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I Want To Live In A Baugruppe

44 Alicorn 17 March 2017 01:36AM

Rationalists like to live in group houses.  We are also as a subculture moving more and more into a child-having phase of our lives.  These things don't cooperate super well - I live in a four bedroom house because we like having roommates and guests, but if we have three kids and don't make them share we will in a few years have no spare rooms at all.  This is frustrating in part because amenable roommates are incredibly useful as alloparents if you value things like "going to the bathroom unaccompanied" and "eating food without being screamed at", neither of which are reasonable "get a friend to drive for ten minutes to spell me" situations.  Meanwhile there are also people we like living around who don't want to cohabit with a small child, which is completely reasonable, small children are not for everyone.

For this and other complaints ("househunting sucks", "I can't drive and need private space but want friends accessible", whatever) the ideal solution seems to be somewhere along the spectrum between "a street with a lot of rationalists living on it" (no rationalist-friendly entity controls all those houses and it's easy for minor fluctuations to wreck the intentional community thing) and "a dorm" (sorta hard to get access to those once you're out of college, usually not enough kitchens or space for adult life).  There's a name for a thing halfway between those, at least in German - "baugruppe" - buuuuut this would require community or sympathetic-individual control of a space and the money to convert it if it's not already baugruppe-shaped.

Maybe if I complain about this in public a millionaire will step forward or we'll be able to come up with a coherent enough vision to crowdfund it or something.  I think there is easily enough demand for a couple of ten-to-twenty-adult baugruppen (one in the east bay and one in the south bay) or even more/larger, if the structures materialized.  Here are some bulleted lists.


  • Units that it is really easy for people to communicate across and flow between during the day - to my mind this would be ideally to the point where a family who had more kids than fit in their unit could move the older ones into a kid unit with some friends for permanent sleepover, but still easily supervise them.  The units can be smaller and more modular the more this desideratum is accomplished.
  • A pricing structure such that the gamut of rationalist financial situations (including but not limited to rent-payment-constraining things like "impoverished app academy student", "frugal Google engineer effective altruist", "NEET with a Patreon", "CfAR staffperson", "not-even-ramen-profitable entrepreneur", etc.) could live there.  One thing I really like about my house is that Spouse can pay for it himself and would by default anyway, and we can evaluate roommates solely on their charming company (or contribution to childcare) even if their financial situation is "no".  However, this does require some serious participation from people whose financial situation is "yes" and a way to balance the two so arbitrary numbers of charity cases don't bankrupt the project.
  • Variance in amenities suited to a mix of Soylent-eating restaurant-going takeout-ordering folks who only need a fridge and a microwave and maybe a dishwasher, and neighbors who are not that, ideally such that it's easy for the latter to feed neighbors as convenient.
  • Some arrangement to get repairs done, ideally some compromise between "you can't do anything to your living space, even paint your bedroom, because you don't own the place and the landlord doesn't trust you" and "you have to personally know how to fix a toilet".
  • I bet if this were pulled off at all it would be pretty easy to have car-sharing bundled in, like in Benton House That Was which had several people's personal cars more or less borrowable at will.  (Benton House That Was may be considered a sort of proof of concept of "20 rationalists living together" but I am imagining fewer bunk beds in the baugruppe.)  Other things that could be shared include longish-term storage and irregularly used appliances.
  • Dispute resolution plans and resident- and guest-vetting plans which thread the needle between "have to ask a dozen people before you let your brother crash on the couch, let alone a guest unit" and "cannot expel missing stairs".  I think there are some rationalist community Facebook groups that have medium-trust networks of the right caution level and experiment with ways to maintain them.


  • Bikeshedding.  Not that it isn't reasonable to bikeshed a little about a would-be permanent community edifice that you can't benefit from or won't benefit from much unless it has X trait - I sympathize with this entirely - but too much from too many corners means no baugruppen go up at all even if everything goes well, and that's already dicey enough, so please think hard on how necessary it is for the place to be blue or whatever.
  • Location.  The only really viable place to do this for rationalist population critical mass is the Bay Area, which has, uh, problems, with new construction.  Existing structures are likely to be unsuited to the project both architecturally and zoningwise, although I would not be wholly pessimistic about one of those little two-story hotels with rooms that open to the outdoors or something like that.
  • Principal-agent problems.  I do not know how to build a dormpartment building and probably neither do you.
  • Community norm development with buy-in and a good match for typical conscientiousness levels even though we are rules-lawyery contrarians.

