Comment by westward on Ten small life improvements · 2017-08-22T19:50:09.092Z · LW · GW

JumpCut for OS X

My paste hotkey for it is Shift-Cmd-V and you can hold one key after to arrow through old items.

Comment by westward on Request for advice: high school transferring · 2016-03-01T23:51:23.318Z · LW · GW


I won't justify that answer because it sounds like you're looking for someone to tell you what to do. And really, you're smart enough to figure out why.

Comment by westward on Entrepreneurial autopsies · 2015-07-14T18:38:38.834Z · LW · GW

Depending slightly on how you define success, there's not a good chance of being successful in the start up market. But it seems like you're coming up with solutions to a problem you haven't defined well.

What's your goal here? Why are you putting the effort into doing this market research? Into figuring out ways to assess viability of ideas? Is it just for fun? For the joy of exploring ideas? Or are you looking to create a job for yourself? To build a billion-dollar empire? How do you define success?

In short, why?

Comment by westward on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-09T19:43:02.899Z · LW · GW

Slow orbit? More like 120 miles per second in reference to the galactic center.

Charlie Stross's Eschaton books have a pretty good take on time travelling, light cones, and causality.

Comment by westward on Stupid Questions June 2015 · 2015-06-02T06:58:44.694Z · LW · GW

If you want to ensure she won't regret the choice, go shopping together!

You will pay extra, as in you will pay more than the ring is worth. If you buy a diamond ring, turn around and try to sell it back, they'll give you something like 30% for it.

Also, listen to this:

Comment by westward on Stupid Questions June 2015 · 2015-06-02T06:53:34.903Z · LW · GW

Sending 25 resumes is one strategy, but there are others. I believe you should find a few companies you like, learn a lot about them, find someone who has a contact at them, and develop a relationship with that contact.

This website has a lot of elements I agree with in terms of trying to get a job:

Comment by westward on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-27T16:46:44.952Z · LW · GW

I wish you the best of luck in whatever technique you try to be happier.

Comment by westward on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-23T19:42:13.327Z · LW · GW

I think you could probably benefit from AA. At the very least you should consider quitting drinking all together.

Your posts are a little inconsistent (I don't get drunk vs I'm bored, let's get drunk! and I drink because I like the taste vs I drink crappy tasting cheap beer), but it sounds like you're pretty depressed and use alcohol to cope with that. I think you would benefit from quitting drinking entirely and I've found for myself that AA helps with that. The the only necessary requirement for AA membership is the desire to quit drinking.

A lot of the literature of AA was written 80 years ago and reflects a societal aspect of drinking that may not apply to you. The purpose of AA isn't to help a certain "type" of drunk, it's to support someone who doesn't want to drink anymore. There's certainly criticisms of the program, both in its effectiveness and it's religiousity. But I'm an atheist, drank from ages 17-39 but wasn't a "drunk" and I quit last summer and I've discovered a few things: -I am better at life when I don't drink. I am better at being a dad, a husband, a friend,etc. -I have to abstain completely...I cannot reliably control my drinking -I'm a lot happier when I go to AA meetings at least once a week -N/A beer sucks. It's no comparison!

In addition to the not drinking part (strongly correlated with happiness), AA has some of the elements that make religion correlate with happiness. There's ritual, fellowship, and shared experience.

Comment by westward on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-12T04:58:57.529Z · LW · GW

I think EY has a better chance of getting a Hugo in the Fan Writer category:

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T04:46:34.794Z · LW · GW

If a wizard wants the P Stone Treatment, they have to agree to two things: To sacrifice a little magic as part of the Vow of another and to take a Vow themselves.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-08T02:22:52.952Z · LW · GW

"Let's see how you like everyone thinking you defeated the Dark Lord and you not remembering it." -Harry

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T07:51:51.430Z · LW · GW

I think it's quite poetic that Hermione is going to be made into a book.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T07:50:38.494Z · LW · GW

I feel bad for whoever voices QQ in the hpmor podcast. Chapter 108 is going to be a lot of exposition. Much of it should have been cut and/or moved to the narrator.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T07:32:40.567Z · LW · GW

Even after re-reading the horcrux stuff a couple times, I'm still confused.

There are two types of horcuxes, v1 and v2. v1 only captures your mindstate as it was at the time of creation. v2 updates all horcruxes to the current mindstate. v1s were hidden in the canonical places (diadem, slytherian's locket, etc), v2 in the hard to reach ones (mariana trench, pioneer probe).

