"The tragedy is our continued focus on the symbolically superior pure electrics over the vastly better for the planet hybrid vehicles."

Is there evidence / solid analysis that hybrids are better for the planet? I follow a lot of sources where I'd expect to hear about something like that, but have not, and would love to know about it.

From first principles, I can imagine reasons hybrids might pencil out better, but I can also imagine counterarguments, and I don't think it would be productive for me to bother listing them, what would be great is a source if you have one.

Expand full comment

When a finished film is canceled as a tax write-off, why can't the studio put it in the public domain?

Expand full comment
Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023

> Amazon shut SFP down because they said deliveries weren’t on time. But new info today shows sellers using SFP met the delivery requirement set up by Amazon more than 95% of the time.

According to https://reason.com/2023/11/06/the-wildly-misleading-statistic-at-the-center-of-the-ftcs-antitrust-case-against-amazon/, this claim is wildly misleading. The delivery requirements that were met "95% of the time" were the ones which were committed to by the sellers. If a seller commits to delivering within 2 weeks, but Amazon Prime commits to delivering within 2 days, those are not comparable, even if the seller fulfils their commitment 95% of the time.

Expand full comment

Most anime recommendations I see cluster around the popular shonen adaptations, which can be fun but are explicitly targeted towards a younger demographic. If you want really interesting shows I'd recommend looking for either seinen adaptations, or late night otaku/arthouse stuff like what you get on noitaminA. You didn't ask, but I love playing this game so I'm going to offer up some options anyway:

Mononoke (2006)

Tatami Galaxy/The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

Woman Called Fujiko Mine

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Sora Yori Mo Tooi Bassho

Expand full comment

"If you are surprised that new findings say the Eaterlin Paradox was bogus and money does indeed increase happiness indefinitely on a log scale, I am curious why."

Fundamentally, what they were measuring was "when prompted, do you self-report being happy" (or having been happy in last time period). I think it's quite natural this scales with income. When do you say you're happy/were happy this week? When you did a cool thing, when you didn't have a life crisis (specifically things like "needed new tires, but so broke this is a major crisis" kind of crisis), when work doesn't suck.

The more money you make you are definitely decreasing "things solved by having a few K cash on hand".

The more money you make you are also doing (probably) more "cool" things per period, vacations/buying new toys/fancy dinners.

People making certain wages have selected into jobs they actually enjoy, or at least don't actively hate every minute of as well (see note later).

So of course when you ask people these kinds of questions the answers scale with income.

However, I strongly suspect if you measure some kind of "minute-by-minute" happiness %, you would find that it caps out at some kind of upper-middle class life where you more-or-less tolerate your job, have income to cover sudden expenses and are otherwise free from the kind of pressures it takes to be a doctor/start up person/lawyer/software engineer.

Going beyond that level (80k back-in-they-day, 130k now) requires sacrificing more minutes to unhappiness (grinding away hour 50-60 at work), even if your reported happiness (b/c of lack of sudden financial emergencies, increased toy purchases, fancy dinners) increases.

Now, I also back this theory up (following up on "see note") by recalling rates of depressing, substance abuse, suicide by various professions/jobs. Famously dentists, for example, despite having jobs that should rate super highly on many happiness factors have insane suicide rates and are wildly depressed. Lawyers and binge drinking/alcoholism. Doctors and being wrecked by "Cat's in the Cradle".

Rates of many "not happy" proxies increase in higher paying professions, but they are the kind of not happy proxies that might not be captured by this research. People taking Xanax daily might report happy on this metric, but I'd not rate that life as happy.

Now, there is another aspect to my gut check response and that is I could go back to doing a job I hated and wildly increase over what I make now. I could agree to go from 40-45 hours per week to 60-65 hours per week and probably doubly my yearly take home. This would certainly increase the quality of my toys, but I'd go from being basically happy/content something like 90-95% of my waking moments to miserable 8-12 hours per day. I suspect this is true for a lot of people. Of course, maybe may situation so strongly colors my perception here that I'm wrong.

Also, as a final note, the effect size is sooooo incredibly small I'm wondering is some p-hacking/question tuning/silly nonsense is happiness here as well.

Expand full comment

"529 savings plans are technically owned by the account owner, not the beneficiary ... It still boggles my mind that we allow colleges to demand to know your assets and then perform ~100% asset confiscation"

I'm not wild about this, but I recently had an opportunity that involved looking at some of the admissions/fin aid stuff from the inside and what I can say (completely unsourced beyond "trust me"): If you didn't do this than rich people would game the system to an insane amount. I'm talking people with 400k/600k yearly income claiming to be broke on a letter of special circumstance and wanting FinAid money set aside for impoverished people and, b/c they are more capable of navigating documentation/paperwork issues, providing all the papers/documents to make it seem reasonable that a family making 600k/year can't string together SOME way of coming up with 40k/year for college.

This was absolutely routine, my gut check recollection is that a huge chunk of the sub stories received by the FinAid offices involved people making 2x/3x/4x median household incomes, acting like it is just impossible that they should have saved any money up, use retirement money, sell stocks, or in any way contribute to their child's education. Can't we see? They make 4k week and spend 4k week (and have for 20 years) it's just not possible to help out at this time (or anytime in the last 20 years, or in the future).

