Eugene Gendlin Philosophy Introduction

Introduction to Philosophy
Rather, he has a felt sense of the answer.
This, in bold, pretends to be an explanation or important conclusion, but doesn't really say anything useful.
Earlier Meno had asked Socrates about the following puzzle: If we don't know something how can we even ask about it? We wouldn't know what we are asking about. But if we already know it, why ask about it? So it seems we cannot inquire into anything, since we must either know it or not know it. Socrates had answered the puzzle by saying that the soul has lived before and knows all things. We need only "recollect" them.
Recollection is the wrong answer to knowledge creation. It's not quite as dumb as it sounds though. Where can new knowledge come from if you don't know about evolution? It could be created out of thin air magically. Recollection is perhaps a better answer than that – the knowledge already exists somewhere so it doesn't have to be created, you just kinda have to find it.

The main question here is kinda silly. One can have partial knowledge of a topic, and already know something about it, and ask questions and try to know more. There isn't really a mystery there. This also gets into the issue of reach where an idea you know about one thing may help lead to a new issue.
The puzzle of either knowing or just not knowing is solved because we can think on the edge of what we know, and enter there.
Thinking on the edge of your knowledge is a kinda OK way to put it. I think it's OK as a rough indication of the concept here, but when it gets taken more seriously in detail, and the essay tries to build on it later, I think that's a mistake. It's just a loose metaphor.

That's the end of the first section. My main comment so far would be this claims to be an introduction to philosophy, but so far it isn't. It's just talking a little about some specific philosophy problems, it's not giving an introduction to the field. I think a philosophy introduction ought to say things like what the purpose of philosophy is, why one would be interested in it, what problem(s) it can help solve, some indication of how one can learn about it, maybe some very brief overview of the history of the field, and maybe try to teach some especially important and general (but also simple) philosophical idea. Like fallibility is a pretty good starting point because it's pretty easy to understand and then it leads into other philosophical problems like, now that you see error is possible, how do you deal with error? That question of how to deal with error is a lot harder and more involved, but once you understand fallibility then you can see why it's important and valuable to you.

The Plato section starts really emphasizing words which I think is bad.
For example, someone leaves a weapon with you for safe-keeping. Months later the person comes and asks you to return it. Is it fair and just to give it back? Yes. All right, but what if the person is obviously berserk and crazed with anger just now? If you return the weapon, you harm the person.
Umm they might harm themselves with it, or might harm someone else they shouldn't. Or not. And people's mental states are not obvious.

This part is really far removed from a good introduction to philosophy. A philosopher questions what everyone thinks they know. This, instead, takes for granted a bunch of vague common sense nonsense. A big part of philosophy is recognizing that some stuff people consider obvious is false, and trying to understand things better than the ordinary.

One thing the author is trying to do is show that life is complicated. Normally you would give someone their property back that you held for them. But then in some circumstances, maybe you shouldn't. So life is more complex than "always give back property" or "never give back property". Life takes more thought than that. And, the author says, Plato and other philosophers were good at asking questions to point out some issues in life. But the author doesn't really say this very well. You have to read between the lines a bit to get the point, which is especially bad for an introduction. And a fair amount of what the author writes, like the next paragraph, is rather confusing.

For the Aristotle section, you can now figure out the author is trying to show a progression of philosophy, something about how it was discovered and developed. He should have said something about this at the start, so you'd know what you were reading. In any case I think he's chosen poorly for a general introduction to philosophy that'd be useful and valuable to someone today.

Most of the Aristotle section is confusing. I think this kind of "introduction", which an expert can find confusing, turns people off philosophy. To a lot of people, philosophy is supposed to be confusing. You ponder and get kinda confused and call that a good day. But better philosophy explains itself better, and actually solves clear problems and is used in life. This author has vague answers to vague problems that largely aren't connected to his life or to my life.
Galileo began the great advance in Western science by the radical -- seemingly insane -- concept that everything in nature is ordered by numbers.
Introductions ought to be way more careful not to introduce very complex and controversial ideas – like what is "insane" – when it's unnecessary and they aren't going to discuss it. I think the author doesn't realize he said anything non-trivial. That's a really bad trait for a philosophy introducer to not know about what's messy or simple.
Of course sometimes the data just says "yes" or "no,"
He shouldn't be saying "of course" in front of his claims, or thinking his ideas are obviously true. That's so contrary to the spirit of philosophy.

And, as I've so often noticed after an "of course" or "obviously", this claim is false. Data doesn't say things. BTW the author should have been more suspicious because he was using a metaphor – he knows data doesn't speak literally. So what's the non-metaphorical version of his claim, and why didn't he say that? (He hasn't thought that through, and his position doesn't actually work.)
In philosophy a human being was long thought of chiefly as a rational process. Emotions and desires were discussed, of course, but the human being was chiefly the source of the kind of connections which move from 2+2 to 4.
Now he's decided to talk about whether humans are rational without talking about what "rational" is.

He is taking for granted the common misconception that rationality has to do with being right or intelligent or an authority. This position is vague and doesn't have a clear conception of what reason really is or how it works, and people who think this way don't use words like "rational" totally consistently.

There's also a vague premise here that all emotions and desires are irrational, and a fully rational person would be a kind of ivory tower monk with no personal preferences, and quite possibly no interest in material comforts. Ideas like this turn people away from reason. No argument is given here. And anyway if you want to call this "reason", my concept of "reason" would still be a separate concept and we could just name it something else and pursue it instead. That is, we could say something like, "reason2 means thinking using methods that are good at error correction – the better at error correction, the more rational2 the thinking". So having the dumb concept of reason, even if it was explained and argued about and fleshed out, still wouldn't be an argument that reason2 is a bad thing to pursue, or reason2 doesn't work how i think it does, etc
Kant pointed out that 2+2 is just 2, and at the next moment again 2, and then still only 2, unless there is a unifying continuity that keeps the first 2 and unites it with the next 2, and makes a new unity, the 4. The number series requires keeping and continuing.
This is basically incoherent nonsense plus some kinda vague claim that without causality and continuity over time stuff would break (which could have been said better without the arithmetic – and which isn't a good summary of current physics with, as David Deutsch talks about, no flow of time).

2+2 in general is dealing with abstracts, not physical objects that change over time. If you want to get into physical objects then the issue is computation. Saying something "unites" the first 2 with the second 2 and makes a "new unity" is a terrible vague nonsense description of how computers work with electrical currents, memory storage, NAND gates etc. When people do math, it's more complicated, but the stuff about uniting isn't helping anything.
This view of humans has some great advantages. For example, it implies the inherent equality of all human individuals. You can see it in the inherent "unalienable" and "self-evident" equality in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. After completing this historical sketch, I will take up the question how we can preserve logic and equality within the wider order of experiencing ......
This comes right after the Kant junk. It's a good example of how this whole essay keeps skipping around with very little attempt to explain what one thing has to do with the next. First it was geometry and squares, then metaphorical edges and words and changing concepts, and asking questions and noticing complexity in life, and then stuff about sounds with no one around to hear them for no apparent reason, and that's just the first 3 sections. It's really jumpy and doesn't even try to give an outline of the plot. It's in chronological order though, I think that was one of the main organizational tools.

The next section brings up some stuff from earlier. But also starts talking a bunch about rights. This essay tries to say way too many things and none are explained well.

It doesn't end with a summary or bring everything together. It's just talking about another specific topic and then there's no more text.

It still never tries to say what philosophy is, why to care, or other basic introductory stuff.

I think the concept is more like: philosophy is about stretching your mind with ideas you don't fully understand. So it shows you what that's like while going over some major historical examples (in the author's view, I'm not agreeing they are major). The author is satisfied with vague understandings of things, and expects his audience to be too. Not just satisfied but actually impressed. There is a common mistake, which Ayn Rand especially criticized, where people think if they don't understand an idea (and it's said by someone with some credentials or status, or appears to be. in this case even if you don't know who the author is, he writes with big enough words and names enough famous philosophers – like he's just repeating their ideas – to give enough sense of authority to the essay. and he actually does have a PhD) then it must be really important and above you. People sort of defer to what they don't understand and get impressed. Lots of philosophers write confusing on purpose. This is a good introduction to that, in the sense that it gives you a sample of it. If you didn't understand this essay but somehow liked it, then I guess you'd like a lot of other philosophy too. (But the good philosophers, like Ayn Rand and Karl Popper, are different. They write to be understood.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)


computers are very important but using computers all day can hurt your hands and wrists (and eyes, neck, shoulders). this is called RSI (repetitive stress injury).

it’s VERY VERY important to a good life to understand how to deal with RSI. there is a lot of information about this, but i wanted to add my emphasis to how important it is. and i noticed a lot of the information is lacking in the stretches and squeezes area – it will list several and leave out a ton of others. so making a better list there is my main motivation for writing this.

