Men Have, Women Are

Note 1: I'm by default reluctant to write anything explicitly related to gender issues, because our society has a very special way of being stupid about that, and it doesn't feel like adding my voice to the mess would really be, you know, adding anything. I think in this case an exception is justified, because I might genuinely have things to say here which are so controversial that they probably haven't been said before.

Note 2: Yes, I know, it's very easy to nitpick about the title. There's always some clever trick that can turn phrases like "be beautiful" into "have a beautiful body", and "have respect" into "be a respected person". Regardless, I think there's a natural way to cognitively relate "feeling-of-being" to certain aspects of human existence, and "feeling-of-possession" to others. Thank you for understanding.


Shell, Shield, Staff


There is a certain high-level pattern of progress seen in almost every human activity, which I like to call “growth triplets”. A growth triplet follows an archetypal sequence of three stages: naive, clever, and wise, with the exact meanings of these terms varying depending on the situation. The defining feature of the pattern is that the third stage has some unexpected similarities to the first one. Because of this, most people have to actually go through the second stage before they can appreciate the third.

You can find several examples in this Scott Alexander post, and recently I hinted at many others:




brains/computers/neural nets



Actionable Eisenhower

Note: This is a small peek into the kind of background model-building that goes into Be Well Tuned. I don't currently have resources to invest into writing, so the description is pretty bare-bones. On the positive side, I have changed the blog theme to black text on light background - I hope that makes it more readable.

The Eisenhower matrix is a (somewhat) useful high-level framing of a certain aspect of productivity, based on classifying tasks/activities into four types. It's casual application was entertainingly explored in this Wait But Why post. I'll minimally quote just the matrix itself:


Superhuman Meta Process

This is a more-or-less complete blueprint of the process I'm currently using to run my life on the meta level. It is organized around four major principles, each of which represents a non-trivial design decision. This means that you could negate each of them, and get something arguably sensible. The minor points serve to explain further, and to map out some consequences of taking the major principles seriously. For me, they are also cached thoughts that help me make decisions.

Many of the minor points, fully expanded, would be enough material for a separate blog post. However expanding them to that level would be quite pointless. If you cannot extrapolate them on your own, you probably shouldn't implement them anyway. In that case, you can probably think of some other set of principles that would be a better fit for you. One of the main messages I'd like to communicate here is that designing your meta process is worth the effort.


Notes on Mental Security

Note: these are some rough, preliminary notes on mental security, defined as the art and discipline of keeping one's mental software free from hostile external influence. Or in other words, having a mind able to achieve its own goals, rather than goals of, say, Moloch or other people which happened to be around. This is supposed to serve as a reference point for discussion and further thought. It's definitely not an explanation or a tutorial.

  • Why?

    • this is dangerous business, and not one that human minds are designed for
    • however, necessary to do anything which is far outside of the Overton window of agency
      • if you are doing such a thing, you might just as well ignore the risk, because if you fail at security your cause is doomed anyway


Happiness Is a Chore

I've literally run out of cynicism.

Not so long ago, one of my long-term strategic projects felt especially close to my heart. The project could be summarized as something like "give happiness to people who already have rationality as a prerequisite".

In my rampaging naivety, I had thought the hard part was to figure out happiness. What was I thinking? To find out, follow this short imaginary conversation with my old self.


Spontaneous Trumpeting

There are some things which after a period of contemplation acquire a definite "I want to trumpet this from the rooftops" quality, and which I end up not saying because the world doesn't seem to be listening anyway. I also don't have enough clarity and/or writing skill to force the world to listen.