Perth, Western Australia – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021 2021-08-23T08:49:33.842Z


Comment by mad on Is there a beeminder without the punishment? · 2021-09-14T03:44:23.152Z · LW · GW

Why don't you just use beeminder, but set your goal to be flat? So say you're brushing your teeth, you can tell it you want to brush 0 times a week, when really you want to brush every day, and you end up with a normal-looking graph with no problem if you forget to log (because you can just backdate the data!)

Also has the advantage of letting you use it the "traditional way" (with a slope and a pledge) for a goal that can be done automatically (e.g. duolingo, word count on a writing project, whatever). 

Comment by mad on Perth, Western Australia – ACX Meetups Everywhere 2021 · 2021-08-24T03:22:13.415Z · LW · GW

Note the attached map has the pin dropped in one of the buildings for some strange reason - as the three words coordinates indicate, please go into the park itself. (I can edit the description but not the map for some reason).

Comment by mad on Questions about multivitamins, especially manganese · 2021-06-20T06:32:55.490Z · LW · GW

You are almost certainly getting enough iron in your diet as a person who (presumably) doesn't menstruate. If you are not feeling fatigued or dizzy on the regular, you almost certainly have enough iron. If you are worried, get a blood test, don't just supplement willy-nilly. 

I would recommend you do a food diary for 3 days and enter into chronometer or myfitnsespal. You are probably getting 10-15mg of iron a day and the RDI for adult men is 8mg. Yes, vegans get non-heme iron, but the iron in meat is something like 80% non-heme, so most people actually get a very small amount of heme iron, and diet tends to have no impact on iron intake.

I speak generally as I don't know what your  diet looks like: if you eat pizza pockets and ben & jerrys for every meal then you have bigger problems than your multivitamin.

I'm a vegan doing a nutrition degree (at an accredited university, not at one of those woo-woo online holistic centres). I also have low iron because I have dysmennorhea, which I assume you can't suffer from. 

Definitely take b12 and take D if you don't get sun (you probably don't). Make sure you are getting vegan D if that's important to you, most D is not vegan. Also make sure the D is an appropriately high dose, not the very low doses that are in multivitamins. 

Comment by mad on Suspected reason that kids usually hate vegetables · 2021-02-28T04:11:09.322Z · LW · GW

[epistemic status: i have formal education in nutrition, and this is remembered impressions i got from professors/experts, but may not be correct, and is almost certainly simplified and lacking in nuance]

In our parents' generation, boiling or steaming was considered the most healthy way to prepare vegetables: fat and salt were the enemy, and especially steaming left the vitamins in (rather than allowing water soluable ones to leach into the cooking water). 

Our parents cooked vegetables in this way because they learned it was the healthiest and they wanted us to be healthy.

Nowadays the nutrition Powers That Be have acknowledged that yes, steamed broccoli is a little healthier than roasted broccoli or broccoli sauteed in garlic oil, but steamed broccoli only tastes okay while roasted broccoli and sauteed broccoli are both damn delicious (epistemic status: broccoli is my favourite vegetable). The wisdom from on high is now that vegetables should be cooked in appealing ways, and the small loss in nutrients is nothing compared with the large gain in flavour which encourages people to eat vegetables which then means that people are less likely to eat e.g. big macs and tater tots. 

Comment by mad on Participating in a Covid-19 Vaccine Trial #2: We pretty much knew it would work the whole time · 2021-02-27T23:32:19.750Z · LW · GW

I think as well as what others have said, an ethical consideration with placebos is that they are treating someone with something that they know doesn't work. Like, basically, on some level, it's ethically dubious to make you go to all the effort you outlined, interact with medical staff, receive an actual injection, etc, and deliberately not treat you. That's why many many trials have "stopping rules", where if it turns out the treatment is working really well, the placebo group gets it, too. 

Comment by mad on How do you optimize productivity with respect to your menstrual cycle? · 2021-02-08T22:36:55.714Z · LW · GW

My impression is that my period symptoms are maybe in the top half of severity, but not the top quartile? 


Don't compare yourself to others. It's a very common problem that apparently women especially have. You have symptoms that are distressing to you and are more than you want to experience AND THAT IS ENOUGH.

