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Small-Scale Question Sunday for January 15, 2023

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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Is it possible to search for exact word matches in the Motte search box? I want to search for posts that mention "AI" without getting results for words containing "ai" (like "fail", "said", "claim").

Not sure about local search, but googling site:themotte.org "AI" works fine.

Has any mottizen seen the masterpiece that is Don't Hug Me I'm Scared? If so what did you feel about it? What did you think about it? And what content would you recommend based on this taste?

I think the series is kinda funny but felt it was over the top with the shift to misery/horror/gore. Very quotable in terms of "Green is not a creative color." Given that careless parents let their kids watch youtube without restrictions, I would prefer it if it was modestly harder to access because I could see an 7-10 year old getting ahold of this and being disturbed by some of the imagery.

I guess for similar content, maybe some stuff by filmcow? Llamas with Hats (though it starts disturbing off the bat), Charlie the Unicorn (for the musical numbers).

What were the long term effects of Western colonialism on the technological development and social stability of the societies they ruled over? Are there any sources discussing this in a non-ideological manner? Counterfactuals are generally pretty hard to discuss or explore, but my intuition is that the long term effects of colonisation would have been on the balance positive.

In many of the colonised areas the technological disparity seems obvious - the Aztec and Inca for example completely lacked beasts of burden and did not put the wheel to use in any significant way, they did not have knowledge of advanced metallurgy (the Aztec made limited use of copper and bronze, but never learned how to use iron), nor were there technologies like the printing press etc all of which the Spanish already had when they made contact at the time. In the case of the Inca they simply did not even have a written language to print - and quipu doesn't count as a writing system, the current consensus seems to be that it was simply an accounting system and not a written representation of Quechua. There was a translation of a quipu in the village of Collata that apparently represented information phonetically, but that quipu was made after the Spanish conquest and was likely influenced by contact with them.

An analogous situation is Mughal India, which as far as I know could be described as "proto-industrialised" at best and significantly fell behind Britain in the face of the massive manufacturing boom that the Industrial Revolution brought to Europe (additionally, the Mughal Empire had already begun to disintegrate pretty rapidly from the eighteenth century onwards). And British contribution is pretty visible today even to your average Indian, the Indian railway system being a big example. I'd wager it's pretty plausible that colonisation by a more technologically advanced society generally confers long run material benefits.

I suppose a potential counterargument that could be offered up would be to posit that perhaps their situation would've been better had Western powers not occupied them and traded with them instead, but that argument encounters the obvious issue of the natives perhaps not being able to access these resources - a huge amount of the resource extraction and manufacturing was after all organised and sponsored by Westerners. I highly doubt that, say, South American natives had the wherewithal to build massive gold and silver mines like the Spanish and Portuguese did - production on that scale was probably outside of the ability of even the societies that did do basic mining, like the Inca.

The most serious attempts I've seen at quantifying colonial legacies mostly focus on one comparison where the empires had enough colonized countries as data points to at least hope to draw tentative conclusions:

"One strand of this literature suggests that colonization by the

British led to better outcomes than colonization by the French or by the

smaller colonial powers, because of either the adaptability of British legal

institutions to the market economy or the higher levels of personal freedom

provided by British political institutions and culture"

But even in that article there's a laundry list of difficult confounders.

How much worse must the question be if we try to compare the handful of uncolonized countries? Japan did very well on its own, adopting and adapting many Western ideas and institutions (ironically including the "set off and try to colonize everyone" one, right at the time when the West itself was starting to realize that was at least a bit gauche...) without having to have most of those institutions externally imposed (with the one big exception of "wait, DON'T set off and try to colonize everyone", post-WWII). Ethiopia (for whom we'll ignore WWII; they were about as "colonized" as France was) is seeing some fast catch-up growth in the 21st century, but has a long way to go and didn't make so much progress in the 20th. Similar for Nepal and Bhutan. Tonga is doing better than those three, but not notably better than its post-colonial neighbors. Thailand is doing better than Tonga, but it's in between the Philippines and Malaysia.

And ... is that all the data? You might count Scandinavia doing well, but being right next to the Industrial Revolution's epicenter is a hell of a confounder. You could say that China or Iran or others have never been technically colonized by Europeans for long, but the technicalities kind of pale before the Century of Humiliation or even just the downstream effects of the 1953 Iranian coup.

Japan did very well on its own, adopting and adapting many Western ideas and institutions

Where does the Perry Expedition fit into this? "On its own" kind of ignores how the Americans forced Japan open to the West and to adopt Western idea.

That's fair. I think the way it fits, though, is the lack of micromanagement. "You have to allow your people to trade with us" and "we completely rule you now" seem quite different to me ... but you're right that they're on the same spectrum, and historically the former tended to lead to the latter in the long term. Would you really say that's enough to claim Americans forced Japan to adopt Western ideas in general, though? The adoption was fast, on a historical scale, and it was not the kind of adoption that was forced on ruled colonies, where e.g. massive expansion of an independent military would be frowned on, to say the least. Even though the Iwakura Mission etc. were encouraged by the west, the Japanese modernizers weren't under orders and weren't hostages ... except in the long-term sense, I suppose, where it was obvious that they wouldn't be treated with as a political equal by modern powers (and thus would constantly be at risk of another power going too far) until/unless they became an economic and technological equal.

There is quite a bit of literature on this. Two books that I have read on the topic are Lineages of Despotism and Development (which is well worth reading just for the methodology) and Colonialism and Postcolonial Development. The first book in particular, IIRC, discusses various standard theories in the introduction.

You can also go to the web page for past meetings of the American Political Science Association. If you click on each, you should be able to search for colonialism and development and find relevant papers.

It is obvious colonization ironically massively sped up those countries IDH/economic growth over long term however that should not occlude the probable fact that most colonizers don't wanted to significantly invest in the growth of their colonies, especially education.

