⏳ rodeo's thoughts ⌛️

Jan 15, 2022 - 8:31PM

The feeling of despair with the fact that there is so much weight on me.

Jan 14, 2022 - 1:00AM

"Do your best" seems to be a decent heuristic most of the time.

If taken literally, you could theoretically spend years perfecting something that can be performed okay-ish in 5 minutes or something. But in terms of getting people to ask themselves - How can I do this better or in a more straightforward manner? - it seems useful.

I should ask myself this more when completing tasks or processes that I expect to engage in again. When doing math, my answer to how can I do my best is not moving onto the next line before I understand or try to visualize the preceding one. Also, asking questions, re-reading, and coming up with my own problems are methods on the table.

I desire to come up with checklists for things like forecasting and reading so I can go through and see what I haven't done that might improve my mental grasp of something or might improve the quality of whatever I am producing.

Jan 14, 2022 - 12:37AM

I am doing my last probability problem set and haven't felt this incompetent at mathematics for a while. When learning to use a particular Python package, learning some topic in probability, learning a human language, learning a programming language, learning how to implement an algorithm, etc... I become decent at that thing after maybe 1 month of consistent use; the competence-peak never reaches near "the local best" in, say, a room of 30 people pursuing that skill, but I fair above average. However, unlike most (I believe), the decay rate of my competence is much greater than those near the top, after I cease utilizing my skills. There are people, multitudes of them, that have an easier time learning the same things that I want to learn, and can retain the information for longer, and access that information much more quickly. I feel sickened that this is a reality - that I am barred from attaining certain knowledge thresholds by my genes. Sometimes I wish my parents and grandparents had done more mathematics to instill in me some epigenetic advantage_. Conversely, the fools route is wishing that, rather than wishing I was born with greater intelligence, I was born instead without a desire to learn or pursue math. I know that, after much hard work (maybe much less if I actually had a cooperative private tutor) I could grasp the landscape of some advanced mathematics, it doesn't give me much confidence or raise my self-esteem to know that there are those who are surveying it hundreds or thousands of times more closely at any equally quicker pace. This brings into focus an important question: how much time should I spend doing things that others might beat me to, both in terms of quality and speed? I think that something like a PhD in number theory is out of the question, which is sad. Seeing my incompetence laid out on the table through my questions, comments, and lack of comments at times, relative to others I know personally who are mentally robust, makes hate myself. I think part of it is attention deficit. There is something about my mind that makes it extremely difficult to focus for extended periods of time. I haven't really focused at all trying to make some time series models for the Real Time Pandemic tournament. Most of my time is not spent focusing. I wonder if I will ever get to a point where I don't go on Reddit, YouTube, etc..., where I cook and take more care of myself; where I don't use music to distract myself; where I work without other people's perceptions of myself or some-odd people-appeasing function of my own mind denigrating my knowledge-output and knowledge-absorption rates; where I don't switch from tab to tab to tab without actually engaging with anything; where I can work on one thing for a whole day, week, year; where I feel confident I understand something; where I can explain, in vivid detail and clarity, the concepts I learned to other people. There are things that need to change. Starting work, any work that is, earlier would help in many ways - procrastination, outside focusing, is my largest problem. I've been bad about using the DelayWebpage extension, but it actually works to prevent my habits, and it's easy to use. I believe there is also FireFox Focus, which limits a person to one tab. I think I will transition to this, and hope there is a penalty for switching tabs. Maybe I won't need to use a penalty if I combine it with DelayWebpage. Another idea is not use any Internet browser applications, and use email + Internet through code (collecting html pages for sites that I like). I really like this idea but don't know enough Linux / Unix to execute it in a timely fashion. Not focusing enough is an issue. I know that this is influenced by sleep, exercise, social interaction, diet, water consumption, i.e. the usual stuff. Getting these things in check once I graduate would be excellent. There are a lot of things I want to get in check: organizing files, getting rid of or giving away things I don't need, prioritizing work and learning tasks, developing systems to reduce the effort I have to put into boring things. I have so many behaviors, ideas, and preloaded retorts, explanations, and justifications, that are all so unfounded, so biased, and so potentially harmful or plainly suboptimal, that I need to spend some time looking more deeply into the things that matter, especially what I eat and drink, what I expose myself to mentally (information on the Internet) and physically (air pollution, contaminants), what I see (the current landscape and objects in front of me), and what decisions I (what I do with my time) make generally speaking. A food scheduler that incorporates novelty, combined food pH, nutrients, cost, time to make, history of when I get hungry, intermittent fasting timescales, time to eat, etc... for scheduling my grocery trips, meals, and cooking time (it should also provide shopping lists and recipes) each month would help me tremendously. If it uploaded each of these things to a Google Calendar or Iphone reminder, or just popped up on my computer screen, or texted me, I think that'd work. I could also use scheduler system for starting learning at a fixed each day, and tracking it (work1, len(work1)/3=break1, work2, len(work2)/3=break2, etc...). My probability problem set remains mostly incomplete. It covers random walks. Maybe I will learn it well enough one day to explain it here. The mental note, "see the books before you, see your writing list - these things hold years of self-contentment, you just need to engage with them, and think" helps me at times to sit down and get excited to learn or write or program or prove. Learning more about decision theory might be useful to me. I would like to know how to weigh things like "learning linear algebra" or "learning calculus" against "building a lot of time series models and pouring my energy into data analysis". I think learning math gets more, more difficult to learn as I age than model building does, so if choose model building now it better be important enough to supersede the decaying capacity to retain math as I get older. Perhaps there is some inflection point where I can say that I am in a solid place along the data-analysis-career axis, and should now focus my energy on math learning.

Jan 13, 2022 - 2:01PM

I am currently in a café with my partner and two friends. I have updated some predictions on the Real-time Pandemic Decision Making tournament, looked at some papers by the Carnegie Mellon's Delphi group, and updated several of my note files. For about 15 minutes or so, some old, unkempt male with large sunglasses entered the cafe, sat near my partner, and looked a girl sitting across from him. She appeared to be suppressing the display of her face via a hat during this, and only came out when he left.

I have my finals to study for - this is stressing and boring me out. There are some loose end assignments to turn in, and then a final for organic chemistry, group theory, and probability. There is a decent chance that there are Omicron-infected people in this café. My friends, partner, and I all have masks on, and we all likely got Omicron already (no confirmation though), so it isn't too threatening to me.

There are many things that I would like to do once I graduate. I have an interview with a department of UPenn tomorrow, and would really, really like to get this Data Analyst job. I want to read and take notes on two of the papers written by the PI, and would also like to look back over my resume. I know that one item was outdated. I am not doing MLRC Fall 2021, but still want to discuss with the guy that I am interested in reproducibility, and want to talk to him about the paper DISCRETE GRAPH STRUCTURE LEARNING FOR FORECASTING MULTIPLE TIME SERIES. I want to talk to him about forecasting in general, and the time series models I have made. It would be nice for me to get a page up with some graphs etc... so I could show him. But I might wait.

Jan 10, 2022 - 2:07AM

Sometimes, when I try to fall to sleep, my heart races, and I can't stop thinking about things. It's not often the case I write these things down, but I thought I might do so tonight. I was thinking about how I wish I was more intelligent, and feel that my head and brain are small. I feel that my voice is weak and high, and that if I had a deeper voice and a larger head, I might feel more grounded. My whole being feels flimsy and light. I was wondering if this perception of myself actually modulates my sensations, and is in this way somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was thinking about brains in general - human brains. Each brain requires slightly different things, and reasons in slightly different ways as well. I thought of Von Neumann and Ramanujan, and how robust their minds seem. Their minds seem like a fortress, and mine seems like a hut. I feel that, over the past few years, I haven't thought too much; each thought doesn't produce much feeling, i.e. more and more things seem boring or meh. I wish I was more intelligent. I think that if Von Neumann or Ramanujan were put in solitary confinement, they'd be fine, whereas my mind would wither quite quickly. I also don't enjoy the realization that I could likely never complete a PhD in theoretical physics or pure maths, on the basis of my intellect; I might minimally be able to scrape by, but it would be a struggle most of the way. Lately, I feel that I have been having issues with my memory. I feel as though it is too often the case that I have difficult remembering things. I believe it might be caused by excessive chocolate consumption and by task switching so frequently. There are likely interventions for each brain that would allow it to function better, but for myself, I don't current know these interventions, besides the basics of eating well, sleeping, and exercising. My heart races with the thought that I could try harder each day to be more, to take things more seriously, to strive to get somewhere mentally that I might not have otherwise, to actually ponder and feel the world and minds around me more fully, to wake up enthused to learn, to build something, etc... I think that I have some form of ADHD and would benefit from Modafinil. I feel that too often there is not much occurring in my inner monologue, or at least I am not self-aware often enough to catch, record, and dive deeper into interesting thoughts that do occur. I frequently feel that I do not know much at all, and that everyone around me, save for a select few in certain moments, are clear-headed and know what's going on. There seems to be so much automatic behavior around me that sometimes I simply want to be alone and be able to think and not sabotage myself with distractions. I fail a lot to take into account that, at any given moment, most of my thought-resources - the things and heuristics that help me make better decisions or that can help clarify situations I find myself in - are unavailable mentally to me. Perhaps the first thing I should ask myself is "Have I dealt with this situation before? If so, how?" and this thought I know to spur thoughts of the form "Oh, I did x last time but ran into y problem, so this time I can do x and z, and that should work". Sometime else has been pestering my mind lately. I sometimes hear/read "better decision makers have time to spare", and agree with this partially. Good decisions compound, and lead to better outcomes. Most of my decisions each day are practically automated by my brain's urges. This goes back to my automaticity. I feel that I'm just living automatically. I feel some dissociation between myself and how my actions influence the world. --- I am going to go to sleep and see what occurs tomorrow. Live through it. I will likely attend my 9am lecture. After this I might exercise a bit and eat something before going to my work space and doing some probability. I want to try to forecast my future more often. I also need to be better, generally speaking, about listening to what is said and gauging the situations. Way more Type 2 mental processes than Type 1 mental processes need to be occurring. I think conversation, meditation, and learning bring me back to reality. I should probably be less hard on myself for my own long-term health.

Jan 09, 2022 - 5:34PM

I want to further forecasting through integrating existing methods, and forging new techniques, in DL.

Jan 09, 2022 - 3:01PM

Controlling my perception of the tasks I need to complete might aid me in completing tasks I perceive as 'old', 'stale', or 'sour'. If I don't think about them beforehand, I might get more work done on them overall.

Jan 08, 2022 - 12:03PM

Soon I will be going on a hike with my two brothers, my partner, and 3 friends. I do not want to host the one friend I will be hosting for a day, and want instead to complete more time series forecasting tutorials and work on my coursework, but I feel as though I've neglected my friendship with this particular person and feel indebted to give them some of this weekend.

I have been listening to the band-albums [Monophonics-Sound Of Sinning, The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble-The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, Tommy Guerrero-Return of the Bastard] a lot recently. This winter I've listened to more "jazz" than any previous winter.

Jan 05, 2022 - 12:39AM

Okay, after reading How to Land on the Government Watch List, I feel quite better. No airports extensively search me; I have not had any weird person message me asking the probability I will do something; I haven't been convicted of any heinous crimes, nor have I done any, nor do I intend to do any; I am not a member of any radical group; I am not an extremist; I am not an exorbitantly wealthy person evading detection; I am not pulling off any provocative journalism and am not stealing money; etc..., I think I am good. I would be surprised if I wasn't, which means that I am likely in a state of temporary paranoia.

Jan 05, 2022 - 12:32AM

I just re-watched Black Mirror's Shut Up and Dance, and yesterday when on a binge of reading/watching serial killer/terrorist content (Albert Fish) on Wikipedia/YouTube. The Fish stuff was quite disturbing:

My dear Mrs Budd, In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deckhand on the steamer Tacoma, Capt John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was a famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1 to 3 Dollars a pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold to the Butchers to be cut up and sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak – chops – or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girls behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys one 7 one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 yr old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except Head – bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven, (all of his ass) boiled, broiled, fried, stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. At that time I was living at 409 E 100 St, rear – right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3 – 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese – strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her, on the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wild flowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mama. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her, though, I could of had I wished. She died a virgin.

I don't know what motivates me to do this, or keep doing it after I start, but I always feel paranoid afterwards. Some paranoia comes from me watching this stuff, and some comes from me subjectively feeling that the probabilities of these things occurring to me are higher than they actually are. Snowden + the black mirror episode make me feel watched and surveilled. I believe that, in the worst case scenarios, I am in some watch lists, namely for viewing violence on Documenting Reality and Bestgore, and for at one point downloading the Christchurch videos and some ISIS videos. Part of me wants to keep these videos since they are a reminder of human savagery and meanness, and another part of me wants to throw them out to reduce the chance of me thinking about them again and having an adverse reaction. There is hesitation, though. Am I really consequential enough to warrant some governmental attention? I don't think so; I feel quite attuned to life as it is.

