# Epigrams

Witticisms, parodies, pointed observations, japeries, jocularity, Tom Swifties, examples of nominative determinism, and discursive drollery
humor, psychology, statistics, transhumanism, technology, Silk-Road, Bitcoin, power-analysis, Bayes
30 April 20141 Mar 2019 in progress certainty: possible

# Useful sayings

A list of quotes I find myself regularly using, not necessarily coined by myself.

Philosophy:

• “How would the world look different if X was true?”

• “What did I expect to see before I saw X?”

• “Name three examples.”

• “Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.”

• “By convention sweet is sweet, bitter is bitter, hot hot, cold cold, and color color; but in truth there is only atoms and the void.”

• “If someone does not believe in fairies, he does not need to teach his children ‘There are no fairies’; he can omit to teach them the word ‘fairy’.”

• “He [Omar Khayyam] is an atheist, but knows how to interpret in orthodox style the most difficult passages of the Koran; for every educated man is a theologian and faith is no requisite.”

• “‘I don’t speak’, Bijaz said. ‘I operate a machine called language. It creaks and groans, but is mine own.’”

• “I am Loyal to the Group of Seventeen.”

• “Causes are differences which make a difference.”

• “The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.”

• “The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.”

• “Since the beginning / not one unusual thing has happened.”

• “Now, Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wished for.”

“What?”

“He lived happily ever after.”

• “The fox condemns the trap, not himself.”

• “If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise…You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”

• “You think you know when you learn, are more sure when you can write, even more when you can teach, but certain when you can program.”

• “In expressing full function, there are no fixed methods.”

Statistics:

Economics:

• “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”

• “Proof of Trotsky’s farsightedness is that none of his predictions have yet come true.”

• “The optimal number of X is not 0.”

• “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

• “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.”

• “Never reason from a price change.”

• “Disagree and commit”

• “All statistical problems are decision problems.”

• “When two do the same, it’s not the same.”

• “Beliefs are for actions.”

• “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark how are you going to stop them?”

• The Iron Law of Evaluation: “The expected value of any net impact assessment of any large scale social program is zero.”
• The Stainless Steel Law of Evaluation: “The better designed the impact assessment of a social program, the more likely is the resulting estimate of net impact to be zero.”

Security:

• “One can’t proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.”
• “It is easier to write an incorrect program than understand a correct one.”
• “Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.”

• “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains is often more improbable than your having made a mistake in one of your impossibility proofs.”

• “The complexity you add to a complex system to prevent failure is itself a major source of failure.”

• “Attacks only get better.”

• “Do not summon up that which you cannot put down.”

• “The strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must.”

Genetics:

• “Everything is heritable.”
• “Organisms are adaptation-executors, not fitness-maximizers.”

Technology:

• Amara’s Law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

• Algernon’s law: “Any simple major enhancement to human intelligence is a net evolutionary disadvantage.”

• Goodhart’s law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

• Perlis 1982:

• “One man’s constant is another man’s variable.”
• “Everything should be built top-down, except the first time.”
• “Beware of the Turing tar-pit in which everything is possible but nothing of interest is easy.”
• “Most people find the concept of programming obvious, but the doing impossible.”
• “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

Misc:

• Cowen’s Second Law: “There is a literature on everything.”
• “Authors write things down to forget them.”
• “When two thieves meet, they need no introduction.”

# Statistics

• “Often, I must calculate otherwise than I think. That is called diplomacy.”

• Surprising linear models work at all, when they are the worst functional language ever: only operator *, n variables, n assignments, & output=sum.

• When critiquing a paper, go for the jugular: any part with the words “presumably”, “obviously”, “past research”, or “studies show”. (If a sentence cannot survive having the word “just” removed from it, it does not deserve to.)

• Tip: try to read the appendixes of research papers as well. Surprisingly often big results, not just caveats & flaws, will be buried in them

• If your local meta-analyst or methodologist is not either an alcoholic or an insufferable jerk, they may be doing it wrong.

• There’s always someone who can make a perpetual motion machine complicated enough that you, personally, can’t figure it out.

• “Remember, citizens, fulltext is our first line of defense against science journalism!”

• We can sleep soundly because rough men stand ready with blogs willing to do violence to papers on our behalf.1
• When does measurement error matter? If you can’t write “X correlates with Y” as “X correlates with scribbled survey asking about Y” without qualm.

• The use of confidence intervals rather than p-values is a clear improvement; it makes our difficulties vanish like smoke in a fog.

• p-value testing is weird, but with multiple correction, it gets even weirder: the more you measure & model, the less you know.

• Power vs error vs sample size: painful tradeoff of statistics. Sins of omission, commission, & risk aversion—painful tradeoff of life?

• Not doing power analysis with informative priors is searching a haystack of unknown size for a needle which probably isn’t there.

• Power analysis: if there is enough light to find the needles in the haystack; variance component analysis: if there are any needles at all.

• Heritability is like tossing a haystack into a furnace & fractionating the slag: you know the ratio of haystack:needle; but not where the needles were, how big the haystack was, whether many small needles painted yellow or a few big spears, how sharp the needles were, or your neighbor’s percentages.
• It’d be nice if people cared about systematic vs sampling error, Bayesian methods, informative priors & design more than once every 4 years.

• “If you ever decide unbiasedness isn’t too high price to pay for saving posteriors from entropy, let Bayes know. He’ll be ready.” ／人◕‿‿◕人＼

• Remember: p-values are not posterior probabilities are not effect sizes are not utilities are not profits are not decisions.

• All analyses are ultimately decision analyses. We can ignore that for convenience, but we must never forget that.

• Our beliefs are continuous, but our actions discrete. This leads to analysis paralysis; can one execute wholeheartedly on +EV actions with P=1% just as well as when P=99%?

