Comment by kbaxter on [ACTIVITY]: Exploratory Visit to the Bay Area · 2014-07-22T15:24:18.189Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I know this isn't the point, but I object to the quote at the beginning of your post. Maybe it's just because I'm one of "those who don’t live in that place," but what about people who are optimizing for something other than their career? Is that really such a big "exception?" Or am I taking the quote out of context, or does he think those people are optimizing for the wrong things, or what?

Some examples of alternative things one may be optimizing for when selecting where to live:

  • A significant other's career (or an area compatible with both people's careers)

  • Being near family or friends

  • Convenient access to specific hobbies

  • The weather

Comment by kbaxter on Why I Am Not a Rationalist, or, why several of my friends warned me that this is a cult · 2014-07-16T14:28:26.049Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

By what metric was his decision wrong?

If he's trying to maximize expected total wages over his career, staying in academia isn't a good way to do that. Although he'd probably be better off at a larger, more established company than at a startup.

If he's trying to maximize his career satisfaction, and he wasn't happy in academia but was excited about startups, he made a good decision. And I think that was the case here.

Some other confounding factors about his situation at the time:

  • He'd just been accepted to YCombinator, which is a guarantee of mentoring and venture capital

  • Since he already had funding, it's not like he was dumping his life savings into a startup expecting a return

  • He has an open invitation to come back to his PHD program whenever he wants

If you still really want to blame someone for his decision, I think Paul Graham had a much bigger impact on him than anyone associated with LessWrong did.

Comment by kbaxter on Why I Am Not a Rationalist, or, why several of my friends warned me that this is a cult · 2014-07-16T02:23:27.284Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Here's the program he went to, which did happen exactly once. It was a precursor to the much shorter CFAR workshops:

That said, as his friend I think the situation is a lot less sinister than it's been made out to sound here. He didn't quit to go to the program, he quit a year or so afterwards to found a startup. He wasn't all that excited about his PHD program and he was really excited about startups, so he quit and founded a startup with some friends.

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-15T02:17:14.852Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Those are my stats after my most recent meet though, about 2 years in. My first meet 6 months in was 180/95/230 @ 123. It's sad how much progress slows down :(

Comment by kbaxter on Open thread, 11-17 March 2014 · 2014-03-13T01:34:38.735Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's no better in the art department. In fact it's worse because there are fewer career paths out of the industry.

It works out for some people, but you have to be willing to accept relatively low pay and work a TON at the expense of pretty much every other part of your life - exercise, social time, proper sleep, hobbies, meals away from your desk...

I was a programmer in the game industry for 3.5 years and quit just over a year ago. It was exciting, but it wasn't worth it. I'm much happier now. Let me know if you have questions about my experience.

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-13T01:02:58.557Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

More anecdotal support: I've experienced the same things. For me, it's helped establish and reinforce a growth mindset. Fitness is an area where with consistent effort, you can really see drastic and measurable improvements in a relatively short time.

In 3 months I went from thinking I was a person who "couldn't run" to being able to run 5k nonstop. In 6 months I went from thinking I was a person who "couldn't squat" to competing in a powerlifting meet. This feels awesome and makes me feel like I can achieve anything if I set my mind to it.

(210/115/255 @ 132, female) :)

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-13T00:33:31.060Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You sit back less in a high bar squat, but you do sit back. Personally when I was first learning to squat I was learning high bar and I wasn't sitting back enough. I've seen this in other beginners, too. It sounds like our anecdotal experiences don't match up and neither one of us has much more to go on, so we probably just won't agree. That's fine.

Personally, I'm all for WL shoes. I have some and I love them. But I also think it's important not to scare people away from trying the sport. If they think they need $100 specialty shoes to get started, they probably won't bother. Putting your heels on a plate or board is great to try it out but I'll admit it makes me cringe a little thinking about how unstable that must be. It's probably fine for someone just starting out with low weight though.

PS - In case it wasn't clear, I really like your post. I am nitpicking over minor quibbles here, but your main points are great. Thanks for writing it.

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-12T13:05:55.338Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's exactly the point I'm disagreeing with - It doesn't match my experiences teaching and watching beginner lifters. Can you elaborate on your evidence?

