Comment by 4hodmt on Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016 · 2016-04-15T07:00:18.602Z · LW · GW

I thought Worm had a very bad ending. Vg cebzvaragyl srngherf Pbagrffn, jub vf gur jbefg punenpgre naq unezf gur fgbel fvzcyl ol rkvfgvat. Gnlybe ybfrf ure cbjref. Gur Fvzhetu fgnegf fbzr cyna naq gura gur cybg guernq vf nonaqbarq.

But despite this I still consider it one of my favorite stories.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, Mar. 14 - Mar. 20, 2016 · 2016-03-16T10:57:53.729Z · LW · GW

Assuming he only had one shoulder operated on, where was the control shoulder?

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, Jan. 25 - Jan. 31, 2016 · 2016-01-27T18:35:48.387Z · LW · GW

I stopped biting my nails (coating them in a bitter substance to remind myself not to bite them if I tried) and I did not make any replacement habit. I don't have a "habit of not biting my nails" any more than I have a habit of breathing. It happens automatically without conscious effort, so calling "not biting nails" a habit is misusing the word.

Comment by 4hodmt on Why You Should Be Public About Your Good Deeds · 2015-12-31T22:01:54.950Z · LW · GW

Probably because rich people have most to lose if they're expected to be charitable, and rich people controlled what got published in the Bible. If giving is supposed to be secret then who can prove they're giving nothing?

Comment by 4hodmt on Is it sensible for an ambitious nonsmoker to use e-cigarettes? · 2015-12-03T11:07:17.364Z · LW · GW

Flavoring is optional, but the vast majority of e-cigarette users use strong smelling flavored liquids. Some of them smell worse than tobacco IMO.

Comment by 4hodmt on Is it sensible for an ambitious nonsmoker to use e-cigarettes? · 2015-12-03T11:05:11.845Z · LW · GW

That study is testing the effect of tobacco use, not pure nicotine.

EDIT -- why is this downvoted? The linked study does not test your claim. Tobacco smoking is a CYP1A2 inducer so it will increase caffeine metabolism, but I am not aware of any studies demonstrating that the nicotine is responsible for this. Tobacco smoke contains PAHs and PAHs are known CYP1A2 inducers:

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, Nov. 02 - Nov. 08, 2015 · 2015-11-08T00:38:23.961Z · LW · GW

This rule is incomplete. Most two-syllable adjectives ending in "y" can be converted to comparative form with "er". Some of these may be uncommon, but not all, and my spell checker agrees they are real words, in both British and American English.

Eg. Angrier, heavier, cleverer, friendlier, happier, lazier, tidier, etc. And even three syllable words can take "er": bubblier, foolhardier, jitterier, slipperier, many words starting with "un".

Comment by 4hodmt on Life Advice Repository · 2015-10-20T22:12:39.378Z · LW · GW

Dessert is tasty even when you're already full, so if you're going to eat some eat it first to avoid obesity. This might not work if you have a strong habit of clearing your plate even if you don't need more food.

Comment by 4hodmt on Boring Advice Repository · 2015-10-14T20:08:55.887Z · LW · GW

Less than £2 on eBay. I bought mine for 99p including postage, but I can't find any for that price now.

Comment by 4hodmt on Boring Advice Repository · 2015-10-14T11:03:55.675Z · LW · GW

Butter is meant to be kept at room temperature only if you're going to use it as a spread. If you mostly use it as an ingredient, or for flavoring vegetables, it's better to keep it refridgerated.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread 7th september - 13th september · 2015-09-07T07:13:55.209Z · LW · GW

I do not know if emigration can be attributed to climate change or not, but I do that that Israel produces very large quanties of fresh water by desalination:

Neighboring countries may not be able to afford this.

Comment by 4hodmt on Crazy Ideas Thread, Aug. 2015 · 2015-08-15T04:58:45.860Z · LW · GW

Cooking by weight is common in the UK, and it's superior for two reasons: One, it's more accurate, because it's unaffected by packing density. Two, it's quicker, because you can pour all the ingredients directly into one container, zeroing the scales between each one. Cooking by weight is standard for professional baking even in the US.