Had them significantly tried to have an utilitarian impact on those countries their economic development gradient would have been far different and with difficult to quantify but not necessarily unknowable ramifications such as e.g. say, make the third world reach occident economic and IDH parity before the 21st century.

It is interesting in that regard, to follow the increasingly war-like economic agressions the hegemonic U.S are making towards China.

I noticed something odd tonight, as I'm worn out after a long day at work, my internal monolog has changed in tone.

It seems to have become flatter and without affect, in much the same way that your voice does when you speak too much and end up slightly hoarse. I stopped reading a story because my own internal voice became too unpleasant to listen to!

Anyone ever experience anything along those lines?

(On a slight tangent, I've seen people who don't internally verbalize claim they think faster than those who do. I can't say I agree to such a claim, I've never felt my chain of thoughts slow me down. But then again, I'm firmly in wordcel territory, so who knows?)

I have an internal monologue, but it's slower than my thoughts. I don't see how it could slow me down. That's like saying speaking or writing slows your thinking down.

I've seen people who don't internally verbalize claim they think faster than those who do. I can't say I agree to such a claim, I've never felt my chain of thoughts slow me down.

The word you're looking for is subvocalize.

There is at least one instance of one-subvocalization being faster that everyone can easily experience, try to learn how to do spead reading aka reading multiple adjacents words at once.

With enough practice you end up stopping subvocalization as it is a speed bottleneck. However, it is a very underresearched topic, it's possible non subvocalization has cognitive impacts such as altered memorizations performance, creative process and or ability to detect logical fallacies.

The more interesting question is that apparently many humans do not subvocalize (think symbolically) on average, which would impact many philosophical and computer science questions.

(Previously posted by me on r\SSC, reposting here because relevant.)

I don’t remember how coherent my internal monologue used to be, but one day I noticed it, and asked myself where the words themselves were coming from. I realized I had an internal dramatizer which prepped the words with emotions for expressing to others, or more often, to myself.

I also realized I could sense the words before I thought them — I was thinking in concepts which felt like the shapes of words, a tactilization of concepts, before sending them to the verbalizer and the dramatizer.

I practiced noticing my thoughts earlier and earlier: interrupting the dramatizer with my next thought, then the verbalizer. I could think so much faster than if I were waiting for my phonological loop.

Of course, Redditing / Motting puts me back on the phonological loop treadmill, because my fingers are the slowest method of communicating, and I’ve already said “communicating” to myself half a dozen times before I’ve finished typing it.

I don't have a constantly running internal monologue. I "turn it on" when I'm thinking about highly verbal concepts, like the particular way I want to phrase something, but in general my thinking is more conceptual and less verbal.

This got me thinking about what my default internal monologue "sounds" like, and I guess it sounds like myself when I was a little boy, like 10 year old me. I feel like the sound of my internal monologue hasn't changed since I was a kid. I can deliberately make it sound different, like I'm currently deliberately narrating this sentence in the voice of Jimmy Stewart as I type it. But by default it's little kid me.

I think the fact that I don't always internally verbalize allows me to think better/faster, but who knows. If I'm working on math then I think in terms of a visual or conceptual image of the math problem. If I'm thinking about music then I just hear the music in my head. Music is probably the form of thinking that's easiest for me, I can internally play back a song with multiple instruments and vocal parts. I have written original songs entirely in my head that I'm not good enough to actually play on an instrument but I can easily play them back internally as though I was hitting "play" on a recording. I have some musical training but am by no means a professional.

I've heard you can read faster and comprehend more when reading without internally verbalizing the words. I believe that but I haven't been able to train myself to do it consistently.

The trick is to view passages of texts as pictures instead of passages of texts that need to be read and enunciated in your head. Literally, scan your eyes through the lines and let your subconscious do the work.

I can do it to some extent, especially if I internally verbalize "one two three" over and over and just focusing on visually seeing the lines of text as a whole. But when I'm not actively trying I immediately revert to my old ways.

I'm not sure I can even do that, I've never read a word in my life without my internal narrator!

Wait, some people verbalize what they read? I have the problem of not knowing how to pronounce or spell a lot of words that are in my "read" vocabulary because I learned the symbol without verbalizing it.

I just make up a usually wrong pronunciation when doing this. For example when reading Game of Thrones Dothraki became Dork-a-thigh until I heard the term on the show. But I read by word shape and context, it's really fast, but makes me the world's word proof reader, because I knew what word was meant and just substituted it.

makes me the world's word proof reader

Yep, that checks out. 😉

I verbalize every word I've ever read. I do not choose to do this.

There's lots of programmers and software devs on the internet, you can hardly move without encountering them. Seems like there's a lot less sysadmins and network engineers. Clearly both are deeply engaged with the internet as a technology and equally essential to its functioning. Am I right to think it's because programmers have a lot more free time to shitpost leading to a skewed impression of the tech landscape? Maybe network engineers just call themselves programmers to save on splitting hairs when talking with laymen? Or can software engineers do all the network tasks if they need to but chose software because it's a better salary? It shows up in the "learn to code" memes too where people offer advice about leetcode practice but I rarely hear anyone suggest getting a Cisco cert. On the other hand I sometimes read posts by software developers who admit to having no idea how anything works outside of their IDE.

Asking mainly out of idle curiosity but if I ever get to the point where I need to look for a job in tech I feel like I'd be more inclined towards network tech than working in a game studio or brewing up a new algorithm for FAANG.

I got a CCNA cert in highschool, judging by the others taking the cert it seemed like a very blue collar crowd. The jobs, to my understanding, are more on the model of plumber and electrician in that it's a fine and respectable careeer to anyone with an above average pay and the top of the field are frequently out earning most programmers because they've started their own business. But the average programmer is probably out earning the average sysadmin or network engineer.

