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recent posts on blogs I follow


Be less scared of overconfidence

deferring to markets • deferring to experts • deferring to low-information heuristics • why they fail • blindness to outliers • what to do instead

via November 30, 2022

Light Switch

When I got my loft bed it was just so annoying every morning to have to get out of bed, climb down the ladder, turn the light on, and climb back up, just so I could see stuff. I decided to make a string for my light switch because I really wanted to be able to turn on the light from just my bed. I got to work and got some string and some tape and taped the string to my light switch. Now I can just pull the string in the morning and turn the light on, and I don't even have to get out of my loft …

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts November 7, 2022

Corncob Dolls

I went to a farm and at the farm I got to see a corncrib and the corn that had fell out of the corncrib that no one wanted I got to use my fingers to take off the corn kernels and once the cobs were empty I put them in a bag and then once I got back to the house I was staying in I ate dinner and I got to work with a few pencils some tape and some paper and some markers and I used some of the markers to make the eyes and mouth but I didn't want to add a nose so what I did was I made little pink s…

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts November 7, 2022

Childbirth location and safety

How much does it matter for you and for the baby? The post Childbirth location and safety appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise November 6, 2022

Consent often isn’t straightforward

What I've learned from kids and adults The post Consent often isn’t straightforward appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise October 24, 2022

Moral aesthetics

“Doing good” differs by subculture The post Moral aesthetics appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise September 29, 2022

Futurist prediction methods and accuracy

I've been reading a lot of predictions from people who are looking to understand what problems humanity will face 10-50 years out (and sometimes longer) in order to work in areas that will be instrumental for the future and wondering how accurate these predictions of the future are. The timeframe of predictions that are so far out means that only a tiny fraction of people making those kinds of predictions today have a track record so, if we want to evaluate which predictions are plausible, …

via Posts on September 12, 2022

History of group sleeping

Not as normal as it once was The post History of group sleeping appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise August 10, 2022

Two ways of looking at death

How to look at this fact of life? The post Two ways of looking at death appeared first on Otherwise.

via Otherwise July 18, 2022

On the Beach

I really like going in the water and this beach is a great place for building sand castles and boogie boarding. I also like trying to float on top of big waves. I'm not very good at it. I only float on the flat waves.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts July 12, 2022

Decision theory and dynamic inconsistency

Here is my current take on decision theory: When making a decision after observing X, we should condition (or causally intervene) on statements like “My decision algorithm outputs Y after observing X.” Updating seems like a description of something you do when making good decisions in this way, not part of defining what a good … More Decision theory and dynamic inconsistency

via The sideways view July 3, 2022

10x (engineer, context) pairs

Your actual output depends on a lot more than just how quickly you finish a given programming task. Everything besides the literal coding depends deeply on the way you interact with the organization around you.

via June 9, 2022

Buckingham Palace

I love England. Especially because of the big castle called Buckingham Palace. I got to see the outside there, but my mom showed me some pictures of the inside. I love it there. But the outside doesn't look very fancy to me. But I never knew why those people wear big bear skin black poofy hats.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts April 25, 2022

What is causality to an evidential decision theorist?

(Subsumed by: Timeless Decision Theory, EDT=CDT) People sometimes object to evidential decision theory by saying: “It seems like the distinction between correlation and causation is really important to making good decisions in practice. So how can a theory like EDT, with no role for causality, possibly be right?” Long-time readers probably know my answer, but … More What is causality to an evidential decision theorist?

via The sideways view April 17, 2022

How I Lost My Shoe

I was walking around in London when I saw this gigantic building shaped like an egg. Then I walked around it a little and I saw these pillars that had glass on one side, but one side didn't have glass. There was kind of a hole so it was kind of like a case, and I wanted to try and climb in. So I walked over and started to climb in, but I was having trouble. I got my ankle in, but when I tried to get it out it didn't work; it was stuck. I needed to try something different. I took off my sh…

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts April 17, 2022

I Love England

There are many big buildings here. A lot of them are skyscrapers. And, there's lots of old buildings here. Like, buildings from long ago. Like, ones that Romans built! One of them is even a castle. It's pretty fun here, and it barely ever snows here. So there's always pretty flowers here. And there's even palm trees.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts April 17, 2022

In defense of simple architectures

Wave is a $1.7B company with 70 engineers1 whose product is a CRUD app that adds and subtracts numbers. In keeping with this, our architecture is a standard CRUD app architecture, a Python monolith on top of Postgres. Starting with a simple architecture and solving problems in simple ways where possible has allowed us to scale to this size while engineers mostly focus on work that delivers value to users. Stackoverflow scaled up a monolith to good effect (2013 architecture / 2016 architecture), …

via Posts on April 6, 2022

Searching for outliers

most important things are outlier-driven • draw lots of samples • filter for maybe-amazing, not probably-good • learn where your bar should be • expect to fail a lot

via March 20, 2022

Why is it so hard to buy things that work well?

