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)

What Cruz Should Have Said

Ted Cruz has endorsed Donald Trump. It's late. He should have done it at the convention. But it's a lot better than nothing.

Cruz was asked today whether he agrees with Trump's comment that Putin is a stronger leader than Obama.

Cruz said he isn't going to defend everything Trump says, and he's made his disagreements clear, but the two months before the election isn't the time to focus on those disagreements and Trump is way better than Hillary.

Here's what I think Cruz should have said:

I don't agree with Donald about everything. But I'll tell you, I do agree with him that Obama is a weak president. And Hillary would be weak too. Donald would have the strength and stamina to lead us, and I think that's important.

The differences between Donald and Hillary couldn't be clearer. It's a productive businessman running against a career politician who is also a lying criminal. Donald is going to build a security wall and he's going to do his best to Make America Great Again. When Donald makes a promise, he always promises to do something good like appoint constitutionalist supreme court judges or help lift blacks and hispanics out of poverty by protecting their civil right to school choice.

Hillary is a stark contrast. It's a certainty that she will appoint radical leftists to the supreme court, as she has promised to. It's a certainty that she'll do her best to keep our border open, and bring in more refugees we can't vet from areas controlled by ISIS or Al Qaeda. She has promised us more of the same: high taxes, the war on coal, Obamacare, and a divisive administration that considers half the country deplorable. And she would continue the same weak policies we saw with Obama's apology tour.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Silly Song

What Makes You Beautiful Lyrics

You're turning heads when you walk through the door

song sings about girl turning heads when she walks thru door. but like they can’t see she’s hot BEFORE they turn their head. so it doesn’t actually make much sense. or if they could already see her, they don’t have to turn head, yaknow?

You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh,
That's what makes you beautiful

also the song says what makes her beautiful is ignorance of the beautiful face she spent 2 hours in front of a mirror designing before the party. blatant fucking lie? and is that ignorance what ppl r looking at when they turn their heads..?

Everyone else in the room can see it,
Everyone else but you

she'd have to be terribly naive and ignorant to have no clue how people see her. especially given lots of people have told her by hitting on her, singing love songs to her about her beauty, etc. do they want her to be naive about our society's thinking on sex so she's easier to fuck? sounds unrealistic. maybe they just want her to pretend to be naive about it so she seems more like a virgin. a lot of girls do that kinda thing. they put on an act about their sexual inexperience and then lots of guys like fucking them more. it's very silly.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Parents at the Park

i stopped at a park and sat on a bench for 15min today and there were parents and little kids

they did a lot of awful things in that short time

like 6-8 different parents came by. there's like a daycare or something next to the park

i got there at 1pm

one thing i noticed is sometimes parents hold their kid's hand while walking

and i saw a kid trip a bit

and i realized holding hands wasn't affecting parent's balance or stride

but it WAS affecting the kid's

to have his hand held upward and immobile

and also to try to match parent's pace

and i thought parent contributed to the tripping

and prolly thinks kid needs hand held to yank him up to prevent falls

but i think parent causes more falls

another parent said kid could only go down slide once and then they had to go

so kid delayed. a lot. and banged on the slide. and sat on top.

and parent got impatient asked him to come again before he'd even gone down once. and parent gave the reason that his brother was in the car waiting.

which is so nasty to put the two siblings at odds against each other. to create a conflict btwn them, where the brother is the excuse for why he can't use the slide

and the amount of time before the left, i figure the kid could have gone down the slide 5 times if he was reasonably quick

but the parent told him once, so he did it really slow

if the parent had said "you can slide 3 times if you are quick"

they might have left faster and with a happier kid

it's so wasteful to drag it out enough time for 5 slides, with parent resenting it, and kid resenting only getting to slide once. so inefficient.

there were 3 trikes someone had left at the park. it's in a good neighborhood, small park, bit isolated, low theft risk.

a mom praised the hell out of a dad who she found out was the owner

she gushed about how big a difference the trikes made. later she said she had one on her porch she never remembers to bring.

it was very like boring smalltalk, very low content, very gushy and exaggerated

but also note the trikes are a big deal for the kids – that she'll gush about – and she just keeps forgetting to bring one she already has. that's how much she actually cares about about kids. not enough to make the effort to remember.

