Monday, May 26, 2014

Lies, Damn Lies, and STD Risk Statistics, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

If you've just joined us, we're giving a good fisking to the Mayo Clinic's worthless list of STD risk factors, namely:
Having unprotected sex. 
Having sexual contact with multiple partners. 
Abusing alcohol or using recreational drugs. 
Injecting drugs. 
Being an adolescent female 
The biggest proof that their advice is completely worthless comes from the full description of the first point, 'having unprotected sex'. At a very minimum, they don't make the most minimal distinction between vaginal, anal and oral intercourse. But even within that, the whole thing is basically a ridiculous scare campaign:
Vaginal or anal penetration by an infected partner who is not wearing a latex condom transmits some diseases with particular efficiency. Without a condom, a man who has gonorrhea has a 70 to 80 percent chance of infecting his female partner in a single act of vaginal intercourse. Improper or inconsistent use of condoms can also increase your risk. Oral sex is less risky but may still transmit infection without a latex condom or dental dam. Dental dams — thin, square pieces of rubber made with latex or silicone — prevent skin-to-skin contact.
This one I know is in the 'deliberately misleading to fool the public' category. You know why? Because they use the weasel words 'some diseases'. They then back it up with the gonorrhea example, where one-off unprotected vaginal transmission rates are high. But people don't generally stay up late at night freaking out about getting gonorrhea, do they? As a matter fact, you don't hear about it much, because it can be treated with antibiotics. What people actually worry about the most is HIV. Why not tell them about that instead?

So what are the chances of HIV transmission from unprotected vaginal intercourse with someone who is HIV positive? This is such a classic that I want to put the answer (and the rest of the post, which gets even more awesome by the way, though you may not believe it's possible) below the jump. Suppose a man and a woman have unprotected vaginal intercourse once. 
a) If the man is HIV positive, what is the chance the women contracts HIV?
b) If the woman is HIV positive, what is the chance the man contracts HIV?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some stray thoughts from a trip to Copenhagen

So I'm back in The 'Hagen. Thoughts from last time are here.

A surprisingly large effect of being on holiday is the impact of no longer having data on one's phone. Sitting on a train, one feels what old people must feel like all the time - being the only one with their head up looking around when everyone else is buried in a screen of some form. The temporary feeling of virtue at enjoying one's surroundings is of course revealed to be hollow rationalisation of the worst poser kind, when you start wondering whether you could pick up the train's wi-fi. No, you can't without some email login that sounds too hard, never mind then, the window and people around you were much better anyway.

It is a rare and unusual pleasure to simply spend a day wandering around aimlessly in a city that one has been in once or twice before. It is familiar enough that you don't need a map for decent parts of your walking, new enough that you still find stuff you haven't seen before, and comfortable enough that you don't need to be rushing around a particular checklist of things to get to.

I sat on a bench in the main part of the city, and watched people go by for about 20 minutes. After a while, I began to notice a periodic stream of people walking up, looking in the bins, and then walking off. They didn't look like native Danes, they had slightly more olive colored skin and dark hair. Even in the most famous welfare states, you still apparently get people looking in bins for recyclables. What was odd though, was that there appearance was much less conspicuous than I was used to. Most were reasonably dressed, although cheaply once you stopped to look closer, the bag of choice to carry was a large opaque plastic bag bearing the name of one of the high-ish end retail shops. The overall effect was that of phantom hobos, looking briefly out of place peering into a bin, before slipping off again to disappear in the crowd.

Having hobos collect bottles that are taxed on the way out and subsidised on the way back in for recycling is a particularly useless form of make-work combined with cheap welfare. Since the market value of the bottles is basically zero, and the bottles themselves aren't being cleaned off the street but rather removed from existing rubbish piles, this is pure ditch-digging-and-refilling broken windows nonsense. The actually socially useful task would be to pay the hobos to pick up rubbish off the ground. Of course, if we make this decentralised it leads to moral hazard up the wazoo (swiping entire dumpsters of stuff and claiming it was picked up), and if we solve the moral hazard problem though proper monitoring, we lose the main benefit of the decentralised and freelance way of doing it. Still, I can't help but think there has to be a better way - have a time where anyone can show up and get paid minimum wage for two hours of street cleaning, for instance. There would be some teething issues, but it seems like something worth trying.

