New Videos for Sale

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Everyone deals with ideas, whether they study Philosophy of Ideas or not. The question is whether they learn good methods, or pick stuff up from their culture and never think it through. I work on the problem of getting people interested in philosophy, but it's hard. People are busy, think they're already wise, think all philosophy is low quality, or aren't looking to be intellectuals. Paths Forward is one of my attempts to help.

Recently I've been working more with video. Many people dislike reading, and video lets you show information that's hard to capture in writing.

I made 23 free videos showing my writing process and 6 free presentation videos. Recording my writing was fun. It shows a raw, unedited look at philosophy writing (complete with pauses to read and think). That helps people who have misconceptions about how it works. For example, most viewers thought I go fast (I didn't always, but I've gradually sped up with experience). But one guy thought I was slow! He hadn't realized how much he was rushing his own reading and writing. That helped explain some mistakes he made and gave him insight into what to change.

I like screencasts so people can see more of what I'm doing by viewing my screen just as I see it. They can follow along as I scroll back to reread something, look something up on google, rewrite or delete something, etc. Whatever I do, they can see it. That helps avoid misunderstandings by showing details that are missing from general descriptions about writing and thinking.

I've also been working on edited videos. The best part about editing is making videos shorter. I'm less interested in doing a bunch of takes and edits to try to sound eloquent and charismatic, because I don't think that's useful to learning. I'm not trying to attract an audience that's impressed by something other than good ideas. (Besides, if you want really exact phrasing, then text is a better format.) But making shorter videos is great! And editing out mistakes is good too.

I just edited a video down to half length. And I barely cut anything out. Here's what I did:

  • I sped up the entire video to 130% speed. Most people are wasting lots of their lives by watching and listening to things at only 100% speed. They could easily handle a bit faster.
  • I sped up parts where I'm typing instead of talking to 350-500%.
  • I sped up parts where I'm reading or thinking to 500-1000%.
  • I sped up some little pauses in my speech to 350%.
  • I sped up longer sections by larger amounts so there'd be a shorter wait before I talk again.
  • I didn't want to edit sections out entirely. Just speeding them up lets you still see my entire process.

I know which parts to speed up by how much, and when to slow it back down. So it works better than speeding the video up yourself. You'll have to pause to read and think through everything. But pausing is easy and supported by every video player. I'd rather have a shorter video and let people pause sometimes than have everyone wait so some people can read more without pausing.

I've been working on talking more in videos. In the early videos I wrote like normal and made a few comments. I'm glad to have some videos in that style so people can experience it. But now I'm narrating more of what I do. I try to explain the background of discussions I comment on, walk people through how I read and interpret difficult passages, discuss writing decisions (like what to include or leave out), summarize my thinking on topics more often, and do my brainstorming out loud.

I've also been learning to use Screenflow, Final Cut Pro and Compressor. I got a mic and pop filter, and put a towel under my keyboard to quiet it down. I increased my mouse cursor size so it's easier to see in videos. It's fun learning to use new tools and optimize what I'm doing.

I've also enjoyed recording discussions with other philosophers. And I think they're helpful. People can see how to have a serious discussion that isn't bickering or talking past each other. They can get examples of how to ask questions and how to build on a point productively. And I think one of the best parts is seeing how to mix philosophy with regular life. These aren't just abstract discussions. We deal with practical issues from life and mix in philosophy concepts to address them better.

I've just released a new bundle of videos for sale: Behind The Scenes: Philosophy Writing. They cover a wide variety of topics (view what's included) and provide an edited view of my thinking and writing process. Choose the second tier to get a 3 hour Philosopher's Discussion too.

I'm also selling a new educational video: Reading Hard Passages – Examples from Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics. There's a lot of good books which are hard to read. I put a lot of work into writing in a simple way. But you can learn from difficult material, too, if you know how to figure it out. I've read lots of hard books and want to help others with it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rejecting Gradations of Certainty

Mike S. asks:

How should we think about gradations of certainty in Critical Rationalist terms?


there are the following 3 situations regarding one single unambiguous problem. this is complete.

1) you have zero candidate solutions that aren't refuted by criticism.

gradations of certainty won't help. you need to brainstorm!

2) you have exactly one candidate solution which is not refuted by criticism.

tentatively accept it. gradations of certainty won't help anything.

(if you don't want to tentatively accept it – e.g. b/c you think it'd be better to brainstorm and criticize more – then that is a criticism of accepting it at this time.)

3) you have more than one candidate solution which is not refuted by criticism.

this is where gradations of certainty are mainly meant to help. but they don't for several reasons. here are 6 points, 3A-3F:

3A) you can convert this situation (3) into situation (1) via a criticism like one of these 2:

3A1) none of the ideas under consideration are good enough to address their rivals.

3A2) none of these ideas under consideration tell me what to do right now given the unsettled dispute between them.

(if no criticisms along those lines apply, then that would mean some of the ideas you have solve your problem. they tell you what to do or think given the various ideas and criticism. in which case, do/think that. it's situation (2).)

3B) when it comes to taking action in life, you can and should come up with a single idea about what to do, which you have no criticism of, given the various unresolved issues.