Jan 02, 2022 - 2:23AM

Stayed up too late again; had a decent day; snuggled with partner in morning; talked to forecasters later on; saw some friends over Discord; worked on my website a bit; went to Whole Foods; ate soup; didn't feel too poorly; excited for tomorrow; wishing that my dreams were less muddled in the morning; wanting to learn / memorize more words; missing my partner while she's in Boston; somewhat dismal that I am not more intelligent; had trouble doing any real work during the day; had trouble getting myself to eat and drink water during the day.

What can I do to edit behavior?

Make it difficult to access email; Metaculus for 2, 1 hour chunks; have 2 facto verification on MY phone, not my father's; organize things when I am bored; use willpower to shut off computer at 11:00pm sharp; use willpower to select 1 hour to write; use willpower to cease Reddit or YouTube; exercise; make a habit of going on a walk; try waiting 2 minutes.

Dec 31, 2021 - 12:10AM

Today was fairly nice. As previously stated, I woke up late. My partner and I went to get tacos. After this, we returned to the home to do some work, but I didn't do much. The highlights of the day was moving the bookshelf, unpacking the moving truck, doing some bench presses, going on a walk with my partner, reading some of Manhood of Humanity closely, and playing around with some pandemic tournament data. I think there is a lack of presence in my life - I should be more cognizant of what I am doing in any particular moment.

Tomorrow, I plan to actually work on Dotdash (hopefully for 5 hours), read a time series tutorial, setup my room at my father's house, make a YouTube channel and come up with some ideas for scripts or projects, and work on my website for a little.

At some point I would like to update a lot of my Metaculus predictions and set reminders for myself to update my predictions.

Dec 30, 2021 - 12:21PM

The day begins again with me and my partner getting out of bed at 11:30am. I feel that sleeping from 1:30/2:00am to 11:00am is much worse for me than sleeping from 11:00pm to 8:00am. I had some interesting dreams, but don't feel like recounting them at the moment. We are going to get tacos. I wonder what I will learn today; my Metaculus rank is now 202.

Dec 30, 2021 - 1:32AM

I went to Whole Foods, had an argument with my mother, spent some time on Metaculus, showered and bathed with my partner, ate Ramen, went on a drive, built some Legos, and rewatched some of Dune with a friend. These did not occur in this order.

This is what I did after reading.

My partner and I will help my father unload stuff from the moving truck tomorrow. We may also exercise. I really need to work on the Dotdash job and get ready for the rest of my last college semester.

Dec 29, 2021 - 1:41PM

Here's what ended up happening: I tried going on my computer immediately after waking, but found that I had quit my web browser (this makes it difficult to log into my email*) and pulled up only StatsQuest. I turned on some jazz and read about 50 pages of Prelude to Foundation. I wrote to some people on Discord about GPT2/3 and discussed cliodynamics/psychohistory. My mother yelled at me after this for a few minutes about taking too long to empty the dishwasher, generally not cleaning up my messes, and generally making more messes than other people. It feels as though her life purpose is to pester and nag me to get better at house maintenance. This is such a sunk cost, and not a great way for her to spend her mental bandwidth and emotionality. I am now back on my computer, and plan to take a run very soon.

(*) My father's phone is the one connected to Okta, and I require 2-factor verification to access my email, so he needs to verify it each time I log into my email.

Dec 29, 2021 - 2:27AM

What precipitates me writing here, or anywhere else for that matter?

Am I depressed, lost, disgruntled, etc... since I am writing here? I often find it is the case that poorer moods are a mild contributor to me writing, and a somewhat large factor when I write lengthier journal entries.

I came back because I had the idea to quickly jot some decisional heuristics, or "should-statements". (update) I started writing a list but think that at this point I am rambling. Here were the first two entries: Think more before starting / joining a Discord call, and Think more before agreeing to meet a friend or go somewhere.

I will think more about things I need to behaviorally alter this week. I want to perform more free writes to discover more about my preferences, the nature of my more automatic behaviors, and what, in the near-term, I am capable of becoming with the right interventions.

Dec 29, 2021 - 2:15AM

If shown a photo of myself sitting where I couldn't immediately detect it was me, I would likely react with some disgust at the poor posture of the person sitting.

On one recent morning, I kissed my partner as she was slowly waking up. She mentioned that someone kissed her in the dream when I kissed her. That's so fucking cool; somehow the sensation of being kissed was translated into a dream-kiss.

Sometimes, perhaps once every 2-3 days, I get in a fixated-aggressive-hyperfocused mood where many things irritate me, I talk faster, I try to optimize whatever I do, I feel slightly helpless, and I am slightly more productive. These moods are typically mediated by coffee.

Sometimes I desire to be a "person who spends most of their time simply reading", "a person who solves many math problems", "an all-around effective person who tops routine performance metrics", "person who spends all their time programming", ... When I think about who amongst my friends and other people I know I most want to be like, I find that there is no single individual that I want to turn into, but rather that there are components across a handful of individuals that I want to embody. I can't learn everything, of course, and have recently been leaning towards taking up statistics as the "thing I do in life". Some benefits include the fact that this discipline is utilized by many other disciplines, so the generality I enjoy is preserved - I can keep learning about other problem areas.

I've been thinking about what incentivizes me to do anything really. I seek pleasure. When I think I can create something, I might try for a little to create or make something. I know that I start to feel crappy when I am not striving towards something, but "actually getting somewhere" with my efforts does not seem to be a metric that significantly factors into my moods (for the most part) - the act of striving appears to be the main contributor. Most of my behavior nowadays feels strongly automatic, like I am a punching bag moving back and forth between punches that represent attention-grabbing things. I cycle between Reddit, HackerNews, YouTube, Metaculus, and LessWrong.

I think once I move into my father's house things will change slightly for the better; my partner and I talked about locking up our computers in a cabinet for a chunk of the day but have not yet implemented this. Once I get away from my computer, I feel the urge to actually use it for productive things, like reading research articles, writing, working on my website, forecasting on Metaculus, or programming. These urges usually make any efforts I take to prevent myself from visiting the computer obsolete. I think I will go one step further and ignore the urges, instead focusing on reading, journaling, and thinking. Hopefully I will be able to make my computer usage more intentional this way.

I used to be into mediation, and read The Power of Now when I was 18. It really changed the way I thought for a few months, and I placed a ton of mental bandwidth on what it had to say, giving up some of my skepticism to follow it's lessons somewhat blindly. Presence is what ?Eckhart Toel tried to inculcate. Close my eyes, listen and feel my breathing, pretend I am thinking from the center of each cell of my body one at a time, catch thoughts as they come, and usher them on and out. I felt as though, when I was doing these things, that I had been so wrong in my past ways and that I had let my mind go unchecked and wander astray. I think meditation made me more serious and appreciative of my surroundings. I think it calmed tremendously as well. I think I would likely benefit from spending at least 15 minutes a day pondering about whatever, but not doing anything. Perhaps I could have other 15 minute chunks for different prompts: what did you learn today?, what did you not accomplish today?, what could you have done better today?, what do you plan to do tomorrow?, what will you likely do tomorrow?, what will you likely do over the next 2 weeks?.

I want to forecast more in my own life.

I think I should think more about what would be the consequences of not going on my computer tomorrow. I seldom feel I have time for anything, and nothing I want to do ever seems to get implemented. I know that tomorrow my partner is going to an interview. I want to go on a walk, exercise, read Prelude to Foundation, write some minor entries for my website, read some forecasting research articles, try meditating for 15 minutes, watch StatsQuest, update my Metaculus predictions, write on this thoughts page, and read a probability book. I should do Dotdash work, start my essay for group theory, and do some work for MLRC Fall 2021. I will likely visit Reddit, play Battlefield 5 on the PS4, visit HackerNews, and listen to music on YouTube. I think the day should proceed with walking --> run --> food --> Metaculus updates --> StatsQuest --> Dotdash (work until this is finished) --> meditate. That would be a good day if I did all of these things.

I might try to record my urges tomorrow. For example, I am listening to Tommy's Guerrero's album Perpetual right now and feel like writing more here, but also feel that writing any more would only benefit me marginally. My left arm also hurts and I am somewhat tired.

There are so many Wikipedia articles that I want to read. I could use this space as a place to teach them (learning exercise) or record my thoughts after I read them. Here is a list of some pages that I want to understand. So much to fucking read! And I spend so little time reading! Why do I even want to read?

Dec 28, 2021 - 8:13PM

[Statsmodels] simple exponential smoothing is extremely frustrating. My code


simp_smoothed = SimpleExpSmoothing(ts_data, initialization_method='heuristic').fit(smoothing_level=alpha, optimized=False)

produces fitted values that are 1 unit off! 1 unit! For example, the actual time series data looks like

[2.911, 2.521, 2.694, 2.89, 2.843, 2.382, 2.602, 2.953, 3.01, 2.639, 2.723, 2.784, 2.554, 2.492, 2.281, 3.083, 3.33, 2.597, 2.264, 2.772, 2.707, 2.582, 3.441, 2.697, 3.626, 3.259, 2.804, 2.487, 2.723, 3.692, 2.671, 2.842, 2.319, 3.111, 3.679, 3.548, 3.544, 2.616, 2.08, 2.2, 2.427, 2.711, 2.604]

and when alpha=0.9 (the smoothing level), the output is

[2.712999999999999, 2.8911999999999995, 2.55802, 2.680402, 2.8690401999999997, 2.8456040199999997, 2.428360402, 2.5846360402, 2.91616360402, 3.0006163604019997, 2.6751616360401997, 2.7182161636040196, 2.7774216163604017, 2.57634216163604, 2.5004342161636037, 2.3029434216163605, 3.0049943421616363, 3.2974994342161636, 2.6670499434216164, 2.3043049943421616, 2.7252304994342156, 2.7088230499434216, 2.594682304994342, 3.356368230499434, 2.7629368230499436, 3.539693682304994, 3.2870693682304992, 2.85230693682305, 2.523530693682305, 2.7030530693682304, 3.5931053069368235, 2.763210530693682, 2.8341210530693686, 2.3705121053069367, 3.0369512105306935, 3.614795121053069, 3.5546795121053067, 3.5450679512105308, 2.7089067951210533, 2.142890679512105, 2.194289067951211, 2.403728906795121, 2.680272890679512]

I don't know where 2.713 (the first value) comes from! The starting value should be 2.89. In fact, for smoothing levels from 0.1 to 0.9 with increments of 0.1, the starting value is also 2.713.

Dec 28, 2021 - 4:52PM

My partner's friend was exposed to someone with COVID-19 on a Sunday. My partner met up with this person and some others on that Monday. My partner had her mask down for ~3 minutes during the interaction, but wasn't facing the exposed person. The exposed person communicated on Saturday (Christmas) that they tested positive for COVID-19 on that Friday. Neither me nor my partner quarantined before Christmas, and we also didn't experience any strong symptoms or get tested. My partner coughed once, but outside this there were only signs of some winter-reduced-immunity (e.g., blowing nose once a day, some congestion in the morning that cleared after drinking water). My partner and I hung out with two friends and ate Indian food on Monday (Dec. 27th), which greatly increased our risk of being exposed to COVID-19. My partner and I were masked most of the time. My friends and entire family have had multiple vaccination shots and have gotten boosters. At this point, I believe that I've contracted COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic, but haven't had any strong symptoms. There have simply been too many instances where I have been in public or private places (usually with a mask, J&J shot, and booster) for the probability of me having it at some point not to be high. I went on a run for the first time in over 4 months the day after Christmas, and it felt both great and fine, from the perspective of someone whose lungs might have been affected by COVID-19 at some point.

I felt pretty horrible after and during the Christmas period after my partner learned that her friend had contracted COVID-19, because that greatly increased the probability that either me or my partner had it. There is a major psychological toll of knowing that I might be responsible for some of my family's near-term suffering, with regard to COVID. Thankfully, my last remaining grandparent, who was in close physical proximity to both me and my partner during the Christmas gathering, has showed no signs of COVID in the 4 days since the gathering.

I have been at my mother's house with my partner for about 1 week. Before this, I was at my apartment in Ohio. My partner stayed with me at the apartment for about 2 weeks before we came to my mother's house. The plan is to stay in NJ while I look for remote work and finish my degree. She is looking for work as a laboratory technician, and has an interview tomorrow (Dec. 29th). I have a remote job at Dotdash right now that pays me $23 an hour, and I can likely get a better position that would require me to commute to NYC once per week after I graduate. There is a 40% probability that I will be offered a position as a data analyst at the University of Pennsylvania in the first week of January. My odds would be lower (subjectively speaking) if the person who would be hiring me didn't write:

Happy Holidays! Thanks very much for your interest in our group. I just received your impressive CV and wanted to ask for one more thing – do you have a copy of your transcripts handy for your application file?

Should I get this position, my partner and I will likely move to Philadelphia. If I don't get this position, I will continue down the Dotdash route. Since coming back home, I have felt tremendously uncoordinated. I have not spent much time working on anything, even the Dotdash job. Most of my time has been spent on Metaculus, Reddit, YouTube, HackerNews, and reading small sections of books, such as the Manhood of Humanity, Prelude to Foundation, and Failure (part of the 2020 LessWrong review), and articles on the Internet. I feel: as though I have not thought too much for myself, as though I have not internalized what I've been reading or coming across, as though it's a sunk cost for me to continue trying to learn more statistics.

