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Comment author: AspiringRationalist 15 July 2017 05:19:13AM 2 points [-]

I'm curious - what have you outsourced to Fancy Hands? I know in theory that I should be outsourcing stuff to services like that, but I really don't know what stuff I can effectively outsource in practice.

Comment author: Error 17 July 2017 03:46:44PM 1 point [-]

Honestly, mostly phone calls. It sounds silly, but I have a paralytic fear of calling strangers, and that leads me to procrastinate far more than is normal even for me. Making someone else do things like (for today's example) call around to find someone who will take a couch I'm trying to donate ensures that it doesn't stay in the middle of the spare room for 6-12 months while I dither.

Comment author: Error 07 July 2017 04:20:04PM 2 points [-]

A qualifier: If you're going to do this, make sure it's a class where the other people in the class actually want to be there. Otherwise the social reinforcement will be misdirected. This is an obvious failure mode of grade school and a less-obvious failure mode for the sort of extracurriculars where the students are there mostly by parental insistence.

(also, make sure you actually want to be there too. Otherwise you'll be the one screwing it up.)

Comment author: Error 11 June 2017 06:05:42PM 6 points [-]

Not all tail risk is created equal. Assume your remaining natural lifespan is L years, and revival tech will be invented R years after that. Refusing to kill yourself is effectively betting that no inescapable worse-than-death future will occur in the next L years; refusing cryonics is effectively betting the same, but for the next L + R years.

Assuming revival tech is invented only after you die, the probability of ending up in some variation of hell is strictly greater with cryonics than without it -- even if both chances are very small -- simply because hell has more time to get started.

It's debatable how large the difference is between the probabilities, of course. But some risk thresholds legitimately fall between the two.

(upvoting even though I disagree with your conclusion -- I think it's an interesting line of thought)

Comment author: Error 04 June 2017 06:50:49PM 0 points [-]

Typo in the evolutionary psychology chapter: "We compress this gargantuan historicalstatistical macrofact by saying “evolution did it.”

"Historicalstatistical" should have a hyphen in it. Original

Comment author: Lumifer 19 May 2017 03:06:22AM 5 points [-]

This?

Except in a very few matches, usually with world-class performers, there is a point in every match (and in some cases it's right at the beginning) when the loser decides he's going to lose. And after that, everything he does will be aimed at providing an explanation of why he will have lost. He may throw himself at the ball (so he will be able to say he's done his best against a superior opponent). He may dispute calls (so he will be able to say he's been robbed). He may swear at himself and throw his racket (so he can say it was apparent all along he wasn't in top form). His energies go not into winning but into producing an explanation, an excuse, a justification for losing.

C. TERRY WARNER, Bonds That Make Us Free

Comment author: Error 19 May 2017 05:58:45AM 1 point [-]

That's the one, thanks!

Comment author: Error 19 May 2017 12:45:27AM 0 points [-]

I'm searching for a quote. It goes something like this:

"In nearly every contest there comes a point where one competitor has decided that they are going to lose. Sometimes it's near the end; sometimes it's right at the start. After that point, everything they do will be aimed at bringing that result to pass."

And then continues in that vein for a bit. I don't have the wording close enough to correct for Google to get me what I'm looking for, though. And I could swear I've seen it quoted here before. Does someone else remember the source?

Comment author: Dagon 08 May 2017 07:42:45PM *  1 point [-]

heh. Consultants are the people who couldn't meet our hiring bar, so we pay them twice as much to avoid any long-term responsibility for outcomes. They are useful at making sure our devs have asked the right questions and considered the right options. But the actual analysis and decision starts and ends on the team (and management) that's going to actually run the system and deal with the consequences.

Not everywhere, and not as completely sane as I'm stating it - there's a lot of truth in Dilbert. But if it's too bad where you are, go elsewhere. There are good software teams and they're hiring.

Comment author: Error 08 May 2017 08:37:23PM 0 points [-]

Do you have a reliable way to distinguish good teams from bad ones, before you sign the paperwork and put in your notice?

