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we say you should never trust your gut. You need to take your gut feeling as an important data point, but then you have to consciously and deliberately evaluate it, to see if it makes sense in this context. You need strategies that help rule things out.

- Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein


Mar. 2nd, 2017 01:42 pm
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In a statement on Thursday, Amazon said an employee on its S3 team was working on an issue with the billing system and meant to take a small number of servers offline -- but they incorrectly entered the command and removed a much larger set of servers.
According to Synergy Research Group, AWS owns 40% of the cloud services market, meaning it's responsible for the operability of large swaths of popular websites.

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I've always wondered why labeling something as "idiotic" or "very very bad" makes people happy. In rational thinking, labeling is considered fundamentally flawed because it simply shows how the labeler positions an object/event on his/her internal value map without explaining the reasoning why s/he does so. As John R. Searle would say, something is good or bad in virtue of something else, not because its intrinsic goodness or badness.

Yesterday, I found a review paper* that describes multiple psychological experiments on Schadenfreude. For example,
In the context of a real-world sports rivalry, Red Sox and Yankees fans report feeling pleasure, and show activity in reward- related brain regions (i.e., right ventral striatum including nucleus accumbens) when they watch their rival fail to score against their favored baseball team, and also against a less competitive team in the same league (i.e., the Orioles). Attaching positive value to outgroup members' suffering may provide motivation for inflicting suffering: People who show more reward-related activity when watching the rival team fail also report being more likely to actively harm the rival team’s fans (Cikara, Botvinick, & Fiske, in press). These findings extend to situations in which the rival fans themselves are in physical pain: Soccer fans exhibited reward-related activity (again, the right ventral striatum) when watching a rival team’s fan receive a painful electric shock; the magnitude of this activity predicted participants’ later unwillingness to relieve the rival’s pain by receiving half of the electric shock themselves (Hein, Silani, Preuschoff, Batson, & Singer, 2010).

It looks like, labeling facilitates Schadenfreude-based pleasure. In other words, a social activity that looks irrational from a purely logical perspective, has significant psychological advantages because it creates positive in-group empathy.

* Cikara, M., E. G. Bruneau, and R. R. Saxe. “Us and Them: Intergroup Failures of Empathy.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 20.3 (2011): 149–153. Web. 13 Apr. 2012.
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Another good graphic from "A history of commerce, 1907" - before and after the age of explorers (mid-15th century).

Geographic discoveries of the 15th century provided another incentive for the Northern Europeans to break away from Catholicism:
The non-Christian world was divided between these two powers by a papal decree which gave to Portugal Africa and Asia except the Philippines and to Spain the Americas except Brazil. So long as other European states obeyed papal authority and feared the might of Spain and Portugal, they were bound to respect this division and the first period of discoveries was followed by a series of voyages carried on especially by English and Dutch seeking a passage northeast or northwest through Arctic seas that would enable them to evade the monopoly granted by the Pope.

Major inventions of the 17th and 18th centuries: log and chronometer:
The simple means of the later Middle Ages could give some idea of a vessel's latitude but very little of its longitude. The introduction of the log in the seventeenth century enabled a sailor to measure distance traversed more accurately and the invention of the chronometer in the eighteenth century gave at last a reliable and practical means of determining longitude at sea.
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This is a good way to make a visual comparison between two different transportation systems: the familiar and unfamiliar side by side.

Source: A History of Commerce, by Clive Day. 1907.
The right to a wrecked ship which had once been the prerogative of the king could be distorted so that the whole cargo of a Regensburg ship was confiscated in 1396 because a single little cask had fallen off into the Danube It was an accepted rule in Germany that if a wagon broke down so that the axle touched the ground it became a part of the land and belonged to the lord of the territory break downs must have been frequent in view of the wrecked condition of the roads and it has been suggested that lords sought to cause them by traps and pitfalls.

upd: another great quote showing how people perceived their time before movies, radio, TV, internet, mobile, social, etc... (the book was written in beginning of the 20th century):
The fairs always attracted people for social as well as business purposes life in the Middle Ages would be regarded as insufferably dull at the present time and both townspeople and country people enjoyed the excitement which the fair brought with it There were side shows in plenty then.
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And had not Agrippina prevented the bridge over the Rhine from being destroyed, some in their cowardice would have dared that base act. A woman of heroic spirit, she assumed during those days the duties of a general, and distributed clothes or medicine among the soldiers, as they were destitute or wounded.

According to Caius Plinius, the historian of the German wars, she stood at the extremity of the bridge, and bestowed praise and thanks on the returning legions. This made a deep impression on
the mind of Tiberius. "Such zeal," he thought, "could not be guileless...
Agrippina had now more power with the armies than officers, than generals. A woman had quelled a mutiny which the sovereign's name could not check."

--- Tacitus. The Annals.
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We are moving toward a point where there will be a fixed price for a human life and it will include a payment for a suicide pill. No more guns, no more overdosing.
Under a per capita cap, also called a per capita allotment, Medicaid's current open-ended commitment would shift into a capped payment from the federal government to states, as a way to limit federal spending. The payment amount per person would be capped, giving somewhat more flexibility than the similar idea of a block grant, which is a set amount of money regardless of the number of enrollees.