Network engineer with Cisco certs here, AMA if you want to. Some bullet points I would offer:

  • A lot of my friends are devs and, if anything, it's a little surprising how little we each know about each other's fields. I don't know how to code, except for some bash/PowerShell scripting that I use in my job. They don't know how data gets from their computer to anywhere else. Our working days look very different. There certainly are engineers out there who have strong expertise in both areas, but in real life I very rarely meet them. My best friend is a dev and he wouldn't have a clue how to do my work. Of course, being a dev, he's a smart guy and he'd figure it out eventually.

  • Devs do make fun of us.

  • I think software development is more recommended both A.) Because it's easier to access the higher-paying jobs in it and B.) Because it's more extensible to other areas. Network engineering will not help you do data science, for instance. (Not that I'm saying network engineering doesn't pay well, especially if you take it as far as you can. I'm four or five years in and have had six-figure offers, and will probably take one of them this year; and I live in the Midwest. The CCIEs that I know have fabulous amounts of money.)

  • I have loads of time to shitpost. The only problem is I'm not very good at it.

  • I really do like network engineering for its own sake, and I'd encourage you to investigate it more. My work has a good amount of "Aha!!!" moments where we take something from not-working to working, and it feels good.

I guess my first question is what do you actually do in a day? Are you remoting in from a comfy cafe laptop to restart a buggy service and then Googling how to write a script to automate the task for the next time it happens, or are you up to your neck in cat5 cables while your phone explodes because Shanghai is losing $20m for every minute that their server is offline. Or is it more like sitting in meetings looking at project dashboards and politicking to pass the responsibility for who will do another site inspection to check on the contractors you tasked to do the dirty work of scripting and plugging in the cables?

Does Cisco certification mean you're effectively dedicated to routing infrastructure or does network engineering bleed over into other aspects like storage provisioning and electrical specs, or interfacing with ActiveDirectory or AWS and those types of network dependent services?

How do you keep track of all the infrastructure? Running a home network with a few self-hosted services gets pretty complex when you start adding in everything from power demands to storage demands to network segregation to virtualisation, I can't imagine running a full commercial network with all the attending expectations. I guess you just aggressively silo responsibilities into limited roles.

I'm a curious amateur at best, but only being passively exposed to what's on the internet gives the impression of reading the output of one multi-faceted omnipresent techetype who runs everything and without working in the sector it's hard to untangle that into more accurate and discreet person sized models.

Are you remoting in from a comfy cafe laptop to restart a buggy service and then Googling how to write a script to automate the task for the next time it happens, or are you up to your neck in cat5 cables while your phone explodes because Shanghai is losing $20m for every minute that their server is offline.

Not a network engineer, but I've spent enough time in IT operations to have a decent idea what they do. It's more like "users/customers can't get to x or are having flaky issues, figure out why" and then troubleshooting what piece of equipment is failing or what configuration on a router needs to be fixed. Network engineers aren't bouncing services (sysadmins do that), and they definitely aren't usually tracing cables (they could, but it's more cost effective to have a low level tech do that while the senior guy troubleshoots the hard stuff).

Does Cisco certification mean you're effectively dedicated to routing infrastructure or does network engineering bleed over into other aspects like storage provisioning and electrical specs, or interfacing with ActiveDirectory or AWS and those types of network dependent services?

More or less the former. Being an expert at network infrastructure doesn't mean you're an expert at storage or anything else, so people tend to stay in their lane. Obviously these are smart people who could do those things, but may have no interest and would probably have to take a more junior position to switch specialties like that.

How do you keep track of all the infrastructure? Running a home network with a few self-hosted services gets pretty complex when you start adding in everything from power demands to storage demands to network segregation to virtualisation, I can't imagine running a full commercial network with all the attending expectations. I guess you just aggressively silo responsibilities into limited roles.

It's exactly as you guess. A small business may well have a jack of all trades tech guy (and some people prefer to work there so that they get the variety), but at larger companies you have specialists. You have data center techs (racking servers, running cables etc), virtualization guys, storage guys, Active Directory guys, security guys, network guys, phone guys, application-specific guys, DBAs, all that sort of thing. In a healthy company all these teams work together as one big team, but yeah at the end of the day it's teams of specialists. And it's more lucrative to be a specialist, as you might imagine.

I used to work for Charter Communications (the cable company/ISP), specifically in the division that ran the residential network. For something that size, even your network engineers had various specialized areas. You had one team maintaining the nationwide backbone, another which maintained the regional networks connected to the backbone, another which maintained data center networks, and another which handled the part of the network where it transitions from Ethernet/fiber connections over to cable. That was just for residential, there were entire other divisions of the company handling business class service and internal networking that served employees. Long story short, in a large business there's a lot of specialization going on.

Working on my Google IT Technician cert, then I’ll go for my A1 certification. I’ve done programming in school, but everything I do now is about configuring existing programs or creating scripts to run programs or modules.

It may be the freetime, or it might just be a blind spot toward “yeah, you should know how to do all that too anyways.”

How much stock do you put in the age of someone posting? How much in their "stage of life?" Does it matter to you whether a poster is in high school? University? Do you care if a poster is only in their teens or early 20s, already in their late 30s, or early 40s, or approaching senescence in their mid 50s? Does it matter whether they're married or not, whether they have kids or not? Whether they're male or female? From the first world it third world? Do any of these factors affect how you read their posts?

Some of these definitely affect me, but I can't decide whether it's a good heuristic or just a knee jerk reaction.

It very much depends on the topic.

I can respect people in any life stage as authorities on themselves and their own experiences. Teenagers know things I don't about the modern education system, about music and TikTok and youth culture, etc. I wouldn't discount a bright kid's explanation of a technical or scientific concept they've studied; expertise is expertise.

But if I'm honest - I give less weight to the politics of anyone college age and younger. Or their grand plan to restructure the economy or rewrite the social norms around dating, or any other diagnosis of What's Wrong With Society. I remember how arrogantly ignorant I was at 16 and 19 and 22. I hadn't lived through enough presidential elections. I hadn't had enough fights with boyfriends or reconciliations with family members. I hadn't failed at enough things.