I admittedly don't have as much experience with beginners learning to high bar squat, and high bar definitely takes more ankle flexibility than low bar. But based on what I've seen, it's hard to believe it's that common a problem even for high bar.

What makes me skeptical is that I have seen many beginners (including myself at one point) believe that they needed more ankle flexibility to squat properly, but actually the problem was that they weren't sitting back enough, like on the left here:

That applies more to low bar squats than high bar squats, but it's a common problem for both.

Speaking of which! I don't have strong feeling either way, but you are very convinced that high bar squatting will cause fewer injuries than low bar squatting. I'd love to hear more about your evidence for that, as well. It seems plausible to me based on the mechanics of the movement but I don't know if it's actually true, and how big the difference in injury rate is if there is one.

If you're going to assert that beginners should high bar squat, and that you need $100 shoes to high bar squat properly, you'd better be pretty sure that high bar squats are actually significantly safer than low bar squats. If the difference is small, most beginners are better off saving their $100 and low bar squatting instead.

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-12T01:31:27.771Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I can report back about the first ~4 months of my experience lifting weights, doing the Starting Strength program. I'm female though, so my experience was probably very different from a male's.

Basically, I saw huge strength gains but little to no change in appearance. I did have an awesome time doing it, and have kept it up long-term. After 2.5 years of training and slowly gaining 10lbs (on purpose), I now see small changes in my appearance but nothing major: If I'm in a tank top my arms and shoulders look more muscular that most women, and my hamstrings bulge out a little. In normal clothes I really don't look very different.

In short - ladies: if you're worried about accidentally getting too big by lifting weights, stop worrying. It won't happen unless you're trying to get big, and even then it'll be slow and difficult. If you think you might like lifting, go try it. I wish I'd started earlier.

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-12T01:11:33.290Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Starting Strength includes power cleans, and they can count as an upper pull. Chin-ups are great to add too. If you're not comfortable doing power cleans, rows are a great alternative.

As for the rep scheme, I wouldn't worry about it. 4x4 isn't really much different from 3x5. It probably wouldn't hurt anything to do Starting Strength with 4x4 instead though, if you want to try it.

Comment by kbaxter on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-12T00:54:28.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Most people aren't snatching though. I haven't seen many beginners who can't hit depth on a high-bar or low-bar squat because of ankle mobility issues. If there are mobility problems, they're usually in the hips. I don't think weightlifting shoes are worth it for most beginners, unless they're actually doing olympic-style weightlifting (snatch, clean, and jerk). Or unless they have a high income and don't value the ~$100 very much.

Comment by kbaxter on Should We Tell People That Giving Makes Them Happier? · 2013-09-07T12:09:47.828Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have the same issue. My solution is to set aside a block of money to give away, 80% of which goes to GiveWell's top choice and 20% of which I give away trying to maximize warm fuzzies. The warm fuzzies money ends up going to things like coworkers' fund raisers, friends who need it, NPR, and local causes I feel emotionally drawn to.

I'm pretty sure the warm fuzzies I get don't scale linearly with dollar amount, so I prefer to give lots of small amounts from the 20% instead of bulk-donating it to one thing. Ideally I would find a way to calibrate myself so I get the most warm fuzzies from giving to the most effective charities, but I haven't had success with that yet.

Comment by kbaxter on Engaging Intellectual Elites at Less Wrong · 2013-08-14T02:54:46.796Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I realized that while writing it. You're right - I don't know for sure that he has no interest at all. Although it is true that he hasn't made an account here despite reading and enjoying some posts here.

I have also never heard him mention any other online communities, and I talk to him often enough that I'd expect it to come up.

Comment by kbaxter on Engaging Intellectual Elites at Less Wrong · 2013-08-14T00:57:52.666Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

As one data point, my father has been retired for 7 years. He got a PhD in physics and then became a software engineer after deciding he didn't really enjoy research. He's interested in LessWrong-y topics like rationality, optimal philanthropy, and some of the areas of philosophy that are often discussed here. He's read and enjoyed some of the articles I've linked him to on LessWrong. He should be a shoe-in, right?

