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Comment by jalfredprufrock on Leveling IRL - followup · 2011-09-15T03:34:25.170Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wrt strength and endurance, what do you think about fitocracy?

I only know about from xkcd, but this seems already set up to have physical goals for leveling up explicit in the design.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on Informal job survey · 2011-09-13T02:59:26.081Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm an economist. I've taught at a university, worked for a think tank, and worked for government agencies. I've never particularly liked any of them and am now searching for a new career (I'm still plenty young, i.e. < 30).

Teaching at a University is probably the best, but I'm only an average instructor. I get frustrated teaching students that don't get ideas as quickly as I would like them to and it's exhausting.

I don't care much for research. This can either be cause of ego (I want to make big discoveries, not small incremental ones), because I'm inherently skeptical of my results (I have some qualms with statistical hubris), or because I don't have that je ne sais quoi that true researchers have.

Think tanks and government agencies were too political for me, although in surprising ways which I won't go into.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on . · 2011-09-02T14:29:09.868Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Letting advice seekers drive the discussion seems like a good idea, but I'm a little leery of the advice givers. Giving advice is fun and that makes it dangerous. Even if you have field tested it, external validity seems like a big problem here. There's enough heterogeneity in behavior that what works for me is not necessarily likely to work for you.

That said, I don't have a better alternative, so why not try out this one.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on . · 2011-09-02T04:43:26.515Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be a strong sense that a thread like this won't work. My question is: What would it look like if it did work? We seem to know where we don't want to go, but I don't have a clear idea of where we do want to go? What does winning look like?

Comment by jalfredprufrock on . · 2011-09-02T04:33:56.773Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't saying that it would become lengthy in 6 months, but that any haircut which can be maintained for 6 months without a trim has to be a lengthy one. My understanding is that, to maintain healthy hair, it is recommended you get a trim once a month (for split ends and what not.) I keep my hair fairly short (clippers on the side, "finger" length on top) and get a trim once every few weeks (I taught myself how to cut my own hair to make this more convient and affordable. Also, my sister is a cosmetologist so she can fix any mistakes I make when I see her.)

Though, now that I think about it, this is one of those cached thoughts that people ("experts") have told me, but I don't actually have hard evidence for.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on . · 2011-09-01T22:10:02.280Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You only cut your hair once every six months! Even if you sport a rather lengthy mane (which I'm assuming you do) once every six months seems way too infrequent.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on Weight training · 2011-08-29T14:34:12.625Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I found this to be illuminating, although it has all the flaws you would expect from a magazine article (sub-par documentation, crummy story:information ratio).

The 4th page has a really interesting chart with different workout structures for different goals.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on [SEQ RERUN] We Don't Really Want Your Participation · 2011-08-26T14:49:15.932Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with you. I don't think calling on poets and artists to be poetic and artistic is a problem, I was just interpreting what I thought Eliezer was saying.

Personally, I think Eliezer was actually offended by the idea that non-poets and non-artists cannot be poetic and artistic, i.e. we need poets and artists because these Computer Science/Math people can't express themselves without equations.

But I'm making some big assumptions here, so I could have misread the whole thing.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on [SEQ RERUN] We Don't Really Want Your Participation · 2011-08-24T18:46:55.885Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But the original article implies that the Singularity movement does not need liberal arts participants at all; at least, not in their professional capacity:

That's not how I read it. Eliezer was pointing out that they were signaling - calling out for participation from poets and artists because saying that brings out the warm fuzzies. Later he implies that artistic and poetic responses are welcome and appreciated (and I agree that the SAIA can benefit from artistic and poetic responses) but resents that poets and artists are specifically called on to do so, apparently because he sees that as reducing their humanity to mere titles.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on Needing Better PR · 2011-08-19T14:32:20.225Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good question. Off the top of my head, I can't point to any specific post or comment. I could go through a look for examples, but that feels like clever arguing.

Maybe a better approach could be to just continue reading and make a note of whenever I see an example?

Like most stereotypes, this is something that just sorta "feels" true. But it also "feels" like it comes out more so in the comments than in the posts. This raises a couples issues. First, is it actually true? Second, if it isn't true, why does it "feel" true? Third, should we and could we do anything about it?