There's a cocktail party version of the efficient markets hypothesis I frequently hear that's basically, "markets enforce efficiency, so it's not possible that a company can have some major inefficiency and survive". We've previously discussed Marc Andreessen's quote that tech hiring can't be inefficient here and here: Let's launch right into it. I think the critique that Silicon Valley companies are deliberately, systematically discriminatory is incorrect, an…

via Posts on March 14, 2022

Misidentifying talent

[Click to collapse / expand section on sports] Here are some notes from talent scouts: Recruit A: ... will be a real specimen with chance to have a Dave Parker body. Facially looks like Leon Wagner. Good body flexibility. Very large hands. Recruit B: Outstanding physical specimen – big athletic frame with broad shoulders and long, solid arms and leg. Good bounce in his step and above avg body control. Good strong face. Recruit C: Hi butt, longish arms & legs, leanish torso, young colt [different sc…

via Posts on February 21, 2022

A decade of major cache incidents at Twitter

This was co-authored with Yao Yue This is a collection of information on severe (SEV-0 or SEV-1, the most severe incident classifications) incidents at Twitter that were at least partially attributed to cache from the time Twitter started using its current incident tracking JIRA (2012) to date (2022), with one bonus incident from before 2012. Not including the bonus incident, there were 6 SEV-0s and 6 SEV-1s that were at least partially attributed to cache in the incident tracker, along with 38 …

via Posts on February 2, 2022

Waffles is a Baby

Nora is a very cute sister. I love Nora. Sometimes I call Nora "waffles". And sometimes I pretend that Nora is a dog. Waffles is a very cute baby anyways.

via Anna Wise's Blog Posts January 16, 2022

The Gift of It's Your Problem Now

Recently a security hole in a certain open source Java library resulted in a worldwide emergency kerfuffle as, say, 40% of the possibly hundreds of millions of worldwide deployments of this library needed to be updated in a hurry. (The other 60% also needed to be updated in a hurry, but won't be until they facilitate some ransomware, which is pretty normal for these situations.) I have a 20+ year history of poking fun at Java in this space, and it pains me to stop now. But the truth is: …

via apenwarr January 1, 2022

100 years of whatever this will be

What if all these weird tech trends actually add up to something? Last time, we explored why various bits of trendy technology are, in my opinion, simply never going to be able to achieve their goals. But we ended on a hopeful(?) note: maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe the fact that people really, really, really want it, is enough. Since writing that, I've been thinking about it more. I think we are all gradually becoming more aware of patterns, of major things wrong with our society. T…

via apenwarr December 2, 2021

SimSWE 4: Wants, needs, and chasm-crossing

Let's talk about bug/feature tradeoffs. Anyone who knows me has probably already heard me rant about Crossing the Chasm, my most favourite business book of all time. I love its simple explanation of market segmentation and why the life cycle of a tech startup so often goes the way it does. Reading that book is what taught me that business success is not just a result of luck or hard work. Strategy matters too. As our company prepares for our chasm-crossing phase, I've been thinking about th…

via apenwarr November 17, 2021

10 years of... whatever this has been

I guess I know something about train wrecks. One night when I was 10 years old, me and my mom were driving home. We came to a train crossing outside of town. There was another car stopped right on the tracks, stalled. A lady was inside, trying to get her car to start. It didn’t. Train crossings are bumpy, cars were worse then, it was a long time ago, I don’t know, I don’t remember clearly. Anyway, it was cold out and most people didn’t have cell phones yet, so when the car wouldn’t start and it was…

via apenwarr November 17, 2021

EDT with updating double counts

I recently got confused thinking about the following case: Calculator bet: I am offered the opportunity to bet on a mathematical statement X to which I initially assign 50% probability (perhaps X = 139926 is a quadratic residue modulo 314159). I have access to a calculator that is 99% reliable, i.e. it corrupts the answer … More EDT with updating double counts

via The sideways view October 12, 2021

Secure homes for digital people

Being a “digital person” could be scary—if I don’t have control over the hardware I’m running on, then someone else could get my code and run tons of copies in horrible conditions. (See also: qntm’s Lena.) It would be great to guarantee digital people some control over their situation: 1. to control their local environment … More Secure homes for digital people

via The sideways view October 10, 2021

What I've been doing instead of writing

I’ve been too busy with work to write much recently, but in lieu of that, here’s a batch of links to other stuff I’ve been doing elsewhere. The thing I’m most excited about: Wave raises $200m from Sequoia, Stripe, Founders Fund and Ribbit at a $1.7b valuation. It’ll fund faster expansion across Africa. I’m pumped for us to save tons of money + time for even more people!

via September 11, 2021

Improving capital gains taxes

As I’ve mentioned, I think the tax code could be improved. In a departure from my usual style, this post fleshes out some fairness-based arguments for one of my favorite changes. (I think that this proposal, and many of the arguments in favor, is old. Wikipedia quotes Joseph Stieglitz making the basic point in Economics … More Improving capital gains taxes

via The sideways view July 9, 2021


I love Nora. She is a really fun sister. I give her a hug and a kiss each night. Nora is pretty much always nearby so I can go and cuddle her. Unless she's nursing. Or sleeping. Or having her diaper changed. Which is a lot of the time. But, overall, Nora is a really really fun sister. She's also very silly, and she makes silly faces.