I will be coming back here more often to write again. These thoughts and notes are therapeutic. I feel less like I am pruning what I say when I write here instead of in my journal.

Dec 18, 2021 - 7:39PM

My partner arrived a little over 3 days ago and my well-being has significantly improved. I have been mildly more productive, and have also been healthier. Typically, her presence here engenders an environment where I do not go on the Internet as much, where I laugh and smile more, where I am more motivated to get work done, and where I am not as stressed.

Dec 18, 2021 - 7:36PM

Life is proceeding fairly well. I have a probability exam, and slowly but steadily the work for my other classes is getting done. I found some motivation and time to learn more about using time series yesterday. The Dickey Fuller test for determining whether data is stationary (mean and variance are similar for the most part) was something new to me. I want to become a statistician, and have a tremendously long path ahead of me.

Dec 11, 2021 - 10:00PM

I have tomorrow and 2 more days until my exam for organic chemistry, and for my group theory problem set. I have tomorrow and 1 day for my lab report and a problem set for organic chemistry. I have tomorrow to complete my test task for Dotdash.

Dec 09, 2021 - 8:58PM

I feel as though the human story is simply one of oxytocin.

Dec 09, 2021 - 1:41AM

It is now early in the morning. I contemplate what I will actually be able to achieve learning-wise and creation-wise in the next 2 years.

Dec 08, 2021 - 1:37AM

This post will have to do for a journal entry. I haven't been journaling much lately because I feel it is necessary to finish the last section I wrote that concerns my partner's father. I don't feel like writing about my interactions with or perceptions of my partner's father right now, and simply feel like writing some thoughts and feelings here without much oversight.

My motivation to do anything, especially to learn what I should be learning in college, has waned greatly these last two weeks. I haven't gone to the library to work or study, nor have I gone to my classes often. For the classes I've missed, I haven't caught up with the lectures and feel in some ways that I am falling behind. I finished watching Aliens and Bladerunner 2049. I usually take movie-watching or the urge to watch movies during periods where I should be working as a sign of some burnout or diminishing reward-receival. I am pushed more and more to browse Reddit, HackerNews, Metaculus, Discord, YouTube, etc... for content to stimulate myself with and then close up, feeling like I can't do anything. There are times when my attention feels so fraught I am concerned that if I get up from where I am sitting to go do something, I will be distracted along the way, and fail to get done what I needed to get done. My sense of the matter is that I engage too frequently in task switching, and that the instantaneous responses / accessibility of my computer is complicit in this.

I am excited to graduate, but also feel that since Fall 2019, my attitude towards going to lectures, engaging with coursework greatly, etc... has gotten worse. I just don't feel like doing it anymore and would rather learn through YouTube videos, Khan Academy, reading PDFs online, etc...

The highlights of my life lately have usually centered around interactions with my partner. I love her dearly and would like to create a future steeped in well-being increasing feedback loops. There are many things that I would like to do with her and feel that, even if she doesn't do these things with me directly, simply doing them while she is near me physically would enhance my engagement and motivate me.

There are about 14 days left of the most annoying pieces of college. I have 3 probability problems sets, 4 organic chemistry problem sets, 4 organic chemistry labs, 2 group theory problems, 2 probability exams, 2 organic chemistry exams, and 1 group theory paper.

There are many projects that I would like to do, but that I haven't had the mental bandwidth to complete or work on due to college. There are a few Metaculus essays, some independent research collaborations, and personal experiments.

I currently have some work left on my group theory assignment and really don't want to do it. The problem is: Prove that the subgroup S4 generated by (1234) and (24) is isomorphic to D4.

Dec 03, 2021 - 8:53PM

I am feeling quite well, but do still have to complete this notebook for Metaculus. I will likely stay up quite late to complete this. A month and a half wait time for Christian; I am such a huge procrastinator.

Nov 29, 2021 - 7:43PM

Started to take a 1000 mcg B12 supplement after my meals and it seems to confer strong boosts in my energy levels.

Nov 26, 2021 - 9:58PM

I'm feeling undisciplined.

I do not exercise too often (I go to the gym maybe once every two weeks; I have not gone on a lengthy run for ~3 months; I rarely do push-ups or planks anymore). I am more relaxed in what substances I let in my body (I ate chips recently, after a 2-year hiatus; I put honey in tea; I ate sugary bread; I don't take vitamin B supplements, or others that might be good for me). I feel very little motivation to spend a lot of my time programming, modeling, or doing math. I don't often seriously ponder about life, humanity, and nature. I don't write too often. My days are unstructured, and whenever I do come across something interesting, my brain doesn't retain it.

Nov 19, 2021 - 7:20PM

Also, November 16th marks the point where a union between me and purplefern occurred. I have been with her now for 6 months (unfortunately, we have not been together for most of it), and would like to be with her for as long as possible. I feel that I have yet to start anything of the magnitude that I've envisioned for our union. I would like each intimate moment - hugs, kisses, hand-holding, etc... - to be backed by years of commitment.

Nov 19, 2021 - 7:16PM

This occurred one week ago, but I didn't get the position at Rethink Priorities. While this outcome is saddening, I am happy that I got to the stage of the second test task. I will continue to apply to remote positions in the future, but for now would like to build up a portfolio of research and writing to hone my knowledge production and dissemination skills.

Nov 17, 2021 - 12:13PM

If you sip coffee more slowly, does it have a greater negative effect your appetite than if you sipped it quickly?

Nov 15, 2021 - 10:05PM

Cheers to tomorrow.

Nov 14, 2021 - 9:06PM

I am quite happy with my life in this small moment.

In my post-barley/curry state, I have little attention for finishing my group theory work (hopefully another hour of reading will do the trick), but have been perusing LessWrong.

The article Time and Effort Discounting has been instrumental in alleviating some of my poorer habits relating to Internet usage and attention. Scott writes

Discounting can happen on any scale from seconds to decades, and it has previously been mentioned that the second or sub-second level may have disproportionate effects on our actions. Eliezer concentrated on the difficult of changing tasks, but I would add that any task which allows continuous delivery of small amounts of reinforcement with near zero delay can become incredibly addictive even if it isn't all that fun (this is why I usually read all the way through online joke lists, or stay on Reddit for hours). This is also why the XKCD solution to internet addiction - an extension that makes you wait 30 seconds before loading addictive sites - is so useful.

I added the extension DelayWebpage to FireFox and now feel much less inclined to visit HackerNews, Reddit, EA-Forum, Metaculus, YouTube, and my Gmail. It really only take 30 seconds of waiting to stop me from going to these sites as often, i.e. to make my visits of these sites more deliberate.

Nov 14, 2021 - 7:29PM

My friend from my home state is now in my college state, at my college, in my apartment. He graduated last May with a degree in Anthropology (conc. Archaeology) and Slavic Studies. Over the summer, he interned at this company that does archaeological contracting; this work consisted of him digging pits behind old houses and other similar places and turning in the finds to be analyzed. Since the internship he doesn't seem to have done much towards finding a career, which would be permissible in my mind if he was spending most of the interim learning and practicing his skills, but he seems to be spending most of his time gaming and browsing Internet feed-sites, like YouTube and Reddit. His presence is a nice one to have around. My friend is quite often enthused by minutia that I find otherwise boring or unimportant. His enthusiasm can sometimes alter my perspective positively. I am content to have him here, as I have been lonely (the brunt of this occurred in the first month of the semester) and in need of human presence. I strongly yearn for my partner's presence. Even when my mood is neutral or good, my partner makes everything better. She activates strong optimism in me, and strengthens my will to persevere at the ends I am aim to achieve. There are physical pleasures of course, but those don't compare to the mental pleasures: the security of knowing there is a mind around the corner to sound-board with, the joys of understanding things alongside someone, strategizing joint futures. Lately, I have been seriously missing my partner, but this wanting has been slightly less infused with sadness and woe, and has more easily been superseded by positive thinking about how soon I will be with her, and by thoughts of the form: "let me do this task well; it will be nice to talk to her about it or to impressive her". I love her so much.

Nov 09, 2021 - 10:55AM

Sometimes I think about learning as "remolding my slop". Reformation of the sludge around some process or concept, to enact it for a while before lack of use deforms the structure I erected.

Nov 03, 2021 - 12:26AM

My biggest worries right now are:

Nov 02, 2021 - 11:57AM

My partner flew in from Boston this past weekend (midday Oct. 29 to midday Nov. 1) and I think it was tremendously relieving. The visitation coordinated me - while I was got less than usual accomplished, I was filled with optimism, and had reprieve from my ever present worries, which at this point seem only able to vanquished if I did something like live in the woods for a year. We hung out with mutual friends, made soup together, and discussed the future in detail. We also cried together for some time, while parsing out our fears and worries about the relationship holistically. Part of what we considered in these talks were our confidence thresholds for staying together indefinitely. My partner estimates she needs 1-3 years (leaning towards 3) living together, and I estimate I need 1 year; we've already lived together for 1.75 out of the 5.33 months since the start of the relationship and out of the 2 years since communication between us started. There have been no major issues thus far, only some minor discontentment that we've communicated and resolved. One year from Jan. 1 (the onset of living together, as I will graduate around this time) will put up in 2023, and I truly hope (and will try whatever I can to ensure) that I am still with her then and later. Since I intend only to pursue remote work, her (potential) pursuance of a graduate degree will not be a major hindrance to anything and, complimenting this, I would likely enjoy hearing about her work daily and visiting whatever institution she conducts research with. Less likely, but still potentially on the table, is the scenario where I pursue graduated study. IF this occurs, it will very likely be after she has completed her graduate degree, and she has expressed some willingness to move or leave jobs to be with me while pursuing graduate school. There is the added benefit that she could likely look for work in the area or for collaborations with the institution. I don't think I will do graduate school anytime soon, though, if at all.

Oct 23, 2021 - 7:49PM

Here are some of my preliminary (no major edits, no coming back to them after a while, written in one-go) questions. I will post questions in series or batches, as I generate more.

Suppose you had access to a device that adjusted the dimensionality of some physical part of your body (within biological limits). If you use the device, 1,000,000 receive the adjustment as well, but in the opposite direction. For example, you can make your lungs 50% larger, but 1,000,000 people's lungs shrink 50% in size, even if this shrinkage results in their death. Do you use the device?

Imagine that you could get a crowd of 100,000 people to shout some word, sentence, or paragraph of your choosing in perfect unison to a politician of your choosing (the politician would be listening). What would you have them say? To whom would you have them shout it?

How much USD would you be willing to receive today for a 10% reduction in your lifespan?

Oct 23, 2021 - 7:26PM

Here are my preliminary (no major edits, no coming back to them after a while, written in one-go) thoughts on Alexander Kruel's questions. I would like to ask questions like these, but do not currently set aside time in my life to think about the topics of his questions in enough depth to be able to pose meaningful inquiries.

The questions are italicized, and my responses are not. These answers will likely come out in batches since I don't think I can do all 54 of them in one shot.


Suppose there was a gene L for laziness and a gene M for mental retardation. People with gene L cannot earn a living because they are too lazy. People with gene M cannot earn a living because they are not intelligent enough. Are people with one of those genes more deserving of social welfare than people with the other gene?

Immediate reaction: no, "while laziness seems to be a personal fault, and mental retardation an intractable facet of life, there's an argument to made that serious laziness is just as intractable (genetic) as mental retardation".

After some thought: This answer depends on what's being optimized for, and on the nature of the social welfare. These come to mind as things that might be optimized for in this scenario: collective (societal) well-being, individual well-being, fairness, societal growth/operation. These come to mind as ideas for the nature of social welfare here: binary (i.e., receive welfare or don't receive it) or numerical (this amount of USD vs. this other amount). The key word here appears to be the word "deserving", so this sets the optimization metric to "fairness". Operating from the viewpoint of receiving or not receiving social welfare, I think it is societally fair that people with gene L and people with gene M both receive some sort of welfare, as they both cannot earn a living in the current system. Under the definition of social welfare as some quantity of USD received, I think that it is fair that the people with gene L receive a fraction of the social welfare that people with gene M receive, proportional to the intractability of their laziness. This means that if someone with gene L is intractably lazy, then they are just as deserving of social welfare as someone with mental retardation. However, should someone with gene L have some potential, then they are slightly less deserving of social welfare. Perhaps there could be some baseline that everyone gets, and the extra amount that this person with gene L receives over the baseline is proportional to the amount that people with mental retardation receive, with the maximum being exactly what the people with gene M receive. This all assumes that there are degrees of tractability for laziness and none for mental retardation.


If a close friend stomped a puppy to death for $1 million, would you trust them more or less?

My Answer: In the case that they acted instantly, without a moment's restraint or any remorse, I would trust them inconsequentially less, i.e. I wouldn't change how I behave with them or how I routinely judge them. In the case that they acted with some restraint or remorse, I would trust them more, as they seem to place significant weight on reducing or preventing sentient suffering even if the incentives are heavily weighted towards inducing sentient suffering. In the case that they took pleasure in the action, I would be very surprised, as they are my close friend, and none of my close friends or close friends-to-be appear to have or would have, respectively, sadistic qualities.