3C) if you aren't going to take any actions related to the issue, then there's no harm in leaving it unresolved for now and not knowing the answer. you don't have to rate gradations of certainty, you can just say there's several candidates and you haven't sorted it out yet. you would only need to rank them, or otherwise decide which to pursue, if you were going to take some action in relation to the truth of this matter (in which case see 3B)

3D) anything you could use to rank one idea ahead of another (in terms of more gradations of certainty, more justification, more whatever kind of score) either does or doesn't involve a criticism.

if it doesn't involve a criticism of any kind, then why/how does it provide a reason to rank one uncriticized reason above another one (or add to the score of one over another)?

if it does involve a criticism, then the criticism should be addressed. criticisms are explanations of problems. addressing it requires conceptual thinking such as counter-arguments, explanations of why it's not a problem after all in this context, explanations of how to improve the idea to also address this criticism, etc. either you can address the criticism or you can't. if you can't that's a big deal! criticisms you see no way to address are show stoppers.

one doesn't ever have to act on or believe an idea one knows an unanswered criticism of. and one shouldn't.

also to make criticism more precise, you want to look at it like first you have:

  • problem
  • context (background knowledge, etc)
  • idea proposed to solve that problem

then you criticize whether the idea solves the problem in the context. (i consider context implied as part of a problem, so i won't always mention it.)

if you have a reason the idea does not solve the problem, that's a show stopper. the idea doesn't work for what it's supposed to do. it doesn't solve the problem. if you don't have a criticism of the idea successfully solving the problem, then you don't have a criticism at all.

this differs from some loose ways to think about criticism which are often good enough. like you can point out a flaw, a thing you'd like to be better, without any particular problem in mind. then when you consider using the idea as a solution to some problem, in some context, you will find either the flaw does or doesn't prevent the idea from solving that problem.

in general, any flaw you point out ruins an idea as a solution to some problems and does not ruin it as a solution to some other problems.

3E) ranking or scoring anything using more than one variable is very problematic. it often means arbitrarily weighting the factors. this is a good article:

3F) suppose you have a big pile of ideas. and then you get a list of criticisms. (it could be pointing out some ideas contradict some evidence. or whatever else). then you go through and check which ideas are refuted by at least one criticism, and which aren't. this does nothing to rank ideas or give gradations. it only divides ideas into two categories – refuted and not refuted. all the ideas in the non-refuted category were refuted by NONE of the criticism, so they all have equal status.

i think what some people do is basically believe all their ideas are wrong, bad, refuted. and then they try to approach gradations of certainty by which ones are less wrong. e.g. one idea is refuted by 20 criticisms, and another idea is only refuted by 5 criticisms. so the one that's only refuted 5 times has a higher degree of certainty. this is a big mistake. we can do better. and also the way they count how much is one criticism (with or without weighing how much each criticism counts) is arbitrary and fruitless.

something they should consider instead is forming a meta idea: "Idea A is refuted in like a TON of ways and seems really bad and show-stopping to me b/c... Idea B has some known flaws but i think there's a good shot they won't ruin everything, in regards to this specific use case, b/c... And all the other ideas I know of are even worse than A b/c... So i will use idea B for this specific task."

then consider this meta idea: do you have a criticism of it, yes or no? if no, great, you've got a non-refuted idea to proceed with. if you do have a criticism of this meta idea, you better look at what it is and think about what to do about it.

for a lot more info, see this post:

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (27)

The Greek Achievement

anyone know some great books about ancient greece stuff?

i'm reading this and it's mediocre. 60 pages in.

The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of the Western World

author is kinda dumb

he doesn't know when he's making shit up vs. reporting facts very well

he doesn't know when to quote or reference other authors

he doesn't know what quotes or facts to include or not very well

he knows some stuff about greece. he knows what lots of scholars have written. he's summarizing lots of ideas. there's something good about that

i think he actually sorta likes multiple conflicting opinions at the same time

and there's something bad about that

but it helps him report more than just his personal biases

controversies can be interesting but i don't think he understands when to reject stuff as bad vs. consider it reasonable alternative possibility

he's bad at speculating about the motives of ancient social change and says some modern trendy lefty shit

that's one of the sadder things. he has travelled aroudn greece, spent his life studying it ... and doesn't recognize how much he's projecting modern notions on them

something that stood out was the white pillars like for parthenon are europoean invention

from like 1800s when revival of greece and finding its art was popular in europe

revival of greece the idea, not greece the country

he said the greeks painted stuff

and the euro recreations made it white

the parthenon ppl visit is really inaccurate in other ways

so the ottoman empire controlled the area

and built a mosque and a bunch of other buildings

and then greek independence and they tear that down and restore/rebuild some greek structures

and they left the area sparse with a few temples

and the original in ancient greece wasn't just a sparse tourist monument to look at, it was a functional part of life and there was stuff all over

1999 book. there's no ebook (lame for that recent!) so it's slow reading :/

this review has some good points in it

ppl who buy and read a book like that, and it's not for a school class, are a pretty promising group for someone who could be my audience. there are a lot of ppl like that (tens of thousands?) even tho it's not a big portion of the population.

i think they are mostly older ppl

not so many 20yos inclined to read that book. or others like it. or FoR as i read when i was 18. but still some.

school reading is one of the big blockers. puts ppl off reading and uses up their patience for reading scholarly works.

social life is another issue

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (73)

Let's Freewrite

Improving the world is hard. At least I've tried tons of stuff. You know a giant book series like The Wheel of Time? I've written way more than that about philosophy in lots of different styles and formats. I've tried tons of different approaches.

