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In response to Weekly LW Meetups
Comment author: Emile 27 September 2014 05:29:47PM 1 point [-]

Does anybody have more info on the Bay Area / Mountain view meetup? I just got here from Paris yesterday (I learnt I was travelling the day before...) and would like to meet local lesswrongers while I'm around... the meetup page doesn't mention anything about a tortuga/mountain view meetup...

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 15 September 2014 02:17:23PM *  15 points [-]

I don't have any sensible way of learning about current affairs. I don't consume broadcast or print news. Most news stories reach me through social media, blogs, word of mouth or personal research, and I will independently follow up on the ones I think are worthy of interest. This is nowhere near optimal. It means I will probably find out about innovations in robotic bees before I find out about natural disasters or significant events in world politics.

Regular news outlets seem to be messy, noisy attention traps, rather than the austere factual repositories I wish them to be. Quite importantly, there seems to be a lot of stuff in the news that isn't actually news. I'm pretty sure smart people with different values will converge on what a lot of this stuff is.

Has this problem been solved already? I'm willing to put in time/effort/money for minimalist, noise-free, sensibly-prioritised news digest that I care about.

ETA: Although I haven't replied to all these responses individually, they seem very useful and I will be following them up. Thanks!

Comment author: Emile 17 September 2014 09:40:31AM 1 point [-]

This is nowhere near optimal.

In what way? Do you wish you spent more time following current affairs? I don't follow them, but don't see any problem with it - if anything, I occasionally have to resist the urge of looking up what's going on in the world, which I put in the same mental bucket as the urge to look at the top entries of /r/funny.

I don't think in ten years time having read one more news item on the Gaza Strip will change my life more than having seen one more picture of a cat stuck in a bowl.

(I do however sometimes go more into a binge of "reading up on something and trying to understand it", but I rely more on Wikipedia than on news for that; "breaking news" tends to repeat the same points over and over again, and doesn't put much focus on the big picture)

I used to read the wikipedia current events page, which I found a nice summary of what's going on without going into too many details.

Comment author: Jiro 15 September 2014 07:58:09PM 14 points [-]

Roko's Basilisk legitimately demonstrates a problem with LW. "Rationality" that leads people to believe such absurd ideas is messed up, and 1) the presence of a significant number of people psychologically affected by the basilisk and 2) the fact that Eliezer accepts that basilisk-like ideas can be dangerous are signs that there is something wrong with the rationality practiced here.

Comment author: Emile 16 September 2014 09:06:04PM 5 points [-]

the presence of a significant number of people psychologically affected by the basilisk

Does "rolling my eyes and reading something else" count as "psychologically affected"?

Comment author: polymathwannabe 15 September 2014 12:20:08PM 1 point [-]


Comment author: Emile 16 September 2014 08:49:56PM 2 points [-]

I speak (some) Chinese, but I've always had a problem with remembering tones. So I found a list of characters sorted by frequency, wrote a python script to parse it and massage it a bit to generate an anki deck of "character -> pronunciation (definition)" mappings (and for characters that have several pronunciation, it's "character (definition) -> pronunciation"; so far I've been reviewing that deck for the past couple of months, but as it has several thousand entries it'll be years before I'm done with it (if I feel like it's getting old I'll stop reviewing it). When I encounter a character I don't know how to write I also add it back as a separate entry in another deck.

For studying German and Japanese, I have a Grooveshark playlist with a few Disney songs, and I also have some google docs with the lyrics which I occasionally read/try to translate (I haven't put much time in this apart from listening to the songs while I work; I haven't entered anything into Anki yet).

We used to have a regular German lunch on thursday at work, but the organizers quit and nobody picked up; I would usually add a few entries to Anki each time (and I still review them). I might organize a Japanese lunch eventually.