FWIW, I would definitely say based on your description you would be in the most severe 5-10% given when I am bitching about periods with friends who menstruate none of them talk about being out of action for 4 hours a month. 

Comment by mad on How do you optimize productivity with respect to your menstrual cycle? · 2021-02-08T22:34:59.631Z · LW · GW

It took me like 3 doctors before one of them suggested the medications I'm trying now, and that was a doctor at a sexual health centre. This included one doctor who, when he saw I had low iron and I told him it was probably my frequent, long, heavy periods gave me a PPI (in case I had some stomach issue stopping iron absorption - because when he asked me if I had heartburn I said once every 2 or 3 months after eating like crap I have a little bit that an antacid fixes immediately), an endoscopy (in case I had, idk, a digestive issue? this required sedation, fasting, and a day off work so wasn't exactly Fun), and finally said it probably was my period and I should probably go on a different BC (so I'd resigned myself to trying an IUD, which is its own kind of pain, and if I'd had the sexual side effects I attribute to my  last IUD again I'd have to have it removed after only a month or two so FUN). 

So I went to the sexual health centre to discuss options for other BC (since I was also considering the shot) and she was like "you could try this medicine?" and I was confused because the medicine while not free was cheap enough (about AU$30 per cycle, or less than an hour's pre-tax wage for me). I went back to my original doctor to refill the prescription and asked why he didn't recommend it to me and he said kind of dismissively "it doesn't always work" and after that I read research on it and apparently it works 30% of the time which for me is, you know, A PRETTY GOOD SHOT.

So yeah, I don't know how firm or insistent you've been with doctors, or how accessible doctors are in your country, but being very firm ("these cramps are no good and I need to do something about them! Is there something we could try?") might help? Is going on a hormonal BC an option for you - I can't have estrogen but if I could it would just be a case of taking "the pill" without the placebo weeks which would stop my period altogether.

But yeah, I'd take my previous long periods over a 4 hour debilitating cramp with a regular, say 3 day period, so I'd encourage you to keep asking doctors as those cramps sound so intense. 

Comment by mad on How do you optimize productivity with respect to your menstrual cycle? · 2021-02-08T05:08:20.324Z · LW · GW

I'm one of the many women who can't take estrogen due to a history of migraines. It makes things... interesting.

I use nexplanon, which gives me extremely long, heavy periods (and I am not joking: three 5-10 day periods in a row with 3 days in between) but I had a bad experience with an IUD, am bad at taking pills and the mini-pill is extremely sensitive to timing, and will probably have children within 2 years so the jab is not for me. 

So what I've been experimenting with is two medications my doctor has given me to stop my period (only one at a time): Ponstan and Tranexamic acid. Still not sure which works better but they each seem to be pretty good at lightening and probably also shortening things. I am not sure how they'd help your dysmenorrhea though because of yours only being the first four hours, and you take the medication once bleeding starts. 

FWIW I haven't noticed productivity issues one way or the other. How do people notice this sort of thing? Like, was it obvious, or did you chart productivity vs period somehow and saw the trend?

Comment by mad on How can I find trustworthy dietary advice? · 2021-01-18T22:39:35.211Z · LW · GW

Setting aside the absolutely horrific ethical problems with experimenting on imprisoned people, imprisoned people do have access to commissary, would have access to special meals for religious or cultural reasons, and are likely to exchange food amongst themselves. 

And as said in the other reply, coma patients are fed through tubes and don't do things like exercise, so you wouldn't be able to determine the effect of protein intake on muscle growth or whatever, and they also have whatever condition put them in a coma in the first place, and I believe long term comas are rare. Oh, and no informed consent, because they're in a coma.

Comment by mad on How can I find trustworthy dietary advice? · 2021-01-17T22:17:40.707Z · LW · GW

I'm studying nutrition at a tertiary level for pretty much this exact reason and what it has taught me from speaking to dietitians who teach my course and from doing the course is:

a. Advice for the average person with a typical western diet boils down to "would it kill you to eat a damn vegetable?"

b.  There's a lot of organic chemistry that despite me being 3 years into a 4 year degree hasn't paid off (I am doing the degree that feeds into a masters of dietetics, so I'm sure that's where it was going to pay off. Alas, I'm not going to do that masters any time soon because my government engineering job 8 years in pays more than and end of career dietitian despite the higher level of education, and the masters would require me to work 9-5 for 6 months for free)