Most people won't try much. They aren't good enough to improve the world. You have to know a bunch of stuff before it makes sense to teach others. You need high quality knowledge, well above average, before you should put much effort into spreading it. People get stuck at the part where they need to learn good ideas themselves.

Some people in the TCS/FI community think they know stuff, but still don't do much. Doing they find doing stuff hard? What's hard about it? If you find it hard, there's problems there you don't know how to solve... Learn more!

People can be so passive. They can spend years and years not learning or doing much. It's sad. It makes the world kinda empty. Passivity leaves the memes in control, so all the passive people are kinda the same and sorta aren't really acting entities. They sorta are. They're still people. But it's iffy.

People don't communicate much. Maybe they think no one cares? Why not try anyway? The FI people do stuff. They play games, they date people, they do parenting activities, they make big career decisions, they go on diets, they hang out socially with friends, they watch movies, and so on. They just don't talk about it. They don't think it through or have questions or comments about their life, and they don't try to get criticism and advice to do it better. What the fuck?

I think they talk with their personal friends in private more. Everyone living in their tiny little world when the public internet is right here. But the public is scary because people like me will point out mistakes. Rather than try to improve their mistakes, they hide and live static lives. And they put a lot of their effort into pretending they are pretty rational people learning stuff and making progress and solving problems, rather than actually doing it. They pretend that being able to deal with public criticism is a really high standard, and actually they're doing quite well to the lower-but-high standard of their 5 buddies who think they're quite smart.

And people are so caught up with the standard stuff that fills your life:

  • childhood
  • school
  • career
  • dating
  • marriage
  • parenting/family
  • travel
  • socializing (IRL events and also Facebook, Instagram, etc)
  • food
  • exercise
  • getting a house and filling it with appropriate stuff
  • entertainment (TV shows, movies, watching sports, YouTube)
  • the news (there's a kinda standard set of stuff people follow like some politics, some crime, some economic issues, really inaccurate articles reporting on recent "scientific" claims)
  • sometimes some Activism for some Cause
  • sometimes reading (mostly fiction or popular shallow books)
  • retirement

And some of them tried to find good ideas for a bit when they were age 15-25 or so. And they found a lot of disappointment. They read a few books and blogs on philosophy, rationality, improving the world ... and found crap. (Some rejected the crap, others were fooled by it.) They tried talking with people about ideas and it wasn't productive. Some people blame others (sometimes mostly correctly, often very arrogantly) and some know they aren't that great themselves.

Lots of people made some effort to learn about critical thinking, philosophy, etc. And they found bad philosophies. They found Plato and Kant. Quite a few people still kinda liked it and kept trying even though it didn't help them with life. But then they start paying their mortgage and needing to get their car repaired and still get their kid to baseball practice and they can't take a day off work because they were sick for a whole week last month. And so they move on. They finished their education. They finished the phase of their life where they were actively pursuing new ideas (many people never do that, but quite a few do).

Schools really beat the curiosity out of people. Professors are so awful and really discourage anyone from trying to be a good thinker or know much, and point them in the wrong directions for where and what and how to learn.

People under 15 or so don't have much control over their lives and really need to avoid conflict with their parents. So it's hard to interact with them and share ideas. Around 15-30 is when people make some decisions of their own and kinda set up their life and coast from there. But they're already so fucked from 15 years of torture and indoctrination by their parents and teachers.

Lots of people assume someone else knows what they're doing or has it together. Children usually think adults do. Adults sure pretend to and put a lot of work into deceiving children. People aren't very inclined to think they are – or even could be – anyone special or important. That makes it hard to recruit for a community about being exceptional.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (23)

What to Write About

i figure it'd be useful to write about how to learn cuz ppl suck at it (and i know about it and like the topic). including how to discuss. ppl suck at asking questions, conceptual thinking, using examples, replying at all, choosing topics, knowing when they understand something (they often think they're done learning something when they're still pretty much clueless) etc, etc

it takes ppl tons of effort to do a little bit of stuff (e.g. learning) badly cuz they use their effort badly.

but if i start with this ppl:

  • don't know how to learn it
  • don't care, aren't very interested, want to get on with "practical" life

even if they say they care and read it, they usually still don't put much effort/study into it to actually understand it. just superficially look it over.

if i write instead about something people care about – let's say, diet – then ppl don't learn the concepts i'm using. they don't learn to think for themselves, judge ideas well, or figure out the next issue. and they may disagree with me about diet for badly thought out reasons and then have no clue how to seek the truth.

