[I haven’t independently verified each link. On average, commenters will end up spotting evidence that around two or three of the links in each links post are wrong or misleading. I correct these as I see them, and will highlight important corrections later, but I can’t guarantee I will have caught them all by the time you read this.]

1: This blog has previously covered sinister-sounding British political titles like Shadow Lord. But recently I learned there is also a Night Czar.

2: In my circles it’s conventional wisdom that everyone wants to end daylight savings time changes, but the government is too sclerotic to make it happen. So I was surprised to learn that The US Tried Permanent Daylight Savings In The ‘70s, [But] People Hated It. “While 79 percent of Americans approved of the change in December 1973, approval had dropped to 42% three months later.” After less than a year, Congress bowed to popular opinion and re-instituted the time changes.

3: A fundamentalist Christian theme park in Kentucky plans to build a full-scale replica of the Tower of Babel. You might think “wait, this is the opposite of what the Bible wants you to do”, but they have a blog post explaining why they disagree:

Our culture has been inundated by false views of our origins, teaching that we evolved from ape-like ancestors. While most evolutionists are probably not racists, the philosophy they hold is inherently racist, implying that some people groups are more closely related to apes than others. For example, the late Stephen Jay Gould, a leading evolutionist of the 20th century, acknowledged that acceptance of evolution spurred the rapid growth of racism . . . Our goal in building a Babel attraction at the Ark Encounter is to proclaim mankind’s true history as described in God’s Word. In doing so, we will boldly confront racist and ethnocentric philosophies and practices.

When our descendants ask why they’re stuck speaking 4,900 fractal hyper-languages, we’re going to have the most embarrassing possible explanation.

4: Current status of “missing heritability” claims: being used as evidence for reincarnation.

5: In honor of International Women’s Day, Binance has launched “Binance Perfume” to “bring crypto[currency] closer to women”.

I was skeptical, but these sure are women.

6:Chatbot Arena Leaderboard - if I’m understanding this right, the crowd compares two LLMs, rates which one is better, and then they use an equivalent of chess’ Elo system to give each of them a score. Claude 3 and GPT-4 currently locked in a tight race for first.

7: From the subreddit: If people want community so much, why aren’t we creating it? Lots of comments from would-be community builders sharing their experiences with why it’s hard.

8: Matt Bruenig: The ACLU Is Trying To Destroy The Biden [Labor Relations Board]. Story as I understand it: an Asian ACLU employee said during a phone call that she was “afraid to raise certain issues” with her boss, plus a few other comments along those lines. The ACLU found out and fired her for racism, because her boss was black. She appealed to the government’s labor relation board; in order to fight back, the ACLU’s lawyers are trying to redefine labor law to force disgruntled employees into company-approved arbitration. The pro-labor wing of the left is understandably upset. For me the funniest part of this is that in twenty years, we’ve gone from ACLU Defends Nazis’ Right To Burn Down ACLU Headquarters to “ACLU Employee Who Complained About How ACLU Punishes Employees For Speaking Out Gets Punished For Speaking Out”.

9: In a Bay Area House Party post, I discussed the legality of bribing would-be politicians not to run. Turns out someone tried this (with a $500K bribe, no less!) and it’s illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.

10: Did you know: President Eisenhower’s grandson married President Nixon’s daughter.

11: MichaelMF lists his favorite up-and-coming bloggers.

12: Related: Peter Singer has a Substack now. And so does Slavoj Zizek.

13: For April Fools’ Day, the Less Wrong admin team pivoted to music and released an (AI-generated) album of some of their favorite Less Wrong and other rationalsphere posts. Here’s Basil Halperin’s AGI And The Efficient Market Hypothesis: Markets Are Not Expecting AI In The Next 30 Years:

…and a selection from my Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person:

Full album here, background and links to songs in other media here.

14: Elsewhere in rationalsphere April Fools: Linch et al announce Open Asteroid Impact: “When Krishna said ‘I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds,’ I believe he was thinking about the impact on jobs.” Also: Excerpts From The Effective Altruist Talmud.