But most importantly, and most relevantly for the lesswrong sort of person, is that it is basically impossible to study diets in anything resembling double blind randomised placebo controlled. Diets are strongly linked to culture and personality and strongly influenced by those around you and virtually impossible to double blind. Like, imagine you wanted to study whether eating red meat is good for your health. Imagine getting 10,000 people and randomising them into three groups (high red meat, moderate red meat, no red meat). Would a steer farmer from Texas really stop eating red meat just because he was randomised into the no group? Would I, a vegan for 5 years, start eating 4 serves of red meat because I was randomised into the high group? (no, but I wouldn't sign up for the study for this reason, which is a confounder because people like me then wouldn't sign up). And if the Texan did stop eating red meat, would he keep it up for 20 years? Would someone randomised into the high group who got diagnosed with heart disease and was told by their doctor to cut down on red meat ignore the advice because of the study? 

It's that problem but writ large that makes decent dietary research hard to do. You'll notice a lot of studies are done over 1-3 months, because that's a reasonable amount of time to be able to provide three pre-packaged meals to your participants that you can control exactly (though those participants are probably going to eat other things: who goes to a birthday party without eating cake, for example?). 

So then we have to do animal studies, and our ancestral diet is very different from say a mouse or even a chimp, and is maybe not even what is best for us. 

Also, something that isn't really emphasised in this sort of discussion is the cultural value of food. Sitting and sharing meals with people is good for our mental wellbeing. 

I think some people also stick on "are eggs good or bad for you? is red meat healthy? are tomatoes good?" when this is kinda missing the point. No one thing should be such a big part of your diet that this information is gamebreaking. And I think everyone knows that vegetables are healthy and hamburgers aren't. 

So, where does that leave us? 

Fortunately, pretty much every country in the world has a team of dietitians who come together to make a guide for how to eat healthfully. I'm Australian so the Australian guide to healthy eating ( ) and the associated material on the website is what I'm most familiar with. It boils down to eating a lot of vegetables (50% of your plate!), a moderate amount of grains, a small amount of lean protein, and eating fruit and calcium-rich foods. But the website has a lot of information on it in a very accessible format and I'd recommend it as a good starting point. 

Comment by mad on Bet On Biden · 2020-11-06T05:53:18.241Z · LW · GW

Hey OP - 

Just want to say thank you for this post. This along with the failure of the rationalist community to buy bitcoin led to me betting $150 AUD on Biden, and Sportsbet Australia called the election for him already (no, I don't understand why either - I guess the publicity), so I got $235 in my bank account now (win: $85 AUD). 

I would not have done this without your post.

Comment by mad on The bads of ads · 2020-10-25T10:17:50.209Z · LW · GW

To be honest, I don't care how things will go in the future: at the moment, I'm paying, now, to not experience ads, and I'm hoping that my purchasing decisions in this vein will encourage the sort of behaviour I want. If hosts start incorporating ads into their patron podcasts they'll lose my $5/mo and receive a polite but firm note explaining why.

Comment by mad on The bads of ads · 2020-10-23T07:29:33.248Z · LW · GW

It bothers me on a fundamental level that we've been conditioned to accept ads as "the price of the internet": I want to pay $5 for an app with no ads/IAP, not be advertised to forever. I want to pay $5 a month to listen to a podcast without ads, not have my precious time taken up with podcast hosts (aka People I Trust) telling me about how much they love whichever meal box kit is paying them this year. 

I put my money where my mouth is, btw: I support ad-free podcasts, or podcasts with unlockable ad-free versions, on Patreon (as ad-free is becoming a more common perk, it's beginning to get expensive, but podcast-listening is my main hobby). I messaged one small podcaster about why she didn't have ad-free versions of her podcast as a patreon perk and she said the reason for it was because her advertisers have a clause stating that there must be no ad-free versions, because apparently the more devoted listeners (the ones who trust the podcasters the most) are their preferred target market. 

I also emailed a podcaster I listen to when her podcast ran an ad for a 'product' I knew she wouldn't support if she knew some easily googleable backstory, and she emailed me back, pulled the ad, and said that she hadn't used the product and so didn't know that the product was counteractive to her 'brand'. Obviously, you know a lot of these endorsements are fake, but I find podcasts especially insidious as the podcaster-listener relationship is surprisingly intimate. 

