Monthly Bragging Thread July 2015

post by elharo · 2015-07-01T11:07:07.666Z · score: 7 (8 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 46 comments

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining the most awesome thing you've done this month. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself the coolest freaking person ever because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.

Remember, however, that this isn't any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread. This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on"Have already done. This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.

So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?

46 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2015-07-09T15:34:22.090Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I finished the part-time Bachelor's degree in Economics and Maths I've been working on in my spare time for the past six years, alongside a full-time job. I got the result of my (particularly brutal, touch-and-go) final exam this afternoon, and have landed first-class honours. I'll be quitting my job in September and starting a full-time Masters in Computational Statistics and Machine Learning.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-09T15:50:10.141Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've only interacted with you briefly, and I always feel quite condescending when I use the phrase 'proud of you,' but I'm super proud of you! You're a badass!

In fact, since you speak of working while attending university, I am now curious about your socioeconomic class, if that is not too forward. I'm viscerally interested in people who rise above the limitations of class. Now that I'm reminded, I'm also curious about those class-related things about which you had been thinking that were related to the things that I said in that comment. PM me anytime if that's something you care to discuss.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2015-07-09T19:01:46.676Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Not that much of a rags-to-riches story, I'm afraid. My parents both have working class backgrounds, and neither went to university, but my upbringing would probably get coded as lower-middle class. I had one attempt at university already, fifteen years ago, but dropped out after one year of an Astrophysics degree. Also my jobs for those six years were mid-range software dev/tech professional tybe jobs. It's not like I've been shovelling coal or anything.

Some of the things I was thinking about class in relation to that comment were on this sort of topic. I dropped out of my first degree in part because I was a feckless 19-year-old who didn't know any better, but also in part because I didn't have any academic role models and all the education I'd received up until that point had lulled me into a false sense of security. On a fundamental level, I didn't know how to study at a university, and there wasn't anyone in a position to show me how.

Your talking about class-based memetic toxicity rang some bells along these lines. Education has a bunch of "soft skills" that parents can pass on to their kids, and presumably stuff like relationships, money management, interpersonal conflict resolution, etc. have similar sets of soft skills which you simply won't learn unless they're in your environment.

Also, this is going to sound like a bit of a non-sequitur, but I'd been thinking about Game of Thrones, and what feudal lords must look like to serfs. If you're well-fed, well-groomed and well-educated in a malnourished, dirty and illiterate world, you're not only going to look like a qualitatively superior sort of person to Pete the Peon, but you will operationally outperform him in a number of ways. I wonder to what extent this sort of pattern is prevalent in contemporary Western class systems.

comment by Viliam · 2015-07-14T22:24:45.917Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder to what extent this sort of pattern is prevalent in contemporary Western class systems.

I believe having a lot of money is useful in many ways; far beyond merely being able to buy a larger car or spending your holidays in a more exotic location.

Imagine that your would be born in a family rich enough that your parents could and would simply give you as much money as you make at your job today. And there would be no worry that you will run out of resources in a year, or even in twenty years. Essentially, you could have a private "basic income" in a country where other people don't... and they would all have to compete with you. How large advantage would it be?

Instead of having to spend 8 hours every day at work, most likely spending your mental energy on fulfilling someone else's dreams, you could spend all this time and energy on your own dreams. You could freely do your own project at your own pace; and if the project fails, no problem, you can learn from your mistakes and start another project; and again, and again, as many times as necessary. No worry about paying your bills. If you want to learn something, you have as much time as you need to learn it; nothing will interrupt you. If you want to travel to conferences and meet people, you are free to go for as long as you need. You don't have to carefully count your remaining vacation days.

Even if you would decide that having a job is the best way to learn and practice your skills, unlike the less rich people you would be completely free to optimize for this goal. Your could choose your job regardless of the salary. If you would find out that the job is not exactly what you have imagined, or if your boss later told you to do something that you don't wish to learn and practice, or if you would simply feel that you have already learned enough and want to try something new, you would be free to leave without any worry that maybe you won't find an equally paying job soon enough. (Read more here: "Yes, rich kids already won the career game. Here’s why.".)