and she said something about 3 trikes being a good number. i was thinking if it was only one then some parents would prefer zero trikes instead of one to avoid kids fighting over it. they'd rather have no resources so kids don't expect anything than some resources kids really want and have to deal with resource allocation. (and these people have plenty of money and other resources to provide plenty for the kids. they all present as being well off financially and it's not a neighborhood for poor people. they just, in various ways, choose not to provide their kids with resources.)

then later i saw a little girl, like 3, was on a small plastic trike. and her mom tried to help her peddle but it wasn't working. she pushed along with her feet on the ground. the mother just gave up and ignored it. she was obviously way too big for it. her knees were bent heavily for her to sit on it.

while the mother was standing 2 feet away but ignoring her, the girl, on her own, noticed the 3 trikes the other guy had left at the park. they were metal and larger. they fit her better. she went to one. the mother followed.

and then she put her doll in the seat and then realized it blocked her from sitting on it herself, and tried to figure out what to do

sigh. and the mother was not helping or offering to hold the doll or suggesting how to handle it

and the gender roles. none of the guys had this problem. they would play. the girl is taught priorities that get in her way.

the girl is taught to treat a doll like it's special and important and fragile

which is inconvenient

so she manages to get on the trike and hold the doll in her lap. and her mom pushes it around for her some. it had a poll sticking up the back the mother could push. kid didn't figure out how to peddle and mom didn't even try to help with that this time.

with the first trike the mom was physically grabbing the kid's feet and putting them on the pedals

and then spun the pedals with her hands when kid had feet on ground like a demonstration

i think she was very bad at explaining it and was not a patient helper

anyway mom says something about time to go, pushes the trike onto the grass instead of stone, stops pushing it, leaves kid stuck and not moving, and stands there

i thought she did it on purpose to end the activity but later found out she didn't have much trouble pushing the trike on the grass, it still rolled fine

but kid had to wait a while. mom talked to someone else or looked at her phone or just stood there, idk, but kid wasn't moving for a minute

and for some reason mom got the doll

and dropped it into a little basket on the back of the trike that was like 2 inches above the ground

mom was unaware or uncaring that her daughter cared about the doll, and treated it very carefully

which i knew from watching her with the doll for 20 seconds a few minutes earlier

and then what next? mom just looks away or ignores kid, doesn't pay attention

and kid tries to reach back and arrange doll better in basket

and spends like 30s trying to get doll more comfortable and properly taken care of for the ride

and mom isn't helping or paying any attention or realizing she just fucking dropped the doll like 1 foot into the basket, carelessly, that kid is trying to treat like a fragile baby

then mom pushed her on the grass some more then made her leave

all the parents were pressuring their kids to leave and no one stayed for long

my friend commented, "Ppl think my sister is weird cuz she asks toddlers for permission to like pick them up"

it's so sad how the parents consistently aren't interested in helping their kid get plenty of trips down the slide, get his fill of the park.

and it's so sad how parents mostly just don't pay attention to what their kid is doing. they can't help much because they don't pay attention. they say "we're going soon" and then talk with another parent and look away and then a few minutes later say "we really gotta go now" without even checking or caring what their kid is in the middle of. they mostly don't play with their kids. they don't try to understand what their kids are thinking. they don't try to help with it. they just don't care or pay much attention.

the one mom did help push the trike. but she wasn't paying any attention to the great care and attentiveness with which her daughter treated her doll. and i'll bet the kid has been loving that doll for months and treating it much the same and mom just doesn't care or have any respect for her kid's wishes and goals. and she just stopped in the middle of pushing the trike for a while for no apparent reason and then kid was stuck sitting still for a while. and she's not a good enough helper to help her kid peddle a trike. and she doesn't care or have the patience to keep trying. she just grabbed her kid's feet, placed them, didn't seem aware the trike was way too small for the kid (knees super bent), and then promptly gave up. kid will have to learn how to use a trike later from some other kid who knows how to use one. or maybe figure it out herself if she gets the opportunity to spend more time with a trike instead of being made to leave. or maybe, being a female, she'll just go through life being bad at that kind of thing because if a girl apparently "doesn't like trikes" parents think that's normal and ok and ignore it instead of figuring there's a problem to help with. but if a boy isn't playing with trikes, a lot more parents would figure something is wrong and help him solve the problem instead of just thinking it's a matter of taste. stuff like that, which isn't very blatant, is how a lot of gender role stuff ends up happening.