• “Disagree and commit” to courses of action— posterior for solving the of life.

• Beware geeks bearing percents.

• To mine for forgotten gold in a field, look for its most austere & mathematical subfield—mathematicians are terrible at marketing.

• RCTs : traditional Western medicine :: Nixon recordings : presidents :: DNA testing : courts :: priest abuse : Catholic Church :: cellphones/body cameras : police :: Wikileaks : geopolitics :: Soviet archives : espionage accusations :: Snowden : computer security :: GWASes : candidate-gene studies : FLOSS :: microeconomists : Bitcoin : macroeconomists :: DL : ML :: coronavirus : …

• We will know AI has succeeded not when we anthropomorphize machines, but when we unanthropomorphize humans.

• The life of a neuron in Hebbian learning is oft nasty, brutish & short; cells must wire & fire together to survive, thus creating LevAIthan.

• When I was a little kid, I thought cars told their drivers where to go (using their turn signals). It took a while, but eventually, I was right.

• Why do humans have such large costly brains? Cats and chimps can see or walk as well as us.—Because the decisions we make least with little feedback or rewards based on big data over a lifetime can matter the most. We may be at our most human while filling out the paperwork for life insurance. (With deep learning, the new is not that AI finds hardest what we find the easiest, but that AI needs to be smallest—NN parameter count—what we need to be biggest!)

• The news offers a fixed selection of the most extreme outlier (or should that be ‘outliar’?) datapoints, but the global population becomes larger every day. Thus my corollary to :

Human extremes are not only weirder than we suppose, they are weirder than we can suppose.

• Science increasingly requires precise predictions which can fail, a willingness to fail, and sharing of the data demonstrating failure. Like honesty & simplicity, these are prices the most prestigious, wealthiest, and powerful find most difficult to pay.

## Biology

• Whenever I feel maybe the FDA & big blind clinical trials are unnecessary, I lie down & read Longecity threads until the feeling passes.
• Count on it: the most humane organizations oft have the most inhumane results. Save us from those who prefer being or seeming good to doing or giving well!
• Paleo? Atkins? Low-carb? Mediterranean? Maybe it is time to step back and ask: what should be the epistemology of food?
• Correlation ≠ causation: in causal inference classes, the first lesson taught, and the last lesson learnt.
• Observational science on the cheap is often neither science nor cheap.
• Every normal man must be tempted now & then to sharpen knives, hoist a black flag, and run amok, shouting “No causation without randomization!”
• If you consider them in terms of QALYs lost, school is at least as harmful to your health as smoking—and far more expensive.
• Paul Krugman notes you can look like an insane raving loon just reciting economics textbook contents in a loud voice; likewise, .
• Some ask if behavioral genetics has made me nihilistic and feeling all is futile. But I have to believe in free will—my whole family does.
• Àrxi vu (/ˈärˌkīv ˈvuː/; n.): when you read a newly-published paper and are haunted by the feeling you read a longer, better, version 2 years ago on ArXiv/BioRxiv.
• On genetic engineering and AI risk, optimist: “we can’t afford to worry about risks with survivors”; pessimist: “we can’t afford worry about risks without survivors”.
• Disappointments: when 23, reading a paper, realizing: “this is Peak Human. You may not like it, but this is it”. I had grown up: now differences were quantitative, not qualitative. (Never again would I see leaps like object permanence, theory of mind, numbers/counting, reading, the future, death, sarcasm, logic, game theory, programming, statistics… All it took to reach the human frontier was a mere 20 years.)

# Technology

## Programming

• Maxims of reliable complex systems:

• it is easier to invent a buggy “reliable” system than it is to understand a bugfree reliable system.

Corollary: no one understands a working complex system.

• the complexity you add to a complex system to prevent failure is itself a major source of failure.

• Like in security, the worst possible state for a power cord, USB cable, or database is half working.

• Proving properties about systems reveals bugs; it doesn’t matter what property you prove! Similarly, a little fuzz testing goes a long way: your system is probably not robust even to a cat walking across a keyboard.

• The soul of modern man is so fallen & mutilated that he can feel despair only when trapped in dependency hell.

• One programmer’s dependency solution is another’s version conflict.

• Whether to check preconditions before a loop, or after: this is to define sanity and insanity.

• Programmers’ chairs and keyboards cause RSIs of the body; but what RSIs of the mind?

• Will a just & merciful developer condemn good programs to bad smartphones?

• We have abstracted away from for loops over arrays; but what idiom will abstract away the loops of our lives?

• Backups are confronting one’s fallibility & the transience of the world; we should not be surprised so few can do it.

• When was the last time you saw American programmers worry about Indians? A lesson there. But don’t ask an Indian developer what, ask an American.

• The pre-Internet PC was the real Wild West: a lone programmer and his compiler against hordes of quandaries.

• A pause on my keyboard for thought—and how peaceful it must be in the CPU, as the nanoseconds slowly tick by…

• “Bugs in working code are moments for reflection: how much we take on faith, because it seems to work!”

• “Helping newbies requires an active memory—of all the times we ourselves failed to read the fucking manual.”

• Is programming Christian or Buddhist? Ask yourself how many of your programs have the : , , & .

• “Once a program has taken on a definite form, it does not lose it until deletion.”

• How can we fear machines will separate humans when even in their source code, we can read the stamp of personality & style?

• “Data, and the formats by which data are communicated, inevitably create a system permeated by illusions.”

• “A truck driver may drive for 20 years without ever improving; it must be confessed that many programmers do little better.”

• “Anyone satisfied by last year’s code is not learning enough.”

• “I do not like this algorithm/language/tool.” “Why?” “I am not up to it.”—anyone, ever?