RSI can absolutely cripple people's lives and doing some stretches and squeezes can make a huge difference in staying healthy.

here are some of the most important general things:

do not wait until you have a problem and then learn about RSI afterwards. by then a lot of damage is already done and it will be much harder to manage and you might not fully recover ever.

take breaks. regularly. seriously, do it.

if anything hurts, that means you should have taken a break BEFORE IT HURT. you need to stop immediately, but more importantly take a break sooner next time. never ever ever ignore pain.

you should type with your wrists straight. whatever you do, DON'T put your palms on the table at the base of the keyboard, then bend your wrists up to type on the keyboard.

using a trackpad a lot can hurt your index finger which does most of the work. laptop users should seriously consider using a mouse part of the time. (mice are also better input devices – faster and more accurate. if you don’t experience it that way, that’s due to a lack of skill with a mouse which is completely fixable. also having acceleration enabled can make a mouse a lot worse to use.)

if you use a trackpad a lot or have issues with a mouse, you should learn to use trackpad and/or mouse left handed in addition to right handed. you'll be slow at first but you can learn it. then switch off sometimes. if you use your left hand a quarter of the time, that's a lot less work for your right hand.

trackpads and mice are harder on your hands than a keyboard. learn keyboard hotkeys/shortcuts and create new ones.

get a keyboard which requires a low amount of force to press keys down. apple's recent keyboards (with the very thin keys) are good here. there are other good ones too. if you have an old keyboard with full size keys (like half an inch tall) it's probably really bad. type with a light touch.

also a lot of mice really suck – they have problems like weighing too much, requiring too much force to click, having too much traction when you try to move them, and being imprecise. get a mouse that you can use with a light touch. also you need a good surface, probably a mousepad, so it actually works well (mice work poorly on most desks). Razer makes good mice. Apple makes bad mice (i tried an apple wireless mouse several years ago and it was heavy and the bottom had a ton of friction with the mousepad instead of sliding easily, and it took more force to click than a razer mouse and it wasn't very precise.)

get a good chair. and think about the arm rests. i use an Aeron chair with a pillow over the arm rests which creates like a big arm rest accross my entire lap. (i like this a lot but you need the right kind of pillow in terms of size, shape, softness. most pillows wouldn't work very well. i don't know where to buy a good one, sorry). i used to use a cheap office chair that was good too, but a lot of the cheap ones suck.

eyes: staring at a screen can hurt your eyes. look away and focus on distant objects sometimes. close and squeeze your eyes shut hard sometimes. massage your closed eyes with your palms sometimes. look into Flux and Gunnars.

google information about monitor height, keyboard height, chair height, etc. i won’t go into details on that for now except to mention that by attaching the screen the the keyboard, laptops make good ergonomics impossible without an external keyboard and/or external display. a good computer setup has the keyboard lower than the screen. it’s fine to use a laptop in your lap or in bed sometimes, part of the time, but using it like that all the time is a bad idea.

you should stretch sometimes. with skill, you can tell when you need it, when stuff is tight, etc. if you don’t have a lot of experience and understanding of this, do it regularly. you can stretch when away from the computer, e.g. when waiting in line, when waiting for your microwave, while walking to another room, while on the phone, etc

lots of websites and videos with information about stretches are way too incomplete and leave out a ton of great hand stretches (and often all the squeezes and all the shoulder/neck stuff too). here is a better list:

note that in general anything done with one hand should be repeated with the other, and all stretches should be held for a few seconds. that can be 15 seconds or 30, it depends what you’re comfortable with. at first you should do ALL of these things (it really doesn’t take that long once you’ve done them a few times and remember everything). as you get more experience with them and get a better understanding of your body, you can get a sense of which are most helpful to you.

you should read a bunch of different guides on this stuff and learn a lot about it. my above information is pretty quick just to give a general idea. learn more. now here are stretches and squeezes which i will be more complete with:


make one hand flat (with the arm straight), gently push on your fingers with the other hand to bend your wrist back. also repeat the same thing without using your other hand – just using the muscles in the first hand instead of pushing on it. and anything that’s for one hand, repeat it with the other hand after.

push the other way, on the back of your hand, to bend the wrist the other direction. and repeat without using the second hand to push.

pull your thumb back with the other hand.

put your two flat hands together (palms and fingers aligned). press downward so your wrists bend back.

rotate your wrists both ways and push gently with the other hand.

grip around your wrist and the area behind it with your other hand and twist the skin both directions. then move your hand up your arm a little and repeat. this massages it. also squeeze and slide your hand instead of twist to massage more.

put your hands on your hips with the thumb separate from the other fingers and press in to stretch the thumb away from the rest

spread out all your fingers. push them all outwards and backwards. (with their own muscles, not your other hand)

bend fingers over and under the next finger over. index to middle. middle to ring. and ring to pinky.

squeezes (it’s very important to do squeezes and use your muscles, not just stretches): make a fist, squeeze hard. bend just the tips of your fingers in and squeeze. make a fist with your thumb inside it and squeeze. grip one forearm with the other hand and squeeze. also get one of those balls to squeeze in your hand if you want.

put your left hand flat with fingers facing up. then grip it with your right hand, so your palms are together, but your hands are rotated 90 degrees to each other, so the fingers on your right hand will point left or forward. you should have your left thumb, then right thumb, then left 4 fingers, then right 4 fingers, in that order, counter-clockwise. then bend in your fingers and squeeze. and repeat with the other hand facing up.

interlace your fingers so they alternate one from each hand. with your palms together, squeeze – press in with all your fingers.

fingers still interlaced, put your arms at full length, palms facing away from you, and press outward.

shoulder and neck rotations (both directions) and stretches (move or turn head or shoulders in each direction they go to the max and hold it a bit)

yes, try ALL of these stretches and squeezes. over time you can learn to feel which ones your body needs when and see which are most valuable to you. you should still do ALL of them sometimes, but you can adjust the frequency and amounts for different ones.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)


To suffer, you have to prefer X and then something contrary to X happens. If everything that ever happens matches your preferences, you’d be pleased with it.

If you do prefer X and things go another way, then consider:

What kind of preference is it? Is X a “nice to have”? A vague dream? An aspiration? Or a must-have?

And, specifically, either you are OK or NOT OK with not getting the X preference met. There’s only two possibilities there.

If you prefer X, and consider no X to be NOT OK, and X doesn’t work out in reality, then you’d suffer – you are NOT OK with how reality is.

There’s no other way to suffer.

And even if you get this kind of situation, you can think “well, this is a problem to be solved. so i’ll temporarily be OK with no X while looking for a solution. maybe i can find a different way to get X, and the delay would be OK rather than NOT OK. maybe i can find out X isn’t so great after all and genuinely lose interest in it. i’ll take a look.”

So suffering also requires that attempts to do rational problem solving like this fail.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Missing Parts of Books

i stop listening and think about other stuff when listening to Atlas Shrugged sometimes

i don’t pause or rewind. i just tune back in later. i know the book well enough it’s not a problem. i know what’s going on where i pick up.

i do the same thing, sometimes, with books i’ve never read before. if that’s how it’s convenient to read, so what? why try to get every detail out of the book? if it’s so great, read it again later in the same low-burden way.

figuring out what’s going on after missing some is interesting anyway. both with books about ideas and books with plots.

and it’s actually not fundamentally different than reading without skipping anything – where you also have to make guesses and use creativity to figure out what’s going on. all novels give incomplete information about the plot and leave you to try to figure some things out. all philosophy books try to explain a lot but can never do all your thinking for you.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Feminist Refuses Discussion

I spoke with a Feminist on Twitter.

So first she accused me of not being open to discussion, then she ambiguously accepted my invitation to discuss. Then she didn't come have a discussion.

I'm not surprised. It's sad and pathetic though. Someone who is unwilling to discuss uses accusing other people of being closed to discussion as one of her main tactics.

I was going to follow up after a week and give her the benefit of the doubt, but I noticed her tweets were gone. Her Twitter page is now private. This hid all her tweets from the discussion above. Maybe she was embarrassed. Fortunately I had screenshots which preserve the record of her irrationality.

Although she won't listen, I still wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the subject. Some of the things I would have told her, if she was open to discussion.

The point was not to defend fat shaming. I think fat shaming and fat-shamer shaming are both bad. (I do not think all criticism of fatness is fat-shaming though! There are legitimate criticisms of being fat, both in terms of health and beauty.)

I value diversity of thought and opinion. I think most feminists do not.

Roosh is an asshole (so what?). I only followed him on Twitter recently and already complained about several of his tweets to my friends. He's interesting though for being willing to say some unpopular things, some of which have truth to them. Unpopular truths are very valuable, even if someone isn't right about 100% of everything. Also I don't think he's trying to be mean and hurt people, whereas many feminists seem to actually want to hurt their opponents.

I think PUA has a lot of good points. I particularly like Mystery. I read some of his old Usenet posts, watched his TV show, and watched some of his PUA training DVDs, so I'm familiar with his ideas. This certainly doesn't mean I automatically like everything else vaguely in the same genre as PUA.

I often follow people on Twitter to see if I like them, and I'm very willing to unfollow. I was (and still am) giving Roosh a chance – he's in the undecided category. In general, I've noticed I find the anti-feminist Manosphere type people insufficiently PUA and dislike that. Plus they can be mean. PUA isn't mean! But on the other hand, there's a million things wrong with feminists, so sometimes I do agree with anti-feminists.

Anyway I think diversity of thought is a good thing. There are mistakes being made on both sides, so attacking Roosh and shutting him up isn't the solution. Feminists should try harder to get their own house in order.

And also, insulting Roosh won't shut him up. He retweets people flaming him. He likes the attention. He likes that people are reacting to him. The strategy of irrationally flaming him is only going to make him more confident that the feminist side is stupid, and he'll have fun with it. He won't be hurt.

Strategically, giving Roosh more stuff he likes to retweet is not how you fight him. That's absurd.

And shaming people is not how to deal with shaming. If you think shaming is bad, don't do it. Being inconsistent and contradictory is the wrong approach. Look at this deleted tweet by another feminist:

In their (purported) crusade against meanness, they can sure be mean.

Shaming and being mean also isn't truth-seeking rational argument.

I realize they've found being really mean works well to bully some other people. But it's absolutely not going to work on Roosh, who enjoys it when his opponents act like this. So it's inconsistent and it's terrible tactics.

I have plenty more to say on this if any feminists actually want to have a discussion. How about you join my discussion group and say hi, and we can talk about it? Any takers?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

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David Deutsch Hates Philosophy and Scholarship

One should study philosophy only if addressing an originally non-philosophical problem forces one to.

Stay the fuck away from philosophy unless FORCED.


Once upon a time, DD promised me he’d write a good book about TCS before he died – I raised the issue because he intentionally left out major important TCS type ideas from FoR and BoI. He lied to me.

also DD misquoted Popper (C&R p95 for me in paper, i checked both paper and ebook, his text does not match popper’s text. it’s chap 2, section III, near start). and dropped italics which isn’t OK either. and DD’d replaced “which arise” with “[from]” just b/c of tweet length limit. (actually just to fit italics he’d have to drop the period on the end, no problem, and the space after the colon, ugh lol. but he still should have done that)

get a fucking ebook and stop inserting typos into what are supposed to be exact quotes. (Popper: “philosophize”. DD supposedly quoting Popper: “philosophise”.)