Republicans view per capita caps as a way to limit federal spending and give more power to states.

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The [Roman] empire is a constant presence in our evidence from this period, and it enters mathematical discourse in several ways. Managing an army, collecting taxes, keeping a census on such a vast scale implied centralized administrative practices (accounts, tax rolls, land surveys). Mathematics was also used to articulate views about politics, society and morals. It would be impossible to describe our period in a few words: let us just say that the world had become even larger than after Alexander’s expedition, exchanges of all types increased; and the textual past kept accumulating in the form of books and libraries.

S.Cuomo. Ancient Mathematics.

As the scale increases, what can't be mapped can't be governed or reflected upon.

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It just occurred to me that our perception is necessarily a process of splitting the world into parts and then combining them into various wholes. Biologically, we are made up of cells, which have their own preceptors. Therefore, different cells perceive different aspects of the world and then communicate to assemble them according to behavioral scenarios. I can probably say that we are biological expressions of the world.
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The king was the biggest landlord in the country – not only did he lease portions of land to local farmers and new settlers, he also told them what to grow, and established a monopoly on various products such as oil. Thus, no-one but government officials was allowed to sell oil, and the possession of instruments such as presses was regarded as a criminal offence.

Serafina Cuomo. Ancient Mathematics.
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Here's another person who has the president's ear:
After the meeting, Schwarzman departed Washington on Air Force One to Palm Beach, Florida, where he and Trump have homes.

Also, a list of people on the Council
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Control was not easy - this gives an extra spin to Frontinus' idea of mathematization as imposing order on a territory. The imposition of order is a dialectic, dynamic process through which a model of administrative control is applied to the specific nature of a place. This dynamic implies a negotiation of various factors, and I think that the role played by mathematics and by mathematical imagery in this negotiation is fundamental.

...mathematics guaranteed the possibility and reliability of calculations, and made cataloguing and recording easier, so it was ‘directly’ useful.


Finally, Frontinus chose one particular type of pipe, the quinaria, as the standard type and ruled that authorized standard pipes and nozzles had to be stamped with an official mark, and no unstamped pipes or nozzles could be used.

Imposing a standard is clearly at the same time a pragmatic administrative choice - uniformity facilitates repairs and control of misappropriations - and a political one - the fact itself that someone has the authority to set a standard unequivocally signals where the power lies.

-- Cuomo, Serafina (2000). Divide and rule: Frontinus and Roman land-surveying. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (2)189-202.

Using "free-monoidable" structures enables a radical simplification of control procedures ("arrows"). The first example has to do with making land "monoidable" through mathematized surveying. The second example shows how standardization of elements enables administration of infrastructure and distribution of resources.
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“But high in his stronghold Aeolus wields his scepter,
soothing their passions, tempering their fury.
Should he fail, surely they’d blow the world away,
hurling the land and sea and deep sky through space. ”

-- Virgil (translated by Robert Fagles). "The Aeneid."
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After a week of staying with the calorie count plan, I've reached the desired body weight (BMI = 20). Now I probably need to go into maintenance mode.
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I'm continuing with my calorie counting experiment. So far, I've noticed a some major difficulties: a) figuring out calories for complex foods (somewhat expected); b) being hungry most of the time (totally unexpected); c) exercise almost doesn't matter, unless it's really intense.

The good news about being hungry is that every piece of food tastes great! The bad news is that it taxes your self-control.
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Today I learned why there was a gap of 11 years between the invention of an automated condom manufacturing method and the invention of an automated condom testing method. In the late 1930s, the US government introduced quality regulations of condoms and imposed heavy fines on the producers for selling inferior goods.

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Удивительно, насколько система предотвращения и борьбы с коррупцией в раннем Сингапуре похожа на систему в Пруссии в добюрократические (по М.Веберу) времена (17-18 вв) http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096226.

Во-первых, монарх лично нанимал всех налоговых инспекторов (3000 человек!), т.е. система не была иерархической в ее современном понятии.
Во-вторых, монарх лично занимался проверками.
В-третьих, проворовавшийся инспектор/чиновник получал, практически, волчий билет и из-за этого лишался средств к существованию. В Пруссии при найме предпочтение отдавалось инвалидам войн с сильными увечьями. Побочным эффектом такой политики было то, что при увольнении они не могли найти другую работу. У более знатных чиновников проводились конфискации имущества и, поскольку налоговый офис передавался, практически, по наследству, все последующие поколения лишались этой привилегии. (ср. с "номенклатурой").
В-четвертых, в борьбе с коррупцией не было исключений для высокопоставленных чиновников (и друзей).
В-пятых, система местных проверок была коллегиальной, а не строго иерархической, поэтому утаить воровство было необыкновенно трудно.
В-шестых, excise taxes, которы очень трудно собирать, применялись только в городах, где концентрация облагаемых товаров была самой высокой, что снижало потери.

