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In response to Questions on Theism
Comment author: jwhendy 20 October 2014 11:42:54PM 1 point [-]

As some others have said, others on LW (like myself) were not always non-theists. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss or need/want support. Thinking these thoughts and living as a heavily-doubting theist is extremely challenging and draining, from my experience. I was consumed during my initial questioning and ultimate de-conversion. I read and thought day and night, felt sick, alienated, lonely, etc. I wrote some posts here if you'd like to take a look:

One of the more direction-changing thoughts I had (independently and prior to finding out the concept already existed) was what John Loftus claims "The Outsider Test for Faith (OTF)." Basically, if you weren't already a subscriber to some religion, X, could you be convinced of it? Similarly, why are said miracle claims un-convincing even in the least to someone who doesn't already share your religious tradition?

I had a different twist on that. My natural inclination when researching (say, which tool to buy or which method is best) is to force myself to be agnostic to all of them and then research to see which is the most convincing. Say, googling "Milwaukee vs. Dewalt router" or "Milwaukee routers suck/are great" and "Dewalt routers suck/are great" to see what I find. I pay attention to Amazon 1-2 star reviews to look at their content. I started wondering why this shouldn't work for religion. Everyone in my religious community was suggesting that I should "have faith seeking understanding." This always struck me as "believe that you may believe more strongly." I wanted to know why the one thing that mattered the very most in the world shouldn't hold up to the same test I put my financial purchases through.

In addition, I wondered why the Bible, God's inspired book, failed to convince so many others who surely were aware of it. Assuming Christianity was true meant that other religions were false/lies/invented (by humans). Measly human minds creating stories out of thin air have been able to sway more than half the world away from God's official word?

Probably doesn't sound all that great re-writing it, but this was a pretty mind-blowing thought to me back then, and was a definite contributing factor to my ultimate deconversion. Sure, there's apologetics to counter it, but they have to work fairly hard to speculate about God's motives for not being more clear.

As others have stated outrightly or alluded to, toss in whatever apologetic ammunition you'd like and it still works pretty well. Some biblical prophecy, miracle, perfectly fitting theological aspect about Christ, etc. seem amazing to you? Why doesn't it to the nearest Muslim, Hindu, Scientologist, or Mormon? And why do things like reading golden plates from a hat or being embodied alien spirits seem so ridiculous as to not even warrant a fair shake when Christians hear them?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Personal information management
Comment author: latanius 23 September 2012 08:16:18PM 0 points [-]

Oh, yes. I do Dropbox syncing, too (this is the other good thing about org-mode: plain text files). And there might be some truth in the statement that while org-mode is excellent for a single file, things start to be less seamless when it comes to more of them... inter-file links don't seem to be that reliable, for example. Is this the reason for your One Big Org File?

For white on black, it's just (setq default-frame-alist '((background-color . "black") (foreground-color . "white"))) in your .emacs.

Actually, it's kind of typical lesswrong that I started off with a comment popularizing org-mode, but ended up changing my mind about it (well... kind of), the newest experiments include Notational Velocity (they seem to be good at the global search stuff org-mode is lacking, but not so nice indented lists locally), and also this system:


which includes paper notebooks, maps of your thoughts and similar fancy stuff, but I haven't yet finished reading it (it's long and not exactly the most organized stuff I've ever read... but it has good ideas.)

Comment author: jwhendy 20 October 2014 11:20:58PM *  0 points [-]

For links, I switched to the org-id module and a unique ID for any new links. It works as long as the file containing the target headline is in the same directory as the file containing the link.

(require 'org-id)

(global-set-key "\C-cl" 'org-store-link)

(setq org-link-to-org-use-id 'create-if-interactive)

Comment author: latanius 12 September 2012 12:13:21AM 3 points [-]

Anyone using org-mode here? It's free, cross-platform, and also has links (to arbitary files!), outlines (actually, the whole thing is mostly about hierarchical headings), you can use it using mostly the keyboard only, and there are also some Android / iPhone apps (however, I haven't tried them yet).

It has the added benefit that headings have nice colors (especially with a white on black color theme), so if you put it on full screen everyone gets the impression that you're doing something complicated and useful thing. (Even if you're just churning out notes about how to improve your time management as a quite nice & recursive way of procrastination.)