What would you do if there was undeniable evidence of objective moral facts, and it turned out that they required you to inflict extreme agony on other people, mock people who are different from you, or otherwise engage in actions that you currently regard as extremely immoral?

Immediate reaction: I would probably do whatever is convenient most of the time.

After some thought: Upon learning this information, I would very likely be surprised with the mismatch between what I currently feel and the reality of morality, but I likely would not adjust my behavior much, especially in terms of damaging other's physically. I think I'd simply acknowledge these objectives truths, and ruminate something along the lines of "oh well, I guess I am not moral". For me to start acting, I would need strong evidence that suggests what I currently do or don't do that's immoral, when measured against these truths, is actively hurting or harming people many times more than the actions I would need to take to be considered more under this new and absolutely correct paradigm. If my baseline existence was morally neural (not immoral, but also not as moral as it could be) under these truths, then I would continue operating as I currently do. If I needed to be inducing suffering (or whatever else I regard as extremely immoral now) to just be morally neutral, then I would likely hide my immoral baseline existence, doing just the bare minimum to get past other people's prying minds and eyes, just as uncaught murderers or rapists do today.


Suppose you had been killed in an illegal medical experiment conducted against your will. The perpetrators have all been executed for their crimes. The data that the experiment produced turned out to be very valuable and might end up helping a lot of people but cannot be reproduced in a different way. What would you like to happen with the data? Should it be deleted or used to help others?

My answer: I think that my data should overwhelmingly be used to help others. Even if I was in a horrible state, all limbs removed, my eyes gone, horrible disfigurement, etc... I would still like my data to help people, in the case it could.

Oct 21, 2021 - 8:59PM

More time than usual has passed since I've written here. Lately, I have been feeling a mixture of bored, stressed, and disappointed. I am fearful of states of low energy or low motivation, and want to better delimit what exactly leads to me having less energy. Even just maintaining the core functions - sleep, proper food, exercise, socializing, hydration - seems difficult for me. Assignments are piling up, and my mind is jumping from thing to thing too rapidly for me to parse them out while my body does nothing to solve any of the problems I face. I want to focus, but everything is getting jumbled around.

Oct 17, 2021 - 4:52PM

This is interesting. I have not yet viewed the research evidence though:

Harvard Health Publishing: Canadian researchers may have figured out a way for us to eat our fish without the mercury, too. Their lab experiments have shown that the combined effect of cooking fish (sorry, sushi lovers) and tea or black coffee makes mercury far less likely to be taken up by the body. So a few sips of tea or coffee with your salmon or trout could lower the risk of mercury that you're consuming from causing you harm. It's an intriguing idea, but this is a preliminary finding that needs to be backed up by more research.

Oct 17, 2021 - 10:04AM

I just imagined a scenario where many people who work on problems with smaller impact come to the people at EA and complain that EA is draining them of funding or diverting attention away from their causes. It would be interesting if there was a "psychological upset-ness" measure that could be used to accommodate those who work on or are affected by these lesser impact problems. If enough people become upset about something, it would now make sense to work on improving their well-being. I suppose certain people's brains are more capable of being upset than others, so this would mean that their "vote" counts more.

This is not parsed out clearly, but I will work to clarify it.

Oct 16, 2021 - 10:59AM

I wonder if there's a name for the process where everything around you starts to become disorganized. You simply dont have the energy or mental bandwidth not to fling your shoes or coat off. Objects are left on any horizontal surface space available. There is a wrapper here, or a receipt there. It accumulates. I've found myself observing this recently. There have seemingly been too many things that have grabbed my attention, and not allowed me to sit still and think about what I should be doing.

On a different note, I finally got in my application to Rethink Priorities for the AI Governance Fellowship. I really would enjoy getting this position, and it would greatly smoothen my mobility with the EA community. I think that I simply have to keep writing and thinking about problems in the meantime. It's possible to do excellent work outside an organization or research institute.

A thought I had while writing the last paragraph is that, each time I write on here, I am only interested in writing things that have recently occupied my mind, or things that occur to me somewhat spontaneously. This means that the time of day, of mind really, that I write greatly influence what I am writing on here. Just a thought.

Oct 13, 2021 - 12:17AM

Much of today was spent working on an abstract algebra assignment. The assignment remains unfinished, and I will likely submit it in a subpar state to preserve my sleep. It is due at 9:00am today.

I met with two Metaculus users and had an interesting and fun conversation. We joked about random quirks among individuals in the community, but also discussed features of the website and how they could be improved to alter the incentive-structure for forecasting on the site. An example of this could be including categories instead of having people close their probability masses around a single point (there's wasted probability mass).

My woe from missing my partner accumulated to the point today where I thought I might cry again, so I fled the house with the hope that being outdoors or around other students would distract me or improve my mood. I wasn't away for too long before I turned back for the Metaculus meetup, but I felt better nonetheless.

Yesterday (the 12th) was a life marker for me in some ways. I do not think I have ever been so uncontrollably sad or have sobbed so much in my life. The absence of my partner, for several hours, felt tremendous. All that I wanted was to be away from where I was and to be with her. I hugged my blanket and cried somewhat loudly into the bed. My head felt very warm and after a while throbbed to the level of a headache. Crying felt cathartic, but also seems to have increased my propensity to cry more. I've felt close to tearing up one or two more times since that interval of suffering. I am so thankful that both of my friends on campus came to my rescue in some ways by being willing to go on a bike ride and then to the cafeteria with me. My depressive state might have continued on for much longer had it not been for this intervention.

I love my partner to the core. I feel that the environment she and I produce together is one of the best generators of progress and well-being on my end that I've ever experienced. I can't wait to see her again.

Oct 10, 2021 - 8:57PM

I think that there's a chance I might have solved my mystery.

There were three or so days this past week when I felt especially positive and cognitively adept. I've pondered over what it might be, and have considered: teas I drink, foods I consume, my blended drinks, how much sleep I get, habits, such as journaling or reading more often, taking Zembrin, and the atmosphere of my college campus. For a while now, I've thought that I might have mild hypothyroidism (iodine deficiency), evidenced by my fatigue, occasional depressive states, and poor moods, which occur at somewhat regular intervals. After taking a smoothie today that contained maca powder, which is purportedly an excellent source of iodine, I felt much, much better. I felt the feeling of "wholeness" or "unity"; I was synced with my environment. This feeling could also be partially explainable by me taking a nap or talking with a friend, but I don't give much credence to those ideas, as I have done such things in such states and have experienced significantly less improvement relative to what I experienced today. The instances several days ago might also have been caused by introducing maca to my blended drinks (I only started doing this last week).

Oct 10, 2021 - 5:13PM

A dream from the other night. There are likely many grammatical errors.

Right before I woke up: I turned into a giant with a green shirt and used the equivalent of the force to choke to death a house sized sentient frog that had been a police officer before the nuke. A snake and a gecko attacked it first, but it ate the snake. The frog was screaming for a long time as I chocked it. At one point, the snake had wrapped around its neck as well. The frog suicided bomb me a long way into me choking it.

Beginning of dream: A nuke went off in the city I was near, causing buses and traffic to crash. Omi got hit by a bus and was likely dead on the road. I wanted to get her, but too many cars kept almost hitting me. We had an option to escape in one of several buses and my mother kept too long deliberating which one and was left behind. The bus I was on was the only one to make it.

Middle of the dream: I developed powers like the force and could use throwing cards to slice things. I formed a band of people (I just followed them and they followed me). We went through schools, portals, forest, and box villages. There was this group of powerful invisible people. If you said “there’s no such thing as [the word spice followed by some noun]” you’d be able to turn off their invisibility because they have to auto prove they exist. I did this while I was floating in a sea, and one of the floating space ships became visible, I used some gun to shoot it and in a last effort to attack it tried to crash into me. Then I saw a scene of someone in the water, likely supposed to be me, but surrounded by black. They were the skin tight suited minions (lean people in dark olive colored drab) swimming like eels in the water. They looked like magnetized powder or tadpoles from above and were all bloodied from the fact that their ship dropped. There were tens of thousands of them surrounding the vicarious me. They swarmed around the guy in the water and in batches kicked and attacked him. There wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t being kicked in the face. But, whenever he choked or killed one of the creatures, it turned into a troll or golem. These benevolent beasts could kill their own, and a good number of them started to proliferate. Elsewhere in the dream I had this heavy and inconvenient revolver that shot little heat seeking rockets; I used it to kill one of the hidden members of the spice gang. I also had these honey packet bombs or abilities packs. I used both of these technologies in a school. There were three powerful witches that attacked my crew at one point. They were strong, but someone found a weakness, and they fled the box village adjacent to mountains and forest that I was in. There was a young black girl with binoculars and a skateboard. She and I went scouting and that’s when we saw one of the escaped witches across the valley attempting to climb this cardboard fortress built into the mountain. I had to scope in the grappling gun I had and tried to snare her. She made it halfway up the structure, but that’s when the house sized gecko frog and snake awoke from the openings. I snared her leg and that’s when she was eaten by the frog. The frog turned to us (it was one of those fat frogs) and took a huge leap. The girl and I ran back to our base and could hear its huge leaps and lands behind us. There was a lot more in the dream but I’ll leave you with that.

Oct 10, 2021 - 2:01PM

This is the last blended drink I consumed:

Oct 10, 2021 - 10:15AM

The Metaculus meetup yesterday on Nuclear Safety, presented by Michael Aird, who works with Rethink Priorities, brought to my attention that idea that I am not really working on solving anything significant at the moment nor am I actually integrating any knowledge on reducing negative impacts into my life. There is the desire to cast much of what I have done thus far into the "pointless" category. At the same time, I still do feel that I can make an impact. I am on the verge, I believe. Being on campus now seems nice in some ways, but it is also irritating in other ways. For example, I enjoy being surrounded by so many college students, overhearing their conversations and debates, and observing their mental processing strategies, but would rather be working remotely for some EA-affiliated organization or on my own projects on the side. A reason for not working on projects right now is that my college class work is pretty demanding. Yet, I feel that there is still time left over in the day, and if I could complete my other assignments faster, then I very likely would have little excuse not to work on my project ideas. I miss my partner every day, which doesn't help. Having her here would only use up a small amount of my free time. I make sure to get my work done, so that's not an issue, I could pool my energies with hers, and I would feel comforted solely by her presence. Fortunately, my sense of time is such that this semester will pass quickly, and I will soon find myself with her again. Down the line, given her rising interest in EA principles and effective work, it might be a good idea to try to collaborate with her on some projects.

Oct 09, 2021 - 10:24AM

(start: section from yesterday)

Another Zembrin consumed. I really don't know too much about these pills. One medium-low credence and one low credence website suggest that it is beneficial for cognitive function, hunger suppression, and alleviation of depressive tendencies. Later in this post, I will accumulate some statements from research papers (don't generalize from what I post, though) concerning Zembrin.

I've noticed that for the first several days of this last week, I've felt much more cognitively apt than usual. My social anxiety decreased, my mind seemed to operate more smoothly, in general, and I could solve things more quickly. Something environmental seems to have caused this. I've been mulling over it for a few days now. I think that it might be stemming from (or from a combination of) journaling more often, consuming ginger, consuming Zembrin, beginning college again, practicing Bayesian reasoning, or reading more often.

(end: section from yesterday)

Yesterday evening, my friends and I partook in the "Friday" Zoom ritual, which is an event that has been going on for maybe 8-9 months now. Everyone simply gets together on Friday nights to talk, play chess or other games, watch videos, discuss news, or forecast together. There is a core crew of 4-6 people that join almost every session and then some drifters (e.g., friend of a friend, but not friend to the group), who'll join every three or four Zooms. This procedure has gone well, and seems likely to stay; it was inspired by a custom that is unfortunately no longer followed - the "Space for Uncommon Discourse", which is an email chain I created with friends and acquaintance for people to share their viewpoints on life, and on humanity as a whole. That lasted for 5-6 months.

I've been missing my partner. There are a multitude of episodic memories that resurge each day, and further build up in intensity, despite being perceived as ordinary or mundane at the time. For example, I miss running my hand through her hair, being on the couch with her, having her lay on top of me or me on top over her, sneaking in a kiss when another household member has temporarily gone somewhere else, tickling her feet, spooking her, resting my arm over hers as we fall to sleep, whispering in her ear, walking somewhere with her, seeing her take little nibbles from her food, and holding her hand. There are of course more, and some are much more detailed, but they still pang, in some sort of semi-good semi-meloncholic way. In sum, they make me appreciate her presence much more. It's nice that my brain, in the her absence, feeds me everything about what she does as cute and nice and sweet, but that really is the reality.

This assignment for my probability class that I completed and submitted yesterday took me too long to complete, and I am disappointed in myself in that regard. The problems seemed quite simple, but eluded me at times, to the point where I started to get frustrated. Anyway, the work is in, and I'm waiting to see the answers patiently.

I wish I understood more about brain-fog. I can recall reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in high school and thinking about the fog mentioned by Chief Bromden. Oftentimes, I feel that my mind is muddled, that I am in the fog, and that I am not latched onto my thought, they don't click and I don't connect. In these states, I feel that I can't think more than several thought-lines down, I can only really carry one or two thoughts in my mind, and learning or problem solving feels impossible in these states. This occurred yesterday morning. I woke up and, while still in my bed, could tell that my mind was fucked, at least for a few hours. If I knew what caused this experience, or the more-frequent slightly less noticeable versions of it, I would work to prevent it from occurring as much as possible. I might have consumed cold brew coffee before going to class, but it didn't seem to help - my capacity to learn was still defunct.