Maybe this isn't the right way to fix this problem, but if you relax these rules you're going to be using endowment funds/FinAid budgets to by for Johnny Q. FancyPants the Third b/c his parents understand the formulas and will exactly spend themselves up to their "we're almost completely broke on a monthly cash flow level". The current fix is harsh, and is probably way too harsh on middle class parents and their retirement savings, but there are almost 20m people in college right now, and I'd guess maybe 2-3m of them would be able to wildly abuse a change preventing this kind of holistic financial analysis.

However, I think potential road to a fix lies in looking at (say) total assets + Social Security Income Years and putting together a sliding scale of "how much we care about your complaints" in a way that doesn't allow asset rich/income poor people to game the system, nor allows "net zero net worth, but 3x median income/year" people to have free college b/c they have elected to never save money in the last 30 years.

I'll conclude with 3 examples of the kind of logic I think we have to prevent from being accepted:

1. We own 5 luxury cars, 2 houses and have crazy well funded 401k/IRA/Roth IRAs, but our actual monthly income is through an LLC, so we can select how much money we make vs let sit in our capital account at the LLC. It's unfair expecting us "not to invest in our business" (i.e. grow the capital account b/c you simply draw down the amount needed to pay your bills) when our kid goes to college.

2. We make 1m+ per year, but once we pay our mega-mortgage, marina fees and car loans we have nothing left over. We could easily pay for college by swapping from very-lux cars to merely regular luxury cars, but this is an intolerable oppression on our standard of living.

3. Our entire networth is bound up in an incredibly successful business, but the income is very average (apart from the ability to take loans against the business, take loans against our ownership interest in the business or sell stock in it). All of these options for increasing cash flow (or simply giving ourselves raises) are "requiring us to sell or mortgage our family business merely to attend an Ivy League school". Why don't we (networth 100m+) qualify for financial aid because our yearly income is actually very meagre?

I'm sorry, the rule isn't great, but after months of reading letters like this I can't get behind a change that lets "these people" game the system.

Expand full comment

Crumbl has a product called Crumbl Water which I very much like to think is just filtered water with chunks of cookie floating in it.

I’ve been playing a bunch of Exoprimal lately, which I can recommend if you’re looking for media with AI-trying-to-destroy-the-world premises. This one’s got a lot of goofy Japanese spin though: AI given goal of “make the best power suit”, does it by ripping open holes in spacetime and pulling dinosaurs into major population centers for skirmish training data, and also using their blood as a plot McGuffin power source.

Expand full comment

> Zvi Mowshowitz hereby says: There are things in our society that you cannot say.

IMO Level 1 isn't very meaningful because the above statement could be repeated in pretty much any country, including Russia and China. You *probably* can't say it in North Korea but otherwise I'm not sure if there's a country where saying this would get you into trouble.

Using Sam Altman's definition corporate America is probably a Level 3 society and big parts of academia are a Level 4 society. But overall the classification system doesn't make much sense to me.

Expand full comment

> Zvi Mowshowitz hereby says: There are things in our society that you cannot say.

You've conspicuously said a much weaker version of what Graham was challenging, omitting the "true things" part. Thus you've skirted the danger of someone asking for an example which, by Graham's construction, you'd be unable to provide.

This was then either an oversight or a sort of ironic validation that we are somewhere greater than 1 on his scale, such that you felt the need to soften the statement?

Expand full comment
Nov 15, 2023·edited Nov 15, 2023

I'm going to try and explain the "problem" with Amazon's price matching being a penalty in the long term. This is going to require a table of numbers, so I apologise if the formatting is off.

So, when things are discounted, almost all of the time the discount is jointly funded by both the retailer and the supplier to the retailer.

For example, a product that is normally $10 gets a 20% discount - part of that $2 comes out of the retailer's margins, and part comes from the manufacturer giving the retailer a discount on the front end.

The trouble with price matches is that these are almost always set up in trading terms to be fully funded by the manufacturer, with the retailer fully recouping any cost.

This then drastically impacts the manufacturer's margin (and actually *increases* the retailer margin), disincentivising discounting elsewhere and creating some push to higher average prices faced by consumers.

For example, the below table shows the outcomes where a retailer sells a 4 pack of energy drinks for $10. They buy this from the manufacturer for $6. It costs the manufacturer $3.60 to make.

| | Base | 20% off (Mgn maintain) | 20% off (50/50) | 20% off (match) |

| Retail price | 10 | 8 | 8 | 8 |

| Mfr Price | 6 | 4.80 | 5 | 4 |

| Mfr Cost | 3.60 | 3.60 | 3.60 | 3.60 |

| Retail margin| 40% | 40% | 37.5% | 50% |

| Mfr margin | 40% | 25% | 28% | 10% |

There are a bunch of different ways of "splitting the discount", but the above are a couple of common ones.

