Will we witness the compassion of a nation? 2021-01-10T11:10:07.879Z
What am I missing? (quantum physics) 2020-08-21T12:39:12.418Z
How can we protect economies during massive public health crises? 2020-03-18T18:56:21.933Z


Comment by kithpendragon on A Democratic Currency · 2021-01-19T12:01:57.634Z · LW · GW

Edited to remove some kind of unintentional formatting issue with using dollar signs

One wonders how exchange rates would work with "traditional" currencies? There is little incentive to buy Democratic Dollars ('DDs' for short) with US dollars (just 'dollars', hereafter), for example, since the dollar is more durable over time. But buying dollars with DDs is probably a very good move. This imbalance should make the latter transaction all but prohibitively expensive. But if the exchange rates are uncoupled from buying power like that, one could simply spend their monthly allowance on (e.g.) gold and sell it later for dollars. Would we have to disallow direct exchange between the two systems? If so, what consequence proceeds from doing the gold thing anyway in order to hoard value derived from the DDs?

Perhaps the DD would only have buying power in certain sectors? I don't really see how that would prevent the exploit, though. It would only make it more complex.

I'm sure I would expect (e.g.) supermarkets to accept DD, but their profit margins are razor thin as it is. Having a percentage of that money decay every interval would be actively destructive to many companies unless there was a way to lock in value somehow.

I admit I haven't given it a huge amount of thought at this point, but I can't yet see how this system as presented wouldn't become something like a token that could maybe be used to place small bets between private parties, but which had no value in the goods economy.

The idea is intriguing, though. I'd be very interested for my first impression to be wrong on this one!

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-15T16:14:57.861Z · LW · GW

There is literally nothing I could ever say to you that will cause you tangible harm.

You, who have read so much history, believe that words cannot cause harm? That's an interesting conclusion.

Ignoring that animosity is a fundamental aspect of this particular conversation

I don't think existing animosity should be ignored. It's very important to acknowledge all the conditions when participating in any conversation, if at all possible. Rather, we should work to avoid creating new animosity, partly for the sake of communication and partly to avoid being even partly responsible for the harms that come to others as a result of our words. We likely won't be successful all the time, because wise speech is hard to do. But, like with everything else, the surest way to fail is to not try at all.

Moreover, I find that the exchange of ideas meets less friction when I try to not antagonize others. That's the goal of conversation, is it not?

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-14T20:50:02.297Z · LW · GW

explain to me why I should care about anyone's feelings and esteem

Because doing so aligns with a principle of avoiding unnecessary harm, for a start. Also because it facilitates better communication when you are making an effort to avoid creating more animosity.

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-14T18:36:46.795Z · LW · GW

This is a public forum, but it is also threaded

You're right; I hit reply from the notification without checking. My bad.

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-14T10:17:52.052Z · LW · GW

Thanks, Pattern!

Yeah, that sentence came out a bit poetic. I feel like it would have broken the tone to say something like, "In neurotypical situations, fear comes from clinging to an object that someone holds dear, and anticipating that object's loss", though. Maybe there's a middle-ground way to express it?

Comment by kithpendragon on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-12T13:30:38.515Z · LW · GW

I've been making bets with my just-turned-5yo for about a year now to put a stop to arguments. I wholeheartedly endorse using bonds as well, and I intend to do so, though I wouldn't have thought of it on my own (having never really been exposed to the concept before). Thanks for that!

What other financial tools can we adapt in this way?

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-12T10:33:24.739Z · LW · GW

Firstly, I'm replying to a comment by Impassionata...

I could make a similar claim, but this is a public forum last I checked.

... who I consider antisocial at best.

I'll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself regarding my other interlocutors.

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-12T10:28:47.053Z · LW · GW

The Cave explains that there is only one reality, but that your perception is limited. I actually think that is an extremely apt parable.

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-12T10:27:39.506Z · LW · GW

I don't have to worry about bias here when it comes to my own ideological framework.

That's an extremely worrying statement. I strongly suggest you examine it closely.

Comment by kithpendragon on What to do if you can't form any habits whatsoever? · 2021-01-11T14:28:33.842Z · LW · GW

Most people "have to" brush their teeth before going to bed, "have to" eat at a set time (or when they get hungry), and "have to" grab for the seatbelt as soon as they sit down in the car. Many "have to" make their bed in the morning, or write in their journal, etc.

This is something I've never experienced, nor has it ever occurred to me that it might be the case. To use the tooth brushing example: for me, that happens every night only because it's part of the "Getting ready for bed" mental checklist. I'd like to share that checklist along with some annotations. It takes between 30 and 45 minutes from start to finish. This checklist began life some 20 years ago and has been carefully sculpted over that time to accommodate my own changing needs, as well as those of my partner and our relationship.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting you need to adopt this checklist or anything like it; rather I want to share a very mature and complex habit of mine that accomplishes many varied goals, and the performance of which now feels very continuous and normal to me. After this long, each item has been coordinated to flow neatly into the next, and each moves me closer to the goal of being asleep in bed by a certain time. Of course, I can't always control that time, but I try to keep it within an hour of standard for health reasons. This checklist is one part of a larger but somewhat looser script that actually starts at dinner time and ends when my alarm goes off in the morning.

