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Small-Scale Question Sunday for May 12, 2024

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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When we're doing janitorial triage, and come across a comment that's so good that, in addition to sorting it as "high-quality", we have a strong urge to report it as "high-quality" ourselves, should we do that? Would it only add noise, or would it somehow help the process?

Do you mean like adding a badge or icon displayed under the post?

I meant, it's clear that someone else reported the comment as high quality, and I just validated their choice while doing janitor duty. So should I report the comment as high quality myself, thus giving it 2 HQ reports, and forcing some other volunteer janitor to read the same high quality comment? The answer appears to be "yes".

I recall reading about an interrogation tactic of PoWs (maybe in Korean War?) where the prisoner is gradually made to relinquish his patriotism through very gradual criticism of his country beginning at a microscopic level (“well, there is one small thing wrong with America…). Actually I think this was posted at one point here. What is this interrogation tactic?

I believe this was laid out in Robert Cialdini's book 'Influence'.

I couldn't find my book so I just looked it up online and it's the 2nd principle of Influence, Commitment. Basically people want to their beliefs to be consistent with their values. This desire for consistency and commitment means if you can get someone to admit to a small thing, they will gradually be moved to admit and agree to bigger things in order to be consistent with their past actions. Here's a summary: https://www.shortform.com/blog/psychological-manipulation-of-korean-war-american-pows/

This is the origin of the term "brainwashing" in English, being a direct translation of a Chinese phrase coined by Maoists during the civil wars to describe their ideological conversion tactics.

Can't answer your question, but this makes me think of how anti-western (and anti-white and anti-male) sentiment is gradually shaped throughout western education.

It was also a 0HPL thread, it was slightly different, and I remember it and not this article linked somewhere in these parts.

Are there any major bloggers in the rat-sphere who are significantly pro-Palestine, anti-Israel? I think everyone I follow is either pro-Israel or basically neutral

Robert Wright is not exactly in the ratsphere and isn't exactly "anti-Israel" per se, but he's the closest one that comes to mind.

I was trying to come up with some candidates, and for a split-second thought, "Scott Aaronson seems pretty emotional and prone to poor decision-making on political topics. Maybe him?"

Lol. Well, I was half right.

I don't know if Sam Kriss counts as rat-sphere.

I never heard of him before, but I read a couple of his Palestine posts, and a couple on other topics. I wouldn't really call him rat-ty from what I've seen, he seems to really beat around the bush a lot and then not even offer clear conclusions and solutions when he's done. He follows the leftist intellectual playbook of pointing out something terrible, waxing poetic of how we really need to stop that terrible thing, but then not actually offer any alternatives or ways to implement a solution. He had a post where he used Fidel Castro's death as imagery for how the today's state of Cuba is the death of revolutionary socialism, since Cuba today is an example of how even best case scenario socialism has rather pathetic results compared to the average capitalist democracy. But he didn't seem to actually seem to stop being a leftist or start advocating for democratic capitalism, instead the piece was just mourning socialism's death without actually abandoning socialism.

I might be misunderstanding him, but I'd place that entirely on him for not being more clear, I shouldn't have to do literary analysis on a political commentator.

I think there are so many overlapping drivers of pro-Israel sentiment in the “ratsphere” (many Jews, the scene was largely founded by Jews, respect for Jewish inventions, Israelis as disproportionately active in tech/AI research, general dislike for religious Muslims, contempt for wokeness, dislike of student protestors) that it would seem unlikely for there to be any significant number.

The three core predictors of support for Palestine vs Israel are being Muslim, being leftist/‘woke’ and having a broadly low opinion of Jews. I’ve never met a strongly anti-Israel person who fell into none of those three categories.

It also relates back to the tendency for Rats to engage publicly in performative utilitarianism, which seems to be the order of the day among Pro-Israel supporters to begin with.

I think Darryl Cooper (MartyrMade podcast/Twitter) probably qualifies. If he's a generalized anti-Semite, it doesn't come across in the podcast. His personal politics are hard-right and I don't think he has any particular affinity for Muslims or ire against Jews.

The three core predictors of support for Palestine vs Israel are being Muslim, being leftist/‘woke’ and having a broadly low opinion of Jews. I’ve never met a strongly anti-Israel person who fell into none of those three categories.

I'm curious how you would fit Irish anti-Israel sentiment into that model? I'm not sure Ireland as a whole is particularly woke, and @Folamh3 makes a decent case against it having much to do with the other two factors you mention.

Irish nationalism has been broadly leftist for a long time. Sinn Fein is an explicitly socialist party, and advocated quasi-revolutionary socialism until relatively recently. Ireland’s pro-Palestinian activism is based on perceived shared oppression by Anglo imperialists, it is inherently quite leftist (much like other European separatist movements, eg. in Catalonia). I would guess that if you polled the Irish, extreme pro-Palestinian sentiment would be highly correlated with political leftism.

Sinn Fein is an explicitly socialist party, and advocated quasi-revolutionary socialism until relatively recently.

Sure, but Sinn Féin only represents a portion of Irish nationalism. Aside from the minority of socialists who took part in the fighting in 1916/1919-21 they are basically the only explicitly socialist Irish nationalists worth mentioning, and they had very little presence in the Republic of Ireland until quite recently.

Anti-colonialism.

If you look at Irish history, they had settlement and land expropriation from their stronger, religiously distinct, ultra-Western neighbour. They had vicious and protracted wars with Britain, insurgency, atrocities and terrorism.

It's quite similar to Palestine v Israel. More Western vs less Western, stronger vs weaker, religious conflict, land confiscation. Britain has been closely aligned with Israel since Suez.

There was some interesting overlap ( 1, 2 ) between the early zionists and Irish nationalists, back when both causes involved fighting the British (often it was the same British commanders and troops who fought in Ireland and then Palestine).

I wonder if it’s a case of anti-Israel sentiment in Ireland is just not considered any different to disapproval of the actions of other countries? The American government was hated as much in Ireland for the Iraq war as the Israeli government is in Gaza (anger over American troops passing through Shannon airport was an issue for years), same for Russia in Ukraine, but nobody treats this as some moral failing.

For what it's worth I disagree that Ireland isn't "particularly woke". I mean, the general population finds wokeness bizarre and alienating, but that's true of every country in which wokeness has found any kind of purchase: it's an ideology by and for the elites, and for the most part the elites in Ireland are just as woke as in any other Anglophone nation. We have self-ID (and the attendant rows about males in women's prisons and sports); controversies over youth gender medicine; massive BLM protests in 2020; the incidence of words like "racism", "transphobia", "homophobia" etc. in our two national newspapers has skyrocketed since 2010, and demands for draconian hate speech legislation - in short, everything you'd expect from a woke nation. The point I was trying to make is that Irish support for the Palestinian cause predates Ireland's great awokening by decades, and pro-Palestine marches were a common sight to see long before anyone here had heard of a preferred pronoun.

I also think @2rafa is being a bit sweeping by putting a slash between leftist and woke. Many wokes are liberals, many leftists are not wokes, although they do both tend to favour the Palestinian cause if for different reasons.

To clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that Ireland is especially anti-woke, rather that my sense is that the reach of progressive politics in the country is similar to that of most other anglo nations, which mirrors what you say. Hence this wouldn't serve to explain the difference in intensity of anti-Israel feelings between Ireland and say Australia. Of course, you've given the historical argument, and I suppose I was curious whether @2rafa would have appended something covering this to her list of factors predicting anti-Israel attitudes or whether she'd have a differing position.

Could technological society cause the proliferation of “inhuman” behavioral traits? And could such an outcome be unfavorable even if it were a technologically-utopian society? When I imagine the end goal of human existence — when all obligations and all unnecessary stresses are eliminated — it’s something like an eternal state of playfulness and “deep” emotion. The deep emotions are friendship, love, awe, wonder, tranquility. These to me are intuitively terminal. So the optimal end goal of human existence is to optimize for these propensities. These traits or propensities are superior to, say, an eternal state of playfulness where people do combat sports for fun. A terminal enjoyment of striking another for fun is inherently inferior to a terminal enjoyment of singing odes to beauty, love, and peace. If we imagine two paradises, the fighter’s paradise would exist on a lower level.

But what if industrial society causes the proliferation of traits whose terminal values are something like “neurotic competing over social superiority” or “enjoying puzzles”? These are selected for today, and if you have both of these traits you can make loads of money. And that’s all well and good when they are instrumental to keeping the economic engine churning. But what if if changes human nature? A paradisal state where people do puzzles and aggressively fight and subvert each other to obtain the highest status also strikes me as an inferior paradise. While instrumentally useful right now, it can change human nature for the worse.

I think it’s at least somewhat true. What modern technological society tends to do is uproot deeper communities. Modern societies are often highly individualized, and often uprooted from traditional culture and extended families. And I think the destruction of those things tend to create a lack of empathy in society. In a traditional society, most people are friends, family or acquaintances— people you’d know by name and greet on the streets. Any decision you made you knew was going to either help or hurt the community you actually lived in. And it does make a difference. If I make the choice to lay people off and I work in that factory and live in that town, it’s impossible for me to completely remove myself from the human side of the equation because I’ve actually met the people about to lose their jobs. Maybe they go to my church, maybe my wife plays cards with his wife, maybe I just pass him on the streets, and I worked with him. He’s a human.

And in most discussion of war crimes and the like one of the first things done is to dehumanize the subjects of abuse. They aren’t real people, they don’t have families or needs or wants. Except that especially in the high up positions in society where those decisions are made, we’ve sort of accidentally dehumanized people in our own society through abstraction. The person deciding to lay people off at a factory he’s never been to and in a country he can’t find on a map only sees them as numbers on a spreadsheet. They aren’t depriving a human of a means of supporting themselves and their families, they’re reducing headcount. It’s impersonal, sterilized of any thought that you’re the cause of human suffering. And a lot of decisions made at the top end up working that way. If you’re fighting a war, you do it by drone and aircraft and long range missiles, not stabbing someone with a sword. Make hurting people distant and done at the push of a button and there’s no pause to think about it.

The other thing is that our relationships are shallower. We have a loneliness epidemic in America where very few people have a close friend (someone they can rely upon to help them and who they’d likewise help if they were in serious trouble). Most people have moved away from family and maybe only see siblings and cousins a couple of times a year. This doesn’t help develop empathy and might make people more comfortable dehumanizing other people. If you’re only talking through the screen and rarely close to other people, it’s easy to dismiss the other person.

I think that technocapital has already selected for "inhuman" traits in some populations (though I do think calling it "inhuman" is maybe not the most descriptive, because traits that humans have are definitionally human traits). These traits are the ones that make people more effective as components in the civilizational machine, the populations are the more heavily historically "civilized" ones, and there is a lot of crossover with the cultural traits identified as the "aspects and assumptions of whiteness and white culture" in the infamous smithsonian infographic (https://www.newsweek.com/smithsonian-race-guidelines-rational-thinking-hard-work-are-white-values-1518333#slideshow/1610610).

Individuality, neuroticism, self-reliance, "protestant" work ethic, respect for rules, avoidance of overt conflict, objective/linear thinking, etc are all traits that are unusual in pre-civilizational humans and that make for better members of civilization, and I think that technocapital has selected for those traits in humans both biologically and memetically/culturally.

All of this to say, it's not "What if it changes human nature?", that ship has sailed. The question is "What's anyone doing to take technocapital out of the driver's seat?", and the answer is "pretty much nothing, Kaczynski and Land are right, we are not our own masters, and it's acceleration from here on out."

How hard is it to put a neural network-based targeting system onto a small UAV? Yes, yes, Watchbird by Sheckley and all that, but the radio link with the drone operator is the weakest point of modern UAVs.

In Australia we just expelled a Chinese student for working on linking drones together to navigate through environments without GPS, since it was apparently 'WMD-related'. You should tread carefully, a lot of people are getting very excited/scared about drone navigation and targeting.

Honestly they're not wrong, I'm waiting for the moment 10,000 kill bots swarm out of a shipping container somewhere, they'll make 9/11 look like a joke.

[caveat: there are some parts of this discussion area I'm not going to describe, either publicly or in private messages.]

Any? Throw YOLO onto a Jetson, some batteries, and a decent lens, have fun. Start with one of a dozen preconfigured models, maybe use the VisDrone dataset if you want to put a bit of effort into tweaking something. Probably about 2k-10k if you're buying all pre-built (maybe a bit more if you want non-DJI).

Actually doing it well gets harder. There's been a little bit of effort into image-based localization, to avoid GPS jamming, but for technical reasons (off-nadir sunlight suuuuuucks) it's annoying as hell to work with, and you probably want it or something like it, in addition to your main sensor payload. Some human identification is easier than others. And actual decision-making for more complex stuff is a Coding Project.

How much of current AI work can be traced back to Yudkowsky influencing people to work on AI?

I was trying to explain to friends who the guy is, but I don't quite have a sense of the scope of his influence.

Anecdotally, I did my Masters in Machine Learning, and I think I only knew of him because my brother used to like some of his LessWrong stuff.

Exactly zero.

The current AI work was inspired by nerds who loved imaging, linguistics, math and gpus.

As an AI engineer. Almost none. No one I know in this space, coworkers, colleagues, friends, and myself ever heard of this guy before running into Rationalists/Lesswrong spaces and that was after we/I decided to pursue a career in ML/AI. The ones besides me that have heard of him, have an overall negative opinion of him. Several consider him a loudmouth idiot.

What do you make of this tweet from Altman, then?

To borrow a quote on this subject from my boss: "Silicon Valley Brain-rot". I wouldn't go that far but the sentiment exists.

I don't know what it is about the Bay but I can only hypothesize that for some reason when you stick a bunch of uber-nerdy, neurodivergent, high openness and high neuroticism people in an environment. Shake it up a bit, eventually the most neurotic, nerdy, and neurodivergent rise to the top. Big Yud has essentially L. R. Hubbard-ed himself into the leader of a cult that goes catatonic over the wildest sci-fi shit.