lots of how people judge ideas – about diet or anything – is by whether other people say the author is good. (e.g. gave him a PhD or an award or some praise). i don't want to compete at that stupid approach.

solutions? best approach?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

What To Read

I'm trying to decide what to read.

open to a wide variety.

i just read a book about a navy seal who went on the kill bin laden mission.

i read all The Expanse books (sci fi) recently and before that i read some fantasy. i'm getting pickier about fantasy.

i generally dislike books about "regular people", especially living today or in the somewhat recent past. especially if they are losers or don't do much. i don't like unhappy people.

i prefer books where people do big or notable things (even if the character is e.g. a thief).

i like reading about the important parts of history.

science stuff is good if the book is actually good. but i find it usually has some really bad arguments or explanations. so either i think it's wrong or i don't find it very helpful for learning anything.

philosophy is good if there is a purpose to reading it. i don't like reading bad thinkers for no particular reason just because they are famous (e.g. locke, hume, kant, plato, artistotle, mill, marx, hegel).

i like spies and military stuff but don't know which books are good. might try more kinda randomly.

i read modern politics books but i generally don't like it when the ideas are bad. i read Flynn's book (The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies) the other day. it was ok. not that great. he did a pretty good job of being right (by saying stuff he knows and not overreaching). but it was a bit superficial and short, i felt i didn't learn that much due to the lack of detail arguments.

i could read more economics stuff (like ricardo, menger, adam smith, or some of the new austrians alive today) but i don't have in mind a clear purpose of what to do with the info and i don't really expect to learn many good ideas/args i don't already know.

i can read bad thinkers and write criticism but what for? no one's listening. i don't learn a lot from it. sometimes i get interested in some instance e.g. when it comes up in a discussion.

one purpose to reading bad thinkers is to try to understand people's confusions. except who actually read locke or kant or plato or whatever? and even if they did, is that REALLY where they are getting their ideas? nah, at least not directly. even if someone basically believes stuff Plato advocated, and read some Plato, they usually will be totally lost if you criticize Plato. even fans of Plato mostly don't know enough about his writing to follow criticism of it, let alone learn something important and change their minds.

i liked reading some stuff about the people who built the railroads and oil companies and the "robber barrons". and some stuff about steve jobs. maybe there's more good stuff like that. i don't know what to search for though. i have low opinions of a lot of the modern famous/rich businessmen. i'm not gonna read a book about Gates or Musk. fuck them.

i liked reading some books about the history of dungeons and dragons, war games, etc. there's a really long detailed one full of scholarship. i think i got the idea though.

i generally don't like reading about psychology, persuasion, rhetoric, etc, b/c it's confused crap. same with parenting or relationships. it's hard to find worthwhile books on a lot of the topics i write about.

sometimes i read anthology or collection type books. like you get fiction books with a different authory for each short story. or non-fiction with a different author for each chapter. it's good for sampling a variety and then you can try more stuff by authors you like. i've found some fiction i liked that way. for the non-fiction i often find it all sucks.

taking suggestions.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (25)

Two Stories About Changing Emotions

People think changing emotions is really hard and limited. They have a bad perspective. These two stories help:

In the UK they drive on the left side of the road, in America on the right side. Alastair (who's British) was visiting America and traveling around by car. This quite a while back before smartphones, GPS, computer maps, etc. Signage was a lot worse. Driving was newer and the rules of the road were much less well known.

Alastair was driving on a small road out in the countryside with no one around. Suddenly another car comes along, around a bend. It's coming right at Alastair! He slams on his breaks. The other guy slams on his breaks. They stop just short of each other.

Alastair gets out of his car and starts yelling. "What the hell are you doing? Get on the left!"

Alastair is mad as hell. He's really steaming. This fool came pretty close to killing him. Alastair's seeing red. He's considering punching the guy.

The stranger gets out of his car. He's mad too, and yelling. He shouts, "The right! Drive on the right!"

And all of a sudden, Alastair wasn't mad anymore. He saw he was in the wrong.

The moment Alastair recognized intellectually that he was mistaken, his anger disappeared. Instantly he felt sorry and started apologizing.

Fortunately, once Alastair admitted he was in the wrong instead of yelling, the other guy didn't feel threatened anymore and relaxed a little bit. When Alastair explained he was from Britain, and they drive differently there, the stranger saw what happened and his anger faded too.

The lesson is that very strong emotions can change in an instant to match your intellectual view on what happened. E.g. if you're mad about someone's mistake, but you realize (with total clarity) that you were the one who made a mistake, then it's common to immediately stop being angry. And it's common to completely stop being angry with no lingering anger and no effort to suppress any anger.

This is not guaranteed. Some people would stay angry. But a lot wouldn't. It's completely achievable to dramatically change emotions like this in accordance with reason.