On occasion, I have skipped this entire process, falling asleep in whatever situation the evening leaves me in. I don't recall ever being disturbed by this happening, but I do notice that I tend to feel a bit gross and groggy the next morning. Specifically, I deliberately notice that so that I remember that feeling if I ever get the idea that "I can skip it, just this once". That way I have something to hold against the urge to make what I already know are poor choices for me.

Getting ready for bed

This list begins as soon as I notice it is after 20:30, and ends when I am in bed with the lights out.

  • Verbally prod partner into action. This promotes a more regular bedtime.
  • Locate cat and take her upstairs to the bathroom. Hold cat patiently while partner brushes cat's teeth and fur. We keep the cat's brush and toothbrush in the bathroom mostly because that's where the next part of the checklist will need to be performed, and also because that's where our toothbrushes live anyway.
  • Brush teeth using tools set on the sink for that purpose: If I don't keep all the steps of tooth brushing visible, I usually forget to do it. e.g. When I run out of floss, it can be a week before I remember to get out a new spool if I don't do so immediately.
    • Toothbrush
    • Floss
    • Gum Stimulator
  • Toilet and wash
  • Check that small child is sleeping peacefully. No longer strictly necessary (he's five years old now and unlikely to forget to breathe or something), but it makes me happy to watch him sleep for a few seconds each night.
  • Move to bedroom and get dressed for bed. I have chosen to wear clothes during the day that are impractical and/or uncomfortable to sleep in. The goal here is to make sure I change my shirt and underwear every day.
  • Sit for 5-10 minutes of meditation. I use the Ten Percent Happier app for guided meditations in this time slot. The app can remind me if I forget, and there is a daily featured meditation if I'm not feeling up to choosing. The reason for this step is complicated, but can be summarised as "meditation is ridiculously beneficial to my cognitive functioning".
  • Read aloud to partner for a few minutes. This is for the benefit of the relationship, and helps my partner unwind before bed.
  • Hair maintenance. My partner brushes and braids my hair before bed. This has combined relationship and hygiene benefits such as giving me a reason to wash the hair occasionally.
  • Make the bed suitable for sleeping in. I've heard some people do this in the morning! LOL
  • Lights out and sleep
Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T01:34:16.825Z · LW · GW

The people who supported Trump did so because they're not driven by care based morality, but by justice based morality. This is a typical left/right split. This is the difference between the swaddling mother and the protection of the patriarch.

the worldviews are irreconcilable at this point

Remember how I said there is more than one reality?

"Correspondence bias (also known as the fundamental attribution error) is the tendency to overestimate the the contribution of lasting traits and dispositions in determining people's behavior, as compared to situational effects. We might see someone kicking a vending machine, and conclude they're an inherently angry person. But maybe they just failed a test, had their driving license revoked, and had the machine eat their money for the third time this week. We think of the other person as an evil mutant and ourselves as righteous actors."

They're still people, Stuart. They still deserve as much dignity and respect as you and I. These happen to be scared people. There are ways to handle scared. If we don't even try to de-escalate, then we've already failed.

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T01:16:38.344Z · LW · GW

if you renege on the social contract that has logical consequences

I'm not sure what you think I'm getting at here, but I was talking about being friendly and opening a dialogue with the people around us with different political alignments. I'd hardly call being a friendly and compassionate neighbor "reneging on the social contract"!

If you think there won't be bipartisan support for whatever revenge comes...

Of course there will be support! We need to urge restraint to reduce the chances of something terrible happening to these human beings!

Trump didn't make this dissent, how did he get elected in the first place if the will wasn't there?

Agreed. That's why, even in the event that the State outright disappears him off the face of the planet, we still have work to do.

Nothing has been altered about the underlying issues so why would their surface presentation get any better?

They won't if we don't have the will or the courage to do anything about it. Reach across that divide!

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T00:16:35.750Z · LW · GW

Without Trump the alternative reality will collapse and subside.

I hope you're right about that! And I hope the State will treat its citizens better than others it labels Terrorist. I've heard Guantanamo isn't a great place to be. That aside, Trump only used and amplified existing fears and divisions, he didn't have to invent any of it. Those long term issues are what we need to work on.

Healing won't happen through conversation... the State operates through a much longer timeframe than individual humans.

We can operate on longer time frames by getting better at conversation, at admitting when we're wrong, and by acting as though our actions can have a small but lasting cumulative effect. If we don't even try, then you're definitely right. If we do try, there's a chance we could do better.