• “The Internet is embarrassed by the browser.”

• “The HTML page is a stark data format: everywhere it goes, there is duplication of process. It is perfect for hiding information.”

• There is but one constant in every program; and it is [see VM table entry 0x000007FEFC831010 → 0x00885ED010 → faulting in page...]

• When you become frustrated with computers, please remember they are only cleverly arranged sand. (When you become frustrated with people…)

• “Uproot your functions from their ground and the dangling roots will be seen. More functions!”

• “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers—Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Baidu.”

• A haiku:

The summer garbage—
the sole remnant of many
bright engineers’ dreams

• All that is necessary for entropy to triumph is for good men to do something.

• We do not go because the traffic light becomes green; the traffic light becomes green because we go.

### Languages

• To test whether a language despises its users, merely see whether if (a = 1) {...} is valid.

• …it is clear our technology exceeded our humanity. I do not know in what W3C standard WWWIII.htm will be written, but WWIV will be written in Web Assembler.
• Mozilla now has its own community, browser, cloud, language, userland, and in a final concession to the inevitable—Firefox OS!

• Time-sharing, multi-user mainframes, mainframe VMs, PCs, datacenters, datacenter VMs, Docker, micro-services: the Wheel of Reincarnation yet turns. One must imagine Sysadminus happy.

• C, C#, Go, R, Rust: are these unsearchable names testimony to some feet of clay, or testaments to monstrous egos?

• “Haskellers knows the type of everything & the value of nothing.” Unless they’ve turned on extensions, then neither

• C—fast and efficient and for when you don’t have enough memory to remember things like why you don’t want to use C.

• “C programmers stay sane by imagining that all the other insecure buggy programs are thanks to avoidable unrepresentative reasons.”

• We have made an AI breakthrough! With Prolog, we have created the intelligence of a 2-year-old child: “No. No. No. No.”

• “Creating a new good programming language is so difficult it tends to be only fools who try.”

• “Just as winds preserve seas from stagnation, so also corruption in languages is the result of prolonged calm.”

• “That code is ill-written of which one must repent; as long as the PHP bears no evil fruit, the fool thinks it sweet as honey.”

• Single-paradigm languages are admirable for pushing until it breaks—or doesn’t!; cf Einstein & atomic Brownian motion; Columbus & the “spherical Earth”.

## Bitcoin

• If you find yourself surprised by man or market, remember you have learned as much about your own thinking as them: revelation comes in twos.
• Bitcoin involves no new primitives or fancy proofs; perhaps cryptographers should all along have been studying sociology, not mathematics.
• The horror of Bitcoin: money really is a social construct! & not always by nice-smelling well-groomed people in sharp suits.
• A modest proposal: end tenure for computer security & cryptography researchers. Given the status quo, if they’re not already rich, they can’t be any good.
• “What is the price of two satoshis—one copper coin? But not a single satoshi can fall to fees without your Eternal Blockchain knowing it.”
• The bravery of innovators: what sustained Satoshi Nakamoto during those lonely days in 2009 when no one cared enough even to attack Bitcoin?
• One weird philosophy trick for analysis! Imagine worlds where X failed: “Sure Bitcoin died: a deflationary currency requiring ever more waste?”
• Let us hope Karpeles will not be the of Bitcoin.
• The optimal number of double-spends is not zero.
• was a genius until he was a fool & a knave; Satoshi was a genius until…?
• Once you get locked into a serious cryptocurrency investment, the tendency is to push it as far as possible & collect all the alts. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than an early ether investor in the depths of an ICO binge.

### Darknet Markets

• “Ulbricht, Ulbricht, Ulbricht! A million coins were not enough for Ulbricht!”
• We criticize Ulbricht for not knowing when to quit & enjoy life; but what are we ourselves refusing to quit?
• Everything looks permanent until its secret is known. For all too many things, the beginning of fear is the beginning of knowledge.
• “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care; this every student of the OP SECurity knows.”
• Modest proposal: let’s abandon the term “OPSEC”. Instead, let us refer to the mistakes of Ulbricht, Blake Benthall, , etc as “OOPSEC”.
• Is crypto-libertarianism self-undermining? Can we handle the sausage factory of the darknet markets?
• When a centralized escrow market claims 1% commissions, it should append an asterisk: “and a one-time 100% fee when (not if) hacked or shut down”.
• vs centralized escrow: proof that convenience is a drug faster & more addictive than the finest heroin.
• Decentralized Bitcoin markets are the future of darknet markets—and I fear always will be.
• Lust for lucre is the root of all evil? Alert the theologians: the number of centralized darknet markets is an index of Satanic activity!

# Economics

• Good results follow good intentions even as the .
• Connotations: ‘thrift’ is achieving one’s goals as cost-effectively as possible and maximizing one’s bang-for-buck; ‘frugality’ is choosing one’s goals to be as cost-effective as possible, and picking a bang which minimizes one’s buck. The former is a virtue; the latter, a vice.
• If pigs were smart enough to worry: “the humans neither love nor hate you, but you are made of tasty bacon they can use for something else.”
• Optimists: believe everything has been selected to be as efficient as is possible to achieve; pessimists: everything is selected to be as terrible as is possible to get away with.
• is the of economics”: it always seems to be employed by asses upon high.
• A roll of the dice succeeds 1 time in 6, and stage magicians can learn to control rolls, while perhaps 1 in 10 startups will be truly a good use of time for the founders & employees and success rates do not increase with experience; perhaps saying a startup is ‘as random as a coin-flip’ and ‘really rolling the dice’ should be taken not as an insult but as the highest of compliments.
• ’tis a foolish VC who invests only in things he’s sure of, and not adventures. If a VC doesn’t regularly look foolish, he’s a fool.
• Market volatility is ignorance made visible.
• A modest proposal: replace college with gym memberships. Equal signaling value for Conscientiousness/conformity/discounting; cheaper; objective; equally (un)fair; health benefits; progressive, not regressive; real RCT-verified transfer to IQ & cognition, not hollow gains; positive externalities for looks & taxes; fitness knowledge increasingly useful in increasingly modernized environments & diets, rather than less like traditional schooling knowledge; more easily researched & optimized.
• Copyright and technology are odd—when I was a kid, it was infinitely easier for me to get my hands on 1000-year-old classical Japanese poetry I wanted than on 1 (or 10) year-old Japanese anime; and now it’s the reverse.
• No reward without risk? But
• The past is a Third World country.