After 10/31/1981, Tom's mindstate bounced around the v2 horcruxes. In 1992, Quirrell found a v1 horcrux ("one of my earliest"). How does that work? How can a v1, which hasn't updated, give rise to the current Voldemort?

He wouldn't have Slytherin's monster's power, or knowledge of anything after the horcrux's creation.

Also, how are those current v2 backups handling two Toms? Which mindstate is getting backed up? Probably the QQ one, but how does V know the system even works??

And isn't it suspicious that Quirrell finds this horcrux just a few months before Harry is to attend Hogwarts?

Upon rereading 108, it's ambiguous if QMort is telling the full truth about horcruxes. His Parseltongue confirmation comes later, after his horcrux explication.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T06:46:02.981Z · LW · GW

Harry had a better choice: "Shoot the hostage"

Either fatally or a good wounding in the leg.

Harry'd already committed that his life was a worthy sacrifice to foil V's plans. Clearly V. felt Harry should be alive for some reason. Ergo, Harry's death would have hurt his plans. Stopped entirely? Maybe, maybe not.

A leg wound, preventing him from walking, requiring his own wand to heal or some machinations on V's part to find some non-magical interaction way to heal/move Harry would have also done nicely.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T06:40:06.049Z · LW · GW

Because V. is afraid of prophecies?

Comment by westward on Are Cognitive Biases Design Flaws? · 2015-02-26T06:38:41.295Z · LW · GW

200,000 years? Pfah. That's a poor measure of success.

Goblin sharks have been around for 600 times as long. I don't think we can say we're particularly successful as a species for at least a 30 million years.

With luck you and I as individuals will be around to see it, but to do so, we'll probably have deal with our biases.

Also, evolution happens across a species in an environment and within a species across a population. You don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the slowest guy being chased by the bear.

Comment by westward on August 2014 Media Thread · 2014-08-01T23:02:14.761Z · LW · GW

Replication in social sciences

Comment by westward on Prediction of the Internet · 2014-08-01T20:09:14.257Z · LW · GW

You don't present a particularly compelling definition of this thing you're calling the internet. It could be equally applied to a close knit society.


Comment by westward on Cognitive Biases due to a Narcissistic Parent, Illustrated by HPMOR Quotations · 2014-05-30T15:13:50.473Z · LW · GW

An acknowledgement that

a) Narcissism may not apply to children b) there's other ways to interpret the text than the one you presenting. c) you're not presenting text that runs contrary to your theory d) that there are other causes for a person and a parent not to respect their children than narcissism

Many human children start their lives being incredibly self-centered. One element of the process of maturation is tempering that. Harry starts off being pretty arrogant, but quickly, thanks to Quirrell, learns to lose. He genuinely cares about people, not so their reflection shines on him, but for their own sake. That's anti-narcisistic.

Most of your examples have many anti-examples that simply show that Harry is sometimes clueless about "people stuff" and is an eleven year old boy.

Petunia isn't a narcissist. She genuinely cares about her son. Several times you conflate the wishes of both parents or of Michael and assign them to Petunia alone.

To keep this on track with Less Wrong's stated goals, my permeability to flour reference may not have been the most accurate reference. But you need to define "narcissist" first and then stand by that definition even if the text doesn't support Harry and Petunia doing it.

I'm not going to re-read the whole thread to see if you're actually coming up with justifications to support you argument after the fact. But it does feel like you're not going to be convinced your theory is wrong, no matter what evidence is presented.

Ask yourself this: What evidence from the text would it take to change your mind?

Two, you're also falling into the arguments/soldiers problem. You're unwilling to concede your theory has even the tiniest weakness...even when the author of the text himself says your theory is wrong.

What you really want to do is:

1) Refine the qualities of narcissism. Your 13 qualities have a lot of overlap. There's maybe 5 unique qualities there. Let's shorten to 3: Grandiose sense of self-importance. Becomes furious if criticized Does not recognize the feelings of others

2) Decide what proportion of behavior needs to be for a person to be consider narcissist. 70/30? 90/10?

3) Pick 5 characters, including Harry and assign them a status of Narcissist / Not narcissist.

4) Ask 3 people for each category to read HPMOR and find examples of this characters being a)grandiose or humble b) responds to criticism with anger or acceptance c) empathizes or not

5) With blinding, tally up the results and compare to your ratio of N / not N behaviors for each character then see how the results compare to your predictions.

Comment by westward on Cognitive Biases due to a Narcissistic Parent, Illustrated by HPMOR Quotations · 2014-05-29T21:31:15.937Z · LW · GW

After reading through the article and your response to comments, I would wager that Harry and Petunia's narcissism is also permeable to flour.

