Elliot's Microblogging

I definitely heard or read somewhere that Rand’s original manuscript for Atlas Shrugged had almost no errors, and that the editors were surprised by this, especially given how long it was.

I can’t find the source.

Charity (in discussions) clashes with objectivity.

BTW DD pushed charity very hard before I saw LW pushing it. His standard phrase was “positive interpretations”, whereas LW uses “principle of charity”.

My recurring experience with DD was that whichever one of us had a more negative interpretation (about some third party involved in discussion) was usually right. That was due to a bias (by each of us) towards positive defaults in the absence of information. We only adopted negative interpretations when we had rational confidence and a specific, adequate reason.

A related issue is the “give anyone (at least) one chance” idea I’ve used which is similar to “innocent until proven guilty”. The idea is not make negative assumptions about people at the outset with low information. Just because e.g. 95% of people have a flaw does not mean you should treat everyone like they have the flaw. That’s a bad default because you’ll mistreat the best people. (A common way of treating people based on assumed flaws is refuse to talk with them at all. What people often end up doing is talking only to people with the right social status which can override the negative default assumptions. The right social status could mean being introduced or referred by a friend, or even just attending the same party; it doesn’t have to mean a public reputation.)

Objectivism talks about how to organize and structure your own learning, how to be rational yourself, etc. But it doesn’t say how to have a conversation with another person and make it rational and educational. It doesn’t talk about how to help each other learn. This fits Objectivism’s themes of individualism, first-handed learning, and IMO too little communication between people in Rand’s books (in particular, Dagny, Rearden and Dominique struggle to learn things for themselves, for years, while someone else in the story knows more about it and doesn’t explain it to them. Maybe Roark didn’t know how to explain it to Dominique but Galt certainly did know how to explain a ton more of it to Dagny and Rearden if he wanted to – he did explain it to Francisco and other strikers off-camera.). Objectivism is much more focused on how to think than how to discuss (which I grant is more important, but both are important).

Critical Rationalism actually says we learn by critical discussion … but then also doesn’t give guidance on how to make discussion good and effective. Improving that major omission is one of the goals of Critical Fallibilism.

Theory of Constraints actually gives practical guidance for having structured interactions involving other people to discuss things and solve problems.

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So many people ask me some form of this question:

“How can I convince my client that what I do is valuable?”

A more useful question would be to ask:

“How can I find out what my client wants the most?”

Once you know what your client already wants, you just need to figure out how to deliver it.

You don’t have to convince them of anything.

What if you’re dissatisfied with the world and with what people currently want, though? Then you have to convince them or ignore them.


i found out the reason Elden Ring exists

FromSoftware has made lots of games. they were just another mediocre developer. one of their games was in development hell. it’d had redesigns. the demo sucked. ppl thought it would fail. it was delayed. stuff like that.

a guy had been a designer on a previous game and got himself assigned to the bad game on purpose. he later said in an interview that he thought he had a chance to get control of it and make whatever he wanted. and if his ideas were bad, who cares, it was expected to fail anyway.

so he went against industry norms and made it hard and punishing – while the Wii was big in 2009 and trying to bring in non-gamers. and it was their best selling game ever.

it was a single person who didn’t care what is expected to sell well, didn’t care to conform, and wasn’t a top executive.

since it did great, they let him do another game. it did better. so he got another game. Elden Ring is the 6th using a similar design and it’s doing extremely well. it’s doing so well that ppl are going to copy it and try to make some other games harder.

most video games today are copycats, similar to how most architects in The Fountainhead don’t have original ideas. Elden Ring is like Breath of the Wild where it may actually improve the industry and be copied.

btw the early video game industry was better in some ways. they had to pioneer stuff. there wasn’t enough established stuff to copy. plus early games were aimed at early adopters, not the masses, which made them harder. plus, perhaps a larger factor, they used difficulty to make the games longer. they couldn’t make big games back then. they also couldn’t have art be the primary experience because the graphics weren’t good enough, so they had to focus on gameplay more.

Elden Ring has some features to make it easier than previous games. some players are refusing to use them.

the designer says difficulty is part of how they make success feel rewarding. if it was too easy ppl wouldn’t feel good or accomplished when they win

atroic says difficulty is their main brand image now and that it gives status to ppl who get anywhere in the games and creates scarcity that ppl chase. he compares it to expensive fashion brands.

Also in the video are comments from jealous game designers from other companies who point out mostly-correct flaws in Elden Ring’s non-bottlenecks. That stuff matters some but it’s not a key issue and it’s not crossing an important breakpoint. You need something especially good about your game that stands out. If you have it, many people will put up with the game being rough around the edges, although they’d rather it was polished better.

