grab bag of accreted thoughts

do all feelings have threshold effects?

trauma generally does: if you have a kinda bad day, it washes off, but if you have a really bad day, you can get PTSD. I think really great experiences are threshold effects too; you don’t forget them. Which suggests that, instead of eating at average fine restaurants for $30 10 times, you should save up and go to Alinea for $300 once. Though, “fewer high-intensity good feelings vs more kinda-good feelings” may be a thing you can’t optimize for; like optimizing a program to output a prime number of rows in log files.

holding-out conversations

I recently had a conversation with a coworker that went kind of like this:

and this sounds awful but I think it actually got across a decent amount of information. We’re both basically playing the Voting Game, where we want to do whatever we both want the most. That is, if I want to do X with strength 7/10 but he wanted to do Y with 9/10, I’d say maybe his instincts are more likely than mine to be right here so let’s do Y.

There’s a short story by Ray Bradbury called Frost and Fire. It’s pretty good! In particular, there’s a scene where he and another character fight. On this planet, the sun is super hot, so they fight by going outside at dawn and just trying to stay standing there in the heat; last one to fall wins. (plus throwing stones, eh; here’s a copy, see chapter VIII on page 299.)

It’s such a good image that applies in many places in life. This is not quite it - we’re not trying to defeat each other here - but it’s close enough because we just state our prefence by holding out a little bit longer.

symbolically liberal but operationally conservative

Ezra Klein nails it here. Yeah it’s a “super liberal state” but SF and CA are really pretty conservative in some ways, especially housing and transit. Quoting Ibram X. Kendi: “Racist policies are defined as any policy that leads to racial inequity… And so, for me, racial language in the policy doesn’t matter, intent of the policymaker doesn’t matter, even the consciousness of the policymaker, that it’s going lead to inequity, doesn’t matter. It’s all about the fundamental outcome.” Even if the heart of the lawmaker or voter is just “I want things to stay the way they used to be in my neighborhood”, it ends up perpetuating inequality.

and now for something completely different

“the horngus of a dongfish is attached by a scungle to a kind of dillsack (the nutte sac)." alas, a hoax, but why is it that this kind of humor, involving basically just mispronouncing words, is so funny?

glue work

a perennial gripe, well told.

school is prison

sorry, that’s inflammatory bullshit, but it’ll perk you up halfway through a long post, huh? so ok another SSC/ACT post1 reviewing a bunch of stuff about education. I can’t speak much about What Types of Interventions Work or How Should Schools Be or whatever, but I can just really relate to the anecdotes about how school is such a drag. Imagine that now: imagine being in a place where you had to listen to lectures for 8 hours and you couldn’t use the bathroom when you wanted. Gah! I can’t imagine subjecting myself to that; how could I subject my kids to that!

what if schizophrenia/autism is a spectrum, and so is ocd/adhd?

basically that. I have still found it useful to wonder about if I’m on the OCD spectrum, or the autism spectrum spectrum. (“OCD spectrum” doesn’t officially exist, but I mean “what if I’m some percent of the way to OCD?” similar to the autism spectrum spectrum - I’m not formally on the autism spectrum, but I’ve wondered if I’m partway there.) Keeping in mind my friend Neil’s curse of labels, why bother with this? Because I think you can learn something about regular life by looking at extremes. for example, work with psychiatric patients makes it easier to make sense of persistent non-symbolic experiences.

speaking of rationalist-adjacent types

I wish I could organize my thoughts as well as this person. Looks like they do what I’ve done from time to time: take a topic and scan abstracts from papers that seem related, and put them into some coherent structure. This is not The Best way of getting knowledge (ideally you’d be, or talk to, an expert, and combine that with some research citations) but I’ll take what I can get. Like, this guide to exercise types and muscles is kinda interesting.

adblock, but for youtube

sounds great!


  1. I feel obligated to disclaimer SSC/ACT these days because there’s been a lot of Ugly Discourse but… I still generally (though not completely!) like him. ↩︎


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