My analysis on that tweet is such:

  • Peak Quokka: Altman is a huge follower of Yud and genuinely believes, through a failure to not realize he lives in a bubble, that Yud's AI teaching inspired all the greatest minds of the AI world.
  • Less Quokka: Altman is a genuine follower of Yud and due to his ego, believes He(Altman) will make the biggest contributions to AI, thus since Yud inspired him Yud is a huge impact.
  • Cynic: Altman is a shrewd power player, as evidenced by the whole board fiasco. He knows that if he refences a big name in the Bay Bubble AI Sphere, it will signal boost him at no cost. It acts like a scissor statement to the Pro/Anti doomers, generates lots of clicks and draws talent from both camps to OpenAI.

I'm somewhere between less-quokka and cynic. But take what I say with a grain of salt. I don't live in the bay, I work in defense, and years back I decided I'd rather take the quiet and stable life instead of gunning for a job at OpenAI/Deepmind/FAIR, where I could make the most impact on AI

Doesn’t this guy believe AI will likely kill us all? Why is he influencing people to work on AI?

Why is he influencing people to work on AI?

Intentionally, because of his belief (at one point, at least; he's gotten much more pessimistic lately) that the least-bad way to mitigate the dangers of "Unfriendly AI" is to first develop "Friendly AI", something that also has superhuman intellectual power but that has values which have been painstakingly "aligned" with humanity's. ... I originally wrote "best way", but that has the wrong connotations; even in his less pessimistic days he recognized that "get its capabilities and values right" was a strictly harder problem than "get its capabilities right and cross your fingers", and thus the need to specifically argue that people should deliberately avoid the latter.

Unintentionally, because he doesn't get to pick and choose which of his arguments people believe and which they disbelieve. Long ago I wrote this about evangelism of existing AI researchers, but much of it applies to prospective new ones as well:

Existing AI researchers are likely predisposed to think that their AGI is likely to naturally be both safe and powerful. If they are exposed to arguments that it will instead naturally be both dangerous and very powerful (the latter half of the argument can't be easily omitted; the potential danger is in part because of the high potential power), would it not be a natural result of confirmation bias for the preconception-contradicting "dangerous" half of the argument to be disbelieved and the preconception-confirming "very powerful" half of the argument to be believed?

Half of the AI researcher interviews posted to LessWrong appear to be with people who believe that "Garbage In, Garbage Out" only applies to arithmetic, not to morality. If the end result of persuasion is that as many as half of them have that mistake corrected while the remainder are merely convinced that they should work even harder, that may not be a net win.

Yudkowsky believes:

  1. Human-value-aligned AIs make up a miniscule spec of the vast space of all possible minds, and we currently have no clue how to find one.
  2. We have to get the alignment of a super human intelligence AI right on the first try or all humans will die.
  3. Coordinating enough governments to enforce a worldwide ban on threat of violence of AI development until we learn how to build friendly AIs would be nice, but it's not politically tenable in our world.
  4. The people who are currently building AIs don't appreciate how dangerous the situation we're in is and don't understand how hard it is to get an aligned super human artificial intelligence aligned on the first try.

Given these propositions, his plan is to attempt to build an aligned super-intelligent AI before anybody else can build a non-aligned super-intelligent AI -- or at least it was. Given his recent public appearances, I get the impression he's more or less given up hope.

Has anyone successfully paid a third party to run a dating profile? I really thought this would be a well-established market but I can only find a handful of extremely sketchy looking services I don't trust at all.

I am a loser who photographs poorly and I'm not good at talking to girls online, but I have a fair bit of money, so I'd pretty happily trade someone who's good at this a few hundred dollars per actual date who shows up (subject to sane constraints--no pros, not homeless girls, no one too old to have kids, not morbidly obese, etc.). I'd rather kill myself then ever swipe again, but I tried for six months to meet girls offline and got nowhere...so it's tinder or die alone like a pathetic loser.

There are full matchmaking services. Pay for one of those instead of having someone run a dating app for you.

Are any of them not horribly scammy?

I know of one person that met their spouse on here: https://www.itsjustlunch.com/

Both of them weren't very attractive. The one I knew was a nice person and good conversationalist, but I imagine dating apps did not treat them kindly.

Romance Scams are a large and growing sector in modern wire fraud. Any "services" you find online of the nature you describe have a roughly 99% chance of being a scam. It will all seem fine at first, they will almost certainly succeed in producing some "women" who are interested in your profile. They will be very excited about meeting you, but some unfortunate circumstance will prevent them from finally meeting their true love. But good news! Whatever problem they are facing can be easily solved with money. Specifically you sending them money. It wont be enough though, or it will but some new problem will come up. This problem can also be solved by sending them more money. Rinse and Repeat until you are bankrupt or finally figure it out. This is one of those shame-based scams that are very seldom reported to law enforcement.

On top of all of this, the dating apps themselves aren't entirely not scams either. I'm sure many men do meet women over them. Most don't, and some of them spend a good amount of money on the app itself trying to get an edge, no scammers needed.

There is a bunch of good advice down thread though.

Pay a professional photographer to take and edit your photos, pay a "copywriter" on fiver to write your bio. That should handle 75% of it.

Why not pay for some good photos instead?

Also there isn’t much magic to small talk on the apps. Very basic opener, move off the app asap (instagram or facebook gives the woman a bit more confidence you won’t murder her if you have a normal profile), don’t keep texting for long and ask her out for a date. Also get used to being ghosted at any step of the way.

Once you have decent photos you should definitely pay for the apps.

Also the good apps change a lot depending on your region. All I know is that tinder became an absolute cesspool in most of developed world and there are some competing alternatives. You need to find the app(s) from which the middle class young women don’t get the ick yet.

I am a loser

What makes you say this? I'm not trying to give you an internet pump-up speech along the lines of "you're probably pretty great!"

No, I will accept at face value that you fucking suck, loser. Now, let's identify the problem.

Are you short and skinny? Do you smell and dress bad? You say you have a fair bit of money. Did you earn it or did someone die an leave it to you?

The point is that getting out of loserdom is really just a project like anything else. Identify what is lacking, create plans for compounding improvement, execute those plans, track and log progress, adjust along the way.

Here's a generalize bullet list that 99% of dudes benefit from:

  1. I'm a physical loser ---> Go to the gym. There are a million beginner lifting routines. Do one. After six months, add a competitive sport. Doesn't have to be MMA / BJJ, just something where there is a definite winner and loser and people take it seriously. Don't do beer league softball.

  2. I'm a social loser ---> Get good at small talk. Start by making short observations at checkout lines. Try to make simple jokes. If it goes poorly, you're in a checkout line and the interaction will end in literally seconds. You'll know you're getting good when it becomes almost second nature and you can get a chuckle most of the time. Next step, start going to bars and doing this with the bartender (doesn't matter if they're male or female). Most of their day is spent making small talk to medium talk (i.e. bullshitting with regulars about their jobs or whatever). They're pretty much on autopilot and also paid to be nice, so they'll help the conversation along even if you still kind of suck. This will help you get better at developing a few quick "lines" into full on conversations. An option but not really recommended step is to do this at strip clubs. Again, I don't recommend it but have great stories. I digress.

