Avoid Contentious Terms

A succinct term for a concept is great, but only if everyone involved views it similarly. If you're trying to write something persuasive, controversial terms are traps that can derail discussion and make finding common ground harder. Consider limiting yourself to well understood terms to avoid distracting from your core argument.

One of my favorite comments I've received was "you're really good at talking about the patriarchy without talking about the patriarchy," on a post about dividing tasks in marriage. I didn't use terms like "emotional labor", "sexism", or, as noted, "patriarchy". This typically involves slightly longer phrasing, but it's not too bad; that post has "not everyone wants to be or will be in a male-female couple" instead of bringing in "heteronormative". Similarly, a version of the post I wrote about tickling kids that used "consent" or "rape culture" would have been worse.

There are two main ways people bounce off terms:

Failed Vegan Choux Experiments

Many kinds of pastry can be made vegan quite easily. Puff pastry, which is thin layers of dough and fat, works very well with various plant-based fats and pre-made puff sheets are very often vegan. Lately, however, I've been excited about choux pastry.

Choux pastry is what makes eclairs, cream puffs, and profiteroles. It's traditionally made from flour, butter, water, salt, and eggs. Using vegan butter in place of butter is not a problem, but the eggs are fundamental to the recipe. They not only provide leavening by releasing their water as steam, but they bind the dough together.

Looking online, I found various recipes that attempts to make vegan Choux pastry, but reading through them many are essentially making an enriched bread. Some go a bit farther, trying to figure out the role of eggs in choux and substitute for them, but none work very well.

I was interested in potentially using aquafaba to substitute for the eggs, but while I could make things that went into the oven very puffy, they didn't set.

Shortcuts With Chained Probabilities

Let's say you're considering an activity with a risk of death of one in a million. If you do it twice, is your risk two in a million?

Technically, it's just under:

1 - (1 - 1/1,000,000)^2 = ~2/1,000,001
This is quite close! Approximating 1 - (1-p)^2 as p*2 was only off by 0.00005%.

On the other hand, say you roll a die twice looking for a 1:

1 - (1 - 1/6)^2 = ~31%
The approximation would have given:
1/6 * 2 = ~33%
Which is off by 8%. And if we flip a coin looking for a tails:
1/2 * 2 = 100%
Which is clearly wrong since you could get heads twice in a row.

It seems like this shortcut is better for small probabilities; why?

Weirdly Long DNS Switchover?

[EDIT: as Jai points out, the problem was likely forgetting IPv6. The AAAA record is now updated, and I should be able to tell in a few hours whether that fixed it.]

I'm helping my dad migrate some code to a new server. It was at for years, but ten days ago he changed his DNS settings to point to Everything looks good to me:

$ dig notes.billingadvantage.com
notes.billingadvantage.com. 1800
    IN    A
The TTL is 1800s, or 30min, which agrees with dns.google. I expected everyone would be moved over within a couple hours, but a week later the old server is still receiving traffic nearly as much as the new:

There's a dangerous conspiracy theory spreading, called "KAnon" by its adherents. Its claims, at their core, come down to the belief that there is a "K" great enough to protect us from attacks by the forces of deanonymization. While followers often make contradictory claims about "K", no matter how great "K" may really be, their trust has been misplaced.

This blind trust that proponents place in "K" is best illustrated by their slogan, "Where We Go One We Go All" (#WWG1WGA). Originating in the once-marginal "K=N" faction, it represents the idea that individuals, once united, cannot be divided. Despite the undeniable rhetorical appeal, however, its protection is illusory and such division remains possible by resourceful and determined attackers.

Bucket Brigade Updates

I've continued working on Bucket Brigade, and wanted to write up a summary of the changes since my last update in early January. While there are still features I'd like to add, at this point it is sufficiently complete and self-explanatory that people I don't know are using it with good success.

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