This is the bi-weekly open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:
1. There’s a new ad on the sidebar for Signal Data Science. This is a rare ad I can (sort of) testify for – I’ve known co-founder Jonah (user JonahSinick on LW) for a couple of years and he definitely knows his stuff, both in terms of mathematics and how to teach effectively. If you’re interested in data science, check it out.
2. I’ve been reading Current Affairs magazine and really enjoying it. It’s edited by Nathan Robinson of Navel Observatory and discusses issues from what for ignorance of a better name I think of as “the Freddie deBoer perspective” – ie pretty far leftist/socialist, but especially interested in criticizing other leftists – especially those who prefer wet dreams about gulags and guillotines, or analyzing how Rihanna lyrics can teach us about mansplaining, to actually fighting for justice. Although the articles are pretty good, what I really love is the sense of humor: for example, instead of real ads, they have beautifully designed fake ads for “companies” and “products” like Tony Blair’s Dictatorship Counseling (“no human rights violation too egregious to euphemize”) and Big Pharma-style socialism pills (“occasional side effects include…accidentally becoming the very embodiment of the thing you are attempting to eliminate”). There are also interviews “conducted nonconsensually and transcribed entirely from the results of public Twitter harassment” and fun childrens’ activities like Color The Flint Water Supply. They say that they’re going to need a lot of subscriptions to stay afloat effectively, so if this sounds interesting, consider sampling some of their work on their website, read their pitch, purchasing a single sample issue pretty cheaply, or subscribing here. Warning: they are not very nice or charitable and you might find them a bit abrasive if you do not 100% agree with them about everything.
3. Thanks to the very many people who made exceptionally generous donations the last time I linked a GoFundMe campaign on here. To the people who were critical of it, I ask that you remember that the people involved may read this blog, that they are down on their luck and in an emotionally fragile state, and that having strangers publicly debating your life choices can be pretty traumatic. If you don’t think a campaign involving such a person is a worthy use of your money, I would prefer you just quietly not donate to it (exceptions if you have constructive criticism about why it is not effective, or want to share novel information about why it might be a scam, or something like that). Thank you for your cooperation.
4. Speaking of which – a few months ago, I linked to a GoFundMe for Esther (Multiheaded in the comments here), who is a trans woman trying to emigrate from Russia. You were very helpful and donated quite a bit of money; unfortunately, the plan failed as Canada rejected the immigration visa. Now Multi is trying again with the help of Promethea (socialjusticemunchkin on Tumblr) who has a plan to get Multi into Europe, details currently secret. I don’t know Promethea well and can’t vouch directly, but other people I can vouch for do vouch for them; you will have to decide whether three degrees of social proof is sufficient. There’s a new GoFundMe up if you’re interested in helping (some clarifications here)
5. And a very different kind of campaign – computer science conference LambdaConf uses a blind review process to select topics for presentation. This year one of their selections was a talk on weird-namespace-software Urbit by Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug). A group of Twitter activists demanded that he be excluded from the conference for his political views. When the conference refused to capitulate, the activists started pressuring sponsors to pull out of the conference in the hopes of making the conference financially unviable. After some preliminary success, anti-censorship blog Status 451 launched a counter-campaign to get people concerned about freedom of opinion in tech to donate to LambdaConf and help make up the difference. This is usually where I’d ask you to donate, except that they reached their $15,000 goal within the first day of their campaign, they’re now 146% funded, and the only reason to give any more at this point is to give an even louder FUCK YOU to the people involved. Since that actually sounds pretty good, you can take a look at the campaign here. See also ESR’s take.
6. Some free CFAR summer programs in Oxford and the SF Bay Area, mostly for math people interested in AI risk. Some travel assistance available if you qualify.
7. I’m in California right now – I’ll be taking the next few days to visit my family down south, but I’ll be back in the Bay Area on Thursday and I’d like to get some SSC meetups in. The current plans are:
— 2 PM on Sunday April 17 at the CFAR office, 2030 Addison, 7th floor, Berkeley
— 7 PM on Monday April 18 at 3806 Williams Rd, San Jose
— Afternoon of Tuesday April 19 at the Googleplex, time and exact location tbd
— 5:30 PM April 19 with Stanford EA at Tressider Food Court, Stanford
I’ll make a separate post confirming this information and giving more specifics sometime later this week. Remember the usual advice: if you’re debating whether or not you should come, especially if you’re worried because you don’t fit the usual SSC demographic or you don’t think you have anything to contribute or you’re not sure you’ll fit in or whatever – just come and it will probably be fine.