## Umeshisms

• If you never lose an eBay auction, you’re bidding too much.

• If you never return an item to the store, you’re buying too few things.

• If everyone in your class gets an “A”, you’re not teaching enough.

If all freshmen in a major earn their degree, too few are dropping out.

• If all your experiments work, you’re just fooling yourself.

• If you eat all your food before it goes bad, you’re eating too much bad food.

• If none of a city’s buildings collapse in an earthquake, construction standards are too costly.

• If your NASA rover program is serious about “fast and cheap”, 0 is the wrong number of rover failures.

• If your Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency never has double-spends, the (miner) rent is too damn high.

• If there isn’t blatant waste in an economy, too many people are looking for waste.

• If a race car survives the race, it’s over-engineered.2

• If your self-driving car fleet never runs people over, it’s being rolled out too slowly.

• If you recall your cars for every defect, you’re recalling too many cars.

• If your packets are never corrupted, you’re on error-correction & reliability.

• “The optimal number of falling buildings in an earthquake is not zero.”

• The optimal number of mask shortages…
• If your new AI program is undefeatable by humans, you waited too long to run the tournament. (If your superintelligence isn’t relatively close to human level, you’re holding off too long on turning the earth into computronium.)

• If an AGI costs sub-billion dollars to train, you waited too long to scale.
• Dark Lordisms: if you’re getting into pitched battles with heroes or armies, you’re not using dark enough magic.

• If you keep going to the funerals of your enemies, you have too many enemies.

• The final Umeshism: If everything you do is easy, you’re underachieving.

### Anti-Umeshisms

Anti-Umeshisms:

• If you’ve never dropped any courses, it’s because education is not about human capital.

Hansonism: one should never drop any courses, because education is not about human capital.

• If you’ve never changed your favorite charity based on cost-benefit, it’s because charity is not about helping.

Hansonism: …

• If you’ve never changed your mind publicly, it’s because politics isn’t about policy.

### Malthusianisms

38. “The world is not what anyone wished for, but it’s what everyone wished for.”

James Richardson, Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays 2001

• Why do hairdryers blow fuses? Because if they didn’t, you would buy a hotter hairdryer.
• Why is it so hard to get competent, hardworking, volunteers? Because if they’re any good, they already have too much work to do.
• If books weren’t so long that they were tiring to read, authors would make them longer.
• Why do returns diminish? Because if they didn’t, someone would reinvest in earning returns in an exponential spiral of wealth until they did diminish.
• Why are worthwhile things often so hard to do? Because if things worth doing were easy, everyone would do the pleasant things and avoid the unpleasant things until the hard things were most worth doing.
• Why are infections so fatal? if the viruses & bacteria didn’t take risks & engage in overkill, they couldn’t get past our adaptive immune system and would be selected against. Why can’t we have simple cheap innate immune systems? Because then we would be selected against by the current viruses & bacteria…
• Why are so many of the people you date crazier, uglier, meaner, or poorer than you’d prefer? Because if they weren’t, they’d already be taken.
• Rumeshism: Why is the rum is gone? Because if there were more rum, people would drink more rum.

### Matthewsisms

• Those startups who least need VC investment & deliver lowest expected returns are those who receive the most VC offers of investment.
• Those who most want a girlfriend are the least successful in asking girls out.
• Those people with the most need for Conscientiousness & depression treatment are those least able to follow therapy like .
• Those schizophrenics with the most need for medication are those least likely to keep taking it.
• The most ignorant who most need to follow advice & instructions are least likely to understand their need.
• Countries which most need to fight corruption are least able to do so.
• …Merit-based admissions aid/scholarships; being rich and getting a loan; applying for jobs…

# Misc

General:

• How would the world look any different than it does now if X were true? You say “because of X”, but where does X come from?
• To learn to build sandcastles on the beach is to learn to live and die an atheist. (“Here on the level sand…”)
• “Everyone knows what would be best for them to do—tomorrow.”
• “Neo, what if I told you… everything you knew was correct?” (That would be the biggest disappointment ever.)
• At times, tolerance can be the most radical of positions to take; just watch when a weak group gains power.
• “Reading a flame war: and all you people must once have been little children, who smiled of a summer day.”
• Imagine a world where the just world and fundamental attribution bias were correct, and karma existed. Wouldn’t that be unspeakably tragic?
• War seeks to mold physical conditions as one wishes; art seeks to mold minds as one wishes. Both are based on deception.
• Art is often hatred: it shows the past, or future, or far-away but never the present moment. Anti-art: a TV & camera showing the viewer.
• The “fallacy of gray” or the “fallacy of grey”? My suggestion “the fallacy of græy” was rejected without, I thought, proper consideration.
• I have made progress in my meditations: yesterday I told myself one truth, and only nine lies.
• Blackmail is a on hypocrisy, either personal or societal.
• Adulthood is accepting no one will save you anymore; from this, all else follows.
• As the global population grows, the extremes become more extreme; they become not just weirder than we suppose, but weirder than we can suppose.
• “But he was sincere”, we say of someone, when finally no defensibility is possible than the possibility of defeasibility.

