Thus spake Eliezer:

A Munchkin is the sort of person who, faced with a role-playing game, reads through the rulebooks over and over until he finds a way to combine three innocuous-seeming magical items into a cycle of infinite wish spells.  Or who, in real life, composes a surprisingly effective diet out of drinking a quarter-cup of extra-light olive oil at least one hour before and after tasting anything else.  Or combines liquid nitrogen and antifreeze and life-insurance policies into a ridiculously cheap method of defeating the invincible specter of unavoidable Death.  Or figures out how to build the real-life version of the cycle of infinite wish spells.

It seems that many here might have outlandish ideas for ways of improving our lives. For instance, a recent post advocated installing really bright lights as a way to boost alertness and productivity. We should not adopt such hacks into our dogma until we're pretty sure they work; however, one way of knowing whether a crazy idea works is to try implementing it, and you may have more ideas than you're planning to implement.

So: please post all such lifehack ideas! Even if you haven't tried them, even if they seem unlikely to work. Post them separately, unless some other way would be more appropriate. If you've tried some idea and it hasn't worked, it would be useful to post that too.

New Comment
Rendering 1000/1252 comments, sorted by (show more) Click to highlight new comments since:
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

If you are a human, then the biggest influence on your personality is your peer group. Choose your peers.

If you want to be better at math, surround yourself with mathematicians. If you want to be more productive, hang out with productive people. If you want to be outgoing or artistic or altruistic or polite or proactive or smart or just about anything else, find people who are better than you at that thing and become friends with them. The status-seeking conformity-loving parts of your mind will push you to become like them. (The incorrect but pithy version: "You are an average of the five people you spend the most time with.")

I've had a lot of success with this technique by going to the Less Wrong meetups in Boston, and by making a habit of attending any event where I'll be the stupidest person in the room (such as the average Less Wrong meetup).

If you are a human, then the biggest influence on your personality is your peer group. Choose your peers.

See The Good News of Situationist Psychology.

4diegocaleiro
That is exactly how I felt that day too my friend. Now look at us, you kept surrounded by awesomeness, while I came back into trying to cause awesomeness from scratch, and pull it up. It's not that I failed. By any metric, I have succeeded. But my energy has been drained through the process, while I expect yours to have tripled. As far as I've been told, you haven't had an existential crisis, and you didn't have to worry about calibrating for how frequently your goals change (though from 20-24 your rate of change was much higher than mine, you stabilized much more than I did) For these reasons I want to go to Berkeley in August, and surround once again with the MIRI, Leverage, CFAR people. This time not for recalibrating and returning. This time to find out how to stay in the Berkeley-Oxford hub.

If I decide to seek company of some people, because according to some metric M they are better than me, I am helping myself, because I am exposing myself to people better than me, but at the same time I am hurting them, because I expose them to a person that is worse than them, according to the same metric. OK, one possible way out of this problem is to say that different people use different metrics. But if we assume there is one shared metric, or at least that metrics used by smart enough people are similar, is there a way to help some people without harming others?

Possible solution would be to make the relationships between people asymetrical, so they would be stronger in the "better person to worse person" direction, but weaker in the opposite direction. -- This is not a new idea, because this is what actually happens when you read someone's book, or if you attend someone's lecture. The question is, how much is the influence reduced this way. (What is the ratio between influence I get from the books and from the people I meet in person? What strategies can I use to change this ratio? E.g. I could spend more time reading, but that would have some social costs; but perh... (read more)

[-]twanvl130

If I decide to seek company of some people, because according to some metric M they are better than me, I am helping myself, because I am exposing myself to people better than me, but at the same time I am hurting them, because I expose them to a person that is worse than them, according to the same metric.

I am not convinced that being around people slightly worse than yourself is bad for you. Especially when you get into a mentor role. When you actively try to help others understand and improve, this forces you to think about what you are actually doing, which probably improves your behavior.

Disclaimer: purely anecdotal, and does not apply to all metrics.

9Qiaochu_Yuan
I'm just spitballing here, but... blogs with the comments turned off.
0[anonymous]
I wonder, if the whole theory is true, what are loners training themselves towards? I.e. those who don't surround themselves with people at all.
0Viliam_Bur
Depends on why they do that. I can imagine a person going to isolation because they care about a project they started and want to finish it as soon as possible. I can also imagine a person isolating themselves as a result of depression.
8CCC
I wish I could remember where I originally saw this quote: "If you hang out with smart people, you will get smarter. If you hang out with dumb people, you will get dumber. If you hang out with rich people, they'll leave you with the bill and you will get poorer."
4Viliam_Bur
It is probably most useful if you hang out with people who are just a little higher than you on a given metric. You get the pull upwards, and the inferential (and other) distances are still small. It probably wouldn't be very useful for a dumb person trying to hang out with Nobel Price winners. Most likely, the dumb person would completely misunderstand them and get overconfident. A company of average people would be more useful for the dumb person, as they could empathise more, and give better practical advice. Similarly, hanging out with richer people will cost you more. They can also give you some good advice and contacts, but if the inferential distances are too large, you will not be able to use them.
6CCC
Yes, that's all true. The other point in the quote is that it's not a good idea to hang out with the sort of people who prey on other people, because then you will get preyed on.
5jamesf
I'm going to Hacker School this summer. It has a lot of praise for making people good at programming in a very short amount of time, and it works on exactly this principle; students are selected almost exclusively for desire+ability to get better at programming, and so everyone pursues their pre-existing goal much more effectively than if they weren't all reinforcing/teaching each other.
4John_Maxwell
I think the same might work with online forums. E.g. an interesting way to motivate oneself to learn programming might be to spend a lot of time hanging out on the IRC channels for the tools you want to learn.
3DanArmak
That seems to imply loners tend to be more unusual in all respects, because of regression to the mean. If they weren't loners, they would regress to the mean of the people they associated with, which as the number of associates rises, tends towards the mean of the population. So this theory explains the (anecdotally) observed fact that loners tend to be unusual people in other respects too.
3Daniel_Burfoot
Is the corollary to this that if you want to become an outlier, i.e. not a linear combination of your peers but a point on the convex hull, you should spend less time hanging around with other people?
7Decius
Or cluster with outliers. The population is large enough that you should expect to find enough outliers to form a peer group.
2Estarlio
Does anyone know off-hand whether this effect remains or is as strong with introverts?
0Tem42
I am an introvert and this effect is strong for me. But the best way to see if it works for you is to try it.

I have discovered a way to carry a credit card balance indefinitely, interest-free, without making payments, using only an Amazon Kindle.

How my card works is, any purchases made during Month N get applied to the balance due in the middle of Month N+1. So if I make a purchase now, in May 2013, it goes on the balance due June 15th. If I don't pay the full May balance by June 15th, then and only then do they start charging interest. This is pretty typical of credit cards, I think.