I've stayed in jobs I wanted to leave a couple of times now, because my team was a reasonably good team and I was afraid that elsewhere I would end up with Dilbert's boss.

Comment author: Error 26 April 2017 11:34:59PM *  4 points [-]

It seems to me that the form of yak shaving you describe is a maintenance problem. The things in your life that are broken, are broken because they require maintenance that hasn't been performed. Until it suddenly becomes an urgent necessity.

You can fix that by doing all the required yak shaving...maybe. But the most dedicated yak shaving routine will fail if your yak herd has expanded until its maintenance cost exceeds all available time.

Instead, own fewer yaks. Figure out what in your environment requires maintenance. Then automate it, outsource it, or get rid of it. Join a makerspace instead of having your own workbench. Electronicise and (preferably) automate all your bills. Get rid of anything that 1. doesn't see regular use, and 2. is prone to requiring shaving. Hire a housekeeper. Rent an apartment where management is responsible for things that break instead of you -- if you can afford it, rent one that does valet trash and laundry. Get amazon prime and get used to waiting two days for anything you have to buy. Then never go shopping for non-perishables in person again. If you live somewhere that you can get groceries delivered, do that too.

Edit: Use services like Fancyhands for fourth quadrant stuff that you nonetheless still want done.

A great time to do this sort of life-cleaning is when you move -- it's easier to overcome the "but what if I need it?" mental roadblock if you can reply "but if I junk it, it's that much less I have to pack and unpack." Make laziness work for you.

(not coincidentally, I am doing literally this right now)

Comment author: tristanm 27 March 2017 07:59:55PM *  1 point [-]

Would a Bayesian notion of "upvotes / downvotes" work better than simple upvoting / downvoting? Suppose that instead of a simple sum of ups and downs, that there is some unknown latent "goodness" variable theta, which is the parameter of a Binomial distribution. Roughly, theta is the probability that a random reader of your post would upvote it. The sum of upvotes, or upvotes - downvotes, is not a very useful piece of information (since a highly upvoted / downvoted post could be highly controversial, but simply have a huge amount of voters). Instead of that, if you calculate the posterior distribution over theta (let's say theta is modeled by a Beta distribution), then you have information about what theta is likely to be along with the degree of confidence in that estimate. Would calculating that every time someone votes be a huge strain on the backend?

Comment author: Error 27 March 2017 08:32:42PM 0 points [-]

Here's a thought: Weight votes according to how often the voter votes the same way you do.

It would neuter the effectiveness of serial downvoting, while simultaneously encouraging more participation. Your votes would benefit yourself as well as others, by training the system.

Comment author: Viliam 27 March 2017 02:33:30PM *  4 points [-]

Explaining to actual kids is fun, and a good rationalist exercise. I recently told this to my two years old daughter, when she asked me what I was writing about, when I was preparing a blog article on my computer. (She liked the explanation a lot. She insisted that I repeat it to her for the rest of the evening.)

Daddy has a lot of books, but these five he likes most: The first book says that people should eat tomatoes, and cucumber, and carrot, and cabbage, and peas, and beans. The second book says that people should exercise, like do squats, or hang from a bar. The third book says people should talk nice, not yell at each other, and say 'please' when they want something. The fourth book is about a lady who taught dogs and dolphins. And the fifth book says people should not do stupid stuff.

But yeah, for more complex topics, 5 years seem like a more appropriate age. I wonder how well people are actually calibrated about this; whether the actual 5 years olds would understand most of the ELI5 posts. Maybe someone could do an experiment with real kids -- tell them the stories, and then report how they repeated the lesson using their own words.

I am looking forward to the "Being reasonable: smart robots and dead walking people" book. :D

Comment author: Error 27 March 2017 03:06:05PM 0 points [-]

Being reasonable: strong robots and dead walking people

I don't get the reference, but my first thought: super robots vs. zombies sounds like an awesome anime.

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