15:Invasion Literature was a type of proto-alternate-history, especially popular in the early 1900s, where the reader’s country was invaded by a superior foe. Popular sub-genres include “Germany invades Britain”, “Germany invades America”, “China invades Australia”, and “Communists invade everywhere”. Sometimes the attraction would be a story about how ordinary citizens banded together to protect their way of life; other times it would be biting social commentary on how the government was too weak to prevent invasion:

Several of the books were written by or ghostwritten for military officers and experts of the day who believed that the nation would be saved if the particular tactic that they favoured was or would be adopted.

Also: “Le Queux and his publisher changed the ending depending on the language, so in the German print edition the Fatherland wins, while in the English edition the Germans lose.”

16:New African company tries to do cellphone-based cash using crypto. Kenya’s M-PESA cellphone cash really helped their economy; other African countries tried to replicate it but due to different governments and stakeholders weren’t able to make it work. I don’t know enough about the constraints to predict whether this avoids them, but I wish it well.

17:Default Friend: Lesbians Who Only Date Men. There’s an annoying troll argument against transgender: if gender is non-biological and about how you identify, why can’t transgender status also be non-biological and about how you identify? That is, why can’t I (always male, never transitioned) identify as a “trans man” if I feel like the label resonates better with my inner self? So far, the answer has been “nobody actually does this in real life, so it’s an annoying troll argument and not something we really need to think about”. But according to Default Friend, now something like this is happening in real life.

18: Amidst a rapidly-expanding YIMBY movement, continuing homelessness and rent affordability crises, and growing consensus that building more houses has to be part of the solution, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to . . . make it harder to build houses in San Francisco, and overturned the pro-YIMBY mayor’s veto.

(since there’s been some confusion - I like suburbs and am against YIMBYs’ obvious lust for destroying them. But if you want the suburban life, you shouldn’t be sitting on space in America’s second densest and most dynamic city. San Francisco’s utility is as a giant spiritual prison that keeps the sort of people who enjoy living in San Francisco - the LinkedIn types, the school-renamers and statue-puller-downers, the e/accs, the r/fuckcars posters, the street-blocking-protest-havers, the people who want to ban everything except crime, the people who think there need to be five nightclubs per city block, Aaron Peskin, - from bothering everyone else. We don’t need to turn currently-habitable places into prisons, but it’s fine to say the prison is growing overcrowded and needs more cell blocks.)

19: Related: Andrew Sullivan speaks out against noise (eg people carrying around loud stereos with them in public places). I think this is a brave post - people are going to make fun of him as an “old man” or whatever. But he’s completely right - I rarely go out any more without earplugs and headphones on, and this is also a big part of why I rarely use public transit (though there are also other reasons). Likely cause is de-policing making cities reluctant to enforce noise ordinances; I think the best option would be to reverse this. If the government refuses to enforce laws against criminals, then it’s a question of which law-abiding people should take the pain, and I think the least unfair option is banning portable stereos. I realize this sounds extreme, but there are plenty of other options for people who aren’t bad actors (eg headphones) and I don’t know how else to make public places livable for people with noise sensitivity.

20: Amanda Askell (philosopher now working at Anthropic) on what Hume can tell us about AGI:

21: Updates from ACX grantees: antiparasitic drug oxfendazole has been approved for Phase 2 trials (ie trials in humans) in Peru. And Dr. Roy and his citizen drinking water surveillance project have published a paper discussing some of their work over the past decade.

22: George H (formerly of Cerebralab, now of Epistem.ink) claims that Increasing IQ Is Trivial and the scientific consensus that it’s impossible is just scientists being too cowardly to try interesting things (see also his counter to Gwern’s “Algernon” argument here). He says that he was able to increase his IQ 7-9 points (after controlling properly for learning effects) and that the first two people to try to replicate his method got 10 and 11 point increases). He’s being a little coy about what exactly the method is, because he doesn’t want too many people trying it half-assed and messing it up, but says it involves:

…targeted NIR interference therapy, short UV during the morning, a lot of inversion-based exercises where I focused on contracting/relaxing neck and face muscles, a few customized breathing exercises (think wim hof), figuring out the correct levels for a bunch of cholinergic vaso[dilators/modulators] (think noopept), massage therapies to reduce tension on the spine, some proprioception-heavy movement practices, a niche tibetan metta meditation series… and about 5 other things that are even harder to compress.