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Digital Ocean broke my CF website. It wasn’t loading so I tried to restart it but now it won’t turn on at all. I can get zero information about what’s wrong and the only troubleshooting step I could do is rebuilding the whole server from a backup.

I have contacted support. 6 years ago they usually responded to tickets within an hour. 3 years ago, people waited for days with no response and others said that’s a known issue and if you don’t like it switch providers. some thread said they got no response for 16 days then their ticket was closed with no explanation.

i don’t know how long to wait with the CF site just completely gone, just to hope for some kind of useful response.

i can’t export my data from ghost to switch to linode without getting the server running again.

since i have zero information about what the problem is, i don’t know if making a new droplet from backup will work, nor if the problem will reoccur.

i didn’t do/change anything relevant. i was just using the admin area to schedule a post and then the page listing posts wouldn’t load so i checked and the homepage wouldn’t load either. and i couldn’t ssh in.

i can’t use the recovery console or see any log files or text about what’s going on unless the droplet is on, which it’s not.

i didn’t get it set up with cloudflare so there’s no cache of the articles there for ppl to read.

maybe they will respond in an hour. maybe they will not respond for a week. i have no way to know.

Digital Ocean’s website is terrible. there’s basically no way to find where you submit tickets. the links go to their help docs. then clicking sign up or sign in there redirects you back to your server infos page, and then clicking support goes back to the docs. somehow when doing this repeatedly i got to a ticket creation page once. then i found that the ticket categories make no sense and don’t apply and also that i couldn’t type in the ticket details box at all. so i switched to firefox and was entirely unable to replicate actually getting to the ticket creation page. however i copied the URL over and got there. and then with firefox i could actually type in the box. so i have a ticket submitted in the wrong category.

i’ve had overall OK experiences with linode (which is where my older websites are) but moving ghost (CF publishing platform) and discourse there would be a big hassle and also linode was recently bought by Akamai so maybe they’ll get worse, who knows. in the past my experience with slicehost is they seemed pretty good (about equal to linode) then rackspace bought them and they became awful. i have looked webhosts and read recommendations and i’m not confident in anything else being a better option now let alone over the next 10 years.

i know how to build web servers from scratch (as in, install and config stuff from a default linux install), script that, automate deploys, etc. but i can’t do anything when they don’t keep up their end: turn it on and let me ssh in. i don’t have physical access to the hardware.

don’t know what to do.

also DO isn’t showing any outages currently https://status.digitalocean.com/

In the meantime, you can read CF articles in your email client or RSS reader. If you don’t have your own copies of articles in either of those locations, I suggest getting that in the future.

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Amazon is banning people from Lost Ark due to Amazon’s own horrible mistakes. then customer service basically tells them to go fuck themselves instead of fixing anything. similar stuff happened with New World (which was both made and managed by Amazon, whereas this is Amazon managing a Korean company’s game in the Western market).

this particular story is even more ridiculous than you might expect: he’s banned for a credit card chargeback or refund. but he didn’t do one. he bought a cosmetic item with in-game money in the in-game auction house, and the cosmetic item was bought by someone else using real money who then did a chargeback. this is exploitable to get specific or random people banned on purpose (e.g. Asmongold can’t accept any gifts from fans of anything that could be charged back, or he will almost certainly end up banned).

he spent over 400 hours on his game account, and spent real money, and it’s been taken away from him. there are no Paths Forward. there are no fixes. a lot of people intuitively understand that the world has really bad Paths Forward even if they don’t know it in a clear, conscious philosophical way. they know lots of shit like this can’t be fixed. it’s part of what the complaints about “privilege” are about.

this is a widespread problem. Blizzard and many, many others are similarly bad. I fear the Digital Ocean may be similarly bad.

asmongold is convinced that big companies are choosing awful customer support as greedy calculating capitalists who think the saved staff costs are worth the public relations cost. he thinks it’s an equation and they are coming out ahead. he then goes on to detail how really awful it is and how the negatives are really big including in indirect or non-obvious ways.

i disagree with Asmongold. i think they are incompetent and that this is egregiously unprofitable. the executives who do this are too dumb to understand or calculate the negatives correctly. after all the memes mocking Bobby Kotick – for good reasons – i don’t know why Asmongold respects CEOs enough to think they mathed this stuff properly. i think they are idiots who have no idea how to run a company profitably in the long term. (i will grant that a lot of these errors don’t look as bad over the timespan of only the next 3 months, although New World actually managed to crash and burn in under 3 months after launch…).

i think there’s a big issue with how people look at the world where they assume lots of stuff is on purpose when it’s just incompetence. they assume some smart people somewhere actually thought it through and are following incentives like making more profit. but tons of stuff is super incompetent people with no idea what they’re doing who often aren’t even paying attention to the thing in question. (often they are competent at something else. they didn’t all become a CEO by luck or nepotism. they are often competent at social climbing, though only in a specific subculture – most of them don’t know principles and couldn’t adapt to social climb in some other group.)