If you were in such situation, the largest risk to your career would probably be the temptation to spend all your days just doing sex and drugs. But if you could maintain a balance; if you would have creative and intellectual goals and some willpower, you could probably have more sex, more drugs, and yet a better career than Pete the Salary-Peon. From his point of view, you would be better educated, better groomed, more relaxed, more popular, more assertive, and you could accomplish incredibly more in your free time.

And I am really simplifying it here, because class isn't merely about money. It is also about power, contacts, and learning from your parents the skills to maintain the power and contacts. For example, if you would decide to write a novel, your advantage would not only be having all the time necessary to write, and having an opportunity to attend all writing seminars you believe could benefit you, but as soon as you would write your first semi-decent novel, you would immediately get your book published and positively reviewed in media by people who owe your or your parents a favor. Your chances would be hundred times higher than the chances of an equally gifted middle-class writer. And please note that I am assuming here that you would also have some talent and do a lot of work, not just that your parents would buy you a fake fame (although even that would be an option if you would choose so), but you could simply follow your dreams directly, all the time, without any artificial obstacles, without fear; while your competitors would have to carefully choose their trade-offs, and spend most of their energy somewhere else.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-15T10:21:25.995Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think only a small minority of people have their own dreams to pursue or at any rate the motivation to get off their butts and do something if not forced by necessity. I know I am not one of them. Anecdotally I knew some rich kids - one of them went snowboarding all the time, but was not interested in trying to be a professional, competitive snowboarder, it was just leasure. Another, a girl, was just focusing being a big rebel and annoying parents by adopting or at any rate left-anarchists views, yet obediently going into law school when the parents made an ultimatum.

In other words, I am pretty much of the opposite view: to have motivation to do something, you need to "stay hungry", unless you are not the small minority of hyper-optimistic people who think doing stuff actually matters and they end up sooner or later moving to Silicon Valley to team up with fellow optimists.

Or maybe I am mixing with unusually pessimistic people but on the whole pretty much everybody I know does not think the work they are doing is making the world at any rate a better place, they just do it to make a living, they see a business as some rich guy making profits and giving them a cut called salary but not primarily as something that benefits customers, and their general mood is envy. From this angle it is seriously hard to have any passions or dreams or at any rates not productive ones, but more like "one day I will get rich and pimp it around and rub into all your faces".

It is hard to say which view is more realistic, but let me put it this way - in the past a lot of people believed things like "idle hands invite the devil", believed that if a man is not constantly burdened, forced by necessity to do work he will just turn to drinking or later on in history, to drugs, a lot of young rich people I know are drug addicts of the raver type and I have several older rural relatives who when not having must-do work they have no clue how to kill their time and indeed they get drunk as a general solution.

I also don't see how a pursue-your-dreams view fits into the biological view of man. I think the ancestral environment is far more about negative motivation: there are all kinds of pain like hunger, predator threat or similar things, and they were far more often running away from something painful than running towards something pleasurable.

Finally, how much pleasure was there throughout history? I hope you are familiar with Henryk Sienkiewicz's historical novels like With Fire And Sword and The Deluge? What strikes me about them is how early modern nobility loved warfare largely because their life at peacetime was incredibly boring, with nothing to do. Plan B at peacetime was sitting in a dull rural house managing peasants who don't need much managing, occasionally some hunting and getting drunk with retainers? Boring. War meant adventure and glory. The point is that there were no positive goals to pursue, just negative ones like avoid getting killed, hungry or ill.

There are more opportunities now but why would expect this mindset to change so much? Especially where would people get the optimism, the sense of empowerment to believe they can make any sort of difference in the world?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-07-15T11:01:53.266Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are more opportunities now but why would expect this mindset to change so much? Especially where would people get the optimism, the sense of empowerment to believe they can make any sort of difference in the world?

The industrial revolution changed that, and the pace of change ever since. We see the world visibly changing around us from year to year. We can see that more and better is possible without having to be a lone visionary.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-15T11:13:52.973Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but look at how people see the industrial revolution! There is the optimistic view of this enriching everybody and making lives easier and the pessimistic / envy-oriented view that it all is just about exploitation, profits and greed. Some see goods going to customers, and some see broke-back workers and fat dividends. It is all perspective.