DD also omitted the quote source. presumably cuz of tweet length limit. ughhhhh.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Steve Jobs and Critical Thinking

Quotes from Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader. Bold text in quotes is my emphasis.
Given his uncertain position at the time, it wasn’t surprising that Steve was the more volatile participant. He was willing to admit a few mistakes, even allowing that Bill was correct in saying that Apple should have taken the IBM PC more seriously. Then he took that thought further. “The singular event that defined Apple’s place in the industry in the 1980s was actually not the Macintosh,” he announced. “That was a positive event. The negative event that defined Apple’s place was the Apple III. It was the first example I’d seen in my career of a product taking on a life of its own and developing way beyond what was necessary to satisfy customer demand. The project took eighteen months more than we’d planned and was overdesigned and cost a little too much. It’s interesting to speculate what would’ve happened if the Apple III had come out right, as a lean, mean upgrade to the Apple II that offered incremental features that made it more suitable for business. [Instead,] Apple left a real hole.” Later, he made clear that much of the blame could be laid at his feet: “One of the reasons that the Apple III had problems was that I grabbed some of the best people from that project to do research on how to turn what I saw at Xerox [PARC] into reality.”
Steve admits mistakes, Bill doesn't. Steve doesn't get credit. It "wasn't surprising" because of Steve's external circumstances. This is an example of quality critical thinking.
It was a fascinating admission. Steve was never much for looking back at his own mistakes, and yet during this very public conversation with a friend whom everyone but Jobs now acknowledged as the leader of the computer industry, he was downright contrite. Later in the conversation, he even pulled out a story he’d ripped from the pages of Newsweek to make sure that Bill wasn’t offended by the author’s claim that Steve was no longer his friend. “I tore this out and I was going to call you before I knew we were getting together,” he said, brandishing the page like a trial attorney. “This is not true at all, and I have no idea where they got that.”
This is the very next paragraph, after talking about Steve looking back at his own mistakes in a serious and thoughtful way, and making comments like how it's "interesting to speculate" about such matters. And what does the author do? Declare, without example, and contrary to the examples he just gave, that Steve "was never much for looking back at his own mistakes".

And with Bill, he implies Bill did not admit mistakes during the conversation, but because he expected that he doesn't criticize Bill over it. He's holding Steve to a different standard for no apparent reason. (People who are less succesful admit more mistakes? Bullshit. It can go either way. The guy on top might think he's in a strong enough position he can admit to some mistakes. External circumstances like these simply don't dictate who admits what mistakes.)
Theirs was a quiet, sincere friendship, enabled in great part by Catmull’s maturity. “Steve and I never argued,” he says. “We had disagreements; I won several and he won several. But even early on, when he wasn’t particularly skilled at dealing with relationships, I always felt that he was talking about a topic, not about who was right or who was wrong. For a lot of people, their egos are tied up in an idea and it gets in the way of learning. You have to separate yourself from the idea. Steve was like that.”
Again we see Steve has critical thinking skills others lack. He's called not skilled at dealing with relationships – meaning social graces and appeasement of irrationality – but at the very same time it's admitted he was superior at purely good skills (rather than mixed compromises) like focusing on ideas instead of making things personal.
The two men would eventually know each other and work together for twenty-six years. Catmull says he saw enormous changes over the years, but allows that this, too, was something Steve would never acknowledge. “I look at Steve as someone who was actually always trying to change, but he didn’t express it in the same ways as others, and he didn’t communicate with people about that. He really was trying to change the world. It didn’t come across as him being personally introspective.”
This is another passage with a strange duality. On the one hand it says Steve was good at something. But then it criticizes Steve, on that very topic, somehow. In this case it says he hid his virtues rather than bragging. Normally that'd be praised as humility rather than arrogance. Yet somehow Steve has a reputation for arrogance, and stuff like this is not used to dispel it. Instead, nonsensically, the lesson the book tries to convey here is not to hide your virtues from people around you – the very same virtues the book quotes people who knew Steve talking about, because they were not in fact hidden (which is somehow overlooked).
[Steve Jobs] believed that Amelio, who ascended to the CEO position after just one year on the board, had maneuvered himself into the gig by positioning himself as a turnaround expert. “But how can he be a turnaround expert,” Steve asked me, “when he eats his lunch alone in his office, with food served to him on china that looks like it came from Versailles?”
A nice anti-prestige comment. Steve is held up as this arrogant asshole who thought he was above the rules. Someone like Gil Amelio doesn't get that kind of criticism (partly because no one cares about him, but also partly because he's seen as normal and people don't see much to criticize. he just lacked the mysterious "greatness" quality, which isn't his fault or something that can be controlled – people falsely believe).

But really, Steve was more down to Earth. He interacted with people at his company, he could sully his hands with regular dishware, he was fundamentally more approachable and more a part of the regular world.
The four men became the core of what Catmull calls the Brain Trust—a collection of Pixar writers, directors, and animators who provide constructive criticism to the director of every Pixar movie. It’s a unique idea—the Brain Trust has no authority whatsoever, and the directors are only asked to listen and deeply consider the advice of its members. It became a powerful tool, helping to reshape movies like The Incredibles and Wall-E. But Steve was never a part of it. Catmull kept him out of those discussions, because he felt that Steve’s big personality would skew the proceedings.
Steve Jobs was the best critical thinker of the people involved with this. And he was kept out of the group that provides criticism, because he was too good at criticizing – intellectually – and most people don't actually like criticism and only want limited criticism.

Even with his stature, prestige, reputation, money (he owned 70% of Pixar when it split away from Lucasfilm, I don't know how much later but still a lot), people still had very mixed feelings about Steve because he was especially good at critical thinking.

How valuable is a critic like Steve?
Steve had his own misgivings about Toy Story’s commercial potential, mainly based upon what he was hearing from Disney’s marketers. “Disney came to do a big presentation to us about the marketing,” remembers Lasseter. “They told us they had a big promotional plan with Sears. Steve looks around the room and goes, ‘Has anybody in this room been into a Sears lately? Anybody.’ No one raises a hand. ‘Then why are we making a deal with Sears? Why are we not going for products we like? Can’t we be doing a deal with Rolex? Sony high-end audio equipment?’ And their answer was basically, ‘Um, um, this is what we do!’ He poked holes in every one of their ideas. He was just so logical. Why associate ourselves with products we can’t stand?” (In the end, the most prominent sponsor would turn out to be Burger King.)
You may think that sounds easy, he hasn't done much in this anecdote. And yet, it took Steve to get up and say this. It's a skill worth billions of dollars. The vast majority of people, for one reason or another, are unwilling to be like this. Steve would challenge things and criticize. Yeah not every criticism is super hard to think of, so it's deceptive – a big part of the skill is being willing to think of and say criticism at all, rather than being scared of being declared an asshole and excluded from the Brain Trust and other things.
In early 1998, just a few months after his return to Apple, he asked his chief information officer, Niall O’Connor, to come up with a proposal for an online store where Apple could sell its computers directly to customers, much like Dell Computer was doing then with such great success. O’Connor asked Eddy Cue, who was then an IT technician in the human resources division, to sketch out an initial version of what the store might look like from a programmer’s perspective. “I don’t think Niall thought I was his best person,” says Cue, “but he did think I could deal with Steve, for some reason.” Cue, who had never met Steve and knew little about e-commerce or retailing, sought advice from a number of people, including head of sales Mitch Mandich. “Give him your best ideas,” Mandich told him, “but it won’t matter because we’ll never do it. It would piss off the channels [the stores and distributors that had traditionally sold Apple’s computers].” One week later, Cue, O’Connor, Mandich, and others attended a meeting to review the initial proposal. Cue handed his presentation to Steve—he’d made it visual, because everyone had told him that Steve preferred visual presentations, and he’d put it on paper, because everyone had told him Steve hated sitting through slides, especially in small meetings. All the research seemed to have gone for naught. Steve looked at his pages, handed them back, and said, “These suck.”

Despite his gruff initial reaction, Steve asked the others in the room about Cue’s proposal, and about the basic idea of selling direct to customers online. The executives around the table started to talk about all the problems they could foresee with an online store—tying customized purchases into a manufacturing system that had been built to create computers with standardized configurations; not having any research indicating that customers actually wanted to buy computers this way; and, most worrisome, the potential for alienating Apple’s existing retail partners, like Best Buy and CompUSA. Mandich, who was senior enough to know that an interesting discussion was developing, kept silent. Finally, one of the senior guys opposing the idea spoke up. “Steve,” he asked, “isn’t this all pointless? You’re not going to do this—the channel will hate it.” Cue, who didn’t know any better, turned to him immediately. “The channel?” he exclaimed. “We lost two billion dollars last year! Who gives a fuck about the channel?” Steve perked up. “You,” he said, pointing at the senior exec, “are wrong. And you,” he continued, looking at Cue, “are right.” By the end of the meeting, he had asked Cue and O’Connor to create an online store where buyers could customize their purchases—and to have it completed in two months.

The online store went up on April 28, 1998. As Cue prepared to drive home that evening, he walked past Steve’s office to tell him they’d sold more than a million dollars’ worth of computers in just six hours. “That’s great,” said Steve. “Imagine what we could do if we had real stores.” Nothing would ever be enough, Cue realized. He liked the challenge.
Eddy Cue is now a Senior Vice President at Apple, and has done great work. That wouldn't have happened if the company was run by normal anti-critical people, instead of by Steve who appreciated Cue's critical thinking.

Even though critical thinking is worth billions of dollars, people still don't like it, to the point of excluding even Steve Jobs from things – and it's much harder for most would-be critical thinkers who don't have Steve as their CEO.

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Twitter is my replacement for hacker news which was my replacement for which was my replacement for which was my replacement for reading political blogs regularly (,, little green footballs when it was right wing, setting the world to rights, and others).