# Meta

• An aphorism is an algorithm, of we know not what input, we know not what output.
• “It is easier to write an incorrect epigram than understand a correct one.”
• Voltaire’s Third Law: for every aphorism, there is an equal and opposite anti-aphorism
• The epigram is a compressed, golfed, idea, with all the virtues—and sins—of golfed code.
• If we measure the entropy of epigrams by how many people understand them, who is the gzip of epigrams? The xz? (…the ZPAQ…?)
• Remember! Most strings are incompressible, most reals uncomputable, most theorems unprovable, most programs undecidable.
• Should languages support the writer’s convenience or the reader’s understanding? Frame it as a status debate, and all becomes clear.
• Fear not known but unknown propaganda; I have the utmost respect for Pravda or research papers reporting p=0.04—how else will I know what to not believe?
• Writing down your ideas takes 90% of the time; debugging code takes another 90% of the time; rewriting takes the third 90% of the time…
• A day with nothing unusual is an unusual day. Fiction writers & GANs must include the improbable to be probable. Spend surprisal shrewdly.
• Transhumanism’s victory can be seen in how few now bother with the word.
• The meta “M” hierarchy: methodologies over models over materials (raw data) over memories (anecdotes)
• Remember for later the point of reading a manual: it is not to remember everything that is in it for later but to later remember that something is in it.

# Startup ideas

Potentially profitable late-stage capitalism performance art pieces:

• simulator. Email the user once a week with n variants or actions to pick, like directed evolution games. Graphical/plant backend can be powered by CNN , painting engines (eg ), outsourced human artists in China, etc. To increase revenue, kill bonsai at random with low probability & present memorial videos of how it evolved over the years, while offering to make a micropayment to resurrect a version of it or start growing another from its random seed.

• custom manufacturing of extremely dense metal (lead//) objects such as credit cards/keys/passcards/etc for elite luxury brands: unexpectedly heavy objects subconsciously signal Quality. This is part of why SUVs are so heavy and why devices such as Beats headphones have metal weights inserted in them.

• NN GANs for photorealistic-but-legal child porn; transfer learning from Western & Japanese porn and finetune on Dark Web & lolicon corpuses. Startup slogan: “we put the AI in waifu and the ANN in husbanndo using our patented hentai”. You know what they say in SV: every good startup breaks at least a few laws…

• Snapchat/Instagram but for audio, with such novelty filters as talking in or with helium, and audio “style transfer” from an approved bank of advertising-sponsored sound & voice samples.

• Soylentant: a restaurant serving tasting menus of all drinks & bars, with recommendations from the “soylemmier”: “Ah, the August 2016 Soylent bar… A fine vintage. Usually.” Also sells a cookbook for hackers: From Zero To Yum.

• TVTropes+fMRI for randomized movies/VR/novels which maximize surprise/engagement by being somewhat but not too unpredictable, forking paths as necessary to maintain interest at a high level. Aesthetically, you want “familiar but not too familiar”, so there’s a sweet spot in randomizing trope/subversion (cf Schmidhuber’s theory of creativity). There’s probably a way to infer surprise/arousal from (necessary for VR headsets to do among other things), so this could be a useful tool for VR especially in calibrating pacing.

• —in VR.

• driver’s ed—in VR.

• motion-tracking playing chase with cat; inverse reinforcement learning for developing a cat model; sell as cyber-companion—in VR. VC funding from Elon Meowsk. If the consumer market for VR cats is not there yet, pivoting to uploading cats, selling the resulting AIs to the DoD or China, and destroying humanity.

• Uber—for VR, using Uber. (How often are you using your headset anyway?)

• WiFi+blockchain++facial recognition CNNs+social networks+self-driving cars+ride-sharing. (A simpler version would just be legally requiring or paying car manufacturers like Tesla to run in the background on facial embeddings, and phoning home to the police/security agencies. This would sell well in China & the UK.) Priority orders would be executed by drones. The Samsung Android app will be named “Death Note”.

• account/name reservation: registers your favorite username on the top 10,000 websites so no one can steal it from you.