my friend also commented:

and it's so sad how parents mostly just don't pay attention to what their kid is doing. they can't help much because they don't pay attention.

when ppl do try to “help”, they mostly just interrupt with their kid is doing

they aren’t paying attention to what the kid is trying to do

so they interrupt and are like “here, do this”

but that won’t even help with what the kid is trying to do

like, say kid is trying to make swing twist around

parent will kind of see what kid is doing, but will think they are just incompetent at swinging

so if they try to “help” it will be either by pushing kid on swing, or trying to make them pump their legs

or maybe they know kid is trying to twist swing around, but they just think that is the wrong way to use the swing. so they are trying to make him use it right

i think both things happen

i don't entirely get how people are so blind to this stuff. you watch anyone interest with kids for a few minutes and you see horrors. they consistently don't pay attention to what their children or doing or why. they consistently don't try to understand. they consistently suck at helping or explaining anything, or don't even try to.

and they try to control their kid and make him leave. with no idea what kid is doing, they have no idea how important staying more is. they don't care. they don't try to figure out if it's worth staying because kid is in the middle of something great. they just have a very limited amount of patience for kid to delay them and they don't care about the park.

some reason people are blind to these horrors:

  • they don't think of children as people
  • they see it all the time so it just looks normal to them
  • they make excuses like parenting is tiring enough without actually paying attention to your kid and his activities and having to help
  • they don't respect children "playing", don't regard it as important or having anything to do with learning or education
  • they're not very nice to anyone in their lives, including themselves. this isn't all kid-specific
  • they treat people by categories (e.g. "child") rather than worrying about specifics like what that individual child cares about

it's so fucking simple though. your kid treasures a doll. you don't just drop it. the parent is just doing generic actions without knowing about her kid as an individual.

if your kid wants to use a slide, that's great. he likes it. this thing exists, people built it, and then other people enjoy it. they didn't have to build it but they did. and here it is. and your kid didn't have to find things in life he likes but he did. liking things and thinking things are good is not automatic. people take it for granted but it's wonderful and takes some positive human spirit and thinking. and then people grow up and don't actually like much stuff, or feel much joy, or have many interests, and they wonder why their lives are so empty. it's because their parents crushed their interests young and had no respect for their joy and preferences.

then people cover up their empty adult lives with a bunch of lies and make excuses for their parents and then do it to their own kids. they pretend getting drunk and partying and having sex are interests, when they're really just doing it because they have no idea what to do with their lives and that's what society offers. some pretend their profession is an interest. some pretend to like video games but play "casually" – meaning without really thinking about it much, just to kill time like watching TV. (some people don't even want to watch TV at higher speeds because then they'd just need to watch more shows to take up the same time slots in their life. they don't actually care about what they watch, and aren't interested in seeing more, they are just killing time.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (39)

Bad Thinking List

A lot of bad thinking involves:

  • creating arbitrary mental categories, then addressing each small category with its only parochial answer
  • arbitrarily separating things with shared attributes into separate categories
  • selective attention
  • impatience, intolerance, deciding right away some other idea or person is dumb, unreasonable, or "crazy"
  • authority, prestige, and generally judging the speaker instead of the speech
  • low standards for what is considered good or succesful

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (11)

Comments on "Defending Capitalism against Ayn Rand"

Elliot Temple:

She thought that the heroes she created were exemplars of pure, uncorrupted capitalism. In fact, the heroes she created in Atlas Shrugged came from her sense of life, which was not only un-capitalist but anti-capitalist. I will also show that this contradiction is extremely fortunate because it illuminates why capitalism is the most efficient and humane economic system ever implemented.


When the heroes who embody her sense of life engage in economic activities, they function like Communist administrators, not capitalist businessmen.