Now the key loophole is that refunds are counted as payments, and are applied immediately, but purchases are applied to the balance due next month. So if I buy something on June 5th, and return it on June 6th, the purchase goes toward the balance due on July 15th, but the refund is applied as a payment on the balance due on June 15th! So you can pay your entire June balance with nothing but refunds, and you won't have to worry about paying for those purchases until July, at which time you can do the whole thing again. The debt is still there, of course, because all you've done is add and then subtract say $100 from your balance, but absolutely no interest is charged. This process is limited only by your credi... (read more)

Upvoted for the fact that the author actually implemented the idea into practice. Too many other posts on this thread are just theorycrafting.

That was what impressed you? Not my creation of a real-life financial perpetual motion machine?

As far as I understand (and I could be wrong), your machine does not actually generate money, but merely defers payment until some future date. It does so by essentially exploiting a bug in the Kindle + Credit Card system, and it has an upper limit of whatever your max credit line is. My guess is that if this trick becomes popular, someone will patch the bug (probably Amazon, credit card companies are pretty slow).

So, don't get me wrong, it's a nice hack, but it's hardly perpetual or earth-shattering. One similar trick I know of is to have several credit cards, and use them to keep transferring the balance between them before interest accumulates; but this is less efficient, since the "free balance transfer" special offers occur relatively rarely.

Okay, "perpetual motion machine" might have been hyperbolic -- the comparison I had in mind was to what we might call a "weak" perpetual motion machine, which doesn't generate energy but is exactly frictionless, so it twirls forever without energy input.

So, don't get me wrong, it's a nice hack, but it's hardly perpetual or earth-shattering. One similar trick I know of is to have several credit cards, and use them to keep transferring the balance between them before interest accumulates; but this is less efficient, since the "free balance transfer" special offers occur relatively rarely.

Interesting! Didn't know about that variant.

0caleborp
Do it for long enough and inflation will eventually reduce the debt to a negligible amount. In twenty years, at three percent rate of inflation, your debt will only be worth 54% of what it initially was!
5Roxolan
The hack generates money if you invest the "loan" into something that pays interests in less than a month. Not enough money to be worth your time, of course; but it's still infinite free money for a given value of "infinite".
7wedrifid
The hack generates money if you invest the loan into anything that pays interest. It requires fiddling to be done monthly but the investment can be anything and can be ongoing.
5wedrifid
We could perhaps consider it a time value generator limited by max credit. This could be reasonably analogized to a perpetual motion machine with an ongoing finite output.
1A1987dM
What does Amazon have to gain from patching it?

I'm assuming that the constant churn of purchases and returns costs them money. For example:

  • Some credit cards charge vendors (not consumers) a non-refundable per-transaction fee
  • The returned books may mess up their analytics (including royalty calculations)
  • Returning a book is usually a rare event, and may thus be computationally expensive

I would worry the effect this may have on your credit rating if anyone catches you at it, together with possibly more serious effects. This could potentially be considered fraud. Altogether it seems much more sensible to simply live within your means and pay off your credit balance each month.

[-]khafra140

...it seems much more sensible...

This is the "ridiculous munchkin ideas" thread, not the "sensible advice you've already heard" thread.

This could potentially be considered fraud.

A more pertinent worry. Especially with cards that give a percentage of each purchase as "reward points" or something, I'd be worried about this.

[-]ivank160

Excessive returns will possibly get you banned from Amazon for life, with no warning, as many have discovered.

5Gunnar_Zarncke
But probably not for e-books as there is no recognizable loss for Amazon controlling.
2AndrewH
Better to think of ways to not spend money than think of ways to keep on living relying on other peoples' money.

Better to think of ways to not spend money than think of ways to keep on living relying on other peoples' money.

You don't get rich that way, though. Sure, you can accumulate a comfortable amount of low-grade wealth, but all the real games are played with other people's money. The only difference between B_For_Bandana's trick and the typical externalities exploited by your average high roller is the number of zeros involved in the figures.

1Multiheaded
No way! Our noble masters got their rightful place on top of the Holy Free Market due to their hard work, brilliance, laudable ambition and - as much ressentiment as it might cause in the weak and envious - their overall innate superiority that separates them from the lower orders! ...And even if they do use tricks like that on occasion, lazy and worthless commoners like you shouldn't dare imitate them. In the hands of the good and the great they do no harm, but just any unwashed pleb exploiting loopholes like those is dangerously subversive of the natural hierarchy.

It may no longer be fashionable to point people to "Politics is the Mind-Killer", but that was the best example of a good, solid, and avoidable dig at the other side that I've seen for quite some time. Mockery contributes nothing, especially in a thread where as far as I can tell no one's advocated the positions you're mocking. Downvoted.

1Multiheaded
Fair enough. Yeah, I ought to at least stick to using those with some more context.
2marchdown
There's even a special page on the Amazon website for the express purpose of cancelling ebook purchases within the last 7 days: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200144510

So I've recently decided to change my real name from an oriental one to John Adams. I am not white.

There’s a significant amount of evidence that shows that

(1) Common names have better reception in many areas, especially publication and job interviews.

(2) White names do significantly better than non-white names

(3) Last names that begin with the early letters of the alphabet have a significant advantage over last names beginning with the latter letters of the alphabet.

Source :

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19020207 http://blog.simplejustice.us/files/66432-58232/SSQUKalistFinal.pdf http://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/sunrpe/2006_0013.html http://www.nber.org/papers/w9873.pdf?new_window=1 http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html

Therefore if I were to use "John", one of the most common 'white' first names, along with Adams, a 'white' surname that also begins with the letter A, it should stand that I would be conferred a number of advantages.

Furthermore, I have very little attachment to my family heritage. Switching names doesn’t cost me anything beyond a minor inconvenience of having to do paperwork. For some people, changing your name may be extremely worthwhile, depend... (read more)

I once considered changing my name to Ben Abard but decided that the original Eliezer Yudkowsky sounded more like a scientist.

[-]Jack260

I wonder how Jewish names perform relative to gentile names.

Reminds me of all the Jewish actors who've changed their names to make it in Hollywood, and all the executives who've done the exact opposite.

I've always been mildly annoyed that I don't have an eastern European last name. All the cool mathematicians seem to have eastern European last names.

4JoshuaFox
OK, there are disproportionately many Jewish scientists, but how else does "Eliezer Yudkowsky" sound like a scientist's name? Now, if you really want a name that sounds like a scientist, how about renaming yourself Isaac Feynmann, Galileo Crick, or Rosalind Newton?

Actually, most people will identify with a scientist's last name more than a first name - so pick a scientist's last name that sounds like a first name for your own first name, and then another last name that sounds like a last name for your last name.

I'll be Maxwell Tesla.

2dreeves
Too funny; those are the middle names of my kids! :)

I have a Caribbean-American friend who's grateful his parents gave him a fairly white name for exactly this reason. I think having the same name as a famous historical figure would be bad for your google search results, though.

Being hard to Google can also be a plus.

Or he could adopt a middle name that would distinguish him when people really wanted to search for him.

