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118 posts tagged with "in-English"

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How to read: meticulous selection and much persistence

· 9 min read

It is very rare that I disagree with Morgan Housel — I identify with his ideas about well-being, learning, and money. But this time, I have to.

A few days ago, he wrote (my emphasis):

“A book you’re not into after 10 minutes of attention has little chance of a happy ending. Slam it shut and move on. You’re not a failure if you quit a book after three pages.”

According to Housel (I haven't been able to verify the quote), Charlie Munger once said:

“Most books I don’t read past the first chapter. I’m not burdened by bad books.”

Admittedly, Housel is in good company: other very smart intellectuals that I like and follow seem to agree with this strategy. Tyler Cowen said (NB: seventeen years ago):

I start ten or so books for every one I finish. I don't mind disliking a book, and I never regret having picked it up and started it. I am ruthless in my discards.

Naval Ravikant says:

“I feel no obligation whatsoever to finish the book. If at some point I decide the book is boring […] I just delete it. […] Don’t feel the obligation to finish any book. Don’t treat it like a linear tome or treatise that has to be read in order and the way the author intended beginning to end.”

Well, I disagree with them all!

Photo of a pile of thick books

Books and bad feminism

· 8 min read

Let's talk about one of my favourite things in life (books) and one of my least favourite things in life (contemporary mainstream feminism).

To do any kind of analysis of the world of books we can start by dividing it into three main areas, or groups of people involved: writers, readers, and publishing houses. The first two groups are self-explanatory. The last group comprises all professional activity bridging the gap between the person who writes and the person who reads: publishers, editors, proofreaders, translators, marketers, etc.

A Girl Writing; The Pet Goldfinch by Henriette Browne

What are the sex imbalances in those three areas?

Let's review some facts.

📢 Introducing “AI-tiquette”! 🤖🎩

· 2 min read

In this era of advanced technology and AI-powered assistants, it's becoming increasingly important to establish trust and transparency in our digital interactions. That's why I'm excited to share a brand new proposal that aims to revolutionize the way we identify and acknowledge the origin of online content. Say hello to "AI-tiquette" or "AItiquette"! 🌟

The concept is simple yet powerful: every piece of content shared online will end with either "/human" or "/robot" to indicate whether it was created by a person or an AI-powered assistant. By implementing this small but significant addition, we can enhance transparency, foster trust, and embrace a new standard of digital etiquette.

Men have it worse than women (according to people)

· 9 min read

For at least seven years now I have tweeted, tooted and posted at length, both in English and in Spanish, about the failures of contemporary orthodox feminism. I still consider myself a feminist, as per the sensible and constructive definitions of the word (equality under the law, equality of opportunity, opposition to sexism, respect for individual choice). But I keep on seeing so many inconsistencies, anti-scientific ideas, petty grievances, misandry, and hatred on mainstream feminism, and its focus is misplaced so often, that sometimes I have to repudiate the label and write against that hegemonic strand of feminism.

In the last decade or so, discussing differences in aggregate outcomes per sex has become especially problematic. I see two main pitfalls there.

First, the eternal tension between nature and nurture, and the corresponding open debates. That makes it very difficult to tell to what degree gaps between the sexes are due to innate differences or to upbringing and cultural norms and expectations. (Are there way more men in prison than women because men are naturally more inclined towards crime and anti-social behaviour, or because culture teaches men and women to behave differently and punishes them differently?)

Second, it is not always obvious for everybody what is a “good” outcome or a “preferable” outcome in the first place. (Is the fact that men work longer hours than women on average an advantage of being male because it means they earn more money and get more meaning and prestige from their jobs, or are women better off because work is work after all and it's better to avoid stress and night shifts and have more time and energy for other aspects of life?)

An illustration generated by Dall-E 2 for this post

You are not an anti-capitalist

· 6 min read

“I grudgingly forgive capitalism the misery it causes, because it’s the engine that lifts countries out of poverty. It’s a precondition for a free and prosperous society; attempts to overthrow it have so consistently led to poverty, tyranny, or genocide that we no longer believe its proponents’ earnest oaths that this time they’ve got it right. For right now, there’s no good alternative.”