I have learned enough economics to be closer to the first view, but you cannot really expect the average person to learn econ. And even I, despite having learned econ, feel on the gut level that cheering for a corporation would be incredibly gullible and materialistic, that the only "cool" way to read corporate mission statements is in the tone of sarcasm, that advertisements that see people somehow happy about their washing machine are lying because you cannot possibly be happy about such a mundane and material thing, and so on...

When Ole Nydahl (from Denmark) was travelling in Nepal in the 1960's he was utterly shocked that a local lama, rinpoche, "holy man" who would give them spiritual teachings and blessings and being all pure and lofty would change hats when they wanted to buy large bricks of tea from the monastery and haggle furiously about every cent like a vendor in some bazaar. They were under this typcially Western idealist impression that money is dirty, spiritual people should not be materialistic and so on. They were thinking it would be far more befitting a holy guru to gift them tea and then they will donate the monastery money instead of haggling.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-07-16T06:01:37.483Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some see goods going to customers, and some see broke-back workers and fat dividends. It is all perspective.

And some, in the poorer and more unstable parts of the world, see paradise and will do almost anything to get here. If they get past the barriers, they mostly do not want to return.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-16T13:34:01.278Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but look at how people see the industrial revolution! There is the optimistic view of this enriching everybody and making lives easier and the pessimistic / envy-oriented view that it all is just about exploitation, profits and greed. Some see goods going to customers, and some see broke-back workers and fat dividends. It is all perspective.

It is not all perspective. There are socialist economists just as capitalist ones. The argument is over how to make standards of living rise for the masses.

Mistake not hipster douchebags for a serious critique of political economy.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-16T13:46:30.933Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, I did not necessarily want to steer this in this direction, but generally speaking one large subset of the argument is over, namely centralized control does not work. However, it is also true that many anti-capitalist thinkers were rather going in a different direction, such as abolishing fixed property rights in favor of temporary usage rights, and having an "economistically" normal free market on top of that. This is actually one possible reading of the word socialism, although of course a far, far less popular and historically far, far less influential than the centralized-control type of reading. I would not put much trust into it either, just saying this aspect is not really that nailed-down yet as the dysfunction of centralization.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-16T16:02:01.014Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok? I mean, I'm a good deal more pro-centralization than most "free market" or left-anarchist people, but my point is, these are questions of fact, amenable to study.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-07-16T16:22:04.032Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

these are questions of fact, amenable to study

Well, kinda. Economics studies these kinds of things and you can see for yourself how much agreement is there about "facts" and how rigorous the papers are.

The problem is that you don't have entirely stable facts and processes like you have in physics. In social studies, technically speaking, each situation is unique and will never repeat again. Therefore a core activity for a social scientist is separating persistent features of the situation (including figuring out on which time scale are they persistent) from irrelevant and labile -- and those are usually swept into one large bin labeled "noise". This is a very non-trivial exercise given that this persistency is often conditional on some factors and that you typically can't do interventions.

So, "amenable to study", yes. "Established beyond reasonable doubt", err... I'm not going to hold my breath.

comment by Jiro · 2015-07-15T14:58:30.349Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the real world, don't upper class people have to maintain upper-classness? If you can use your connections to do things, after all, that means that other people will likewise be using their connections with you to get you to do something for them. And in order to maintain those connections, you need to keep up friendships with people you might not have much in common with.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-16T12:50:31.750Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could freely do your own project at your own pace; and if the project fails, no problem, you can learn from your mistakes and start another project; and again, and again, as many times as necessary.

Of course, real projects mostly get done via group effort, so it's less useful to your rich-kid dreams to have one rich kid than an entire highly-effective society of rich kids who know how to work in groups.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-07-15T14:32:47.498Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Google up "trust-fund kids" for an alternative perspective.

comment by Viliam · 2015-07-16T08:02:32.991Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

17 000 000 results, did you have any specific one in mind?

Some random clicks: (1) says that having tons of money as a teenager makes you irresponsible; luckly the poor rich baby later found the meaning of life in Buddhism; (2) says that having tons of money can make you unempathetic and unthinking, and you may waste your time doing things you are actually not good at, because you don't care that much about feedback. Also, multiple articles say that some rich parents don't want to give money to their children, because they believe that way their children will be more motivated. -- Was any of this specifically your point?

