Sunday Links #20

It seems that if we’re good utilitarians and concerned about sacrificing in order to bring greater goods for others, we should spend every moment of our day agonizing over every purchase and how it could go further than others. But this is self-destructive and will make us less effective overall, as Julia Wise explains: “I think it’s good to go through a period of thinking that way. Just like when you live in another country for a while you start being able to understand prices without converting back to your own currency, when you start thinking about all your spending in Vaccination Currency or Mosquito Net Currency it becomes habitual. Your spending habits can’t help but be affected. I also think there’s only so much grief we can carry. I cannot go the next 70 years counting dead children on every receipt. I would break.”

“There’s Something You Need to Know About the Rules”: “This suggestion seemed to bring him great unease. The instructions were telling him to write his story in the notebook, and he had clearly written his on the paper instead. He was in violation of The Rules, and this was scaring him. I suddenly realized I had some teaching to do. It was time to share a deeper explanation of what The Rules really are, and I thought you might want to join in for the session as well. Because if you look around carefully, you will see that most of the problems of our society are based upon an incorrect understanding of these rules.”

“4:33” is a piece of music by John Cage that consists entirely of silence. It’s available on iTunes. The real question is why would people buy it?. The answer is a tale of how we don’t value things solely for what they do, but also for their history.

It seems like it could be more worthwhile than commonly thought to spend money on improving one’s ergonomics. And while we’re on the topic of applied rationality, here’s better house buying through knowledge of heuristics and biases.

Soylent is an artifical mixture of nutrients that supplies everything you need in a diet without actually requiring food. Here’s a good review from TIME.

The paradox of deontology: If a certain thing is bad according to deontology, why is it not ok to do that bad thing in order to cause even more cases of that bad thing from happening?

Turns out that much symbolism in many famous novels wasn’t intentional. Also, novelists can be a bit rude when responding to surveys.

Turns out that neither Democrats or Republicans are more racist than the other. Move along.

Sometimes we don’t have to make things complicated: a parable.