Please share this wherever rationalists may be looking; it's definitely the sort of thing better done with more eyes on it.

How To Have Things Correctly

59 Alicorn 17 October 2012 06:10AM

I think people who are not made happier by having things either have the wrong things, or have them incorrectly.  Here is how I get the most out of my stuff.

Money doesn't buy happiness.  If you want to try throwing money at the problem anyway, you should buy experiences like vacations or services, rather than purchasing objects.  If you have to buy objects, they should be absolute and not positional goods; positional goods just put you on a treadmill and you're never going to catch up.


I think getting value out of spending money, owning objects, and having positional goods are all three of them skills, that people often don't have naturally but can develop.  I'm going to focus mostly on the middle skill: how to have things correctly1.

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Local Ordinances of Fun

18 Alicorn 18 June 2012 03:07AM

Prerequisite reading which you will probably want open in another tab for reference: 31 Laws of Fun

Unprefaced, this post might sound a lot like I'm just picking on Eliezer, or Eliezer's particular set of "laws".  I'm sort of doing that, but only as a template for ways to pick on Laws of Fun in general.  The correct response to this post is not "Here is my new, different list of N things that will satisfy everyone".

(Well, it would be if you could do that.  I'm skeptical.)

If I purported to come up with general laws of fun, I might or might not do a better job.  Probably I'd do a better job coming up with a framework for myself; I might also be more cautious about assuming human homogeneity, but I doubt I'd do an unassailable job.  And an unassailable job is probably necessary, if everyone will abide by Laws of Fun forever.  An unassailable job of Legislating Fun is needed make sure that some people aren't caught between unwanted mental tampering and, probably not Hell, but a world that is subtly (or glaringly) wrong, wrong, wrong.

Please do not assume that I outright endorse unmentioned laws; these are just the ones I can pick at most obviously.

I fully expect to be told that I have misunderstood at least half of these items.

6 sits uncomfortably.  The savannah is where we were designed to survive, but evolution is miserly; it is not where we were designed to thrive gloriously.  (Any species designed to thrive gloriously there which was actually put there would find its descendants getting away with more and more corner-cutting until they found a more efficient frontier.  Creatures that can fly don't keep flight just because flying is awesome; they must also need it.)  I want a home designed for me to thrive gloriously in, not one that takes its cues from the environment my ancestors eked out a living in.  I suspect this is more like a temperate-clime park than a baking savannah, and it might be more like an architecturally excellent house than either.  "Windowless office" is not the fair comparison.  That is not how we design places to put people we like.

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Delicious Luminosity, Om Nom Nom

11 Alicorn 07 March 2012 03:02AM

I have decided that it would be valuable for me to read books (blog posts, articles, random conversations between smart people who store chatlogs) about introspection, take notes, and try to distill and clarify the information.  This could result in me eventually giving up, or in a Luminosity Sequence: Second Edition (Now With Literature, Part Of This Complete Breakfast!), or (optimism!) me being able to sort ~90% of people into some number of categories such that their category membership tells me how to help them develop luminosity superpowers in N simple steps with exercises/therapy-ish stuff/etc.

Help me eat luminosity!  I need recommendations for stuff to read.  This stuff should be:

  • readable (I will not long slog through something I'm stylistically allergic to)
  • not obvious nonsense (but if it didn't work on you/your personal friends, that's not "obvious nonsense", it could be cognitive heterogeneity; I just want to filter out crap like "The Secret")
  • something I can probably get my hands on (library, 100% legal! electronic acquisition, it being on the Internet).

I read really fast.  Don't worry about oversaturating me with recommendations, but please do say a little about why you recommend a thing (even if it's "I haven't read this, but I keep hearing about it, so I guess some people like it") and post recommendations in separate comments so people with information about the item can vote up and down separately.  Recommendations for non-written things will be heavily discounted but not outright disqualified.

I would also like a supply of guinea-pigs-in-waiting for if and when I get to the point of trying the sorting or the superpower-giving part of the optimistic end state of the project.

If people want me to, I can document the process of luminosity-eating so there is a template to follow for other subject-eating projects, but I wouldn't do this by default because in general I only do things that someone would care if I didn't do them.

[Link] Correlation Graphs Reveal Shocking Information

14 Alicorn 25 December 2011 02:26AM

Babies named Ava caused the housing bubble, and other intriguing data.