(And yes, it's an emacs mode, actually this is the reason I ended up using emacs for all kinds of other things...)

Additional note: linking to all kinds of files can be an awesome tool when building maps of big and ugly software systems.

Comment author: jwhendy 20 October 2014 11:09:07PM 0 points [-]

Yes, and mostly love it. Just not happy with the structure of my information management strategies, at least for daily work documentation. Put "X" under the specific project I'm doing it for? Or what if the learning seems more general... should i start a new tree for longer-term reference knowledge? Or summarize the specific knowledge more generally and keep a copy of both in separate areas? Or write only one and link to it in the other?

Stuff like that.

Other benefits I've really appreciated:

  • embedded/executable code blocks. This is my favorite, favorite feature, and I will never go back (if I can help it) to running analysis code (I do a lot of data analysis/viz with R/ggplot2), generating plots, and then having to insert them into a .doc or .ppt.
  • on that note, being able to export in general is a fantastic feature of Org. HTML, PDF, markdown, whatever. I love not having to futz with image placement manually. Get something you like with some #+attr_html/latex arguments, and then insert a bunch of images really easily by just linking to their location on disk.
  • org is the only, or one of the only, applications that lets you mix and match notes and todos. I used to use TiddlyWiki for all of my work notes and really liked it. But I had to manage todos in something else. But why? Todos often come about in the context of notes, say in a meeting, or for some home project. I really like being able to keep the todos in Org right with whatever prompted the need for action (then view just the actions you need to complete with agenda views).
  • Clocking/time tracking is another aspect that seems awesome, but I haven't started using. I'd love to get to the point where I record what I work on, and especially an estimate + logged hours. Not sure what I'd do with the data, but having it vs. not at least makes post-analysis a possibility.

Still, my various attempts at org file structure seem to end up cluttered and with things structured really oddly. I'll kick off a project with my estimate of what "categories or knowledge" it will require, and as the months or years go on, I'll be in a rush and just resort to keeping a date tree and stuffing the stuff in there like a journal instead. Now I have project-specific info scattered around through monthly journal trees. Harder to archive/find, and end up unfolding a bunch of headlines to find stuff.

Anyway, neat to find other users, so I thought I'd comment even though I'm really late to do so!

Comment author: moridinamael 12 September 2012 03:17:46AM *  4 points [-]

I have probably sunk something like 300 hours in org-mode and ultimately abandoned it in favor of a system incorporating Evernote and Nozbe. Org-mode has been a source of much frustration for me. It seems so great, it seems to have all the features one could ever want, but every time I've tried to implement it (three separate attempts, each time starting from scratch and thinking I knew "what I was doing wrong last time,") the system has grown huge and unweildly, leaky and unreliable, and missing key features that I needed.

On the plus side I learned how to use emacs really well.

edited to add: The iPhone app is pretty bad, for the following reasons: It is ugly and navigation is unintuitive, and the text-wrapping is essentially broken. Furthermore, you have to manually synchronize every little thing you do both pushing and pulling to your central repository or you'll quickly end up with inconsistencies which are a disproportionately huge pain to correct.

I actually still use org-mode if I'm simply going to be outlining a complicated project, but I've given up on using it as a task manager. I really wanted to like org-mode.

Comment author: jwhendy 20 October 2014 11:00:16PM 1 point [-]

Late the party, and actually found this thread googling around for "Org-mode file/organization strategies." I've been using Org exclusively for work notes, and am finding myself in a similar situation re. being unwieldy. I constantly struggle with choosing one file per project, one big file with one headline per project, or files dedicated by type (one for todos, one for daily journal logs of experiments/efforts, references, etc.).

Org seems like it should be great for moving stuff around, but I find it not that easy. Refiling a mess of headlines seems to be cumbersome, and how do I know that my new strategy will last/work?

I'd love to know how Evernote solves the unwieldy issue for you. I've tried Evernote, Wunderlist, TiddlyWiki, todo.sh, Zim, and I'm sure others I'm not remembering.

