2014-10-20

Join us!

The Warlords of Draenor expansion is looking to be the most fun and noob-friendly I've seen Blizzard make World of Warcraft. The game is finally in a state where I can genuinely recommend it to a new player. Check out these videos from Blizzard with short and neat intros to the available classes. Maybe one of them is something you'd want to play!

At $15 per month, WoW is by far the best bang for the buck you'll get for an entertainment hour. Hookers, restaurants, theater, opera, cinemas, bars, and legal and illegal drugs can't compare with that bargain. What I can't promise, however, is that you won't want to play too much. :)

2014-10-15

Bill Gates in favor of progressive tax on consumption

I can't believe it! Bill Gates agrees with me! Not that he even knows of me, of course. But in today's article about economic inequality, he dismantles the popular compulsion to counter inequality with debilitating income or capital taxation, and argues in favor of a progressive consumption tax.

I've been making this argument for a while - on this blog, most recently here.

2014-10-11

Politically Correct Asshole

A person who, instead of just saying things, concerns themselves with statements and observations about ways in which it's okay to say things.

2014-10-07

It's not a vitamin, it's a hormone - and we lack it

Dr. Stasha Gominak makes a solid case in this presentation for the following:
  • In her experience with migraine patients, she discovered that 90% have a sleep disorder. Headaches in patients she tried to treat with medicines for years improved in a matter of months if she sent them to a sleep study, which got them a CPAP device to help them sleep.
  • But CPAP devices are awkward and intrusive. After experiencing success by improving sleep, Dr. Gominak discovered her patients have something else in common - a vitamin D deficiency.
  • She began researching vitamin D, and found that:
    • It's not a vitamin, it's a hormone. A vitamin is something we must get from food; a hormone is something our body produces to regulate its processes. We produce D-3 through our skin, and it deeply affects the entire body. We can't get it in sufficient quantity from food, except from pills.
    • We produce D-3 (cholecalciferol) only when exposed to sun during the summer. D-3 is synthesized from exposure to UVB rays, which are absent in the winter.
    • Vitamin D-2 (ergocalciferol) is not something humans produce, it's something that was discovered in rats. Rats are nocturnal animals, they get their version of this hormone by eating a fungus.
    • D-3 regulates a bunch of things in the body, from metabolism to sleep. D-3 is what enabled our ancestors to sleep 6 hours in the summer, eat 10,000 calories in a sitting, and work all day. Then in winter, dropping levels of D-3 caused their metabolism to slow down, depression to set in, and sleep to be longer, improving survival.
    • Most of us now spend our time indoors, with little sun exposure. We are operating on a permanent winter metabolism, with all its symptoms: fat accumulation, depression, sleep.
  • After applying this to her practice, Dr. Gominak's experience suggests:
    • Fixing D-3 deficiency fixes sleep. Sleep, in turn, fixes symptoms exhibited by patients, including: migraines, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, memory problems, depression, autoimmune disease, balance difficulties, pain, infertility, endometriosis.
    • Dosage is an issue. Too much D-3 causes the same types of symptoms as too little. The blood level to aim for is 60 - 80 ng/ml of D25OH. 50 causes problems; so does 95.
    • Reliability of pills is an issue. D-3 is over-the-counter, and is not subject to requirements for prescription drugs. A pill does not have to contain the amount listed on the label, and frequently doesn't.
    • 1,000 IU per day is probably too little, while 10,000 IU is probably too much. The right dose depends on the person - where you live, how much time you spend in the sun, what skin color you have. People with dark skin create D-3 much slower.
    • Prenatal vitamins don't have nearly enough D-3 for the mom and the baby (only 400 IU).
    • D-2 (ergocalciferol) is for rats. It probably does not help humans, and might even hurt by competing with D-3.
I highly recommend this video of Dr. Gominak's presentation; I found it concentrated and engaging. She also maintains a website with this information.

2014-09-30

Terrible Weakness

Brilliant.

By Dave Palumbo, "Terrible Weakness":




Since not everyone seemed to be figuring it out where I found it, or they had weird theories, I played art analyst:

The way I see it, he killed a woman who loved him. Her spirit is being pulled away from this world (the knife is in his hand, her death is recent), but even in death, she continues to love him (still hugging him, not letting go). Even as his shirt is soiled with her blood (a heart-shaped stain - implying love between the killer and the victim), her peaceful expression makes it seem she has forgiven - perhaps never blamed him to begin with.

One way to look at the name of the piece is that she had a terrible weakness - her love for him. But love isn't terrible; neither is compassion and forgiveness. The real terrible weakness, I think, is his proneness to anger and violence, the inability to control it. The destruction it wrought has been awful. It ended her life, and cost him a future with a woman who loved him. She departs in peace; he stays to live with the burden, already haunting him.

2014-09-28

In favor of economic incentives for healthily-proportioned mixed-race neighborhoods

I was recently involved in a discussion about race and racism. It revolved around findings such as in the following Economist article:


Three-quarters of all victims and nearly 90% of perpetrators are male. Black Americans are only 13% of the population, but over 50% of murder victims. Among black men between 20 and 24, the murder rate is over 100 per 100,000 (see chart). [...]

Perpetrators in America tend to look like their prey: less than 20% of murder victims are killed by someone of another race.

The conversation also revolved around the contentious issue of race and average IQ. I reproduced some arguments I had recently written:

The main problem is the color itself, and its reliable correlation with IQ. This is unfair to exceptional individuals, who are judged superficially by their skin. Others notice the difference, and treat black people poorly and exclude them. This treatment causes them to bundle together and turn inward, producing hopeless, crime-ridden ghettos.

If we could break the correlation with color, yet still keep the same overall number of low IQ individuals, the race issue would be solved. Those who believe there aren't biological differences could find that they're right. Prejudice would dissipate over time, since no actual differences would exist to sustain it. But we don't know how to do that.

For the US, the only solution I can think of is to minimize the dynamic of concentrated black populations becoming ghettos by enforcing racial quotas. But that takes coercion, and is totally not workable within the constitution.

As-is, we really don't have a solution. In the absence of one, we resort to paying lip service to how there are no differences. We make superficial attempts to aid them - the kinds of efforts that should work if differences didn't exist. But that's not effective, so really, we're just letting them be, and escaping to gated communities.

Though my correspondent still disliked what they perceived as my insensitivity, they found this analysis insightful, and made a suggestion I didn't consider on my own. If the US race problem is made worse by the vicious cycle that takes place in inner-city ghettos, then coercion is not the only way to encourage healthy mixed-race neighborhoods.

An effective solution might be to offer economic incentives to people living in healthily-proportioned mixed-race communities. If black Americans are 13% of the population, then an ideal proportion of black Americans per city block might be between 7 and 20%. If the federal government offered a, for example, 5-percentage-point tax rebate to members of balanced communities, inner city ghettos would eventually disperse, and the vicious cycle they create with them.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of solution for which we have to understand race-IQ as a crucial contributing factor to the ghetto and crime dynamic - and yet not judge individuals on the basis of their skin color. This, unfortunately, is a difficult proposition. If we do not discuss race-IQ, people will argue that this proposal is itself prejudiced, and that race has nothing to do with the problem, other than white people being racist - which, they will say, this is an example of. Alternately, if we do discuss race-IQ, we risk people taking it as an excuse for bigotry and ideas of race superiority.

I'm talking about it now because, for the first time, I can see a solution.

2014-09-23

Aaron's adventures #5

It's been 7 months since I last posted photos! My family has been reminding me about that. :-)

These are sorted oldest at the top, newest at the end. It's been a while, so there are quite a few.