But he didn't grow up in a time when online communities were a thing. They're just not part of his life and he has no interest in joining one.

Comment by kbaxter on Learning programming: so I've learned the basics of Python, what next? · 2013-06-21T00:17:54.085Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why do "typical programming work" then? Do more interesting programming work. Have you spent significant time trying to find a programming job you'd like more?

I used to do "writing glue code and tracking down other people's bugs" type work, as well as building new features (in a system I already knew well, not learning much) based entirely on someone else's designs and priorities.

I changed jobs in January and the new one's much more challenging and fun. I have creative input, leadership opportunities, and mostly do my own tasking, working on whatever I think is important or interesting. I also have more variety in tasks, which I enjoy. I probably only spend about half my day coding now and spend the other time project planning, learning new stuff, designing and architecting new features, or doing other non-coding tasks. The new job also pays better :)

I'm a lot happier, and I feel like I'm actually learning and improving, whereas I was kind of stagnant before. The good programming jobs ARE out there, and IMO it's worth trying to get them.

Comment by kbaxter on Unlimited Pomodoro Works: My Scheduling System · 2013-06-08T03:00:44.899Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's one called "Delayed Gratification" that does this, but for 30 seconds instead of 10. I don't think it's configurable, but it's super easy to use.

Comment by kbaxter on Megameetup Announcement: Boston, July 13-14 · 2013-06-02T20:34:59.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Me 50%

Comment by kbaxter on Maximizing Financial Utility and Frugality · 2013-05-24T02:18:15.233Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'll answer here too since I'm doing something similar. I'm a 25 year old software engineer and make about $140k/year before taxes. I live on about $35k, donate some money on top of that, and invest the rest.

1) I try to keep my large recurring monthly obligations low, but I spend pretty freely on smaller things. I live in a city but keep my rent cheap by living with 4 roommates. I don't own a car - I bike, walk, and take public transit, and occasionally use a zip car. All together my housing and transportation costs come out to about $750/month. I spend plenty of money though at restaurants, gyms, and Amazon.

2) I already know that I enjoy living relatively frugally. I have everything I need and lots of the things I want. I don't think I'd be any happier if I spent more money. I'm not sure I'd enjoy not working, but I figure it can't hurt to have the freedom to stop whenever I want, or do "work" that doesn't generate income. If I decide I really want a full-time job, I will probably choose to work and then donate all my income.

3) According to Mr Money Mustache I'm on track to retire at around 36 years old (11 years from now).

Comment by kbaxter on [LINK] 23andme is 99$ now · 2012-12-13T16:07:26.021Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So close! I clicked it twice and then decided to stop since I had no idea how many "parents" there would be before the top. Thanks for the link!

Comment by kbaxter on [LINK] 23andme is 99$ now · 2012-12-12T21:45:31.292Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry if this is a silly question - I'm pretty new to HN. How can I see the parent thread?

Comment by kbaxter on The Singularity Institute's Arrogance Problem · 2012-01-19T22:57:06.799Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I can smell the "arrogance," but do you think any of the claims in these paragraphs is false?

When I read that, I interpreted it to mean something like "Yes, he does come across as arrogant, but it's okay because everything he's saying is actually true." It didn't come across to me like a separate question - it read to me like a rhetorical question which was used to make a point. Maybe that's not how you intended it?

I think erratio is saying that it's important to communicate in a way that doesn't turn people off, regardless of whether what you're saying is true or not.

Comment by kbaxter on No one knows what Peano arithmetic doesn't know · 2011-12-16T22:37:02.308Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think it would also help if you spelled out "Peano arithmetic" in the title instead of "PA." After reading the title, I had no idea what this post would be about.

Comment by kbaxter on Meetup : East Coast Super Fun Rationalists Sleepover Party Extravaganza · 2011-06-28T15:56:01.797Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is going to be AWESOME. I've got it on my calendar. Awaiting details!

Comment by kbaxter on Cambridge Less Wrong Group Planning Meetup, Tuesday 14 June 7pm · 2011-06-13T15:36:31.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there some way to get this sent out as a notification to everyone in the group on I just found out about this today, and it's too short notice for me - I already have plans. There may be others who would be interested, but don't know about it.