The other thing I remember took even longer to notice. I saw a fairly overweight young girl walking down the street, and she looked quite jarringly out of place. What is not seen, as our previously cited guest might have put it. Danes are slim on average - there are some overweight people, but the American right tail of weight just doesn't seem to exist in the same way here. Whatever they're doing seems to be working.

I can't think of the last time I spent an equivalent amount of time observing my own town. Partly this is just taking familiar things for granted, but part of it comes from being in a place that's pleasant to just walk around. There's a lot more to see, and a lot more spots your trip will take you. I think the SWPL types are actually right on this one - American cities are not generally very walkable, and walkability has to be planned in advance, it probably won't spring up organically. What will spring up is nice wide lanes, an extra turning lane, parking on the side of the street, and hey presto!, that 30m of asphalt has made all those charming al fresco cafes you had in mind instantly uninhabitable for the roar of passing cars. If you want walkability, you actually need to do what the Danes do and have extended intersecting streets that are pedestrian only, and make the rest maybe one and a bit lanes total. Walkability, drivability. Pick one. Given we pick the latter for 99.9% of the space in most of our cities, I don't think it would kill us to reserve a tiny bit of the commercial district for the former.

Copenhagen continues to be a lovely place. Long may it be so!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lies, Damn Lies, and STD Risk Statistics, Part 1

Every time I read anything about STD risks, I tend to get mightily annoyed at how difficult it is to get any useful information from the medical profession, at least in the popular press, about the actual magnitude of different types of risks. I remember talking about this problem in the case of cancer risks and smoking. Smoking causes cancer, living under power lines causes cancer, and eating burnt steak causes cancer, but they do not all cause cancer at anything like the same rate. Same thing with STDs. I sometimes find it hard to tell how much of this is because the people writing it are morons when it comes to causal inference, and how much is due to them knowing the right answer but spinning nonsense for public consumption, assuming that everyone is a child unable to make their own risk assessments. 

Let's hear from the Mayo Clinic, they're a famous hospital, surely they'll have top quality medical advice about what big ticket items to avoid. And their list of risk factors is ...(drumroll).... :
Having unprotected sex.
Having sexual contact with multiple partners.
Abusing alcohol or using recreational drugs.
Injecting drugs.
Being an adolescent female

The first thing you know is that what people mostly want to know are estimated treatment effects of particular actions. If I do X, my chance of an infection go up by Y%. Instead, what you get are a mish-mash of treatment effects, correlations with prevalence, correlations with transmission rates, and absolutely nothing on relative magnitudes, all leading to answers that are just laughable.

'Abusing alcohol or using recreational drugs' is hilariously stupid, because it doesn't map to anything directly. It could be correlation, it could be treatment, it could be both, who knows. They explain it as if it's mostly a treatment effect - "Substance abuse can inhibit your judgment, making you more willing to participate in risky behaviors.". In other words, the whole of their advice is that once you're drunk, you might do other stupid stuff. So just list that stuff! Of course, there's a strong correlation between people who get drunk all the time and people who do other stupid things. At a minimum, any treatment effects are going to be wildly heterogeneous. I'm pretty sure if your Aunty Gladys has a few too many sneaky shandies, the increase in her STD risk is zero. If you're a normally sensible person and you get drunk once, the chance of you picking up an STD are similarly low, because I'm guessing that most people will be unlikely to rush out and have anal sex with strangers just because they got drunk, though obviously some will. Most of the effect that makes this a risk factor has to be straight correlation with omitted factors, namely a tendency for reckless and risky behaviour. This is marginally actionable, if it tells you to avoid sleeping with perpetual drunks, but that's about it.