The State will pave over this entire thing so deftly it will be as if it never happened.

Here, I think we fully agree. I can't wait to see how history books treat this in a decade or two!

Comment by kithpendragon on What to do if you can't form any habits whatsoever? · 2021-01-10T16:02:47.367Z · LW · GW
  1. I'll bet you sleep periodically, right? That would be a good place to start hanging routines! Even if you don't have a regular bedtime or (more importantly) wake up time, the mere fact of going to bed or getting up can trigger checklists of their own that include hygiene and such. It also helps to understand (and remind yourself periodically) why you think your habits are of value. Maybe you could title your checklist "Bedtime Routine that helps me to X" or something?

  2. Sounds like you've got a good chunk of a system going that just wants some polish. (Hint: that's an ongoing process. No system is ever really "done" unless you magically stop learning and growing.) As for thing-placement issues, Adam Savage offers a rule for that: When you ask yourself "where should this be?", the answer is the same as pretending you need the thing now and figuring out the first place you would look for it. The hard part for me has been remembering that I actually want to put stuff back where it belongs on future occasions. Sounds cheesy, but I've found it helpful to thank each object -- out loud, by name -- as I'm putting it away. Kind of makes the act of tidying up feel like I'm taking care of the tools that take care of my needs.

  3. COVID has been hard on people in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to routines. I'm sorry to hear that it's un-grounded part of your self-management system: that really sucks. While it's beneficial to export mind to the environment, it's important to remember that everything is temporary on some timescale. Most of the time we don't have to think about that much, but it's good to have at least sketches of backup plans for when things dissolve out from under us. The trick is not getting caught up in an anxious thought spiral at the same time! Takes practice, I'm afraid.

  4. From what you've said, a couple of weeks at a time is an accomplishment! The circumstances you've described are extremely difficult, and you can be proud of even intermittent success. Ideally, I'm hearing that you'd like to find systems that build something stable for you. That's a great goal! I'm also hearing that you've had a great deal of difficulty adapting to the rapidly changing circumstances that have been 2020. These are challenges that are even more difficult to overcome alone. It's really unfortunate that you've been struggling through that largely on your own. This sort of thing can set us back years in our habits and practices. It also sounds like you've had some luck building more solid systems in the past, which is encouraging! I'm afraid it's going to be trial and error all the way down, but given the history you've described I'm confident that you have the capacity to make the changes you want to see in your life. My hope is that you keep reaching out when you need fresh ideas: you may have to live by yourself for now, but you certainly don't have to do this work alone!

  5. That's good! More generally, it's important to apply the "right effort" to things: not inventing big projects where they don't need to be, and putting the work in where it's needed. Sounds like maybe you've got that bit, at least in part! I've struggled on this point immensely, and I'm glad it doesn't seem to be as much a difficulty for you!

  6. You've said in other comments that medication hasn't been useful for you. I wonder if you have a regular psychologist? If you can find the right doctor (which is certainly not easier than normal right now), there are non-pharmaceutical therapies that have the potential to make all of this substantially easier. Maybe you haven't had much luck on that front -- I haven't seen you mention it so far -- but like other systems I'd encourage you to discard what doesn't work and try again until you find what does, if you are able to do so.

Comment by kithpendragon on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-10T15:04:47.466Z · LW · GW

I mostly agree! I just don't have an awful lot of confidence that the state won't over-react and do something stupid to these people. Their fears there are not entirely unjustified, I'm afraid: the US has a history of messing up criminal justice pretty badly.

I have already heard people "in the wild" referring to those who broke into the Capitol as Patriots, though. That's just one step from Hero.

Comment by kithpendragon on What to do if you can't form any habits whatsoever? · 2021-01-10T12:09:43.156Z · LW · GW

I no longer have much difficulty making and breaking habits. I also have ADHD, and have not always been so able. Here is much of what I've learned from asking questions like yours for the last 20 years:

  1. It helps to be as meta-cognitive as possible. I am still learning to examine the thoughts and impulses as they appear. This is an ongoing process that, to the best of my understanding, has no discrete endpoint. I use a formal-ish (but consistent) daily meditation practice to keep the meta-cognitive pathways strong, and I practice as often as I remember to. My go-to "in the wild" practice is a quick mind-body scan: how is everything right in this Now? I find it beneficial in those moments to invite areas of (mental and physical) tension to relax a bit. It makes me feel better, so I want to do it more.

The primary benefit in this context is that you will begin to see the excuses and outright lies that the mind invents to get out of doing things it anticipates might be like work. Brains are lazy creatures! You have the choice to believe, disbelieve, and act on thoughts or not; but only if you are aware of what they are (and what they are not) in the first place. This is nowhere near as trivial as it sounds! And it can only be accomplished by routine examination of the mind.