The second story comes from William Godwin:

let us suppose a man to be engaged in the progressive voluptuousness of the most sensual scene. Here, if ever, we may expect sensation to be triumphant. Passion is in this case in its full career. He impatiently shuts out every consideration that may disturb his enjoyment; moral views and dissuasives can no longer obtrude themselves into his mind; he resigns himself, without power of resistance, to his predominant idea. Alas, in this situation, nothing is so easy as to extinguish his sensuality! Tell him at this moment that his father is dead, that he has lost or gained a considerable sum of money, or even that his favourite horse is stolen from the meadow, and his whole passion shall be instantly annihilated: so vast is the power which a mere proposition possesses over the mind of man. So conscious are we of the precariousness of the fascination of the senses that upon such occasions we provide against the slightest interruption.

In other words, in the heights of sexual lust, people will forget all about sex if you tell them their father died, tell them they gained or lost a lot of money, or tell them their horse was stolen. People are so familiar with the fragility of sexual emotions that they take steps to avoid interruptions.

Read the whole chapter, The Voluntary Actions Of Men Originate In Their Opinions. Actually read the whole book, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice And Its Influence On Morals And Happiness. Godwin was one of the all time greatest thinkers. Not for his time (1756-1836), but period.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Forget The Trump Tape

There's a new tape out. Trump said some rude stuff about women in the past. Trump has issued a great apology.

The left is attacking Trump. The media is attacking Trump. And a variety of Republicans are attacking Trump too:

Mitt Romney tweeted:

Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world.

My reply: Why aren't you this mad about the much worse things the Clintons have done?

Ted Cruz tweeted:

These comments are disturbing and inappropriate, there is simply no excuse for them.

My replies:

1) Hillary's said much worse in public. Can we hear more about that? You don't have to attack a Republican every time the media is really mad.

2) Do you find #TrumpTape surprising? If so you're dumb. If you already knew he was like this then nothing's changed, so focus on immigration

Jeb Bush tweeted:

As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women.

My reply: Why don't you attack Bill Clinton's reprehensible, sexist actions and Hillary's reprehensible comments about them?

David Horowitz's reply to Bush:

What an asshole. And there are many out tonight. This is a guy who will put his arm around Bill Clinton who actually raped & groped women.

Can we please try to win the election instead of sucking up to the outraged media? Hillary will do her best to destroy the country. Trump will do his best to Make America Great Again!

If Hillary is elected it'll materially increase the chance of civilization being destroyed (we're at war and Obama has been trying to lose, a policy Hillary will continue). And it'll mean tens of thousands more die in the war even if we win.

As just one of the issues that matter: Hillary will continue the Obama policy of helping Iran acquire money and weapons (including nuclear weapons and missles that can hit the US). Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism, wants to destroy the West, and has been actively taking steps to harm the West (including killing lots of people) for decades. And, by the way, a lot of women will be treated very badly when Hillary enables radical Islam to conquer and hold more territory.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (8)

Ignorant Rich People vs. Capitalism

Bill Gates:

"Our priorities are tilted by marketplace imperatives," [Bill Gates] said. "The malaria vaccine in humanist terms is the biggest need. But it gets virtually no funding. But if you are working on male baldness or other things you get an order of magnitude more research funding because of the voice in the marketplace than something like malaria."

Malaria already has a great solution called DDT. Gates is upset that people aren't spending a ton of money on difficult scientific research to address a problem which doesn't directly affect their lives and is caused by governments.

We don't need a malaria vaccine, we need the governments of rich countries to stop depriving poor countries of the wonderful, cheap anti-malaria technology we already have. The West has killed millions of third world poor people. There is a genuine lack of empathy here, but Gates isn't pointing it out, he's just attacking capitalism which isn't at fault for government technology bans.

And the other side of the issue is the governments (or lack thereof) in third world countries. Why do they get malaria when we don't? Because they are poor. They have too many swamps and too little civilization. And why are they poor? Lack of capitalism. Lack of liberalism. Violence. Bad governments that don't provide law and order. Corrupt governments. Local thugs who won't being stopped by the police (and sometimes are the police).

Bill Gates ought to know about this. He's a major philanthropist. But you can't just throw money at a country full of corruption, violence and theft. Then you're just giving money to the thugs. (Or if not money, then food, medicine, etc.)

Richard Branson:

Capitalism is a system that has offered opportunities and success to millions, but it’s time it helped all people and the planet thrive. As Paul said: “When we begin to put justness on par with profits, we get the most valuable thing in the world. We get back our humanity.”


Capitalism is a system that has offered opportunities and success to millions. But lets stop now while there are still billions of poor ppl in China, India, etc, who want opportunities and success. Fuck them, all my friends are rich enough.

Elon Musk:

Elon Musk personally cancels blogger's Tesla order after 'rude' post

What a bastard who doesn't like criticism, doesn't value customers, doesn't have the ethos of "the customer is always right", and isn't willing to treat business transactions impersonally.

Imagine if Kellogg's wouldn't sell cereal to some health food blogger who criticized their sugary cereals. That'd be ridiculous and wouldn't fit the wonderful capitalist attitude of not messing up a trade for mutual benefit over some separate issue.

Musk again:

The path to the CEO's office should not be through the CFO's office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.

There should be more than one path to the CEO's office!

Musk doesn't respect money and profit. CFOs tell you if you're making or losing money. In other words, are you wasting resources or creating more than you use? And he doesn't care about that. He pursues massive government subsidies while pushing expensive solar power.