  3. I'm a loser loser, meaning I have no confidence in myself ---> Paradoxically, one of the easier ones to solve. Confidence comes from exactly one process; demonstrate competence in a difficult task. You will pick a medium term task or project that seems hard, and then you will do it. Build a website, build a birdhouse, organize a party, train for an complete a 10k, something that takes around 90 days. Pick it. Do it. Write about it as you are doing it in a journal style. At the end, after you do it, read the journal, relive the emotional journey and realize "I did it even though it was hard along the way." Boom, confidence.

  4. I'm an internet loser. This is guy code for "I watch porn." It's easy - stop.

Build a website,

failed at that, what to do?

  1. Why did you fail? Make a list of reasons. Pick one or two to try and improve on.
  2. Pick a different project. Maybe make it related to your failed website.
  3. Project plan --> execution --> log and journal --> repeat.

There's no shortcut here and part of the only way to progress is to encounter and then surpass failure. This is a short comment because all of the content you actually need is in it.

This is the same content density of 98% of all self-help books.

i can't start to use next free (kinda) hosting i try. i fail with setting SSL keys. looks like format of SSL is somewhat distinct from much earlier, on another free hosting, where https is not default, i failed to set up https using "turing on https on our hosting is very easy"

Would recommend posting this in maybe the small scale thread for today asking for pointers on how to do things like this.

This borders on AAQC territory for how generalizable and accurate the advice is. The only thing I'd add is sorting out style, which is also not actually very hard once you stop insisting that you don't care about style.

#2 -- I would recommend trying something more like a farmer's market for this, vs literal checkout lines. Trying to strike up a conversation at a supermarket is in itself a faux pas, actual friends and colleagues barely acknowledge each other there. Bookshops and hobby stores are better. Handcraft markets and galleries with event nights are good -- there are people (probably skewed towards women, which is good in this context) just milling around for the atmosphere, open to a short conversation that probably won't lead anywhere. It is basically normal to just wander around talking to vendors or saying things about the items and not buying all that much.

Just go start political conversations in diners with old men. Once you can get over the 'golly willikers she's a girl and she's pretty' the skills are surprisingly transferable.

Start by making short observations at checkout lines.

I am an introvert. Note, I am happily married and do not need any dating advice, but this one sounds to be a bit like: "want to get strong? It's easy - start with bench pressing 300lbs and then do it every other day for 6 months and you'd be golden". I'm sure for some people that sounds like a reasonable advice, to me it looks so remote from my world and my character as a proposal to take a nice quick walk to the moon. I suspect it'd sound the same to many other introverts. My problem with it is not that it might not work - some people do bench 300lbs, so it might work for them - but that you make it sound like it's trivial for every normal person to do it, so when a person for whom it is not trivial reads this, they would only think it's because they are some kind of special extra-hard strength loser that go below even normal definition of loser. And that's just not the case.

It's easy - start with bench pressing 300lbs and then do it every other day for 6 months and you'd be golden".

It's not. It's "nobody cares what you look like at the gym, trust me. Just go and do something - anything - and you'll see that it gets easier."

For the vast majority of people, even introverts or people with anxiety issues, this incremental task is doable and gets easier over time. Maybe not pleasant, but that's a different thing.

If a person legitimately cannot perform the task or parse the underlying point behind it or introspect as to why, maybe they need a therapist. Because I doubt caveating internet discussion even more (and losing the low-hanging fruit you can easily influence) is going to fix this.

It depends.

My husband and I are both high openness introverts, who are now raising high openness introvert children. One of the children did spontaneously strike up a conversation in the check out line today with a little kid sitting in a cart. On the other hand, the response rate for cute little girls smiling and waving at a store is something like 1/20, and I would expect for a non charismatic grown man to be significantly worse (and occasionally actually negative, whereas for the kids it's at worst neutral), so that's a pretty low value situation.

The strategy of just showing up somewhere and seeing if anyone looks friendly works pretty well, even for introverts. Either way, we'll have seen a thing, wandered around, and that's fine. Or maybe there is someone friendly there, and that's even more interesting! Lots of people all over the place are more outgoing than we are, so we've had a lot of interesting experiences this way. We just have to go take a nap afterwards. But we are all very high Openness in the Big 5 sense, so ymmv.

What was the first thing you said to your wife?

"I don't think your advice will work for me," Is a valid thing to say. I offered my best possible advice with genuine intent.

That depends a lot of what you mean by "said". We communicated online for quite a while before we met physically, and even longer before we decided that we belong together. Of course, it was the time before Twitter, when people actually had conversations online :)

I am not implying the advice is given with bad intent - just that one must be careful that it may not apply to everyone, and if it doesn't work for somebody, it doesn't mean they are even more of a loser than they thought - but that there are other ways that would be better for them. Like, for example, find communities online where once could practice talking with various people. Maybe even with people of female persuasion without trying to score with them ;) It doesn't mean never talking to meatspace people - just maybe not jump right into that if that's not what you're comfortable doing.

just that one must be careful that it may not apply to everyone,

Then let me be explicit; my advice may not apply to everyone

and if it doesn't work for somebody, it doesn't mean they are even more of a loser than they thought

Nowhere did I say this. You did. My introductory "loser" comments were caveated upfront.

but that there are other ways that would be better for them.

How can I possibly know this about another person who I have never met?

Like, for example, find communities online where once could practice talking with various people.

This. Isn't. Talking. To. People.

Maybe even with people of female persuasion without trying to score with them ;)

OP is literally asking for ways to get better at dating

just maybe not jump right into that if that's not what you're comfortable doing.

What is more important to OP? Developing comfort with current situation, or seeking to change current situation? I suppose that's a question for him.

That depends a lot of what you mean by "said".

Dude.

What was the first thing for which you used your face hole to send sonic vibrations to her?


Whenever there's a line-by-line quote-response breakdown in the replies, it's always because someone (in this case, me) has taken issue with what they feel to be a very bad argument. I freely admit this is the case.

None of what you have said is in anyway wrong, debased, or could be considered offensive. But I think literally all of it is ineffective based on what I believe OP's goals to be. I know I'm getting close to Jordan Peterson territory here and I'll resist the urge to start shouting "MAKE YER BED." But I think that most gradualist self-improvement advice is ineffective and is ultimately a road to developing new and fun copes for bad situations. All good self-improvement advice is a variant of "you're going to have to do things that aren't comfortable, but then things will improve for you." So, that's what I'm offering OP. That it may not be comfortable for him is precisely the point. Now, to try an find some middleground, if OP really does believe my advice will also be ineffective, he's more than free to ignore it.

I believe you haven't offered any advice that is more effective. I believe you had only offered advice that is ineffective. I believe you have prioritized comfort relative to the current state over absolutely improved future state.

I will await your reply wherein you tell me "Well it must've worked! - I'm married!"

This. Isn't. Talking. To. People.

For you, it isn't. For some others, it is. And that's why I found it necessary to add to your advice - because from what you said it seems to me that you do not understand how people that are very different from you work, and seem to view the way they work as some ridiculous performance bordering on stupidity.