Comment by 4hodmt on Crazy Ideas Thread, Aug. 2015 · 2015-08-12T03:25:40.962Z · LW · GW

Additional assumptions you are making:

  1. The only cost of suicide is physical pain
  2. Humans mature into rational adults immediately after birth
Comment by 4hodmt on Ideological Turing Test Domains · 2015-08-02T20:37:38.961Z · LW · GW

It's true that most projects don't need or use the advanced features of git, but this isn't a good reason to use svn, because git can also be used in a simple manner: You're at no disadvantage compared to if you used svn.

But when you want to contribute to one of the big projects that does require the full power of git, you are at an advantage, because you don't have to learn a complete new version control system, only the extra git features you hadn't learned yet.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-14T09:21:13.913Z · LW · GW

My 5 second judgement, which is about as much attention as a totally unknown channel can expect to get, is that these videos are stand-up comedy by somebody without the confidence to perform live in front of an audience. This immediately signals that it's not worth my time.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open Thread, Jun. 1 - Jun. 7, 2015 · 2015-06-08T17:46:16.818Z · LW · GW

Pushing the fat man is the wrong choice because it forces fat men everywhere to constantly be on the lookout for consequentialists, and causes moral hazard by encouraging lax safety around railroads. Consequentialism is only indisputably the correct morality when everybody is perfectly rational and everybody has the same goals. In reality people have differing terminal goals and perfect rationality is impossible because of limited computational ability. Deontology is superior because it is far more predictable. Nobody has to waste brain cycles on avoiding being a convenient victim for some dubious "greater good".

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-03T15:37:51.933Z · LW · GW

Further evidence for this: people often become good friends with sparring partners in combat sports.

Comment by 4hodmt on Seeking Estimates for P(Hell) · 2015-03-21T19:37:59.764Z · LW · GW

The chance of an AI torturing humans as a means to some other goal does seem low, but what about the AI torturing humans as a end in itself? I think CEV could result in this with non-negligible probability (>0.000001). I wouldn't be surprised if the typical LessWrong poster has very different morality than the majority of the population, so our intuition of the results of CEV could be very wrong.

Comment by 4hodmt on Does hormetism work? Opponent process theory. · 2015-02-26T23:46:14.344Z · LW · GW

I went to school. That's a clear example of "repeated stressful challenges", and it did not produce any satisfaction or happiness.

Comment by 4hodmt on Programming-like activities? · 2015-01-09T17:33:28.834Z · LW · GW

You can program to solve your own problems. It's very likely that other people have similar or identical problems, so your code can benefit them even if you didn't plan for that.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-20T22:18:20.257Z · LW · GW

For me it produced a feeling I can best describe as a tactile analog of the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard. It's not exactly pain but something similar and unpleasant. When it wore off I would feel noticeably happier for several hours. I didn't repeat the experience many times, partly because of the unpleasant feeling, and partly because I didn't find a good delivery method other than smoking. I used a concentrated extract strong enough that I could get the full effects from two inhalations, but once I'd done it enough to gain a basic understanding I didn't consider further use worth the risk of smoking.

The main effect is strong hallucinations very distinct from those I got from magic mushrooms. Much less colorful, less detailed but more realistic imagery (similar to dream imagery), extremely strong tactile and proprioception distortion, little if any time perception distortion, weaker audio distortion, and completely overpowering all other sensory input at the peak. There was always an undercurrent of unease; unlike mushrooms which felt a very natural and appropriate mindstate for humans, Salvia had a alien and threatening feel to it. The peak only lasts about 2 minutes and the whole thing is over in about 15.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-20T18:27:07.551Z · LW · GW

In my experience Salvia divinorum works very much like this.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-08-28T02:16:41.591Z · LW · GW

Isn't individuality of dietary needs reason not to consult a physician? In most cases it's going to be impractical for a physician to study any individual patient's requirements. They may also be legally or professionally prohibited from the kind of experimentation needed to find those requirements.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open thread, 14-20 July 2014 · 2014-07-16T12:32:48.440Z · LW · GW

As a cheaper alternative to 100% dark chocolate, I drink unsweetened* cocoa made as follows:

  1. Fill kettle, start boiling water
  2. Add 2 teaspoons cocoa powder to mug, stir in a small trickle of cold water to make a paste
  3. Stir in boiling water, filling mug about 2/3rd full
  4. Top up with cold milk (*milk contains sugars so this isn't technically zero sugar. You could skip the milk if you think it matters, at the cost of worse taste).