If someone wants instant wisdom credibility with me, probably the easiest way is to remind me of my father. Not sure if other people's brains work this way with whomever they most respect.

It just depends. Some things are very impacted by stage of life.

I can't take any man under 25 seriously when he talks about "what women are like" because he might just still need to grow up a little yet. There was a one year period where everything changed for me, I think that is very normal for young men.

Unless they intentionally reveal it, none. (If they do, now there's a political angle- the 4chan approach to that behavior is mostly correct, and I use it when appropriate.)

I didn't like "but you aren't even a human being" when people did it to me, and they were usually wrong when they did it, so I go out of my way to avoid doing it to anyone else. And while I'm not (well, I guess it's 'wasn't' now) deterred by the microaggression of "teenager", the concept (as most Progressive terms are- the fact that they just use them as an excuse to be bullies notwithstanding) is a valid one here; if it discourages someone from actually trying to use their own reason, then it's probably wrong to say and/or being used to cover up something that's obviously wrong.

Sure, if there are obvious markers of age/inexperience with a given topic it's going to color the way I respond- but I'm not going to expressly point out that I believe a blind spot is age-related since it can (will?) invite the above problem if not done very carefully. Humorously, I find that someone taking pains to explicitly call it out (or being worried about it, which is understandable considering the above) is itself a reliable indicator that someone's not particularly mature in the first place.

People under 20 or so rarely have much interesting to say. This isn't a judgment I apply on posters, just an observation. I suspect it's the same reason there are child prodigy chessmasters and musicians but not child prodigy novelists.

Otherwise I don't find age or life stage particularly relevant.

Those books were bestsellers, which is evidence for child prodigy novelists.

But they were derivative dreck, which is evidence against.

How original was Mozart's music when he was a child?

Good question, and I don’t actually know.

Wiki says that as an adult Paolini has published a few short stories and a sci-fi novel. These were well-received but did not revolutionize the book world. He is still best known for his debut trilogy.

I don’t begrudge him success in the insanely difficult career of a working novelist. Most people can’t write anything that sells at all. But I don’t think Mozart is an apt comparison.

I do think these factors can't help but color comments but I generally try not to hold it against people. Experience, and because of that age, often do matter quite a bit and the young and inexperienced tend to have naïve or strange ideas about how systems they've not had much experience in actually work but those can and should be addressed on their own merits and not just assumed to be wrong based on experience or age. It's sometimes striking to me just how cynical kids who have never worked come into the office expecting to be abused and unappreciated only to end up being surprised when I tell them I absolutely do not want them working unpaid overtime or doing menial tasks. I sometimes see the same kind of idea latent in someone's arguments and if anything it softens me to them and makes me more willing to gently explain why I think they're misunderstanding systems they've only heard horror stories about.

Some experiences are relevant when commenting on a topic. I generally don't trust the opinions of people who have only worked in the government with regard to management dynamics in a corporate office, for example. I don't think people without children can have fully informed views on parenting issues due to how life-changing the experience is.

Those types of things aside, I don't much care how old people are. I'm now approaching 40 and when I think back to teenage me, I wasn't stupid, I wasn't ignorant, and it wasn't impossible for me to reason through issues and come to solid positions. At that age, I had nothing but contempt for people that said things like, "you'll feel different when you're older" without even attempting to explain why that might be the case. In the passing of decades, I've settled on thinking that I was basically right to feel that way, that people use their age and putative wisdom as a shortcut to avoid making real, cogent arguments. Life experience really can help inform one meaningfully, but not in such an immaterial way that it should be granted deference beyond the substance of an argument.

We think so differently.

As a teenager, I wasn't stupid, and I wasn't ignorant for someone my age. But I fervently believed in some real dumbfuck ideas. Partly this was the arrogance of youth; I didn't know what I didn't know. But some of it was that I just hadn't had enough time to read and talk to people and perform all the little natural experiments of social life.

I put some stock, but far more in that I recognize the username.

Perhaps more than other users here, I tend to ignore the username. Not that I don't remember names or such, just that I don't put in the effort to remember them unless there is a strong pattern that emerges over reading many of their posts over a period of time.

I don't put much weight on the attributes of the poster. Partly because I am at a strict disadvantage there so I have to follow the Golden Rule for my own sake. I am 25, childless, and barely out of college, and will be going back to it soon, and not from the first world. Other than that just being bad argumentation.

However, depending on the conversation a person's demographic might explain a very obvious weakness/blindspot in their argument and I don't think it's too uncouth to point that out in those specific situations.

Not to put too fine a point on it, yes.

The opinion of someone with extensive life experience will carry more weight for me than those of someone who barely cleared the age of 20 or never got out of his scholastic or academic bubble. I'll listen more closely to someone with children of his own than to someone to whom kids are an abstract concept. As for women posting on an online forum, I beg their pardon but I'll be somewhat more inclined to suspect attention-seeking. I'll relate more to a European than to an American, and more to a Westerner than to a Third-Worlder.

But ultimately everyone here is a Mottizen first and whatever else second, to me. Obviously I'm influenced by their identity, in so far as they make it public, but I think I can honestly say that what someone says wins out in the end over who's saying it.

There's a difference between offering relevant life experience and, "As a mother, my thoughts on the utility of carseat laws are..."

Yes.

Why do generative diffusion models have so much trouble with fingers in particular?

Are they particularly bad at generating fingers? They seem to have trouble with complex high level structure generally.

What type of note keeping app do you use, if any? I recently started using Notion for work and I'm slowly grasping the possibilities. I'm also looking at using Obsidian in my personal life.

Any thoughts on how to use these tools effectively?

In the spirit of "the best camera is the one that's with you", I'll pop open a web browser tab and search whatever I wanted to note down. This has the advantage of being in my face the next time I open that browser, which I do often, and I'm less likely to forget that I took the note in the first place. If it's worth expanding on or saving for future, I'll write it down as plain text or email later.

Apple Notes app. Previously nano/scp/grep/etc.

