The discount rate is a basic tool of accounting and economics: people and institutions often need to deal with costs and benefits which will arise in the future, and it doesn’t usually make sense to simply value them as if they were happening today. A person expecting pension payments of $1,000 per month in thirty […]


In an effort to control my insomnia, I bought some protective goggles which exclude blue light. On the first night, when I put them on at 9pm, the psychological effect is profound. Suddenly, it seems obvious everywhere that I should be asleep or preparing for sleep. I will try putting them on sometime between 9pm […]

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I have been listening to an audiobook of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. It’s full of interesting concepts and engaging writing. In one passage, Taleb describes the anxiety of the investor who feels the need to constantly check on how well an investment […]


Finally, and very subjectively, there is an inauspicious storyline surrounding second-term secretaries of defense: none has ever finished his second term, each having been asked by the president to leave before his term was over. I believe that this is not coincidence; that there is something about this particular job that causes it to go […]


I think perhaps I need to undertake a befriending exercise with drivers. My universal doctrine is not to hate anybody, but I do hate people who drive cars, pickup trucks, military vehicles rebranded as family transport, motorcycles, and taxis (I would prefer an all-taxi world to one where people have private cars, but taxi drivers […]


When making decisions about technology, both false positive and false negative errors are possible. By that, I mean it’s possible for us to miss or ignore how a technology has unacceptable consequences for people and the rest of nature. DDT or the drug thalidomide were such false negatives: wrongly considered to be acceptable for use […]


So much confusion, so much paranoia, so many good intentions, so much hard work, technical genius, cynicism, manipulation, buckpassing, buckpocketing, argument, grandstanding, risk-taking, calculation, theorizing, goodwill and bad, rhetoric and hypocrisy, so much desperation, all point to something intractable behind the problem of how to deploy sufficient and appropriate nuclear arms to protect one’s nation […]

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As an undergraduate, as a mechanism for managing emotional instability, I developed a doctrine in which I would try to maintain five independent streams of activity in life: each important to me, and capable of going well or badly. A typical undergraduate set might include academic coursework; the debate society; photography; perhaps a romantic relationship; […]

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I think it has been plausibly demonstrated that people who witness the violent and traumatic death of other people may experience adverse psychological consequences as a result. It’s hard to interpret the significance of that in the present era, or more so in the case of my own life. Ignoring early childhood, I don’t think […]


It’s strange that a stage show running in one city is affecting the whole continent, but New York isn’t a normal place and Lin-Manuel Miranda clearly isn’t a normal man. The killing in Orlando originally prompted my personal doctrine in response to political violence: refuse to be terrorized. One or a few people armed and […]