'Being an adolescent female' is even more stupid. The actionable interpretation of the previous statement was that perhaps we were being given correlations with overall prevalence. But how the hell do you interpret this one then? Do you really think that 'adolescent females' have high STD rates? Of course not. They may have higher transmission rates of certain diseases relating to cervical cancer, but this is a very different proposition. In what sane ordering is this among the five biggest STD risks for the general population to worry about? What adolescent females do have is a high rate of unplanned pregnancies, and it would be greatly in their interest to start using condoms regularly. So just say that! Stop trying to sell us a bunch of bull$#!& about how they also have massively high STD risks.

Since this post is already turning into a monster, I'll be back with Part 2 in a few days.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What someone's tinder photos say about them

As the Greek rather astutely noted, the last post on picking a mail order bride was guilty of burying the lead somewhat, in that I didn't actually tell you anything about how to infer things about someone from their photos. Since I suspect this may be of general interest, I figured it deserved a separate post. Because, while very few people will be picking a bride based only on five photos, a lot more people will be picking a potential date based on five photos if they're using an app like Tinder.

(Warning: gratuitous generalisations to follow. Because how the @#$% else are you meant to infer things from five photos unless you're willing to generalise with bold predictions based on averages and hunches about human nature?  Related to the above, if you're tempted to get butthurt, you might want to reacquaint yourself with the different definitions of the words 'all', 'most', 'the average', 'the median', 'the mode', 'some', and 'a few'. Also, while these are focused on observations about women, I'm sure an equivalent list of equally rash observations could be made about men - my skepticism about human nature is quite equal opportunity)

So without further ado, let me start with the most general principle, from which everything else is but an application:

People will pick the photos that most display what they like about themselves, given the photos they have an front of them.

This may seem entirely trivial, but consider the alternative version of what people probably should be doing, namely picking photos best calculated to appeal to the opposite sex, or even better, calculated to appeal to those specific members of the opposite sex that they'd like to attract.

Most people don't get that far. This is bad for them, but immensely useful when we'd like to understand them, because we get a very good window into their likely personality.

Let's start with some basics. This will necessarily be somewhat stream of consciousness

Who else is in most of their photos? If it's mostly just them in front of a mirror, I'm guessing that they're likely somewhat vain and narcissistic. In girls, lots of mirror selfies is often correlated with a large amount of makeup in most of said photos. What they like about themselves is their physical attractiveness. Not only that, but (related to the second part of the main thesis) it means they already have multiple photos of themselves in the mirror. It's possibly these were taken specifically for Tinder, but I wouldn't bet on it. Fairly or unfairly, I assume that people who mostly value their looks do so because they don't have a lot to offer intellectually. In other words, they're not dumb because they take mirror selfies, but it's how I'm betting nonetheless. I'm wagering they're more likely to be a princess. On the other hand, if you're after someone who's going to get really nicely made up in a cocktail dress when you go out at night, this is probably your girl.

An alternative is the person who takes most of their photos in groups of friends. This means not just that they're more sociable, but that they value that aspect of themselves. On the whole, this is not a bad thing - it tends to go with extroversion, for instance. A mix of group and individual shots is probably good. For reasons I can't articulate well, I tend to assume that someone who has primarily group photos does not have much of an interesting personality - I suspect that they think of themselves mainly in terms of their group of friends, which means that they're an example of a particular type of person, rather than being strongly themselves.

A particularly interesting twist on this, however, is when the person has only photos of themselves in groups, particularly if this includes their cover photo. This isn't a problem in terms of the fact that they hang out lots with friends, but it definitely speaks to a lack of self-awareness about something much more basic - they haven't figured out that you don't initially know who they are. Anybody that puts only group shots of themselves, particularly when they look a bit like their friends (although that's hard for most people to judge about themselves), is necessarily self-centered. They know who they are, and so it doesn't occur to them to put themselves in the position of a potential match who doesn't know who they are and is trying to figure it out. The fact that they haven't reflected on this this since coming across the same problem with members of the opposite sex also speaks to low self-awareness.