What type of note keeping app do you use, if any?

vim to take notes, git to save/distribute them, grep to search them, ssh to get to them from my phone if I'm away from a laptop or workstation.

Any thoughts on how to use these tools effectively?

In my case? Already be an expert with them for other use cases, so there's no extra learning curve involved.

I could go into more specific details, but I fear my readers might be less interested in "how to use these [particular] tools effectively" and more fascinated with me as a potential counterexample to the "opinion of someone with extensive life experience will carry more weight for me" heuristic @Southkraut just commented above. Sometimes "life experience" just means "figured something out from scratch decades ago and too stubborn to start over from scratch now", sometimes "children of his own" just means "short rations of free time".

Ahh to be a programmer. You truly are the ubermensch of our times.

Everything he mentioned sounds less like programming and more like "slightly more advanced than average power-user/admin/console tools".

Also, "tools which aren't very good for taking notes". git is useful for programming but using it to save your notes is jamming a square peg into a round hole. And vim shouldn't be used for anything ever (yeah I said it, fight me vi fanboys).

Within the past hour I installed git on a new machine. I made sure to unselect the default editing choice of vim. It might as well have a default choice of getting a series of paper cuts.

As a fellow vim hater, you might like this talk. I don't agree with everything, but the general idea that "some things in programming are just relics of the past and we don't get rid of them because of inertia and sometimes machismo" is a good point to keep mind.

For me, vim squarely fits in that category. Yes I could learn how to do kung fu with my keyboard, but 90% of the time I am programming, I am googling or staring at the screen trying to figure out wtf to write, Real time savings could be achieved if I could come up with a solution faster, not type faster.

Is there anything stopping you? The closest thing I've ever had to a CS class was the "Matlab and Fortran for Dummies" they made all the engineering students take, but by that time I'd taught myself BASIC (which was easy; unteaching myself the bad habits it engendered was harder...) and C from books, plus Perl and C++ from websites. And that was back in the Bad Old Days, when BASIC still had an excuse for existing as an "intro language", even if it was unsuitable for large applications. Today if you ask "what's the best way for someone with zero experience to get started" the answer is "Python" and if you ask "what's this bleeding-edge research code being written in" the answer is often "Python", so the onramp has never been more gentle.

You still want a CS degree on the team for some types of work (I was able to help my niece with her homework, right up until she got to graph algorithms...), but most of my co-workers are engineering or math or both; lots of places need someone who thoroughly understands the application domain and can code a little more than they need someone who thoroughly understands programming and doesn't know what they're writing it for.

When it comes to the oodles of medical notes I need to take, I use GoodNotes on my iPad. It's quite polished, doesn't use a subscription system, and suffices for my use case. I can toss all kinds of PDFs and images in liberally, and expect it to Just Work™.

For other things, I usually use Google Keep, it doesn't have much in the way of bells and whistles, but it's convenient, especially since it syncs painlessly across platforms.

May I ask what you intend to use the notes for? I write down notes when I read on physical note cards and this helps me a lot to retain quotes, notes, and take aways from the book.

Quotes writing random thoughts etc.

Don't use OneNote that's for sure. I am deeply embedded in the OneNote ecosystem and am finding it impossible to move out. None of the note-taking apps other than OneNote support free-form drawing :(

Lmk if you find one with good inking support during your app searching exersize.

I'm right there with you, but, uh -- "this one program has the killer feature that none of the other ones do, so whatever you do don't use it -- you might become habituated" seems like kind of a weird approach?

The cons of one-note are just too irritating to me

  • Doesn't support common markdown

  • Can't share notes with granular access (It's 2023, what's up with that? It is rhetorical question. I used to work with people in the office team, no one cares enough to solve it )

  • Doesn't sync collaborative notes instantly

  • Everything except the windows app is a terrible way of interacting with it

  • Taking quick notes is pain in the ass

  • Search is meh

  • Tagging is non-existent

No one is as good as Microsoft at providing mediocrity across the board. The app will tick every feature box, but none of them will be quite excellent.

I'd rather just rip the bandaid off and learn some new opinionated platform.

But, none of them properly support inking nor do they properly sync with another collaborative inking service which I can embed in them.

Ah, fair complaints.

To be fair to MS, the collaborative features are kind of a bag on the side, it was never in the original concept. (which I feel like came about as some sort of accident; not sure it was ever intended as more than a neat little personal repo that happened to showcase their new inking library)

I personally endrun the other issues by using the desktop windows version exclusively, and using it on a (more or less) dedicated windows tablet with stylus. I pretty well treat it as a physical notebook when I'm using it, then sync all the old notebooks on my desktop machine. (which I also use to snip relevant web content when I'm doing research/bug-stomping -- there's other tools that one could use for this, but it seems -- OK? and everything's in one place. This place could involve the cloud if I wanted it to, but I kind of don't)

The search is pretty good to me though -- to the point where I don't miss tags. I've tried everything I can think of to have searchable handwritten notes, including various smart-pens; if any of these didn't suck on the actual process of archiving the notes electronically I would be all over it (as having a physical copy is nice), but that seems not to be the world in which we live.

Onenote provides the dream of 'searchable archive of handwritten notes covering my work way further back than anyone should reasonably care' -- the ability to do some quick typing and come up with my exact notes from some meeting or quirky bugfix 5 years ago makes me look more organized than I have any right to; everything else I've tried (especially the ones designed for mobile devices) just seems like a toy in comparison.

So, I guess I'm, um -- kind of embedded, lol.

I personally endrun the other issues by using the desktop windows version exclusively, and using it on a (more or less) dedicated windows tablet with stylus

Yoo, surface pro represent ! I have the exact same workflow.

everything else I've tried (especially the ones designed for mobile devices) just seems like a toy in comparison.

It is well matched to real commercial users, I must say. My new team moved from onenote to confluence. So now I am at a point where I can move.

I want to be able to start publishing my notes and sharing them with people in a granular way. Right now that's my biggest complaint.