Comment by westward on Learning languages efficiently. · 2014-03-02T22:49:51.283Z · LW · GW

1) Remember that there many different techniques for learning language, and only some will work for you. For example, I haven't found 100% immersion useful. I like to ask questions in my native language about the target language. That helps me learn faster.

2) Recognize you're actually learning several skills: Speaking. Aural comprehension. Thinking in your target language. Writing. Reading. I find learning to read in the target language first to be the most helpful for my learning style.

4)This link may be helpful to start:

Comment by westward on Find a study partner - March 2014 thread · 2014-03-02T22:39:37.636Z · LW · GW

Yes. I'm "ASL IV" level. I'm conversationally expressive, less so receptive.

Do you have interest in collaborating on Anki decks? I'm thinking video clips with English glosses. I'd also love a ASL/English dictionary that was searchable by handshape, body location, movement, etc.

Comment by westward on Brainstorming: children's stories · 2014-02-12T03:36:24.637Z · LW · GW

Not stories but...

Fermi estimates can be fun for kids (How many gumballs in this gumball machine is a classic) though for a three year old, it may be too advanced. How many action figures fit in this glass?

Three year olds can play "Guess the animal" which is 20 questions with some leeway on the yes/no part ("is it bigger or smaller than horse" is always our first question). Ingrain some binary search algorithms!

Comment by westward on Recommendation request: Budgeting/accounting software for a non-profit · 2014-01-30T17:59:48.361Z · LW · GW

Depends on your definition of 'non-profit' and how that influences your thought of reasonably priced. I see that term refer to three very different entities: 1) Organizations who are basically large businesses that have a "not-for-profit" status accorded to them by the IRS (NY Presbyterian Hospital) 2) Organizations that are donor-based or membership-driven and very successful (United Way, Red Cross) 3) Organizations that are donation-based and run on a budget between "small business" and shoestring

I'm guessing you're asking about #3 and likely on the shoestring side, which really means you're looking for a free or very low-cost solution. And I don't know good answers to that. (If you're not on a shoestring, then Blackbaud makes the industry-standard software).

I have built custom-software for several non-profits. Requirements are somewhat similar but most organizations prefer to have their own customizations (a chamber music non-profit wants to keep track of ticket sales in addition to donors; the head of a children's performing arts org doesn't isn't tech savvy enough to understand the default interface; everyone wants custom reports).

I'm not interested in working in that market again for the foreseeable future, so this is not a pitch. I've charged between $5K and $10K for a custom solution and $200 per user annually for maintenance. Some non-profits have approached me and blanched at the cost. Depending on your goals, I can make a business case for the expense (though now I'd say Blackbaud might be a better choice than custom).

The last time I did the research was 3 years ago, and there could be a reasonable web-based package out there for $50/user per month. Some may charge per donor ($100 per 500 donors per month or something). If those prices are out of your range, then you're probably stuck.

Comment by westward on How to become a PC? · 2014-01-27T23:30:45.819Z · LW · GW

Don't have goals. Find something you like doing that also is exercise. Maybe it's a partnered sport like racquetball. Maybe it's juggling, walking in the woods. It can even just be something sedentary programming and you can make it exercise by doing it on a treadmill.

Comment by westward on How to become a PC? · 2014-01-27T23:29:09.809Z · LW · GW

Hmmm...I'm not sure this is good advice. Goals per se aren't usually great motivators. And I'd say sex is a better motivator than an abstract numerical achievement. And "Next summer" is not immediate.

Comment by westward on Group Rationality Diary, December 16-31 · 2013-12-26T22:14:26.551Z · LW · GW

After reading Scott Adams' article about goals versus systems, I decided to create a system for losing weight (I am 20 pounds heavier than I think is optimal for my health). The first part of the system is simply counting calories. No restrictions, just being aware. I plan on doing this for two weeks, then start changing my diet.

11 days ago, I started tracking my food using LoseIt and have found it extremely useful. The holidays have been intense (several days of eating 2x my daily "requirement").

The biggest thing I have found that meals of 250-600 calories leave me feeling sated but not tired.

Comment by westward on Group Rationality Diary, December 16-31 · 2013-12-26T22:13:23.207Z · LW · GW

I know Mirabai Knight, of stenoknight. She's a great person and doing strong work in lower the cost of entry to becoming a stenographer.

Comment by westward on Rationality Quotes December 2013 · 2013-12-18T21:05:29.142Z · LW · GW

"Finally, a study that backs up everything I've always said about confirmation bias." -Kslane, Twitter


Comment by westward on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-29T20:52:12.106Z · LW · GW

I have taken the survey!