As a counterpoint to this, pay attention to people whose photos are a grainy picture of their face. This means that a) the photos of themselves where they think they look the best are those in groups, and b) they're self-aware enough to not put the photo of the whole group. But more importantly, it means they have taken very few photos of themselves outside of group situations where someone brought out a camera. This suggests they're likely to be low maintenance and probably not very sentimental. I think this is actually not a bad signal, at least in my preference ordering. But it also signals that they aren't committed enough to dating or the app to take better photos of themselves.

The opposite, of course, is someone who has good somewhat artsy photos of themselves.I like this in moderation. It signals creativity and a sense of them liking something artistic about themselves. It also generally shows some degree of forethought. I would also wager that it signals a non-trivial degree of confidence, because truly good arthouse photos of you are hard to take by yourself. As a consequence, they probably had to be confident enough to have someone else stick a camera up close to their face, and displayed enough forward planning to ask the person to do this for them. Plus if they have any kind of photographic flair (such as a sharp focus from a low f-stop lens) then they have a digital SLR, which probably speaks to being at least middle class. The ones I like are where the rest of the artistic detail in the photo is done nicely, or even if one of the photos is mainly a nature shot. On the other hand, anything that looks explicitly like instagram modifications (particularly when applied to photos that mostly feature their face prominently) or other related things suggest that they also enjoy attention, and that these were taken mostly for the internet bubbas.

Another key metric is how many of their photos they're smiling in. Again, think self-perception. Most people prefer to think of themselves as happy, so will generally pick photos where they're smiling. For me, I place a surprisingly large weight on someone who has a big genuine smile in their photos. Happy wife, happy life, as they say. Someone who goes mainly with serious-looking pouty faces is probably deliberately aping the model photos they've seen, if they look like posed faces. This for me is a minus, but again, your mileage may vary. Other people tend to look serious, which I assume to mean that they're just not very much fun. I mean, if you can't even think of yourself as fun, it's probably going to be pretty hard for the rest of the world. Someone who has mainly photos of themselves pulling funny faces is probably self-conscious, and the stupid faces are a defense mechanism against the fact that they're uncomfortable with most of the photos of themselves. Someone who takes too many photos of themselves laughing seems oddly to me a vague warning sign - they like to be jovial, but I have a sense that they also expect the world (and you) to entertain them, which suggests the possibility of them being a bit entitled.

You also learn something from what they're doing in their photos. Someone who has mostly photos of themselves going out will be different from someone who has mostly photos of themselves going snorkeling, or who has photos of themselves in front of famous monuments around the world. The latter two are likely to be particularly noteworthy, because they're almost certainly not taken because they're the most flattering photo of the person's physical features. In other words, if you take a zoomed out photo of yourself rock-climbing, this only makes sense in order to convey the message that you like being active. Night-life photos could go other way - it could be that you like partying a lot, or just that you think you look good in a short dress (although the two tend to be correlated anyway).

Finally, there's the obvious separating equilibrium that anyone who doesn't display a full-body photo is probably overweight, but you didn't need me to tell you that one.

This is just a sample of the correlation-fu I'd be busting out for a mail-order bride, so from this you can extrapolate to guessing what the full-retard looks like. There's also a whole separate post to be written about what someone's bio says about them, but I feel this is enough to get you started.