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Digital Ocean replied already (3.5 hour response time is pretty good) to tell me that they don’t know what the problem is or how to fix it, but they have escalated internally and will get back to me later.

Digital Ocean replied again. They fixed it. I got no information about what was wrong or what happened. They just said a tech did something and it should work now. I hit “turn on” again, as instructed, and it worked and the CF website is now back up and functioning normally.

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You could take the idea “The Game of Thrones TV show is way more popular than the books” and figure out a lot about the world from analyzing that one thing.

Principles for Dealing With the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail by Ray Dalio:

The economies of Europe and Japan had been destroyed by the war [WWII]. As a solution, and to fight the spread of communism, the US supplied them with massive aid packages (known as the Marshall and Dodge plans), which were a) good for these devastated nations, b) good for the US economically because these countries used the money to buy US goods, c) good for the US’s geopolitical influence, and d) good for reinforcing the dollar’s position as the world’s dominant reserve currency.

(b) is basically Keynesian stimulus thinking.

I skimmed some of the book. It’s OK. I like his policy of bolding important passage so that you can read only the bold parts to get a short version of the book (he said he wasn’t sure whether to write a short or long book so he did a hybrid).

I updated the CF homepage https://criticalfallibilism.com with a recent articles section and collapsing some categories

I skimmed some more of the book, particularly the two chapters related to China. Dalio seems like a mainstream high-status, high-power US businessman. He’s done a lot of business with China. He presents himself as fairly pro-capitalism. It’s disturbing how pro-CCP he is. He said a bunch of pretty positive things about the CCP (and a few nice things about Marx too) but little about their brutality.

Dalio is kind of an amoral pragmatist. He thinks international politics is basically all about power, and treaties don’t matter much. He thinks much of what he says is human nature. He doesn’t have the idealism to want people to improve. He talks a lot about historical cycles which he views as pretty inevitable. He’s not big on the power of ideas.

He also said something about in China everyone is poor together (decades ago). He thinks they sort of share their poverty and have less inequality. His evidence was that CCP members and businessmen he met would be impressed by pocket calculators he gave as gifts. Possibly they were just lying to flatter him. But even if it was genuine, that doesn’t mean the peasants in the countryside weren’t way poorer! I think there’s a really nasty bias where he doesn’t recognize privilege and wealth well and he lacks serious consideration for the masses.

Quotes from Principles for Dealing With the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail by Ray Dalio:

In 1984, I had my first direct contact with China.

China was very poor and backward then. However, it was immediately clear to me that its people were smart and civilized and its poverty was widely shared. In this regard, it wasn’t like most other undeveloped countries I’d been to, where the poor seemed to live in a different century. China’s backwardness stemmed from a general lack of access to what was available in the outside world and from its demotivating system. For example, I gave out $10 calculators as gifts, and even the highest-ranking people thought they were miraculous devices. At the time, all businesses (including small restaurants) were government-owned and bureaucratic. The Chinese couldn’t choose their jobs, never mind their careers, and received no financial incentives for working well. There was no private ownership of property, such as one’s home, and there was no contact with what the world had to offer in terms of best practices and products.

Because it was clear to me that the closed door was the reason for China’s poverty, I believed that its removal would naturally equalize its standards of living with the developed world, just as unconstrained water naturally seeks the same level.

In 1995, I sent my 11-year-old son Matt to China, where he lived with Madame Gu and her husband and attended what was then a poor local school ( Shi Jia Hu Tong Xiao Xue ). Matt had been to China with me many times since he was 3 years old and had gotten to know Madame Gu well. He didn’t speak the language, so he would have to learn through immersion, which he did. Though his school was poor (for example, there wasn’t heat until late November, so students wore their coats in class), it had smart and caring teachers who provided the children with an excellent, complete education that included character development. Though Matt was deprived of some comforts he was used to (he couldn’t take hot showers because the old apartment building he lived in only had hot water two days a week, for example), he was superbly educated, loved, and better developed than he would have been in our rich community. He built deep attachments with his teachers and friends that still exist. The experience led him to set up a foundation to help Chinese orphans that he ran for 12 years. Around that time I also hired a Chinese team to invest American institutional money in Chinese businesses. I pursued the effort for a couple of years but had to discontinue it because I found it too difficult to run it and Bridgewater at the same time.