Best tasting cocoa powder I've found in the UK is Cadbury Bournville. Some supposedly premium brands (eg. Green & Blacks) taste much worse, bland with a slight burnt taste. Color seems to be a good indication of taste - lighter color generally tastes better.

Comment by 4hodmt on Is there a way to stop liking sugar? · 2014-06-11T21:10:21.751Z · LW · GW

I've never heard of anybody successfully training themselves to genuinely dislike the taste of sugar, as opposed to the idea of eating it. I've been succesfully avoiding sugar for years and on the rare occasions when I do eat some I thoroughly enjoy it. It might be easier to train yourself to enjoy bitter tastes. This is releatively easy, because drugs are often bitter. Strong unsweetened black coffee on an empty stomach might be a good place to start. You'll associate the bitterness with the caffeine high and eventually enjoy bitterness even without the caffeine. If you have high caffeine tolerance then taking a break to reduce it first might help. If you don't enjoy caffeine then other drugs could work, eg. drinking heavily hopped American IPA style beers.

Sugar is often used to mask bitterness, so enjoying bitterness should help make sugar avoidance easier.

Comment by 4hodmt on June 2014 Media Thread · 2014-06-02T20:59:31.598Z · LW · GW

Videoconferencing uses fairly consistent processing/memory over time. The load on the garbage collector has low variance so it can be run at regular inteverals while maintaining very high probability that the software will meet the next frame time. Games have more variable GC load, so it's more difficult to guarantee no missed frames without reserving an unacceptably high time for garbage collection.

Comment by 4hodmt on Ergonomics Revisited · 2014-04-24T23:20:33.350Z · LW · GW

Obviously visible strobing only indicates low refresh rate in CRTs and the rare few monitors with black frame insertion or scanning backlights. In most cases strobing is caused by PWM brightness control, which has the visual disadvantage of strobing without the sample-and-hold-blur reducing advantage of frame-syncronized strobing. PWM brightness control is purely a cost saving measure. At high frequencies it might not bother you but it's rare for PWM frequency to be listed in the specifications.

My phone uses PWM brightness control at about 200Hz so I run it at full brightness (100% duty cycle) if I'm using it for a long time which negates the strobing.

Comment by 4hodmt on Ergonomics Revisited · 2014-04-24T08:40:58.710Z · LW · GW

I find refresh rate extremely important. I stuck with CRTs at 100Hz+ for a very long time after LCDs became popular because only 60Hz LCDs were available. I now use a 120Hz LCD and it's much more enjoyable than 60Hz. Everything feels smoother and more responsive. The improved mouse control is very obvious (this might require increasing the mouse sample rate, I use usbhid mousepoll=2 on Linux). Motion appears much sharper, because the higher refresh rate allows for higher frame rate which reduces sample-and-hold blur (see for detailed information on motion quality). The fastest LCDs on the market support 144Hz. I'd like one but I can't really justify the expense right now.

However, note that I am unusually sensitive to motion artifacts, eg. I am bothered by PWM dimming of LED lights well into the kHz, and I greatly dislike 3:2 pulldown judder. It's possible that some people genuinely don't mind 60Hz LCDs, although I wonder if that's only because they've never used anything faster.

Comment by 4hodmt on LSD, Meditation, Enlightenment, and Ego Death · 2014-04-21T16:32:58.057Z · LW · GW

As somebody who's also done a lot of mushrooms, the first trip provides comparatively little insight. You're so busy observing all the novelty that you don't have much time to think about it. When you're more familiar with the common effects there's time for introspection without missing anything interesting.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open Thread February 25 - March 3 · 2014-03-01T10:28:31.551Z · LW · GW

20 beats per second is for two-handed drumming over one minute, so that's only 10bits/s/muscle theoretical maximum. There doesn't seem to be any organized competition for one-handed drumming, but Takahashi Meijin was famous for button mashing at 16 presses per second with only one hand, although for much shorter times.

Comment by 4hodmt on Open Thread for February 3 - 10 · 2014-02-07T17:39:40.726Z · LW · GW

I cycle as my main form of transportation. I chose cycling partly to save money and partly for exercise. I ride a flat bar touring bike with internal hub gears. I ride in a vehicular style, following the recommendations of "Cyclecraft" by John Franklin. This helps acheive the exercise goal, because vehicular cycling is impossible without a good level of fitness.