Comment by westward on Ignorance in parenting · 2013-09-04T17:25:29.173Z · LW · GW

It's important to recognize that not all children respond to the same incentives.

I have a parentally anti-authortarian master game theorist for a six year old whose "natural consequences" are often disastrous. It takes a lot of finesse to manipulate him. A combination of honest, fun engagement and honest, threatened punishments. That's not a necessary or desirable response to other children though.

Comment by westward on Ignorance in parenting · 2013-09-04T17:13:07.311Z · LW · GW

Comparing the "amount of brainpower" is silly. It's poorly defined ("focused attention on"? "time spent considering how to manipulate"?) and are we talking absolute or relative? I'm way smarter than a 4 year old. Most experiences are new to her and she has to consider them individually. I have a vast trove of heuristics at my disposal that she doesn't.

Comment by westward on Ignorance in parenting · 2013-09-03T17:31:04.738Z · LW · GW

Sometimes, children don't notice their parents noticing. And that's great for kids. They're safe, but don't know they are, so feel powerful.

If the children notice this they may assume that you either condone, accept, bear or ignore it. None of these has positive effects

Why not? It depends on what your goals are.

I think it's pretty useful for kids to learn that the explicit rules aren't the true rules. And that authority does turn a blind eye sometimes.

Comment by westward on Open thread, August 26 - September 1, 2013 · 2013-08-30T15:06:26.148Z · LW · GW

I'm not strong enough in math to figure out how the scoring actually works without spending some time with it, and I wouldn't "throw" questions anyway. But I do like seeing that, say, on my 60%s I'm actually right 70% of the time. So when I'm feeling "60%" I should actually go with 70% more often. I think I'm afraid of getting questions wrong because the score penalty appears so high relative to the score bonus (I know that's likely appropriate, even though I don't understand the actual log bits, etc of scoring ).

Comment by westward on Open thread, August 26 - September 1, 2013 · 2013-08-30T14:21:42.231Z · LW · GW

Tutoring vs Classes

I want to learn American Sign Language. As a kid I grew up know some Deaf people and am attracted to the culture. It is also very relevant to my current job and my work will pay for me to learn (both my time and expenses).

I spent last semester taking classes at the local community college and while I learned the expected amount of ASL, I also learned I don't like going to classes. It feels like a good portion (>50%) is a waste of time. I'm conversing with other hearing students who don't know the language either; some things I already know and it's a review, other things I don't understand and don't get because the lesson moves on.

I think I should find an ASL tutor. But there's a part of me that's holding back. Partly because it's something I've never done. I've never had a tutor. Also, it feels, bizarrely, like cheating. And I don't know where to start, how to negotiate schedules and rates. Taking a class is nice in that it eliminates any of that messy negotiating.

So, I'm looking for perspectives from people who have used or provided tutoring on two things: the benefits of tutoring over traditional classroom instruction, and how to find and negotiate with a tutor.


Comment by westward on Open thread, August 26 - September 1, 2013 · 2013-08-30T05:08:07.930Z · LW · GW

Hey, thanks for mentioning this. I hadn't heard about it.

I've tried my hand at this app (50 questions or so), and it seems like the correct strategy, for me, is to go 50% for anything I have a little doubt on, and 99% for that I'm sure about. Maybe 5% of the questions fall into the 60%-90% range.

I'm still working to understand the tutorial and how to interpret my results.

Comment by westward on What should a college student do to maximize future earnings for effective altruism? · 2013-08-28T04:29:42.657Z · LW · GW

Your education (whether it's formal by paying a college, informal by life learning) is an investment. Any investment should be evaluated by its expected return which is payoff/risk within a timeline limited by your cash on hand. A startup has a high payoff but high risk in 2- 5 years with low cash on hand. A career is medicine is medium payoff but lower risk in 10-20 years (education plus time to earn) with high cash on hand or ability to get loans. The payoff of owning a franchise business, or three, (like Subway) is high in 5 years with medium risk, but with high cash requirements.

Your maximum earning ability will be limited if you work for someone else, though still potentially high with your list of possible careers (a list that is pretty solid). Running your own business however, increases your maximum earning ability immensely. You mention a lot about what makes you attractive to employers though so you would need to work on your entrepreneur skills (taking risk, understanding financials, dealing with failure) if you go that route.

Other thoughts...

Networking as a factor in future earnings may not be under your control. I expect a lot of people that are accepted into Standford already have strong network connections because of their family. And, of course, because they go to Stanford. Extra work in that department may not help.

