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Meetup : West LA—Expert At Vs. Expert On

2 OpenThreadGuy 07 March 2014 10:10AM

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—Expert At Vs. Expert On

WHEN: 12 March 2014 06:00:00PM (-0800)

WHERE: 11066 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

How to Find Us: Go into this Del Taco. I will bring a Rubik's Cube. The presence of a Rubik's Cube will be strong Bayesian evidence of the presence of a Less Wrong meetup.

Parking is completely free. There is a sign that claims there is a 45-minute time limit, but it is a lie.

Discussion: Expert at vs. expert on is a fairly important distinction. It's also a really simple one, which makes it conceptual low-hanging fruit. It's not totally without nuance; for example the terminology implies either total mastery or encyclopedic knowledge, but it applies just as well at any level of competence.

Recommended Reading:

  • Expert At Versus Expert On. I know of no other writing that is explicitly on this topic. Robin Hanson emphasizes the signaling aspect (of course he does), but I do not.
  • It is well-known that you learn to play baseball by playing baseball, not by reading essays about baseball. However, it is not usually made explicit that the former makes you an expert at baseball, and the latter makes you an expert on baseball.
  • Another nuance: Being an expert at something helps you become an expert on it; the vice versa may be true also. For example, you are probably a better linguist if you speak many languages.

NB: No prior knowledge of or exposure to Less Wrong is necessary; this will be generally accessible. Also, we may or may not play a card game.

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—Expert At Vs. Expert On

Meetup : West LA—Practical Taoism

2 OpenThreadGuy 21 February 2014 08:05AM

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—Practical Taoism

WHEN: 26 February 2014 07:00:00PM (-0800)

WHERE: 11066 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

How to Find Us: Go into the Del Taco. I will bring a Rubik's Cube and put it on a table, in case you require visual confirmation that You Are In The Right Place before asking anyone whether you're in the right place.

Parking is, well, I don't actually know. There's a sign that says the local lot allows only 45 minutes, but that may or may not be enforced. Others have reported that it's easy to find less time-unlimited parking nearby, although not as guaranteed.

Discussion:

Look at your Internet argument. Now look at http://ow.ly/nt1B3 Now look at your Internet argument. Your Internet argument is now stupid. Actually, your internet argument was already stupid.—St. Rev

If you have political opinions, you are a fool. If you think your political opinions matter, you are doubly the fool. If you think it's important that other people share your political opinions: fool. If you actually spend a significant portion of your time trying to get people to have the same political opinions as you, you cannot be redeemed. These are the facts that we must face, because you and I are but human and do not understand society. Metapolitical opinions, of course, are completely rational and not at all subject to these considerations.

We will be discussing Michael Huemer's paper In Praise of Passivity, of which section 4 is practical advice given its conclusions. Hence practical Taoism: useful inaction.

Recommended Reading:

No prior knowledge of or exposure to Less Wrong is necessary; this will be generally accessible. However, I would very much like it if someone, anyone, anyone at all, were to read the material beforehand.

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—Practical Taoism

Comment author: OpenThreadGuy 17 February 2014 06:34:54AM *  13 points [-]

Capital idea, old sport. I was considering making a thread about our group, but now there's no need. Supposing then that I, Grognor, should kick things off with a State of the Union address for the West Los Angeles LW meetups, eh, wot?

Our relocation last week went well. It was my goal to make it as difficult as possible not to know we had Officially Moved Somewhere Else; to that end I mentioned it in every single paragraph in the meetup post and the post to the mailing list, and individually messaged everyone I could contact who had ever attended who was not there when we agreed to move, two weeks ago. To the extent that this means anything, it means fast food places with good acoustics (no matter how loud we are in the back, you can't hear us at the front! which is cool) are better than dark, noisy, out-of-the-way bars where closed-to-the-public events frequently happen.

Abram recently proposed (because we are ostensibly a Less Wrong meetup group) that each week we openly report on rational or irrational things we've noticed ourselves doing since the last date of attendance, or whenever, really. I think it's a good idea, as it may provide useful feedback, motivation for the speakers, and inspiration to the audience, but it's been difficult to put into practice, because people naturally tend to talk of sundrier things, and because it's just really difficult to keep track of one's rationality. "The" checklist is unwieldy and there are still few objective day-to-day rationality metrics. I'm going to keep trying, though.

Over the last year, there has been a transition from/to, and a tension between, more practical meetup topics, and more theoretical, mathematical ones. I think this distinction is unprincipled and lacking in nuance; nevertheless it exists, and to the extent I do not say "mu" to the very framework, I lean toward the theoretical and the mathematical. This even though the meetups I've hosted have been more on the former side, with two exceptions. This is entirely because I don't know enough math, which I now consider a character flaw. One which I am remedying, 'ho!.