And disrespecting the marketing department is bad too. The marketing department is the communications department. You have to communicate the value of your product to people. Making something people understand and want is important.

Musk again:

It's not as though we can keep burning coal in our power plants. Coal is a finite resource, too. We must find alternatives, and it's a better idea to find alternatives sooner then wait until we run out of coal, and in the meantime, put God knows how many trillions of tons of CO2 that used to be buried underground into the atmosphere.

We have a lot of coal left. Switching isn't just the sooner the better. Why does he refuse to consider prices? As we start getting low on coal then prices will go up and we'll switch efficiently. He wants to just switch now, never mind price. He doesn't care about economic efficiency. He doesn't understand the basics of capitalism.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (35)

Brandon Sanderson vs. Criticism

I consider Brandon Sanderson the best fantasy author. Unfortunately, despite being a Utah Mormon, he's got a bunch of trendy lefty ideas. They help him fit in with other writers.

I just saw something even sadder. He's really anti-criticism:

... A famous author once said to me early in my career, “Don’t worry. If your book works for me, I’ll talk about it. If it doesn’t, I just won’t say anything.”

That has always stuck with me as being the best way for another writer to approach reviews. The last thing that authors need is to feel that someone prominent in the field is gunning for them.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mistaken Government Violence

The government is allowed to use violence. Mistakes with violence are extra bad. Therefore we should limit what the government does to the bare minimum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Video Troubleshooting with Keyframes

I made a 65 minute screencast with Screenflow and knew I had a problem. I normally record in a second space (with the spaces feature of macOS) that doesn't have anything private in it. If I ever go back to my regular space then private information gets recorded, like my Messages window, and I have to edit it out.

I paused and checked my messages. Then I accidentally unpaused with my messages showing. I paused it again immediately and hit my marker hotkey to tell Screenflow to mark that timestamp.

After recording I saw Screenflow did not mark the timestamp. After some testing, I discovered Screenflow doesn't create markers while paused. That's dumb.

So I had a half second problem in a 65 minute video. I didn't have much memory of where in the video the problem was. I tried to find the spot in Screenflow by dragging the scrubber around quickly. Then I exported the video and tried watching it at high speed with VLC and quicktime. VLC didn't work well, at 16x or higher playback it often gets stuck on one frame and stops showing anything. Quicktime can play at 60x without messing up, and I tried it, but that was too fast for me to see the problem. I tried 30x too and checked a couple spots where I saw something flash, but they were just other relatively large changes on the screen.

I was unwilling to sit there and watch the whole video at more like 4x – and pay close attention to spot a fraction-of-a-second problem (it'd only show up for maybe an eighth of a second at 4x).

So I googled for how to find keyframes. I figured there'd be a lot of motion when I instantly switch from the screencast to my messages window, and a keyframe would get created.

First I found this:

time ffprobe -select_streams v -show_frames -show_entries frame=pict_type -of csv myvideo.mp4 | grep -n I | cut -d ':' -f 1 > frame_indices.txt

It takes 10 minutes to run and a bunch of CPU but it worked. While it ran I found this:

time MP4Box -std -diso myvideo.mp4 2>&1 | grep SyncSampleEntry > keyframes.txt

After a quick "brew install mp4box", that ran in a quarter second.

I saw keyframes like this:

1 26 51 76 101 126 151 176 201 226 251 276 301 326 351

I skimmed around and it kept going like that. A keyframe every 25 frames. Uh oh. That's not very useful. It did give me the idea that I could get my video sizes a lot smaller if I could generate fewer keyframes. When I'm writing I don't need many keyframes.

The end of the list looked liked this:

117293 117318 117343 117368 117393 117418 117443 117468 117493 117518

That's still every 25 frames. Same boring pattern.

But wait. The pattern shifted. It starts at 18 instead of 1. Something must have changed somewhere.

I manually performed binary search to find the change point. How? Go to the middle. If I see a frame ending with 18, I'm still too near the end, go up a bunch. If I see a frame ending with 1, I'm too near the start, go down a bunch. After I narrowed it down a few times that way, then I scrolled quickly in the right direction until I saw the pattern change.

36201 36226 36251 36276 36301 36319 36343 36368 36393 36418 36443 36468 36493

At that point, scrolling down, the last digits weren't just 1 and 6 every time, there's different digits.

36319 frames, at 30 frames per second, is 1211 seconds. That's 20 minutes and 11 seconds.

I checked the video and that was my problem. Right at 20:11 I showed my chat messages for half a second. It worked perfectly. I edited it out, problem solved!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Elliot's Thoughts on Pricing

I created a video presentation: Elliot's Thoughts on Pricing. Features:

  • Shares interesting thoughts on pricing
  • Elliot talks through the topics rather than reading slides
  • Discusses Elliot's Gumroad product pricing and broader issues
  • Learn common ways people are irrational about prices
  • Not a complete pricing guide
  • Not an introduction
  • Provides food for thought and insight into Elliot's thought process

(Under promise and over deliver! I don't want people expecting something they won't get.)