I have a "Mafalda" comic book in Spanish in the restroom, along with a Spanish-French dictionary, and usually read one strip (looking up unknown words) each time. Nothing in Anki, and I don't study any Spanish outside of that.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 15 September 2014 10:51:40AM 2 points [-]

Mobile game programming

Comment author: Emile 16 September 2014 08:35:57PM 6 points [-]

Come on, that's like a super specific category, how would you expect people to have stuff to put in there!

... anyway, I've been prototyping game mechanics in AngularJS and more generally learning about that framework, so I can use it to make/prototype web-based or mobile games. I haven't been putting huge amount of time in it yet though.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 15 September 2014 03:47:38PM 4 points [-]

I'm using The Charisma Myth, Neil Strauss' Rules of the Game, Nonviolent Communication, some other books and quite some LW posts to improve my social skills with good results. Apparently I made quite a good impression on my last job. I'm careful to clearly use only non-dark techniques (I avoid any that involve lies; The Game actually involves lots) and to stay authentic.

Comment author: Emile 16 September 2014 08:33:06PM 1 point [-]

Nice, do you have any specific tips? If I wanted to add say the five most useful tips you've got, which would they be? Or the five most useful concepts?

Comment author: Florian_Dietz 16 September 2014 12:08:07PM 2 points [-]

Yes, it's pretty similar. I think their idea of making the punishment affect a separate health bar rather than reducing the experience directly may actually be better. I should try that out some time. Unlike HabitRPG (I think?) my program is also a todo list, though. I use it for organizing my tasks and any task that I don't finish in time costs experience, just like failing a habit. This helps to prevent procrastination.

Comment author: Emile 16 September 2014 08:31:38PM 1 point [-]

HabitRPG can also work as a todo list.

Comment author: HalMorris 01 September 2014 07:44:11PM *  0 points [-]

Postmodernism is anti-Enlightenment and views Marxism as an unfortunate result of the Enlightenment the same as capitalism.

(ChristianKI) Could you name people that argue that position explicitly?

Here is an article that addresses the issue pretty directly: http://www.merip.org/mer/mer187/marxism-postmodernism

It starts off with

*During the Thatcher-Reagan-Bush era, just as critical intellectuals and left political activists had won a small place for the concepts of political economy and class analysis in academia, postmodernism and post-structuralism replaced Marxism as the favored mode of Anglo-American intellectual radicalism.

Strictly speaking, postmodernism and post-structuralism are not the same thing. What I mean by these terms is an array of literary and cultural theory rooted in a Nietzschean -- as opposed to a Marxian -- critique of bourgeois modernity. Postmodernists hold that reason -- the leading principle of European post-Enlightenment modernity -- is not universal, but merely masks relations of power. ... Postmodernists reject the notion that the interests and outlook of the working class or any other group constitute the basis for liberation of all of people (my note: This goes against the heart of Marxism). They are suspicious of abstract categories like class, and deny the existence of unified subjects -- individuals or classes -- with historical agency.*

Further on:

They [postmodernists] often adopt a playful, ironic, self-contradictory style, reflecting their view that there is no correct analysis of anything, but only an infinite variety of “readings.”

It is complicated by the fact that Marxism tends to be bent into pretzels all sorts of ways in order to make it agree with the fashions of the time, be they Freudianism, postmodernism, or the "New (largely Anarchic) Left" of the 60s/70s

It might be arguable that the kernel of truth in postmodernism can be approached via Ainslie (see http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/10/18/the-government-within/)

Here is another bit from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism

While [Michel] Foucault himself was deeply involved in a number of progressive political causes and maintained close personal ties with members of the far-Left, he was also controversial with Leftist thinkers of his day, including those associated with various strains of Marxism, proponents of Left libertarianism (e.g. Noam Chomsky) and Humanism (e.g. Jürgen Habermas), for his rejection of what he deemed to be Enlightenment concepts of freedom, liberation, self-determination and human nature. Instead, Foucault focused on the ways in which such constructs can foster cultural hegemony, violence and exclusion.

Habermas has been strenuously engaged with postmodernists like Foucault in defense of the value of Enlightenment rationality).