— Scott Alexander

“I'm waiting for someone to, first, describe a better system than capitalism, and second, set out a realistic path for getting from here to there. When that happens, it will be worth thinking harder about the ethical flaws in capitalism. Until then, […] there is a huge amount we can all do, within the current economic system, to make the world a much better place.”

— Peter Singer

A Midjourney-generated illustration for this post

I noticed that I stumble upon “anti-capitalism” surprisingly often in day-to-day life.

I hear or read ideas against capitalism on mass media, on podcasts and on blog posts; by politicians, artists and punters. Not just criticism of, or suggestions to improve, capitalism — but outright calls to end capitalism.

Sometimes it's implicit in the message, or thinly veiled in some other way. Think all those platitudes about “creating a new system”, “putting people before profits”, “getting rid of money”, and so on.

But more often than not, it's an explicit, frontal attack on capitalism. Until 2020, one of the main organisations conforming the political party Podemos in Spain was Anticapitalistas. Also in Spain, the manifestos proclaimed by mainstream feminist organisations for the occasion of International Women's Day, year after year, paint a huge bullseye on the back of the capitalist system (“…the macabre bond between patriarchy and capitalism that wants us to be obedient, submissive and silent…”). I have acquaintances who claim to be against capitalism, puzzling as I always found that aspiration.

Having kids

· 4 min read

A Midjourney-generated illustration for this post

Before the end of the day, when the kids are already asleep, my wife and I often go back to photos/audio/video of them that we ourselves have registered very recently (like, in the same day) and thus know well already. Nevertheless, we enjoy that, and sometimes giggle and point at the screen and say “awww”. It's a very warm feeling. And it's very stupid. I often marvel at that.

ChatGPT vs. Stack Exchange

· 9 min read

A Midjourney-generated illustration for this post

One big reason places like Wikipedia and Stack Exchange became so amazing is that they have developed a very tight culture of quality: although it's true that anyone can contribute, in reality every entry is relentlessly filtered, edited and reviewed by a core group of committed contributors.

In the early days of the WP it was possible to append some nonsense to an existing article, and even (gasp!) start a new article with content of very poor quality. Those edits could stay unchanged for a very long time, and so it was relatively common to stumble upon pages filled with illegible stuff or including made-up gibberish without sources or external links. I know that because almost two decades ago I contributed a little for the first time to a couple articles (like “Granada”), and the few sentences I added stuck for months or years (not that I trolled or wrote anything false).

On the other hand, my recent (little) experience trying to contribute to WP articles has been less sweet. In the last years I have fixed typos and grammatical errors without any problem. However, when it comes to starting a new page or adding more than a few words to existing ones, I find that rules and etiquette are so stringent now that they raise the bar way above the time I can spend on a WP page as a quick distraction from work or whatever I am doing at the time, and so my edits have been sometimes questioned or reverted.

Ditto about Stack Overflow and all the other sites of the SE family. I remember well the refreshing feeling when Atwood & Spolsky launched the thing: it was bold, easy, incredible quality and very helpful. It's still all those things… but for the “easy” part. Today it's so easy to misstep (asking or answering a question) that sometimes it can be intimidating. “Too short”, “too long”, “answered elsewhere”, “add fewer tags”, “should provide and example”, etc.

(As I said at the beginning: I know I shouldn't complain, because those high bars and the incredibly serious army of contributors is precisely what makes those sites high quality, useful, and mostly reliable.)

Anyway, I was reminded of all that last week when I read about ChatGPT.

Weeknotes: 2022, week 40

· 2 min read

[3–9 Oct]

Some days this week Miss Entropy took her brand new scooter to school.

On Monday I went alone to that other town to visit yet another flat for sale. I quite liked it, and took lots of pictures to show later to my wife (but she went herself to see it some days later and didn't like it as much as I did).