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Comment author: Lumifer 19 May 2017 03:06:22AM 4 points [-]


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 *  3 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.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 14 March 2017 07:55:57PM 0 points [-]

there is no noted phenotypic correlation of homosexuality & intelligence that I've heard of

I've heard the raw correlation widely claimed, but I think most people interpret it as measuring closeting. Certainly openly gay men have higher income than straight men.

Comment author: Error 14 March 2017 08:10:58PM 0 points [-]

I'd be inclined to suspect closeting too. The better your ability to support yourself, the less you need to worry about repercussions.

Tangential and possibly relevant: I've noticed bisexual women appear to be ridiculously common in high-intelligence nerd communities. I don't know whether I should associate that with the intelligence or the geek/nerd/dork personality cluster, nor do I know which way the causation goes.

In response to Noble excuses
Comment author: Error 14 March 2017 07:12:34PM *  3 points [-]

I like that name for the phenomenon.

I'm not sure exactly when, but I seem to have developed a five second habit of noticing a noble excuse and thwarting it. That is, my brain will float up some noble rationalization for action X, and I'll notice it sounds noble, and that seems to be enough for me to stop and say "wait a sec, this probably isn't the real reason behind my actions."

Sometimes I can do this before I've even offered up an excuse, skip past "I'm late because traffic" and move directly to "yeah, I'm late because I'm insane and don't develop a sense of urgency about anything until it's already too late."

I don't know exactly how the habit formed, but I think it's something to do with my social anxiety. My mental model of others says that my excuses are totally transparent, that everybody around me knows perfectly well I'm feeding them bullshit; and that they view it the same way as, say, a teacher views a kid who claims that the dog ate their homework. The image is humiliating, and the only defense is to be totally up front about underlying reasons.

In theory this should lead me to lie to myself about my motivations to make the noble excuse appear true, but that doesn't seem to happen all the time. The same alief applies; I feel like others will see through the excuse even if I don't -- again, like a kid insisting that what the bullies say on the playground doesn't matter because "I don't care what they think." So I had better get my motivations correct and honest, or else suffer the contempt of anyone who hears my transparently self-serving excuses.

The second step appears to fail more often than the first; I've sometimes caught myself in webs of "reasoning" arguing that I have one motivation when the outside view suggests I have another.

The habit is moderately effective and I endorse it, but I'm not sure it's reproducible for anyone without my specific neuroses.

Comment author: Elo 01 February 2017 11:34:00PM *  5 points [-]

Link had trump in the title. I deleted it. (sorry, don't have time to explain more right now)

Comment author: Error 05 February 2017 05:53:08AM 0 points [-]

That wasn't a great way to put it and probably shouldn't have been written in haste...but just for the record, I would favor such a policy, at least for the next few months. I don't want either file of the hate parade getting a foothold here.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 February 2017 03:13:07AM 5 points [-]

An opinion (I am not a moderator and don't have any official power on LW):

Politics are discouraged on LW and if it's a ban, it is a soft ban. Generally speaking, discussing political philosophy is fine. Also generally speaking, discussing hot topics of the day, especially in a partisan fashion, is not fine.

Discussing how how humans did, could, or should organise the society and deal with the issues of power is fine. Discussing how your favourite side are the children of the light and the opposite side are the spawn of darkness is not fine.

Talking about policies, especially when your arguments are falsifiable and you bring evidence, is fine. Talking about how every decent human being must get up right now and protest {whatever it is that you dislike} is not fine.

And, of course, there is the general rule: don't be stupid.

Comment author: Error 05 February 2017 05:49:46AM 2 points [-]

Generally speaking, discussing political philosophy is fine. Also generally speaking, discussing hot topics of the day, especially in a partisan fashion, is not fine.

This bears repeating. I'd add another distinction: If you're talking about policy, you're probably OK; if you're talking about people, you're probably not.

(also, on a purely selfish note, the contemporary political shitstorm has taken over every other venue I communicate in and I really would rather not see it here)

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