I'll use high quality infrastructure when it's available, but here in the UK most cycle infrastructure is worse than useless. We have "advisary cycle lines" in which cars can freely drive and park, so their only function is to promote conflict between cyclists and drivers. We have "advanced stop lines" at junctions which can only be legally entered through a narrow left-side feeder lane, placing the cyclist at the worst place posible for negotiating the junction. We have large numbers of shared use cycle paths which are hated by both cyclists and pedestrians.

I'd prefer to live in the Netherlands where high quality infrastructure is common. I have no confidence that the UK government can provide similar infrastructure here. Most politicians have no understanding of utility cycling and design facilities only considering leisure cycling. There's a big risk that if some minor upgrades are provided cyclists will be compelled to use them, resulting in a network that's less useful than the existing roads.

Comment by 4hodmt on How can I spend money to improve my life? · 2014-02-03T01:14:01.063Z · LW · GW

I find it's well worth spending money on reliability and low maintenance for things you use regularly. I cycle as my main form of transport, and I spent extra money on a good set of internal hub gears. The only maintenance required is a yearly oil change. The time needed to clean and adjust derailuer gears probably isn't much, but the subjective feeling of reliability is valuable for me. Likewise, I use tires with strong puncture protection. I'm confident that I can set out to cycle at short notice and arrive at my destination at a predictable time.

The same principle applies to computers, eg. reducing the number of moving parts, having good filters at air intakes, buying reputable brands for parts even with no direct performance benefit (eg. power supplies). I have less computer problems than people I know who buy purely on cost:performance ratio.

Comment by 4hodmt on How can I spend money to improve my life? · 2014-02-03T00:59:26.689Z · LW · GW

Strongly seconding the SSD recomendation. I can't think of anything else that's given so much enjoyment for the money. A SSD dramatically increases perceived performance of a computer beyond what you'd expect from benchmarks. Adding extra ram can hide the latency of a mechanical HD by caching, but it does nothing for worst case performance, and worst case performance is highly salient. I'd much rather use a low spec PC with a SSD than a high spec PC with a mechanical HD. Predictably mediocre performance feels faster than high average performance with high variance.

Comment by 4hodmt on Rationality Quotes January 2014 · 2014-01-05T00:39:37.394Z · LW · GW

Playing mirror Go is often considered dishonorable. In practice it's not a major problem because it's a suboptimal strategy.

Comment by 4hodmt on Luck I: Finding White Swans · 2013-12-12T21:33:37.921Z · LW · GW

The most popular anti-anxiety drug (alcohol) is legal in most places.

If you don't like alcohol, there's another legal drug which doesn't have the same anti-anxiety effects, but in many places comes with a ready made social network. That drug is tobacco, in places where indoor smoking is banned. The ban helps strengthen the feeling of community. Many tobacco users claim this group membership is the main reason they smoke.

The risks of smoking tobacco probably exceed the social benefits. Nicotine itself, vaporized in an e-cigarette, is much safer. Long running propaganda campaigns have made people conflate tobacco with nicotine, so if you're seen as a nicotine user, and don't make any negative comments about tobacco smoking, you are likely to be accepted as part of the tobacco smokers group. Most smokers will assume you are an ex-smoker who switched. If you stand upwind smoke exposure will be minimal.

Even if you don't like nicotine this is a workable strategy. You can use 0 nicotine liquid and it will be indistinguishable to others unless they try it. If you're worried that somebody might want to try it and it would be awkward to refuse, it's still possible to minimize nicotine exposure. You can suck the vapor into your mouth rather than into the lungs, where it is absorbed rather slowly. You can blow it out before you've absorbed much. It's very difficult to see the difference between mouth and lung inhalation, so this won't look odd to tobacco smokers. The fact that you're wasting so much vapor will only make it look more impressive.

You can use an e-cigarrete with a detachable tip and carry spare tips to avoid risk of spreading disease when sharing. Carrying a lighter will also have social benefits as smokers often misplace them and sharing yours will help strengthen group membership.

Comment by 4hodmt on Good movies for rationalists? · 2013-11-25T14:31:32.306Z · LW · GW

Contact is about as anti-rationalist as a movie can get. The main character was right in that she really did violate the known laws of physics, but her reasoning was completely wrong. The government's public arguments were correct because they correctly valued the prior probability that the known laws of physics are correct. The fact that the main character's conclusion turned out to be correct anyway is then used to promote religious faith. I very much dislike this movie.