Justin Mallone:

    maybe he mixed up the characters

Elliot Temple:

When Nathaniel Branden was the official Objectivist expert on psychology, he wrote,

    this precedes any args @ AS being mixed up on capitalism

    which i haven't found yet

    instead we hear about eg

In her short story “The Simplest Thing in the World” (1975: 173-85), Rand depicts a writer of fiction who cannot make a living because he has the same sense of life as Rand. The writer decides he has to create the type of story that will sell: “a simple, human story,” which consists of “lousy bromides.”

    lots of refs, no points

In all of Rand’s novels, only one business owner completely embodies the capitalist ethos. That is the press tycoon Gail Wynand, in The Fountainhead, who becomes fabulously rich through selfless service to the public, by providing it with what it wants: a lowbrow, sentimental, lurid newspaper.

    oh, she's not a capitalist b/c she's not an altruist?

Wynand’s opposite is Nathaniel Taggart, in Atlas Shrugged, who is supposed to be the archetypal capitalist. As Dagny recalls (I.8), “He said that he envied only one of his competitors, the one who said, ‘The public be damned!’” Nothing could be more antithetical to the motivation of a successful business owner in a capitalist society.

    lol yeah

    note that apple famously doesn't rely on customer surveys and focus gorups

    so uhh


    he's like mad anyone would use their own judgement instead of doing whatever the public demand assigns the highest wages too

    ok i finally found his point

    i can see how someone could think that

Nevertheless, the economic decisions of the heroes of Atlas Shrugged are constantly motivated by the human element. That is true even of the one major character in Atlas Shrugged who is a pure capitalist, Midas Mulligan. He says he joined the strike because of a vision, in which he “saw the bright face and the eyes of young Rearden . . . lying at the foot of an altar . . . and what stood on that altar was Lee Hunsacker, with the mucus-filled eyes” (III.1). In Part II, Chapter 3, Francisco asks Rearden: did you want the rail you made for the John Galt Line used by your equals, like Ellis Wyatt, and by men such as Eddie Willers, who do not match your ability but who “equal your moral integrity” and “riding on your rail — give a moment’s silent thanks”? Rearden answers Yes. Francisco then asks, “Did you want to see it used by whining rotters?” Rearden answers, “I’d blast that rail first.” Francisco then explains that by "whining rotter" he means “any man who proclaims his right to a single penny of another man’s effort.” But no economy, whether socialist or capitalist, could function for one day if producers acted in this way.


In Part II, Chapter 10, Dagny says that Nathaniel Taggart, supposedly the archetypical capitalist, “couldn’t have worked with people like these passengers. He couldn’t have run trains for them.” But no one running a train line, even in a socialist economy, could possibly consider the moral worth of its passengers, or any consideration besides their paying for the ride.

    tldr Rand sucked at capitalism b/c she advised against selling your soul for a larger bank account as, obviously, any true capitalist would do, money being the root of all good and souls being communist propaganda.

Justin Mallone:

    “capitalism is value-free dollar chasing. rand’s heroes aren’t like that, thus anti-cap the end”

Elliot Temple:


    but with more scholarly references

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (11)

Paths Forward Short Summary

When there's a disagreement, ask yourself: "Suppose hypothetically that I'm wrong and the other guy is right. In what way would I ever find out and learn better?" If there's no good, realistic answer then you're bad at paths forward.

There exist methods for finding out you're mistaken about disagreements that aren't overly time consuming, and paths forward discusses them. (This has some overlap with Popper, but also adds ideas like having a public, written account of your position, by you or someone else, that you believe is correct and will take responsibility for. Popper didn't cover how to address all criticism without it taking too long.)

If you want to understand how paths forward work, go through these links:

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Review of Hospers on Rand

Conversations With Ayn Rand, Part 1, by John Hospers

I recommend reading the entire article before my comments.

Hospers met and discussed with Ayn Rand many times. He's vague about the timeframe but he visited her every two weeks or so for "many months". I get the sense, from all the stories, that it may have lasted a couple years.