• automate planning of panda bear sex & breeding by sequencing their genomes & preserving maximum genetic diversity; land a $1b contract with China’s National Zoo (as pandas are worth far more than their weight in gold to & zoo revenues) • curation of & , with utility weights from medical-economic research/surveys. -as-a-service. • a startup where the dress code is not hacker slacks or business suit casual, but suits, to reduce office politics. Bonus: health premiums savings. And if employees resist, simply tell them it’s part of a diversity/anti-racism program to make it harder to discriminate based on skin color or appearance. • digitize motorized into PWAAS (Prayer-Wheels-As-A)-Service: highly parallel headless cloud servers animate GIF prayer-wheels. This SASS (spirituality-as-service startup) can of course accept bitcoins: “Satoshis for Satoris”. • not-useless spelling bee tournaments: transcribe & pronounce strings. Be careful not to go bankrupt flying in !Kung judges for the national finals. • revive , build it on all the cryptographic services now available (some of which go far beyond HTTPS in complexity), launch cut-rate cloud hosting. • small drones launched from bazookas to reduce battery consumption against other drones (consumer-level pricing: a rock) • An SDK for hacking smartphone speakers into emitting , bypassing any OS limitations; can sell to for use on dissidents^Wcriminal-terrorists. • fashion-as-service, NN smartphone app to tell you “no, that’s hideous!” (eg + etc) Someone suggested guide dogs for assisting their owners. Obviously that would not work—everyone knows that dogs are partially colorblind. • Monetizing pet ill health into revenue streams: exploit the temporal inconsistency of people in having high in pet purchase costs3 but extreme price insensitivity/inelasticity in purchasing pet medical care by giving away sick pets (especially ), & getting vet kickbacks or direct profit-sharing. “CarePets™: The Pet You Can Care For… And Care For… And Care For…” People won’t pay upfront for healthier pets since no emotional bonds; but will pay almost indefinitely once the pets get sick. This is despite often knowing, either first hand or watching other pet owners spend staggering sums on vet bills, what will happen. (Inelasticity is why despite total free market in pet health, costs have actually increased faster than human medicine.) This asymmetry makes them easy to money-pump, especially since the fixed supply of veterinarians (like human doctors) means it should be feasible to buy out or control entire geographic regions and capture the increased revenue. To extract the most money, the disease should be treatable (risks owners opting for euthanasia, and palliative care is not profitable), dramatic but not too disgusting (if it’s repulsive the owner will find it easier to break the emotional bonds), appear within a year or two of adoption (to start generating revenue as soon as the emotional fetters are solidly in place), chronic (to maximize time before needing to supply a replacement), while being conveniently treatable (as peoples’ time can be more scarce than their money, particularly rich ones) in small steps (to break down the billing into small$10 or $20/month costs and avoid the owners realizing that the Total Cost of Ownership will run into the thousands of dollars, similar to subscription billing); and highly heritable, at least in humans (to permit easy development of a breed with extremely high risk, using well-studied human genetics as a proxy estimate, and providing cover for the breeding program as a scientific program into developing s for important human diseases). Thus, something like late-life terminal cancer treatable with a single expensive surgery would not work well because it will be many years before there is any revenue and many owners will simply opt for euthanasia. The ideal diseases in dogs & cats might be epileptic seizures and diabetes: the epileptic seizures are dramatic, frightening, but not disgusting, both diseases are lifelong chronic diseases treatable by medicine, tend to show up while young but not immediately, and are highly heritable in humans. A good medicine cost would be ~$20/month, which would yield a NPV of easily \$5000 (approximately, ).

This strategy exploits: , , subadditivity, market failures, and . would approve greatly.

• consumer cat genomics: initial hook, ancestry & basket of cat psychoactives (catnip+valerian+silvervine+honeysuckle+thyme+Buckbean+…) for response GWAS & predict alternatives to catnip. Then one can develop larger dataset of health/domestication/stress for breeding. (Bootstrapping from ancestry to simple to complex traits has been a thus far successful pattern for 23andMe and consumer dog genomics companies like Embark, and there are currently zero companies in the cat space despite cats being the second most popular pet in the USA.)

Like >95% of cat owners have no idea there is anything except catnip for cats, and the remainder don’t know where to get the alternatives: valerian is not advertised much for cats, I have to grow my own thyme, and I have no idea where to get the more obscure ones like Zinziba. So a bundle of cat psychoactives is a valuable way to amortize acquisition & research costs, and feedback would quickly indicate which ones actually work too. Combined with genomes for GCTA/GWAS, could quickly indicate what can be predicted/bred for.

A suite of genomic tests for the known cat Mendelian diseases and also complex traits could be valuable for breeders, and also feed into human medical research, as cats are fairly common animal models.

• dynamic cat toys: the behavioral study finds cats get bored with standard cat toys because they don’t change after a ‘hunt’, apparently the simple heuristic cats use for deciding whether hunting the toy is fun; they also found that toys which fell apart were most popular of all. (I realized after reading that that the cat toys my own cat found the most interesting were the puzzle-treat toys, which do indeed ‘change’ in the sense of releasing a single bit of dry cat food.) Can we fix static cat toys to be more satisfying? To simulate successful hunt conclusion & avoid habituation/boredom—detachable parts, shape-memory alloy/plastic, LEDs?

• (TvTropes) mobile game but for . -ize the NFL/NBA/MLB/soccer and become a billionaire!

Franchises like ///Girls Frontline demonstrate that the oddest things can be successfully anthropomorphized, but their appeal is inherently limited to military otaku, when there are things which are far more popular—professional sports. There’s no reason to not do moe anthropomorphization of sportsball teams. They write themselves—like the Yankees are the oujo-sama character… (Given the gun/ship moe convention of bust size=caliber, I suggest that various clubs/teams annual budgets be used for the rankings.)

• website that lists startup ideas.

• CutFit: a cutting-edge new fitness fad, exploiting the fact that repairing biological tissue after injury is energetically & metabolically expensive, requiring 4. Enough tissue damage could represent a substantial caloric sink, and if the scarring is visible, serve as a costly credible signal of commitment to thinness & fitness by indicating regular weight loss “cuts”, driving out inferior methods of weight maintenance. This need not necessarily involve surgical removal of tissue: the slowness of recovery from injuries & heavy exercise raises interesting questions about how to optimally inflict damage on the body so as to trigger the exercise response—how much exercise benefit is from the cost of repair? Are there more effective muscle/cardiovascular damage methods besides ‘run or lift weights’? (Carefully targeted ultrasounds? Hormetic levels of poisons like alcohol? Something electrical? Unusual postures? Physical pressure? Heat/cold? Are there ways to raise basal metabolism/energy expenditure which are safer than fevers, s, or )

• ride-sharing improvement: finding one’s driver or passenger can be hard, especially in cities or places where many people are being picked up. One simple way to improve things would be to adapt the “flashlight” apps and let the ride-sharing app display a solid block of color on the passenger & driver’s phones; then they can simply hold the phones up to provide a unique clearly-visible identifier visible over long distances. The driver looks for a person with a smartphone broadcasting lime green, for example. If there are too many people in one place for the rainbow colors to be unique, the color code can be two blocks of color, like green-purple or yellow-blue, and so on.

