional Conundrum

A couple of thoughts:

Legal argument: You make a good case that a federal district is not required, but might someone say that the 23d amendment amounts to a de facto constitutional recognition that such a district is required? I'm not saying I'd agree with that argument--and I haven't really thought through how the argument would go on a granular level--but I'm putting it out there.

[ETA: I realize, by the way, that you acknowledge the 23d amendment exists, but it's unclear whether you think it means the must always be a district or that the 3 electors clause would hold only if there is a district.]

Political argument: You're right that partisan benefit ought not be a factor, and you're right that it is nevertheless a factor. That's very, very often been the case in determining the admission of states. See Missouri compromise, e.g. Why not make a compromise now? Do the think were a beshortened federal district is created that creates a plausible GOP constituency for presidential elections.

Or, why not split up a red state (if you can find one willing to do the split) to give the red state's more votes? I can see practical objections. Despite the claims of some I've known that red states are 100% benighted,* there is much diversity in red states and splitting one up might very well create a 1 red and 1 blue, or 2 purples, or 1 blue/red and 1 purple.

A final comment (and I admit it is tangential and somewhat snarky): You're using, in part, originalist arguments when looking at past practice for interpreting the district clause, etc. If I'm not mistaken, you tend to disavow originalism. By saying that, I don't claim to have caught you in any great contradiction, but I am suggesting that even non-originalists are a little bit originalist. And while I don't consider myself an originalist, I have to admit that sometimes I, too, dip my toe in originalism to justify my positions. Maybe, just maybe: those who say they are originalists might have at least a little bit of merit in their arguments.

*And yet let us remember that our current president hails not from red country, but from Jamaica, Queens, NY.

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(To be clear: just because my go-to interpretation would be to criticize the character doesn't mean that interpretation is right, or plausible.)

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I haven't read the novel (or heard of it, til now). One question I have of you (and others who might have read it): is it plausible to interpret the novel as criticizing the main character, as portraying the main character as someone who makes an idol of intellectual pursuits to the detriment of his health or his obligations to loved ones?

I ask because that's my go to when I think about academia and the so-called "love of knowledge," even if "knowledge," per se, isn't what we're talking about. In addition to it being a "go to," it's also one of my priors because in my young adulthood, I made such an idol of academia and intellectualism. In other words, that's the baggage I would bring to this novel, if I choose to read it.

As for what I'm reading, I'm making my way through Herman Wouk's War and Remembrance. I have already seen the made-for-TV miniseries, which came out in the 1980s, and the miniseries seems to track pretty closely to the book.

On “Against Trump (Again) And Why I’m Not A Conservative

To me, the logical conclusion of your comment is, "conservatives are always the bad guys and non-conservatives are always the good guys." That's not exactly what you said, and maybe you didn't intend it, but that's what I take from it.

Given my framing, you can see I see it differently. I don't think conservatives are bad for being conservatives. I realize I'm not offering definitions or discussing what type of conservatism we're talking about. I could probably think of some types that are inherently wrong and bad. But I'm not prepared to paint the brush so broadly.

On “Slate Star Codex has been deleted

Thanks for the link. It's the post I remember. I didn't re-read it, so I (still) am going from memory, but I don't think it's held up well. I mean, as a way to chastise those of us (myself sometimes included) for crying wolf, it works well.

I personally think Alexander has been proved wrong. I believe it's true that Trump isn't a SYSTEMATIC racist, or other "-ist." But he has, in my view, proving all too willing to indulge and promote the racism of others, without even the window-dressing of speaking to supposedly widely shared ideals. Of course, my wolf-crying qualities would have led me to claim such window dressing was evidence of an underlying bigotry. So again, Alexander has a point.

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I didn't know that.

(And thanks, by the way, for engaging my comments here.)

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As I recall (if I'm thinking of the right post), he was saying that Trump was more or less a regular politician and that a good number of his opponents were crying wolf. I believed that at the time. I don't believe it anymore.

(To be clear, the question of whether people are crying wolf doesn't speak directly to whether he's racist or what kind of racist he is.)

ETA: And to be clear, Alexander actually had evidence. He may have been ignoring or underplaying countervailing evidence, but he did have evidence for his view.

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I tried reading Aaronson's blog for a while, but it just wasn't for me. Mostly that's because what he wrote about was/is usually way over my head. I haven't had enough experience in his comments section or in Alexander's comments section to compare them, though.

I do remember the post that Alexander wrote saying Trump wasn't a racist. He was wrong. It wasn't clear to me, at the time, that he was wrong, though.

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He’s kind of spineless. His extended online community is full of fascists

I've only rarely engaged the comments section at SSC, and haven't really followed Alexander elsewhere, although I've been dipping my toe in at Less Wrong and he shows up there.

All that is to say, I don't know really whereof I speak in addressing your comment. And if you're referring primarily to his online community (and you said you were) or perhaps to his management of the comments section at SSCA, I don't have much to say.

However.....I really appreciate his general approach to what he writes about. I'm very receptive to people who don't take sharp argumentative approaches to a lot of the types of issues he addresses. I've tried recently to read an e-book by Eliezar Yudkowski (sp.?...apologies to him), and I was so turned off by his in-you-face style of showing people how wrong they were, even though I suspect (from his own account) that Alexander might share similar views as his. But Alexander seems less willing to call people stupid (or irrational, or "non-Bayesian.").

If this all results in SSC disappearing forever, it's a loss for me and I regret it.

ETA: deleted stray sentence.

Also ETA: What you say below about sexual exploitation in the rationalist community does seem like a red flag for me. Not concerning Alexander or SSC, but Less Wrong, which I've started to read more and more of. I'm not sure I understand what "rationalist" means (to them), and I'm very wary, for a lot of reasons. But I have found their recent (last 3 or 4 months....I probably started when Covid started, but I've read earlier posts, too) posts interesting.

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Same here.

Once in a while, I encounter a blog author whose writing I like and it's a pleasure for me to read, that I start going through their archives and read...not everything, but everything that I find interesting. I started doing that with SSC just a couple weeks ago, although I had read occasional blog posts for the last several years when they came to my attention or I happened over thee.

And now I'm only in April 2013, and it's canceled. Too bad.