Reproject on Cropping

Sometimes you'll come across a picture that looks all skewed, usually where someone cropped a small piece out of the corner of something larger:

Projecting a 3D scene to make a 2D picture unavoidably introduces distortion, worse the farther you are from the center, so if you crop to just the corner of a picture you're getting a lot of distortion.

It would be possible to make this better: your phone knows the distortions its lens makes, and every time you crop something it could automatically reproject the image. I can approximate correction with a vertical shear:

Nudging Polarization

In a polarized political environment like the US, ideas that start out neutral often end up aligned with one side or the other. In cases where there's an important idea or policy that's currently neutral, and multiple potential implementations that are also neutral, it would be much better to get polarization around which implementation to choose than on the core idea. Is there anything we can do to make this more likely?

Let's look at an example where this didn't happen: covid vaccination in the US ended mostly liberal-aligned. This was pretty unfortunate: the vaccines are very effective against death, and a lot of people died essentially because they had the bad luck to be part of a constituency that ended up opposed to them. This could have gone the other way: Operation Warp Speed came very close to getting out a vaccine before the 2020 election, there was a lot of talk among liberals about how they didn't trust a rushed Trump vaccine. If vaccination had ended up conservative-aligned instead, though, we'd have had the same downsides in the other direction; not an improvement.

But what if somehow we'd ended up with the mRNA vaccines (new, progress) as liberal-aligned and the adenovirus ones (traditional, reliable) as conservative-aligned? With vaccines for both sides of the political spectrum we'd likely have seen a lot more adoption and fewer deaths.

Kingfisher Album Kickstarter

A few weeks ago I asked what people would think of a live Kingfisher album, and with the positive response we got we've started working on it in earnest. I made rough mixes, we listened through and picked our favorites, and we've started working with Dana to turn these into real tracks. This is going to cost money, though, and after talking to a bunch of musician friends it sounds like Kickstarter is still the best platform for this. So: consider backing our kickstarter?

What might this album cost? Some estimating:

$1,300 Mixing so far
$1,200 Remaining mixing, plus mastering (??)
$400 CD Manufacturing
$300 Photography
$200 Copyrights
$3,400 Total

This is about half what the 2014 Free Raisins CD. There's no expense for the recording, because we recorded ourselves over the past year as we played dances. We're also planning on doing the art and graphic design ourselves as well.

Books: Lend, Don't Give

EA books give a much more thorough description of what EA is about than a short conversation, and I think it's great that EA events (ex: the dinners we host here in Boston) often have ones like Doing Good Better, The Precipice, or 80,000 Hours available. Since few people read quickly enough that they'll sit down and make it through a book during the event, or want to spend their time at the event reading in a corner, the books make sense if people leave with them. This gives organizers ~3 options: sell, lend, or give.

Very few people will be up for buying a book in a situation like this, so most EA groups end up with either lending or giving. I have the impression that giving is more common, but I think lending is generally a lot better:

Sun-following Garden Mirrors?

A friend of ours across the street has a small front garden, but since we're in Boston, their house faces north, and it's three stories tall the garden gets almost no direct sun. [1] Could we fix this with a mirror?

If I put a static mirror on the front of our house, even on an angled mount, it would only send light to the garden for a short period each day. To be actually useful, the mirror would need to be dynamic, tracking the sun: a heliostat. Since the movement of the sun is well understood you can do this without any sensors, just calibration.

Write a Book?

I've been thinking of maybe writing a book about effective altruism. I've been blogging about these ideas for a long time, but a book would offer the opportunity to go into more depth and to be more thoughtful about some concepts I originally wrote up quickly and casually. Many of these ideas are also worth revisiting; I've learned a lot in the years since!

Looking back over my EA writing I've touched on many aspects, but the bit I've covered the most and would be most excited to expand on is integrating EA ideas into your life:

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