  1. Build systems and procedures that cause things to get completely done every time. I'm a big fan of checklists! Many of these live in my head, but there must be some kind of somatic component to the act of going through the list*. Paper and pen(cil) work well here. Checklists may not be for you! Try stuff until something feels good, then try to go with it. If some part of a system feels like a chore, throw that part out. If that breaks the system, throw out the whole thing and try something else.
  • Example: On my way out of work I put my bag in the car and say "Bag", my lunchbox "Box", and my hard hat "Bucket" (alliteration, yo!). Then I check my pockets for things it would be easy to take home but I shouldn't. Each of these things has a dedicated location on my person where I will find it if I still have it. I name each thing: "Keys, computers" and touch where each belongs. Too many times I've saved an hour of driving this way!
  1. Export the leading ends of procedures to the environment. Related to TAPs, this practice gives me a concrete, visible, tangible place to start every single time. I build daily routines around interactions with my partner and family**. My work routine is contained in a checklist on my phone (that I made more amusing by writing it in a phonetic alphabet, coloring it brightly, and structuring it in three acts, all so I would want to look at it a little bit more. YMMV).

** Example: My evening routine is maintained between me and my partner. We brush teeth and the cat, dress for bed, sit a short meditation, and maintain hair together in that order every day. It's actually kind of disturbing when circumstances cause us to sleep in different locations for a night! But that occasional discomfort is well worth it so I remember to floss nearly all the time!!

  1. Don't be afraid to fail. Popular methods like "Don't Break the Chain" suggest that habits are an all-or-nothing proposition. But the truth is that with that kind of attitude, a single "miss" can generate a sense of failure that breaks the habit entirely! Nearly all of our "daily" habits can be accomplished "daily-ish" without losing much utility. The important thing is to go back to doing the thing on the next opportunity. When you notice you've drifted, that's a win! It's a chance to get back on track doing something you've decided is good for you.

Too, starting a new habit is an extremely personal thing! Anybody who says they have all the answers and can transform your life if only you try their system is trying to sell you something. Use new systems on a trial basis, the duration of which you should consider ahead of time. During that probationary period, get to know the system and all its parts. What doesn't work for you should be thrown out to reduce the friction of using the system. Sometimes it's by discarding something that we learn its value, and in this case you can just undelete with impunity.

  1. If the a system or habit stores any kind of data (e.g. note-taking, journaling, &c.), don't worry about porting everything from the old system. That will just create more start-up friction and make the new thing feel like a chore. Bring over old stuff only as you need to!
Comment by kithpendragon on We Witness Now The Fury Of The State · 2021-01-10T11:11:12.627Z · LW · GW

On January 6th, I (like everybody else) heard about the angry mob breaking in to the Capitol and roughing the place up, and I was angry about the whole deal. A dangerous man, faced with the prospect of losing his power, was seen to lash out using the people he had so thoroughly deceived for so long as a weapon against his colleagues who were, at that moment, meeting to ceremonially confirm the turning of the governmental wheels and the end of his term in office. Two days later, I saw this post and some anger rose up all over again for those events.

"We Witness Now..." is, indeed, alarmist. As Impassionata wrote, "I am sounding an alarm"! But they also wrote, "try and tell this story some other way", and for some reason that stuck with me. There is another way to tell this story; probably many other ways. To be clear, I don't think Impassionata is wrong, exactly. The response we've seen from members of the state in the last couple of days since the event has varied between silence and indifference and outrage. A hunt has been called to find anybody who was involved and punish them for their crimes. And they are criminals! These people are unquestionably guilty of a variety of crimes like B&E, entering a restricted area, vandalism, and probably many other words that all mean that they broke into a place and did a little damage. A small number of people got killed and a slightly larger number got hurt, and each and every individual who participated in that mob bears a portion of the responsibility. If there are no consequences, we will see more of this type of behavior in the future.

I thought these things for two days.

Then I remembered something important: the people Trump used as weapons (and, indeed, Trump himself) are still people. They are the same as us in so many ways that, if we had experienced their lives we would be them. There must be consequences, yes, and those consequences must be balanced to respect the lives of those who, in a fit of delusion and anger-barely-concealing-fear, acted to defend themselves from an imaginary threat.

Here is another way to tell the story.

Yesterday, I almost joined the crowd in down-voting this post. Today, I up-vote in gratitude for the value I found. Thank you, Impassionata, for helping me think these thoughts.

Comment by kithpendragon on We Witness Now The Fury Of The State · 2021-01-09T23:56:07.771Z · LW · GW

try and tell this story some other way and see how far you get

Challenge accepted. I will post my reply tomorrow morning.