A couple of times, we've played a game called Contact, which is surprisingly fun for something that requires no equipment. It has nothing to do with rationality. We have played The Resistance a few times, which has received mixed reactions. Anton has introduced us to Quantum Go-Fish (also called Quantum Fingers, although Anton's name is better), which everyone likes the idea of but is really hard to play. There are basically two versions: one where we have cards and paperclips and everyone tries to play, and the version where we try to keep track of everything in our heads and on our fingers and all the fun is from everybody getting confused about the actual state of the game. The latter might be called "Drunken Quantum Go-Fish", since there's no reason to play it while sober. We have not tried the former. We haven't tried very many activities together, nor projects, even though I've tried to inspire people to make something more out of the group.

It seems most others just want a group to hang out with on Wednesday nights, and I'm the only one that wants to do some useful stuff with the group. This is okay; people shouldn't engineer some project just because I want them to. However, some of us have a Secret Awesome Thing in the works; stay tuned, but don't be surprised if it produces nothing.

This comment is already pretty long, so I might as well soapbox a bit: The "How to Run a Successful Less Wrong Meetup Group" PDF is terrible. It's full of gross salesman prose and useless pictures that require more scrolling, and because it's two columns, half the scrolling you must do is upways. If no one else wants to be a hero, I might just (with the blessing of (Luke? Kaj? whoever owns this thing)) condense it into a proper LW post or wiki article like it should have been all along, if I have another burst of mania like the one that caused this comment. and free access to a CFAR workshop.

For lack of a better name, The West LA LW Meetup Group is a fun and growing crowd. By the ever-reliable metric of "intuition", I think we are a successful group, in part thanks to me. We seem to be unique in that, rather than having zero hosts or one person who hosts every time, whoever feels like hosting the next meetup just goes ahead and does so. We meet every week, but when no one feels like hosting, the meetup is unannounced, on both this site and the mailing list, and attendance is smaller when that happens. I prefer these meetups, because they are more intimate and less stressful, although this is an uncommon sentiment. I might prefer if "someone" took over and hosted every meetup, to reduce the total number of decisions we collectively have to make about who hosts.

I really appreciate this crowd. They have directly improved my life, not only with their presence but also with acts of kindness and of prudence, and I have improved theirs with my stage presence and the items I give to every newcomer. The West LA LW Meetup Group is approximately my entire meatspace social life, and thus I say hooray.

Meetup : [ALERT] West LA [ALERT] Location Change!!

5 OpenThreadGuy 06 February 2014 08:50AM

Discussion article for the meetup : [ALERT] West LA [ALERT] Location Change!!

WHEN: 12 February 2014 07:00:00PM (-0800)

WHERE: 11066 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

WARNING

THE BAD THING WILL HAPPEN IF YOU GO TO THE OLD LOCATION

YOU WILL BE ALONE, AND SCARED

WE HAVE MOVED

We are now meeting in this Del Taco.

Parking is completely free, no chicanery required. This is because we have relocated to a Del Taco where parking is free.

Discussion: We have relocated. Do not go to the old location. We are now meeting in a Del Taco near Santa Monica Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd. It is not a very classy place, but there is cheap food and plenty of room.

Recommended reading:

  • Please, do not go to the old location. Go to the new location. Seriously.

No prior knowledge or exposure to Less Wrong or Del Taco is necessary; this will be generally accessible. Only suffering and death awaits those who go to the wrong place.

Discussion article for the meetup : [ALERT] West LA [ALERT] Location Change!!

Meetup : West LA—How to Live on 22 Hours a Day

1 OpenThreadGuy 06 January 2014 06:11AM

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—How to Live on 22 Hours a Day

WHEN: 08 January 2014 07:00:00PM (-0800)

WHERE: 10850 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064, USA

How to get in: Go to the Westside Tavern in the upstairs Wine Bar (all ages welcome), located inside the Westside Pavillion on the second floor, right by the movie theaters. The entrance sign says "Lounge".

Parking is free for 24 hours a day. Sorry, I mean three hours. Just three.

Discussion: Previously discussed on Less Wrong, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, by Arnold Bennett, is a remarkable and short book from 1910 about how to make the most out of your time. Hustle and bustle have increased a tad since then, so it it is my goal to compress the book's 24-hour methodology into a paltry 22. Bennett gives you two hours with which to deviate from his programme—I am giving you two more.