OP is literally asking for ways to get better at dating

True. But sometimes the best way to the goal is not rushing at that direction headlong, but instead walk some roads not taken. Lifting weights is not dating. Expanding your horizons is not dating. Both may - not guaranteed, but may - lead to better dating.

What was the first thing for which you used your face hole to send sonic vibrations to her?

Not telling you that. It's a funny story, but embarrassing enough for me that I won't tell it in public. Fortunately, my (future at that point) wife shares my weird sense of humor and she found what happened hilarious, and it kinda warmed her up to me more (and she knew, from prior communication, that I am not actually a doofus I made myself look as at the moment). Could've gone other way, you never know.

All good self-improvement advice is a variant of "you're going to have to do things that aren't comfortable, but then things will improve for you."

Very broadly, this is true. However, thing being uncomfortable doesn't mean a) you can actually do it and b) it will effectively lead to the goal. For somebody like me, it probably wouldn't. Heck, I even started lifting weights only after I got married. I guess my point here is it's not easy, but it's possible if you persist and don't give up if one way doesn't work but try another instead.

I will await your reply wherein you tell me "Well it must've worked! - I'm married!"

No, that was pure luck in my opinion. Or God's providence, if you're inclined that way.

For somebody like me, it probably wouldn't.

From what you said it seems to me that you do not understand how people that are very different from you work.

Could've gone other way, you never know.

No, that was pure luck in my opinion.

But sometimes the best way to the goal is not rushing at that direction headlong, but instead walk some roads not taken.

Continue to amble along amiably, meandering through life, wishing providence smiles on you. Is this an accurate representation of your preferred strategy?

I told exactly nothing about my preferred strategy, so you should not feel bad about not getting anything right about it. The reason I didn't is because I don't need it already, and hadn't needed for a long time, and the only person it is useful for is me. So telling about it is kinda useless, except for bragging - but I even have nothing to brag about, I just got lucky once. Best I could do is some very generic pointers that may help somebody else who is like me in many aspects to find where to look for their strategy. Yes, I know it's disappointing - the 1-2-3-4 guaranteed works advice looks much better and inspires much more confidence. It's just that over my lifetime, I've had such advice, and I've had to deal with the consequences of it failing, and it's not pleasant. If I can make somebody's potential landing softer - my work is done. If your plan works and I end up looking stupid - no problem, I'' be fine with that too.

It's the old MetaMed problem. Anyone who understands enough about the object-level issue to weed out the total scams is someone who understands enough to just do it themselves.

If it's any consolation, I was pretty notable around these parts for not having much luck with women, but I did eventually meet my current gf on Bumble. Your experience may vary, but I don't think the apps are quite as bad as everyone says.

Cyrano as a service. I don't hate the idea.

There's an obvious flaw in this model. If all you need is a shag, why pay the middle-man? If what you need is long-term, how do you expect to sustain it once Cyrano is out of the picture? Of course, if you're just bad at passing the initial nutcase filters, it could help, but the prerequisite would still be to be able to survive the first date in person.

The skillet of getting a woman to fucking turn up for an OLDate has little to do with the skillet of speaking to them in person. Your instinct will be to say something charming and genuine, which will fail, while someone else with canned lines will breeze through. This is a task I'd want to throw an LLM at; not speaking to women, just the narrow task of getting them to turn the fuck up.

Even the women themselves change massively in their "voice" once they actually have met you and like you.

OP doesn't sound like he's only looking for a shag.

OP may have to die before the truth is revealed. Cyrano as a service.

You say that like jumping into a long-term relationship is trivial. It looks like the first stage of that plan still involves finding a woman willing to go on a date with you and have it go beyond treating her to dates ad infinitum.

The answer is very simple: casual dating is a specialized activity, like triathlon running or flying helicopters. You can't expect everyone to run triathlons, and you can't expect everyone to date casually.

You make a compelling case for using a third party matchmaking service.

What are the least unbearably cringe examples of the "We're X, of course we Y." meme?

I've only ever encountered them with the extreme selection bias of being reposted on Twitter as ragebait, but it's really hard to imagine any that wouldn't be. Surely there are less awful examples that make retards keep thinking it's a good idea. Like how did this meme not die at birth?

I've seen a bunch of Uzbeks doing "We're from Uzbekistan, of course we [X]", and it's quite sweet, they're generally wholesome and outward-looking people who aren't really connected to meme culture so it comes off as earnest instead of cringe.

I confess to enjoying the Costco guys. Still cringe, but wholesome.

My God, that blonde woman is enormous.

Are they all walking to the same destination?

You can see the awkward 'Ok ACTION, please start walking now' moment in some of the shots.

I have effectively made the decision to move out of my home in the middle-class Dallas, TX, suburbs into an apartment in the fun part of town. I am debating whether I should rent the home out or sell it and would like advice and/or experiences from my fellow Mottizens. I am leaning 75/25 in favor of selling given the thoughts below.

Background:

  • 26 year-old male in committed relationship that I expect to result in marriage. We would not move into this house together if we got married.
  • Home is appraised at $380k and has a 30-year mortgage with 3% rate. Monthly payment all-in is $2200 and expected to go up due to property values increasing.
  • Home is in a socially "meh" area with meh schools and stroads galore

Pro-sell thoughts:

  • I do not have the time to manage tenants unless they are truly very quiet nor am I willing to risk getting shitty tenants and having to deal with them
  • I can simply pocket the cash and have peace of mind about not having to worry about the house and its illiquidity, tenants, etc.
  • I am moderately risk-adverse when it comes to money and investments and it can cause me stress. If I were to move to an apartment and have a vacant home, my combined mortgage and rent would be about 80% of my post-tax income. (I have plenty in a brokerage account that could cover me, but I don't want to sell that.)

Pro-rent thoughts:

  • More equity: I do not care about making a large monthly profit off of the house (maybe $100-200/mo to pay for emergencies), but rather building equity so I can get more money when I eventually sell
  • Property management companies can, but not always, do a good job of not letting anything make it to the homeowner (from what I've read)
  • If I get lucky and find excellent tenants, I can treat them very well to increase the likelihood of them staying (but this is still risking it)
  • My area's real estate market is relatively in-demand with little sign of slowing down (not including reasons that affect all U.S. cities), which may allow me to sell a bit quicker than other markets, especially if I sold for below market value (which I'm fine doing if absolutely needed)
  • 3% interest rate is very good and I suspect we won't see that for a long time

I'm going to buck the trend and say you should sell. In my opinion, administrative overhead is greatly under-estimated. Simply not having to think about X is worth a lot.

To me, it feels like you aren't going to care about the house. At best, it's a source of small income. Cut it free, take the capital gains and the mortgage payment and do something else more relevant to you with the money.

It would be foolish to give up that 3% rate. That is free money dude! What are the rental comps looking like. You're also locked in except for tax increases/insurance, the rent rise a lot over the next 30 years but the mortgage will be the same in 2045 as it is today! Tenants aren't that bad if you vet properly. Just self manage and tell the tenants you're just the property manager. Saves a lot of headaches.

