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Ethics Trading

I have a friend who is vegan for animal welfare reasons: they don't think animals should be raised for food or otherwise suffer for our benefit. On the other hand, they used to really enjoy eating cheese and miss it a lot now that they're vegan. So we've started trading: sometimes I pass up meat I otherwise would have eaten, and in exchange they can have some cheese.

From their perspective this is an improvement, both ethically (cheese production involves much less suffering than meat production) and selfishly (mmm, cheese). From my perspective this is ethically neutral (I don't think eating meat or cheese is wrong) and kind of complicated selfishly: I'm giving up some meat, but only occasionally and only the meat I'm least enthused to eat. On the other hand, I get some enjoyment from their eating cheese (they're a close friend) and from making trades like this (gains from trade are weird to talk about if you just like trading).

This trade is a kind of ethics offset, a partial version of paying someone else to go vegetarian, which does mean there are counterfactual trust issues. The biggest question is, how do we know what meat I would have eaten otherwise? My approach here has been to only occasionally avoid meat for trading purposes, so that I keep up a sense of how much I typically eat. Then when I'm about to serve myself some, I either take half as much or if that's not an option flip a coin and either take it or not. If I look down at my plate at lunch and realize I've happened to choose an entirely vegetarian meal, without making any intentional choices to pass up meat for trading, that doesn't count for trading (and it should not).

(Some people have an internal sense of how much of different foods they've been eating lately and find themselves equilibrating over the course of a few days. For me, however, any balancing happens over a much shorter timeframe, like a few hours, so I'm not worried about this.)

We currently keep track of our balance in a shared note on Keep but I've been looking for other options.

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Other uses of Doodle

I really like Doodle for scheduling. I remember scheduling practices back in 2009 with dozens of emails back and forth to figure out when everyone was available. Being able to send something out and have people indicate which days work is just so much better.

You can use Doodle for things aside from scheduling, though, any time you want to collect yes/no from lots of people. For example, over the holidays my family used a Doodle poll to create a shared grid of which days people would be in town:

Each person filled in their own information, and then we used it for planning dinner, housing, etc.

I think Joel Spolsky is mostly right that "the great horizontal killer applications are actually just fancy data structures" and Doodle is a shared two dimensional array of booleans.

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Baby Sack as Coat

When I'm traveling with Lily, and I don't need to carry more than fits in my backpack, my favorite way to move her is just to hold her in my arms. It's cuddlier, she can be more mobile, and it's less hassle. As it's gotten into winter, though, she needs some amount of bundling up. She could wear a regular coat when we're out like this, but we spend a lot of time going in and out of buildings, buses, and subway cars, which involves large swings in temperature. I don't like leaving her bundled up for a long ride on the Red Line, but getting her in and out of a proper coat or snowsuit is annoying. I've been using something that's more of an insulated sack:

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Picture Infrastructure

Every year I go back over the pictures I have and put up a selection of them under jefftk.com/pictures. For the first eight years or so this was just a simple list of thumbnails linking to larger versions of the images:

  <a href="family_dinner.jpg">
    <img src="family_dinner-tn.jpg"></a>
  <a href="alex_jeff_alice_rick_music.jpg">
    <img src="alex_jeff_alice_rick_music-tn.jpg"></a>
  <a href="davy_alex.jpg">
    <img src="davy_alex-tn.jpg"></a>
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The Privilege of Earning To Give

It feels to me like I fell into programming, like it just happened that I graduated college with a skill that was highly in demand. But how did I end up here? Because of my race and gender people were more likely to see me as a potential engineer and take my efforts seriously. Because my parents could afford a computer in the 1980s there was one around for me to learn on. Because they could afford good schooling for me there were classes where I could practice this skill and study the theory behind it. It's hard to know the chain of causality that led to me getting into programming, but it's substantially less likely that I'd be here if I'd not had these advantages along the way.

If you think of privilege as something you have that makes you a bad person, if you know the word and know it applies to you but you try to hide and dismiss your privilege, to find axes along which you have less of it, that's only marginally more helpful than if you were to deny your privilege entirely and insist that all your accomplishments in life have been due to your efforts alone. Having privilege puts you in position where you have an outsized ability to effect change. The best response to privilege is to turn it to fixing the situation that led you to having these major advantages over others. more...

Stealy Anagrams

I recently played a game of Anagrams with friends where we got one of the rules slightly wrong. Under normal rules you combine one or more letters from the pool with zero or more letters from other people's words to form a new word, but we were playing that you could form multiple new words. This meant lots of chains like:

  pool: e q a v         pool: q v

  gravel          ->    grave
  tweets                sweet
  charm                 chasm
                        real
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