Math quiz

Inflation soars to an over 40-year high. These are the ways Americans are coping:

Clay Watkins loves LaCroix brand sparkling water — especially the watermelon flavor.

So the suburban Chicago school teacher was excited when he spotted it on sale at his local grocery store: two packages for $8.

“I went to grab the package and I was like, ‘Wait a second,'” Watkins recalls.

He was surprised to find a package that once held 12 cans of sparkling water had been downsized to 8 — with no change in price — a common practice known as “shrinkflation.”

“I’m not a mathematician,” he says. “I teach science. But I think that’s a 33% price increase.”

What do you think?

How to fix the AI

Computer Scientist: “Problem, boss. Turns out that new multi-million-dollar AI is outputting racist results.”
Boss: “Well, tell it to knock it off.”
Computer Scientist: “What do you mean?”
Boss: “How did you figure out the results were racist?”
Computer Scientist: “We asked it for a list of candidates to interview, and it returned a list of ten Asian men. ”
Boss: “Instead of?”
Computer Scientist: “Well, instead of a diverse list.”
Boss: “What’s diverse?”
Computer Scientist: “Uh, two Asians, five people of color, and three people of Hispanic heritage.”
Boss: “Tell the AI to return a list of two Asians, five people of color, and three people of Hispanic heritage.”
Computer Scientist: “That makes it sound like the AI is just a computer program.”
Boss: “Don’t tell the customers, but it is just a computer program.”

UPDATE 10 April 2022: Paul Graham on heresy. I’ve saved a copy locally, just in case.

Chance and necessity

  • Them that takes cakes which the Parsee-man bakes makes dreadful mistakes.
  • When struck by a thunderbolt it is unnecessary to consult the Book of Dates as to the precise meaning of the omen.


A couple of days late, but still within the Heptad of the Insurrection

What if the insurrection* had succeeded? Maybe a security guard held a door open for a minute, and a mob of bloody-handed insurrectionists just walked in unarmed, laughing and taking selfies, claiming without evidence that there was corruption in Chicago and Joe Biden was a senile doofus. If our gallant Congress ran away, that would have left that one guy in the Indian suit as Speaker of the House, and as Speaker he could have called it for Trump.

Recall how things were in the Before Time: President Trump said mean things on Twitter, a lot! and good people wanted to de-fund the police. If the insurrection had succeeded, the wise and steady hand of President Biden would not now be guiding us, and a number of consequences would follow.

Trump would have caused inflation.

Trump, ignoring the generals, would have allowed the withdrawal from Afghanistan to degenerate into a costly, deadly, failure that brought the Taliban to power.

From malice or incompetence Trump would have forced Covid hospitalizations to a record high. Since Trump’s vaccine would have worrying side-effects and be only marginally effective, the teachers’ union would be out on strike.

Instead of a ground-breaking news-making wonder, the James Webb Space Telescope would be unable to keep the roads open, as Trump’s global warming snowed shut the interstate from Virginia to Pakistan.

If the insurrection had succeeded, the unrest in Krhazagirzistria would be Trunp’s fault, and good people would be in the streets chanting to de-fund the police.

That’s how things might be today if the FBI hadn’t stopped the insurrection, so

Always remember the sixth of Janember,
face-paint and selfies and, what?
I see no reason why insurrection
should ever be forgot!

*The heinous DESPICABLY violent Terrorist Attack on our Most Prized National Institutions,** threatening our very DEMOCRACY in a way unprecedented in our nation’s HISTORY!! It’s been in the news lately.

**Congress and NPR

They can lock you up

but they can’t give you the shot until you say the magic word

The vaccine may or may not be a good trade of risk for reward for you, depending on a lot of factors. It seems like your doctor should know, but I’m not so sure of doctors as I was. Anyway, I don’t know what’s good for you personally. I got two shots of Pfizer, and I’m not 100% sure it was good for me. I do know what’s bad: Vaccine mandates for COVID are bad.

Police in Australia or Austria or someplace will wrestle a man to the ground and cuff him, transport him against his will to a camp, and then lock him in until he gets the shot. Once they have him down, why don’t they just give him the shot, and then let him go?

Maybe the vaccine works better if it’s taken under duress. The threat, arrest, and confinement have a placebo effect. I can imagine a new meta-study from Johns Hopkins showing 30% enhanced efficacy against the, let’s see, “omicron” variant, for shots taken under duress compared to shots sought out by the recipient. It’s counter-intuitive; it’s incompatible with other studies; it’s stupid; seems like an obvious result to publish, and a great headline for NPR.

I mock those anti-tax guys who say, in effect, “We live in a lawless tyranny, but if you write your name in capital letters the judge has to let you go,” but maybe they’re on to something.