If the point is that "money can ruin character, so people who don't have money have it better", that sounds like reverting stupidity. Poverty can ruin character, too. Or, if the character remains untouched, relative poverty can make you spend your time and energy gathering resources in a way that is not optimal for your long-term career; so for example instead of learning functional programming you will spend your high-school holidays picking strawberries, because the functional programming cannot pay your family bills in short term.

How to do "giving money to your children" better than random, if you are rich? First, spend some time with your children. (The few data points I have, rich people often don't have time and/or patience to actually have any meaningful interaction with their kids. It is too easy to pay someone else to do the babysitting / education / other replacement of parenting; but the strangers don't care about your child the way you would.) Second, instead of throwing a ton of money on them and waiting what happens, support the things you consider reasonable; attach some conditions to the money. Don't just throw million dollars to the teenager and walk away. Third, let your children socialize with middle-class children, without making them an obvious exception in the group. Connect them with people who have the values you want your children to have. = Threat your children as a serious project that deserves your attention, not just your money.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-07-16T14:39:29.243Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My main point is that not needing money is not an unmitigated blessing. I tend to agree with DVH that external motivation ("hunger") is a useful and possibly even a necessary thing. People who can realize their potential (in useful ways) purely on internal motivation are rare.

I specifically mentioned trust-fund kids to hint at two things. First, their outcomes are not great. I don't have any links handy, but I think they are less successful and less happy than their peer group which is similar in terms of things like IQ and social standing, but doesn't have enough money and actually has to work for a living. In everyday terms, I can't help but notice that housewives are, as a rule, less interesting people than women who work -- again, for comparable IQ and social status (I understand it's possible to argue about the direction of causality here).

Second, a recurring motif in how wealthy people try to bring up their kids is that they explicitly do not want them to have all the money they need just for the asking. The money is there as a safety net, certainly, but the kids are pushed to go out and earn money. The idea is the same -- the lack of external motivation does bad things to people.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-16T16:09:18.044Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I specifically mentioned trust-fund kids to hint at two things. First, their outcomes are not great. I don't have any links handy, but I think they are less successful and less happy than their peer group which is similar in terms of things like IQ and social standing, but doesn't have enough money and actually has to work for a living.

Is that a personal impression or a memory of research that you can't find at the moment?

Second, a recurring motif in how wealthy people try to bring up their kids is that they explicitly do not want them to have all the money they need just for the asking. The money is there as a safety net, certainly, but the kids are pushed to go out and earn money. The idea is the same -- the lack of external motivation does bad things to people.

This is consistent with a world in which "Adversity builds character" is a cached thought and in which a precise formulation of it is fact.

There's also the general correlation between socioeconomic class and Good Things. Particularly important in this case is the negative correlation between number of risk factors and various Good Things. I suppose you could postulate some sort of Simpson-like paradox to explain your impressions. But for me, this pattern matches way too easily to bat-to-head fallacy as applied to scarcity.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-07-16T16:38:19.861Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is that a personal impression or a memory of research that you can't find at the moment?

Memory of research. I don't know enough trust-fund kids to have a personal impression.

"Adversity builds character"

We're talking about a slightly different thing: the need for external motivation. The point isn't that for proper character development you should spend your youth going to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways. The point rather lies in establishing the pattern and the expectation that if you want something, you should be prepared to pay for it in work (time, effort, resources), that some desires are too expensive this way, and that the amount of work you're prepared to do limits the things you can get.

If, as a kid or a teenager, you don't get any practice in limiting your wants and in pushing yourself to get something, you do not develop the appropriate "muscles" and so grow up lacking in abilities to control your desires and push yourself over the internal whining of "but I don't wanna".

Note that I'm not arguing that poverty is better. I am arguing that growing up without any financial constraints is not all rainbows and unicorns and brings with it its own set of problems.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-16T17:29:00.171Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Gotcha. I'd sure be interested in seeing empirical evidence demonstrating a link between socioeconomic class, parenting style, and/or impulse control and self-discipline.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-07-17T15:46:47.463Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's complicated :-)

The problem is that there is considerable genetic component in "impulse control and self-discipline" and it also affects your (and your parents') socioeconomic class. And additional problem is that the effects of parenting style are asymmetric -- it's relatively easy to royally screw up a kid, but it's very hard to improve a kid beyond his/her genetic baseline. Yet another problem is that certain possible outcomes of studying this topic are politically incorrect and likely to lead to... undesirable career consequences for the researcher.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-15T10:31:47.543Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think being rich usually kills motivation because very few people have positive dreams, people are usually motivated by necessity. Take necessity away and you got yet another lazy upper-class cokehead "party animal", with few exceptions. There is a very fine line of middle-classery to walk, to be rich enough to throw resources at your goals, but poor enough i.e. "staying hungry" enough to actually have goals.