What I'll never give up is the ability to intersperse prose and code. I love, love, love writing all my work reports with embedded R code for analyses in Org-mode, exporting to really nice looking PDF reports. Super awesome, and soooo easy vs. writing all the code elsewhere to generate plots and then inserting them one by one into a ppt. In that respect, Org is awesome. I just haven't figured out an information hierarchy/taxonomy that makes me happy.

Comment author: jwhendy 09 April 2014 01:59:35AM 0 points [-]

Another variable, similar to location-based compensation (i.e. standard of living multiplier) is what sort of company the employee lands at. I work at a very large company (80k employees world-wide), with very established pay scales for employees. Just to illustrate how things work: - Technical employees are on a scale of what are called job grades - Job grades have a pay scale, which includes a minimum, median, and maximum - Annual pay increases are calculated based on performance + where you are in your current grade's scale - Promotion raises are between 8-12% unless 12% would land you below the minimum of the next grade up

So, that's all to say that when I read this, I wondered about the types of companies that each major lands at. If I had to ballpark my employer's demographics, I'd say: polymer scientists = chemists = chemical engineers > mechanical engineers = physicists = electrical engineers >> environmental engineers = CS majors.

If it's a large, established company with significant investment in a system like the above (intuitively, I'm thinking that ME's and other engineers are more likely to land in places like this vs. startups, smaller companies, and consulting with more variability in salary), could this shed light on the situation? This is similar to Gunnar_Zarncke's comment, but with a bit more behind why established companies might pay less.

Comment author: jwhendy 03 May 2012 03:26:37PM 0 points [-]

Article is now out.

Comment author: jwhendy 18 April 2012 02:48:48AM 0 points [-]

Darnit. I blew it and fell behind in blog following; didn't even see this get announced. I'd really like to attend one of these! I'll keep my eyes open for the next one.

Comment author: wgd 19 March 2012 04:33:05AM 5 points [-]

I don't remember what post it was in response to, but at one point someone suggested "optimal" as a much better substitute for "rational" in this type of post, partly to reduce the use of "rational" as an applause light, and partly because it better describes what these posts are generally asking.

Comment author: jwhendy 23 March 2012 01:09:25AM 0 points [-]

Agreed with respect to the substitution. That describes what I'm getting at. In using "rational," I simply meant, "What's the best way to go about deciding on a purchase of this class of thing?"

Comment author: Rain 19 March 2012 02:17:52PM *  4 points [-]

Purchasing a tablet greatly increased my frivolous spending and time wasting habits, since it made them that much easier. It has positive capabilities as well, such as those mentioned by others - I do wish to point out the dangers, though. You may find yourself frittering dollars and cents just to waste your time on pretty pixels.

Extra points to someone who can figure out which biases this purchase model exploits. (high frequency, very low cost, frictionless transactions)

Comment author: jwhendy 21 March 2012 03:07:54AM 0 points [-]

I wondered about this. So does my wife. I get lost on my computer enough already. Now we reduce capability to browsing and games, and how might that play out? Thanks for sharing this. I'm not sure how it would work in my case...

Comment author: jpulgarin 19 March 2012 04:01:20AM 3 points [-]

A kindle has finally allowed me to start reading one book per week, something I've been trying to do for quite a while now with little success. The ability to buy books instantly, and the fact that it's much easier to take along than an actual book, means I get a ton more reading done. The ability to highlight and have it automatically sync to Amazon servers makes Anki deck making A LOT easier.

You can also sell your gift card for ~80% of its value (just google "sell gift card").

Comment author: jwhendy 21 March 2012 03:05:37AM *  0 points [-]

An ebook reader (+ some other prize combination) has occurred to me. I almost bought an ebook reader when they were on sale around Christmas, but couldn't decide between the Nook and Kindle platforms. One thing that worries me is that I have such a hard time reading paper books at the moment; I wonder if an ebook reader only seems like it would improve productivity when in reality it would shortly due to novelty, but then it would wear off.

Some questions:

  • How long have you had it?
  • Did you notice any drop in reading time from initial ownership to present?
  • How many anki decks is realistic (I'm aware of anki and how it works but haven't used it regularly)?

ETA: Thought of another question -- can you put your finger on what, exactly, allowed you to accomplish your goal vs. when you were reading paper?

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