3CronoDAS
My father once heard a story about this. An Asian immigrant family decided to give their son an American-sounding first name, "Peter". Unfortunately, their family name was "Pan"... Probably an urban legend, but kind of funny...
[-]Jiro130

The biggest flaw in this idea is that almost nothing in your references applies to you! They pretty much cover only black and white names, not Oriental ones. You can't conclude that a white name benefits you because it would benefit a black person. Even in the Swedish study, a quick trip to Wikipedia shows that the number of foreign-born residents from east Asia in Sweden is a tiny percentage.

Furthermore, none of the studies you quote account for switching costs since they just compare people who already have the names, except for the Swedish one, but I would expect that the switching cost as a new immigrant is much less than for someone who has been living with his name for a while.

(2) White names do significantly better than non-white names

Not all white names are made equal. You want a name that's associated with high status in the country in which you live.

In Germany being named Kevin is a low status signal. The same is true for most US names. Lower class people in Germany are more likely to give their children the name of US celebrities than German high class people.

4Friendly-HI
I'm German and would agree. Kevin not only sounds low Status but is also a name for kids, so it's even handicapped in more than one respect. I've thought about adopting "Aaron Alexander Grey", the middle name being my father's first name and Grey being an adaptation of my current last name that probably no one except Germans could really hope to pronounce correctly. Also I don't want to stay in Germany so Aaron Alexander Grey is more of an attempt at a name that I imagine may be overall an internationally well recieved name. Thoughts? By the way if you're a German citizen you can't just change your name unless you provide a good reason... like having idiot parents who decided Adolf is a proper first name for their child (way after WW2 mind you). If ever, I'll probably change my name once I become a Swedish citizen where you can do that kind of thing. Being Swedish (at least by citizenship) is probably also a very good signal internationally speaking. Better than German for sure.
6Desrtopa
What do people named Kevin get called when they grow up then?
6fubarobfusco
Names trend over time in rather smooth curves of popularity. In the U.S., there aren't any laws about what you can call your kids, but the Social Security Administration tracks popularity of names. For instance, the second most popular girl's name this year is Emma, which was also the third most popular in 1880 ... and the 451st most popular at its low point in 1978. The most popular name today, Sophia, tracks a similar curve with a low point in the '40s. The most popular girl's name in my age cohort was Jennifer — the #1 girl's name from 1970 to 1984! — but Jennifer has been on the way down ever since. Today's American girls are more likely to have an Aunt Jenny than a classmate Jenny. To me, Jennifer (or Jessica, Melissa, Amy, or Heather) sounds like someone my age, not a little kid. Young girls are named Ashley, Hannah, Madison, Alexis ... and baby girls are Isabella, Sophia, Emma. Male names are stabler than female names, but mostly because some names (Michael, Matthew, Daniel, William ...) are persistently popular.
0Richard_Kennaway
Bacon. Spacey. Sorbo. Costner. Kline.
3[anonymous]
If you go to the ex-Eastern Block, you find German usually has the signal "awesome rich industrial powerhouse, want to imitate, the kind of capitalist overlord I would want to be become, bossing over everybody" and Swedish has the signal "pretty people with funny ideas like non-gendered kindergartens, lacking courage or else they would beat the shit out of immigrant rapists". Basically in Eastern Europe German is the second most powerful signal after American, and since people tend to worship power it works...
1Friendly-HI
Could very well be true. But it leaves open the curious question what on earth I would be looking for in the ex-eastern block ;)
0[anonymous]
Cheap talent mainly.
2Dahlen
Same in my country. And my reason is pretty similar -- I've had people from my own country who constantly mispronounce my name, and I don't even want to think how badly foreign people would distort it, as I plan to emigrate. (Also I don't find it in the least bit euphonic, but that's not a reason I would ever admit to on a state form.) But I gather from your comment that compatibility with foreign languages / pronunciations is not considered an acceptable reason in countries that have stricter laws concerning name change? Also, that if you have dual citizenship and one of your countries allows you a name change, the other country is obliged to recognize the name change? Is that right?
2ChristianKl
What's supposed to oblige the country? In general it probably gives you a decent reason to request a name change in the other country as well. If you however search an unreasonable name you might still get denied.
0Dahlen
I don't know, I was asking whether I had understood the parent comment right. I don't know much about name change legislation, and would like to find out more. I was thinking along the lines of, well, it's not as if any given country "owns" somebody's name -- it's a property of the person, right? As in, you can't have one legal name in one country and another in some other country. That's what common sense tells me at least. But then again I've been surprised by law on several occasions in the past, to say the least...
2TheOtherDave
http://www.kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/falsehoods-programmers-believe-about-names/
0ErikM
I know it's at least possible to have variant names; I am legally registered in different countries by parallell names analogous to "Venice" and "Venezia".
0Dahlen
Gee. Law's weirder than I thought. But these facts open up some promising possibilities, now that I think about it... after all it's the munchkin ideas thread. Thanks to everybody for clearing this up for me, and thanks to whatever higher power is least astronomically unlikely to exist for not giving me the suicidal idea to pursue law as a profession.
0Lumifer
Nope. Your relationship to your name doesn't fit most of the bundle of rights that the word "property" implies. Of course you can. Why not? Consider immigrants who acquired a new citizenship but did not renounce their old one -- the names on their two sets of papers do not have to be identical.
0ChristianKl
That's a bad train of thought. You have to think about the institutions involved. There are certain things that international law guarantees to you, that your country is obliged to provide to you. Things like "Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him." In this case also important: "(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality." You don't really have an inane right for two nationalities. If a country allows you dual citizenship it's a nice thing to do. As such I wouldn't expect naming right to arise as a consequence. That's certainly not the case. If I remember right you can't have the same legal name in South Korea as in Germany or New York. In South Korea your name needs to be written in Hangul and the legal documents about you are addressed to the name in Hangul. In Germany your name has to be in the standard Latin alphabet (I don't know how much accents it allows). Quick Googling suggests that the case for China is similar. You get to choose between Simplified characters or Traditional Chinese ones.
3Jiro
No, there are certain things that international law says are guaranteed to you, that international law says your country is obliged to provide to you. You need the additional premise "if international law says a country is obliged to provide something, then that country is obliged to provide it". I see no reason to believe that premise. It doesn't seem to be true either as a statement about how countries should behave or about how countries actually behave.
0[anonymous]
A double twist: there are German names that look like English names but are actually German names. Michael, Paul. Just wondering: what would Germans associate with the name Helga for women? To me it sounds Viking-awesome (heiligr). If you want to name your kids in a way that is compatible without pronounciation issues in the larger Central European area, from Denmark to Hungary or Serbia, there are unfortunately not so many choices. For boys, Robert, Norbert, Henrik and of course the ubiquitous Peter. For girls, Helga, maybe Judit, Eva, Anna, For example something like Catherine is not a very good idea because it is written different in every language, from Katalin to Yekaterina. Anna has only one mutant forms, Anne in English, otherwise quite stable. For boys the stablest name is Norbert it either doesn't exist in a language or if it does it is written and pronounce exactly the same. However I think people are becoming more "creative" and less compatibility-oriented with names... I know a German couple living in London who have a son called Yuriy. Reason? Gagarin. "We wanted someone who goes up". Okay...
0ChristianKl
In general people in the creative class do so. It's not the names the average banker, doctor or judge gives their child.