This is Dallas, self-management is a bad idea unless you’re plugged into a network that pre-vets people and have a lot of free time.

Can you explain what makes Dallas such a different and difficult rental market from a self management perspective?

3% interest rate is very good and I suspect we won't see that for a long time

One important addendum to this is considering that this is already leveraged money. In a counterfactual scenario where you didn't currently own a rental property, but could purchase one with a 3% interest rate, this would be an excellent purchase at the moment.

You're correct that dealing with tenants can suck, but a huge amount of the suck is brought on by softhearted landlords. One of the big things to consider here is whether you're willing to treat any potential tenant in a strictly transactional fashion. If not, this is a bad business for you to be in.

Fair point. I think this a benefit of a property management company—they are consistently transactional by nature and requirement, whereas my softheartedness would probably vary by tenant.

Let’s say you have 50 dollars. Let’s say investor X has 30 dollars but can borrow 70 at 5% interest rate.

You both invest and get a twenty percent return over two years.

You end up with 60 dollars. X ends up after paying off the debt 43 dollars. That’s over a 40% return on X’s 30 dollars.

Now of course X took on much more risk. The question in your fact pattern is how much risk are you taking on. if there is decent equity cushion in your home and given that the rate so low, the answer is “probably not that much risk.”

Monthly payment all-in is $2200 and expected to go up due to property values increasing.

I'm guessing you mean from taxes? That's a factor for sure, but it's going to be so minuscule that it isn't even worth talking about. The assessed value of my home went up by like 75% in the past year, and it's going to mean an extra couple hundred dollars on our monthly payment. Compared to the value you will get from selling the house later on, that's nothing imo.

Yes, taxes. It went up by $400/mo last year, and I expect another $100/mo again this year. That’s not minuscule to me. But you’re right—long-term it mostly washes out.

If it's about money, how about staying in the house and getting housemates? (I assume the house if big enough for that - I don't know DFW market but $380k sounds like it should buy some decent space?) Once you marry and ready to start that adventure in a new house, you can sell this one, or keep renting it out - by then you'd know if it works for you.

I do have housemates now which has substantially helped with paying the mortgage (and I’d recommend to any single person with a home!).

I want to move to area X because a) I like the environment, and b) that’s where I spend a lot of my time, allowing me to save an estimated 100 hours per year of driving (one-hour round trip twice per week). Housemates don’t help this much, even if I save a bunch of money.

If you currently have housemates (presumably already vetted), why not just continue to rent to them? Increase their rent as necessary to cover your expenses, and then rest easy knowing you’re renting to responsible people.

It’s only one right now. He’s an old friend who is living there for the cheap rent (which I’ve promised not to raise) and to spend more time with me. If I moved he would too, and even if he stayed and I increased rent, it wouldn’t be enough to cover what I need.

Fellow DFWite- you should rent it out. The DFW real estate market is absolutely brutal to transition from renting to owning in; I’m assuming this is a northwest Dallas location in Dallas ISD based on what you told me, which means your home should increase in value a lot if you hold on to it, giving you a massive head start when you and your future wife buy your forever home. A good property management company is a must, but your house is unlikely to sit vacant.

I’m not sure why you’re moving into an apartment when rents are absolutely insane right now. I will also caution you that the fun part of town(if you’re young I assume this is deep Ellum or maybe uptown) is much less fun to actually live in. I would advise you that living in your house is the best move, renting it out while living elsewhere is a distant second, and selling is a bad idea unless you’re moving out of town or buying another house immediately.

I’m in north Garland, so Garland ISD, which isn’t the highest value school district, but still a not-so-bad area. Open to your predictions.

Uptown is where I want to live for a few reasons:

  • I’d save ~100 hours per year of driving (any further south is too far of a commute)
  • the environment is ambitious in various ways, a vibe I’m looking for to boost a few aspects of my life and one my current place doesn’t have at all
  • people I know who live in Uptown enjoy it and I mostly trust their takes
  • I want to live with my girlfriend and Uptown is as far north as she’s willing to move

I think I’ll talk with a property management company and see what they have to say.

North garland is probably going to continue to increase in value, but I wouldn’t guess anything about school quality in Texas until after we see what the legislature does about school choice- garland ISD could well wind up not mattering very much.

With apologies to @Capital_Room (not really) I'm reposting his hypothetical:

Let us consider a hypothetical character named John. Here is what John has to say about some of his coworkers:

Alice at work keeps stealing my parking space; obviously, she wants to murder me so she can have it all to herself.

Bob bumped into me in the hall yesterday; obviously, he’s a threat to my life, since he clearly shows a willingness to inflict violence upon me.

I suggested to Carol that we use a red background on the webpage, but she used a blue one instead. I can only conclude that she wants to kill me so that I stop showing up her lousy ideas with my better ones.

Dave made a comment about the smell of fish in the break-room after I reheated my lunch in the microwave. Obviously he hates my culinary choices, because he hates me, and intends to assassinate me.

Emma in management announced the new work schedule, and the set up for Monday afternoons conflicts with one of my hobbies outside work. She obviously created that whole schedule specifically to attack me personally, because she’s plotting to destroy me.

Frank called me a “paranoid nutjob.” He’s clearly out to get me and wants me dead.

Greta says I’m constantly exaggerating how much people don’t like me to play on people’s sympathy. She’s obviously plotting my death.

Henry made a comment about how I frequently accuse everyone of wanting to kill me, which only goes to prove how much he wants to kill me.

(Cartoonish, yes, but it’s a deliberate excess for purpose of illustration.)

What’s the best explanation for why John is Like This?

John is paranoid — maybe a classmate tried to stab him on the playground as a kid, and now he views everything through the lens of that trauma, or something.

John is cynically engaging in hyperbole to win over others into taking his side — he found out that exaggerating how much hostility he encounters engendered greater sympathy, and he just kept ramping it up in intensity.

John frequently contemplates killing anyone he disagrees with or dislikes — he’s engaging in “typical-minding,” believing that everyone else shares his own murderous hate.

Disregarding that this is a metaphor for the Jews or whatever, it's how I model people. What is the best explanation?

It's hard to give "best" explanations without knowing the facts. Like, do any those people actually want to murder John? Have they tried to do it already, or have he been accidentally CCed on an email with the subject "Re: Plan to murder John, Phase 2" saying "so far everything proceeding as planned, keep doing as discussed in the last meeting, we're close"? In that universe, is it common for people getting murdered by coworkers? Does John know anybody who has been murdered by coworkers, and did it happen because the coworkers were too annoyed by that person heating up a smelly fish in the microwave and incessantly complaining about work schedules and parking spaces? Is John a diagnosed schizophrenic? Does he have some other condition that could influence their cognition or decision making? Is John a sociopath and does accusation of murder bring him some benefits he otherwise can not attain? Too many variables.

History is filled with many examples of violence on massive scales (wars) and violence initiated over religious/superstitious beliefs (like the Salem witch trials). There are still wars in today’s world.