Oct 07, 2021 - 12:12PM

I was thinking about how long it'd take me to read every LessWrong or EA-Forum post on ageing. It wouldn't likely take me too long, and I probably would enjoy it a lot. I could then move onto another topic or see where there are gaps in the available ageing content.

I don't want to age. I hope that some intervention, be it gerontological or whatever, comes out in my lifetime and can save me. To recognize ageing as the menace it is, I'm thinking about renaming the title of my this page to something like "(emptying hourglass emoji) → Who's Died Today? → (empty hourglass emoji)".

Oct 07, 2021 - 12:07PM

I'm thinking of making it a habit to allocate every Friday on here to posting results of papers that I find interesting, and also to posting some questions like these.

I will write other stuff as well, but I'd like to have an examination and exploration day on here, and it is a good excuse to accumulate more knowledge.

Oct 06, 2021 - 9:23PM

So much to read, so much to think about, so many concepts to learn, so many Effective Altruism organizations.

I feel that at this point, it might just be better to work on problems with are likely important myself, make progress, and then reach out to whatever organizations or researchers I need to, instead of narrowing my options and increasing my obligations by joining an organization.

Oct 06, 2021 - 9:04PM

I am quite tired tonight, and feel a mixture of sadness, exhaustion, frustration, and anxiety. This manifests as defaulting to a slouched position, routinely checking my email, changing the songs often, noticing how my groin feels odd, noticing that I am hot, noticing that my hair is greasy, wanting badly to complete something, getting up from writing or reading to do a simple but unimportant task that I could have done later, feeling hungry for unhealthy foods, re-running over and over again through the work I have to do, and wanting to be more comfortable and surrounded by energetic people.

Writing on here seems to help. Also, I am not feeling that poorly. I am just hot, my body doesn't feel great, and I do have a lot of things on my mind. Most days will likely not be like this if (1) I ate more food, and improved the diversity of nutrient intake, (2) woke up to a more well-lit environment (maybe by getting a programmable light switch), (3) chunked up my periods of journaling + working better, instead of going back and forth between trivial tasks and working, and (4) exercised.

I've thought about how I could entertain myself tonight. I think that I need a small break from all the stressors, need to slow down my thinking and worrying, and might be more effective in the long-term if I pace my work or pad it with cognitively-light tasks.

Some options that I have: play Doppelt so Clever against myself, watch a Twilight Zone episode, watch a sci-fi movie, or read one of my books that I prioritize less, play Atomic or Rapid chess, or write.

With regard to writing, I was thinking about creating a small draft for a Future History (a historical account of some sequence of future events) that I thought of 1-2 days ago.

Here's the idea:

A mathematician who's also an effective altruist decides to research human well-being and suffering. Much of the science conducted nowadays leads to technologies or discoveries that accelerate the pace of progress, and that directly improve people's lives, at both societal and individual scales. There are also millions of people in both the developed and developing world that suffer from mental or bodily illness. It all boils down to human well-being and suffering, right?

After surveying the research landscape, the mathematician comes to the frustrating conclusion that not much has been done in the scientific community to actually developed an adequate measure of well-being. No one has tied physiological and neurological processes to people's subjective scores of their well-being. Moreover, the questions asked in most well-being surveys are just too nebulous to be useful. This is a tough problem. How can suffering be diminished and well-being be improved if they can't even be accurately measured?

The mathematician, after days of mental slogging and no progress, decides to move on to other areas, such as existential risk from AI.

Not too long later, some start-up friends of the mathematician recommend that the mathematician join the dating app they're building. The mathematician joins happily, given their poor experience with and history of relationships. Maybe this will be their opportunity to actually meet someone interesting! It was at this point that the idea struck. In their literature search, the mathematician had come across the fact that intimate relationships could potentially lead to significant gains in well-being, at least as measured by subjective evaluations in well-being surveys (1, 2, 3, 4). Their start-up friends had also been talking about how their app was unique. It used machine learning to discern which people, based on appearence, question-answers, and other features, were mostly likely to stay together the longest when paired up, and was better than any other dating algorithm in this regard. Not only that, but the way they had it set it up was also great for making it easier for people to hook-up. The mathematician's idea: perhaps this psychological measure of attraction can be extended to find what makes people well, and minimally can be used to increase the number of "good" matches, in the sense that the relationship formed will increase the well-being of both people involved.

The mathematicians joined the team. With their knowledge of machine learning and statistical inference, they buffed out any problems the app's algorithm had, and this led to more and more users signing up for the free app, and in turn getting into a relationship. The app was a success, and many people praised it for allowing them to finally get in the relationship they needed. The people who only where looking for hook-ups showed their appreciation by continually coming back to it.

Oct 06, 2021 - 8:19PM

My cushioned chair for the apartment arrived today, and I have just finished assembling it. I've spent at least 7 months in this apartment (not fully consecutively) without a couch or cushioned chair. I've seldom gone to my bed to work or read, and typically sit only on the several hard wood or metal-folding kitchen chairs I have in the apartment. I am excited to use my new comfort item and have placed it in the "no-computers" or, equivalently, the "reading and writing" room. While I am not willing to try to quantify how much this will change my well-being or pages-read, I believe that it is likely to raise those quantities.

Oct 06, 2021 - 8:13PM

On at least 10 days of my life, the only sources of food for those days have come from the set:

{> 72% dark chocolate, olives, almonds, eggs, beans, spices, carrots}

Oct 05, 2021 - 10:55PM

In a period of cognitive exhaustion several half hours ago, I went on Reddit, and saw a link to the website called Photofeeler. The premise of the site is for you to upload a photo of yourself (it can be imported from Facebook or LinkedIn as well) and have your photo rated by other people in terms of your social, dating, or business capacity. The free version requires you to vote on other people's pictures before yours get voted on, but it's not that bad.

I chose the first photo of myself I found in my downloads folder and tested it out. Three votes put my attractiveness at 6.2/10, my smartness at 4.4/10, and my trustworthiness at 3.2/10. How interesting!

Oct 05, 2021 - 10:02PM

Ginger is fucking awesome.

From Anti‑Oxidative and Anti‑Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence

Idea: Gives you some background on Ginger.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. It originated in South‑East Asia and then used in many countries as a spice and condiment to add flavor to food.[1] Besides this, the rhizome of ginger has also been used in traditional herbal medicine. The health‑promoting perspective of ginger is attributed to its rich phytochemistry.[2] Jolad et al. grouped fresh ginger into two wide range categories, i.e. volatiles and non‑volatiles. Volatiles include sesquiterpene and monoterpenoid hydrocarbons providing the distinct aroma and taste of ginger. On the contrary, non‑volatile pungent compounds include gingerols, shogaols, paradols, and zingerone.

Idea: Ginger is (likely) good for you in a variety of ways.

Ginger has staring potential for treating a number of ailments including degenerative disorders (arthritis and rheumatism), digestive health (indigestion, constipation and ulcer), cardiovascular disorders (atherosclerosis and hypertension), vomiting, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. It also has anti‑inflammatory and anti‑oxidative properties for controlling the process of aging. Furthermore, it has antimicrobial potential.

Oct 05, 2021 - 11:11AM

I've lately been feeling imperturbable. When walking past other college students, I feel less anxious than usual, and now seldom think thoughts of the nature "We are now passing each other, what are they thinking of me? How should I adjust my pose for this person?". My mother has gifted me a brown tote bag, which I use to carry my forecasting, math-exercises, and general-ideas notebooks around with me. The bag at my side, as well as resting my hand on it while I walk, seem to allow me to pay less attention to the surrounding humans. I've been donning my cowboy hat as well; already, one person has exclaimed that they liked my hat. Compliments such as these are nice to receive.

There are many times I ponder how lucky I am. I noticed two instances of luck yesterday. In the first instance, I left my apartment without my phone or the keys, and my father had locked the door on his way out. He was either still at Walmart or was on his way back to my home state, and I was locked out of the apartment. I was fortunately able to climb in through a window. This permitted me to finish training my Neural Networks and have a decent remote meeting with my research advisor.

The other instance of luck was that my father decided to bring with him my second student ID card. I had thought that this card was the deactivated one, but it turned out the one I had brought with me was the deactivated one. My father saved 50 to 60 USD with this move, and helped to preserve my well-being.

An extra (bonus) instance of luck that I noticed several months ago, and continue to notice, is that someone suggested that I be in a relationship with them, and I agreed. This relationship has been a life checkpoint for me in that I have finally been afforded an insider perspective on human intimacy, interpersonal dynamics in a setting of intimacy, and the personal changes that can occur as a consequence of being in an intimate relationship. My worldview has broadened, and my behaviors have altered: I subjectively evaluate that my violent tendencies have diminished somewhat, that I am more inclined to work diligently (knowing that I have support if my work or research weighs heavily on me), that I am even more open to trying new things (my partner and sharing the new experience being motivators), that I am more inclined to express affection and gratitude for close family members and friends, and that I have become slightly more aware of other people's emotions.

With regard to my relationship, I find myself longing for my partner in times of inactivity or calmness. I'll be cooking eggs and beans, and will be flooded by the sense of her absence. Or I will be on my bed, looking at Metaculus, and notice that it is dark in the room and that I am alone. To combat these moments of negativity, I typically turn to my journal and try describing how the things I am working on [lit. review for neural correlates of suffering, ensemble learning for splice site prediction, Metaculus notebook/question generation, reading Bayesian Data Analysis, forecasting, learning about Group Theory (class), learning about Probability (class), learning about Organic Chemistry (class)] are interesting. There is a sense of relief that I feel when I think about how my partner and I are both accumulating experiences right now at a rate that is likely faster than when we were together over the last few months. The solace is found in the knowledge that we will be together soon, and will be able to share with each other what we've learned about the world and about our preferences. A situation that I would like to unfold for us is one where we are both working deeply on solving or researching impactful problems; operationally, we would push ourselves to achieve in our particular problem area, and then once the flow, the mental churning, the rapid idea generation is over for the day, we'd come together to share and sound-board ideas, to love each other, to read to one another or game, and to exist in each other's presence.

A final thought I had recently concerns YouTube. Whenever I find myself a bit stressed or attentionally exhausted (think foot tapping, needing music to be on, keep scanning open tabs, and compulsive email checking), and I go on YouTube, I often see that some recommended videos are shorter (~30-60 seconds) and are more clickbaity. Perhaps YouTube can tell, maybe through the time of day or my keyboard pressing and scrolling, that I am in a state of poor attentional capacity, and recommends me shorter, more attention-grabbing videos, accordingly.

Oct 04, 2021 - 1:53AM

Of late, I have been thinking about Bayesianism; I am not practiced in utilizing Bayes rule to update my beliefs and to forecast, but would like to get better.

Yesterday, I created a list of Metaculus questions that are open and that I've predicted on. My goal with this list, which I printed out, is to help form the habit of writing down my forecasts in my journal (having the list physically will help with this). Handwriting the forecasts is something that I think will motivate me to think about them more deeply or to act (e.g., collecting data, programming a small model, conducting a light Internet search, etc...)

Another line of thought I've had is that simply maintaining physical activity, being in social areas, eating healthily, and getting sufficient sleep, all stave off negative affect. I've been trying to notice my urges, feelings, reasoning processes, and anxieties more. The Fall season usually brings about greater introspection and rumination in me, and I'd to take advantage of this neurological shifting to ponder my cognition more deeply.

Oct 02, 2021 - 10:17PM

The day was spent driving back to my college, for the most part. Quite a few thoughts were had. I saw a billboard that displayed U.S. President Joe Biden donned in "Arab" garb holding an RPG. Written on it was the phrase: "Make the Taliban Great Again". This is the exact billboard. Another billboard 3 minutes away had the phrase "Carbon Dioxide is essential to life" written next to an image of a woman and her daughter holding hands in an area of dense foliage.

Upon seeing these, I proceeded to think about clusters of people in the rural USA, and how they are insulated from other worldly viewpoints. It's likely that some of them are on Facebook. The thought that their geographically isolated networks may be reflected in their online social networks made me increase the credence I have in the idea that Facebook has significant power over the global economy, given the wealth of data it has on communities seldom reached or measured by other entities.

My time in the car (~8 hours) was also spent thinking about my partner, and about the memories we've shared with each other thus far. I have wholeheartedly had a great time, and want my time with her to continue for as long as it remains this way (generally speaking, the same trend in the variation of experience we have, the cogitation we engage in, and the affection and love we feel for each other). Being separated from my partner for three 1-month stints is likely to hurt emotionally, but fortunately, my partner and I are both fairly independent people, meaning that we are robust and reasonably content operating during periods of wait, where we are separated. There are things in both of our lives that don't wait in the absence of each other. In my case, I have reading, research, writing, and forecasting (at the moment), and my partner has job searching, artistic exploration, and routine-building to look forward to. I am optimistic for the future between us. I also feel that I have the capacity to contribute to the human knowledge base or to do "cool" things with my mind in the near term future.