• ceiling-mounted infrared beam emitters+guidance infrared camera, steered by segmenting CNN: it automatically detects & warms up the bare skin segments of female objects until thermal equilibrium of 37.5°C is reached, ensuring thermal comfort of women without requiring heavy clothing—thereby resolving the Great Office Thermostat Wars once and for all.

• PGS screening for sports recruiting: most sports depend on too many traits to meaningfully predict anytime soon from genetics, much less add valuable incremental validity to simple phenotypic screening methods (ie “have them play a game and watch”). But there is one big-money sport which depends enormously on a single exaggerated highly-heritable highly-PGS-predictable trait which cannot easily be phenotypically predicted years in advance of adolescence: height in basketball. Recruiters will contact random youth simply because they are very tall, trying to recruit them; there is an apocryphal statistic that something like 10% of all men over 7 foot high in the USA will play in the NBA at some point, which is probably not quite true but is touching on a truth. So, a startup could

• non-medical hearing aids but for people with —NNs for (eg “Sound of Pixels”). Train them to delete sounds like people chewing, possibly customized for specific misophonics, then they can be worn as necessary in social situations. (These algorithms are expensive to run, which is why they are not used in standard hearing aids despite having useful hardware like directional microphones, but a specialty device intended for specific situations can afford much shorter battery life and/or larger batteries.)

# Tom Swifties

“It is not strength, but art, obtains the prize, / And to be swifty is less than to be wise.”

Alexander P.

Sometimes, at night, SSC whispers to me, “go and make at everyone you ever loved. Pun it all down.” To exorcise the demon, I make GPT-3 write them or I put them here instead:

• “I hope Jared Kushner is able to improve the government’s Middle Eastern policy!”, Tom said sunnily.

• “All these random factoids just about add up to a hill of beans”, Tom observed in a normal tone.

• “Eureka! I’ve figured out how the brain works (again)!”, Tom hinted online.

• “Help, I’ve lost the two silver coins I keep in my pocket and now I’m broke as a Greek!” Tom said paradigmatically.

• “These endless flag debates have made me cross and seeing red”, Tom said vexedly.

• “Would anyone like some lamb or omelettes for brunch?”, Tom modestly proposed.

• “I’m now dead-broke and unemployed”, Tom said in public dolefully.

• “Darth Vader’s use of corporal punishment is probably bad for morale”, Tom said offhandedly.

• “Impressive indeed, but there’s something I ought to tell you—I am not left-handed either”, Tom pointed out offhandedly.

“I actually am a skilled duelist and trick shooter too”, offendedly shot out Tom offhandedly

• “This new male contraceptive is a revolutionary breakthrough!” Tom pointlessly ejaculated.

• “She has an unpleasant demeanor”, Tom said misogynistically.

• “I wonder if a certain person who should not have ate those special cookies”, Tom insinuated.

• “I hardly have an appetite for this Soylent”, Tom said insipidly.

• “No, thanks, but I prefer caffeinated beverages”, Tom said teetotaling.

• “They put too many birds into the zoo and it overflew!” Tom avidly squawked.

• “Some dog has unfortunately destroyed my flower garden, oh well”, said Tom lackadaisically.

• “I can’t think of anything to write”, Tom said blankly.

“Why do you ask?”, Tom said querulously.

“Because I can think of little else than Tom Swifties”, Tom said autologically.

• “I refuse to discuss what I donate for a living!”, Tom said spunkily.

• “I got a great deal on my new Raybans”, said Tom shadily.

• “You were supposed to get my Chinese cartoons in August!” Tom belated.

• “I should have held onto my oars better”, Tom tholed.

• “Our handmade traditional artisanal certified organic baked goods have a secret vital ingredient”, Tom said glutinously.

• “I’m not sure I believe the official story about currant events”, Tom doubted fruitfully.

• “I’ve taken up weightlifting”, Tom grunted.

[LATER]: “I’m absolutely gutted today”, Tom bellyached.

• “We’re fresh out of wheat flour, but I think that has such a bland flavor, don’t you?” Tom said wryly.

• “I am unable to provide an example of that in my discussion”, Tom ablated.

# Nominative determinism

Noticed instances of in the wild:

# Miscellaneous

• A riddle5: “What activity is this?”

• "You can do this activity at the beginning or end of a horse race but not the middle.
• This activity is acceptable to do in public but unacceptable in your bedroom.
• It is illegal to have sex with an animal before this activity, but legal afterwards.
• Some feel ethically required to do it, while others feel required not to.
• It is ethical to do it to an animal, but not to your grandparents.
• It’s acceptable to do it for yourself or family, but not strangers; however, it’s acceptable for strangers to do it for strangers/you….
• You can legally do it reliably and painlessly for animals, but only legally do it unreliably and extremely painfully for humans."6
• Band names inspired by colds:

“Angels & Aspirations”; “The Breath Boys”; “Gesündheit”; “Infectious Clown Posse”; “Jaw Division”/“Joy Omission”; “Mucus Machine”; “The Nasal Dilaters”; “Phlegm Phighters”; “Snotson and the Boogers”; “Trigeminal Treachery”; “Tylenol Tears”; “WBC48”; “Flugees”; “Rage Against The Mucus”; “Lemontonix”; “Croakwerk”; “God Bless You Sick Emperor”; “This Is Dimetapp”; “And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of DM”; “Explosions in the Sinus”; “Roxy Mucus”; “Sneezy Top”; “Amy Benadryl”; “Hachoo-ne Miku”; “Megurine Puka”; “Sniffles of a Down”; “Linkin’ Puke”; “Lil Oozy”; “Germs & Blows”; “Halls-y”; “Miley Sinus”; “Justin Sneezer”; “Johnny Cough”; “Milky Chunks”; “Plan Slime From Outer Space”; “Coldpray”; “The Long Dark Peetime of the Soul”; “Puke Floyd”; “Honkie and the Blowsniff”