I skimmed The Transsexual Empire. It was OK. It mentions Thomas Szasz a few times, who liked it. It brings up an argument that Szasz also made (I don’t know how original it is to him) that society is (wrongly) converting various issues from ethics to medicine. Life problems become health problems. That’s a major aspect of psychiatry and “mental health”, as well as seeing a problem like gender (role) unease as a medical problem to be solved with surgery rather than a life problem involving ideas to be solved by thinking and problem solving (and by improving society and its cultural pressures, power structures, oppression, etc).

It’s a feminist book from 1979. It’s interesting to see how much transsexual stuff was already going on at that time and how things were different then. It’s also nice to read some reasonable feminist commentary on society, patriarchy, etc. The author has some awareness of how socialization and culture influences/controls people’s lives much more than they realize, and how this has connections with power structures. It has awareness of gender roles being highly problematic but people lacking options and support to escape them (becoming transsexual is one of the few options for escaping the expectations of your current gender). I don’t know of modern feminist books that are similarly reasonable, though I haven’t searched (I don’t like the feminists who are getting a lot of publicity today). The feminist stuff comes up in passing instead of being the main focus. The book has quite a bit of critic of other people, like writers and surgeons who are public figures. One particularly prominent advocate of transsexual stuff also expanded into defending incest, which played a role in Johns Hopkins dropping a transsexual surgery and Gender Identity Committee.

Objectivists and libertarians are wrong to draw such a strong distinction between the actions of big corporations and government actions. There is a big distinction in economic theory but, as they often say, we live in a mixed society. We have crony capitalism. We have government interference in the economy and varying degrees of entanglement between the government and most or all large corporations. That blurs the distinction a ton!

Long article with many interesting things starting with prison gang structure. One point is about how people at the top often do not have enviable positions (another example is Gail Wynand).

Tangentially, after reading the article I saw the author’s Twitter bio says “Pursuing Anarcho-Capitalism via Marxist-Leninist methods”. So on the one hand that’s rather different than me, but on the other hand I overlap significantly with him on dislike and disrespect towards the current elites, mainstream, social hierarchy and power structures. Here’s one of his tweets:

I posted this comment on the article:

Hi. I just found you today and read this article. I’m an Objectivist (and happy to answer questions or criticisms, which I don’t think most other current Objectivists would do – I don’t get along with them either). I didn’t know you were a Marxist until I got to the end and read your Twitter bio. So on the one hand are beliefs are very different, but on the other hand I think we overlap quite a bit on disliking the current rulers, power structures, social hierarchies, etc. Perhaps being a disillusioned outsider or not matters more than left or right. I write philosophy https://criticalfallibilism.com

I know something about the mainstream being bad that you might potentially not already know, so I thought I’d tell you. In three words: science is broken. It’s not just how much the government controls grants and universities. It’s not just the replication crisis or “publish or perish”. It’s not just that a massive expansion of the number of scientists has flooded science with uncreative people who are bad at it (just like has been happening to every other scholarly pursuit – similarly on Substack you are competing for attention with vast numbers of people who don’t have anything novel or important to say, but nevertheless are flooding the public with their writing because they want attention personally and they anti-socially don’t care about the overall social problem of how people’s attention can find good ideas).

To give an example, I used to think that our food was broadly safe to eat. I had trust in science to have studied things like food additives and determined that they were safe. Now, having looked into it more, I’ve concluded that many things are horribly under-studied including e.g. milk homogenization, artificial sweeteners and food dyes/colorings. And industry has a recurring strategy of replacing problematic ingredients with unstudied ingredients. Another example is sunscreen – chemical sunscreens (as opposed to mineral), in short, have only been studied at doses below the recommended dose, and are probably a bad idea to use (especially for young children). But that doesn’t stop everyone from believing science has proven they’re safe and effective. There are many mundane scientific issues that aren’t particularly controversial, and are important to our lives, but just don’t ever get properly studied. It’s like that throughout. There’s no competent leadership organizing scientists and scientific experiments, yet for all sorts of understudied things we are constantly told to listen to the scientists and told that a particular conclusion has been reached by science (the people saying this are broadly incapable of reading scientific papers and just trust the media. also making scientific papers difficult to read is part of the game). It’s difficult to deal with because, while pretty much everything has a few contrarians opposing it, the contrarians generally don’t know what they’re talking about and are often wrong too.

Kulak’s twitter contains problematic stuff about the US empire being murderous, about Ukranian warcrimes against russia, about Ukranian nazis, and about the jewish lobby. I think he partly likes Trump and hates government schools, propaganda, indoctrination and state power.

Have you written and posted about this anywhere? If not, maybe you can do a summary of sort in a future podcast?