Oct 01, 2021 - 11:04PM

Feeling: There are too many platforms for me to record my thoughts. I feel that they're competing for my attention. My journal, this page, my Obsidian file entitled General Notes, and this GitHub repository I share with my partner are all thought dumps.

Sep 30, 2021 - 1:28AM

I very much enjoyed watching the movie The Man from Earth yesterday! What a wonderful thought experiment; I am interested in living for as long as I can, and would like to better understand the state-of-the-art in longevity and ageing research. What will humans be doing in 1000 years? How about 10000? I would really, really like to know. I can't accept that I will die one day.

Sep 28, 2021 - 10:24PM

Tomorrow I am going to perform a small experiment; everything I want to say before 8:00pm, I will have to write down before I speak it. Notebook in hand, I will have to jot down each response or thought I want to share before uttering it. We'll see how this goes.

Sep 28, 2021 - 8:56PM

An example of Bayesian reasoning. '

How likely is it that I shit, given that I have eaten?

Shitting abbr. as S

Eat today abbr. as E

Not shitting abbr. as N

Bayes rule:

P(S|E) = P(E|S)P(S) / P(E) = P(E|S)P(S) / P(E|S)P(S) + P(E|N)P(N)

Prior (base-rate) = P(S): I usually shit 95% of days.

Marginal (partition function) = P(E) = P(E|S)P(S) + P(E|N)P(N): Since P(S) = 0.95, P(N) = 0.05. If I shit, then I'll later eat 80% of the time, so P(E|S) = 0.80. If I haven't shit, the probability that I eat is only 0.60. Altogether we get that, P(E) = 0.80(0.95) + 0.60(0.05) = 0.79.

So, P(S|E) = P(E|S)P(S) / 0.79 = 0.80(0.95) / 0.79 = 96.20%

Sep 27, 2021 - 4:02PM

For a while, my partner has expressed the belief that she is poor at maintaining connections. Initially I agreed with her, and I still do somewhat, but after having been in a relationship with her now for some time, I understand how it difficult it can be to keep up contact with old friends when you have a partner. For context, she has been in relationships before, and this is my first long-term romantic relationship.

Sep 26, 2021 - 12:43AM

I feel the urge to write many things. One reason this might be the case is that I have lately (last several weeks) been writing transcribing many thoughts here and didn't write any very recently (a day or so), so I am operating against a habit I have forged for myself.

Thought 1:

I have been trying to better establish the base-rate for how often I actually complete the items on my daily task lists. Once I have this data, I think I will be able to better predict how long it will take me to complete my projects and tasks.

Thought 2:

I was more consistently exposed to memes involving SpongeBob SquarePants several years ago than I am now. My age group (roughly 16 to 27 at the time of writing this: September 26, 2021) and social demographic (people from developed, Western nations) has likely generated the majority of spongebob memes, given that they were the show's primary audience and ones most influenced by it, and subsequently the ones who could best relate to memes incorporating the show's content. I suspect first that spongebob is becoming less relevant and relatable to us as we (my age group and social demographic) age, and second that because of this, fewer memes are being generated. How memes are intertwined with collective or generational experiences is intriguing and is something I would like to learn more about.

Thought 3:

I have been thinking about changing my last name to a concept later in life. For example, one of my friends has a last name that also happens to be a term used in neuroscience. I can imagine having a family under this new last name: my partner and I would parent in such a way that inculcates in our children the value of rational thought and knowledge, alongside a deep curiosity in the world. I would like my name to reflect that. I am tired, and would like to parse out this desire, which is not too strong at the present moment, later.

Sep 24, 2021 - 7:17PM

Imagine that you enter a place, let's make it a cafe, and you see an old friend. You are particular interested in talking with this old friend, but they seem slightly less interested to talk with you. You both say hello to one another, but you would like to sit down with them and talk for a little. How do you best effectively communicate the thought:

"Hey, I see you are working and can imagine that you may want to be alone. You likely weren't expecting an old friend to visit you today, and I might be an unexpected social burden right now. I would like for us to talk and catch up for a short amount of time, but I also understand that you may prefer we not talk right now. Please understand that I will not be hurt or think of you less if you decline my invitation to talk; I get it. What would you like to do old friend?"

Sep 24, 2021 - 1:24PM

Since starting a relationship, I've noticed that I have been much more inclined to hug and kiss my mother and grandmother. (*) It doesn't feel too uncomfortable to me anymore, and the well-being increase they experience from me expressing my love, in my mind, now far outweighs any discomfort of mine. There seems to have been some intimacy threshold. Since I was unfamiliar with intimacy before this relationship, I didn't understand qualitatively what intimacy meant, and was probably perceived by my mother and grandmother to be more callous and distant than I actually was (I only really hugged them when they asked me to, and I never kissed them). Upon realizing "hey, now I get it; it's nice to be loved, or to be hugged and kissed every once in a while", I felt that showing affection towards my matriarchal kin was much easier.

(*) Intimacy, in this thought, is assumed to be non-sexual in nature.

Sep 23, 2021 - 6:58PM

I wonder if how much you actually love someone can be measured by how much oxytocin, on average, is released when you hug them. During periods of intimacy, does the amount of oxytocin in your system fluctuate significantly based on who you are with? Or is it the same degree of reaction across people?

Sep 23, 2021 - 6:45PM

I have been having a lot of fun playing Ganz Shon Clever (That's Pretty Clever) with my partner. The premise of the game is to accumulate as many points as possible. There are six different colors - green, white, yellow, orange, blue, and purple - and you have to try to collect as many points across 5 regions (the white die is a 'wild' die and can be used for any region) in the 5 to 6 rounds of the game. There are specialities you can collect, such as +1's and re-rolls, and other bonuses that become second nature as you play the game more.

I decided to keep tally of the games I play against my partner. Here are the results (generated from a Python script):

The standard deviation of purplefern's scores is 28.48 points, and the standard deviation of rodeoflagellum's scores is 32.03 points.

On average, purplefern scores 213 points and rodeoflagellum scores 218 points (rounded down).

A total of 47 games have been played between rodeoflagellum and purplefern, where purplefern has won 20 times, and rodeoflagellum has won 26 times.

There has been 1 draw.

The median score for purplefern is 217 points and the median score for rodeoflagellum is 223 points.

The highest score for rodeoflagellum is 299 points, and is 293 points for purplefern. The highest combined score is 592.

Sep 23, 2021 - 11:53AM

I took a "rationality test" on Clearer Thinking for fun. It seemed to be testing for different cognitive biases (e.g., anchor bias) and might be somewhat accurate. I am often deeply skeptical of the validity of online assessments. There is a chance that the questions I was asked, along with the final assessment of my rationality, were not completely off the mark. Anyway, my rationality level is purportedly 75% (what does this mean?). Here are my other results, according to Clearer Thinking: quantitative reasoning score - 93.75%; future-based reasoning score - 68.75%; evidence evaluation score - 62.5%; cognitive awareness score - 75%.

Sep 22, 2021 - 10:28PM

I am excited to return to college for my last semester. Since most of my undergraduate class graduated last Spring, and since I've been deeply absorbed by my EA-adjacent activities and research, I feel in some ways that I've graduated with them. One more semester of undergradute study almost seems like a step in the wrong direction. Nonetheless, I want to make the most of it, and plan to befriend some new people, strike up conversations with professors, attend many events on campus (since COVID restrictions have lightened somewhat), explore the 3D printing club, resurrect my college's EA group, and spend time in all of my favorite places on campus. I will continue researching ensemble learning, studying the neural correlates of suffering, surveying impact quantification, reproducing machine learning research, forecasting through Metaculus, and becoming more proficient in EA, rationality, forecasting, and longtermist thinking.

Sep 22, 2021 - 8:21PM

My female partner's sister returned to the apartment crying after a conversation with someone close to her ex-boyfriend, who ended his life 2 weeks after they broke up, which was about 3 months ago.

I have not yet experienced a close friend, partner, or family member dying. One grandfather and one grandmother died during my lifetime (one died before I was born) but I wasn't affected by these events too much. I didn't know them too well, and the one I did talk to a little died when I was young.

If my mother, father, last grandmother, partner, or brothers died right now my world would probably go haywire for at least two weeks. I don't think I would cry too much, but I would likely try to recall the experiences I had with them in the order they occurred. Convincing myself that the intimacy and contentment I experienced in the past is still achievable, to an equal extent, in the future will likely be a coping mechanism I adopt.

Thinking about my loved ones dying makes me uncomfortable, but there is some security in knowing that everyone alive today will very likely die in the traditional sense, and that each of us will be absorbed back into the universe. Today someone I know, tomorrow, me.

How hard my loved one's deaths hit me will very likely depend on my mood at the moment when I am provided the information of their deaths. In more "grounded" moods, or in states where I am very socially active and have someone close to turn to, I will likely be okay for the most part. Otherwise, if I am already stressed or am in a blindly optimistic mood, I think that their deaths will affect me much more significantly. Perhaps I should forecast how I react to their deaths, or when their deaths will occur.

Sep 22, 2021 - 2:59PM

I inquired to the Metaculus Discord community whether I should compose a Notebook on existential risk and their responses ranged from neutral to supportive. My discussion with the admin TomL gave Metaculus a more human face, and has motivated me to become more involved. I would like to compose a few high-quality Notebooks for the site the topics of my cause-area preferences.

To begin, I could write Notebooks on

I would like to email Tom to propose that each of the major categories or topics on Metaculus should have one to several Notebooks bringing their questions together.

Sep 22, 2021 - 12:57PM

From a recent NASA paper:

In this paper, we attempt to assess whether engineering solutions may dampen, delay, or prevent the negative effects of future supervolcanic eruptions on human civilization. We open-mindedly postulate the controversial hypothesis: A system can be engineered to efficiently mitigate a supervolcanic, eruption-induced volcanic winter (regional or global) that would otherwise lead to mass starvation and a major population decline.

Sep 22, 2021 - 10:59AM

Procrastinating on my review draft likely is to blame for how much I wrote yesterday. I'd put the likelihood that I write as much on here today as I did yesterday at 34%. There are likely papers on the general ability of a human to estimate things, and on aggregated community forecasts. Multiple online articles I have read referenced the finding that people are generally poor at estimation, but that community estimations, for certain problems, can be fairly accurate (I don't know where the evidence for this assertion came from). I could spend the time to forecast my behaviors, and then use the accuracy of those forecasts to calibrate myself and improve my accuracy. I want to forecast more often, and for my forecasts to be both accurate and useful for my health, well-being, and productivity. This want could spill over into me trying to measure as many things about myself as possible. For example, to see how often I choose to not be careful with my words, e.g. use a curse word, I could forecast and record how many times I curse or how I often I utter the phrase "I know..." instead of the using something more probabilistic like "I am mildly confident that...".

Sep 22, 2021 - 1:11AM

I said I was too tired to go on in my last thought, but I suppose this turns out to be false. It is intriguing how a new thought, idea, or incentive can jolt one into a state of temporally improved mood and motivation. Where does this energy come from?

My idea that I immediately came here to record (this - coming to this page when I have an idea - is a gradually strengthening habit) is that, should you have something to advertise or tell the world, a shirt or clothing item is a great way to do it. I should clarify that I am not talking about more implicit communications, e.g. wearing a yellow shirt to a banana festival to demonstrate that you are part of the in-group, but am instead thinking about words or pictures that an ordinary passerby will likely recognize or ponder further.

In my situation, I think designing and purchasing custom Effective Altruism themed flannels or t-shirts could passively promote EA values or altruism in general. Additionally, performing this action would increase the likelihood that I make a friend, and subsequently gain access to more learning and networking opportunities, as a consequence of increasing the likelihood that someone involved with EA sees my garb and strikes up a conversation with me. I think the expected value conferred by these scenarios outweighs the simple cost of buying and wearing the article of clothing. I will write more about the results (impact) of wearing EA-themed attire once I implement it.

Lastly, BLUE's discussion on digital accessibility pertaining to font features and webpage backgrounds made me feel as though I should try to be somewhat more empathetic as an individual. I seldom take time to think about how I could reduce the psychological frustration and suffering engendered in others by my speech and writing. Along these same lines is my lack of forethought for how I can make the things that involve my interactions with other people go more smoothly or efficiently.

Do I have a moral obligation to make other people's lives easier (*) (in ways and degrees potentially unknown to me) when it does not cost me much? I don't know, and oftentimes my willingness to do one-more-thing to make someone less irked or slightly more content depends on my current mood, as opposed to principles that I have forged through long thought sessions or have co-opted from others who seem to decently evidence them.

In sum, BLUE, thank you for the resources that you've provided, and for the scope of your thoughts on digital accessibility. The outcome of your writing is that I will likely reinstitute the original font this thought page was created with (or a similar one), and will also likely change the background color to a slightly lighter color. I wonder if the jaggedness or sharpness of a font makes it more difficult to cognitively process. Maybe a partial answer is contained in this article: Curve appeal: exploring individual differences in preference for curved versus angular objects? Ha, and perhaps an argument based in well-being for using light backgrounds over dark ones can be found in Sad is heavy and happy is light: Population stereotypes of tangible object attributes.