And I've set up a store page which I added to the blog sidebar.

Lots of edits went into the video and the bonus audio discussion, take a look:

Those edits were done in Screenflow.

I do image editing for the cover images with Pixelmator.

And I now have a mic with tripod and pop filter :)

EDIT: I removed the store link from the sidebar because Gumroad doesn't work very well (e.g. crops images to look awful on mobile, has scrolling and blank space bugs on mobile). I looked at some competitors and found similar problems, e.g. the homepage of sellfy currently has an image with a person's head cropped off and some text cut off mid letter. I don't know what to do because I don't want to code a whole store myself, but I also don't like using broken and unprofessional-looking stuff. I haven't decided yet.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump/Clinton Debate Tweets

My tweets from the Trump/Clinton debate tonight, in reverse chronological order:

You Retweeted
Derek Hunter ‏@derekahunter 7 minutes ago
[email protected] asked Trump questions about things he's said and Hillary questions about things he's said. Little on what she said/did.

You Retweeted
Harlan Hill ‏@Harlan 4 minutes ago
Lester Holt's questions were OBVIOUSLY skewed to Hillary advantage:

- Trump's tax returns
- Birther movement
- Trump's 'comments on women'

You Retweeted
Clinton ‏@2ALAW 8 hours ago
Ice Cube Accuses Hillary Clinton Of Waging War On Black People ⤵
Steph, Deplorable Colleen, Deplorable Jojoh888 and 7 others

Elliot Temple 6 minutes ago
Elliot Temple Retweeted Donald J. Trump
Nothing on #IMMIGRATION. #debatesElliot Temple added,
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Nothing on emails. Nothing on the corrupt Clinton Foundation. And nothing on #Benghazi. #Debates2016 #debatenight

Elliot Temple 11 minutes ago
sneaky hillary calling trump sexist when they are out of time to try to prevent any response. #debates

You Retweeted
Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 19 minutes ago
Russia has more warheads than ever, N Korea is testing nukes, and Iran got a sweetheart deal to keep theirs. Thanks, @HillaryClinton.

Elliot Temple 19 minutes ago
so are they saving immigration for the 7th debate? @AnnCoulter #debates

Elliot Temple 20 minutes ago
and Lester interrupts Trump again. twice. this is so unfair. #debates

Elliot Temple 22 minutes ago
Crooked Hillary defending the catastrophic Iran deal. … #debates

You Retweeted
Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 25 minutes ago
Hillary Clinton is the only candidate on stage who voted for the Iraq War. #Debates2016 #MAGA

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 26 minutes ago
Trump is right on his opposition to Iraq War. This is a media lie -

Elliot Temple 26 minutes ago
lester is arguing w/ trump again & saying Hillary's talking points that Trump was pro-iraq-war. and lester keeps trying to fact check trump

Elliot Temple 27 minutes ago
let's talk about how many Syrians that we can't vet that Hillary wants to spend billions of dollars to bring in. #debates

Elliot Temple 30 minutes ago
can we please debate immigration? #debates

You Retweeted
Frank J. Fleming ‏@IMAO_ 31 minutes ago
That "help me fact-checkers!" sounded pretty desperate.

You Retweeted
Joel B. Pollak ‏@joelpollak 47 minutes ago
Again @realDonaldTrump fact-checks @HillaryClinton, & again he’s right—murder, rape & robbery rose in NYC last year:

Elliot Temple 31 minutes ago
crooked hillary lying that bush, not obama, is to blame for how obama handled iraq pullout. #debates

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 44 minutes ago
If smirking and mocking is an appealing trait, Hillary is killing.

Elliot Temple 43 minutes ago
how are trump's finances, whether trump stiffs people, and birther crap the main topics tonight? #immigration #jobs #issues #debates

Elliot Temple 44 minutes ago
this audience is packed with shitlib hillary fans. #debates

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 45 minutes ago

Elliot Temple 46 minutes ago
lester holt is attacking trump AGAIN. he hasn't fought with hilary once. #debates

Elliot Temple 47 minutes ago
what a biased birther question. Trump better pivot this well! #debates

You Retweeted
Justin Mallone ‏@j_mallone 50 minutes ago
trump: hillary i don’t believe you’re actually this unreasonable @debates

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 51 minutes ago
Hillary: Police *want* training to stop being so racist.

Elliot Temple 51 minutes ago
The US Twitter trends tell you who's winning the #debatenight @AnnCoulter

Elliot Temple 52 minutes ago
why didn't Trump get to respond to that long rant? Lester was just like "hillary wanna talk more?" #bias #debates

You Retweeted
Justin Mallone ‏@j_mallone 53 minutes ago
hillary: our police are outgunned. FUCK STOP AND FRISK! #debates

Elliot Temple 54 minutes ago
hillary wants more criminals to be let out of jail. then pivots to saying she wants to disarm their victims. #debates

You Retweeted
Ben Shapiro ‏@benshapiro 55 minutes ago
Hillary says if you're black you're more likely to be charged and incarcerated for same crime. Factually untrue.

