Link Roundup: November 2020

As usual, I bring you a collection of articles from the past month that I found particularly interesting.

Effective Altruism is logical, but too unnatural to catch on | Psyche – Alan Jern discusses why Effective Altruism is psychologically and morally counterintuitive.  This is very different from my own discussion of Effective Altruism, where I am most critical of the realities of the community and its priorities.  While Effective Altruism makes counterintuitive decisions in trolley problems, I don’t really consider that a problem with Effective Altruism, rather our flawed moral intuition is the problem, and Effective Altruism addresses that problem by offering community support and discussion.  In any case, I feel like it’s rarely a choice between altruism and family; the majority of one’s resources are usually spent on oneself, so altruism tends to come at one’s own expense first.

Inside Foxconn’s empty buildings, empty factories, and empty promises | The Verge – A bit late for this story, but this was just engrossing.  In 2017, republicans gave huge subsidies to bring a Taiwanese manufacturer into Wisconsin, and it was a huge scam and corporate nightmare.  As recently as last month, Trump was still claiming that Foxconn would keep its promises.

India’s engineers have thrived in Silicon Valley. So has its caste system. | The Washington Post – An article about discrimination against lower castes in US tech companies.  Casteism is unfamiliar to most people in the US so it’s a blind spot for protection against discrimination.

Why So Many Esports Pros Come From South Korea | Wired – South Korea is widely known to produce the top players in the world in many Esports.  Unsurprisingly this is not because of any innate racial superiority, but has to do with economic conditions in South Korea, where working class kids have access to cheap gaming cafes, but not career options.  It sounds similar to how many sports in the US seem to be dominated by Black athletes.  It’s as if innate racial differences are a completely unnecessary hypothesis.

What Happens if the Supreme Court Overturns Obamacare | FiveThirtyEight – Naturally I had been looking at 538 lately, and I saw this article which has a succinct explanation of the current Supreme Court case against Obamacare (which I mentioned in an earlier post).  In an earlier case, SCOTUS ruled that Obamacare was constitutional on the grounds that the individual mandate was a tax.  Republicans ammended the tax to $0, and are now arguing that it no longer qualifies as a tax and is therefore unconstitutional.  They further argue that the individual mandate is essential to the law, and therefore the whole law is unconstitutional.  This is a disingenous attempt to repeal Obamacare while pretending they didn’t want to.  I have some hope that even a conservative SCOTUS would reject this absurdity.



  1. says

    They further argue that the individual mandate is essential to the law, and therefore the whole law is unconstitutional.

    Most US lawyers I know considered this bunk personally & the only reason it was being discussed was because of the bad faith of right wing justices.

    But today Wonkette’s resident lawyer reported back on the oral arguments and found that both CJ Roberts & AJ Kavanaugh expressed reluctance to entertain the idea. If Liz (the Wonkette writer) is correct, that means SCOTUS will not overturn the ACA.

    See here thoughts here.

  2. says

    For every “esports” success, how many failures are there?

    There are a plethora of news items about young people dying in internet cafes from extended gaming sessions and related health issues.

  3. says

    Pardon me for doing an end-around the three link limit:

    In 2018, one of those “extended play” gamers killed a PC Bang employee after an argument about a mess the gamer left behind.

    I used PC Bangs when I lived in Seoul (2001-2005) because they were cheap, were everywhere, and getting home internet service was a PITA. The downside was that most of them allowed smoking, and that was in the days before flash RAM sticks were available. I was dragging a box of floppies to and fro until 2004 when I got my first 128MB flash RAM.

  4. says

    Part of the point of the article was that esports is high-risk, high-reward. People go into it for lack of other opportunities, and the visible successes obscure many more failures.

    Although, I don’t think the stories of deaths are representative of what the failures look like. Probably most people just fail to get out of poverty.

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