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts July 6, 2021

Media I Liked: Q1 2021

Music Dagny, Love You Like That (2017) Willow, Wait a Minute!, ARDIPITHECUS (2015) Blue Kid, The Dismemberment Song, Upright, Love (2012) Gregory and the Hawk, The Bolder Thing To Do (Demo Version), Self-Titled Demo (2007) Frances Forever, treehouse, pockets (2018) Cavetown, Boys Will Be Bugs, Animal Kingdom: Comet (2018) UPSAHL, Drugs (2019) Destructo Disk, I Wish I Was A Riot Grrrl, Punk Rocks For Kids Who Can't Skate (2018) Sidney Gish, Impostor Syndrome, No Dogs Allowed (2017) The Derevolutions, …

via BLOG - Cullen O'Keefe March 28, 2021

The Troubling Ethics of Writing (A Speech from Ancient Sumer)

(Translated from a transcript of an ancient Sumerian speech by Uruk's most well-respected Scriptological Ethicist) Writing is a profoundly dangerous technology: Access to writing was initially, and still remains, uneven. What's worse, the rich are more likely to be literate, so it not only creates inequalities but exacerbates existing ones. Written language embodies the biases and prejudices of the people responsible for writing. Writing makes those prejudices more permanent and influentia…

via BLOG - Cullen O'Keefe February 15, 2021

Blameworthiness for Avoidable Psychological Harms

When a harm is created as a result of both external actions and a psychological reaction, how should we apportion blame?

via BLOG - Cullen O'Keefe February 9, 2021


Today I made valentines. I made fruit valentines. There were orange fruit valentines, and grape fruit valentines, watermelon fruit valentines, and pineapple too. I made them for my classmates and teacher. They had a little jokes or puns on the back. The jokes or puns were on a sticker that we could stick on the back. I stuck on googly eyes, and I drew a mouth. I added hearts and a sticker. That's how I made the valentines. Here is a picture so you can see some of my valentines:

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts January 23, 2021

My 2020 Giving

2020 Giving in ContextIn 2020, I donated $ 24,918.01. By organization, these were:Legal Priorities Project: $ 10,005.50Long-Term Future EA Fund: $ 8,036.00Joe Biden for President: $ 2,800GiveWell (regrant): $ 1,551Center for Election Science: $ 1,000Charter Cities Institute: $ 1,000EA Cameroon: $ 250Against Malaria Foundation: $ 120GiveDirectly: $ 83.51Malaria Consortium: $ 30Nuclear Threat Initiative: $ 22Wild Animal Initiative: $ 10MIRI: $ 10This does not include donations made on my behalf a…

via BLOG - Cullen O'Keefe January 5, 2021

Systems design explains the world: volume 1

"Systems design" is a branch of study that tries to find universal architectural patterns that are valid across disciplines. You might think that's not a possibility. Back in university, students used to tease the Systems Design Engineers, calling it "boxes and arrows" engineering. Not real engineering, you see, since it didn't touch anything tangible, like buildings, motors, hydrochloric acid, or, uh, electrons. I don't think the Systems Design people took this critici…

via apenwarr December 29, 2020

Milk Experiments

I mixed milk with some colored pigment. First, the color spread a little tiny bit. And then when we added we added some dish soap the colors spread and a big colorful wave.

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts December 27, 2020

Media I Liked: Q4 2020

Inspired by Luke Muehlhauser, I'm going to try to start using my blog to highlight some media I've enjoyed over the past ~quarter. Since this is my first post, this contains some stuff especially I liked in Q3 as well. Music Will Wood, The Normal Album (2020) ミラクルミュージカル, Hawaii: Part II (2012) Lots of stuff by Billy Cobb, especially: Zerwee (2020) Zerwee, Pt. 2 (2020) Rocky Horror, on Strokes of Incarceration (2018) Lots of stuff by Beach Bunny, especially: Prom Queen, on Prom Queen (2…

via BLOG - Cullen O'Keefe December 26, 2020

My favorite essays of life advice

Life is short • There is no speed limit • How to Be Successful • You and your research • Becoming a Magician • 95th percentile isn’t that good

via December 23, 2020

via openring