There's a Less Wrong meetup at my house in Berkeley this Saturday, the 25th of December, at 6PM. Celebrate the winter season, the Solstice, and the birth of Sir Isaac Newton among friendly aspiring rationalists, including Eliezer and other SIAI staff and volunteers.

I will cook for everyone in the style I call "paleolithic gourmet" which is cooked meat and raw produce.

I'd like to satisfy everyone's preferences as reasonably as I possibly can without getting vastly more food than will be eaten.

Default menu:

Lamb Burgers
Salad of Berkeley Bowl produce and parmesan
Grilled Portabello and chanterelle mushrooms
Cheese selection
Pita + hummus

Feel free to bring a potluck dessert or if you like, an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage.

The food is free, but if you can afford to, in the spirit of Newtonmas, I suggest a $10 or $15 or $500 donation to SIAI (which will be matched). Please don't not come because you prefer not to pay; no one will be excluded from food or shunned for not paying. I really mean that. Consider the donation not an admission fee and more of a gentle nudge and reminder that optimal philanthropy starts around $10 and that you should positively associate giving money with the fuzzies of eating delicious food.

Please post here if you plan on attending and RSVP on Facebook. You can also post here or PM me with your thoughts on the menu and tell me what you want to eat the most of. I wasn't planning on cooking fish or chicken but can do so if people let me know they want fish or chicken or something else (like a carbohydrate).

My address is 1622 Martin Luther King Jr Way Apt A, Berkeley CA. It's the ground floor apartment around the side, not the upstairs one.


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Kevin, I think it's really nice of you to invite everyone and to elicit their food preferences. I live on the other coast, and have other plans. It looks to me like you have taken vegetarians into consideration. If I were invited to a party and was concerned that their was not going to be enough food that I could, or wanted to eat, I would offer to bring a dish of something that I wanted to eat- with enough to share.

I'm pretty sure I heightened expectations of perfection by saying people should pay (not me) for eating. Speaking of which, people should lower their expectations, this thing is going to be as informal as it gets. Like... I'll have adequate seating for everyone but no dining room table. My place isn't exactly set up for a dinner party and this isn't a dinner party so much as an extremely informal party at my house that happens to also have delicious food being served.
This statement of yours in the post (which IMO deserves more than a parenthetical) does more than enough to counter any link between quality of event and donation.
You might have heightened expectations, but I don't think it's realistic to expect that much. I belong to several nonprofit organizations that have meet ups with food and ask for a donation or admission charge Often it is expected for participants to bring a dish, in addition to making a donation. If invitees don't like the menu, they either usually bring something they do like tp share or don't com. If they do complain,they generally do so more discreetly or put a positive spin on it. For example, they might praise the organizers for a job well done and say they think a dinner organized around such and such dish or catered by, or held at, such and such restaurant would be great for the next event.
Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate []
Interesting post. I agree that disagreement is productive and necessary for an organization to be effective. I know, however, that there are ways of disagreeing in a diplomatic way that lead to others being more likely to listen. Learning to be diplomatic takes practice, desire and good social skills. Diplomacy and social skills can be learned. By my post, I was suggesting ways one can be more diplomatic when the menu isn't to ones liking.
Oh, I'm not sure if it was clear, I was linking to agree with/amplify your point.

It just occurred to me that, if this is an event to be held in honor of Isaac Newton, you should serve apples.

Newton's birthday is actualy January 4 in the Gregorian calendar.

It seems obviously in the spirit of Christmas to celebrate someone's birthday on the arguably wrong date. :D

Indeed, especially considering that the Russian Orthodox Church sticks to the Old Style date for Christmas, resulting in it celebrated on January 7. (The difference was 13 days in 1917, when Russia switched to Gregorian.) Newton was also himself a Christian. I don't think there's a need to drag him into such an explicit spit in the face of religion.
I'd rather not have an argument about playful alternative names for Christmas Day. Call it what you want, and hopefully we'll see you on Saturday.

I don't live in the area, but if I did I would be offput that vegetarians weren't even considered. I have more to say on the topic but will do so in a separate thread.

Salad of Berkeley Bowl produce and parmesan

Grilled Portabello and chanterelle mushrooms

Cheese selection

Pita + hummus


Did you read the menu? I find it hard to believe that earnest vegetarians could be sincerely unhappy with that menu, but I accept that it could be made marginally better and I'm open to making or buying additional vegetarian food.

Again, I'm not in the area so don't worry about my particular preferences. And I wouldn't exactly go home hungry with that menu. But those things are all stuff that I'd classify as a side dish rather than a main course. One of the hardest things about being vegetarian is not finding veggie-food period, but finding veggie food that has the satisfying substance of a main dish. (My experience anyway) My preference would be a pasta, casserole or stew.
OK, thanks for telling me your preferences. I was trying to avoid carbs because I'm better at cooking protein. Counterfactual you can eat as many portabellos as you want though. They're $4.79/pound at the Berkeley Bowl.
Heh. An additional individual quirk of mine is that I just don't like mushrooms (I'm trying to wean myself onto them, but it's slow going). I currently do eggs and dairy so the protein incentive isn't really there. If I were a respectable vegetarian who ate mushrooms (I get heat from hardcore vegan friends for not liking them, as well as from incredulous omnivore friends operating off of vague stereotypes), then maybe I wouldn't have felt as excluded looking at the list. Dunno. I didn't quite care enough to comment until I saw Benthamite's reply and how that played out.

I'll come; thanks for the invitation.

optimal philanthropy starts around $10

What does this mean, assuming it isn't joke? I skimmed the articles linked from and don't see an obvious argument that optimal philanthropy starts at some amount.

There is a failure mode in which people will identify a cause they think is important, and, expecting some future increase in income, say they will donate lots of money when they can afford it, but never seem to decide that now is the time to start giving. The solution is that if you think you should give a lot when you can afford it, you should give a small amount that you can afford now, like around $10, and form the habit of giving what you can at any time, while you can still be working to increase your income and the amount you give.

Well, it seems like if I wanted to donate, say, a quarter to Singinst (and I couldn't just hand it to Jasen next time I saw him), it probably wouldn't be worth our time to transfer the money. Collecting money in one place that people are congregating at anyway would seem to obviate that, though, so I'm still confused.

Cannot attend on such short notice without hurting the feelings of the girlfriend (and no, she does not want to attend with me). Have fun.

[-][anonymous]11y 0

By the way, since I didn't make it clear, a gathering at my place is extremely informal. Like, my house doesn't have a dining room, or a dining room table. Plan on holding your plate while you sit and eat unless you bring your own table or I improvise something or SIAI has some folding tables hidden somewhere.

I can't eat any of that.

I was trying to elicit everyone's sincere preferences. For anyone else reading this that doesn't like the menu or has a slight preference for anything else, tell me what it is you want, not just that you are displeased.

Clippy, I really don't know what you like to eat, but I think I have some extra aluminum foil around.

I think it's clear that SIAI need to order some Art Lebedev paperclips [].