Hospers is an unreliable narrator. As he tells it, Rand has a severe anger problem while he's always perfectly calm. He claims that Rand would get angry and then be illogical and irrational for the rest of the night, and he blames 100% of the discussion difficulties on Rand. It's similar to some accounts of Karl Popper I've read. It's hard to tell what portion of the claims are true, but I do think part of the matter is people having trouble with strong, clear criticism. It's easy to misunderstand an unconventional person who's much smarter than you and highly critical.

Hospers doesn't say anything self-critical, but he does reveal some flaws by accident. He would hide lots of criticism and disagreements from his discussions with Ayn Rand rather than addressing the problems he was having (e.g. confronting her about her supposed temper and hearing her side of the story). And he gets lots of intellectual issues wrong throughout the article.

The article, while superficially presenting somewhat opposite themes, is a testament to the extreme tolerance and patience of Ayn Rand. Hospers was far inferior to her. She did so much to help him learn, starting from basics like the broken window fallacy, and he had trouble grasping principles. He'd get one issue wrong, and she'd explain it, and then he'd get another similar issue wrong. And he was always wanting to make exceptions to principles, showing he never really understood them.

I'm being literal about the broken window fallacy, btw. But you may have missed it:

At Ayn's suggestion I bought a copy of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and it transformed my entire thinking about economics

The theme of that book is explaining the broken window fallacy. Reading about broken windows "transformed [Hospers'] entire thinking about economics".

Rand also taught him about Mises, not initiating force, not violating rights, etc

And then what would he do? Time after time he came up with justifications for government force, all of which was wrong in the same way as the previous one. first he wants government force for orphans, then for roads, then against racism, then in Peru. he kept failing at conceptual thinking.

Hospers is the sort of philosopher who likes artificial puzzles. one is you're driving and your car will hit either your dog or a stranger. which do you choose? he thought you'd save your dog. he found Rand's answer kinda unclear. I think it's very easy. If you kill the person on purpose, to avoid property damage, you are a murderer.

and he likes word games. he doesn't know what "force" or "voluntary" means. he has common sense intuitions about it, which are vague and aren't integrated into his logical thinking. and he has definitions which are precise and logical but don't work. but he doesn't know how to handle words correctly. Popper could have helped him out a lot here – start with any halfway decent concept and then improve it as problems come up.

my favorite parts were:

1) the part about ideas ruling the world, which Popperians should appreciate:

"That's where you're wrong," she said. "You deal in ideas, and ideas rule the world." (I seldom quote Ayn directly, and do so only when I clearly remember exactly what she said.)

this is a great them of Objectivism. and i appreciate Hospers' attitude of only using quotes when it's confident.

2) Rand reminding us of the value of good people:

On another occasion I mentioned the inequality in the educational system, which did not confer as much time or money on children from the slums, or on those who could learn in time but could not keep up with the rest.

"And what about the geniuses?" she asked -- the ultra-bright children who could go ahead much faster, but were kept back by the mediocrities. One genius, a Newton or a Pasteur, could improve the lot of all humanity, but many of them, she thought, had been stifled by the educational system catering to the dull-witted.

about Newton and Pasteur, Roark made a similar point:

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received—hatred. The great creators—the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors—stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.

and so did Rearden about Galt and his motor:

"Hank, do you know what that motor would have meant, if built?"

He chuckled briefly. "I'd say: about ten years added to the life of every person in this country

and about the genius kids:

Then Gail Wynand’s arm went up. The teacher nodded to him. He rose. “Why,” he asked, “should I swill everything down ten times? I know all that.” “You are not the only one in the class,” said the teacher.

And Rand made a similar point one of my very favorite book quotes from The “Inexplicable Personal Alchemy” in Return of the Primitive:

In lonely agony, they go from confident eagerness to bewilderment to indignation to resignation—to obscurity. And while their elders putter about, conserving redwood forests and building sanctuaries for mallard ducks, nobody notices those youths as they drop out of sight one by one, like sparks vanishing in limitless black space; nobody builds sanctuaries for the best of the human species.