So, I guess I'm, um -- kind of embedded, lol.

Yep, that's me too. Too much knowledge in there.

Also, now that my one note (and by association my though process) is tuned to hierarchical structure, I can't move to obsidian or un-directed graphs anymore.

Yoo, surface pro represent !

Heh, I went with the HP knockoff because I like the extra $1000 in my pocket and the thing is actually screwed together -- which means I can replace the battery once it wears out. It's just find as a travel laptop, too.

I want to be able to start publishing my notes and sharing them with people in a granular way. Right now that's my biggest complaint.

Like, all of them? For the amount of notes I'd consider sharing, some separate cloud repo would make sense I guess. (if the amount were > zero ofc, which it is currently not!)

Also, now that my one note (and by association my though process) is tuned to hierarchical structure, I can't move to obsidian or un-directed graphs anymore.

Yeah, I can't understand why anyone would want this t.b.h -- seems more like lazy programmers ruling the world than "unstructured data is superior". (see also "the interface to gmail" and https://youtube.com/watch?v=b2F-DItXtZs )

"We received a lecture on how the offshore team was very sensitive to criticism, and we had to make sure that no one lost face."

"Maintaining face is very important in many cultures."

"In Software Culture, maintaining face is not hard. It's actually very simple. The rule of thumb is: don't formally submit code that looks like it was written by two cats copulating on top of a keyboard."

I can't breathe, this guy was amazing. Really miss that text to speech format, don't even know what it was called.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=b2F-DItXtZs

Everyone knows that one starry eyed junior in the video. Jaded senior engineers politely answering pigheaded juniors is what true zen looks like.

Every senior engineer should get a monthly allocation of "bitch, be humble" sound bytes to throw around. They have earned that honor.

If use ios, there's GoodNotes, which I would recommend.

An android version is on the way soon-ish too if cross platform matters to you.

It's worse, it's windows (or better? if you are a laptop person like me).

I'll keep you posted. Obsidian has the canvas thing which... maybe supports drawing? Also they have a million plugins. Idk might be worth another look.

Edit: maybe this? https://medium.com/produclivity/editable-graphics-in-obsidian-notes-is-the-best-thing-since-plain-text-d8bd75454397

Are there any works about the value of talking about power instead of rights? I feel that people talk about rights to the extent that they are unable or unwilling to actually accept that they've accepted the existence of a supposed right to be powerful. I get why it's done, it's easy to restrict the most threatening institution, the government, when you talk about legal rights, but it leads to ideas that lead ultimately to people being less free when a focus on power would enable, in my opinion, more people to live freer lives.

Any recommendations for open source or free programs to draw electrical schematics? I'm working on remodeling my kitchen and there will be some major changes. New 20amp circuit, new ground wire, stuff like that.

I could MSPaint or hand-draw it, but I also want to add to my resume.

SketchUp may be what you’re looking for.

Use OrCAD Lite. It was good enough for me for a EE degree, it should be good enough for some rough schematics. The Lite version has simulation and testing capabilities as well.

Isn't that more for designing circuit boards than house wiring circuits?

Yes but you can create custom blocks with specified transient characteristics. It's not ideal but it's better than MSPaint or hand-drawing it. I might have misread what OP asked for, if he is looking strictly for a layout and not planning to do any sort of simulation, then OrCAD isn't ideal.

They all seemed pretty shit last time I checked. Just drafted everything imitating my dad's old drawings. Make sure to include an elevation page, aka the actually helpful "where are my wire drops hiding behind this fucking drywall" one.

AutoCAD is still the resume building option iirc.

What's going in the kitchen?

Electric - A new 20A circuit dedicated to the microwave, toaster oven, and possibly food prep items (e.g. mixer, food processor). Proper grounding for the existing 15A circuit feeding the overhead lighting, front porch, and ceiling fan. Moving the 50A cable to match the oven's new location. Moving other 15A outlets to match new geometry of kitchen.

Physical - Tearing up 3 layers of tile and replacing with LVP (original floor is pine & not fit to refinish). Opening up the kitchen by replacing an L-shaped wall (blocking view of the front door) with a straight wall. Building a P-shaped peninsula with oven cutout on the top of the P and an extended counter for the leg. Knocking out a window-shaped hole on the opposite side of the peninsula to make a garden window over the sink (for year-round herbs). Moving the refrigerator to a different location on the wall and building a proper 2-cabinet pantry in its place.

Finally, moving the swamp cooler from the new location of the refrigerator to the roof of the house & building ductwork to match.

I'm not gonna be done til around April/May at the rate I'm going. Which is perfect timing for the new swamp cooler to activate.

Wow, nice project. Yeah, I'm starved on 120v amps in the kitchen just for a big kettle and toaster. A 20a circuit dedicated to the big stuff would be awesome, but fuck working with GFCI...

Would love to hear about the swamp cooler sometime. Was thinking of getting one until the mini split went in, and it could still be useful for an office outbuilding.

What's the latest on the meme about women's "sexual peak?" I recall it being a big conversation point when I was a kid, thought it seemed like nonsense, hadn't thought about it years until lately I've had some, ahem, reasons to reassess. There does seem to be a real similarity in how some 30-40 year old women will discover their sexuality and how I felt circa 18-23.

Curious if there's anything real there or just coincidence.

Given that the pill shifts what kind of men are found attractive, that feminism and pornography radically shifted expectations for both sexes, that there is a hilarious increase in self-described bi women who have only had men as partners over the past few years, I'd just dismiss any and all notions by default.

Given that the pill shifts what kind of men are found attractive

Source please?

There is some evidence that women on the pill have a lesser preference for stereotypically masculine partners.,

That was found, but later was retested and didn't replicate, iirc. initial study claiming it, later study finding no effect

So much fucking ink got spilled based on the findings of that one study. Ive read numerous articles basing their core hypothesis around that "fact".

The amount of noise put out there by studies that dont replicate is seriously making me warm to the notion of infohazards.