What you say about the soft skills are true for class but not money. As they are not the same thing. For example people who have class but not money are librarians or schoolteachers. Growing up as a child of librarians or schoolteachers would mean limited means but having all the right soft-skills. I think I may be using "class" a bit unusually here, largely I mean "a culture of intellectualism" because working-class culture does not have much of that. People who buy their kids books for Xmas. People who are used to their kids demanding books for Xmas. Basically I mean a "body person" vs. "head person" dichotomy here, as virtually all working-class people tend to be body people, sex, food, fighting, sports, and while many rich people are body people too, there are more head people and thus it gets associated with class - but not necessarily with money.

Basically my point is, having soft skills from class / intellectualism but retaining the motivation of low money seems to be an ideal combination, which I would roughly define as librarian parents or philosophy professor parents.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-15T12:21:08.636Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think being rich usually kills motivation because very few people have positive dreams, people are usually motivated by necessity. Take necessity away and you got yet another lazy upper-class cokehead "party animal", with few exceptions. There is a very fine line of middle-classery to walk, to be rich enough to throw resources at your goals, but poor enough i.e. "staying hungry" enough to actually have goals.

For one, this is a very complex claim, that I think is in some ways contrary to the evidence (mental and physical health correlate positively with socioeconomic class). But besides that, just on a sort of ideological ground, I have to disagree with it. People often claim that things like war and death are necessary. Let it be known that neither is scarcity a necessary evil. But that doesn't mean that we can't experience challenges, continuously improve ourselves, and live by our own strength.

What you say about the soft skills are true for class but not money. As they are not the same thing. For example people who have class but not money are librarians or schoolteachers. Growing up as a child of librarians or schoolteachers would mean limited means but having all the right soft-skills. I think I may be using "class" a bit unusually here, largely I mean "a culture of intellectualism" because working-class culture does not have much of that. People who buy their kids books for Xmas. People who are used to their kids demanding books for Xmas. Basically I mean a "body person" vs. "head person" dichotomy here, as virtually all working-class people tend to be body people, sex, food, fighting, sports, and while many rich people are body people too, there are more head people and thus it gets associated with class - but not necessarily with money.

I would agree with this but use different words, note the risk of generalizing from a small amount of anecdotal evidence, and rip out all of the causal implications because I don't actually know what is doing what there.

Basically my point is, having soft skills from class / intellectualism but retaining the motivation of low money seems to be an ideal combination, which I would roughly define as librarian parents or philosophy professor parents.

Once again, I disagree with this final conclusion on ideological grounds. Scarcity is not necessary.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-16T12:48:55.712Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Oh good. Someone else on this site read the good parts of this site, the ones that actually give some hope for life, the ones that aren't just a Treason of the Scientists to accompany the Treason of the Artists and the Treason of the (humanist) Intellectuals.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-16T13:57:26.244Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Fun Theory Sequence is my favorite and doesn't get linked enough.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-16T16:03:40.653Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've always wondered why people are so freaked out at even looking at the "brighter" portions of possibility-space when they spend all their time obsessing over the unrealistically dark portions anyway. It makes grown adults sound like emo-teens, but somehow it's all taken as Very Serious Person stuff.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-16T17:16:26.579Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can imagine lots of reasons that you might observe something like that.