Comment by kithpendragon on I object (in theory) · 2021-01-06T21:10:00.510Z · LW · GW

This is likely the first time these children have been exposed to any formal economic concepts. Moreover, we employ an instance of capitalism in the US, and we don't routinely teach anybody to critically examine the systems that underpin their own culture. As a result, this lesson needs to be the board book version of Introduction to Basic Economic Systems. That kind of summary is always "wrong" in that it presents a grossly oversimplified representation of the idea, and hardly ever approaches the difficulties of actual implementation. The goal isn't so much to be "correct" as such, nor to be anything like "complete", but to plant the seed ideas on which we can construct a more accurate education later on. Maybe we can get one kid from the group to start asking questions. The implied summaries of "equal opportunities for trade" and "equal resource distribution" are ideas on which Capitalism and Socialism can be hung, ideas that can lead to discussion of those systems in the same way that "massive objects change nearby space" is an idea on which Relativity can be hung. Go any more complicated than that, and you run a highly elevated risk of building a model that is complex enough that (a) you don't have enough time to present the lesson in your 6th grade classroom, and (b) you're going to lose even more of those kids' interest since you're increasing the friction of both participation and comprehension with harder-to-remember rules.

The lesson we're trying for here is "Economic systems are a thing, they can look pretty different and have different outcomes".

Plant the ideas first, then refine them later by providing incrementally more complete and detailed models, and by providing opportunities to have questions answered. (I guarantee that teacher would have spoken to any kid after class.) All initial exposures to new ideas are misleading in some way (usually in many ways), but you've got to start somewhere that the ideas can actually stick! (And this lesson obviously stuck with at least one student.) It's possible to correct misconceptions, but not possible to make a kid retroactively interested in a complicated topic.

Comment by kithpendragon on I object (in theory) · 2021-01-06T12:48:09.516Z · LW · GW

More complicated model is more complicated. Remember, you're trying to get some basic understanding into (most of) a group of uninterested middle schoolers in about 45 minutes time (of which you actually have divided attention from some subset of the kids for maybe 25 minutes of useful lesson time), not examine the failure modes of world economic systems throughout history.

Instead of simulating systems from existing and historical circumstances, we simulate idealized versions of socialism and capitalism. Then kids can learn the underlying theory, and it's easier for them to notice where a real system has gone off the rails. This is foundational stuff here, not college level analysis.

Comment by kithpendragon on Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 12 · 2021-01-01T00:55:03.191Z · LW · GW

Seems to me that the 7th side may never have existed

Comment by kithpendragon on Vaccination with the EMH · 2020-12-31T00:07:56.570Z · LW · GW

After all this time, does anybody else still tend to read EMH = "Emergency Medical Hologram"? Made sense in the title even!

Comment by kithpendragon on Simultaneous Randomized Chess · 2020-12-28T14:06:33.202Z · LW · GW
  1. You are correct by my reading. If you could not end up in Check, the game could not end by "capturing or checkmating the opponent's king". Therefore, (2) states that the check for Check is made given the "current board position" at the time of move selection.

  2. By (5), a player choosing a move that could become legal but does not do so forfeits that move.

  3. My question is similar to this, so I'll tack it on here:

How are moves timed? Suppose there were no pawn at d7 in the first position. The moves are revealed as White:f3-f7, Black:c8-f5. Now, does the bishop block the queen and get captured at f5, or does the queen take the pawn and the bishop block retreat?

Possible solutions off the top of my head, ordered from least to most interesting:

  • There is a discrepancy. By rule (1.3), only one of the moves executes at random (not very satisfying)
  • Roll off to see which situation resolves
  • Moves resolve one space at a time. In this example, that results in the bishop being too far away to do anything about the queen
  • Both games are played out simultaneously (hard mode!)
  • Both possible outcomes resolve at the same time with the relevant pieces becoming entangled and in superposition (quantum chess)

Also, how is this game notated? "White:f3-f7, Black:c8-75" is a bit clunky, imo

Comment by kithpendragon on The Good Try Rule · 2020-12-28T13:02:55.939Z · LW · GW

The ability and intention to discard and change individual parts of a system as needed as soon as it becomes obvious what's working and what isn't is absolutely critical to the "good try". Keep what works, send everything else back.

Something I've learned from listening to many, many episodes of Productivity Alchemy: An important feature of a "good try" plan is the freedom to change the system you're testing in certain ways. For any given "solution", the exact method as presented may not be the best for your particular situation, but could certainly hold a gem of goodness for your life if integrated with something else (maybe even something else you're already doing). A good "good try" must include the power to iterate and fail relatively quickly on partial systems.

For example, Bullet Journaling is often presented as an artform. Just search for "bullet journal ideas" for literally thousands of examples of this. And there's something to that approach, even! Increasing the aesthetic value of your organizational system can decrease the friction of actually using it. Of course, you could easily find that you're spending more time prettying up your journal than actually getting stuff done. If you happen to find the "aesthetic cult" of Bullet Journal first, you might think that's the point of the system, and you may discard the whole system on those merits. But the core of the Bullet Journal system isn't the stickers and washi tape, it's the running to-do list with easy-to-read indicators on each item. If you didn't give yourself the freedom to explore and iterate on the system, you are likely to give Bullet Journaling (as stated) a "good try" (as stated) without ever discovering that fact. If that happens, you have not successfully evaluated the system, only one part of the broader culture that has developed as a result of that system.