Definitely agree that changing your name is a good option to have on the table.

I'd note though that in some industries having a Google-unique name is king. It really depends what your "personal brand strategy" is. I remember reading an interview with a marketer who recommended people consider name changes. Her name was "Faith Popcorn". I read that single interview probably 5-10 years ago. It wasn't even a particularly interesting interview. I still remember her name, though.

A disadvantage of that particular name is that it's the name of no fewer than two famous people).

(Or is that an advantage?)

That's an advantage! My name will thus be subconsciously associated with high-status people.

I think it's probably advantageous to have one's name be subconsciously associated with high status people, but not to have it be consciously associated.

For instance, a name like "James" may have higher class associations than "Antwon," but naming a kid "Jimmy Carter Washington" is liable to raise the associations to a conscious level and provoke speculation about the motives of the parents (or other namer.)

9DanArmak
This sounds like an excellent idea. I'm going to take the liberty of discussing my own name and I hope to get some opinions. My surname, 'Armak', is a misspeling of Ermak, sometimes written Yermak. I have no love lost for this name. Its main effect on my life is that when I introduce myself, people respond with "Daniel What?". And people who see it written in Hebrew always pronounce it wrong (because Hebrew normally has no written vowels, it's very bad at transliteration of foreign names). It would be an ordinary name in Russia or Ukraine, but I'm unlikely to even visit those countries. So I want to choose a common name that is "at home" in Hebrew and English and, preferably, Russian. Something short and simple that can be pronounced by speakers of pretty much any language, in case I associate with Chinese in the future, or something similarly unexpected. But I'm very much afraid of bureaucratic hassle. It's easy to change a name, but records with the old name will follow me all my life. And I'm afraid that many organizations deal poorly with people who try to prove that their name changed and they should have access to their accounts or records opened under their old names. On the other hand, most Western women and a few men change their names when they marry (and sometimes when they divorce). And this presumably doesn't create big difficulties, because it's socially expected. So maybe the infrastructure for name-changing already exists and my fears are unfounded. Has this been quantified? Like surveying people who changed their legal names (other than when marrying or divorcing) after a few years. Disclaimer: I haven't been serious enough to invest the time to research this myself.
5BerryPick6
You don't find that surnames in Hebrew just get mispronounced a ton, in general? Other than ones which have standard pronunciation, I encounter constant errors with people trying to figure out which vowels to put where when it comes to last names, although that may be biased because my last name, despite being very straightforward in English, is a puzzle for Israelis. Also, from anecdotal data and a bit of personal knowledge, changing your last name here in Israel doesn't seem like much of a hassle, other than having to do it in person.
1DanArmak
Foreign ones do, certainly. That's why I'd be looking for one that's familiar to speakers of both Hebrew and English.
1Jolly
My dad changed his name when he became a citizen...and got sufficiently annoyed at the hassle that he changed his name back. Note - this wasn't a major name change, he changed it from "Amarjit Singh Jolly" to "Jolly Amarjit Singh"
8Desrtopa
This sounds like a reasonable motivation to change one's name, but personally, I would have picked something not already attached to a rather famous person. I think it's probably more advantageous to have a name which is "generic" in that it doesn't immediately call up a single immediate association.
7Wrongnesslessness
I've always wanted a name like that! But I'm worried that with such a generic English name people will expect me to speak perfect English, which means they'll be negatively surprised when they hear my noticeable accent.
4Richard_Kennaway
You will be impossible to google for with the name "John Adams". Whether that matters to you is up to you, but a Google check is a good idea anyway. As it happens, the real John Adams is a very illustrious figure (in America), but you want to avoid calling yourself Charles Manson.
3TheShrike
I've considered changing my name since the first day I understood that names could be relatively normal. You see my kind parents thought it would be endearing to name me Dusty. Suffice to say, I've had a hard time projecting a certain sort of image for myself with a name like that. The only merit I've ever noted in my birthname is recognition. For better or worse, no one forgets a Dusty. I try to diffuse some of the negative image by shoehorning in humor, "hello I'm Dusty, like the adjective," but eventually I'm going to have to get it changed...
3baiter
Are you sure White names do better than ALL non-White names? The papers you sourced compare US White to Black names and Swedish to "immigrant" names -- both kind of hyperbolic examples. Nothing about White names vs Asian names, which I would expect to get different results. Also, in some industries or cases having a foreign/ethnic/unique name could be a positive. FWIW, if I met an Asian guy with a WASPy name like John Adams I would think either he is adopted or changed his name/identity, which might send me negative signals such as duplicity, cunning, and cowardice.
2Vaniver
Lots of Asian Americans are adopted, or are mixed European/Asians. European male / Asian female pairings (which would lead to a European last name) are about three times as common as European female / Asian male pairings. In general, first name assimilation is seen positively by most Americans I know, and has been very common in the Asian American community, both for first-generation immigrants and their descendants. (Last name assimilation is less common, but I think still seen positively.) Of the Eastern Asian grad students I know, it is common to adopt a Western first name (especially if they're Chinese; the transliteration from Chinese to English was clearly not designed by an English-speaker, as Chowchew can attest).
2beberly37
Consider Jon Adams, as name length increases, average income decreases.
4Vaniver
Names whose spelling is ambiguous are generally a bad idea.
0[anonymous]
Jay Lee?
2Nisan
In California changing your name costs two or three hundred dollars.
2Desrtopa
In New Jersey, it's a bit over one hundred.
0TobyBartels
Cheaper to get married and then divorced, maybe.
0Gunnar_Zarncke
When naming you children consider giving them multiple names from different cultures. You don't have to use the names actively, just add them and use the first one. This simplifies 'changing' the name later much - as you already have the name.

Learn some basic voice production for stage techniques. How your voice sounds is an absurdly strongly weighted component of a first impression, particularly over a phone or prior to direct introduction, and being able to project your voice in a commanding fashion has an overpowered influence on how much people listen to you and consider you a 'natural leader.' In particular, learn what it means to speak from the diaphragm, and learn some basic exercises for strengthening your subsidiary vocal chords like Khargyraa and basic tuvan throat singing, and you'll be surprised at how much it makes people sit up and listen. You might coincidentally have your voice drop into a lower register after about a month of such exercises, it (anecdatally) happened to me and several people in my voice production for stage class in college. (class of 25, 6 people had their voices drop within the first 4 months, teacher said those numbers were normal.)

Most people just assume you're born with a voice and have to deal with it, which is demonstrably untrue, and so they consider your voice to reflect your character.

[-]elharo190

That sounds like very useful advice. Do you have some suggestions for where to start learning this? E.g. particular books, classes, or Youtube videos?