Postmodernism/Poststructuralism is a complex and confusing stew that I've bumped into in the course of study of history and later history of ideas and epistemology, especially social epistemology. There are two very separate groups who call themselves "social epistemologists". One leans towards postmodernism, headed by Thomas Fuller, which has an online forum at social-epistemology.com. One of the complaints against it is that it is “veriphobic” by Alvin Goldman, the main standard-bearer of the other branch of Soc. Epist. (Knowledge in a Social World, 7ff). This is something akin to saying it is highly relativistic and opposed to any standard of "objective truth", and the postmodernists have tended to treat all religions gingerly and have found favor among some theologists, and they (esp Thos. Fuller and Feyerabend -- a sort of precursor to this school of epistemological thought) have engaged in apologetics for creationism.

Many articles in Fuller's social-epistemology.com forum have mentioned "enlightenment"


For more on the different approaches to Social Epistemology, see http://social-epistemology.com/2013/07/22/two-kinds-of-social-epistemology-finn-collin/ (one of the best articles by far to have appeared in that forum).

Comment author: Emile 01 September 2014 08:59:48PM 2 points [-]

You haven't really answered ChristianKI's question, he just wanted names of people who explicitly "view Marxism as an unfortunate result of the Enlightenment the same as capitalism." rather than a link to a long article from someone claiming that some people did something kinda like that maybe.

Comment author: Sherincall 25 August 2014 05:54:08PM 5 points [-]

Are the European meetups in English or the native language? I'm moving to Germany soon, and would love to attend some closer meetups (Germany/Netherlands/Belgium), iff they are English by default.

Comment author: Emile 25 August 2014 07:28:07PM 4 points [-]

In France it's French if everybody speaks French, English otherwise (or sometimes a little bit of German, there are sometimes more German speakers than French speakers).

Comment author: Metus 20 August 2014 07:45:55PM 7 points [-]

I am trying to manage my information intake. The problem is that I spend way too much time reading meaningless or useless drivel on hacker news, lesswrong, reddit and finally my RSS feeds. So far I came up with two possible interventions:

  • Reduce the total amount of information to take in by removing meaningless content or comments
  • Increase speed of intake through automated summaries and/or speed reading

I am sure other people around here ran into a similar problem, so I post here. The latter point seems feasible, especially the speed reading part. Automated summaries for news stories seem to work reasonably well. The former point is somewhat more complicated. I could use the end of the week or month and some kind of social aggregation process to filter out the daily and weekly noise to get to the signal. Problem is that especially Reddit does not work very well for that.

The current idea is to have relevant reading material sent to my kindle with no possibility to get lost in related content, constant refreshing and ongoing discussions in the comments. Psychological factors influencing the process are fear of missing some information and stimulation of the seeking system because of the jagged rewards while browsing social media. A good technical filter would level the reward and thus supress the inner gambler.

Comment author: Emile 20 August 2014 09:07:31PM 4 points [-]

Some stuff I did in that direction:

  • Installed RescueTime to track where I spend time. I hardly never check the dashboard so I don't think it's very effective.

  • I avoid having too many tabs open. If I need to look something up, I open a new window, do a search and maybe open a few tabs, and then close the whole window, so I'll rarely have lingering half-finished stuff to look at again.

  • On Reddit, my default settings only show posts for the latest months, so in the few subreddits I follow regularly, there'll rarely be new things (and I avoid at looking at other kinds of feed like new or the front page), and I don't worry about missing things. This doesn't make visiting reddit very rewarding, but that's a feature :)

  • I do regularly cull low quality stuff from my RSS feeds, so I rarely have that much

  • I never check RSS feeds at work (and rarely check personal mail or lesswrong)

  • I occasionally do pomodoros (not a fully ingrained habit yet), which works on getting myself to stay focused.

  • I have no fear of "missing some information", that's just silly, in ten years I don't think my life will be changed because I didn't read a blog post or some news. Most journalism is a waste of time anyway, reading wikipedia or textbooks is more effective.

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