Comment by kithpendragon on Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 10 · 2020-12-25T01:06:54.246Z · LW · GW

b) As I recall, the Interdict demands that powerful magics be transmitted directly from one living mind to another. That would not be the possible when one is spying on the past.

Comment by kithpendragon on Moral moralizing · 2020-12-23T12:48:57.510Z · LW · GW

Those are the current cultural moral norms. They have not always been, though. Since our current cultural norms are so much obviously "better" than those of even a hundred years ago, why should we trust that they won't change just as much in the next hundred years? Culture is simply not a reliable way to arrive at durable and long-lasting moral beliefs.

Comment by kithpendragon on Elephant seal · 2020-12-22T12:08:56.702Z · LW · GW

I see... pretty sure the RSS feed I'm using shows me new posts on the front page as they show up, though. It seems unlikely that I would have deliberately subscribed to an "every single post" feed for any forum. (shrugs) The semantic details probably don't matter though. Hovering over the [Personal Blog] tag reveals a note that I think answers Liam's objection.

Comment by kithpendragon on Elephant seal · 2020-12-22T10:45:11.906Z · LW · GW

Comment by kithpendragon on How Hard Would It Be To Make A COVID Vaccine For Oneself? · 2020-12-21T17:11:03.007Z · LW · GW

I think you may be interested in learning about Homebrew Medicine or Open Source Medicine. I've never looked too deeply into it, but I remember reading a few years ago that somebody got fed up with the healthcare system as it stands and decided to research the very path you seem to be eyeballing. If memory serves, anybody with half a clue can make rather a lot of medicines with a fairly modest investment in equipment. The hard part is doing it with replicable safety. I think somebody had recipes for making insulin and birth control pills of some kind, and probably lots more besides.

Comment by kithpendragon on Elephant seal · 2020-12-21T17:00:57.910Z · LW · GW

Have a look at the tags: these are mirrored automatically from a personal blog

Comment by kithpendragon on Elephant seal · 2020-12-21T16:59:20.839Z · LW · GW

Fully agree

Comment by kithpendragon on Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 9 · 2020-12-20T14:40:24.389Z · LW · GW

To get in the Chamber, a person needs to say "open" in Parseltongue. [1]

I can say lots of things in other languages, some things even with a passable accent. But I am fluent only in General American English.


Comment by kithpendragon on Final Version Perfected: An Underused Execution Algorithm · 2020-11-27T11:28:42.982Z · LW · GW

This is basically the algorithm I use when trying to get my 4yo to make a choice. I can tell you it works even with just 2 options! I choose a default (usually based on what I want), and then go through the other option(s) one at a time asking, "do you like this one better than the current default". If yes, that becomes the new default. I weed out the bad choices myself (based mostly on time and safety) and simply don't present them at all. At the end of the list, even if the kid is acting like a brat and refusing to participate at all, I still have a default option to execute on.

I've always figured it works because of that initial choice of default option. It's easier to compare how much we want to do one thing vs. another than it is to pick from a large list, and even more so if we clearly define and commit to an option that will trigger if we don't choose otherwise. Using (variously arbitrary) defaults makes it very obvious that refusing to choose is choosing to let somebody else make the decision for you (even if "somebody else" is just the random order of the list). I've also noticed this method also doesn't induce decision fatigue as fast as other methods.

Comment by kithpendragon on Covid 11/26: Thanksgiving · 2020-11-26T18:30:54.571Z · LW · GW

I second the motion!

Comment by kithpendragon on Trick-or-treating in Covid Times · 2020-10-31T12:19:13.820Z · LW · GW

Our trick-or-treat night was last night (the 30th, and yes that's stupid, I know). We set up a slide for treats and wore (covid) masks. Nearly all the kids were properly masked, and the adults who weren't tended to stay well off the sidewalks. We were fully prepared for about 40 kids with little paper boxes containing a chocolate, a fruity candy, a sticker, and a toy. Based on previous years, we figured that would be ample supply, but it was gone in <45 minutes and we were sending loose candy down the chute for the rest of the evening. With parties being too risky this year, it seems like our community came out to trick-or-treat like never before in self defense. We probably saw north of a hundred kids!

We also took our 4yo around the neighborhood. We made it clear that we were looking for socially distant treats, and we found plenty (though we had the only candy slide on the block; most people set up tables and spread out treats)! I haven't seen the kid so excited very often this year; he was literally wiggling with glee.