Comment by 4hodmt on Good movies for rationalists? · 2013-11-09T13:44:41.519Z · LW · GW

My first thought was detective/courtroom drama type movies, but these are typically Sherlock Holmes style pseudo-rationality, with lessons you can't apply to reality.

In general I don't think movies are good for promoting rationality. The best I can think of are some of the more realistic war movies, eg. Das Boot, Platoon, The Great Escape, which illustrate the "nature doesn't care" idea, where the characters can do everything perfectly and fail anyway because they were in an impossible situation from the start.

Comment by 4hodmt on Is it worth your time to read a lot of self help and how to books? · 2013-10-28T22:13:34.761Z · LW · GW

I didn't see a list of "good" gurus, so I checked all the individual reviews looking for them. I saw only three:

  • Milton Cudney
  • Nancy Dunnan
  • James Gilbaugh
Comment by 4hodmt on Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013 · 2013-10-14T16:13:56.704Z · LW · GW

Continuing with your current deck should be strictly superior to starting from scratch, because you will remember a substantial portion of your cards despite being late. Anki even takes this into account in its scheduling, adjusting the difficulty of cards you remembered in that way. If motivation is a problem, Anki 2.x series includes a daily card limit beyond which it will hide your late reviews. Set this to something reasonable and pretend you don't have any late cards. Your learning effectiveness will be reduced but still better than abandoning the deck.

I've previously let Anki build up a backlog of many thousand unanswered cards. I cleared it gradually over several months, using Beeminder for motivation.

Comment by 4hodmt on Under the eyes of your betters · 2013-10-09T19:42:10.925Z · LW · GW

If this works, it seems like a good use for those LCD picture frames. Turn them on when you want to work, turn them off to relax.

Comment by 4hodmt on Rationality, competitiveness and akrasia · 2013-10-02T21:20:35.795Z · LW · GW

Making web browsing slightly more annoying can be effective in reducing use.

Comment by 4hodmt on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-28T07:46:20.311Z · LW · GW

Beeminder without the deadlines is Beeminder with the weekly rate set to zero.

Comment by 4hodmt on What makes us think _any_ of our terminal values aren't based on a misunderstanding of reality? · 2013-09-26T07:32:33.383Z · LW · GW

"Happiness" as a concept sounds simple in the same way "a witch did it" sounds simple as an explanation. Most people consider wireheading to be a failure state, and defining "happiness" so as to avoid wireheading is not simple.

Comment by 4hodmt on Mistakes repository · 2013-09-20T13:02:41.755Z · LW · GW

Any good set of headphones can reproduce the whole 20Hz to 20kHz human frequency range, and any audio editor software can generate tone sweeps. The frequency response won't be perfectly flat but it will give a rough idea without paying for properly calibrated testing. Each ear can be checked separately.

As for tinnitus, I don't know what influences permanence, so the safest assumption would be to avoid any sound exposure that causes it.

Comment by 4hodmt on Proxy Donating as Spam Filter · 2013-09-20T07:02:13.357Z · LW · GW

I've had the exact same experience with AMF.

Comment by 4hodmt on Notes on Brainwashing & 'Cults' · 2013-09-15T03:45:19.038Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I didn't notice the '*'s.

Comment by 4hodmt on Notes on Brainwashing & 'Cults' · 2013-09-15T02:51:17.024Z · LW · GW

My apologies then. It would be useful if LessWrong marked edited posts as edited.

Comment by 4hodmt on Notes on Brainwashing & 'Cults' · 2013-09-14T16:41:09.143Z · LW · GW

Editing the quote to remove the "considerably" changes the meaning. The original is not a tautology because the "considerably" suggests a visible step in the curve.

Comment by 4hodmt on Mistakes repository · 2013-09-09T15:27:56.323Z · LW · GW

Not taking risks of audio noise exposure seriously. Hearing loss is gradual, and tinnitus often starts as a temporary thing, so it's very easy to accumulate major damage before you realize it's a problem.

Comment by 4hodmt on Yet More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-09-09T05:33:45.030Z · LW · GW

Whole fruit/vegetables act as a sustained release delivery system for their micronutrients, so even supplementing all the relevant micronutrients may not perfectly replicate fruit/vegetables if they're delivered as bare molecules.