For the time being, I leave as an exercise for the reader (in the comments if you're so minded) the task of forming similar personality estimates based on:

a) clothes

b) which things may be markers of socioeconomic status

c) the demographic diversity of their friends, related to both b) and likely political opinions,

d) their attractiveness relative to their friends, related to insecurity and self-awareness.

e) the gender ratio in their photos.

and as the bonus round

f) what to infer if they have a photo of themselves kissing their dog.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mail Order Brides - Applied Inference, High Stakes Edition

Those of us who enjoy collecting correlations as a hobby sometimes yearn for a higher stakes version of our craft, something like the Correlation Olympics. The premise would be simple - you're given a small amount of information about a person, and asked to infer as much stuff as you possibly can about them. Points would be given both for being right, and for the non-obviousness of the conclusion you drew.

The closest real-world equivalent would be getting a mail-order bride. The market for lemons being what it is, I do not anticipate that getting a mail order bride is likely to be a sensible decision on average. And it really is a market for lemons - there are almost certainly decent men and women on both sides that could have quite happy pseudo-arranged marriages, but the problem is the high risk of golddiggers (on the one side) and abusive creeps (on the other). The bad prospects drive out the good.

That said, I don't think the people who do it are all necessarily broken or crazy (though many of them probably are). The reason is that I would wager that the international dating market is probably likely to have a higher chance of mispricing than the domestic one. Like every market, the fewer the people are who are attempting to trade on perceived mispricing, the more likely mispricing is to exist.Then again, lots of people go broke buying penny stocks on the same rationale. Illiquid markets just say there might be mispricing, not that your personal hunches will be able to sniff it out.

But I still retain a perverse fascination with the idea of choosing a mail order bride. This would be somewhere between Russian (pun intended) Roulette and the World Series of Poker when it comes to correlation studies.

Think about it - in the extreme form, for each person you've got 5 photos and a one paragraph description, possibly written in broken English, and from that you have to decide on somebody to spend the rest of your life with. In other words, you have to extract every single drop of useful information out of what you're presented with. What are they wearing? What are they doing? Is there anyone else in the photo? What's their body language? Where were they taken? How many photos are they smiling in? You need to devise an entire assessment of a person's character from such tiny scraps, and then be willing to back it up with a marriage commitment.

If you get it wrong, financial and emotional misery await. If you get it right, you may have finally found a happy life partner and a way out of a previous lonely existence.

Talk about high stakes. For reasons I can't express well, the prospect of backing one's judgment to such an outrageous level seems both terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

Of course, one doesn't actually have to gamble one's life on the outcome to play a practice version - just go to one of the many sites and look at a few profiles, and decide which one you would pick if you had to make a choice, and why. Playing poker for matchsticks is not the same as playing for bearer bonds, but you probably don't want your first game of poker to be the latter.

Better study those correlations, son!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

We have lost one of the giants

The great Gary Becker has apparently passed away. One of the most influential economists of the 20th century, along with Keynes and Friedman. He expanded the tools of economics into areas that had been treated as simply not important problems to study - crime, the family, discrimination, and many others. A most worthy posthumous inductee into the Shylock Holmes Order of Guys Who Kick Some Serious Ass.

Ave Atque Vale, Mr Becker. What little I know of microeconomics I owe to your wonderful instruction. I fear we shall not see your kind again soon.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thick Liberty of Speech and Donald Sterling

The problem of me getting busy at work is that it seems to have coincided with a marked increase in the frequency of outbreaks of brown scare public hysteria at any deviations from the prevailing progressive orthodoxy. This creates the result that I seem to write about little else these days. Last time a guy got fired from the company he co-founded because he once made a donation to a ballot initiative opposing gay marriage. This time? Well, it's hard to improve on Jokeocracy's description:
a jewish guy told his half mexican girlfriend he doesn't like black people THERE ARE NO WHITE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS STORY STOP BLAMING US
The 'Jewish guy' in question is Donald Sterling, current (and soon to probably be ex-) owner of the LA Clippers basketball team. His 'half-Mexican girlfriend' is named V. Stiviano (among other names). You can tell most of what you need to know about her by the fact that a) she's around 50 years younger than him, b) she's not his wife, and c) she's the kind of person who illegally tapes private conversations which mysteriously get leaked to the press at a point in a lawsuit where it might be convenient.