Comment by kithpendragon on Integers as Compression · 2020-10-30T11:54:38.988Z · LW · GW

Agreed. The quantity scalar is certainly not the only metadata that could be stored. If I was actually writing a program, the objects_in_scene array would probably be allowed to contain as many details as the system decided was relevant. Then the scalar would be the size of the array of objects, with each object having a pointer to an archetype and properties defined for any of those details. In fact, the size need not actually be stored, but can be reconstructed easily by examination of the array itself using something like objects_in_scene.count(). For other objects, it might make sense to count more explicitly. An object referring to a group archetype, for example, might be given a size property if the system cared to do so. From what I've read, it seems likely that (in human brains) this property will mostly store an exponent rather than trying to determine an exact number.

I expect this can get extremely complicated in a human brain! Evolution isn't much for intra-system optimization just for efficiency's sake, after all.

Comment by kithpendragon on Integers as Compression · 2020-10-29T10:58:48.114Z · LW · GW

To check understanding by way of grossly oversimplified illustration: The appropriate mind meat might identify a "person" in some sensory scene by pattern-matching against stored archetypes. The presence of the person could be indicated on the map as a single character (such as a stick figure) that points to the archetype, rather than the long-form description of the chunk of sense data that makes up the person in my perception. "People", then, can be the stick figure character and a scalar indicating how often in the scene the "person" archetype can be matched. During decompression (memory recall), the appropriate module can use the scalars attached to the pointers to fill in the parameters for the repeat command while building person objects from the archetype.

That took a turn for the computer-sciencey, but that's my background. For what it's worth, your conception of "what is Number" extends neatly and intuitively on what I was already using by explaining why the brain might benefit from tagging patterns with a scalar. Thanks for the detail!

Comment by kithpendragon on Yet another world spirit sock puppet · 2020-10-25T11:14:22.571Z · LW · GW

Afraid I don't have a tweeter, but I'd love to see an RSS feed for the new blog!

Comment by kithpendragon on Should we use qualifiers in speech? · 2020-10-24T00:29:46.233Z · LW · GW

When I was studying Lojban, I learned about the concept of "evidentials" such as

The intended usage is to make explicit how the speaker came to think whatever follows. Of course, this is different from hedging with phrases like "I could be wrong". I remember thinking at the time that it would be useful to port the use of evidentials to some English conversations.

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T21:18:12.198Z · LW · GW

What a beautiful experience that must have been!

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T19:26:28.186Z · LW · GW

I'd never have guessed snow. It's been too long since I've seen snow before late December or early January! Well done :)

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T11:03:34.046Z · LW · GW

The shadows cast on a green lawn by morning sun would be a bluer shade of green. If "the sun had not risen high" suggests it's still very early morning, the most likely color is the same but darker since now we're talking about artificial lighting, which still tends to be in the red-yellow part of the spectrum most often and leaves blue shadows just like the sun.

Somehow both answers feel too easy.

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T10:21:11.442Z · LW · GW

The sun had not risen high, and the shadows of the posts were long and stark on the lawn

Comment by kithpendragon on How much to worry about the US election unrest? · 2020-10-12T10:53:20.871Z · LW · GW

IMO, the stakes are nowhere near as high as the candidates would have us believe.

In a normal election year, I'd say pretty confidently that it's at least 98% bluster: nothing will change all that much if A wins or if B wins. Most times I don't really even notice that there's a new president unless I'm trying to notice. With Trump on board, I'm still pretty sure that little of consequence will change (at least in the short term) if he does not win a second term. At the end of four years without Trump, I expect the larger federal government complex to be somewhat healthier than it is with him in office, and that's about it. I'm substantially less sure that he'll accept a loss gracefully, but I don't think there's really anything he can do about it. Even "his" "stacked" Supreme Court is bound by the law itself. If the (electoral) votes are for Trump, he wins. Else, he loses. It's pretty cut-and-dry. I've seen a couple of times now where somebody tried to have the results questioned (remember "pregnant chad"?), and still nothing has really changed. In the event of his loss, I expect he'll try to sue, make a lot more noise about the process being rigged against him (personally) using the same media that he cries about all the time, and eventually write a book have a book written about how unfair and broken this whole "democracy" thing is. Meanwhile, Biden will take power and start running things his way, which looks a lot like the old way (before Trump): still broken, but more subtly so. There will continue to be BLM protests as before, and (just like when Trump took office) there will be a rash of anti-the-new-president protests. Some of these will become violent (often after police provocation), but most won't. In a few months, we'll all go back to our regularly scheduled apocalypse. If Biden loses, I expect him to quietly concede the loss like a "good candidate" and go back to making a whole lot of no noise whatsoever like he was doing for most of the last few years, all while we get more of the "new normal" from the White House for another 4 years. The world probably won't end any harder than it already is doing.

And to be clear, Trump is not actually responsible for covid-19, or the orange skies, or Beirut blowing up, or racism and police violence, or named storms past the letter Z (or murder hornets, but they're not actually any more scary than those africanized honey bees from a while back, they've just got really effective PR). Only the details would have changed under another president. All this stuff will continue to happen under the next president, regardless of who "we" "select".

