Comment by TabAtkins on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-27T15:42:32.867Z · LW · GW

As a mostly-vegetarian person myself, I find this article's primary moral point very unconvincing.

Yes, factory farms are terrible, and we should make them illegal. But not all meat is raised on factory farms. Chickens and cattle who are raised ethically (which can still produce decent yields, though obviously less than factory farms) have lower levels of stress hormones than comparable wild animals. We can't measure happiness directly in these low-light animals, but stress hormones are a very good analogue for an enjoyable life, and we know that high levels are directly linked to poorer health outcomes (and thus likely suffering).

It's simply not that hard to raise food animals in a way that makes them better off than wild animals, and so unless you're strongly in the "reform nature" transhumanist strain, ethical animal farming is at least somewhat of a positive over not farming at all.

(I'm personally vegetarian by ecological reasons, and abstain from eating some animals due to moral compunction against eating things likely to be sentient.)

Comment by TabAtkins on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-27T15:32:17.392Z · LW · GW

If you're having issues with your hunger response, it's almost certainly because you've simply eliminated meat from the meal, without replacing it with something nutritionally equal. Your hunger response is mediated by a number of food chemicals, which you've like never had to notice before because meat provides the appropriate ones automatically,

Solving it is easy - just eat protein (nuts, beans, etc) and fat (nuts, oil, peanut butter, etc.). That'll hit you with the right stuff to replace what you're losing with meat, and keep your stomach's brain happy because it's receiving the right chemicals.

People too often think vegetarianism is just a light salad at every meal. >_<

Comment by TabAtkins on The Super Happy People (3/8) · 2013-07-25T16:30:34.215Z · LW · GW

I'm surprised this never got answered! Well, better late than never, I suppose.

The SuperHappies misread the saying "Be fruitful and multiply.".

Comment by TabAtkins on Pascal's Muggle: Infinitesimal Priors and Strong Evidence · 2013-06-03T22:22:11.374Z · LW · GW

I think you're interpreting Bostrom slightly wrong. You seem to be reading his argument (or perhaps just my short distillation of it) as arguing that you're not currently torturing someone, but there's an identical section of the universe elsewhere where you are torturing someone, so you might as well start torturing now.

As you note, that's contradictory - if you're not currently torturing, then your section of the universe must not be identical to the section where the you-copy is torturing.

Instead, assume that you are currently torturing someone. Bostrom's argument is that you're not making the universe worse, because there's a you-copy which is torturing an identical person elsewhere in the universe. At most one of your copies is capable of taking blame for this; the rest are just running the same calculations "a second time", so to say. (Or at least, that's what he's arguing that Unification would say, and using this as a reason to reject it and turn to Duplication, so each copy is morally culpable for causing new suffering.)

Comment by TabAtkins on Pascal's Muggle: Infinitesimal Priors and Strong Evidence · 2013-06-03T22:14:04.962Z · LW · GW

True, but that's then striking more at the heart of Bostrom's argument, rather than my counter-argument, which was just flipping Bostrom around. (Unless your summum malum is significantly different, such that duplicate tortures and duplicate good-things-equivalent-to-torture-in-emotional-effect still sum differently?)

Comment by TabAtkins on Pascal's Muggle: Infinitesimal Priors and Strong Evidence · 2013-05-09T02:31:09.679Z · LW · GW

Am I crazy, or does Bostrom's argument in that paper fall flat almost immediately, based on a bad moral argument?

His first, and seemingly most compelling, argument for Duplication over Unification is that, assuming an infinite universe, it's certain (with probability 1) that there is already an identical portion of the universe where you're torturing the person in front of you. Given Unification, it's meaningless to distinguish between that portion and this portion, given their physical identicalness, so torturing the person is morally blameless, as you're not increasing the number of unique observers being tortured. Duplication makes the two instances of the person distinct due to their differing spatial locations, even if every other physical and mental aspect is identical, so torturing is still adding to the suffering in the universe.

However, you can flip this over trivially and come to a terrible conclusion. If Duplication is true, you merely have to simulate a person until they experience a moment of pure hedonic bliss, in some ethically correct manner that everyone agrees is morally good to experience and enjoy. Then, copy the fragment of the simulation covering the experiencing of that emotion, and duplicate it endlessly. Each duplicate is distinct, and so you're increasing the amount of joy in the universe every time you make a copy. It would be a net win, in fact, if you killed every human and replaced the earth with a computer doing nothing but running copies of that one person experiencing a moment of bliss. Unification takes care of this, by noting that duplicating someone adds, at most, a single bit of information to the universe, so spamming the universe with copies of the happy moment counts either the same as the single experience, or at most a trivial amount more.