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Blatant Lying Example

People lie so much and so blatantly.

i went on a diablo 2 stream on twitch today, that says "legit" in the title

then he goes to eat and starts botting.

and then his mods defend it

i was informed botting is legit if:
  • you do it to help others
  • you're eating
  • you work very hard at the game
  • the game is very hard
  • you play on East
i was also told to read his chat rules, which I noticed say not to post links to "bots or hacks"...

the point about doing it to help others, as if it didn't benefit himself, is a lie too. he wants the xp himself for ladder rank. and then when the streamer got back from his break, he started playing with his own bot and having it kill stuff for him.

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Fantasy is Fragile

I've sometimes wondered how writers (of books, TV scripts, plays, etc) often write characters who are better than the writer is.

I think I figured out the answer: it's non-interactive. The characters can be extremely fragile, and unable to adapt to any surprises, because they only exist is very controlled circumstances. They aren't complete people. They just show to the world a few traits the writer selects, and not others wehre he would do worse. But in real life, one has to deal with the unexpected and uncontrolled. In real life, problems come up. In fantasy, only problems chosen by the writer ever come up, and not other ones that his characters would be worse at dealing with.

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Baldur's Gate II Playthrough Notes, Part 1

Here are my notes playing BG2EE. I tried to play well after having BG1EE experience. This goes maybe half way through Shadows of Amn, I'm not really sure how far I am exactly. I'm now on a long break, and also started playing Pillars of Eternity, so I'm posting this without finishing the game.

Maybe you can learn something about attention to detail, and the effort involved in doing things well. Philosophy/thinking/reason is a lot harder than this game. If you aren't trying a hell of a lot harder at life than I try when merely playing Baldur's Gate 2, you're doing it wrong.

made new CN HU cleric, edited stats for bg1 93+tomes and edited dreams (2 CLW, 2 Horror, 2 Holy Might). plan to dual mage at 11, and do all the early game things to get xp for that and to see them.

goal: core rules (max hp main char only), minimal reloads, minimal resurrection (including stone to flesh), minimal rests in unreasonable places. reloads allowed for testing a few minor things, like where a companion goes if i dismiss him.

blind play through, avoiding google: played ~20%(?) of the game years ago forget tons, practiced through intro to Coronet once, read companions guide and some character build info. After playing through some quests I remembered what I did before better (not in order): Irenicus dungeon, Circus Tent, Eyeless Cult, Planar Sphere, De'Arnise, Windspear, Umar. That's about it, and I didn't really remember useful details beyond the intro dungeon. I don't even remember what companions I used before or what class I was. I played bg1ee a lot, getting a lot more help from that knowledge.

plan to swap companions and do a lot of quests, take my time and be careful. good/neutral party mainly. also for a first playthrough I don't wanna use ToB stuff until I do SoA. I did go to watcher's keep to buy a potion case, but that's it, I didn't even read the rest of what's for sale there, not going to use it until later.

Grey areas: Allow sell and rebuy items to recharge. Allow using simulacrum and project image quick slots (e.g. let's you use scrolls without consuming them). Allow erasing spells from spellbook to relearn for xp (my own invention!). Undecided: making copies of copies with simulacrum and project image. My guess is allowed, but I'm not actually sure how the mechanics on that work, I'll test when I'm high level.

NOT ALLOWED to use pickpocket to dupe items that are given as a quest reward after. NOT ALLOWED to do anything I consider a clear bug, like the Force Talk stuff, or using summons + polymorph to push through a wall.

Allowed to erase and re-scribe scrolls, allowed to remove party members while scribing or otherwise to manipulate XP.

logging reloads and resurrections/stone2flesh, outdoors rests, and major events:


1 rest in starting room to set spells for me/imoen/jaheira

Made way slowly through Irenicus dungeon. Triggered a lightning trap; lost heals. Minsc got diseased but I had a Neutral Poison memorized to remove it. Ate all 15 Goodberries. Imoen fireballed the Duregar very effectively. Ran into two traps rushing the dogs to the next room, ran out of heals. Level 8 from Genie quest. Haste spell and Seeking Sword beat Mephit summoning room. Drank most of the regular healing potions.

Slew Kalah, went to Coronet. +Aerie +Nalia +Korgan +Anomen, -Jaheira -Yoshimo. 175k xp

de'Arnise keep (2 rests): Made my way upstairs. Rested in closed room after killing Yuan-Ti mage. Dispelled the charm on Glaicus. Minsc died in the dungeon to umberhulks, got charmed. I need to be more careful with pathing and get Chaotic Commands when a cleric hits level 9. Fighting the troll boss, drank a lot of heal pots and kited and beat him, and then fire arrows didn't finish him off and he got back up at full hp and killed aerie, and then the game crashed and my last save was at start of the cellar, free reload lol. Cleared the umberhulks better and cleared outside. Stole from treasure room, did the stone golems in a choke point, iron golem stuck in the room, resists everything, too scary to melee. Rested in closed bedroom again and fought troll boss, this time sent some skeletons ahead then webbed him, then layered on slow and cloudkill, won fight without getting hitdid not take damage. 45.5k quest xp. Up to 252k xp, and 26k gold after selling.

Korgan Tomb: -Nalia, +Hexxat. Got ID glasses, +2 large shield, platemail. Cleared top of graveyard daytime. Rested at 267.5k xp and 18k gold. Entered graveyard lower tombs. Did spiders and southern Korgan area. Was very careful with disarming traps, Hexxat went in front up to 285k xp. Went up, declined Bohdi's offer, rested, Anonem's sister died.

Dragomir's Tomb (1 death): Got real Hexxat. But i used Minsc berserk b/c of dire charm from dragomir, and used all my dispels on the first dire charm on Clara. then Anomen got charmed and after I won the fight Minsc attacked Anomen and I couldn't get them to stop fighting. Was out of healing spells, couldn't potion him because of charm. I used Web and Slow then two Hold Person on Minsc but he still killed Anomen who I resurrected at a temple after. Minsc in Berserk + anyone charmed = really bad news. In hindsight, forgot to get Dispel Magic scroll out of scroll case, maybe could have saved him. 297k xp

Killed Korgan's old allies. Started Anomen sister quest. Got the unseeing eye cult quest, acting troupe haer'dalis quest, hunt valygar quest, and rescue montaron quest. 305k xp, 26k gold

Sewers (1 death): -Hexxat +Jan. Got quest to infiltrate shadow thieves lieutenant, got some valygar evidence. Went sewers, walked into adventurers and Minsc got 1 shot from full hp by Finger of Death. Doh... I think I need to keep summons/buffs up more when walking around, and use invisibility to scout ahead more. Resurrected Minsc.

Haer'Dalis Rescue (2 deaths): -Korgan, +Keldorn. Found Haer'Dalis area from sewers. The mage cast Death Spell which killed Keldorn and Jan with no save. Resurrected Keldorn and Jan (rested and cast Raise Dead myself).

+Haer'Dalis, -Keldorn. Did Haer'Dalis gem summoning fight then they all disappeared. Went to Delosar's Inn, Jan died to Death Spell or something, then it crashed, last save leaving the Haer'Dalis Inn. +Keldorn

Umar Hills: Friends with Madulf, +Valygar -Minsc, did quests, cleared temple ruins initial map. Went back to town to donate at temple to 17rep and set up better spells on Aerie, bought Robe of Vecna. Rested at Umar Hills Inn, then went back to the temple ruins

Temple Ruins Dungeon: +Mazzy, -Anomen. Prayer rituals:

Morning: ??, hold tome to sun for power, reflect victory light over drak
noon: voice songs for Lord, ??, Rejoice glory of light over dark
Dusk: Recite tenets of faith, hold children high to sun > night, ??

Took some damage due to confusion about question wording, even though I figured out how each prayer works. Rested back at Umar Hills before continuing deeper. Prebuffing and Melf's Minute Meteors beat the boss easily. 450k xp, sold back to 26k gold. Mazzy fought and ogre and fought some vamps in the street. Really need to get a magic permit.

Planar Sphere: mage with spell trigger put up a ton of defenses including protection from magical weapons and protection from normal missiles. i gave everyone magic ammo and shot at the mage, but ineffective. ran but stun symbol got 4 people. thought maybe keldorn/mazzy/valygar would wipe to death spell. summoned monsters to distract, cast web, remove magic, haste, chant. then removed paralysis and run away. they wasted a lot of spells on summons, and did a high level dispel on jan. disintegrate, domination, confusion etc were cast on the summons. invis scout and lured the fighter away with a summon, got str gloves. sent in more summons and the casters got low on spells, down to acid arrow and magic missiles, finished them off safely. Looted and rested in the safe room. bg2 crashed after i lured away and killed the fighter and was about to finish the fight, fortunately i saved before luring him.

Planar Sphere (3 deaths): Did Sahaguin, adventurer group and some fire elementals safely. Then Jan got 1 shot by a trap. Rested once, raised him and cast heals. In retrospect, should have used Rod of Ressurection to avoid that heal. Not the left rune (misclicked on it, almost killed Jan again). Prebuffed a TON for Lavok, but all that really mattered were minute meteors which carried the fight. Pushed too hard clearing the outside with a hurt party without resting, Aerie died on the last demon, used Rod on her. Then rested. Didn't figure out the rune puzzle but buffed to 125 fire resist and brute forced. Order: Top, Bottom, Right, Left. For Tolgarias fight, got scared and ran downstairs, put up 20 buffs while letting his Improved Mantle expire, went back up and wasn't in vision range so i cast some summons, one of which ate a Death Symbol. Then game crashed and I had to redo the fight, but won again no problem, Minute Meteors OP. Beat the stone golems in the engine room (ugh, don't only have 2 weapons that hit them), but Jan got 1shot by a fireball vs the efreeti when finishing off the last room I'd passed by. 577k xp, 45k gp

Bridge District (1 petrify trap death): -valygar, got 5k magic permit. Keldorn's wife cheating. Rescued Viconia with curi/Mazzy/Aerie/Jan, told her maybe she could join later, rep still 18. Got Keldorn back. Fought Captain Dennis at Delosar's Inn. Tough fight, ran outside, sent summons at them, really could have used a Breach spell. A globe of invulnerability was blocking my minute meteors. Then Mazzy got petrified opening a door. I turned her back to flesh but she was bugged and wouldn't rejoin party even if i travelled to slums and back, so I reloaded to deal with the bug (she wasn't mad at me, it just wouldn't bring up a chat). Searching bridge district houses, found a little loot and an Ankheg Shell. Helped the fallen paladins fight some smugglers. bought str belt, air control ring, ac3 bracers, simulacrum helm. 13k gold left

