Author: kirby

Online Polarization: Suffocated By My Overgrown Green Beard

[Content note: this post contains brief discussion of a suicide attempt] In 2007, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote an essay in which he argues for a social physics understanding of group extremism.  Why do cults often become stronger after the failure of a prophecy?  How do online forums become echo chambers?  Yudkowsky makes a physical analogy to evaporative cooling:

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Sequoia Elementary

Two former schoolmates and I recently published an open letter to the Berkeley school board (BUSD), along with a historical account of our elementary school’s 2005 democratic process to change our name from “Jefferson Elementary.”1 After two years of hard work by adults in the community, who wanted to create a more anti-racist learning environment for us,

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Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature

Also posted here on LessWrong. Tl;dr: Far-ultraviolet light has potential as a human-safe germicide, but its safety is not established. In particular, evidence that it is not carcinogenic exists for only one of two mechanisms for ultraviolet carcinogenicity. In addition, use of far-ultraviolet light in public spaces to prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2 or other

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Rabbit

Okay, so here’s the thing about rabbits: They’re not much good at dancing. How do I know this? I dated one once. I know what you’re thinking: “Not all rabbits are like your ex. It’s not okay to generalize about a group based on one bad experience, you specieist bigot.” Well, alright then. You date

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Follow-up on the Bolivian Coup

In fall 2019, after accusations of election fraud, the Bolivian police removed support for president Evo Morales, and interim president Jeanine Áñez was installed in his place. I wrote about the event at the time, focusing less on the election and resignation itself, and more on the question of epistemology in a hostile environment.  An uncritical read of the

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Everybody Hates Los Angeles

Every December, I head up to Northern California to see family and friends, and mostly I love catching up with everybody, and feasting, and singing, and other holiday things, but I also have to brace myself for a particular type of interaction: “How’s Los Angeles?”  “You haven’t become an LA native, have you?”  “They haven’t converted you, have

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Top Books of 2019

The best books I read this year, in no particular order: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon This novel tells the story of two Jewish cousins who become successful comic book authors in the 1940’s and ’50’s.  It explores the antifascist origins of the superhero genre, as well as questions surrounding the role

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