  • Discussing x-risks pattern matches to appearing responsible, and discussing very long-term fun maximization pattern matches to fantasizing, and appearing responsible is higher status than appearing to fantasize.
  • Discussing x-risks is more important/higher impact than discussing fun maximization.
  • People who think about both x-risks and fun maximization believe that discussing fun maximization proximally to x-risks completes the transhumanism-as-religion pattern, so discussion of fun maximization is observed less frequently than discussion of x-risks. (Alternatively, people are conserving their weirdness points. That would probably be the best way to describe it elsewhere but not here.)
  • Different epistemic origins. I imagine that a lot of LW users come to rationalism through Traditional Rationality as students or professionals. I'm young and I cut my teeth on Robert Freitas's work. I've had the transhumanist inside view for a long time and don't remember what it's like to think about transhumanism or the future solely in terms of imprecise, surface-level generalizations.
  • Robin Hanson would probably argue that people have extreme ideas about the future, and that it goes both ways and you're just reversing the stupidity. (I would disagree.)
comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-17T01:33:37.172Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Robin Hanson would probably argue that people have extreme ideas about the future, and that it goes both ways and you're just reversing the stupidity. (I would disagree.)

I don't understand?

Different epistemic origins. I imagine that a lot of LW users come to rationalism through Traditional Rationality as students or professionals. I'm young and I cut my teeth on Robert Freitas's work. I've had the transhumanist inside view for a long time and don't remember what it's like to think about transhumanism or the future solely in terms of imprecise, surface-level generalizations.

Just like most people, I got introduced to LW through Traditional Rationality myself. But, to me, "LWian 'rationality'" doesn't actually have a large "usefulness delta" over "account for cognitive biases and use statistical reasoning" without the parts about extremely strong naturalism, Fun Theory, and at least enough transhumanism to make the Fun Theory actually go.

Discussing x-risks is more important/higher impact than discussing fun maximization.

I didn't even mean existential risks. I meant stuff like, "Which people in government or business are conspiring against me this week?" and "Is everyone a piece of shit?", to which there are actually trivial answers like "Most people aren't conspiring against you" and "No".

Discussing x-risks pattern matches to appearing responsible, and discussing very long-term fun maximization pattern matches to fantasizing, and appearing responsible is higher status than appearing to fantasize.

That would be typical Very Serious Person stuff.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2015-07-19T04:37:13.619Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Just like most people, I got introduced to LW through Traditional Rationality myself. But, to me, "LWian 'rationality'" doesn't actually have a large "usefulness delta" over "account for cognitive biases and use statistical reasoning" without the parts about extremely strong naturalism, Fun Theory, and at least enough transhumanism to make the Fun Theory actually go.

I would definitely include the stuff on philosophy of language as well. I've seen a lot of people report that not going in circles over word usage was one of their most significant changes in behavior after reading LW. It also sets you up for reductionism by teaching you not to confuse the way the map feels with the way the territory is.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-20T13:20:11.284Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You mean there are people to whom that's not just obvious? I thought that treating words as pointers was something common to everyone who learns programming.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-07-20T13:47:32.032Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not everyone learns programming and it happens often that skills learned in one domain don't transfer into other domains.

Quite a lot of people care about whether or not someone is a feminist. The care about defining what true feminism is about. They treat the word like it's important in itself and not just a pointer.

comment by Sarunas · 2015-07-22T15:56:52.750Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Law (especially private law) seems to be a better example of a domain where words themselves are very important, because it can hardly be any other way. For example, whether or not something qualifies as a breach of contract is important by itself.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-21T03:04:35.538Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not everyone learns programming

On this site?

Quite a lot of people care about whether or not someone is a feminist. The care about defining what true feminism is about. They treat the word like it's important in itself and not just a pointer.

And they're being silly.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-07-21T11:18:44.612Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

On this site?

Just like we have a few theists on LW we also have noncoders ;)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-15T14:35:00.092Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not being motivated by scarcity totally exists and is an excellent thing for those who can pull it off, but AFAIK it requires a very unusual type of personality. I would say, almost abiological, since there is not much in our evolutionary past that would be about post-scarcity motivation.

Something I must add to my model: everybody I know who is wealthy had parents who were born poor. Or grandparents. I am born about middle to upper-middle perhaps but still remember grandpa's childhood stories about travelling on the roof of trains. So a perhaps my model is better explained by saying they inherited a certain amount of scarcity mentality and then don't know what to do when it no longer applies. I have no idea what real "old money" is about, when one is 100% secure one cannot lose their status, maybe they more easily get this kind of non-scarcity motivation.

comment by Sarunas · 2015-07-15T19:12:04.364Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Money is not the only thing you can be hungry for, e.g. you can be hungry for fame. Or you can be motivated by thrill of having the call in your life. Some books are described as page-turners or even unputdownable, and I think if one's life has a "well-written" story, then being the main protagonist of that story might make having a dream and following it at least as interesting as those books. For smaller goals, perhaps feeling that your family has a certain stature that you have to maintain would be enough.