Total Status: 0 reload, 8 deaths (1 finger of death, 2 death spell, 2 trap, 2 combat, 1 charm)

Windspear Hills (1 rest, 1 trap death): Pretty easy outside and first dungeon level. The big undead fight drained Keldorn to level 1. Used a scroll to restore him. Anomen got drained 2 levels a little later. Charmed the air elemental from the well but it wouldn't fit through doors to go tank something for me, ended up fighting it. Wasn't fooled by the werewolf dialog. Adamantite Golem (25k xp) was very scary but couldn't fit through the door. Only my +3 flail of ages and +1 warhammer (+4 vs giant humanoids) seem to hit it. Mace +1, magic and ranged weapons don't work. I made a Simulacrum with the helm, used a lesser restoration scroll, a rod of ressurection charge to heal someone, 3 minute meteor scrolls, and around 8 charges from my staff of fire to summon fire elementals before it ran out of duration. this got the adamantite golem to injured status. wasn't the most efficient use of send fire elementals a few at a time. i should have made an army of them and then fought all at once. after that i really wanted to kill it. so i summoned stuff, chanted, went for it. had like no heals left though. when keldorn got hurt i ran him out of the room and gave the warhammer to anomen, who got hurt and gave it to mazzy. the golem did a 72 damage crit to the first fire elemental i summoned so i knew at full hp with helmets my people were basically safe to take one hit and run. barely finished it off. used a few heal pots too. learned Breach on Jan because he never was using his level 5 spells, so now at least Aerie can memorize useful summons on level 5 and Jan will just sit on 2 Breaches. keep trying to optimize my spells. i feel like i could go back and safely kill the de'arnise iron golem now. i have refused to google info on what else can kill them. oh melf's minute meteors hits them for the missile damage but not the fire damage i think, it does work a little bit. tried to push on but Jan triggered the cloudkill trap, oops my bad. I tend to have him way in front so it was fine, but with most of my party hurt and no heal spells, Iclosed the door in werewolf rooms and rested, with most of dungeon level 2 clear (all but tomb and Tazok room). 648k xp, plan was hopefully to finish this area right after leveling so i can go home and dual class to mage at 675k xp (level 11 cleric).

Found Minor Sequencer in Tazok room. Used Web to make the room easy. Have been using a lot of web. At Firkraag, I saved and tried attacking him once for fun. I set made an army of 10 fire elementals with Simulacrum + Staff of Fire. And I used 2 Protection from Magic scrolls with the Simulacrum. Didn't matter, did like nothing to him, lol. Slew a beholder!! Jan died in one hit to a false door trap, even though I expected it'd be a false one ... apparently I need to wait longer to detect traps. Used Rod of Ressurections on Jan. I need a high charge Rod for Simulacrum, but there is one at the adventurer mart, or I can sell and rebuy it when it's low.

After doing the Tomb, the adventurers ambushed me in a way too narrow room and I lost my simulacrum (don't know how, never managed to click on it, maybe the enemy mage had true sight up?) and got a bad start before managing to organize. I lost control of Aerie and Mazzy and went a long time without killing any enemies and drank a bunch of heal pots. Fortunately still had a couple Mass Heal left, even though basically out of single target heals, minute meteors, and most good things. Aerie and Jan both ran out of Stoneskin and took significant damage. I leveled mid fight to 11 cleric which gave me a new use of True Sight per day, which I was out of and really needed against their mage. One of the big things I did was get out of the room but leave some summons behind to distract their casters. They didn't have any spells that really screwed me too badly, besides the confusion/hold type stuff but I used Keldorns Dispel Magic ability a bunch on everyone and then recast chant after and that helped. My Earth Elemental went hostile so that didn't help. I used pause at end of round for a lot of the fight (which pauses on the round of every character and summon, so it happens a ton). Scary/fun chaotic fight.

Dual classed at only 3k xp past level up, before quest rewards, perfect timing. 45k quest reward gave me +5 mage levels. Wanted to dump entire party and read scrolls (and erase spells and read more scrolls until I ran out of money), but Mazzy was getting mad about her poisoned sister, so i just learned magic missile, agannazar's scorcher (was available at coronet, acid arrow wasn't), minute meteors and stoneskin and went to do that quest. sold items up to 30k gold. starting mazzy quest at 48k mage xp. first time going to trademeet. And when i got to trademeet, Jan complained I wasn't doing his quest in slums :( Hope I can help Mazzy's sister without running into Cernd or Rasaad or getting pushed into starting the trademeet animals/druids quest.

Barl died fast to 3 people with minute meteors. Easy quest. I got teleported back to Mazzy's house before I could loot Barl which is kinda funny. Rested 3 times to get Mazzy back, then went to do Jan's quest.

Jan Sick Girl Quest (1 petrify trap death): When searching the coronet i stumbled into a fight with the coronet guards but then the game crashed. went the other way after reloading and killed the myconid king for no loot. Using Yoshimo because Jan stayed with the sick girl. Keldorn got petrified by a trap, this time rejoining my party worked fine. Found the Hidden, did not fully search the area at all. Killed the guys he wanted (easy), lots of walking around, quest complete. Also figured I should buy all the containers I see and put extras at a copper coronet table.

Dumped party at 69k xp with 30k gp. Mazzy went to Trademeet, the are at Coronet. Bought out all the bad spells and learned them repeatedly using erase. Made a mistake and learned Spell Trap level 9, meant to save that scroll. Used genius and mind focusing potions for 25 int so I never failed scribing. Finished scrolls at: 773k xp, 86 gp. Total scribing xp: 704k

Spells erased by level: 1x77, 2x28, 3x30, 4x7, 5x6 (281k xp from erasing, 40%)

Sum of spell levels bought for my 30k gold: rough estimate 210, 30% of the xp. (It's just under 100 gold per spell level for level 1-3 spells with my 24cha, 18rep, but I also spent extra buying some spells I didn't have.)

Instant dual class to 12/11 mage/cleric, I made it!! The target xp was 750k. I didn't even check until after. If I'd started at 0xp I would have been 46k short but I do have some higher level scrolls leftover that I saved, so I could have made it (plus I could sell a few items for more gold). Note that I was saving most of my scrolls all game for this and had more than a scroll case full. Wouldn't have finished my dual without the erasing spells strategy. It's kinda tedious to buy a bunch of trash spells, erase them, learn them, erase them, learn them, etc, but it's worth it, it increases your character's power level a lot faster than regular playtime.

Got a familiar in my pack for the hp. Set up Minor Sequencer with Mirror Image + Blur. Set up Contingency with Outiluke's Resilient Sphere at 25% hp. I should remember I can put cleric spells in these, I don't know what's best yet. Chant + Bless is a decent minor sequencer.

Some notes on my stratgies so far: I've been using Death Ward on my PC a lot when prebuffing, ever since having three to death spells. I use Chant a ton. When there is a big fight I often leave the room, prebuff and go back in (people usually don't follow if you leave immediately). Prebuffing includes Protection from Evil 10' Radius, haste, Invisibility 10' Radius, MMM, Stoneskin (except I just run around with that all the time, so it's already on), true sight, draw upon holy might, remove fear, bless, protection from fire/cold (level 2 priest version), aid. I'll precast summons for fights which aren't through a door/stairs, but I can't always do it. Jan was using Shield amulet before I gave him AC3 bracers.

Another major tactic I use is scouting with an invisible thief, then often i'll start with Web once I know the positioning. Another big tactic is cast MMM and kill most stuff pretty easily lol.

Got new party setup: me, mazzy, minsc, yoshimo, aerie, cernd. I met Rasaad and removed him. Went to the Druid Grove and rested right after travelling to set Cernd's spells. Did Trademeet (killed Faldorn and the rakshasa), was easy, no resting needed. I bought a Robe of the Good Archmagi and few level 6 spells I didn't have with the reward money, and 2 Minor Sequencer. I went back and found the boys in Imnesvale that I'd bought ale for, and went back and killed the Iron Golem at De'Arnise. I also did the Limited Wish one-time XP wish with my Simulacrum. Some trolls had respawned at De'Arnise which I found strange. 852k xp, 62 gp

(1 reputation reload) Did the questline with Cernd's son. Then he left (with a few pieces of gear!), so I went to Neera. Doing the Daxus rescue, he died and my rep went to 9 somehow with commoners hostile after the fight. I think an aoe hit someone i didn't have vision of. I didn't want to mess up the Neera plotline or deal with hostile commoners and low rep, so I reloaded. My main goal is avoiding reloads from combat. I know I didn't actually lose much here, just a bit of story and some gold, but it didn't seem fun to play on with that result. Pretty minor for a first reload, but I really don't expect to get through the game with no reloads anyway.

(1 reputation reload) Doing the Red Wizard Enclave fight for Neera, my game crashed. The fight was going pretty badly because I sent Minsc in and Berserked him. Really bad idea. I should just never ever use that ability. I needed to just keep everyone out of the room. I ended up using 2 Rod of Ressurection charges to keep Minsc up, and Neera died because she ran in the room with the enemies from her stupid AI, while having a ranged weapon equipped and then she got webbed and couldn't retreat. I got improved invis off on Minsc which was helping, but not on Neera. I really hope when I get patch 1.3 it stops crashing so much. I did another reload because of killing an innocent, they stuck a bartender in the middle of a huge fight, he died right at the start so I just tried again and aimed further away from him. Seems like bad design to put a large fight and make aoe realy unsafe. Could have kept going but meh. You do get to free the bartender afterwards for 5k xp, it sort of makes sense but it's really harsh game design to put neutral people next to enemies as a kind of trap. Game crashed again while looting after the fight to save Gramm from Laneth. I was pretty confused in the fight, I tried to attack Laneth several times, but it wasn't work, I wasn't sure why, then I ignored her and killed everyone else and she wasn't attacking me. The area is really confusing btw cuz you can talk your way in but there are still hostile red wizards right there, and you're killing them while thayan guards ignore it. Apparently Lanneth was standing in the front room when I tried to leave to memorize Knock (Yoshimo couldn't open one of the doors.) Didn't have much trouble with her at that point.