As to the obvious criticism of "why discount in the first place, just always sell for the equilibrium price!": Discounting provides a release valve for issues that can pile up in inventory management - forecasting stock requirements is hard - and having an avenue to clear stocks is great from a supply chain perspective. There are also important roles for product discovery and enticing people into the top of the sales function and reducing barriers to trial. Furthermore, discounts provide an effective price discrimination function for selecting against wealthier customers who don't value the time used to research and "shop sales" or migrate between different retailers. Plus other reasons. The demand-supply equilibrium looks nice on a 2 dimensional chart, but it is hardly stable and some flexibility is needed to operate in the real world.

Now the obvious workaround is "always just hold a negotiated discount on Amazon at the same time as other platforms so you aren't fully funding the match", and certainly there are things like that happening, but it a) tends to piss off your other customers; b) diminishes the "price discrimination" effect noted above; and c) complicates the inventory clearing mechanism as the uncertainty of how much is going to be required in which retailer.

I'm not saying any of the above makes the FTC's case a sure winner, but it does make the "price matching can be bad, actually" look less crazy.

Edit: dangit, Substack destroyed my table formatting, as expected. Sorry!

Expand full comment

"Zvi Mowshowitz hereby says: There are things in our society that you cannot say."

This is an extremely different and much milder statement than what Paul Graham said, which is that there are things in our society THAT ARE TRUE, but you cannot say.

Expand full comment

Critical Drinker posted a video yesterday re Batgirl. He spoke anonymously to people who worked on it. Apparently its test screenings weren’t bad (way better than Birds of Prey for instance) and it was more likely a victim of change of management at Warner and a string of previous flops that meant they were unwilling to continue to invest.

Expand full comment

> It still boggles my mind that we allow colleges to demand to know your assets and then perform ~100% asset confiscation

Wait wait, so this is because ... colleges give so much financial aid / reduced-from-sticker prices based on financial need, that if you tell them your assets they will effectively simply raise their prices to a level that drains them all?

Expand full comment

The whole point of the 'silence is violence' thing is to compel people who don't agree with you into saying they do, thus (a) making more people think your views are more popular than they are and (b) swaying people who think 'well, I don't really care but everyone thinks X, so I believe X too', as well as (c) convincing some people simply through forcing them to repeat stuff--there was a bit in Cialdini's Persuasion about how the Chinese brainwashed at least some captured Americans after the Korean War by getting them to write essays on Communism, etc. for better rations. (I am sure the US pulls this sort of thing too.)

If you don't want to go to bat for anime, I can definitely see that though. But if enough zoomers started dissenting, even on private channels (preferably IRL or through something like snapchat that destroys itself), the juggernaut can begin to be rolled back. Once you can conceive of dissent, the next step is to act on it, even if acting is too risky at the present time. I get the zoomers can have their lives ruined by someone showing up with receipts of something un-PC they said, and this isn't something prior generations had to deal with...but they can't get all of you, all of the time. The one thing young people never have (by definition) is historical perspective. The USSR looked invincible until it wasn't.

Also, as you get older and have more money cancellation is harder and there's less life left to ruin. And the fertility drop might wind up having its own unintended consequences--there's a reason most revolutionaries have been men with no children (as Malcolm Collins sadly discovered recently).

Back to anime...for my part I got into it late in life as I saw it as a way to resist giving money to woke Hollywood/TV companies. Crunchyroll is of course responsible for High Guardian Spice, but if they see I'm watching Rising of the Shield Hero, GATE, and Goblin Slayer, well, you know where your money's coming from.

If you're curious about it for non-ideological reasons (as is likely), I would look around at the various genres and try one of each. 'Anime' is really like 'American TV' or 'French movies'--it's a medium and a country of origin.

The anime subreddit has a huge list by genre.


Based on what little I know of you, you might like Death Note (battle of wits with one supernatural element) or Steins;Gate (scientists doing sciency stuff with complicated time travel). The episode count also isn't over the top--you are never going to catch up on One Piece or Naruto, and that's OK. Serial Experiments Lain is about the Internet before it happened. Fullmetal Alchemist mixes fantasy, real-life protoscience, and scifi in an interesting way.

To help split up stuff you and your wife might like, the demographic categories are shonen ('young boy'--think DBZ), seinen ('young man'--think Death Note), shojo ('young girl'--think Sailor Moon), and josei ('young woman'--these are less well-known, but one I'm going to recommend is Princess Jellyfish, which has only 12 episodes and is about a bunch of young nerd women--sorry, 'onna-otaku' in Tokyo). Of course one of you might like something in the 'wrong' category, and that'll be great as you can both enjoy it!

Expand full comment

Does Einsmann actually say "I want buildings to make you anxious"? Or is that just how the twitter poster characterizes him? To take another quote from the photo that the tweeter didn't highlight:

"I am not saying that fear is good. I am trying to find a way to deal with that anxiety."

Expand full comment

> Daniel Eth: Also we see both:


> • complaints that scientists perform the actual work before applying for the grant and then use the grant money for their next project


> • suggestions that we move from grants to prizes

This only seems contradictory if you've never applied for a peer-reviewed grant before. If everybody else has already done all the work for their proposal, you have to do the same, or you look like a slacker. In addition, this means you can only try things that you're sure will work. One might even wonder whether it's worthwhile to fund such research. (insert "that's the joke" meme here)

Expand full comment