Monthly Archives: October 2015

The cost of cryopreservation

I put together a spreadsheet for a couple of friends calculating how much cryonics costs, and I figured I'd publish it here in case it's useful for anyone else. I can't promise that these numbers are perfect, but this should help you get at least a rough handle on how much cryonics really costs.

Cryonics costs present value worksheet

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The Phoenix and the Skroderider

Consider the case of buying one's partner flowers. You can think of each act of flower-buying as an act of caring (and this is typically the right attitude if your partner likes flowers and you want to genuinely relate on that level). Or you can think of installing the flower-buying habit as the act of caring that you hope will be perceived through the mask of mere flowers. The first type of person I call a Phoenix, the second is a Skroderider.

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The performance of pain as a political tactic

This post uses activism around factory farming as an example, but I don’t mean to criticize animal welfare activism in particular. It’s just an especially available example to me of a broader pattern. My selection of example is maybe even biased towards better causes - or causes I approve of more - since I tend to associate with people doing things I approve of. Animals on factory farms seem to suffer a lot, this can probably be changed at fairly little cost, and we should do so.

This is also not the opinion of my employer. I want to make that absolutely clear. This is my private opinion, it’s not based on the opinion of anyone else where I work as far as I know, and it’s not indicative of my employer's future actions.

The Personal

Before a recent Effective Altruist event in San Francisco, some potential participants complained about the plan to serve meat. There were two main types of arguments made against serving animal products. One was the utilitarian argument against eating meat. Factory farmed meat, so the argument goes, provides much less enjoyment to the eater than suffering to the eaten. I find this argument plausible, though difficult to judge.

The second argument was that the presence of meat would make vegans (and many people associated with the Effective Altruist movement are vegans) uncomfortable. It would make them feel unwelcome. Some said it would be offensive, it would make them feel the way a barbecue featuring roasted two-year-old human would make me feel. This complaint seemed pretty valid to me on the face of it, and presumably the organizers agreed - the food ended up being animal-free. However, something about the argument made and still makes me uneasy.

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True friendship is being counterfactually hugged by vampires

Justice, reciprocity, and the trader principle

I continue to be pleased and surprised by how much and how strongly I stand by this poem. I keep wanting to bring it up in conversation, as a summary of my feelings on friendship and what one true friend owes another. This post is an attempt to make these ideas more explicit.

There is a transactional model of doing good to others, whereby one immediately receives some benefit. There is separately an idealistic model where one tries to help people simply because they are good. There are also some bridging categories in between, and I think various types of friendship are intermediate categories.

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They’re not unfriendly - they’re afraid: People

I mentioned to a friend that I didn’t see myself as someone people particularly wanted to hang out with, and she was surprised. She’d thought of me as a cool high-status person, and therefore felt like she should wait for me to reach out to her instead of the other way around.

If enough other people feel this way towards someone who presents as high-status but doesn’t feel that confident on the inside, what they end up seeing is a bunch of people who accept their invitations, but never reciprocate. So they feel low-status, since it looks like no one affirmatively wants to hang out. Continue reading