Release subjects 55, 13, 11, 42 in that order. Seems dumb I never got to do the hairband quest or crafting the teleport medallion thing. it gave me those quests and the daxus quest at the same time, i went bridge district and got the hairband and got daxus, then i go back and it's too late to turn in the hairband, then after i rescue people i still can't do it. bad design.

New party: Keldorn, Anomen, Mazzy, me, Aerie, Nalia. Bought stacks of lesser restoration, friends, identify, knock and dispel magic scrolls. Bought Sensate Amulet. 1500 gold now. 916k xp. Got Nalia funeral quest. Then checked the door I hadn't gone through under the graveyard but it wasn't a lock you can pick, so actually I had fully cleared that area for now. Then I freed the slaves at the Copper Coronet, would have been nice to do that earlier and get some cheaper scrolls and some good weapons. Bought the sling with unlimited magic bullets and a Simulacrum scroll which I want to have my Simulacrum from the helm use to get 2 (see if that works or not). Then Nalia got taken by Isaea. It dumped all her gear into my inventory apparently. Getting Yoshimo and going to free her ASAP. Gave back Wellyn's bear, now going to Isaea's house.

Got Nalia back no problem. Went coronet sewers, the blade riddle thing is confusing. Freed the kids at the slaver stockade and got +1 rep for giving them 100 gold. 20 rep now. Finished off the slaver building. Then did the derelict house nextdoor, not sure what the scroll means. Then Borinall's house which had nothing much, though Nalia had to use knock there and in the stockade, her lock picking sucks (but she has 105 traps with the danger ring). Got another +1 rep for talking to Hendak after saving the slaves. Anomen got his knighthood and up to 16 wisdom.

Cult of the Eyeless: Entered old tunnels from sewers at 990k xp. Agreed to help the cult to get access. Aerie got hit with a level drain trap. Killed the shade lich without taking much damage using True Sight, Breach, MMM, attacking. Bridge answers: life (7), time (9), current step (4?). got 2 wrong answers. Got the part from the temple. Made a simulacrum with my helm, then had it use a scroll of simulacrum (also had it heal my party and lesser restoration aerie). the copy of the copy only had level 1 mage spells (seems wrong, levels should go 12 -> 7 -> 4 with rounding down) and no quickslots, so it wasn't OP, and it visually looked like it had no gear, and it couldn't attack or use items from backpack or quickslots, it just had innate abilities and mage spells. and none of the copies get priest spells, they seem to only copy my primary class for a dual class character. Also the copy of a copy had minor sequencer but it didn't do anything. I looted the cult rooms then went in the pit and did the huge undead fight. got the burning earth sword which is nice. would have been better if i'd bought azuredge before coming. got the 18dex gloves :D :D :D That got Keldorn -8 AC. The beholder boss was no problem using the rod. The fight with 2 big and 2 small beholder near the bottom was harder, took a good amount of damage, but won safely enough. The fight with the priests in the middle I used greater malision, web and cloudkill. followed by silence and hold person and archery. that worked no problem. went and returned the rift device to the temple. Went back to the cult and fought a few guys, got girdle of fortitude (8 hour duration, once per day, not permanent) and a nice xbow. Note there is a secret door at the top of the sewers, a little right of center, which i can't open. Did all this without resting :) Got accepted in the Helm church. I can now rest in the Helm building and I got a quest to get an artist to work for my church. Finished up at 1118k xp, 25k gp

Fuck, fuck, fuck. I had the difficulty lowered from leveling up. I think since I got level 12 on mage. :( I remember lowering for that big level up because I wasn't positive what would happen with clerics have 9 hitdice and mages have 10 (answer: I only get 9 hitdice, only get my con bonus for 9 levels). The Neera red wizard thing would have been a lot harder I guess. Cult of the Eyeless, Slavers and Trademeet I didn't really have any close calls. I had actually noticed the game feeling a bit easier, but I thought it was from gear/levels (which is still true too).

Plan now is to buy Azuredge and Spell Sequencer from Coronet, then do the temple art quest, then pay the 15k for Imoen rescue, then swap Jaheira and maybe someone else into my party.

Cernd is in the Derril house, I thought I'd have to go get him from his grove later. I moved him to the Coronet. Got the Ore (didn't give fake ore) and finished the art quest. Leveled to 13 mage and got a ring for memorizing 4 extra priest spells! 1171k xp, 5k gp after paying for help with Imoen. Party is anomen/keldorn/mazzy/me/aerie/nalia. Also I put scripts: mazzy for wizard killer, keldorn/anomen aggressive, me/aerie ranged, nalia on scout thief. Ugh that makes nalia stop detecting traps to try to stealth. The amulet of power is really good. switching my minor sequencer to mirror image + sanctuary now instead of vocalize. Also noticed I didn't have a contingency up, not sure what happened to it, so i remade that. I found Mr Ployer at the Sea's Bounty tavern, from the note he sounds like a bad guy, but no interesting dialog is currently available.

Got into the harper base, found one of their amulets but didn't go up to the second floor yet. got another helm of charm protection from one of their rooms, but it doesn't work on confusion so it's not that great. I fought a vampire at the docks, next i'm posing as a new recruit. Killed them, off to the graveyard.

Tanova Stunned Anomen, me and Nalia, Mazed Keldorn, and disrupted Aerie's spell casting on the remove paralysis. But Mazzy's archer came through for me. The spike/blood room was interesting. I took some damage, drank some pots, searching for traps didn't seem to work. Left. Still unclear on what wooden stakes do. In the blood room behind the secret door, I could enter it, but I was too scared to.

On the bottom floor, pretty unfortunately I didn't check the map size and used simulacrum after the main fight. made a fire elemental army (+ use 2 restoration scroll, 2 anti-magic scroll, and 4 rod of ressurections), then walk in on laskell and he says fight on top floor and summons can't travel up there. Lashkell died easily, not sure if due to my summons or from Azuredge. wasn't sure how to finish them off. braved the blood with nalia, got a great anti-UD mace. Oh I figured it out, you get a sword icon in the coffin room, staked 3 vamps. Bohdi fight was pretty scary, she spawned on Aerie and hit her for 2/3 of her hp and level drain. I ran Aerie away and Bohdi chased for several rounds, but then eventually stopped and it was easy from there.

At Brynnlaw Island I finally got a small amount of value from Clairvoyance. I got 2000 gold from a limited wish. saved the poor kids. fought my way to claire. killed the cowled wizard guy for his wardstone. he had spelltrap and mislead, but i had attacking and truesight. got the book of infinite spells which is pretty cool. can't tell how many more pages it has. leaving it on fireball for now since that's pretty good. off to spellhold. 1334k xp

Spellhold: It was pretty obvious that was Irenicus, but you can't do anything. Lost a con. Bhaal was easy with a simulacrum from my helm. I'm taking Imoen and leaving Nalia behind after stripping her items. Imoen gained 3 mage levels to 11, still a lot less than me. Read well over 500k xp of scrolls, but the xp was split up some. Set up vocalize+sanctuary minor sequencer on aerie, mirror image + detect invis for imoen.

First thing in the maze is umberhulks. I took a lot of damage there, keldorn got confused but i used improved invis to protect him. I should have had at least one long duration summon up before that fight started. Then invisible imoen goes scouting and walks into a lich, who sees me even though i have a cloak of non detection. It's got protection from magical weapons and spell trap to start, and then when i run away a bit it casts time stop but doesn't actually do anything visible to me for the whole timestop. I sent in some skeletons and some greater mummies split up from the lich and came out to fight me. then i fought the lich. symbol death appeared to make imoen roll a save despite being over 60 hp, i don't understand that. aerie saved too. i didn't understand the fight very well. i tried to use true seeing, breach, MMM and attack. i got a ton of weapon has no effect but won anyway, i'm not really sure what was and wasn't working. Then I staked Dace and got his hand. Did the magic tome that summons monsters, no problem, and the kobolds around the crystal.

The character scripts are really annoying. It kept making my main character run back, thief not attack, and mazzy do melee.

(1 trap death) After doing the right side, I found a bag of holding on the top. Went bottom and 2 yuan-ti mages cast chaos at the same time and it affected 5 of my party. aerie cast dispel magic but it didn't dispel it for anyone. mazzy almost killed imoen and everyone got hurt a lot before it ended right as i was webbing the whole group to stop them from fighting. Hit level 14 mage and found a Project Image scroll at the same time :D I opened the crystal thing to the exit, but went exploring the rest of the area anyway.

Imoen died to the crusher trap. Did 12/12 riddles with 0 errors, got the regen ring. Did two fights at the blue portal thing, need to find the other gem. Tried the statues riddle but didn't get it right away, trying again now. OK figured it out and got the last gem. I prebuffed a bunch including Tensor's Transformation (the previous demon guy hurt me a lot, so I was worried it'd be harder) and then it was a genie giving me armor, not a fight, lol. And the armor isn't even good lol. It's just +3 plate, which is slightly worse than +1 full plate, which is worse than fullplate combined with a +1 ring/neck/cloak (which gives the AC and also saving throw.)

(1 combat death) Keldorn died to the Ulithard doing Devour Brain. Got the minotaur door open, but going back to figure out the other 3 doors near the start of this level, I only did the mind flayer painting one so far. Well it took a while but I found the paintings. Also I got my party fatigued in the haste/slow room that I don't really understand. Wanted to finish the area without resting, used 9 charges from staff of curing among other things. got both kinds of boots with 6 extra tokens, got the paintings done. Figured out how the healing room works on the way out lol. the two in the middle are the good ones, middle left heals the person in the middle of the room, middle right hastes party (which can be bad, leads to fatigue). Doing more sanity tests now. I got 3 right, then might have got one wrong, the answer was ambiguous, not sure. Found the cloak of reflection. I didn't get to loot the stones at the big circlular ring place with kobold/goblin archers before being teleported, I hope I go back there or didn't miss something good. She said I passed all the tests. Three people leveled from the quest xp! Well I didn't get back to those stones to loot, and I might have missed somethign after the quest too, I found one thing then went up the stairs and couldn't go back down.