Am I thinking wrong here?

Comment by TabAtkins on Rational Home Buying · 2011-09-04T01:09:16.542Z · LW · GW

I have an identical arrangement with my wife. She does the research and narrows it down, I make the final choice so she doesn't have to deal with maximizing.

Comment by TabAtkins on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-03-09T07:16:46.713Z · LW · GW

I do a zero-based budget monthly, where I precisely account for every dollar coming in and going out. Some of the categories in my budget (anything I buy in person) are designated as "cash" - every paycheck I withdraw enough from the ATM to cover the next two weeks worth of cash categories. These are then distributed into envelopes per category.

All of this leads up to my answer: I carry around personal allowance (budgeted for!) in my wallet at all times, and extra cash pulled from the envelopes when I'm going to buy something that day.

(When I end up using my card for a cash expense, because I didn't anticipate needing to buy something that day, the cash goes into a separate "Return To Bank" envelope. The next time I would withdraw cash, I just take what's in that envelope first, and then withdraw only what I still need. In other words, using my card is merely a loan taken out against my next cash withdrawal.)

Comment by TabAtkins on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-03-09T06:59:28.227Z · LW · GW

If I type a common sequence like "er" or "th," I do it with a single flick of the hand, not four separate ones.
Skilled touch typists certainly don't make four separate motions to type "er" or "th". Keyboards are specifically designed to accept multiple keys being pressed at the same time, because a skilled typist naturally presses the next key before they have finished the motion for the previous one. Nearly all keyboards will accept two simultaneous keypresses, with higher-quality ones accepting 3, 4, or arbitrary numbers of simultaneous keystrokes.

To be specific, typing "er" involves lifting my hand upwards, hitting "e" and "r" with my middle and pointer fingers in quick succession, and then dropping my hand back down. Typing "th" involves lifting my left hand at the same time as I shift my right hand slightly leftwards, and striking the "t" slightly before striking the "h" (though I often transpose the two actions and end up typing "hte" or "htat").

Comment by TabAtkins on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-03-09T06:53:21.520Z · LW · GW

I can concur with the reporter's comments in that transcribing is faster for me (as a touch-typist), and more accurate. I can disconnect my brain when transcribing and just let the text flow from my visual center straight to my fingers. When transcribing properly you're not actually "reading" - I, at least, retain very little of texts that I transcribe.

Comment by TabAtkins on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-03-09T06:46:54.805Z · LW · GW

Other people have already said that most people tend to smell okay all by themselves. I prefer a little help in that area, though.

There's the standard advice of wearing a deodorant/antiperspirant, which I find necessary. I can't help with perfume, but for cologne, I was never happy with anything until I spent an hour with a scented oil salesman at a stall in the mall. He helped me find the perfect combination of scents for me, which not only smells great to me but, from what other people tell me, compliments my natural smell nicely (if you're wondering - vanilla and egyptian musk).

In other words, get a perfume/cologne salesperson to help you. If the first one you find doesn't seem particularly helpful, don't buy anything, and go find another one (you can space out visits, or visit different stores, if it's uncomfortable to just go find another salesperson). One who is good at their job will know their scents well and will help you find one that you feel compliments you personally.

Comment by TabAtkins on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-03-09T06:41:46.243Z · LW · GW

I'm also normally terrible at learning names, but I've learned how to get around it. This may be terribly specific to people who learn like me; if so, I apologize.

I have found that I am incredibly focused on learning through actually seeing things written. I am excellent at spelling because I see the written form of words in my head, and even when I can't immediately recall the precise letters, I always have an accurate sense of how many there are (which is often enough to select the correct spelling from a shortlist of plausible alternatives).

Given that, I find that I can trivially remember people's names after having emailed them and typed their names.

Comment by TabAtkins on Attention Lurkers: Please say hi · 2010-04-19T02:17:18.467Z · LW · GW

Hi, long-time lurker. Fell in love with the blog after two posts, and spent some productive hours reading the Quantum Physics sequence. I think I introduced the blog to the XKCD readership, or at least the ones who read the Science forums there.