• Things which sound like war crimes but aren’t: “”; “”; “English breakfast”; “

1. Rejected statistics propaganda slogans: “Together, we can do it! Keep’em sampling!” · “Data is a weapon—don’t waste it.” · “When you write alone, you write with bias! Join a data-sharing site today!” · “Service on the home front: bug reports; doc fixes; Stack Overflow answers. There’s a job for every American in these civilian efforts!” · “United, our statistical power is strong. United, we will win.” · “Men who know say no to sexy press releases” · “Tokio Kid say: ‘Much measurement error make so-o-o-o happy! Sank you!’” · “It is far better to face the Type I errors than to be killed at home by Type IIs. Join a clinical trial at once.” · “Keep this horror from your home: invest 10% in at once.” · “Old statisticians never die, they just fade away and become non-significant (p>0.05).” · “I hate random error as only a statistician who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.” · “It was close; but that’s the way it is in sequential trials. You win or lose, live or die—and the difference is just an eyelash.” · “I cannot forecast to you the action of Randomization. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” · “I have nothing to offer but Bayes, toil, tears and sweat.” · “Worker threads of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your Markov chains.” · “I will recur.”↩︎

2. A variant on a saying in the automotive industry, along the lines of “The perfect race car falls apart while crossing the finish line” or “The perfect racing car crosses the finish line first and subsequently falls into its component parts” (but there are innumerable variants). It has been attributed to, among others, , an anonymous newspaper photograph caption, , and by way of (unknown source):

…in ’59 I ran out of brakes four times—and I don’t mean they didn’t work very well, I mean I had none. Like the main oil line had sheared. You know, so that oil, you know, when you put your foot on the floor, the oil just went squirting out into the atmosphere. I’d always believed that Colin was close to genius in his design ability and everything, if he could just get over this failing of his of making things too bloody light. I mean, Colin’s idea of a Grand Prix car was it should win the race and, as it crossed the finishing line, it should collapse in a heap of bits. If it didn’t do that, it was built too strongly.

Chapman probably did die, aged only 54, of a heart attack. He had always had weight problems (hence his nickname), cruelly ironical in one so fanatical about lightness: his theory of the perfect racing car was that, several yards after taking the chequered flag for victory, it should simultaneously run out of petrol and disintegrate. Those drivers who survived when their Lotuses crashed rather earlier than this, due to component failure, sometimes felt that he took this principle too far.

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3. This asymmetry might explain the apathy of pet owners to paying for breeding or genetic engineering, in contrast to farmers who are willing to pay large sums for the development of superior varieties. It is easy to imagine the commercial development of cat breeds developed to be extremely healthy, long-lived, with good temperaments, catnip response, no known genetic diseases (with tests regularly deployed as developed), the kittens raised with optimal methods such as large amounts of handling & exposure to stressors like other cats or dogs during the critical early developmental windows of plasticity, and sold spayed/neutered to end consumers to protect their IP. Such rigorous programs are common in livestock or plant breeding, and the products often sold to end consumers such as hobbyist gardeners. Yet, they are totally absent from pet ownership.

It is striking that most selective breeding of cats focuses on fur appearance, crossing domestic cats with a variety of other felid species to produce breeds with exotic appearances (compare sales of the ), or in the case of & Felix Pets, advertising (ie selling to those for whom a normal cat would be excruciating & possibly dangerous to live with). This lack of interest in cat breeds optimized is despite the large, and ever escalating, healthcare costs for pets, which imply that paying thousands of dollars for a particularly healthy & long-lived pet could pay off.↩︎

4. Apell et al 2012:

The liver, brain, heart and kidneys make up for almost 70% of this basic metabolic rate W but only about 6% of the body mass M To calculate gross numbers we can use a food intake equivalent to 6 MJ/day (Mahan 2000). This corresponds to an average power of 70 W or 1 mW/g = 1 pW/ng of body weight. A typical cell is around 1 ng in weight giving the pW scale for cell metabolism. In physical terms wounds need substantial energy resources when processing the new material needed to fill the wound cavity. In the first instance it takes a lot of extra energy to boost the immune system to beat possible inflammations and clear up the debris. The energy needed for the tissue ingrowth can be decomposed into two parts. The energy stored in the new material and structures being built and the one used to maintain old and new tissue. The first one dominates during the tissue growth process and depends naturally on tissue composition. However if we know the fractions of fat and proteins one can use their heat of combustion to calculate a number for the tissue concerned. This works out to a mean energy requirement for growth of the order of 20 kJ per gram of tissue deposited or 60μJ for an average cell (3–5 nanograms) (Malina 2004 [Growth, maturation, and physical activity, second edition]). This corresponds to a power of 6 watts if converted to one hour. Being of the order of 10% of the total basal power we see that wound healing has to take days if not to be a too heavy load on the system. Another way is to boost the local metabolism where it is well-known that in periods of illness or injury we need to increase the energy intake with up to 40–50%. This means in physical terms that wounds acts like substantial energy sinks…Taking into account that fibroblast cells are one of the major players in making new tissue we find from Table I and the energy requirement above of 20kJ/g to make new tissue that a time of the order of 10 days will have to elapse to provide the necessary energy WT. This is definitely in line with measured healing times. Notice however that this time is basically much longer than the typical cell-doubling time or the time it takes a fibroblast cell to move 10 times its own size (10h), which is typically the distance over which cells have no idea that a wound is present in their neighbourhood.

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5. Inspired by an exercise on pg5–6 of 2008, On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, which is similar to perceptual illusions like :