A final observation: writing for me is easier (increased word-rate, fewer edits need to be made, fewer pauses, feels nicer) at night (after 11:00pm) than during the day.

(*) I am not talking about saving the lives of present-day or future humans here. The emphasis is on the minutia of ordinary existence. For example, if 1, 5, 10, 20, etc... people prefer I use red instead of orange for my link highlighting, am I obliged, even a small amount, to concede and alter the link color I use? The answer to this question might be related to questions on majority vs. minority social dynamics or on how much self-serving behavior is social acceptable in a "tribal" or small group setting.

Sep 22, 2021 - 12:16AM

Within the last month, the concern that I should be pruning or optimizing my work much more stringently than I currently am has been especially pressing.

Global priorities research, which I believe seeks generally to answer (1) what should humans be working more on and (2) what are the most important things to work on to preserve and realize humanity's long-term potential, is something I am very interested in. How soon I actually begin making progress on a particular cause-area is somewhat determined by how soon I finish estimating which cause-areas will be the easiest for me to work on, given my skills, and will sustain my attention for the longest time.

At the moment, I believe that I am most interested in studying one or more of

Not all of these coincide with the cause-area lists developed by organizations affiliated with Effective Altruism (EA), but some of them do.

Right now I am too tired to go on, but for my own sake, I will cover how I find each of these cause-areas important and interesting, what other organizations have to say about them, and which problems other organization purport might be major cause-areas.

Sep 21, 2021 - 11:01PM

Moving on from thinking about decision theory (*), I want to express my gratitude to the other people who share their thoughts.page. I enjoy reading your thoughts! Thank you!

Unrelated, but my evening has consisted of: playing one game of rapid chess and losing (my accuracy was ~43%, which is, all things considered, better than my usual accuracy of ~22%); drinking some caffeine-free Vietnamese cinnamon tea (2 bags) in my measuring cup mug; putting my zlibrary-downloaded (I would recommend this site over and over again, 110%) books into a folder to clear up the desktop picture of Saturn I have; having the recurring thought/feeling I am not working on my research review draft. Why I am I not working on it? Ohhh, I just wish it would go away, or that I was better at conquering knowledge and writing tasks much more promptly. Why am I not like this; I would like to be like this!; thinking about how I could prioritize my tasks by the amount of stress not working on them induces, where the ones that induce the least stress get pushed to the back of the queue, and the most stressing ones get completed first; finding the band Assemblage 23, and listening to some good ol' Godflesh; writing this last sentence and confirming in my mind that the song "Drive" by Assemblage 23 makes me quite content; debating whether to churn through the final pages of the first chapter of my statistical decision theory book, and thinking about whether this book is even worth reading, given that it has no exercises and is not written in the clearest manner; thinking about my Metaculus predictions on some questions that will resolve tomorrow morning, and wondering if I will get the points need to get to Level 4; reading about the HermanCaneAward on Reddit; thinking about the long-term implications of information-instability (misinformation contagions) on the Internet after seeing the memes posted by those awarded the Herman Cane Award on the subreddit; thinking about the likelihood that I actually contribute something that is meaningful or useful enough to appreciated by many humans over the course of part of the human project/humanity; oh! and thinking about the great Wikipedia article called Timeline of the Far Future.

And, more recently: thinking about whether adding so many links in this post might be annoying to look at; thinking about whether writing posts here consistently is a net-positive decision, when optimizing for my well-being; thinking about how this post is full of more routine events and thoughts than the others posts I've written, but that it may be entertaining to others who also write their thoughts down here; thinking about when I will actually start working on the research draft.

(*) Thinking about decision theory at this time of day and in my current mental state was probably an irrational decision, given the alternatives, which I didn't even take the time to think about. In retrospect, I should have sought to establish an external environment devoid of distractions or other obnoxious things, like blaring colors or post titles that induce cortisol release.

Sep 21, 2021 - 10:27PM

Earlier (maybe several days ago?) I created a toy example to help acclimate myself to the kind of thinking involved in decision theory. The example consisted of me trying to choose the best (in terms of a hypothetical well-being points) powder to add to my blended drink. I covered decisions in situations of certainty and risk, but did not cover decisions in situations of uncertainty, i.e. where the states of nature or the probabilities of their occurrence are unknown, for whatever reason.

To reiterate, decisions consist of actions, states of nature, and consequences. Note that consequences are a function of an action and a state of nature.

There are several criteria that can be used to get an idea of the decision landscape in situations of uncertainty, and I introduce two here. I will save discussing more criteria, and applying them to my toy example, for a future thought.

Wald's Criterion (aka Min-max criterion) For a particular state of nature, you choose the action that produce the greatest minimum benefit.

Max-max Criterion For a particular state of nature, you choose the action that produces the consequence with the greatest maximum benefit.

Sep 21, 2021 - 7:36PM

The "life initiatives" I wrote earlier should probably be called life heuristics instead. I want a set of axioms for my life that can always be referenced during times of poor well-being or uncertainty.

Noticing, for example, that the people I communicate with regularly have personalities that are unaligned with my heuristics could help me to protect my enthusiasm and time.

Also, my advisor got back to me and said Thursday would be good, which makes me slightly less anxious.

Sep 21, 2021 - 7:22PM

I don't feel particularly great right now. My head throbs a little, I want to lay down on the bed or couch, and I don't want to have to think about how much work I have to do for my machine learning research. My meeting with my advisor is at 12:00pm tomorrow, and I am supposed to have an improved and expanded version my draft ready, but I really haven't added too much to it in the two weeks I was supposed to be working on it. Procrastination really is an issue of approaching and starting the work, and not so much a problem of continuing the work. I really need to work on this more, if I am ever to get it published. I wrote to my advisor on Slack that I would like an extra day, but he hasn't responded yet.

Sep 21, 2021 - 5:00PM

Here are some nebulous life initiatives I'm pondering:

Sep 21, 2021 - 3:53PM

I just changed the theme on my thoughts.page page, and am now wondering whether any studies have been conducted to assess how cognitively taxing different fonts are to read. I would also like to know whether a black background with white text is more attentionally demanding than a white background with black text. My font and background color decisions are not final, and only reflect my aesthetic tastes. I would be more inclined to change the font I use, which was taken from the Roots of Progress website, than the background color.

This is fodder for another post, but I'd be interested to see how many people read my thoughts, and to see how many of those people who read my thoughts have a thoughts.page of their own. If you are reading this and have your own thoughts.page, I would like to hear what internal forces pushed you towards adopting the theme you use.

Sep 21, 2021 - 2:49PM

It'd be very nice to have one year of free time to focus on reading and to stopping using the Internet as I use it today: opening new tabs without thinking; partially reading many articles before moving on to the next ones; scrolling through Reddit, Hackernews, LessWrong, and the EA-Forum for hours, being psychologically overwhelmed by the colors and post titles.

Once this year of reading and greatly restricted Internet access is up, I would like to spend another year continuing to read and working on difficult problems. I suspect that my ability to focus will have improved over the course of the previous year. Many other people also likely want to live through such a story, and the main obstacle in realizing this is also likely not having the means to support themselves for two years on no income.

Sep 21, 2021 - 2:17PM

I have routinely failed to avoid falling into "thought urges", such as "I should be reading more LessWrong or EA-Forum content". These urges increase the weight I place on certain activities, even when these activities are not as conducive to my goals as other, slightly less subtle ones that are perhaps more boring or routine.

Sep 21, 2021 - 12:58PM

The proposed hypothetical scenario in Effects of anti-aging research on the long-term future on LessWrong really struck me:

For the first few decades of the 21st century, anti-aging remained strictly on the periphery of intellectual thought. Most people, including biologists, did not give much thought to the idea of developing biotechnology to repair molecular and cellular damage from natural aging, even though they understood that aging was a biological process that could in principle be reversed. Then, in the late 2020s, an unexpected success in senolytics, stem cell therapy among other combined treatments demonstrates a lab mouse that lived for many years longer than its natural lifespan. This Metaculus question resolves positively. Almost overnight the field is funded with multi-billion dollar grants to test the drug treatments on primates and eventually humans. While early results are not promising, in the mid 2030s a treatment is finally discovered that seems to work in humans and is predicted to reliably extend human lifespan by 5-10 years.

Then, anti-aging becomes a political issue. People realize the potential for this technology and don't want to die either by lack of access or waiting for it to be developed further. Politicians promise to give the treatment away for free and to put government money into researching better treatments, and economists concur since it would reduce healthcare costs. By the early 2040s, a comprehensive suite of treatments shows further promise and mainstream academics now think we are entering a life expectancy revolution.

Should there be a culturally significant development in ageing research by 2030, 2040, or 2050, I think that the likelihood of me living over 90 (assuming I am not dead by 2030, 2040, or 2050) is high. It would be awesome to live even longer, perhaps through receiving regular lifespan-extending maintenance therapies.

The LessWrong article section I showed earlier can be categorized as a "Future History". This genre, which might not be new (Issac Asimov seemed to use these in his Foundation series), involves hypothetical histories of the future that usually focus on specific scientific advances. Another example of one that discusses the evolution of GPT-3 is What 2026 looks like (Daniel's Median Future). I would like to try writing interesting and reasonably accurate future histories, as I think they can evoke a strong, positive emotional reaction to a particular cause-area or line of scientific inquiry, and therefore have some practical value outside of entertainment.

Sep 20, 2021 - 10:19PM

There were two notable periods of experience I had today: a talk with a Metaculus admin, and watching two TED talks about the problem of aging.

In the morning, I spoke with Metaculus admin TomL about how I use the site. Tom seemed to be an enthusiastic individual, and seemed to really appreciate and enjoy the remarks I made. After ~15 minutes of me providing my inner monologue as I used the site, he asked me some questions, including whether I had any qualms with Metaculus's features, and whether there were any features I would like to see added to the site. It was nice to hear from Tom that he thought I had set a high bar of feedback and insight for future participants.

Lately, I have been interested in learning more about the state of longevity research. I want to begin by reading Laura Deming's Longevity FAQ and LessWrong's series called the Gears of Aging. I just watched two of Aubrey de Grey's TED talks, and have already looked over the SENS Research Foundation's website. At some point down the road I might apply to one of their fellowship programs. Also, I put the Hallmarks of Aging on my reading list.

It would be fantastic if I could live for at least 10,000 years (this is the number I usually go to when friends ask how long I would want to live). The progress or pitfalls of humanity would be humbling to witness, and the cultural changes would be interesting to live through and reflect on. If I lived this long, I would ideally want some way of augmenting myself to store and retrieve my memories more effectively.

Sep 20, 2021 - 12:37PM

I have been sporadically reading Introduction to Statistical Decision Theory, and think that it's time for me to practice and re-examine some of what I have read, since there are no exercises provided in the book.

Decisions consist of actions, outcomes, and states of nature, where "outcomes" are a function of an action and a state of nature. In situations of certainty, the states of nature are known by the decider. In situations of risk, the decider does not know the states of nature, but either knows or can approximate a probability distribution of the states. In situations of uncertainty, the decider does not know the states of nature and either doesn't or cannot approximate the probability distribution of the states.

I am going to try (let's see if I can make this work) conceptualizing a toy decision theory example where I want to decide which powder I should put in my blended drink. Here I assume that I can only select one powder.

As the decider, I want to optimize my personal well-being. In this case, I am going to use my subjective estimates of how much each powder contributes to my well-being as the consequences of my actions taken with a state of nature.

My actions are

The states of nature might be

The outcomes might then be

I assume all outcomes involving the action of not choosing a powder confer 0.00 well-being points.

Under certainty, the right/rational decision would be to choose chia seed powder, as it immediately confers the most well-being points. In a situation of risk, which could occur if I am unfamiliar with some powders and only have to go off of other people's well-being improvements for the others, I assign probabilities distributions to the states of nature. In my case, these probabilities could illustrate how inclined I am to choose the powders based on my mood or other unknown variables.

Let's say

Note that these add up to 1.

Now, in our situation of risk, we'd have

so the rational decision here is to choose raw bee pollen, which is not the right decision.

Note that a rational decision is not always the right (optimal) decision. Rational decisions made in situations of certainty are right decisions, but these situations occur much less often than situations of risk or uncertainty.

I will discuss measures used in situations of uncertainty later.

Sep 20, 2021 - 1:31AM

There are moments when I ruminate and feel that my future prospects are bleak or, at best, mundane. The horizon tends to go downhill - only old age, poor decisions, stagnation, and misery lie ahead. There are other times when everything seems lively and luscious - yes people die and drift apart, but there are always new people to meet, and learning and discovery are always options. My attitude in-the-moment typically governs which side I lean towards, but I am typically more optimistic.

Rationally speaking, my prospects, when optimizing for my personal well-being, are good: I am in great relationship with someone whose goals and values are reasonably aligned with mine and who also wants to maintain the connection, a good candidate for organizations adjacent to Effective Altruism or whose focus involves computational research, I am nearly finished with my undergraduate studies, I have no major ailments, and I want to improve my life.