Comment by jalfredprufrock on Needing Better PR · 2011-08-18T21:57:01.849Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to go ahead and generalize from one example. While technically a 'success' since I am aware of Less Wrong, I would say I'm right on the border between the group of people who read LW and those who wouldn't. I share an interest in rationality (and somewhat less so with AI) but rest of the LW 'community knowledge' is very foreign to me. I never really read or watched science fiction (beyond maybe Sliders and the X-Files) and am only barely aware that fan-fiction exists . I've never had trouble socially and rarely feel awkward. The jargon is, at times, distancing but I think ultimately worth it. (The inherent trade-off between efficiency/precision and accessibility.) I imagine (with some prejudice) that LW is populated with people who refer to themselves as 'gamers' or who go LARPing or play Dungeon and Dragons (<- I think this is the first time I've ever typed the word 'Dungeon') or enjoy Monty Python. Things which, in my mind, are classified as 'nerd/geek/dork' things. (I've never quite understood the differences between these appellations.)

This, for me, is a very strange and alien world. Most (all?) groups have a cannon of knowledge/shared culture that you pretty much need to know to fit in. W.r.t. the mathematics and statistics, I'm right on board. Even a lot of the science I am up to speed on (or can become so). But I don't know all the other stuff, and my only incentive to learn it is to navigate LW world. I don't mean for any of this to be insulting, but I think if LW is to move forward, we are probably going to need to attract people like me, who also might have these stereotypes and prejudices. I don't know what the solution might be, but that's my perspective.

Comment by jalfredprufrock on What are you working on? · 2011-08-18T16:29:08.618Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Currently Working On

  • I'm finishing the first week (of eleven) of my half-marathon training.
  • I'm finishing the second paper (of four) that I need to write in order to receive my masters.
  • Cultivating and maintaining a new romantic relationship.

Recent Success/Back story

More broadly I'd like to share some of my backstory. I hope it will be informative and maybe somewhat inspiring. Four years ago I had just graduated from College with a double major in Mathematics and Economics. My mind was set on getting a PhD in Economics and getting a job as a tenure-track economics professor at a research university. I was disappointed and a little surprised at how few schools accepted me and how even fewer schools offered me a decent stipend. (While I graduated top of my class, my school was not well known and the econ dept was generally weak.)

I decided to take the offer that gave me the most money (even though it was the worst school.) I knew this was risky (I have a history of underachieving and "playing to the competition") but I felt I could overcome some of my past flaws, perform to the best of my ability, and hopefully transfer to a better program. I'm not sure if this was the right decision, but it did not end well. Initially, my performance was excellent. My knowledge and skills in math were well above my classmates, and this made things profoundly easy. Very quickly, though, things began to fall apart. I was bored in my classes. I had trouble making new friends. I wanted to do theoretical work, but my professors all did empirical stuff and I soon realized I would have to graduate from a top program in order to do theoretical work.

At this point, if I had been a rationalist, I would have accelerated my efforts and tried to transfer to a better program. Unfortunately, I did the exact opposite. I decided to stay in the program, but do absolutely nothing. I would occasionally go to class, refused to do homework (so long as I did well enough on my exams and felt I "knew" the material) and never completed term papers. I refused to study for my prelims, passing the 'hard' one (micro) and failing the 'easy' one (macro). I stayed for another year, continuing my decline. I partied a lot. I got a new girlfriend. After my second year I decided to leave (although, I would have been forced to leave, so my 'decision' was moot.) I moved back to my home state, got a job, broke up with the girl, and wallowed in my own self-pity and the injustice of the world. If only people would just recognize my genius and throw money at me!

Talking (read: complaining) to my older brother, me made an excellent point. He said that I choose to fail. Somehow, until that moment, I had considered that the actions had anything to do with where I was. It was the universe that failed to provide me with the right opportunities. I didn't have the right mentors. I wasn't born into a wealthy family. Then I decided to figure out what I wanted, and get it.

So, a year ago, I moved back to the town where my grad school was. Without a job, or school, or plans, I packed up my things and drove. I had some savings. I found an apartment and a job. I tried to get my ex girlfriend back. Another spectacular failure. I wallowed a bit longer, then I discovered Less Wrong. I decided I need to start a success spiral. I started examining my life. Looking for what behaviors were leading to these results and thinking about ways to fix them. I started working with my old professors, who were generous enough to let me complete my term papers years later (and thus turn my incomplete grades into actual grades and thus salvage a Masters degree out of my two years spent in grad school.) I joined an adult kickball team and met a host of new friends (through which I met the girl who is now my new girlfriend) and starting giving myself other self-improving goals (I feel that I lack self-discipline and mental toughness, so I decided to train for a half-marathon.)

As a result, my quality of life and overall satisfaction has sky-rocketed. I still have a lot more to do (one big thing, is to figure out what I want to do with my life career-wise, which is something I still haven't figured out how to determine.) but I'm moving, and accelerating, in the right direction.