The conversations themselves can be found here. Steve Sailer's take on it seems about right - this was a guy objecting to his girlfriend bringing black athletes that she was presumably banging to his basketball games. Apparently their blackness was part of the problem (of all the problems in the situation, this seems like a jolly strange one to fixate on, but de gustibus non est disputandum and all that). It is worth noting, however, that it's her leading the conversation to the subject of their blackness. Frankly, nobody in this story comes out looking sympathetic. As Steve Sailer notes, Donald Sterling is hardly a likable figure. He also has a history of some comically underhanded tactics to avoid renting out his apartments to black tenants, including the following:
Even more bizarre but just as effective at driving away African-Americans and Hispanics, Beverly Hills Properties changed the name of the Wilshire Towers complex to Korean World Towers. A huge banner printed entirely in Korean was hung on the building, and the doormen were replaced by armed, Korean-born guards who were hostile to non-Koreans, again according to testimony given by multiple residents. In August 2003, during the Housing Rights Center lawsuit, a federal judge ordered Sterling to stop using the word "Korean" in the names of his buildings, but the damage had been done."
So in the 'Who? Whom?' view of this latest sordid tale, one scumbag golddigger managed to pull a fast one on a scumbag businessman. But then again, viewing matters simply in those terms may end you up at places you didn't want to be.

The outrage machine by this point is as dreary as it is predictable.

First we get demands for the offender's head on a stick - Donald Sterling is banned from attending NBA events, and may be forced to sell his team.

Next, we get the secondary boycott totalitarianism going, where people get fired for saying they support Sterling's right to free speech. No surprise, the purge was in a tech company. Paging Mencius Moldbug.

As part of both of the above, we get treated to

a) Furrow-browed insistence that we must all debate firstly, if not solely, the question of how deeply racist Donald Sterling and America are, and an implicit enforcement of the rule that nobody is allowed to make any statement of even lukewarm opposition to the Sterling lynch mob without first crossing oneself with the standard pieties about how terrible the statements themselves were. You want the crossing, future employers of the world? Fine, here it is: the statements were racist and regrettable. The world continues to be full of d***heads, perhaps this is more shocking to you than it is to me. Next question.

b) Clumsy defenders of free speech equating criticism of Sterling and demands for his ouster with an undermining of the first amendment (which prohibits only government restrictions on speech, not private restrictions)

c) Thin liberty pinheads laughing at group b), but immediately following this up with the equally stupid mistake of assuming that as long as it's not the government restricting someone's speech then everything is hunky dory and the whole case raises absolutely no moral questions whatsoever.

Because people have a tendency to mentally substitute the phrase 'free speech' to 'first amendment' or 'no government restriction on speech', I prefer to describe the principle here as Thick Liberty of Speech.

I want Donald Sterling, and Pax Dickinson, and everyone else, to be able to say what's on their mind with as few negative practical consequences flowing to them for doing so as humanly possible. I want the same thing for people whose views I find stupid or repugnant - "Stalin wasn't that bad" communists, kill-the-humans hardcore environmentalists, carpet-bagging race hucksters, humourless radical feminists, whatever. I want them to be able to express themselves unmolested either by the government or by offended grievance lobbies, regardless of whether they're from the right or the left, trying to get them fired or excluded from polite society based only on things they've said.

Why do I want this? Two reasons.

Firstly, I have a strong conviction that words alone are simply not that important. To put it in the language of economists, the outrage associated with unpleasant and mean speech is massively, massively overpriced compared with the outrage associated with unpleasant and mean actions. You know what's worse that saying nasty things about blacks in the privacy of your own home? To pick at random, drunk driving. That kills people every single day. Mean words uttered privately or on the internet do not. Strangely, society seems to be not very bothered by people who drive drunk. It's not enough to, say, stop you becoming President of the USA. Even if you actually kill someone by drunk driving, and show little apparent remorse over the matter, that isn't necessarily a barrier to high political office either.

