The Trauma of Bad Service


This Vox article has a few interesting tidbits, like the origin of the custom of the ‘toast’ and kethcup. But most interestingly it claims that people exhibit signs of a minor trauma when they write a one-star review on Yelp and the such: “Social psychologists have looked at cases of trauma and the language people use…
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Crisis Management and the Theory of the Nudnik


This weird story has been receiving some attention on Facebook and elsewhere: Professor Edelman is a Harvard Business School professor who ordered Chinese food off the web menu of a local Chinese restaurant only to discover that he was overcharged for each of the four items by $1. Apparently, the restaurant updated their menu and,…
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DnD Scripting


One of the greatest sources of suspense, surprise, and mystery in DnD games comes from the sense that anything could happen.  For example, there is a convention that a roll of 20 could lead to extreme fortunate results (or unfortunate in the case of 1), which is a source of suspense, humor, and a lot of…
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What is a Good Amount of Bankruptcy?


In the US, there have been 728,833 chapter 7 bankruptcy filings (complete insolvency) and 333,626  filings in chapter 13 (repayment plan).  This averages at 1 bankruptcy per 301 people. In Israel, there are now reports of rising  bankruptcy filings (reported here in Hebrew). The numbers look, after the increase, small: 11,300 stay orders in 2013. This averages at 1…
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Promoting Moral Behavior or Moral Choices?


On most issues of law and morality, I am an instrumentalist, functionalist, and consequentialist: I think of laws as being either good or bad in relation to their outcomes rather than their meaning, adherence to moral principles, or consistency. But this view is not generally accepted, and many legal theorists adopt some mixed approach that…
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Arguing from Legacy and the Failure to Fail

I had an interesting conversation with a friend from Spain. I inquired about the Spanish perception of the monarch tradition, which — to me at least — symbolizes that people are psuedo-biologically different (the so-called bloodline of the monarch), an idea which is antithetical to a liberal society, which is mostly based on the ethos…
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A Linguistic Arms Race, Literally


Many complain that people use literally when they mean figuratively, and use that as evidence of the speaker’s alleged stupidity or inability to grasp the meaning of words that they are using. I think that a more sinister dynamic is at play, one that involves a “linguistic arms-race” of sorts, and like an actual arms-race,…
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The Discrimination Bias

Nan Palmero

I think that one is born with natural leftist/rightist sympathies and then later in life is afforded with many opportunities to revise their very strong innate prior in light of evidence, moral theories, and the need to fit in in whatever social club one wants to belong to. But the basic inclination persists and may lead to a…
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Rapid Lecturing

Bo Burnham

My yardstick for effective public speaking is comedians. Most, I find, speak quite slowly, or at least enunciate very clearly, which makes sense since they want the audience to be able to pick up on all their hard-worked jokes. This is why I was a bit surprised when I read the suggestion here that rapid-lecturing…
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On the Quality of Modern Poetry

Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Israel's national poet

This experiment mixed  randomly assigned respondents with either a poem by a leading Israeli artist or a cheap imitation, written on the spot in a half-hearted attempt to imitate the original (the experimenters were influenced by an experiment that showed people having hard time distinguishing between cheap and expensive wines and would rate higher those that were labelled…
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