This desire and use of violence is part of the human condition. John has an attitude that helps him remain vigilant and alert to the fact that humans have the potential to resort to irrational and gratuitous violence. It seems like part of why John is like this is because it is an adaptive strategy to anticipate what might trigger violence in humans so that he can avoid triggering it in other people. Of course he is assigning incorrect probabilities to the violent outcomes, but the strategy still makes sense directionally.

Well, the biological explanation (mostly feeding into 1, but can also feed into 2 or 3) is an enlarged amygdala in the brain. Which can be genetic, a result of intense trauma, and potentially other environmental factors. Or a mix of those.

So this simply means that any signals coming into the brain get fed into the amygdala, the amygdala analyzes any possible threats in those signals, and inevitably finds and amplifies those signals, then sounds the alert to every other part of the brain, which then acts as though the threat is real whether there is such a threat or not.

Scary thing, is that this means that if you say something positive to them, they'll immediately assume you're lying and look for any angle that could be used against them. If you say something negative, they'll take this as a direct 'attack' and (over)react accordingly. And if you say something neutral, they'll immediately take the worst interpretation and (over)react accordingly.

And you don't say anything they'll assume you're thinking the worst thing about them.

This is how their brain works on a literal physical level, so when I encounter someone who fits this profile I immediately model them as a ball of neuroses and paralyzing anxiety and self-esteem issues, which tends to trigger a pity response. This disarms any anger I may have, and I usually then take pains to distance myself from this person since there's little I can do to calm them down when they are cognitively wired to feel threatened by almost every single stimulus they encounter.

All of these are plausible depending on surrounding factors absent from the example. As written and inferring from base rates, and assuming some degree of mental illness on John's part, I'd think 1 is most likely, but 2 is fairly plausible, if we assume the mental illness is something along the lines of "pathological liar" that keeps him exaggerating even as it starts to fail to gain sympathy.

It could also be a more steelmanned version of 1, what if people do keep trying to kill him? Like, not these specific people at his work, he's still exaggerating about them, but what if it's other people? Maybe John lives in a really bad neighborhood and gets mugged once a week, barely escaping by throwing his wallet and running the other way. Maybe he has to fight tooth and nail and ends up in the hospital regularly badly wounded. Maybe it's not about John at all, it's just a really bad neighborhood and everyone who lives there gets mugged regularly, or maybe John looks like an easy target. But the repeated trauma makes him think it's a conspiracy and he's not smart enough to pick out the pattern: person in dark alley = mugger, person in office = friendly, and he just thinks all people have a 50-50 chance to attack him.

If we reduce his pattern-matching abilities even further, maybe he never actually gets mugged, but he keeps doing something stupid like climbing rusty fences and scratching himself, or drunk driving and getting in accidents that almost kill him, and generalizes that to people trying to kill him.

Or maybe he just watches too much TV and movies and people are trying to kill each other all the time (especially trying to kill the protagonist) and he thinks of himself as the protagonist, therefore people must be trying to kill him.


If instead, we increase his pattern-matching abilities, maybe he does regularly get mugged, or his friends and family members do, and he notices that most of the muggers in his bad neighborhood have a certain ethnicity, and so he becomes a racist. Or maybe he goes to the police to fix the issue but they don't take him seriously because he sounds like a paranoid nutjob (when he accuses the actual mugger and Alice from work in the middle of the same rant the police can't tell which one is real and which is exaggerated), then he becomes anti-cop, or anti-government, or anti-whoever is in charge of making the cops be so lax on crime and oh hey have you read this article about how such and such group is secretly controlling the government to be soft on crime or whatever?

Stepping out of the metaphor, which I think is somewhat of a weakman for this phenomenon, I think this simultaneously explains a large chunk of racists (in all directions), anti-religion, anti-capitalists, etc etc etc. Bad thing happens to person or to people that person knows, or hears from (sometimes signal boosted and exaggerated by the media, sometimes by word of mouth). There is a real pattern causing it to happen repeatedly, though sometimes it's a pattern as complicated as "The Entire Economy", it gets oversimplified, exaggerated, and then attributed to a particular group, and the people who believe this explanation become radical anti-that-group. It's a combination of paranoia and actual pattern recognition, because there usually is an actual legitimate instigating factor that is genuine Bayesian evidence against that group, it's just much weaker than would be needed to draw the exaggerated conclusions they come to. There ARE evil racist white men trying to keep minorities poor. There ARE worthless degenerate minorities who live on crime and welfare and contribute nothing to society. There ARE corrupt police officers abusing their authority. There ARE pedophiles in government jobs. There ARE Zionist supremacist Jews who want to control all of America and manipulate it into being pro-Israel. All you need is for someone to encounter some of these in real life, or evidence of them existing, and then the pattern matching can begin until it spirals out of control.

And some of these people will have genuinely convincing evidence on their side, by sheer random chance. 1% of people will be in the top 1% for people who have been mugged. 1% of people will be in the top 1% for people who have been unfairly harassed by police. 1% of people will be in the top 1% for people who have been stared at suspiciously by shopkeepers despite doing nothing wrong. 1% of people will be in the top 1% for people who have been laid off by a Jewish boss. They're going to look at the evidence they've seen with their own eyes and be unconvinced that it might be a coincidence. It doesn't seem like a coincidence, it seems super unlikely. If their life were admissible as a scientific paper it would reject the null hypothesis. p < 0.05. They're Jellybean people!

I think that's what a lot of this is. People who perceive patterns where there are none, people who pick out genuine patterns and misattribute them, and people who have coincidences happen to them that are rational evidence when viewed from their individual perspective but don't stand out when you adjust for multiple comparison tests.

Some blend of the three. John is a lazy thinker so he defaults to lazy explanations: He's the only thing that matters, so any obstacles he encounters are deliberate sabotage, and that sabotage is the worst possible kind, and so you should feel sorry for him because he's the only thing that matters, and if you don't you might as well be dead to him. Egocentrism, probably with some sort of neurochemical deficiency that biases his perceptions towards negative interpretation.

And maybe some people have picked up on those vibes and started actually fucking with him because why not, he's a miserable sod who already thinks everyone is out to get him anyway so they might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. At that point he's "right" but it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

it's how I model people

You model people as being like John, or you model people the same way John models people?

The way he does. I don't think there's anyone in the world who under the right circumstances would not be my enemy. And I'm not talking about thought experiments and fictional scenarios like Hunger Games. Under common everyday circumstances.

If you call "briefly acted against my interests" "be my enemy", sure.

This kind of mindset looks like it either leads to finding out what it really is like to have everyone surrounding you turn on you (once you schiz out on Stacy for trying to "assassinate" you), or eventually landing in the madhouse because the cognitive dissonance between thinking Bob wants to kill you yet not acting like he wants to kill you can't be easy on the mind.

As the Putin meme goes, "if the fight is imminent, strike first. How to determine if a fight is imminent? Once you've struck first, it is."

Not what I call it, and you're forgetting the third option, preemptive suicide.

As a person who regularly calls other people "murder victims" as a muttered insult despite not being particularly homicidal, I would lean toward option 1.