3pscheyer
Yes, I do have particular books, classes, youtube videos, lectures, exercises, and other resources. It is highly dependent on your particular vocal tendencies, so your mileage will vary for all of them. But just as i don't feel comfortable posting physical fitness advice due to the above issues, i don't feel inclined to share the techniques which worked well for me or have worked for my students without providing the support to ensure you gain maximum benefit from them. So I will simply state some intriguing names of techniques and remain available to answer questions from your own journey, instead of listing techniques which will be mostly useless and are easily disproven in the majority of circumstances.
5pscheyer
That being said, here are a couple of links. Diaphragm Breathing/Speaking: http://www.roleplayingtips.com/readissue.php?number=3 Khargyraa Techniques: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCom9ZCJAmE The best tip for the Khargyraa stuff is just to watch that video and maybe this one and then wing it for a while, trying to get the sound right. If you manage it, try just saying some stuff in a normal voice and note the difference. It is immediate and surprising. This link is nice because the guy is such an amateur! He clearly learned, like, one technique (probably from youtube) and then posted his immediate results on youtube, so it's a good starting point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X54KBdi5_xg
9John_Maxwell
How do you guys feel about sharing hacks to increase your status, given that status can be a bit of a zero-sum game? I think I may have identified a nootropic that has the effect of making one feel and act higher status, but I'm not sure I want to just tell the entire world about it, given the positional nature of status. Edit: see here for more.

A very small number of people read LW, and a fraction of those people are going to apply any status hacks. Only a small number of people are going to apply status hacks, and they are the people who are diligent enough to research and implement them.

Posting such hacks is not going to push everyone to universally adopt them and return everyone to the previous status quo.

Posting such hacks is not going to push everyone to universally adopt them and return everyone to the previous status quo.

And even if it did, some of the actions that would increase one's positional status also have positive-sum effects (though in this specific case of voice training, they don't seem to be overwhelmingly large to me).

Just tell people in such a way that only the kind of people you'd want to have higher status will pay attention.

Just tell people in such a way that only the kind of people you'd want to have higher status will pay attention.

For example, by posting it on lesswrong!

3John_Maxwell
Well, the more people who know about it, the greater the chance that one of them will tell someone about it who I'd prefer not to have high status. I guess there are decently big taboos against taking drugs in our culture, so it probably wouldn't spread like wildfire. Actually, right now I have the opposite problem: I have friends who I'd like to be higher status and I'm trying to persuade them to try it but they won't.

There no reason why we should give more status to tall people or who are otherwise physically strong. It's much better to give status to those people who are smart enough to apply hacks.

6ialdabaoth
Actually, like skin color and facial structure, height is a pretty good indicator of intelligence. (This isn't genetic or even A->B causative; it's simply a fact that height and IQ are both highly dependent on childhood nutrition). I don't say this to advocate heightism any more than I would advocate racism; I'm merely pointing out that in our current environment, they happen to correlate pretty well, and anyone under 6'2" should pause and contemplate the implications of that.

I had the impression that the height/intelligence correlation was actually quite weak:

the correlation between height and intelligence is not that high. This association is probably not going to be intuitively visible to anyone, but rather only shows up in large data sets.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2013/04/why-are-taller-people-more-intelligent/#.UZsQvIpDsqg