Standford's salary survey isn't that cut and dried because it is a snapshot. What are the CS majors earning in 10 years compared to the other majors?

Comment by westward on The 50 Shades of Grey Book Club · 2013-08-27T16:55:19.852Z · LW · GW

How is contempt defined here? It's confusing me and I would rather say certain things are not worth my time. Is contempt when I think something isn't worth anyone's time? I'm not sure if I find anything contemptible under that definition.

I see a big difference between really disliking something on the whole and appreciating one part of that larger whole.

The Transformers movie, for example, was not worth the 2 hours and $10 I spent to see it. I did like how the DP got the light to bounce around the room, and the desert explosions were cool, but overall, it was a terrible film and not worthwhile. I would have been better off not seeing it, despite the little things I did like.

How does that fit into this proposal?

Comment by westward on For Happiness, Keep a Gratitude Journal · 2013-08-16T19:44:43.898Z · LW · GW

Does this technique require going back and reading entries?

I've kept journals in the past, but never felt comfortable actually reading what I'd written.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T20:36:05.081Z · LW · GW

Harry has been suspicious of Quirrell for a long time.

Comment by westward on New Monthly Thread: Bragging · 2013-08-14T20:34:41.867Z · LW · GW

I use a randomly generated password from LastPass. I have no idea what it is, so I can only access it from my laptop (with the Firefox LastPass Add-on). That combined with LeechBlock is pretty effective.

I could go to the LastPass site on another machine, I suppose. But I do store other, more important passwords on LastPass and don't want to expose those. And it takes only nominal inconvenience to prevent me from jumping into FB.

Comment by westward on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-14T22:09:12.681Z · LW · GW

I agree with much of what you're saying. I make similar back of the envelope calculations.

One small point of clarity is that "money is worth less in the future" is not a general rule but a function of inflation which is affected strongly by national monetary policy. While it likely won't change in the USA in the near future, it COULD, so I think it's important to recognize that and be able to change behavior if necessary.

Lots of people attend an elite college because of signalling, not because it's an investment. Keep questioning the value of such an education!

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-09T21:57:27.580Z · LW · GW

What location is safe to leave the transfigured Hermione? Hogwarts is not a safe place.

Comment by westward on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-02T16:37:02.300Z · LW · GW

I read QuirrellMort as being honestly horrified by Harry's conclusions from Hermione's death. My take is that Quirrell engineered the troll to kill Hermione in order to get Harry to become an agent of death, not of life. He thinks Harry could possibly find a way to achieve his goals and wants to prevent both Harry from getting Hermione back and from inventing "universal healthcare". There is also the side benefit of driving a wedge between Harry and Albus / Minerva.

Comment by westward on Initial Thoughts on Personally Finding a High-Impact Career · 2013-06-21T15:19:33.132Z · LW · GW

To claim it's not a good thing to eliminate the possibility of more future people is to claim there is a moral obligation to produce children.

This doesn't make sense to me. At the very least, one could claim neutrality as an alternative. And discuss quality of life, rather than quantity.

Comment by westward on Initial Thoughts on Personally Finding a High-Impact Career · 2013-06-20T03:49:29.573Z · LW · GW

Have you considered becoming an actuary? You need math, but it's a high grossing job (up there with finance, IT, and engineering) with long term prospects.

Also, in 10 months, you could probably pick up a fair amount for programming for an IT job.

Comment by westward on Research is polygamous! The importance of what you do needn't be proportional to your awesomeness · 2013-05-27T03:53:13.812Z · LW · GW

Which fields are not that competitive yet would yield useful results? What are optimal fields for bright people to enter?

Comment by westward on Be a little bit more trusting than most people think sensible · 2013-05-27T03:46:25.712Z · LW · GW

I grew up in New York City in the 1980s which was a high-crime period. I was personally subject to a fair amount of property theft, and became very sensitized to these issues. After moving out of NYC, and getting older, and crime in the US dropping in general, I let go of some anxiety around theft. However, there are some very minor things that help me.

For example, if I ride my bike to a coffee shop, I'll leave outside unlocked, but in view through the window and flip it over on its seat and handlebars. Or thread my helmet strap through the wheel.

My feeling is that little things like that will reduce the likely hood of theft.

Likewise, if I leave my laptop (in a laptop bag) in my car for a bit, I'll throw a jacket over it.

Comment by westward on Mathematicians and the Prevention of Recessions · 2013-05-27T03:34:10.766Z · LW · GW

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by almost 50% and took over 4 years to recover.

Minor quibble here...It's my understanding that the DJIA is not useful indication of a cost to the economy.