You Too Can See Suffering

Content warning: the last part of this post is saying some things that might be uncomfortable to hear, in a sharp tone which you might not like.


I'm spending this week living in Airbnb with my partner. The host, a young Chinese woman, has a dog. Mixed-breed. Maybe half a year old. Underfed. Lonely. Mostly left alone for the day. It's a young dog goddamit, it wants to play. Or rather it must play! Play is needed to develop social instincts. Otherwise, the dog will never learn how to find its place in the pack. It will never be happy.


Understanding Policy Gradients


There are three stances one can take when dealing with a mathematical subject.

The first one is the engineering/practical/below math stance:

  • what works, works
  • mistakes can be avoided by doing empirical tests
  • math is difficult and scary


A Fearsome Rationality Technique

"I'm not weird. I'm just optimized."

This is a rare chance to learn some little-known rationality lore. Proceed cautiously, according to the instructions below.

Before you start, please remember -- never question a technique until you have mastered it. Your weak, human mind is certain to raise objections as you make progress on this path -- but this weakness will be overcome with time. Eventually, the technique will become your second nature, and you will hardly even remember what your life was like before.


The Unyoga Manifesto


Yoga, as commonly taught, in a multitude of versions descended from the Indian tradition, gets some crucial things right. At the same time, it gets some other things terribly wrong.

One obvious thing it gets wrong is attaching metaphysical or religious meaning to all the teachings. But annoying as it can be, I do not consider it a deal breaker for anyone who has half-decent epistemic habits. It is fairly trivial to filter out the wordy noise and benefit from generations upon generations of accumulated and slowly refined practical knowledge.


Epistemic Laws of Motion

Standard Disclaimer #14074: I speak to those who know how to listen. Sligtly interesting ideas are best transferred under the guise of practicality, boredom, and clear-headedness. But what about very interesting ideas? These might well be best told under the guise of chaos, demonic possession, and madness.

Note: in retrospect, this post is probably too obscure to get useful ideas out of it. Consider it unendorsed.

1st Epistemic Law of Motion

Every person persists in their state of doing nothing or executing always the same strategy S, unless they are compelled to change that state by external epistemic pressure P.

Assuming constant non-zero psychological resistance, the first law can be written as:


Philosophical Parenthood

Note: In this post, I lay out a strong philosophical argument for rational and intelligent people to have children. Even if you are not interested in the topic itself, you might find some of the (tentative) mental models presented here useful.


Why would anyone ever use philosophical arguments to settle questions about parenthood? Well, to answer that, we'll need a good philosophical argument for acting on philosophical arguments.


Real Languages Are Second Order

Note: this is a carrier class conceptual identification. What I'll write might superficially sound like postmodernist blathering. I assure you it is not, though I realize that there is no way to tell the difference... unless you already understand what I'm trying to say in this post. There is nothing I can do but try to say it anyway.

A musician wants you to appreciate their melodies. But their real pride is the emotions they are putting into the music.

A designer of a bridge wants you to appreciate how pretty it is and how well it works. But their real pride is in the skill and sense of aesthetics that they poured into the project.