7Vaniver
Um, I don't think you're using this correlation correctly. Because we have a model where nutritional deficiencies lead to both short height and low IQ, the amount of information we get is dependent on where we are in the height and IQ spectrum. Basically, if you're uncharacteristically short, say -2 sigma or lower, then you should be worried; if -1 sigma or lower, a slight suspicion; 0 or higher, little information, rather than the "if you aren't more than +1.3 sigma, contemplate." Except that this correlation is much less informative than, say, IQ tests.
1Prismattic
Tesla was just under 6'2", I'll spot you him. Einstein was 5'9". Christopher Langan is 5'11". Wolfram Alpha couldn't give me a height for Feynman, Hofstadter, or Darwin. Nutrition is not the only derterminant of height.
5ialdabaoth
Certainly; nor is it the only determinant of intelligence. "Highly dependent" != "solely dependent". But someone who wanted to maximize the chance of interacting intelligent and successful people would do well to pay attention to height, for multiple reasons - not the least of which is that everyone ELSE who wants to maximize the chance of interacting with intelligent and successful people tends to pay attention to height (even if they themselves are not tall). Also, note that your "name X highly intelligent people who were not at optimal height" strategy is primarily anecdotal, and also that 6'2" to 6'4" is the optimal height for maximizing your height-based status gain, not the baseline height.
1A1987dM
There probably are lots of things you could pay attention to instead that would give you more information. (I'm 6'2", just in case anyone suspects this is sour grapes.)
3ialdabaoth
I'm very curious why someone would vote this down.
9Estarlio
I'm not sure that someone can just feel higher status - I don't think status is a single, persistent variable. Like my karate teacher is high-status when it comes to karate, but when it comes to the associated history I think he's about as useful as tits on a bull. The upshot of which is that while I think there are probably things that relate to multiple domains, confidence for instance, the questions to do with increasing those individual things seem less loaded to answer in terms of whether you should post a hack.
8MugaSofer
Being high status is difficult. Acting high status is probably easier, and likely to increase your actual status somewhat simply because people mistake you for high status and so treat you as high status and it's all self-referential. Disclaimer: it's also possible you would be seen as having ideas above your station and promptly quashed.
5wedrifid
If you have a reason to wish to favour non-munchkins over munchkins in regards to status then it would follow that censoring such things is appropriate. Which one? There are plenty of substances that have the effect of making one feel and act higher status. I am somewhat curious which one you are referring to.
0John_Maxwell
http://lesswrong.com/lw/hvu/what_are_you_working_on_july_2013/9bea
3beriukay
I'm curious as to how you went about identifying such a nootropic.
5John_Maxwell
I didn't deliberately set out to find it, really. I'm also not quite sure how well it works yet. The effects are supposed to be cumulative, meaning the longer you have been taking it, the more of a confident jerk you become, and you continue being a confident jerk even after coming off of it (maybe). I doubt it's that much of a game changer really, it's a pretty commonly used nootropic and not many people list improved confidence as one of the effects--perhaps because the effects are subtle and only come with continued usage, or perhaps because they simply aren't very strong effects to begin with. It might be useful for people who have chronic social awkwardness though. (if anyone reading this ever sees me act like a confident jerk, please tell me)
1Bugmaster
How do you know it works better than a placebo ?
0Baughn
This description doesn't really make me want to use it. At all.
0[anonymous]
Late to your question, but the issue is IMHO that status-hacks are fairly obvious, just expensive / time-consuming / hard, and actually they are supposed to be. The whole reason they work is that they are fairly exclusive, they convey status by putting you into a club most people cannot belong to, and this cannot really work as a cheat code that is protected only by secrecy. It must be, by necessity, something hard enough to do even if you know how. One obvious example is hiring a stylist, using his advice to replace your whole wardrobe, probably with DKNY level of designers stuff and even getting them fitted by a tailor afterward. Perfectly well know except it costs about a car and thus most people won't / can't do it.
0pscheyer
I feel great about it. Let the users decide for themselves.
8Zaine
You seem to have knowledge about how to do this effectively - please share that knowledge or the sources for it.
3CAE_Jones
I've read some basics on this, around 2006, but it's hard to think of more to say than "let most of the force in your breath come from lower." I do find that sitting up straight or standing is much better for this than slouching or lying down, etc. I generally do voicework standing (I only do the minimum for my own projects; I'm not much of an actor). It's the same breathing principals for playing a wind instrument, a lot of martial arts, meditation, etc. (The latter just focuses on breathing without the forceful projection, but the principal of controlling the breath with muscles lower than your throat and upper chest remains the same.)
2pscheyer
@cae_jones, the technique you are referring to here is technically known as 'Diaphragm Breathing.' It is very effective and good both actively and passively, and used in voice training for stage, singing, and a variety of martial arts and meditative schools. It will also become second nature very quickly when practiced, and is the single best technique to know the existence of, which is why I taught it at the first rationality minicamp and the first boot camp. Here is the technique, in brief form. YMMV. Take a deep breath, placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Note which hand moves. If your upper chest hand moves, you have much to gain. If your stomach hand moves, you will have an easy time making progress. If both move, you are partway along already. To improve your diaphragm breathing, keep one hand on your stomach and fake a yawn. Your stomach hand should move, a lot. Not a little bit, but noticeably. It should feel like you just got fat :). continue fake yawning in this fashion until you can separate the breathing from your stomach from the concept of a 'fake yawn,' and whenever you have a moment include either fake yawns (at the beginning), or diaphragm breathing (same thing, without the ostentatious yawn) in your quick meditations.
2pscheyer
@Zaine, I considered a lesswrong post on it, but it is very difficult to give general advice on the topic due to interactions between identity and voice, the fact that many people already use many techniques and so could get bored with a list, etc etc. How would you advise structuring such a sharing post?
4Zaine
I would identify a representative set of specific circumstances which would benefit from 'vocal training techniques', then go into detailed explanation of the physiological changes that effect a benefit in each specific circumstance. Now that the generally applicable part has been covered, you can detail various techniques designed to achieve the effects. As each person will have differing degrees of success with different exercises, list many, but at the outset state the ultimate goal for the technique the set of exercises are designed to develop, exempli gratia "You will feel X once it has worked" (I don't know if this is possible). If you are clear that one is only learning how to use their body more effectively, I should not think considerations of identity will prove problematic - if it does, abandoning the exercises undoes the effects, correct? I would also mention that incorrect use of one's voice over long periods of time damages it; increasing one's ability to use it correctly will help preserve their ability to produce voice into the future.
3A1987dM
I know how to project voice, and I do it when singing all the time, but I always forget to do that in normal conversations.
2pscheyer
@army 1987, it is the difference between knowing how to do push ups well, and run well, and do situps, and being strong in the sense that a blacksmith is strong. One is a sort of ability to perform a bounded activity, the other comes from constant use of the muscles in question over time. When you've done the right exercises, you don't have to remember, you're just strong and you have a life which makes you stronger every day.
0A1987dM
Makes sense to me -- I've noticed the same difference between improving my posture by telling myself not to slouch vs improving my posture by exercising so that I won't even feel the need to slouch in the first place.
2arundelo
This is cool! -- but how does being able to do it make a difference when you're speaking normally? (Other than the voice-lowering thing you mentioned.) While I'm asking questions: Did you or any of your classmates find it did long-term harm to the high singing voice? (I'm specifically interested in the male voice just below the break.)
2pscheyer
'How does being able to do it make a difference when you're speaking normally?' The vocal exercises drop your register immediately, particularly even a moment or two of Khargyraa will sort of... remind you that you have a lower register under your normal voice for no extra work, and sticks with you for about an hour if stressless or fifteen mins if stressed (public speaking, etc.). Also after extended use you develop the additional vocal muscles- it's like working on your core to increase your run times, by improving a range of seldom-used muscles you gain capabilities in your mains. 'Did you or any of your classmates find it did long-term harm to the high singing voice?' We weren't singing students. It was a Voice Projection for Stage class, followed by Diction and Dialects. Personally i've found that my high singing voice is more accurately pitched, but that may be due to an entirely different suite of exercises i've been pursuing simultaneously.
2ThrustVectoring
That would be rather surprising for me, considering that I already have a deep bass singing voice. Or are you talking about your speaking voice and not your vocal range? Because I often speak at a much higher pitch, especially when I'm trying to sound friendly.
1pscheyer
Yes, i am referring to your normal speaking voice. Khargyraa and Tuvan techniques in particular add undertones to your normal speaking voice, making it seem deeper and more resonant when the exercises are performed regularly. It is not that your 'normal voice' becomes more resonant, but that the concept of 'normal voice' is actually based on a combination of vocal chords and you simply add to the mix, increasing the apparent depth and resonance of the timbre which the brain sums the voice into. In short, yes, I am referring to normal speaking voice, though it also allows some fun things when singing. Like metal screams without injuring vocal chords, at any register.

I learned how to crank out patents. My thinking, over the years, shifted from "Wow, I can really be an inventor," to "Wow, I can Munchkin a ridiculously misconfigured system" and beyond that to "This is really awful."

My blog post: "The evil engineer's guide to patents".

Since Munchkining means following the letter of the rules, while bypassing the unspoken rules, we should consider how often it is accompanied by moral dissonance.

4shminux
Getting a patent through is far from cheap. While the filing fee is not much, the rest is prohibitively expensive if it's not paid for by your employer, about $10k or so per simple patent, all told. Probably not worth it for a line on your resume in most cases. I wonder if there is a way to munchkin this cost.

The article is aimed mostly at salaried employees, and so the cost is not relevant, so long as the employer wants to pay it, which they generally do.

I wonder if there is a way to munchkin this cost

There sure is. As described in the blog:

... but if you're doing patents on your own, here's how to start off cheap. File a provisional patent in the US (the only country that counts) for $110, with a brief description in ordinary language. It lasts for a year, and you can file up to a year after you release your “invention” in a software product (if you even intend to do that). So, you have two years to find funding for the real patent, or just to abandon the provisional patent once your company is either stable and successful or stable and dead.

(I did the provisional patent thing myself once.)

At worse, even if you abandon it because of cost, no problem: As mentioned in the blog post

You don’t care much if the patent office accepts your patent. What's important to you... is that it gets filed. You can honestly list "patent applications” on your CV ... It takes five to eight years for the patent to get finally approved [which is so long that no one much cares about the difference when reading a CV].