The main point is that “the method” doesn’t matter so much, you can just google “intervention to increase IQ”, find 50 things, dig through the evidence, select 20, combine them, and assume 5 work I think the core point of “how” is really unimportant, since I didn’t do something optimal… not even close, I did something “silly” that I could execute part time with pocket change. So I don’t want to bias people towards this particular method.

He’s now trying to get other people to replicate his results more formally. He says a replication attempt will take $300 worth of tech, specialist trainers who might cost up to several thousand dollars, and “3-4 hours of effort a day for two weeks”. If you’re interested, email him and he’ll try to set something up with you via Zoom calls. He says he prefers to work with groups of 2-3 subjects who can provide a couple of controls each. You can reach him at george3d6@gmail.com . If you do, email me and let me know you’re doing it, as a sort of pre-registration and so I can follow up with you later. I have very high priors on these kinds of claims being false, and I think you should only do this if you think it would be a fun experiment even if it didn’t work. Related:

23: Did you know: the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck Earth in the spring.

24:How The Alt-Right Won, by a alt-right veteran and tactician. Useful as a look into what strategies the alt-right thought they were using. I owe all the misinformation experts and antifa people and so on an apology - the way they thought the alt-right worked, even the paranoid-sounding bits, is exactly how the alt-right self-conceptualized themselves as working. The only exception is that this guy thought progressives who conflated ordinary Trumpists with the alt-right were serving alt-right interests (ie it was counterproductive for the progressives doing it).

25: Tech millionaire Yun-Fang Juan has pledged $1 million to a “Scientific Integrity Fund” to defend science whistleblowers / “data detectives” against litigious authors (eg the Data Colada vs. Francesca Gino case).

26:Good New Yorker article on the “classical education” trend [may be paywalled for some people], historically-inspired charter schools that teach classics, poetry, Latin, etc. “One New York City public-high-school reading list includes graphic novels, Michelle Obama’s memoir, and a coming-of-age book about identity . . . in classical schools, high-school students read Aristotle and Dante.” My guess is that learning Aristotle and Dante doesn’t necessarily directly make you a better person - but that interacting with the sort of teachers/kids/parents who would go to these schools, and being exposed to the sorts of rules/norms/teaching methods these schools would enforce, does make you a better person, and there’s no way to make all of this happen without the Aristotle and Dante as rallying flags.

27:Elizabeth (AcesoUnderGlass) reviews nitric oxide nasal spray / “Enovid”, a promising treatment for respiratory infections like colds and COVID (you spray the nitric oxide in your nasal passages, and it kills the viruses). I use this, but not enough to feel like I have an opinion on how well it works.

28:Psychiatry At The Margins criticizes Mad In America; I find MiA really deceptive and am happy to link people pushing back against them.

29: Did you know: “Herodotus, Aristotle and other authors named Arabia as the source of cinnamon; they recounted that giant cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew and used them to construct their nests. Pliny the Elder wrote that . . . the tales of cinnamon being collected from the nests of cinnamon birds was a traders’ fiction made up to charge more. However, the story remained current in Byzantium as late as 1310.”

30: Remember how a few years ago people talked about a “short squeeze” on Gamestop stock, Gamestop became a “meme stock” and went up a lot, and then later it went back down? And you know how sociologists say that after a religion’s predicted apocalypse fails to materialize, some believers become even more committed? r/superstonk (FAQ here) is the subreddit for people who believe that the true Gamestop short squeeze is still coming, that it will take down all of Wall Street, and that Gamestop will soon be worth “[from] $10,000 per share to $100 million per share - with evidence suggesting there is no theoretical ceiling on what the price could climb to.”

31:List Of Long-Term Wikipedia Vandals. It’s most fun to read this as a grimoire of minor information demons, eg “Wikinger: Adds false information related to the Greek alphabet and to its related minor characters”, “Zhoban: Adds unreliable sources to Islamic terrorism articles, while acting in an uncivil manner”.