Lonk the Sane killed Keldorn with Finger of Death, but the game crashed while I was picking his gear back up midcombat. Beat him quickly the second time. Going into the Irenicus fight with very little resources and all my guys fatigued a bunch, lol, we'll see how this goes. Yeah it was fine with the inmates fighting with me and clicking on Irenicus and ignoring the clones. I chose taking the ship over the portal, sounded a bit safer. I hope Nalia ends up back at the Copper Coronet somehow. I wanted to go fight the pirate lord but I can't open the door guard guy is gone. Stole the horn, sailed off, got shipwrecked in Sahaguin city. Rested and set up spells. Agreed to help the exile prince do a coup. 1744k xp Got cloak of mirroring, wtf, block all spell dmg !?

(1 petrify trap death) Clear out sahaguin area, found the door requiring the tooth and the big undead fight. then found the imp game and agreed to play. not sure where the rebel prince is, everyone just attacked me even though i have the orb. Keldorn tried to play the game and got petrified, doh, wasn't expecting traps in the game area. Aerie had Heal for efficiently refilling his hp after the petrify :) And used stone to flesh scroll cuz keldorn is the one with the earth control ring that could do it. Placed all the items correctly first try. lol beholder. Oh I read my journal more carefully, so the rebel prince is outside the door (not sure how they threw him out, i guess you can swim between places just not walk?) Got the fake heart. Won the fight easily. Crashed yet again after. rested and went in underdark!

(1 combat death) I don't understand the air elemental portal thing. i killed like 10. easy xp. 1882k now, dinged level 15 mage. Spent down to 1k gold on scrolls, drank int pots, and then read 200k xp of scrolls (divided 6 ways). Fought like 10 earth eles too, aerie and keldorn leveled. Drow fight was fun. Did triple skull trap spell sequencer on them, did nothing. Their offense wasn't so great though, they made some summons and didn't do a ton to me. Tangle with some mindflayers accross a ravine, they stunned a bunch of people. Lesson: don't do the dispel magic contingency thing. I got stunned, lost all my contingencies, and dispelled some of my own stuff including a project image i'd just cast (my first one!). Imoen got charmed and I spammed dispel magic and couldn't end it. And I used a simulacrum to rod of ressurection her to keep her alive – my summons kept trying to attack her. Gonna need some chaotic commands next rest maybe. After doing the fire elementals I fought some kua-toa and i lost control of anomen and he died. Rested twice to set up new contingencies, res him, set his spells, etc. I now set it up with charm protection helms on mazzy/anomen, and shield of harmony for keldorn, and went much more MMM heavy on spells, with a good amount of summons and some alternative aoes: ice storm, chain lightning, cloudkill, confusion, chaos, cone of cold, holy smite, and of course web. I also no longer trust invisibility to work very reliably, so I switched some slots over to mirror image.

(1 combat death) Fought the Balor at the Svirfneblin village. Long fight. Made a bunch of summons. Made a project image that made a simulacrum. the project image had all my priest spells, but the simulacrum had mage spells only and no gear/quickslots, but it was still useful for doing several MMM. Most of my damage was from MMM. The Project Image was great because I could use rod of ressurection to heal people without worrying about running out of charges lol, i also used a simulacrum scroll and 2 anti-mage scrolls on it. It had magic resist and +2 arrows didn't hurt it. It hit really hard and I had some morale failures. It didn't do many spells apart from 2 holds. When I ran out of tanks it came and hit Aerie. I paused and then had her cast stoneskin which has a casting time of only 1, but she got hit again and died before it went off. Lower Resist would have been nice I guess, but it'd take two casting for like half my spells to work. 26,000 xp for the balor, i think that might be my biggest single enemy so far. Got the illusion so I look drow, neat.

(1 combat reload, 3 combat deaths, 1 silly reload) Drow city, got quest and went and fought the illithids to save the girl. then went east and got captured by illithids and fought in their arena. On the way out, party got split up walking around, anomen ran in front and got held by an illithid then attacked and died to devour brain right before mazzy killed it. rezzed. Got the mind flayer control circlets then tried to capture one but mazzy shot it down right as i controlled it. then it wouldn't respawn. i googled and it's supposed to respawn so my game is bugged, but people said to use slayer form to get through the door instead. RIP 2 rep. Then I died to slayer form, having never used it before, didn't expect it to just kill me so quickly. Then I died to the next room: hard fight, i tried to retreat immediately but people got stunned in the narrow corridor and i couldn't get them unstunned and organize a retreat fast enough to somewhere reasonable to fight, and i hadn't prebuffed (i'd actually lost all buffs from resting trying to get a mind flayer to spawn to use the control circlet on), and i cast 2 webs and it didn't work on the mind flayers at all. Tried again with lots of prebuffs, especially a chaotic commands. Game was kinda buggy. I sent my main character with chaotic commands and 5 skeletons ahead, and they didn't spawn in the same room as before. I pushed on to another room and found and beat a similar group but then the original group did spawn when i brought everyone, which took me by surprise. i recovered pretty well, used a remove paralysis, did ok. mazzy died. anomen almost died but teleport field saved him! In the next room, keldorn died, these guys are hard with their killing you even at high hp. and dispel magic doesn't seem to work when mindflayers charm my guys, tried a lot. I'm taking a break then being more careful after.

(3 combat deaths) I thought that anti-magic scroll would protect me from illithid stuff. it does not. anomen then died with all the brine potions and the illithids walked out of the room to my party which wasn't really prepared, mazzy and aerie died too. used one of the control cirlets, managed to prevent a wipe. ugh. Finished off the illithids without any more problems at least.

Total Status: 1 major reload, 3 minor reloads, 22 deaths (12 combat, 7 traps, 3 death spells)

(1 combat death) Western caverns Aerie died, was being too careless with pathing and she went in front and got stunned and targetted. Did some Ust Natha quests, no problem. still got stealing the dragon eggs and the magic rope thing for the lich building. and i haven't done the beholder area to the south.

End of part 1. I don't know if I'll write notes like this for the rest of the game, even assuming I come back and finish it. If I do, I'll make another blog post and also link them here.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pamela Geller Misreports Amnesty International

So there I was trying to correct Pamela Geller's poor scholarship for the second time. Then this happened:

If you have difficulty reading the picture, it says I was blocked from commenting on her site. Here is the full text of what I tried to tell her about the article:
> Amnesty International: Palestinians Committed War Crimes, Killed more Palestinian civilians than Israel

> Amnesty International said Thursday that Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war in Gaza had killed more civilians in the Gaza Strip than in Israel.

These do not match. Killing more civilians "than Israel" and "than in Israel" are different things.

The title means: Palestinians killed more Palestinian civilians than the number of Palestinian civilians that Israel killed.

The text about what Amnesty said means: Palestinians killed more Palestinian civilians than the number of Israeli civilians that Palestinians killed.

Please get the story right. These kinds of details are very important.
An important and helpful comment, right? It's a big difference whether Amnesty said anything about how many civilians Israel killed, or didn't discuss that at all. Well, it turns out she blocked me from commenting after I tried to correct a previous error she made... (Which she did not fix.)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

SENS Against Specialization and Division of Labor

SENS has a budget of around 4 million dollars a year.

from this, they are unwilling to spend much or any on their website. (not sure the exact amount, i know they’ve asked for volunteers, and whatever they bought or didn’t buy is low quality.)

i would strongly suspect they ARE willing to spend some money on an accountant, a lawyer, and perhaps a few other non-SENS-specific functions. as well they should be.

they also should spend money on a website. it’s not very hard to buy quality web knowledge and work. it’s readily available on the market at prices very low compared to the value provided, and easily affordable on their budget.

this is something many other organizations do. it’s not a weird FI-only idea. SENS is frankly just plain incompetent here.

there are some other areas where SENS is making similar errors which are less well understood in general, and where useful expertise is less readily available to purchase.

if you want a good website, you can have that set up tomorrow. it’s no problem at all to find a person or group. if you want a GREAT website, you should shop around some, but it’s not that hard.

what if you want economics expertise? SENS deals with quite a bit of money – around 4 million a year. that’s enough that i think they should spend more than $0/yr on economics expertise (at least if they could find some to hire – which i strongly suspect is completely possible despite the market for it being more problematic than for websites).

further, SENS wants to deal with at least 100 million a year. they have openly and explicitly asked the public for that amount as a minimum for the project they regard as most important (robust mouse rejuvenation). and they want that 100 million budget for 10 years or more. that is a LOT of money. if 4 million a year is too trivial to merit more than $0 of economics knowledge (i disagree!!!), surely 100 million a year has room in the budget for economics expertise. yet i don’t believe SENS would hire economics expertise even at that budget level. they expressed serious hostility to this kind of thinking. they don’t see why people dealing with huge quantities of money would need to know anything about money. additionally, i pointed out that they ought to understand how to use the budget they request BEFORE requesting it, which they were also hostile to.

but actually SENS already has some economics knowledge. everyone who works at SENS knows SOMETHING about economics. it is amateur level knowledge. they are dabblers. they think that’s good enough. they think they are clever enough to get by, and/or economics is easy, and/or what’s well known about economics is all they need to know and knowing anything more would be pointless. that is very foolish.

suppose, hypothetically, that Aubrey de Grey (AdG) is smarter than anyone working in the field of economics. and suppose that AdG puts an equivalent of 2 hours a month of his SENS work into thinking related to economics issues. this is completely plausible. he thinks about money, how to get money, different places money comes from, what to do with money, and so on.

what are the consequences?

nothing but disaster, even though, by premise, AdG is smarter than any economist.