One thing that helps motivation is the sense of direction. If children have concrete examples of success (and I think that being from a rich family usually can provide some, although it is not the only source of examples), concrete roadmaps to success, then they might be more confident in trying various ambitious things. If children do not have concrete and vivid examples, they have to rely on abstract ones, and they are less likely to affect them at gut level. E.g. even if, given their talents, intellectually they may understand that A Thing is realistically within their reach, they might still not feel it emotionally, and they might choose safer and less ambitious path not because of intellectual considerations, but because that path feels more realistic, more concrete, and therefore the one that feels less uncertain, less scary. For example, someone from a remote small town who has no concrete examples of success might not even consider applying to prestigious university or company abroad, even though they knew application procedure and knew (at the intellectual level) that, given their talents, they might have a shot, because that might feel too unrealistic and scary.

comment by taryneast · 2015-07-02T06:05:38.111Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I have successfully gone for a run three times a week all month.

comment by elharo · 2015-07-01T11:12:01.872Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I had two new short fiction pieces published in the last month. First, Third Flatiron released their Only Disconnect anthology including my flash humor piece Email Recovered from Genetech Debris, Lt. Jeffrey Abramowitz Investigating

Second T. Gene Davis's Speculative Blog published The Valediction.

comment by philh · 2015-07-07T22:08:48.548Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

At LWCW, someone requested that I sing. So I sang, and got a round of applause after.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-02T02:32:04.647Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Yo. 25 pages in PDF-from-Latex form, setting out the broad evidence behind an overall theory of how the mind reasons about the world.

comment by SeanMCoincon · 2015-07-13T19:35:02.030Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I finally admitted to myself that I exhibit all the signs and underpinning patterns of thought associated with Impostor Syndrome, and asked an actual human being (!!!) for help. My hope is not that I will thus have more things about which to brag, but will feel something other than guilt over my successes. Fun times!

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-05T17:47:40.848Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Used (at last) my DIY grid for vegetation cover estimates. I took an old stainless grid from a dish rack, marked intervals with nail polish (and taped on the corresponding numbers on the frame), and placed it on four plastic clothespins which hold onto electrodes I insert into the ground where I need them. The height is adjustable, within reason. The frame has to be tied to at least two diagonal 'poles', because it is easy to dislodge (I used shoelaces). Another electrode was my 'pin'. (I carry them in a plastic bottle, to better preserve my bag.)

So far it was workable for aboveground vegetation, and only a bit cumbersome to carry through dense undergrowth. However, when I began to map the underground part, it was a nuisance until you remove the soil (& nearly poked my eye out with an electrode - better to remove one pole.)

Why is this useful? Experienced botanists can estimate species cover with 10% accuracy (for abundant species). Inexperienced have to check themselves. So partly - for calibration. (You can have a group of students give their estimates, and then see how close they come; you don't even need to know the plants' names for this.) And it's fun, you can map rather small things if you have a notebook and a pensil and your grid is fine enough. If you don't have calibrated paper, just write the numbers as xy coordinates.

comment by softwaremechanic · 2015-07-16T13:09:55.999Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I improved a video annotation software,(manual work) and reduced the time taken for annotation by more than half. It was awesome to see it reduce the manual work by half.

comment by Username · 2015-07-21T12:14:11.508Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What's the name of the software?

comment by l_mir · 2015-07-20T23:49:03.971Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wrote a song. Here's the link. https://soundcloud.com/azeems-jukebox/azeems-jukebox-myndbreyting

comment by taygetea · 2015-07-14T11:39:15.807Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This month (and a half), I dropped out of community college, raised money as investment in what I'll do in the future, moved to Berkeley, got very involved in the rationalist community here, smashed a bunch of impostor syndrome, wrote a bunch of code, got into several extremely promising and potentially impactful projects, read several MIRI papers and kept being urged to involve myself with their research further.

I took several levels of agency.