Sep 19, 2021 - 9:40PM

I was made very content when the employee of this bakery bequeathed me and my partner the leftover pastries and muffins before closing. She remarked, with a positive tone and while smiling, that "..you're around here all the time", and I can't help but believe my generally content demeanor and uncommon clothing (I have only worn flannels tucked inside my pants and a cowboy hat to this bakery) contributed the employee's perception of me and my partner as being welcoming.

Sep 19, 2021 - 8:09PM

Containers of Glycine (1000mg), Standardized Grape Seed Extract (100mg), Zembrin (25mg), Vitamin D3 (55mcg, 2200IU), Algal-900 DHA (900mg), and Magnesium (200mg) reside in my pill box.

Of these supplements, I only really take the Vitamin D3 regularly (~1-3 times a week). Following a blood test in late 2019, my doctor recommended I take Vitamin D3, but I had already been taking it at that point, though the dosage was much lower (1, 200IU pill a day) than what I currently take.

There is a series of posts on Vitamin D written by the psychiatrist Deva Boone that is very much worth reading. Here is a section of the last post in the series:

Given the hype surrounding Vitamin D, the lack of significant benefit for the general population in high-quality trials may seem surprising. How can we reconcile promising early observational studies linking Vitamin D to most major causes of death with our current results? One thing that seems increasingly clear is that in most cases low Vitamin D (truly low Vitamin D) is a marker of poor health rather than a cause. Vitamin D is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight. A chronically ill, frail individual may leave the house less often, leading to lower Vitamin D levels. Fixing the Vitamin D will not fix the chronic illness.

In some situations low Vitamin D does contribute to illness, but this is generally in cases of severe deficiency. We know that severe Vitamin D deficiency leads to bone disorders like rickets and osteomalacia. This provides a plausible scenario by which Vitamin D deficiency could increase mortality in the elderly: Without sunlight, a frail elderly woman may develop bone loss, increasing her risk of fractures. Fractures in the elderly have shockingly high mortality rates – so in this case a severe Vitamin D deficiency could contribute to death, and supplementation would help. For the majority of healthy adults, supplementation is unnecessary.

As for practical recommendations, Boone recommends

Act in moderation. Low to moderate doses of Vitamin D (e.g. 400 to 2000 IUs daily) have proven to be safe in trials

Lately, I have been trying to increase my skepticism with regard to how I physiologically respond to the pills I listed earlier. I purchased each of these supplements (minus the Vitamin D3) after reading some research article abstracts and posts on the Internet by Scott Alexander or Gwern. This approach is severely lacking in many ways. For example, I never looked at the proper dosages, how the ingredients are sourced, how credible each brand is, or whether there might have been side effects from interactions with the other substances in my diet.

I am acting without proper knowledge of the subject. To gauge how my body reacts to the supplements I listed earlier, I try to evaluate my subjective feelings after taking them. All the supplements I listed were purported to improve cognition or well-being. Overall, I have not taken many (outside of Vitamin D3), but I do have some observations to share from my experiences.

The first time I took Zembrin, I noticed a rapid (< 30 minutes) improvement in my well-being. I felt as though I was being lifted lightly by emotional drawstrings. Yesterday was the second time I took Zembrin, but I did not notice any immediate improvement in well-being. Although I felt much better later that day, I cannot, with confidence, attribute it to the Zembrin. In the course of my pill-poping, I have not been consistent with when I take the pills and have not recorded whether I took them after or before eating.

I only took Glycine once, and believe that it was the cause of a headache that felt as though it was covering the dorsal-posterior area of my head. I felt nothing particularly interesting after taking Algal-DHA (~6 times); this is also the case for the several occasions where I took Magnesium. The grape seed extract (taken ~10 times) didn't make me feel as though I could think more clearly. Once or twice I got a headache, and another time there was more blood than usual in my snot.

I didn't list it here, but taking Ginkgo biloba made me particularly prone to having excess blood (not a ton) in my snot.

Given everything - my gut microbiome, my circadian rhythm, my gastrointestinal peculiarities, what substances I eat, when I consume substances, how much of each substance I consume and when, etc... - I think that my subjective evaluations of each supplement's effects is too poor to operate off of. I need to do my research. I'd like to develop some self-experiments involving these pills to roughly cut through the gaps in the literature, which I still need to parse through. Is it worth it to actually research these things? I don't know, not yet at least.

Sep 19, 2021 - 12:49PM

An idea that I would like to see realized at some point is a device that allows you to explore possible, viable organismal phenotypes that do not currently exist. I can imagine seeing a 3D model of a contemporary organism and having it transform into other viable variants through a slider that simulates evolutionary perturbations.

Sep 18, 2021 - 10:43AM

A wave of glumness overcame me last night. The combination of a potential injury (along with a minor amount of pain when it occurred), my incessant forecasting on Metaculus, socializing with a friend who I haven't seen in a long time, consuming a (likely) rancid algal DHA pill, stress likely exacerbated by caffeine, feeling the pressure to add to the sum of human knowledge but not getting anywhere with my work, my disappointment with my self-perceived inability to focus, and the sheer magnitude of resources and options I can choose to look at, has somewhat deactivated me.

I still don't feel like talking or socializing at all, and kind of just want to be left alone, save for some minor interactions. Expending energy to be enthusiastic is out of the picture at the moment. Hopefully, I will feel better later this evening, or after taking a Zembrin pill.

Scott: "Zembrin is an extract of kanna, a South African plant. It appears to be an SSRI, but also to have other less-well-understood antidepressant properties that make it work a little faster. It has not been rigorously tested in studies, but has been helpful to me and several people I know. You can read more about it at its Lorien page."

Sep 17, 2021 - 2:44PM

This is likely my favorite smoothie yet:

Sep 17, 2021 - 10:18AM

I've noticed that outside of a relationship, I remember my REM-sleep dreams more vividly. It could also be the case that, during the summer, I wake up "stronger", and forget my dreams more quickly. The onset of the relationship was in May, so I do not know how true the "summer theory of less vivid dreams" is. There are likely many other emotional and physiological factors at play, but I have suspect that being in a great relationship has some influence on my dream remembrance.

Sep 16, 2021 - 11:11PM

How consistently do other people feel unmotivated, fatigued, or blue?

It's so interesting that, for the most part, human emotionality and energy levels seem to fluctuate greatly on the scale of a single day.

When I wake up each morning, the moods and states of yesterday feel pruned or washed away. Morning optimism gradually transitions into evening creativity. If I am feeling glum early in the day, my mind, over the course of the day, becomes too tired to sustain it, mostly. The future may afford us technology that allows us to maintain mental states indefinitely. Similar to how Spotify releases how often you listen to different genres, you may one day be able to view your "mood usage statistics".

Sep 16, 2021 - 9:54PM

"Don't judge a worm by its book" - rodeoflagellum

Sep 16, 2021 - 5:10PM

Some thoughts from the vault.

I don't want to be a person who doesn't actually try to answer any of the questions they pose. There are many topics of curiosity that I have, but I have not actually attempted to parse many of them out in detail.

After walking through the woods of the Northeast, I usually search my body for ticks, especially deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), which can carry Lime disease. Certain areas seem to have more ticks than others. I'd imagine that the dense underbrush of the forest would contain many ticks, but this does not always appear to be the case; in particular, paths frequented by humans and deer appear to be hotspots, even though these paths are more "open" relative to the forest underbrush. I wonder what the distribution of ticks is in any particular patch of forest, but I'm not sure how this might be measured. I imagine one could move a rack of meat (or whatever else ticks like) through the forest in a grid and, after each pass, the ticks on the object could be collected and counted.

Does every event have a physical record? When I wave my hand through the air, or step on the floor, is my action "recorded" in the minute perturbations I have on the objects (air particles and the floor in these cases) I interact with?

I am thinking about starting a series on LessWrong on something I call "impact quantification", which I loosely define as the quantities of green-house gas emissions or energy that one produces or uses, respectively, inadvertently or directly, through their daily habits. The first post might be my motivation for examining this topic, the second post an analysis of the "impact" of using toilet paper, the third post the results of a pilot study measuring the impact one week of my habits makes, and the last post a final review of the matter, along with new directions or conclusions that come about as a result of my experiments.

Sep 16, 2021 - 4:13PM

Should I choose to spend some time reading Probability and Random Processes or Introduction to Statistical Decision Theory?

Many choices are made each day, but what is a choice, and how many are actually made? Is it a binary decision, perhaps one that can be measured as a rapid increase of oxygen in one part of the brain, or as a burst of neuronal activity that results in a behavior?

I think I will continue reading the latter option, as I've already made some progress with it, and will survey the former option later today, perhaps after my interest in decision theory for the day has been satiated.

Sep 16, 2021 - 3:48PM

To my recollection, my undergraduate neuroscience classes did not cover exactly how much dopamine or serotonin there is in the average human brain. How much of each neurotransmitter there is seems to be an important question, and I am surprised that it was not asked once, even in all of our discussions on the different roles that each of these neurotransmitters (nt's) have in the brain. If I could squeeze my brain like a lemon, and had a special filter that could extract each nt separately, how many mL's of each would I get?

Answering this could help with measurements between various neurological disorders or afflictions. For example, knowing what the actual difference in the quantity of serotonin in a depressed person's brain versus in a not-depressed person's brain could (maybe?) help to better understand depression. The immediate results of the Google Scholar search "physical quantities of serotonin in brain" are slim, but I think these questions deserve a more thorough Internet search on my behalf. Maybe they have been answered!

Sep 16, 2021 - 2:39PM

I am on the edge of adopting vegetarianism.

I am confident that the industrialized slaughter of animals results in a massive global increase in pain. There are also hefty green-house gas emission costs incurred by sustaining industrialized slaughter.

The research paper Defining and assessing animal pain (I have not fully read this), along with the perspectives and knowledge contained in Essays on Reducing Suffering, influence me somewhat, but not significantly.

I feel slightly morally guilty, but also feel that I do not eat too much meat, and that of the meat I eat, most of it is chicken, which I feel is not that bad since chickens seem quite stupid to me. However, I do not feel that the argument that an animal is not neurologically complex (how is this defined?) should permit me to eat it.

Part of my aversion to veganism (though not really vegetarianism) has stemmed from my aversion to consuming tofu, which is a food that I really do not enjoy eating, and my irrational association between tofu eaters and promoters and veganism.

The influence pushing me most towards vegetarianism has been social in nature. When I am surrounded by the ideologies and members (many of whom are vegan or vegetarian) of Effective Altruism adjacent organizations, I feel pressured, at the very least, to not eat meat.

Whether I will cease my meat consumption in the near future is still unknown to me; I could simply conduct a vegetarianism pilot study, i.e. test out not eating meat for one month, and see how it goes. It would be a shame for me to continue contributing to animal suffering, when the reality of the matter is that I am actually fine with not eating meat. The realization of my impact bias, that is, my tendency to overestimate the future costs of a change or outcome, towards cutting out meat from my diet has also contributed to me lessening my doubts about how vegetarianism will affect my life, and has made me more inclined to adopt it.

I will record my thoughts here, should I conduct a test-run.

Sep 16, 2021 - 12:55PM

For a while, I feel as though my mind has been dominated by a 'meta-optimization' or 'resource-extraction' mode of thinking, instead of a 'hunker-down-and-focus' or 'pour-all-my-mental-resources-into-this-problem' mode.

This could be a problem with my attention. All of my open tabs, open project files, and lists of things to do burden me somewhat. Unless I am pressed by an external entity to do something particular, I will go about doing things that I think are good for me (though I haven't tested whether they'll actually lead to improvements in my creativity, productivity, well-being, etc...) or that I enjoy.

Sep 16, 2021 - 10:50AM

Pistachios, green tea, and dark chocolate are some extraordinary substances to start the day. But do the physiological states engendered in me by these foods generalize to other people?

This question is probably incomplete without a definition of "physiological states", which is something I cannot currently provide. Nonetheless, I think that personalized medicine and personalized nutrition are two cause-areas that humanity should very much focus on, if well-being and decision-making are being optimized for.

Some sets of supplements, extracts, foods, drugs, etc... are better for me than others, in terms of their capacity to make me think clearer and feel more well, and finding or prescribing these sets for me, and for everyone else, should be a higher priority for humanity.

In all reality, this assessment dwells in the land of opinions, and I haven't evidenced my stance sufficiently enough to say exactly how much value working on personalized medicine and nutrition, as opposed to other things, would confer.

Sep 16, 2021 - 12:12AM

In set theory, a branch of mathematics, a reflection principle says that it is possible to find sets that resemble the class of all sets. Source: Wikipedia

Sep 15, 2021 - 11:43PM

Animal companions are nice. With my feline friend curled up next to me on the couch, and with the traces of the essay The City as an Eco System still floating on my mind, the idea of a cozy book-filled "nook"-ish abode warms me.

Sep 15, 2021 - 11:21PM

I am interested to see where this site goes: does it tank, does it thrive, or does it thrive briefly and then tank? What are the alternatives?

This would probably be a decent Metaculus question - When does thoughts.page cease to exist? I would forecast maybe 2 years from today, but the information I have now is limited. Nonetheless, I am happy to have joined this site, but, as with many others, do not know how frequently I will post, or even whether my posts will be seen. Hope everyone who reads this has a nice day!


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