More illustrative than the usual "correlation is not causation" mantra.

Fix My Head

9 Alicorn 17 September 2011 01:34AM

I've been collecting data about my headaches and diet for almost four months now.  I don't see any patterns - annoyingly, I get headaches nearly every day, so there's not much information - but I thought I'd post the data set and see if anyone sees anything.  Here it is.  Hopefully someone finds this an interesting problem.

It's written in note-to-self format (abbreviations like "strawbs" for "strawberries"; if I mention a complicated dish once then I'll shorten it when I eat the leftovers, as "pasta" for "pasta with artichokes and spinach and pesto"; times given approximately and not in a consistent form and often without specifying if they're a.m. or p.m., though they are in chronological order).  Quantities aren't given, although if they're suspected to be relevant I may be able to remember specific instances (for unusual foods) or typical portions (for ordinary foods) - other details might also be recollectable similarly.  I also don't notice when headaches go away, so I don't know how long they last except when they last all day or become noticeably worse during their course.  My sleep schedule varied considerably over this period, but trends more night owl than early bird (for a while I was outright nocturnal).  I moved three time zones west at the end of July, should that matter at all.

I'm not soliciting commentary on my diet except insofar as it can be compellingly related to my headaches.

ETA: Assume that every single day I'm drinking lots of skim milk.  (2-6 cups depending on how much I eat and how it's spaced out.)  There's a couple of exceptions, mostly when I'm in transit for most of a day or run out of milk, but not many and they don't seem to correlate with headaches.


75 Alicorn 28 August 2011 08:35AM

This is a post about applied luminosity in action: how I hacked myself to become polyamorous over (admittedly weak) natural monogamous inclinations.  It is a case history about me and, given the specific topic, my love life, which means gooey self-disclosure ahoy.  As with the last time I did that, skip the post if it's not a thing you desire to read about.  Named partners of mine have given permission to be named.

1. In Which Motivation is Acquired

When one is monogamous, one can only date monogamous people.  When one is poly, one can only date poly people.1  Therefore, if one should find oneself with one's top romantic priority being to secure a relationship with a specific individual, it is only practical to adapt to the style of said individual, presuming that's something one can do.  I found myself in such a position when MBlume, then my ex, asked me from three time zones away if I might want to get back together.  Since the breakup he had become polyamorous and had a different girlfriend, who herself juggled multiple partners; I'd moved, twice, and on the way dated a handful of people to no satisfactory clicking/sparking/other sound effects associated with successful romances. So the idea was appealing, if only I could get around the annoying fact that I was not, at that time, wired to be poly.

Everything went according to plan: I can now comfortably describe myself and the primary relationship I have with MBlume as poly.  <bragging>Since moving back to the Bay Area I've been out with four other people too, one of whom he's also seeing; I've been in my primary's presence while he kissed one girl, and when he asked another for her phone number; I've gossiped with a secondary about other persons of romantic interest and accepted his offer to hint to a guy I like that this is the case; I hit on someone at a party right in front of my primary.  I haven't suffered a hiccup of drama or a twinge of jealousy to speak of and all evidence (including verbal confirmation) indicates that I've been managing my primary's feelings satisfactorily too.</bragging>  Does this sort of thing appeal to you?  Cross your fingers and hope your brain works enough like mine that you can swipe my procedure.

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New Favicon

8 Alicorn 26 August 2011 08:34PM

LW appears to have acquired a new favicon, "<X" in place of the prior "Lw".  This change wasn't announced and I don't know what the new icon means.  Can someone explain it to me?

[Link] TED Talk on Perceived Value

12 Alicorn 17 August 2011 12:49AM

Rory Sutherland, an ad man (who missed his calling as a comedian), gives this talk on perceived value versus "real" value, and comes down in favor of more of the first.  He also dabbles in history, status, behavioral economics, and the importance of user interface design.

Individual Deniability, Statistical Honesty

43 Alicorn 09 August 2011 04:17AM

If you have a lot of people to question about something, and they have a motivation to lie, consider this clever use of a six-sided die.

If the farmer tossed the die and got a one, they had to respond "yes" to the surveyor's question. If they got a six, they had to say "no." The rest of the time, they were asked to answer honestly. The die was hidden from the person who was conducting the survey, so they never knew what number the farmer was responding to.

Suddenly, the number of "yes" responses to the leopard question started coming up by more than just one-sixth.

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