So yeah, I completely agree with you. I'm voting with my dollar, to try and make the "paid" business model more sustainable for internet services. Thanks for an enlightening post!

Comment by mad on COVID Strategy 101 · 2020-10-07T04:42:33.132Z · LW · GW

Interesting that elimination isn't discussed - my jurisdiction (Western Australia) targeted this, and with strict border closures, mandatory 2 week quarantine for new entrants, we've not had a "wild" case in 6 months now (we have regular cases in hotel quarantine, but these don't 'escape' into the wild). Life is normal here: music festivals, dine in restaurants, cinemas, service industry/economy has time to recover, no need to wear masks, and of course no deaths. 

New Zealand is another example of this, as is the rest of Australia (Victoria has, in 2 months of lockdown, gone from 700 daily cases to 6), and, funnily enough, Mongolia. 

I know there's feasibility problems in a lot of places, especially because Australia and New Zealand, being islands, are pretty easy to isolate, but it seems like it would be much cheaper to improve border controls than to deal with a pandemic. 

In conclusion, I know I'm really lucky to live where I do.

Comment by mad on Considerations on Cryonics · 2020-08-04T23:05:40.107Z · LW · GW

I spent time working in fatal car crash investigation (reading crash reports and doing engineering analysis, nothing as gory as you're probably picturing), and car crashes often involved massive head trauma or would, at a minimum, require *hours* of lag time before the cryonics team could make it there. I'd say at a complete guess that only about 10% involved people dying in hospital later on (i.e. under circumstances that a cryo team could get to them in time to prepare the body).

My impression of the technology is that it's too much in its infancy to be able to say with any sort of confidence that a body that had been left with minimal treatment for a good 8-10 hours would be in a good state for preservation. And my understanding is that after only a few minutes/hours the brain starts to really degrade.

This is a major reason I'm not considering yet. I also live in a country without a good cryo organisation, and the exchange rates make the fees for Alcor quite a lot when I am not convinced I'd get the value. I also think the 5% figure is way too high.

I mean admittedly, pascal's wager comes into play a bit here, but I'm not convinced that my current jurisdiction is a good place to die and be cryopreserved, and I have no plans to move.

Comment by mad on How to stay concentrated for a long period of time? · 2019-02-03T06:10:58.388Z · LW · GW

I think the answer to your question is "people don't concentrate for 2 hours at a stretch". That's why the pomodoro technique is so useful!

I'm very focused in general, and I find 45 minutes to an hour is the longest I can sustain my attention on a task, especially if it's boring. Contrary to the other poster I don't think that I have ADHD (though I don't doubt I'd be able to focus for 3 or 4 hours straight if I took dexies, since my husband *does* have ADHD and the medicine does that for him).

You should look online for resources about combating procrastination, getting motivated, etc, as it's the same sort of problem everyone runs into.

Here's my personal productivity tips:

  • Pomodoros: I use the less wrong study hall, which has 32/8 pomos. I like that balance as 32 minutes is coming on the maximum amount of time I can be "mostly reliably" focused. I won't bother explaining pomodoros as they're on about ten thousand different websites.
  • Beemindier: I've been using beeminder since its official launch and it's got me to do everything from an 1800 day duolingo streak to reading a textbook to writing a 50,000 word novel to studying several hundred anki cards a day. If I don't, I have to pay $5, and I'm so cheap I'm not ever going to give up the $5.
  • I reward / bribe myself. "Can't start making breakfast until I've done one pomo", "that pepsi you're craving will only be yours if you've done a pomo of project status reports", etc. Only ever small things that I get immediately after my equally small achievement.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself. The biggest thing that gets me in my work day in terms of productivity is my "shame spiral". I don't get much done which means I feel shitty about myself and keep on not getting much done, "the day is wasted anyway". I try to think what my best friend would say to me and internalise that rather than thinking what a failure I am. Also, if I have a real shame spiral sort of day, I try to change my to do list to just one or two stupidly easy things, or break tasks down to steps the include "open the program", "click on the link", "type in the name of what i'm searching for". It's stupid, but it's so motivating to give yourself some wins.