I was holding off on this until I could slip it in at the top of a more substantial, imminent follow-up to last month’s Plague Journal entry. But plagues will be with us for the foreseeable future, I still haven’t been able to look away from the headlights long enough to distill my notes into an actual post1, and this upcoming AMA thing happens in two days: Wednesday April 15th, to be precise. 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific, work it out yourself if you don’t happen to be in either of those zones. So in the face of that imminent deadline, self-promotion gets a post all to itself.

There’s this book recommendation site, “”. They’ve been around long enough to accumulate a yearly base of 1.5 million readers, a number I can barely even dream of here at the ‘crawl. They’re booting up an AMA series to help us all fend off the stir-crazies for an hour or two; I’m their inaugural author. (Before you ask, No: I have no idea who the competition might have been, or if one of the organizers just lost a bet.)

Full disclosure: it’s not free. You need to sign up as a “premium” subscriber to get in and actually interact in text-time. It’ll cost you anywhere from nine bucks to ninety, depending on whether you want to subscribe for a month or for the rest of your life (assuming there’s a difference—these days, who can really tell?) If you’ve spent any time here, I’m guessing you’ll already have a sense of whether it’s worth the price. Trust your feelings.

I believe a transcript of the whole thing will end up on the WSIN blog in the fullness of time, so whatever you decide you’ll still be able to read my answers to other people’s questions for free. You just won’t get to ask any of your own.

You take a chance either way. I leave it to you.

1 Also “Half-Life: Alyx” finally finished downloading and the in-world pigeons are awesomely rendered, so I probably won’t be spending a lot of time in the real world anyway.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 13th, 2020 at 9:30 am and is filed under public interface. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

14 Responses to “PSA. AMA.”

  1. Alex

    I put in The Freeze-Frame Revolution on, and it recommended Influence: Psychology of Persuasion by Cialdini, among other books. Trying to decide if that’s a good recommendation.

  2. Tran Script

    I put in The Unholy Consult, book seven of R. Scott Bakker’s marvelous ‘The Second Apocalypse’ series, and among the outputs are Blindsight and Dune Messiah, two of my favorite books. This thing may actually work.

  3. Tummo


    Because you mentioned “Influence,” I’d like to recommend this barely-related but highly-interesting review/analysis of “The Art of the Deal” by practicing psychiatrist/rationalist Scott Alexander:

  4. J Heled


    I just watched the last episode of Devs and eagerly awaiting your input, so I will know what to think 🙂 I can’t even decide if the show is good or not.

    (Of course the casting is excellent, the leads hot, the visuals up to 2019 standards, the audio annoying and over-the-top – but does it even begins to make sense on every level that counts ….)

  5. Peter Watts

    J Heled,

    I probably will do a review post of Devs before too long. The only reason I’m not doing it immediately is because I feel ethically tugged to do a follow-up on the whole C19 thing, and that situation keeps changing, and as a result I keep doing nothing at all.

    But to save you the wait, I loved Devs. Even the audio.

    More later.

  6. Whoever

    So there’s this nutty but respectable-seeming to-the-layman thing floating about regarding C19 “containing” a HIV protein, GP120, others GP41, etc. There’s some talk on Reddit. There’s a reporter in DC, George Webb, talking a lot about it. If this is Alex Jones stuff, it’s packaging is for a smarter crowd.

    Personally, I’m smelling a problem and have my doubts about this entire narrative. I mean off-the-street Ebola makes for a bioweapon without the need to bioengineer it. I’m seeing a “demolition or nope” debate being created there, which is in itself not a good sign, because it implies someone is hiding something else when they frame the question overwhelmingly A or B? and C is being left out altogether.

    But is is possible, probable and/or plausible that any of that can happen naturally, eg, two separate viruses developing similar/same proteins and is there any evidence that these various labs found it?

    JFC, I think synthesists need synthesists for this.

  7. Trottelreiner


    sometimes I wish I had done acid back in the day, would make for better flashbacks than the whole “virus of the day was engineered from two other vira”. Err, whatever…

    First of, yes, recombination between two vira (and between virus and host) happens, see flu strains, see horizontal gene transfer, see whatever. It differs somewhat between types of vira, IIRC flu has multiple, err, “viral chromosomes”, SARS-COV2 only has one, SARS-COV2 abd HIV both use RNA for their genime, but wuth HIV there is a DNA intermediate due to reverse transcriptase in retrovira etc.

    Second of, the HIV and SARS-COV2 genomes have been sequenced and are online. Downloadibg them and doing a tblastx search for similar protein sequences in the translated nucleotide is the bioinformatic version of a scriptkiddie playing around with nmap…

  8. Anonymous


    On another note, I just realized doing a molecular bio fact dump still makes me horny. SCNR.

  9. Trottelreiner


    Err, please note this anonymous is me; usually, I put my name under snarky remarks or what I take for those.

    Just cooked with a lot of garlic, I’m sure it helps against SARS-COVs; though only by keeping people away…

  10. Whoever


    Thanks. Webb just got profiled by CNN and Daily Journal because his work is promoting death threats against some Americans in DoD. The wife was a bicyclist in the olympics in China last October. The odd thing with Webb is that it at least appears as if his info is coming from other people, as opposed to being written by staff like IW did it.

    There are several of these kinds of outlets now. Have heard YouTube now demonetizes any account that mentions coronavirus but I doubt that’s why some of these groups exist, at least directly. Seem very tied to alt-right.

  11. Mark Pontin

    I had an ugly — hopefully not serious — thought.

    We’ve all been seeing these rapturous reports that atmospheric pollution has nearly disappeared in major cities around the world as manufacturing and transportation has largely ground to a halt thanks to COV19, right?

    Hallelujah! Well, maybe not. People forget that we’ve seen this movie before in 2009. Now, as then, global warming will substantially accelerate — temporarily at least — as a result of the decrease of aerosolized particulates in the atmosphere. See forex –
    ‘Disentangling greenhouse warming and aerosol cooling to reveal Earth’s climate sensitivity’

    ‘…we present an observation-based study of the time period 1964 to 2010, which does not rely on climate models. The method incorporates observations of greenhouse gas concentrations, temperature and radiation from approximately 1,300 surface sites into an energy balance framework … We find that surface radiation trends, which have been largely explained by changes in atmospheric aerosol loading, caused a cooling that masked approximately one-third of the continental warming due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations over the past half-century.’

    Particulates creating a cooling that nullified one-third of the planet’s continental warming is substantial.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the global pollution decrease in 2020 thanks to COV19 triggers the tipping point in the melting of the Siberian permafrost, with the result being catastrophic methane release accompanied by that of the more deadly bugs now frozen there? I’m know you’ve been paying attention to the fact that really alien giant viruses and fungal spores that haven’t been around for tens and hundreds of thousands of years have been re-emerging into the light of day in Siberia over the last few years.

  12. Seasonal Candles

    Not super relevant to this discussion here but I found this and immediately flashed back to the local maximum/echopraxia God discussion:

  13. Hank Roberts

    Testing the comment feature after reading on FB that it’s broken.

  14. Hank Roberts

    Seasonal Candles,

    pollution decrease in 2020 thanks to COV19

    testing the comment tool after reading on FB that it’s not working.

    test, test, this is a text, this is only a text