Elliot Temple 54 minutes ago
so sad hillary will win new york state after attacking stop and frisk. she's pro-crime. #debates

Elliot Temple 56 minutes ago
hillary says detroit is doing great. black people have nothing to be upset about. #debates

Elliot Temple 58 minutes ago
lester holt is arguing with Trump AGAIN. this time he's debating Trump on stop and frisk. soooooo biased. #debates

Elliot Temple 59 minutes ago
4000 ppl killed in Chicago since Obama took office. and that's one of the cities Obama likes... #debates

Elliot Temple 60 minutes ago
holy shit Trump just called Hillary out as unwilling to say "law and order". and she didn't chime in to say it. GENIUS MOVE. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
By saying we need to teach cops to "use force only when necessary", Hillary is saying our cops are thugs and murderers. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Trump needs to stop defending himself. Defending doesn't win debates. Pivot way faster.

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
hillary thinks you shouldn't negotiate your debts. no clue about business or money. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary thinks leverage is bad. economically illiterate. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
hillary making lying personal attacks and hasn't said any substance the entire debate so far. please focus on the issues. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
stop talking about your finances trump. move on. focus on something that matters. #debates

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 1 hour ago
We're importing jihadists, jobs are gone, wages flat for 30 yrs, our borders are gone & LESTER HOLT IS WASTING 10 MINUTES ON TRUMP'S TAXES

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
hillary is just making up stories about trump's finances. pure storytelling instead of issues. & how is this a major topic? bias! #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary has a really condescending way of smile. she doesn't have to talk to be a smug bitch. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
biased lester attacking trump about his tax returns. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Maybe Hillary never interrupts b/c she's saving her voice to avoid coughing. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
lol @ obama golf course line. hillary doesn't interrupt though cuz she couldn't pull it off. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
No Trump, Hillary's stuff doesn't sound good. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary is so condescending and smug while she lies. It's so disgusting. It's a common, mean way popular people bully others. #debates

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 1 hour ago
Hillary gives shoutout to media "fact-checkers" to defend her.

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
The lying left has done a good job of pretending fact checks are on their side. Somehow not everyone is laughing at politifact... #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Trump is good at getting talk time. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary is so unappealing when she's smug and condescending, like the line about getting her book at the bookstore or airport. #debates

You Retweeted
Frank J. Fleming ‏@IMAO_ 1 hour ago
Trump is fact checking her!

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 1 hour ago
Trump QUOTING Hillary is Trump "living in his own reality" according to Hillary.

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary is shamelessly lying about what she said about TPP. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
"That's your opinion" is what Hillary says when she can't answer Trump. #debates

You Retweeted
Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter 1 hour ago
in an attempt to equalize their heights on TV, they have made Hillary BIGGER on the screen than Trump.

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary is good at ignoring Trump when he interrupts her. I'll give her credit for that. #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary sounds soooo smug and condescending "well actually i have thought about this" #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Trump defending industrial scale energy like oil and coal, rather than sucking up to solar! #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
arguing whose experts are more credible is a way 2 distract from debating the issues. it's something even Crooked Hillary can do... #debates

Elliot Temple 1 hour ago
Hillary appealing to authority. some experts said Trump is wrong about his tax plan. of course some other experts said he's right. #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
Trump wants to talk about policies, Clinton just wants to attack Trump and make super broad claims. #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
@Kadano should i run my lcd at 120hz or 144hz when i netplay? vsync on or off?

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
not directly answering a question is a good way to get more time. first you say what you want. then get asked again. then answer :) #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
trump is getting into all kinds of specifics about nafta and other details. so much better than hillary's comments! #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
hillary tells vague lies about trump only cares about the rich, trump isn't self made, trump is hardcore rightwing economist. #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
hillary attacked trump, then the moderator asked a very critical question for a second attack before trump could answer hillary... #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
Hillary's method is to lie about Trump's positions b/c she can't win on the issues. "trumped up trickle down" econ? BS. #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
Hillary offers mix of vague platitudes & leftist evil. Trump more specific about protecting jobs from china, mexico; lowering taxes #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
hillary says capitalists are too stupid and sexist to poach underpaid women and we need the government to run our economy #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
hillary attacked coal already #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
So they each give a 2min answer, then it's an 11min open brawl? what idiots on clinton team agreed to that??? #debates

Elliot Temple 2 hours ago
Debate time. Does our country have a future? Trump better crush her so he can #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #debates #debatenight

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)


Great article on double blind placebo controlled studies:

Great paper on systematic bias towarsd positive results in clinical trials done in some countries such as China and Russia:

The failed 'turning points' of Trump's campaign implosion:

Screencast where I write emails:

Screencast where I write blog comments:

I practice SSBM and talk about my approach:

I play 2v2 Warcraft 3 with Liquid`Monk:

Best speed reading app:

Best text-to-speech reading app:

A/B testing makes tons of money for websites with visitors that already make money. It's far, far less popular than it should be:

Fallible Ideas Newsletter Archive:

Justin's Trump videos playlist (he's up to 3 now with more to come!):

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)