first, AdG is by far the best person to do some tasks – such as explain SENS on podcasts. the consequences are either to do without that, or to have someone worse at it do it. either it’s going to be done 2 hours less per month, or someone lesser to the amazing genius AdG would be doing it in his place – a huge loss. the only way this SENS podcast advocacy would not be lost is if there is something even more important AdG is giving up instead – something where to an even greater extent than SENS podcasting, AdG is the best suited to do it – in which case if he freed up 2 hours per month it would go to that even more important task instead.

second, AdG is not an economics specialist. being the smartest person in the world could not make up for this. why? because the more time you spend on economics, the more you can specialize in the field. if you only work on economics 2 hours a month, for SENS, that will justify very little or no time spent reading economics books. but a specialist, who does economics work for 100 hours per month, could very reasonably also devote 20 hours per month to reading economics books. this is a huge advantage which more than makes up for AdG being the smarter clever person in general. additionally, during those 100 hours per month of economics work, the specialist will gain benefits too. he’ll get accustomed to many common economics problems and get practice at solving them quickly. all that practice and experience and familiarity will help. and the specialist will keep up-to-date better than the non-specialist, because he does frequent work in the field which will benefit from staying up-to-date. and the specialist will be able to have discussions where he challenges his views about economics, tests them in debate, listens to people with new ideas, and so on. why will he find time for those things? because he spends so 100 hours per month doing economics work, any little improvement in his craft will be 50 times as valuable to him as it will be to AdG who spends 2 hours per month. (and actually the difference is larger, because a specialist is expected to know his field, and will care about his reputation in the field, whereas AdG will be recognized as wearing many hats, and barely dealing with economics, and will therefore be forgiven for not doing it as well as a specialist would be expected to.)

so there is a double issue. AdG would be giving up time to do what he’s better at than economics – doing the stuff where is able to get the most valuable work done per hour – and he would also be at a huge disadvantage due to not specializing in economics.

and even if AdG was so great he could do economics work equally well, and twice as fast, as an economist, he STILL shouldn’t do it. because his advantage at SENS work is even larger than that. if AdG can do SENS-specific work three times as well as the next best person, and economics work twice as well, then he should only do SENS work and hire an economist (for twice the number of hours it’d take AdG). That beats having to hire someone to do SENS work in place of AdG for three times the number of hours!

put another way: suppose AdG can create $300 per hour of value doing SENS work, or $200 per hour of value doing economics. i think the real ratio is more like 100 to 1, rather than 1.5 to 1, but this will illustrate my point. And suppose if AdG hires people to do these things instead of him, the best people he can find aren’t as good as him – they can create $100 of value per hour for SENS work or economics work. Then very simply, AdG should not do economics work – he’s better off outsourcing that, even though he’s (hypothetical) the best in the world at it, because his advantage at SENS work is even greater. he is relatively more productive when doing SENS work over economics work. and other people are equally productive. (more realistically, SENS is obscure and economics is common, so other people in general would be relatively more productive at economics work over SENS work, which would only increate the advantage of AdG sticking to SENS work).

this last point i’ve explained is a well known economics concept called "comparative advantage”.

if you ask AdG if he knows what comparative advantage is, and how it works, my guess is that he does. yet i still think it’s important to hire an economics specialist to help advise on topics including comparative advantage. why? because there are different senses of understanding comparative advantage.

a specialist would have an ACTIVE understanding of comparative advantage – he will have used the concept many times in many different situations. he will be able to recognize, pro-actively, many times he’d be able to use it. he’ll have experience stretching it to use in all kinds of cases where it doesn’t obviously apply.

someone like AdG, who spends little time on economics, would have a PASSIVE understanding of comparative advantage. he would be able to tell you what it is IF YOU ASK HIM. he might bring it up himself in a few situations – especially if you asked him about international trade between countries, especially countries where one is at a big advantage (e.g. industrial first world country trading with a third world poor country). That’s the best known context for thinking about comparative advantage, and the most common one discussed when the concept taught. But AdG hasn’t read books about all the other situations comparative advantage is relevant to, he hasn’t practiced finding ways to use it in many situations. His way of knowing what it is if you ask is completely different than superior sort of understanding that a specialist would have.

so even when AdG thinks, “oh i’ve got this, i know what comparative advantage is, there’s no need for an economics specialist to tell me that” he would be wrong.

there is no way SENS gets by with an actual expense of $0 on economics. it is relevant to what they do. they must think about it some. depending on their ideas about economics, it would to some extent lead them to different strategies. and AdG discusses economics in his book _Ending Aging_ very literally – he tries to explain his ideas about the effect on the country, economy (including medical prices), government, and world if everyone had AIDs and we had to produce enough AIDs medicine for everyone. That is very clearly partly an economics issue.

so AdG and/or others at SENS, who are not economics specialists, inefficiently do some economics work, instead of sticking to SENS-specific work that they are, relatively, better at doing. and i think they make some large mistakes due to their arrogance to do work outside their fields. and they are completely hostile to the idea that maybe they should spend more than $0 getting specialist help with economics, rather than sacrificing SENS-specific work to dabble in it themselves. the people at SENS may be pretty smart, but there are very smart people working on economics too, and it’s HARD even for people who study it extensively and specialize in it. it’s completely unrealistic and unreasonable for SENS to be like, “ok we’re doing the most important thing in the world. now for this AIDS hypothetical, and some other matters, let’s try amateur hour. we can probably get away with that. it’ll be fine. and it doesn’t require any humility or respect for other people who aren’t doing what is obviously the most important work in the world.”

all of what i’ve said applies to other topics besides economics. they dabble in many other areas: philosophy of critical thinking, philosophy of science, philosophy of persuasion, political philosophy (they have various ideas about the government and its agencies, and how to deal with them and talk about them), and some rather different fields like how to run a charity fundraiser (an area where they have made big mistakes such as using matching donation fundraising). and what about marketing? they appear completely clueless about that. it’s ridiculous that they don’t have a specialist guiding them to do a much better job with marketing. i’ll let Steve Jobs explain this one:

Becoming Steve Jobs: the evolution of a reckless upstart into a visionary leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli:
[Context: Seva is a philanthropy type foundation. They are having a meeting, at the start, about how the make the world better. One of the guys had just been a significantly involved in eradicating smallpox in India. Now they want to make Seva and do more. What would be the best thing to work on? They decide on curing blind people in the third world.]

[Steve Jobs] sat down and started listening. The decision to create a foundation had already been made; the question now on the table was how to tell the world about Seva, its plans, and the men and women who would implement those plans. Steve found most of the ideas embarrassingly naïve. The discussion seemed more appropriate for a PTA meeting; at one point, everyone but Steve heatedly debated the finer points of a pamphlet they wanted to create. A pamphlet? That’s the best these people could dream up? These so-called experts may have achieved notable progress in their own countries, but here they were clearly out of their league. Having a grand, bold goal was useless if you didn’t have the ability to tell a compelling story about how you’d get there. That seemed obvious.

As the discussion meandered, Steve found his own attention wandering. “He had walked into that room with his persona from the Apple board meeting,” Brilliant remembers, “but the rules for doing things like conquering blindness or eradicating smallpox are quite different.” From time to time he’d pipe up, but mostly to interject a snide remark about why this or that idea could never fly. “He was becoming a nuisance,” says Brilliant. Finally, Steve couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up.

“Listen,” he said, “I’m telling you this as someone who knows a thing or two about marketing. We’ve sold nearly a hundred thousand machines at Apple Computer, and when we started no one knew a thing about us. Seva is in the same position Apple was in a couple of years ago. The difference is you guys don’t know diddly about marketing. So if you want to really do something here, if you really want to make a difference in the world and not just putter along like every other nonprofit that people have never heard of, you need to hire this guy named Regis McKenna—he’s the king of marketing. I can get him in here if you’d like. You should have the best. Don’t settle for second best.”
The result? They made Steve Jobs cry (yes, literally) and kicked him out of the meeting (yes, literally). (And then, I take it, did a much worse job fighting blindness than they could have). That’s how hostile and unreasonable they were. They wanted to do this extremely important humanitarian work (their own view), but they absolutely would not consider hiring some world class expertise to do it right.

And SENS, which claims to be basically the most important thing in the world, and which has enough money to hire help, won’t hire top experts either – be it about economics, marketing, philosophy, fundraising, or even making a good website.

By the way, I’m not even going to send AdG a link to this, even though we had a long discussion before. I wrote to him to tell him I’d given up on SENS – and why. He did not reply. He is too unreasonable to talk to, or tell things like this. He won’t listen. I think it’s hopeless. It’s a ridiculous situation. I may well literally die because AdG won’t listen, and yet he convinced me to give up (I just had a some thoughts I wanted to write down, because it’s interesting and I think about things like this, but in another month maybe I’ll forget about SENS).

I could fucking cry.

Steve Jobs apologized to Seva for trying to help. At least I won't be apologizing to SENS.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Mises Values Philosophy

Marxism Unmasked by Ludwig von Mises (transcripts of lectures from 1952):
THE FIRST FIVE LECTURES IN THIS SERIES will be on philosophy, not on economics. Philosophy is important because everybody, whether or not he knows it, has a definite philosophy, and his philosophical ideas guide his actions.

The philosophy of today is that of Karl Marx [1818–1883]. He is the most powerful personality of our age. Karl Marx and the ideas of Karl Marx—ideas which he did not invent, develop, or improve, but which he combined into a system—are widely accepted today, even by many who emphatically declare that they are anti-communist and anti-Marxist.To a considerable extent, without knowing it, many people are philosophical Marxists, although they use different names for their philosophical ideas.
In a later lecture:
It is impossible to defeat a philosophy if you do not fight in the philosophical field. One of the great deficiencies of American thinking—and America is the most important country in the world because it is here, not in Moscow, that this problem will be decided—the greatest shortcoming, is that people think all these philosophies and everything that is written in books is of minor importance, that it doesn’t count. Therefore they underrate the importance and the power of ideas. Yet there is nothing more important in the world than ideas. Ideas and nothing else will determine the outcome of this great struggle. It is a great mistake to believe that the outcome of the battle will be determined by things other than ideas.
This could have been written by Ayn Rand (who was the best advocate of the importance of philosophy).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)