Including muscles?

You are talking about an hypothetical blunting.

Would they also develop an increased interest to a particular feature/stimuli?

Maybe feminine ones?

So, what are you reading?

I'm still on Korzybski. Haven't made much progress.

Nothing at all currently. Changed my sleep schedule, spent no more time in waiting rooms, and so generally had no real opportunity for prolonged reading. Not even listening to audiobooks.

Which is a boring state to post about, but here's my point: I miss it. I miss reading. Just not badly enough to alter my schedule for it right now.

Alternating between Democracy In America and Prometheus Bound

A History of Ancient Philosophy vol. II (Plato and Aristotle) by Giovanni Reale. Been working on it for a while, it's remarkably rich in its understanding of the material, but unfortunately the style/translation make it a bit of a slog.

Finally, after much prodding, getting around to reading the Discworld books. Doing the Vimes ones first.

Nice airplane reading. So far enjoyed "Guards! Guards!" a good deal more than "Men at Arms".

How are you finding Korzybski?

When I read some of his stuff, I found it mainly interesting from a historical point of view. Something like prehistoric cybernetics, which in itself seems like something of a pre-industrial age to our current information age.

Myself, I'm reading through some books on rhetoric.

I'm fascinated by the ways it lays out how to communicate with others. Even the simple ethos/pathos/logos framework has changed how I approach reading and writing. I'm confused why it's not being taught as part of the school curriculum. English classes seem to be subordinate to literature, to reading and analyzing, whereas rhetoric puts emphasis on producing and synthesizing. I think any country would be better of if its citizens went through a year or two of rhetoric training.

He's a little arrogant, and way too confident. There's a strong feeling that I'm missing the implications, much like how one feels when he studies mathematics above his level of understanding. But I feel a lot of sympathy for the broad outlines of his project, minus the materialist assumptions.

The old dictum that we 'are' animals leaves us hopeless, but if we merely copy animals in our nervous responses, we can stop it, and the hopeless becomes very hopeful, provided we can discover a physiological difference in these reactions. Thus we are provided with a definite and promising program for an investigation.

If I had to summarize what I've personally gained so far from ideas in the General Semantics sphere, it is the idea that the ability to say too much in too few words may explain many psychological problems of self-regulation. I have started saying more often things like "I don't know" instead of "I'm not sure," "I should" instead of "I must" ("I must" implies that if one fails, he is broken with no possibility of redemption. After all, it wasn't a question of whether I wanted to do it or not- it had to be done, no mitigating factors existed, and therefore no investigation of such factors is warranted. "I should" constantly raises the question of why "I didn't," and impels the search for answers.) and "the likely outcome" rather than "it will happen."

I spent the weekend reading A.J. Cronin's Keys of the Kingdom.

"Spanning six decades, it tells the story of Father Francis Chisholm, an unconventional Scottish Catholic priest who struggles to establish a mission in China."

Cronin is an unabashed sentimentalist who uses the same characters in every book. His primary objective seems to be to make them all suffer as much as possible. As the Pixies established the quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamic in rock music in the 1980s, Cronin hews unswervingly to the structure: happy-crushed-happy-crushed.

Nevertheless, I couldn't put it down. He's the writer who practiced one kick 10,000 times. Even though you know how he's doing it, he makes you feel for the people in his stories.

I Am You by Daniel Kolak. A long, detailed book positing Open Individualism, the idea there’s only one subject of experience in the universe

I feel like this idea has become quite popular since the egg video of in a nutshell.

The unification of qualia experiences by having no physical delineation is the most epistemologically sound metaphysical belief since it avoid many paradoxes.

What is the formal name of this belief and who postulated it first?

“Open Individualism” is the most formal name I’ve seen, mostly because it contrasts nicely with Closed Individualism and Empty Individualism, and it was coined by Kolak. It was first postulated in The Upanishads (Atman, The Self, is the same for all conscious beings, and is identical to Brahman which is the Ultimate Reality). Averroes also independently discovered it.

I think The Egg story is cool but doesn’t exactly get at the same concept since there’s a soteriology to it and it’s anthropocentric.

Counsels and Maxims by Arthur Schopenhauer. It starts off with one of the most pessimistic statements about the impossibility of happiness I have read (will add an excerpt to this later) but quickly proceeds into some genuinely good sounding Stoic/Epicurean practical advice on how to avoid misery.

Unrelated but his book the art of being right is a great one for learning logical fallacies.

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. Probably the first actual self-help book I've read. Parts of it feel eerily accurate.

Could you TL;DR your learnings?

Summer in 500 Days of Summer was an emotionally neglectful bitch and Tom did nothing wrong.*

Joking aside:

  • There are three main attachment styles: secure, anxious and avoidant

  • Secure people feel comfortable in platonic and romantic relationships, expect their partner to meet their emotional needs and are more than happy to meet their partner's needs

  • Anxious people often suffer from low self-esteem, require regular reassurance from their partners that their partner still likes them, and tend to act out and engage in "protest behaviour" if their needs aren't being met. This is the classic "needy" or "clingy" woman who complains that her boyfriend doesn't pay enough attention to her.

  • Avoidant people are put off by emotional intimacy and use detachment strategies to distance themselves from their partner. They often have unrealistic ideas about love and romance, fantasize about an "ideal" partner with whom they will feel no qualms about becoming intimate with, and idealize past romantic partners as a means of maintaining distance between themselves and their current partner. When women complain about men being "commitment-phobic" or "emotionally unavailable", this is who they're complaining about.

  • (Since the book's publication, a fourth attachment style has been proposed, variously called "fearful-avoidant", "anxious-avoidant" or "disorganized attachment". It's basically the worst parts of anxious and avoidant combined. However, Levine and Heller don't touch on this style in the book at all.)

  • Levine and Heller acknowledge that, in the anonymized examples they use, they tend to portray women as anxious and men as avoidant, but also point out that they've met plenty of anxious men and avoidant women.