Even in the current case, as Kareem Abdul Jabbar noted, Sterling had a documented history of doing equally racist things like excluding black tenants, but nobody seemed to much care. But if you say something nasty, well that's just unacceptable. In what rational ordering of human character flaws does this make sense?

In addition, the fact that other people are offended by said words is also deeply unpersuasive to me as a basis for going along with the mob. If people suddenly decide that it's a matter of deep social disgust to express a preference for blue coloured shirts, I do not feel any happier about a campaign to exclude the blue-shirt wearers because it's just fighting speech with more speech, and yay speech! It depends whether it is actually reasonable to be so offended at the speech in question that you start demanding complete social exclusion.

If you want a good rule of thumb here, you could do much worse than John Derbyshire's suggestion that we should endeavour wherever possible to not take offence unless offence was actually intended by the speaker. This is a pretty easy guide by which to judge a lot of cases, and makes for a tolerant society, in the true sense of the word.

The second reason, which seems to contradict the first one, but actually does not, is that freedom of conscience - the ability to to think and speak as one pleases - is an enormously important liberty that we should cherish and support as much as possible. Thin liberty says you have freedom of speech and freedom of conscience in theory, but if you try to exercise it in the wrong way, you suffer massive social consequences. As Moldbug noted, most of the practical restrictions during the McCarthy era were private restrictions on speech. Should I be happy that the media companies decided to ban Pete Seeger from television as long as they weren't doing it under government directive? Thick liberty says that you can actually say what you want, really truly ruly, without ruinous social or economic consequences.

But the only way to get to this point is to reign in the urge to form outraged mobs demanding action whenever one's feelings are hurt.

In other words, you only get to have a thick liberty of speech society if you accept other people saying things you don't like without firing them, refusing to do business with them, demanding others exclude them, etc. You can only say what you want as long as you let other people say what they want. I think you should be free to not listen to the person, nor should you be forced to subsidise by taxpayer dollars their ability to broadcast their message to a large audience. But to whatever extent possible, the exclusion should not be extended to other interactions where the offensive speech is not in question. Whether Brendan Eich gave money to proposition 8 or not has absolutely zero to do with the functionality of Firefox. If someone wanted to not invite Eich to a dinner party, that's fine. If they refuse to do business with the company he's employed by until they fire him, that is not at all fine.

But principles are for suckers. The left already gets to say what it wants, and it's only reactionary and conservative elements who can't. Back in the 1950s, the opposite was true. So much the worse for the 1950s. Not many people are really principled about much at all, but it doesn't change the point.

Reader, do you, like me, get tired of this nonsense? Does it both sicken and weary you at the same time? As Moldbug put it, is there anyone else in the room who's here because he's just plain embarrassed by the present world?

As in the OKCupid case, the only principle upon which I will engage in secondary boycotts is against those who escalate from speech to action in the thinning of liberty. If you respond to someone else's bare speech with hostile action, I will refuse to do business with you. And I do this grudgingly, hesitantly, and unhappily, purely because it is one of the few ways that businesses understand that there will be people who will defend thick liberty of speech, and will impose costs if it is restricted.

I cannot put the matter better than someone who knew intimately what it was like to be on the end of thin liberty lynch mobs:

I think as I please and this gives me pleasure
My conscience decrees this right I must treasure
My thoughts will not cater to duke or dictator
No man can deny, Die Gedanken Sind Frei
No man can deny, Die Gedanken Sind Frei
And should tyrants take me and throw me in prison
My thoughts will burst free like blossoms in season
Foundations will crumble and structures will tumble

And free men will cry, Die Gedanken Sind Frei
And free men will cry, Die Gedanken Sind Frei

Die Gedanken Sind Frei! Thick liberty, thick liberty, thick liberty for all!