2shminux
I meant getting the actual patent, even if you are not successful at funding it.
7JoshuaFox
Not that I know of. But why would you care about getting an issued patent (particularly in software) if you do not want to be a patent troll? Considering this from the perspective of how an employer would see my CV, take a look at my list of patents. Can you even tell the difference: Which are (1) under review at the USPTO; (2) abandoned by a bankrupt startup (two or three, but there is no public record of that, so even I don't officially know); (3) rejected (none, that almost never happens); (4) issued and approved as patents? But I will grant that listing the $100 provisional patent application in your CV as a "patent application" is beyond the bounds of good taste. I do not list my (long-gone) provisional patent anywhere. Thus, patents in your resume do provide a real signal (though weaker than many people think): They show that someone (an employer) thought it was worth investing some money in filing it.
2CronoDAS
Darn it. I was just about to suggest "be a patent troll" as a Munchkin-y thing to do. Apparently, it's really, really easy to get patents accepted, even on things that are very broad, that have been done before, are blindingly obvious, or are even things you don't actually know how to make! The way things stand, you could probably get a patent for a Star Trek style teleporter with a few block diagrams and some fancy-sounding bullshit, and I'm dead serious about that. You know what one guy managed to patent? "Machine vision" - connecting a camera, any camera, to a computer. He first applied for the patent in 1954, but years later enforced variations of it against people who used bar code scanners. You can't make a submarine patent any more, so patenting a Star Trek teleporter probably won't make you any money, but people have indeed made money patenting things that were impractical when they were patented. For example, someone patented remote online backup services, then someone else bought the patent and started suing people trying to offer those services. In general, because defending a lawsuit in the U.S. is expensive, there are people who manage to make quite a bit of money by threatening to sue people on shaky grounds and offering to settle for less than the cost to defend the case. (Many other countries discourage this kind of extortion by forcing a losing plaintiff to pay the defendant's court costs, but that has a chilling effect on valid lawsuits as well as bogus ones.)
0ArthurRainbow
Broken link and no copy on archive.org
2ignoranceprior
Archive.org copy (takes a few seconds to load) Archive.is copy
[-]maia580

If you want to increase your pulling strength without much effort, get a pullup bar and put it in a doorway in your home. Then just make a habit of doing pullups every time you walk by. This is remarkably effective. I've been doing this for two weeks and have seen significant improvement.

It's important to actually have it on a doorway at all times. Ours was sitting in a closet for several months, and during that time, I used it maybe twice. In the past two weeks, with it actually on a doorway and requiring no effort for me to set up and start using it, I've been doing ~5 chinups every day. (The number has been going up as I've gotten better at it; I'm looking forward to when I can actually do dead-hang pullups.)

$20 on Amazon.

I think a general policy of decreasing the startup cost of doing things you want to do is a useful one. Rewarding yourself helps too, but sometimes you just need to lower the activation energy.

[-]Zaine150

I've done, recommended, and been recommended this before and am in wholehearted agreement. I would be remiss however if I did not share a word of caution: that model of pull up bar leaves black marks, and after extended use, will probably dent a wooden door frame. I do not know of a model of that type that does not share this design flaw.

6shminux
I recall doing exactly that in junior high, and increasing my chin-up count from 0 to 12 or so within 3-4 months, without consciously worrying about it. My P.E. teacher was impressed. In retrospect, going through puberty must have helped, too.
3CronoDAS
What if you're not capable of doing a pullup? (I've never been able to do one.)
[-]maia220

I can't do a full pullup either. A couple of weeks ago I couldn't even really do a chin-up (though I used to be able to). I just did assisted / negatives, which for me means... Jump! Then lower yourself down as slowly as you can. And jump a little bit less every time until you can do it without using your legs at all.

And then once you can do it from standing level, you work up to doing it from a dead hang somehow. I'm hazy on the details there because I've never gotten that far myself.

5Prismattic
Assuming you don't have access to a gym, one thing to try is to obtain a strong theraband. Hold the band with both arms out in front of you, elbows slightly bent, and extend your arms out to your sides. You should feel this in the upper back muscles. If this gets easy, double up the band. Eventually that should provide enough upper back strength to try a pull-up. (You'll also need to do some biceps training, which you could also do with an anchored theraband, or with household objects, if you don't want to obtain dumbbells.) If you have access to gym equipment, then pull-downs with a lat bar and bent over rowing train most of the muscles you will need.
2Qiaochu_Yuan
If you have easy access to a gym with machines (e.g. if you are a student), one of those machines is hopefully an assisted pull-up machine which will let you add counter-weight as necessary.
1MichaelDickens
I realize I got to this thread a bit late but here are two things you can do: 1. Pull-up negatives. Use your legs to jump up to the top of a pull-up position and then lower yourself as slowly as possible. 2. Banded pull-ups. This might be tricky to set up in a doorway but if you can, tie a resistance band at a height where you can kneel on it while doing pull-ups and the band will help push you up.
1heiga
Wide push-ups will get you partway there, which the same tool is actually pretty good for (flip it over on the floor).
2baiter
For those that don't have a convenient place to hang a pullup bar, or as a general alternative/addon, I recommend dumbbells. I bought a nice set (2 x 20kg, 0.5, 1.25, 2, 5kg increments) for around $100 and cancelled my gym membership. They paid for themselves in 2 months time. Now I'm saving money and more fit then ever because I actually workout, instead of making excuses why not to go to the gym (it's too cooold, it's raaaining, I don't have tiiiime, etc.)
0aelephant
Nick Winter used a similar scheme (albeit with a towel) & found that not only did he get better at pullups, his 1 mile time & bench press improved as well!
[-]jtolds570

There's kind of a growing movement around Rob Rhinehart's Soylent thing, dunno if you folks have heard of this.

Basically, he got tired of making food all the time and tried to figure out the absolute minimum required chemical compounds required for a healthy diet, and then posted the overall list, and has now been roughly food free for three months, along with a bunch of other people.

It seems awesome to me and I'm hoping this sort of idea becomes more prevalent. My favorite quote from him I can't now find, but it's something along the lines of "I enjoy going to the movie theater, but I don't particularly feel the need to go three times a day."

There's small reddit community/discourse groups around getting your own mixture.

I find this incredibly fascinating. Especially the ability to save hours every day from not needing to eat. If the guy doesn't die after a year or so, I'm definitely trying this out.

6Jonathan_Graehl
When I looked at his blog last, he was eating out socially (understandable). So we onlookers won't get to enjoy his discovery of any new micro-nutrient deficiency syndromes. I wasn't especially impressed by his approach. Maybe he'll get some good advice from others, but I didn't think he was anyone to listen to.
[-][anonymous]160

It's not impressive as a medical experiment, but it's pretty impressive for actually-getting-something-done.

If it turns out that he can survive comfortably on his concoction plus highly irregular meals at restaurants, that's useful information. Just not as useful as the results of a more thorough experiment.