  • There's a very small amount of evo-psych hypothesizing about how the different attachment styles came about, but Levine and Heller don't pretend it's their area of expertise and don't dwell on it

  • If an insecure (anxious or avoidant) person is in a relationship with a secure person, the secure person's attachment style can "rub off" on the insecure person's to a limited extent (but conversely, the secure person may be too accommodating of the insecure person, putting up with their protest behaviour to the point that it becomes actively abusive)

  • Secure people are underrepresented in the dating pool, because they tend to pair off early on and form happy, functional, mutually satisfying relationships

  • Avoidant people are overrepresented in the dating pool

  • The underrepresentation of secure people and overrepresentation of avoidant people in the dating pool leads to the "anxious-avoidant trap", wherein an anxious person ends up in a relationship with an avoidant person, which is toxic, unfulfilling and unsatisfying for both parties. Anxious-avoidant relationships are disproportionately likely to escalate into abuse.

  • In a surprisingly pessimistic moment for a self-help book, Levine and Heller acknowledge that if an anxious and an avoidant person are already in a committed relationship (with children and a mortgage etc.), the differences between the two partners may be effectively insurmountable and the "best" outcome short of divorce may simply be for the anxious person to revise down their definition of love and intimacy, rather than expecting their avoidant partner to meet a standard they never will

  • The book discusses a bunch of techniques that insecure people can use to stop sabotaging themselves, then a bunch of techniques that single people can use to find a partner who meets their needs, then a bunch of techniques that people in relationships can use to improve their relationships (a lot of which are generic couples-therapy things, like "communicate effectively" and "don't bottle things up")

Do I find the theory convincing and persuasive? On the one hand, it suffers from the same problem as every pop-psychology book** published in the last twenty years: making sweeping generalisations about the entire human species based on a single WEIRD study with a small sample size and a weak effect size. There's a great deal of "avoidants believe X as demonstrated by this implicit-association test". I can only assume most of the evidentiary basis for the book's hypothesis has run afoul of the replication crisis since publication.

On the other hand, it makes a great deal of intuitive sense, reading the description of who avoidants are and why they do the things they do was like looking into a mirror, and it casts my past relationships with romantic/sexual partners in a new light. On the other other hand, practically any psychological theory, from Freud to Myers-Briggs on down, makes "intuitive sense": the real test is whether it has predictive power. I want to give the suggested techniques a try and see if I notice any improvement before reporting back.

*In the conclusion, Levine and Heller do explicitly diagnose Summer as avoidant and Tom as anxious, defend Tom's behaviour, and predict that Summer will eventually grow distant from her husband and end up idealising Tom.

** Looking at you, Malcolm Gladwell.

Homicide, A Year in the Killing Streets by David Simon. Best book I’ve read in some time.

Have you watched The Wire?

Currently reading Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman. A medieval horror novel set in 1348 France during the second outbreak of the bubonic plague across Europe. It's grim, dark, gritty, and creepy. I'm enjoying it so far.

I've had this on my reading list for ages, but feel like I really need to be in the right mindset for it. I'm concerned it might be a little too dark to be enjoyable.

I'm concerned it might be a little too dark to be enjoyable.

The setting is bleak. It could be a good book to read in the summer, when there's enough sunshine to offset the grime and darkness oozing from the pages.

I've not been hanging on the motte since long but is it just me or are the small scale questions much more original and intellectually engaging that the recurring and semi-sterile culture wars topics?

What's the strangest thing that someone has ever told you was attractive about you? The strangest thing you've found yourself attracted to in someone else?

Once someone was immensely impressed by the fact that I carried a phone without a case.

As for me, big dark frame glasses raise anyone 2 whole points for me, gets me every time. Blame Mrs FiveHour.

A girl once told me I had very soft hands, and insisted on holding my hand as much as possible all night (we weren't on a date, just out drinking in a medium-sized group).

I assumed she was hitting on me but was politely rebuffed. Apparently she really did just like my soft hands.

I assumed she was hitting on me but was politely rebuffed.

Women ☕

The closest to outright strange would be girls digging my accent. I don't sound Indian at all, more like something between something American or Nordic. Which is nice, because I absolutely can't stand stereotypical Indian accents myself.

There was one time in med school that a girl fainted after having to prick herself for a blood sample, I happened to catch her and carry her in my arms to a nearby bed.

I thought nothing of it, until she caught me while I was heading home and thanked me for it all bashful-like. I was tickled pink haha.

That reminds me, I wish I had nice forearms. Mine have always been thin, even when I was working out regularly. I know that's a thing that makes women swoon (metaphorically this time!)

That reminds me, I wish I had nice forearms.

Your forearms mainly consist of 3 muscles (in a bodybuilding context). The pronators, the supinators, and the brachioradialis. I'm sure you know this as an MD (or MBBS, idefk), but broscience is its own thing.

Other than compound movements that will stimulate those muscles indirectly as @FiveHourMarathon suggested, I suggest targeting those 3 muscle group(s) through isolation movements. Pronated wrist curls, supinated wrist curls, and hammer curls should be enough.

FWIW, I got the most mileage on forearm aesthetics out of hammer curls. Just be aware that they take longer to grow than other muscles, not as difficult as calves but not as easy as biceps. You really won't grow your forearms accidentally by "working out", you need to target them with intent!

Also, forearm aesthetics are strongly influenced by bodyfat % not only size. So be willing to accept the fact that it might take a while to get there. 13.5" forearms with a high bf will look worse than 12.5" forearms at a low bf.

All I ever tried were wrist curls, so I appreciate the detailed advice!

Do you primarily do the big 3 power lifts? Forearms are primarily slow twitch, you'll get more out of activities like climbing, loaded carries, and ring work. A few months of regular bodyweight heavy farmers carries, you'll be checking shirts before you buy them to make sure you can roll the sleeves up!

Thanks for the tip! I'll give it a shot next time I renew my gym subscription haha