Если учесть, что прусские монархи кроме контроля за сборами налогов занимались еще и войнами, реформами армии и системы образования, включая университеты, то работали они день и ночь. То же самое можно сказать и о Ли Куан Ю. Потемкинские деревни при нем были невозможны.

При Дэн Сяопине сохранение партийного аппарата при постепенном выхолащивании идеологии тоже сыграло положительную роль. Еще помогло сознательное снижение роли тайной политической полиции (эквивалента КГБ). Прусская система оценки роста среднесрочных показателей и опроса крестьян о злоупотреблениях схожа с китайской.

(Карты Пруссии из википедии)
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virtually every cutting edge macro text says that monetary policy determines NGDP growth. And yet the moment a crisis hits we get a sort of mass amnesia, and reputable economists are suddenly assuming that the rapidly falling NGDP is not a failure of central banks, but rather of commercial banks. As if it is suddenly the job of commercial bankers to manage monetary policy!

This is a good time to trot out my favorite philosopher, Richard Rorty.  In a recent book he quoted an old pragmatist maxim; “that which has no practical implications, has no philosophical implications.”  I would re-word that slightly for the current discussion:

That which as no practical implications; has no implications for economic theory.

Thus Rorty suggested that it was pointless to argue about whether something is an objective fact or a justified belief, as we have no access to an extra-human perspective, and thus can never resolve the debate.

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Apocalyptic Argument and the Anticipation of Catastrophe: The Prediction of Risk and the Risks of Prediction. STEPHEN D. O’LEARY. Argumentation 11: 293–313, 1997.

If an arguer crosses the line by offering a specific prediction or time boundary that falls within the life span of the audience, he or she is no longer speaking sub specie aeternitatis; the subject or stasis of the argument moves out of the realm of abstract hypotheticals, and begins to directly address the concerns of the living. At this point, the audience’s role expands beyond a judicial one, which involves weighing the claims of apocalyptic argument, to include a spectatorial one, governed by the logic of drama as laid out by Aristotle in the Poetics.

Those members of the audience who entertain the apocalyptic claim or grant it a higher probability status may therefore be propelled into making a decision by the fear of losing their chance for preparation and salvation, while those who have already accepted the apocalyptic message are likely to increase their level of commitment.

... setting of specific dates for the end of the world is more than a sensational tactic to gain the attentions of the audience; from Burke’s dramatistic perspective, date specificity represents the natural culmination or formal completion of apocalyptic argument with respect to the topos of time. If the claim of impending global catastrophe and redemption is accepted, whether uncritically or provisionally, the audience’s natural curiosity will cause it to expect a prediction with a high degree of specificity and saliency.

I propose that arguments that predict catastrophe, and the responses to such arguments, are shaped by permutations of the following significant factors and variables: 1) the sources of the arguer’s authority, whether rational, traditional, or charismatic in the Weberian sense; 2) the degree to which audiences are prone to shift between modes of legitimation by ascribing prophetic authority based on personal character or expertise in technical fields unrelated to the prediction; 3) the saliency of the predictions for a specific audience, considered as a function of the timespan of the predicted course of events in relation to the lifespan, attentions, and preoccupations of a given group; 4) the degree of anomic risk assumed by both arguers and audiences, considered in terms of both the magnitude of predicted consequences, and of willingness to admit errors in prediction or to accept the consequences of errors in judging the truth or falsehood of prediction; 5) the degrees of modality or conditionality admitted or attended to by the predictor and the audience.
By solving a detection problem, the prophet enables his audience to engage in solving a control problem, e.g. develop and implement a course of actions that might address the problem. Then, an ideal prophecy ( for the prophet) would be to forecast an event that the audience is capable of affecting ( prevent, mitigate, avoid altogether). Moreover, the prophecy should be conditional on the audience.
A bad prophecy would be to forecast a specific event that is outside of the audience's control, such as earthquake, rain, etc.

How would human immortality affect this thesis? First, we should probably assume that immortality means more than a simple absence of death. Rather, we should think that immortality is an infinite period of stability in one's physical health. Second, we should try to understand better what event would be considered a catastrophe by healthy person. Third, we should establish sources of authority in a society of immortals. Fourth, we should consider the strength of connections over time within such a society. Fifth, we need to think on the number of immortal societies as well as mobility characteristics for individuals ( related to 4).

Therefore, I hypothesize that with an increase in human lifespan prophecies related to potential damage to social fabric should increase, accompanied by decrease in prophecies concerning personal survival and health.

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The use of money released mankind from primitive arrangements for production and barter; but, in facilitating a high degree of specialisation and change, money has caused individuals to rely upon the entrepreneurial success of others. It caused individuals to rely upon the entrepreneurial lationships can be exacerbated if the monetary system is desrabilising. elationships can be exacerbated if the monetary system is destabilising. Price signals - the means by which dive verse activi ty is coordinated - are orrupted by monetary disturbances. p. 61

- again, "money caused" as if money is a  being with its own will.


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