What is the best way to harden a free software community against the sort of drama which recently engulfed the Nix community? Preemptive bans seem like a recipe for getting called an x-phobe, but letting these people stay and build up numbers results in takeovers. Has anyone seen a free software project's community successfully resist the tactics of the woke left?

Don't have a Code of Conduct. Tear out anyone suggesting a Code of Conduct root and stem.

I feel like "be as obnoxious as possible and completely unapologetic" is the way to go. Any other course of action seems to eventually lead to a leftist takeover.
Edit: Leadership is also crucially important. I recently saw a normal forum full of reasonable people get completely taken over and censored by a certain group in the span of <a week. It only had one moderator and he was a little naive but trying to be a decent human being, tolerant, etc. 2-3 mods and the takeover never would have taken place imo.

Preemptively drive them away through support of some culture war topic?

The 4chan approach would be to name your product "NiggerSoft" or something along those lines I suppose?

The approach that I've seen posted on /g/ is to use the "PLUSNIGGER license", which consists of adding to the license a clause stating that the word "nigger" must always be included.

An audio file that plays on launch like 'It really whips the llama' s ass! '

instead it's JKR saying 'You will never be a woman!'

called an x-phobe,

Any community afraid of this has no defenses worth a damn.

Yes. Hence my interest in hardening a community when new projects struggle to attract any contributors at all, and it's hard to be choosy or exclude the people who are going to wreck it.

So, what are you reading? (There was another book thread in the Fun Thread here)

Still on Human Action. Also going through Talbott’s The Future Does Not Compute, an early and very unusual warning shot against the dangers of the internet. It is a bit haphazard, but also a bit profound, and I wonder why I have never heard of this book before.

To run on automatic is, for the human being, to sink toward instinct, unfreedom, and statistical predictability. It is to give up what sets us most vitally apart from our material environment and our tools. It is to remain asleep in our highest capacities.

Whether our ideals can survive depends- beyond all pessimism and optimism vested in automatic processes- on whether we can consciously take hold of the mechanisms around us and within us, and raise them into the service of what is most fully human because most fully awake. The first prerequisite is to recognize the severity of the challenge.

Still plowing through Errol Flynn's autobiography. It's good, even gripping, I juat don't have a lot of time lately.

Since I last wrote of it he has :

  1. frolicked with a farmers"s daughter and gotten chased off the land. That was probably good though because it was a sheep farmer and Flynn's job involved "dagging the hogget." Actually he didn't dag the hogget (I'll let you look that up), he was the next guy, meaning he took the sheep and bit off its testicles. Yes you read that correctly. Makes me sentimental for the pre -title reel of that Indian video linked by Kulak. Anyway look up dagging the hogget. It's a crazy world, folks. Nuts, really, and then you must apparently bite them off.

  2. continued running with the stolen jewels he stole, only to be himself relieved of them while in an unsuspecting drunken stupor.

  3. been involved in cockfights where he and his coeval poisoned the bird's beak so it would autowin. Got caught. Had to haul ass. Yes there is a pattern here.

  4. made it with a Japanese wife of a Swedish man on a boat while at sea, who eventually catches them. Running occurs At least one shot is fired, though where .the bullet ended up is anybody's guess.

  5. been eviscerated, almost, by an angry untipped rickshaw driver. I think this was India.

  6. been to many a whorehouse. Brothel, if you prefer. He speaks highly of brothels and the women who work in them.

I am now up to the chapter where I think he is about to start acting.

Will post again next week.

Still on Human Action.

Given how much I like Austrian Economics, I figured I should actually read(listen to the audiobook of) this.

The entirety of the first 90 minutes was spent belaboring the same two or three points about human nature. Yeah, these points are foundational to the entire discipline, and some core insights are genius, but I stand my my take that SBF was right about books.

I’m kind of obsessed with those points on human nature (though I get obsessed with new ideas on a weekly basis). I’m actually less interested in the economics, though that is interesting too. What really caught my attention was an extrapolation of his “methodological dualism” (Mises’ belief that the scientific metaphor is inappropriate for the social sciences), the idea of deductive reasoning as related to classical humanism, the liberal arts, etc. It’s one of the reasons why I’m getting interested in Spinoza as well.

As for the value of books, all I can say is that nothing else in my life has made such reliable and profound personal changes in me than books. Artistic works (including stories) are always an irreplacable whirlwind of feelings, and videos are very useful for finding new directions, but some things only come out in the written word, longform, as difficult as it can be to keep going.

It's been a few weeks since I've responded to this thread as I have been abroad. But in the two weeks that I was out of the country I finished two books and am halfway through the third!

I picked up Notes From Underground based on the discussion from this thread: https://www.themotte.org/post/970/smallscale-question-sunday-for-april-21/205968?context=8#context.

I really enjoyed this book. It's been a while since I've read any Dostoevsky, and I recall him being long-winded and dry. Underground, being a bit shorter than some of his other work, was much more approachable.

While reading it, I was reminded of Elliot Rodger's manifesto. If you don't know, Rodger, a school shooter and notorious "incel", wrote a "manifesto" which was widely publicized and diseccted. You can find it on the internet if you feel like searching for it, but I won't link it here. The alienation in both works is profound, the scene where Underground's protagonist meets with four "friends" for dinner and insists on displaying his own greatness is a masterclass in uncomfortable writing. It reminded me of Rodger's own massive sense of superiority and narcissism, mixed with his incredible feelings of inferiority and self-loathing. Yet instead of shooting up a school, the protagonist of Underground visits a prostitute, where he is able to feel comfortable for just a moment before reverting to his sniveling self.

What I find so interesting about both of these works is that we all have a little bit of Rodger and the protagonist in us. We all have feelings of superiority and self-doubt. That is what makes Underground so compelling. Of course, what Rodger did was despicable and the way he is praised in certain corners of the internet is sickening, but I can also empathize with his plight. Feeling so alienated and alone from the rest of humanity is a curse. People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons; mental illness, autism, social phobia, and traumatic experiences. It's not necessarily an individual's fault for experiencing this isolation. But it's absolutely their fault in how they respond to it. Maybe Rodger should have visited a prostitute, like the protagonist of Underground. Anyway, there's a lot to mine from this book and I am much obliged to that discussion and recommendation.

The second book I finished was 1984. I last read this when I was 16 and I don't think I appreciated how good this book is. I'll write more on this book next week.

I am now midway through All the Light We Cannot See. I remember the title being vaguely familiar, but didn't realize how big this book was until I did a little research. I'm don't typically gravitate toward the "Oprah book club" type, but this book is just really fucking good. Hope it keeps up.

I'm reading Hesse's Steppenwolfe right now and it strikes me as the self-aware version of Underground quite a bit. Not finished yet, so it could change.

It's fun reading Underground at different points in your life. The extent to which I sympathized with the protagonist as I douchey college type is now pure chuckle-memory to my now Based Giga-Chad self. Ah fuck I see what I did there.

Adam Nevill’s Last Days, a novel about a guy in the 2010s filming a documentary about an apocalyptic 60s cult. Really enjoying the writing style so far, it’s entertainingly sardonic without being too cynical.

What happened to @ymeskhout?