Recommended reading:

  • How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, by Arnold Bennett. I highly recommend reading this book, either before the meetup, so that you are prepared to discuss it, or after the meetup, when you've been sufficiently oiled for it. Either is fine, as I will prepare a summary.

No prior knowledge of or exposure to Less Wrong is necessary; this will be generally accessible. It's been a while, comrades; this will be our first meetup of 2014! Might I say, welcome back, returners, and welcome, new-folk!

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—How to Live on 22 Hours a Day

Meetup : West LA—A Conversation About Conversations

0 OpenThreadGuy 29 November 2013 12:01AM

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—A Conversation About Conversations

WHEN: 04 December 2013 07:00:00PM (-0800)

WHERE: 10850 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064, USA

How to get in: Go to the Westside Tavern in the upstairs Wine Bar (all ages welcome), located inside the Westside Pavillion on the second floor, right by the movie theaters. The entrance sign says "Lounge".

Parking is free for three hours, or for longer if you have ascended.

Discussion:

OPTIMIZE LITERALLY EVERYTHING

—rejected t-shirt idea

We are going to talk about the way we talk about things. We are rationalists, and that means we make things, such as conversations, better than they are. When should we allow topics to drift? How do we determine who gets to speak, and when? How do we prevent useful technical discussions from decaying into talking about movies or the weather? What is the best topic? Why won't anyone listen to me? Where is everyone going? Come back!

Required reading:

Recommended reading:

No prior knowledge of or exposure to Less Wrong is necessary; this will be generally accessible.

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—A Conversation About Conversations

Comment author: OpenThreadGuy 22 November 2013 12:11:31PM 1 point [-]

A friend lent me this exact book recently, and while I followed the first chapter, I quickly gave up upon encountering the exercises, because I could not even do the first one. At all.

I don't think I am stupid, so I hope you're just underestimating the required mathematical thinking experience (if not actual background knowledge, none of which is assumed) required to get through this book. Mathematicians do so as a rule.

Meetup : West LA—In Apprehending Hard Stuff

1 OpenThreadGuy 14 November 2013 04:17PM

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—In Apprehending Hard Stuff

WHEN: 20 November 2013 07:00:00PM (-0800)

WHERE: 10850 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064, USA

How to get in: Go to the Westside Tavern in the upstairs Wine Bar (all ages welcome), located inside the Westside Pavillion on the second floor, right by the movie theaters. The entrance sign says "Lounge".

Parking is free for three hours, or for longer if you worked long and hard to figure out how to get it for free for longer.

Discussion:

So8res's excellent post On Learning Difficult Things has inspired this meetup. Less Wrong is about learning brutal and unforgiving topics like what your brain is actually doing and what the objectively correct way to interpret evidence is and how to reason about reason

Since this is post is so great, you are all going to read it, and since not all of you are going to read it, I'm going to summarize it for you, and then we'll talk about maybe actually doing something involving the learning.

Recommended reading:

Non-recommended reading:

  • I don't know, you can read The Art of Learning if you want, but be warned it's much more a book about how great it is to be Josh Waitzkin than it is a book designed to teach you how to learn.

No prior knowledge of or exposure to Less Wrong is necessary; this will be generally accessible. Do note that if you show up without exposure to Less Wrong, you will leave with exposure to Less Wrong. For this reason, do not show up if you do not wish to be exposed to Less Wrong. However, if you are reading this, you probably have been exposed to Less Wrong, and as such, it is too late for you, so you might as well show up.

Discussion article for the meetup : West LA—In Apprehending Hard Stuff

Comment author: OpenThreadGuy 08 November 2013 06:50:35AM *  1 point [-]

The "Add new meetup" button automatically creates a discussion post, in addition to posting to /meetups (which already exists).

When I used to actually read this site, this annoyed me too, so I'd be fine with removing that "feature".

Comment author: Vaniver 07 November 2013 05:20:25PM 1 point [-]

I think the best solution to this is an option for meetup posts to recur automatically at some frequency. My crude hack for the Austin meetup keeps us on the map, on the sidebar, and out of the discussion section- this should be something everyone can do easily.

A solution which does not put meetups on the map and on the Nearest Meetups sidebar strikes me as a strongly suboptimal solution. It's not obvious to me that we need a third reddit for meetups.

Comment author: OpenThreadGuy 08 November 2013 06:48:24AM *  0 points [-]

This does not work for meetup groups that have a different topic every time, like ours does. I'm going to ask the group whether they think this is a good idea, but membership is getting a bit poorer and it might still impact that.

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