9jtolds
He actually spent the first two months on a Soylent-only diet, and only recently added social eating. I think he said something in his three month blog post about a week he spent eating normal food, and he ended up feeling way crappier.
4Jonathan_Graehl
Sure. But 2 months is not long enough. Some unaccounted-for vitamin with a long half-life or a low requirement could give deficiency symptoms after 4 months but not 2. Also, people on restrictive diets post all the time about how crappy they feel when they reintroduce something. For him to slide comfortably into the explanation "thus my product makes me feel better than restaurant food" is typical of such dieters' enthusiasm. Although bad restaurant food does exist, much of the digestive upset people experience when going out to eat is simply down to overeating, late eating, or alcohol.
3DysgraphicProgrammer
That was also a week he spent travelling. Sleeping away from home, long plane/car rides, irregular schedule, and all the other attendant discomforts are quite enough to throw me off my game, even without dietary shifts.
3nigerweiss
Could also be a temporary effect. Your gut flora adjusts to what you're eating, and a sudden shift in composition can cause digestive distress.
6SilasBarta
I would be more surprised if, by only eating when you're socially required to, you happened to get the exact essential nutrients the diet would otherwise leave you without.
2Jonathan_Graehl
here's what i was thinking: 1. "real food" has plenty of vitamins and stuff 2. some of that stuff might have a long half-life in the body 3. and be needed only in small (catalytic?) amounts. so that 1. you wouldn't know about them if you just studied basic nutrition textbooks (or perhaps nobody knows about them) 2. if your social eating is frequent enough, you'd never lack them. so, ideally, people following some soylent-type practice strictly will develop some interesting symptoms, and we'll discover some new stuff. but if they cheat, we don't learn as much. i admit there's a good possibility that we already know about all the vitamin-like stuff there is. after soylenters start showing better 10-year mortality, i'll gladly join them.

This is interesting. For years I've blended together various ingredients (mostly stuff like broccoli, lentils, sweet pepper, ricotta, canned tuna, olive oil, various grains and nuts such as flax, sesame, hazelnut, sunflower), balanced these for macro and micro-nutrients using cron-o-meter, further optimized along various axes such as cost, taste, ease of use, ease of preparation, packaging, cleaning up etc. Food is primarily something I do to feed myself in the end, and I dislike it when there's too much fluff.

I'd be more wary of mixing together purified/refined nutrients though. Just as licking iron bars won't provide you with your daily needs for iron (elemental iron isn't very soluble and your body wouldn't be able to assimilate it well), there's more and more evidence that whole plants and animal parts contain more than just the usual nutrients, and that this particular mix may be needed to stay in good health - and conversely that substituting multivitamins and refined macronutrients for normal food may run the risk of missing some essential, complex interactions/packaging that occurs in it and which changes the way your body assimilates it.

Now of course, many people eat junk food and still live to be 60-70 so there's some leeway. We'll only really know whether Soylent is healthy enough (like, for someone interested in life extension, and not just satisfied with a classical life span) if this experiment goes for decades, and if it's done using more people, controlled conditions, etc (in short, using Science).

Some people thrive for decades (including Stephen Hawking) tube fed with nutritionally complete enteral formulas. Semi-annual blood tests pick up any deficiencies, and supplements are added if needed. Several companies make "Soylent", the one I am familiar with is Abbott Nutrition.

If there's something there that isn't priced for sale to hospitals, or restricted in sale to hospitals, and has been formulated so as to be edible by people who are tired of real food, go ahead and post it. My understanding is that tube-feeding is not the same use-case as Soylent at all, with tube-fed material needing to be essentially predigested and correspondingly expensive or something along those lines, and no concern for edible taste for obvious reasons.

I've done some looking, but I haven't seen anything out there that looks like it's meant to be eaten, meant to replace food, and priced at an affordable level for sole consumption.

4JacekLach
But there is a significant difference between taking a medical formula under doctors supervision and mixing up the most common nutrition ingredients and claiming it to be a cure-all-be-all food. Didn't the guy forget to include iron in his first mixture? Another 'Soylent' equivalent I know of is Sustagen Hospital Formula.
8RomeoStevens
Soylent Orange (with new and improved recipe. Okay, I just added marmite, but it's significantly more nutritionally complete than before) This is a less radical version of the idea using store bought ingredients to achieve roughly the same ends.
0Unreal
I'm curious about how you make your Soylent. Do you just take all those ingredients and mix them in a blender? Do you have another page with more information?
2RomeoStevens
There's a cell with directions on the spreadsheet. But essentially yes. Part of the appeal is that it takes less than 5 minutes. This is also a reminder for me that I should really turn it into an infographic or at least make a more complete blogpost.
0Unreal
Oh I see the directions now. Yes, it would help if you included all of this into a detailed blogpost and explained what other meals you consume (and how often) to get a complete picture of how to adopt the diet oneself. I would like to experiment.
5Estarlio
Does anyone know what the time-line is on vitamin deficiencies? I mean might this be like cigarettes - increases your risk of something going wrong massively but only becomes apparent years down the line when you're already screwed.
8magfrump
That wouldn't be consistent with studies showing very strong and consistent effects on children. Source: the section in this blog post from Yvain, the section on Multivitamins. Direct link to study.
4Vaniver
I'm also trying making a total food replacement this summer. Recommendation for people trying to make their own: start by buying just the macronutrients (oil / carbs / protein), and finding a blend you'll be okay with consuming. It's unlikely that the micronutrients will make it appreciably tastier, so if you can't find one you like without putting the micronutrients in it then you should abort. (The micronutrients represent a far more significant capital outlay, if you buy the ingredients separately rather than going with a multivitamin.)
3gwern
Further discussion: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/hht/link_soylent_crowdfunding/
3EpsilonRose
That sounds particularly appealing to someone like me who outright forgets to be hungry. It seems I shall now be looking into this.
2Mass_Driver
Is there more to the Soylent thing than mixing off-the-shelf protein shake powder, olive oil, multivitamin pills, and mineral supplement pills and then eating it?
3RomeoStevens
Not really. In fact I'm beginning to think that the Soylent guy is obfuscating his source of supplies in order to obfuscate how simple it is. I found a powder that is 100% of everything for $1 a scoop at costco.
1mare-of-night
This looks like it might solve several food problems I've been having. (Not wanting to interrupt work to get food, being hungry but not wanting any particular food, and needing to eat every 2-3 hours to keep my blood sugar under control. That last one is mainly a problem because eating in the middle of class or a meeting looks weird, and I could probably get away with a drink more easily.) I might try something like it this summer, probably while eating normal food once or twice a day to reduce the risk.
2Jolly
Intermittent fasting solves a number of these issues...
0TobyBartels
This makes me want to ask if any of the people on the soylent diet are diabetic and how that's going.
[-]Omid450

How to find a mate when you have really specific tastes:

  1. Think about the kind of fiction your ideal mate would want to read.
  2. Write that kind of fiction.
  3. Start a website compiling your fiction. Hire someone off DeviantArt to illustrate it.
  4. Once you've got a decent fanbase, post a message on your website saying that you are looking for a mate.
  5. Read emails from fans who say they want to be your mate.

Why I think this will work: A while ago I posted a romantic/erotic story to Reddit (which is 3/4 male). I hadn't seen the fantasy represented in any romance/erotica I'd ever read, so I figured I was alone in desiring it. Imagine my surprise when two women sent me unsolicited PM's asking me to role-play.

This works better when some of the MOTAS who read the fiction have also met you in the flesh (N=2). Also, having at least one protagonist who shares some of the more prominent features of your personality (i.e., your warped sense of humor if you're liable to inflict that on your mate) might be more effective at selecting on the audience (if they like the protagonist, they may be able to tolerate your own twisted humor) but here I haven't tried it your way for comparison.