Comment by kithpendragon on Can we hold intellectuals to similar public standards as athletes? · 2020-10-07T09:17:15.104Z · LW · GW

Find a way to bet on the outcomes of intellectual performance, make that work public and entertaining in some way, and the bookies will figure out the rest. #slightlyGlib

Comment by kithpendragon on I have discovered a new kind of unemployment. · 2020-10-06T00:17:12.261Z · LW · GW

I'm in shipping and I can confirm it's happening there too. I've actually been turning down promotions for about a decade now because I can see how fast most people burn out on the next level, both in executive and management tracks, from being asked to do multiple jobs at once. As recently as two weeks ago I was offered somebody's job right in front of him. I laughed right in my regional manager's face (from across the room; it's 2020 after all). As it is, I'm already doing three-and-a-half (much easier) jobs and picking up the slack (created by bad hiring practices) in another as needed. Getting promoted would mean doing planning work over the largest group at our location, being my own secretary, taking on a number of minor managerial tasks, and interfacing directly with two different chains of command (who often want different outcomes, of course). All this and I'd still be expected to cover for the position I'm in now from time to time. The pay increase for what amounts to each of my current jobs getting promoted while still having to retain almost full functionality in what I do now would be about $1K/month. The answer will always be no. Oh, and we have a hard time keeping entry-level workers because they are expected to work at least six twelve-hour days every week, again due to many years of bad hiring practices. There are promotions from that position in both executive and management tracks. Both involve adding a more focused and responsible skillset to everything else they were already doing. The pay increase is about $1/hr for executive, and I think they end up making less in the management track since they usually end up working fewer hours (except when we're busy, of course). I've seen countless people drop back down to entry level after burning out on the next level up. This, of course, means that many of our entry-level workers are highly skilled, which seems to have (upper) management convinced that we don't need to hire a larger workforce.

My father is a pastor who often complains that he has to be a spiritual leader, an administrator, and often what equates to a politician at the same time. In his case, the overload is a result of the church (on all levels from the institutional to the congregation) being in a partially-necrotic/zombie state that is unable to support the appropriate staff, unwilling to step in and take on the work to let pastors do the thing they trained for, and absolutely unwilling to consolidate resources and move on in a new form (I've noticed that churches tend to be extremely allergic to change).

My neighbor is a retired school teacher who was increasingly stressed out about being required to be teacher, counselor, security guard, and negotiator (with parents) in addition to all the constant retraining as technology becomes more and more integrated in the "educational" environment. Moreover, her teaching role was already badly over-constrained by the need for the students to do well on standardized tests as well as actually trying to learn something. Students of more and more widely differing abilities were being integrated into the same classroom. And all of it was getting incrementally worse every semester. She would have been entirely unprepared for 2020. As it was, she was already extremely motivated to get out of that situation before she burned out; many of her colleagues were less fortunate.

Definitely not just the IT industry, I'm afraid.

Comment by kithpendragon on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-06T00:16:17.070Z · LW · GW

Climate change is obviously real and getting worse. We are seeing the early effects already, and they are straining our emergency measures beyond capacity. Immediate and widespread systemic changes are needed to alter course.

I am powerless to effect such changes.

Comment by kithpendragon on On Destroying the World · 2020-09-28T10:49:12.718Z · LW · GW

Seriously: like lionhearted said, thanks for the postmortem! The thought process is important. Even if it meant some hurt feelings and a bit of inconvenience, we still got to learn something here. After all, learning something was the point, right? The more data we gather, the more likely we'll be better off in similar situations in other contexts.

Comment by kithpendragon on Zen and Rationality: Just This Is It · 2020-09-28T10:12:42.920Z · LW · GW

Wild! My experiences of unusual mind states have largely been pretty subtle, and mostly came after months of regular practice.[1] And I haven't had any experience at all that I would be willing to point to as an A&P event. Of course, there's ADHD and a complete lack of retreat time to consider in those results. Someday I'll get out there and see what a good week of dedicated concentration in carefully crafted conditions can do for me. On the other side of the coin, I've been able to use that I have learned from the last few years of meditation and absorbing lots of dharma talks (and a few books) to be a better parent, partner, coworker, and friend to the people around me; so good stuff there!

[^1] To be fair, I did have a few childhood experiences that are consistent with 1st jhana. I even remember having the spontaneous realization that the visual field was entirely a product of the mind. I think I was 8yo at the time.

Comment by kithpendragon on On "Not Screwing Up Ritual Candles" · 2020-09-28T09:53:58.472Z · LW · GW

At first I thought this whole article seemed a bit obvious, but then I realized that I grew up churched; these considerations were basically burned into my brain from a young age. You came to all the right conclusions here!