3) the idea of looking at things from the perspective of the producers, not the needy:

She then told me again somewhat brusquely that I was looking at the issue from the wrong end. I was viewing it from the point of view of the needy; I should look at it instead from the point of view of the producers of wealth


anyway, Hospers is such a leftist on issue after issue. he consistently doesn't understand liberalism or Objectivism. and Rand kept inviting him over. it says a lot about the world that she, despite her fame, was unable to find better people to interact with. (yes she had some like Mises, but not enough to fill her schedule. Hospers made the cut.) That's really sad and worrying about the quality of thinkers to be found in the world. (it also speaks ill of libertarians that Hospers, who just fundamentally doesn't get liberalism, and is always wanting the government to violate liberty for this or that excuse, is considered a libertarian and is actually the first guy they ran for US president.)

part 2 is much less interesting. a lot of it is Hospers talking about his own (confused) philosophy. one notable part is he's so gullible that he was fooled by ESP (extra sensory perception) claims. and he was very surprised by Ayn Rand's opposition to ESP. previously he was surprised by her opposition to large-scale government confiscation and redistribution of land. he doesn't seem to have known much about her perspective. Hospers is also condescending to Rand in lots of places. Towards the end Hospers is shocked that Rand doesn't respect tenure, and doesn't understand her respect for children's privacy. this part was notable:

Not long after, New York University's philosopher Sidney Hook attacked her in print, and she wanted me to take him on as well. Knowing Sidney, I was disinclined to do this. He already knew about my acquaintance with Ayn, but we had never discussed it further (I hardly ever saw him). Should I now condemn him publicly and destroy a long-standing friendship? I knew that this friendship would be at an end if I condemned him.

what a coward with no intellectual integrity! he cares for maintaining friendships with villains over speaking the truth.

after that there's some nice stuff about Rand's views again. even though the narrator is distorting the hell out of her positions, some good stuff comes through about having standards for friends. why would you want to be friends with a very immoral person?

then they breakup because he dishonestly attacks her ideas, not b/c he thinks they are wrong, but b/c he thinks the social situation requires it. what a rotten bastard with no respect for the intellect this Hospers is! quote:

In general I agreed with it; but a commentator cannot simply say "That was a fine paper" and then sit down.

so he thought it was a fine paper, then said something else. he threw Rand under the bus, by speaking ill of her work, because he wasn't comfortably saying what he considered true. she didn't like it. and he blames her for being unreasonable and doesn't see his fault. (he says she got really angry but that could easily be a misinterpretation, it's hard to tell. and even if she did and that was an emotional mistake, she was still in the right on the substantive issues.)

he says he was friends with Rand for 2.5 years.

Hospers is chronically dishonest. it's so ingrained in his life that he actually shares it, throughout, by accident. he doesn't realize how he caused most of the problems with his immorality.

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Measurement Omission Disagreement

I consider measurement omission a narrow aspect of a broader issue. Objectivism, on the other hand, presents measurement omission as a huge, broad principle. There's a disagreement there.

When looking at stuff, we always must choose which attributes to pay attention to, because there are infinitely many attributes which are possible to look at. (This idea partly comes from Karl Popper.) We have to find ways to omit or condense some stuff or we'll have too much information to handle. Like Peikoff's principle of the crow, we can only deal with so much at once. So we use techniques like integrating, condensing, omitting, and providing references (like footnotes and links).

Regarding infinite attributes, let's look at a table. A table has infinitely many attributes you can define and could pay attention to. Most of them are dumb and irrelevant. Examples: the number of specks of dust on the table, the number of specks of dust with weight in a certain range, the number of specs of dust with color in a certain range. And just by varying the start and end of those ranges, you can get infinitely many attributes you could measure.

The way we choose to pay attention to some attributes in life, and not others, is not especially about measurement. Some attributes aren't measurements. I think some attributes aren't quantifiable in principle. Some attributes may be quantifiable in the future, but we don't know how to quantify them today. For example, do you feel inspired when looking at a painting? We don't know how to measure inspiration or what units to quantify it in.

Deciding which attributes are relevant to what you're doing requires judgement. While many cases are pretty easy to judge, some cases are more borderline and tricky. How do you judge well? I'm not going to try to explain that right now, I just want to say I don't think omitting measurements answers it overall (the measurement omission stuff definitely does help with some cases).

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